New Jersey Devils Post-Game Notes: Dec. 14 @ Arizona Coyotes

New Jersey Devils (9-17-5) @ Arizona Coyotes (19-11-4)
8:00 PM ET • Gila River Arena • MSG+ / FS-A PLUS • Devils Hockey Network

 

*Links for Devils Hockey Network can be found on newjerseydevils.com and on Devils’ social media channels.*

 

Check @NJDevils on Twitter for Morning Skate Interviews

Pre-Game Availability *subject to change

3:45 PM Media Availability at Gila River Arena*

 

 

 

LAST GAME @ COLORADO AVALANCHE

 

The Devils fell to the Avalanche, 3-1, in the first of two contests of the 2019-20 regular season series. The Devils continue their four game road trip, falling to 0-3-0 (Dec. 7 @ NSH; L, 6-4 / Dec. 10 @ DAL; L, 2-0 / Dec. 13 @ COL; L, 3-1). New Jersey falls to 1-5-2 (1-4-0 road) against Central Division opponents this season.

 

New Jersey was 4-5 on the penalty kill tonight, and 0-4 on the power play. The Devils outshot the Avalanche, 38-37. New Jersey was 21-55 (38%) in face-offs tonight.

 

The Devils open up their ninth of 16 sets of back-to-back action tonight. The club falls to 1-5-3 in first games.

 

Louis Domingue got the start in the matchup, allowing two goals on 17 shots against. Domingue falls to 1-4-1 this season. Mackenzie Blackwood came into relieve Domingue at 30:48, stopping 33 of 35 shots faced in regulation.

 

Sami Vatanen led the team in TOI, skating in 22:00.

 

Mirco Mueller tallied his first goal of the season, 15:48 in the third assisted by Pavel Zacha and Wayne Simmonds.

 

Valeri Nichushkin notched the game winner for the Avs.

 

The Devils are 1-4-0 at Pepsi Center and 3-6-0 overall against the Avalanche since the 2015-16 season. New Jersey will matchup with Colorado for the second and final time, Jan. 4 at Prudential Center.

 

 

TONIGHT’S GAME @ ARIZONA COYOTES

 

Tonight marks the second and final regular season contests between New Jersey and Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Devils, 5-3, when the two clubs squared off on Oct. 25 at Prudential Center. New Jersey was 1-5 on the man advantage, and 3-3 on the penalty kill in the first matchup.

 

Jack Hughes (1G-2A) leads the Devils in points, tallying three in the October matchup. Sami Vatanen (1G-1A) notched two points in his first multi-point game of his 2019-20 campaign.

 

Mackenzie Blackwood allowed four goals on 17 shots against. The 17 shots is the lowest the Devils have faced all season.

 

Jason Demers (3A) leads Arizona in points in the 2019-20 regular season series against New Jersey. Barrett Hayton tallied the game winner for the Coyotes, which marked Hayton’s first career NHL goal.

 

Antti Raanta saw the full 60 minutes of action against the Devils, allowing three goals on 35 shots against.

 

Tonight’s contest concludes New Jersey’s ninth of 16 sets of back-to-back action. The club looks to improve their 3-4-1 record in second games.

 

The Devils are 2-2-0 at Gila River Arena and 6-3-0 overall against the Coyotes since the 2015-16 season.

 

 

 

 

 

INJURIES

 

Matt Tennyson (I.R.) – 4 games missed; Upper-body injury sustained Dec. 3

 

Total Man-Games Lost to Injury: 48

 

 

HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER

 

The New Jersey Devils will support the National Hockey League’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative on Saturday, Nov. 23, when the team faces off against the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m. EST.

 

Local 11-Year Old Brain tumor Survivor Serves as Guest of honor
The team will honor eleven-year old Grace Eline, a Morris County brain tumor survivor.  Through the Devils partnership with RWJBarnabas Health, Grace joined the team for practice on Monday, worked on some drills and met the guys.  On Saturday, she will be the guest of honor, read the starting lineup, and drop the puck on the ceremonial puck drop.

 

Grace was treated at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an RWJBarnabs Health facility, and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Grace has achieved N.E.D. status meaning there is no evidence of disease. RWJBarnabas Health is the Official Healthcare Provider of the New Jersey Devils.

 

Celebrating the Survivors

As part of the “I Fight For” placard unveiling, the Devils have brought back three of their recent honorees from previous HFC games – Quinn Knapp and Santino Anastasia.

 

Supporting a Regional Medical Center
Fundraising efforts throughout the game will help to renovate the Clara Maass Medical Center Infusion Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. In partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Clara Maass Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health provide patients access to the most advanced treatment options close to home. The Cancer Center at Clara Maas Medical Center continues to receive the prestigious accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as a community hospital comprehensive cancer program.

 

Lavender Warm-Up Jerseys and Players Sticks Auctioned for Charity:
Lavender players jerseys worn during warm-ups, and sticks adorned with lavender tape, will be auctioned off through December 7 online at newjerseydevils.com/auction. All proceeds from the auction, as well as the game’s 50/50 raffle, will go towards the Clara Maass Medical Center Infusion Center renovation.

 

 

MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

 

Prudential Center and the New Jersey Devils will honored our nation’s service members during the team’s annual Military Appreciation Night, Nov. 15 vs PIT.

 

The Kyle Palmieri Foundation, founded by New Jersey Devils right wing, Kyle Palmieri, and his wife, Ashlee Casper, gives back to those who put their lives on the line to preserve American freedom. Kyle has strong ties with the military as his sister and brother-in-law are currently serving in the National Guard and U.S. Army. This close connection to the military inspired Kyle to do more to help those who sacrifice the most.

 

Over the past four seasons, Kyle Palmieri has been providing active military service members and veterans an opportunity to attend a Devils regular season home game. During 10 select home games, Palmieri’s foundation, Squad 21 invites 21 military personnel and a guest to sit in Kyle’s reserved section, along with a t-shirt, and a post-game meet and greet with Kyle.

 

 

MILESTONES

 

*Jesper Boqvist – 1st NHL goal (Nov. 26 vs MIN)

*Blake Coleman – 200 GP NJD/NHL (Nov. 19 vs. BOS)

*Andy Greene – Passed Scott Niedermayer for 7th place all time in Devils/franchise GP (893)(Dec. 3 vs VGK)

-3 GP to 900 NJD/NHL

-3 G to 50 NJD/NHL

-8 A to 200 NJD/NHL

*Nikita Gusev – 1st NHL goal (Oct. 4 vs. WPG)

*Taylor Hall – 200th NJD GP (Nov. 16 @ MTL)

-200 NJD PTS (Nov. 16 @ MTL; 2A)

*John Hayden – 1st Devils point (1A; Nov. 23 vs. DET)

*Nico Hischier – 100th NHL/Devils career points (Oct. 5 @ BUF; 1A)

*Jack Hughes – 1st NHL point (Oct. 17 vs. NYR; 1A)

-1st NHL goal (Oct. 19 vs. VAN)

*Kyle Palmieri – 500th NHL GP (Oct. 10 vs. EDM)

100th Devils assist (Nov. 1 vs. PHI)

-300th NHL point (Oct. 30 vs TB; 3G)

-50th PPG (Oct. 30 vs TB)

-150th NHL assists (Nov. 28 @ MTL)

*P.K. Subban – 100th NHL goal (Nov. 2 @ CAR)

*Sami Vatanen – 100th Devils GP (Jan. 15 @ CBJ)

-400th NHL GP (Nov. 4 @ WPG)

*Miles Wood – 200th NHL/NJD GP (Oct. 4 vs. WPG)

*Travis Zajac – Passed John MacLean for fifth place in GP in NJD franchise history with 935 (Nov. 5 @ WPG)

-3 PTS from tying Kirk Muller for third place on the Devils all-time points list

-4 G to tie Zach Parise four fourth place on the Devils all-time goals list

 

 

 

RECENT HAPPENINGS

 

October 6: Signed Joe Morrow to a one-year, two-way contract

-Placed and cleared waivers, to Binghamton (AHL)

October 12: Placed Andy Greene on I.R. retroactive to Oct. 9 @ PHI

-Recalled Matt Tennyson from Binghamton (AHL)

October 25: Placed Connor Carrick on I.R.

November 1: Acquired G Louis Domingue for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft

November 15: Placed Sami Vatanen on I.R.

-Recalled Colton White from Binghamton (AHL)

November 17: Assigned Colton White to Binghmaton (AHL)

November 18: Placed Cory Schneider on waivers (cleared waivers, to Binghamton (AHL))

-Recalled Louis Domingue from Binghamton (AHL)

November 22: Placed Kevin Rooney on I.R.

November 23: Recalled Brett Seney from Binghamton (AHL)

November 29: Assigned Brett Seney to Binghamton (AHL)

December 5: Placed Matt Tennyson on I.R. retroactive to Dec. 3 vs VGK

December 6: Assigned Connor Carrick to Binghamton (AHL) on a conditioning stint

-Recalled Colton White from Binghamton (AHL)

Dec. 10: Placed Nico Hischier on I.R.

-Recalled Michael McLeod from Binghamton (AHL)

Dec. 13: Activated Nico Hischier off of I.R.

-Assigned Colton White to Binghamton (AHL)

 

 

 

 

NIC-OT

 

On Feb. 9th,2019, Nico Hischier (1G-1A) scored with 1:41 remaining in overtime to help the Devils overcome a three-goal deficit to win for the second time this season (also: Dec. 14 vs. VGK). The first-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft (20 years, 42 days) became the first player in Devils franchise history to record three overtime goals before his 21st birthday. Among all active NHL players, only Ilya Kovalchuk (4) and Sean Monahan (4) scored more overtime tucks prior to turning 21. Hischier has scored the game winner in the clubs three overtime wins.

 

 

HOW THEY WERE BUILT

 

In the System:

 

Jesper Boqvist (2017, 2nd round, 36th overall)

Mackenzie Blackwood (2015, 2nd round, 42nd overall)

Jesper Bratt (2016, 6th round, 162nd overall)

Blake Coleman (2011, 3rd round, 75th overall)

Nico Hischier (2017, 1st round, 1st overall)

Jack Hughes (2019, 1st round, 1st overall)

Michael McLeod (2016, 1st round, 12th overall)

Damon Severson (2012, 2nd round, 60th overall)

Miles Wood (2013, 4th round, 100th overall)

Pavel Zacha (2015, 1st round, 6th overall)

Travis Zajac (2004, 1st round, 20th overall)

 

 

Free Agency: Will Butcher, Andy Greene, Kevin Rooney, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Tennyson

 

Trade: Connor Carrick, Louis Domingue, Nikita Gusev, Taylor Hall, John Hayden, Mirco Mueller, Kyle Palmieri, P.K. Subban, Sami Vatanen

 

 

 

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New Jersey Devils Post-Game Notes: Dec. 13 @ Colorado Avalanche

New Jersey Devils 1 @ Colorado Avalanche 3

 

  • Attendance: 18,034
  • Three Stars: 1. Pavel Francouz 2. Gabriel Landeskog 3. Nathan MacKinnon

 

 

TEAM NOTES

 

  • The Devils fell to the Avalanche, 3-1, in the first of two contests of the 2019-20 regular season series.
  • The Devils open up their ninth of 16 sets of back-to-back action tonight. The club falls to 1-5-3 in first games.
  • New Jersey falls to 1-4-2 (1-3-0 road) against Central Division opponents this season.
  • The Devils continue their four game road trip, falling to 0-3-0. The club faces-off against the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow night.
  • New Jersey was 4-5 on the penalty kill tonight, and 0-4 on the power play.
  • The Stars outshot the Devils, 35-26.
  • New Jersey was 20-60 (33%) in face-offs tonight.
  • The Devils are 1-4-0 at Pepsi Center and 3-6-0 overall against the Avalanche since the 2015-16 season. New Jersey will matchup with Colorado for the second and final time, Jan. 4 at Prudential Center.

 

 

 

PLAYER NOTES

 

 

  • Louis Domingue got the start in the matchup, allowing two goals on 17 shots against. Domingue falls to 1-4-1 this season.
  • Mackenzie Blackwood came into relieve Domingue at 30:48, stopping 33 of 35 shots faced in regulation.
  • Sami Vatanen led the team in TOI, skating in 22:00.
  • Mirco Mueller tallied his first goal of the season, 15:48 in the third assisted by Pavel Zacha and Wayne Simmonds.
  • Valeri Nichushkin notched the game winner for the Avs.

 

 

 

 

STATISTICS

 

 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE   *Subject to change

 

Tomorrow:  8 PM ET Game @ Arizona

                 

 

 

 

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December 13, 2019 • NEW JERSEY DEVILS NEWS & CLIPS

December 13, 2019 • NEW JERSEY DEVILS NEWS & CLIPS

  1. SUMMARY
  2. LOCAL PRINT/WEB
  3. TV/VIDEO LINKS
  4. RADIO LINKS
  5. NATIONAL PRINT/WEB

    1) SUMMARY

The Devils will face-off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight at 9:00 PM ET at Pepsi Center.

Kevin Rooney and Jesper Bratt spoke with Chris Ryan, NJ Advanced Media, about their new head coach, Alain Nasreddine, “That was the first thing he said to us. You’ve got to skate. That’s the way our team is built,” forward Kevin Rooney said. “A couple times he’s shut practice down to let us know we can’t just go through the motions out there. If you do that in practice, it’s going to translate to the games. I think it’s been a big help for us.”

“That’s something we talk about every day. It’s something we try to push each other for too,” Bratt said. “I think because we’re maybe not the biggest team, we have to play the way our team is built. Speed for sure is the thing that signifies our game. So it’s something we try to build on during practice, and it’s going to benefit the team during games.”

Chris Wescott, newjerseydevils.com, wrote about Grace Eline, the Devils Hockey Fights Cancer honorary captain. Find that story here, https://www.nhl.com/devils/bigread/gracesfight

 

2) LOCAL PRINT/WEB

  1. What Devils’ Alain Nasreddine has harped on most to help improve team’s play

by Chris Ryan, NJ Advanced Media

https://www.nj.com/devils/2019/12/what-devils-alain-nasreddine-has-harped-on-most-to-help-improve-teams-play.html

 

DENVER — Thursday was just the third practice for the Devils under interim coach Alain Nasreddine due to a sporadic schedule featuring games and long travel. Major system changes won’t happen overnight, and the coach has been steadily implementing some small things to tweak the team’s game.

But in the 10 days since John Hynes was fired and Nasreddine was bumped up to the top position behind the bench, one word has been been clear in every message: speed.

“That was the first thing he said to us. You’ve got to skate. That’s the way our team is built,” forward Kevin Rooney said. “A couple times he’s shut practice down to let us know we can’t just go through the motions out there. If you do that in practice, it’s going to translate to the games. I think it’s been a big help for us.”

Speed, of course, was part of Hynes’ goal during his four-plus seasons as head coach, but in Nasreddine’s mind, it was an aspect that was absent from the team’s game too often in 2019-20.

So the main emphasis entering every practice has been to run each drill as if it was part of a regular game, and the hope has been to see that pace translate to game days.

On a team that features Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Jesper Boqvist, Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall, Miles Wood and more, it’s easy to understand where Nasreddine is coming from.

“That’s something we talk about every day. It’s something we try to push each other for too,” Bratt said. “I think because we’re maybe not the biggest team, we have to play the way our team is built. Speed for sure is the thing that signifies our game. So it’s something we try to build on during practice, and it’s going to benefit the team during games.”

Nasreddine has continued to hold individual meetings with players after sitting down with each player following the coaching change.

Along with making sure each person is on the same page, it’s allowed him to get to better know each skater’s thoughts and concerns, plus help with individual aspects of their games.

“Sometimes it’s just a little something that I might not be aware, or I’ll share with them, a little bit of my vision. That’s what we addressed early on, is where do I see this team going. Early on we talked about style of play and make sure that guys will buy in. So those are the little things we talked about 1-on-1. At the same time, get to know them even better, but it’s not like I didn’t know Taylor Hall or guys like them. We have a pretty good relationship with all of them.”

 

  1. Grace’s Fight

BY CHRIS WESCOTT

https://www.nhl.com/devils/bigread/gracesfight

 

“I didn’t have any headaches. I wasn’t in pain. I was feeling… perfect.

“I didn’t feel like anything was wrong with me.”

Grace Eline was completely unaware, wrapped up in much more important matters, such as playing sports, enjoying time with friends, being a child.

The happy and energetic, young girl wasn’t lethargic. There were no tangible signs of illness. The only sign her family picked up on was that she had been drinking a lot of water and her growth wasn’t the same as the rest of the kids in her age group. So 10-year-old Grace underwent some tests.

“I noticed a switch one day that she was just drinking a lot of water,” said Grace’s mother, Aubrey. “You Google it and it’s all these other little things like diabetes and all this, and pediatricians said she would deteriorate in a hot second so it’s not. But then when her growth consistently slowed down and she was always off the charts, it was like, ‘okay, you’ve been saying something’s off now and there’s actually something that’s off, so let’s go to the endocrinologist.’

“And that’s where she ran a bunch of tests and everything pretty much came back fine. So you’re like, ‘oh, okay.’

Nowhere ever in our brains was ‘cancer’ in there at all… like, never.”

Despite green lights all the way, the endocrinologist suggested an MRI again – just to be safe.

“I mean, I didn’t really understand what was wrong, because we had so many doctor appointments and I didn’t even know what we were doing,” said Grace. “So, it was kind of confusing to me.”

“We didn’t think anything of it,” said Aubrey.

The Eline family didn’t grasp the significance of the brain MRI until after it was done, but still didn’t think anything serious would come from it.

“I had never had an MRI before or I’ve never had to not eat [on the day of] tests,” said Grace. “That kind of confused me and I got really like annoyed from it and I just didn’t understand anything about it.”

Throughout all the tests, the poking and prodding, Grace says the most annoying part of it all was not being able to eat her favorite food – pasta – on certain test days. And the MRI machine was also intimidating.

“Sometimes, I got really scared, like my first time [in the MRI machine] I was so scared and I just couldn’t stay still because you’re supposed to stay still. It really bothered me.”

That MRI, as annoying as it was for Grace, helped paint the picture of why she was having issues and it provided a sinister diagnosis.

“That day she had that MRI, they called us, in essence, right away and said, ‘you need to come in right now,'” said Aubrey.

The butterflies in the stomachs of Grace’s parents began to flutter.

“My husband and I went in and we spoke to the endocrinologist, who did not look well when we got there,” said Aubrey. “And we were like, ‘okay, this must be serious because she doesn’t look good. And she’s the doctor.'”

The doctor told the parents that they had found a mass on her brain and, “you absolutely need to deal with it.”

Heads spinning, Grace’s parents listened in a fog as the doctor rapidly discussed next steps – where they’d go next, what procedures were to follow.

“We were just in complete and total shock,” said Aubrey. “And I don’t think it had even fully set in what she said at the time, because you’re just in this blissfully unaware place. You know she had some issues but did not think the severity of it at all.”

The Eline family began Googling Grace’s tumor and immediately stopped, not wanting to spiral down the rabbit hole of what this meant for their daughter. Instead, the Elines rallied.

“My husband and I, we kind of decided, ‘alright, we’ve got to kick into gear and figure this out.’ And that’s when we just hit the ground running.”

As for Grace’s initial reactions, she was more concerned about her passion for sports than her health.

“I mean, I was really sad cause I found out that I had to stop my softball and my gymnastics. So, it was not that fun for me,” she said.

Leave it to a 10-year-old girl to blow your mind with her perspective on life.

Here’s Grace Eline, a young and vibrant girl who has just been told she has brain cancer. And all she can think about is how she’ll have to stop playing sports. Her biggest worry during testing was not being able to eat pasta.

“Yes,” laughed Aubrey. “Fasting was tragic for her, which I can totally understand that.”

The gravity of the situation wasn’t lost on her, but Grace just had different priorities and concerns. And she showed her amazing ability to look past the darkest times and think of the good. A lesson Grace can teach us all.

The Big Fight

“So, the first part of Grace’s treatment was at the Valerie Fund at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center,” said Aubrey. “And then the second part of her treatment was at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.”

The Elines were lucky to be just 20-30 minutes away from either treatment center and look back on their experience with gratitude.

“We honestly received world-renowned care.”

The care Grace received at those facilities has made her steadfast in her plans to become a doctor when she grows up.

“It made me realize they do so much,” said Grace. “I didn’t realize that there were more than one type of doctor. I thought that there was just a regular doctor that you go to for your shots and your checkups. But then when I went to the hospital, I realized that there’s so many levels and each level has so many divisions of doctors. That was pretty cool. And I realized that they do so much for people and I realized there’s so many types of medical things.”

There’s no doubt in Grace’s mother’s mind that her daughter will be a doctor some day, all so she can help young kids go through what she went through.

“It’s if, it’s when. When she becomes a doctor,” said Aubrey. “I’m 100 percent. I would not be surprised. She said it one day when she was laying there and doing chemo. And she was like, ‘I think I’m going to do that because I’ll be really good at telling kids whether it’s going to hurt or not because she said that wouldn’t hurt and that hurt!'”

Aubrey allowed herself another chuckle and a smile at the memory.

“I think when she’s a doctor, I won’t be surprised. But I also think she’ll be a good one because she’ll be able to speak authentically to this was good and this was not so good and here’s what to expect. I think she’ll do a good job at that.”

And Grace would certainly know what to expect.

Her first day of chemo was incredibly tough on the Eline family. They all went to the hospital to support her and there she was, “bopping around. She’s cool, she’s got her hair, she feels fine.”

But chemo is cumulative and it breaks you down. And they knew what was coming.

10 days in, Grace loses her hair.

“Having it literally falling out in your hands is a whole other experience. It’s surreal.”

But the Eline family once again rallied to Grace’s side. Her little brother and her close friend shaved their heads. They demanded to shave their heads before Grace so she wouldn’t have a bare head alone.

“That was a nice glimmer of hope that we had for a hot second,” Aubrey said of the actions of Grace’s brother and friend. “It really helped her not feel like she was this only kid on the island, going through this day in and day out. It’s a lot. These treatments are daily.”

Her brother would be by her side when she was vomiting in the hallway, bucket in hand, comforting his sister.

The dramatic, confusing and scary days piled up for the Eline family.

“Cancer is weird, and it is not nice,” said Aubrey.

“It was really hard not to focus on my stomach hurting or if I was in some sort of pain,” Grace said, reflecting on the toughest moments of treatment.

“I would usually try to think about all the fun activities I would get to do at the hospital like painting and I would try and think about what I would paint when the art therapist came.”

Grace also passed the time between treatments dancing to Pitbull or Taylor Swift, a common sight in the Eline household. But it wasn’t always easy to have fun or look for positives.

“[My worst day] was when I got my picc line in, I think. I couldn’t eat for the test and it was also the first time I couldn’t drink at all. So I woke up really early and just didn’t know what was going on and I had to wait a lot.

“I met with a lot of different doctors, which was really confusing, and I didn’t really know what was happening. And on the last day of chemo, it just felt so long. I didn’t really do much that day because I was so tired and I didn’t feel good, so it felt longer than most days, even though it really wasn’t.”

The day Grace got her picc line put in sticks out the most to her mother as the worst day of her treatment, for multiple reasons.

“For our entire family, that was a very memorable day,” Aubrey said. “It was surgery. It was very real because now she’s got this thing in her arm, 24/7. Okay, now you can’t shower like a regular person. You cannot do sports. You cannot swim.

“I think that’s when that hit her and it hurt all of us, that you’re not going to have a normal summer. She loves camp and swimming and the whole thing, and you’re not going to have any of that this summer. And you can have a moment of, ‘this is so not fair.'”

Grace’s childhood was being stolen away by illness and there was nothing her family could do about it.

Again, leave it to Grace to put things in perspective.

“I remember sitting on her bed and she was like, ‘if it happens to me, it doesn’t happen to somebody else.'”

She was willing to take on the pain and frustrations of her ailment and the treatment in the hopes that the universe would somehow balance things out and spare some other child of the same difficulties.

“You can go to a very dark place,” said Aubrey. “And again, we were going to find the light and find the positive and understand that it could be so much worse.”

“It might soften a little, I imagine, as years pass and I know her scans will be clear, but I think it’ll never fully go away.”

Burned in the minds of Aubrey, and the rest of the Eline family are the shadows of Grace’s battle with cancer.

“I think that’s the piece that we’re all sort of dealing with,” said Aubrey. “There’s your life before cancer and your life after cancer. [That fear and uncertainty] is always going to be there. And I wish we could go back to April 8th, 2018, before we even knew she had a tumor.”

But you can’t.

“You finish treatment and you think you walk away and you’re like, ‘okay, we’re totally going to be who we were that day before we learned anything. And you’re not.”

When Grace was given the all clear from the doctors, it was a moment that should have been celebrated immediately. But for the Eline family, even that wonderful and joyous occasion was clouded with a surreal feeling.

When her doctor called Grace’s family she told them, “you can be happy.”

But it was a weird thing to feel happy after all the uncertainty and struggle they had been through. But the doctor again reiterated.

“You can breathe.”

She told them they should go for ice cream. So they asked Grace if she’d like to do that, but she instead chose a hibachi dinner.

“Like, are we really going for hibachi because Grace doesn’t have cancer and she’s 10? Like, what? It was very surreal. But it also kind of marked an achievement that we made it through, that she had a positive outcome,” said Aubrey.

“So you shake it off and are like, ‘yeah, let’s go be normal people for a night!’ And it’s so surreal. How do you move forward now? What’s next?”

But it’s been months since that hibachi dinner and the shadow of Grace’s fight is still there.

As Aubrey goes on to explain, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that Grace’s battle with cancer sticks with them today. It became a rallying point for the Eline family and drove them to meet so many great people along the way. The doctors and hospital staff were there for them when they needed them the most. Their family members and friends stayed by their side to keep the darkness from overtaking them.

And for Grace, her situation is not one to throw into some box in the back of her head and throw away the key. She rallied from this as well.

“I think that the girl that I was when I started treatment, I think I was kind of like a wimp,” she said, citing her fear of the medical tests and the challenge ahead of her.

“And now, I just feel more strong. Nothing scares me anymore.”

And then there was Grace.

A small figure, walking tentatively, yet confidently down the purple carpet to join the captains at center ice for a ceremonial puck drop on Hockey Fights Cancer Night in Newark. The Nov. 23 game at Prudential Center was a tribute to all of those who have lost the fight to cancer, those who have won, and those who are in the fight.

But Grace’s story and her connection to the Devils began to shape the evening as a tribute to her strength, and to her.

Grace was signed to a one-day contract with the club by General Manager Ray Shero in his office ahead of the game. She read the starting lineup in the Devils locker room to cheers from the players and staff.

Days prior to the night, Grace skated out for practice with the Devils players and staff. She was nervous, but excited.

The former field hockey player hadn’t had much experience with ice hockey, but she pushed forward and jumped on the ice regardless.

“I’d watched it a few times before and like I’d seen little clips of it and seen some friends that have played it,” she said.

After experiencing the practice with the players, Grace became a bigger fan of the sport than before.

“I got to see how they practice and they seem like a pretty good team,” she said with a smile.

And the exclusivity of the day was not lost on her young mind. Grace understood the opportunity to skate with an NHL team is not something the public generally gets to experience. So she soaked it all in, chatting with all the players and getting shooting tips from Jack Hughes, among others.

“I mean, I felt really happy because I realized that not everybody gets to do this kind of stuff,” she said. “So I took advantage of it and I did all that I could.

“It’s happy because this is like… it’s kind of, for me, it’s like a celebration. So that makes me happy.”

Flash forward to Nov. 23 and Hockey Fights Cancer continued that celebration of Grace and her successful battle with cancer.

“It’s an amazing experience, you know, to see Grace smile,” her father Dan said. “Getting to meet players and seeing, really, how awesome the players were with interacting with her and how the whole community, the sports community, really kind of lights up to see us… to see the Devils put all of their effort behind [beating] cancer and [spreading] the awareness about it, is absolutely amazing.”

It’s hard not to reflect on the small, but mighty, symbol of this year’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative in Newark, and how far she’s come from the first diagnosis.

“I mean, she’s always cared for others,” her mother said. “But I think it’s on a whole different magnitude now. I think she realizes that she is fortunate and she is blessed and that this happened to her for a reason. I think she has taken it on herself to be the voice for other children. She’s chosen that…

“She’s come out of it stronger and able to understand the impact her life can have. And I think that’s really taken her out of this sort of a little protected bubble and shown her what is out there and what she can do. I think it’s really empowered her, which I think sounds maybe weird. But I do think it’s really empowered her and she’s grown up. I mean, most of these kids do grow up in this process but I think she now realizes the power she has to kind of pay it forward or help others, and make a difference in the world.”

It’s easy to look at a night like the one at Prudential Center last month and say it’s great that these organizations around the NHL would do something like this. It’s fantastic that money was raised and the spreading of awareness definitely matters.

But, honestly, it’s Grace’s story – and others like it – that are the ones that need to be told. Cancer affects so many families around the world that when someone like Grace can battle through and show it’s not impossible and you can come out of it stronger – that is truly inspiring.

As Grace wrapped up her interview for this piece, she was asked if there was anything else she’d like to add.

Like the true professional, she smiled politely and said, “thank you, for having me.”

No, Grace.

Thank you, for sharing your strength and wisdom, and for spreading happiness, positivity, and hope.

 

 

  1. PREVIEW: Devils at Avalanche

by Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/news/preview-devils-at-avalanche/c-312497356

 

The New Jersey Devils continue their four-game road trip with a contest against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

You can watch the game on MSG+ or listen on the Devils Hockey Network.

 

DEVILS NOW | McLeod’s Opportunity

  • 01:36 • December 12th, 2019

Read the game preview below and check back for lineup updates, videos, our Pre-Game Report and more.

YOUR GAME-DAY ESSENTIALS

 

GAME DAY VIDEO

COMING SOON – DEVILS:60 | Chris Wescott reports on the key storylines prior to tonight’s game around noon today

COMING SOON – Devils Pre-Game Interviews

COMING SOON – PRE-GAME RAW | Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine

BY THE NUMBERS

Stats Comparison: Devils vs. Avalanche

Media Game Notes: Devils vs. Avalanche

Devils Player Statistics

Avalanche Player Statistics

Head-to-Head: Devils vs. Avalanche

NHL Standings

TV & RADIO

You can watch tonight’s game within the Devils region on MSG+.

You can listen to tonight’s game on the Devils Radio Network.

INSIDE THE DEVILS

Connor Carrick recalled, Devils practice Thursday in Denver and more news and notes from the past few days.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE DEVILS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

DENVER, CO – Check back around 3:00 PM ET for a full pre-game report.

— Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

PREVIEW

DEVILS (9-16-5) at AVALANCHE (20-6-3)

TV: 9:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+

Head-to-Head:

Tonight’s game is the first of two meetings between the two teams this season.

Last season, Colorado won both games, by scores of 3-0 and 5-3. Taylor Hallled all Devils with three points (one goal, two assists) despite only playing in one game.

Nathan MacKinnon led the way for the Avs with a goal and four assists for five points against the Devils last year.

Devils team scope:

The Devils have dropped their last six games in a row (0-5-1) as they look to right the ship tonight against the Avalanche.

Taylor Hall leads the Devils with 25 points in 30 games. Kyle Palmieri is second on the club with 19 points and leads with 11 goals.

Nico Hischier could potentially return to the lineup tonight after missing three games due to illness. He has 16 points in 25 games.

Avalanche team scope:

The Avalanche are red hot with a record of 7-0-1 in their last eight games. They are in top spot in the tough Central Division, one point up on the St. Louis Blues.

Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avs in scoring with 48 points in 31 games. He’s also tops on the team with 19 goals. MacKinnon is tied with Boston’s Brad Marchand for third in the NHL in points and tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for sixth in the NHL in goals.

By the Numbers:

The Devils have an all-time record in Colorado of 8-11-3 since the Avalanche moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995. If you count the Devils franchise’s time as the Colorado Rockies, their record in Colorado is 86-127-50.

When leading after one period, the Avalanche are 11-0-2 and when leading after two, the Avs are 15-0-1. They’re also very good when tied after one at 5-2-1 and when tied after two at 5-1-1.

Colorado’s been outshot in 19 games this season and only outshot their opponent 10 times. Oddly enough, they have a better record when being outshot (13-3-3) than when outshooting (5-5-0). The Avs have been badly outshot in the third period of games this season, 340-289 but have scored 30 while only allowing 20 in the final frame.

Injury Updates:

Devils – Connor Carrick is on IR; Nico Hischier (illness) is probable; Matt Tennyson (upper body) is on IR

Avalanche – Colin Wilson (lower body) is on IR; Erik Johnson (lower body) is on IR; Cale Makar (upper body) is day-to-day; Philipp Grubbauer (undisclosed) is day-to-day

 

  1. The NJ Devils say they’re sick of losing, so why aren’t they playing like it?

By Abbey Mastracco, NHL writer

https://www.northjersey.com/story/sports/nhl/devils/2019/12/13/nj-devils-sick-losing-why-arent-they-playing-like-it/4404321002/

 

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Two days removed from a bad loss in Dallas and the anger and disappointment remain in the New Jersey Devils’ locker room. Wayne Simmonds ended Wednesday’s practice by expressing some displeasure with Miles Wood’s effort level during a battle drill and assistant coach Peter Horachek ended up in the hospital with a gash in the back of his head after he was upended on the ice during an earlier drill.

It’s been a chaotic season for the Devils and it’s only December. But the emotion showed in this one practice at a rink in a Denver suburb might have been a good thing. That practice skirmish between Simmonds and Wood wasn’t something interim coach Alain Nasreddine viewed negatively.

Emotion shows they care, and it’s easy to stop caring after six straight losses.

“I don’t mind it,” Nasreddine said. “Anytime you get competitive, sometimes this stuff is going to happen. It happened a little bit today. I have no issue with it at all. It’s actually good to see guys getting a little emotional. We didn’t have much of it last game.”

They sure didn’t.

Typically, teams want to forget about bad losses and move forward quickly. But they haven’t won since Thanksgiving in Montreal and since then, coach John Hynes was fired and the rumors about their best player, Taylor Hall, have hit a fever pitch. Especially considering the Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey’s next opponent, has inquired about the price to acquire him in a trade.

So maybe the usual methods of wiping the slate clean after a bad loss may not be working. If the Devils are as angry as they say they are, then they might want to try channeling that anger into their play.

“I feel like the biggest thing is being sick of losing,” forward Pavel Zacha said. “I don’t think it’s the system or anything or the preparation, it’s being ready to play better.”

Some have questioned the response of the team under Nasreddine, which is natural after four straight losses to begin his tenure. In the first two games, the team felt they made progress. He had them skating more, using their speed to break out of the defensive zone and he had them playing hard. But there was zero progress in the second two games, losses in Nashville and Dallas.

And against the Stars, the effort level was at an all-time low, something the team still isn’t really sitting well with the group.

“That was a tough night,” alternate captain Travis Zajac said. “A tough start again. It’s one of those ones we didn’t look like we had legs and didn’t look like we had energy. And then you compound that with just playing the way we did to start. It just didn’t end well. But we got a chance now to get back at it and get back to how he envisions this team and how he wants us to play.

“And we know we’re capable of doing that because we’ve seen that game from us before.”

The team maintains that their lack of effort against the Stars was not an indictment against Nasreddine or any of the other coaches. Much like when John Hynes was behind the bench, they

“It doesn’t matter what the coach says,” defenseman Sami Vatanen said. “If we’re not doing anything, it’s not going to help. It starts in here and starts with the players. We’ve got to be ready every day and if we want to win games we’ve got to play 60 minutes hard and we’ve got to work hard and skate and do everything right.”

Status updates

– Nico Hischier will likely return to the lineup Friday in Colorado. The center had been out with an illness over the weekend and placed on injured reserve. Blake Coleman is also battling the flu but does not think he’ll need to be held out of the lineup. Michael McLeod is an option should one or both need to sit out the game against the Avalanche or Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

“I’m sure (McLeod) is antsy to get in but he brings energy to our group,” Nasreddine said. “And for him, he knows his he’s close, he’s played few games in the past, so it’s a matter of for him to get that chance and now make it a n

 

 

 

 

3) TV/VIDEO LINKS –

 

  1. New Jersey Devils help bring holiday cheer on annual ‘Day of Giving

by News 12

http://www.news12.com/story/41446994/new-jersey-devils-help-bring-holiday-cheer-on-annual-day-of-giving

 

2. DEVILS NOW | McLeod’s Opportunity

by newjerseydevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/video/devils-now–mcleods-opportunity/t-277437418/c-4813409

 

 

 

 

 

4) RADIO LINKS –

  1. Andy Greene – 2019-20 Episode 10

by newjerseydevils.com

https://soundcloud.com/njdevilsofficial/andy-greene-2019-20-episode-10

 

 

 

5) NATIONAL PRINT/WEB –

 

 

  1. Avalanche Faces Devils to Close Out Homestand

by Zach Shapiro / ColoradoAvalanche.com

https://www.nhl.com/avalanche/news/avalanche-devils-preview/c-312541024

 

Riding an eight-game point streak (7-1-0), the Colorado Avalanche turns its attention to the New Jersey Devils on Friday to conclude a three-game homestand. The Avs are 1-0-1 on the home stay, falling 5-4 in overtime to the Calgary Flames on Monday and defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 on Wednesday.

 

Mikko Rantanen scored two goals and Pavel Francouz made 32 saves to lead Colorado to a 3-1 win over the Flyers, becoming the first team in the Western Conference to reach 20 wins this season. Matt Calvert scored the other goal while six more Avalanche players earned an assist.

 

The Devils (9-16-5) are coming off a 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. MacKenzie Blackwood was in net for New Jersey and stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced.

 

It is the first of two matchups between the Avs and Devils this year. Colorado won both meetings last season, including a 3-0 shutout in Denver on March 17.

 

Avalanche vs. New Jersey Devils

Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.

 

COLORADO-NEW JERSEY CONNECTIONS

Before relocating to New Jersey, the Devils were the Colorado Rockies for six seasons from 1976-82 … New Jersey defenseman Will Butcher, a University of Denver product, was drafted by Colorado in 2013 (fifth round, 123rd overall)… Ian Cole and New Jersey forward Kyle Palmieri were teammates at Notre Dame in 2009-10.

 

HISTORY

The Avalanche won both matchups against New Jersey last season, including a 3-0 victory in their last meeting, on March 17 at Pepsi Center. Tyson Barrie scored two goals in the second period, Nathan MacKinnon recorded the third goal and Philipp Gruabeur stopped all 22 shots he faced. Colorado is 9-3-0 in its last 12 meetings with the Devils.

 

Since relocating to Denver in 1995, the Avalanche is 18-14-4 against the Devils. Their shared history is best known for the 2001 Stanley Cup Final, which the Avalanche won in seven games.

 

ROSTER REPORT

Philipp Grubauer (lower body) skated for the fourth straight day on Thursday. Bednar said the goaltender is “probable” to be in the lineup on Friday, but not necessarily as the starter.

 

INJURY REPORT

Cale Makar (upper body) will not be available versus the Devils, but head coach Jared Bednar said the rookie defenseman could return on Monday when the Avalanche begins a two-game Central Division road trip at the St. Louis Blues… Erik Johnson (lower body) skated in red, non-contact jersey before practice on Thursday… Colin Wilson (lower body) is out indefinitely.

 

SCOUTING THE DEVILS

The Devils have lost six straight games, including one in a shootout. Since their last win, a 6-4 final over the Canadiens on Thanksgiving, New Jersey has scored nine goals in its last six contests.

 

Taylor Hall leads the team with 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) while second-year goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is 8-9-4 with a .902 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average.

 

(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall has four points (two goals, two assists) in the last four games. The 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner has had success against the Avalanche, recording 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 27 outings.

 

Since joining the Devils in 2017-18, Hall has recorded at least one point in all five meetings against the Avs, with seven total (two goals, five assists). For his career, he has 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in games against Colorado.

 

NUMBERS GAME

 

6

The Avalanche is just one of six teams with at least six players who have recorded 20 or more points this season.

 

8

With Wednesday night’s win, the Avs extended their point streak to eight games (7-0-1). It ties their season high which was set Oct. 3-19 (7-0-1).

 

114

Colorado has scored 114 goals this season, the second-most in the NHL behind Washington, which has played two more games.

 

NOTEBOOK

Friday will be the first of two meetings between the Avalanche and Devils this year. The second and final will be in New Jersey on Jan. 4… The Avs are 9-1-2 in games against Eastern Conference opponents…  Since Nov. 27, the start of the Avs eight-game point streak, Colorado leads the NHL in blocked shots with 133… Friday’s matchup is one of two “Friday the 13th” games for the Avalanche this season. Colorado has only played on a Friday the 13tth five previous times since moving to Denver and the club is 2-2-1 in these matchups.

 

 

  1. Avs look to stay atop West as Hall, Devils visit

by Field Level Media

https://sports.yahoo.com/avs-look-stay-atop-west-hall-devils-visit-000815530–nhl.html

 

With the New Jersey Devils off to a slow start and the season nearing the halfway mark, rumors have circulated that forward Taylor Hall could be dealt.

One of the teams mentioned as a possible destination for the 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner as the league’s MVP is the Colorado Avalanche, and Friday’s matchup between the teams in Denver probably will heighten the speculation. But it’s understandable if Colorado ignores the noise and sticks with the players already on the roster.

 

After all, the Avalanche woke up Thursday morning sitting in first place in the Western Conference with an NHL-best plus-29 goal differential after a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers the previous night. They were in that lofty position despite the slew of injuries that have sidelined most of their top players for at least a few games. Now they’re starting to get players healthy again while surging in the standings.

 

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, is expected to be in the lineup against the Devils, although he may serve as Pavel Francouz‘s backup. Defenseman Cale Makar (upper-body injury) is skating but will miss his third straight game on Friday night.

Colorado survived a strong game by the Flyers on Wednesday night without those two, largely because of Mikko Rantanen (two goals) and Francouz (32 saves). Rantanen has played well (three goals, five assists) in the six games since returning from an injury that cost him 16 games, and he is one reason the Avalanche are 7-0-1 in their past eight games.

 

Center Nazem Kadri was back in the lineup on Wednesday, giving Colorado coach Jared Bednar a rare game in which the top six forwards were available. He shuffled his top two lines, pairing Kadri with Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, and playing leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon between Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi.

 

“It’s good depth, really good depth,” Bednar said after the Wednesday game. “If we play the way we can, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games, but we’ve got to get a little more consistent than we’ve been the last two home games.”

 

The Devils arrive in Denver reeling, having gone 0-5-1 in their past six games, the latest being a 2-0 loss at Dallas on Tuesday night. The good news is they’re getting center and third-leading scorer Nico Hischier back from illness.

 

Hischier missed the past three games, but he practiced with the team on Thursday.

New Jersey’s struggles — only Detroit has fewer wins than the Devils’ nine — cost John Hynes his job as head coach. Interim head coach Alain Nasreddine is winless in four games so far, and getting the first victory in Colorado might be a lot to ask.

 

“The situation we’re in doesn’t help, but I’m a passionate guy,” Nasreddine said after the loss to the Stars. “I know it’s hard now, but I enjoy what I do every day, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The Devils will need their offense to show up against Colorado. The Avalanche lead the Western Conference with 114 goals, second in the league to Washington, and they have scored 33 goals in the past eight games.

 

With a full complement of forwards, that number could continue to rise against New Jersey, which has allowed 107 goals this season, third most in the NHL through Wednesday.

 

 

  1. Does the in-season coaching change really work in the NHL?

by Corey Masisak, The Athletic

https://theathletic.com/1454619/2019/12/13/does-the-in-season-coaching-change-really-work-in-the-nhl/

 

The 2017-18 season was a unique time in NHL history. For the first time since the league expanded beyond six teams six decades prior, no coaches were fired during the campaign.

 

That brief period of serenity did not last. The NHL again is a league where the coaching carousel always feels like a five-game losing streak away from spinning again.

 

Teams have different reasons for changing coaches. In season, it’s almost always because the club is not meeting expectations and management thinks a new voice could propel the players to better performances. The Blues changed coaches in November 2018, and seven months later they were Stanley Cup champions.

 

How often does firing the coach during the season actually work? Everyone remembers the big success stories, but what about the moves that didn’t spur the team to a fairytale run?

The Athletic sifted through every in-season coaching change since the 2004-05 lockout ushered in the salary cap era. There have now been 63 changes in the past 15 seasons, with time for more movement this year.

 

When the Hurricanes promoted Rod Brind’Amour to head coach on May 8, 2018, he was the third of six new coaches in the league that offseason. Brind’Amour has only been in charge of the Hurricanes for 19 months, but he has more tenure than 17 of his peers. The two coaches hired before him during the 2018 offseason, Bill Peters and Jim Montgomery, were recently fired, adding up to 20 coaching changes in the past 20 months.

 

The past couple of weeks have revealed a disturbing development on the topic. The Flames let go of Peters on Nov. 29 after allegations that he racially and physically abused players surfaced from multiple players. A week earlier, the Maple Leafs fired Mike Babcock for reasons related to on-ice performance, but hockey’s awakening spurred by Akim Aliu’s tweets has led to multiple accusations that Babcock mistreated players. Toronto president Brendan Shanahan said this week that Babcock’s coaching tactics were not “appropriate or acceptable.”

 

Then, on Tuesday, Dallas fired Montgomery due to “unprofessional conduct,” which general manager Jim Nill said had nothing to do with the four-point plan the NHL laid out Monday to help curb abusive behavior. The specifics of Montgomery’s firing have remained private. New Jersey’s John Hynes and San Jose’s Peter DeBoer, who on Wednesday became the fifth coach let go this season, were each fired for performance reasons.

 

In the simplest terms, changing coaches during the season works. Of the 58 changes in the past 14 seasons (2005-06 through last year), the team had a better points percentage after the move 46 times.

Teams that have made coaching changes during the salary cap era are 882-970-249 (.479 points percentage) with the old coach, and 1,301-1,108-343 (.535) afterward. It’s a difference of about nine points — collectively, the teams played at a 78.6-point pace before the move and 87.7 after.

 

Some teams have responded to the coaching change with aplomb. Four of the past 14 Stanley Cup champions have made an in-season change (Pittsburgh in 2009, Los Angeles in 2012, Pittsburgh again in 2016 and St. Louis in 2019).

 

Twenty-two of the 58 teams qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs, though only 13 of the 22 were not in a playoff position at the time of the change. Eleven teams climbed five places in the conference standings or more, while five teams dropped three or more spots.

 

Eleven teams finished lower in the conference standings than where they were on the day of the change. Two teams — the 2005-06 Kings and 2014-15 Maple Leafs — were in a playoff position, fired their coach and then failed to qualify.

 

Here is every team grouped by how many times they’ve made an in-season coaching change in the cap era:

 

Five times: Devils, Blues

 

Four: Canadiens, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Senators

 

Three: Islanders, Penguins, Kings, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs

 

Two: Thrashers/Jets, Capitals, Lightning, Hurricanes, Ducks, Sabres, Panthers, Oilers

 

One: Rangers, Wild, Bruins, Flames, Stars, Sharks

 

None: Red Wings, Avalanche, Coyotes, Canucks, Predators, Golden Knights

Below you’ll find each individual coaching change, broken up by season, since 2005-06. One note: The teams’ positions in the standings are based on conference and not adjusted for the various ways the NHL has doctored its playoff format. If a team finished with the sixth-most points in the conference and got the third seed, they are sixth for the purpose of this exercise.

 

2005-06

Pittsburgh returned from the lockout with great expectations, in part because of a handful of talented additions, highlighted by the No. 1 pick in the draft and a marquee name at the top of the defense corps. Sounds pretty similar to the situation in New Jersey this season. The Penguins promoted Michel Therrien from the AHL and actually got worse before they got better — much better. They reached the playoffs in Sidney Crosby’s second year and the Stanley Cup in his third.

The Devils were the second team to change coaches after the lockout. Their impressive run with Lou Lamoriello in charge remains the sixth-best record (we’re not counting Lamoriello’s three-game stint the following year) after a coaching change in this era.

2006-07

Ken Hitchcock’s name surfaces quite a bit in this discussion. He’s been fired midseason three times and been an in-season replacement three times. He’s also been part of two of the best turnarounds, on either end. When he replaced Davis Payne in St. Louis in November 2011, the Blues stormed from 13th place to second, the biggest improvement in the conference standings of any change. Then, when the Blues dismissed Hitchcock in February 2017, Mike Yeo went 22-8-2, which is the second-best record by points percentage for a team that made a switch.

2007-08

Nine teams have made a change in the first 15 games, but only three of those teams rebounded to make the playoffs. Before the Blues’ run last season, Bruce Boudreau’s introduction in Washington became the biggest salvage job of the cap era.

The Capitals were last in the league on American Thanksgiving when Boudreau was hired and transformed into one of the most exciting teams of this era, clinching the Southeast Division title on the final day of the season. Before the remarkable stretch run, fueled by Alex Ovechkin’s 65-goal season, the Capitals were 10-6-4 in Boudreau’s first 20 games and reached the midpoint of the season in 14th place in the East. They became the first team to be in 14th place or lower in the conference at the halfway mark and still reach the postseason.

2008-09

The Blackhawks made arguably the craziest — and, ultimately, the best — in-season coaching decision of the past 15 years. Firing the coach after four games is almost silly. It’s basically a confession that you should have done it in the offseason. Enter Joel Quenneville, who proceeded to help the Blackhawks become a modern dynasty — three championships and two conference finals in a seven-season span.

Tampa Bay’s brief stint with Barry Melrose in charge was calamitous, but the Lightning were actually slightly worse when Rick Tocchet took over. Amid all of the bizarre stories from that season, the Lightning went 5-18 in games that went past regulation. That’s pretty hard to do. Two other teams have lost 18 times in overtime/shootouts, but they also both won at least eight times. The 2013-14 Devils famously were 0-13 in shootouts, but still went 9-18 overall in games that went beyond regulation.

2009-10

A strong contender for the most curious team to make a change is the 2009-10 Flyers. Philadelphia played worse in 57 games for Peter Laviolette (.535) than they did in their first 25 games with John Stevens (.540), but the Flyers actually improved from 10th in the Eastern Conference to seventh. Then they became the only team in the past 15 years to change coaches and lose in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Flyers were aided by big collapses from the Thrashers, Lightning and Islanders, who all crashed out of playoff contention. A very weak Eastern Conference also helped. They finished in seventh with 88 points, while seven teams in the West finished with 100-plus and three teams had more than 88 and didn’t qualify.

2010-11

Jacques Lemaire, version 3.0 in New Jersey, was a wild ride. John MacLean, as a player, was an all-time great, but as a coach had the worst winning percentage since Bill MacMillan, the original coach after moving from Colorado in 1982. It didn’t work with Lemaire at first, either.

The Devils lost seven of his first eight games and slumped to 10-29-2. They weren’t just in last place in the NHL; the Devils were 10 points out of second-to-last, and 27 points back of eighth place in the East. New Jersey suddenly ripped off a 23-3-2 run and woke up on March 16 just six points out of a playoff spot.

Then they ran out of gas, losing five of the next six games and scoring one goal or less in each of the losses. They came up short, but it was one of the most remarkable two-month runs in NHL history, particularly for a team that had been left for dead.

2011-12

Eight coaching changes reflected the most in any season of this era and, to quote Stefon from Saturday Night Live, this club has everything. Hitchcock helped the Blues make the biggest jump in the standings. Dale Hunter brought structure and defensively responsibility to Washington (or he made the run-and-gun Capitals less fun) and won 37 games and lost 37, including the postseason, before returning to London.

The Canadiens and Maple Leafs tanked after the change. And the Kings helped usher analytics into the mainstream by being the first eighth seed to shred the league in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, grabbing four 3-0 series leads. A deeper investigation into why or how an eighth seed could do that showed they were actually one of the best teams in the league in this thing called Corsi …

2012-13

Jon Cooper was the rising star in the coaching world when the Lightning promoted him from the AHL, and he’s now become one of the best coaches in the NHL. It didn’t happen immediately, though tasked with transitioning away from Guy Boucher’s, uh, unique system in a lockout-shortened season with a condensed schedule wouldn’t be easy for anyone.

2013-14

Berube’s first chance as an in-season addition is a good example of a team that probably would have turned its season around without a coaching change. The Flyers reached the second round of the playoffs in 2012, then just missed the postseason in the lockout-shortened season the following year. They won six of seven to finish the 48-game season, and were six points out of eighth. Could they have made it in an 82-game season? And if they did, would they have fired Peter Laviolette after an 0-3 start the following year?

2014-15

Lamoriello’s touch when it came to in-season coaching changes was trending in the same direction as the franchise’s draft record at this point. The Devils picked up their play, but only to about an 84-point pace over the course of a season. It also led to a third consecutive season without a trip to the playoffs, plus the arrival of Ray Shero and the start of a much-needed rebuilding project.

2015-16

Fun fact: A few days after Mike Johnston was fired, an article appeared with this phrase in the title — “Sidney Crosby is a coach killer.” Crosby proceeded to win the Conn Smythe trophy the next two times it was awarded and added a World Cup MVP in between. Sometimes it really is the coach, and in this case, a style of play that just didn’t fit the roster.

2016-17

There have been 10 teams that changed their coach and played .650 hockey or better in the aftermath. Four of them came during the 2016-17 season, and all four might have made the postseason had the Islanders put Doug Weight in charge a little sooner.

Bruce Cassidy, in his first NHL head coaching gig in Washington, was fired in his second season. He was 8-18-1-1 at the time (2002), then returned 15 years later with Boston and went 18-8-1 to close his first season with the Bruins.

That was a wild twist in results 15 years in the making for Cassidy. Mike Yeo dealt with his own pendulum swing in a much more condensed timeline. He orchestrated one of the best post-coaching change performances of the past 15 years, then missed the playoffs the following year by one point, then was doomed by a slow start the year after (which ended with his former players winning the Stanley Cup).

2017-18

None

2018-19

Five of the seven new coaches last year ended up being caretakers, essentially. Jeremy Colliton and Craig Berube were the only two that kept their jobs into this season. The Blues had a good reason to keep Berube around. The Blackhawks are now 42-42-15 under Colliton and could be veering toward another high draft pick.

While the Blues will be the team everyone remembers from this group, it’s actually one of the least successful of the past 15 years. Six teams made a change and didn’t reach the postseason. Four teams didn’t improve in the standings (including one that dropped).

2019-20

Toronto, Calgary and San Jose were all expected to be among the best teams in the league this season. Peters appeared to be on the hot seat before his previous transgressions became public knowledge.

All three of those teams could join the group of clubs that were out of a playoff spot before the change and rebounded to make the tournament. The Sharks are the most vulnerable because of their dreadful goaltending and their inability to outscore teams like they did a year ago.

 

 

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New Jersey Devils Pre-Game Notes: Dec. 13 @ Colorado Avalanche

New Jersey Devils (9-16-5) @ Colorado Avalanche (20-8-3)
9:00 PM ET • Pepsi Center • MSG+ / ALT / ESPN+ • Devils Hockey Network

 

*Links for Devils Hockey Network can be found on newjerseydevils.com and on Devils’ social media channels.*

 

Check @NJDevils on Twitter for Morning Skate Interviews

Pre-Game Availability *subject to change

11:30 PM Media Availability at Pepsi Center*

 

 

 

LAST GAME @ DALLAS STARS

 

The Devils fell to the Stars, 2-0, in the first of two contests of the 2019-20 regular season series. The shutout marks New Jersey’s fifth time failing to dent the net this season, and only the third time against Dallas in team history. All three times the final score was 2-0 (credit Craig Seiden, NJD Radio).

 

New Jersey falls to 1-3-2 (1-2-0 road) against Central Division opponents this season. The Devils continue their four game road trip, falling to 0-2-0. (Dec. 7 @ NSH; L, 6-4 / Dec. 10 @ DAL; L, 2-0).

 

New Jersey was 5-5 on the penalty kill tonight, and 0-3 on the power play. The Stars outshot the Devils, 35-26. New Jersey was 20-60 (33%) in face-offs tonight. New Jersey will matchup with Dallas for the second and final time, Feb. 1 at Prudential Center.

 

Mackenzie Blackwood got his 21st start of the 2019-20 season, stopping 33 of 35 shots faced in regulation. Blackwood falls to 8-9-4 this season.

 

Damon Severson led the team in TOI, skating in 24:37.

 

Radek Faska notched the game winner for the Stars.

The Devils are 1-4-0 at American Airlines Arena and 4-4-1 overall against the Stars since the 2015-16 season.

 

 

TONIGHT’S GAME @ COLORADO AVALANCHE

 

Tonight marks the first of two regular season contests between New Jersey and Colorado. The Avalanche swept the Devils in the 2018-19 regular season series, 2-0-0; 4PTS. New Jersey was 2-9 on the man advantage, and 8-9 on the penalty kill in the two games played. The Avs outscored the Devils, 8-3.

 

Taylor Hall (1G-2A) led the club in points with one goal and two assists in the regular season series against Colorado. Nico Hischier (1G-1A) tallied two points in one game played against the Avalanche.

 

Louis Domingue is a career 2-3-0 against Colorado, allowing 13 goals on 156 shots, posting a 2.65 GAA. Mackenzie Blackwood has yet to suit up in a tilt against Colorado.

 

Nathan MacKinnon (1G-4A) and Nazem Kadri (1G-4A) tallied a club leading five points against New Jersey last season. Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog led their club in goals, tallying three each.

 

Phillip Grubauer played in 120 minutes against the Devils. Grubauer allowed three goals of 53 shots against, posting a 1.50 GAA and 2-0-0 record.

 

The Devils are 1-3-0 at Pepsi Center and 3-5-0 overall against the Avalanche since the 2015-16 season. New Jersey will matchup with Colardo for the second and final time, Jan. 4 at Prudential Center.

 

 

 

 

 

INJURIES

 

Matt Tennyson (I.R.) – 3 games missed; Upper-body injury sustained Dec. 3

Nico Hischier (I.R.) – 3 games missed; Illness

 

Total Man-Games Lost to Injury: 47

 

 

HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER

 

The New Jersey Devils will support the National Hockey League’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative on Saturday, Nov. 23, when the team faces off against the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m. EST.

 

Local 11-Year Old Brain tumor Survivor Serves as Guest of honor
The team will honor eleven-year old Grace Eline, a Morris County brain tumor survivor.  Through the Devils partnership with RWJBarnabas Health, Grace joined the team for practice on Monday, worked on some drills and met the guys.  On Saturday, she will be the guest of honor, read the starting lineup, and drop the puck on the ceremonial puck drop.

 

Grace was treated at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an RWJBarnabs Health facility, and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Grace has achieved N.E.D. status meaning there is no evidence of disease. RWJBarnabas Health is the Official Healthcare Provider of the New Jersey Devils.

 

Celebrating the Survivors

As part of the “I Fight For” placard unveiling, the Devils have brought back three of their recent honorees from previous HFC games – Quinn Knapp and Santino Anastasia.

 

Supporting a Regional Medical Center
Fundraising efforts throughout the game will help to renovate the Clara Maass Medical Center Infusion Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. In partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Clara Maass Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health provide patients access to the most advanced treatment options close to home. The Cancer Center at Clara Maas Medical Center continues to receive the prestigious accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as a community hospital comprehensive cancer program.

 

Lavender Warm-Up Jerseys and Players Sticks Auctioned for Charity:
Lavender players jerseys worn during warm-ups, and sticks adorned with lavender tape, will be auctioned off through December 7 online at newjerseydevils.com/auction. All proceeds from the auction, as well as the game’s 50/50 raffle, will go towards the Clara Maass Medical Center Infusion Center renovation.

 

 

MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

 

Prudential Center and the New Jersey Devils will honored our nation’s service members during the team’s annual Military Appreciation Night, Nov. 15 vs PIT.

 

The Kyle Palmieri Foundation, founded by New Jersey Devils right wing, Kyle Palmieri, and his wife, Ashlee Casper, gives back to those who put their lives on the line to preserve American freedom. Kyle has strong ties with the military as his sister and brother-in-law are currently serving in the National Guard and U.S. Army. This close connection to the military inspired Kyle to do more to help those who sacrifice the most.

 

Over the past four seasons, Kyle Palmieri has been providing active military service members and veterans an opportunity to attend a Devils regular season home game. During 10 select home games, Palmieri’s foundation, Squad 21 invites 21 military personnel and a guest to sit in Kyle’s reserved section, along with a t-shirt, and a post-game meet and greet with Kyle.

 

 

MILESTONES

 

*Jesper Boqvist – 1st NHL goal (Nov. 26 vs MIN)

*Blake Coleman – 200 GP NJD/NHL (Nov. 19 vs. BOS)

*Andy Greene – Passed Scott Niedermayer for 7th place all time in Devils/franchise GP (893)(Dec. 3 vs VGK)

-3 G to 50 NJD/NHL

-8 A to 200 NJD/NHL

*Nikita Gusev – 1st NHL goal (Oct. 4 vs. WPG)

*Taylor Hall – 200th NJD GP (Nov. 16 @ MTL)

-200 NJD PTS (Nov. 16 @ MTL; 2A)

*John Hayden – 1st Devils point (1A; Nov. 23 vs. DET)

*Nico Hischier – 100th NHL/Devils career points (Oct. 5 @ BUF; 1A)

*Jack Hughes – 1st NHL point (Oct. 17 vs. NYR; 1A)

-1st NHL goal (Oct. 19 vs. VAN)

*Kyle Palmieri – 500th NHL GP (Oct. 10 vs. EDM)

100th Devils assist (Nov. 1 vs. PHI)

-300th NHL point (Oct. 30 vs TB; 3G)

-50th PPG (Oct. 30 vs TB)

-150th NHL assists (Nov. 28 @ MTL)

*P.K. Subban – 100th NHL goal (Nov. 2 @ CAR)

*Sami Vatanen – 100th Devils GP (Jan. 15 @ CBJ)

-400th NHL GP (Nov. 4 @ WPG)

*Miles Wood – 200th NHL/NJD GP (Oct. 4 vs. WPG)

*Travis Zajac – Passed John MacLean for fifth place in GP in NJD franchise history with 935 (Nov. 5 @ WPG)

-3 PTS from tying Kirk Muller for third place on the Devils all-time points list

-4 G to tie Zach Parise four fourth place on the Devils all-time goals list

 

 

 

RECENT HAPPENINGS

 

October 6: Signed Joe Morrow to a one-year, two-way contract

-Placed and cleared waivers, to Binghamton (AHL)

October 12: Placed Andy Greene on I.R. retroactive to Oct. 9 @ PHI

-Recalled Matt Tennyson from Binghamton (AHL)

October 25: Placed Connor Carrick on I.R.

November 1: Acquired G Louis Domingue for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft

November 15: Placed Sami Vatanen on I.R.

-Recalled Colton White from Binghamton (AHL)

November 17: Assigned Colton White to Binghmaton (AHL)

November 18: Placed Cory Schneider on waivers (cleared waivers, to Binghamton (AHL))

-Recalled Louis Domingue from Binghamton (AHL)

November 22: Placed Kevin Rooney on I.R.

November 23: Recalled Brett Seney from Binghamton (AHL)

November 29: Assigned Brett Seney to Binghamton (AHL)

December 5: Placed Matt Tennyson on I.R. retroactive to Dec. 3 vs VGK

December 6: Assigned Connor Carrick to Binghamton (AHL) on a conditioning stint

-Recalled Colton White from Binghamton (AHL)

Dec. 10: Placed Nico Hischier on I.R

-Recalled Michael McLeod from Binghamton (AHL)

 

 

 

 

NIC-OT

 

On Feb. 9th,2019, Nico Hischier (1G-1A) scored with 1:41 remaining in overtime to help the Devils overcome a three-goal deficit to win for the second time this season (also: Dec. 14 vs. VGK). The first-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft (20 years, 42 days) became the first player in Devils franchise history to record three overtime goals before his 21st birthday. Among all active NHL players, only Ilya Kovalchuk (4) and Sean Monahan (4) scored more overtime tucks prior to turning 21. Hischier has scored the game winner in the clubs three overtime wins.

 

 

HOW THEY WERE BUILT

 

In the System:

 

Jesper Boqvist (2017, 2nd round, 36th overall)

Mackenzie Blackwood (2015, 2nd round, 42nd overall)

Jesper Bratt (2016, 6th round, 162nd overall)

Blake Coleman (2011, 3rd round, 75th overall)

Nico Hischier (2017, 1st round, 1st overall)

Jack Hughes (2019, 1st round, 1st overall)

Michael McLeod (2016, 1st round, 12th overall)

Damon Severson (2012, 2nd round, 60th overall)

Colton White (2015, 4th round, 97th overall)

Miles Wood (2013, 4th round, 100th overall)

Pavel Zacha (2015, 1st round, 6th overall)

Travis Zajac (2004, 1st round, 20th overall)

 

 

Free Agency: Will Butcher, Andy Greene, Kevin Rooney, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Tennyson

 

Trade: Connor Carrick, Louis Domingue, Nikita Gusev, Taylor Hall, John Hayden, Mirco Mueller, Kyle Palmieri, P.K. Subban, Sami Vatanen

 

 

 

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December 12, 2019 • NEW JERSEY DEVILS NEWS & CLIPS

December 12, 2019 • NEW JERSEY DEVILS NEWS & CLIPS

  1. SUMMARY
  2. LOCAL PRINT/WEB
  3. TV/VIDEO LINKS
  4. RADIO LINKS
  5. NATIONAL PRINT/WEB

    1) SUMMARY

The Devils will face-off against the Colorado Avalanche Friday night at 9:00 PM ET at Pepsi Center.

2) LOCAL PRINT/WEB

  1. Reality check for ‘underperforming’ Devils roster: How each player must improve

by Chris Ryan, NJ Advanced Media

https://www.nj.com/devils/2019/12/what-each-underperforming-devils-player-can-improve-in-individual-play.html

 

DENVER — When Devils general manager Ray Shero fired coach John Hynes last week, he said every player on the roster was underperforming. Simply put, the team wasn’t getting nearly enough out of its perceived talent.

So what can each player do better to perform closer to his capabilities? Here’s a breakdown of all of the Devils’ current full-time NHL players and what they can do as individuals to provide more for the team.

Mackenzie Blackwood

Area for improvement: Show he can handle full-time starter role in NHL

Blackwood has been the Devils’ best option in goal this season, and it hasn’t been a debate. And at times, he’s been excellent, allowing two or fewer goals in nine of his 22 games, including relief efforts. But Blackwood has also been prone to cold streaks, such as the stretch where he allowed three or more goals in six straight starts from Nov. 16 through Dec. 3. He’s still technically in his rookie season, and this is the first time he’s been asked to handle a big workload in the NHL. It’s part of his development, and he needs to find ways to post quality starts more often than not.

Jesper Bratt

Area for improvement: Shoot more at 5-on-5

Bratt has six goals this season, all at even strength, and they’ve come with an unsustainable 23.08 shooting percentage. When he puts the puck on net, good things happen. He just doesn’t do it nearly enough. Among the Devils’ full-time forwards, only Travis Zajac, Pavel Zacha, Kevin Rooney and John Hayden average less shots per 60 minutes than Bratt’s 5.94. Bratt’s offensive game is his biggest asset, and he needs to have more of a presence on that end.

Jesper Boqvist

Area for improvement: Drive play with his speed

After being in and out of the lineup early in the season, Boqvist has carved out a full-time spot in recent weeks, giving the Devils plenty of reason to dress him every game. Now he needs to take the next step. He’s one of the fastest players on the ice on any given night, and his pucks skills make him a consistent threat. He’s just a 20-year-old rookie still learning the NHL game, so he needs to continue to build confidence to take over shifts offensively when given the chance.

Will Butcher

Area for improvement: Drive more offensive possession

Butcher has spent some time playing in the top-two defensive pairings, and the Devils have given him more defensive responsibility in his third NHL season. So it’s not surprising to see his possession numbers take a dip, but they need to be better. With Butcher on the ice at 5-on-5, the Devils are controlling 47.66% of the shot attempts — down from 53.14 in his rookie season and 49.87 in 2018-19. His best attributes involve moving the puck in transition and setting up teammates on the offensive end, and he needs to access those part of his game more frequently.

Blake Coleman

Area for improvement: Create more shorthanded chances

If you’re looking for one player that might be exceeding expectations this season, it’s probably Coleman. He’s second on the team in scoring with nine goals — eight at even strength and one shorthanded — and he leads the team at 10.9 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. So we’re going to nitpick a bit here, especially when talking about scoring chances on the penalty kill. The Devils’ penalty kill has been decent since an abysmal start in October, but when it’s at its best, the forwards are creating turnovers and getting some chances in transition. That aspect hasn’t been present this season, and Coleman is usually the one leading those rushes.

Andy Greene

Area for improvement: End more plays defensively

At this stage Greene’s career, opponents are going to drive more possession than the Devils with him on the ice. That’s been the case for the past six seasons. With him on the ice at 5-on-5 this season, the Devils have allowed 31 goals, despite the expected goals allowed total sitting at 22.35. While that’s not all solely on Greene, he can help that total regress to the expected number by getting the puck out of the zone and keeping it out of high-danger areas.

Nikita Gusev

Area for improvement: Make a bigger power-play impact

Gusev has made strides during his first NHL season after struggling to make some adjustments during the first month of the season. He’s not longer getting cratered in possession at 5-on-5, and he’s generating offensive chances much more consistently, helping him to five goals and nine assists. But just two assists have come on the power play, and he’s yet to score a goal there. Gusev is an elite passer and he has a quick shot capable of beating goalies, and those traits haven’t translated into power-play points.

Taylor Hall

Area for improvement: Score goals

It’s pretty basic, but Hall hasn’t been putting the puck in the net at the rate anyone would expect. It’s not from a lack of chances though, since he leads the team in shots and attempts by a country mile. He’s not going to shoot 5.5% all season, so the goals should come if he’s shooting at the same rate going forward.

John Hayden

Area for improvement: Get to the net on offense

Hayden has never been a big scorer — he had eight goals and 14 assists in 113 NHL games entering this season — but he has just one assist in 11 games with the Devils. His defense and physical play have been fine, but the Devils haven’t gotten any offensive production out of him and the fourth line in general. One of the reasons behind Hayden’s lack of scoring is his dip in high-danger scoring chances. He averaged 2.55 high-danger chances per 60 minutes last season. He’s currently at 0.53 in 2019-20. He needs to generate more attempts at the net for some greasy scoring chances.

Nico Hischier

Area for improvement: Establish a true role on the power play

Since breaking into the NHL, Hischier’s never established himself as a point machine on the power play. Part of that was opportunity in the past two seasons, but now he’s a part of that unit every time he plays. The Devils have tried him in multiple spots — the wing, the slot and net front — and he hasn’t taken off in any of them. Hischier has the offensive abilities to provide a big boost to that group. Now the Devils just need to get him in a comfortable role and let him find some traction.

Jack Hughes

Area for improvement: Translate play into points

As Hughes’ rookie season has progressed, it’s been easy to see his confidence build. His speed and play with the puck are evident when he gets going. However, he’s posted just 12 points in 27 games. Those numbers will surely improve as the 18-year-old continues to develop. He’s driving play in ways that will lead to scoring, and now that just needs to translate on the scoresheet.

Mirco Mueller

Area for improvement: Use his size

When the Devils traded for Mirco Mueller in 2017, they saw a big defenseman with solid skating who could help fill a void in that area of the game. Mueller has shown flashes of what the Devils saw. He still needs to be more consistent in ending plays and fortifying the Devils’ play in the defensive zone.

Kyle Palmieri

Area for improvement: Cut down on penalty minutes

Palmieri is on pace for 30 goals and 52 points, which would be on par for his production during his time with the Devils. He’s producing shots and attempts at his usual rates, and even though he’s moved to the slot on the power play, he still has six goals and four assists on the man advantage. But Palmieri has been taking penalties at a higher rate than any point of his career, averaging 1.41 per 60 minutes. He’s never been above one per 60 minutes, except in 2013-14 with the Anaheim Ducks, when he averaged 1.13 penalties per hour. He’s just 11 penalty minutes shy of matching his career high of 46. He’s a physical defender, so he’s going to go to the box on occasion. But the Devils need his scoring presence to stay on the ice.

Kevin Rooney

Area for improvement: Provide any sort of offense

When Rooney has been in the lineup, it’s been as the Devils’ fourth-line center. On one end of the ice, he’s done his job. In 177 5-on-5 minutes, he’s been on the ice for just four goals against. His lines have been strong defensively. But getting offensive production from the bottom line makes a difference on good NHL teams. Rooney has just one assist this season, and the Devils have scored just two 5-on-5 goals with him on the ice. Rooney had six goals and 10 points in 41 games last season, and even if he was only mirroring those numbers, it would make a substantial difference.

Damon Severson

Area for improvement: Reestablish 5-on-5 offensive impact

Severson’s biggest strength has always been on the offensive end, and while he’s at an ugly -12 rating right now, he has taken strides defensively in recent seasons. But so far in 2019-20, he’s not as involved offensively as years past. He posted 1.29 points per 60 minutes last season for the best rate of his career, and that number is at 0.64 through 30 games this season. He averages 3.3 shots per 60 minutes, compared to a career rate that’s hovered a hair below five per hour.

Wayne Simmonds

Area for improvement: Convert high-danger chances more often

No Devil has more high-danger shot attempts than Simmonds’ 41 this season, yet he has just four goals to show for it. He’s consistently getting to scoring areas and generating looks, and they simply haven’t gone in the net. Potting an extra goal here and there would make a big difference.

P.K. Subban

Area for improvement: Make smarter puck decisions

It would be safe to say Subban has a lot of areas where he’s underperformed this season, from his point production to defensive play to everything in between. But one of the biggest issues in his game has been his decisions with the puck on his stick. Sometimes he tries to make the extra play or do a little too much, and it leads to a turnover going the other way. Keeping his game simple and making the safer play on occasion would limit those mistakes, and it would help him generate more in the offensive zone.

Sami Vatanen

Area for improvement: Move puck quicker on power play

Along with Coleman, Vatanen might be one of the few Devils living up to expectations. He leads all Devils defensemen in goals and points, and he’s been reliable in his own zone. He’s also been the one defenseman to find traction on the power play, so this is again more of a nitpick than anything. He touches the puck more than any player on the power play while running the point, and he’s looking to feed passes to set up shots for his wingers. When the power play has struggled, it’s because the Devils have been slow moving the puck. When Vatanen cycles the puck quickly, the Devils are set up for more dangerous shots.

Miles Wood

Area for improvement: Finish his breakaways

Since breaking into the NHL, Wood has been a breakaway waiting to happen. His straight-line speed allows him to blow past defenders for clean looks on a regular basis, yet he has just three goals to show for it. Converting at a higher rate would make a huge difference, especially for a fourth line that has trouble producing offense.

Pavel Zacha

Area for improvement: Find offensive consistency

It’s been a harping point for Zacha over the course of his NHL career: his offensive game fails to stay consistent for long stretches of time. He’ll have games where he’s involved, generating plenty of chances, before disappearing for the next stretch of games. He’s been playing with Bratt and Boqvist, two offensive-minded wingers, so he needs to take advantage of being on a line set up for offense.

Travis Zajac

Area for improvement: Shoot the puck

Zajac’s offensive game has never been his biggest asset, but he’s less involved than he’s ever been. He’s not getting any power play time, so a dip in his goal and assist totals should be expected. But at 5-on-5, his 7.05 shot attempts per 60 minutes is the lowest rate of his career. With Coleman and Gusev on his line, he’s got two wingers capable of driving play to the offensive end. He just needs to find ways to generate more attempts for himself.

 

  1. 10 TAKEAWAYS: On the PP, World Juniors and More

by Amanda Stein amandacstein / NewJerseyDevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/news/10-takeaways-on-the-pp-world-juniors-and-more/c-312427314?tid=277567796

 

A week of adjustments have been underway as the Devils continue to adapt to their new interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. Perhaps it was the perfect timing to set out on a four-game road trip that will span nine days.

Here are the 10 Takeaways, presented by Ticketmaster, from the past week:

1.

When we last left off last week, Alain Nasreddine had just been named interim head coach of the Devils. Later that evening, he coached his first game, only hours after assuming the role.

“It was a lot of emotions all day long,” Nasreddine said after the 4-3 loss to Vegas. “The game was a lot of fun to be in, obviously. I liked the energy by the team. I really, really liked our first 40 minutes. The third period, it was almost like we ran out of gas a bit. It doesn’t take much in this league for the other team to make you pay for it and that’s what happened.”

A day after his debut, the team had an off-day which allowed Nasreddine to get his ducks in a row and adjust to his new role with the team and meet with the other coaches and Devils management.

Nasreddine understands the unique role he now currently finds himself in, a new old voice.

“It’s not like I’m a new voice coming in, I was the assistant coach,” he said. “I’m the same guy in a different position. It goes back to what I said the first day, I see this more as a partnership where it’s meeting that way (of playing) but doing this together with the players.”

2.

Upon the team’s return on Thursday, Nasreddine began individual meetings with each player to outline expectations and adjustments he’d like to see in their game.

Part of those expectations is taking pride in the way they practice. In his first practice on Thursday, players were flying on the ice, the tempo upbeat.

“We asked the players to skate,” Nasreddine said after practice. “This is the style play, we want to have is a skating team. And if we’re going to be a skating team, it starts in practice. And that was a message this morning to make sure that we build those habits in practice and we can then bring to games. It’s a tough way to play when you’re gonna ask the players to skate so you’ve got to build the conditioning and get it to the games.”

3.

Jack Hughes had been out of the Devils lineup since he blocked a shot against the Canadiens on November 28. He missed three straight games before returning to the lineup against Chicago on Friday, December 6. In his return, Hughes recorded his fifth-highest ice-time this season, playing 18:03 of the 2-1 shootout loss. It didn’t look like the Devils rookie had missed a single beat, and despite being held without a point, was one of the Devils best players on the ice.
“He was flying,” Nasreddine said after the game. “He had energy. He wanted the puck on his stick all night. He tried to create. I thought he had a pretty good game. I think tonight playing with No. 9 also helped. [Hall] was probably the best player on the ice for me. Had a strong game. Numerous chances, shots, skating looked great. And I think him and Jack played pretty well together.”

4.

In came one player, out went another. As players hit the ice for warmups against Chicago, the team announced that Nico Hischier would be out due to illness. Hischier missed his first game of the season against the Blackhawks and would subsequently miss the game against the Predators just a night later and the game in Dallas last night. It is quite unusual not to see Nico in a Devils lineup. Through his first two-plus years in the league he has played 176 of a possible 194 games. In his rookie season he played all 82 games and in 2018-19 he missed 13 games.

Before Nico sat out against Chicago, he was on his best offensive run this season with three goals and five assists in his past nine games.

Hischier was placed on injured reserve by the team, retroactive to December 5.

5.

In the absence of Nico, Pavel Zacha has been given his spot on the first wave of the Devils power play. Zacha has been on the ice with the man-advantage with Taylor HallKyle PalmieriNikita Gusev and Sami Vatanen. Against the Blackhawks, Zacha played a total of 4:40 on the power play and added another 2:41 against the Nashville Predators. He played 2:53 on the man advantage in Dallas.

The 6’3”, 210lbs forward used his net-front presence to take away Pekka Rinne’s eyes in Nashville, parking himself in front of the net in a play that lead to Kyle Palmieri’s power-play goal.

“All I ask is for the power play to be threatening,” Nasreddine said when asked about what he’d like to see from his power-play units. “It needs to bring energy to the team. The power play has looked good for a couple of games now.”

6.

It’s that time of year where teams with young talented players get asked the question: “Will you allow Player-X attend the World Junior Championship?”

Some teams will do it, like the Detroit Red Wings who have loaned Joe Veleno to Team Canada. Veleno, however, has played his first professional season all in the AHL. So, the question was asked of interim coach Nasreddine, would Jack Hughes be loaned to Team USA?

Before the question was even finished being asked, Nasreddine jumped in and said: “that was shut down right away.”
“We have no intention on sending him there,” the Devils interim head continued. “He’s on the team, he’s a big part of this team, so it’s not something where we want to lose him for three weeks. Yeah, he’s not going there.”

What I really liked was the swagger Hughes carried when he was asked the same question just a couple minutes later.

“I mean I haven’t thought about that,” Hughes said. “I’m here for a reason, so I’m not planning on leaving.”

7.

I’ve mentioned it quite a few times, but the life of Mackenzie Blackwood has really gone through quite a transformation over the last two years. On New Year’s Day 2018 and then playing in the AHL, Blackwood was told by his then-head coach Rick Kowalsky that he had been demoted to the ECHL’s Adirondak Thunder. Fast forward, less than two years later, and here is Mackenzie taking hold of an NHL team as their number one goaltender.

On Friday against Chicago, Blackwood had an outstanding performance in the 2-1 shootout loss. Blackwood made 28 saves on 29 shots after 65 minutes of play, before the team came up just short in the shootout.

“He’s got all the talent in the world,” Taylor Hall said after that game. “He’s a great athlete. He’s a young goalie that wants to work hard, wants to get better. When you see him put in performances like this you hope that you can build off of that.”

And while the Blackhawks don’t have the record they’d probably like, they do still have all-world talent on their roster, who are capable of changing a game at any moment. But Blackwood was able to counter. He made two outstanding stops on Chicago’s Brandon Saad, both breakaway attempts and a point-blank save on Alex DeBrincat as well that got the crowd cheering.

The 23-year-old goaltender has carried much of the load this season, still adjusting to the NHL game. Blackwood has played in 22 of the Devils’ 30 games. He made 33 saves last night in Dallas.

8.

Do the Devils have a secret weapon for their shootouts? It would appear if they don’t have just one, they might have two. A couple of weeks ago, both Nikita Gusev and Jesper Boqvist scored beautiful shootout goals against the Winnipeg Jets and once again, they were both employed against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was only Jesper Boqvist’s second shootout attempt in the NHL. And you guessed it, he did it again and is now 2-for-2 in his career. Boqvist is only one of six players in the NHL who have taken two or more shootout attempts and have a 100 percent success rate.

Boqvist sits in some pretty fine company. Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault is 3-for-3, as is Dallas’ Tyler Seguin. Players, including Boqvist who have gone 2-for-2 are Dallas’ Joe Pavelski, Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom, and Arizona’s Christian Dvorak.

Not a bad group to belong to.

Nikita Gusev isn’t far behind in his attempts and success-rate. After a long list of players who have gone 1-for-1 for their 100 percent success, Gusev is next on the list with a 75 percent success rate scoring three goals on four attempts.

9.

One Devils prospect who will most certainly compete for a spot on their national team is goaltender Akira Schimd. Schmid has played six games for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL this season. Schmid is one of three goaltenders at the U20 Swiss National team camp, where he’ll compete for a spot with Stéphane Charlin (Genève Servette HC) and Luca Hollenstein (EV Zug).

Cuts are expected to be made by Swiss national team coach Thierry Paterlini after their two friendly matches on December 13th and 14th.

Swiss U20 national team will start tournament play against Kazakhstan on Thursday, 26 December.

10.

Have you been dipping into the new Jersey Life series that we’ve had on NewJerseyDevils.com this year? Every week, there’s a new look into the Devils community, it could be fan-related, a player event, we really run the scope. This week’s episode was truly touching. Community reporter Catherine Bogart sat down with Evan Yasser, who is on the autism spectrum and has an incredible ability to call live sports play-by-play. Evan was invited by the team to help call a period alongside Matt Loughlin and Chico Resch and did an incredible job.

Take the time to watch Evan’s story and have a listen to his remarkable play-by-play here:

 

  1. PROSPECT REPORT: Here Come World Juniors

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/news/prospect-report-here-come-world-juniors/c-312455344?tid=277567796

 

It will soon be the most wonderful time of the year…to watch the best available teenage hockey players in the world play for their country.

The World Junior Championship starts the day after Christmas at two sites in the Czech Republic. The final selection camps lists have been announced and countries will be setting their rosters between now and Dec. 26, when the tournament opens with four games, including the U.S. vs Canada in Ostrava.

Four Devils prospects are in the mix: defensemen Ty Smith (Canada) and Daniil Misyul (Russia), forward Nikola Pasic (Sweden) and goaltender Akira Schmid (Switzerland).

Another interesting storyline: as many as eight of the top 10 picks at the 2020 NHL Draft could be in action, headlined by Canadian forwards Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield, who are the consensus No. 1 and No. 2.

Unless he’s injured, Devils prospect Ty Smith will suit up for Canada and is expected to be part of the Canadian leadership group. Smith, 19, and in his final year of junior hockey, was part of Canada’s team last year in Vancouver that lost in overtime to Finland in the quarterfinals. Finland later beat Jack Hughes and the U.S., to win gold when Kaapo Kakko scored in the championship game’s waning moments.

USA Hockey has named an older team that includes many of Hughes’s teammates from its development program that produced eight first-round picks at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Though none are on the U.S. squad, the other three Devils prospects offer compelling stories.

Misyul was taken 70th by the Devils in Vancouver. He has shown well playing against men for Lokomotiv in the KHL this season and tournament play for the Russia U-20 squad in the lead-up to being named to the final selection camp. Ottawa 67’s defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk, who the Devils took nine picks earlier last June, had the inside track to join Misyul but has suffered two injuries since the season started and was left off the Russian’s final selection camp list.

Like Smith for Canada, Misyul is expected to the final cut for Russia and be part of a defense corps playing in front of goaltender Yaroslav Askarov.

“The best goaltending prospect I’ve seen since Roberto Luongo,” said Red Line Report chief scout Kyle Woodlief. “If Russia has just a competent team in front of him, Askarov could win them gold on his own.”

Indeed, Askarov stymied Canada at this summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup to win gold over a team that included Byfield (a late-2001 birthday, Lafreniere had outgrown the age group). That came a few months after he did the same in the semifinals to Hughes and Co. at last spring’s World U-18 in Sweden, though Russia later lost the gold medal game to the hosts.

Nikola Pasic, the last player taken (7th round), 189th overall) by the Devils in Vancouver in June, has made the cut for the Swedes after a blistering start to the season with BIK in the Swedish second division. Pasic, a slick pivot who also plays the wing, is expected to be a secondary scoring threat behind the Swedes power pairing of Lukas Raymond and Alexander Holtz, who are both rated to go in the first handful of picks in the June Draft.

Sweden has an incredible 48-game preliminary round winning streak at the World Junior, including an overtime win last year over the U.S., but Tre Kronor has won gold just once during that span.

Swiss goaltender Akira Schmid, the Devils fifth-round (136th overall) pick in 2018, has been hurt for much of the season with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Schmid was part of a Swiss team that played the top countries tough last year in Vancouver. If he regains his health, he could be his country’s go-to netminder in his last year of eligibility.

The World Junior is typically a 19-year-olds tournament. But the presence of the 2002-born Byfield and a collection of late-birthday 2001s means that most of the top-10 for this summer’s Draft will be in action. Lafreniere, who is nursing a minor ankle injury, and Byfield are locks to make Team Canada and could be joined by Cole Perfetti, who right now could go inside the top-five. That Canadian trio combined with both Swedes and Askarov could very well make up picks one through six in June’s Draft.

A seventh, forward Tim Stutzle, will play for Germany, who are part of an Ostrava-based group that includes the U.S., Canada, Russia and the host Czechs. Right now, Stutzle is rated somewhere between seventh and 10th on most scouts’ pecking order.

Sweden, Finland, with their top own top-10 Draft prospect Anton Lundell, Slovakia, Switzerland and Kazakhstan are in the other group that is based in Trinec.

The NHL Network will broadcast 20 World Junior games, including all U.S., Canada and medal round contests.

 

  1. Devils Through the Decades: 1995 Quest for the Cup (part 1)

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/news/devils-through-the-decades-1995-quest-for-the-cup-part-1/c-312388188?tid=277567796

 

There is nothing like playoff hockey – NOTHING! Plain and simple, the Stanley Cup is the most coveted trophy in sports and the most difficult to attain. Some players (great ones) never get the chance to hoist it and a good majority of loyal and diehard fans never get the opportunity to experience it.

As a fan who has been privileged to have had the luxury (several times), I feel compelled to discuss the criticality of playoff game day superstitions – we all do it in some way, shape or form however, a good number of you may not be as blatant with them and/or open to sharing as I am (could very possibly be a mistake on my end).

In 1994 and in the first round against Buffalo, we lost our first home game while I was wearing Devils attire. As a result, I switched it up for game 2. My new outfit was black stirrup pants, black boots, black tank top and a leopard print blouse (don’t judge – it was 26 years ago and I believed it was stylish). When we won, I felt that this was the lucky outfit and my playoff uniform for the remainder of that series as well as the following two. I would take it off after each game, spray it with perfume and hang it on my balcony for proper airing. You know as well as I do, that there was no way to wash or clean the outfit and maintain the luck.

In addition to the outfit, I developed/adopted a “power play pose” (where I sat on my leg throughout the PP). I still utilize this and it has now extended to all power plays – regular season as well as playoffs.

During the 1995 playoffs, I unveiled and expanded a set of good luck superstitions, but the outfit was retired given that it most certainly lost its juju at the conclusion of our ’94 run. My rituals and props now included a “good luck Devils toothbrush” only used on game days, my rally towel and pompom (provided as we entered the arena for the first home game). This was the only towel I accepted and carried throughout the whole run. The placement and usage of the towel was also crucial.

The towel was laid out on the back of the chair in front of me with my hands on it at all times as I leaned forward to watch play. During power plays and PK’s, it was squeezed tightly between my hands (while sitting on my leg of course) and then placed back on the chair at the conclusion of the power play. A quick shoutout and thank you to all the patrons who sat in front of me and leaned forward to allow for proper towel placement. During OT’s, the towel was, again, scrunched between my fists and held to my mouth to keep me from screaming. My towel/pompom were the first things I put in my bag when I traveled for a couple of road games.

While on the road, I had to enlist the cooperation of rival fans in order to execute the towel placement. Today, this towel resides in my 1995 memory box complete with beer, wine and mustard stains absorbed throughout the playoffs. The towel took a beating, but where would (might) we have been without it?
Detroit Finals Game 4 – With “Good Luck Towel” and Pompom

A playoff run, be it round 1 or the finals is often chock full of OT’s and game 7’s which is a wicked rollercoaster ride for the fan (buckle up) – pure jubilation if you win and soul crushing when you lose – a virtual cornucopia of emotion. There is a reason why they call it “sudden death.”

I would be remiss to start writing about our ’95 run without acknowledging 1994 (as horrifically as it ended). The Devils went three rounds, played two game 7’s and twelve OT periods to include a quadruple OT against Buffalo (buckle up and lock yourself in). When we lost that game in the wee hours of the morning, it was utter and complete disappointment followed by unbridled exhilaration when we won game 7 moving us forward to the semi-finals against Boston. We took that series in six games which also included two OT’s and propelled us to the conference finals against our arch-nemesis…The Rangers.

The battle on the Hudson was both, epic and agonizing with three double OT’s and a game 7 – not for the faint of heart. With an opportunity to close it out at home in game 6 (and the melodrama of Messier’s prediction “we will win tonight”), we walked into the building with high hopes, excitement and confidence. Entering the 3rd period and up by one goal, we could taste the win. The 3-2 loss that night was disheartening and set the stage for game 7…buckle up for the ride!

Game 7 was played at MSG and I was there. I had attended all seven games of the series and had hoped not to be back in that building after game 5. My seats were behind Brodeur’s goal so fortunately and unfortunately, I had a bird’s eye view of the two most important goals of the game.

With a minute left in the game and the Rangers up by one, everyone in the arena was on their feet and counting down when the unthinkable happened (if you were a Rangers a fan). With 7.7 seconds left, Zelepukin tied the game!! I was elated, screaming, shrieking, whooping and hollering while all of the fans around me fell back in their seats deflated…buckle up, hold on tight and don’t let go – game 7 OT. Between the 3rd period and first OT, I went to the ladies’ room and while I was waiting on line I heard a couple of guys walk by and one said to the other “Oh no, it’s that girl in the leopard shirt again” – my uniform.

OT in and of itself during the playoffs is a form of torture that any diehard can appreciate, but a game 7 OT is agony. Every shot, every save, every giveaway is gut-wrenching and/or heart stopping.

The first OT ended and we were heading for our third double OT of the series bringing with it the heightened level of stress and anxiety that goes along with a win-or-go-home scenario. Less than five minutes in, Stephane Matteau scored the goal that sent us home for the summer. I was devastated and heartbroken, didn’t wait for the handshake (historically, one of my favorite things to watch and a great hockey tradition). I couldn’t get out of the building fast enough! Sudden death. Having been at the game, I was fortunate enough that night to have escaped the now infamous rant “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau” however, it couldn’t be avoided in the days and weeks to follow and I was haunted by it for months to come (still am).

Despite the outcome in 1994, it validated the Devils as bona fide contender – a deep and talented team. Unbeknownst to us at the time, it was the beginning of an “era of greatness” that started with our first Cup in 1995.

Part 2 of this story will be posted in a few days and I will be sharing my memories of that magical season however, in my last article I had asked to hear some of yours which I will share now;

Tomoki Tajima – He was living in Japan and became a (very) long-distance fan in 1995. Watching Scott Stevens hoist the cup via satellite TV, he was moved and impressed. At the time, Tomoki was studying for his college entrance exams, was motivated by the team and felt it gave him the momentum to study even harder – he passed and from that moment he became a fan. Tomoki has been living in New Jersey for the past three years (relocated by his company) and visits The Rock several times a year.

Barry Greif – Barry and his son (Stu) became Devils fans from the inception (1982). Stu accompanied Barry to game 3 of the finals in 1995 and when Barry asked him to go to game 4, he said that he couldn’t as he had a game of his own to play (men’s league). Barry replied “Stu, you have been a Devils fan since you were 10. There is a very good chance they could win the cup that night. How often can you see your team win a Championship in person?” Stu thought for a moment and said, “I’ll be there.”

That day (game 4) they attended a family event and at 4:00 Barry kissed his cousin goodbye and told her he was leaving because he “had a date with destiny.”

Late in the game, after the score was 5-2 and the chants changed from “We Want The Cup” to “We’ve Got The Cup” Stu knew he made the right decision.

Andreas Michaelides recalls the dominant play of Stephane Richer.

Vincent Villa had scheduled a trip with his family and in-laws to Niagara Falls. He fondly remembers watching the Philly series in a small hotel room and thoroughly enjoyed the “big goal by Claude Lemieux and the rock-solid goal tending of Marty Brodeur.”

Felony Van Horn (the Philly fan) – After the Devils game one win against the Flyers and as a Devils fan in Philly, Felony called into the radio station where the broadcaster was a “homer” and talking smack against the Devils. She laid into him with great satisfaction. In addition, she also has great memories of watching the Devils celebration as it was carried on public access TV and aired in Philly.

As mentioned, my (personal) 1995 story will come out in a few days and my January article will be a tribute to the 2000 Cup as we celebrate the 20-year anniversary. I would love to hear and share any special memories or stories that you may have of our 2000 run for that article. Please share with me below.

 

  1. GAME STORY: Stars 2, Devils 0

by Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/news/game-story-stars-2-devils-0/c-312410466?tid=277567796

 

DALLAS, TX – The Devils fell behind early and trailed 2-0 after a lopsided first period but managed to hold off the Dallas Stars for the second and third. Unfortunately, they were unable to convert a goal of their own in a 2-0 loss at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.

Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 33 of 35 shots in the loss.

 

  1. Devils’ Nico Hischier returns to practice ahead of Friday’s game vs. Avalanche

by Chris Ryan, NJ Advanced Media

https://www.nj.com/devils/2019/12/devils-nico-hischier-returns-to-practice-ahead-of-fridays-game-vs-avalanche.html

 

DENVER — Nico Hischier appears to be closer to his return to the lineup.

Hischier, who missed the Devils’ past three games due to illness, returned to practice on Thursday at Ice Centre at the Promenade, ahead of Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Devils placed Hischier on injured reserve ahead of Tuesday’s loss to the Dallas Stars, but he is eligible to be activated on Friday. His official status for Friday’s game won’t likely be known until morning skate.

If the Devils do activate Hischier, they will need to make a roster move ahead of Friday’s game. The current roster stands at the maximum 23 players.

Though Hischier was on the ice, he wasn’t in the first set of line rushes. Here’s how the Devils lined up early in practice:

FORWARDS

Taylor Hall – Jack Hughes – Kyle Palmieri

Blake Coleman – Travis Zajac – Nikita Gusev

Jesper Boqvist – Pavel Zacha – Jesper Bratt

Miles Wood – Kevin Rooney – Wayne Simmonds

John Hayden – Nico Hischier – Michael McLeod

DEFENSEMEN

Andy Greene – P.K. Subban

Damon Severson – Sami Vatanen

Will Butcher – Mirco Mueller

Colton White

GOALIES

Mackenzie Blackwood

Louis Domingue

 

 

 

3) TV/VIDEO LINKS –

 

  1. POST-GAME | Stars 2, Devils 0

by newjerseydevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/video/post-game–stars-2-devils-0/t-277437418/c-4800683

 

  1. BLACKWOOD STRONG AGAIN, BUT DEVS’ POOR PLAY CONTINUES

by newjerseydevils.com

https://www.msgnetworks.com/videos/blackwood-strong-again-but-devils-poor-play-continues/

 

 

 

 

4) RADIO LINKS –

  1. Andy Greene – 2019-20 Episode 10

by newjerseydevils.com

https://soundcloud.com/njdevilsofficial/andy-greene-2019-20-episode-10

 

 

 

5) NATIONAL PRINT/WEB –

 

 

  1. Devils Need a Reset, Not a Rebuild

BY ALEX CHAUVANCY, The Hockey Writers

https://thehockeywriters.com/devils-need-reset-not-rebuild/

 

The New Jersey Devils may still be holding out hope to try and turn around the 2019-20 season. But things are looking bleak, as they sit at 9-16-5 on the season and haven’t won a game since American Thanksgiving. Interim head coach Alain Nasreddine has a tall task ahead of him, and it’ll only get harder as the Feb. 24 Trade Deadline approaches.

 

The hope heading into the season was the Devils would go into the Trade Deadline as buyers, but it’s become quite clear selling is the only option. General manager Ray Shero has some valuable trade chips on his roster, and he needs to recoup some assets to begin a quick turnaround to make the team contenders for next season.

 

The Trade Candidates

 

Taylor Hall

We’ll start with the trade candidate everyone is talking about, and that’s Hall. Rumors are running wild, with teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes considered to be frontrunners. And any trade involving Hall may yield quite the return, as it could take as many as four pieces to acquire him.

 

Hall hasn’t been quite himself this season, with 25 points in 30 games, but a change of scenery should benefit him. With that said, Shero shouldn’t sell short on Hall. This is a trade that could alter the look of the franchise, so maxing out the return is crucial. If it’s four pieces he wants, that could entail two top prospects, as well as two draft picks — one conditional depending on if Hall signs an extension with the team acquiring him. At worst, they should come away with at least one top prospect and a couple of draft picks. And that’ll help get the reset started.

 

Sami Vatanen 

The Devils acquired Vatanen in 2017 when they traded Adam Henrique to the Anaheim Ducks, and he played a significant role in their run to the playoffs that season. He’s in the final year of his contract and is on pace to finish with 39 points, the most he’s had since 2015-16. So he picked a good time to have a career season.

 

But as well as he’s played, it might make the most sense for the Devils to trade Vatanen. He’ll be 29 at the start of next season and is due a pay raise from his $4.5 million base salary. The Devils need young, cost-effective talent in hitting the reset button, and Vatanen could help net that in a trade. He’s a right-handed shot that plays top-four minutes, so it isn’t unreasonable to expect a good prospect and a draft pick in return for him.

 

Wayne Simmonds

The Devils signed Simmonds to help their need at right-wing. He has only 11 points in 30 games, but it hasn’t been for the lack of shots and chances. He’s fired 68 shots on goal but has only four goals to show for it — a 5.9 shooting percentage. His underlying numbers have also rebounded after a poor 2018-19, so a team looking to add scoring and a physical presence would benefit from having him.

 

It’s hard to imagine the return for Simmonds being anything outrageous, but that shouldn’t affect Shero’s decision to trade him. He’s on an expiring contract, and there isn’t a fit for him on the Devils moving forward. The Devils got a second-round pick for Brian Boyle in early Feb. 2019 (he had 19 points at the time). Simmonds should reach that mark by this season’s Trade Deadline, especially if his poor shooting luck turns around. So a similar return isn’t out of the question.

 

Andy Greene

Greene is in a bit of a different position than the rest of the team’s pending unrestricted free agents. He’s been the team’s captain since Oct. 2015, and it’s pretty unusual to see a team’s captain traded in the middle of the season. But at 37 years old, another shot at a Stanley Cup could be enticing, and that could persuade him to waive his no-trade clause (NTC) for one last shot with a contender.

 

If he chooses to waive his NTC, Greene should have a fair amount of suitors. He’s a veteran with plenty of experience and is one of the top penalty-killing defensemen in the league. Those are the type of deadline acquisitions teams like to add for a deep playoff run, so the Devils would be able to get some value for him. At the same time, no one would fault Greene if he decided to remain with the team where he’s spent his whole NHL career. And that wouldn’t be the worst thing, given a fair amount of Devils’ prospects should see action to end the season and would benefit from his presence.

 

Devils Shouldn’t Blow It All Up

The Devils shouldn’t be looking to start from scratch, and if they are, ownership will have to decide if Shero is the right person to do so. But what they should be looking to do is get things turned around to be playoff contenders in 2020-21. While getting prospects that are close to NHL-ready is important, Shero will also need draft picks heading into the offseason.

 

The Devils are not in the position to be trading away their top prospects like Jesper Boqvist or Ty Smith for NHL talent, so that’s where the extra picks come in handy. That’s how Shero acquired Nikita Gusev and Marcus Johansson in past trades, and it’d be fair to expect similar moves this summer. The team isn’t completely devoid of talent, either, so a quick reset could do the job. And considering they’ve made the playoffs once since 2011-12, another drawn-out rebuild should be a last resort.

 

 

  1. MacKinnon and Colorado take on New Jersey

by The Associated Press

https://www.stltoday.com/sports/hockey/mackinnon-and-colorado-take-on-new-jersey/article_70c8a23d-a127-54c1-8cde-bd1597452ba9.html

 

New Jersey Devils (9-16-5, eighth in the Metropolitan Division) vs. Colorado Avalanche (20-8-3, first in the Central Division)

 

Denver; Friday, 9 p.m. EST

 

BOTTOM LINE: Nathan MacKinnon and Colorado square off against New Jersey. MacKinnon is third in the league with 48 points, scoring 19 goals and recording 29 assists.

 

The Avalanche have gone 9-3-2 in home games. Colorado leads the league shooting 11.6% and averaging 3.7 goals on 31.7 shots per game.

 

The Devils have gone 5-9-0 away from home. New Jersey has scored 15 power-play goals, converting on 13.6% of chances.

 

The matchup Friday is the first meeting of the season for the two teams.

 

TOP PERFORMERS: MacKinnon leads the Avalanche with 29 assists and has collected 48 points this season. Joonas Donskoi has totaled 12 points over the last 10 games for Colorado.

 

Taylor Hall leads the Devils with 25 points, scoring six goals and collecting 19 assists. Kyle Palmieri has four goals and three assists over the last 10 games for New Jersey.

 

LAST 10 GAMES: Devils: 2-7-1, averaging 2.3 goals, four assists, 4.2 penalties and 9.6 penalty minutes while allowing 3.5 goals per game with a .892 save percentage.

 

Avalanche: 7-2-1, averaging 3.8 goals, 6.3 assists, 3.2 penalties and 7.2 penalty minutes while giving up 2.3 goals per game with a .925 save percentageGet all the Blues coverage from Jim Thomas without the pop-ups and surveys. Your subscription also includes access to our daily e-edition.

 

INJURIES: Avalanche: Philipp Grubauer: day to day (undisclosed), Cale Makar: day to day (upper body), Andre Burakovsky: out (upper body).

 

Devils: None listed.

 

 

 

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