2/27/17 Game Recap: Montréal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (25-25-12) drop another one to the Montréal Canadiens (34-21-8) and are swept in the season series (0-2-1). Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime winner, a 4-on-3 power play goal, after defenseman Damon Severson was sent to the penalty box for hooking. This was New Jersey’s 20th overtime game (or shootout) of the season, and have only won eight of them. The Devils did outshoot the Canadiens 37-33 and had three goals to show for it but could not protect their lead at the end of the third and did not get a puck past Al Montoya in OT. I had a sense of déjà vu when the Habs netted the game-tying goal and that might be because I was reminded of Saturday night’s game against the Rangers.

The Devils have been playing much better and had another strong game tonight but could not finish it out. Kyle Palmieri got things started with his 19th (team-leading) goal of the season with 19 seconds left to go in the first. John Moore, in for Kyle Quincey tonight, extended the Devils lead to 2-0 a couple minutes into the second. Radulov got the Canadiens on the board nine seconds later. The Devils restored their two-goal lead about five minutes later on a power play goal from Travis Zajac but Max Pacioretty scored his 30th of the season to keep the Habs within one. He then tied the game with 53 seconds left in regulation and Galchenyuk scored the game-winner.

Let’s look at the negatives before the positives, shall we? Jacob Josefson left the game at the end of the first; it looked as if he landed on his knee and may have injured it. He didn’t return to the game and there have been no updates. The Devils gave up the Habs’ first two goals almost immediately after they scored and they haven’t been able to protect a lead. They were only able to kill one of the Habs’ power plays (the other coming in overtime, which any team is almost surely going to score on).

And while the result isn’t what the team or the fans wanted, there were positives. The Devils did have 37 shots on goal; Palmieri led the team with six, Taylor Hall had five, and Blake Coleman, recalled from Albany (AHL) earlier today, had four. He also had a really good scoring chance in the third but could not convert and instead, drew a penalty. Schneider had another strong start in net. (Steven) Santini-(Jon) Merrill is a defensive pairing that might stick in the future. And the kids are alright. They’re fast. They’re not afraid to play their game.

I’m still on #TeamRebuild and I’m still looking toward the future (the playoffs are a lost cause this season). There’s a bigger picture we need to look at and the future looks bright.

But for now, the Devils still have to finish out the rest of the 2016-17 season. They’ll start the month of March with a road game against the Washington Capitals, who won the Kevin Shattenkirk sweepstakes tonight. Puck drops at 7PM.

2/27/17 Game Preview: Montréal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils

It’s Pride Night at The Rock as the New Jersey Devils (25-25-11) take on the Montréal Canadiens (33-21-8) in their third and final meeting of the season and they will look to avoid being swept in the season series. The two teams first met back in December at the Bell Centre, a 5-2 Devils loss. They were outshot 49-21 (yes, you read that correctly), and Adam Henrique and Taylor Hall scored goals for New Jersey. Hall’s was a power play goal and the Devils went 1/3 on the night. Cory Schneider made 44 saves (.898 save percentage) and Carey Price made 19 saves (.905 save percentage). Price also had four penalty minutes but let’s not discuss those. It’s still a sore spot. The two teams also met more recently in January at The Rock, a 3-1 Devils loss. Steven Santini scored his second goal of the season to give the Devils a 1-0 lead at 4:00 in the first but the Devils could not solve Al Montoya after that; he made 16 saves on 17 shots faced (.941 save %). Keith Kinkaid made 23 saves on 26 shots with an .885 save %. It was a much better game, overall, for the Devils.

Schneider will start for the Devils tonight. In his last 20 games, he is 9-6-4 with a 2.26 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Montoya will be the starting goaltender for the Canadiens. Pavel Zacha (concussion) was placed on injured reserve this morning, retroactive to February 21st; the team should take extra precaution because of his past concussion history. Blake Coleman was recalled from Albany (AHL) and will likely play on the fourth line tonight.

This also the last time the Devils will play before the trade deadline on Wednesday. If the Devils decide to announce a trade right before the game as they did with Vern Fiddler, the lineup may look a little different than expected. P.A. Parenteau is out tonight because he “blocked” a “shot” against the Rangers on Saturday and his finger is injured so he is day-to-day. Kyle Quincey is being held out of tonight’s game (not a healthy scratch), which means John Moore will be in the lineup. Both (Parenteau and Quincey) will likely be traded before Wednesday.

The Devils are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers; Henrique and Kyle Palmieri (2) both scored. Montréal had a 3-2 overtime win over Toronto; Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk both scored regulation goals, and Andrew Shaw scored the game-winner.

Montréal has gone on a bit of a slide since the Devils last saw them. They have played 15 games since then and have only won five of those games. They have lost stretches of three (2/11-2/18, with five days off for the bye week) and four games (2/2-2/7). Eight of their 10 losses have come in regulation and they have been shutout four times (Edmonton (shootout), Colorado, Boston and New York (Islanders)). They have also lost four of their last six but have won three of their last four on the road; they have been a better road team than home team (they have lost their last five at home), as have the Devils. Despite all of that, however, Montréal is still #1 in the Atlantic with Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, and Florida all not too far behind.

The Devils last saw the Canadiens amidst their seven-game losing streak at home. Since then, they have gone 6-6-2 overall. They are 2-5-2 at home and 3-1-0 on the road. They have been shutout just once, against Ottawa at home not too long ago. They have had a few strong games, especially in their last few against Ottawa and both New York teams.

The goals have been coming because the power play has been much, much better as of late. New Jersey has 11 power play goals in their last 10 games and have scored at least one in their last four games; they have an impressive 45.8% success rate over that 10-game span. They are now 18th in the league with an 18.1% success rate overall. Montréal does have the 10th best power play in the league, sitting at 21.1%. New Jersey’s penalty kill is slightly better at 81.0% compared to Montréal’s at 80.5%.

Come down to The Rock if you can because it should be a good game and it’s Pride Night! Special shirts with the #OneJersey slogan and a rainbow Devils logo will be available to purchase for $20. Pride-taped sticks will also be auctioned off to help benefit You Can Play. The Devils will look to end on the month on a strong note; puck drops at 7PM.

2/25/17 Game Recap: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils

Cory Schneider steals a point for the New Jersey Devils (25-25-11) as they fall to the New York Rangers (record) in overtime, 4-3. Mike Zibanejad scored the game-winner at 1:16 in OT. The Devils got goals from Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri, who scored twice and had a really good chance on a breakaway in OT (but there was a suspicious no-call on the holding); Travis Zajac had two assists. New York got goals from Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, and Adam Clendening. Schneider had another outstanding night in net, making 36 saves on 40 shots (.900 save percentage). Anti Raanta made 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save %).

The Devils played a complete game, the entire game. It was good to see the team come out strong and play the way they did, and they kept fighting until the very end. You could argue that if the Rangers hadn’t scored those first two goals, the game could have very well ended differently. Henrique gave the team some life with his 16th goal of the season and Palmieri tied the game and gave the Devils the lead within 47 seconds of each other. He now has 18 goals on the season and leads the team. Palmieri almost had a hat trick tonight with his breakaway(s) in overtime and he probably should have but it is what it is.

There were many, many positives out of tonight’s game. First and foremost, Schneider kept the Devils in the game all night long and gave them a chance to win. He is now 9-6-4 in his last 2o games, with a 2.26 goals against average and a .929 save percentage in that span. The Devils did manage an impressive 38 shots on goal; Beau Bennett, Michael Cammalleri, and Kyle Quincey all had five. They went 1/2 on the man advantage with a goal on Palmieri’s second of the night and they killed the Rangers’ only power play opportunity. They also had 17 hits and 13 blocked shots. So, all-in-all, it was a good game, and Schneider and the Devils deserved a better fate.

The Devils making the playoffs is a long shot and I’ve accepted their fate. It’s time to ride out the rest of the season and look forward to the future. I’m already dreading the offseason so I’m going to enjoy watching hockey as long as I can, whether or not I’ll be watching the Devils after April. The Devils are doing good things and building towards a strong, playoff-making and Cup-contending future. Are you with them? I am.

The Devils will be back in action Monday night against Montreal in their Pride Night! Puck drops at 7PM.

P.S. since we’re looking forward to the future, Mikey McLeod had a hat trick last night (and three assists!) and Nathan Bastian had a shorthanded goal. McLeod has two goals and an assist so far tonight so we are still on hatty watch at the time of this post.

2/25/17 Game Preview: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (25-25-10) meet division rival, the New York Rangers (39-19-2) in only their third meeting this season. New York won the previous two at MSG. New Jersey was shutout in the first game, 5-0, and they were outshot 30-19. Anti Raanta earned the shutout and Cory Schneider made 26 saves (.839 save percentage). The Rangers got goals from Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Brady Skjei, Brandon Pirri, and Jimmy Vesey. Miller’s was a shorthanded goal and both Pirri’s and Vesey’s goals were power play goals. The Devils won 54.2% of faceoffs, had 16 blocked shots, but went 0/5 on the man advantage. The second game, a week later, was much closer but the Rangers won (3-2) in a shootout. The Devils outshot the Rangers 31-27 and got goals from P.A. Parenteau and Miles Wood; New York got goals from Kreider and Derek Stepan. Mats Zuccarello, Michael Cammalleri, and Kevin Hayes (game-winner) all scored in the shootout. The Devils won 54.4% of faceoffs and went 1/4 on the power play. Schneider made 25 saves (.926 save %) and Henrik Lundqvist earned the win by making 29 saves on 31 shots, with a .935 save %.

The lineups will look a little different. Both Schneider and Raanta will be in net for their respective teams. Pavel Zacha has been ruled out with a concussion; he had one around the same time last year so he needs to take his time to come back. He was a healthy scratch for the first game but played in the second. Jacob Josefson was a healthy scratch for both games but he should be in the lineup tonight. Michael Cammalleri, Beau Bennett, and Joseph Blandisi will both be in the lineup; John Moore and Seth Helgeson are both healthy scratches.

New Jersey is coming off of a 2-1 loss to the Senators; Travis Zajac scored the lone goal (a power play goal). It was a pretty good game from the Devils’ perspectives and had a very strong third period but could not score the equalizer. They did outshoot the Sens 30-23 and Schneider made 21 saves (.913 save percentage). Beau Bennett, Seth Helgeson, and John Moore were all healthy scratches. The Rangers defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1 in Toronto in a shootout on Thursday; Miller scored the lone goal in regulation and Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad both scored in the shootout. Lundqvist made 32 saves on 33 shots (.970 save %). Buchnevich, Klein, and Puempel were all healthy scratches.

New York is 19.2% successful on the power play (15th) and New Jersey is not too far behind at 17.8% (19th); the Devils power play has been one of the highlights of the last few weeks and it’s helping them out. They look like a coherent unit on the man advantage and five of eight of Zacha’s goals have come on the power play. New York’s penalty kill has a 82% kill rate (13th) and New Jersey’s has taken a hit; it sits 19th in the league with an 80.8% kill rate. The Rangers take about 2.5 more shots/game and allow about 2.5 fewer shots/game.

This is the first time the Devils are meeting the Rangers at home this season but they have only won four of their last 14 games at The Rock (three of those have come within the last three weeks). The Rangers, on the other hand, have won 9 of their last 11 on the road; their only losses have to come to the Isles and the Canadiens. But I’m sure tonight’s game will feel like a home game for the Rangers anyway because it’s nearly impossible to get tickets at MSG.

Either way, it’s a rivalry game. The Devils almost surely will miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season but beating the Rangers should be motivation enough to show up tonight and play a hard-fought game. It’ll be an earlier game than usual and it should be a good one (rivalry games always are); puck drops at 5PM.

2/21/17 Game Recap: Ottawa Senators vs. New Jersey Devils

At least it wasn’t a shutout? The New Jersey Devils (25-25-10) lose another one to the Ottawa Senators and lose the season series, all regulation losses. Truth be told, I wasn’t watching the game; I have an international economics exam tomorrow afternoon and studying for that sounded like a much better idea than watching a slow, uneventful hockey game. This recap is essentially going to be spitting out numbers and statistics and repeating what others watching the game told me.

The game was scoreless heading into the second period until Kyle Turris scored 59 seconds into it. The Devils did have several excellent scoring chances but Craig Anderson denied every single one of them. Erik Karlsson extended the Senators lead to 2-0 at 4:11 in the third on the power play (which wasn’t a strong call but whatever, I don’t know the rules and apparently, the referees don’t either). Tonight wasn’t a shutout because Travis Zajac, our lord and savior, scored on the only Devils power play opportunity of the night off of a pass from Joseph Blandisi (his first official point of the season!). He now has 12 goals on the season and at least a point in his last three games (two goals, two assists). He is also tied for 9th all-time in franchise history with 153 goals (!).The Devils were a completely new team for the remainder of the third and could have easily scored again but did not.

Losing tonight was a pretty glaring negative because it was a game that the Devils could have, and should have, won with all of Ottawa’s recent injuries. It was also a pretty complete game; if they had played the way they did in the last 15 minutes or so for the entire game, the outcome could have very well been much different. Refereeing has been pretty awful all-around the league all season long. Also, another negative, Pavel Zacha took a bad hit by Derick Brassard and exited the game with an upper body injury. Whether or not he underwent concussion protocol has yet to be determined.

But we should look at the positives!! New Jersey did outshoot Ottawa 30-23, and Miles Wood and Damon Severson led the team in shots on goal with four apiece. The Devils won 61% of faceoffs and had 25 hits. Ottawa did have 22 blocked shots (New Jersey had six) which meant that the Devils were shooting the puck more but it could just not find the back of the net. They had an excellent third period, spent most of it out of their own zone, and continued to put pressure on Anderson and Ottawa’s defense. Cory Schneider had another good night, making 21 saves and posting a .913 save percentage.

The trade deadline is also only a week away. I do think the Devils will be sellers at the deadline (or at least not complete buyers) because realistically, they’ll miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season. Colorado, Detroit, Montreal, Buffalo, Edmonton (!), Toronto, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Vegas (!) all had representatives at the game tonight. The Devils did have two scouts at tonight’s Edmonton/Tampa Bay game, which would indicate (another) New Jersey/Edmonton trade. I have ideas but they’re keeping me up at night so I won’t share them and I hope I’m proved wrong.

That’s all I have for tonight; I have to go finish studying the Ricardian model and the Rybczynski theorem and all other things international econ-related. The Devils will get a much-needed three day break (and so will we!) before they face the New York Rangers for only the third time this season. It’ll be a fun game to go to if you can get your hands on tickets; puck will drop at 5PM.

2/21/17 Game Preview: Ottawa Senators vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (25-24-10) will look to avoid being swept by the Ottawa Senators (31-20-6) when they meet for the third and final time this season; Ottawa has won both previous meetings: 3-1 back in December, 3-0 last Thursday. John Moore scored the lone goal for New Jersey in their initial meeting. Mike Condon has made both starts for the Senators, and Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider have split starts for the Devils.

However, based on Kinkaid’s less-than-spectacular performance on Sunday against New York, Cory Schneider will likely be back in net for New Jersey. Based on morning skates, Craig Anderson will make his first and only start against the Devils this season. Michael Cammalleri and Kyle Quincey will both be back in the lineup; Beau Bennett and John Moore are both healthy scratches. But the biggest lineup note? Bobby Ryan is out for at least 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman are also out tonight.

The Devils are coming off of an unfortunate 6-4 loss to the division rival Islanders and the Senators lost 3-2 to Winnipeg, both on Sunday. New Jersey will look to build on a home-and-home series that had both positives and negatives. Rookies Pavel Zacha, Miles Wood, and Steven Santini have all been bright spots. Zacha and Wood both scored this weekend but Santini’s goal was credited to Joseph Blandisi. Zacha has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last 10 games. Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall both scored on Sunday, and those two (along with Adam Henrique) have been consistent scorers. Hall has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last nine games, Palmieri has seven (five goals, two assists) in his last nine, and Henrique has eight (four goals, four assists) in his last 10.

Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, and and Kyle Turris all scored Thursday night and Bobby Ryan, Derick Brassard, and Zack Smith scored back in December. Both Turris’s and Smith’s goals were empty-netters. Karlsson has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last five games. Phaneuf has five points (three goals, two assists) in his last six. Brassard his five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three and had a three-point night against Toronto on Saturday.

It should be another slow, uneventful, and low-scoring game but it will be a close one. Thursday’s game is a better indicator of how both teams will play than December’s. Both teams are pretty evenly matched in terms of power play success and New Jersey’s has been on a roll lately (17.4% compared to Ottawa’s 17.1%). Ottawa’s penalty kill is one of the best in the league with an 83.8% kill rate and New Jersey sits at 81.2%. The Sens average 29.8 shots/game and the Devils average 27.3. The Devils did have 30 shots on goal in their initial meeting but could muster only 21 on Thursday. They have allowed 66 shots on goal (and 35 on Thursday).

Puck drops at 7PM.

2/19/17 Game Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders

I mean, the game wasn’t a total loss, was it? The New Jersey Devils (25-24-10) split the weekend back-to-back, home-and-home series with the New York Islanders (27-21-10) as they drop this one, 6-4. The Devils do snap their six-game winning streak on the road, which is a shame because they have been great away from The Rock, but the Islanders have been just as great at the Barclays Center. The Devils were outshot 32-30. We expected tonight to be a close game and we got it; it just didn’t go New Jersey’s way.

The Devils got on the board first with Miles Wood’s eighth goal of the season; it was also a power play goal. Getting the first goal was important but getting that elusive second goal was crucial and they could not. Ryan Strome tied the game with his 10th about five minutes later and Casey Cizikas gave the Isles the lead with his seventh. Strome got his second of the game and Andrew Ladd got his 16th of the season to extend the Islanders’ lead to 4-1. Ladd’s was a shorthanded goal. Kyle Palmieri then cut the lead to 4-2 with his 16th goal of the season (leads the team). Steven Santini was originally credited with the Devils’ third goal (4-3 now) but the puck bounced off of Joseph Blandisi and into the net. This is his first of the season. New Jersey headed into the third period down 4-3, looking like they might stage an epic comeback, but John Tavares and Jason Chimera both scored a minute into the third period to help the Isles go up 6-3. Taylor Hall was able to score on a four-minute minor penalty to Ladd (for high sticking Wood) to cut the Isles lead to two goals but the Devils were not able to complete the comeback.

The game definitely wasn’t pretty. It was gritty, it was physical, and it had a playoff atmosphere. The Islanders had 38 (38!) hits tonight. but we can take positives out of this game. They had 25 (!) blocked shots. They went 2/4 on the power play and it’s gotten better over the last few weeks. They won 53.1% of faceoffs. They did manage 30 shots on goal and Palmieri led the team with six. Hall had a three point night (a goal and two assists) and is first Devil this season to reach the 40-point mark. And Captain Andy Greene prevented Strome from having a hat trick at the end of the game (thanks, Andy!).

Keith Kinkaid made 26 saves on 32 shots, posting an .812 save percentage, and made some highlight reel saves throughout the night. The Islanders could have easily scored eight or nine or 10 goals but Kinkaid’s heroics are going to be overlooked. Jean-François Bérubé wasn’t that much better, saving 26 shots on 30 faced with an .867 save %.

Tonight’s game was huge because the Devils are now four points behind the Isles in the playoff standings. They missed out on a huge opportunity to pick up another two points to tie New York in the standings.Their next seven games are against Eastern Conference teams and New York goes on a nine-game road trip (where they haven’t been very good). I don’t think any of us really expected the Devils to make the playoffs after their slide in December and I don’t know how many of us still think they might. If you asked me at the beginning of the season, I would have said yes. Now? Not so much. But it’s okay. We’ll be fine. They’ll be fine. It’s time to just enjoy the ride before the offseason hits and then bye bye, hockey for a few months. If they somehow, miraculously, make the playoffs, great! It’s a step forward. If they don’t, then fine. I would like to not get my hopes up (again) just to have them crushed (again). It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. This is hockey.

The Devils will be back at the Prudential Center to play Ottawa Tuesday night; puck drops at 7PM.

2/19/17 Game Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders

The New Jersey Devils (25-23-10) will play the New York Islanders (26-21-10) for the second time in two days in this back-to-back, home-and-home series with their Metropolitan Division rivals. The Devils won the first meeting last night, 3-2, with goals from Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Zajac, and Pavel Zacha. Andrew Ladd and rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored for New York. The Devils were outshot 42-21. Zajac’s was a shorthanded goal and Zacha’s was a power play goal. Cory Schneider made 40 saves on 42 shots for the Devils (.952 save percentage) and Thomas Greiss made 18 saves on 21 shots (.857 save %).

The Isles have been excellent at home. They have an 11-1-2 record in their last 14 at home, their losses coming to Florida (regulation), Philadelphia (overtime), and Carolina (overtime). However, the Devils have been phenomenal on the road. The Devils are an impressive 8-0-1 in their last nine on the road, their only (overtime) loss coming to Edmonton back on January 11th. They have won seven straight on the road since then and will look to continue that streak tonight in Brooklyn.

You know who else has been phenomenal? Cory Schneider. Listen. He’s the main reason the Devils are still in the playoff hunt. He has a 9-5-3 record in his last 18 games played, a 2.17 goals against average, and a.932 save %. If he starts tonight, it will be his ninth straight; he has a 5-2-1 record in those first eight. If Keith Kinkaid does not start tonight, he will almost certainly start Tuesday against Ottawa.

Michael Cammalleri may or may not be a healthy scratch for the second game in a row tonight. He may continue to sit so that Smith-Pelly, Joseph Blandisi, and Beau Bennett all get playing time. His scratch also sends a message to the rest of the team; if you don’t produce, you’re going to sit and the coaching staff doesn’t care. I don’t see why Coach Hynes would mess with a winning lineup, especially because the team did not have a morning skate this morning.

Being scratched has done wonders for several Devils players this season, including rookie Pavel Zacha. He has six goals and three assists in his last last 13 games. His line with Jacob Josefson and Stefan Noesen has found really good chemistry since Noesen was claimed off of waivers not too long ago. Zajac had a good night all around last night as well, getting on the score sheet with a goal and an assist and winning 61.1% of faceoffs.

The Devils were able to keep John Tavares off of the score sheet last night (Schneider stopped his penalty shot on a Zajac hooking call) but may not be able to do it for a second straight game. He’s also not the only one they need to keep track of. The Isles have seven goal-scorers with more than 10 goals (Devils have six) and five with more than 30 points on the season (Devils also have five).

The Devils will have to play a full 60 minutes if they have any shot at sweeping the weekend series. They held a 3-0 lead in the third period but were unable to hold onto it. The Isles had a ton of good scoring chances, especially on the power play at the end of the game, and almost completed the comeback.

Last night’s game had a playoff atmosphere and tonight’s game will be no different. Both teams are still in the playoff hunt and the Devils are closing the gap on the Isles. With both Florida and Toronto losing in regulation yesterday, the Devils are only three points behind the Leafs for the final wildcard spot in the East (and only two behind New York). If, and that’s a big if, the Devils can beat the Isles on the road tonight, they’ll surpass the Isles in the standings and move one step closer to the playoffs.

Tonight’s game should be another close one; puck drops at 6PM.

2/18/17 Game Recap: New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils

It was a close one (a close one) but we’ll take it! The New Jersey Devils (25-23-10) steal a crucial two points from the New York Islanders (26-21-10) in their first meeting this season. The two teams will meet again tomorrow in this back-to-back, home-and-home series. Tonight’s game had a playoff atmosphere feel as rivalry games usually do and it was energetic. Cory Schneider made 40 saves on 42 shots faced, including a penalty shot by John Tavares (I KNOW), posting a .952 save percentage. He had an excellent night all around and there were a few close calls (does Nick Leddy ringing a puck off the post with a wide open net during the Islanders’ power play at the end of the game sound familiar?) but he was able to keep the Devils in it all night long.

But what’s important is that Schneider had help in front of him, offensively and defensively. Devante Smith-Pelly, making his return to the Devils lineup tonight, got the scoring started with his third of the season at 7:10 in the first period and went five-hole on Thomas Greiss. Travis Zajac extended the lead to 2-0 on a slick pass from Adam Henrique at 8:49 in the second and it was a shorthanded goal. The Devils now have six SHGs on the season. Pavel Zacha scored the Devils third goal (a power play goal!) and the game-winning goal.

Special teams played a huge role tonight. The Devils scored a power play goal and a shorthanded goal, and they were able to kill all three Islanders power plays. Zacha now has eight goals on the season, five of them were on the man advantage. Zajac and Smith-Pelly led the team in shots on goal with three each. Zajac, especially, had a great game tonight (a goal and an assist, won 61.1% of faceoffs). Joseph Blandisi and Taylor Hall both had good scoring chances tonight and the goals will come eventually.

Schneider is now 9-5-3 in his last 18 games with a 2.17 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. He’s played tremendously and is giving the Devils a chance to win night in and night out. There were 18 blocked shots tonight, including a huge one from Kyle Palmieri towards the end of the game.

Another positive: the Devils were able to keep Tavares off of the scoresheet tonight. They started off very well and played about as well as they could have during the first period and then the second but the game didn’t stay pretty. The Devils did challenge for goaltender interference on the first New York goal but the ruling on the ice stood. The Islanders started to push back during the third and it showed; New Jersey gave up two goals and went on the penalty kill at the end of the game. The Devils were outshot 42-21 which won’t hold up tomorrow in Brooklyn.

We now look forward to tomorrow’s game. The playoff standings remain as tight as ever. Tomorrow’s game is going to be an important one. The Devils are two points behind New York in the standings, who are only one behind Toronto for the final wildcard spot in the East. If the Devils can build on tonight’s win and fix their mistakes, tomorrow night could be another step forward. Regardless, we’re in for another fun one.

The Devils will take on the Islanders for the second time in two days when they meet in Brooklyn tomorrow night; puck drops at 6PM.

2/18/17 Game Preview: New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils

P.A. Parenteau faces his former team at The Rock when he and the New Jersey Devils (24-23-10) meet their Metropolitan-division rival New York Islanders (26-20-10) for the first of four meetings this season; why this first game is so late, who knows? The Devils will also get to face Stephen Gionta tonight, who spent 11 seasons in the Devils organization. They’ll play each other twice this weekend in a back-to-back, home-and-home series. The Devils are coming off of a 3-0 shutout loss to the Senators and New York defeated their crosstown rival New York Rangers, 4-2. Cory Schneider made the start for New Jersey, stopping 32 of 34 shots faced and posting a .941 save percentage. The Isles were outshot 27-23 but got goals from Anders Lee, Nikolay Kulemin, and Andrew Ladd (2). Thomas Greiss made 25 saves (27 shots faced) and posted a .926 save %.

Schneider will get the start in net for New Jersey tonight. He and Keith Kinkaid will likely split starts this weekend (or Kinkaid will start Tuesday) and Schneider has made the last seven. He’s been phenomenal since the beginning of the new year and is playing the way he needs to if the Devils have any shot at making the playoffs. Michael Cammalleri is a health scratch tonight, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering his level of point production (or lack thereof) in the last few months. Joseph Blandisi and Devante Smith-Pelly (surprise!) will be in the lineup tonight. Griess is is net for New York and they will have the same lineup as Thursday night’s.

Lee leads the Isles with 22 goals on the season; John Tavares has 20 (leads the team in points with 48). Tavares and Josh Bailey have 28 assists on the year. Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique lead the Devils in goals with 15 apiece. Taylor Hall has 24 assists on the season (team leader), and Travis Zajac and Damon Severson are tied for second with 21 each.

The Devils are 4-2-1 since the All-Star Break but have only won two of their last 10 games at home. The Isles are 4-3-1 in their last eight games overall and have lost three of their last four on the road. They’ve played much better since Doug Weight took over Jack Capuano’s job and they are very strong contenders for that final wildcard spot in the East. They are a point behind Toronto, who has 63, and New Jersey has 58 points with four teams ahead of them (Buffalo, Florida, Philadelphia, and New York).

Both teams are pretty evenly matched. They’re similar in terms of power play success (New Jersey has the advantage at 16.3% while New York sits at 15.8%). The Devils power play has been better as of late. The penalty kill is almost even: New Jersey has an 81.2% kill rate, New York is at 81.1%. The Isles do average about 30 shots per game (30.8) and the Devils only average about 27.4 (last in the league). The Isles did only have 23 shots against the Rangers on Thursday so those shot totals don’t mean a whole lot unless you make each shot count.

But I’m going to be honest here, I can throw all of the hockey statistics and numbers in the world at you and none of them matter. The Devils are wildly inconsistent, especially at home, and I’m not sure which Devils team is going to show up tonight. They played fairly well on Thursday against the Senators; the game was scoreless for the most part, and then 1-0 for a while longer. So here’s a question: will the team that shows up tonight look like they actually want to play? And that they actually want to be there? Winning both games against the Islanders this weekend would be huge in terms of confidence boost and playoff standings but do the Devils really have the confidence/skill/offense to catch the rest of the teams for a wildcard spot and somehow stay there? Not really.

Either way, if you are watching (and I probably will be too), puck drops at 7PM.