Hughes will make his playoff debut for the Devils against the Hurricanes in Game 3

NEWARK, New Jersey — Luc Hughes will make its Stanley Cup Playoff debut when the New Jersey Devils face the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Prudential Center on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; TBS, SN1, VAT).

“I think it’s definitely excitement,” Hughes said after practice on Saturday. “I don’t really get nervous. I get more nervous watching the game, in the stands, but no nerves there. I’m very excited and definitely ready to play.”

The 19-year-old defender will replace Ryan Graveswho came out with an upper-body injury he sustained in a 6-1 loss to Carolina in Game 2 on Friday.

The Hurricanes lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.

“I think it’s just playing my game and having a really quick transition with my legs and with my passing ability, so that’s something I can help this team with,” Hughes said. “I just want to focus on my transition game, play fast, get back to the pucks and help on breakouts and in the neutral zone, and then do my thing in the offensive zone.

“I’m very ready and very prepared.”

[RELATED: Complete Hurricanes vs. Devils series coverage]

Devils Center Jack Hughes has a good idea of ​​what his younger brother will bring to the roster.

“We need movers, we need guys who can carry the puck out of the zone,” Jack said. “That’s what we lacked a bit in the first two games, and Luke is a guy who can get the puck in and out of the zone and be a threat in the run. We’re a fast team and we need guys who move the puck… Our defense has done a good job all year. »

Luc Hughes, who was selected by the Devils with the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, turned pro last month after two seasons at the University of Michigan. He signed an entry-level three-year contract with the Devils on April 8, two days after Michigan was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament semifinals. His older brother is the defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks Quinn Hughes.

Luke had 87 points (27 goals, 60 assists) in 80 games during his two seasons with Michigan. He had 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in 39 games as a sophomore this season to help them go 26-12-3 and reach the Frozen Four for the second straight season.

He had two points (one goal, one assist) in two regular season games for New Jersey this season, scoring in overtime of a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals on April 13.

“I think the biggest thing watching this series is that Carolina is right on top (of the puck) the whole game, so having a quick transition game can hopefully undermine that a bit.” , said Luke. “I noticed they are on top all night, they use their clashes very well to capitalize most of their opportunities. They are a very patient team, but when they have their chances they are really deadly .”

New Jersey returned to practice on Saturday, less than 24 hours after another lopsided loss. They were outplayed and outplayed in consecutive games, losing games 1 and 2 by an 11-2 margin, including 8-2 at 5-5.

The good news is that they are now heading home, where they won Games 5 and 7 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round by identical scores of 4-0.

“Personally, it’s super exciting to be home,” Luke said. “The only game I played here, I heard the chants of ‘Luke’, and it was great. The fans were great.”

The Devils rallied from a similar 0-2 deficit to Rangers. After losing Games 1 and 2 by identical scores of 5-1, New Jersey won four of the next five games to advance to the second round for the first time in 11 years.

“We played a really good game 5 and game 7 against Rangers, and the energy in the building (in Carolina in games 1-2) is something I think [Carolina] built, and we’re going to develop the energy in our building,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “But you also have to play well at the same time. I think it will be something that will give us a little extra boost.”

There is also a chance Vitek Vanecek will replace Akira Schmid as a Game 3 starter after the latter was retired in each of the first two games against the Hurricanes. Vanecek played in the third period of Game 2 after Schmid allowed four goals on 25 shots, and Schmid was retired 1:55 into the second period after allowing three goals on 11 shots in Game 1.

It wouldn’t be a surprise after Schmid looked uncomfortable for the first time in this Game 2 playoff, allowing four goals on 16 shots in the second period.

“It’s possible that Vitek will start Game 3,” Ruff said.

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