Devils Get Three Players Back from COVID List

Going once again to Sam Kasan reporting for the “Inside the Devils Blog,” the Devils got three players back today from the COVID Protocol list: goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and forwards Mason Geertsen and Janne Kuokkanen.

With that, Kasan points out, the Devils are beginning to get a full roster of healthy players for the first time in about five weeks.

Kasan noted that the three players released from COVID Protocol “rejoined the club for practice on Monday afternoon at Prudential Center.”

It should be mentioned that, as per Kasan, these players did not have “particularly bad symptoms to their illness” and were “mostly dealing with boredom.”

The thing that really stands out is that the players were out of commission for a little over a week and could only condition through body-weight exercises. Kasan then relayed how being “tossed back into practice can be jolting” for the players who were out.

Blackwood said “It felt more like a training camp day for me, getting my wind back, my legs back. It didn’t get me like it did last time. I feel like I’ll be good to go.”

Blackwood had battled COVID in January of last year as well.

Geertsen added “I was a little bit stiff. I made sure to do a little extra in warmup to make sure I was bit limber and ready to go. I was breathing hard in the drills, but it felt good.” He continued, “I feel like I’m good to go. I was a little rusty (Monday). (Tuesday) will be another tune up and if they call me on Wednesday, I’ll be ready to rock.”

Kasan said that the Devils had 17 players on the NHL roster having tested positive for COVID throughout the season.

Devils Goalie Problems Continue

Welcome to another edition of the drama that is “Devils Goaltending.”

The team released the news today that Mackenzie Blackwood has tested positive for COVID and has entered into COVID protocol. Team reporter Sam Kasan wrote on the news in a post on the “Inside the Devils Blog.”

Because of that, Jon Gillies will make his second start for the Devils on Thursday at the New York Islanders Kasan writes.

Head coach Lindy Ruff was quoted by Kasan as saying “It’s a greater challenge for us. Gillies will step in and play, we need to play well in front of him.”

Devils defenseman Ryan Graves added “Gillies is a good goalie. He’s a big guy and we trust him. I thought he looked good in the game we played earlier this year.”

Graves continued “This season gives guys opportunities. It’s one of the good things over the last few years, guys that maybe weren’t going to get games are now getting games. He’s one of those guys that will benefit from it. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. He’s a guy that’s had a longer road. It’s nice to see him get a chance.”

Kasan said that Ruff did not confirm that the Devils will recall Mareks Mitens from Utica, though Kasan feels that they will need him to serve as New Jersey’s backup. This is because of the loss of Jonathan Bernier, who had season-ending hip surgery and with Akira Schmid and Blackwood being unavailable with COVID and Nico Daws out with an injury.

Ruff simply told Kasan “It looks that way yes.”