1/31/17 Game Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Detroit Red Wings

This game was another nail-biter but the only thing that matters is that the New Jersey Devils (21-21-9) came out on top as they outscored the Detroit Red Wings (20-21-9), 4-3, but were outshot 30-24. They extend their win streak on the road to five straight games and are 7-0-1 in their last eight. Despite not showing up to play for (most of) the last twenty minutes, they started the game off strong and carried a 3-1 lead into the third. Kyle Palmieri had a two-goal night (led the team in shots on goal with four) and Stefan Noeson scored his second goal in his first two games as a New Jersey Devil. Adam Henrique scored the game-winning goal in the fourth, and he and Palmieri are now tied for the team lead in goals scored with 13 each.

Detroit has the worst power play in the league and the Devils were able to take advantage of that. Both Palmieri and Henrique had an unassisted short-handed goal tonight; the last time the Devils had two short-handed goals in a game was on December 8th, 2011 against Ottawa when Zach Parise (I know) and Danius Zubrus scored short-handed goals. Henrique now has 13 short-handed goals in his career and is only behind John Madden and Patrik Elias for the franchise lead.

Overall, it was a slow game but there were a few crucial moments. The Devils were unable to score on their lone power play but got several good looks. If they continue to play like that on the man advantage, their power play will start to get much better. They were 4/5 on the penalty kill tonight and as mentioned before, scored two short-handed goals. They also killed a crucial 5-on-3 and a 6-on-4 at the very end of the game. Had they given up a goal in either of those situations, the momentum would have shifted. The two teams will meet again in their regular season finale again at the Joe Louis Arena; it will be the final regular season game played there.

Cory Schneider had a great night and started to look a little shaky towards the end but he had plenty of help offensively. He made some great saves, 27 on 30 shots faced with a .900 save percentage. The defense could have been better (which is a recurring theme) but they got the job done. Henrique and Palmieri both look like they’re returning to form; they had their first career 30-goal seasons last season and Devils fans expected them to build on that this season. They both got off to slow starts but if they can pick up the pace, the Devils offense will get some much-needed help.

The Zacha-Josefson-Noesen line looked good all night and had five shots on goal to show for it. Noeson was able to score on a really nifty pass from Zacha. That could be a line that sticks in the future, especially if they can further develop their chemistry. Taylor Hall also had a good game despite having no shots on goal; he did have an assist on Palmieri’s second goal of the night. Damon Severson also had a really good shot in the first that rang off the post (the most bittersweet sound in hockey).

The Devils knew they needed a win tonight to really start a playoff push and they did. The Islanders, Hurricanes, and Panthers all won tonight but the Rangers and Flyers, who hold the two wild card spots, both lost. Tampa Bay and Buffalo also lost, and Toronto is currently losing. Who holds the wild card spots going into the playoffs will likely come down to the end of the season and those last few Devils games could be very important (assuming that they’re still in the running). But while the Devils have been nothing short of phenomenal on the road, they need to find a way to translate that success to their play at home. New Jersey will be back at The Rock on Friday night to take on the Calgary Flames in their regular season finale; puck drops at 7:30PM.

 

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1/31/17 Game Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Detroit Red Wings

The New Jersey Devils (20-21-9) face the Detroit Red Wings (20-20-9) in their second of three meetings this season and their first game back from the All-Star Break. New Jersey last played Thursday against Washington and lost 5-2; Stefan Noesen scored his first goal as a New Jersey Devil in his first game with the team and Adam Henrique scored a power play goal for his 12th of the season (and is tied for the team lead)Detroit was shut out by Toronto on Wednesday, 4-0. Both teams have had a significant amount of time off, with the exception of Taylor Hall and Frans Nielsen (who represented their respective teams at the All-Star Game), and they will both be looking for a win tonight. If Henrique is in the lineup tonight (and I’m sure he will), he will be playing in his 400th game.

The Devils lost the initial meeting at home in overtime and were outshot 33-19. John Moore, Michael Cammalleri (led the team in shots on goal with four), Pavel Zacha, and Henrique all scored regulation goals, and Zacha’s was a power play goal (New Jersey went 1/5 on the night). Cory Schneider was in net for New Jersey and made 28 saves on 33 shots faced (.848 save percentage). Peter Mrazek and Jimmy Howard were both in net for Detroit. Mrazek made 13 saves on 16 shots faced (.812 save %) and Howard made 2 saves on 3 shots in his relief appearance.

Coming off the break, Schneider will indeed be in net tonight. He had a strong performance Thursday night against Washington when he came on in relief of Keith Kinkaid. Detroit has had a weird season with goalies. Howard is injured. Mrazek did start against Toronto and if I didn’t know any better, he’ll be starting tonight.

There may some adjustments to the lineup for tonight. Andy Greene did practice with the team yesterday and and traveled with the team to Detroit but I wouldn’t expect him in the lineup (possibly Friday). John Moore has yet to practice with the team. Karl Stollery, Steven Santini, and Seth Helgeson were all recalled from Albany (AHL) yesterday after being sent down on Friday to get in some playing time over the All-Star Break. Taylor Hall will join the team in Detroit (flew straight from Los Angeles) for morning skate. He had a goal and three assists in the Metropolitan Division’s All-Star Game win.

Record-wise, the two teams are pretty similar (New Jersey has one more regulation loss). Detroit does have the worst power play in the league (11.1% success rate) but New Jersey is not too far ahead at 28th (14.3% success rate). The Devils’ penalty kill (81.3% kill rate) is slightly better than Detroit’s (80.7%) but not by much. New Jersey is still dead last in average shots/game with 27.1 shots/game (Detroit has an average of 28.7 shots/game).

Detroit is 4-4-5 in the month of January with five losses coming in overtime and are 3-1-1 at home in January (those three wins came against Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Boston). On the other hand, New Jersey is 6-5-2 coming into tonight’s game but are 5-0-1 on the road, their only loss (in overtime) coming to Edmonton. The team has played significantly better on the road than at home as of late (6-0-1 on the road, 1-5-1 at home in January).

The Devils will look to continue their four-game winning streak on the road when they take on the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena to finish out the month; puck drops at 7:30PM.

1/26/17 Game Recap: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils

I have to admit that I didn’t actually watch this one; I figured that studying for my calculus quiz tomorrow would be less painful and oh boy, was I right. The New Jersey Devils (20-21-9) fall to the Washington Capitals (33-10-6) at home for the second time this season, 5-2. The Devils have now lost two straight, three of the last four, and their past six home games heading into the All-Star Break. The Devils were outshot 36-29 and had a rough night all around.

Keith Kinkaid had a tough time in net tonight and so did the Devils defense (what else is new?); the offense didn’t do their job. Kinkaid stopped only 13 of 17 shots faced (.765 save %) and Cory Schneider came on in relief and looked sharp, stopping all 18 shots he faced and made some crucial saves to (sort of) keep his team in the game. The exact opposite happened Tuesday night when Schneider let in three goals early in the first period and Kinkaid replaced him (and stopped every shot he faced). Both of them seemed to find their footing within the last few weeks and have been one of the main reasons the Devils won the games they did. However, I would expect Schneider to start against Detroit next week.

Stefan Noeson, claimed off of waivers from Anaheim yesterday, scored his first goal as a Devil and his third of the season (and his career); he took one hell of a shot and hopefully there will be many more to come. Adam Henrique was credited with the other goal for New Jersey, after the puck went into the back of the net off of his stick. His goal was also a power play goal and is tied for the team lead in goals scored with P.A. Parenteau (12). Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri are close behind with 11; they also led the team tonight in shots on goal with four each.

Speaking of Kyle Palmieri, at 6:52 in the third period, he got into a scrum with Tom Wilson (yeah, remember him?) after Taylor Hall took a hit from Brooks Orpik. Hall was shaken up after the play and Kyle took matters into his own hands. This resulted in an instigator penalty and game misconduct so Palmieri was ejected from the game. Wilson received a game misconduct penalty as well and was sent to the locker room which came, as Devils Twitter so kindly pointed out, 27 days too late. And for those of you who don’t remember, Wilson boarded John Moore exactly 27 days ago and did not receive any penalty; Moore is still out with a concussion and has yet to return to practice with his teammates.

Every time this team takes a step forward, they take two steps back and it’s frustrating. They’re still in the second year of a rebuild and it takes time, yes, but you’d think they’d be a little further along than they are. They have pieces of a puzzle but can’t seem to fit them together. Maybe they’re missing pieces and if that’s the case, they need to find them. But they have solid pieces that you can build around so build around them. This team could be a lethal, Cup-contending team within the next few years. They show glimpses of coming together every now and then but they’re gone so fast, you start to question if you ever saw them in the first place.

Players like Henrique, Palmieri, Travis Zajac (who’s quietly have a good season), and Michael Cammalleri all need to step it up. Hall has been consistent. The young ones, Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha, are still learning and they’re making mistakes but some experience is better than none. They’re going to develop into great players. New Jersey also has great goaltenders. You can count on Schneider and Kinkaid night in and night out (yes, they do have rough nights like tonight) but you have Scott Wedgewood (who played very well during his call-up last season), Mackenzie Blackwood, and Ken Appleby. Both Blackwood and Appleby have stepped up in Albany with Wedgewood’s injury. The defense is still struggling but is showing promise. The young defensemen can become solid defensemen: Damon Severson, Steven Santini, and Jon Merrill (I know, I know). Andy Greene will come back. Realistically, I don’t see the Devils keeping Kyle Quincey or Ben Lovejoy. John Moore’s future with the Devils could be up in the air (as could Merrill’s). And don’t forget about that dreaded expansion draft. All I’m trying to say is that the pieces are there. If GM Ray Shero can add a top defenseman (or two) during the offseason, this team could really turn things around next season.

But that’s next season. The Devils still have the rest of this season to play. Maybe the All-Star Break can help them sort things out.

1/26/17 Game Preview: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils

It’s Retro Night! The New Jersey Devils (20-20-9) meet the Washington Capitals (32-10-6) for the third time this season. The Devils and Capitals both played Tuesday night and both lost: the Devils fell to Los Angeles, 3-1, and the Capitals were shut out by Ottawa, 3-0.  Both teams had poor outings. New Jersey got off to a rough start and couldn’t completely recover as the game went on; Kyle Quincey scored the lone goal and Miles Wood led the team with five shots. Washington allowed a shorthanded goal at the beginning of the first and a second goal shortly thereafter, and also could not stage a comeback.

The two teams have met twice before in a home-and-home series in late December; the Devils were also on their Dad’s Trip for both games. The Devils had a shootout win on December 29th in Washington. P.A. Parenteau scored the lone regulation goal, and Michael Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson both scored in the shootout. The second game (at home) was a 6-2 loss and it was brutal. It was definitely not the ideal way to go into the New Year. Kyle Palmieri and Beau Bennett scored the two New Jersey goals. The Devils went a miraculous 0/9 on the power play. Keith Kinkaid started in net for both games. He was much better in the first, saving 43 of 44 shots faced, posting a .977 save percentage. His second game was pretty bad: he stopped only 20 shots of 26 faced, and had a .769 save%.

This was also the game in which Washington’s Tom Wilson boarded New Jersey’s John Moore. Moore had to be taken out on a stretcher and no penalty was given out during the game but the league also took no further disciplinary action against Wilson. Moore did not start skating again until last week and he has yet to start practicing with the team. There will undoubtedly be some bad blood and I know that Devils fans won’t forget.

After Cory Schneider’s outing on Tuesday, New Jersey’s starting goaltender is a toss-up. Keith Kinkaid played very well (saving 13 shots in two full periods) on Tuesday after Schneider was pulled. Kinkaid also started the previous games against Montreal and Philadelphia. As a fan, however, I would like Kinkaid to continue to start, especially with how he’s played. Start the hot goalie (the team also plays significantly better when Kinkaid is in net so let’s see). Edit: Keith Kinkaid will, indeed, be in net tonight. Braden Holtby will probably be in net for the Caps.

The Devils lineup might see a few changes tonight. Beau Bennett is still out and won’t play; he was placed on injured reserve yesterday, retroactive to January 20th. The Devils also claimed forward Stefan Noesen off of waivers from the Anaheim Ducks, who was former teammates with Kyle Palmieri in Anaheim and Albany’s (AHL) Scott Wedgewood in the OHL. He has two goals in 12 games and could be in the lineup tonight; he will wear #23.

The Devils are 4-1-1 in their last six games played, all four wins coming on the road. They have scored 16 goals in that span and have played very well. They have won only two of their last nine games at home. New Jersey is 1-1 against Washington this season. The Devils are averaging only 2.20 goals/game and Washington is averaging 3.21 but the Caps lead the league in goals against average with 2.08. The Devils have scored just three goals (excluding the shootout) in both games they have played against Washington this season. They are going to continue to make it difficult to score and the Devils need to take advantage of any opportunities they are given (especially on the power play).

The Capitals’ shutout loss against Ottawa was their first since December 1st, when they lost to the New York Islanders, and their third of the season. They had scored at least four goals in the eight games before Tuesday’s; their last game with less than four was a 1-0 win against – surprise, surprise – Ottawa. They are now 12-1-2 in their last 15 games. Washington is 8-0-1 in their last nine games against New Jersey.

It is Retro Night at The Rock; the first 9,000 fans will receive a special pair of Devils-themed retro socks. Hopefully the Devils can reverse their luck at home and come out with a win against the Metropolitan-leading (and East-leading) Caps; puck drops at 7PM.

1/24/17 Game Recap: Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils

Have psychologists invented a way to remove memories yet? Because I would like to forget that entire game. The New Jersey Devils (20-20-9) lose yet another game at home against the Los Angeles Kings (23-21-4) by a score of 3-1. The Kings had a few quick goals at the beginning of the first period (two goals within the first two minutes and a power play goal to follow) and the Devils were never able to recover. They played better as the game went on and Kyle Quincey scored a goal (his fourth) to end Peter Budaj’s shutout bid but were unable to complete the comeback. The Devils went 0-for-4 on the power play, a step back after scoring two power play goals on Saturday night at Philly. The two teams had 25 shots apiece.

Cory Schneider started the game and stopped nine of 12 shots faced (.750 save percentage) but Keith Kinkaid was in net to start the second. Kinkaid stopped all 13 shots he saw. There is speculation as to whether or not Schneider felt completely better going into tonight’s game after missing the last two with a stomach bug. Maybe he took a step back and wasn’t on top of his game tonight because he hasn’t started in a week. Whatever the case may be, Kinkaid is making a strong case for getting more starts and I wouldn’t mind.

There were a few moments worth noting. The game started on a scary note with Adam Henrique taking a bad hit and falling awkwardly onto the ice. He looked like he was in a ton of pain and had to go into the locker room but he was back on the bench soon enough. The Devils had nearly two minutes of a 5-on-3 power play in the first period as well but were not able to convert. They are now 1-for-7 on the two-man advantage this season (which is definitely not a great statistic). There was also no call on Budaj when he dragged his stick across Miles Wood’s face while he was defenseless on the ground. Wood did lead the team in shots on goal with five. And then there was the no-goal call in the second period that could have, very well, changed the momentum of the game. The puck would have gone into the back of the net behind Budaj had Jordan Nolan not “intentionally” knocked the net. I put intentionally in quotation marks because I think it looked intentional. He couldn’t get the puck out of the crease and resolved to just move the net so the goal would not count.

But the Devils had plenty of chances to score and could not. We can blame the officiating. We can blame the goaltending or the defense or the offense’s inability to score goals or a number of other things but it all comes down to the team. They came out slow in the first period and that killed them. Had the Devils kept it 2-0 and not given up the power play goal, and maybe managed to score a goal or two, this game could have ended differently. But could have, should have, would have doesn’t really matter when the Devils lose the opportunity to pick up two points and move up on the wildcard ladder.

(I won’t bother looking at the playoff picture because it doesn’t matter and nothing’s changed much in a day. Most of the teams in the East that are in the wildcard hunt are only a few points within each other.)

This team has done a complete 180 in the span of the 2016-17 season. They had an almost perfect record at home to start the season and played worse on the road. Now, they’re playing much, much better on the road but are absolutely abysmal at home. They have won their last four road games but they have won just twice in their last nine games at home and both of those games were shutouts. They’ll play Washington again at home on Thursday before heading into the All-Star Break. If the Devils can pick up (at least) a point on Thursday and get to 50 on the season, this could still work but they won’t be going anywhere if they can’t win at home (they play all but two games at home in February). Here’s to hoping the Devils play much better on Thursday; puck drops at 7PM.

P.S. if you need a postgame pick-me-up, Devils prospect Michael McLeod had a hat trick tonight en route to a 6-1 Mississauga Steelheads win. The future looks bright.

1/24/17 Game Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (20-19-9) take on the Los Angeles Kings (22-21-4) in their second and final meeting of the season. The Devils are coming off of a 4-1 win against their divisional rival, the Philadelphia Flyers; Keith Kinkaid made 35 saves on 36 shots and Pavel Zacha, Kyle Palmieri, and Miles Wood (2) all tallied goals. This was Wood’s first career multi-goal game and was one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick. The Kings played the New York Rangers last night and lost 3-2.

The two teams previously met back in November when they were on their California road trip and the Devils lost 4-2. Cory Schneider was in net and made 24 saves on 27 shots with a .889 save percentage. John Moore and Nick Lappin scored the Devils’ goals and they went 0/2 on the power play. Peter Budaj was in net for the Kings and made 21 saves on 23 shots.

Los Angeles is currently in the midst of a five-game road trip and New Jersey is in the middle.  They have lost four straight games (against both New York teams, San Jose, and Tampa Bay) and they most certainly will be looking to end that slump against New Jersey. Budaj made the first three starts but Jeff Zatkoff was in net last night. Los Angeles currently does not hold a playoff spot in the West but are three points behind Calgary and St.Louis with 48.

Cory Schneider will most likely be in net, depending on how he feels this morning. Keith Kinkaid has made the previous two starts (against Montreal and Philly). The Kings’ starting goaltender is a toss-up. Budaj made the first three starts of this four-game losing streak but Zatkoff started last night. I could see either of them starting tonight.

The Devils lineup will probably be the same lineup from Saturday night’s game against Philly. Seth Helgeson and Devante Smith-Pelly were both healthy scratches. Beau Bennett (lower body) is still out. Andy Greene and John Moore are both ruled out for tonight’s game as well but Moore will not return until at least after the All-Star Break. He has resumed skating but has not practiced with the team yet. He won’t be back any time soon. Some good news: Yohann Auvitu was activated off injured reserve this morning and was assigned to Albany (AHL).

Anze Kopitar will be in the lineup for the Kings tonight; he did not play last time against New Jersey. Nic Dowd, Tyler Toffoli, and Matt Greene are all injured. Goalie Jonathan Quick is still injured. Although they only scored twice last night, their lineup will probably remain the same with only a few minor changes.

In retrospect, as a team, the Devils are playing significantly better and more coherently as one since their last meeting with the Kings. They have won four of their last five and are three points behind Philadelphia, who hold the final wildcard spot in the East. There are still three teams ahead of them (Boston, Florida, and Carolina) but every team in the East is still in the wildcard hunt. Ten teams are six points within each other; the playoff picture will likely come down right to the end of the season.

If the Devils play the way they have been, this is a winnable game. However, they have played much better on the road than at home as of late. Their last win at home was back on January 2nd against Boston. They have only won two of their last ten games at home, both shutouts. February will be a very home-heavy month for the Devils and they need to make The Rock a difficult place to play. This is the Devils’ second-to-last game (both home games) before the All-Star break so enjoy it; puck drops at 7PM.

1/21/17 Game Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Tonight’s game lived up to the hype, and then some. The New Jersey Devils (20-19-9) defeat the Philadelphia Flyers (22-19-6), 4-1, and played a hell of a game. Keith Kinkaid was undeniably tonight’s top performer, making 35 saves on 36 shots, and several spectacular ones. He kept the team in the game all night long and the offense was able to help him out. Pavel Zacha got the goal-scoring started tonight with his fourth of the season and his second in three games. Kyle Palmieri also scored tonight for his 11th of the season and his goal turned out to be the game-winning goal. Miles Wood had two goals tonight for the first multi-goal game of his career;  he was one goal shy of a hat trick and one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Michael Cammalleri had a pair of assists.

The Devils were outshot 36-29 and were 2/7 on the power play (which is better than 0/7, obviously). They killed all six Philadelphia power plays. They also had 32 blocks on the night, for the first time since December 8th, 2014 against the Carolina Hurricanes. For frame of reference, Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist, and Scott Gomez had a pair of assists. So it’s been a while.

The rivalry between the Devils and the Flyers is one of my personal favorites. Every game is exciting and this one was no exception. There were fewer penalties in minutes than their previous game back in December but they were major ones. The Devils had seven power play opportunities, including a 5-on-3. Wood, in particular, had a fight against Wayne Simmonds in the first period and while he held his own, didn’t come out on top; in the end, however, he had the last laugh. There was also a scrum in the second between Taylor Hall and Travis Konecny (I think), and Damon Severson and the rest of both teams on the ice got involved.

These two teams will meet again three times this season (3/16, 4/1, and 4/4) and those games will also be sure to entertain. Those last two games could also have huge playoff implications.

The Devils now have 49 points in 48 games and I know it’s not the All-Star Break yet BUT we can definitely take a look at the standings. They are still second-t0-last in the Metropolitan division; they are tied with Carolina in points but the Canes have played two fewer games. Philadelphia is just ahead with 50 and are coming off of their bye week; they’ve played 47 games thus far. Washington (68), Columbus (66), Pittsburgh (63), and maybe New York (Rangers) (59) are going to be difficult to catch especially with how those top three teams are playing.

Six teams sit within three points in the East for the final wildcard spot: Boston (52), Toronto (51), Philadelphia (50), Carolina (49), Florida (49), and New Jersey (49). Buffalo (47), Detroit, (47), Tampa Bay (47), and New York (Isles) (46) are all right behind. Every game during the rest of the season is going to matter. Every single point is going to matter; two points is better than one, one is better than none.

But here’s a good thing: the Devils will play 21 of their remaining 34 games at home. This could be huge for them, playing in front of their own crowd. They’re getting better on the road now, winning their last four road games. If they can consistently win at home and on the road, they still have a chance (even though it’s very small). New Jersey still has to see Columbus and New York (Isles) for the first time this year; they’ll play four games each against both teams. They’ll see Carolina once, Washington, Pittsburgh, and New York (Rangers) twice, and Philadelphia three more times. That’s 18 games against Metro division opponents and they’re going to be huge.

But the Devils can’t worry about other teams; they can only control themselves and they did tonight, taking two points from Philadelphia in regulation.

1/21/17 Game Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers

The New Jersey Devils (19-19-9) face their Metropolitan Division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers (22-18-6), in only their second of five meetings this season; the Devils will be traveling to the Wells Fargo Center this time. The Devils shut out the Flyers 4-0 back on December 22nd at The Rock. Cory Schneider was in net and made 16 saves. P.A. Parenteau, Miles Wood, Adam Henrique, and Kyle Palmieri all scored goals. It was also an aggressive, fast-paced, and physical game; Philadelphia tallied 50 PIM (penalties in minutes) and New Jersey had 32.  Philadelphia/New Jersey games are always just a bit more exciting than the rest and tonight will be no exception.

The Devils had their first loss in four games last night to Montreal, 3-1. Steven Santini scored his second goal of the season. The Flyers are coming off of their mandatory bye week, which the Devils will hope to take advantage of. Philadelphia did lose their last game before the break, a 5-0 shutout loss to Washington. Philadelphia has gone on a bit of a slide since their 10-game win streak back in late November/early December; they are 3-8-3. They now sit just outside of the playoff spot they held for so long. New Jersey still has a ton of ground to make up in the playoff race and last night was a missed opportunity.

Keith Kinkaid started in net last night because Schneider was not feeling well and had to miss practice yesterday but I would expect Cory to start tonight, provided that he’s feeling up to it. Schneider did start the previous game against Philadelphia as well. Michal Neuvirth will probably be in net for Philadelphia (he may debut a new mask tonight). Both Anthony Stolarz (Jersey native) and Steve Mason played in net against New Jersey last time. Coach Hynes said he may make changes to tonight’s lineup; he stuck with the same lineup for the past four games (and it worked for the first three). Vern Fiddler may also return to the lineup tonight but Andy Greene will not.

Philadelphia’s power play is one of the best in the league (6th, to be exact) with a 22.6% success rate. I don’t think I need to tell you how unsuccessful New Jersey’s power play is because you already know. Jersey’s penalty kill took a hit last night and now sits 15th in the league with an 81.8% kill rate. Philadelphia’s is slightly worse with an 80.4% kill rate (19th). The Flyers are averaging 31.5 shots/game but had just 16 the last time they played the Devils. New Jersey is still dead last with 27.1 shots/game and dropping. They had a season-low 17 shots last night against Montreal.

The Devils will be looking for a much-needed two points tonight in Philadelphia when they take on the Flyers in what is sure to be another entertaining game; puck drops at 7PM.

1/20/17 Game Recap: Montreal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils

That was a rough one. I’ll be taking my own shots to make up for all the ones the Devils didn’t take. The New Jersey Devils snap their three-game win streak tonight against the NHL referees, er, I mean, the Montreal Canadiens in a 3-1 loss. Steven Santini scored the lone goal for the Devils in the first period, his second of the season and his NHL career, with assists from P.A. Parenteau and Taylor Hall. New Jersey only had 17 shots on goal, their season-low, and were outshot by nine. No Devils player had more than two shots on goal tonight, a handful had one, and a few had none. All three Montreal goals came on the power play and they had a total of seven opportunities. The Devils failed to score on either of their two power plays.

I usually don’t blame the referees for anything. Yes, they’re human and they make mistakes. It happens. But the referees won this one for Montreal tonight. Karl Stollery was given a five-minute boarding penalty on a seriously questionable call; the hit definitely didn’t look dirty and even if a penalty had to be given out, it should’ve been two minutes at the most. There were other weak calls made against New Jersey as well but that Stollery penalty turned the tide of the game. It was tied at one up until then but Montreal scored twice on the three-minute power play and the Devils were never able to recover.

The biggest problem with these calls is that they’re not consistent and that goes for the entire league. When Carey Price was “attacking” Kyle Palmieri with his blocker in the last New Jersey-Montreal game, he didn’t receive any sort of penalty. There wasn’t any further investigation by the league even though Palmieri was defenseless and could have been seriously injured. The same incident happened in tonight’s Pittsburgh-Carolina game when Cam Ward punched Patric Hornqvist in the jaw with his blocker and didn’t receive a penalty call. The league defines what the rules and what penalties are but don’t actually follow them or abide by them. Washington’s Tom Wilson didn’t receive any sort of penalty on his hit on John Moore back on December 31st, which gave him a concussion, and he didn’t start skating again until this week. If you’re going to make stupid calls, consistently make those stupid calls. Don’t pick and choose when and where and who and what. If it happens in one situation, it happens in another. If it doesn’t happen in one game, it doesn’t happen in another. I don’t understand why that’s so complicated.

And since we mentioned Carey Price, you know how backup goalies are supposed to sit on the bench with the rest of the team in case they’re needed? Price didn’t. He must’ve sat inside the tunnel. I get that he’s had a bad few games, everyone does, but you need to face the crowd, the opposing team, your own team and coaches. Maybe he was afraid of a little retaliation from the Devils fans after his Palmieri incident. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Fun fact, Shea Weber has injured quite a few players in the NHL (11, I think, including some teammates) so I guess I should be glad that the Devils made it out of this game alive. Miles Wood did block a Weber slapshot though and lived to tell the tale; he looked fine and stayed in the game.

To be quite honest, the Devils didn’t play that badly but they definitely did not play like they did on the road. These last few games were supposed to be huge steps forward for this team. They were bad 5-on-5 and 5-on-4 (and 4-on-5). They spent much more time in their own zone and didn’t win as many puck battles. Keith Kinkaid really had to step up and make some huge saves; the score could have easily been more lopsided than it already was.

Well, I barely made it through this one. I’m honestly surprised that this entire game recap is not just me screaming the entire post but that’s Devils hockey for you. New Jersey will play the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center in their second matchup of the season; puck drops at 7PM.

1/20/17 Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (19-18-9) take on the Montreal Canadiens (27-12-6) at The Rock in their second meeting of the season. The Devils are coming off of an impressive showing in their three-game win streak against Calgary, Vancouver, and Minnesota. The Canadiens last played Wednesday night against Pittsburgh and lost 4-1; Carey Price was in net. The two teams’ previous meeting was a 5-2 loss at the Bell Centre back on December 8th. The Devils were outshot 49-25; Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique scored the lone goals for New Jersey and Hall’s was a power play goal. Also of note, Price attacked/punched Kyle Palmieri after he ran into him (was pushed and couldn’t stop) with his blocker while Palmieri was defenseless on the ice. Price did not face any repercussions for his actions and Palmieri did not intend to run into him. However, only “revenge” on the Devils’ minds should be winning, especially in front of their home crowd.

New Jersey returns to The Rock after a four-game road trip against the Western Conference, a trip in which they picked up seven out of a possible eight points. Montreal has lost three of their last four (1-7 Minnesota, 5-4 against New York [Rangers], 0-1 Detroit, and 1-4 Pittsburgh). Price started all four games. Al Montoya last started for the Canadiens on January 11th, a 7-4 win against Winnipeg.

Cory Schneider will most likely be in net tonight after his slew of phenomenal starts, which his record does not show (because of defensive issues and the offense’s inability to score enough goals). He is now 14-14-7 on the season with a goals against average of 2.69 and a save percentage of .910. Price is going through a bit of a slump. He is 8-7-3 in his last 18 games played with a GAA of 2.94 and a SV% of .891. While he’s not having a Vezina-type season, you always expect him to be on top of his game. However, Montoya will probably be in net tonight and Price will start tomorrow versus Buffalo.

New Jersey will most likely stick with the same lineup they’ve had over the last three games. If these lines continue to work, they need to play night in and night out to develop their chemistry and consistency. Seth Helgeson, Luke Gazdic, and Sergey Kalinin were the healthy scratches.

Max Pacioretty leads Montreal in points (37) and goals (20), and is having one of the best seasons of his career. Taylor Hall leads New Jersey in points (29) and P.A. Parenteau leads the team in goals with 12 but Hall and Henrique both have 11. Hall has two goals and two assists in his last three games. Palmieri has two goals and three assists in four games.

Although Andy Greene and Vern Fiddler have been practicing with the team, they are questionable to be in tonight’s lineup. There’s also good news: John Moore is skated for the first time yesterday after suffering a concussion from a hit by Washington’s Tom Wilson. Brendan Gallagher is on injured reserve with a wrist injury and is scheduled to miss about eight weeks. Andrei Markov is also still out for the Habs with a lower-body injury. However, Alex Galchenyuk is back for Montreal and scored in his first game back against the New York Rangers; he missed several weeks with a knee injury.

New Jersey will try and extend their win streak to four games when they take on Montreal at The Rock tonight; puck drops at 7:30PM.