Devils Miscellaneous News and Notes

Just a few notes from April that I wanted to get to that have not gotten their own entry.

Back on April 8, the Devils announced via a press release that the team and United came together to “donate 225 pairs” of skates to the Newark community. They also announced the opening of the Ironbound Rink Community Skate and Skate Kiosk.

The Devils and the airline also worked with Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City of Newark on this endeavor.

The Ironbound Rink opened last Saturday, April 9 at 1:30 PM (or approximately as the pregame was going on the air for the Devils game in Dallas on that day) and is located at 226 Rome Street.

The hockey skates were also donated “making it more accessible to youth and families to learn and practice the art of ice-skating.”

In attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Recreation, Cultural Affairs and Senior Services Director Patrick Council representing Newark, retired Devils defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup champion Colin White and various executives from United and Devils Arena Entertainment.

The dedication ceremony included “two Community Skate sessions, led by the Devils mascot, Mr. White, New Jersey Devils employees, and Hockey in New Jersey volunteers, for residents and attendees.” Other family friendly activities were offered as well.

Mayor Baraka said: “We are excited for opening day and to provide Newark residents, particularly our youth, with access to a first-class ice-skating rink, enabling them to stay active and healthy, while creating incredible experiences for the whole family to enjoy. Working with many partners, we have created outstanding recreation facilities, which have improved the quality of life for all our residents. I thank the Devils and United for being true supporters and for their commitment to Newark.”

Rodney Cox, who is United’s Vice President of Airport Operations at Newark added: “At United, we believe in connecting people and investing in the communities where we live and work. Our partnership with the New Jersey Devils to renovate the Ironbound Community Skate and Skate Kiosk is not only focused on ensuring local youth engage in healthy activities, but that we break down barriers and inspire future generations.”

Finally, Jake Reynolds, Devils and Prudential Center President said: “The New Jersey and United are proud to introduce Newark residents to the sport of ice skating with the opening of a newly remodeled skate kiosk in the Ironbound Recreation Center rink. We continue to be committed to our Newark neighbors – aiming to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live, work and play. Not only does this help promote physical fitness, it makes ice skating and learning the game of hockey more accessible to the families and young people of our City.”

In other, on ice news from the Devils organization, the Utica Comets have been pretty busy over the month of April.

On April 4, AJ Greer, who has since been recalled to the Devils and has been playing in the NHL for the last two weeks, was named the American Hockey League Player of the Week for the period ending April 3, 2022.

The press release posted by the Comets to their website noted that in that previous week, he had ten points over four games (four goals and six assists).

Greer equaled a personal season high when he had four points that previous Monday in a game at the Hartford Wolf Pack. He had a goal and three assists in the Comets’ 7-3 win.

That Wednesday, he had a hat trick (including on the power play, shorthanded and at even strength) and a career high nine shots on goal in a Comets loss at the Rochester Americans, 4-3.

Finally, that Friday, he had three assists (his third straight games with at least three points) in a 5-3 Utica win over the Syracuse Crunch.

The 25-year-old forward in his sixth season of professional hockey has recorded career highs in goals (22), assists (28) and points (50) over 50 games to that point in the AHL with the Comets. He is in his second stint at the NHL level with the Devils currently.

The Joliette, Quebec native was a second-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2015 and was acquired by the Devils from the Islanders last season.

Over his previous AHL career which has spent with the Utica Comets/Binghamton Devils, Bridgeport Sound-Tigers, Colorado Eagles and San Antonio Rampage.

He has played 275 games in the AHL and has 85 goals, 108 assists totaling 193 points in that time.

His rookie season of 2016-17 saw him elected to the AHL All-Star Classic. That year, he also won the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as he was recognized as the AHL Man of the Year. He won the award “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the San Antonio community” where he was playing with the Rampage at the time.

The Comets followed that up by celebrating Marty Brodeur Night at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica on April 6.

The Comets lost that game in overtime to the Belleville Senators 4-3.

Marty was on-hand to drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff in the pregame. The Devils legend and three-time Stanley Cup champion was being honored where his Hockey Hall of Fame pro career began.

He played for the Utica Devils during the 1992-93 season in the AHL.

The Comets most recent big moment came on April 9 when the team clinched a 2022 Calder Cup Playoff spot.

Utica currently stands in first place in the North Division with a 40-18-7-1 record and 88 points over 66 games. That is a .667 points percentage. They also stand in first place overall in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.

They are fourth overall in the league standings behind four Western Conference teams: the Stockton Heat of the Pacific Division, the Chicago Wolves of the Central Division and the Ontario Reign of the Pacific Division.

The next closest Eastern team to the Comets, in fact, are the seventh place Charlotte Checkers, who are first place in the Atlantic Division – showing just how dominate the West has been in the American League this season.

And finally, as we close this out, my condolences to the friends and family of Islanders great Mike Bossy, who lost his battle with lung cancer today.

The Hall of Famer was truly one of the all-time greats and one of the greatest pure goal scorers in NHL history. He was one of the lynchpins of the Islanders 1980’s Stanley Cup dynasty.

Rest in peace Mike Bossy.

Depleted Devils Clobbered by Habs

In the final meeting of the season between the Devils and the Montreal Canadiens, the Devils were looking to complete a season sweep in what has been a lost year for both teams.

The Habs, however, got the final revenge when they defeated the Devils 7-4 at Prudential Center tonight with the Devils losing streak now extending to five games.

The Devils were without a handful of injured players. Nathan Bastian, Jimmy Vesey and Jack Hughes are now all out with injuries with Hughes being shut down for the season. Vesey had imaging done on his knee and, although his injury was described as “not that bad,” he will be missing some time. Miles Wood was also out, sitting to rest as a bit of maintenance as he slowly makes his full return from his hip surgery.

Jon Gillies, Colton White and Mason Geertsen were the healthy scratches.

Forwards AJ Greer and Fabian Zetterlund, recently called up from AHL Utica were in the lineup tonight for New Jersey with both contributing – including Greer scoring his first goal as a New Jersey Devil.

In goal, the Devils started former Canadien Andrew Hammond, making his second start as a Devil against his most recent former team. He stopped 13 of the 19 total shots he saw for a .684 save percentage on the night. All of those shots came at five-against-five as the Habs did not have a power play on the night.

After Hammond let in Montreal’s sixth goal, Nico Daws came in to play the remaining 18:34 of the game. He stopped six of the seven shots he saw for an .857 save percentage. Those also all came at even strength.

Montreal finished the game with a total of 26 shots against the two New Jersey goaltenders.

The Canadiens went with Jake Allen between the pipes and he kept his career record against the Devils perfect. He stopped 33 of the 37 total Devils shots for a .892 save percentage. He turned aside all three Devils power play shots and 30 of their 34 shots at even strength. As a team, the Devils went 0-for-2 on power play opportunities.

The Devils were back in black again for the third straight game – the final of their four game homestand.

They were also looking for their first win since knocking off the Habs back on March 27 3-2.

Montreal, though, was hoping to get off to a very quick start and they would.

Just 4:35 into the game, the Canadiens made it 1-0 when Cole Caufield gained the Devils zone and dished off to Rem Pitlick on the left wing. Pitlick made a cross-ice pass to Nick Suzuki, who sort of flubbed his shot and the result was a knuckleball that beat Hammond.

Montreal had the lead and, in a pattern that would repeat itself all night, they did not take long to add another.

At the 6:41 mark of the first, Corey Schueneman, a defenseman, pinched in low and won a puck battle in the near corner. He gave it to Jake Evans, who was covering for him at the near point. Evans took a big shot that may have tipped in off of a Devil in front, but either way, went high on Hammond, beating him top shelf. Mike Hoffman had the secondary assist and it was now 2-0 Montreal.

Exactly 30 seconds later, though, at the 7:11 mark of the first, Tomas Tatar, the former Hab, got the Devils on the board. Damon Severson got the puck down to Dawson Mercer in the far corner. Mercer centered to Tatar in the slot and Tatar’s quick release beat Allen to cut the Montreal lead to 2-1.

Severson, with that assist, established a new career high for himself with his 30th helper on the season.

That, however, was not the score we were going to have going into the second period since Caufield was about to do his thing.

At the 13:44 mark of the first, Suzuki created a turnover in the Montreal zone. He then made an absolutely beautiful outlet pass, saucering the puck right onto the stick of Caufield. Caufield got in all alone on Hammond and snapped a shot by the beleaguered Devils goalie to make it 3-1 Canadiens.

In the second period, Greer made his presence known as he scored his first as a Devil 15 minutes into the second.

This one saw Michael McLeod settle the puck down at the far faceoff circle and then spin around away from the Montreal defense to gain some time and space. He then fed Greer, who attempted a wraparound. Greer’s power move saw the shot go off of Canadiens defenseman David Savard’s stick and up and over Allen’s mask and in.

Ryan Graves – who assisted on Greer’s only other NHL goal while both were with the Colorado Avalanche – had the secondary assist and the goal made it 3-2 Habs.

But one minute and twenty seconds later, Montreal doubled their lead again.

On that one, Chris Wideman passed from the point to Joel Armia in the middle of the Devils zone. Armia collected off of his skate and in one move gained a step on PK Subban by stepping around him. He then fired a shot under the crossbar and down by Hammond to make it 4-2.

Brendan Gallagher had the secondary assist on that goal, which would take us to the third period at 4-2.

The third period began with a succession between the teams in the first 1:53 of the frame.

Wideman started things off 1:11 in when Montreal won a faceoff deep in the Devils zone. Christian Dvorak won the draw back to Kale Clague, who went D-to-D with Wideman. Wideman then threw the puck towards the Devils net and it went in off of Subban’s body to make it 5-2 Canadiens.

The second goal in the trio took place 15 seconds after the Wideman goal.

At 1:26 gone by, Wideman sprung Dvorak through the middle of the ice and he was in alone on a breakaway, scoring to make it 6-2. Clague had the secondary assist.

Following this goal, Hammond’s night was finished and Daws came on in relief.

The Devils responded right away following the goaltending change with Ty Smith scoring at the 1:53 gone by mark. Here Nico Hischier gained the Montreal zone and pulled the Habs defense in towards him, giving room to a trailing Smith.

Nico then dropped a pass to Smith, who sniped a shot past Allen to make it 6-3. Jesper Bratt had the secondary assist to end his point drought.

Things settled in for a while until halfway through when Bratt ended his goal scoring drought as well.

At the 10:59 gone by mark, Subban (who would not get an assist on the goal, but played a big part in making it happen) created a turnover in the neutral zone and moved the puck to Hischier. Hischier broke into the Montreal zone and made a drop pass to Bratt just inside the Canadiens blue line. Bratt passed to Tatar, who gave back to Hischier, who shot. Hischier’s rebound then came right to Bratt, who finished to cut the score to 6-4 Habs.

The Canadiens, though, would put the kibosh on the game at the 13:17 mark when Clague scored to ice it at 7-4.

Gallagher took a shot that rimmed around to Clague, the Canadien defenseman who was pinching into the Devils zone. He shot from a really sharp angle, from almost behind the Devils goal line. It beat Daws far post in a well-placed shot and that was that. Dvorak had the secondary assist.

In the final minutes, Rem Pitlick hit the post and Evans was stopped on a nice glove save by Daws after Evans stole the puck from Smith in the neutral zone and cut in alone with a good scoring chance.

But time ran out on the Devils and their 9-0-3 streak over their previous 12 games over the Habs. That was the longest active point streak the Devils had over any team over ten games but it was snapped tonight.

The Devils outshot the Habs 37 to 26 and were again beaten badly in the faceoff circle with a 43-percent team winning percentage.

McLeod led Devils centers with a personal winning percentage of 71-percent over his 10:30 of ice time.

The Canadiens accumulated four penalty minutes as a team while the Devils had zero. The Devils were outhit 21-17 and Montreal had 14 blocked shots to New Jersey’s nine. Team turnovers saw the Habs with a dozen while the Devils had ten.

Smith led the Devils skaters in total ice time with 22:13. Dougie Hamilton led in power play time amongst defensemen with 2:25 included in his 21:06 of total time.

Hischier led the forwards in total ice time with 19:39 – which included 2:13 of power play time – which was also a high in that regard for the forwards.

Hischier (two assists), Bratt (one goal, one assist) and Tatar (one goal and one assist) each had two points to lead the Devils in scoring on the night. Greer and Zetterlund, the new call ups (with Zetterlund playing in his first NHL game since November), each led in shots on goal with four. Hits were led by Hischier, McLeod, Greer, Zetterlund, Janne Kuokkanen and Hamilton who each had two. Smith led in blocks with three. Personal giveaways were led by Yegor Sharangovich, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Boqvist who each had two while personal takeaways were by Hischier with two.

Next up, the Devils start a five-game road trip out west starting in Dallas against the Stars.

Puck drop for that one is 2 PM ET on Saturday and the game is listed as being on MSG+ as of right now.

We will have coverage for you right here following the finish of that one as the Devils try to snap their losing streak.

And before we end for tonight, congratulations on a great season to Luke Hughes, Ethan Edwards and the University of Michigan Wolverines, who were eliminated earlier tonight from the 2022 NCAA Frozen Four at the TD Garden in Boston.

The University of Denver Pioneers will now move on to the National Championship game against either the University of Minnesota or Minnesota State after defeating the Wolverines in overtime in the first semifinal.

Here’s to even greater things for both Edwards and Luke Hughes as they begin to make their way towards a pro career and take another step towards the Devils and the NHL.