Devils superstar center Jack Hughes has officially returned to the lineup tonight against the Rangers after missing five games with an injury to his right shoulder. It’s about right on schedule for the 22-year-old, who sustained the injury on November 3 against the Blues and was subsequently listed as week-to-week. Already with a goal and assist in tonight’s contest at the time of writing, Hughes now resumes his quest for the Art Ross and Hart Trophies – both honors he was in strong contention for when he exited the lineup earlier this month. Despite the absence, Hughes’ 20 points in ten games entering tonight still tie for 15th in the league, and he’s only seven back of the league lead, a deficit he made significant headway in closing tonight despite skating on a rather odd line with Erik Haula and Curtis Lazar. Hughes is in the second season of an eight-year, $64MM extension signed with the Devils in November 2021 that already looks like quite the bargain.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Staying in New Jersey, the injury designation surrounding winger Timo Meier isn’t as positive as Hughes’. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury and is not in tonight’s contest, missing his second straight game with the injury after serving as a scratch Thursday night against the Penguins. Head coach Lindy Ruff had no update on Meier’s status when asked by reporters pre-game, and he remains sidelined on a day-to-day basis. He was off to a decent start on the scoresheet with 11 points in 14 contests but carries a team-low -12 rating.
- Canadiens winger Rafaël Harvey-Pinard is also absent from action tonight, sitting out his second straight game with a lower-body injury against the Bruins. Harvey-Pinard sustained a lower-body injury earlier in the month in a November 2 contest against the Coyotes but missed only three games before returning to action just over a week later. After a three-game stint back in the lineup, however, Harvey-Pinard was not able to participate in the team’s loss to the Golden Knights on Thursday. The 24-year-old has cooled down from his strong point output last season, notching only four assists through 13 contests.
- Penguins veteran center Jeff Carter is sidelined for tonight’s contest against the Hurricanes and has now missed two games with a lower-body injury. He’s actually not played since logging 7:28 on November 9 against the Kings and was a healthy scratch for their following game against Buffalo, but sustained an injury outside of game action in the interim. The 38-year-old has failed to record a point in ten appearances this season.