The Devils updated fans on injuries and the team’s COVID list today on their official app.
According to Sam Kasan, forward Nico Hischier, who was out with a lower body injury for yesterday’s loss at Boston, “skated on his own Wednesday and could return to the lineup Thursday when New Jersey hosts Columbus.”
Kasan quoted head coach Lindy Ruff as saying that “Nico was back this morning. Skated lightly on his own. He’s going to participate in tomorrow’s morning skate. The likelihood is if things go well, he should play for us.”
Kasan also updated on the status of defenseman Dougie Hamilton. He said that Hamilton had surgery for his “broken jaw and will be out of the lineup indefinitely.”
According to Kasan, “Hamilton’s return will be dependent upon many factors and the team hopes to have an update sometime in the future.” Ruff noted that it everything “depends on the severity and type of procedure they have to do.”
Finally, Kasan mentioned goaltender Jonathan Bernier and his season-ending hip surgery. He mentioned that Bernier had dealt with the hip issue since training camp and, although he attempted to battle through things, he had “exhausted every option to recovery” and “surgery ended up being the final outcome.”
Ruff spoke on Bernier saying that the goalie knew his hip was not “quite right, to where he ended up needing to have surgery.” Ruff also mentioned that Bernier wanted “to make a difference” wanted “to help win hockey games. He really felt the injury was holding him back from making a difference in the game.”
Kasan mentioned that Ruff gave credit to Bernier trying to play “through pain and discomfort early in the season when the Devils really needed him with Mackenzie Blackwood out. Despite his best efforts, the hip prevented Bernier from playing at the level of his true ability.”
Ruff told Kasan that the hip is “a pretty important joint for a goaltender. When you look at some of the struggles he had, you can understand, playing with pain, playing with aggravation, the effect that can have on your game. It’s a physical effect, but mentally you have to battle through all of that.”
Kasan also reported that Ruff is out of NHL COVID protocols. The coach told him that he had been staying in contact with the team while watching at home through Zoom. Ruff also “was on headset with coaches during games and communicated at every aspect with his coaching staff.”
He told Kasan that he “experienced ‘minimal symptoms’” while in protocol.
He commended his team and coaching staff Alain Nasreddine – who took over “head coaching duties”, Mark Recchi (who worked with the forwards along with Nasreddine) and Chris Taylor, who was on the bench overseeing the defense during Ruff’s absence.
The Devils ended up winning in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers and the Washington Capitals before falling to the Boston Bruins last night in their games without Ruff behind the bench.
Kasan, in a separate article, also mentioned another return from COVID Protocol. Forward Jimmy Vesey practiced this afternoon with the club.
Vesey had missed four games while in protocol.
Vesey, Kasan is reporting, “expects to be in the lineup Thursday when the Devils host Columbus.” However, Kasan did mention that “the lack of conditioning and exercise due to the COVID restrictions were noticeable” when he returned to skate on Tuesday on his own.
Vesey told him “I tried to do some activity, but not much you can do. To be honest it didn’t feel great (Tuesday). It felt a lot better (Wednesday) with more bodies and structure to the skate. I actually felt good today and I think I’m good to go for tomorrow.”
Vesey “had no symptoms” according to the article by Kasan.
Vesey noted that while he missed five days, the team also “just had four days off for Christmas, so I’ve been off for quite a few days. That’s the biggest thing, physically feeling in game shape so to speak.”
Kasan said he will try to simplify things when he gets back in the lineup “while gauging how COVID and the time off effected his play.”
Vesey told him “I’ll definitely try to play simple tomorrow. There will be some rust. I’m sure my legs won’t feel great at certain points of the game. That’s just part of the process of getting back. It wasn’t like it was long-term absence. Hopefully it comes back quick.”