Devils Routed in Tampa Bay

Well, it started out well enough. But then the wheels fell off and they ended the night losing 8-3 in Tampa to the Lightning. This was the team’s first 8-3 loss since October 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh and not a way that they wanted to begin their road trip of seven games over two weeks.

Luckily, there is always a tomorrow and the Devils can shake this loss against a good team off and get back on it on Thursday.

Some roster notes before we begin. Cory Schneider was recalled from his conditioning stint in Binghamton and he was on the bench as the back up tonight. He would end up seeing ice time after Tampa scored their seventh goal. Ben Lovejoy, who was day-to-day, also played tonight, logging 16:17 of ice time (including 3:22 on the penalty kill). Marcus Johansson was also back following his brief illness. For the Devils, Joey Anderson, Eddie Lack and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches.

In goal, Keith Kinkaid started for the Devils, playing 45:02 and making 31 saves on a whopping 38 shots. Schneider would play the last 14:58 and stopped five shots of six faced. The Lightning finished the game with a total of 44 shots on goal. For the Bolts, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves on 30 Devils shots on goal.

On the power play, the Devils finished the night 1-for-3 with five shots. Tampa was 2-for-3 with five shots as well. Neither team had a shorthanded shot on their resume tonight.

As I said, the Devils jumped out to a quick start, scoring two goals in the first 5:04 of the game. The first came at 1:01 of the opener and came off the stick of Miles Wood (his first of the year). That goal developed when Travis Zajac intercepted the puck at center ice, turning back towards the Tampa Bay zone. He dropped for Taylor Hall at the blue line, who curled around at the far half wall and passed to Sami Vatanen. Vatanen fired a shot that went wide. It was collected by Mirco Mueller at the near point. He kept it in the zone and Wood wound it around to Vatanen, who was pinching in at the far wall. Vatanen fired a shot that Wood redirected past Vasilevskiy to make it 1-0 Devils. Mueller had the secondary assist while Vatanen had the primary.

At the 5:04 mark, Zajac would make it 2-0 off a breakaway. That came when Kinkaid made a save and the puck was pushed to center ice by Blake Coleman. There, Wood created a turnover and chipped the puck up to a streaking Zajac through the neutral zone. Zajac skated in, moving to his backhand and beating Vasilevskiy to make it 2-0 Devils very quickly.

But that was not to last. The Lightning would tie it at two apiece thanks to a single-handed effort by Braydon Coburn. He first tipped one by Kinkaid at 7:30 of the first from Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde to make it 2-1. At the 13:30 mark, he scored his second of the game and of the year when he took a pass in the slot from Cedric Paquette and snapped it by Kinkaid. Adam Erne had the secondary assist on that goal.

So the Devils headed into the first intermission with nothing to show for their quick start, and it was about to get worse. It began when Point shoveled in a rebound after boxing out the Devils d-man in front. He scored from Gourde and Tyler Johnson.

Then the penalties began. First, Blake Coleman was called for high-sticking Ryan McDonagh at 4:39 of the second period. McDonagh was bleeding, which meant Coleman was gone for four minutes. Nikita Kucherov would scored at 6:33, just three seconds before the Devils killed off the first of the double minor. With that the Lightning went up 4-2 and the first half of the double minor was knocked off the clock, but Coleman still had to serve the other two minutes.

Zajac was then called for slashing at 7:12 to set up a 5-on-3 for Tampa. It was then that Steven Stamkos converted from Kucherov and Point. This goal was Stamkos’ 350th career NHL goal and put the Lightning up 5-2.

Before the second was out, the Devils would go on a power play of their own, with Slater Koekkoek called for holding at 16:01. On this, Kyle Palmieri would convert when Hall worked the puck back to Will Butcher at the point. He passed back to Hall, set up at the near wall. Hall found a seam and hit Palmieri at the far faceoff circle. He fired and the puck redirected off of McDonagh’s stick and behind Vasilevskiy to make it 5-3 Tampa. With Hall getting the primary assist here, his points streak remains intact at eight games now. That goal came at 16:47 of the second.

The Devils seemed to be back into things as the second period came to a close. But things would not go so well in the third. Johnson scored at the 3:40 mark from Point and McDonagh to double up the Bolts’ lead at 6-3.

Kucherov would then add his second of the night (he would end the game with three points – two goals and an assist) from JT Miller and Stamkos at 5:02 to add the extra point. This is when Kinkaid was pulled in favor of Schneider. That was more to get Schneider some reps rather than to just pull Kinkaid. McDonagh would then finish off the scoring at the 5:51 mark when he scored his first of the year from Point and Gourde to give us our final: 8-3.

Statistically, the Devils won just 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs and were outhit 33-30. They did manage one more blocked shot with 14 to Tampa’s 13.

Individually, Sami Vatanen led all skaters with 21:38 of total ice time (1:33 on the power play and 1:23 on the PK) while Hall led the forwards with 20:23 (3:22 PP/12 seconds of PK time). Vatanen also led in shots on goal with five. Stefan Noesen led the team in hits with seven while Andy Greene and Lovejoy each had three blocked shots apiece to lead that category. Palmieri led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils travel to Detroit to continue the road trip on Thursday where they will try to rebound from this one. Puck drop for that one is also 7:30 PM and we will, of course, see you here.

HBSE Signs Deal With Caesars Entertainment

In the wake of the NHL signing a non-exclusive sports betting deal with MGM Resorts that left open the possibility for each club to still do business with their own sports books, Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment has announced a deal with Caesars Entertainment. The deal will be a multi-year deal and will stretch to effect the Devils, Prudential Center and the Philadelphia 76ers, all owned by HBSE.

According to the press release on the Devils website, “This historic partnership will introduce New Jersey sports fans to Caesars Entertainment’s new sports book experience now available at two of its Atlantic City properties and The Caesars Casino & Sports app through special promotions and activations inside the exclusive Caesars Club at Prudential Center.” Sports betting recently became legal in the state of New Jersey following a United States Supreme Court ruling reversing a ban on sports betting nationally.

The new Caesars Club at Prudential Center will be a “5,000-square-foot premium restaurant and bar” and “will be located on the main concourse, providing Caesars Entertainment’s signature VIP hospitality to Premium Seat members for all New Jersey Devils home games and will be open to all event attendees during more than 175 live events, games and concerts held at the” arena.

HBSE CRO Adam Davis had the following to say: “Prudential Center and Caesars Entertainment are industry leaders in sports and entertainment. Caesars Club is a natural way to recreate the world-class Caesars experience for New Jersey Devils Premium Seat members and one million event-goers that attend concerts and live events at Prudential Center annually. With a partnership that synergistically bookends the state of New Jersey, Caesars Entertainment can connect with engaged sports and live event fans to promote its new sportsbook and mobile sports betting app throughout the Garden State.”

What does this mean specifically for Devils fans? Get ready to be inundated with the Caesars branding, apparently. The Caesars logo will appear on “Prudential Center’s 80 digital boards and colossal 4,800-square-foot outdoor LED board” as well as “Club Level tickets, premium wristbands, concourse pillars and more.” In addition, “Caesars’ branding, including signage and waitstaff attire, will complete the Caesars’s premium experience in Caesars Club.”

There will also be a “Caesars-branded “Shoot for a Million” on-ice promotion” where “select New Jersey Devils fans will have the chance to win $1 million during the second-period break, in 10 regular-season games.” The return of Score-O perhaps?

Similar branding and events will take place at Sixers games according to the press release and fans are then directed to download the Caesars app. As the release points out, “Tri-state area came gaming customers can access the mobile app in the state of New Jersey. Sports fans can also place bets inside the new dynamic sportsbooks at Caesars Entertainment properties in Atlantic City, including Bally’s Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.”

Now since I am not a betting man, this all means very little to me. However, if it means the return of Score-O, then what the heck, I’m all in!

Schneider Recalled From Conditioning Stint, Will Get a Start on Road Trip

According to Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com, Cory Schneider is officially on his way back. The Devils goalie has been recalled from his conditioning assignment in Binghamton of the AHL and will get a start on the Devils upcoming road trip. He practiced today with the New Jersey Devils and will back up Keith Kinkaid in Tampa Bay when the Devils take on Lightning tomorrow night.

Cory told Morreale that “It’s more excitement and eagerness than nervousness. To compete again at this level, it’s fun. The way it ended last year in the (Stanley Cup) Playoffs, you have that feeling in your mind and that’s the level you want to get to again.”

Schneider is, of course recovering from his May 1 surgery “to repair torn cartilage in his left hip.” Morreale said that it was initially thought Schneider would “need five months to recover; Nov. 1 will mark six months.” Morreale also noted that his last game came in the first round game five loss to the Lightning at Amalie Arena that eliminated the Devils from the playoffs.

Morreale said that during his American League assignment down in Binghamton, he went 1-1-1 and had a 2.67 goals against average and a .897 save percentage over three games.

Kinkaid has started all eight of the Devils games this season and is 5-2-1 to go with his 2.12 goals against and a .925 save percentage. Head coach John Hynes told Morreale that “It was the first time in a while [Schneider] has had his own net in an NHL practice and it was 55 minutes of good work. I think it’s important we take it day by day with the goalies. Kinkaid will play Tuesday, but we do have a back-to-back situation coming up )Nov. 5-6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators). Cory for sure will get in, but I can’t guarantee which game that will be.”

Morreale said that Cory “missed 16 games last season with a groin/hip injury sustained during a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Jan. 23.” His stats last season read a 17-16-6 record with a 2.93 goals against average (his highest in his five years with the Devils according to Morreale) and a .907 save percentage, his lowest in those same five years.

Goaltender Eddie Lack has been optioned back to Binghamton to make room for Schneider on the NHL roster.

In other Devils injury news via Morreale, he was told by Hynes that Ben Lovejoy and Jesper Bratt will make the road trip. Lovejoy is questionable against Tampa and Bratt is still “expected to be out two more weeks.” In addition, Drew Stafford could join the team “at some point during the trip” and Marcus Johansson will be back in the lineup Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game due to illness.

Devils End Homestand on High Note, Defeat Panthers

Sorry about the late post. Between a busy day and a computer that was not quite cooperating, it took me a while.

Anyway, with that aside, the Devils did manage to pick up a hard fought win over the Florida Panthers 3-2 earlier today at Prudential Center, getting them off their three game losing streak and ending their homestand on a good note as they now head off on an epic seven-game road trip.

It was a very early 12 noon start at The Rock, with a nasty Noreaster raging outside. Despite the early puck drop and the weather, the crowd was very good. The national anthem today at Prudential Center was sung by Lauren Liff, better known as Lauren the Warrior. She is a big Devils fan who has been fighting illness and has a strong presence on social media, rooting for the team and such. Her dream was to sing the national anthem at a Devils game and she was able to do it today. Congratulations to Lauren the Warrior, as she did a fantastic job.

The Devils made some roster moves to begin the day. John Quenneville was sent back to Bighamton and Joey Anderson, the highly-touted prospect out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth was called up to replace him. Anderson would see eight and a half minutes of action as Marcus Johansson was a scratch with an illness. Cory Schneider and fellow-recent-call-up Egor Yakovlev were the other Devils scratches.

In goal, Keith Kinkaid made his eighth straight start for the Devils, stopping 35 of 37 Florida shots and taking a shutout into the third period. The Panthers threw out James Reimer, who stopped 23 of 26 Devils shots.

Each team was 0-for-4 on the power play with the Devils registering three power play shots and the Panthers a whopping seven (plus two shorthanded saves that Kinkaid was forced to make).

The first period was a mess of penalties. First, Miles Wood was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass at 6:44. Before the Devils could fully kill that one off, Eric Gryba went off for tripping at 8:17, putting the Cats up 5-on-3. The Devils would kill off the first penalty (the Wood delay of game call) and a scrum after a whistle would immediately send Wood back to the penalty box at 8:51 with matching minors to Wood (roughing) and the Panthers’ Nick Bjugstad (cross checking). That would result in Florida having a traditional one-man advantage. Wood would make a third trip to the box in the first period, at 12:58, he was nabbed for tripping. The Devils would kill all of them off.

However, with just ten seconds remaining in the first, Kyle Palmieri would notch his eighth of the season to put the Devils up 1-0. It would come when Nico Hischier won a faceoff back to Damon Severson at the far point. He unloaded a shot that Palmieri was able to tip in while camped out in front. Panthers coach Bob Boughner would challenge for goaltender interference, as he had apparently bumped Reimer during the play. But after a lengthy review, the officials disagreed. The call on the ice stood: it was a good goal. The Devils had the 1-0 lead just as we went to the first intermission. That goal review and call in the Devils’ favor would become extremely important later on.

Just 3:05 into the second period, Taylor Hall would put the Devils up 2-0 from Palmieri and Hischier. It happened when Hischier won a puck battle in the far corner and Palmieri retrieved it from him. Palmieri then skated through the far circle with the puck, finding Hall all alone in the high slot. He passed and Hall simply shoveled it into the net. It was now 2-0 Devils.

The Devils would seemingly take complete control of the game at 13:21 of the second when Blake Coleman would find the back of the net from Mirco Mueller and Travis Zajac. This came when Stefan Noesen gave the puck back to Sami Vatanen at the far point. His shot was stopped by Reimer, but the rebound came over to Zajac in the near corner. He guided it to Mueller at the near point. Mueller fired a shot and Coleman, who was camped out on the doorstep, redirected the puck in to make it 3-0 Devils.

Then the third period and the wheels seemingly fell off of the Devils’ game. It began at 15:03. Mike Matheson scored his first of the season from Jonathan Huberdeau to break Kinkaid’s shutout.

Florida would then pull Reimer with just about three minutes left in the game, and with a 6-on-5 advantage and the Devils unable to do anything but ice the puck, continually forcing the faceoff into their zone, they would get to within one. Mike Hoffman scored with about 15 seconds remaining in the game from Keith Yandle and Evgenii Dadonov to make it 3-2. Reimer remained pulled and the Panthers just really needed to win the neutral zone faceoff to get another chance, but the Devils were able to withstand the storm and got the W.

Time on ice was led by Vatanen with 25:18 (3:44 on the power play/3:11 on the penalty kill). Hall led all forwards with 20:55 (4:41 on the power play, no shorthanded time). Vatanen also led in shots on goal with five and blocked shots with six while Blake Coleman registered five hits to lead in that category. Andy Greene had two takeaways to lead that category. Hischier (two assists) was named the game’s third star, Kinkaid the second and Palmieri (one goal and one assist) was the first.

Team-wise, the Devils won 43-percent of the game’s faceoffs, were outhit 20 to 15, but had 30 blocked shots to Florida’s paltry eight.

Next up, the Devils hit the road for their first real road trip of the year. And what a doozy it is, seven games over roughly two weeks that will take them from Tampa to Winnipeg and seemingly everywhere in between. The game at the Lightning is on Tuesday with a 7:30 PM start time. We will have coverage for you right here then.

Predators Defeat Devils in Overtime

The Devils simply did not feel that their compete level was up to snuff. Because of that, coach John Hynes put them through a “training camp-like” practice. If bag skating was not enough to get through to them, what else could?

The wind sprints and grueling practices paid off – mostly. The Devils came out and played better tonight than they had in the last two games. There were few, if any, “passengers.” But the Devils still could not close out the deal, falling in overtime to the Nashville Predators 4-3.

Now, make no mistake, the Preds are an elite team in the NHL and the Devils kept up and skated with them. But they just could not get that kill shot.

Some roster moves saw Steven Santini (fractured jaw), Ben Lovejoy (lower body) and Drew Stafford (upper body) going to the injured reserve while John Quenneville, Eric Gryba and Egor Yakovlev were all recalled from Binghamton to fill in on a roster beset by injuries. Yakovlev was a healthy scratch with Kevin Rooney and Cory Schneider while Quenneville was back on the third line with Miles Wood and Travis Zajac.

Speaking of Zajac, he was listed as day-to-day while missing that game in Philly, so he was back tonight and made an immediate impact, as the Devils won 50-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Zajac, personally won 65-percent of the draws that he took.

One other piece of news was a milestone for Brian Boyle. He was playing in his 700th career NHL game. The centerman, who just received the news that his cancer was in full remission, was honored on the big board in the arena.

Goaltending-wise, Keith Kinkaid and Juuse Saros are the very definitions of a “1A” goalie. A little bit more than a backup and a goalie who can be a starter when needed. With Cory out for the Devils and Pekka Rinne on IR for Nashville, the two would matchup head-to-head. Both were pretty much spectacular most of the night – especially Saros in the third period when the Devils were putting a lot of pressure on the offensive zone.

Kinkaid made 32 stops on 36 Nashville shots faced while Saros turned aside 33 of 36 Devils shots.

Nashville does not have very good special teams, coming into the game ranked 30th in the NHL in power play and 22nd on the penalty kill. The Devils would end the game 1-for-3 on the power play with five shots (and one shorthanded) while the Preds were 1-for-4 with six PP shots and no shorthanded shots. What the Predators, as a bona fide Stanley Cup contender, have is a good 5-on-5 record. They are second in the league in even strength goals coming into tonight. For what it is worth, they also lead in empty net goals – a situation that would thankfully not come up tonight.

The game got off on the right foot for New Jersey with Damon Severson scoring just 2:58 into the first. Severson’s second of the season came when Kyle Palmieri dug the puck out of the corner and passed to Taylor Hall who swooped into the near faceoff circle. Hall one-touched the puck back to Severson, who walked the line with it, backing up along the blue line and firing a howitzer which beat Saros cleanly. With the primary assist, Hall continued his point-scoring streak, now standing at six games.

But in something that would become a bit of a trend durin the night, the Preds would tie things up at the 14:40 mark of the first when Yannick Weber shot a knuckle puck that Kinkaid misread. It fluttered past Kinkaid’s glove hand and in. Kevin Fiala and Calle Jarnkrok had the assists on the goal that tied things at one.

But before the first intermission came, the Devils would retake the lead. It came on the power play at 19:01 (Filip Forsberg was called for interfering with Quenneville at 17:53) and came off the stick of Nico Hischier. This one came when Palmieri swung a pass to Hall at the near half wall. Hall saw Nico in the slot and fired a slick pass towards him that Hischier calmly redirected by Saros to make it 2-1 Devils.

The second period would see a weird play in the midway point of the frame. Hall was called for tripping PK Subban when it was obvious from replays that Subban went down on his own with Hall not even touching him. He simply lost an edge. The officials got together and discussed it and the call on the ice was reversed, meaning play would continue at 5-on-5. This was a good job by the officials to make sure they got the call right and did not make a phantom penalty call.

Nashville, however, would not need the power play. Viktor Arvidsson tied things at two at the 13:06 mark of the second, getting assists from Kyle Turris and Roman Josi. Arvidsson simply ripped a shot by Keith Kinkaid’s glove to get the equalizer.

But the Devils would only need 40 seconds to answer back. They took a 3-2 lead at 13:46 when Hischier got his second of the game. It came when Sami Vatanen banked a pass off the boards to Palmieri, who stepped just inside the Predators’ blue line. He saw Hischier breaking towards the Nashville net and threw the puck up to him. Nico tipped it by Saros on the doorstep to give the Devils the lead.

Some missed opportunities for the Devils in the third period, as Saros came up huge for the Predators. Midway through the period, Palmieri (who had assisted on all three of the Devils goals) seemingly had scored, but the puck had entered the net behind Saros after the whistle had been blown by the referee. It was a seemingly quick whistle, but replays showed that Saros had made the save and the puck trickled in once the whistle blew play dead.

At 12:25 of the third, Marcus Johansson was called for holding and the Predators went on the power play. Blake Coleman was robbed on a shorthanded breakaway by Saros and the Preds took the puck the other way. At 13:40, Forsberg scored from Ryan Johansen and Subban to tie the game at three.

Time would run out with both teams getting a point out of the game, but it would take OT heroics if the Devils were to get their first victory on home ice against Nashville since 2015.

It was the first overtime game for both teams this season and the Devils really pushed the pace the whole session. But in the end, Nashville took the extra point when a Kyle Turris shot redirected off of Andy Greene’s leg and past Kinkaid to make it 4-3 Preds. Mattias Ekholm had the lone assist on that.

So the Devils did not come away with the win, but they did take it to a very good team in the Predators. Stats-wise, the Devils held the edge in hits (16-15) and blocked shots (13-11).

Individually, Vatanen again led the Devils in ice time with a more tame 25:52 (1:31 on the power play and 5:26 on the PK). Hall led all forwards in TOI with 20:04 (3:11 on the PP/one second shorthanded). Hall also had two points – both assists. Palmieri (three assists) and Hischier (two goals) also had multi-point nights. Miles Wood led in shots on goal with seven while Severson led in hits with three. Gryba and Greene tied for the lead in blocks with four each while Johansson, Quenneville, Zajac and Hall each had three takeaways to lead that category. Palmieri would be named the game’s third star while Hischier was the second and Nashville’s Turris was the first.

Next up for the Devils, they take on the Florida Panthers on Saturday at 12 noon at Prudential Center. This is the final home game for about a seven game stretch. I will be attending this game live and will have the recap up as soon as possible.

Brian Boyle’s Cancer in Remission

In a bit of really good news, NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale is reporting that Brian Boyle’s cancer is in remission. Morreale said that Boyle got the news on Monday following his latest blood test.

Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last year during training camp. The exact date of the diagnosis was September 17, 2017 according to Morreale’s article on NHL.com, meaning it is just over a year since. To that point, Morreale said that doctors originally told Boyle that “it could take up to 18 months before the disease went into full remission; it took 12 months and 33 days.”

Boyle told Morreale: “A test (BCR-ABL1) looks for the leukemia cells in your blood and when I was first diagnosed, it was at 75 percent. At the end of last season, it was at .08 percent, and in July I was .04 percent. The results showed all zeros on Monday. It’s full molecular remission, and I feel really good. It was kind of the way the progression was happening the last few tests. When I told my wife, she was excited and got emotional.”

He continued to tell Morreale that he is keeping with the “game plan” his doctors have given him and he will continue to take the medication for the leukemia.

Morreale said that Boyle continues “medication once a month and” has “regular checkups with his doctors to make certain the cancer remains in remission.” His treatments are at “Summit Medical in New Jersey” during the season “and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston” during the offseason.

In additional Boyle family news, Morreale reported that Brian’s son, three year old Declan (“who has an arteriovenous malformation of his jaw, a rare condition that impacts blood flow and oxygen circulation”) is also “doing well.” Brian told Morreale that Declan is attending school four days a week and being “normal kid again.”

Boyle, who won the Bill Masterton Trophy last season for “perseverance and dedication to hockey” had returned to the ice last season on November 1, 2017 against the Canucks in Vancouver. He scored his first goal of last season in a game against the Oilers at Prudential Center in an emotional moment. This season, he has three goals and an assist for four points in playing in all six of the Devils’ games this season.

This is fantastic news to say the least. Hearing that things are going well for the Boyles after a rough couple of months, not just what Brian has been going through, but also what his son has been through, is wonderful news. Fans all around the NHL by and large embraced Boyle as a symbol of hope and fight last season and he has proven their faith in him to be correct. Good luck to the Boyles going forward, as hopefully everyone stays healthy.

Devils Drop Second Straight in First Road Game of Season

The Devils made their first real road trip of the season, albeit just down the Turnpike to Philadelphia. Although their first game was in Sweden, they were technically designated the “home” team and, thus, got the final change and everything that goes to the home team. This was a real road game and they would end up on the losing end, falling 5-3 to the Flyers.

As we covered in a post yesterday, Travis Zajac and Ben Lovejoy were suffering from lower body injuries and would not make the trip. They are both day-to-day. Unfortunately, Zajac’s faceoff prowess would be sorely missed against the second-best faceoff team in the NHL in the Flyers. Philly won 73-percent of the faceoffs in the game. Kevin Rooney was up from Binghamton to take Zajac’s place in the lineup. Steven Santini would slot in for Lovejoy on defense, although the Devils would end up losing him too.

Santini took a puck to the face early in the game and left having only played two minutes and 33 seconds. He suffered what the team would reveal after the game as a broken jaw. The Devils would finish the game with five defensemen which is how Sami Vatanen ended up leading the team with a whopping 29:01 of ice time. Him logging almost half the game (including 1:14 on the power play and 7:42 on the kill) was a nasty result of Santini getting hurt and a Herculean effort on Vatanen’s part. The rest of the D logged between 23:00 (Andy Greene) to 20:31 (Will Butcher).

Santini being out also robbed the Devils of a physical presence on the blue line, something that would always be used against Philly. But the Flyers have troubles in other areas too. They came into the game having given up 4.43 goals per game, the second most in the NHL. Their goaltending has been suspect as usual, but was on point today.

Brian Elliott went for Philadelphia and made 19 saves on 21 shots against. For the Devils, a return of Cory Schneider is coming with him getting a rehab start in Binghamton tonight. But for now, it is Keith Kinkaid’s net and he played like it today. He stopped 16 of 19 shots against (the Flyers had two empty net goals and finished the game with 21 shots on goal as well) and was simply brilliant at times, continuing his hot streak. This was only Kinkaid’s second loss to the Flyers in his career (his last loss was January 20, 2018 – also in Philly – where he was pulled).

One area that the Devils were not good in was team discipline. Philadelphia gives up a lot of shorthanded goals, but you do not want to tempt them. They took five penalties, although the penalty kill was good, giving up only one goal on just three shots, but they were just in the penalty box too many times. The Devils themselves were 2-for-3 on the power play with four shots on goal.

New Jersey would begin the scoring on the power play in the first period. Michael Raffl was called for hooking at 2:45 and, at 4:07, Damon Severson found the back of the net. It came when Marcus Johansson curled around a few times on the near half wall. He slid the puck through the slot to Severson, who was camped out by the far faceoff dot. He went upstairs to beat Elliott shortside to make it 1-0 Devils. Miles Wood had the secondary assist on that goal.

But from there, the Flyers just pinned the Devils into their own defensive zone. A Devils penalty at 9:17 (Pavel Zacha for hooking) would lead to Philly winning an offensive zone faceoff and Travis Konecny scoring at 10:41 from Travis Sanheim and Jordan Weal. That tied things up at one, which is where we were at the start of the second period.

And it would remain that way until late in the second. At the 18:56 mark, Nolan Patrick scored his first of the season from Jakub Voracek to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. It was a nice pass from Voracek that stretched Kinkaid across his crease and he just could not get to Patrick’s finish in time.

The third period would see the Devils get back into things and then have it quickly fall apart on them. Brian Boyle scored just 2:25 into the third period while the Devils were on the power play – Weal had gone off for high-sticking at 1:51. On the ensuing power play, Boyle took a pass from Butcher at the point and skated up the near boards. With tons of time and space, he cut towards the net with Kyle Palmieri providing a screen. He shot five hole and beat Elliott to tie the game at two apiece. Taylor Hall had the other assist.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol would use his team’s challenge to have the officials look for goaltender interference on Palmieri in front. The replay showed that while he did inadvertently bump Elliott’s stick, the goalie had time to reset himself and the call on the ice stood as a good goal.

But from there, things would go south for the Devils, although it would take almost the entire period. At 16:50, Voracek scored on a 2-on-1 from Ivan Provorov and Sanheim. That made it 3-2 Philly with just about three minutes to go in the game.

Kinkaid would be pulled for the extra attacker with about 1:19 to go and Wayne Simmonds would capitalize on the empty net with a goal from Claude Giroux and Provorov. That made it 4-2.

The Devils would pull Kinkaid a second time following the neutral zone faceoff and Palmieri would get a golden chance to get them within one, narrowly missing on a wraparound attempt that was stopped by Elliott. From there, Scott Laughton would score in to the empty net from Voracek (who finished the game with three points) and Jori Lehtera. That would make it 5-2 and be our final.

The Devils, despite losing Santini, would end up out hitting the Flyers 28-18 and blocking more shots as a team, 27-11. Santini would somehow manage to register one of those hits.

Individually, Hall and Boyle led in shots on goal with five each while Vatanen and Blake Coleman led the hits with five each. Andy Greene had an amazing seven blocked shots as the defense was really stepping things up playing down a man. Johansson led takeaways with two. In terms of ice time for the forwards, Hall spent 19:53 on the ice (including 3:01 on the PP, seven seconds on the PK).

The Devils will have some time to work things out and heal a little bit, as they now have four days off until they play again. That will be on Thursday, October 25 at Prudential Center versus the always-dangerous Nashville Predators. We will see you then for coverage right here.

Devils Make Some Roster Moves; Tootoo Retires

The Devils made a few changes to their roster today that will affect things for now and down the line. The following moves were announced via the Devils’ social media accounts.

Firstly, they activated goalie Cory Schneider off of injured reserve. He will get into a game tomorrow for the Binghamton Devils on a rehab assignment. The Bing Devils play the Cleveland Monsters tomorrow night in Binghamton.

Another Devil on his way to Binghamton is John Quenneville. Quenneville was a healthy scratch for yesterday’s New Jersey Devils game against Colorado. He has been assigned to the AHL club. In his place, center Kevin Rooney has been recalled and will meet the New Jersey club in Philadelphia for tomorrow’s tilt against the Flyers.

One other bit of news today was that former Devil Jordin Tootoo has announced his retirement via a post on his personal Twitter account. Tootoo played 723 NHL games – 134 of those for the Devils from 2014-15 to 2015-16. With the Devils, the right wing scored 14 goals and ten assists for 24 of his 161 NHL points. He also racked up 174 of his 1,010 penalty minutes with New Jersey. Tootoo scored 65 NHL goals, including six power play goals and 96 assists.

The 35-year-old born in Churchill, Manitoba played 13 NHL seasons for the Devils, Predators, Red Wings and Blackhawks, the majority with Nashville. He famously battled addiction in the early part of his career, overcoming it to get clean (his autobiography All the Way is a great read and tells of his journey in a brutally honest way). He has stated on social media that he wishes to give back to the Indigenous community. Tootoo was, of course, the first player from Nunavut to play in the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers will be honoring him before their game tomorrow against the Predators. Although Tootoo never played for the Oilers organization, it speaks volumes about the respect he has that they are honoring him “for his great contribution to indigenous hockey & youth across (Canada)” (in the words of the team’s Twitter account). Good luck in retirement to a good man who enjoyed an inspirational career.

In final Devils news, Travis Zajac and Ben Lovejoy will not travel with the team to Philly. Both are suffering from what the team is calling lower body injuries. They will be reevaluated later on in the week, but will not be available for Saturday’s game.

Landeskog Hat Trick Downs Devils

They say all good things must come to an end and the Devils season starting winning streak ended at four thanks to three goals by Gabriel Landeskog, who powered the Colorado Avalanche past the Devils 5-3.

It was the second annual WWE Night at The Rock with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and WWE Superstar Curt Hawkins all in attendance. They were there to promote WWE SmackDown’s television taping coming up at Prudential Center this Tuesday. There was a WWE mini museum on the concourse, ticket giveaways, special Devils/WWE video presentations and, of course, fans dressed as WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair giving plenty of “woos!”

But back to hockey, there was serious business at hand. The Devils were gunning for their fifth straight to start the season and would do so with a change to the lineup. Drew Stafford slotted in on the second line with Pavel Zacha and Marcus Johansson while John Quenneville was out. Some tinkering would seem a little strange considering all that the Devils have done so far, but Bryce Salvador, on the MSG+ pregame show, mentioned that this was more for Coach Hynes to get Stafford in and some playing time than anything that Quenneville has or has not done. Although Ken Daneyko did say during the first period of the broadcast that Quenneville needs to step up and begin to produce to justify putting him in the lineup every night.

A change that did not happen was Will Butcher. He was in and playing the game. He had a bit of an injury scare if you will recall in the last game against Dallas. It looked to be a bad shoulder or collarbone injury, but he was well enough and did play tonight. The defense remained the same up and down. The Devils would seem to lose Travis Zajac for the night when a dangerous hit to his knee took him out. Hopefully he is fine, but it does not seem likely at this point. We should find out more tomorrow.

In goal, Keith Kinkaid has been just lights out. With a 1.00 goals against average for the season, you had to go with him as the hot hand. He finished the night making 29 saves on 33 Colorado shots. For the Avs, Philipp Grubauer made the start and stopped 27 of 30 Devils shots.

The power play would play a huge role in this game. The officials were seemingly calling everything and the teams had to take advantage when they had it. The Devils ended up 2-for-5 with four shots on the man advantage as well as three shorthanded shots. The Avalanche were 1-for-6 with five shots on the power play and no shorthanded shots.

One thing the Devils did do was neutralize Nathan MacKinnon. The Avalanche forward had scored goals in each of his team’s first six games. He was held to just three points – all of them assists – on the night.

The scoring was kicked off at 17:42 of the first when Nico Hischier connected on the power play for the Devils. Matt Nieto had gone off for hooking and the Devils were up a man. Kyle Palmieri drove towards the net up the right wing side and was forced behind the goal cage. He took the hit to get it to Taylor Hall, who played tic-tac-toe with Zajac at the near side of the net. Zajac one-touched it to Hischier at the doorstep and he buried it. The Devils had a 1-0 lead that would last them to the first intermission. The assist was Hall’s first of three points on the night – he would factor into all of the Devils’ goals.

Just prior to the Devils goal, Sami Vatanen had taken a slash on his wrist that seemed to cause him some discomfort, but he would return. Also, Zacha would go toe-to-toe with Nikita Zadorov in a spirited bout as he came to the aid of a Stafford following a huge collision between him and Zadorov. Zacha is not a fighter, but came to the aid of his teammate and that has to be respected.

But the whistles would play a factor all night and that started in the first period as well. Following the Devils goal, they were back on the power play at 19:02 when Ian Cole was called for interference. That was neutralized when Palmieri was called for interference at 19:37. Then MacKinnon went off for boarding at 19:56 to make it a 4-on-3 in favor of the Devils.

This went on for most of the game as the officials were calling any and all infractions.

At the 1:17 mark of the second, Kinkaid had seemingly made an amazing kick save, sliding across his crease to just get a foot on a Sven Andrighetto shot. The officials went to a review and Toronto decided that the puck had actually crossed the line completely, tying the game at one. One-time Devils draft pick Alexander Kerfoot and Cole had the assists.

Colorado had gotten the equalizer, but the game would not remain tied for long. Landeskog scored his third of the season and first of the night at 7:08 of the second from Mikko Rantanen and MacKinnon. That made it 2-1 Avs and came on the power play as Palmieri was called for interference at 6:32.

But the Devils would pull even before the end of the second. At 15:42, Hall notched his first of the season when Hischier came up the left wing boards, reversed course in the corner, spinning out and passing to a trailing Andy Greene. Greene quickly gave to Hall, who was set up at the top of the far faceoff circle. He one-timed a laser beam by Grubauer to make it 2-2.

This would all set up a wild third period.

It began with the Devils taking a 3-2 lead on the power play at 6:22 of the third. Colorado’s Colin Wilson was off for tripping Blake Coleman and Brian Boyle would strike. It was a beautiful goal with Hall circling behind the Avs’ net and feeding Palmieri at the near faceoff dot. He sent a one-touch pass to Boyle in front of the net and Boyle redirected the puck into the goal behind Grubauer to give the Devils what would turn out to be a brief lead.

Then the avalanche by the Avalanche began. Three straight unanswered. First, Landeskog scored his second of the game at 8:08 to tie it at three from Cole and Rantanen.

Landeskog struck again to complete the hatty at 16:38 to give the Avs the lead at 4-3. Rantanen and MacKinnon assisted on that.

Finally, at 19:47, after Kinkaid had been pulled for the extra attacker, Rantanen scored into the empty net from MacKinnon and Erik Johnson. That gave us our final of 5-3.

Statistically, the Devils won 54-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Avalanche 19-16 and had more blocked shots 11-5. Individually, Andy Greene ate up the most minutes (24:03 – with 19 seconds on the power play and 6:40 of PK time) while Hall led forwards with 19:28 (including 3:36 on the PP). Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with five, Palmieri led in hits with four. Greene also led in blocks with three and Stafford, Ben Lovejoy and Damon Severson led in takeaways with two apiece.

Next up, the Devils will get to sport their road whites for the first time this regular season as they head down the Turnpike to take on the Flyers in Philadelphia this Saturday at 1 PM. We will have coverage of the game right here, of course.

Blake Coleman Starts “Pickles Pals” Program to Benefit Boys and Girls Club

Blake Coleman has gained some notoriety through his pickle juice consumption. Now he is using that notoriety as a way to give back to the community. The Devils center yesterday officially launched “Pickles Pals,” a program to help underprivileged youth in Newark.

Coleman famously drinks pickle juice as a way to alleviate muscle cramps, making use of the electrolytes available in the brine. A TV camera caught him drinking this unusual sports drink in the penalty box last season during a game against the Avalanche and since then it has taken on a life of it’s own. From fans bringing an inflatable pickle with his jersey on it to the rink to goalie Keith Kinkaid using a pickle emoji to represent Coleman in Kinkaid’s postgame tweets, Coleman has seen and embraced his role as the “pickleman.”

Now he is using that and his standing as a professional athlete to give back to those less fortunate in the community. As Coleman told MSG+’s Erika Wachter during last night’s postgame show, he felt that he was fortunate to grow up in a privileged situation and he wants to help kids who do not have that advantage in life.

“Pickles Pals” will support the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Newark Ironbound (BGCN). He has also created a line of merchandise (which he told Wachter was designed by his sister) and pickle juice, called P20, that has raised money for Newark-based charities. The merchandise is available at the Devils Den Team Store at Prudential Center or online at www.coleman20.com.

According to the press release put out by the Devils, “Pickles Pals” looks “inspire young people to read and embrace education while providing a fun learning environment.” It will “give back to the community by developing academic programs and securing necessary supplies with the purpose of providing kids of BGCN with resources needed to achieve their academic goals.”

Similar to Cory Schneider’s “Cory’s Keepers” initiative, “Pickles Pals” will also allow members of the BGCN to attend Devils home games and join in a postgame meet and greet with Coleman. The press release says that the first such game where this will be done is the Sunday, December 23 game against the Blue Jackets.

Coleman’s pickle juice consumption became a bit of a phenomenon, with the player and his “interesting/shocking drink of choice” being focused on in outlets such as CBS This Morning, Sports Illustrated, MSG Network, Food & Wine and Sportsnet according to the press release. Coleman saw the attention he was receiving and decided this was “an opportunity to have a powerful positive influence and wanted to give back to the Newark Community.”

The press release also states that while “Pickles Pals” is committed to helping kids academically, it also will serve as “an empathetic ear” and that Coleman will try to serve “as a positive role-model.”