Schneider Plays Well, But Devils Fall to Isles in Shootout

The Devils fell tonight in a shootout to the New York Islanders at Prudential Center, 2-1 as they were swept in the season series between the teams. But the real story tonight was Cory Schneider. Activated off of injured reserve the other night, he made his first start since December 14 versus the Vegas Golden Knights and he was very good. You could see the confidence coming back to Cory with each save he made and he held the Isles scoreless through the second and third periods as well as overtime and three rounds of the shootout. Cory played well enough to be named the game’s second star by the media and to earn back the fan’s confidence enough to get a “Cory!” chant late in the game.

New Jersey was coming into the game off of the heels of the trade that sent Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Boyle, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was sent to the Preds in exchange for a second round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

But while one player was subtracted from the Devils’ roster, another was returning. Ben Lovejoy, a key part of the Devils’ penalty kill, came off of IR tonight playing on the third pairing with Mirco Mueller. In addition, Eric Gryba slotted in on defense in his first NHL appearance since October 27 against Florida. With those two d-men in, Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were healthy scratches. In addition to all of that, Travis Zajac was hit in the ear with a puck middle of the first period but he returned early in the second. Miles Wood also left injured midway through the second and seemed to be favoring his right shoulder after he fell awkwardly on it as he was hit off balance.

The netminder matchup featured Cory making his return against an Islander team that is first in the NHL in team goals against and save percentage. In addition, the New York starter, Thomas Greiss, had a shut out streak of over an hour coming into tonight according to the MSG broadcast crew. Cory ended up making 27 saves on 28 Islander shots for a .964 save percentage. Greiss stopped 30 of 31 for a .968 save percentage. But again, stats do not do enough justice to how Schneider played tonight. He was, again, gaining confidence as the game went on and came up big a few times, including a point blank shot early in the game against Mat Barzal.

Special teams saw the Devils go 0-for-3 on the power play with five total shots. The Devils also had a pair of shorthanded shots. The Islanders were 0-for-4 on the PP with six power play shots.

Kevin Rooney put the Devils on the board early with the 1-0 lead at the 5:32 mark of the first period. He used a burst of speed to get around the Isles’ d-man and shot under the crossbar, glove side, beating Greiss. That ended Greiss’ shut out streak and put the Devils in front. Kurtis Gabriel and Jesper Bratt had the assists on the goal.

But while the Devils scored early, the Islanders found the net late in the first period. At 13:42, Barzal was coming out of the penalty box after serving a roughing minor and took a pass from Ryan Pulock for a clear-cut breakaway. He scored on a play that saw Blake Coleman, who was serving a coincidental roughing minor, go straight to the bench for a change instead of joining the play, allowing Barzal to walk right in. It was a tough play and Schneider really had no chance on the goal. The game was now tied up at one. Brock Nelson had the other assist on the goal.

According to Steve Cangialosi, the Islanders have not trailed going into an intermission since January 8 and that streak would continue tonight.

After a scoreless second and third period, we were off to overtime. Jesper Bratt had the best chance to end it for either team when hit clanged one off of both posts in the middle part of the OT. His shot hit the far post and then nailed the near post without ever going over the line or into the net. A rough break for the Devils and one that kept the game 1-1. When OT expired without a goal, we were headed to a shootout.

In the first round, Kyle Palmieri missed and the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle hit the crossbar on his attempt. Nico Hischier missed in the second round for the Devils and Barzal whiffed on his chance for New York. In the third round, Drew Stafford’s shot was saved by Greiss and Nelson’s was saved by Cory. In the sudden death fourth round, Bratt was stopped by Greiss and Josh Bailey became the hero, scoring to give the Isles the victory.

The Devils out shot the Islanders 31 to 28 and won a whopping 64-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils also threw 31 hits to the Isles’ 23 and blocked 13 shots to New York’s ten. The Devils doubled up on giveaways at 14 to the Islanders’ seven.

Individually, Marcus Johansson led all Devils skaters in ice time with 24:32 (5:04 on the power play) just beating out Damon Severson, who led the defensemen with 24:03 (4:10 on the power play and 2:49 shorthanded). Stafford and Bratt led in shots on goal with four each, Gabriel led in hits with eight, Mueller led in blocks with three and Zajac and Johansson led in takeaways with three each.

Next up, the Devils faceoff with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in a 1 PM puck drop at Prudential Center. We will have coverage here for you then as the Devils try to throw a monkey wrench into Minnesota’s playoff hopes. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below if you would like. It is always appreciated.

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 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.

Devils Re-Sign Kevin Rooney

Kevin Rooney has been brought back into the Devils’ fold by signing a two-year contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level ($70,000 guaranteed according to the press release the Devils put out) for 2018-19 and $700,000 at the NHL level in 2019-20.

The 26-year old Rooney just finished “his second full professional season in 2017-18.” He signed his first contract with the Albany Devils on July 5, 2016 and signed with the New Jersey Devils on February 27, 2017.

The 6’2″, 190-pound forward played in 71 games with Binghamton last season, notching 14 goals and 20 assists (34 points total). He played one game in the NHL last season (January 25, 2018 against Nashville) where he had “three shots on goal in 11:49 of ice-time.” He has five total NHL games under his belt.

He is a native of Canton, Massachusetts who played college hockey at Providence College. In four seasons with the Friars from 2012 to 2016, he played on a “NCAA Championship team in 2015.” Playing in 144 career college games, he had 17 goals and 19 assists (36 points) and 70 penalty minutes.

According to the Devils’ press release, he won Providence College’s Athletic Department Mal Brown Award in 2016. This award is given each year “to the male athlete whose career of intercollegiate competition portrayed sportsmanship, courage and honor.”

Qualifying Offers Extended by Devils to Eight Players

According to articles written today by Abbey Mastracco of the North Jersey Record and Chris Ryan of The Star Ledger, the Devils have extended qualifying offers to eight players.

The players are all restricted free agents. They also declined “qualifying offers for two players, making them unrestricted free agents on July 1” according to Ryan. The players given qualifying offers were forwards Miles Wood, Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen among those who played in the NHL last season and also defenseman Steven Santini. According to Ryan, “AHL players Nick Lappin, Kevin Rooney, Michael Kapla and Christoph Bertschy also received qualifying offers.”

Ryan also said that “(f)orward Mario Lucia and goalie Ken Appleby did not get qualifying offers.” Although the Devils could still re-sign them should they choose, they will be unrestricted free agents on July 1.

According to Mastracco, Noesen, Coleman, Lappin and Rooney are arbitration eligable. She said that “(t)he deadline to file for salary arbitration is July 5. Both Coleman and Noesen made $660,000 last season on one-year deals according to Mastracco.

In other news that you may have heard by now, the Devils were not one of the five teams that free agent superstar John Tavares has/will be meeting with this week. Several sources, including Arthur Staple, who covers the Islanders for The Athletic, in a tweet written on June 23, the Maple Leafs, Sharks, Stars, Bruins and Islanders were among the short list of teams that he has or will meet with. The Devils could always make an offer later on that Tavares and his agent would listen to, but most likely, New Jersey is not in on the Tavares sweepstakes.

Also, the Hockey Hall of Fame will be announcing their Class of 2018 members today at 3 PM. Martin Brodeur is in his first year of eligibility and will likely be a shoo in. We will have more information here as it becomes available today at 3 PM.

Devils Re-Sign Three More

According to a series of press releases on the Devils’ official site, General Manager Ray Shero has come to terms with three more players. Ben Thomson, Kevin Rooney and Stefan Noesen have all been signed to one-year, two-way contracts.

Ben Thomson, a forward and a 24 year-old native of Brampton, Ontario was the first announced. He will make $650,000 at the NHL level. He was chosen in the fourth round, 96th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft and has played the majority of his Devils career in the AHL. This will be his fourth professional hockey season. He has 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in 212 AHL games (he also has 296 penalty minutes) according to the press release. Last year he had a goal in the four Calder Cup playoff games he played in.

He also made his NHL debut last season (April 4 versus the Flyers) and has a total of three NHL games under his belt.

Next up to sign was Providence College product Kevin Rooney. The 24 year-old Canton, Massachusetts native will make $650,000 at the NHL level. Rooney just finished his first pro season, playing in 71 games for the Albany Devils of the AHL and making his New Jersey Devils debut on March 2 against the Capitals.

In Albany, he had 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points with 39 penalty minutes according to the press release. The release also mentions that Rooney had one goal in four Calder Cup playoff games played in last year.

Rooney, a forward, was signed to a one-year AHL contract last year (July 5, 2016) as a free agent. The press release mentions that he attended Development Camp last year for the Devils and participated in the 2016 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. He signed a one-year, two-way NHL contract on February 27, 2017 right before his NHL debut against the Caps in Washington.

The final signing announcement of the day was forward Stefan Noesen. The forward, born in Plano, Texas, will make $660,000 at the NHL level.

Noesen, who is 24 years old as well, was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks last year via waivers. He was chosen 21st overall in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft by Ottawa. Last season he split between the Ducks and Devils at the NHL level and the San Diego Gulls of the AHL (Anaheim’s affiliate).

With the Devils, after being claimed off waivers on January 25, 2017, he played 32 games and had six goals and two assists for eight points. He scored his first career NHL goal on December 7 while still with the Ducks versus the Hurricanes. He notched his first assist as a Devil on February 14 against the Avalanche. He also scored a goal in each of his first two games with the Devils according to the press release. Those goals came January 26 against Washington and January 31 against Detroit.

At the AHL level, Noesen has 116 games (for the Norfolk Admirals and San Diego). In those games, he has 23 goals and 40 assists to total 63 points. He also has 127 penalty minutes, according to the press release.

His NHL totals read 46 games, eight goals, two assists for ten points and 24 penalty minutes.