11/18/2017 Game 19 Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Winnipeg Jets

The New Jersey Devils (11-5-3) lose a tough one, 5-2, to the Winnipeg Jets (12-4-3). Just like Thursday, I wasn’t home to watch this game so this recap might not be as long as I’d like it to be. The Devils did outshoot the Jets, 36-34, but had just two goals to show for it. Matt Hendricks, Mathieu Perreault, and Connor Hellebuyck were named the three stars of the game.

Both teams had a great first period and they went into the first intermission scoreless. At this point, the Devils were outshooting the Jets 13-11. New Jersey looked pretty okay but things well apart quickly in the second period. Kyle Connor opened up the scoring about five minutes into the second but Brian Gibbons would tie things up at one about a minute later. Gibbons’s tally is his ninth, team-leading goal of the season. But the game went south and fast. Patrik Laine gave the Jets a 2-1 lead with his 10th goal of the season; he is on an eight-game point streak. Jacob Trouba scored his first goal of the season, the eventual game-winner. Matt Hendricks and Mathieu Perreault would also score goals and make it 5-1 heading into the second intermission. Laine’s, Trouba’s, and Hendricks’s goals were all scored within two minutes.

The Devils came out much better in the third but managed to score just once. Will Butcher, who leads all NHL rookies in assists with 14, scored his first career NHL goal, assisted by Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall. Hischier and Hall both had good games. Hischier led the team in shots on net with seven, a career-high for him; Hall was second with five. 5-2 would be the final score.

Cory Schneider was pulled before the start of the third period after making just 17 saves on 22 shots against (.773 save percentage). Keith Kinkaid stopped all 12 shots in his relief appearance. This is the first time Schneider has been pulled from a game this season. Connor Hellebuyck was excellent for Winnipeg, making 34 saves on 36 shots against, posting a .944 save percentage.

New Jersey won just 41.5% of faceoffs. They failed to score on either of their two power play opportunities, both thanks to Brian Gibbons, who had a great game tonight. They did manage to take 36 shots on goal, which is great, and they didn’t take a single penalty, also a good thing. Damon Severson had 21:46 in ice time (most on the team); Steven Santini had five hits.

Overall, it was just not a great game. The Devils didn’t play a full 60 minutes this afternoon and it hurt them. Cory Schneider definitely could’ve better but so could the Devils’ defense and their offense, if we’re being honest. The forwards need to play a two-way game and pay extra attention in the defensive zone.

The Devils have now lost two straight games and will look to salvage the road trip against Minnesota on Tuesday; puck drops at 8PM.

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11/18/2017 Game 19 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Winnipeg Jets

The New Jersey Devils (11-4-3) take on the Winnipeg Jets (11-4-3) as they continue their three-game road trip. It’ll be an afternoon game with a 3PM puck drop. This is the first of two meetings between these teams.

Winnipeg won Thursday night in a shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers; they erased a 2-0 deficit with goals from Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele. Scheifele, Patrik Laine, and Bryan Little all scored in the shootout. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves on 32 shots against in the win. They’ve won their last three games and five of their last seven, and they boast a 6-2-1 home record. The Jets have found their footing and have played incredibly well.

New Jersey lost its last game with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs; there’s a brief recap of that game here. Cory Schneider made 24 saves and had a great night. The Devils also managed 42 shots on goal. They played one of their best games of the season. They’ve won just three of their last eight games but have an impressive 6-1-2 away record.

Cory Schneider (7-3-2, 2.64 GAA, .924 save percentage) and Connor Hellebuyck (10-1-2, 2.29 GAA, .930 save percentage) will be in net tonight for their respective teams.

Projected Devils Lines:
Hall-Hischier-Palmieri
Bratt-Zajac-Stafford
Henrique-Boyle-Wood
Gibbons-Coleman-Noesen

Greene-Santini
Moore-Severson
Butcher-Lovejoy

Projected Jets Lines:
Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler
Ehlers-Little-Laine
Copp-Lowry-Tanev
Perreault-Hendricks-Armia

Morrissey-Trouba
Enstrom-Byfuglien
Kulikov-Myers

Patrik Laine has a seven-game point streak (5G, 3A) and has finally found his rhythm after getting off to a slow start this season. Blake Wheeler leads the Jets in scoring with 24 points; he has 16 points (4G, 12A) in his last nine games. Mark Scheifele has 22 points on the season; he has 14 points (8G, 4A) in his past nine games. Scheifele also leads in goals scored with 11.

Taylor Hall leads the Devils in scoring with 19 points; he has 10 points (5G, 5A) in his last 10 games. Nico Hischier is second in scoring with 14 points; he has seven points (1G, 6A) in his past seven games. Brian Gibbons leads in goals scored with eight.

Both teams are pretty similar overall in terms of special teams; their power play and penalty kill percentages are almost exactly the same. One thing of note is that while the Devils have not been great at getting puck to the net, the Jets are dead last in the league in shots on goal/game.

It’ll be another good game. Puck drops at 3PM today!

11/16/2017 Game 18 Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

This might be a (really) short recap because 1) it was a 1-0 game that went into overtime, and 2) I didn’t watch the game (GO SEE JUSTICE LEAGUE!) so I won’t be able to discuss personal observations. But anyway

The New Jersey Devils (11-4-3) fell 1-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs (13-7-0) in overtime last night in their second of three meetings this season. The Devils are now 1-0-1 in games against Toronto this year; they won 6-3 at the Air Canada Centre last month. Frederik Andersen, William Nylander, and Cory Schneider were named the three stars of the game (and in my opinion, I definitely think Schneider should have been second).

William Nylander tallied the lone goal of the contest, the game-winner with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime, ending his goal drought.

It was a battle of the goaltenders until the very end. Freddie Andersen stopped all 42 shots he faced (31 at even strength, nine on the power play, and two shorthanded). Cory Schneider made 24 saves on 25 shots against, posting a .960 save percentage.

Overall, I can’t really be disappointed with the effort that the Devils showed despite being frustrated about the result. Amazingly, they had 42 shots on goal, despite none of them getting past Andersen. Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, who both had great games, led the team in shots on goal with seven each. No one else on the team had more than three (Adam Henrique, Will Butcher, Miles Wood, and Ben Lovejoy).

I will note that in order to win a game, especially a hockey game where things can change instantly, you have to play every single second. That goal definitely hurt.

But the team had a great game and if they continue to play like that throughout the season, they’ll win games more often than not. They had a great, sustained effort and didn’t really let up on the puck. They didn’t win a ton of faceoffs (44.9%). They killed both of Toronto’s penalties and had a couple of shorthanded chances. They had 19 blocked shots, 22 hits.

It was just a really, really good game and as disappointing as it is for them to only pick up a point instead of two, it’s not a complete loss.

I’d honestly rather just gush about Justice League because it was amazing. Every character had their “moment” and Ezra Miller stole the show. I loved it I loved it I loved it. I wasn’t even that mad about the loss.

Consider us even, Leafs fans. The two teams will have their regular season finale in April. The Devils continue their road trip against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow afternoon.

(Told you this would be short.)

11/16/2017 Game 18 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The New Jersey Devils (11-4-2) are looking to win their third straight game (and their second straight on the road) when they face the resurgent Toronto Maple Leafs (12-7-0) tonight at the Air Canada Centre. The two teams have already played each other once this season; a 6-3 Devils win (also at the ACC). Miles Wood (2), Pavel Zacha (2), Brian Gibbons, and Blake Coleman, all young forwards, tallied goals for New Jersey; James van Riemsdyk, Dominic Moore, and Auston Matthews (because, of course) scored for Toronto. Here’s a full recap for that game.

The Maple Leafs have won four straight games coming into tonight’s contest: 4-3 against Vegas, 4-2 against Minnesota, and 3-2 and 4-1 against Boston. Three of those four games have been without 2016 first overall draft pick, Auston Matthews (upper body injury) Toronto is scary good (I definitely wouldn’t underestimate them and why would you?).

New Jersey snapped a four-game losing streak with a win against the Panthers on Saturday (2-1) and followed it up with an empathic 7-5 comeback win against Chicago on Sunday at the United Center. Miles Wood tallied a natural hat trick, the first of his NHL career. They are in the midst of a four-game road trip; they’ll play Winnipeg and Minnesota before returning home.

The Devils are 6-0-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season. They are 6-1-1 away from the Prudential Center; Toronto is 7-3-0 at home. New Jersey is 5-3-2 in their last 10 games; the Leafs are 5-5-0.

Travis Zajac will make his season debut tonight. He underwent surgery back in August for a torn pectoral muscle and was anticipated to come back late December/early January. His recovery has gone much faster than expected.

Auston Matthews (TOR) will miss his fourth straight game tonight, still dealing with an upper body injury. But Toronto is still winning games without him. Mirco Mueller (NJD) will undergo surgery today (broken left clavicle) and was placed on IR. Marcus Johansson (NJD) remains sidelined with a concussion.

Cory Schneider (7-3-1, 2.79 GAA, .922 save percentage) and Frederik Andersen (10-6-0, 3.25 GAA, .901 save percentage) will likely get the starts in net tonight. Both teams have had a couple of days “off” so Schneider and Andersen should be well-rested and ready to go.

Projected Devils Lines:
Hall-Hischier-Palmieri
Bratt-Zajac*-Stafford
Henrique-Boyle-Wood
Gibbons-Coleman-Noesen

Greene-Santini
Moore-Severson
Butcher-Lovejoy

Projected Maple Leafs Lines:
Komarov-Kadri-Nylander
van Riemsdyk-Marleau-Hyman
Brown-Bozak-Marner
Martin-Moore-Soshnikov

Rielly-Hainsey
Gardiner-Zaitsev
Borgman-Carrick

Matthews leads Toronto in scoring with 19 points; Nazem Kadri has 16 (9G, 7A). Matthews is also their leading goal-scorer (10). Kadri and James van Riemsdyk have nine goals apiece. Morgan Reilly leads in assists with 13 (16 points). Mitchell Marner has seven points (1G, 6A) in his last five games.

Taylor Hall leads New Jersey in scoring with 19 points (6G, 13A). Nico Hischier has 14 points (3G, 11A); fellow rookies Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher have 13 points each. Brian Gibbons leads in goals scored with eight.

Both teams are pretty evenly matched in terms of special teams. The Devils have the third-best power play in the league at 25.0% successful; the Leafs are seventh at 23.4%. Toronto has a slightly better penalty kill at 80.6% efficient (15th); New Jersey is 80.3% efficient (16th).

A major key tonight is maybe not allowing 50 shots on goal, which the Devils did last time they played in Toronto. That won’t hold up again tonight if their defense continues to play the way they have been over the past few games. They’re allowing the second-highest SOG/game in the league.

I won’t be watching (or live-tweeting) tonight (I’m going to see Justice League!) but if you are, you’re in for a really, really good game. Puck drops at 7PM EST.

**In addition, Michael McLeod was assigned to the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) yesterday.

11/12/2017 Game 17 Recap: New Jersey Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The New Jersey Devils (11-4-2) win a WILD one over the Chicago Blackhawks (8-8-2) at the United Center in the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The two teams combined for 12 goals (the Devils had seven); Chicago outshot New Jersey 44-38. Miles Wood tallied a natural hat trick for the first time in his career. He (NJD), Nico Hischier (NJD), and Jan Rutta (CHI) were named the three stars of the game.

The first period was a MESS, to put it lightly. The team played like complete garbage and they left many fans wondering if they’d be able to come back from a three-goal deficit. Fear not, Devils fans, this is not the Devils team that you’re used to. The team found themselves down early when Artem Anisimov got Chicago on the board first just 41 seconds into the game. The Devils would answer back about three minutes later with Wood’s first goal of the game, a power play tally. Drew Stafford and Taylor Hall had the assists.

But Chicago would score three more times in the first period to take a 4-1 lead. Alex DeBrincat, Jan Rutta, and Tanner Kero (his first of the season) all scored; Rutta’s goal was on the power play. All three goals were scored within five minutes of each other and the game looked like it was quickly getting out of hand. Many thought starting Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid would be pulled during intermission in favor of Cory Schneider but he was not. Wood would score his second goal of the game shortly after Kero’s tally to cut the lead to two just before intermission; Pavel Zacha and Steven Santini, who both played well tonight,

The second period rolls around. There’s no way the score is going to remain 4-2 with how both teams are playing. Naturally, they score more goals. New Jersey scored four goals in the second period alone. Andy Greene picked up his second goal of the season to cut the lead to 4-3; his goal gave him 200 points in his NHL career. Greene becomes the sixth defenseman to have at least 200 points with the Devils (and the fifth since the move to New Jersey). Stefan Noesen and Blake Coleman had the assists.

2017 first overall draft pick Nico Hischier proceeded to tie things up at four goals apiece with his third tally of the season, his first on U.S. soil and his first in the arena in which he was drafted. His goal was unassisted.

Taylor Hall, who had one hell of a game tonight, decided that the Devils weren’t quite done scoring goals and tacked on another one, giving New Jersey their first lead of the game (5-4). His goal and assist earlier on Wood’s first goal gave him 400 points in his NHL career. Hischier and Greene had the assists. This was Hischier’s 10th assist of the season, which is the most by an 18-year old through their first 17 career games since 2007-08 (Kane – 14).

Brian Gibbons, the Devils’ leading goal scorer, tallied his eighth goal of the season to give the team a two-goal lead (6-4); Wood had the lone assist. Gibbons’s goal would be the eventual game-winner. But Patrick Kane, Chicago’s leading scorer, scored his sixth of the season to cut New Jersey’s lead back to one.

During the third period, Chicago pulled Corey Crawford, who had never allowed seven goals in a game (and still hasn’t) in favor of Anton Forsberg, who played last night. Wood would not be denied a hat trick and completed the feat just 2:21 into the third period. It was the first hat trick of his career. His hatty was also the first Devils hat trick since Travis Zajac’s hat trick last December in a 4-3 overtime loss to, yep, Chicago. Wood (22 years, 60 days) is also the youngest Devils player, and the youngest American Devils player, with a hat trick since Scott Gomez (20 years, 3 days), who had one against the Rangers on December 26, 1999.

This was the first time that the Devils had rallied from a three-goal deficit to win in regulation since April 18, 2006 against Montreal, the same night that they won the Atlantic Division after both the Rangers and Flyers lost. This was also the first time that Chicago had allowed seven goals in a home game since allowing seven in a 7-4 loss to Edmonton on October 28, 2010.

Chicago had the fifth-best penalty kill coming into tonight’s game but the Devils scored on two of three power play opportunities, as did the Hawks. New Jersey was better in the faceoff circle, winning 53.9% of them. Almost everyone won at least 50% of theirs, including Adam Henrique (72.2%), Hall (75%), Stafford (66.7%), Wood (100%), Coleman (50%), and Hischier (50%).

They did manage 38 shots on goal, which was a pleasant surprise. Wood had seven shots on goal, Hall had 5, and Jesper Bratt had four. The team also had 22 hits and 29 blocked shots; Steven Santini had 10 blocked shots alone. Damon Severson had five. Greene led the team in time on ice (26:15) followed by Severson (24:05) and Santini (24:01).

It was, all-around, a great game for the Devils. 11 different players found their way onto the score sheet. Wood had a four-point night (3G, 1A) and Hischier had a three-point night (1G, 2A). Greene (1G, 1A) and Hall (1G, 1A) both had two points. Seven other players had one.

And as funny as the score was, 7-5 in favor of New Jersey, Chicago actually dressed seven defensemen tonight while New Jersey had five. Mirco Mueller took a hard hit into the boards in the first and did not return to the game. He was seen in an arm sling after the game and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. He’s been playing well as of late so here’s to hoping that he’s okay.

Overall, it was not a pretty win but it was still a win nonetheless. Their defensive game needs a ton of work. Kinkaid really didn’t have a ton of help in front of the night tonight despite 29 blocked shots but he was able to get the job done.

The Devils were able to come into a very, very tough environment and leave with a win. They didn’t stop fighting after going down 4-1 in the first and did the improbable. They’re a different team this year and they’re exciting to watch. They’ll be able to sustain a high level of speed and skill throughout the season, especially during grueling stretches of games.

New Jersey and Chicago will meet again on December 23 at the Rock; the Devils will be back in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

11/12/2017 Game 17 Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The New Jersey Devils (10-4-2) look to continue their early-season road success against the Chicago Blackhawks (8-7-2) at the United Center. Chicago is 4-3-1 at home; New Jersey is 5-1-1 on the road. Both teams played last night: the Devils defeated the Florida Panthers, 2-1, and the Hawks mounted a comeback against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite being down 2-0 and then 3-1, Chicago won the game in overtime. Rookie Alex DeBrincat (2) and Gustav Forsling tallied regulation goals while Brandon Saad scored the game-winner for his seventh goal of the season. Chicago has won three of their last five games and lost seven of their last 11 games.

The Devils also won last night, a 2-1 decision over the Panthers. Damon Severson and Kyle Palmieri (game-winning goal) tallied goals last night; Cory Schneider made 32 saves in the effort. There’s of that game recap here. Before that, New Jersey had lost four straight games.

Chicago has a 26-26-11-3 all-time record against New Jersey and a 15-12-5-1 record at home. They won both contests last season. My first Devils game was actually against the Hawks at the Rock; Martin Brodeur and Antti Raanta were in net. Marek Zidlicky (2) and Andy Greene tallied goals for the Devils; Patrick Sharp had a hat trick.

Keith Kinkaid (3-1-1, 2.88 GAA, .903 save percentage) and Corey Crawford (7-6-0, 2.88 GAA, .942 save percentage) will start for their respective teams. Crawford has a 5-4-0 record against the Devils. Both Cory Schneider and Anton Forsberg started last night.

Projected Devils Lines:
Hall-Hischier-Palmieri
Bratt-Henrique-Stafford
Wood-Boyle-Hayes
Gibbons-Coleman-Noesen

Greene-Santini
Moore-Severson
Butcher-Mueller

Projected Blackhawks Lines:
Saad-Toews-Panik
Schmaltz-Anisimov-Kane
Bouma-Kero-DeBrincat
Sharp-Wingels-Hartman

Keith-Franson
Murphy-Seabrook
Forsling-Rutta

Brandon Saad leads Chicago in goals (7) and has 10 points on the season; Patrick Kane is Chicago’s highest scorer with 15 points on the season. Jonathan Toews has 11 points (he has 10 in 13 games against New Jersey). Brian Gibbons is New Jersey’s top goal scorer; he also has seven. Taylor Hall is their highest scorer with 17 points; rookie Will Butcher has 13, all assists.

The Devils have the 7th best power play in the league at 22.6 successful; they had a power play tally last night. The Hawks have the second-worst power play in the league, at just 12.2% successful; they also have the 5th best penalty kill in the league, at 85.9% efficient. The Devils are 12th at 82.3% efficient.

This game will have to be won at even strength and New Jersey will have to minimize the amount of penalties they take. They have played well on the road and should continue to do so. If they can capitalize on Chicago’s mistakes, who aren’t playing as well as many expected them to this season especially with all of their offseason moves, they should be able to win this game. It’ll be close but it’ll be fun.

Puck drops at 7PM tonight!

11/11/2017 Game 16 Recap: Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (10-4-2) ended their four-game losing streak tonight with a 2-1 over the Florida Panthers (5-9-2). They become the first team in the Metropolitan Division to reach 10 wins on the season. (Columbus now also has 10 wins after defeating Detroit in a shootout.)

Damon Severson (NJD), Kyle Palmieri (NJD), and Nick Bjugstad (FLA) all tallied goals tonight. The Panthers outshot the Devils 33-21 and won 67.3% of faceoffs; the Devils had a really bad night in the faceoff circle. Cory Schneider, Palmieri, and Severson were named the three stars of the game.

Schneider was excellent tonight, making 32 saves for his seventh win of the season. He made a few ridiculous saves and was able to secure a close win for New Jersey. James Reimer wasn’t tested too much but made his saves count.

There were 18 penalty minutes in total tonight. The Devils were able to kill all four Florida power play opportunities and Palmieri’s tally was a power play goal, ending their 0-for-11 (0-for-12) scoreless streak on the man advantage in their last five (six) games. They went 1-for-2 on the night.

Top defensive pairing Andy Greene and Steven Santini had an excellent night tonight. Greene made a huge sliding stop in front of the Devils’ net to prevent a tying tally. Santini had a couple of huge hits tonight (four overall) and played a very physical game. Santini has really developed into a great defenseman between this year and last, and it’s hard to believe that he’s only in his second NHL season.

Taylor Hall also had a great game tonight despite not showing up on the scoresheet. A handful of Devils players had three shots on goal: Palmieri, Severson, Blake Coleman, and Drew Stafford.

Will Butcher picked up an assist tonight on Palmieri’s goal to move to 13 on the season. Per StatsCentre, in the last 30 years, 13 assists is the most by a defenseman and tied for fifth most by any player through their first 16 career games. Additionally, the last Devils defenseman to have that many assists through the first 16 games of a season was Scott Stevens (1991-92).

Overall, it was a much-needed win. New Jersey didn’t let up even after taking a 2-0 lead in the second period and continued to apply pressure. It definitely wasn’t a pretty win by any means but this game proves that they can and will win the 2-1 games, the 3-2 games, which is something they couldn’t do last season.

Hopefully they’ll continue to build on this win. They’ll fly to Chicago tonight and face the Blackhawks in the second half of a back-to-back set tomorrow night; puck drops at 7PM EST.

11/11/2017 Game 16 Preview: Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (9-4-2) aim to end their four-game losing streak when they host the Florida Panthers (5-8-2) tonight; the Devils will also be holding their Military Appreciation Night at the Rock.

The Panthers defeated the Buffalo Sabres last night by a score of 4-1; Evgenii Dadonov, Ian McCoshen, Aleksander Barkov, and Vincent Trocheck all tallied goal. Roberto Luongo, Twitter extraordinaire, picked up the win to move to fourth-place on the all-time wins list.

As mentioned earlier, the Devils have lost four straight games (0-2-2). They lost their recent game in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers; Brian Boyle, his first of the season, and Drew Stafford tallied goals in regulation.

Cory Schneider (6-3-3, 2.96 GAA, .918 save percentage) and Luongo (2-3-1, 3.15 GAA, .917 save percentage) will get the starts for their respective teams tonight. Keith Kinkaid will get the start for New Jersey tomorrow night against Chicago.

Travis Zajac and Michael McLeod were fully cleared to practice and skated with the team this morning. Zajac will travel with the team next week and will likely make his season debut next week. No decision has been made regarding where McLeod will play; he will either make his NHL debut and stick with the big club, or be sent down to the OHL to rejoin the Mississauga Steelheads. No updates on Marcus Johansson other than that he is progressing slowly and this is going to be a long-term injury.

The Devils will roll with the same lineup they had against the Oilers, which means that Ben Lovejoy, Dalton Prout, and Pavel Zacha are the healthy scratches; the Panthers will also play the same lineup from last night against the Sabres.

Projected Devils’ Lines:
Hall-Hischier-Palmieri
Bratt-Henrique-Stafford
Wood-Boyle-Hayes
Gibbons-Coleman-Noesen

Greene-Santini
Moore-Severson
Butcher-Lovejoy

Projected Panthers’ Lines:
Huberdeau-Barkov-Dadonov
Brickley-Trocheck-Vrbata
McGinn-Bjugstad-Sceviour
Haley-MacKenzie-Hunt

Yandle-Ekblad
Matheson-Pysyk
McCoshen-Weegar

Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers in scoring with 19 points; Vincent Trocheck has 17 and also leads in goals scored with eight. Taylor Hall leads the Devils in scoring with 17 points; rookies Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher have 12 each. Brian Gibbons leads the team with seven goals. Hall needs two more points to reach 400 in his NHL career; captain Andy Greene needs one more to reach 200.

New Jersey is 4-3-1 at home; Florida is 2-5-0 on the road. The Devils have a 21.6% successful power play (8th) but they’ve gone several games without tallying one. The Panthers are 16.7% successful (19th). The Devils have an 81.3% efficient penalty kill (15th); the Panthers have the second worst penalty kill in the league at 72.4%.

This should be a good bounce-back game for the Devils. After four straight losses, they need to come out strong and continue to play the way they did to start the season. They’ve shown continuous improvements in their four losses and they need to play a complete game for 60 minutes. Obviously, they need to send pucks to the net and not be afraid to take shots (which is something that Coach John Hynes emphasized during the morning skate today). The Devils should look good tonight.

This is New Jersey’s last game at home before they embark on a four-game road trip; puck drops at 7PM tonight.

11/9/2017 Game 15 Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (9-4-1) continue their three-game home stand against the Edmonton Oilers tonight at the Rock in the teams’ regular season finale. The two teams met on Friday, a 6-3 loss for the Devils. I wrote a recap for that game over here.

Since the two teams last played, the Devils have lost three straight games, starting with the loss to Edmonton. They fell in a shootout to the Calgary Flames, 5-4, and lost 3-1 to the  Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues Tuesday night. They are in the midst of a three-game home stand; they’ll embark on a four-game road trip starting on Sunday at Chicago.

The Oilers are coming off of an overtime win over the New York Islanders; Connor McDavid scored the game winner. They are currently on their East Coast road trip and will play back-to-back games against the New York Rangers (Saturday) and the Washington Capitals (Sunday) this weekend. They played the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday and were shut out 4-0.

Edmonton has an 8-2-3 record in their last 13 meetings against New Jersey. The Devils are 4-3-0 at home to start the season; the Oilers are 2-2-1 on the road.

Tonight’s goaltender matchup will likely feature Cory Schneider (6-3-0, 2.98 GAA, .919 save percentage) and Cam Talbot (5-7-1, 2.99 GAA, .909 save percentage), both of whom started in the first game.

Kyle Palmieri is day-to-day and did practice with the team yesterday; he skated on the top line with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. He could return to the lineup tonight. Marcus Johansson is still out with a concussion and has not skated or practiced; he also has not been placed on Injured Reserve but could be if Palmieri is activated today.

Drake Caggiula is out for Edmonton. Anton Slepyshev is a maybe.

Projected Devils’ Lines:
Hall-Hischier-Palmieri
Bratt-Henrique-Stafford
Gibbons-Boyle-Hayes
Wood-Coleman-Noesen

Greene-Santini
Moore-Mueller
Butcher-Lovejoy*
Prout-Severson*

*Devils’ defensive pairs subject to change

Projected Oilers’ Lines:
Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl
Lucic-Nugent-Hopkins-Slepyshev
Jokinen-Strome-Pakarinen
Malone-Letestu-Kassian

Nurse-Larsson
Klefbom-Benning
Russell-Gryba

McDavid leads the Oilers in points with 17; Leon Draisaitl has 11. Taylor Hall leads New Jersey in scoring with 17 points also; rookies Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher have 12. Brian Gibbons still has the team lead in goals scored with seven.

Hall is two points away from 400 in his NHL career; captain Andy Greene is one point away from 200 in his NHL career.

The Devils’ power play took a hit on Tuesday after going 0-for-4 with the man advantage; they sit 8th in the league at 23.4% successful. The penalty kill is still about average, just 80.6% efficient (16th). The Oilers’ power play is 26th in the league at 14.0%; their penalty kill is the league’s worst 69.6%.

New Jersey will have to find a way to draw penalties and score on their power play opportunities. They did get pucks past Talbot on Friday but it may have been too little, too late. They need to play their game and limit Edmonton’s scoring chances (somehow). If they can skate well and stay out of their own zone as much as possible and send pucks to the net… it would just be nice to get a win against the Oilers. They’ve lost the last three games and five of their last six overall to Edmonton.

If you’re coming out tonight, don’t forget to bring your canned goods for the team’s annual food drive. Any guests in attendance who donate will receive a voucher for a pair of tickets for a Devils game. Devils/Oilers will also be the free game over at NHL.com tonight so you can watch over there; puck drops at 7PM EST.

11/7/2017 Game 14 Recap: St. Louis Blues vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (9-4-1) drop their third straight game in a 3-1 loss to the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues (12-3-1). The Blues have won eight consecutive games against the Devils; the last New Jersey win was on January 21, 2014 by a score of 7-1. Cory Schneider was tonight’s MVP for the Devils. This is also their first loss of the season when scoring first. Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and Blake Coleman were named the three stars of the game.

Blake Coleman helped the Devils get on the board first with his second goal of the season (and the third of his career) but it was the Blues’ top line that really shined tonight. They were responsible for all three St. Louis tallies; Tarasenko, Schenn, and Jaden Schwartz all scored, and the first two had three-point nights.

The Devils really didn’t look that bad but when they were slow and sloppy, it hurt. They had stretches of strong play and abysmal play. They were outplayed and outshot, and the score could have been much worse than it was.

And instead of formatting my game recap in the way I usually do, I thought maybe I would just take a look at some of the positives and negatives. Where to start?

Let’s talk about the bad. A glaring negative is the amount of penalties that New Jersey took tonight; they had five. The last penalty, a tripping penalty against Steven Santini, was questionable at best and probably shouldn’t have been called. Even the holding penalty called against Taylor Hall in the first was questionable. Taking penalties changes the momentum of the game; the game-winning goal was scored on the power play.

What’s worse is that St. Louis also took four penalties and the Devils failed to score on any of their power plays. A power play goal here or there could have done wonders, either given them a lead or simply tied the game. Again, it’s a momentum-shifter. They still have one of the best power plays in the league but it didn’t look like it tonight.

The Devils were also outshot 40-22 and had just four shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.

But tonight wasn’t a total loss (can we tell the score sheet that?). The Devils did manage to kill all but one of St. Louis’s five power play opportunities. They shouldn’t have had to kill that many in the first place but the penalty kill was strong tonight.

They also managed to win 50% of faceoffs (34/68); Pavel Zacha won 60% of his, Brian Boyle won 59% of his, and Adam Henrique won 52% of his. The team as a whole hasn’t been great in the faceoff circle but winning them starts important plays and sequences, and having the puck is better than not having the puck (obviously).

Schneider also looked solid tonight; he made 38 saves on 40 shots against, posting a .949 save percentage. The Blues had a ton of dangerous scoring chances and Schneider stopped them all. The defense also didn’t look that bad tonight; Will Butcher had a less-than-memorable game tonight but as a unit, they didn’t look awful.

In addition, the Devils’ fourth line looked like their best line tonight. Coleman was the only Devil to get on the board tonight with a goal and Brian Boyle picked up an assist on the goal for his first point of the season. Boyle had a great night tonight and if the Devils can get scoring from their fourth line, it’ll really help the team out if the other lines can’t produce.

I’m still not 100% sold on having Damon Severson as a healthy scratch tonight. His defensive play definitely hasn’t been up-to-par and he hasn’t been chipping in offensively. He’s made a ton of costly mistakes. It could be a good thing for him to take in the game from above (just like Coach Hynes did with Steven Santini last season) and just take a breather.

And in other news, it looks like John Quenneville was at the Rock tonight. He has six points (4G, 2A) in six games with the Binghamton Devils (AHL) this season. A call-up wouldn’t be completely out of the blue. Nothing has been made official yet.

It’s time to regroup. The Oilers come to town on Thursday for a 7PM matchup.