Sunday News Roundup

So we’re still a few days away from the start of the Devils’ 2021-22 schedule and there are some news items to get to that I figured I would put together in one post for the week.

To begin with, Sam Kasan is reporting on the Devils’ official site (and it has been further confirmed by a tweet from the IIHF) that Devils captain Nico Hischier has been named as one of the first three provisional players for the Swiss Olympic team.

Kasan said tha that “[t]he International Ice Hockey Federation, National Hockey League and NHL Players Association asked all participating countries to provide a list of three initial players to be selected for the men’s Olympic national team roster.”

Hischier joins the Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi and the San Jose Sharks’ Timo Meier as the players named by Team Switzerland for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Hischier told Kasan that he’s “really pumped. Growing up you watch the Olympic Games. It’s something special. It’s something I haven’t experienced in my career. It’s still a little ahead. I’m trying not to focus on that instead of the season. I’ll just take it day-by-day, but when the time comes and I go over there, it’s a dream come true. I always wanted to experience that. It’s pretty cool.”

Kasan mentioned that Hischier has been able to represent Switzerland in the World Championships, the World Juniors and the World Under-18 Championships.

But you can tell by Kasan’s quote that this really means a lot to Nico and many of the players who will represent their countries in Beijing.

We, as fans, sometimes worry that, with NHL players in the Olympics, those from our team will get injured playing in a tournament that may or may not mean anything to us. To the players, this is one of the pinnacles of their careers and a chance to bring an Olympic medal home to their countries.

Good luck to Nico in February!

In other, more sobering news, there has been movement on the Mackenzie Blackwood vaccination saga.

Kasan is reporting via the Devils’ website that the goaltender tested negative for COVID-19 on Sunday and is now leaning towards getting the vaccine.

Blackwood was one of the final holdouts in the league to not get vaccinated.

Blackwood told Kasan that he is “probably going to be getting the shot in the next couple of weeks. It’s nice that {current test) came back negative and I’m back with the team, and business as usual.”

Kasan reported that Blackwood had been in quarantine since Thursday – but that that had no “bearing on his decision to get the vaccine.”

Blackwood told Kasan: “That has absojutely nothing to do with that choice. I talked with my family and friends. Don’t think this (COVID scare) changed my mind. It’s a separate event.”

Kasan said that when Blackwood was pulled out of the preseason game on Thursday against the Islanders, it was because of an inconclusive test.

Blackwood elaborated to Kasan, saying “I was getting ready for the game. I was told my test came back inconclusive and I just went home and waited to see what happened. I felt normal so I figured nothing was going on. Last time was a little different.”

Kasan mentioned that Blackwood had had COVID this past January. In addition, the goalie had heel surgery in the off-season as Kasan said that he had “been dealing with a lack of strength and mobility in the heel, as well as some discomfort.”

Blackwood did get in two preseason games according to Kasan. He played a period against the Islanders on October 2 in Bridgeport, Connecticut and two periods against the Capitals on October 4 at Prudential Center. Both games were wins for the Devils.

Kasan reports that he was scheduled to play the whole game on Thursday – the game was canceled due to a power outage at the Prudential Center – before he was pulled from the lineup. Blackwood said that he is treating practice as a game to make up for the “absence of a full game.”

Hopefully, Blackwood does decide to get the vaccination. Obviously, it is not perfect, you can still get sick even when fully vaccinated. NHL players are in close contact with each other on a daily basis and things are bound to happen.

But being vaccinated is a step towards protecting himself. If he is unvaccinated, he is very likely to get sick versus very less likely if he is fully vaccingated. The last thing we (selfishly) as fans need is for Blackwood to get on a hot streak and have it all come to a halt because a COVID test comes back negative and he needs to quarantine, or worse yet, is actually sick again.

Devils Hang on By Skin of Their Teeth for 1-0 win Boston

Now that was a good game!

The Devils hung on in a thriller as Mackenzie Blackwood earned his first shutout of the season with a 1-0 win in Boston against the Bruins as the Devils continued their perplexing dominance of the B’s.

The Bruins are devastated right now with injuries and COVID. They were missing imcluding Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask.

The Devils had Will Butcher, Aaron Dell and Nikita Gusev as their scratches.

In net, the Devils were pitching Blackwood who stopped all forty shots he faced. He was 3-for-3 on Bruins shorthanded shots and 6-for-6 on the power play. He was 31-for-31 at even strength.

Facing him, with Rask out was Jaroslav Halak who stopped 28-of-29 Devils shots for a .966 save percentage. He stopped the Devils lone shorthanded shot and all seven of their power play shots.

Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play.

The lone goal of the game came at 16:37 of the first. Ty Smith shot from the point and it kind of hit a Bruin in front, was tipped by Kyle Palmieri and lobbed over Halak. Palmieri got credit for the goal and Jesper Bratt had the secondary assist.

The Devils had chances to extend the lead in the second. Nick Merkley hit the post early in the frame.

And things were pretty smooth from there. Until the last minutes of the third that is.

Halak was pulled with about 1:40 to go in regulation. The Bruins seemingly tied things up shortly after when Patrice Bergeron scored seemingly with 1:10 to go.

The Bruins seemed to score on a goal mouth scramble, and the call on the ice was good goal. However Devils coach Lindy Ruff challenged for goaltender interference, alleging that Blackwood’s glove was moved to free the puck after he had trapped it already.

The replay showed this was true and the call on the ice was overturned. No goal.

More than a minute later with 1.1 seconds to go, Blackwood made a miraculous save when he got his right pad across the crease to stop the puck at the goal line. This one was reviewed to see if the puck went over the line by Toronto. It did not, and with 1.1 seconds, the Bruins had a draw in the Devils’ zone because of an icing.

That puck was dropped and the siren sounded. Game over. Devils win.

The Devils were outshot 40-29 and Boston won 64-percnet of the game’s faceoffs. Boston also outhit the Devils 23-18. The Devils did have more blocked shots at 14-10 and more turnovers at 12 to the Bruins’ five.

PK Subban led the Devils in ice time with 22:42 while Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 18:30. Ty Smith led in power play time with 4:13.

Michael McLeod again led in faceoff winning percentage with a 56-percent clip. Subban led in shots on goal with a whopping six. Hits were led by Zacha and Merkley with three each. Blocks were led by Ryan Murray with three. Andreas Johnsson, McLeod, Jack Hughes, Jesper Boqvist, Murray, Damon Severson and Dmitry Kulilov led in takeaways with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils face these same Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday. Puck drop is at 7 PM on MSG+ 2.

We will have coverage for you right here.

Until then, stay safe everyone!