Devils Fall in Rough Outing in St. Louis

With under a month to go before Martin Brodeur Night at Prudential Center, the Devils traveled to St. Louis to take on Marty’s new team, the Blues. Unfortunately for New Jersey and their fans, it was not a good visit, as the Devils fell 5-2.

News broke to begin the day that Patrik Elias would be out indefinitely after having successful knee surgery earlier today. The Devils’ all-time leading scorer has missed a good majority of the season with various knee problems. Hopefully he gets to make it back, as the 39-year-old’s career is certainly running down and he will not have many more chances to win another Stanley Cup.

The Devils put Keith Kinkaid between the pipes and he would have a considerably bigger load to carry than Cory Schneider had the other night in Minnesota. He made 32 saves on 36 shots. The Devils backup was giving Cory the night off to rest.

The Blues did not have that luxury. They are just as banged up as the Devils are right now and one of those injuries is to starting goaltender Jake Allen. Brian Elliott started for St. Louis, making 22 saves on 24 Devils shots.

In what would become a glaring problem for the Devils all night, the opening goal for St. Louis was a power play goal. Lee Stempniak took a boarding call on Scottie Upshall at 8:39 and the Blues’ power play unit, one of the best in the NHL, made them pay. Patrik Berglund scored at 10:04 from Alexander Steen and Colton Parayko to put the Blues up 1-0.

The Devils would take the lead back before the end of the first period when, at 12:12, Adam Larsson hit Stephen Gionta with a breakout pass that sprung him. Gionta then dropped the puck to Bobby Farnham who wristed one past Elliott to tie the game at one apiece.

They then took over the lead at 14:47 when Stempniak atoned for the boarding call that led to the first St. Louis goal. Larsson fired a shot towards net from the right point and Joseph Blandisi redirected it to Stempniak who buried it behind Elliott to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. For Blandisi, the assist represents his first NHL point.

That would be it for the Devils scoring on the night, as it was all Blues from here.

In the second period, St. Louis tied it up when Upshall scored from Troy Brouwer and Steen. The Blues took the lead when Damon Severson took a borderline boarding call against David Backes (Backes turned away from the hit and the officials immediately gave the call to St. Louis) at 15:21. This would lead to Berglund getting his second power play goal at 17:14 off a tip-in from Alex Pietrangelo and Jori Lehtera. The Blues now led 3-2 and did not look back.

St. Louis doubled up the Devils when Ty Rattie scored his first NHL goal at 2:21 of the third period from Kevin Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri. The Devils used their coach’s challenge, charging goalie interference. They lost the challenge, as Kinkaid had come too far out of his crease to be protected, and thus gave up their timeout.

And from here everything broke down, discipline-wise for the Devils. First Sergey Kalinin took a hooking call, and then after that power play expired, Larsson went off for tripping. That power play was negated by St. Louis taking a cross checking penalty.

But the big moment came when Farnham was checked legally behind the Devils net and he got up and took out his frustration on Dmitrij Jaskin. He was called for interference, but the Blues came to the aid of their teammate, jumping Farnham. This scrum would lead to Jordin Tootoo fighting Ryan Reaves. Reaves won the fight, but took some extra shots at Tootoo while he was down and hurt, which was a move that Ken Daneyko referred to as dirty on the MSG+2 broadcast. It was also dangerous.

In the end, Farnham and the Blues’ Kyle Brodziak received ten minute misconducts, Farnham got the extra interference five minute major, Tootoo and Reaves each got five for fighting and Brodziak got an extra two minutes for roughing. Out of this, the Blues would actually come out with a power play due to the interference major.

After killing that off, the Devils did try to pull Kinkaid to mount a comeback. They were unsuccessful, as Backes would score an unassisted empty netter to ice the game for St. Louis.

With this loss, the Devils risked falling out of a playoff spot. The Tampa Bay Lightning were facing, and beating, the Colorado Avalanche tonight and with that 4-0 Tampa win, they leapfrogged the Devils for the second wildcard spot.

The good news is, when the Devils travel to Denver to face the Avalanche next (on Thursday), they could be met by Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri will not play against Colorado, but could practice with the team and play as soon as the Saturday game against Arizona.

No matter what happens, the Devils will need to make up ground. Injuries have caught up to them, but every team deals with them and New Jersey must persevere. Unfortunately, the injuries came at a time when they were making a big swing against the Central Division (probably the deepest division in the NHL) and so it looks even worse.

Hopefully, the Devils can pick up some points and hold their own against what is sure to be an angry and embarrassed Avalanche club on Thursday at the Pepsi Center.

Depleted Devils Fall to Bruins

The Devils went into the night as the walking wounded. Before the night was through, it would get worse.

New Jersey would fall to the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center, giving the Bruins their 3,000th win in franchise history. But the Devils would lose more than the game. Jiri Tlusty would join the Devils’ corps of the injured in a 4-1 drubbing.

With all of the injuries, including it being announced that Patrik Elias (knee injury) would not be accompanying the team on their big road trip and Mike Cammalleri and Tuomo Ruutu joining injured reserved (Cammalleri retroactive to December 30 and Ruutu retroactive to January 6), three players were called up from the AHL’s Albany Devils. Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, center Jim O’Brien and winger Paul Thompson all made their Devils debuts tonight.

For Thompson, it was also his NHL debut as the University of New Hampshire alum and longtime member of the Penguins organization was playing in his first game in the big leagues at age 27.

Speaking of the Albany Devils, some congratulations go out to goalie Yann Danis and forward Mike Sislo for being chosen for the AHL All-Star Game in Syracuse, New York. The A-Devils have been playing well, which builds a good foundation for the parent club.

For the NHL Devils, this was the 41st game of the year, the exact halfway point of the 2015-16 season. They were looking to stay in the playoff race, being one point ahead of Boston in the standings. A win tonight would go a long way in keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Bruins would be dealing with some roster issues as well, as Brad Marchand was serving the last game of his three game suspension. They are also missing David Krejci and Adam McQuaid each with an upper body injury.

Getting the start tonight for the Devils in net was Cory Schneider, making 27 saves on 31 shots. Boston put out Jonas Gustavsson to counter him and he stopped 19 of the 20 Devils shots he saw.

The scoring came quick from Boston, as the B’s got on the board just 2:02 into the first when Massachusetts-native Frank Vatrano beat Cory with a wrist shot. Colin Miller got the lone assist. The Bruins had an instant 1-0 lead.

With that lead, the Devils would look to get things going and get the crowd back into the game. Jordin Tootoo would help with that when he and Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves at 9:39 of the first. Tootoo tried to light a spark under the Devils with his decisive win over Rinaldo, but it was not to be.

The bulk of the scoring came in the second. There were also some posts hit by the Devils on the power play and a non-call that could have changed the tide of the game.

Boston went up 2-0 when Ryan Spooner scored at 4:40, the assist going to Dennis Seidenberg. The Devils, however, would cut the lead in half at 11:57 when Stephen Gionta moved the puck to Bobby Farnham in front of the Devils’ bench. Farnham skated into the Bruins’ zone and fired a wrister from the right faceoff circle, beating Gustavsson. Adam Larsson got the secondary assist.

The Devils had halved the score and seemed to be back into it, but Boston quickly regained control when Paul Thompson took a tripping penalty at 16:50. This was when Travis Zajac was held up on a breakaway. No holding call came from it and Boston (who are in possession of the number one ranked power play in the NHL) scored at 18:35, immediately after the non-call in their zone. Jimmy Hayes got the goal on a tip-in off a Zdeno Chara shot, with Matt Beleskey getting the secondary assist.

The third period saw the B’s put the game away with a Colin Miller goal at 6:33 (assists to Seidenberg and Spooner – all three scorers on this play had a multi-point night). It was now 4-1 Boston and, aside from a Sergey Kalinin tripping penalty with just under three minutes to go in the game, nothing else would happen in the period. The Bruins had won the game 4-1, and the Devils had failed to gain any ground on their Eastern Conference rivals.

The Devils now embark on their longest road trip of the season. This trip will take them from Minnesota on Sunday to St. Louis to Colorado to Arizona before returning home on the 19th to face Calgary.

The next game in St. Paul will go a long way in testing the character of the Devils. New Jersey has been inundated with injuries and they have not been able to respond with the shuffling of the lineup. Facing a good Wild team, who play in the best division in hockey, the Central, will put the Devils to a real test. We will find out how they will respond on Sunday.