New Jersey Devils finding new identity under interim head coach Alain Nasreddine: ‘Use our speed and play fast’

NEWARK, N.J. — “It’s simple; it’s ‘play fast.'”

Before even letting the question of what he wants to accomplish with his new club marinade, interim head coach Alain Nasreddine made sure the answer was clear — he wants his team to play with speed.

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“We’ve talked about it. That was the message the first day,” New Jersey’s new bench boss said prior to Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. “We have a lot of speed on the team upfront. We have good, puck-moving D, so it’s ‘play fast.'”

Even just three games into his tenure, the Devils were showing off their speed early on in Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. They were controlling the pace of the game with their legs, owning possession and scoring opportunities.

There were even times that the Hawks missed checks because New Jersey’s speedsters were evading them with their quickness.

“I thought our first period and our decisions with the puck were also good and that’s what we talked about, using our speed. I thought we did that,” Nasreddine told the media postgame.

“I’ll take the effort, for the most part, we played the way we wanted to play and we’ll take it. It would’ve been nice to get two points, but we’ll take the one.”

One silver lining: the Devils are starting to find their identity, and that’s a good sign for a team that currently sits at the bottom of the standings. As goes the cliché, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“There’s different ways of being tough to play against; you can be physical or you can be on top of players on the other team. That’s what we are trying to do, use our speed and play fast,” Nasreddine said after the optional morning skate on Friday.

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The Devils (9-15-5) are now 0-2-1 under their interim head coach after a 6-4 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. They will face the Stars (17-11-3) in Dallas on Tuesday in the second game of a four-game road trip.

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