Cory Schneider gets his second shutout of the season as the New Jersey Devils defeat the Boston Bruins, 3-0. This is the first time that New Jersey has shut out the Bruins since February 13, 2009. He stopped 22 shots, including a close one within the last few seconds of the first period. That save was huge; had Boston scored, the momentum of the game would have shifted and the Devils would have allowed yet another goal in the waning seconds of a period.
Parenteau started the goal-scoring with his 11th of the season (still the team leader) at 4:12 in the first, with assists by Taylor Hall (in his first game back) and Steve Santini (in his season debut). Santini’s assist is his first NHL point. The second period went scoreless and almost two minutes into the third period, Sergey Kalinin scored his 2nd of the season, with assists by Miles Wood (his first) and Jon Merrill (his second). The Devils go up 2-0 and Hall seals the win with an empty net goal, his first in nine games. Schneider, Parenteau, and Kalinin were the three stars of the game.
Wood had his second NHL fight against Boston’s Colin Miller and definitely held his own; his Boston College teammate Santini called him “a ball of energy” and that he is. When he was being pushed to the sin bin, he raised his arms and yelled, “Let’s go!” He energizes his team and the home crowd, and we haven’t seen someone as fast as he is in a while. His speed is the reason why Kalinin was able to score. I love watching him play and seeing what he brings to the team, and he’s going to become one of the faces of the franchise.
Santini also had a solid (albeit simple) game. He stands his ground and isn’t afraid to push and shove when he needs to know. He knows how to handle his hockey stick and plays the puck well. Merrill had a good game as well (the two of them were partners). I hope Coach Hynes decides to keep Santini up so he can really develop his game at the NHL-level.
Other positives from tonight’s game: the Devils outshot the Bruins 26-22 and won 52.8%. The Devils killed both penalties and have a 83.5% penalty kill success rate; they are 10th in the NHL. The Devils’ defense really showed up tonight and helped Schneider out as much as possible. They played together and stayed with each other, sending pucks down the ice and making blocks when they needed to. Kyle Palmieri led the team in shots on goal with five tonight and quietly had a very good game. Parenteau now has four goals in his last six games, and five in his last seven; he has the scored the first goal in a game seven times this season (and is third in the league, behind Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby).
However, we should address the elephant in the room. New Jersey went 0-6 on the power play tonight and are now 0-25. They had at least one power play where they weren’t able to take any shots on goal. They also had a 5-on-3 that lasted a minute and were unable to take a shot; the Devils are now 0-5 on the two-man advantage. Yes, they were missing Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson, and yes, the Bruins’ penalty kill is one of the best in the league (87.6% success rate and second best in the league). Guess who has the best penalty kill? Carolina (88.8&), who, conveniently enough, are playing New Jersey tomorrow night. They probably won’t score any power play goals tomorrow night either but doing so would be huge, not just for the game but for their confidence level as well. Their power play is going to click at some point but it has to happen soon if they plan on salvaging their season.
Overall, the Devils played extremely well tonight against a very physical, very formidable playoff-bound Bruins team. They start off 2017 with a much-needed win and two points. They’ll take on the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow night at 7PM at PNC Arena in the first set of back-to-backs this week.