Devils Earn First Win of Season, Defeat Rangers 5-2

There is life in the Devils afterall! After being the last winless team in the NHL for the 2019-20 season, they finally earned two points after defeating the rival New York Rangers 5-2 tonight at Prudential Center.

Things did not come without some changes. Tom Fitzgerald, the Devils’ Assistant General Manager, was called into assistant coaching service at the request of head coach John Hynes. According to Chris Westcott of the Devils’ official website, he was brought in to serve as “an extra set of eyes for the coaching staff” and will stay in this role “for the foreseeable future.”

This came with the news that Nico Hischier has not been skating with the team due to the injury he suffered against Florida this past Monday. Andy Greene, according to the same tweet sent out by the Devils on Nico, did skate yesterday. He remains on injured reserve.

Slotting in to the lineup tonight were Kevin Rooney and John Hayden up front. Connor Carrick and Jesper Boqvist were the healthy scratches joining Nico.

Things seemed like business as usual for the Devils when New York’s Tony DeAngelo scored 6:02 into the game. The Rangers got the puck on net from the point and were just able to swarm in on Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. The Devils had some defensive coverage issues here and there were just too many white jerseys around their net. DeAngelo put the puck in to make it 1-0 Rangers.

But the Devils would strike to tie things up before the period was through. Blake Coleman took an Adam Fox turnover in the neutral zone and skated in all alone on Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. He fired a shot that funneled through Georgiev’s equipment and in to tie it up at one. Travis Zajac and Matt Tennyson had the assists on the goal that came at 12:58 of the first period.

The second period saw a couple of firsts of the season for the Devils. First, at 2:13, the Rangers’ Brady Skjei took an interference penalty to put the Devils on the power play. New Jersey had yet to score on the man advantage this season, but Kyle Palmieri would put an end to that. Grabbing a loose puck off a Rangers’ zone faceoff, Palmieri skated around a New York defender and went top shelf over Georgiev to make it 2-1. The goal came just five seconds into the power play at 2:18 of the second period and was unassisted.

About midway through the second, Taylor Hall laid a huge hit on Fox that took him out of the game and gave Hall a roughing penalty. The Rangers ended the game 0-for-6 on the power play with seven shots. The Devils were 1-for-7 with 13 shots plus two shorthanded shots (including a Pavel Zacha breakaway in the latter part of the second period that was stopped by Georgiev).

Miles Wood made it 3-1 Devils before the end of the second at 12:25. This goal featured the first NHL point of one Jack Hughes. Matt Tennyson – who ended the night with a pair of assists for two points on the night – fired a puck from the point that was redirected in the slot by Hughes. His redirection then went in the goal off of Wood’s butt, giving Hughes the primary assist on the goal. Congratulations to Jack Hughes on his first NHL point and here’s to many more! Hughes was playing on the top line with Hall and Palmieri primarily.

The problem for the Devils this season so far has not been getting a lead, it has been keeping the lead. This situation reared its ugly head again when Jesper Fast hammered home a puck going through Blackwood’s crease just 2:22 into the third period to cut the Devils lead to 3-2.

The Devils seemingly made it 4-2 at 12:52 of the third when Hall, who was playing a really feisty game, tapped Georgiev’s glove as he covered the puck, knocking it into the net. Unfortunately for Hall, the whistle had already blown and the call on the ice was no goal due to goalie interference. The Devils challenged the call and it stood, meaning that they took a penalty on top of it.

But tonight, the Devils would not be denied victory. Nikita Gusev grabbed an errant Artemi Panarin pass in the Rangers’ zone and skated in all alone on Georgiev, putting the puck five-hole to double the Devils’ lead to 4-2.

With about three and a half minutes to go in the game, Wayne Simmonds took a hooking penalty to put the Rangers on the power play. They then immediately pulled Georgiev to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. The Devils were given an open gallery to shoot on the empty net due to the lack of icing. But it would be after the penalty was killed off that PK Subban scored into the empty net at 19:12 of the third to give the Devils a 5-2 lead. The goal was unassisted and was PK’s first as a Devil, so congrats to him too.

The Devils would finish the game on the power play with DeAngelo going off for a slashing penalty at 19:52. The 5-2 lead held up and the Devils had their first win of 2019-20.

In goal, Blackwood (who was named the game’s first star with Hughes the second and Tennyson the third) stopped 29 of the 31 Ranger shots he saw for a .935 save percentage. Georgiev turned aside 33 of the 37 shots the Devils peppered him with for an .892 save percentage.

The Devils won only 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but registered more hits than New York at 17 to 11. The Rangers had nine blocked shots to the Devils’ six and less giveaways at seven to the Devils’ eight.

Individually, Subban led in shots on goal with a whopping nine while Simmonds, Coleman and Palmieri each had three hits to lead in that category. Blocks were spread out over Rooney, Simmonds, Coleman, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher and Sami Vatanen who each had one apiece. Takeaways were led by Rooney, Zajac and Hughes with two each.

Next up, the Devils will continue their homestand as they take on the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday at 1 PM at the Rock. I will be attending this game live, so the recap will be up a little later than usual. Until then, have a great weekend and let’s go Devils!

Devils’ Woes Continue; Blow Lead Over Panthers

And so it continues. The Devils remain winless through six games as the nightmare to begin the 2019-20 season goes on. This time, they blew a 4-1 lead to the Florida Panthers on home ice to ultimately lose 6-4.

It was the first matinee of nine for the Devils overall on the year as they celebrated Kid’s Day at Prudential Center. With many kids off from school for the Columbus Day holiday here in the US, there were many families in attendance.

The Devils came into the game being outscored by opponents 21-9 over their first five games. That led to some lineup changes including Jesper Boqvist slotting in up front for Kevin Rooney. He played on a line centered by Jack Hughes and with Wayne Simmonds on the other wing. In addition, Matt Tennyson slotted in on defense for Mirco Mueller. This was Tennyson’s Devils debut.

The Devils fell behind the eight ball just 16 seconds into the contest. Jonathan Huberdeau went to the net as the puck bounced around behind it. Florida eventually worked it in front and he put it behind Devils goalie Cory Schneider. Evgenii Dadonov and Aleksander Barkov had the assists on the goal. The Panthers jumped out to the 1-0 lead just like that.

This has been a problem for the Devils this season: giving up goals early and late in periods. It would not be the last time this particular problem would rear its ugly head today either.

The Devils would respond quickly to the early Florida goal. Taylor Hall, at the 2:28 mark, scored his first of the season when Pavel Zacha dropped a pass for him just inside the Panthers’ blueline. He went to the high slot and wristed the puck by Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That tied the game at one apiece. Sami Vatanen had the secondary assist on this goal.

Remember that bit I wrote about the Devils giving up goals late in a period? Well, that role would be reversed when Jesper Bratt scored with 47 seconds to go in the first period. Zacha created a turnover to Bratt in the Panthers’ zone and he cut to the front of the net and scored. The goal was Bratt’s first of the year and Nikita Gusev had the secondary assist. This made it 2-1 Devils. Zacha was already working on a two-point afternoon.

Cory Schneider, playing in his 400th NHL game, had made a huge save on Dadonov just prior to the Bratt goal.

As the first period came to a close, one person missing from the Devils’ bench was Nico Hischier. He left following the first period and did not return. Coach John Hynes did not have an update on him in the postgame presser on MSG. Hischier ended the game with a shot on goal in just 5:22 of ice time.

Will Butcher would get his first of the year just 32 seconds into the second frame to give the Devils a two goal lead. The Devils chipped the puck into the Florida zone, coming in with a strong forecheck and forcing a turnover. Travis Zajac gave the puck to Butcher at the point and he fired a shot that redirected off of a Panthers player in front, getting by Bobrovsky to make it 3-1 Devils. Miles Wood had the other assist on the goal.

The Devils would build up a three goal lead when Zacha scored 36 seconds later. Hall took a pass from PK Subban at the near wall and he threw the puck towards the net. Zacha then cut in and redirected the shot by Bobrovsky to make it 4-1 Devils. It was Zacha’s first goal of the season too and his third point on the afternoon.

Then things began to implode.

Sami Vatanen took a hooking penalty at 7:43. The Devils technically killed it off, but at 9:50, just as Vatanen was getting back on the ice, Brett Connolly took a pass from Frank Vatrano in the high slot, the same place Taylor Hall scored from, and roofed the puck by Cory to make it 4-2 Devils.

The Devils had a chance to pad their lead when Hughes hit both posts with a shot on the power play late in the second period.

With just seven seconds to go in the second period, Connolly struck again when Vincent Trocheck caused a turnover in the neutral zone and got it to Mike Hoffman. He dropped the puck to Connolly just inside the Devils’ blueline and he again roofed it by Cory from the faceoff circle to make it 4-3 Devils.

The Devils were hanging on to a slim one-goal lead – down from three – going into the third. But the nightmare wasn’t over.

Just 30 seconds into the third, Aaron Ekblad kept the puck in the Devils’ zone on a clearing attempt. He got it to MacKenzie Weegar, who shot it towards the net. It seemingly was tipped by Schneider, but Weegar did get credit for the goal, tying the game at four. Trocheck had the secondary assist.

The Panthers had fought back from three down to score three unanswered and tie it up. But, unfortunately, they were not done.

At the 7:30 mark of the third, Ekblad and Weegar went point-to-point with Weegar firing the puck towards the Devils’ net. Noel Acciari tipped the shot by Cory to give the Cats the 5-4 lead. The Panthers had fought back to score four unanswered now.

At 12:38, Jesper Boqvist took a high sticking double minor and put the Panthers on the power play for four minutes. And Florida would capitalize.

After killing off the first two minutes of the double minor, the Panthers scored at the 15:32 mark of the third. Dadonov got knocked down in front of the Devils’ net and fired a loose puck by Cory from his knees. Mike Matheson and Keith Yandle had the assists on the Panthers’ lone power play goal of the afternoon. Florida had scored five unanswered to come back and take a 6-4 lead.

And that was our final as the Devils used their timeout with 1:31 left in regulation and pulled Schneider at that time, but could muster no more.

The Panthers ended up 1-for-5 on the power play with five shots. They also had a shorthanded shot. The Devils remain with an ofer on the power play for the season as they were 0-for-3 this time with a trio of shots. They also had one shorthanded shot.

In goal, Bobrovsky continued to stymie the Devils, just as he did with the Blue Jackets. He made 17 saves on 21 shots against for an .810 save percentage. Schneider turned aside 28 of the 34 shots he faced for an .824 save percentage.

Statistically, the Devils won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs, got outhit 30 to 25 and blocked 12 shots to the Panthers’ ten.

Individually, Butcher led all skaters in ice time with 22:22 (including 3:25 on the PK). Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 19:56 (including 3:50 on the power play and 3:21 shorthanded). Hall led in shots with three on target for the afternoon. Damon Severson and Palmieri led in hits with four each, Connor Carrick blocked three shots to lead that category and Travis Zajac had two takeaways to lead there.

Following this, the Devils will need to regroup as they take on the rival New York Rangers on Thursday next. That game is on NBCSN too, so it is a nationally televised game. Here’s to hoping we don’t embarrass ourselves in front of a national audience.

On another note, more positive note, congratulations to former Devils coach Robbie Ftorek as Steve Cangialosi noted on Saturday that he will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame this winter. Congratulations again on a well-deserved honor for Ftorek.

Devils Stumble Again in Beantown

The Devils are hurting right now, there is no doubt about that. They have started off with five defeats for the first time since the 2013-14 season and have not looked very good getting there. They lost to the Bruins up in Boston tonight 3-0.

To add injury to insult, the Devils will be without their captain for the time being. Andy Greene suffered an upper body injury against the Flyers last Wednesday and was placed on injured reserve retroactive to October 9. Matt Tennyson was called up from AHL Binghamton and joined the team in Boston to take his spot on the roster. Tennyson was a scratch for the Devils tonight along with John Hayden and Jesper Boqvist.

Greene has been a stalwart for the Devils, as MSG’s Erika Wachter mentioned that he had missed just one game in the last two seasons. Connor Carrick slotted in for him tonight in the lineup and Damon Severson and PK Subban were the top defensive pairing for New Jersey.

Tonight was the Boston home opener and the Bruins and their fans were ready to go. The Devils just could seemingly match their pace and tempo.

Brad Marchand got the scoring off just 3:33 into the game when Severson had his pass in the B’s zone intercepted by David Pastrnak. The Bruins set up in the Devils zone and Marchand fired it cleanly by Devils goalie Cory Schneider. It was now 1-0 Bruins and this would turn out to be the game winner.

Boston would double their lead at the 11:22 mark of the first period when a bouncing and rolling puck came to Joakim Nordstrom in front of Schneider and he hammered it home. Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly had the assists on the goal that put the Devils down in a 2-0 hole early.

The Devils’ special teams has been a sore spot of late and this was not more evident than a Devils power play in the first period. Cory ended up stopping Marchand on a shorthanded breakaway after Marchand blocked a PK Subban shot at the Bruins’ blueline and was off to the races. Oftentimes when the Devils were on the power play, Boston would simply hem them in in the New Jersey zone and not allow them to even break out.

The Devils ended the game 0-for-4 on the power play with five shots. They had one shorthanded shot. The Bruins, on the other hand, were 1-for-3 with the man advantage with four shots. They also had the lone shorthanded shot, the breakaway which Cory stopped.

That power play goal came off of the stick of Patrice Bergeron with just 46 seconds to play in the second period. The Bruins worked the puck around the perimeter, eventually getting it to net and it squibbed to Bergeron’s stick and he did not miss the empty side of the net. Jake DeBrusk and Marchand had the assists on the goal which made it 3-0.

And that was our final. In goal, Schneider was 29-for-32 for a .906 save percentage on the night. Tuukka Rask turned aside all 31 Devils shots he saw as he recorded his second straight shutout of the Devils in the last two games. MSG Network’s Steve Cangialosi mentioned that the Devils have not beaten the Bruins since last December 27, as they have had that one win in the last seven meetings between the teams.

The Devils only won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs, registered 11 hits to the Bruins’ 23. The Bruins also had more blocked shots at 13 to the Devils’ 11. The Devils did end with only seven giveaways to the B’s ten.

Individually, Subban led the team with 23:48 of ice time (3:54 on the power play and 1:15 on the penalty kill). Forwards’ ice time was led by Taylor Hall with 18:23 (including 3:02 on the power play). Hall also led in shots on goal with five fired at Rask. Wayne Simmonds and Mirco Mueller each led in hits with two. Will Butcher had five blocks to pick up the slack with Andy Greene hurt and takeaways were led by Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt with two each.

Next up, the Devils will try to get into the win column as they take on the Florida Panthers on Monday in a Columbus Day 1 PM matinee. That will kick off a six game homestand for the Devils as they will hunker down at Prudential Center and try to get things back on track here.

Devils Fall to Oilers in Shootout

The Devils’ woes continue as their first win eludes them once again. They fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout after failing to pull away from the Oilers.

To begin with, the Devils would be without defenseman and captain Andy Greene. He suffered an upper body injury last night in Philadelphia and was unavailable. Mirco Mueller slotted in for the injured Greene, playing on the third pairing with Connor Carrick. In another lineup change, Pavel Zacha was in for John Hayden up front.

Former Devil Adam Larsson was out for Edmonton as he suffered a broken leg on opening night and has been on long-term injured reserve.

This game would feature five first overall picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid for the Oilers and Taylor Hall – an Oiler pick – Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes for the Devils). Steve Cangialosi on MSG Network referred to it as the “Taylor Hall Invitational” with Hall being the most senior of the picks and the Draft Lottery “good luck charm” for both teams.

The Oilers would be a stiff challenge for the Devils, coming into the game with a 3-0-0 record and currently standing fifth in the NHL in both the power play and penalty kill and second in goals per game.

The first period began with PK Subban leaving the game with an apparent injury. He had only taken one or two shifts before leaving the game. Thankfully, he would return in the second period and finish the game.

The Devils opened the scoring just 6:14 in the game when Kyle Palmieri (playing in his 500th NHL game) blocked a shot at the Devils’ blue line and was off to the races with Taylor Hall on a 2-on-1. He faked a pass, keeping Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen from getting set and roofed the shot to give the Devils the early 1-0 lead.

But in a trend that would rear its ugly head all night, the Oilers struck back just about 3:03 later. Zack Kassian played tic-tac-toe to Darnell Nurse, who tapped the puck over to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl then put it behind Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood to tie it.

The Oilers had tied things heading into the first intermission.

The Devils would retake the lead 14:12 into the second when Jesper Bratt hung on to the puck in the Oiler zone, spinning and controlling it before finding Nikita Gusev coming off the bench. Gusev took a pass from Bratt and fired it by Koskinen to make it 2-1 Devils.

That, however, did not last long as James Neal continued his hot streak by tipping a Nugent-Hopkins one-time shot by Blackwood on the power play at 19:32 of the second. McDavid had the secondary assist. Once again, the Devils had given up a goal in the waning moments of a period and this one tied the game at two apiece.

The Devils would again retake the lead when Damon Severson scored at 15:35 of the third. The Devils kept extended pressure in the Oiler zone, something other teams have been doing to the Devils a lot this year. Hall was able to make a nifty pass to Severson, who was at the far faceoff circle. The defenseman then corralled it in his skates and shot over a fallen Koskinen to give the Devils the 3-2 lead. Hischier had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Oilers would pull Koskinen with about 1:30 to go in the game for the 6-on-5 man advantage. Then tragedy for the Devils as Blake Coleman tripped up McDavid setting up an Edmonton power play.

On the ensuing power play, an Oscar Klefbom shot got behind Blackwood and McDavid was there to hammer it home. However, the whistle had seemed to blow and the play was seemingly dead when the puck crossed the line. The call on the ice was a good goal and replays on TV showed that the whistle had blown after the puck was in the net. The goal was reviewed and the call on the ice stood: it was a good goal and now the score was 3-3.

Coincidentally, this was the first time Connor McDavid had scored against the Devils. New Jersey was the final team in the NHL that he had scored against and this was a crucial one for them.

When time ran out on regulation, the Devils were headed to overtime for the second game this season. It was an eventful, if not fruitful one, too. Hall hit the crossbar on a breakaway, then missed the net on another one where he just ran out of room. Subban missed a chance as well, using too many moves and simply running out of room.

With those chances for the Devils not going in and Edmonton not scoring, we were off to a shootout.

In the first round, Gusev lost control of the puck and Nugent-Hopkins whiffed on his attempt. In the second round, Hughes’ shot was turned aside by Koskinen and McDavid had his saved by Blackwood. In the third round, Hall was also turned aside while trying to go five-hole on Koskinen and Draisaitl scored to give the Oilers the 4-3 victory.

Draisaitl was named the game’s first star with a goal and the shootout winner. McDavid was the second star with the game-tying goal and Gusev the third with his goal for the Devils.

In goal, Koskinen made 28 saves on 31 Devils shots for a .903 save percentage. Blackwood stopped 19 of 22 for an .864 save percentage.

On the power play, the Oilers were 2-for-3 with five shots. They also registered a shot shorthanded. The Devils have still yet to score on the man advantage, going 0-for-2 tonight with a pair of shots.

As a team, the Devils won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit the Oilers 31-26. Edmonton had more blocked shots at 14 to the Devils’ 12. Each team had six giveaways apiece.

Individually, the Devils’ skaters were led in ice time by Severson with 25:02 (including 29 seconds on the power play and 56 seconds on the penalty kill). Hall led the forwards with 20:55 (2:14 of PP time). Miles Wood led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with a whopping 10 and Sami Vatanen led in blocks with three. Coleman led in takeaways with three.

Next up for the Devils, they ship up to Boston for a Saturday night tilt against the Bruins. Boston is another team that has yet to suffer a loss and will be a good test for the Devils. Hopefully, things break right and we can all breath a sigh of relief then with a “W” on Saturday.

Devils Blanked in Philly

The Devils played their third game of the season in Philadelphia and it was a frustrating one for New Jersey. The Flyers came away with the 4-0 victory as goaltender Carter Hart earned his first career shutout.

To begin with, the big question coming into the night was whether or not Flyers fans would boo Wayne Simmonds upon his return to Wells Fargo Center in a Devils uniform. A tribute video was shown during the first TV timeout and the fans gave him an ovation, which he acknowledged. They then promptly booed him the rest of the night.

The Devils touted some big changes coming to the lineup and those resulted in some shifting of the lines and defensive pairings as well as two players making their season debut.

In were Connor Carrick on defense and Kevin Rooney up front. Out were Mirco Mueller, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Boqvist.

The game was an NBCSN game, the first of the “Wednesday Night Hockey” double-header, so Doc Emrick was doing the game. It was nice to hear Doc calling New Jersey Devils hockey again, but that feeling would soon wear off as the game went on and you realized that this was not the glory days at all.

The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider (making his 300th appearance as a Devil) stop 30 of the 34 Flyer shots that he saw for an .882 save percentage. For Philly, Hart was equal to all 25 of shots the Devils peppered him with.

Following a scoreless first period where the Devils outshot the Flyers 10 to 6, someone finally got on the board when Ivan Provorov scored on the power play at 9:52 of the second. Nikita Gusev was sent off for slashing setting up the Flyers man advantage. Provorov fired from the point and the puck went past Cory, beating him cleanly as he was being screened by a couple of players. Suddenly, it was 1-0 Philadelphia and the Devils were in a hole again.

The Devils had two opportunities to change that late in the second. They had a 5-on-3 chance for 12 seconds and then another one very late in the period for a full two minutes, but could not convert on either one. The momentum on the second 5-on-3 was killed for New Jersey when Hart made a huge glove save on Taylor Hall in close early on in the power play.

The rest of the scoring came in the third period as Philly began to put things away. Kevin Hayes scored his first as a Flyer just 33 seconds into the third frame on the power play. Sami Vatanen had gone off for tripping and off the ensuing faceoff in the Devils’ end, Hayes grabbed the puck out of a scrum and fired it in close on Cory, beating him to make it 2-0.

The Flyers ended the night 2-for-4 on the power play with eight shots. They also had two shorthanded shots. The Devils were 0-for-5 on the power play (including those two 5-on-3’s) with four shots. They also had two shorthanded shots.

The third goal came at 57 seconds of the second (24 seconds after the second goal) off the stick of Sean Couturier. Cory gave up a big rebound right in front and Couturier, all alone on the doorstep, grabbed it and buried it.

The fourth and final Philly goal of the evening came on an ugly play. Kyle Palmieri was trying to skate the puck out of the Devils’ zone in front of the Schneider and lost an edge. Travis Konecny was right there to pick up the loose puck and beat Cory to give us our final of 4-0. The goal was unassisted at 11:46 of the third period.

Mercifully, that ended it.

The Devils won only 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but did outhit the Flyers 24-19. They also had more blocked shots at 16-10 and doubled up the Flyers on giveaways at 14 to Philly’s seven.

Individually, PK Subban led in ice time with 26:43 – including 6:38 on the power play and 2:16 shorthanded. Hall led all forwards with 20:55 (including 5:59 power play time). Hall also tied for the lead in shots on goal with five along with Palmieri. Nico Hischier led in hits with three and Andy Greene led in blocks with four. Hischier, John Hayden and Simmonds each had a takeaway to lead there.

Next up, the Devils will return home tomorrow to take on the 3-0-0 Edmonton Oilers. Hopefully, we’ve bottomed out, but with what James Neal did on Long Island the other day and the always dangerous Connor McDavid hanging around, I just don’t know.

Devils Sign Joe Morrow

The Devils announced today that they have signed former Winnipeg Jet, Boston Bruin and Montreal Canadien Joe Morrow to a one-year, two-way contract. The contract is worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $250,000 at the AHL level with $300,000 guaranteed.

Morrow was immediately put on waivers by the team and will report to the Binghamton Devils tomorrow pending clearing waivers at 12 PM tomorrow.

Morrow, a 26-year-old defenseman, played for Winnipeg last season and had his best year (according to the press release) in 2017-18 with the Jets. That season, he tallied six goals and ten assists (16 points) and registered 26 penalty minutes. He also played in six playoff games for the Jets, as they went to the Western Conference Final, ultimately losing to Vegas. His lone goal in that playoff was the go-ahead goal in the current iteration of the Jets’ first playoff win (April 11, 2018 against the Minnesota Wild) according to the press release.

He has appeared in 162 career NHL games (2014 to 2019) with Winnipeg, Boston and Montreal. The Edmonton-native’s career totals are nine goals, 23 assists (32 points) to go with 62 career penalty minutes.

At the AHL level, he has played in 158 career games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Texas Stars and Providence Bruins. There he has 15 goals and 46 assists (61 points) and 83 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot, 195-pound left-shooting journeyman was the Penguins’ first pick (23rd overall) in the 2011 Draft. He played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League with the Portland Winterhawks from 2008 to 2012.

Devils Routed in Buffalo 7-2

The Devils followed up their rough shootout loss last night to Winnipeg with a trip to Buffalo and a matchup with the Sabres.

Unfortunately, this one went about as well as last night’s collapse. The Devils fell 7-2.

First, some good news. Cory Schneider left last night’s game with “lower body cramping” according to the team. He made the trip to Western New York and did backup Mackenzie Blackwood, who got his first start of the season tonight.

One roster change saw John Hayden out and Jesper Boqvist in. This was Boqvist’s NHL debut and he ended a minus-1 with a shot on goal, two blocks and a takeaway in 12:16 of ice time.

This was the Sabres’ home opener and they celebrated the opening of their 50th season. They had most of their former captains in attendance, including former Devils player Brian Gionta and former Devils coach Mike Foligno. The Sabres were also in their special 50th anniversary third jerseys, so the Devils played the game in their home reds.

Victor Olofsson got the scoring started on the power play for the Sabres at 2:56 of the first period. Will Butcher had gone off for holding to set that up. Olofsson took a no-look pass from Jack Eichel and shot from the far faceoff circle to make it 1-0 Buffalo. Rasmus Dahlin had the secondary assist.

The second goal of the game also came on the power play for Buffalo, this time off the stick of Eichel. Blake Coleman had gone off for holding to set this up. This was a weird one as Blackwood was trying to dive in front of himself and cover the puck up and just missed it with his glove. It went right to Eichel in front of the net and he potted it to make it 2-0. Jeff Skinner had the lone assist on this goal which came 17:26 into the first.

The Devils finally got on the board just 37 seconds into the second period. Nico Hischier did a good job protecting the puck behind the net and getting it to Taylor Hall in the near corner. He then set up Kyle Palmieri for a one-timer from the near circle. He scored and cut the Buffalo lead in half to 2-1. Nico’s assist gave him 100 NHL points in his young career. Congratulations to him on that milestone.

But the Sabres came back and began to pile it on starting at 2:49 when Kyle Okposo redirected a Dahlin shot by Blackwood to make it 3-1. Zemgus Girgensons had the secondary assist on the goal.

Midway through the second period, Blackwood stopped Eichel on a breakaway with a nice glove save. However, he could not stop Skinner at 8:57 when he scored off a 3-on-2 odd man rush. Marcus Johansson set him up and Marco Scandella had the secondary assist on the goal that made it 4-1.

Olofsson scored his second of the night unassisted at 13:33 on the power play to make it 5-1. Coleman was off for tripping to set this man advantage up. The goal came when Olofsson took a shot from the far circle and the rebound came right back to him in the same exact spot. He did not move, but shot on the second chance and scored.

The Sabres’ power play was effective tonight, going 3-for-4 with nine shots. The Devils were not as effective, going 0-for-2 with five shots. The Devils still have not scored a power play goal this season.

Following this goal, Jake McCabe laid a big hit on Taylor Hall, shaking him up and sending him down the tunnel. Wayne Simmonds would take exception to the hit, on which McCabe did leave his feet briefly. Simmonds would go after McCabe and a melee would ensue. In the end, Simmonds got a double minor for roughing and a ten-minute misconduct, McCabe got two minutes for roughing and PK Subban and Okposo each got misconduct penalties. Because of the double minor to Simmonds, Buffalo got a power play out of the deal but they did not score on it. Hall would return, go down the tunnel again for concussion protocol and then return permanently for the third period.

The Devils got back on the board just 58 seconds into the third when Coleman made a nice backhand pass to Travis Zajac and he whipped it by Buffalo goaltender Carter Hutton using the Sabres defender as a screen. That goal made it 5-2 Sabres. Damon Severson had the secondary assist on Zajac’s first of the season.

But that Devils comeback was short-lived due to two goals by Sam Reinhart. His first came almost three minutes after the Zajac goal at 3:56 when McCabe went point-to-point with Reinhart, who shot and beat Blackwood glove side. Rasmus Ristolainen had the other assist on the goal. It was now 6-2 Sabres.

Reinhart struck for a second time unassisted at 16:16 of the third when he stole the puck from Subban at the Buffalo blueline and was off on a breakaway. He roofed the puck over Blackwood’s shoulder to make it 7-2, which was our final.

Blackwood ended up stopping 29 of the Sabres’ 36 shots on net for an .806 save percentage while Hutton was 18-for-20 for a .900 save percentage.

The Devils were again good in the faceoff circle, winning 51-percent of the game’s draws. They were, however, outhit 14-11. The Devils had one more blocked shot at 11 to Buffalo’s ten and each team had seven giveaways.

The individual leaders for the Devils saw Andy Greene lead everyone in ice time with 20:30 (including 3:56 on the penalty kill) while Zajac led the forwards with 17:55 (2:04 on the power play and 2:59 shorthanded). Hall and Palmieri each had three shots on goal to lead there, Hall, Coleman and Sami Vatanen led in hits with two apiece. Boqvist, Greene, Mirco Mueller and Vatanen led in blocks with two each and Zajac, Pavel Zacha and Boqvist each had a takeaway to lead in that category.

Next up, the Devils travel down the Turnpike to Philly on Wednesday for their first meeting of the year with the Flyers. That game will be telecast on NBCSN and is at 7:30 PM. We will see you then.

Devils Fall to Jets in Shootout, Drop Season Opener

The regular season is finally upon us and with it, the first heartbreak of the season. The Devils blew a 4-0 lead to the Winnipeg Jets, eventually losing in a shootout 5-4 in their season opener.

The day began with the now-annual red carpet arrival for the Devils players. A good crowd showed up on a workday afternoon to welcome the players to the Prudential Center for the new season.

Once that was done, it was on to the business of hockey.

The show began with the annual player on-ice intros and hoopla. With the big additions of the offseason, hope was running high among the sellout crowd on hand.

Once the game began, that hope was quickly rewarded. Nikita Gusev, one of the aforementioned new acquisitions, got the scoring started on the season at 18:00 of the first period. Gusev created a turnover on the forecheck and funneled the puck to Jesper Bratt who whiffed on his initial try and then fed Gusev on the doorstep. He beat goaltender Laurent Brossoit to make it 1-0 Devils going into the first intermission. This was Gusev’s first career NHL goal and point in his debut game.

In the second period, Blake Coleman struck for his first of two on the night when he scored just 1:42 into the second frame. It came when Travis Zajac created a turnover in the neutral zone and passed cross-ice to Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds gathered the puck out of his skates and shot, with the rebound coming back to him. He guided it to Coleman in the slot, who fired, beating Brossoit to make it 2-0. The assist to Simmonds was his first point as a Devil in his debut.

The Devils were building a nice little lead for themselves and it continued at 12:34 of the second when Sami Vatanen notched his first of the season from Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall. It came when Hall took a hit behind the net to get the puck to Palmieri at the far half wall. He dropped it to Vatanen at the point. Vatanen fired with the puck knuckling by Brossoit to make it 3-0 Devils.

Coleman would make it 4-0 with his second of the night in what was a great individual effort 13:52 into the second. Pavel Zacha won a draw in the Devils’ end back to PK Subban who stretched a pass out to Coleman. Coleman then beat the Winnipeg defender, fell to his back, and one-handed the puck by Brossoit while sliding. It was a great highlight reel goal that will likely show up everywhere in the next few days. For Subban, the primary assist was his first point as a Devil in his debut. Coleman would be named the game’s second start by the media.

From there, though, the wheels began to fall off for New Jersey. It began simply enough when Dmitry Kulikov scored from Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele with 11 seconds to go in the second. That made it 4-1.

The Jets got another back just 2:41 into the third period when Jack Roslovic cut the Devils lead in half to 4-2. Neal Pionk and Mathieu Perreault had the assists.

After that goal, seeming disaster struck as Devils starting goalie Cory Schneider went to the bench seeming to favor his right knee. He came out and Mackenzie Blackwood came on in relief. It did not look good for Cory watching live, but hopefully by later on Saturday, there will be an injury update on him.

Blackwood gave up a goal to Perreault at the 7:17 mark to make it 4-3 Devils. Andrew Copp and Patrik Laine had the assists on that one.

Pionk would tie the game at four when he scored at the 12:35 mark from Scheifele and Ville Heinola. The Jets had completed a remarkable comeback all within the space of about ten minutes in the third period.

After a frantic final few minutes of play in regulation and a five minute overtime that settled nothing, we were off to a shootout.

Gusev again gave the Devils hope when he converted on his first try. Kyle Connor evened things for Winnipeg and in the second round, Brossoit stopped Jack Hughes and Blackwood stopped Laine. In the third round, Taylor Hall was stopped for the Devils and Scheifele was turned aside for the Jets. Kyle Palmieri then had the game on his stick for New Jersey, but could not convert in round four. Blake Wheeler finally finished things for the Jets, beating Blackwood in the fourth round.

In goal, Brossoit made 35 saves on 39 Devils shots. Cory stopped 19 of the 21 he faced and Blackwood 7-of-9. The Jets finished with 30 shots after only being held to four in the first period.

As a team, the Jets were 0-for-2 on the power play with no shots on the man advantage while the Devils were also 0-for-2 with eight shots. The Devils also managed a shot while shorthanded.

The Devils won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit Winnipeg 21 to 13. The Devils also had eight blocked shots to the Jets’ six, but had more giveaways at 12 to the Jets’ three.

Subban led all New Jersey skaters in ice time with 26:21 (2:50 on the power play and 1:36 on the penalty kill). Hall led the forwards with 22:48 (2:50 on the PP).

Hall also led in total shots with six. Simmonds, Coleman and Vatanen led in hits with three each. Vatanen also led in blocked shots with two. Nico Hischier registered two takeaways to lead in that category.

Next up, the Devils will need to shake this one off because they next play Saturday night at Buffalo. We will see you here then for coverage of that game.

Devils Announce Woo! Brew Beer

Cheers!

The Devils today announced via their official website that they will be offering their own signature beer at Prudential Center this season.

Say hello to “Devils Woo! Brew.”

The beer, according to the press release, was created by Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont and will be on tap at Prudential Center all season long. In addition, the beer will be available “at 39 Applebee’s locations from North Jersey to Ocean County, bars and restaurants in New Jersey, and the Magic Hat Brewery in Vermont.”

The team says that the three hops in the “hazy session IPA” (you’ll have to bear with me here, as I know next to nothing about craft beer): Mosaic, Lemon Drop and Huell Melon, represent the Devils’ three Stanley Cups. They will also “provide a catalyst for significant notes of citrus and tropical fruit.”

The press release also notes that “Magic Hat will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the beer to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.” This is an important part of the deal as Schuyler Blackman, Head of Imagination and Formulations at Magic Hat Brewing Co. said: “We’ve made beer with artists, chefs, musicians, other breweries, local vineyards, coffee roasters, non-profits etc. so when the opportunity came to partner with New Jersey Devils to develop a delicious beer that supports an important cause, we were all in!”

In addition, “the Devils and Magic Hat Brewing Company will host a “Devils Woo! Brew” Launch and Viewing Party at The Ashford in Jersey City, NJ on Wednesday, October 9 at 7 P.M.; during the Devils away match-up vs. the Philadelphia Flyers. You can go to the Devils’ website and “register to win access to the VIP pre-event, which will feature an intimate speaking panel with Devils Legends Grant Marshall, Colin White and Magic Hat Brewing Head Chris Rockwood.”

The name of the beer, of course, comes from the signature “Woo!” Ric Flair cheer Devils fans have embraced in recent years after the team scores a goal.

Adam Davis, Devils Chief Commercial Officer said: “We are incredibly proud to be the first professional sports team to partner with a renowned, award-winning brand like Magic Hat to create a new beer, inspired by our passionate fanbase. Given the signature, “Woo!” cheer made by Devils fans following goals, it was natural to create a beer that was a playful nod to that celebration. Devils fans inspired the name – and Magic Hat is giving them the drink to raise as they cheer. Following the truly dynamic summer of off-season moves, the fan momentum behind the team, and the anticipated sold-out crowd on Friday’s regular-season home opener; we felt this was the perfect time to raise our collective glass.”

According to the microsite about the beer, available here, the beer has 4.8% alcohol by volume. You can also go to that site to register for the event in Jersey City.

Devils’ Final Roster Announced

The roster for the opening of the 2019-20 season has been announced.

To get down to the NHL-required 23-man roster, the Devils put Matt Tennyson on waivers and, after he cleared, sent him to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. In addition, Ty Smith was sent back to the Spokane Chiefs, his junior team. Smith had a kind of disappointing camp this year after tearing it up last year and almost making the team in 2018-19.

Some of the thought on Smith was that he was more nervous this year, being expected to make the team, than last year when he was kind of playing with house money. That led to some mistakes brought on by his own doing. Hopefully next year he relaxes and makes the team out of camp.

It takes defenseman a longer time to develop at the NHL level and hopefully he just settles in and has a good year in the Western Hockey League and refocuses on making the Devils next season.

As for the roster itself, the goalies are Mackenzie Blackwood and Cory Schneider (who had a great preseason and looks to be back to his old self). The d-men are: Will Butcher, Connor Carrick, Andy Greene, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson, PK Subban and Sami Vatanen. The forwards include: Jesper Boqvist (meaning he will not be sent back to Sweden and the SHL for the year), Jesper Bratt, Blake Coleman, Nikita Gusev, Taylor Hall, John Hayden, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Kyle Palmieri, Kevin Rooney, Wayne Simmonds, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha and Travis Zajac.

No real surprises there aside from maybe Rooney. This is the roster that the Devils will take into the season opener against the Winnipeg Jets on October 4 at Prudential Center.

In other news, former Devil Lee Stempniak has announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NHL. He played in 911 games over those 13 seasons, 63 of them for the Devils after signing as a free agent prior to the 2015-16 season.

The now-36-year-old right wing scored 16 of his total 203 goals with the Devils, and also recorded 25 assists with New Jersey for 41 points. His career total sees him with 469 NHL points.

He was the ultimate journeyman, playing for the Blues (who drafted him 148th overall in the fifth round of the 2003 Draft), Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Flames, Penguins, Rangers, Jets, Bruins and Hurricanes in addition to the Devils.

The Devils dealt him at the 2016 trade deadline to the Bruins, where he netted them a fourth round pick in 2016 (Evan Cormier) and a second round pick in 2017 (the pick that I believe was Jesper Boqvist, if I’m reading Hockey-Reference.com right).

So congratulations to Lee Stempniak on a wonderful career and good luck to him in his post hockey doings.

We will see you here again on Friday for Devils-Jets to open the season!