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’s Streak Ends as Devils Lose Tough One to Jets

They say that all good things must come to an end. That was never more true than tonight as, for the first time since December 30, 2017, Taylor Hall failed to register a point in a game. The Devils fell to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 at Prudential Center. The streak ends at 26 games.

It was a rough loss for New Jersey, as the Devils played the much better game but just had trouble solving Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets are a big, “heavy” team that plays very physical, one of the best in the Western Conference where that style of play is more prevalent. That was definitely in evidence tonight, as the bodies were flying, including Travis Zajac taking a big hit and leaving the game in the second period with an apparent injury.

Speaking of injury, Pavel Zacha was out of the lineup tonight, as he is day-to-day with an upper body injury suffered in the Montreal game. He joined Jimmy Hayes, Mirco Mueller and Drew Stafford as scratches. The Devils did get Brian Gibbons back, as he played his first game since breaking his thumb on January 20 at Philadelphia.

Winnipeg was missing, among others, Mark Scheifele and backup goalie Steve Mason. An interesting story with the Jets’ goaltending as Devils emergency goalie Zane Kalemba – a Saddle Brook, New Jersey native who went to Princeton – had to dress for them for warmups and early in the game as call-up Michael Hutchinson had some travel problems and did not arrive until mid-way through the game.

The Devils have their next six games coming against Western Conference teams that are in playoff contention. This will be a rough stretch for them and they need to get good goaltending to steal a few here and there. To that end, Cory Schneider got the start tonight, making 21 saves on 24 shots. He played well for the Devils, but, unfortunately, the Winnipeg goalie just played a little bit better.

That was, as stated, Connor Hellebuyck. He made a whopping 41 saves on 43 Devils shots. As mentioned about goalies stealing games, this was one where Hellebuyck stole one for the Jets. He was named the game’s first star.

The Devils lost to the Jets back on November 18 in Winnipeg, getting blown out. It was a much different story tonight with the same result.

Patrik Laine scored the game’s first goal and his fourth straight after scoring a natural hat trick versus the Rangers the other night. He got assists from Paul Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers to give the Jets the early 1-0 lead. It was a broken play as the puck just kind of came to a stop in the high slot as Laine finished. The goal came at the 4:12 mark of the first. It was also the first shot of the game for Winnipeg.

The Devils would get a break at the 18:29 mark of the first when the Jets’ Josh Morrissey was assessed a double minor for high sticking Blake Coleman. The bulk of the power play would come on fresh ice in the early part of the second period. The Devils would not score and would go 0-for-4 with nine shots on goal. Winnipeg was 0-for-1 with just two shots on goal. The Devils played a clean game which is good considering the Jets’ puck control game in the offensive zone. They are relentless in their opponent’s zone and very physical on the puck.

In the second period, Joel Armia gave Winnipeg a 2-0 lead when he scored at 13:26 from Ben Chiarot and Hellebuyck. Just prior to that was when Zajac had suffered his injury, gutting out the rest of his shift, as Ken Daneyko put it, before he left the game. He would not return.

Nico Hischier had a goal and an assist in being named tonight’s second star of the night. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

The Devils would get on the board in the second on a nice play. Nico Hischier flung a hail mary pass from the Devils’ zone to Kyle Palmieri who broke into the Winnipeg zone. He snuck behind the Jets’ defense and beat Hellebuyck glove side at 16:41 to make it 2-1 Jets. In contrast to Winnipeg scoring on their first shot on goal, it took the Devils 22 to finally beat Hellebuyck.

In the third, Ehlers would score to make it 3-1 at the 9:55 mark when Dustin Byfuglien’s shot had seemingly beaten Cory. He celebrated, but the puck had not gone in, hitting the crossbar. Ehlers would put home the rebound and the Devils were down two again.

But Hischier would give hope at 11:07, cutting the lead to 3-2 off assists from Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher. That one developed when Hall gave to a cutting Butcher just inside the Winnipeg blue line. Butcher shot and after a couple of whacks at the puck by both Bratt and Nico, Hischier was able to bat it out of the air and in. The Devils were within one.

They would need to kill off a penalty on the way to getting a shot at tying it. Patrick Maroon took a penalty for boarding Morrissey at 14:52 for the Jets’ only power play of the game. The Devils penalty kill came through and Cory was pulled for the first time with about 2:14 left in the game.

But it was not meant to be. Time simply ran out on New Jersey as the Jets got the victory. The Devils now only have one regulation win in their last 13 games against Winnipeg, a team that they do not matchup well with and who always seem to get them.

For the Devils, Sami Vatanen led every skater in the game in ice time, with 27:46, including 5:59 on the power play and 34 seconds on the PK. Palmieri, who played a really good game, led in shots with seven. Coleman led in hits with six while Palmieri, John Moore and Vatanen all led in blocks with two each. Brian Gibbons, in his return had a takeaway to lead in that category. The Devils won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Next up, their big two week road trip kicks off at Nashville on Saturday. The Predators are another good, physical and talented Western Conference team. Hopefully the Devils can rack up some points here, as both Columbus and Florida have crawled back into the wildcard race (they both won tonight). We will see you Saturday.

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Note: The photo of Kyle Palmieri above this post is copyright Bill Kostroun/AP Photo.

Devils Dropped in Winnipeg

The Devils traveled to the newly-renamed BellMTS Place in Winnipeg this afternoon coming off the heels of a rough overtime loss in Toronto. That was a scoreless affair that was settled with 2.2 seconds remaining. Today’s game was a little bit different. The Jets scored five goals in a little over 12 minutes in the second period to knock off the Devils by a score of 5-2.

It was a homecoming for a few Devils, including Travis Zajac, who is from Winnipeg and Drew Stafford, who played for the Jets and was returning for the first time since being traded to Boston at last year’s trading deadline. Coincidentally, both Zajac and Stafford are friends who played together at the University of North Dakota.

Roster-wise for the Devils, Marcus Johansson remains out with a concussion, although he has been cleared for light skating. Jimmy Hayes, Dalton Prout and Pavel Zacha were the healthy scratches. On the subject of Zacha, coach John Hynes said that he spoke with Pavel and his agent to in order to be “transparent” with him about how he can work to get back into the lineup. He discussed exactly what they want to see from the first round pick of the Devils from a few years ago.

Both the Jets and the Devils were coming into the game with identical records of 11-4-3. New Jersey was sitting atop the Metropolitan Division while Winnipeg sat in second place in both the Central Division and the Western Conference behind only the St. Louis Blues in both instances. The teams are also very similar in style, although the Jets are physically bigger and the Devils a little bit faster. Winnipeg also picks their spots very well. They have a high shooting percentage, but are bottom of the league in shots taken. The shots they do take, they make count. That was very much in evidence this afternoon against the Devils.

The Devils got off to a quick start with Kyle Palmieri hitting the post and then Andy Greene following up with the rebound that Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck stretched across the crease to save, leading to a beautiful stop. The first period ended 0-0 and with the beginning of the second period, the Devils had been shut out for over 102:36 (since Miles Wood’s third goal at Chicago on Sunday).

Winnipeg would notch the first goal of the game when Kyle Connor scored 5:51 into the second period from Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. But it would only take the Devils 1:01 to respond and end their shut out streak.

It came in weird fashion. Brian Gibbons shot from the slot and seemingly hit the crossbar. The goal light never came on and play resumed. When a whistle blew, the game went to a TV timeout. As the broadcast came back from break, it was announced that Toronto had taken a look at the play on replay and that the puck came in and out of the goal so fast that nobody noticed it. The goal counted and the game was tied up at one. The referee actually announced the goal to the arena before television viewers had any idea, making for a nice surprise for Devils fans coming back from the commercial break. Blake Coleman and Will Butcher had the assists on Gibbons’ team leading ninth goal.

You might think that that would give the Devils some momentum. You would be wrong in that regard. It must have been like poking a sleeping bear with a stick because the Jets just came alive after that.

It began at 8:06 of the second when Patrik Laine scored his tenth from Nikolaj Ehlers and Bryan Little to give Winnipeg back the lead, 2-1. Jacob Trouba scored from Connor and Scheifele about 35 seconds later to make it 3-1. Exactly one minute after the Trouba goal, Matt Hendricks scored from Mathieu Perreault and Joel Armia to make it 4-1. Perreault himself finished the second period outburst at 18:18 when he beat Cory Schneider to make it 5-1 from Hendricks and Armia. Hendricks would be named the game’s first star while Perreault was the second.

This was the first time that the Devils had given up five goals in a single period since March of 2008 when Pittsburgh scored five in a 7-1 defeat.

One of the lone bright spots of the game came at 7:14 of the third period when Will Butcher finally scored his first NHL goal. It came when, after a Nico Hischier shot trickled by Hellebuyck, the puck was left sitting on the Jets’ goal line. Butcher was there to tap it over for his first career goal. It may not have been pretty, but it was good enough to cut the Jets lead to 5-2. Taylor Hall had the secondary assist on the goal.

Eventually, though, time ran out and there would be not comeback like last week in Chicago. Hellebuyck was named the game’s third star and made 34 saves on 36 Devils shots. Winnipeg fired 34 shots on the Devils’ goaltenders, with Schneider playing the first two periods and Keith Kinkaid taking over in the third. Schneider faced 22 shots and made 17 saves while Kinkaid was equal to all 12 shots he faced.

The Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play, with seven shots and played a clean game themselves. Winnipeg did not have a power play opportunity. That was one of the bright spots for New Jersey, they were very disciplined.

As for individual stats, defenseman Andy Greene led in time on ice with 21:11. Hischier led in shots on goal with seven while Steven Santini led in hits with five. The Devils were beaten in the faceoff circle as a team to the tune of 59-percent for the Jets to 42-percent for the Devils.

Next up, the Devils finish this particular road trip on Monday, November 20 at Minnesota. The Wild got off to a rough start but have been playing well of late. This should be a test for the Devils as they head into St. Paul.

Devils Fall to Jets in Shootout

The Devils dropped another home game, but they did pick up a point in a 4-3 Winnipeg Jets shootout victory at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

This was the make-up of the game from March 14, which was canceled due to inclement weather. The weather was soggy in Newark last night, but it was comfortable inside the Prudential Center on “Rock the Rock Night.” This was a promotion centered on music and all TV timeout contests focused on giveaways related to upcoming concerts at The Rock or New Jersey musicians. Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL’s color barrier with the Boston Bruins in the 1950’s was also in attendance and honored during the night.

Roster-wise, things stayed largely the same for New Jersey. Defenseman Jon Merrill was the lone healthy scratch as Joseph Blandisi slotted back in. The Devils were back to twelve forwards and six defensemen. Michael Cammalleri, Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly remain out injured. Winnipeg was without Ben Chiarot, Marko Dano, Toby Enstrom, Shawn Matthias, Ondrej Pavelec, Paul Postma and Brian Strait.

In goal, Cory Schneider matched up with Connor Hellebuyck. Schneider made 33 saves on 36 shots for a .917 save percentage. Hellebuyck stopped 20 of 23 shots for an .870 save percentage. Hellebuyck made two saves in the shootout and Cory made one.

Nikolaj Ehlers of the Jets got the scoring kicked off, getting assists from Blake Wheeler and Jacob Trouba at just 52 seconds in to the first period.

It would take some time, but New Jersey would respond, scoring three unanswered. It began at 8:10 of the first when Pavel Zacha’s shot came to a rest just in front of the goal line in the Winnipeg crease. Beau Bennett dove to put the puck home and the Devils had tied the game at one. Dalton Prout had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils would go into the first intermission with the 2-1 lead when, at the 12:07 mark, Taylor Hall took a stretch pass from Travis Zajac through the neutral zone. He broke into the Winnipeg zone all alone and moved to his forehand, beating the Hellebuyck to the stick side to give New Jersey the lead.

The Devils tempted fate all night by drawing penalties late in the first and second periods. At 19:58 of the first, Miles Wood would take an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that would give the Jets almost two full minutes of power play time on fresh ice to start the second period. The Devils would kill that off. They would also kill off a Blake Coleman interference penalty at 19:50 of the second period that would give Winnipeg 1:50 of power play time on fresh ice going into the third. Neither team scored on the power play, with the Jets going 0-for-3 while the Devils were 0-for-4. One of the Devils power plays would come in the overtime period, which we will get to in a minute.

In the meantime, the Devils added an extra goal at 15:27 of the second period when Blake Pietila stole the puck in the neutral zone and broke in with Stefan Noesen. He gave the puck to Noesen, who went to his forehand, and drove to the net, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side. He then tumbled to the ice after the goal. It was now 3-1 Devils and they looked to be in the driver’s seat.

But Winnipeg hung around. First, they answered back 1:09 after the Noesen goal when Wheeler scored from Julian Melchion and Mark Scheifele to make it 3-2.

In the third period, the Jets were killing off a Scheifele hooking penalty when Joel Armia scored unassisted and shorthanded to knot things up at three.

A scary moment late in the game occurred when Blandisi took a puck to the face. He went to the bench in pain, but did not miss a shift.

When time expired, we were headed to overtime for a second consecutive Devils game. In the Dallas game on Sunday, the Devils had been the victims of a penalty called late in regulation that hurt them in OT. The Jets would be in a similar situation with 30 seconds left in this overtime when Kyle Palmieri drove to the Winnipeg net and was hauled down. The Fans, still sensitive to the non-penalty shot in Pittsburgh on Taylor Hall, booed the penalty, wanting the penalty shot instead. But tripping was called and the Devils had a 30 second power play. They did not score on it, as Winnipeg was on point and cleared the zone several times. We were headed to a shootout to settle things.

John Quenneville took the first shot for New Jersey and missed the net. Cory stopped Scheifele of Winnipeg and Hellebuyck stopped Hall. Jets super rookie Patrik Laine converted on his try and it was up to Pavel Zacha to keep things going. Hellebuyck stopped him and the Winnipeg Jets had a come from behind shootout victory.

The Devils next travel to Brooklyn on Friday for a date with the New York Islanders. The Isles are still battling for that last playoff spot and the Devils can play spoiler to their geographical rivals. Barclays Center was the site of the start of the Devils’ downfall. Hopefully, they will be up to avenging that on Friday.

In prospect news, Michael McLeod scored for the Mississauga Steelheads as they defeated the Ottawa 67’s in their OHL playoff series, 2-1 to take a two games to one lead.

The goal came just 10 seconds into the second period with assists to Jacob Cacagnette and Stefan LeBlanc at TD Place in Ottawa. Cascagnette then scored the game winner on the power play at 13:46 of the second period. They play game four on March 30 in Ottawa.

Miles Wood Shines as Devils Drop Close One in Winnipeg

The Devils called Miles Wood up from Albany of the AHL yesterday and were not really sure if he was going to play on the team’s current road trip. As it would go down, Beau Bennett would be injured in a freak accident at practice on Monday (a lacerated leg) and Wood would be inserted into the lineup. What the Devils got was a dynamo who helped create scoring opportunities the whole night.

Unfortunately for Wood, his first game back with the NHL club would come in Winnipeg against the Jets. Winnipeg is a good home team (7-4-0 coming into tonight) and a physical team that can score.

The Devils were also eyeing the return of Taylor Hall. Although he would not play tonight, he is skating, has traveled with the team on this road trip, and may be in the lineup for Chicago on Thursday. If he does play in Chicago, he would only have missed about three weeks, which is nothing short of amazing. He said that he was not playing through pain or taking pain killers to skate. He noted that he would not be back “if (he) were a football or soccer player” because he can skate with no contact to build up strength in his knee.

The Jets were getting back a player from injury as well. Bryan Little made his return tonight after having been injured back on October 13 (opening night for Winnipeg). This game would also mark the Devils’ first look at Patrik Laine. The 18-year-old second overall pick in last year’s draft would play a role in the events of the night and is an offensive threat whenever he is on the ice.

In Devils’ lineup news, the team was back to twelve forwards and six defensemen. Yohann Auvitu sat for New Jersey, as did Reid Boucher, while Jon Merrill was back in.  As mentioned before, Wood was getting his break to crack the lineup. He primarily skated on a line with Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly.

The Jets, like the Devils, have been playing mostly on the road throughout the month of November. They also played three back-to-backs in the month. But against the Devils, Winnipeg was 6-1-2 in their last nine meetings.

In goal for the Devils was Cory Schneider. He made 26 saves on 29 Winnipeg shots. Winnipeg threw Connor Hellebuyck between the pipes. He was working on a team record home shutout streak that would eventually end tonight at 174:55. Having been playing that well, the Devils would have a rough road ahead of them, he ended up making 23 saves on 25 Devils shots. The Devils have been outshot in their last six games.

The game began with a scary moment, as Marko Dano of the Jets took a high-stick to his eye from Kyle Quincey. The Devils were fortunate as the penalty was not called, but hopefully Dano is okay after a scary play.

The Devils would dodge a bullet as Dustin Byfuglien’s crazy angle shot at an empty net sailed harmlessly through the goal crease in the middle of the first period. Following that, the Devils’ Travis Zajac hit the post on a shot. This was the story of the night for both teams, as rubber was meeting iron left and right.

The Devils’ first power play of the game came at 9:40 when the Jets’ Drew Stafford went off for tripping Damon Severson. The Devils, frankly, looked terrible on this advantage. They were hemmed in their zone by Winnipeg and could not get anything going. In total, the Devils went 0-for-4 on the power play while Winnipeg went 0-for-5 (including a 5-on-3 in the second period).

The Jets got on the board first at 11:20 of the second period when Mark Scheifele connected on his 13th from Byfuglien and Nikolaj Ehlers. Blake Wheeler would then double their lead when he scored at 13:21 from Andrew Copp and Jacob Trouba. Just like that, the Jets had a 2-0 lead.

The Devils had a great chance to cut things in half at the 14:33 mark of the second period. After Sergey Kalinin had drawn a penalty on a breakaway chance (poking the puck free – he was alone in on Hellebuyck, who made the save) a similar play happened with Miles Wood. This time, though, the referee called for a penalty shot on the play, as Wood had good control of the puck when he was hauled down by Josh Morrissey.

Wood would make a good move to his backhand and was going to try to lift the puck over Hellebuyck’s outstretched pad on the penalty shot, but lost control of the puck. After the game, he would say that the condition of the ice caused the puck to bobble on his stick and he was not able to get control.

Going into the third period, the Devils would have 43 seconds of power play time, while Byfuglien was sitting for interference against Zajac. Nothing would come of that either, as the Devil power play has continued to stall on the road for whatever reason.

Things would finally pay off for Miles Wood in the third frame. At 2:52, Adam Henrique shoveled the puck deep into the Jets’ zone. It bounced off of the end boards and Wood recovered. He took a shot from an odd angle, nearly at the goal line, and was able to slip it past Hellebuyck, ending the Winnipeg goaltender’s home shutout streak and cutting the Jets lead in half, 2-1. This goal was Wood’s first NHL marker.

But it took a little less than two minutes for wonder rookie Laine to score his 13th from Scheifele and Ben Chiarot. The Jets had regained a two goal lead, 3-1. Laine beat Cory high stick side with a wrist shot once he gained some room on the rush.

At 7:58, Nick Lappin helped the Devils whittle away at that lead when Damon Severson stripped a Jet of the puck in the neutral zone and took a slap shot just inside the Winnipeg blue line. The rebound came right to the stick of Lappin, who put it in under Hellebuyck to make the game 3-2, Jets.

The Devils would pull Schneider with about two minutes left in the game, but were not able to get anything going.

Time simply ran out for New Jersey as they fell 3-2.

Next stop on the Devils’ road show is Chicago on Thursday. They will have a tough test ahead of them as they take on the surging and always hard to play Blackhawks. But they could have Taylor Hall back by then, which would make a world of difference for the road weary Devils.

Devils Cool off Jets, 3-1

As play-by-play man Steve Cangialosi said on the MSG+ broadcast of the Devils-Jets game from MTS Centre in Winnipeg, “When you’re heading to Winnipeg to escape the weather, you know things are bad.” With the snow unrelenting back east, the Devils would look for some relief out west.

The Devils came off their offensive explosion against the Ottawa Senators trying to keep a winning streak intact heading into Winnipeg to face a big, physical Jets team (they lead the NHL in team hits). They would keep things going, even with a low shot total, they got the job done.

On the injury front, John Moore went back on to injured reserve and the Devils called Seth Helgeson up from Albany. The young defenseman, playing his first game of the season, was paired with Damon Severson on the blueline. News also came that Jiri Tlusty would be out for three to four months after undergoing ligament surgery to his wrist. This will likely end his season.

The Jets were getting some players back too. They were also trying a new wrinkle to their power play: putting big Dustin Byfuglien at forward and having him stationed in front of the opposition’s net. That change would be key for the Jets a little bit later in the game.

In net for the teams, the Devils put out Cory Schneider, who was again brilliant at times tonight. He was equal to 22 of 23 Winnipeg shots. The Jets threw out a different goalie than the Devils saw way back on opening night in October. Connor Hellebuyck got the nod for the Jets instead of Michael Hutchinson. He gathered 13 of 16 Devils shots.

The Devils got the scoring kicked off at 11:41 of the first period when two Jets players collided in their zone and Michael Cammalleri gathered the loose puck. Rushing in with Lee Stempniak on what was essentially a two-on-zero, Cammalleri passed the puck towards Stempniak who tipped it in. It was 1-0 Devils. The first period was also played very clean; no penalties were called on either team in the first frame. Bobby Farnham did have a good chance just as time was expiring in the first, but it was pushed aside.

A penalty was called in the second period, when Drew Stafford of the Jets went off at 14:41 for tripping against hometown boy Travis Zajac. The Devils now on the power play and after keeping the puck in the Jets zone, it was sent down low to Kyle Palmieri. He bobbled it and Joseph Blandisi picked it up, giving it to David Schlemko at the point. He sent it to Jacob Josefson on the half wall, who one-timed it past Hellebuyck. The Devils now had a 2-0 lead, but were not done yet.

That second period goal was the Devils’ first shot of the second period, occurring at 15:49. It was a low shot affair for the Devils to say the least.

Like the Devils in the first, the Jets had a good scoring chance at the end of the second period, but Cory Schneider came up big with a right pad save on the shot.

The third period was do-or-die for the Devils. They only had one win in Winnipeg since the Jets returned in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers pulled up stakes and were looking to close things out in this game.

At 8:42 of the third, Stempniak would get his second of the game when Adam Henrique threw the puck from the half wall to Cammalleri at the top of the far faceoff circle. He passed to Eric Gelinas at the left point who fired a shot. Stempniak tipped it by Hellebuyck and the Devils now led 3-0.

But that was not the end of the game. Winnipeg got on the board when Gelinas took a delay of game penalty at 14:41 of the third (the Devils only penalty of the game and just the third in the game overall). On the power play, Dustin Byfuglien knocked a bouncing puck (right after Cory had made a save) out of mid-air and batted it into the net. The Jets had cut the lead to 3-1 and looked to be on the comeback trail.

They pulled Hellebuyck late and the Devils were unable to put the puck in the empty net (including a shot by Kyle Palmieri that went high and wide and a chance by Cammalleri, who passed it up to give it to Stempniak, who was trying for the hat trick). But, more importantly for New Jersey, the Jets were unable to score.

After a frantic last two minutes, the final buzzer sounded and the Devils had a fourth straight win.

But it does not get any easier. The next game for the Devils comes Tuesday night at Pittsburgh. It is their last game before the All-Star break. The Penguins have been playing much better hockey of late and will be rested. They will not play their scheduled game against Washington on Sunday due to the snow storm and, thus, will not have to travel back-and-forth between Washington and Pittsburgh.

But the Devils should be rested too and this is a game that will have some playoff implications, as the Devils and Pens are now the two Eastern Conference wildcard teams, after play today (Pittsburgh defeated Vancouver earlier). They will need to keep Malkin and a resurgent Crosby off the score sheet as they try to neutralize the Penguins on Tuesday.

Devils Name Greene Captain, Fall in Season Opener

The Devils were in need of a captain after the retirement of former team leader Bryce Salvador. General Manager Ray Shero and head coach John Hynes played things close to the vest, but in the end the expected (and many believe, the correct) choice was made.

Andy Greene was named the 11th captain in Devils history on Friday prior to the season opener against Winnipeg at the Prudential Center. For many who follow the team on a day-to-day basis, this was the obvious choice. Team legend and current television color analyst Ken Daneyko had been championing Greene as a future team captain for quite a while, saying that he had the leadership skills to wear the “C”. He cited Greene’s role in the development of young defensemen like Adam Larsson, John Merrill and Damon Severson as a main reason. Greene is a soothing presence on the blueline for the team and for the youngsters on the backend.

Daneyko is, of course, a great evaluator of leadership and of defensemen, having patrolled the blueline during the Devils’ Stanley Cup years along with one of the game’s all-time best leaders: Scott Stevens. But others were taking notice of Greene’s leadership abilities within the Devils organization. Coaches, teammates and the GM all know what Greene brings to the team and felt that he was the choice.

The Devils went through most of last season (when Salvador got injured) and the preseason without a captain and there were a lot of outsiders speculating on who would be named to the post. During the Flyers-Devils preseason game in Philly which was simulcast on MSG Network via Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia, the Flyers announcers all but put the “C” back on Patrik Elias’s chest. But Elias has been there and did not want the responsibility again, he has stated. They also speculated that the captaincy might go to someone like Travis Zajac or Adam Henrique. While those two players are fantastic leaders in their own right, and while the Devils’ staff was being coy in whom they were going to name, in the end, there was little doubt that Andy Greene would become the next Devils captain.

While the former Miami of Ohio star (he also captained his team in college his junior and senior years) will wear the “C”, the Devils also named alternate captains. Patrik Elias (when he returns from his knee injury), Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri and Adam Henrique will wear an “A” on their jerseys “on a rotating basis based on home and away games” according to the press release sent out on Greene.

After the business of naming a captain was taken care of, the Devils had something else to take care of. The opening of the 2015-16 season at home against the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center would be a tall order for the Devils. The Jets had just come off of a 6-2 drubbing of the Bruins in Boston (their first win in Beantown since their days as the Atlanta Thrashers) and were looking good.

The Jets are a big, physical team who can also put the puck in the net and the Devils needed to match that physicality and skill.

After a scoreless first, New Jersey fell behind early in the second on a Mark Scheifele goal. Blake Wheeler gave Winnipeg a 2-0 lead about three minutes later. The Devils got on the board with their first of the season at 12:53 of the second when Jiri Tlusty scored his first goal as a Devil. The former Jet got assists on his power play goal from Cammalleri and another former Jet, Lee Stempniak. Andrew Ladd put a bow on the game with a power play goal for Winnipeg at 16:21 of the second, giving the Jets a 3-1 victory.

The game was closely called, with both teams going on the man advantage four times, but the Devils had a tough time with Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson. The Devils outshot Winnipeg 30-21 (Jordin Tootoo and Damon Severson led the team with three shots on goal each) but were only able to notch one goal (which was tipped into the net by a Winnipeg player). They were also 34 for 60 (56.7%) in the faceoff circle, which is a good sign. Sergey Kalinin, a Devils signing from the KHL, was 5 for 8 on faceoffs (62.5%) for the night.

Cory Schneider made 27 saves in the loss, including a huge save on a Winnipeg breakaway in the third that kept the Devils from going down further and in the game at the time. Cory was his usual dependable self and there is no reason to worry about him, barring injury or fatigue. If the Devils can get him goal support, then h will take care of things in his end.

Coach Hynes has been preaching puck possession throughout the preseason and into the opener, which is something the Devils will have to continue to heed in order to win. Winning comes from keeping control of the puck, especially on the power play. If the other team does not have it, they cannot score, right? When they have the puck in the offensive zone, though, they have to have good shot selection and take those shots from high-percentage scoring areas.

New Jersey will have a quick turnaround as they play again tonight (Saturday, October 10) against the high-octane offense of the Washington Capitals down in DC. If the Devils can keep Alex Ovechkin and some of his new supporting cast in check, they should have a better chance to come away with the “W” down in Washington and finish the opening weekend with a split.