North Division Wins AHL All-Star Classic as Batherson Takes Home MVP Honors

The AHL’s All-Star Challenge took place at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts yesterday. It was a homecoming of sorts for the AHL as they have their headquarters in the city. The All-Stars each put forth a good showing with the North Division (featuring the Binghamton Devils’ John Quenneville and Mackenzie Blackwood) taking it all in the tournament between divisions. It was the North’s second straight victory as they also took the tournament last year.

First up was the round robin. Here games were ten minutes (with a break and goalie change at five minutes) and saw each division play each other once. At the end of the round robin, the teams with the best record met in a six minute championship game.

The first game featured the Central Division taking on the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic took this one 3-1. The Atlantic got goals from Colin McDonald (the Atlantic captain), Trevor Carrick and John Gilmour (who scored into an empty net). Denis Gurianov scored for the Central and he actually scored first in the game to give the Central a quick 1-0 lead that would not last. In goal in this game, Troy Grosenick started for the Central and stopped all six shots he saw. Kaapo Kahkonen then came in and also faced six shots, letting in two. For the Atlantic, Vitek Vanecek stopped all four he saw and Samuel Montembeault – the starter – turned aside two of three.

The next game was another East-West matchup as the Pacific All-Stars faced the North All-Stars. The Pacific won this one 4-2, getting on the board first when Joe Gambardella scored. In the second “half” Sheldon Rempal gave the Pacific a 2-0 lead. The North would tie things up when Drake Batherson (who would go on to be named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his performance) scored a pair in the second but the Pacific would fight back for the win. Sean Walker scored the game winner followed by Cooper Marody into an empty net. The goaltenders were busy in this one, Kevin Boyle, starting for the Pacific stopped all four shots he saw while Josef Korenar saw 11 shots and saved nine of them. For the North, Blackwood got the save and saw two shots, stopping one of them. Connor Ingram came on in the second and saved five of seven.

The North stayed on the ice as they took on the Central Division next. The North came out victorious 4-2. John Quenneville had a good game in this one, scoring the opener in the first unassisted. Joel L’Esperance tied it early in the second but Batherson put the North back up when he scored off an assist from Quenneville. But again, the Central tied it when Daniel Carr scored a little over a minute later. The North finally took the lead for good when Reid Boucher scored the game winner. Batherson would add an empty net goal to give the North the win. In nets, Grosenick stopped six of eight while the starter, Kahkonen stopped three of four for the Central. For the North, starter Ingram stopped all three he saw while Blackwood had four saves on six shots.

It was a cross-continent matchup in the next game as the Pacific took on the Atlantic. The Atlantic took this one 5-2, taking an early lead in the first when Gilmour and Ethan Prow scored with a Pacific goal by Francis Perron sandwiched in between. In the second, Gilmour, Andrew Poturalski and Michael Dal Colle scored for the Atlantic while Walker added a late one for the Pacific. The goalies were Korenar starting for the Pacific and making three saves on five shots. Kevin Boyle came in for him and stopped one in four shots taken. For the Atlantic, Vanecek stopped four of five while Montembeault came in and made eight saves on nine shots.

An all-Western Conference battle ensued next with the Central taking on the Pacific. The Central won 5-3. The Pacific took the early lead when Michael Bunting scored just 28 seconds in. Near the closing of the second, Gurianov tied the game at one. The Central took control in the second when Matt Donovan notched two with 20 seconds of each other. Jacob Middleton of the Pacific scored before the Central scored two more: Chris Terry at 4:04 and Daniel Carr into an empty net at 4:33. Walker scored one with less than 15 seconds remaining for the Pacific. Grosenick made seven saves on eight shots while Kahkonen made ten saves on twelve shots for the Central All-Stars. For the Pacific, Boyle made three saves on four shots while Korenar stopped three of six.

Following an all-West game, the East took center stage. The North faced the Atlantic and won 4-1. Nathan Gerbe and Boucher got the North up by two early. Gerbe would score again in the second while Greg Carey notched the only Atlantic goal a few seconds after that. Batherson finished things off to give the North the victory. Blackwood started for the North and turned aside the only shot he saw. Ingram came on in the second and stopped four of five in the winning effort. For the Atlantic, hometown boy Montembeault stopped seven of nine while Vanecek, coming on in the second, made four saves on five shots.

With that, round robin play came to an end and the championship game was set. The Atlantic at 2-1 would take on the North also at 2-1. This game was just six minutes long and saw the North win 1-0 in a shootout. When the game finished with no score, it was up to Blackwood and Vanecek to take on shooters one-on-one in a shootout.

Boucher went first for the North with Vanecek stopping him. Anthony Greco was first up for the Atlantic and he was also stopped. Batherson (North) and Dal Colle (Atlantic) went next and both scored. Gerbe (North) and Poturalski (Atlantic) were stopped in the next round and we were on to round four. Trevor Moore scored on his attempt for the North Division and Carey was stopped by Blackwood on his try to give the North the 1-0 win. In the game itself, Blackwood stopped all three shots he saw and Vanecek stopped all six he saw.

So with that another All-Star game comes to an end. The Devils (both the NHL and AHL versions) fared well, with both of their divisions winning their respective games and their players contributing.

We will see you right here for Devils-Rangers coverage on Thursday. Again, if you wish, please remember to comment on this and any other post on the site. We really appreciate it.

West Wins AHL All-Star Skills Competition

The American Hockey League presented their All-Star Skills Competition earlier tonight from the Massmutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts with the Western Conference coming away with the victory 17-14 over seven events. The Binghamton Devils were represented by goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and forward John Quenneville.

The first event of the evening was the Puck Control Relays as players skated a puck through cones set out on the ice. The first two races were team-based while the final two were one-on-one between two skaters.

First up, the Western Conference team of Jordan Kyrou (San Antonio Rampage), Sheldon Rempal (Ontario Reign) and Kyle Capobianco (Tucson Roadrunners) faced off with the Eastern Conference’s Drake Batherson (Belleville Senators), Sebastian Aho (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) and Christian Wolanin (Belleville – he is the son of former Devil Craig Wolanin). The West was awarded a goal on this one, winning the heat.

The East took the second race, with Andrew Poturalski (Charlotte Checkers), Ethan Prow (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) and Trevor Moore (Toronto Marlies) defeating the West’s Francis Perron (San Jose Barracuda), Cooper Marody (Bakersfield Condors) and Andrew Agozzino (Colorado Eagles).

The next two heats were one-on-one with the East taking both. Nathan Gerbe (Cleveland Monsters) defeated Erik Brannstrom (Chicago Wolves) in Race #3 and Anthony Greco (Springfield Thunderbirds) beat Cal O’Reilly (Iowa Wild) in Race #4.

The East had taken three of the first four goals and were up 3-1 after one event. Next up was the Fastest Skater, with two goals on the line (player with the fastest time and fastest average time for the team).

The East took the fastest individual skater, as Greco won in a AHL-record time of 13.251. However, the West took the best average time as Sean Walker of Ontario recorded a time of 14.057, Denis Gurlanov of the Texas Stars completed the course in 13.703 and Kyrou got a time of 13.520. Brendan Guhle (Rochester Americans) with 13.648 and John Gilmour (Hartford Wolf Pack) with 14.428 rounded out the East’s times.

The East was up 4-2 heading into the Rapid Fire event. The object here was for two shooters to fire ten pucks (five for each shooter) at a goalie and score as many as they could.

The first goalie up was Josef Korenar (San Jose) who faced the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ Colin McDonald and Charlotte’s Trevor Carrick. He stopped six of ten. Blackwood was up first for the East, facing Curtis Lazar (Stockton Heat) and Daniel Carr (Chicago). He stopped four of ten. Iowa’s Kaapo Kahkonen took the net from there, facing former Devil Reid Boucher of the Utica Comets and Jordan Szwarz of the Providence Bruins. He made eight saves. Vitek Vanecek (Hershey Bears) faced Joel L’Esperance (Texas) and Chris Terry (Grand Rapids Griffins), making six saves. Kevin Boyle of the San Diego Gulls was next, stopping six against the Syracuse Crunch’s Cory Conacher and Alex Belzile of the Laval Rocket. Connor Ingram of Syracuse faced Logan Shaw of the Manitoba Moose and Michael Bunting of Tucson and stopped four shots. Troy Grosenick of the Milwaukee Adirmals stepped into the shooting gallery, making eight saves against Michael Dal Colle of Bridgeport and Calle Rosen of Toronto. And finally was Sam Montembeault of the hometown Thunderbirds who stopped six of Joe Gambardella (Bakersfield) and Rempal’s shots.

After all of that, the West took home a point, having scored 28 goals to the East’s 20. This set us up for the Hardest Shot contest next.

Greg Carey of Lehigh Valley won this one with a best shot of 100.4 MPH. Again, the player whose team wins gets a goal as well as the team with the highest averge speed. The East won both as Quenneville nailed a 98.1, Guhle hit 99.4 and Carrick hit 99.4. The West had Andrew Campbell of the Rockford IceHogs (99.5 MPH), Matt Donovan of Milwaukee (96.0), Lazar (92.9) and Jacob Middleton of San Jose (96.4). It was now 6-3 in the total score in favor of the East.

The Accuracy Shooting event was next with teams earning a point for the player with the fewest attempts to break all four targets as well as the most hit targets in the fewest attempts. Individaully, Perron (4-for-6) and Boucher (4-for-6) tied to earn a point for both the East and the West. The East won the overall event, hitting 12 targets in just 19 attempts total. Poturalski was 4-for-7, Moore was 2-for-8 and Prow was 2-for-8. For the West, Carr was 3-for-8, L’Esperance was 2-for-8 and Terry was 3-for-8.

With the East up 8-4 and only two events to go, the West needed to kick things into high gear to pull out a win. Next up was the pass and score, which saw players breaking in on 3-on-0’s on the goaltender and trying to score as much as they could in three attempts.

Blackwood went first, facing O’Reilly, Agozzino and Capobianco. He blanked them on all three attempts. Korenar faced Batherson, Aho and Gerbe and made a single save. But those two goals were the only ones the East would record in this event. Vanecek let in two against Brannstrom, Marody and Walker and Kahkonen shut the door on Wolanin, Gilmour and Dal Colle. Ingram also shut out Gurianov, Bunting and Gambardella while Conacher, Szwarz and Rosen failed to score on Boyle. The West’s shooters of Donovan, Middleton and Shaw got one through on Montembeault to put the West up 3-2 and Grosenick shut the door in the final round on McDonald, Carey and Quenneville to give the West the 3-2 win. Since each individual goal scored in this event counted for a total point, the East was now up 10-7.

The final event was the Breakaway Relay. Here too, each individual goal scored counted. Mackenzie Blackwood made three saves on five shots as he faced Kyrou (who scored), Lazar (save), L’Esperance (goal), Rempal (save) and Perron (save). Vanecek made two saves in the third round for the East, Ingram made two in round five and Montembeault made two saves in round seven. For the West, Korenar made four saves in round two and Kahkonen pitched a shutout in round four. Round six featured Boyle in net and John Quenneville shooting. Quenneville’s shot was saved and Boyle made two saves. Finally, in round eight, Grosenick made four saves against the East to put the West on top 10-4.

With that, the West pulled in front on the big board with 17 goals to the East’s four. And that was it. The AHL All-Star Classic is tomorrow night on the NHL Network. The Devils are playing and I will, of course, have that here. But I am recording the AHL game and should have a recap of that up (with info on how Quenneville and Blackwood do) on Tuesday night.

Blackwood Named ECHL Alumnus of Month for December

I am a little behind on this, as this award was given out back on January 1, but since there is very little Devils news during the on-going bye week, I thought I would get to this now.

Devils’ goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood was named the Meigrey Group/ECHL Alumnus of the Month for December. Blackwood, a former member of the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL, made his NHL debut on December 18 against the Hurricanes (posting a 2-0 shutout) and then blanked the Canucks on December 29 to become the first Devils rookie goalie to record back-to-back shutouts in his first two career starts.

He played for the Thunder in 2017-18 where he was 2-1-1 (2.48 goals against average and .920 save percentage) according to the ECHL’s press release on the award. The release also mentions that he played in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, going 3-1 with a shutout for Adirondack.

Blackwood is one of 651 players all-time who have gone from the ECHL to eventually play in the NHL. The press release states that ten made their NHL debut this season alone (including Blackwood).

In other ECHL news, the CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic will be presented tonight from Toledo, Ohio on the NHL Network. I will be watching and will have something up a little bit later. The All-Star Classic is a 3-on-3 tournament similar to what the NHL and AHL do. The Skills Competition will take place between the rounds of the tournament according to the ECHL website. That will include the Fastest Skater, Hardest Shot and Accuracy Shooting contests.

Representing the Thunder for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Classic will be Mike Szmatula. The ECHL All-Stars are chosen by a vote taken from coaches, team captains, media relations directors, broadcasters and other members of the media in ECHL cities according to the ECHL website.

Blackwood Records Second Straight Shutout, Devils Beat Canucks 4-0

Two days ago, Mackenzie Blackwood got his first NHL shutout. He became the sixth Devils rookie goalie to record a shutout joining the likes of Sean Burke and Martin Brodeur (the only two younger goalies to do it, respectively). Today, he upped the ante, earning his second consecutive shutout and in doing so becoming the first Devils goalie to do so since Marty Brodeur in April of 2010 and the first ever Devils rookie to record back-to-back shutouts. He also became the first NHL rookie goalie to turn this feat since John Gibson on December 29 and 31, 2015 – three years to the exact days. His shutout streak now stands at 125:55 as the Devils notched the 4-0 win at Prudential Center over the Vancouver Canucks.

And with all of that, the Devils have won three straight for the first time since the first three games of the season.

On this New Year’s Eve, Vancouver came in having gathered 15 points in their last ten games, going 7-2-1. The Devils stopped them cold, weathering a storm in the second period where the Canucks dominated. It was a good game for New Jersey and one where ten different Devils recorded points.

The Devils were still without Taylor Hall (day-to-day, lower body) and Marcus Johansson (who is skating but remains on injured reserve). The team also made the decision to assign defenseman Egor Yakovlev to Binghamton of the AHL. Mirco Mueller was the lone healthy scratch for the Devils.

As for the goaltending matchup, Blackwood made his third consecutive start for the Devils after it was announced earlier today that he was the NHL’s third star of the week for the week ending yesterday. He was also this game’s first star come the end of the night. He saw 25 Vancouver shots and turned them all aside. Opposing him was Anders Nilsson. He made 19 saves on 23 Devils shots.

While the big story for the Devils has been goaltending, there was another aspect of their game that, not coincidentally since goaltending plays a big part in it, has been great of late. That is their penalty killing. They held the Canucks 0-for-4 on the man advantage with just three shots. The Devils themselves went 2-for-3 with five power play shots and also added two shorthanded shots.

The Devils’ goals came in bunches: two in the first period and two in the third. The first goal was scored 12:03 into the game by Brian Boyle from Drew Stafford and Brett Seney. It happened when Boyle found Stafford’s rebound on the doorstep and buried it five-hole to record his tenth of the season for the game winner. It was 1-0 Devils and that was all they needed.

It became 2-0 on the power play when Miles Wood scored on the power play at 18:12 of the first from Sami Vatanen and Jesper Bratt. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat went off for tripping Seney and the Devils had their first power play opportunity of the afternoon. Bratt passed out of the near corner to Vatanen at the far point. Vatanen gave to Wood near the top of the near circle and he rocketed a shot upstairs to double the Devils’ lead.

New Jersey had to brace themselves for an attacking Canucks team in the second period, but Blackwood was there to close the door when needed. The third goal of the game came just 1:31 into the third period also on the power play when Vatanen scored from Wood and Damon Severson. This had been setup the previous period when Markus Granlund tripped up Nico Hischier leading to a Devils power play that would commence after a period of 4-on-4 (Vancouver was already on the PP) and carry over to the third.

On this goal, Wood broke into the Canucks’ zone on the rush and dropped the puck for a trailing Vatanen. He one-timed a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Nilsson stick side. It may have been deflected by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler. It was now 3-0 Devils.

Pavel Zacha would put a bow on 2018 when he scored 2:05 later from Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini. Zacha, as per the coaching staff, has been shooting more of late and using his offensive weapons. This has translated into goals like the one he scored today when Noesen criss-crossed through the neutral zone, gained the offensive zone and dropped to Zacha just inside the Canucks’ blue line. Zacha fired the puck by Nilsson and made it 4-0 in what would be our final. That was also the final Devils goal of the 2018 calendar year.

A strange play late in the game as Vancouver’s Antoine Roussel pushed Severson into Blackwood with Severson’s skate going into Blackwood’s midsection. Blackwood was okay, but Roussel then proceeded to drop his gloves and attack Severson with Severson not being ready to fight. For his efforts, Roussel was given a two minute roughing minor that put New Jersey on the power play and a ten minute misconduct penalty.

Statistically, the Devils were out shot by Vancouver 25-23, won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had a whopping 32 hits to the Canucks’ 18, blocked ten more shots than the Canucks (18-8) and had 11 giveaways to Vancouver’s three.

Individually, Sami Vatanen, who was named the game’s third star, led the team in ice time with 22:27 (1:56 on the power play and 2:23 shorthanded) while Travis Zajac led the forwards (19:27, including 2:38 on the PP and 3:22 on the PK). Wood, who was the game’s second star, led in shots with four, Blake Coleman led in hits with five, Andy Greene led in blocked shots with four and Kyle Palmieri and Vatanen each registered a takeaway to lead there.

Next up for the Devils, they hit the road to begin 2019. They will be in Dallas to take on the Stars on January 2, Wednesday at 8:30 PM eastern. We will have coverage right here then but will also continue coverage of the 2019 World Junior Championship here tonight. Until then, Happy New Year and everybody have a safe and healthy 2019!

Blackwood Earns First Career Shutout; Devils Beat Hurricanes 2-0

It’s been a long time.

The Devils had not strung together back-to-back wins since November 13 and 15. Back then, they beat Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Today, they notched their second straight win after beating Boston on Thursday. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Kid’s Day at Prudential Center behind a spectacular performance from goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, a shorthanded goal from Pavel Zacha and a timely bit of luck.

The Devils are still without Taylor Hall, which makes this run of two games even more improbable to an extent. They are also missing Marcus Johansson and Cory Schneider, who according to Erika Wachter of MSG+, have started skating but remain on injured reserve. Joey Anderson remains on IR but has started off-ice workouts.

Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches for New Jersey.

One other bit of business from the Boston game on Thursday is that the Bruins’ David Backes has received supplemental discipline for his illegal check to the head of Blake Coleman. Because he is a repeat offender, he was fined over $200,000 and will be banned for three games. That will include the New Year’s Day Winter Classic game for Boston as well.

That win in Boston was the Devils’ first since October 26, 2013 according to an MSG+ graphic and the Devils were looking to build on that game. One of their stars from that contest was Mackenzie Blackwood. He made a back-to-back start in this game, going today as well. He was brilliant. He stopped all 37 shots Carolina threw his way. But he also got some luck. The Canes had seemingly tied things up at one with an extra attacker on with 1:58 to go in the game. However, the goal was immediately waved off on the ice with the explanation of incidental goalie interference by Carolina’s Justin Williams. The contact through the crease was negligible, but he did bump into Blackwood’s stick.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour used his coach’s challenge to have this one overturned but the call was upheld when Toronto looked at it. It was just too much contact (albeit, as I said, negligible) to overturn the call. The Devils would get through that “storm” and Andy Greene emphatically slapped the puck into the empty net with 32 seconds left in the game to make it 2-0 Devils, which was our final.

For the Canes, journeyman Curtis McElhinney was between the pipes. He was equally good and stopped 28 of 29 Devils shots. With the empty netter, the Devils finsihed the game being outshot by Carolina 37-30.

The game winner came shorthanded off the stick of Zacha unassisted. That was set up when John Quenneville took a penalty for tripping Trevor van Riemsdyk at 17:26. With 36 seconds to go in the second period and two on the penalty, Zacha scored when he chipped an intercepted pass up ice and chased it. He shot and McElhinney made the initial save before Zacha chipped the rebound over McElhinney’s shoulder and top shelf to make it 1-0 Devils.

Special teams-wise, the Devils kept the Hurricanes 0-for-5 on the power play with five shots. Carolina also had two shorthanded shots. On the Devils’ side of the ledger, they went 0-for-3 on the power play with seven total shots but also added three shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on, as noted.

One scary moment was early in the game when linesman Tim Nowak was hit in the elbow by a puck and seemed injured enough for the Devils’ trainer to come out and look at him. He stayed in the game and continued officiating, showing that it takes the toughest of the tough to make a hockey game go.

For the Devils, statistically, they won 52-percent of the faceoffs but got out hit 20 to 11. The Canes also had more blocked shots (16 to 13) and less giveaways (nine to three).

Greene led all Devils’ skaters in ice time (25:13) which included 8:44 killing penalties. Travis Zajac led the forwards with 21:33 total (3:39 on the PP and 5:13 on the PK). Kyle Palmieri and Zacha led in shots with four each, Miles Wood and Will Butcher led in hits with two each, Sami Vatanen led in blocked shots with four and Ben Lovejoy led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils will have a 1 PM matinee on New Year’s Eve at Prudential Center against the Vancouver Canucks. We will see you then and hope you join us later for a little bit of World Junior update. See you then!

Blackwood Earns First NHL Victory as Devils Roll Over Boston, 5-2

For the first time this season (in the final road game of the 2018 calendar year, no less), someone not named Keith Kinkaid earned a win for the Devils between the pipes. That man was Mackenzie Blackwood and he had a pretty good night. The Devils beat the Bruins up in Boston 5-2.

It has not been easy for the Devils at TD Garden the last few years. The Bruins were 12-1-0 in the last 13 games between the two teams up in Beantown according to a graphic on the MSG+ pregame show, but they earned the victory tonight.

Things did not look too good for New Jersey with the announcement prior to the game that Taylor Hall would not be playing tonight. The team practiced in Newark this morning before flying up to Boston and Hall had a re-occurrence of the lower body injury that kept him out of some games a few weeks ago prior to the Christmas break. He is now day-to-day according to Erika Wachter.

Jesper Bratt moved into Hall’s spot on the top line with Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier while Stefan Noesen was back in the lineup to take his place on the roster. Noesen had not played since December 9 at Anaheim. Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches. One other transaction made was John Quenneville. He was actually sent back down to Binghamton just prior to the Christmas break and was recalled yesterday. For the B’s, Zdeno Chara was making his first appearance since November 14, as he had been out with a knee injury.

One Devil really excited for this game was Brett Seney. The former Merrimack College player had some 30 friends and family at the game. He was playing in his first game at TD Garden, something he did not get to do even in college.

The goalie matchup saw Jaroslav Halak go for the B’s as the former Islander made 28 saves on 32 Devils shots against. The Devils finished the game with 33 shots, since they added an empty netter later on in the game. As mentioned, Mackenzie Blackwood was the star of the show for the Devils. He stopped 40 of 42 Bruins shots and was named the game’s first star. As Ken Daneyko pointed out on the MSG+ post game show, it is a bit auspicious that a Devils goalie, wearing number 29 should get his first win against the Bruins. Martin Brodeur got his first win in the NHL against the Bruins back in 1992 wearing… number 29!

The Devils got the scoring started early as Damon Severson became the sixth defenseman in team history to score 30 seconds or less into a game. He did it 25 seconds in off assists from Andy Greene and Travis Zajac. It happened when Zajac got the puck to a pinching Greene. He then found Severson cutting backdoor on the Bruins’ goal and scored to make it 1-0 Devils.

The Devils would make it 2-0 before the first intermission when Palmieri scored on the power play at 15:25 from Will Butcher and Brian Boyle. It was set up when former Devil John Moore was called for tripping. On the man advantage, Palmieri took a shot in close that Halak made the initial save on. The puck then hit Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo and rolled up and over Halak, who was down in the butterfly, and in. The Devils now had a 2-0 lead to take into the first break.

On the power play, the Devils were 2-for-4 on the night with three shots. They also had three shorthanded shots on net. The Bruins were held 0-for-2 with three shots on the power play. They also accumulated three shorthanded shots.

Boston got on the board at the 15:07 mark of the second period when Chris Wagner collided with a Devils defender and the Devil went down. This left Wagner all alone to cut in behind the play and take a nice pass from Moore to score into an empty net. Danton Heinen had the secondary assist. The Bruins had cut the Devils’ lead in half. Boston out shot the Devils 19-9 in that second period but Blackwood was fantastic in net to keep the Devils on top.

In the third, at 4:15, Blake Coleman blocked a Torey Krug shot at the point in the Devils’ zone and sped off to collect the loose puck through the neutral zone. He grabbed it, went forehand, backhand on Halak and turned the goalie inside out to give the Devils a 3-1 lead. That goal was unassisted.

At the 7:51 mark, Miles Wood drove to the Boston net, knocking it off its moorings. He was tripped up on the play by Kevan Miller (for which he received a penalty on the play), and the puck ended up in the net. The call on the ice was no goal and that stood under review by Toronto. It turned out the puck had slipped under the side of the goal cage as it was jarred up as Wood bumped into it.

The Devils would get one for real at the 12:43 mark when Nico Hischier scored from Wood and Noesen. That occurred when Noesen won a puck battle along the boards in the Devils’ zone. Wood took it and he and Nico were off with numbers. Wood one-handed it to HIschier, who was cutting through the slot. Nico then was all alone on Halak and roofed it over the prone goalie to give the Devils a commanding 4-1 lead.

Patrice Bergeron would cut the Devils’ lead to two when a Jake DeBrusk shot was redirected by Blackwood off of Bergeron’s shin pad and into the net.

A strange ending to the game came when Boston’s David Backes was called for an illegal check to the head of Coleman at 18:00. This would put the Devils on the man advantage for the remainder of the game. The Bruins pulled Halak to even it up but who else but Coleman scored into an empty net to ice the game for the Devils. His goal was officially a power play goal and gave us our final of 5-2. Halak had been 8-0 at TD Garden so far this season, but that was the end of that streak. The Devils won.

The Devils were out shot 42-33 and won just 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They did out hit the Bruins 28-20 and had more blocked shots (19-4) and less giveaways at 11 for the Devils to the B’s 17.

Individually, Andy Greene led the team in ice time (21:48 – 37 seconds on the PP and 1:41 on the PK). Zajac led the forwards with 19:41 (3:35 on the PP and 2:30 on the PK). Shots were led by Pavel Zacha with seven, hits by Brian Boyle and Coleman with four each, blocks by Hischier with three and takeaways by Zajac with four.

Next up, the Devils will return home to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. We will have that coverage for you here and will also have continuing coverage of the World Juniors later tonight.

Devils’ Prospect Blackwood Named to OHL Postseason All-Star Team

Mackenzie Blackwood, the Devils’ 2nd round pick (42nd overall) back in the 2014 Entry Draft, has been named to the Ontario Hockey League’s First All-Star Team. The OHL made the announcement on Thursday and the Devils’ website announced it via a post by Eric Marin on Friday.

Blackwood, who played the 2015-16 season with the Barrie Colts, finished the year with a 28-13-0-0 record. He had a 2.72 goals against average, tied for the OHL league lead in save percentage (.921) and had three shutouts. All of this comes from Marin’s article on the Devils’ official website.

Marin also gives Blackwood’s career numbers: a record of 84-42-2-2, a 2.94 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and six shutouts in 139 games played. He helped lead the Colts to the OHL’s Central Division championship this past season.

Blackwood received 49 voting points. According to the OHL website, the players receive “five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote and one for a third place vote.” Players were voted on by position by the OHL’s general managers. There is a slightly different voting system for defensemen, due to there being two of them voted to the team.

According to the OHL’s website, the OHL’s First All-Star Team also consisted of:

  • Christian Dvorak (Center – London Knights)
  • Matthew Tkachuk (Left Wing – London Knights)
  • Mitch Marner (Right Wing – London Knights)
  • Mikhail Sergachev (Defenseman – Windsor Spitfires)
  • Rasmus Andersson (Defenseman – Barrie Colts)
  • Kris Knoblauch (Coach – Erie Otters)

Congratulations to Mackenzie Blackwood on this tremendous honor.

Russia Blanks Norway at Worlds; Blackwood Named OHL Goalie of Year

Team Russia kept pace in Group A at the World Championships by shutting out Norway on Monday at the Ice Palace in Moscow.

Russia got goals in the first period from Ivan Telegin (assists to Dmitri Orlov and the Devils’ own Sergei Kalinin) and Artemi Panarin (assist to Vadim Shipachyov) and a third period goal from Roman Lyubimov (Alexei Yemelin and Orlov with the helpers) to top Norway 3-0.

In goal, Ilya Sorokin stopped all 27 Norwegian shots he faced while Steffen Soberg, at the other end of the rink, was 25-for-28.

Kalinin’s line read: one assist, one shot on goal and a plus-2 in 12:32 of ice time over 17 shifts.

Russia wraps up their preliminary round when they take on Adam Larsson and the Swedes tomorrow in Moscow.

Back on the home front, Devils’ prospect, goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood has been named the Ontario Hockey League’s Goaltender of the Year for 2015-16.

Blackwood, playing for the Barrie Colts, led the team to a 28-13-0-0 record and, according to the article on the matter put out on the Devils’ official site, had three shutouts and a goals against average of 2.27. His .921 save percentage was tied for the league lead. The Colts won their second Central Division championship in as many years in front of Blackwood.

Blackwood, a 19-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ontario, was the Devils’ second round draft pick last year (42nd overall) and, according to the Devils, signed an entry-level contract last December.

Blackwood played on Team OHL in this past season’s CHL Canada-Russia Series and played for Canada at the 2016 World Junior Championship. He was the OHL Goaltender of the Month in November and was named the second best shootout goalie as well as tying for the best puck-handling goalie in the Eastern Conference Coaches Poll for 2015-16.

According to the Devils’ site, Blackwood got 49 votes for this award, beating runners-up Devin Williams (Erie Otters – 47 votes) and Alex Nedeljkovic (Niagara IceDogs – 46 votes). He is also the OHL’s nominee for the Canadian Hockey League’s Goaltender of the Year, which will be announced on May 28 during the Memorial Cup in Red Deer, Alberta.

Congratulations to Mackenzie Blackwood on this tremendous honor.

Albany Devils Move to Second Round for First Time in Franchise History

The Devils AHL affiliate will be moving to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time in their history. This comes off of a three games to one defeat of the Utica Comets topped off with a 6-3 win on Thursday night.

Albany defeated Utica in game one, 3-2 at the Times Union Center in the New York capital. They took game two, 2-0, also in Albany. The Comets staved off elimination in game three, winning 2-1 in overtime at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. But the A-Devils finished off the best-of-five Division Semifinals at Utica in the 6-3 romp.

The A-Devils reached some firsts in their ten-year franchise history. According to Kevin Zalaznik of TheAlbanyDevils.com, the game three overtime loss was the first overtime playoff game in Albany Devils history, as the only other one in the franchise’s history came on April 15, 2010 to the Worcester Sharks when the team was still known as the Lowell Devils and located in Lowell, Massachusetts.

This is also the team’s first trip to the North Division Final where they will take on the Toronto Marlies, who swept the Bridgeport Sound Tigers three games to none in the their first round series.

Some familiar names to fans of the New Jersey Devils have popped up among the league leaders this playoff. Reid Boucher is tops on the A-Devils with six points, good enough for third overall in the league in scoring (he is also eighth overall in goals with three). Damon Severson is sixth overall in the league in scoring with five points (he leads the AHL in assists in this young playoff tournament with five). Scott Wedgewood is sixth overall in the league with a 1.93 goals against average and tied for first in wins with three along with three other goaltenders. He ranks ninth overall in the AHL with a .922 save percentage.

The next hurdle for the A-Devils is the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies were number one overall in the AHL in record, with a 54-16-5-1 mark, good for a .750 winning percentage and 114 points. The Devils finished second overall with a 46-20-8-2 record, a .671 percentage and 102 points. This will be a true clash of two of the best teams in the AHL in the regular season. It should make for some good hockey.

In other Devils prospect playoff news, John Quenneville has been lighting up the Western Hockey League playoffs, leading his Brandon Wheat Kings to within a game of the WHL Final. He has 12 goals this postseason, and had a goal and an assist in Brandon’s 4-2 win over the Red Deer Rebels Wednesday to go up three games to one in the WHL Eastern Conference Finals, according to the Devils’ official website via the WHL’s Twitter feed. They also mention that he has five goals and an assist in the first four games of this series and 22 points overall in the playoffs (12 goals and 10 assists). He is second overall in scoring for the WHL playoffs.

The Devils’ website also reports that should Brandon win the WHL and advance to the 2016 Memorial Cup, they will not be facing Mackenzie Blackwood and the Barrie Colts, who lost in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Finals to the Niagara IceDogs. The IceDogs swept the Colts with a 3-2 victory on Wednesday. Niagara and the London Knights will clash in the OHL Finals. Blackwood finished with a 6-5 record in the playoffs, had a 2.71 goals against average and a .915 save percentage and posted one shutout. All of this information comes via the Devils’ website.

With the Albany Devils still active in the Calder Cup playoffs and John Quenneville and the Brandon Wheat Kings still vying for the WHL title, there is still plenty of hockey left to be played within the New Jersey Devils system.

Blackwood Third Devils Prospect to be Named OHL Player of Week; Quenneville, Wheat Kings Rolling

According to the Devils’ official website, Mackenzie Blackwood is the third Devils prospect playing in the Ontario Hockey League to be named that circuit’s player of the week this season. He was named player of the week for the playoff week ending April 17.

Blackwood, a goaltender for the Barrie Colts, led his team to a second round sweep of the North Bay Battalion and into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Niagara IceDogs.

In the period that named him player of the week, he went 3-0-0-0, had a goals against average of 1.31 and a .956 save percentage. According to the Devils’ press release, he also had a shutout against North Bay.

Blackwood is a second round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The other Devils prospects to be named OHL player of the week were: Pavel Zacha of the Sarnia Sting (November 16-22) and Blake Speers of the Soo Greyhounds (March 14-20).

In other prospect news, the press release also discusses John Quenneville and his Brandon Wheat Kings as they make their way through the Western Hockey League’s playoffs. The Wheat Kings have moved on to their second WHL Eastern Conference Final in two years. They will face the winner of the Red Deer Rebels and the Regina Pats semifinal series.

Quenneville is tied for his team’s lead in playoff scoring. He has seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in eleven games. Those seven goals include two shorthanded goals. Quenneville was chosen 30th overall in the first round of the 2014 Entry Draft by the Devils.