Pennsylvania Sweep: Devils Defeat Flyers For Second Road Win of Season

With two straight games against the high-powered Pennsylvania NHL teams, the Devils could have gotten buried deeper in the hole they had dug for themselves last week.

Instead, they pulled off a sweep, taking two important Metropolitan Division games from the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. Tonight’s game was a 3-0 win over the Flyers down in Philly.

Keith Kinkaid got the shutout win, his third shutout of the season (a career high) and the seventh of his career (tying him with Chris Terreri on the Devils all-time list). He made 29 saves on the night in getting the Devils back to NHL .500 at 8-8-1. He also got some help as the Flyers hit four posts in the game and Ben Lovejoy came to his aid to make a big defensive play late when Kinkaid decided he was going to try to shoot at an empty net. This was no doubt inspired by Marty Brodeur going into the Hockey Hall of Fame, as Kinkaid grew up a big Marty fan. Opposing him was Brian Elliott, who made 23 saves on 25 shots against before leaving with an injury that occurred on the Devils’ second goal of the game. Calvin Pickard came on in relief and stopped the single shot he faced in 5:29 on the ice.

Speaking of time on ice, the Devils did suffer an injury as well. That would be defenseman Sami Vatanen, who left early in the second period after he went into the boards hard just after being hit with a high stick by Ivan Provorov. Vatanen, of course, is a big minutes-eater for the Devils and his presence was missed. The Devils finished the game playing with just five d-men. There is no word from the team yet on what is wrong with him, but he was favoring his left knee as he went off.

The Devils were also missing Nico Hischier, who is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Brian Boyle has been placed on injured reserve and is eligible to return around Thanksgiving time. The Flyers were getting back Jersey-native James van Riemsdyk, who had been out injured since October 6, the Flyers’ second game of the season.

The first goal of the game featured a pair of firsts. Joey Anderson scored his first career goal off assists from Brett Seney – his first career NHL assist – and Blake Coleman. Coleman would factor into all three goals by the Devils. Anderson’s goal came when Vatanen created a turnover in the neutral zone and the forwards regrouped to stay onside. Coleman grabbed the puck and skated into the Flyers zone and passed to Seney on the right wing. Seney one-touch passed it to Anderson, who was trailing. He fired the one-timer past Elliott to make it 1-0 Devils.

Philly would seem to tie things with 11:13 to go in the first. They scored on the power play, but the goal was immediately waved off on the ice as a result of incidental contact between van Riemsdyk and Kinkaid. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol used his challenge to try to get it overturned, but replays showed that van Riemsdyk banged into Kinkaid’s catching glove and then his hip hit Kinkaid’s head. This kept Kinkaid from getting set and the call on the ice stood: no goal. It was still 1-0 Devils.

Anderson’s goal would prove to be the game winner as it remained 1-0 through two periods until the 13:52 mark of the third period. Kyle Palmieri scored from Coleman and Travis Zajac then to make it 2-0. This came when Coleman stood Philly up at the New Jersey blue line. The puck got to Zajac, who criss-crossed with Palmieri and passed to him at the Flyers’ goal line. He made a power move towards the net, but cut behind to try the wraparound. He stuffed it in the empty part of the net and the Devils had an insurance goal.

When Pickard was pulled with about 3:30 left in the game, Coleman would add an empty netter with an assist to Palmieri to complete his three point night. Coleman would not be named one of the game’s three stars, however, as Kinkaid was the first star, Elliott the second in a losing effort and Anderson the third.

On the power play, the Devils were 0-for-2 with three shots while Philly (whose special teams are a mess – their power play ranked 29th in the NHL and their penalty kill at 30th coming into tonight) was 0-for-4 with six shots. The Devils also had a lone shorthaned shot on Elliott.

Team-wise, the Devils won 45-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They did outhit the Flyers 32-27 and both teams had 14 blocked shots.

In Vatanen’s absence, Andy Greene took over the time on ice leadership, racking up 25:14 (including 6:31 on the PK). Zajac led all forwards with 19:36 (2:13 on the PP and 4:32 on the PK). Coleman led in shots on goal with five and Damon Severson (who left the game with less than two minutes left with Philly’s Wayne Simmonds, who got matching ten minute misconduct penalties) led the team with six hits. Blocked shots were led by Greene with four and Coleman and Anderson tied with two takeaways.

Next up, the Devils begin a busy weekend when they return home to take on the Detroit Red Wings at Prudential Center on Saturday. That game is a 1 PM puck drop and we, of course, will have it for you right here.

Devils Snap Skid, Defeat Pens at Home

The Devils got back from what was a disastrous road trip and were set to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. A tall order, but one the Devils were ready for. The lone win on their trip came in Pittsburgh and last night, they beat the Penguins at Prudential Center 4-2.

I was able to attend the game and was there for Martin Brodeur Hall of Fame Night. Marty was on hand to drop the ceremonial faceoff prior to the game between Devils captain Andy Greene and Pens captain Sidney Crosby. There was special merchandise in the team store, a display of Marty’s more historical jerseys in the concourse, patches won on the current Devils’ uniforms and an interview that was shown during the second intermission between Marty and NHL Network host EJ Hradek. It was a great tribute to a man who changed a franchise.

But now on to the game itself. Some roster moves for the Devils, as Brian Boyle was placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury and Nico Hischier would miss the game with an upper body injury as well. Drew Stafford and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches along with Hischier. Pavel Zacha was recalled from Binghamton to take Hischier’s place on the roster.

In goal, Keith Kinkaid was back for the Devils making 29 saves on 31 Pittsburgh shots. The Penguins went with Casey DeSmith. He stopped 31 shots against the Devils’ 34 on him. The Devils finished the game with 35 shots total, as they added an empty netter later on.

The Devils got on the board just 28 seconds into the game when Travis Zajac scored from Taylor Hall and Damon Severson. It was the start of a big night for all three of them. That goal came when Hall reversed the puck back into the Penguins’ zone. Severson got a chop at it to try to put it in and DeSmtih could not corral the rebound. Zajac was right there to hammer it home and give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

But the Pens would tie things up before the first intermission. Phil Kessel scored from Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the power play (set up when Stefan Noesen was called for high sticking at 13:12) at 13:57. The Pittsburgh power play was still as surgical as ever and it showed here.

The second period was a wild one for the Devils. It began when Severson scored his third of the year from Hall and Jesper Bratt at 8:06. That came when Bratt found Hall behind the Pittsburgh net. Hall then passed to Severson, camped out at the top of the slot, who boomed a one-timer past DeSmith to make it 2-1 Devils.

And the Devils would come oh-so-close to making it 3-1 in this period. At the midway point of the second, Bratt had seemingly scored but the whistle had actually been blown behind the play where Kessel and Brett Seney had gotten into it. This resulted in Kessel receiving two roughing minors and Seney one. The Devils would be on the power play, but would not find the back of the net. The Pens went 1-for-3 with the man advantage, generating two shots on Kinkaid (they also had two shorthanded shots) and the Devils were 0-for-2 with two shots (they had two shorthanded shots as well).

Early in the third period, the Penguins would again tie things up, at two this time. Jake Guentzel scored from Crosby and Kessel at 4:04. Crosby appeared to bump Kinkaid on the rush, leaving Guentzel clear to put the rebound into the net. The Devils used their coach’s challenge but the call on the ice stood, it was a good goal. The crowd was not happy about this to say the least. The noise level picked up considerably with the booing and razzing of the refs.

But the Devils were not done. Hall would scored at the 8:07 mark from Zajac and Kyle Palmieri to give the Devils back the lead. The assist was Zajac’s 300th career NHL assist. This goal developed on the rush when Palmieri lobbed the puck up to Zajac, who chipped it ahead to Hall. Hall got in tight on DeSmith, deked to his forehand and went five hole to put the Devils ahead 3-2.

The Pens would pull DeSmith with about two minutes remaining and Hall, on his way to being named the game’s first star, scored into the empty net from Noesen with less than 30 seconds left in the game to ice it.

The Devils won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs and were outhit by a wide margin 32-16. The Devils recorded more blocks, 14-8, however.

Sami Vatanen once again led in total ice time with a huge 25:00 (1:23 on the power play, 2:26 on the PK). Zajac led the forwards with 22:57 total ice time (1:21 on the PP and 3:03 on the PK). Hall and Ben Lovejoy each fired six shots on goal while hits were led by Zacha with four. Blocks were led by Hall, Palmieri, Zacha and Greene who each had two apiece. Palmieri and Zacha led in takeaways with two each.

Next up, the Devils travel down to Philly to take on the Flyers on Thursday at 7 PM. We will have coverage right here for you then. (Hopefully earlier!)

Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Officially Inducted

The Hockey Hall of Fame officially welcomed their Class of 2018 tonight in Toronto. Joining the immortals and legends this year were NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958, both in the Builder’s category. And in the players category, former Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup champion Martin St. Louis, women’s player and four-time Olympic gold medalist Jayna Hefford, Soviet great Aleksander Yakushev and Devils great Martin Brodeur.

Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame (and former Colorado Rockies player) Lanny McDonald introduced us to the ceremony. He thanked the past inductees, executives and current players who make the Hall possible and got the festivities underway.

Bettman was the first to be introduced. Wayne Gretzky presented him with his plaque. It was mentioned that he is the “longest serving commissioner in the major North American pro sports” at 25 years. Bettman ran through his fellow inductees and talked up their accomplishments. He thanked all those he worked with in the NHL offices and the players. He was praised by others, rightfully so, for growing the game in the United States by putting teams in the Sun Belt and he talked about that a bit. He did apologize for the work stoppages – sort of – he said that while he regrets them, they were basically a necessary evil and needed to happen to get the game in a better place. Bettman also noted that he was present at both St. Louis and Brodeur’s jersey retirement ceremonies. He mentioned that if you would have told him, a Jewish kid from Queens, that he would be in charge of the NHL when he was younger, he would never have believed it.

Following Bettman’s induction, Don Fehr of the NHLPA was shown in a video wishing congratulations to all of the inductees.

St. Louis was next up. In a nice moment, players from the current Tampa Bay Lightning (including Steven Stamkos, who St. Louis did play with) made the trip in and stood by the side of the stage during his induction. The Lightning are in Buffalo tomorrow and stopped in to pay tribute to the man who won the Stanley Cup, Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy all in the same season (2004). Former Devil Dave Andreychuk (who was the captain of the Lightning Stanley Cup team) was on hand to present him with his plaque. St. Louis was famously undrafted out of the University of Vermont because he was too small. He was signed as a free agent by the Calgary Flames and played a handful of games for them before being signed by the Lightning in 2000. Like Bettman, St. Louis was a symbol of determination and hard work.

Next up was an In Memorium piece about hockey people lost in the last year. Among them were former NHL President John Ziegler.

Following the In Memorium and prior to O’Ree going in, we had the Elmer Ferguson Award for print journalism and the Foster Hewitt Award for broadcast journalism. The Elmer Ferguson Award went to Larry Brooks, who, in addition to his work with the New York Post covering the Devils, Rangers and Islanders, also worked as the Devils’ Vice President of Communications and a radio broadcaster for ten years. Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen won the Foster Hewitt Award.

O’Ree was then up at the podium. He spoke about breaking the NHL’s color barrier in 1958 while with the Boston Bruins and how he did not realize he was doing so at the time. He just wanted to play hockey. He had a dream to make it to the NHL and he achieved it through hard work and perseverance, much like Bettman and St. Louis. He then talked about former Devils’ assistant coach Lou Vairo recommending him to the NHL in 1996 beginning a process that would see him spearhead a diversity program for the league and have the Willie O’Ree Community Award presented in his honor. He is also a member of the Order of Canada. Edmonton Oilers great Grant Fuhr presented him with his plaque.

Next up, the new members of the IIHF Hall of Fame were shown, among them Team USA great Chris Chelios.

This segued into Yakushev’s speech, which he did in Russian with a translator interpreting things for the audience. Yakushev won Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976 and was a 2003 IIHF Hockey Hall of Famer and a 1970 Russian Hockey Hall of Famer, but is best known in Canada for the 1972 Summit Series between the Soviets and Canadians. He never got to play in the NHL, but did play his entire career for one team: Spartak Moscow and he is the first Hockey Hall of Famer from that particular team. The great Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak, the first Russian player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, presented him with his plaque.

Next was a brief review of the Hall of Fame’s 75/25 celebrations at Maple Leaf Gardens. This being the 75th anniversary of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the 25th anniversary of its current location in Toronto, a gala was held to help raise funds and awareness of its programs.

Hefford was next. A member of Team Canada in international play since 1997, she scored the gold medal clinching goal in 2002 in Salt Lake City for the Canadians. She is a four-time Olympic gold medalist, who also played several seasons in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, of which she now serves as commissioner. She told stories about how she had to play on boys teams growing up in Kingston, Ontario because there was no girls hockey at that time. That has changed, as she noted, and women’s hockey has grown by leaps and bounds since she was young. She also made note of the theme of this year’s class: dedication, perseverance and hard work, something she shared with O’Ree, St. Louis and Bettman. Fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Geraldine Heaney presented her with her plaque.

Martin Brodeur was the next inductee. Marty was quick and to the point. He thanked his coaches, including Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson and Pat Burns, his goaltending coach Jacques Caron and Lou Lamoriello. He also thanked the owners of the Devils, both past (Dr. John McMullen) to present (Josh Harris and David Blitzer). He mentioned how his father, who was the team photographer for the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Expos helped him learn how to carry himself like a professional. He told a story about how he was ready to quit hockey as a teen after being cut from a AA team and his older brother practically dragged him back to the rink. He had a decision to make in his first years of hockey: become a goalie or a forward and he chose goalie because he would spend more time on the ice, getting to play the entire game. Lastly, he thanked the Devils fans and fans around the world who have cheered him over the years. Former Devils teammates and fellow Hall of Famers Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer presented him with his plaque.

It was a good ceremony overall. Seeing Brodeur go in was, of course, a highlight for this Devils fan, but each individual inductee brought something special to the event. The theme of the night of hard work and dedication was pretty neat in that it wove through each of the inductees’ careers. Patrik Elias is in his first year of eligibility next year. Hopefully we get to do this again then.

Devils’ Seven Game Road Trip Comes to an End With Loss to Jets

Well, at least it’s over. That’s the silver lining for what was just a brutal stretch of games for the Devils that began with a loss to Tampa in sunny Florida and ended with one to Winnipeg in snowy Manitoba. The Devils fell tonight 5-2 to the Jets.

Coach John Hynes felt that it was time to change things up. Defenseman Egor Yakovlev, the 27-year-old rookie the Devils signed from SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, who the team recalled from Binghamton back on October 22, made his NHL debut tonight. The 2018 Olympic gold medalist was paired with Damon Severson primarily and wore number 74. Mirco Mueller drew out for him and joined Jean-Sebastien Dea and Drew Stafford as healthy scratches. Steven Santini remains the only Devil on injured reserve, but he joined the team in Toronto and has been cleared for contact.

Hynes also felt it was time to shuffle the lines a bit. Moving up to center the top line with Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall was Travis Zajac while Nico Hischier dropped down to center the second line. Nico would be lost for the game in the second period with what the team is calling an upper body injury. We will see how much time he misses, if any.

Between the pipes, Cory Schneider got his third start of the season – still looking for that elusive first win of the 2018 calendar year. He ended up making 23 saves on 28 Winnipeg shots. For the Jets, Connor Hellebuyck, a Vezina Trophy candidate from last season, started. He made 34 stops on 36 Devils shots, his best possibly coming in the third period when he stopped Will Butcher who was all alone in the slot in front of him.

Things got off to a rough start as Winnipeg scored twice wtihin 29 seconds. At 3:02, Jack Roslovic scored from Dustin Byfuglien as Roslovic picked up a loose puck in the Devils’ zone and roofed one over Cory’s shoulder.

Mark Scheifele then scored his first of two in the game when he scored from Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers at 3:31. As Bryce Salvador, filling in for Ken Daneyko on color commentary (Daneyko was back in Toronto playing in the Hockey Hall of Fame NHL alumni game), said, it was just a missed assignment that led to a tic-tac-toe play by the Jets. Just like that, it was 2-0 Winnipeg.

But the Devils had some fight. At 7:15, Brett Seney scored his first career NHL goal from Jesper Bratt and Damon Severson. That one came when Severson pushed the puck in deep to Bratt. Bratt came out from behind the Jets’ net and backhanded a pass to Seney in the slot. Seney then unleashed a one-timer that beat Hellebuyck to cut the Winnipeg lead in half to 2-1.

But the Devils would never got closer than one goal back. At the 2:58 mark of the second, Scheifele scored his second of the game from Jacob Trouba to make it a two goal lead again for the Jets, 3-1. This goal was just Scheifele scoring backdoor off a nice pass from Trouba.

The Devils were down two again, but would get back within one for the final time in this game. It came at 3:45 of the second period off the stick of Blake Coleman and Damon Severson had the lone assist on the goal. This developed when Severson corralled a loose puck in the Devils’ zone and banked a pass off the boards up to Coleman. Coleman skated into the Jets zone and beat Hellebuyck glove side to make it 3-2. But that would be it for the Devils’ scoring on the night.

A bit of craziness in the second came 5:00 in when Byfuglien hit Brian Boyle up high and Ben Lovejoy immediately came to Boyle’s aid, trying to go one-on-one with the much bigger Byfuglien. When the dust settled, the Devils, who were on the penalty kill, ended up 4-on-4. Boyle was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (two minutes) as was Byfuglien, but Byfuglien was also given two minutes for charging Boyle. The Devils had a brief power play when the Stefan Noesen cross checking penalty, issued at 4:21, expired. Overall on the power play, the Devils were 0-for-3 with four shots while the Jets were 0-for-1 with a single shot.

The rest of the scoring occurred in the second period. Ehlers scored at 7:54 to give Winnipeg a 4-2 lead. Scheifele (his third point on the night) and Wheeler had the assists. This goal actually came on a delayed penalty on the Devils, so the Jets had the goalie pulled for the extra attacker – although this does not count as a power play goal, it does show what the Jets, with the number one-ranked power play in the NHL, can do in that situation.

A tough break for the Devils came midway through the second when a Bratt breakaway was whistled down on a phantom offsides call. The replay showed that the Devils were not actually offsides and that the linesman simply blew the play dead very early. A tough break in a series of them on this road trip.

Mathieu Perreault finished off the scoring to make it 5-2 Jets at the 12:47 mark of the second. He got assists from Kyle Connor and Bryan Little. Perreault scored from a slightly weird angle that just beat Schneider. And that was our final.

For the Devils, the stats do not look too good, but not that bad either. They won a paltry 39-percent of the game’s faceoffs and Winnipeg blocked more shots 25 to 11. But they did outhit the Jets, 23 to 20 and had less giveaways (17 for the Jets and just nine for New Jersey).

Individually, Sami Vatanen had the most ice time with 26:43 total (including 2:56 on the power play). Hall led the forwards with 20:34 of total ice time (including 2:27 on the power play). Vatanen had five shots on goal to lead in that category and also led in hits with five. Miles Wood led in blocked shots with three while Hall, Zajac, Palmieri, Noesen, Marcus Johansson, Butcher and Vatanen each had one takeaway to lead there.

Next up, the Devils finally return home to the friendly confines of Prudential Center for a Tuesday tilt with the Penguins. After going 1-6-0 on this road trip, some home cooking would seem extremely nice right about now.

Devils Routed in Hall of Fame Game by Maple Leafs

This was not pretty. The Devils traveled up to Toronto to take part in the Hall of Fame Game during the Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend and got obliterated, 6-1.

Martin Brodeur is the headliner for the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 and, as such, there was a huge ceremony before the 21st annual Hall of Fame Game, which the Leafs host each year around this time. Monday is the actual induction ceremony, but there is also a legends of hockey game that ex-players like Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and Brodeur himself will be participating in on Sunday. All of this makes up the festivities that accompany the induction ceremony. Today, Marty got his Hall of Fame ring and his plaque was unveiled as he and the other new inductees met with the media.

The current Devils as a team enjoyed a private tour of the Hall of Fame and dinner in the Great Hall. A special treat for players who normally are in and out of Toronto and do not get the time to take in the sights.

The ceremony beforehand was very well done. Past members of the Hall of Fame were introduced followed by this year’s inductees like Gary Bettman, Martin St. Louis and Brodeur introduced last. Afterwards, there was a little ceremony for Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day here in the States) with Canadian military veterans of World War II introduced and a moment of silence before the national anthems.

Then it was time for the game to start and things did not go as planned for the New Jersey Devils. We will get to that in a moment, but first some lineup changes. Jesper Bratt made his long awaited season debut after suffering a broken jaw in Sweden earlier this preseason. Stefan Noesen also returned to the lineup following injury. Bratt was a minus-3 with three shots on goal, two hits and a blocked shot in 12:57 of total ice time (1:25 on the power play and nine seconds on the penalty kill).

The healthy scratches for the Devils were Jean-Sebastien Dea, Drew Stafford and Egor Yakovlev.

In goal, Keith Kinkaid went for New Jersey, making 26 saves on 32 Toronto shots. He was brilliant in the first period as the Maple Leafs just kept pressuring the Devils and Kinkaid bailed them out time and again. But things went off the rails in the second and third periods.

For the Leafs, Frederik Andersen started and he was great all game. He stopped 38 of the Devils’ 39 shots. The big Danish goalie was quick with the leather all night, robbing Taylor Hall a few times, including midway through the third when Nico Hischier made a nice pass to Hall, who collected it through his legs and was stopped in tight.

On the power play, New Jersey went 0-for-3 with five shots while Toronto was 0-for-4 with four shots. The Devils added in two shorthanded shots while the Leafs had none.

The teams were wearing special Hall of Fame Game patches on their uniforms as things were ready to get started.

As mentioned, the Maple Leafs had a ton of early chances that Kinkaid was able to stop. But it was the big offseason signing for Toronto that came through. John Tavares took a tic-tac-toe pass from Ron Hainsey and Morgan Rielly to pot his ninth of the year and make it 1-0 at 12:24 of the first period. Things seemed in control for the Devils only down by one going into the first break, but they were about to spiral into some crazy territory with the coming of the second.

Just 1:52 into the second, Nazem Kadri scored a quick shot off of a turnover in the Devils’ zone that made it 2-0. Patrick Marleau had the lone assist on the goal, the 600th assist of his NHL career.

Connor Brown made it 3-0 when he scored at 5:07 from Par Lindholm and Hainsey. This goal resulted from just good puck movement by the Leafs.

Travis Zajac scored what, at the time, seemed to get New Jersey back into things at 7:23 of the second when he scored from Blake Coleman. That made it 3-1 and the Devils were seemingly clawing back into the game. Nobody at that time could have foreseen that this would be the Devils’ only goal. It came when Coleman won a puck battle in the near corner and into the front of the net. Zajac was there to clean up what Daneyko called simply a “hard working goal.”

But that is where the Devils would leave it as Toronto would just continue to pile it on. They picked right back up at the 15:44 mark of the second when Andreas Johnsson scored after the puck deflected off of two Devils sticks in front and he was able to put it right in. Jake Gardiner and Lindholm had the assists here. That made it 4-1 and was Johnsson’s first of the season.

Rielly would make it 5-1 not too long later at 17:27 when he scored a weird one. A Devils clear was blocked at their blue line and Kadri kept it in the zone. Rielly then lobbed it in from long distance and it beat Kinkaid, who was screened on the play as well.

Tyler Ennis would add one more unassisted in the third period at 12:01 when he just maneuvered around the Devils defense and Kinkaid to put it home and make it 6-1.

The Leafs nearly had the extra point as Kadri again kept the puck in the zone with 6:04 to go in the third. He lobbed one in on Kinkaid and Marleau redirected it in. However, during a league review, it was decided that Marleau played the puck with a high stick and there was no goal. The score reverted to a mere 6 to 1.

And that was our final. The Devils outshot the Leafs (39-32), outhit the Leafs (39-23) and had less giveaways (22 for Toronto to the Devils’ nine) but won 60-percent of the game’s faceoffs and generally pushed the play all night.

Individually, Sami Vatanen led the team in ice time with 20:37 (1:53 on the PP/1:18 on the PK). Taylor Hall led all forwards with 17:51 (2:39 on the PP and 41 seconds on the PK) TOI. Hall also led in shots on goal with five while Ben Lovejoy led in hits with six. Andy Greene led in blocks with four and takeaways were led by Greene and Coleman with two apiece.

Next up, on Sunday, the Devils travel to Winnipeg to finish out this road trip from hell against the Jets at 7 PM. Since the end of the game in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Devils have been outscored 13-4 and now find themselves one game under NHL .500. But there is no real need to panic. The team (and its fans) just need to take it one game at a time (as cliche as that is) and climb back into things and turn the year around. Every team and season have their ups and downs. Hopefully the Devils are just getting their downs out of the way early in the season.

Devils Clobbered in Ottawa to Fall Back to NHL .500

The Devils were coming off of their big win in Pittsburgh and ready to get rolling. They knew that one win can spark a long winning streak. Unfortunately, they were playing a back-to-back and came into Ottawa not quite prepared, it seems, for the Senators. They fell by a score of 7-3.

It was the Devils’ first trip north of the border this regular season and what will be their only trip to the Canadian capital this year. It was also their first of 12 back-to-backs this season.

The Sens, who seem to be in a constant state of chaos as an organization, were dealing with their latest drama. On October 29 in Phoenix, a group of Senators players were recorded in an Uber vehicle badmouthing one of their coaches, their team system and their special teams performance this season. It, understandably, caused some turmoil within the team, but could also be something that the team could rally around in this game. This was the first game since the incident came to light to the public. It turns out that it did spark a fire under the Sens as they were capitalizing on every mistake the Devils made tonight.

No major changes to the lineup from the Pittsburgh game, aside from the starting goaltender. Kurtis Gabriel, Eddie Lack and Egor Yakovlev were listed as the healthy scratches.

New Jersey would turn to Cory Schneider, looking for his first win since last December, to get things going. Cory was making his first start in five nights but just did not have it tonight. Cory made 18 saves on 22 shots faced until Keith Kinkaid came on in relief at the 12:26 mark of the second period. Kinkaid would make 17 saves on 19 shots against as the Sens fired 42 shots on New Jersey goaltending.

The Senators countered with Craig Anderson, who was very good in stopping 30 of the 33 shots he saw before an injury in the third period forced backup Mike McKenna to come in. Former Devil McKenna stopped all six shots that he faced. The Devils had a total of 39 shots on goal tonight.

On the power play, Ottawa was 1-for-4 with four shots on net. Schneider stopped both power play shots he saw while Kinkaid was 1-for-2. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the man advantage with a total of three shots. The Devils had a 6-on-4 man advantage with a little bit less than five minutes remaining in the game with Kinkaid pulled and being on the power play, but obviously were not able to make anything of it.

The Devils got the scoring going in this game as Taylor Hall made it 1-0 at 3:14 of the first from Nico Hischier and Andy Greene. It developed when Greene pushed it out of the defensive zone to Hischier. Hischier skated through the neutral zone with it and dropped it to Hall just inside the Ottawa blue line. Hall made a nice toe drag move around the Sens defenseman and fired the puck by Anderson glove-side.

The Devils would strike again at the 11:20 mark of the first when Kyle Palmieri scored his tenth, the first Devil into double digit goals this year, from Ben Lovejoy and Hischier. This one came when Hischier won a puck battle along the far boards and gave it to Lovejoy at the point. He fired a shot that went wide and Palmieri grabbed the loose puck and deposited it behind Anderson to make it 2-0 Devils.

The Devils seemed to be riding high, but things were about to change. The Senators would score six unanswered to take command and the game.

It began at 12:05 of the first when Thomas Chabot fired a rocket by Schneider to make it 2-1 Bobby Ryan and Chris Tierney had the assists on that goal. Fifty-three seconds after, Mark Stone scored his first of two to tie the game at two. He scored off of a pass that went through Cory’s crease and between Damon Severson’s legs. He got assists from Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. That goal was Stone’s 100th career NHL goal.

The second period was the Mark Stone and Colin White show. White started it when he scored 2:27 into the frame from Stone and Nick Paul. This one came while Ottawa kept the puck in the Devils’ zone and White was coming on the ice in a change, trailing behind the play and able to grab a puck the Devils could not clear and put it in behind Cory. That made it 3-2.

Stone scored his second of the night at the 7:35 mark to make it 4-2. He got assists from Duchene and Chabot. Things were getting ugly for the Devils but were about to get a whole lot worse. This was the goal that chased Schneider and brought Kinkaid into the game.

White scored his second of the night from Stone and Chabot on the power play at 17:44 to make it 5-2. This one was set up when Miles Wood went off for cross checking at 16:37. The Sens would get a bit of a bounce as the puck went off of Sami Vatanen’s face as it bounded through the goal crease and White put it in from there.

Things continued to go south for the Devils in the third period. At the 10:11 mark, Dzingel would score from Stone to make it 6-2. Here, the Senators capitalized on a turnover in the neutral zone and beat Kinkaid. The Sens had won only two of the five games this season that they have led after two periods, but after giving up six unanswered, it was New Jersey who had the steep hill to climb.

Travis Zajac would score for the Devils at 14:13 of the third to help the Devils with a little momentum towards coming back. He scored off of a tip in when Blake Coleman fired through a screen from the blue line. That made it 6-3 Ottawa and set up the dramatic finish with Kinkaid pulled and the power play (although coach John Hynes would not pull the goalie right away in order to avoid the Senators getting an empty net to fire on at will with no icing).

But the Devils could not score on the 6-on-4 man advantage and Magnus Paajarvi put the game away with an empty netter from Tierney and Duchene at 18:01 of the third to make it 7-3, our final. Anderson had been pulled just prior to the 6-on-4 due to an injury and McKenna was forced to face all of the Devils’ power play shots here.

The Devils, as a team, won just 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs while outhitting the Sens 27-14. Ottawa blocked one more shot at 15-14.

Individually, Andy Greene logged the most ice time with 21:05 total (4:19 on the penalty kill) while Hall led the forwards with 19:29 (including 2:36 on the power play and 10 seconds on the penalty kill). Palmieri fired the most rubber the way of Ottawa’s goaltenders with six shots while Greene and Drew Stafford led in hits with four each. Blocked shots were led by Jean-Sebastien Dea, Brian Boyle, Joey Anderson and Greene who each had two. With one takeaway each, Hall, Dea, Zajac and Marcus Johansson led in that category.

Next up, the Devils will need to shake this one off as they head to Toronto on Friday for a date with the Maple Leafs. That game is the Hall of Fame Game as the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Monday in Toronto and Martin Brodeur will, of course, be going in. Friday’s game at Scotiabank Arena starts at 7 PM and we will have coverage here for you.

Devils Earn First Road Win Off Boyle Hat Trick

Coming into tonight’s game at PPG Paints Arena, both the Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins were on three-game losing streaks. Something needed to give for someone. And thanks to a little help from Brian Boyle, it was the Devils who got just what the doctor ordered. Boyle scored a natural hat trick over the course of the first and second periods to help lead the Devils to a 5-1 win in Pittsburgh.

Some things to get to first as Devils captain Andy Greene was playing in his 800th NHL game tonight in a well-deserved milestone. It was also Pittsbugh’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night, with three cancer survivors in the lineup for both teams: Brian Boyle, who survived leukemia and the Pens’ Phil Kessel (testicular cancer) and Olli Maatta (who survived thyroid cancer). This made it all the more fitting for Boyle’s accomplishment on the night. Also, the Devils were wearing special decals on the back of their helmets that said “Stronger Than Hate” in solidarity with the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh which was the target of an attack late last month.

Also, roster-wise, Joey Anderson was back in. He would go on to notch his first NHL point in the game. Kurtis Gabriel was out, as were Eddie Lack and Egor Yakovlev as the healthy scratches. As for those not-so-healthy ones, Stefan Noesen is still on injured reserve with an upper body injury and Steven Santini and Jesper Bratt remain out with fractured jaws. Noesen and Santini did not travel with the team while Bratt did.

Pittsburgh is always a threat, as they are tied for first in the league with 3.75 goals per game. How would the Devils handle the threat of Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby et al?

The answer was simply to score early and often. But also good goaltending. Keith Kinkaid stopped 35 of 36 shots on the night. The Pens threw out Matt Murray to start and he stopped 23 of 27 Devils shots. Casey DeSmith came in in relief in the third period and stopped 11 of 12 Devils shots. The Devils finished the game with 39 shots on goal.

Another key for the Devils were special teams, with the Devils going 2-for-4 on the power play and the Penguins being held 0-for-3. The Devils had three total shots on their power plays while Pittsburgh had five. Both teams ended with one shorthanded shots on goal. The Devils actually ended the game on the penalty kill when Boyle was called for hooking Carl Hagelin at 18:20 of the third period.

The Devils opened the scoring 2:24 into the game, with Will Butcher scoring from Anderson (his first NHL point) and former Penguin Jean-Sebastien Dea. The goal came when Dea won the faceoff deep in the Pittsburgh zone and Anderson took the puck, curled out from behind Dea and shot with the puck ending up on Butcher’s stick. He shot and beat Murray stick side to earn his first even strength point of the season. That made it 1-0 Devils.

The Penguins would have some push back, with Jamie Oleksiak scoring off of a laser beam, beating Kinkaid short-side. He got assists from Maatta and Jake Guentzel. That goal tied the score at 9:24 of the first.

The Devils would retake the lead before the end of the first period, though with Boyle setting things in motion for his hatty. He scored what would be the game winner at 12:27 from Ben Lovejoy and Dea. Anderson tried a wraparound and the puck squibbed over to Dea. He passed back to Lovejoy at the far point. Lovejoy fired and the puck appeared to go in cleanly through Brian Boyle’s screen, with the goal originally being credited to Lovejoy. But Boyle would get credit for the goal when it was apparent that he tipped the puck past Murray. That made it 2-1 Devils and they never looked back.

Boyle would complete his hat trick beginning at 7:38 of the second period. This one made it 3-1 and came on the power play from Kyle Palmieri and Butcher. Maatta was in the box for hooking Miles Wood and just seven seconds into the man advantage, Butcher went point-to-point with Palmieri, who fired on net. His shot was redirected in front by the big Boyle to give him his second of the game.

He would complete the hatty as a natural hat trick – three straight goals scored uninterrupted – at 19:40 also on the power play. He got assists from Taylor Hall and Butcher. It was set up when Patric Hornqvist gave Sami Vatanen a vicious cross check to the throat. That set off a melee that ended with Mirco Mueller and Jack Johnson also taking matching roughing penalties after Crosby went after Mueller and Johnson jumped Mueller when he threw some punches at Crosby. When the dust settled the Devils had the power play and Boyle would put them up 4-1. It came when Boyle fired a shot from the near faceoff circle with the rebound bouncing out to Hall at the far half wall. Hall found a seam and passed to Boyle, who was still camped out at the faceoff circle. He let loose from the dot and beat Murray glove side to extend the Devils’ lead to three goals.

Boyle’s hat trick was the first of his NHL career and the first Devils hat trick in Pittsburgh since John Madden and Randy McKay each scored four goals there on Ocotber 28, 2000. This info comes from Steve Cangialosi on the MSG+ broadcast.

DeSmith would come in to start the third period and it would not take the Devils long to get one by him. Just 19 seconds into the third frame, Travis Zajac scored his fourth of the season from Damon Severson and Marcus Johansson to give us our final of 5-1. That one developed when Johansson dropped the puck for Severson at the far wall. Severson then found an open seam and fed Zajac, who finished into a wide open near side of the net. For Johansson, that assist was the 200th assist of his NHL career.

So to recap, Boyle ended the night with three goals, JS Dea had two assists and Butcher finished with a goal and two assists. Not a bad way to break out of a funk. As you would imagine, Boyle was the game’s first star, Butcher the second while Dea was the third star in his return to Pittsburgh. But it was a total team effort, really.

The Devils ended the game having won 42-percent of the game’s faceoffs but were outhit 49-44. They did block more shots at 22-15.

Vatanen finished the night with the most ice time with 21:34 (1:38 on the power play and 49 seconds on the penalty kill) while Hall led all forwards with 17:40 (including 3:48 on the PP). Shots on goal were led by Hall, Boyle, Zajac, Blake Coleman, and Lovejoy who all had four. Boyle led in hits with eight while Greene led in blocks with four. Dea beat his old team with two takeaways on the night to lead that category.

Next up, it is a very quick turnaround, as the Devils are playing their first of twelve back-to-backs this season. They play again tomorrow night in Ottawa against a Senators team that has been up-and-down this year. Puck drop tomorrow is 7 PM and we will have the recap for you right here.

Devils and NHL to Make FanDuel An Official Partner

A press release appeared on the Devils’ official website today that announced FanDuel as “the exclusive official daily fantasy partner and an official sports betting partner of the NHL” and, by extension, the Devils. The deal with the Devils was “FanDuel’s first agreement in the sports betting category with an NHL team.”

The release said that the NHL”s agreement with FanDuel will give opportunities to “its daily fantasy customers access to exclusive NHL content and special prizing, such as VIP experiences to NHL tentpole events like the NHL Winter Classic and the NHL All-Star Game.”

FanDuel will have “free-to-enter single game fantasy contests for the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Stadium Series and other marquee matchups throughout the NHL season.” In addition, the press release notes that FanDuel will work with “the NHL in the sports betting category, including use of official category designations, in a variety of ways to appeal to sports betting customers in legal jurisdictions” (which includes New Jersey).

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said basically that the NHL is trying to be “progressive” in its approach to sports betting and that FanDuel was a good brand to align with. Matt King, CEO of FanDuel Group, for his part, said that because the NHL was trying to be progressive in this field, FanDuel felt comfortable dealing with them.

The FanDuel/NHL partnership will be introducing a “Skate tothe NHL Winter Classic” contest giving eligible fans a chance “to win a VIP trip to the 2019 NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day.”

You can debate whether Devils fans would actually be interested in seeing Chicago and Boston in the Winter Classic, one way that this will impact their team more directly is the “separate agreement with the New Jersey Devils.” With this agreement, FanDuel will have in-ice logos “utilizing one of the newly avaialbe advertising positions introduced earlier this year by the NHL” i.e. those below the goal line ads that are new on NHL rinks this season. There will be “integrated social, digital and in-game activation platforms” which “will allow FanDuel to highlight its popular “Live In-Play” betting options available on the company’s new FanDuel Sportbook app, among other branding and messaging.”

In the new world of sports betting that we live in, the NHL and Devils getting in on this ahead of the curve is a good thing. Hopefully, the sports betting thing at the Prudential Center does not get too overwhelming. As a fan who does not bet, I do not really feel like being bombarded by sports betting ads and “branding” left and right. If done somewhat subtly, this could be a good way to appeal to fans who want to partake and engage in the game this way without being too overbearing for the rest of us.

That being said, I do not think that Gary Bettman’s theory that sports betting will help attract people who have never watched hockey to suddenly become fans. Nobody in their right mind would bet on a sport that they are not familiar with, after all.

Devils Suffer First Shutout Loss of Season in Brooklyn

The Devils pretty much threw everything but the kitchen sink at Thomas Greiss, but the Islanders netminder had an answer for everything. The Devils suffered what was possibly their most frustrating loss in a series of them tonight to New York, 3-0 at Barclays Center.

The day began with news of a huge shakeup to the Devils lineup as Pavel Zacha and Kevin Rooney were sent down to Binghamton with the Devils calling up Kurtis Gabriel and Brett Seney. Seney was the big one here, as he was making his NHL debut. Coach John Hynes said that Seney and Gabriel made “good impressions” at camp and “were difficult cuts for us” and thus were called up in place of the struggling Zacha and Stefan Noesen, who was placed on injured reserve earlier today with an upper body injury. Seney would play on a line with Blake Coleman and Drew Stafford, who was activated off of IR today as well.

Seney, who wore number 43 for the Devils, was actually the final draft pick made by Lou Lamoriello for the Devils organization according to Leo Scaglione, Jr., who works on the beat for the Binghamton Devils and was interviewed by MSG+’s Erika Wachter tonight. Now we would see how he would play with Lou in the building, now with the Islanders.

For his part, Zacha was being sent down as a “wake up call” to boost his confidence. He would get to play in all situations for Binghamton from 5-on-5 to 3-on-3, shootouts, power play and penalty kill. He did register an assist on a goal against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight.

The Isles have been a bit of a surprise story this young season, as they came into the game 7-4-1 with 15 points and a four-game winning streak. New York had recently beaten the Penguins back-to-back in a home-and-home series, taking all four points from them. They would finish the night atop the Metropolitan Division, passing those same Penguins.

The Devils had lost five of their last six and would end the night at NHL .500 with a 5-5-1 record.

Scratched for the Devils tonight were Joey Anderson, Eddie Lack and Egor Yakovlev. In goal, Long Island-native Keith Kinkaid got the nod and played mostly great all night. He stopped 30 of the Islanders’ 32 shots on him. New York would end the night with 33 shots as they would add an empty net goal.

Kinkaid may have played well, but Greiss was simply brilliant tonight. He stopped all 35 of the Devils’ shots in taking home first star honors in the game. Among his highlights, he stopped Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall on a Devils 2-on-0 midway through the second period by poke checking the puck away from Hall and then stopping the followup shot.

The power play was something that gave the Devils fits. They went 0-for-4 with the man advantage with seven shots but just could not solve Greiss or the Isles’ newly improved team defense courtesy new coach/Stanley Cup champion Barry Trotz. New York would end the night 1-for-4 on the power play with seven shots as well. Greiss also stopped two Devils shorthanded shots.

Jordan Eberle began the scoring at 7:43 of the first period when he put home a rebound given up by Kinkaid off an Anders Lee shot. Josh Bailey had the secondary assist on that goal, which would hold up for the majority of the night. That goal came on the power play while Jean-Sebastien Dea was in the box for hooking.

From there, we settled in for a goaltender’s duel.

In the third frame, the Devils put pressure on the offensive zone for almost the whole period, with Greiss standing tall and frustrating New Jersey. Brock Nelson put the game just a little bit more out of the Devils’ reach at the 15:06 mark of third when he scored on a 2-on-1. Sami Vatanen may have inadvertently redirected the shot in with his stick trying to make a defensive play. That made it 2-0 Islanders and Bailey had the lone assist.

New Jersey would pull Kinkaid with about 2:15 left in the game, struggling in vain to get the equalizers. At 18:12, the Isles took delay of game bench minor that would put the Devils on the 6-on-4 power play (with Kinkaid pulled) to end the game. Unfortunately for the Devils, that gave New York the ability to shoot at the open net with impunity with no fear of icing the puck. Eventually, Scott Mayfield scored unassisted at 19:46 to make it 3-0.

But the last seconds were not without their close calls for the Devils. Hall made a nice save to avoid an empty netter earlier on that led to the Devils breaking up ice and Kyle Palmieri nearly scoring by batting the puck out of the air and into an open net. His shot sailed over the crossbar and the Devils simply could not tie things up. The game ended with the Mayfield empty netter.

The Devils have now been outscored 31-17 during this losing streak after taking the shut out loss tonight. Statistically, New Jersey played well, winning 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outshooting the Isles. However, they were outhit 21-20 and New York had more blocked shots (20-13).

Individually, Nico Hischier led all skaters in ice time with 20:52 (4:14 on the power play and 1:16 on the penalty kill). Vatanen led the defensemen with 20:31 (2:34 on the power play and 1:29 on the PK). Hischier and Miles Wood tied for the shots on goal lead with four apiece. Coleman had a whopping six hits to lead there and Andy Greene led in blocked shots with four. Hischier, Travis Zajac, Coleman, Palmieri and Mirco Mueller each had a takeaway.

Next up, the tests get harder as the Devils travel to Pittsburgh on Monday to face the Penguins at 7 PM. They will then complete their first set of back-to-backs, traveling to Ottawa on Tuesday.

On another, more positive note, this morning was the “Running with the Devils” 5K charity race and walk at the Essex County Recreation Park in West Orange, New Jersey. I participated in the walk and can say that it was a fun day for all involved that helped raise money for a good cause (RWJBarnabas Health facilities).

Seeing the turnout (which including both runners and walkers, was even more than last year) was great considering the weather in North Jersey this morning was not ideal to say the least. Overall, it was a fun day with plenty of money going to good hospitals and the Devils put on a first-class event.

Lauren Boyle to Become Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador

According to a story on the Devils’ official website and on the NHL app, Brian Boyle’s wife, Lauren, was “named an official Hockey Fights Cancer ambassador” by the NHL and the NHLPA.

Her husband was, of course, diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia back in September of 2017. He recently announced that the cancer has gone into remission.

The story on the Devils’ site says that her duties will include NHL.com publishing “special columns by Lauren this month detailing her personal experience” of being a support system for her husband. There will also be an interview on NHL.com with Lauren and last year’s ambassador for Hockey Fights Cancer, Nicholle Anderson (the wife of Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson who is herself a cancer survivor).

In addition, Lauren will also bring awareness to the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative – which is celebrating 20 years this season – by “offering her time and making appearances throughout the month.”

The Devils will have their Hockey Fights Cancer night on Friday, November 23 against the New York Islanders. That game starts at 4 PM. For more information on Hockey Fights Cancer, please visit HockeyFightsCancer.com.

The American Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Society will be partnering with Hockey Fights Cancer for a second straight season. More info can be found at the American Cancer Society’s website cancer.org.

Fans can use the hashtag #HockeyFightsCancer on social media or visit HockeyFightsCancer.com to download an “I Fight For” card. They can also purchase Hockey Fights Cancer merchandise at shop.NHL.com.

In addition to the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, the NHL and NHLPA will also be partnering with the Movember Foundation (focused on men’s health) for the sixth year. This was an initiative that was big with former Devil Adam Henrique and he continues that work in his new home of Anaheim. For more information on Movember, please visit Monetwork.co/NHL.