Devils Head Coach John Hynes gave a confident assessment of his team after a 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday night.
The Devils have lost two in a row, with the other loss coming on Thursday night to the Blue Jackets in Columbus, 6-1.
New Jersey has lost five of its last six games, with their only win coming against the Rangers on Tuesday night.
They currently are just one point out of the final playoff spot, with the trade deadline Monday. their next game is Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Here is what Hynes said on Friday:
On how the Devils will meet the challenge of getting the team on track again for the playoff run:
“Well, I think it’s like everything we’ve done. The one thing I’ve always said about the group is it’s a character group. We’ve come into the year and there weren’t a lot of expectations for the group on our team, and here we sit in a pretty good position, with a winning record (30-26-7), with a lot of pride in how we play. This week wasn’t the week that we wanted. We had a good game against the Rangers, the last two games weren’t close to how we want to be.
“I think when you’re working with character people and guys that have proven over the course of the year that they’re going to play hard for one another and we’ll get it back on track. These things happen throughout a season, so we’ve got to stay the course of reacting the right way when things haven’t gone well for us throughout the year and we’ll do that.”
On what has been missing the last two games:
“I don’t necessarily think the two games were uncommon. Last night (Thursday), we didn’t get off to a great start, I thought that was something, we were a little out of sorts in certain ways last night to start the game. Tonight (Friday), it was just more of certain breakdowns that ended up in the back of the net. I think in both games, whether we played well enough to win them or not is one thing, but there were opportunities early in tonight’s game, sometimes in the second. Sometimes, when things go well for you, a goal goes in, there’s a momentum changer where you’re able to build on that. The two nights, we haven’t been able to put the puck in the net at a key time to either get momentum or keep the score tighter, change something that way, and we haven’t handled those situations as well as we need to, so those are the things we can address and look to get better at.”
On if he would like to get some help on Monday at the trade deadline to help this team down the stretch:
“My job is to coach the team that’s in front of me, which I think that not just myself, but I think our coaching staff has done that from day one. I have a lot of respect for this group as competitors. I have a lot of respect for the guys that are in the room. A couple of games didn’t go our way, but for me, it’s about the guys in the room, the guys that have played hard for us all year long and will continue to do that, so that’s my focus. I think the big thing here is you got to take a day here to re-focus. We don’t play until Tuesday (vs. Carolina), we’ll be back ready to go.”
On what he told the team after the loss on Friday night:
“I don’t go in (to the locker room) after losses a lot, sometimes after a win. Tonight, I didn’t go in after that just because we played back-to-back games and we’ll address them a day from now.”
On what is important for the team going forward:
“I think any time you go through adversity, there’s gotta be resiliency and you’ve got to have mental toughness. That’s part of what this whole thing’s about in an 82-game schedule and going through certain situations throughout the year, so that’s what the test is right now. I think when you win three or four straight and you’re on a roll and good times are going, you have to make sure that you can’t let the good times don’t roll too much and you continue to make sure that you get better. It’s the same thing when you lose, you need to make sure that you stay the course and part of this is resiliency, part of it is, as we continue to grow as a team and a group and an organization and the culture that we want to have this year, these are important games.
“The good thing is that we’re playing important games. We’re playing games that, when we lose, people are upset. I think that’s a good thing, that’s growth for our group. There’s a lot of guys in that locker room that haven’t done that (play important games) the last couple of years and this year, we are. So how can we get better with those areas because we’re still in them, so that’s part of it and that’s the biggest component of when you go through these stretches, is understanding how we work through it and that’s what we have to do a better job of over the next few days and get ready for Tuesday.”
On the confidence and defiance of the Devils after Friday’s loss:
“It’s who they are. We sat in this room in a team meeting in the beginning of the year, and we were picked to be a last place team and guys put in the work. As I’ve always said, it’s a character group. They know how to work, they compete, they have a lot of pride, and when you have that, anything’s possible. When you have that, you’re going to be able to work through the situation we’re working through right now. We haven’t played our best the last two games, and I think when you have the leadership we have and the veteran guys that we have, and we know we’ll get through it. We just have to be ready to put the work in and stick with it and make sure we have a better week next week than we did this week.”
On the leadership of his team:
“We do, I think you have a group of guys in there that have been leaders all year long. The nice thing about coaching a group like that is that it’s not all talk. They walk the walk every day, they do the right things, they practice the right way, they’re on board with what’s going on. When you have those things inside your team and inside your culture, that’s the first step and we have that. Now, the next step is let’s get it back on track of playing regularly how we want to play.”