Practice Report: Henrique, Matteau Skate With Devils

Greetings from the Prudential Center on this wonderful Thursday morning. The Devils had a morning skate prior to tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, which, believe it or not, is a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division. It’s only been five games, but who woulda thunk that before the season started? Just goes to show the Devils play in the toughest division in hockey.

There were a couple of notable participants in the skate this morning: Adam Henrique and Stefan Matteau. Now, as of press time (10:40ish a.m.), neither player is locked in to playing tonight, or in Matteau’s case, locked in to staying in the NHL this season. Still, in Henrique’s case, it’s a clear sign that he’s as close to returning as he’s been all season. We’ll just have to see if he’s in the lineup tonight.

The Devils defensemen worked on taking shots from the point while the forwards ran dump and support drill that saw one man chase a puck into the corner while the other circled back around the faceoff dot and into the slot. The Devils continue to work on different aspects of their forecheck in every practice I’ve been to, and rightfully so. It’s one of the most important parts of their game — if not the most important.

Unfortunately, I missed the early part of the skate (thanks L train), but here’s the lines from this morning that show Henrique centering the fourth line and Matteau as one of the extra forwards, meaning the Devils likely don’t plan to use him in a sixth game and activate the first year of his entry-level contract.

Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:

Jacob Josefson-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Dainius Zubrus-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson
Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier
Matt Anderson-Adam Henrique-Krys Barch

Extras: Stefan Matteau, Mathieu Darche.

There were no defensive pairings, but everyone skated. There was no evidence that Adam Larsson will get in the lineup after two losses. Also, expect Martin Brodeur back in net tonight.

Stay tuned for more updates.