Devils Hold Team Building Exercise/Practice at US Naval Academy

The Devils took part in some team building exercises and held a practice in a rink named for an important name from the team’s past over the last two days.

They headed down to Annapolis, Maryland to the United States Naval Academy to hold team building exercises prior to the season. They held a similar event at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York a few years back under John Hynes.

This is not the first time the Naval Academy has hosted an NHL team. The football stadium (Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium) hosted a Stadium Series game between the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018.

Yesterday, according to the team’s official website, the team held a head-to-head sailing competition. They also took part in other military-based exercises like zip lining, as posted to Twitter by PK Subban and Jack Hughes.

This morning, the team moved indoors to take part in a practice at the John McMullen Hockey Arena. McMullen, the man who bought the Colorado Rockies and moved them to New Jersey in 1982, was also a graduate of the Naval Academy in 1940.

Some of the older Devils, who were around when players who played under McMullen’s ownership, were honored to be in a rink named for him.

Travis Zajac told Sara Giles on the Devils’ website: “Obviously he was the one to bring them over from Colorado, anyone that played for him had high regards as far as him being a great leader, a great person always cared about families and how the guys were doing. I’ve heard stories about him and obviously he’s in the ring of honor at our rink. You see how much he means to the organization.”

Andy Greene told Giles: “It’s such an impact and so great to see his name on the building and to be able to practice here today.”

Giles also noted on the site (in a separate article) that the trip to the Naval Academy was extra special to Kyle Palmieri, who does so much charitable work for the military and veterans. His foundation and Squad 21 program help bring veterans to Devils games.

Palmieri told Giles: “It’s awesome, I’ve never been here before. Obviously, it’s a beautiful campus and has a lot of importance to our country and the arm [sic] forces, so it’s a special place to be and it’s an honor to be around these men and women. It’s pretty cool to be here.”

He continued, saying that the team has a lot to learn from the members of the Naval Academy, telling Giles: “These are the people that are leading the way so it’s something that as a team we can take a lot of characteristics and qualities as a person. It’s a special opportunity for us and we’re really grateful to be here.”

Giles also said that Ty Smith, while on the trip, did not practice with the team on Monday.

Preseason: Devils Blank Jackets in Exhibition Finale

The Devils traveled to Columbus today day-of-game for their preseason finisher against the Blue Jackets. But unlike Wednesday’s game at Boston – where they followed the same travel itinerary – they came out much less flat tonight and defeated the Jackets 2-0.

This being the Devils’ dress rehearsal for the regular season, the team they were icing tonight was by-and-large what you will see next week. For the first time, they had Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Nikita Gusev all in the same lineup.

One of the few missing was defenseman and captain Andy Greene, who the Blue Jacket radio crew who were calling the game said was actually at his alma mater tonight (located in the state of Ohio). He was at the University of Miami-Ohio being inducted into their athletics Hall of Fame. Congrats to Greene on a nice honor.

Also making his preseason debut tonight was Pavel Zacha. Not in the lineup were Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod, who were assigned to Binghamton of the AHL earlier today.

Cory Schneider got the start for the Devils and played all 60 minutes. He was brilliant at times tonight, stopping Alexandre Texier on a breakaway in the first period and helping the Devils kill two 5-on-3 advantages for Columbus in the first period. He ended up turning aside all 32 shots he saw, including eight on the power play as the Jackets went 0-for-4.

Facing Schneider was Joonas Korpisalo, who stopped 25 of 27 Devils shots, including four-of-five on the power play. The Devils were 1-for-3 with the man advantage. Korpisalo was great too, stopping a 3-on-0 Devils odd man rush midway through the second period as Damon Severson, Hughes and Gusev were bearing down on him.

The game winning goal, however, came on a Taylor Hall snipe through a screen from the far faceoff dot at the 8:32 mark of the first. Jesper Bratt had the primary assist while Hischier had the secondary.

The Devils’ insurance goal came at 8:20 of the third on the power play. Pierre-Luc Dubois went off for high sticking PK Subban and the Devils moved the puck around the perimeter, finally getting it to Kyle Palmieri, who centered to Travis Zajac in the slot. He fired to beat Korpisalo to make it 2-0. Hall had the secondary assist.

Hall had been stopped in the second period, late, when he just ran out of room, making too many moves on Korpisalo on a clear breakaway and hitting the side of the net.

The Blue Jackets did have a goal waved off late in the second just before the Hall breakaway. Texier had seemingly scored, but goalie interference was called on the ice and the goal was disallowed. It was ruled incidental contact on Schneider and the Devils dodged a bullet.

The Devils won just 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs, reversing a recent trend and got outhit by Columbus 18-13. They did block more shots at 16 to the Jackets’ eight. Columbus had three giveaways to the Devils’ one.

Individually, Subban led all Devils’ skaters in ice time with 24:15 (3:10 on the power play and 2:25 on the PK). Zajac led the forwards with 18:50 total time (3:11 on the PP/2:45 on the PK). Hall and Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with three each. Will Butcher blocked the most shots with four. Matt Tennyson led in hits with six and Hischier, Zajac, Hughes, Severson and Subban all had a takeaway to lead there.

So the Devils finish the preseason with a respectable 5-2 mark and open up the regular season next Friday against the Winnipeg Jets at home.

In other hockey-related news, best wishes to Montreal Canadiens and hockey legend Guy Lafleur, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in Montreal on Thursday according to the Associated Press. Although he never played for the Devils, Lafleur is one of the all-time greats and we certainly hope he heals very fast and gets healthy soon.