2021 Prospects Challenge: Devils Fall to Sabres 3-0

The Devils began the final segment of rookie camp tonight when they traveled up to Western New York to participate in the Prospects Challenge hosted by the Buffalo Sabres. They fell in the opening game to those same hosts, 3-0 with the Sabres scoring one goal in each period.

The Devils only had one practice and the morning skate going into the tournament according to Catherine Bogart, one of the hosts (along with Chris Wescott) of the pregame, postgame and intermission reports. With this tournament starting later in the month of September due to COVID wreaking havoc on last season, those were all they could get prior to the game starting.

Kevin Dineen, new coach of the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, was behind the bench tonight for the Devils with head coach of the big club Lindy Ruff and general manager Tom Fitzgerald watching from the stands.

Nico Daws got the nod in nets tonight for the Devils with Mareks Mitens backing him up. Daws played well, making a few big saves to keep the Devils in, and only giving up goals on a defensive breakdown, a turnover and an empty net resulting in the third goal.

Buffalo was the visiting team while the Devils slotted in as the home team for this contest.

Matt Loughlin and Chico Resch had the call on the main broadcast. On a related note, if you are planning on watching on Sunday, watch on the feed on YouTube. The Devils’ website feed was slower, unreliable and of poorer resolution. YouTube had the crisper, more stable feed.

The story for the Devils tonight was penalties. The officials (from the AHL) were calling everything and the Devils did not show a whole lot of discipline.

New Jersey was on the power play, coincidentally, just about four minutes into the game when things got a little bit dicey for Daws. On a Buffalo clear, he came out to cut the puck off from a Sabres forechecker and whiffed. The puck went past him and behind the net, luckily, but it could have gotten ugly.

The Sabres got on the board first on the power play at 6:02 of the first. Joe Masonius (a Spring Lake, New Jersey native who played last season in the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Macon Mayhem) was in the box for a hook.

On the ensuing man advantage, Oskari Laaksonen got a shot on net in close on Daws. The rebound came right out to Brett Murray, who chipped the puck over a prone Daws and into the net. That made it 1-0 Buffalo.

Late in the first, Nikita Okhotyuk took a roughing penalty, a double minor, on a strange play where the Sabres’ player punched the referee in the face twice, albeit accidentally, and Okhotyuk received the penalty. The Devils killed that penalty, as they would the rest of the night. The Sabres were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-4.

The Buffalo power play worked at a 25-percent clip while the Devils’ penalty kill was 75-percent.

Okhotyuk would be a target throughout the night for the Sabres and with good reason. He played a very physical game.

The Devils played a good first period, really pushing the pace and keeping the puck largely in the Buffalo zone, but somehow only mustered four shots in the opening frame.

In the second period, the Sabres doubled their lead when JJ Peterka scored at even strength from Murray – who notched his second point of the night.

The goal materialized when Reilly Walsh turned over the puck inside the Devils’ blueline and Murray was in on a 2-on-1 odd man rush with Peterka. Peterka took the pass as the trailer and buried a pass backdoor, which gave Buffalo the 2-0 lead.

Buffalo had now scored two goals two different ways (on the power play and at even strength) the team hat trick would be completed in the third.

Daws was pulled with about two minutes to go in the game for the extra attacker. With 1:29 left in the game, Murray of the Sabres would take a high-sticking call, putting the Devils on the power play.

The Devils elected to keep Daws out of the crease for the extra skater and the Sabres’ Peter Tischke cleared the puck into the empty cage with less than one minute to go (52 exactly).

With that, the Sabres had scored a power play goal, an even strength goal and a shorthanded/empty net goal, giving us our final of 3-0.

And that was it. Stats were kind of limited for this game, so I do not have much else to work with. Also, I apologize if this recap was poorly written. I, too, am in preseason form. We will work out the kinks (hopefully) by the time the preseason wraps up and the Devils open the season against Chicago.

The Devils play next on Sunday. That game is part of this Prospects Challenge and is against the Boston Bruins. See you then!

How NHL Games Will Be Split Between ESPN, ABC, ESPN+ and Hulu

So, as we inch closer and closer to the 2021-22 NHL regular season, an article appeared on ESPN+ today informing fans on how games will be featured on the Disney platforms.

The season will kick off on over-the-air ESPN and ESPN+ simulcasts featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 PM on October 12. The later game of the doubleheader will be the Seattle Kraken making their NHL debut versus the Vegas Golden Knights.

These games will be the NHL’s return to ESPN since the channel lost the rights to broadcast games to NBC in 2004.

There will be 75 exclusive regular season gaes on EPSN+ and 28 exclusive games on ESPN and ABC. The three platforms will air 103 games total.

ESPN+ and Hulu will air an exclusive-to-the-platform game every Tuesday from October 19 to December 28. ESPN will share a game with Hulu every Friday until the month of January.

Beginning in 2022, ESPN+’s exclusive games will move to Tuesdays andTHursdays.

ESPN, the over-the-air television channel, will air only 18 games throughout the regular season. However, the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, will air on ESPN in early-February.

The All-Star Game itself will air on ABC.

And speaking of ABC, the channel will air ten more games. With one of them being the Thanksgiving Showdown featuring the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks (a nice change of pace from NBC showing Rangers-Bruins every year). That will air on Friday, November 26.

Starting on February 22, ABC will show a weekly “game of the week” on Saturday nights. ABC games will also be simulcast on ESPN+.

The Playoffs will see the Stanley Cup Final being shown on ESPN and ABC. The two channels will also share exclusive coverage of one of the Conference Finals and will show half of all first- and second-round series games. They will split coverage with Turner Sports/TNT.

The Devils will first appear on ESPN+ and Hulu on November 2, 2021 at the Anaheim Ducks as part of a doubleheader with the Buffalo Sabres visiting the San Jose Sharks. The Devils-Ducks games is at 10 PM.

The Devils will do the same thing on November 5 when they visit the Los Angeles Kings at 10:30 PM. That will air on ESPN+ with Ducks versus Arizona Coyotes as the second game.

November 9, the Devils will host the Florida Panthers on ESPN+ and Hulu at 7 PM. Their next game comes on November 26 when they travel to Nashville at 6 PM. Rangers versus Boston actually is the earlier game a 3:30 PM.

November 30 sees the Devils playing host to the Sharks at 7 PM. The Devils then return the favor to the Predators when they face each other in Newark at 7:30 PM on December 10 on ESPN+/Hulu.

The next game on ESPN+/Hulu sees the Devils hosting the Dallas Stars at 7 PM on January 25, 2022.

With the All-Star and Olympic breaks in February, the Devils do not get on the streaming services until March 1 when they travel to Ohio to play the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 PM. That divisional matchup marks the Devils’ final appearance on ESPN+/Hulu for the 2021-22 regular season.

The Devils will not appear on ESPN or ABC as that honor is reserved for the usual suspects.