Devils Winless Streak Continues, Fall to Wild 4-2

The Devils’ woeful home stand continued with the Minnesota Wild coming to town. The Wild, who are in the middle of a playoff race in the Western Conference, had not yet won a game in the month of February. Well, they got their first this afternoon with a 4-2 win over the Devils at Prudential Center.

The injuries continued to pile up as Miles Wood was placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury suffered in the Islander game on Thursday. He is day-to-day. They did get Joey Anderson back from IR, however, and he was back in the lineup today. Anderson, the only Minnesota native in the Devils’ lineup, broke his ankle back on November 21 against Montreal. Travis Zajac had a close call in the Islander game as well, as he was hit in the ear with a puck and had multiple stitches and had to pass concussion tests. He returned in that game and did play today.

A couple of close calls late in the third period of this game saw Marcus Johansson in a collision with Marcus Foligno where he landed awkwardly. He went down the tunnel but did return. In the same sequence, Kyle Palmieri went down in a tangle with Jordan Greenway and was nicked by his skate blade. He did not miss a shift, however as it could have been a lot worse than it actually was.

The healthy scratches for the Devils featured Steven Santini and two call ups from Binghamton: Nick Lappin and Ryan Murphy. The speculation is that Lappin and Murphy will play tomorrow in the game against Carolina.

Between the pipes, Cory Schneider came right back following his stellar performance against the Islanders on Thursday. He faced 33 shots and stopped 29 of them for an .879 save percentage. Devan Dubnyk saw just 18 shots and stopped 16 of them for an .889 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils were pretty dismal, going 0-for-2 with a single shot on net. Minnesota was 1-for-3 with four power play shots. They also had two shorthanded shots on Cory.

A milestone as John Hynes was coaching his 300th game with the Devils, which puts him in second place for games coached for the franchise behind only Jacques Lemaire. Congratulations to Hynes on this step in his career.

Brett Seney, who has slotted in at left wing on the fourth line, replacing the traded Brian Boyle, got the scoring kicked off when he notched one at 6:57 into the game. Will Butcher found Seney in the neutral zone and Seney used his speed to break by the Wild defense. He then snapped a shot by Dubnyk to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

But Minnesota would level things off before the first intermission when Foligno scored at the 12:19 mark. It was off a mad scramble in front of the Devils net where Schneider lost his stick. Foligno had Cory down and fired a nice backhander upstairs into the empty net. Greg Pateryn and Luke Kunin had the assists on the goal that made it 1-1.

The Devils looked good on their first penalty kill of the game, in the second period, as the Wild had a lot of zone time but no shots on goal. However, right after killing that penalty, they were back on the PK when Ben Lovejoy took a high-sticking call against Jason Zucker at 4:24. Ten seconds into the power play, Zach Parise tipped a Ryan Suter shot by Cory to give the Wild the 2-1 lead. Parise received a smattering of boos today, but nothing like he used to as the fans have by and large accepted the fact that he is in Minnesota now and are at peace with that.

Immediately following that goal, at 4:36 of the second, Foligno and Kurtis Gabriel had a spirited fight that ended in a draw. Gabriel was trying to get things going for the Devils and Foligno obliged him.

The Wild scored their third unanswered at 15:07 of the second period when Joel Eriksson Ek shoveled the puck into an empty net when Cory was down. Jonas Brodin and Foligno had the assists as Foligno finished off the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). It was 3-1 Minnesota.

In the third period, Jesper Bratt put the Devils within striking distance when Nico Hischier worked the puck down low and the puck kind of worked its way to Damon Severson at the point. Severson made a nice one-touch pass to Bratt in front and he put the puck into the net to make it 3-2. That goal came at 3:56 of the third and Severson was credited with the lone assist.

But the Devils allowed Minnesota to stay in it and gave up one that Cory would no doubt like to have back. It occurred at the 7:40 mark and happened when Kunin grabbed a Lovejoy clearing attempt in the neutral zone. Kunin skated by Lovejoy up the left wing and wristed the puck by Schneider for the unassisted goal to make it 4-2 Wild. And that would be our final.

The Devils would pull Cory with about 2:35 remaining in the game, but to no avail. The Devils lost, but will be able to get their revenge in six days time when they visit Minnesota at the end of their next road trip.

The Devils were out shot by a wide margin, at 33 to 18. Minnesota also won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also blocking more shots (15-14) and having fewer giveaways (16-6). The Devils did out hit the Wild 33 to 23.

Individually, Severson led all New Jersey skaters with 25:00 of ice time (including 2:53 on the PP and 1:07 on the PK as he is now playing in all situations). Nico Hischier led the forwards with 23:19 (2:31 of power play time and 1:09 shorthanded). Shots were led by Palmieri with three, Gabriel registered seven hits to lead there and Andy Greene had five blocked shots to lead in that category. Hischier also led in takeaways with three.

Next up, tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM, the Carolina Hurricanes come into The Rock to face the slumping Devils. Hopefully they can salvage a win out of this home stand. We will have that for you right here and hope you have a good weekend.

Offense Explodes, Devils Outlast Blackhawks 8-5

Whew! That was quite a little hockey game there. The Chicago Blackhawks came to town and the Devils gathered two points as the offenses exploded for a combined 13 goals. The Devils came away with the 8-5 victory on home ice to notch their first back-to-back wins of the 2019 calendar year.

Before we begin, congratulations to former Devils broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick who was announced as a new member of the National Sports Media Hall of Fame as per an article on the Devils’ website. In addition, Devils radio play-by-play guy Matt Loughlin has been named the New Jersey Sportscaster of the Year by the same organization. Congratulations to both men for these well-deserved honors.

Roster-wise for the Devils, Stefan Noesen was placed on injured reserve (lower body) retoractive to January 12. Egor Yakovlev was recalled from Binghamton to take his place on the roster and was a healthy scratch today along with Steven Santini and Blake Pietila (who was sitting in favor of Kevin Rooney, who played primarily on a line with Brian Boyle and Drew Stafford).

The goaltending matchup saw New Jersey go back to Mackenzie Blackwood who stopped 27 shots of 32 thrown at him by Chicago for an .844 save percentage. The Blackhawks started with Cam Ward who made 19 saves on 25 shots for a .760 save percentage. Ward was pulled in the third period in favor of Collin Delia who went 14-for-15 for a .933 save percentage.

Now to the goals. The Devils kicked off this deal when Blake Coleman scored unassisted at 13:50 of the first period. It came after Coleman was done serving a hooking penalty and came out of the box on a breakaway. He went backhand-forehand using a head fake and beat Ward to make it 1-0 Devils. This extended his point scoring streak to four games.

If you are a hockey coach preaching good, solid defensive hockey, you might want to look away from the second period. If you are a fan who likes offense, this one was for you. Your mileage may vary, of course. Eight total goals scored in the second combined between the two teams. A graphic on the MSG+ telecast mentioned that this was the first time since April 6, 1996 that the Devils and their opponents combined for eight in a single period. That one came in the second period of a game versus the Hartford Whalers that the Devils eventually won 6-3.

The period kicked off at 3:07 when Patrick Kane scored his first of two for the Hawks to tie it up at one on the power play. Ben Lovejoy had gone off for tripping at 2:36. The goal was off a nice give-and-go from Jonathan Toews and Kane snapped it by Blackwood. Dylan Strome had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils then went on to scored five unanswered beginning with Kyle Palmieri giving New Jersey back the lead at 5:16. He scored on a partial breakaway on a delayed hooking call on the Blackhawks. He put one just underneath the crossbar. Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier had the assists on the goal.

Palmieri would double up at the 8:27 mark when he scored his 22nd of the year from Will Butcher and Travis Zajac. Palmieri beat Ward through the legs on the power play – Chicago’s Brendan Perlini was caught for high-sticking at 8:08 – on a goal that was initially awarded to Boyle as he had seemingly touched it just before it went in. It actually looked like it went in off of the Blackhawks’ d-man’s skate, though. That goal made it 3-1 New Jersey.

Zajac made it 4-1 at 10:07 when Ward made a stop on a cutting Miles Wood but the puck just stayed in the crease and Zajac tapped it in. Coleman had the other assist on the goal. Palmieri, with two goals was the game’s first star while Coleman (two goals and an assist) was the second star and Kane (two goals, two assists) was the third star of the night.

The next goal came off of the stick of Sami Vatanen, who scored on the power play at 14:58 of the second from Jesper Bratt and Damon Severson. Toews was in the box for holding Zajac’s stick at 13:47. On this goal, Vatanen unleashed a rocket of a slapshot one-timer by Ward’s glove to make it 5-1 Devils. The Devils’ power play was 2-for-2 with three shots on net. They also had two shorthanded shots. The special teams were a battle of the Hawks’ second-ranked power play versus the Devils’ first-ranked penalty kill (both since the Christmas break). The Blackhawks were 1-for-4 on the power play, only striking once on two shots. The Devils PK won that battle.

While Palmieri was busy scoring goals 21 and 22 of the season, Kevin Rooney notched his first career NHL goal. He scored at 17:58 of the second from Stafford and Brett Seney. The Devils’ sixth goal and fifth unanswered came when Seney alley-ooped the puck to Stafford. Stafford cut in on Ward and shot and Rooney cleaned up on the rebound. Congrats to Kevin Rooney on his first career NHL goal.

The Hawks would finally stop the onslaught when Kane got his second of the game, ripping a one-timer by Blackwood from an odd angle to make it 6-2. Henri Jokiharju had the lone assist on that one at 18:19. Brent Seabrook then scored at 19:01 from Kane to make it 6-3. Kane had intercepted Blackwood’s clearing attempt in the corner and passed to Seabrook, who buried it to cut the Devils’ lead to three.

That was one hell of a period and either some of the most exciting or sloppy hockey you have seen, depending, again, on your point of view. But the teams were not done.

Seney kicked off the third by scoring from Bratt and Pavel Zacha at 8:10 to make it 7-3 Devils. This one was on Delia as he had come in at the very start of the third period. Seney took a centering pass from Bratt and tipped it by Delia in the slot.

Just 37 seconds later, Chicago’s Dominik Kahun snapped a pass from Carl Dahlstrom from the far faceoff circle to make it 7-4 New Jersey.

Things remained interesting when Brandon Saad scored a goal at 18:28 that went in and out of the net so fast, you could only tell via the overhead replay that it actually had entered the net. That goal, with an assist to Kane, made it 7-5 Devils. The Blackhawks pulled Delia after winning the ensuing faceoff with about a minute and a half remaining in regulation for the sixth attacker. Blake Coleman would cap the night off by scoring into the vacated cage with 34 seconds left in the game to ice it at 8-5.

According to MSG+, the last time the Devils had collected eight goals in a game came in December of 2008 – just about ten years ago – against the Rangers.

One note on that third period as Wood was injured and left the ice gingerly after taking a hit where his leg was wrenched. He would skate two more shifts, but eventually left the game and would not return. He will, however, make the trip to Columbus tomorrow as per John Hynes in his post game presser. Because of this, he ended up missing the fracas late in the period that did not lead to any penalties, but did see Ben Lovejoy drop the gloves to fight Drake Caggiula.

So when all was said and done, 13 Devils had registered at least a point. Six had multiple points on the night. The Devils out shot the Blackhawks 41-32 but only won 42-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They also out hit the Hawks (21-10) and blocked more shots (15-7). They did register more giveaways, however at eight to Chicago’s six.

Individually, Andy Greene led all Devils skaters in ice time with 23:24 total (including 5:32 on the PK) and Travis Zajac led all forwards with 20:14 (19 seconds on the power play and 5:08 shorthanded) as the Devils really leaned on the veterans in this game. Palmieri led in shots on goal with six, three players (Boyle, Nico Hischier and Rooney) led in hits with three, Greene led in blocked shots with seven and Wood led in takeaways with two.

Next up the Devils travel tomorrow to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets in the second half of a back-to-back. We will have coverage right here for you. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below as they are always appreciated.

Devils Complete Comeback, Defeat Golden Knights in OT

In what was a wild game at The Rock last night, the Devils finally won a game in extra time, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in the team’s second meeting ever in Newark.

It was a crazy game that involved the Devils starting goalie being chased before the first period was even over and an overtime goal that would be reviewed before the game was finally ruled over.

The Devils would be without their biggest star for the game. Taylor Hall missed due to “lower body soreness” as he left practice early yesterday and this morning with the injury. Stefan Noesen was also placed on injured reserve. In the MSG+ pregame, it was said that he was suffering from an illness. Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches. Mirco Mueller slotted back in on defense while John Quenneville was recalled from Binghamton to fill in up front.

The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider start for the Devils against Marc-Andre Fleury. Schneider faced seven shots, letting in three of them. Keith Kinkaid came in in relief with about ten minutes to play in the first period. He stopped 14 of the 15 shots that he saw. Vegas ended the game with a total of 22 shots on goal. Fleury stopped 37 of the Devils’ 42 shots. You read that right. The Devils peppered Fleury with almost twice as many shots as the Knights fired at Devils goaltending.

But, as mentioned, early on, the Golden Knights scored early and often. Alex Tuch scored at 1:19 of the first from Oscar Lindberg and Nate Schmidt. That gave Vegas a 1-0 lead on just two shots on goal. William Karlsson found the back of the net a few minutes later at 7:45 from Jonathan Marchessault and Brayden McNabb. That made it 2-0. William Carrier would put Vegas up 3-0 at the 9:23 mark of the first from Ryan Reaves on a goal that kind of handcuffed Cory from a few feet out and that he ended up knocking into his own net with his catching glove. That was the goal that chased Schneider back to the locker room.

Vegas nearly scored on Kinkaid late in the first when the puck was ruled to not have crossed the goal line completely. Credit Kyle Palmieri with clearing the puck out from behind Kinkaid. The play was reviewed, but the call on the ice stood as no goal.

It was an almost insurmountable 3-0 Vegas lead heading into the second. But the Devils would begin to chip away. It began when New Jersey got on the board. Just 2:28 into the new period, Colin Miller took an interference call against Quenneville. That set up a Devils power play and Travis Zajac would connect at 2:59. It came when Jesper Bratt found Marcus Johansson down low below the Vegas goal line. He tic-tac-toed it to Zajac, set up in the slot, and Zajac scored. That made it 3-1.

But just after that goal was scored, Palmieri was nabbed for slashing Reilly Smith at 3:24. It was a somewhat weak call to say the least, but it stood and the Devils were going to have to kill a penalty off. It would only take 33 seconds on the ensuing man advantage for Karlsson to make it 4-1. As the Devils’ goal was being announced over the PA system, Karlsson scored his 13th from Smith and Marchessault.

Overall, on the power play, the Devils were 1-for-5 with seven shots while the Golden Knights were 1-for-3 with three shots (all on Kinkaid). The Devils were down by three in the game again. But amazingly, the comeback was about to begin.

At the 10:21 mark of the second, Miles Wood cut the Vegas lead in half when he scored from Blake Coleman and Zajac. It happened when the puck pin-balled around the Knights’ goal mouth before finally ending up on the stick of Wood in the slot. He snapped off a shot that beat Fleury glove side to make it 4-2 Vegas.

In the third period, Kyle Palmieri would draw the Devils to within one when he scored unassisted at the 6:24 mark. That one came when Vegas won the draw deep in their defensive zone, but could not corral the puck. Palmieri single-handedly then jumped on the loose puck and, with Deryk Engelland draped all over him, scored on a wraparound. That one made it 4-3.

The Devils would tie things up at the 14:55 mark when Brett Seney picked a great time to score his third career NHL goal, unassisted to tie things up at four apiece. This one occurred when the Devils collapsed down low, forcing a scramble in front of the Vegas net before the puck was accidentally swept behind Fleury by Knights defenseman Nick Holden. Amazingly and against all odds, the Devils had tied it up.

But overtime has been no sure thing for New Jersey as they had yet to win one this season once regulation ended.

They would waste no time tonight, however. Just 41 seconds into the OT, Nico Hischier scored from Johansson to give the Devils their first overtime win of the 2018-19 season. It happened when Nico and Johansson criss-crossed into the Vegas zone, Johansson fed Hischier on a cut towards the net and Nico shot, but the rebound was accidentially put into his own net by Karlsson as he was trying to clear. The Devils had done it and without one of their best overtime performers too, in Hall.

It was a seemingly hard-earned two points that were in jeopardy of being taken away. The goal was reviewed by Toronto to see if the Devils had gone in offside. The call on the ice – good goal – ended up standing and the Devils were given the victory. It was a good thing too, since the Golden Knights had completely left the ice just after the goal was scored. Should they have had to have been called back out of the locker room, it would have been a strange sight.

Hischier was named the game’s first star, Zajac the second and Vegas’ Karlsson the third.

So, in getting the win, the Devils outshot the Knights 42-22, won 57-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at nine to the Knights’ four. Vegas out hit the Devils 15-12 and blocked more shots at 11-8.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:08 of ice time (4:42 on the power play, 48 seconds shorthanded) as his role continues to grow more and more. Hischier led the forwards with 19:47 (4:24 on the PP and 31 seconds on the PK). Palmieri led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with four, Andy Greene led in blocks with two and takeaways were led by Zajac, Ben Lovejoy and Sami Vatanen, who each had one.

Next up, it is the back half of another back-to-back as the team travels to Nashville to take on the Predators in less than 24 hours after I post this. That game is at 8 PM tomorrow and we will, of course, have the recap for you right here.

Devils Drop First Shootout of Season in Anaheim

The Devils picked up a point in what was a wild loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center tonight. They fell in a shootout 6-5.

Coming into the game, the Devils were the ones who were riding high, as they had broken a previous six game losing streak, winning in Los Angeles on Thursday. The Ducks had just had a five game winning streak snapped by the Hurricanes the other night, so the Devils were coming in with some momentum.

Anaheim is having some injury problems of late. Among the wounded Ducks are Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell. All important pieces for them. The Devils are largely healthy and had Mirco Mueller, Steven Santini and Drew Stafford as the scratches while keeping their lineup mostly the same as the game in LA on Thursday.

In goal, well, that was where the strangeness really began tonight. First the Ducks. Ryan Miller started for them, making 23 saves on 27 shots against. He currently stands at one win from overtaking former Devil John Vanbiesbrouck as the all-time winningest US-born goaltender in NHL history. That would have to wait as he would be injured in the third period when Taylor Hall crashed the net and took Miller out with him. Hall quickly called for the Ducks’ trainer on the play but Miller was lost for the remainder of the tilt. John Gibson came on in relief and stopped seven of the eight shots he faced. The Devils had 35 shots in total. Gibson also stopped both shots he faced in the shootout.

Then there was the Devils. Cory Schneider, trying to get his first regular season win of the calendar year of 2018 and having not won in Honda Center as a Devil, got the nod for New Jersey in the first half of their California back-to-back. His bad luck would continue as the Devils scored not one, not two, but three own goals on him, which helped to put him at quite the handicap. We will get to those in a moment. Cory made 33 saves on 38 Anaheim shots and stopped one of the three he faced in the shootout.

The game kicked off in crazy fashion. Former Duck Kyle Palmieri scored just 1:38 into the game from Egor Yakovlev to give the Devils the very early lead. That one came when Yakovlev took a slapper from the slot which rebounded off of the end boards and came right to Palmieri, who chipped it by Miller. That one just got the ball rolling.

Less than a minute later, at 2:12, the Devils could not clear the zone and Jakob Silfverberg shot through a Ryan Kesler screen in front to tie it up at one. Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano had the assists on that one.

It would only take the Ducks about 35 seconds to take their first lead of the night at 2:47 when a Kiefer Sherwood shot bounced in off of Stefan Noesen in front. Carter Rowney and Brandon Montour had the assists on that one. This was the first of the three Devils own goals on the night and gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead.

But the Devils would show their resiliency all night. Palmieri, on his way to being named the game’s third star, would score his second goal of the night at 10:45 from Hall. This game-tying goal came when on the forecheck, Hall read a Ducks’ reverse behind the net perfectly and passed to Palmieri at the far faceoff dot. He launched a one-timer by Miller to tie the game at two.

The first period goals would keep on coming at 13:08 when Damon Severson scored from Marcus Johansson and Jesper Bratt on the power play. At 11:46, Montour took a hooking penalty and the Devils were on the man advantage. The Severson goal came when the Devils worked the perimeter on the power play and eventually Johansson found Severson backdoor. He fired a shot that beat Miller stick side. That one gave the Devils a 3-2 lead.

The Devils went 1-for-3 on the power play with four shots on net. And although Anaheim was 0-for-1 with the extra attacker (without a shot), they would actually tie the game up on a delayed penalty off the stick of Montour at 13:39 of the first period. Ondrej Kase and Ryan Getzlaf had the assists on the goal which saw Montour score backdoor all alone on Schneider while the Ducks had the extra skater on the ice.

And with that, we were tied at three and the first period came to a close. It was a crazy one with six goals scored and most of them coming in small bunches.

In the second period, the Devils would retake the lead, 4-3, when Brett Seney scored his second goal from Bratt at the 9:00 mark. It came when Ben Lovejoy forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Seney and Bratt criss-crossed into the Ducks’ zone. Bratt took a shot from along the near wall and the rebound came right to Seney, who buried it and gave the Devils back the lead. New Jersey would be stopped on two partial breakaways late in the period and would not be able to grab that elusive insurance goal.

The third frame would see an exciting finish to the game. The Ducks tied things up when the Devils could not get the extra goal. Pontus Aberg scored at 8:35 from Kase and Getzlaf on a Kase shot that deflected in when Lovejoy tried to glove the puck out of the air in front of Cory. Things were now 4-4 as the Devils had scored on their own goalie a second time.

It would happen a third time just as the Ducks’ lone power play had expired at 13:58. Kase got credited for an unassisted goal that Andy Greene batted out of the air above the crossbar and behind Cory. The Ducks had the lead 5-4 on the Devils unbelievable third own goal of the game.

But the Devils would come back, Schneider was pulled with a little over two minutes remaining in the game and Mister Clutch, Marcus Johansson would score on a mad scramble in front of Gibson, who by now had come in for the injured Miller. Nico Hischier had the only assist on the goal, as Brian Boyle was originally credited with one, but later had it taken away.

That tied things up at five and, when the final horn sounded, we were off to overtime. Overtime has been a bit of a daunting task for Devils fans this season and it nearly seemed like that trend would continue. Midway through the OT period, Johansson’s stick broke and Anaheim was off on a three-on-one. But Cory came up big, making the save and allowing the Devils to continue to fight on.

When things were still not settled, we were on to a shootout. Aberg went first for the Ducks and was stopped by Schneider. Palmieri was up for the Devils and he was stopped by Gibson. Daniel Sprong scored for the Ducks and Hall hit the post on the Devils’ second attempt. Finally, Getzlaf finished things off when he beat Cory on his attempt. The Ducks came away with the 6-5 victory.

New Jersey won only 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also being out hit 31-28. But the Devils blocked more shots (15-13) and had less giveaways at 16 to the Ducks’ 18.

Individually, former Duck Sami Vatanen, making his first trip back to Anaheim, led the Devils in time on ice at 25:01 (including 2:49 on the PP) while Hall led forwards with 23:55 (2:36 on the power play). Palmieri, another former Duck-turned-Devil, led New Jersey in shots on goal with five and Miles Wood had the most hits for the Devils with five of those as well. Greene led in blocked shots with five and takeaways were led by Hall with three.

Next up, the Devils head up the California coast to Northern California to take on the San Jose Sharks. That game is at 10:30 PM Eastern time on Monday night/Tuesday morning and we will have that for you right here 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.

Prospects Challenge Kicks Off as Devils Fall to Sabres 6-4

Hockey season has officially started! Kind of.

The 2018 Prospects Challenge got underway tonight at HarborCenter in Buffalo as the Devils took on the Buffalo Sabres in the first game of the rookie mini preseason tournament.

The Sabres came away with the 6-4 win as they looked a little bit more physical than the Devils and threw their bodies around, taking advantage of their bigger size overall. The Devils did a good job of responding generally, especially John Quenneville, who was arguably the Devils’ most physical player.

Two other takeaways from the game that I noticed was the Devils’ ability to respond offensively, as the majority of the game would see Buffalo go up a goal and the Devils immediately tie things up. It remained that way until the third period when the Sabres finally pulled away and scored two to take the 6-4 lead that would be the final.

The other thing of note was the debut of the first overall pick in this summer’s NHL Draft: Rasmus Dahlin, who had a pair of goals and an assist. He seemed to be real deal for the Sabres and gave the Devils some fits all night.

Of a minor note was the condition of the ice. It is still hot and humid out in Buffalo and the ice was not in the best of shape.

Regardless of some of the negatives, the Devils who did stand out were Brett Seney and this year’s first round draft pick, Ty Smith. Smith, especially was praised by the Buffalo announcers who were calling the game for putting a good showing in. Seney recorded a goal in the first period, the one that tied it up at one.

Cole Coskey had the first goal of the game for the Sabres, scoring at the 17:31 mark of the first. Seney tied it at one on the power play at 18:53.

In the second period, Victor Olofsson scored at 7:02 before Nathan Bastain tied things up just over 30 seconds later.

Buffalo then jumped out to a two goal lead as Alexander Nylander scored shorthanded at 10:19 and Dahlin scored his first 59 seconds later at even strength. The Sabres crowd gave the first overall pick a standing ovation following the goal, but his night was just getting started.

The Devils would respond quickly to those two goals, as Colton White scored at 11:53 and Fabian Zetterlund scored at 12:01. Seney had the lone assist on Zetterlund’s goal, giving him two points on the night.

In the third period, the Sabres pulled away when Dahlin put them up 5-4 for his second of the night at 4:28. Dahlin would also assist on Tage Thompson’s shorthanded goal that ended the night. It was the second shorty of the night for the Sabres.

The Devils were a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill but failed to scored on any of their seven power plays.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood looked pretty good, making 26 saves on Buffalo’s 32 shots on goal for a .812 save percentage. Buffalo’s Jonas Johansson made 30 saves on 34 Devils shots.

The Devils next play tomorrow at 3 PM against the Pittsburgh Penguins prospects.

Devils Ink Seney to Entry-Level Deal

The Devils announced today via a press release on their website that the team has “signed forward Brett Seney to a two-year, entry-level contract.” The release says that the contract will kick in next season (2018-19).

Seney, the Devils’ fifth pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, 157th overall, is a 22-year-old native of London, Ontario who has played the last four years with Merrimack College of Hockey East. The release says that “he will sign an AHL Amateur Try-Out Agreement and report to the Binghamton Devils” today (March 17).

The press release gives some of his college career highlights, stating that he completed his “career ranking 12th overall among all active Division I players with 42 goals, 73 assists for 115 points in 139 games.” He was a 2018 Hockey East Third All-Star Team member “during his senior season with a career-high 32 points, his second consecutive 30 point campaign.” He led Merrimack with 13 goals and 19 points this past season. He also ranked seventh in Hockey East in points, tied for ninth in goals and was fifth in power play points (18) and fifth in power play goals (seven).

The 5-foot, 10-inch, 175 pound left shooting forward “shared or led Merrimack in points in each of his four seasons.” He was “sixth overall in the nation among active Division I players with 11 career game-winning goals.”

The Devils are probably hoping they have found another gem in the later rounds of the NHL Draft, a la Jesper Bratt. Seney had a good career playing in a top NCAA conference in Hockey East. Hopefully that translates well to the NHL and everything works out for him and the Devils. Also, it is good to see the Devils lock up an NCAA prospect without him going to free agency as we have seen so often with players like the Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey or the Devils’ own Will Butcher. Another prospect to develop in the system is always good for the parent team.

2015 Draft Good to Devils

After drafting Pavel Zacha in the first round in Sunrise, Florida at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, most Devils fans were happy. But General Manager Ray Shero was not done there. Of course there would be six more rounds to go and the Devils still had five or six more picks left. By the end of the second day, the Devils would have three more Draft picks and another new addition via a trade.

In the second round, 42nd overall, the team took goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts. The six-foot four-inch 215 pound native of Thunder Bay, Ontario is eighteen years-old and “takes a calm and relaxed approach and has excellent positional play. He has a butterfly style with great low net coverage and controlled lateral movements” according to Al Jensen of the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. He went 33-14-2 last season for Barrie with a 3.09 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. He also posted two shutouts. He compares his game best to a Pekka Rinne or a Mike Smith, although his favorite NHL goalie is Carey Price.

In the third round, New Jersey took center Blake Speers 67th overall. Speers is a five-foot eleven-inch, 180 pound eighteen year-old who played last season for his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. In 2014-15, he had 24 goals and 43 assists for a total of 67 points which included a 13 points in the first seven games of the season, in which he scored 4 goals and 9 assists. Speers’ favorite NHL team is the Blackhawks, according to his Draft profile and his favorite NHL player is Patrick Kane.

In Round four, the Devils also went to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for their 97th pick overall: Colton White. The 6 foot, 180 pound eighteen year-old London, Ontario native is a left-handed shooting defenseman. According to the Devils’ website, White was the latest defenseman drafted by the Devils since they took Alexander Mikhailishin at 155th overall in 2004. White had 6 goals and 16 assists for 22 points last OHL season in 67 games. He was also a plus-38 for the team.

For their final pick (6th round, 157th overall), the Devils went to the NCAA college ranks when they took Merrimack left wing Brett Seney. At five-foot, nine-inches and 155 pounds, the nineteen year-old London, Ontario native is the smallest player taken by the Devils in this year’s Draft. According to the Devils website, Seney is the first player the Devils have ever drafted from Merrimack College. The left-handed shot had 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points last season to go with 55 penalty minutes in 34 games. Seney, who was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the week ending January 19, led Merrimack in points and assists. He also led the Warriors with a plus-3 rating. He just completed his freshman year at the North Andover, Massachusetts-based school.

In between all of that, the Devils sent one of their second round picks (they had an extra second rounder thanks to the Jaromir Jagr trade with Florida last year) and a third round pick in the 2016 Draft to the Anaheim Ducks for Montvale, New Jersey native Kyle Palmieri.

According to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, the team was looking for “a young forward with NHL experience who could fit into the up-tempo style that coach John Hynes wants to play” and Palmieri fit the bill exactly. He is 24 years-old and had 29 points in 57 games for Anaheim last season.

The concern in Anaheim, as Ducks GM Bob Murray told Rosen, was that Palmieri would have to be given a bigger contract after 2015-16. The Ducks have Ryan Kesler coming up as an unrestricted free agent next year and Rickard Rakell, Jiri Sekac, Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Frederik Andersen and John Gibson all as restricted free agents. Palmieri would also be a restricted free agent.

He played most of last season with different linemates up and down the lineup, including time with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Kesler according to Rosen. But Devils GM Ray Shero feels that that shows he can play with different players in different situations. It also helps that he played for new Devils coach John Hynes with the United States National Team Development Program between 2007 and 2009.

But the main draw for Shero was Palmieri’s age and that “he plays with speed and can really shoot a puck.” The Devils also feel his contract situation is the perfect fit for the team right now. His current contract carries a salary cap hit of $1.47 million, as Rosen quoted from war-on-ice.com.

The picks the Devils made in the Draft helped the team plug some holes in their future. The Palmieri deal only made things better for the Devils at the 2015 Draft. As Shero reiterates a few times in the Rosen article, Palmieri is a young, speedy forward who can shoot the puck and who has a decent contract. Overall, he should be a great fit for the Devils for next year and, should things work out, for a few years to come.