Devils Announce 2019 Preseason Schedule

The Devils today put out a press release outlining their 2019 preseason schedule.

Overall, they will play seven games, with three at home and four on the road. One of the road games and one of the home games will be a split squad game early in the slate.

The preseason opens on Monday, September 16 when half of the squad will head to Montreal’s Bell Centre to take on the Canadiens at 7 PM and the other half will stay at home in Newark to take on the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Boston Bruins. That game will also be at 7 PM.

On Wednesday, September 18, the Devils will cross the Hudson to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. This will likely be the first meeting between the first and second overall picks in the 2019 NHL Draft (assuming both players are healthy, playing and the Rangers are not playing a split squad with their pick at the other location).

The teams will then move across the Hudson in the other direction on Friday, September 20 as the Devils will host the Rangers at Prudential Center at 7 PM. That will kick off a two-game preseason “homestand” for the Devils. They will also renew pleasantries with the Islanders at Prudential Center on Saturday, September 21 at 7 PM.

From there, the remaining games are on the road. They will travel north to TD Garden to take on the Bruins on Wednesday, September 25 at 7 PM to round out their two games with Boston.

They then travel to Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Friday, September 27 at 7 PM to finish off the preseason against the Blue Jackets.

Much as in the past, I would assume that the three home games plus the game at the Garden against the Rangers will be broadcast on MSG Networks. Of course, the TV schedule has yet to come out, but we shall see. Other than that, this gets the ball rolling as we quickly shoot towards the 2019-20 NHL season.

Devils Reveal 2018-19 Preseason Schedule

With the NHL’s regular season schedule being revealed this Thursday, the Devils decided to whet our appetite by revealing their 2018-19 preseason schedule today.

There will only be one home preseason game, the preseason opener against the Rangers on September 17. That will be a split squad game, as part of the team will also be up in Montreal at the Bell Centre playing the Canadiens a half hour later. (The Rangers game at Prudential Center begins at 7 PM while the Montreal game is at 7:30.)

Three days later, on September 20, the Devils will take on the Islanders in Brooklyn. On the 24, they will finish up the local part of their preseason schedule at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. Both New York games are at 7 PM.

On the 27th, they then travel to Western Canada to take on the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg. That game begins at 8 PM ET.

From there, the Devils have quite a bit of traveling to do. They will go from Winnipeg to Bern, Switzerland to take on SC Bern on October 1 (a Monday according to the Devils’ press release). This is part of the NHL Global Series Challenge and is still an exhibition game. The game will take place at PostFinance Arena at 1:30 PM ET here in the United States and 7:30 PM CET in Switzerland.

The press release mentions Nico Hischier (a native of Brig, Switzerland) and Mirco Mueller (Winterhur, Switzerland) getting to play in front of their countrymen for the first time as NHLers.

The Devils will then kick off their regular season in Gothenburg, Sweden on Saturday, October 6 at the Scandinavium against the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop for that game is 1 PM ET. That game will be a part of the NHL Global Series.

Hall, Butcher With Big NIghts as Devils Down Rangers

Will Butcher had two goals versus the Rangers tonight. His first NHL multi goal game. He was named the game’s second star of the night. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The push to the playoffs is coming down to the wire and the Devils are looking better and better with each passing game. Tonight they defeated their cross-river rivals 5-2 to move their magic number to clinch to just two. They would not clinch tonight, as Florida beat Nashville 2-1 in regulation to keep their hopes alive, but they did leapfrog the Flyers as Philly lost to the Islanders 5-4 in Brooklyn. They did not leap over the Blue Jackets either, as they beat the Red Wings in OT 5-4 in Ohio.

This was the second to last home game of the year for the Devils, they do have Toronto at home on Thursday, but this one was a big one against a rival with so much at stake for New Jersey.

Some roster moves first. The Devils scratched Jesper Bratt tonight with Brian Gibbons slotting back in at forward. Jimmy Hayes, Marcus Johansson and Drew Stafford were also out with Damon Severson scratched on defense.

The D would remain the same with Severson out and Lovejoy in. The lines were shaken up a little bit with Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri were the top line combination and Pavel Zacha, Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon rounding out the top six.

The goaltending matchup saw Keith Kinkaid, who tonight became the winningest goalie in the NHL since February 15 go against Rangers veteran Henrik Lundqvist. It was a relatively light night for Kinkaid, as he stopped 22 of 24 Ranger shots. Lundqvist, however, was under siege most of the night. He made 39 saves on 44 Devils shots.

This is uncharted territory for Lundqvist, who is playing meaningless hockey for the first time in his career. The Rangers are set to miss the playoffs for only the second time since 2005-06 and Lundqvist was on the team in 2010 that missed on the final game of the season – a shootout loss in Philly.

The Devils got the most from their power play tonight too. They went an amazing 3-for-4, scoring on four power play shots. The Rangers went 0-for-2 with a single shot with the man advantage.

The Devils had won three of four games against the Blueshirts this year and were gunning for the fourth of five. They would not waste time in getting there.

Just 25 seconds into the game, Travos Zajac scored from Blake Coleman to make it 1-0. The Devils broke into the New York zone on a 2-on-1. Zajac dropped to Coleman, who was trailing as the Ranger backchecker was getting back quickly. Coleman got a shot off as he was falling to the ice. Lundqvist made a good save to stop him, but Zajac was right there to tap in the rebound as Lundqvist had come way too far out of his crease.

The Devils had their foot on the gas and they would not let up. The Rangers were given a too many men on the ice bench minor at 3:14 of the first and the Devils were on their first power play of the night. Taylor Hall would take it from there. Will Butcher, at the point, passed to Kyle Palmieri down low. He one-touched to Maroon at the doorstep. Lunqvist made the save there, but the rebound jumped out to Hall stationed at the far faceoff dot. He shot and beat Lundqvist to make it 2-0. The goal came at 3:41 of the first and was scored unassisted, but I believe that at least Butcher was given an assist later, as I think he would end the night with a goal and two assists. Although Palmieri and Maroon would make more sense as the two assists.

The Devils would make it 3-0 at 10:40 of the first. That one came on the power play also as John Gilmour was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass. Butcher scored from Palmieri and Hall to convert there. Hall weaved in the far corner to alieviate pressure before finding Palmieri at the far point. He faked a shot and went point-to-point with Butcher, who ripped a one-timer towards goal that beat Lundqvist for the Devils’ third goal of the young contest.

The Rangers would push play a little bit towards the end of the first, finally breaking through when Ryan Spooner scored from Jimmy Vesey and Filip Chytil at 17:47 to make it 3-1.

The second period would belong to New Jersey, however. Butcher scored again on the power play at 6:53 of the second from Hall and Zajac while New York’s Ryan Sproul was off for high sticking. Hall skated down the left wing and dropped for Butcher at the near point. He unleashed one, beating Lundqvist again to make it 4-1 Devils. This was Butcher’s first career NHL multi-point game and pushed him past Slava Fetisov for most points by a Devils’ defenseman in their rookie season with 44.

A scary moment while the Devils were killing off a penalty midway through the second period. A Pavel Buchnevich one-time shot hit Kinkaid square in the mask and knocked it off. He would get his backup mask and continue on.

At the 15:45 mark of the second, Taylor Hall was hauled down on a breakaway by Rangers d-man Brady Skjei. The referee’s arm went up and fans did not know if it was a tripping minor or a penalty shot. It was a penalty shot to be taken by Hall. He skated in and went high over Lundqvist’s glove, converting and making it 5-1 Devils. With that goal, Hall moved past Anze Kopitar of the Kings and into a top six spot in the NHL scoring race. He would hear chants of “M-V-P” from then until he came out for his TV interview after being named the game’s first star.

Midway through the third, Brian Boyle and Vesey would drop the gloves but would not fight. Linesman Tony Sericolo jumped in and the two were only assessed matching roughing minors instead.

New York would score one more at 14:26 of the third when Kevin Hayes took a giveaway in front of the Devils net and scored unassisted to make it 5-2. But the Devils had this one in hand with a 5-2 victory.

Statistically, John Moore led the Devils in ice time with 21:23 (including 1:17 on the power play and 52 seconds on the PK) just edging out Sami Vatanen, who had 21:06 of TOI. On a night when every Devil registered a shot on goal except for Andy Greene, Hall and Lovejoy tied for the lead with five each. Stefan Noesen and Moore both had two hits to lead in that category, Lovejoy had two blocked shots and Zajac had three takeaways to lead there.

Team-wise, the Devils won 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, outshot New York an impressive 44-24. They were out hit 23-8 and the Rangers had more blocks, 12 to 9.

Next up, the Devils take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at home. Again, the magic number is two – either two points gained by the Devils or lost by the Panthers will get them in. Florida also plays on Thursday, at home agaisnt the Bruins. Hopefully everything will shake down in the Devils favor and we can begin to talk about potential first round matchups.

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Hell Freezes Over: Devils Acquire Grabner From Rangers

It took 35 years, but the New York Rangers finally made a deal with the Devils. The Devils tonight acquired forward Michael Grabner from New York in exchange for a second round pick in the 2018 Draft and the rights to Yegor Rykov, a defenseman (picked in the fifth round, 132nd overall, in the 2016 Draft) currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

According to the Devils’ press release, GM Ray Shero made the announcement that the 30-year-old Grabner had been secured. He has 25 goals and 31 points in 59 games this season with his goal output leading the Rangers and his points ranking fourth. He is playing in his ninth NHL season (played with Vancouver, the Islanders, Toronto and the Rangers – he now makes the metropolitan area trifecta having played for the Isles, Rangers and Devils). The 6-foot, 1-inch, 190 pound native of Villach, Austria was Vancouver’s first pick (14th overall) in the 2006 Draft.

He has 156 goals and a total of 244 points in 532 NHL career games. He also has 92 penalty minutes and is in the final season of a two-year contract according to the press release. He will make $1.65 million this season.

He has represented Austria internationally, according to the press release, at the 2005 World Junior Championship, 2012 World Championship and the 2014 Olympics. Grabner played junior hockey with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League “and played in the 2006 CHL Top Prospects Game.”

Although he is likely a rental for the playoff push at this rate and Shero has said in the past that he would gladly make deals with the Rangers if it improved the team, this is still a little bit jarring. It is great to have a player like Grabner on board as he will add scoring on a team that has not been getting much of it consistently outside of Taylor Hall.

The big question is Rykov. He is a good prospect, but if he never comes over from Russia, the Devils will not have lost much. If he does, then….

Either way, the Devils have some help for the playoff push and history has certainly been made. I do not think that this will become a habit, but I do think that both teams will benefit from it – especially if the Devils make the postseason.

Devils Scratch and Claw to Victory Over Rangers

There was a playoff-like atmosphere at Prudential Center tonight. Sure the building is always amped up when the Devils and Rangers get it on, but it has been a long time since this much has been at stake in the Hudson River Rivalry.

With only two points separating the two teams in the Metropolitan Division standings, a lot was on the line and the fans – and players – knew it. In addition to the tight Metro Division standings, this was the first time in more than four years that both teams have been in a playoff position this late in the season and that just added to the tension in the building. But in the end, the Devils prevailed 4-3 in a shootout to defeat New York and come away with the full two points in a real hard fought victory.

In roster news, the Devils traded off one Swede for another in terms of injuries. They got Marcus Johansson back from injured reserve, and he would play tonight. However, Jesper Bratt would not. He was injured blocking a shot against the Ducks and will be day-to-day. Kyle Palmieri, who returned a few nights ago, would play on the top line with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. Jimmy Hayes, Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout were the Devils’ healthy scratches for the night.

In one other note, Brian Gibbons was playing in his 100th NHL game tonight.

The goaltending matchup was a marquee one and it did not disappoint. Henrik Lundqvist went for New York and made 45 saves on a whopping 48 Devils shots. He also made two saves in the shootout. He really kept the Rangers in a game that they had no business being in at times. Not to be outdone, but on a smaller scale, Cory Schneider went for the Devils. He stopped 25 of 28 shots and stopped three shots in the shootout. This was a real goalie duel and a game that both goalies can be proud of. As mentioned, Lundqvist stood out for the Rangers, standing on his head for them and keeping the Devils at bay.

The Devils seemed to be behind the eight ball all night long, but actually notched the first goal of the contest. John Moore, who was playing in his 400th NHL game tonight against a former team of his, took a pass from Nico Hischier, who had gathered the puck from Hall taking a hit along the half wall. Moore skated into the slot and shot high over Lundqvist’s glove hand to give the Devils the 1-0 lead at just the 7:22 mark of the first period. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist on the goal.

But the Rangers would respond quickly. Jimmy Vesey scored from Paul Carey and David Desharnais at 9:55 off a mad scramble in front of Cory to tie things up at one. New York would grab the lead before the period was out, with Nick Holden scoring at 11:59 from Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. His goal came on a rebound and gave the Rangers the 2-1 lead going into the second period.

But a funny thing all night was that the Devils would just not go away. After Will Butcher broke up a 2-on-1 early in the second and Cory made a nice stop midway through the period on a New Jersey giveaway in front of his net, a pivotal moment in the game occurred. Nico Hischier had seemingly had scored to tie things up. The goal was immediately waved off on the ice due to Palmieri being called for cross-checking Holden in front of the Devils’ net. The Devils seemed to be in a hole for the first time all night, but Blake Coleman would see that things would move in their direction.

He intercepted a soft pass by Kevin Shattenkirk and skated up ice, shooting from the far faceoff dot. He beat Lundqvist gloveside to tie things up at two. It was Coleman’s first career shorthanded goal and the team’s sixth shorty of the season so far. That goal came at 16:24 of the second period and Steven Santini had the lone assist on it.

There was drama before the period ended too. First, Michael Grabner took a slashing call on Palmieri that can only be described as a good penalty. Palmieri was wide open in front of an empty net and would have scored to give New Jersey the lead had Grabner not taken the infraction. That came at 17:38 of the second and the Devils seemed to be in business. However, at the 18:33 mark, Hall took a holding penalty against Mika Zibanejad to not only event things up, but to give the Rangers a short power play going into the third period. They would not score on the fresh ice and in fact, went 0-for-3 on the night with the man advantage with no shots on goal. The Devils ended the night 1-for-4 with six shots on goal. The power play was merely a microcosm of the night for these two teams.

Despite the shot disparity, however, the Rangers would again take the lead early in the third period when Kevin Hayes, Jimmy’s brother, scored at 1:48 from Brendan Smith and Mats Zuccarello to make it 3-2. The Devils’ collective backs were to the wall again.

This time, the hero was Brian Boyle. On the power play after Kreider had gone off for elbowing, Boyle stationed himself in the slot and took a pass from Hall out of the far corner. Boyle spun around and fired a backhander that beat Lundqvist just over the glove, tying things up at three. The goal came at 11:54 of the third and Palmieri had the secondary assist, giving him two points on the night.

And that was it for the scoring. Once regulation ended and the game was headed for overtime, the fans of both teams were on pins and needles. The OT saw lots of back-and-forth action until the 3:52 mark when Brady Skjei broke in on Schneider and Hall was called for a hooking penalty that, again, he almost had to take or give up a clear scoring chance. The remainder of OT would be played 4-on-3 and all seemed lost for the Devils faithful.

But New Jersey killed it off and we were now headed to a shootout. Hall shot first for the Devils and Lundqvist made the save. Schneider stopped Zuccarello and then Palmieri scored for the Devils. A stop would win it for the Devils, but Zibanejad found the back of the net behind Cory to even things up. The next round saw Drew Stafford stopped by Lundqvist and Vesey stopped by Cory. Boyle was up and connected on what would be the game winner. The game was on Shattenkirk’s stick and Cory stopped him with a right pad save to end it. The Devils had pulled out the two points against all odds.

In the end, Palmieri was named the game’s third star while Coleman was the second and Boyle, the former Ranger-turned-Devil the game’s number one star. Stats-wise, Sami Vatanen led all Devils’ skaters with 24:11 total ice time. He also tied in the shots on goal lead with six along with Palmieri. Hall, Stafford, Stefan Noesen, and Santini all had two hits apiece to tie for the lead in that category. As for blocks, Andy Greene and Santini each had four to lead the Devils. The Devils won 43-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

The story of the game, however, was New Jersey outshooting the Blueshirts by twenty shots. A really amazing statistic and showed that the Devils earned the victory as they were relentless on the puck all night, clogging up passing lanes and gobbling up the puck.

The Devils now take the lead in the season series with the Rangers, having split the two at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. They have one more meeting later on in the year at the Prudential Center that will hopefully be even more important.

Next up for the Devils, Saturday night, they faceoff with the Chicago Blackhawks at The Rock. It may not be the same intense rivalry atmosphere as tonight, but it will be an important game against a Western Conference foe who has been playing better of late and has the chance to be a statement game for the Devils, as they can sweep the season series from Chicago.

Devils Fall in Regulation for Second Straight Game

With the Devils’ rough loss to Columbus last night, they were looking to right the ship against their Hudson River rivals as they traveled to the Garden on a snowy night in the New Jersey/New York area. Usually, a rivalry game would cure exactly what ails a team, but there are two sides to a rivalry. The Rangers were also coming off of a loss last night (to the Washington Capitals) and were also looking to right their ship. For Devils fans, things would not go quite as planned. The Rangers came away with the 5-2 win on a Saturday night in New York City.

The uphill battle would be there for the Devils to begin with. The Rangers have won nine of their last ten on Garden ice. And speaking of the Garden’s ice, it was not very good tonight, as the puck was bouncing everywhere. Apparently, according to Ken Daneyko, there was a college basketball game earlier this afternoon and that negatively affected the ice. But both teams have to play on the surface, no matter how bad it is, so that is not an excuse for New Jersey.

One milestone that I neglected to mention from last night’s game, as Taylor Hall played in his 100th game as a New Jersey Devil last evening versus the Blue Jackets. Tonight was his 101st. Also, with last night’s loss and the Capitals’ win over the Rangers, both Columbus and Washington leapfrogged the Devils, moving them into third place in the Metropolitan Division coming into tonight’s game. They remained there after tonight’s loss since Washington did not play, the Penguins and Islanders both lost and only the Jackets won (but they were already in first place so it really did not matter, they just gained a point). The Rangers, however, continue to climb back into the race after a rough start to their season with this win.

Roster-wise, Drew Stafford was out in favor of Pavel Zacha (who ended up playing a decent game after sitting for a few games – coach John Hynes wanted to see more consistency in his competitiveness) and Dalton Prout and Steven Santini sat on defense. Ben Lovejoy slotted back in on defense.

Goaltending saw the Devils go to Keith Kinkaid for the second half of a back-to-back. He made 34 saves on 39 Ranger shots. New York went right back to Henrik Lundqvist in the second half of their back-to-back. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he was starting simply because it was a “big game.” He made 26 saves on 28 Devils shots.

And Lundqvist would get some support too. The Rangers broke the seal on the game just 6:14 into the game when Jimmy Vesey scored from Paul Carey and Boo Nieves to make it 1-0. Kinkaid would follow up that goal with a nice save on Rick Nash on a breakaway.

The second period began with a bit of a scare when Andy Greene was hit in the ear with a puck. He was okay and would not miss a shift, however. There was also an incident that saw Miles Wood bump Lundqvist on a breakaway only for Kevin Shattenkirk to take exception. The two got into a shoving and wrestling match and Wood would eventually go off with a double minor for roughing while Shattenkirk got just two minutes (also for roughing). The Rangers would not score on that power play and ended up 0-for-3 on the night – the same as the Devils. New York had five power play shots while New Jersey had four.

The Devils had two nice chances in the middle of the second period, first when a Brian Gibbons shot beat Lundqvist and trickled slowly towards the goal line, seemingly on its way to tying things. However, Mats Zuccarello was “johnny on the spot” for the Rangers and cleared the puck. Next, Blake Coleman would nick the post and send the puck just wide, denying the Devils another chance at tying things at one. Immediately following that chance, however, the Rangers’ Jesper Fast capitalized and made it 2-0 at 9:42 when he scored from Nash.

It would take until the 13:45 mark of the second, but the Devils would finally get on the board and cut the New York lead in half when Damon Severson scored his fourth of the year to make it 2-1. It came when Brian Boyle dug the puck out of near corner. It squibbed out to Coleman, who gave to Stefan Noesen. Noesen went back to the far point to Severson, who let loose a shot that scorched by Lundqvist to put the Devils on the board.

Unfortunately for the Devils, things would begin to unravel from there and it began with a puck that clanged off of the post. The Rangers were killing off a delay of game penalty when Marcus Johansson hit the post in the New York end. Seconds later, just as the Devils power play had ended, Zuccarello stole the puck in the New Jersey zone from Severson, skated right in and roofed it by Kinkaid to make it 3-1 Rangers. That goal was unassisted at 16:03 of the second.

Zuccarello would strike again for his second of the game just 6:21 into the third period. He scored from JT Miller and Ryan McDonagh to make it 4-1.

The Devils would again answer back when Miles Wood scored 13 seconds after Zuccarello’s second goal to make it 4-2. That one came when the Rangers tried to wind the puck out of their zone and Zacha knocked it down. Will Butcher picked up the loose puck and gave back to Zacha at the top of the far faceoff circle. He threaded the needle to Wood, who was standing at the far side of Lundqvist’s goal cage. He slammed it home to cut the Ranger lead in half.

But a Devils comeback was not to be. At the 11:59 mark, Kevin Hayes scored from Nash and Fast to make it 5-2 and send the Rangers fans home happy. Time ticked down and the Devils were dealt their first back-to-back regulation losses of the season and their third regulation loss in four games.

Time on ice was led by Severson, who had 21:29; shots on goal was a five way tie between Nico Hischier, Zacha, Gibbons, Wood and Butcher, who each had three; and hits were led by Coleman with four. The Devils dominated in the faceoff circle for a change, winning 62-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Next up, the Devils return home to Prudential Center on Tuesday to take on the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings. This will be another test against another good team to see if the Devils can get off of their slide. Due to prior obligations, I will be a little bit late getting this game up, as I have to watch a recording of it. Hopefully for Devils fans, however, this game will yield a W and get them two points back into the Metropolitan race.

Kinkaid Solid as Devils Down Rangers

Keith Kinkaid is a native of Long Island. He grew up a fan of the Islanders and Devils’ legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur. In his first appearance against the Rangers (an April 2015 outing in relief of Cory Schneider) he lost and, to paraphrase him, said “I hate that team.” He knows what the Hudson River Rivalry is all about and had one of the best games of his career in his first ever start against the New Yorkers tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Devils hung on to win, 3-2.

The Rangers, like the Devils, were coming off of a loss in the backend of a back-to-back. They lost on Friday to the Columbus Blue Jackets and were starting backup Ondrej Pavelec in goal. It was the first time since 2005 that the Devils and Rangers started their backups against each other (it was Scott Clemmensen for the Devils versus Kevin Weekes for the Rangers back then).

The Devils made some changes to their lineup, slotting in Ben Lovejoy on defense in favor of Mirco Mueller and Dalton Prout and Drew Stafford returning for the first time since he left the season opener with a lower body injury. Stefan Noesen was scratched.

The Rangers came out flying, dominating play in the first period, forcing Kinkaid to stand on his head for New Jersey.

It seemed to continue into the second period as Kinkaid made a huge save on Kevin Hayes, coming across with his left arm, stretching it out to stop Hayes from stuffing the puck in on the side of the net.

However, almost immediately after that save, Rick Nash scored his first of the season from David Desharnais at 5:31 of the second period.

But then the Devils found their game and the ice began to tilt in the other direction. It began at 10:21 of the second when Adam Henrique took a pass out of the corner from Brian Gibbons at the hashmarks just outside the slot of the far faceoff circle. Miles Wood was providing a screen and Henrique fired the shot, beating Pavelec to tie the game at one.

The Devils would grab the 2-1 lead at 16:41 of the second frame when Will Butcher wound the puck around the boards to Lovejoy, who fired a puck on net and had it tipped in front by Wood. Miles Wood got credit for the goal and the Devils, by now, had taken complete control of the game. After having been outshot in the first period, the Devils ended up outshooting New York 12-3 in the second period.

In the third period, the Devils would pad their lead just one minute into the final stanza when Nico Hischier passed east-west through the neutral zone to Butcher, who found a seam and got the puck to Drew Stafford. Stafford went to his backhand and beat Pavelec to make the score 3-1. That goal, Stafford’s first as a Devil, was a power play goal (actually a 4-on-3 goal) set up when Chris Kreider of the Rangers and Kyle Palmieri took coincidental minors for roughing and slashing, respectively, at the end of the second period. Then, just 40 seconds into the third period, the Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo was called for cross checking Hischier, putting the Devils on the man advantage. The Devils would finish the night 1-for-5 on the power play and managed to stay out of the sin bin enough to keep the Rangers 0-for-3.

That assist for Will Butcher also made him the first New Jersey Devil to have eight assists in his first five games. He has been all that he was advertised as and a truly great pickup for the Devils. He was named the second star of the game by the media.

WIth the score still 3-1, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault would pull Pavelec with 3:04 remaining in the game. The Devils were unable to ice the game and Kevin Shattenkirk placed almost a perfect shot by Kinkaid to narrow the Devils’ lead to 3-2 (assist to JT Miller), but the Devils would hang on to defeat New York by the same 3-2 score.

Pavelec made 16 saves on 19 Devils shots on the night while Kinkaid was amazing, particuarly in the first and third periods, when the Devils were outshot (14-3 in the first and 14-4 in the third). He made 29 saves on those 31 shots and was named the game’s first star.

So the Devils improve to four wins versus one loss on the year and head home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at The Rock. That game airs nationally on NBCSN (the Devils one appearance on the channel this season) and should be a good one. It will be another test for the Devils, as the Bolts are expected to challenge Pittsburgh and Washington in the Eastern Conference come playoff time with a healthy Steven Stamkos. We will see if the Devils are up to the challenge this Tuesday.

Devils Knock Off Rangers in Preseason Matchup

The Devils came into their home preseason meeting with the New York Rangers after a 4-1 victory up in Montreal on Thursday. While the preseason has little meeting in the grand scheme of things, it is always nice to beat the Rangers and get a little taste of the Hudson River rivalry in September. And that is exactly what the Devils did tonight, coming away with a narrow 2-1 win over New York.

This game was televised on MSG+2 with the Devils feed, featuring Ken Daneyko, Steve Cangialosi, Dave Maloney (giving Rangers analysis) and, making his MSG television debut, Bryce Salvador. Salvador worked between the benches and up in the studio with Deb Placey during the intermissions. He did a mostly good job, but did seem to be a little bit nervous. That is obviously to be expected and will pass as he gets more and more comfortable in front of the camera.

Dave Maloney made a point that Kevin Shattenkirk (who was in the lineup for New York tonight) was nearly a Devil, as General Manager Ray Shero did make a great pitch to him in trying to land him. But in the end, Shattenkirk’s loyalty to the Rangers (as a fan growing up) won out and he obviously went there.

One other player in the Rangers lineup tonight was Glen Rock, New Jersey native Bandon Crawley, a defenseman who would make his mark on the game in front of his friends and family who were in attendance.

Goaltending for the night saw Cory Schneider go for the Devils. He played all sixty minutes and made 17 saves on 18 shots faced. Mackenzie Blackwood was backing him up. Cory will get one more full game this preseason as mentioned by the announcers.

For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist started and made 23 saves on 24 shots in forty minutes of ice time. Brandon Halverson played the final period, making eight saves on nine shots against.

The first period saw no goals, but did see a nice save from Schneider as well as some physicality.

It began when Miles Wood took a high hit to the head from Ranger Andrew Desjardins and John Moore came to his defense. Moore would go off at 8:06 for roughing while Desjardins would get a match penalty, ending his night early. The second period would also see some roughing calls agaisnt the Rangers’ Brendan Smith (who would draw an extra elbowing minor on that play) and the Devils’ Jimmy Hayes, who came to John Quenneville’s defense after Smith elbowed him.

With that much physical play going on, it is no wonder that the first two goals of the game came on the power play.

After the Desjardin match penalty, the Devils had a man advantage and Joseph Blandisi would convert. At the 8:41 mark of the second, Moore and Quenneville played catch with the puck. Quenneville passed across to Adam Henrique along the far half wall. He fired a shot and Blandisi grabbed the rebound, putting it under Lundqvist to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

The Rangers would also notch the game tying goal on the power play. Drew Stafford would go off for tripping at 1:05 of the third period and none other than New Jersey native Brandon Crawley potted one from Lias Andersson and Nick Holden to tie the game up at one. That goal came at 2:55.

Stafford would redeem himself with the game winner at 14:24 of the third period. That one came when Pavel Zacha skated the puck out of the Devils zone and gave it to Jesper Bratt (who much like Blandisi, has been having a great camp). Bratt found the trailing Stafford, who absolutely sniped one over the stick of Halverson, the Rangers goalie.

That one would stand up and the Devils came away with the 2-1 win on home ice.

It was another good night for New Jersey, as they outshot the Rangers, 18 to 33, won more faceoffs (55-percent to 45-percent) and had more blocks, 11-5. THey were, however, outhit (26 to 19) in what was, again, a very physical game and had more giveways (7-5). The Rangers went 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils were 1-for-7.

Again, it was a good win for the Devils and should build a young team’s confidence as this good preseason record advances. Plus, it is always nice to beat the Rangers and was a treat for the fans.

So, with their home preseason games done, the Devils next play Monday in a split-squad pair. One half of the team will be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn playing the Islanders (a game that will be televised on MSG+) the other half will be in Summerside, Prince Edward Island (that game will be shown on the NHL Network here in the States pending any blackout restrictions) taking on the Ottawa Senators in the Canadian Kraft Hockeyville game. So, while half of the Devils will be on Long Island, the other half will be on Prince Edward Island and we will have more Devils hockey than we will know what to do with on Monday!

We should have recaps of both games here as the Devils continue their preseason slate.

Devils Fall in OT to Rangers in Second Preseason Game

The Devils ventured across the Hudson River to Madison Square Garden to take on the rival Rangers in the team’s second preseason game of the year. It was a good matchup, marred by a choppy flow that came from the officials calling everything and anything and in the end, the Rangers came away with the 4-3 overtime victory.

Kevin Shattenkirk was making his Rangers debut tonight with the highly hyped free agent suiting up for the Blueshirts in the first time at MSG. The Devils were not dressing Nico Hischier or Will Butcher. New signee Drew Stafford and captain Andy Greene slotted in instead.

The goaltending matchup saw Cory Schneider make his first preseason start. He made 14 saves on 17 shots in 30:16 of ice time. He looked good, making two post-to-post stops in close that stood out. Opposing him for the first half of the game was the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who made 11 saves on 13 shots in 30:09 of time on ice. Their relief for the second half of the game saw Mackenzie Blackwood come in for New Jersey, going 11-for-12 in 34:35 while New York put out Alexandar Georgiev who was 15-for-16 in 34:08.

The major story from this game were the new rule changes and how they were being called. Faceoff infractions were the main thing here. Two faceoff infractions on one faceoff now results in a delay of game penalty, and the linesmen are being more strict with what they are calling as infractions. For instance, if a player’s skate crosses over the line that runs in front of the faceoff dot in the circles, an infraction can be called. If a player on the outside breaks into the circle too soon, an infraction can be called.

In the end, the Devils were 1-for-7 on the power play while the Rangers finished 2-for-9, including the game winner in OT with the man advantage. There were a few 5-on-3’s for both teams due to the nature of the officials calling everything they felt needed to be called.

The Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, whose brother, Jimmy, was in the Devils’ lineup tonight on a professional tryout (PTO), broke the seal on this one, scoring at 15:54 of the first period on the power play to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead. New York would take that lead into the first intermission. He got assists from Jimmy Vesey and Shattenkirk.

The Devils, however, would not take long to get that back. Just 4:11 into the second period, Miles Wood pushed the puck up to Stafford, who stopped along the far half wall in the Rangers zone, spun around and centered a pass to Pavel Zacha. The puck fluttered over to him and Zacha batted it out of the air and behind Lundqvist to tie the game at one.

But the Rangers would strike right back. Just 21 seconds after Zacha’s goal, Chris Kreider scored from Mats Zuccarello to put New York back in front, 2-1.

The back-and-forth nature of this game was evident when the Devils re-tied it at two at the 7:15 mark of the second. Stafford took the puck from Jimmy Hayes off the cycle on the power play. He left the puck for Brian Gibbons on a nice drop pass and Gibbons beat Lundqvist glove side to make it 2-2.

But once again, the Rangers had the answer with David Desharnais scoring from Shattenkirk and Kreider at 10:16 of the second to give the Rangers the 3-2 lead going into the second intermission.

The second period also featured a good scrap between the Devils’ Nick Lappin and Matt Puempel of the Rangers at the 13:00 mark.

The new faceoff infraction rules benefitted the Devils on the goal that would tie things up for them in the third period. After the Adam Henrique got kicked out of the faceoff circle, Jimmy Hayes came in to take the faceoff deep in the Rangers’ zone at the 3:20 mark of the third. Hayes won the faceoff back to Damon Severson, who ripped a shot as Hayes went towards the net. He tipped it past goaltender Georgiev to tie things up at three.

And that was it. The game went to the OT period tied at three. The Devils would get a good chance as Miles Wood was hauled down in the neutral zone and did not know that Pavel Zacha was coming in for the loose puck. He used his hand to try to get the puck to Zacha and was called for a hand pass. Zacha would have had a clear breakaway. Michael McLeod also made a nice kick save on a scramble in front of his own net when New York had a wide open net to shoot at.

Instead, it was Filip Chytil who scored with four seconds left in OT from Zuccarello and Shattenkirk on the power play to give the Rangers the 4-3 win.

Next up, the Devils play tomorrow night at Montreal. I do not think this one will be televised down here, but I will try to get something up if I can.

Devils Release Ticket Package with Historical Flair

The Devils announced today that they will be unveiling the five game “Patty Pack” ticket package.

Usually I do not write about ticketing for the Devils other than to mention when tickets go sale or something. But this one caught my eye because of the historical slant it has to it: all of the five games included in the package have some significance to Patrik Elias’ career in some way.

The first game included is on Saturday, December 23, 2017 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrik Elias famously became the all-time leader in points against the Hawks back on March 17, 2009. On that night, he recorded an assist on Brian Gionta’s goal at 16:56 of the second period to surpass John MacLean as the franchise’s all-time leader with 702. That was also the night that Martin Brodeur became the NHL’s all-time wins leader for goaltenders as the Devils came away with the 3-2 win.

Game number two on the slate is Saturday, January 13, 2018 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Now, nobody is happier to see Elias retire more than Flyer fans. He was a true Flyers killer throughout his career. But nothing stands out like game seven of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final. The Devils had battled back from being down three games to one to force a seventh game and Elias has both of the Devils two goals as a 2-1 victory ended the Flyers’ higher hopes and paved the way for the Devils to win Stanley Cup number two. He also played a pretty big role in securing that championship as well.

Game three of five is against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, February 11, 2018. The Bruins are significant here because Patty scored his first of 408 career goals against them back on December 12, 1996. Elias scored at 16:25 of the second period with assists to Jay Pandolfo and Bobby Holik. The Devils would end up winning 7-4 that night in Boston and Elias’ career was on it’s way.

The next game takes place on Saturday, February 24, 2018 against the New York Islanders and is the night of the jersey retirement ceremony. The Islanders are, of course, the team that the Devils were facing on the night of “Patty’s Last Lap,” when Elias took warmups with the team for the final time. Plus, they are a divisional rival that Patty faced many times over the years, although it has been almost thirty years since the two teams last faced off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so he never got to victimize them the way he did Philly.

The final game in the package takes place on Tuesday, April 3 versus the New York Rangers and is kind of a no-brainer. The two teams are bitter rivals and, according to Brian Born of the Devils’ official website, Patrik Elias played his absolute best against the cross-river rivals. Born states that Patty had 23 goals, 50 assists for 70 points in 84 games played against New York. That is good for .869 points per game against the Rangers. If you thought Patrik Elias got up for games against the Flyers, he must have loved seeing the Rangers lined up in front of him.

This is a great idea for a promotional package and a great way to get fans of Patrik Elias out to witness some Devils hockey. This season might be tough in terms of on-ice performance for the young Devils, as they learn their way through the NHL. But we can always look to the past to hold us over until the team is competitive again.

If you are interested, more info is available here.