Today was a busy day for the Devils and GM Ray Shero. On NHL Trade Deadline day, they shipped off another two cogs in the system and then went on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens at home 2-1.
The first domino fell earlier this morning when news broke that goalie Keith Kinkaid was being sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth round pick in 2022. Keith is an upcoming UFA and, quite frankly, with the way he had been underperforming this season, to get anything for him was gravy at this point. That being said, he (along with Taylor Hall) was amazing last season in getting the Devils into the playoffs and that should never be overlooked. Kinkaid really did contribute a lot to the Devils in his time here.
As early as that trade occurred, another one helped to close out the deadline. Marcus Johansson was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a second round pick in 2019 and a fourth round pick in 2020. This was a good deal as well as the Devils now posess ten picks in the 2019 Draft in Vancouver and, through these deals and the ones that sent Brian Boyle to Nashville and Ben Lovejoy to Dallas, got five picks alone at the deadline. Draft picks are great assets that can turn into players or trading up at the Draft. This year is also a pretty deep draft, so the more picks the better for the Devils.
WIth the trades and some injuries, there was a little bit of turmoil in the lineup tonight. A bunch of callups from Binghamton including Nathan Bastian, Mike McLeod, Egor Yakovlev, Mackenzie Blackwood and John Quenneville. Add to that that Connor Carrick, who was obtained in the Ben Lovejoy deal, was making his Devils debut and that there were some injuries and you had a whole new lineup for the Devils. In addition, Brett Seney and Joey Anderson were sent down to Binghamton.
Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher were both missing as they are day-to-day with lower body injuries. Add Pavel Zacha to that and you had quite a bit missing. Add in even more as the Devils also lost Miles Wood (who was hit in the ankle by a Damon Severson shot midway through the first period) and Quenneville in the game tonight.
After sorting all of that out, it is important to remeber that they did have a game tonight. To paraphrase Ray Shero from during an interview with Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador on the MSG pregame show, these moves will allow the younger players to come in and show management what they have.
In goal, Cory Schneider got the nod, coming off his first loss in five games at the Rangers on Saturday. He made 34 saves on 35 Montreal shots for a .971 save percentage. Facing him as the Devils went for the season sweep of the Canadiens was Carey Price, who stopped 20 of 22 for a .909 save percentage.
On the special teams, the Devils finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play with four shots. They also had a shot on the penalty kill. Montreal was 0-for-4 on the power play with five shots. They also had four shorthanded shots, scoring on one of them.
Nathan Bastian got the goal scoring going when he notched his first NHL goal at the 12:35 mark of the first period. It happened when Yakovlev went D to D with Carrick at the point. Carrick then shot and Bastian, cutting by the crease, tipped the puck past Price to make it 1-0 Devils. In addition to Bastian scoring his first NHL goal, Carrick also got his first point as a Devil on the play and his first of two on the night.
In the second period, Kurtis Gabriel doubled the Devils’ lead to two when he scored 3:06 in. Kevin Rooney worked the puck out of the corner up high to Carrick at the point. Carrick shot and Price made the initial save, but Gabriel was there for the rebound and backhanded the puck by Price to make it 2-0 Devils. Carrick, who wore number 5, had his second assist on the night and ended up being named the game’s third star. Bastian was the second star and Cory Schneider, with the win, was the first. Getting back to Carrick, this was his first two point night since opening night when he was with the Stars.
The Habs got on the board at the 6:30 mark of the third period when the Devils were on the power play. Artturi Lehkonen was called for elbowing Blake Coleman at 5:40 in a play that saw Coleman shaken up. On the ensuing power play, Travis Zajac lost control of the puck just inside the Canadiens’ blue line and Paul Byron grabbed it. He was then off to the races on a breakaway, just beating the backchecking Damon Severson in a footrace. He beat Cory short side to cut the New Jersey lead to 2-1. Phillip Danault had the lone assist on the goal.
Byron was in the thick of it late in the game as he clipped Kyle Palmieri in the knee behind the play with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Byron took an interference penalty on the play, which put the Devils on the power play to end the game, but Palmieri was still upset about the incident and the two had words after the final buzzer sounded with their respective teams trying to keep them apart.
But 2-1 was the final score as the Devils took the season series of three games from Montreal and won their fifth straight over the Habs.
In the game, the Devils were out shot by the Canadiens, 35-22 and Montreal won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils had more hits at 24-10 and more giveaways at 8-5. Both teams each blocked 11 shots.
With all of the young players in the lineup, ice time was pretty evenly distributed for the forwards with Coleman logging the most with 25:45 (including 1:56 on the power play and 4:37 on the PK). Severson logged an impressive 27:05 of TOI (including 6:04 on the PP and 5:12 killing off penalties) as his game and responsibilities continue to grow.
As for the other stats, Nico Hischier, Bastian and Carrick each led in shots on goal with three each. Hits were led by Gabriel with six, blocks by Carrick with three and takeaways by the Jersey boys, Kenny Agostino and Kyle Palmieri, with two each.
Next up, the Devils will face a stiff test as the red hot Calgary Flames come into town on Wednesday. The Flames have had a good season so far and the Devils will try to deny them two points which would go a long way in cutting off their hopes of winning the Pacific Division. We will have coverage of that for you right here and, once again, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below as we really appreciate them.