TAMPA, FL – The time has arrived.
The New Jersey Devils are prepared and ready, as they are set to face-off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs opening round on Thursday in Tampa.
The Devils have worked for this moment all season long and are relishing in the opportunity to upset the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"There’s excitement and a strong focus level," Hynes said. "It doesn’t seem like there’s anything out of the ordinary for us. We feel like we have certainly prepared really well throughout the regular season, we’ve had some good prep-practices and prep-days. We’re ready to play. Time to get Game One going here."
"As a group, we have to focus on what has made us successful all season long," Taylor Hall said. "And as individuals, what’s made you so successful all-season long. You try and let your talent show through, and as a group we’ve done that all season."
There will be many players making their post-season debuts on the Devils roster. Not only will rookies such as Nico Hischier, Will Butcher and Blake Coleman get their first taste of postseason hockey, but eight-year NHL veteran Taylor Hall will also take part in his first-career playoff game.
"It’s more just a team feeling for me," Hall said when asked about how emotions heading into Game 1. "We’ve had a really solid season so far, I’m not really thinking of it as ‘my first playoff game’, I’m thinking of it as ‘our first playoff game as a group’ and what we can accomplish here."
Coach John Hynes will go with a lineup that has had proven success down the stretch. Hynes will stick with the same group that went 7-0-1 in the final eight regular season games, holding off the Florida Panthers and clinching a playoff berth.
That also means the opportunity will be given to Keith Kinkaid to take the reign’s in net as the Devils number one goaltender.
"It’s everyone’s dream," Kinkaid said. "Fortunately, I had a good run at the end of the season. We had a great run and I just want to keep that momentum going into tonight."
The Devils lineup will look as follows: