Devils String Second Together Second Road Win in Arizona

For the majority of the 2021-22 season, the Devils have had the hardest of times getting wins outside of Newark. Road wins were few and far between.

Suddenly, they are two-for-two on their five-game trip out west. Following a 3-1 downing of the Dallas Stars on Saturday, they continued on to Glendale, Arizona where they won their second straight game 6-2 over the Arizona Coyotes.

The Coyotes are the only team below the Devils in the overall NHL standings at the moment and the Devils were actually avenging a loss earlier in the season in New Jersey where the Yotes won 4-1.

The Devils this season achieved having four 20-goal scorers on their roster. Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier and Yegor Sharangovich have each notched at least 20 in 2021-22. This is the first time since 2011-12 that the team has had at least four. Back then, it was Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, David Clarkson and Petr Sykora as the five who topped that number. That certainly points the Devils in the right direction.

But back enough about the future or the past. Back to tonight. The Devils roster tonight saw Colton White, Mason Geertsen and Andreas Johnsson out as healthy scratches while Andrew Hammond was sitting while Jon Gillies was the backup on the bench.

Nathan Bastian was back in the lineup as he returned from his hip injury that was suffered last week against the New York Islanders.

In goal, the Devils were going with Nico Daws who made 19 saves on 21 total Arizona shots for a .905 save percentage. He stopped four of the Coyotes’ five power play shots and 15 of their 16 at even strength. The Yotes finished the night at 1-for-4 on the power play as a team.

The Coyotes went with their own rookie in Karel Vejmelka, who made 32 saves on 38 total Devils shots for a nightly save percentage of .842. He stopped New Jersey’s only shorthanded chance and all ten of their power play shots. At five-versus-five play, he made 21 saves on 27 shots. The Devils as a team went 0-for-5 on the power play.

Some random notes from the night include referee Cody Beach working his first NHL game tonight as per Devils play-by-play man Steve Cangialosi. The Coyotes also had two players making their NHL debuts tonight – including Nathan Smith – who this past weekend was playing in the NCAA Frozen Four for Minnesota State.

Arizona also have a rookie defenseman in Cam Dineen, who is a native of Toms River, New Jersey.

And finally, this might very well be the Devils final visit to Glendale as the Coyotes are scheduled to make their move to the new arena being built on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona next season.

That arena will only seat about 5,000 for hockey which the team and the NHL generously terms as “intimate.” They are going to play there until at least the 2024-25 season as they attempt to get a new building erected in Tempe.

The Coyotes were, strangely, in their (alternate?) maroon “howling coyote” uniforms. I note this one mainly because I had thought that the Coyotes wee back to their “Kachina” logo uniforms full-time, so this one threw me for a loop initially.

It looked like those uniforms would be a good choice in terms of luck for the night initially, though.

Just 1:13 into the game, the Yotes took an early 1-0 lead. This goal saw the Devils unable to clear the puck from their zone and Nick Ritchie eventually got it behind the Devils net. He moved it to Nick Schmaltz, who got it to Travis Boyd in front, who scored from the slot to make it 1-0.

The Devils would equalize by the middle of the first period, though, and it was a big one.

At the 10:51 gone by mark, Nico Hischier skated through the neutral zone and into the Arizona end and used amazing hand-eye coordination to calmly settle a bouncing puck down. He then breezed past Phil Kessel and passed to Fabian Zetterlund, who finished for his first NHL goal.

Sharangovich had the secondary assist and the game was now tied as it would be heading into the second period.

From there, the Coyotes had a streak of bad luck as they just started to hit posts left and right. It began late in the period when Kessel hit the pipe while driving up the left side and would see Arizona hit another one even later on.

Early in the second period, with 16:40 to play, Dawson Mercer and Bratt poked away at puck in front of the Coyotes net and Vejmelka stopped Mercer on a nice glove save. Mercer and Bratt celebrated as if the puck had gone in, but the officials waved the goal off immediately on ice. There was a brief review done of the play – which seemed to show the Arizona goaltender actually catch the puck behind the goal line – but the call remained no goal and we played on.

The Devils, however, would get that 2-1 lead. With 5:24 gone by in the second, AJ Greer won a puck battle behind the Arizona net. It jarred loose to Bastian, who then banked it off the boards to Kevin Bahl at the point. It was put on a tee for him and he drove it by Vejmelka for his first NHL goal.

Bahl’s first NHL goal came against the team that drafted him and traded him to the Devils in the Taylor Hall trade back in 2019.

The Yotes would find another post midway through the second, but the floodgates were about to open on goals late in the frame.

It began when the Coyotes tied things on the power play at the 18:38 mark. This was set up by Ty Smith being sent off for slashing Barrett Hayton at 18:01 to set things up.

From here, Matias Maccelli got the puck to Shayne Gostisbehere at the near point. Gostisbehere then sent the puck to Schmaltz at the top of the far faceoff circle where the Devils had overloaded to the other side of the rink.

This gave Schmaltz all the time in the world to walk in, set and shoot the puck by Daws to tie the game at two.

This was an extremely short-lived tie, however.

At 19:14 gone by, Tomas Tatar dumped the puck into the Arizona zone and Vejmelka went behind his goal to play it. He tried to reverse it around the wall way from the oncoming Tatar and instead it was intercepted by Jesper Bratt at the far wall.

Bratt then threw the puck towards the near side of the net where Tatar collected the pass with his skate and shot into Vejmelka’s now-vacated net all in one motion to give the Devils back the lead.

And that would be the game-winner.

Jesper Boqvist would add an insurance goal 22 seconds later when PK Subban got he puck on net. Janne Kuokkanen got a shot on Vejmelka that bounced up and Boqvist was able to put in behind the Coyotes netminder. That made it 4-2 Devils.

The Devils added two more in the third period with both coming off of the stick of Sharangovich.

The first one came at 15:36 gone by in the third when Hischier took an outlet pass, broke into the Yotes’ zone and dropped a pass to Zetterlund just inside the Arizona blue line.

Zetterlund then passed up ahead to Sharangovich cutting towards Vejmelka’s goal cage and he finished the pass to make it 5-2 Devils.

Sharangovich notched his second goal of the night a the 17:05 mark when Bahl pinched in behind the Coyotes net and put a pass in front. The puck bounced off of an Arizona player’s skate and right to Sharangovich who promptly scored to make it 6-2. Hischier had the secondary assist on the goal that was Sharangovich’s 22nd of the year.

That second Sharangovich goal came at 4-on-4 play as the Coyotes Michael Carcone (tripping) and Ty Smith (embellishment) were off for coincidental minors at 16:03.

The Devils would actually finish the game on the power play as Ritchie was called for roughing Greer at 18:55. They would not convert, but when the final horn sounded, Daws became the first of the seven goalies used by the Devils this season to record ten wins – an amazing feat for a rookie who was not expected to play many, if any, NHL minutes this season.

The Devils finished with 38 shots to the Yotes’ 21. The faceoffs were nearly split in half with the Devils winning 49-percent of the game’s draws.

Michael McLeod led the centers in faceoff win percentage with 71-percent – although he only played 8:17 on the night.

Arizona finished the game with a dozen penalty minutes accumulated as a team while the Devils had ten. The Devils landed 30 hits to the Coyotes’ 23. Blocked shots saw the Devils with 14 and the Coyotes with 12. Team giveaways had New Jersey with just eight to Arizona’s whopping 20 on the night.

Dougie Hamilton led all Devils skaters with 21:23 of total ice time. This included 5:45 of power play time and 10 seconds of time on the penalty kill. That was by far the most time a Devils defenseman spent on the man advantage, but on the PK, Ryan Graves played 4:55 out of his total of 20:46 to lead there.

Up front, Hischier led in total ice time with 21:03 (which included 5:34 on the PP and 2:49 on the pK). On special teams, only Bratt (5:39 out of his 16:20 total TOI) had more power play time and only Sharangovich (3:40 out of his 19:34 of total TOI) had more shorthanded time entrusted to him. Sharangovich also logged 2:44 on the power play.

In terms of points, the Devils flexed their guns tonight. Hischier had three assists for three points, Sharangovich had two goals and an assist for three points, Zetterlund had a goal and an assist for two points and Bahl had a goal and an assist for two points as they all recorded multi- point nights.

In terms of shots on goal, Greer led with five. Hits saw Bastian, Greer and Bahl each lead with four. Blocks were led by Graves with six. Personal giveaways were led by Sharangovich and Mercer with two each while personal turnover recoveries saw Hischier and McLeod lead with two as well.

The Devils next stop is a little steeper of a climb. They travel to Denver to take on the Western Conference-leading Colorado Avalanche. That game will be at 9 PM on MSG and we will have coverage for you at the conclusion of action.

Until then, enjoy your week everyone!

Devils to Auction Broadway/Hayesy Jerseys for Charity

The Devils announced today that the warmup jerseys worn by them and the Chicago Blackhawks back in the Devils’ season opener on October 15, 2021 will be auctioned off for a good cause.

In a press release put out by the team’s PR department, the New Jersey Devils announced that they are “launching the “Broadway/Hayesy” Jersey Auction, in memory of late NHL alum Jimmy Hayes, former Devil and Kevin’s brother.” Kevin Hayes currently plays with the Philadelphia Flyers – tomorrow’s opponent for the Devils.

The jerseys being auctioned off include the Devils’ jerseys with “BROADWAY 10” on the back and the Blackhawks’ jerseys with “HAYESY 39” on the back. Jimmy Hayes played for both clubs. “Broadway” and “Hayesy” were his nicknames in NHL locker rooms and the “10” and “39” were the numbers he wore for the Devils and Blackhawks, respectively.

“Funds raised from the auction will benebit the Hayes family and charities of their choosing” according to the press release.

The press release notes that during the season opener at Prudential Center, New Jersey “hosted Hayes’ family members during the game and honored him with a moment of silence prior to puck drop.”

The auction will last from Monday, December 13, 2021 (beginning at 12 noon ET) to Monday, December 27, 2021. The press release notes that each jersey’s auction time will end staggered beginning at 5 PM ET on December 27.

Hayes, who passed away tragically this past summer, played 334 NHL games over a career that lasted seven years. The press release says that he notched 54 goals and 55 assists for 109 points in the NHL.

The Dorchester, Massachusetts-native was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011, but never played a game for the franchise, as he was traved to the Blackhawks, where he began his career in 2011 and played to 2013. He also played for the Florida Panthers (2013 to 2015), the Boston Bruins (2015 to 2017) and finished his NHL career with the Devils in 2017-2018.

The Devils, as mentioned, will be traveling down the Turnpike to take on the Flyers tomorrow at 7 PM at the Wells Fargo Center. Jimmy’s brother, Kevin is currently a member of the Flyers.

In some other news pertaining to that game directly, the Devils have added another player to COVID Protocol.

Sam Kasan is reporting on the “Inside the Devils Blog” that defenseman Christian Jaros, who just made his return to the lineup following a stint on Injured Reserve, has been placed in COVID-19 Protocol. He joins forward Nico Hischier and defenseman Ryan Graves on the list.

According to Kasan, forward Yegor Sharangovich was also “held out of practice as a precaution. He is not currently in protocol.”

Devils head coach Lindy Ruff told Kasan “We’ve got two or three in (protocol) right now and hopefully it can end there. We don’t know what tomorrow brings either. We have a few guys that aren’t feeling well. Some of it is cold related. So, it’s hard to separate the two.”

And with those players now unavailable due to COVID Protocol, there opens up some opportunity for players down in Utica.

Kasan mentioned in a separate post on the Devils blog that New Jersey has recalled forward Marian Studenic and defenseman Kevin Bahl.

Studenic will be making his return to the NHL club, where he started the season after making the Devils out of training camp.

Kasan said that he got sent down to the Utica Comets and, in the 13 games he has played in the AHL since, he has five goals and five assists for ten points.

Kasan quoted Studenic as saying: “When I got sent down, I still had the mindset to keep going. Maybe I would have another opportunity. It’s here now so I’m happy about it.”

Kasan also pointed out that while with the Devils, he will likely play as “a penalty killer and fourth liner, though a fourth liner with a lot of speed.”

Contrast that with where he was with the Comets, as Kasan noted that in Utica “Studenic played a top-6 role for the Comets, which included power-play time and big minutes.”

The speed that Studenic brings should please his coach in New Jersey. Kasan quoted Ruff on Studenic as saying: “The one thing that we need is speed up front. It always helps our team, and he can bring that.”

As for Bahl, this will be the blue liner’s first call up to the NHL this season. He was assigned to Utica out of training camp.

Bahl admitted to Kasan that he did not have the best training camp.

“I don’t think in training camp I got to the level that I wanted to” he told the Devils writer.

Kasan said that he was sent to “Utica to work on many facets of his play.” Bahl “pointed to his positional play and retrieving pucks in the D zone as a few.”

Bahl continued to Kasan that the “biggest thing down there was development. I was watching video every day. It was a big factor for me to keep getting better. I’m definitely excited, it means a lot to get called up and it shows they have a lot of faith in me.”

Ruff told Kasan: “Kevin has got the range and the skating ability that a lot of guys don’t have. I felt he got off to a slow start at camp. He didn’t use his reach. I think his physicality could have been better. From what I’ve heard, that part of his game has really come around. It’s something he’s worked at.

“You have to give him credit. He’s worked hard at it. He’s going to get another opportunity,” Ruff concluded.

Kasan reminded readers that Bahl played in seven NHL games last season with the Devils. When he asked Bahl about that, Bahl said: “Last year was awesome. I got a feel for it. I know a bit more what to expect. I’m just excited to play.”

He also told Kasan, “The biggest thing is turning my preparation into confidence. How well I can prepare and how well I do things away from the rink. That will build my confidence being on the ice.”