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Devils’ Lindy Ruff on benching players in third period: ‘Coach’s decision’

After a season in which captain Nico Hischier was a Selke Trophy finalist, Jack Hughes brushed 100 points and the New Jersey Devils made it to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012, the pressure is on to replicate that success this year.

Not ideal, then, that the Devils have gone 1-1-1 to start the season and suffered a tough 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday.

The Devils went down 4-0 in the first period before clawing back in the third to within one goal, but the last-ditch effort wasn’t enough.

Head coach Lindy Ruff decided to limit the ice time of defenceman John Marino and forward Timo Meier, who signed an eight-year, $70.4 million contract this off-season — a choice the bench boss owns.

“Coaches decision, on anybody that didn’t play,” Ruff told reporters after the game. He also called his team’s defensive zone coverage “terrible” and his team “undisciplined” overall.

Ruff specifically cited Meier’s two back-to-back penalties in the second period as a reason he saw limited playing time in the final frame. “Can’t take the penalties he took,” Ruff said.

“We need more, we need more out of a lot of guys. This isn’t about one guy — when we start the game, there’s 18 guys that are playing. We need more out of our group.”

Obviously, it’s too early in the season to hit the panic button for the Devils, but one win in three games is not the roaring start needed to make a splash in the stacked Metropolitan Division.

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