New Jersey Devils News & Clips: Dec. 19, 2018





The Devils fell to the Maple Leafs, 7-2, in their second head-to-head contest of the 2018-19 campaign last night at Prudentail Center. New Jersey’s goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made his NHL debut, coming in to start the third period in relief of Kinkaid, stopping 8 of 10 shots faced.

Abbey Mastracco, The Record, spoke to Devils captain Andy Greene about the teams inability to string together consecutive wins.

“It’s something that’s been kind of plaguing us all year and we’ve got to find a way to fix it,” Greene said. “You can’t do that in this league. You can’t sit there and take one or two steps forward and then three backward, especially with the position we’re in. It would be one thing if we had banked a lot of equity and had a lot of points early but we didn’t, so now we’re trailing and every point is critical.”

Mastracco also spoke to Devils head coach John Hynes about calling up center John Quenneville from Binghamton and what he needs to prove on the ice.

“Sometimes it’s tough to find room for guys to get on the power play,” coach John Hynes said. “He’s a strong power play player, he understands it. But we’ve got a lot of those guys so he may or may not get some opportunity there.”

“He’s one of those guys we needed to see that consistently, like having an affect on the game positively whether or not he’s on the power play,” Hynes said. “I think he’s done that the last two games.”

“We did like his game, I thought he had some real quality chances 5-on-5 and when he was on the power play he made good decisions and he was responsible defensively,” Hynes said. “So it’s nice to see his game continue to grow.”

Mastracco also spoke to Hynes about the team’s 7-2 loss to the Maple Leafs last night.

“Tonight was unacceptable,” Hynes said. “We’ve got to review it tomorrow, we’ve got to talk about some things, we’ve got to work on some things and we’ve got to make sure that we are, for sure, a better team against Columbus.”

Chris Ryan,, spoke to Devils forward Taylor Hall about the teams recent struggles.

“Our group in here, we can’t take nights off,” forward Taylor Hall said. “Tonight wasn’t our best, and for us, when we don’t play our best, unfortunately right now, we’re not going to get wins. We have to play very, very well to get wins. That’s got to be our focus for the next game.”

“We’re all fighting in here and we’re all trying our best, sometimes it’s hard,” Hall said. “We have good group of guys in here, a team that competes, but tonight we were late on plays. Tonight we were a little bit tentative, and teams like that are going to make you pay.

“We respected them a lot, but sometimes we gave them too much time and space and didn’t play the way we wanted to. At the end of the day, that’s all we can really do, is play the way we want to. Can’t say we did that tonight.”

Ryan also spoke to Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood about what it felt like to make his NHL debut, coming in to relieve Keith Kinkaid to start the third period.

“It’s cool to play, an experience I’ll never forget,” Blackwood said. “It sucks losing, but at the same time, I’ve just got to take this opportunity and learn from the little bit of the game I did play and practice here with these guys, take that moving forward and try to develop myself.”

Amanda Stein,, wrote her 10 takeaways following the Devils 7-2 loss to the Maple Leafs last night at Prudential Center.



1. Maple Leafs steamroll Devils in another ugly loss

By Abbey Mastracco, The Record

NEWARK — The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs were at Prudential Center, the Devils were skating off the ice as a playoff team.

How times have changed.

There were bad bounces and bad breaks for the Devils, but ultimately they dug themselves into a hole too deep against one of the best teams in the league in a 7-2 loss.

Mackenzie Blackwood made his NHL debut, taking over for Keith Kinkaid at the start of the third period but he didn’t exactly have a clean slate to work with. The Devils were already down 5-1 when Blackwood took over after Morgan Reilly scored with one second left in the second period. He was left untouched at the top of the circle and beat Kinkaid with a one-timer.

Blackwood stopped eight of 10 shots in the third period, including a breakaway by Zach Hyman.

“Gets you into the flow of play,” Blackwood said. “Whenever you get into a game and you’re thrown in you start to make a couple saves it gets you into the rhythm.”

Kinkaid made just 16 saves over 40 minutes.

“I thought Keith had had enough at that point,” coach John Hynes said.

Kinkaid has been shouldering a hefty load for the Devils all season with Cory Schneider struggling and now injured and the skaters in front of him didn’t make his job any easier in the first period. The Leafs scored twice in the first eight minutes with former Islanders’ forward John Tavares opening the scoring and the Devils lost a challenge on the second goal.

Auston Matthews finished off a goalmouth scramble to make it 2-0 at 7:58, but the Devils challenged the call saying the Toronto center interfered with Kinkaid by shoving Damon Severson into him. But the NHL Situation Room determined, “Matthews’ contact with Severson did not by itself impact Kinkaid’s ability to make the save,” and the call on the ice stood.

New Jersey fell behind 3-0 at 13:38 in the first after Patrick Marleau slipped a rebound from a shot by Nazem Kadri under the pad of Kinkaid. It was almost too easy for Marleau, who was right on the doorstep

Sami Vatanen cut the lead to 3-1 with 16 seconds left in the first when he rocketed a point shot past goalie Frederik Andersen, his former Anaheim Ducks teammate. But Mitch Marner scored 1:45 into the second period and the Devils never recovered.

Nico Hischier made it 5-2 with 5:13 left but, Tyler Ennis scored twice to push the game well out of reach.

After rallying to tie their last two games (an overtime win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 14 and a shootout loss in Nashville against the Predators the following night) the Devils were sure they would be able to do the same against the Leafs. But they’re own bad puck decisions led to their undoing.

“We knew that if we could get the puck back we’d have some momentum going,” captain Andy Greene said. “But it seemed like every time we had a good shift or two, all of the sudden we’d have a breakdown and we’d let the momentum get away.”

It was yet another ugly loss that followed a streak of two good games for New Jersey, highlighting their inability to string together consecutive wins.

“It’s something that’s been kind of plaguing us all year and we’ve got to find a way to fix it,” Greene said. “You can’t do that in this league. You can’t sit there and take one or two steps forward and then three backward, especially with the position we’re in. It would be one thing if we had banked a lot of equity and had a lot of points early but we didn’t, so now we’re trailing and every point is critical.”


This was the second time this season the Devils gave up six or more goals to Toronto. … Brian Boyle celebrated his 34th birthday with the helper on Vatanen’s goal. … The Devils allowed three goals in the third period for the second straight game, doing so for the second straight time at home. According to NHL Stats, the last time the Devils allowed three goals in the first period in two consecutive home games was December 19, 1986, against Washington and December 26 of the same year against the Rangers. … Tavares had two points to register his fourth career multipoint game against New Jersey. … The Devils scratched Drew Stafford, Egor Yakovlev and Steven Santini.

2. What NJ Devils’ John Quenneville needs to prove in NHL

By Abbey Mastracco, The Record

NEWARK — While Devils fans have been familiar with John Quenneville for a few years now, the rest of hockey caught up with New Jersey in September, when the burgeoning forward was featured heavily on NHL Network’s version of “Hard Knocks” called “Behind the Glass: Training Camp with the New Jersey Devils.”

The gregarious and confident Quenneville was featured early and often, mic’d up on the ice during the early days of training camp and touted as the Devils’ next big thing. Quenneville made the team out of camp, making the Devils, and NHL Network to a lesser extent, look smart.

But it wasn’t Quenneville’s first rodeo and it wouldn’t be his last. Yet again, he failed to stick with the big club and was sent back to Binghamton of the American Hockey League for some seasoning, this time with the notion that he was closer than ever to becoming a full-time NHL player.

Quenneville produced at a rate of a point per game during 19 games in Binghamton, more than earning this most recent call-up. He played so well in his first game back from the minor leagues the Devils promoted him to the top power play unit, giving him a chance to flex his muscle and show his best assets.

“I’ve got a good shot, I can score from different angles and make plays,” Quenneville said. “I try to manipulate the penalty kill and make the right play. I like to capitalize and be a threat.”

The Devils want him to do that as well, but the problem is they may not have room for him on the power play, especially with Taylor Hall returning after a two-game absence.

“Sometimes it’s tough to find room for guys to get on the power play,” coach John Hynes said. “He’s a strong power play player, he understands it. But we’ve got a lot of those guys so he may or may not get some opportunity there.”

Now, back up with the Devils again, he needs to prove that he’s more than just a power-play specialist. He needs to prove that he can use all of his tools to play a two-game at any strength.

Quenneville can’t be a “passenger,” to steal a term from Hynes.

“He’s one of those guys we needed to see that consistently, like having an affect on the game positively whether or not he’s on the power play,” Hynes said. “I think he’s done that the last two games.”

The Binghamton version of Quenneville showed that he’s capable of producing at any strength. Only two of his nine goals came with the man-advantage.

“I’ve been trying to dominate offensively,” Quenneville said. “I’m trying to have the puck on my stick and make plays.”

Though it’s improved in recent games, the power play isn’t exactly winning any games for New Jersey right now. So maybe Quenneville could be a boost. But until they find room for him, he has to show that he can produce at even strength.

“We did like his game, I thought he had some real quality chances 5-on-5 and when he was on the power play he made good decisions and he was responsible defensively,” Hynes said. “So it’s nice to see his game continue to grow.”

Trainer’s room

The Devils still do not have a firm timeline for Cory Schneider (strained abdominal). Stefan Noesen remains on injured reserve with an illness, though he has practiced in full with the Devils this week.

3. 3 takeaways from NJ Devils’ ‘unacceptable’ loss to Maple Leafs

By Abbey Mastracco, Fire and Ice

NEWARK — John Hynes didn’t have much to say after the Devils’ 7-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night but he had one word that effectively summed up his impressions of the game: Unacceptable.

Coming off two hard-fought games against Vegas and Nashville, Hynes clearly expected his team to look different than they did Tuesday night at Prudential Center. But a somewhat listless performance had the coach upset with the outcome and promising better for Thursday night against the Blue Jackets.

“Tonight was unacceptable,” Hynes said. “We’ve got to review it tomorrow, we’ve got to talk about some things, we’ve got to work on some things and we’ve got to make sure that we are, for sure, a better team against Columbus.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss.

Shooters need to shoot

The opening goal scored by former Islander John Tavares was a direct result of a turnover. Mistakes happen but this one could have possibly been prevented if Nico Hischier had just shot the puck on a developing 2-on-1 instead of passing off to Sami Vatanen.

The puck was intercepted and Tavares capitalized after a slick passing sequence by Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri.

Hynes often preaches about having a “shot-first mentality.” If Hischier had just shot the puck it may have led to offensive generation in the form of a rebound or a tip. The Devils don’t have the same offensive firepower as the Maple Leafs so they need to be advantageous when using their speed in situations like the one Hischier found himself in.

“Just use his speed and be more direct and be more assertive,” Hynes said. “He’s a real good player and he’s got great speed. Sometimes in those situations, you’d like to see a different decision made.”

Hischier did later score, but it was too little, too late.

Puck mismanagement

Smart puck management helped New Jersey rally in the two games prior to the one Tuesday but it was the mismanagement of the puck that gave the Leafs an advantage. Devils’ captain and top-pairing defenseman Andy Greene said he felt like he was going back to get the puck all night with the Devils unable to generate any sustained offensive pressure.

“If I have to do that every single shift, every single game, at the end you’re just kind of like, ‘Man, why am I still going back here? Can we force something else or do something better?’” Greene said.

The Devils, a speedy team with skilled puck movers, don’t like to dump the puck into the zone but they know it’s necessary at times. But despite the necessity, they’ve still been hesitant to do it.

Benefits of Blackwood

Using Mackenzie Blackwood allowed goalie Keith Kinkaid, who will have to play at least two more games this week, to get a reprieve and it also gave the Devils something to work with when it comes to their rookie goaltender. It was Blackwood’s NHL debut so he was able to see the speed of the game and get some video to learn from.

“It was an opportunity for Blackwood to get in the net, get his first action, get some saves and give us something to work with,” Hynes said. “Gets us some video with him so we’ll see if we can get something going.”

Worth noting

Prudential Center unveiled their new Lofts section Tuesday. The open-concept suites include two bars and multiple boxes with features like couches, replay monitors and the ability to turn a box into a private suite are already selling out throughout the Devils’ season and the Prudential Center concert season. The section is now open for all Prudential Center events.

4. Yes, the Devils are struggling, but they’re right to stick with their plan — and coach John Hynes | Politi

By Steve Politi,

It is a reflexive thing with this franchise, really. The moment the Devils go into any sort of prolonged slump, whether it’s a few weeks into a season or with the playoffs rapidly approaching, everyone expects the axe to land on the neck of the head coach.

Blame Lou Lamoriello for that. The longtime team executive has been gone for three and a half years and I still can’t walk through the bowels of the Prudential Center without expecting him to step out from behind a curtain and yell “BOO!” He kept people on edge, and that includes the 19 men — if you’re counting repeat appearances and Lamoriello himself — who had stints behind the bench during his 27 years in charge.

Well, this is not exactly a newsflash, but the management style around this team has changed dramatically. The Devils are off to a disappointing start one season after their surprise trip to the playoffs, but the men who run this franchise now are not about to scrap their plans and make panic moves about the future.

And that includes head coach John Hynes.

“Pro sports is an emotional business, but you need a clear plan,” Hynes told NJ Advance Media in a quiet moment Tuesday morning before a wretched 7-2 loss to Toronto. “Everything doesn’t go on a straight line to the top. There are dips, troubling times, good times, but it’s about the foundation we’re building here.”

That foundation, no matter what happens the rest of this season, is solid. It might be hard to see on nights like this, with the Maple Leafs out skating and outscoring them in every imaginable way. But the pieces are there.

Look: The 2017-18 season was a magical seven months given the recent doldrums. The team went from an NHL bottom feeder to looking like it might never lose a game early in the season, had the league’s MVP for the first time in franchise history and introduced a nucleus of young, talented players who looked like they might double as a boy band on their off nights.

They had at least a half dozen players outperforming expectations, including a career-best in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) from Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, and they still only made the playoffs by a point. Growing pains were inevitable, and they were on display Tuesday night with the talented Toronto Maple Leafs in town. And that’s putting it kindly.

Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, passed up a shot on a two-on-one that deflected into an easy three-on-one goal for new Toronto sniper John Tavares. Soon, it was 2-0, and as has become the norm this season, the Devils were trying to climb out of a deep hole against a deeper and more talented opponent.

That will be the theme for the season now. They are too talented to be this deep in the standings, 15th in the Eastern Conference and just four points out of the league basement. But even with 50 games left, getting back into playoff contention will be difficult under the best of circumstances. Doing it with one goaltender, Cory Schneider, who has forgotten how to stop the puck, and another, Keith Kinkaid, who has only been marginally better will be next to impossible.

“For us, we want to build this into a consistently competitive team that can get into the playoffs and then consistently compete in the playoffs,” Hynes said. “We did it once. How do you build it to be there consistently? That’s the challenge.”

Hynes, just under three and a half seasons on the job, will become the longest-tenured pro sports coach in the New York market when, as expected, the Jets fire Todd Bowles. Told that, he offered up a “wow” before again expressing his gratitude that his bosses haven’t taken their eye off the blueprint.

Five NHL teams have already changed coaches this season, including all four of the teams with fewer points entering Tuesday than the Devils. Some of those moves were justified, but when you look at teams like the rival Philadelphia Flyers — their slogan should be “making desperate moves for four decades and counting” — it’s hard to know what, exactly, their longterm plans are.

That isn’t the case for the Devils.

“What I tried to do was hire someone that could grow with the team,” GM Ray Shero said on Tuesday in his first interview session with local reporters since the season started. He admitted to having some “hard conversations” with Hynes after the difficult 2016-17 season but said he saw a “different coach” last season, and nothing about the slow start has changed his belief.

If anything, Shero shoulders more blame for the short-term pain. He failed to make any significant moves to improve the team this season, especially to his suspect defensive corps. But was even that a longterm play? The Devils have the most projected cap space for the 2019 offseason, when anything less than an aggressive approach might lead to a fan revolt.

For now, though, the Devils have earned some patience, even after a loss that Hynes himself called “unacceptable.” The season is major disappointment so far, but don’t expect any emotional changes from this franchise now. Lou is not popping out from behind that curtain.

5. Devils’ Taylor Hall is our choice as New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year for 2018

By Steve Politi,

It isn’t easy being Taylor Hall these days. People expect heroics, and given what he accomplished last season for the Devils, can you blame them for having ridiculous expectations? He only threw what had been one of the worst teams in the NHL onto his back and carried it to the postseason.

“It is a bit hard. You expect the best from yourself,” Hall told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday morning. “At the start of the year, that’s something I may have struggled with a little bit. You might go into a game, you play pretty well and get a point or two, but you’re only happy when you get three or four points.”

Such is life after winning the NHL’s most prestigious individual honor. Hall is our choice as New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year for 2018, and to be clear, we recognize this distinction is just a weeeee bit less significant than the hardware he took home in June.

That’s when Hall won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP, chiseling his name in hockey history with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe. The Devils have three Stanley Cups to their credit, with three of their greatest players and their team architect enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as a result of that run of excellence.

But Hall was the first player in franchise history to be deemed the league’s most valuable, and really, that last word is essential here. You could argue that a player might be more individually spectacular in the 2017-18 NHL season. But value to his team? That was Hall, without question.

He set career highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) and finished 41 points ahead of rookie teammate Nico Hischier as the Devils improved by 27 points to grab a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. “Whenever it seemed like we needed something to happen,” veteran Brian Boyle said, “he did it.”

So Hall joins gymnast Laurie Hernandez (2016) and NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. (2017) as winners of our annual award, beating out brilliant Giants rookie Saquon Barkley (the winner of our reader poll), Rutgers wrestler Nick Suriano and Eagles leader Malcolm Jenkins, among others.

The Hart Trophy was enough to get this third-annual distinction, which was created to recognize a New Jersey native or a player/coach/executive on a New Jersey-based team who had the biggest impact on the national sports scene during the calendar year. This is arguably the biggest award for a professional team sports athlete since Lawrence Taylor was the pro football’s MVP in 1986.

Hall also gets the nod because of how he represented the team off the ice and the excitement he generated for a desperate fan base. He helped make the Prudential Center a destination again.

“The playoffs last year, I swear, when the games were in our building, it was amazing,” Hall said “I thought it was louder than (first-round opponent) Tampa for sure. You can tell the excitement in our fan base when we were going on that run, and when we clinched against Toronto last year, it was awesome. You have to get winning in order to feel that though.”

The current season hasn’t gone nearly as well with the Devils well out of a playoff position more than a third of the way through the season. But at least they know they have a cornerstone to build around, because Hall showed everyone what was possible in 2018.

“It’s a great privilege to be his teammate,” Boyle said. “He’s a leader. He’s a great example to the younger guys and the older guys. He demands a lot out of himself. He works really hard to go along with the ability to play really good hockey. That’s a character thing, and he’s got tons of it.”

6. ‘We can’t take nights off’: 4 observations from Devils’ loss to Leafs | Mackenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier, more

By Chris Ryan,

The Devils didn’t have any miraculous comeback in them on Tuesday when the Toronto Maple Leafs jumped out to an early three-goal lead en route to a 7-2 win at Prudential Center in Newark.

Here’s what the Devils had to say about the “unacceptable” loss and what needs to be better going forward.

Devils can’t take nights off

The Leafs were fast. They were aggressive. They were physical.

The Devils were a step behind all night.

That led to the lopsided result on the scoreboard.

“Our group in here, we can’t take nights off,” forward Taylor Hall said. “Tonight wasn’t our best, and for us, when we don’t play our best, unfortunately right now, we’re not going to get wins. We have to play very, very well to get wins. That’s got to be our focus for the next game.”

Hall returned to the lineup after missing the past two games due to lower-body soreness, and the reigning NHL MVP said he felt good physically during and after the game.

But with him back on the ice, the Devils couldn’t replicate the efforts they put out in an overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights and a shootout loss to the Nashville Predators.

It’s no secret the Leafs are among the NHL’s elite teams. They’re near the top of the standings for a reason, and even after a recent stretch where they lost four out of five games, the Leafs still presented a big challenge for the Devils.

Still, when the Devils have played and executed their game this season, they’ve showed the ability to play with any team. That didn’t happen on Tuesday.

“We’re all fighting in here and we’re all trying our best, sometimes it’s hard,” Hall said. “We have good group of guys in here, a team that competes, but tonight we were late on plays. Tonight we were a little bit tentative, and teams like that are going to make you pay.

“We respected them a lot, but sometimes we gave them too much time and space and didn’t play the way we wanted to. At the end of the day, that’s all we can really do, is play the way we want to. Can’t say we did that tonight.”

Blackwood’s debut

With the Devils trailing 5-1 heading into the third period, Devils coach John Hynes made the decision to end goalie Keith Kinkaid’s night early, leading to Mackenzie Blackwood’s NHL debut in relief.

Kinkaid was involved in a collision with defenseman Ben Lovejoy in the second period, but Hynes said the move wasn’t injury related. The coach was just ready to make a change to give Blackwood a chance.

“It was an opportunity for Blackwood to be able to get in the net and get his first action and get some saves and get himself going,” Hynes said. “And give us something to work with with him, some video on him, see if we can get him going here too.”

Blackwood entered the game and made a very memorable save to start his NHL career when he made a kick save to turn away Leafs forward Zach Hyman on a breakaway. Blackwood moved up to force Hyman wide, then reached his left leg back to the right post for the kick stop.

Blackwood did allow two goals to Tyler Ennis late in the third period, but his first appearance ended with eight saves.

The 2015 second-round pick will serve as Kinkaid’s backup for the time being with Cory Schneider on IR, and depending on the length of latter’s absence, Blackwood could be in line for some starts.

Kinkaid will likely start Thursday’s road game at Columbus, but with two more games at home on Friday against Ottawa and on Sunday against Columbus, Blackwood could see his first start soon.

Regardless of when that call comes, his main focus remains on learning as much as he can while with the NHL team.

“It’s cool to play, an experience I’ll never forget,” Blackwood said. “It sucks losing, but at the same time, I’ve just got to take this opportunity and learn from the little bit of the game I did play and practice here with these guys, take that moving forward and try to develop myself.”

Hischier’s decision to pass on 2-on-1

The Leafs’ opening goal by John Tavares came on a 3-on-1 rush that stemmed from a Devils decision on the other end of the ice.

On a 2-on-1 shorthanded push, Nico Hischier carried the puck up the left side, with Brian Boyle skating on the rush on the right.

Hischier had the lane to shoot, but he elected to make a pass to Boyle. That pass was broken up by Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly, forcing a turnover and sending the puck the other way.

Hischier is usually a pass-first type of a player, and although he’s tried to put more emphasis on looking to shoot, this play was an example of the extra pass that hurt, especially given the shorthanded situation and the chance for a counter attack off a mistake.

Hischier is someone who can typically make the necessary adjustments to his game, so expect him to be more aggressive as he continues to develop,

“Just use his speed, be more direct, be more assertive,” Hynes said. “He’s a real good player, he’s got great speed. Sometimes in those situations you’d like to see a different decision made.”

Not one the Devils can just flush away

Sometimes lopsided losses or off nights are games teams just want to flush, forget and move past. Tuesday won’t be one of them.

Going against an elite opponent, the Devils made too many mistakes and lacked the execution to give themselves a chance. They’ll examine what needs to chance on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to review it tomorrow, for sure. Tonight was unacceptable,” Hynes said. “We’ve got to review it, talk about some things and we’ve got to work on some things, make sure we’re a better team against Columbus. Tonight is not something you can just look past. We’ve got to dig into it and get some answers.”

7. Devils rolled by Maple Leafs | Rapid reaction

By Chris Ryan,

The Devils ran into a Toronto Maple Leafs team that was struggling, losing four of its past five games.

That translated into the Devils getting an angry and motivated Leafs squad that dominated from the opening puck drop on Tuesday.

The Leafs struck for the opening three goals in the first 14 minutes of the game before cruising past the Devils, 7-2, at Prudential Center in Newark.

Goalie Keith Kinkaid allowed five goals over the first two periods, leading to Mackenzie Blackwood making his NHL debut in relief to start the third. His first save came on a Zach Hyman breakaway, where Blackwood reached out his left foot for a kick save at the left post. He finished with eight saves in 20 minutes of work, but he did allow two late goals.

Scoring plays

Toward the end of a Leafs power play early in the first period, Devils forward Nico Hischier started a 2-on-1 shorthanded breakaway with Brian Boyle, giving the Devils a chance for a dangerous shorthanded look.

Hischier attempted to make a pass to Boyle, but the pass was broken up by Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly, leading to a 3-on-1 Toronto rush the other way. It ended with John Tavares taking a pass in the slot and burying a shot at 6:01. The goal came moments after Blake Coleman emerged from the box, making it a 5-on-5 score.

Auston Matthews doubled the lead at 7:58 when he cleaned up a loose puck in the crease. Matthews appeared to cross check on Devils defenseman Damon Severson into Kinkaid before scoring, but nothing was called. Devils coach John Hynes challenged for goalie interference and the call stood.

Patrick Marleau capped off the Leafs’ first-period scoring when cleaned up a pass in front of the crease at 13:38.

Sami Vatanen pulled the Devils within 3-1 at 18:44 with a blistering shot from the point, but Mitch Marner and Reilly scored in the second period to put the Leafs up 5-1 after two.

Nico Hischier pulled the Devils within 5-2 in the third period, but two goals by Tyler Ennis ended the scoring for the Leafs.

Next up

The Devils hit the road to start a back-to-back when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. They return home to host the Ottawa Senators on Friday before hosting Blue Jackets on Sunday. The team will then go on its three-day Christmas break.

8. Devils fall to Maple Leafs

By Amanda Stein,

For a second time this season, the New Jersey Devils were stymied by the Toronto Maple Leafs. This time, it happened on home ice.

Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier scored for New Jersey Tuesday night, in the Devils 7-2 loss – the most lopsided home loss of the season. New Jersey has been outscored by Toronto, one of the league’s top tier teams, 13-3 in the two games played between the clubs this season.

Here are 10 takeaways from the game:

1. Taylor Hall returned to the Devils lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hall had missed the teams’ previous two-games with lower body soreness. The 27-year-old Hall took part in Monday’s practice and Tuesday’s morning skate before the determination was made he was healthy enough to play.

Against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hall earned an assist on the Devils second goal of the game. In 14 career games against Toronto, Hall has three goals and six assists for nine points.

2. It is rare that one sees the number 13 for New Jersey sitting in the penalty box. Nico Hischier has been rather spectacular through the first 32 games of the season at avoiding the penalty box. Entering the game against the Leafs, he had a team-low two penalty minutes. On Tuesday night, Hischier took just his second penalty of the season, a holding-call against Toronto’s Zach Hyman at 10:20 of the first period. The Devils would go on to kill off the Hischier penalty.

3. After the Leafs had taken an early 3-0 lead on the Devils, New Jersey was on the board at 18:44 of the first period as Sami Vatanen fired home his second goal of the season, a rocket from the right point to beat Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen.

The goal was Vatanen’s first since November 1st at Detroit and came on the Devils seventh shot of the period. Brian Boyle added the lone assist, after fighting off two Leafs down low by the net to get the puck back to Vatanen. Boyle has three points in his last five games played (one goal, two assists).

4. As for Boyle, here’s a fun fact! His assist comes on his 34th birthday and marks his fourth career assist on December 18th (five games played). All those assists coming in the last two seasons with New Jersey. Credit: Craig Seiden, NJ Devils Radio Statistician

5. In a game that certainly didn’t go the New Jersey Devils way, coach John Hynes elected to replace Keith Kinkaid after two periods of play. Kinkaid played the opening 40 minutes, making 16 saves on 21 shots. For Mackenzie Blackwood – Kinkaid’s backup with the injury to Cory Schneider earlier this week – the final 20 minutes of the game against Toronto were the first of his NHL career. Not an easy thing to make your NHL debut in relief of another goaltender, but Blackwood handled himself in a tough situation making 8 of 10 saves.

In fact, Blackwood’s first NHL save was a beautiful toe-save on a breakaway shot.

6. Blackwood became just the second goalie from the 2015 NHL draft class to play in the NHL. Adin Hill was the first, with Arizona (13 games played).

7. Nico Hischier had the Devils second goal of the night, his eighth of the season. Hischier received a heads-up pass from Taylor Hall who was close to the goal-line, to cash in on catching Anderson off-guard.

Hischier tapped in the puck in the slot to cut the Leafs lead to 5-2 at 14:47 of the third period.

8. New Jersey’s power play has had a rough-go recently. After being shutout on the power play by Toronto, the Devils record in their last seven games is 3-for-22 with the man-advantage.

9. Devils captain Andy Greene played in career game 820 on Tuesday night, all with the New Jersey franchise. He now sits alone in eighth place in franchise history for games played, breaking a tie with former Devils Jay Pandolfo.

10. Before the holiday break, the Devils have three more games to play, two of which are against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ll be in Columbus Thursday night before hosting the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Then, the Blue Jackets are in town for a 12:30pm matchup on Sunday, December 23rd.

9. Devils overwhelmed by John Tavares and the Maple Leafs

By Staff Writer, Associated Press

The Leafs put on a show for the Devils, and ex-Islanders captain John Tavares provided the opening act.

In a 7-2 rout of the hosts Tuesday night at Prudential Center, Tavares got the scoring started 6:01 into the first period. He added an assist in the second period and seemed right at home in his first game back in the New York City area since leaving the Islanders to sign with his hometown team in the offseason.

“I think tonight we came out ready to play,” said Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, who also scored a goal. “We know they’ve got a good team over there … so we knew coming in here was going to be a hard match and I think we came in, got the puck behind them which is what we needed to, and that’s why we were successful.”

It wasn’t much of a game after Tavares, Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau scored in the opening 13:38.

Nazem Kadri matched his career high with three assists, Marner and Morgan Rielly added second-period goals and Tyler Ennis had two in the closing minutes as Toronto embarrassed the Devils for the second time this season. The win was their seventh in 11 games (7-2-2).

Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier scored for the struggling Devils, who are 3-6-6 in their last 15 games. Keith Kinkaid gave up five goals on 21 shots before being lifted with New Jersey down 5-1 after 40 minutes.

“Our group in here, we can’t take nights off. Tonight was not our best,” Devils forward Taylor Hall said. “When we don’t play our best, unfortunately right now, we’re not going to get wins.”

10. New Jersey Devils bring holiday cheer to local hospitals

By Cheryl Makin,

SOMERVILLE – Chris Corra of Raritan saw Monday’s visit by New Jersey Devils’ Ken Daneyko to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset as a sign of “good things to come.”

After a long stay in the Paul R. Nardoni Oncology Pavilion, Corra was going home — but not before a chat about life and hockey with Daneyko.

“I heard that a New Jersey Devils player was coming today and I called my wife to tell her,” said Corra, a longtime hockey fan. “I thought it was one of the younger players. But then Ken Daneyko walked in. That just made my day. I’m in shock. This was unbelievable. That was great. It’s gotta be a sign.”

As the franchise has done for several years, Daneyko was one of several Devils players, alumni and staff who visited RWJ Barnabas Health sites Monday. At RWJUH New Brunswick and Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick, current Devils players Will Butcher, Brett Seney, Damon Severson and Miles Wood made the rounds while Jesper Bratt, Sami Vatanen, Egor Yakovlev and Pavel Zacha visited RWJUH Rahway.

RWJBarnabas Health is the official healthcare provider for the Devils.

“It’s very gratifying to come here,” Daneyko said. “This time of year — the holiday season — to give back is special. To put a smile on somebody’s face for 30 seconds or a minute and if they happen to be Devils fans, that’s fantastic too, but more importantly, it’s just about spreading some cheer at this time of year to people that are going through a rough time.”

At RWJUH Somerset, Daneyko charmed patients and staff alike visiting several oncology units at both the Steeplechase Cancer Center and Paul R. Nardoni Oncology Pavilion of the main hospital. Patients and staff alike were excited to meet the three-time Stanley Cup winner, who now serves in the broadcast booth as a color analyst for the team.

A Canadian-American defenseman, Daneyko played his entire career from 1983 to 2003 with the Devils. Fans nicknamed him “Mr. Devil” as he continues to hold the franchise record for games played — 1,283.

“It’s great that the Devils have a partnership with our health system,” said Patrick Delaney, vice president of operations at RWJUH Somerset. “Having Ken here today to visit with some of our patients is just very special. It’s really nice for our patients to have that little extra touch, specifically around the holiday season and we are excited to bring him around and have him meet some of our patients.”

“It really has become a tradition that current players, since when I played way back, visit hospitals during the holiday season and spread cheer,” said Daneyko. “It’s a wonderful day and I know the players love it. They have a deep appreciation to give back to the community in this state and cheering people up who have had some tough circumstances and are battling. It’s always a special day for the organization. It’s always good to give back.”

Unplanned, Daneyko met up with old friends Eddie and Maggie Smith of Bridgewater in the infusion room. Eddie Smith is a retired policeman who was stationed where the players practiced. The two recognized each other right away.

“We used to hang at the same establishment back in the day,” Eddie Smith said. “We used to escort them. We had some good times. Small world. This is a great thing he does.”

Tony and Stella Gatti of North Plainfield and Elizabeth Villano of Hillsborough enjoyed chatting with Daneyko and agreed they found the renowned hockey player to be “very down to earth.”

“That’s the only thing we are going to agree on today,” said Tony Gatti laughing. “Really, bless him. This is a great thing he does. What a nice guy. He didn’t have to do this.”

Having made many appearances and given many speeches in his career, Daneyko said he often asks himself what he could “possibly say that would have an impact?”

“But, if you touch one person, it makes it all work it,” said Daneyko, who said he has an admiration for those battling diseases such as cancer.

11. Devils players bring holiday cheer to JCMC

By The Jersey Journal

New Jersey Devils players stepped off the ice for the day to visit Jersey City Medical Center yesterday to sign autographs and take photos with fans.

Players Nico Hischier, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson, and Keith Kinkaid brought some holiday cheer to patients at the hospital and fans who came out to get photos and autographs.



1. WATCH: NJ Devils’ captain Andy Greene on loss to Leafs

By Abbey Mastracco, The Record

2. 12/18/18 Postgame: John Hynes

By New Jersey Devils,

3. 12/18/18 Postgame: Taylor Hall

By New Jersey Devils,

4. 12/18/18 Postgame: Blackwood

By New Jersey Devils,

5. 12/18/19 Pregame Preview

By New Jersey Devils,

6. 12/18/19 Players to Watch

By New Jersey Devils,


By MSG Networks


By MSG Networks


By MSG Networks

10. Back in the Devils’ lineup, Hall aims to tame high-powered Leafs

11. Devils visit hospital patients | Jersey City Medical Center

By FIOS News,S,201812,AC7F3989-B957-4297-8D07-DE94F1659108&ReqServer=NDS5%5CNDS5&QueryName=RWJBarnabas%20Health%20System%20-%20RWJ%20Email&Offset=1632&rai=91629e00-4f88-11d7-80a6-00b0d020616e&ran=MetroMonitor&roi=91629e00-4f88-11d7-80a6-00b0d020616e&ron=MetroMonitor&run=&rut=0&E=12gP27Hlb7vc(7IqH7_qHiHS2Wzcrl&Time=12gq2Vvf(74f(74f2V302V4f(74f(i4fHi&Related=PV_5&pbp=Y

12. The Devils visit RWJBarnabas Health hospitals

By WNBC News,S,201812,7BD5F7C4-911D-4632-AAA8-6B527B864B2B&ReqServer=NDS5%5CNDS5&QueryName=RWJBarnabas%20Health%20System%20-%20RWJ%20Email&Offset=1793&rai=91629e00-4f88-11d7-80a6-00b0d020616e&ran=MetroMonitor&roi=91629e00-4f88-11d7-80a6-00b0d020616e&ron=MetroMonitor&run=&rut=0&E=12gP27Hlb7vc(7IqH7_qHiHS2Wzcrl&Time=12gq2Vvf(74f(74f2V302V4f(74f(i4fHi&Related=PV_6&pbp=Y



1. Devils GM still likes his team despite a rough go thus far


2. TSN 1050 National with Gord Miller.




1. Maple Leafs score seven against Devils to avoid third straight loss

By David Satriano,

NEWARK, N.J. — Nazem Kadri had three assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 7-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

It was the first three-point game for Kadri since he had a hat trick and two assists against the Columbus Blue Jackets last season on Feb. 14 (a 6-3 win).

“For us, we hadn’t been getting the results we’ve wanted to get over the past week, week and a half, and it was about time for us to stand up and I thought we responded well,” Kadri said. “I don’t gauge whether I play well or not depending on the point system.”

John Tavares and Auston Matthews each had a goal and an assist, Connor Brown tied his NHL career-high with three assists, and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for Toronto (22-10-2), which avoided losing three straight games for the first time this season.

Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier scored, and Keith Kinkaid made 16 saves for the Devils (11-14-7) before he was pulled after the second period. Mackenzie Blackwood made eight saves in his NHL debut for New Jersey, which lost for the 12th time in 15 games (3-6-6).

“Our group in here, we can’t take nights off,” Devils forward Taylor Hall said. “Tonight was not our best. When we don’t play our best, unfortunately right now, we’re not going to get wins. We have to play very well to get wins and that has to be our focus for the next game.”

Tavares gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 6:01 of the first period on a 3-on-1 with Kadri and Matthews for his Toronto-leading 21st goal.

Matthews made it 2-0 at 7:58 putting in a loose puck from the crease for his 17th goal. The Devils unsuccessfully challenged for goalie interference.

“I thought we started good tonight,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know if we maintained it for 60 but we really started good, came out, got on the cycle and scored some big goals. Good win for our team.”

Patrick Marleau scored to give Toronto a 3-0 lead at 13:38 on a rebound. It was his 544th NHL goal, tying Maurice Richard for 30th, and his 106th game-winning goal, which ranks seventh.

“Growing up, I used to always look at all the hockey cards, read all the books and read about the great players, and I think it’s pretty cool to be in that same company,” Marleau said. “It’s always nice when a milestone like that comes with a win.”

Vatanen made it 3-1 on a slap shot from the slot at 18:44 of the first.

Mitchell Marner scored at 1:45 of the second period off a Tavares shot that hit the post to make it 4-1. Morgan Rielly scored with three seconds remaining in the second period for a 5-1 lead.

“They were a lot better than us in the first, the second and third,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “Tonight was unacceptable. … Tonight is not something you can just look past. We have to dig into it and get some answers.”

Hischier made it 5-2 at 14:47 of the third period. Tyler Ennis scored at 16:28 to make it 6-2 and again at 18:30 for a 7-2 lead for Toronto, which scored at least four goals for the eighth time in its past 11 games.

“I think our four lines in general, when we get it in (the offensive zone), we play well, anyone can score,” Marner said. “We are a deadly lineup like that.”

They said it

“544 to tie [Maurice Richard], 106 game-winners, not bad. It’s incredible, actually, when you think about it.” — Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on Patrick Marleau

“We are all trying our best. Sometimes it is hard. We have a good group of guys, a team that competes, this was a night we were late on plays and we were a little tentative, and teams like that are going to make you pay.” — Devils forward Taylor Hall

Need to know

Marleau needs four goals to tie Michel Goulet (548) for 29th, and five to tie Ron Francis for 28th. … Hall returned to the lineup after missing two games with lower-body soreness. He had an assist and one shot on goal playing 17:19. … The Maple Leafs were 0-for-3 on the power play and are 1-for-25 in their past seven games. Toronto entered the game with a penalty-killing percentage of 78.2 percent and went 3-for-3. … The Devils won six of the prior seven games against the Maple Leafs at Prudential Center.

What’s next

Maple Leafs: Host the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNO, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Devils: At the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG, NHL.TV)

2. Beyond the broadcast: A wild weekend on the road with Devils radio icons Matt Loughlin and Chico Resch

By Corey Masisak, The Athletic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Good show. We’ve got 12 minutes to get to the bus.”

“Oh boy, that’s all?”

Matt Loughlin and Chico Resch finish their postgame show Saturday night, after the Devils lost in a shootout to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena and, after all the preparation to put together two hockey broadcasts in about 28 hours, the time left to catch the team bus becomes the most important number of the moment.

Loughlin and Resch sign off from New Jersey’s digital radio broadcast at 10:33 p.m. and, after a couple of quick thank yous to the two local men who helped engineer the show, it’s time to navigate the 300 levels of the arena and find the quickest route downstairs to the bus.

“They will wait for Taylor Hall, but they won’t wait for Matt Loughlin or Chico Resch,” Loughlin says.

Loughlin became the radio voice of the Devils 13 years ago and has been around the team for a quarter of a century. Resch was the starting goaltender when the Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey in 1982 and is in his 20th season as an analyst for the club — the first 18 were on television before a three-year retirement and a return to the radio booth with Loughlin last season.

This past weekend was a unique one on the Devils’ schedule, and for the team’s broadcasters. New Jersey played the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday at Prudential Center, before a quick trip to Nashville for a Saturday night on Broadway.

NHL teams have plenty of back-to-backs each season, but the Devils don’t have many that include a trip to a Western Conference city. Even the home game against Vegas provided a wrinkle for Loughlin and Resch because it’s only the third game in Devils history against the sophomore franchise.

The Athletic spent the two days shadowing Loughlin and Resch to witness up close how they handled the weekend, and how they are settling in as broadcast partners in their second season working together.

Loughlin is a New Jersey native and a proud Seton Hall alum. His career path led him away from radio and into television and, while he spent the better part of 15 years hosting pre- and postgame shows for the Devils, Mets and Nets, his desire to be a play-by-play announcer did not go away.

He had chances to fill in, particularly with the Devils when Mike “Doc” Emrick had national network responsibilities, but when the New Jersey radio job opened in 2006, Loughlin saw it as an opportunity for his big break. That meant an interview with the Devils general manager at the time, Lou Lamoriello.

“It’s not intimidating, but I can’t count on one hand … well, maybe both hands … in the 25 years I’ve been associated with the Devils that I was in his office,” Loughlin said. “I was walking into the inner sanctum, so to speak. The door closes behind you and Lou doesn’t B.S. It was, ‘Why do you think you can do this? You’ve done TV mostly and radio only early in your career.’ He had some questions. I guess I answered them well enough.”

A couple of days later, Lamoriello called Loughlin and asked for another meeting in his office.

“I walk in and he says, ‘I want to offer you the job,’” Loughlin recalled. “I said that’s great and we talked about some terms, which were all agreeable on his end. But he said, ‘You can’t leave without telling me yes or no.’ I said, ‘Well, this is a pretty big change I’m making’ and he said, ‘You should have thought about that before you applied. I’m offering you the job.’ He also tapped a pile of resumes, or what I assumed were resumes, and he goes, ‘I’ve got to let these people know, one way or another.’

“Of course I took it, but I walked out of there wondering, ‘Does he do that with players, too?’”

One of Lamoriello’s stipulations when he was in charge of the club was that the broadcasters did not fly on the team’s chartered plane. With that restriction now lifted, traveling is a much easier and less stressful part of the job, other than the times when they need to hustle to reach the bus.

On this day, the Friday of the back-to-back, Loughlin wakes up at 7:45 a.m. and leaves home for The Rock two hours later. His drive to the arena sometimes includes a stop at Dunkin Donuts, depending on time and traffic. The Devils’ morning skate starts at 10:30 and afterwards both Loughlin and Resch are in the locker room chatting with players and collecting intel for the night’s game against the Golden Knights.

Resch sits down with Pavel Zacha and then Nico Hischier. Loughlin interviews Marcus Johansson and joins the Cory Schneider scrum, because the goaltender is making his first home start of the season and that’s going to be a prominent storyline.

After the skate is over, Loughlin shoots a pregame video. Typically for home games, he goes home for a few hours to complete his preparation. On this day, he stays and works in the media room at Prudential Center. He’s got a to-do list:

Listen back to the interviews from the skate and send the audio to Josh Lachot, who works for Skyview Networks and produces the Devils broadcast from Phoenix

Make notes to use from the audio that won’t air on the pregame show

Go over the plan for intermission interviews (the Vegas game includes a pre-recorded segment with Rob Lippolis from the Binghamton Devils)

Proof the ad reads he’ll need to do at specific times in the broadcast

Read through the game notes and check on any league news/trends that might mean late additions to his game charts

Find power-play/penalty-killing numbers from the past five games, because Resch likes recent special teams data more than season numbers

Loughlin then has to make a quick adjustment because Vegas announces at 1:20 p.m. — well after the morning skate and coach Gerrard Gallant’s media scrum — that Max Pacioretty is not going to play in the game that night.

Every broadcaster has game charts, a way to organize loads of information that can be accessed in real time on the air. Loughlin has a template he uses for every game, but he likes to write down the information instead of just typing it up on a computer and printing it out.

He typically spends two-and-a-half to three hours creating the charts for each game, but that’s usually spread out over a couple of days. The charts for the game Saturday in Nashville have to be done in pieces ahead of time because of the back-to-back, so he works on it when he can — like Friday afternoon and later that night when the team is at the airport waiting for the chartered plane to be ready for them.

Between completing the written and audio preparation for the pregame show and the game broadcast, Loughlin and Resch spend a lot of time talking to people. They meet up with each other to go over their own talking points, but they’re also chatting with broadcasters from the other team, other members of the media, and just about anyone else they might run into in the media room when dinner is being served.

The pregame show starts at 6:50 p.m., but Loughlin likes to get to his seat well before that to clear his head and go over everything one last time, as the fans begin to fill up the areas down by the ice for warmups.

Loughlin and Resch start the pregame show with a quick recap of the California road trip and update the lineups for the game. Taylor Hall is out for the Devils and Paul Stastny is returning for the Golden Knights.

“Sometimes it sets up where the odds are so stacked up against you, but that is just when you win,” Resch says.

Before the game, Resch had taken part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with members of the Devils ownership group in honor of the opening of the William Hill Sports Lounge, a sports betting haven connected to the Prudential Center. The duo discuss the impact of Hall’s absence on the Devils and Schneider’s first home start.

Their location at Prudential Center — at the back of the lower concourse — provides them with a great view of the game. It also gives fans sitting in the sections nearby or hanging out behind them the type of access they wouldn’t typically get, if Loughlin and Resch were up in the press box above the seats.

“He’s a man of the people,” Loughlin says of his partner. “And they all want a piece of him. They’ll come to our booth and we’re on the air, but it’s OK. They’ll yell, ‘Chi-cooooo,’ and he’ll acknowledge them so that’s cool.”

Vegas opens the game with the first five shots on goal and a 1-0 lead. Then the Knights also score on shots Nos. 6 and 7, turning this first period into what’s become an all-too-familiar situation for Schneider this season.

“This is the worst-case scenario,” Resch says. “If I had asked you this morning what could be the worst-case scenario, this is what you would have said.”

Blake Coleman fails to score on a 2-on-1 in the second period and, when Resch notes during a commercial break that Coleman could have passed to Miles Wood, Loughlin immediately tells his partner they’re going talk about that.

Resch breaks down what he thinks Coleman could have done coming out of the break and, in a fateful twist a few minutes later, Coleman passes to Wood for a goal.

“Well, it didn’t work the last time, but Coleman found Wood on that one!” Loughlin says.

After a second intermission interview with Jesper Bratt, Loughlin has time during the commercial break to say hello to his son and son’s friends who are at the game and have come over to their booth. Resch also has family at the game and spends some time with them during the intermission.

The Devils rally to tie the game in the third period and send it into overtime, where Nico Hischier seals one of the biggest wins of the season with a highlight-reel goal. It’s the first time this season the Devils have won a game after regulation.

“A miracle has just happened at the Prudential Center!” Resch opines.

During the postgame show, Loughlin and Resch talk with Brett Seney, who scored the tying goal. Seney tells them his linemates, Drew Stafford and Brian Boyle, probably have more combined NHL experience than he has years alive.

Following the interview, Loughlin notes that Stafford is in his 13th year and Boyle in his 12th.

“By my grammar school math, that’s 25 years and Seney is 22, so I think he’s correct,” Loughlin says.

“Brett knows the analytics on that one,” Resch responds. “That was a great answer.”

After airing highlights and part of Devils coach John Hynes’ press conference, Loughlin recalls their pregame discussion about Hall being out and other players needing to step up.

“The best bonding is winning,” Resch says. “This is the type of win that creates bonding.”

The bus is leaving for the airport at 10:30 p.m., and there is plenty of time to reach it. The Devils get to Newark Airport at about 11:10 and take off for Nashville right around 11:45.

Loughlin and Resch sit next to each other on the plane.

“Chico and I are old school. We actually talk to each other,” Loughlin says.

They discuss the Vegas game and which parts to work into the pregame show or the game broadcast the following day in Nashville. Loughlin gets to his room at the Nashville hotel at 2 a.m. CT.

Loughlin’s first radio partner was former Devils player Tom Chorske. Both were new for the 2006-07 season, but Chorske decided to return to Minnesota with his family after just one year. Sherry Ross, who had worked as an analyst for the team from 1992-95 before joining the New York Daily News, returned to the booth to join Loughlin in 2007.

“Sherry came in, and she had done it previously,” Loughlin said. “It worked out really, really well in terms of her professionalism, her knowledge of the team, her knowledge of the medium.”

Resch then came out of retirement to join Loughlin last season. What’s quickly become evident about their chemistry is how expressive they are during game action — and not just on the airwaves. That shared trait has helped them develop on-air rapport to match their off-air friendship.

“(Working with Chico) has been awesome. His knowledge of the game is superb,” Loughlin said. “He knows everybody. He’s been in the game forever. There was a little bit of a transition from TV to radio because there’s nobody talking in your ear, no producer. But he’s picked it up well. He’s got some good stories. He’s self-deprecating. The thing I love about him is he’s all about stories and people. It’s been a blast. I’ve learned a lot about hockey history from him, and we get along really well.”

Loughlin awakes at 7:30 a.m. CT on Saturday. He listens to a local podcast about the Predators and then goes for a walk to get some coffee. He runs into Devils general manager Ray Shero, who’s also enjoying the slightly warmer Tennessee morning after a few cold days in New Jersey.

They chat informally about Shero’s old boss, Predators GM David Poile, who’s going to be Loughlin’s intermission guest that night. Poile was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame three days earlier, and Shero was at the ceremony.

“I try to recognize when it’s time to talk to business and it’s time to just say, ‘How are things going?’” Loughlin says.

After a coffee and some more work on his game charts, Loughlin heads over to the Predators’ morning skate. The Devils do not skate because of the quick turnaround, but Loughlin takes in Nashville coach Peter Laviolette’s presser before speaking with a few players in the Predators’ locker room.

He talks with Nick Bonino about growing up in Connecticut, and with Kevin Fiala about his Swiss roots. There will be five Swiss players in this game, including Hischier and Mirco Mueller from the Devils, which is an anecdote Loughlin wants to work into the broadcast. That Fiala says one of his idols growing up was ex-Devils forward Jaromir Jagr is an added bonus.

Loughlin also waits for goaltender Pekka Rinne, who isn’t playing Saturday night so he stays out on the ice longer with the other scratches. Rinne is one of the goaltenders who had the same hip labrum surgery that Schneider had this past summer, so Loughlin seeks out his insight on the procedure and potential reasons for Schneider’s current struggles.

After the skate comes lunch, and this one has a little extra meaning. Loughlin is reading a book called “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.” One of the co-authors of the book, Civil Rights advocate John Lewis, went to college in Nashville and helped stage a famous sit-in at Woolworth’s diner on Fifth Avenue to protest segregation.

The department store is long gone, but Woolworth’s on Fifth has reopened as a diner replicated from that era. The walls feature many photos from when Lewis was there and there’s a sign outside recognizing the sit-ins as important moments in Nashville’s history.

Loughlin’s post-lunch routine on the road usually includes last-minute alterations to his charts or notes for the night and time spent walking around. The Devils skipping the afternoon skate gives him an opportunity to explore some of the places he’s read about in Lewis’ book, but also adds a little extra work for him just before showtime.

Hynes speaks with the media just before 5 p.m. and Loughlin interviews Kyle Palmieri, leaving little time for Lachot in Phoenix to have sound from both conversations ready for the pregame show.

Resch and Loughlin both catch up with Pete Weber, the longtime Predators announcer, before the game. Resch might be a master storyteller, but Weber has one for him that he doesn’t know, from the days when Weber was working for the Los Angeles Kings and Resch was a goaltender for the Islanders. They begin discussing the 1980 trade that brought Butch Goring to Long Island, considered one of the signature moments in franchise history that helped launch a dynasty.

“This is how different things were back then,” Resch says. “Pete told me he was the one who drove Butch to the airport in Montreal after the trade happened. I had never heard that before.”

During the pregame show, Loughlin plays part of his pregame interview with Palmieri and part of Hynes’ media scrum before they recap the wild Friday night at the Rock.

“I called it the Miracle on Mulberry Street,” Resch says. “Not just because of the comeback, but because they also finally won a game in overtime and they might have needed a miracle to do it.”

Once the game starts in Nashville, it’s clear it’s going to be a very different type of contest to broadcast. Loughlin and Resch didn’t need much filler material the previous night because Schneider’s struggles dominated the first period and the wild comeback win filled the rest of the evening.

Saturday becomes the type of game where they need to rely on their research and rapport a little bit more. Resch notes that Keith Kinkaid seems to be freezing the puck more, likely to give his teammates extra time to get their legs up to speed with Nashville looking like the quicker team.

One of Nashville’s best early chances goes off the right post.

“The bells are ringing for Keith again,” Resch says. “That tip had him beat but the post said, ‘I’ll take care of that, Keith.’”

“That’s all Keith gave him, right?” Loughlin replies. “Isn’t that what you goalies always say?”

“You are learning, Matty” Resch retorts.

Hischier is the first guest during the intermission. Loughlin ties in parts of his talk with Fiala from earlier in the day, discussing with Hischier the rise of Swiss hockey and former Islanders captain Mark Streit leading the charge. Then Poile joins him in the makeshift radio booth for a chat about his Hall of Fame induction and the growth of hockey in Tennessee.

For Resch, if you think the travel means he doesn’t have admirers stopping him or shouting to him like he does in New Jersey, think again. At one point during the second intermission, Resch is standing near the entrance to the section where their booth is located, talking to a man with a customized Predators jersey that reads “Predxican” on the back.

“Oh, that’s Ivan,” Resch says afterwards.

“Here is the best thing about Chico,” Loughlin says. “He is a man of the people, but many years ago he mentioned that everyone has a name and everyone likes to be called by their name. He tries to learn everyone’s name and talks to everyone from the top organization down to someone who may be very important but is a ticket-taker or an usher. He wants to know what their day has been like and talk about their kids. That’s one of his great traits.”

At one point early in the third period, Loughlin notes that the crowd is pretty quiet, but that it won’t be on Broadway after the game.

“It was buzzing over there before the game,” Resch says of the honky-tonk filled street.

They talk some more about how great Nashville is as a city. Then, Loughlin points out something Hynes had told him earlier in the day, which he said he’d read somewhere — that Nashville is host to a crazy number of bachelorette parties each month.

“When it’s a 1-0 game, you get into these kinds of discussions,” Loughlin tells the audience.

Later, the Devils have a great chance to tie the game but Marcus Johansson fails to connect with Hischier on a pass. The duo immediately dives into a discussion about how Johansson was in a great position to shoot, but after seeing a replay they come back from a commercial break and Resch points out that Hischier got caught watching Johansson and not driving to the net as hard as he could have.

It evolves into an exciting game, with Brian Boyle scoring a 6-on-5 goal in the final moments of regulation, back-and-forth overtime and a shootout. It was the moments before that when Loughlin and Resch found ways to be insightful and entertaining during a game that, by Loughlin’s own admission “was not exactly a barnburner” in terms of displaying their talents and chemistry.

In the aftermath of the Devils’ 2-1 shootout loss, the two have to improvise a bit during the postgame show because they don’t have a player to interview (that happens sometimes after a loss on the road). Plus, there aren’t a lot of highlights to break down from this one.

They focus on the Devils getting three out of four points during a weekend without Hall, and look ahead to a critical upcoming stretch of the season.

“Saros is one of the smallest goalies in the league but he came up big tonight,” Resch says. “I don’t think the Devils coaches will find much fault in their play from this one.

“Someone has to be a hero every night. Last night it was Nico. Tonight it was Ryan Johansen and he wears the wrong jersey for the Devils.”

After that, Loughlin signs off and the race to catch the bus is on.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s