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Hischier calls on Devils to live up to expectations: 'We've got to go out there and do it'

New Jersey Devils Erik Haula Nico Hischier - The Canadian Press

New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier has had a long year.

The team made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for just the second time since he was drafted first overall in 2017 and reached the second round for the first time since losing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2011-12.

Following the rigourous 82-game NHL schedule and two-round playoff run, Hischier represented Switzerland at the World Hockey Championship in Finland and Latvia.

Now, the 24-year-old is enjoying a small break at home as the upstart Devils look to build off their best season in over a decade.

"It was definitely a hard and long year," Hischier told Amanda Stein of, "I was quite happy at some point after [the World Championships] for me to put my year away a little bit and recharge my batteries. It was a tough year physically and mentally, but a really fun year. For me, it's always really nice to come home to Switzerland and see friends and family. Just recharge my batteries."

The Devils finished the season second in the Metropolitan Division with a 52-22-8 record, just one back behind the Carolina Hurricanes. General manager Tom Fitzgerald continued to add to his successful young core that includes Hischier and fellow first overall pick Jack Hughes with the off-season acquisitions of Tyler Toffoli and Tomas Nosek in addition to the re-signing of forwards Jesper Bratt and trade deadline prize Timo Meier to long-term contracts.

Hischier says he has full confidence in Fitzgerald to improve the team as the start of training camp grow closer.

"I know what Fitzy brings. we trust in Fitzy and what he tries to do, he brings in people that can help us," said Hischier. "You can see the team grow. Management did a great job again with brining guys into our team. I think of paper we [look] really [good], but at the end of the day, we've got to go out there and do it."

Hischier logged a career-high 31 goals and 80 points in 81 games last season, adding one goal and six assists in 12 playoff games, as the team finally found success with it's young core. The Brig, Switzerland native said that, while 2022-23 gives the team confidence, it's on them to carry that momentum take the next step to become a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

"The season we had last year, doesn't change anything this year. "It's a new season coming up. It gives us confidence as a group, we took the steps we wanted to take," said Hischier. "But we definitely understand that expectations are going to be higher. But that's what we want if we want to end up on the top.

"Teams are going to be ready for us. It will be a challenge for sure, but a challenge we take with open arms."