Devils Get Swept Over Weekend Following Loss to Detroit

First off, I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had been a bit under the weather the last few days (non-COVID related, as it has to do with my thyroid issues that I was hospitalized for last September) and had been putting it off knowing the outcome. As a result of this, obviously, the Ottawa game recap from April 26 will be pushed back a day, but I am recording it.

Anyway, last Sunday (April 24), the Devils hosted the Detroit Red Wings and were shutout 3-0 completing a three-game homestand where they went winless as well as a back-to-back where they were also swept.

The Devils were once again hit with a flu bug going through their locker room as that was reason for Jesper Bratt’s absence the during the Carolina game on Saturday.

For this game, Nico Hischier was out with a non-COVID related illness as he joined Colton White, Fabian Zetterlund and Mason Geertsen as the scratches.

Due to a recording snafu (namely the Devils’ website and app claiming the game was going to be shown on MSG+2 and me setting the DVR as such… only for the game to be shown on MSG and my just getting to change it in time during the pregame), I did not get to see Jonas Siegenthaler’s appearance on the pregame show with Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador. However, I did hear that he mentioned his hand is healing and that he hopes to represent Switzerland at the World Championship next month.

Otherwise, as far as the Devils lineup, nothing much was different. The only real change was that no one slotted in for Nico up front and that Ty Smith was back in on defense, thus the Devils going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the game.

In goal, Andrew Hammond started and played pretty well, he just did not get any goal support. He stopped 21 of Detroit’s 22 total shots for a .955 save percentage. He turned aside both Red Wings power play shots – the Wings were 0-for-3 on the power play as a team. He stopped 19 of the Red Wings’ 20 even strength shots.

Detroit finished the game with 24 shots total following two empty net goals later on in the game.

For the Wings, Alex Nedeljkovic had the crease and stopped all 17 shots New Jersey thew his way in getting the shutout. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play for the afternoon without mustering a shot on the man advantage.

In the booth for the Devils there was a one-game change as well. Steve Cangilosi was in Orlando, Florida calling the New York Red Bulls MLS game against Orlando City for ESPN. In his place in Newark was New York Knicks radio play-by-play man Ed Cohen filling in. I thought he did well overall. He is a pro and was truly prepared and he and Ken Daneyko meshed pretty good although Dano seemed a bit bumpy early on, just adjusting to a new partner for the game.

The Wings have already finished their home schedule, having lost to Pittsburgh the day before this game. Both of these teams will wrap up the 2021-22 season on Friday at Prudential Center.

Detroit broke the score open 15:48 into the game when Andreas Johnsson turned over the puck in the Devils zone. Smith tried valiantly to recover it and clear, but where the puck was lost essentially allowed Oskar Sundqvist to just skate in and chip it by Hammond after Tyler Bertuzzi had settled it down for him.

This gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead and would actually go down as the game-winner which would hold up, although not without some attempts to change that.

The second period saw Dawson Mercer stopped early on in front on the power play midway through the period.

Late in the second, with 43.6 seconds to go, the Devils had seemed to finally breakthrough and tie things.

Yegor Sharangovich shot from up top with Nathan Bastian as a body in front of Nedeljkovic. The puck went in and everything seemed routine.

Red Wings coach Jeff Bashill took a second and then requested his coach’s challenge to ask the officials to look for offside as the Devils were entering the Detroit zone.

Initially, everything seemed fine as the angle that MSG showed had Bastian and Sharangovich entering the zone legally.

The problem was that this was a rare case of the puck carrier being the one to go in offside! Damon Severson actually passed the puck back to Sharangovich a split second prior to entering the zone himself. Thus, he was the one offside and the goal was called back.

And it would continue for the Devils in the third.

Pavel Zacha missed the net on a breakaway early on in the third before being stopped by Nedeljkovic right after on the doorstep.

The Devils got a bit of revenge when the Wings had seemed to double their lead with 7:56 left in the third period.

Danny DeKeyser took a shot from the point that seemed to be tipped by Adam Erne in front by Hammond. Erne and Devils defenseman Ryan Graves had been jostling for position in front of the Devils net and Erne then bumped Hammond enough that a review overturned the goal.

It was found that Erne had impeded Hammond’s ability to get himself set and make the save and that it was not Graves pushing him into Hammond that had called this.

Detroit had the goal called back and it remained 1-0.

Hammond was pulled with 2:38 to go in regulation and Bertuzzi scored into the ensuing empty net with about two minutes to go from Sundqvist and DeKeyser (who had won the puck battle along the boards to get the puck out of the Red Wings zone).

The Devils attempted again, pulling Hammond with just over a minute to go in the game and this allowed Erne to recover a turnover in the neutral zone and give the puck to Michael Rasmussen, who scored the Wings’ second empty netter of the game, on his backhand, to make it 3-0, our final.

It was only the second time this season that the Devils had been shutout with the other time coming in November at Anaheim when the Ducks beat them 4-0.

The Devils were outshot 24-17 and won only 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Michael McLeod won 56-percent of his draws to lead in that category.

As a team, the Devils had six total penalty minutes while the Wings had four. The Devils outhit Detroit 17 to 14 and had more blocked shots at nine to the Red Wings’ five. The Wings had eight team giveaways to the Devils’ six.

Severson led all Devils skaters in ice time with 22:18 of total time accumulated (which included power play time of 1:53 and PK time 4:12). His shorthanded time was tops amongst the defensemen while his PP time was equal to Smith’s and second only to Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton had 2:07 of power play time out of his 20:18 of total TOI.

Sharangovich led the forwards with 21:40 of total time on ice (including 1:56 of power play time and 1:53 of shorthanded time). Jesper Boqvist and Tomas Tatar both led in power play time amongst the forwards with 2:03 of power play time. Boqvist also led all forwards in 2:18 of PK time. Tatar logged a total of 17:27 of ice time while Boqvist had 18:25 logged.

Sharangovich also led the Devils in shots on goal with five. Nikita Okhotiuk and Graves led in hits with three each. Blocks wee led by Johnsson, Bastian, Sharangovich, Mercer, Zacha, Jesper Bratt, Hamilton, Smith and PK Subban who all had one. Okhotiuk had two personal giveaways to lead there while Okhotiuk, Tatar and Zacha each had one personal takeaway to lead that category.

Next up, the Devils played at the Ottawa Senators on April 26. That game is in the can for me and I will have the recap up tomorrow if everything breaks right.

That game featured the first NHL call-up for Utica Comets defenseman Reilly Walsh and the possible return of Mackenzie Blackwood to the Devils’ goal.

In one other piece of news, the New Jersey chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Devils center and captain Nico Hischier as the Devils nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy.

The Masterton Trophy “is given annually to the … National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the sport” as per Amanda Stein, who reported the news for the Devils’ official website.

Hischier endured a rough 2020-21 season as he “suffered a leg injury while training in Switzerland and missed training camp and the start of the year. That same season he also entered the NHL Covid Protocol, once again missing time. His string of bad luck continued when in March, he underwent surgery to repair a frontal sinus fracture after a puck deflected into his face in the Feb. 27 game against the Washington Capitals” as reported by Stein.

Because of this, he only notched 11 points over 21 games in 2020-21 – including six goals and five assists.

He rebounded in 2021-22 with 21 goals and 38 assists for 59 points, setting new career highs through 69 games played.

Congratulations to Nico Hischier on this nomination. Stein says that the winner will be announced during “the 2022 NHL Awards between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.”

Devils Lose Heartbreaker in OT to Canes

The Devils took one step forward today in terms of finally breaking their power play slump, but ultimately blew a late 2-0 lead to the Carolina Hurricanes to fall in overtime 3-2.

Firstly, I was able to attend the game for a very special occasion.

You may recall back last spring that here on the blog, I referenced the loss of a dear childhood friend, Michael Rosinski. He tragically passed last year due to complications from Covid.

As I mentioned at the time, to say that he and his family were highly instrumental in getting myself and my family into the Devils in particular and hockey in general and helping to create a lifelong obsession would be a gross understatement.

Today, my family (including my mom and sister and I) were able to reconnect with Michael’s mother, brother and nieces to take in the Devils game at Prudential Center. We were there for a shared passion: the New Jersey Devils. But we were also there to honor the life of a great man who will never be forgotten.

As I said, Michael loomed large in stature – his height was well documented, but also in the hearts of all who knew him. We had the opportunity to meetup with a few other friends of his along the way and you realized then just how much of a great legacy he left behind.

The only regret we had was the outcome of the game, which obviously could not be regulated, but the effort that the Devils put forth today against a team that is poised to make a run come playoff time truly meant something.

Scratched for the Devils today were Colton White, Ty Smith, Mason Geertsen and Jesper Bratt.

The first three were carryovers from the Buffalo loss. Bratt did not seem to have anything wrong with him from the Sabres game, but I did not get to see the pregame show, obviously and have been able to find out what was the issue there so far – be it injury or anything else. We will try to keep you updated as things progress (or don’t) with him.

Nolan Foote was recalled from AHL Utica and played his first NHL game since January 8 in a 4-3 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In goal, the Devils have sort of settled into a tandem of Jon Gillies and Andrew Hammond to end the season and it was Gillies this afternoon. He stopped 26 of 29 total Carolina shots for an .897 save percentage on the afternoon. He turned aside the Canes’ lone power play shot and 25 of their 28 five versus five chances.

The Hurricanes were 0-for-2 on the power play as a team for the afternoon.

Carolina, who have had some injuries between the pipes, started Pyotr Kochetkov, who stopped 17 of the Devils’ 19 total shots for an .895 save percentage. He save the Devils’ lone shorthanded chance and had the ignominy of giving up the first Devils power play goal in 11 games. New Jersey was 0-for-29 over that stretch but did break through on Kochetkov today as he let in one of the Devils five power play shots, allowing them to go 1-for-3 with the man advantage. He made 12 of 13 saves at even strength.

Of note today was Tomas Tatar playing in his 700th NHL game for the Devils and the Hurricanes gaining sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division following their win here and the Rangers’ 3-1 loss at the Bruins on Saturday.

There was a pregame moment of silence held for NHL and Montreal Canadiens great Guy Lafleur, who passed away due to lung cancer yesterday, in a classy move by the Devils. It is still kind of a shock to have lost two great icons of the sport, from the same era basically, in such short order to the exact same illness when including Mike Bossy’s passing last week.

I truly apologize here for the quick-and-dirty nature of this recap. I was attending live so there were less notes that I could make and I want to be caught up in time for tomorrow’s matinee against the Detroit Red Wings as well.

The Devils got the early jump on the powerhouse Hurricanes just 15:43 into the second period following a scoreless first period where the Devils held on to skate with the Canes, when Yegor Sharangovich tipped a Jesper Boqvist shot by Kochetkov to make it 1-0 on the power play.

Vincent Trocheck had gone off for tripping Nikita Okhotiuk (playing in just his second NHL game) at the 15:39 mark and the Devils wasted no time as they hoped to end their run of power play futility.

Damon Severson had the secondary assist and the Devils led 1-0.

In the third period, Nico Hischier sniped a shot far side just inside of Kochetkov’s far post off the rush from Sharangovich and Okhotiuk to make it 2-0.

The Devils were just trying to hold on here as you could feel things getting a bit wobbly for them. Gillies played pretty well and kept them into things until things began to unravel with about five minutes or four and a half minutes or so remaining in the game.

Brady Skjei scored unassisted with 15:24 gone by in the third to cut the Devils lead in half at 2-1.

Nino Niederreiter allowed the other shoe to drop at 18:04 gone by when he finished a play from Jesper Fast to tie the game at two. Tony DeAngelo had the secondary assist.

It would only take 1:39 into the extra session for Carolina to strike. Seth Jarvis found the back of the net off of a feed from DeAngelo (who had himself a two-point night) to win the game and take the two points for the Hurricanes and give them the 3-2 victory.

The Canes outshot the Devils 29-19 while the Devils won just 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Nico Hischier led in personal faceoff wins with 11 wins on 20 faceoffs taken for a 55-percent personal winning percentage.

Carolina accumulated eight PIMs as a team while the Devils had six. The Canes also outhit the Devils 19-14 while the Devils blocked more shots at 15 to the Hurricanes’ ten. Team giveaways saw New Jersey with nine to Carolina’s five.

Sharangovich, with a goal and an assist, did manage to record two points for the Devils on the afternoon.

Damon Severson was back to leading the Devils skaters in ice itme with 23:39 logged (including 2:05 on the PP and 2:15 on the PK). Special teams-wise, Dougie Hamilton bested him on the power play with 3:05 while adding 1:01 of shorthanded time to his 22:58 total TOI. As far as on the penalty kill, Ryan Graves logged 2:22 to go with 14 seconds on the power play to make up his 22:28 of total ice time.

For the forwards, Sharangovich led in total time with 21:35 – which included 1:52 on the PP and the identical 1:52 on the penalty kill. Fabian Zetterlund bested him in power play time with 3:11 out of his 15:51 of total time on ice. Sharangovich’s PK time was tops for the forwards.

Sharangovich also led in shots on goal with four. Okhotiuk made himself right at home in the lineup while leading the team in hits with four. Hamilton led in blocked shots with five. Personal giveaways were led by Graves and Severson with two each while personal takeaways were led by Michael McLeod, Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer with one apiece.

And that’s that. We will be back here tomorrow (hopefully on-time) as the Devils finish their homestand against the Detroit Red Wings in a Sunday 1 PM matinee.

That game will be shown on MSG+2 and I will hope to have it up at a reasonable time. Should I not, never fear! I am recording it and will at least have it up by the end of the night.

Until then, enjoy your Saturday night everyone!