Devils Shutout by Rangers, 4-0

Well, it had the makings of a good one. Saturday matinee on Thanksgiving weekend, your arch rivals in the building. But for Devils fans, this was one of those games that makes you want to hide under a rock somewhere. The Devils special teams imploded and the Rangers won 4-0 at Prudential Center this afternoon.

New Jersey had EIGHT power play opportunities and could not score on one of them. The Rangers took 34 minutes in penalties this afternoon and the Devils mustered seven shots with the man advantage, but to no avail.

By contrast, New York had just two power play chances, scored on one of them and fired four shots on Mackenzie Blackwood. They also had four shorthanded goals… and scored on two of them.

The Devils had some changes to their lineup, as Jack Hughes would not be facing off with Kaapo Kakko today. He got hit in the outside of the ankle blocking a shot during the Montreal game on Thursday and is now day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Kevin Rooney, however, was just activated off of injured reserve and was back in the lineup today. To make room for him on the roster, Brett Seney was sent down to AHL Binghamton. John Hayden and Mirco Mueller were the healthy scratches for the Devils.

The Devils were in their heritage white, red and green jerseys today, forcing the Rangers to wear their blues away from Madison Square Garden.

Despite how the game turned out, it was the Devils who actually got the first scoring chance when Travis Zajac hit the far post from the slot early in the first period.

But from there, things began to really fall apart. It began when Pavel Zacha took a holding penalty at the 10:57 mark of the first. On the power play, at 12:45, Kakko threaded the needle from the half wall, passing to Adam Fox at the side of the Devils’ net. He jammed it home to make it 1-0 Rangers. Jacob Trouba had the secondary assist on the goal.

Although there was no scoring in the second period, the Devils were set up for a nice spot in the third when Libor Hajek clipped Wayne Simmonds in the face with his stick at 19:27 of the second. It drew blood, the officials reviewed to make sure and a double minor penalty was called on Hajek. The Devils would have four minutes of power play time, with the majority of it coming in the early part of the third period.

However, things did not turn out as the Devils drew it up. It began with a turnover in the neutral zone that led to Brendan Lemieux and Mika Zibanejad entering the Devils’ zone on a 2-on-1. Lemieux passed and Zibanejad finished and the Rangers had their first of two shorties on the day. That also made it 2-0 New York.

Later in the third, at the 5:21 mark, another break for the Devils. Chris Kreider hit Matt Tennyson while Tennyson’s back was to Kreider. Rooney took exception to this and fought Kreider. In the end, Rooney received five minutes for fighting while Kreider got five for fighting plus two for boarding plus a game misconduct. The Devils would end up with a five-minute power play off of this, but once again the Rangers’ struck.

Once again, it was an odd man rush as Jesper Fast broke in on a 3-on-1. It was finished by Fast off a pass by Zibanejad and the Rangers had another shorthanded goal to make it 3-0. This goal came at 5:52 and Trouba had the other assist. It was 3-0 and the Rangers had not even notched an even strength goal.

A little later in the third, Zajac had a chance, being stopped on a partial breakaway only for the rebound to be put in by Miles Wood. But it was just one of those days. The puck crossed the goal line after the whistle had already been blown. Replay review by the referees confirmed this and the Devils did not get on the board.

The Devils would pull Blackwood with about three minutes to go in the game and, almost immediately, Brady Skjei scored into the empty net unassisted to give us our final of 4-0.

It was a rough afternoon for the Devils. Blackwood stopped 19 of 22 Ranger shots fired at him for a .864 save percentage while Alexander Georgiev stopped all 33 Devils shots he saw for the shutout.

The Devils won only 43-percent of the game’s faceoffs while outhitting the Rangers 32-17. The New Yorkers had 11 blocked shots to the Devils’ two and the Devils had 13 giveaways to the Rangers’ five.

Individually, time on ice was led by Sami Vatanen who had 23:29 (7:36 on the power play and 1:05 killing penalties). Nico Hischier led the forwards with 21:16 total ice (8:58 on the power play, 1:44 on the PK). Shots were led by Taylor Hall and Jesper Boqvist, who both had four. Wayne Simmonds had a very busy day, as in addition to drawing the high-sticking double minor from Hajek, he also led the team in hits with five. Blocks were led by Zajac and Vatanen, who each had one and takeaways were led by Hall and Nikita Gusev who had two apiece.

Next up, on Monday night, the Devils had up to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Puck drop for that game is at 7 PM and we hope to see you here. Surely things can’t get any worse, can they?

Devils Earn First Win of Season, Defeat Rangers 5-2

There is life in the Devils afterall! After being the last winless team in the NHL for the 2019-20 season, they finally earned two points after defeating the rival New York Rangers 5-2 tonight at Prudential Center.

Things did not come without some changes. Tom Fitzgerald, the Devils’ Assistant General Manager, was called into assistant coaching service at the request of head coach John Hynes. According to Chris Westcott of the Devils’ official website, he was brought in to serve as “an extra set of eyes for the coaching staff” and will stay in this role “for the foreseeable future.”

This came with the news that Nico Hischier has not been skating with the team due to the injury he suffered against Florida this past Monday. Andy Greene, according to the same tweet sent out by the Devils on Nico, did skate yesterday. He remains on injured reserve.

Slotting in to the lineup tonight were Kevin Rooney and John Hayden up front. Connor Carrick and Jesper Boqvist were the healthy scratches joining Nico.

Things seemed like business as usual for the Devils when New York’s Tony DeAngelo scored 6:02 into the game. The Rangers got the puck on net from the point and were just able to swarm in on Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. The Devils had some defensive coverage issues here and there were just too many white jerseys around their net. DeAngelo put the puck in to make it 1-0 Rangers.

But the Devils would strike to tie things up before the period was through. Blake Coleman took an Adam Fox turnover in the neutral zone and skated in all alone on Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. He fired a shot that funneled through Georgiev’s equipment and in to tie it up at one. Travis Zajac and Matt Tennyson had the assists on the goal that came at 12:58 of the first period.

The second period saw a couple of firsts of the season for the Devils. First, at 2:13, the Rangers’ Brady Skjei took an interference penalty to put the Devils on the power play. New Jersey had yet to score on the man advantage this season, but Kyle Palmieri would put an end to that. Grabbing a loose puck off a Rangers’ zone faceoff, Palmieri skated around a New York defender and went top shelf over Georgiev to make it 2-1. The goal came just five seconds into the power play at 2:18 of the second period and was unassisted.

About midway through the second, Taylor Hall laid a huge hit on Fox that took him out of the game and gave Hall a roughing penalty. The Rangers ended the game 0-for-6 on the power play with seven shots. The Devils were 1-for-7 with 13 shots plus two shorthanded shots (including a Pavel Zacha breakaway in the latter part of the second period that was stopped by Georgiev).

Miles Wood made it 3-1 Devils before the end of the second at 12:25. This goal featured the first NHL point of one Jack Hughes. Matt Tennyson – who ended the night with a pair of assists for two points on the night – fired a puck from the point that was redirected in the slot by Hughes. His redirection then went in the goal off of Wood’s butt, giving Hughes the primary assist on the goal. Congratulations to Jack Hughes on his first NHL point and here’s to many more! Hughes was playing on the top line with Hall and Palmieri primarily.

The problem for the Devils this season so far has not been getting a lead, it has been keeping the lead. This situation reared its ugly head again when Jesper Fast hammered home a puck going through Blackwood’s crease just 2:22 into the third period to cut the Devils lead to 3-2.

The Devils seemingly made it 4-2 at 12:52 of the third when Hall, who was playing a really feisty game, tapped Georgiev’s glove as he covered the puck, knocking it into the net. Unfortunately for Hall, the whistle had already blown and the call on the ice was no goal due to goalie interference. The Devils challenged the call and it stood, meaning that they took a penalty on top of it.

But tonight, the Devils would not be denied victory. Nikita Gusev grabbed an errant Artemi Panarin pass in the Rangers’ zone and skated in all alone on Georgiev, putting the puck five-hole to double the Devils’ lead to 4-2.

With about three and a half minutes to go in the game, Wayne Simmonds took a hooking penalty to put the Rangers on the power play. They then immediately pulled Georgiev to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. The Devils were given an open gallery to shoot on the empty net due to the lack of icing. But it would be after the penalty was killed off that PK Subban scored into the empty net at 19:12 of the third to give the Devils a 5-2 lead. The goal was unassisted and was PK’s first as a Devil, so congrats to him too.

The Devils would finish the game on the power play with DeAngelo going off for a slashing penalty at 19:52. The 5-2 lead held up and the Devils had their first win of 2019-20.

In goal, Blackwood (who was named the game’s first star with Hughes the second and Tennyson the third) stopped 29 of the 31 Ranger shots he saw for a .935 save percentage. Georgiev turned aside 33 of the 37 shots the Devils peppered him with for an .892 save percentage.

The Devils won only 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but registered more hits than New York at 17 to 11. The Rangers had nine blocked shots to the Devils’ six and less giveaways at seven to the Devils’ eight.

Individually, Subban led in shots on goal with a whopping nine while Simmonds, Coleman and Palmieri each had three hits to lead in that category. Blocks were spread out over Rooney, Simmonds, Coleman, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher and Sami Vatanen who each had one apiece. Takeaways were led by Rooney, Zajac and Hughes with two each.

Next up, the Devils will continue their homestand as they take on the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday at 1 PM at the Rock. I will be attending this game live, so the recap will be up a little later than usual. Until then, have a great weekend and let’s go Devils!