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Devils pushed to pay attention to details in up-tempo practice
Coming off two losses (0-1-1) and a New Year’s Eve off, coach John Hynes put the Devils through one of their most up-tempo practices of the season so far today at Barnabas Health Hockey House at Prudential Center.

Which is saying something because the Devils’ haven’t really had a slack-off practice so far this season.

The keys were speed and accuracy on the rushes and getting to the net and creating traffic there.

Hynes stopped for a brief second to loudly point out an “awful” defensive effort.,At one point, after Drew Stafford, who appears set to remain a healthy scratch, scored on line rush

“Practice time is hard to come by at this time of the year,” defenseman John Moore said. “Any time you get a chance to work on things with that time at a premium is a plus. In the Washington game (Saturday’s 5-2 loss) there were certain areas we want to improve on. We were lucky to have a practice to hammer that home.”

“I think it was just getting back to what’s made us successful throughout the year and that’s our habits, our details and our work ethic,” Travis Zajac added. “That’s not to say our work ethic is lack but it’s always good to reinforce those habits and that’s what practice was about today.”

The Devils departed for St. Louis after practice, where they will face the Blues on Tuesday night (Faceoff: 8 p.m.; Television: MSG Plus 2; Radio: WFAN-101.9FM/660AM, digital One Jersey Network) as they continue this four-game road trip which opened with the loss to the Capitals.

“We talked to them this morning in the morning about having strong habits,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “I think when you look at games like the Washington game where you need to have strong structure and really good habits to be able to win those games, we weren’t as strong as we needed to be. So we pointed some of those things out.

” Hynes added. “Even if it’s a 25-minute practice we have to be able to practice and have habits that are going to help us when we play in games where there’s pressure or strong meaning to them. So that’s our next challenge.”,“But it’s also, coming down the stretch, when we get on the ice for practice, we have to have winning habits at all times

For the record, there was far from a 25-minute practice. Rather, Hynes worked his players hard and nearly non-stop for almost 50 minutes.

Devils No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider has started a season-high nine straight games and Hynes acknowledged he has thought long and hard about his goalie decision for Tuesday night. But he was not ready to announce a starting goalie.

Backup Keith Kinkaid has not played since stopping 34 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9, the so-called “soft” and “loose” loss as dubbed by Hynes that night, though he was not talking about Kinkaid’s performance.

Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary scored in a four-goal second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 win over the scuffling Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

Ryan Reaves and Tom Kuhnhackl also scored in the second to help the Penguins beat their in-state rivals again. Both teams started the night outside the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

Flyers goalie Brian Elliott, who made his 14th straight start, allowed the four goals on just eight shots in the second period and was yanked for Michal Neuvirth in the third.

The Penguins lost goalie Tristan Jarry to an injury in the second. Jarry, who had a 1.56 goals-against average and .943 save percentage over his last three games,Authentic Blake Wheeler jersey, appeared to take a stiff shot off his blocker hand and was checked by the team trainer. Matt Murray kept the Flyers scoreless the rest of the game.

The Penguins’ scoring burst came in just four minutes and they needed only 40 seconds during that span to score twice and take a 3-1 lead. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby had an assist on Kessel’s 17th goal, but the Penguins also got goals from fourth-liners Reaves and Kuhnhackl to break the game open. Reaves snapped a 1-all tie with his second and Sheary scored 40 seconds later for his 11th. Kuhnhackl got his second of the season to make it 4-1.

Reaves and Kuhnhackl each scored against Philadelphia’s top defensive pair, Robert Hagg and Travis Konecny, and the Flyers were unable to build on a huge road win at Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay.

Jamie Oleksiak made it 5-1 with a power-play goal in the third to seal just the Penguins’ fourth win over the last 11 games.

Jordan Weal scored his fourth of the season for the Flyers.

Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 26th goal 1:57 into overtime as visiting Washington topped Carolina for its third straight win.

who went to overtime for the sixth time in eight games.,adidas Patrik Laine jersey,Ovechkin also tied it with 7:15 left in regulation, with Nicklas Backstrom assisting on both goals. Alex Chiasson, Devante Smith-Pelly and Dmitry Orlov each scored for the Capitals

Joe Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for the Sharks (21-12-4),Authentic Dustin Byfuglien jersey, who were coming off a 6-0 setback Sunday in Dallas. San Jose has won 4 of 5.

Andrew Shaw scored for Montreal (16-20-4), which has lost five straight games and scored just four goals during that span.

Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves for Minnesota, which has won 3 of 4. Charlie Coyle added an empty-net goal and Jared Spurgeon had three assists. Zach Parise made his season debut for the Wild after missing the first 39 games while recovering from back surgery.

Staal had his fourth multigoal game of the season in adding to his team lead with 17 goals. Cullen had his first multigoal game since April 7, 2016,Authentic Connor Hellebuyck jersey, doubling his season output.

The Blues have never won a Stanley Cup. That reality will hang over the franchise and haunt fans until the breakthrough finally occurs.

That 50-year futility is the “yeah, but” clause inserted into every upbeat conversation about the team.

With that qualifier out of the way, let’s make it clear: This franchise’s hockey operation has never been better.

Sure, the Blues had more colorful (Ron Caron), aggressive (Mike Keenan) and patient (Larry Pleau) heads of the hockey operation. It has had wealthier owners (Bill and Nancy Laurie) and more gregarious executives (Mike Shanahan).

was a no-brainer.,With the combination of chairman Tom Stillman and general manager Doug Armstrong, though, this long-frustrated franchise has its best shot at actually earning a parade. So Armstrong’s four-year contract extension, with a fifth-year club option

Armstrong wanted to stay and Stillman wanted him to stay, given his success since coming over from the Dallas Stars as Pleau’s understudy and successor.

Stillman shares Armstrong’s vision for team-building. He knows the sport, unlike some other owners, but he also gives his hockey people room to do their thing.

he is committed to the fan base. You can see it in the way he interacts with the coaching staff and the players.”,“He’s honest and he’s strong and he’s got that commitment that he also has that long-term vision,” Armstrong said during the Wednesday news conference to announce his new contract. “He’s passionate. A lot of owners,adidas Blake Wheeler jersey, it’s just a small part of their overall conglomerate of businesses and they come and go. Tom is here every day. He is committed to the franchise

Stillman’s ownership group is committed to winning. It spends to the NHL salary cap year after year and funds an all-star front office staff.

that we have a committed owner that’s going to do what it takes to win.”,“The understanding if we continue to have success, he will pour whatever revenues that come in back into the product on the ice,” Armstrong said. “Really, that’s what our fans want to know

Colton Parayko and Jake Allen.,Armstrong and Co. have built an impressive talent base of prime-age players (or younger) starring Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn

Jordan Kyrou and Klim Kostin.,You’ve seen prospects Vince Dunn, Tage Thompson, Sammy Blais and Jordan Schmaltz flash upside this season. The World Junior Championships are reminding us that more talent is destined for St. Louis,adidas Philipp Grubauer jersey, including young forwards Robert Thomas

“Our stable of prospects is among the best in the league even while we’ve had this current success,Authentic Patrik Laine jersey,” Stillman said. “I think that says a lot. The way Doug has made decisions that are not maybe decisions some would make in a contract year, looking for the long-term success and not necessarily going for it in the near term. He’s just shown tremendous ability to make us successful now and make sure that we’ll still be in good position for the future.”

Armstrong’s regime hasn’t been perfect. Weary of watching Jarsoslav Halak bleed untimely goals, he took a pricey 2014 playoff ride on the Ryan Miller Express. That did not end well.

Upon further review,adidas Dustin Byfuglien jersey,he needed to get more from the T.J. Oshie trade with the Washington Capitals or find other ways to create long-term salary cap space.

He needed to be more generous with Vladimir Sobotka to keep him out of Russia. He needed to be less generous with Jori Lehtera, who virtually disappeared after getting another nice NHL deal.

He held on to coach Ken Hitchcock too long and created an untenable situation with Mike Yeo lurking as the coach-in-waiting last season.

On the other hand, Armstrong knew when to hit the reset button with his roster. He let Troy Brouwer and David Backes exit via free agency so he could start molding a younger team nucleus.

He traded Kevin Shattenkirk and his expiring contract to Washington for Zach Sanford and a first-round pick — then used that pick in the miraculous deal with the Philadelphia Flyers that turned the useless Lehtera into the ultra-valuable Schenn.

He traded up in the 2016 NHL draft to get Thompson. He dealt enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2017 draft pick that yielded Kostin. His scouting staff keeps finding high-ceiling talent down in the draft,Authentic Michael Hutchinson jersey, against the odds.

All of this has positioned the Blues to move into Cup contention for years to come.

is to win that Cup, your draw,” Stillman said. “There’s never any ambiguity or disagreement. We are very definitely on the same page there. I think we also both believe that to win a championship you have to put yourself in position not just one year,adidas Michael Hutchinson jersey, because in that one year everything has to go right,Authentic Carter Hutton jersey, but for a few years,“We both have a clear understanding that that is goal No. 1, whether it’s injuries,adidas Connor Hellebuyck jersey, other things ... I don’t believe in the idea of pinpointing one year and that’s our year. It’s just not realistic.”

So while Armstrong will look for ways to improve this season’s squad as the trade deadline nears, he won’t take an “all in” approach and overpay for temporary help. He is not an impulse shopper, unlike some of his unsteady predecessors.

“You’re always wanting to win every day, but you also want to have a bright future,” Armstrong said. “I think we’re trying to combine both of those things. Today it looks like it’s on the right track.”

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