October 23, 2019 • NEW JERSEY DEVILS NEWS & CLIPS

October 23, 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

 

Abbey Mastracco, The Record, spoke to Devils center Kevin Rooney about what he has learned from Nikita Gusev from watching him during games.

 

“When he gets from the blue line and in down in that o-zone he’s very dangerous,” Gusev’s part-time linemate Kevin Rooney said Tuesday after practice at Prudential Center. “He’s a fun player to watch and learn from. I’ve picked up on some things he’s done that I’ve never even thought about so it’s cool to have a guy who brings that to the team.”

 

“Once he realizes how the game is played here then it will be easier for him to transition and things will happen a little bit quicker for him,” Rooney said. “But nothing that he’s done has slowed us down.”

 

Chris Ryan, NJ.com, spoke to Devils head coach John Hynes about Pavel Zacha’s play in the teams first eight games and how he has shown how dynamic of a player he could be.

 

“We knew coming into the year that Pav was going to be a guy that we could utilize in certain situations, and whether he’s playing wing or center,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “I slot him up sometimes with (Taylor) Hall’s line which is good because he’s been good on face-offs, so it’s nice to see him have put a couple games, back-to-back, together, and the big thing with him was we need now we need consistency of being that same guy every night.”

 

“He’s been consistently competitive, which is what we’ve been asking him to be,” Hynes said. “He’s been harder on the pucks, his face-offs are coming, but you trust him in the face-off circle right now. He understands how to play in the defensive zone and he has the physical tools to be able to play against top players.”

 

Amanda Stein, newjerseydevils.com, wrote her 10 Takeaways from the past week.

 

2) LOCAL PRINT/WEB

 

  1. The good, the bad and the Gusev: How NJ Devils’ Nikita Gusev is fitting in

By Abbey Mastracco, The Record

https://www.northjersey.com/story/sports/nhl/devils/2019/10/22/how-nj-devils-nikita-gusev-fitting-his-first-nhl-season/4050527002/

 

NEWARK — There is a reasonable expectation that a player coming from the KHL to the NHL will have a dip in production. The equation translates to about 1/3 of the points produced in the KHL.

 

But try telling that to eager fans who have been watching highlight reels all summer.

 

The expectations for reigning KHL MVP Nikita Gusev were sky-high as the season began. When the New Jersey Devils traded for him over the summer the fanbase seemed to think that made the Devils an instant Stanley Cup contender. The reality is that the team is figuring out how to play with all of their new pieces and Gusev is still adjusting to the North American ice and the NHL game.

 

However, the learning curve isn’t exactly steep for the 5-foot-9, 27-year-old winger. It should be noted this learning curve is more about hockey than anything else. His English is good and getting better, especially since the Devils set him up with a tutor and his wife’s English is very good. He has said in the past he’s comfortable communicating with teammates and coaches and can understand what’s going on in meetings, he’s not necessarily confident using it to speak to the media. That’s not uncommon with young players. It’s also completely understandable.

 

On the ice, Gusev has played up and down the lineup as New Jersey has attempted to figure out the right combinations and no matter who he has played with, he’s been a dynamic game-changer in the offensive zone.

 

“When he gets from the blue line and in down in that o-zone he’s very dangerous,” Gusev’s part-time linemate Kevin Rooney said Tuesday after practice at Prudential Center. “He’s a fun player to watch and learn from. I’ve picked up on some things he’s done that I’ve never even thought about so it’s cool to have a guy who brings that to the team.”

 

But there are adjustments to be made.

 

Gusev has been somewhat turnover-prone, which has led to some one-and-done chances for the Devils in the offensive zone and doesn’t allow them to get anything going offensively with one of their best offensive players on the ice.

 

Some of this is just his creativity with the puck. You take risks and sometimes they pay off, but sometimes they don’t. Other times, they’ve been a result of a faster NHL game speeding up on him.

 

“Some of them, he has less time and space, particularly coming out of his own zone with how hard everyone pinches down with no time and space on smaller ice,” coach John Hynes said. “But some of the plays through the neutral zone or a rush play, those are decisions that have got to be better.”

 

In the last two games, Gusev played with Pavel Zacha centering his line. Zacha can get pretty creative himself but the speed of that line gave the Rangers and Canucks problems. The coaches also put him with Rooney to be able to put him next to a defensively responsible forward who plays a simple enough game that it compliments a flashy one like Gusev’s.

 

And sometimes that’s necessary because we see that learning curve coming into play when he doesn’t have the puck.

 

“I think in this league when you lose possession in the offensive zone, it’s how hard you work and how quick you work to get it back,” Hynes said. “It’s forecheck pressure, it’s tracking back, checking hard in tight gaps and understanding that once you lose it, you have to work really hard to be able to get it back and that’s an adjustment for him.”

 

Teammates say Gusev has been a quick study and they can already see him thinking the game at a quicker pace and eliminating those mistakes off the puck.

 

“Once he realizes how the game is played here then it will be easier for him to transition and things will happen a little bit quicker for him,” Rooney said. “But nothing that he’s done has slowed us down.”

 

With four points in eight games, the early returns on Gusev have been good and they’re only going to keep getting better. The expectations around the team following a 2-4-2 start may have changed but the Devils still think they are a playoff team and Gusev helps get them there.

 

  1. How Devils’ Pavel Zacha has turned into team’s Swiss Army Knife

By Chris Ryan, NJ.com

https://www.nj.com/devils/2019/10/how-devils-pavel-zacha-has-turned-into-swiss-army-knife.html

 

Pavel Zacha’s exact role with the Devils wasn’t clear entering the 2019-20 season.

 

The fourth-year center player across the lineup early in his career, getting some time on nearly every line while even playing at left wing. He proved to be a strong penalty killer and had experience on the power play.

 

It turns out Zacha’s role is filling all of those things.

 

Through eight games, Zacha has been plugged in across the lineup. He started as the team’s fourth-line center, but he’s anchored other lines, and he’s even played games at left wing.

 

“We knew coming into the year that Pav was going to be a guy that we could utilize in certain situations, and whether he’s playing wing or center,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “I slot him up sometimes with (Taylor) Hall’s line which is good because he’s been good on face-offs, so it’s nice to see him have put a couple games, back-to-back, together, and the big thing with him was we need now we need consistency of being that same guy every night.”

 

The biggest example of Zacha’s versatility came in the last two games with center Nico Hischier hurt. Jack Hughes moved up to Hischier’s spot on the top line, but in certain game situations, Hynes turned to Zacha. The forward also jumped on the power play in those games.

 

With Hughes still learning the NHL early in his rookie season, Hynes let Zacha take some of the tougher assignments in recent games, such as defensive-zone face-offs or matchups against other top lines.

 

“It really comes down to the situations in the game. The last couple of games when I’ve done it, it’s been maybe coming out of the timeout if Hall and Palmieri weren’t on prior to that, or there were a lot of penalty kills and they might have to be the line after the penalty kill,” Hynes said. “Palms and Hallsy aren’t killing penalties right now, so it just depends on what the matchup is and what the flow is, because those guys gotta play.”

 

And in a fully healthy lineup , Zacha played a bit on Hughes’ left wing on the third line earlier this season. That gave the Devils another option on face-offs if needed, and Zacha brought a solid defensive presence with him.

 

Since being a healthy scratch in the second game of the season, Zacha has been a staple in the lineup, and he appears to be trending closer to what the Devils want to see, regardless of where he lines up.

 

“He’s been consistently competitive, which is what we’ve been asking him to be,” Hynes said. “He’s been harder on the pucks, his face-offs are coming, but you trust him in the face-off circle right now. He understands how to play in the defensive zone and he has the physical tools to be able to play against top players.”

 

  1. Why Devils have given Taylor Hall maintenance days early in season

By Chris Ryan, NJ.com

https://www.nj.com/devils/2019/10/why-devils-have-given-taylor-hall-maintenance-days-early-in-season.html

 

The Devils are being proactive in managing Taylor Hall’s ice time on non-game days.

 

For a handful of practices over the first three weeks of the regular season, Hall has been absent, taking maintenance days to rest. That was the plan for Hall and the Devils entering the season after he missed the final three-plus months of the 2018-19 season due to a knee injury and surgery in February.

 

Hall has played in all eight of the Devils’ games in 2019-20, and he’s never been a question mark to dress.

 

“I don’t know if it’ll be this way all the time,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “But having come off from not playing, basically, what was it, nine months? Going into training camp and into the games and into the start of the regular season, that first two weeks for us was pretty demanding with the back-to-back games.

 

“So it was just trying to make sure we’re managing him the right way right now and see how it does, and it seems to be working well for him. He’s feeling good.”

 

Hall took one of his maintenance days on Friday between wins against the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, and he was off the ice again on Monday to start a long week of practice. He returned Tuesday as a full participant.

 

They’ll continue to monitor Hall’s workload in the coming months to keep him on the best plan for managing his practice schedule, and Hynes said he talked to Hall about it entering the season.

 

Hynes and Hall still talk regularly, but the decisions on his maintenance days also come from input from the team’s sports medicine staff. Hynes meets with the group daily to talk about Hall and every player.

 

“For (Hall) it’s a little bit more out of, here’s what our team’s gonna do, this is what we think he may or may not need and then we just discuss it daily,” Hynes said.

 

  1. 10 TAKEAWAYS: The Week of Jack

By Amanda Stein, newjerseydevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/news/10-takeaways-the-week-of-jack/c-310358148?tid=277567796

 

NEWARK, NJ – Oh, what a week it has been!

 

Patience, sometimes it’s hard, I know. But here we are, a week later from when we last met and New Jersey has posted two consecutive victories. There have been some success stories this week, first points, goals and how many blocked shots exactly?!

 

It’s been a good week for New Jersey, who only play again on Friday, hosting Arizona.

 

Let’s have a look back on the week that was with the 10 Takeaways brought to you by Ticketmaster.

 

1.

The Week of Jack, it was a big one on many counts. I’ll try not to make this all about the rookie, but it just so happened that the schedule makers put together a string of games that would be meaningful to the 18-year-old and his game rounded out just in time. For starters, the Devils and Rangers rivalry has been taken to a new level, dating back to April 9, 2019. That was the day of the NHL draft lottery, from there we all knew it was Devils picking first, Rangers second. And the Hughes versus Kaapo Kakko debate began.

 

On Thursday night, the Devils hosted the Rangers for the first time this season, which also marked the first time the two players met on an NHL ice surface. During the preseason, when one was playing the other wasn’t, so this was a first.

 

Hughes picked a good time for his first point – it came against the Rangers, assisting on a Miles Wood goal. Kakko did not factor into any Rangers scoring.

 

2.

 

Just a game later? The questions turned from Hughes versus Kakko to Hughes versus Hughes. With the Vancouver Canucks in town, Jack would face off against his brother Quinn for the first time in their very young NHL careers. Quinn was drafted seventh overall by the Canucks in 2018

 

And so, Jack picked an ideal night for his first NHL goal. It was a snipe from atop the circle on the power play and stood as the game-winner. In fact, it was the only goal scored that night as the Devils shutout the Canucks 1-0.

 

3.

I don’t know why but I’ve been very obsessed with this stat, so I thought I’d share it. Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier scored their first career NHL goals exactly two years apart. Nico scored his on October 19th, 2017 while visiting Ottawa, while Jack had his on October 19th, 2019. It probably doesn’t mean a thing, but I like the coincidence, and now you have this stat to tell your friends.

 

4.

While we’re discussion Nico, he will be around with the Devils for the foreseeable future. On October 18th, the 20-year-old agreed to an extension with New Jersey that extends his entry level contract by another seven seasons for $50.75 million-dollars. That sum of money officially goes down as the richest contract handed out to a Swiss-born NHL player.

 

It was not only a big day for Nico, but one for general manager Ray Shero and his staff. This is a very proud moment, having drafted Nico first overall in 2017, to see him commit to the team on the long-term as a “home-grown” talent.

 

“Our own pick, home grown player,” Shero said. “Some players like this…some players are signing shorter extensions, maybe waiting for the salary cap to go up… when he’s happy he knows it. And he knows how he can have success here.”

 

“The confidence they give me is all a player can ask for,” Hischier said. “We have a young, exciting team, and I am driven to try my best to help the team succeed every day. I was really welcomed here from day one, and I have always felt that I wanted to be part of the Devils.”

 

5.

When the Devils were away in Boston last weekend, Olympian Lindsey Vonn, who happens to be P.K. Subban’s fiancée, was out visiting local animal shelters. It appears Vonn made a spur of the moment decision to take home four foster dogs. Keep in mind, Lindsey and PK already have four dogs of their own!

 

Maybe it was a little more than PK and Lindsey could handle, but a couple of teammates stepped in to help out. Kyle Palmieri and his wife Ashlee stepped in and will adopt one of the dogs, who will join the pup they already have, Penelope. The Carrick’s, Connor and his wife Lexi, are currently fostering one of the dogs named Indie.

 

6.

Someone tweeted me the other day, asking why Mackenzie Blackwood always throws the water bottle above the goaltender’s net to the bench before the start of every period. I got to the bottom of it this week. Turns out, in Junior Blackwood once let in a goal that popped the water bottle. It bothered him, he didn’t like seeing that physical reaction, so, that was it. It wasn’t going to happen again. Ever since then, he’s gotten rid of the bottle on top of the net, just a precaution to make sure that embarrassing moment doesn’t happen ever again.

 

I’m not sure video exists, I went looking.

 

7.

This past week, the Devils posted their first two victories of the season. The victories didn’t just include four points in the standings, it also gave us our first glimpse of the “Player of the Game” prop. In 2017 it was a jacket, provided to the club from their trip to West Point, in 2018 it was that glorious, flashy helmet gifted to the club from SC Bern during the Global Series. This year, it’s another jacket and it’s fantastic. Actually, it’s a whole outfit – a ‘Top Gun’ jacket along with the aviators.

 

First winner? Will Butcher, which was handed to him by team captain Andy Greene after the first win of the season against the Rangers.

 

The second winner, Jack Hughes, after his first NHL goal stood as the game-winner and only goal against the Canucks.

 

From here on out, the previous winner hands the jacket and glasses to the next winner after each win.

 

8.

Can you stay up until 11:35 p.m.? Because I can’t. But I made the extra effort on Sunday night. Our very own NJ Devil made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The two made a Twitter bet during the Devils and Rangers matchup this week and well, not only did the Devils win the game, but NJ himself also won. He got to make an appearance on Fallon’s show, where he got to smash a pie in the late-night host’s face.

 

This is going to escalate quickly, isn’t it?

 

The Devils and Rangers play three more times this season.

 

9.

Did you know that the Devils, in one game alone blocked 23 shots last week. Against the Vancouver Canucks, the Devils blocked a whole lot of shots, which might be a microcosm of the number of penalty minutes in the game. The Canucks had seven power plays, but the penalty killers and their shot-blocking prowess managed to keep the Canucks 0-for-7.

 

No surprise here, captain Andy Greene lead the team in blocked shots with five.

 

“We don’t want to take that many penalties, obviously,” Greene said. “But when you’re killing for 12-plus minutes you’re going to start to get tired and then you have to be forced into position to make more blocks. I think if we can cut those penalties down to three, you won’t get as many blocked shots probably.”

 

Compare that number in the win against the Rangers, the New Jersey had just six blocked shots.

 

10.

Last week John Hynes had a meeting with PK Subban. He asked Subban to simplify his game, he didn’t need PK to do everything. That message seemed to have really positioned Subban to success. In the following game, the 30-year-old defenseman was a force to be reckoned with on the ice against the Rangers. He tallied his first goal, an empty net clearing attempt and tied a career-high with nine shots on net. The last time Subban had nine shots on net was with Nashville in February of 2018.

 

BONUS:

Check out this fantastic video from the Binghamton Devils. They’re hosting a Star Wars night and if you ask me, some of these guys given their impressions have no idea what Star Wars is!

 

3) TV/VIDEO LINKS

 

  1. RAW | Hynes 10.22.19

By New Jersey Devils, newjerseydevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/video/raw–hynes-102219/t-277437418/c-4409240

 

  1. RAW | Butcher 10.22.19

By New Jersey Devils, newjerseydevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/video/raw–butcher-102219/t-277437418/c-4409136

 

  1. RAW | Subban 10.22.19

By New Jersey Devils, newjerseydevils.com

https://www.nhl.com/devils/video/raw–subban-102219/t-277437418/c-4409073

 

4) RADIO LINKS – N/A

5) NATIONAL PRINT/WEB – N/A

 

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