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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins dance with Devils in, 5-2, matinée victory

Brad Marchand had a pair of goals as the Boston Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils, 5-2, at Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon.

Bruins netminder, Jeremy Swayman (4-2-0, 2.18 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in six games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots against in the win.

Jonathan Bernier (4-2-0, 2.80 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in six games played) turned aside 31 out of 35 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 7-5-0 (14 points) on the season and moved ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for 5th place in the Atlantic Division standings by virtue of games-in-hand (the Bruins have played 12 games, while Buffalo has played 13 games thus far).

New Jersey fell to 7-4-2 (16 points) overall and remained in 5th place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

The B’s also improved to 2-4-0 on the road this season, as well as 16-6-5 in 27 games at Prudential Center.

Trent Frederic (upper body) was the only Bruin out of the lineup due to injury, but head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple adjustments to his lines from Thursday night’s, 5-3, loss to the Edmonton Oilers entering Saturday.

Karson Kuhlman re-entered the lineup in place of Craig Smith on the third line, while Mike Reilly was scratched in place of Jakub Zboril on the third defensive pairing.

Smith and Reilly were joined by Oskar Steen on the short list of healthy scratches for Boston on Saturday. Steen was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Friday and will likely be on the third line in place of Kuhlman on Sunday against Montréal.

Early in the first period, Jesper Boqvist caught David Pastrnak with a high stick and was assessed a minor penalty, yielding the afternoon’s first power play opportunity to the Bruins at 6:37 of the first period.

Boston’s skater advantage was short lived, however, as Swayman played the puck outside of the trapezoid for a delay of game penalty at 7:27.

Kuhlman served Swayman’s minor, while the two teams skated at 4-on-4 for about 1:10 prior to an abbreviated power play for the Devils.

New Jersey couldn’t capitalize on the shift in skater strength, though.

Minutes later, Connor Clifton checked Tomáš Tatar away from the puck and received an inference infraction at 10:08. Once again, however, the Devils couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, after switching up his bottom-six forwards– demoting Jake DeBrusk to the fourth line after a slow start and promoting Anton Blidh to the third line alongside Erik Haula and Kuhlman– Boston’s third line broke through for the afternoon’s first goal of the game.

Haula (1) sent a rebound off an initial shot by Blidh through Bernier’s five-hole to give the B’s a, 1-0, lead at 17:37 of the first period.

Blidh (1) and Kuhlman (1) tallied the assists on Haula’s first goal of the season (and first goal in a Bruins uniform, as well).

Entering the first intermission, Boston held a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard and led in shots on goal, 14-9.

The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2) and hits (6-5), while New Jersey led in takeaways (9-6). Both teams had one giveaway each and split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, in the first period.

The Devils were 0/2 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play after one period.

Dawson Mercer tripped up Clifton to kick things off in the middle frame with a Bruins power play at 2:58 of the second period.

Late in the special teams action, Marchand (7) wired a shot from the point with eyes through traffic past Bernier to give the B’s a two-goal lead.

Charlie McAvoy (7) and Patrice Bergeron (7) tallied the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 4:10 of the second period.

Jesper Bratt sent a pass to Andreas Johnsson before Johnsson setup Mercer (5) in the slot on a tic-tac-goal to cut Boston’s lead in half as the Devils got on the scoreboard and trailed, 2-1, 28 seconds after Marchand scored his first goal of the afternoon.

Johnsson (5) and Bratt (6) notched the assists on Mercer’s goal at 4:38 of the second period.

For the third time in their last five periods, Boston allowed a goal less than one minute after scoring a goal.

About two minutes later, however, the B’s extended their lead back to two-goals as Marchand worked a pass to Pastrnak for a blast that rebounded off of Bernier’s glove before Marchand (8) collected the garbage and snuck the puck past Bernier’s left pad.

Pastrnak (7) and McAvoy (8) had the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the game– his 50th career two-goal game– and the Bruins led, 3-1, at 6:52.

Less than a minute later, Taylor Hall hooked Alexander Holtz and presented the Devils with a power play at 7:14, but New Jersey wasn’t able to beat Boston’s penalty kill.

Midway through the middle frame, Brandon Carlo cross checked Nico Hischier away from the play and both players cut a rut to their respective penalty boxes– Carlo for cross checking, Hischier for embellishment– at 13:50.

After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, the two teams returned to 5-on-5 action without any issue.

In the waning minute of the middle frame, Charlie Coyle banked the puck off of a referee inadvertently, which led to a fortunate bounce for the Devils as Mercer faked a shot and passed the puck off to Bratt (3) for a one-timer goal to pull New Jersey back to within one at 19:24 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 26-18, in shots on goal– including a, 12-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-5), hits (14-8) and faceoff win% (59-41) after two periods, while New Jersey led in takeaways (17-9).

Both teams had three giveaways each through two periods.

The Devils were 0/3 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Midway through the final frame, Pastrnak got a shot off that ended up loose in the crease after Bernier made the initial save, but in the ensuing scrum Bergeron (6) tapped the rubber biscuit over the goal line to give Boston another two-goal lead, 4-2, at 10:49 of the third period.

Pastrnak (8) and McAvoy (9) snagged the assists on Bergeron’s goal– completing a three-assist afternoon for McAvoy (his first since Jan. 26, 2021, in a, 3-2, overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins).

Seconds prior to the goal, Hall had made incidental contact in Boston’s own zone with Devils defender, Ryan Graves, who was slow to get up and off the ice under his own power.

Berner vacated the crease with 2:33 remaining in the game for an extra attacker, but briefly returned to the net before leaving once more around 1:33 left in regulation after New Jersey iced the puck.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, used his timeout after a stoppage in play with 1:21 remaining in the action so that assistant coach, Mark Recchi, could drum up a plan to rally his team and tie the game.

Bruins assistant coach, Chris Kelly, had other ideas, however.

In the last minute of regulation, Bratt turned the puck over on a giveaway to DeBrusk’s skates, leading DeBrusk (3) to gain control of the puck, skate forward and hit the empty twine from the center ice logo on an unassisted effort.

DeBrusk’s empty net goal cemented a, 5-2, victory for Boston at 19:06 of the third period.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 36-29, despite trailing the Devils in shots on goal in the third period alone, 11-10.

The B’s exited the building with the lead in blocked shots (25-8), hits (16-11) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New Jersey left their home ice with the advantage in giveaways (8-4).

As there were no penalties called in the third period, the Devils finished Saturday afternoon’s effort 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 6-3-0 (2-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 6-0-0 (2-0-0 on the road) when leading after one period and 5-1-0 (2-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

New Jersey, meanwhile, fell to 4-4-1 (2-3-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-4-1 (1-3-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 1-4-1 (1-3-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home Sunday to host the Montréal Canadiens at TD Garden for the first time since the 2019-20 season before having five days off prior to their next road game in Philadelphia next Saturday (Nov. 20th).

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New Jersey Devils 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 19-30-7, 45 points

7th in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Missed the postseason for the third-straight year

Additions: F Tomas Tatar, D Ryan Graves (acquired from COL), D Dougie Hamilton, D Christian Jaros (acquired from SJS), G Jonathan Bernier

Subtractions: F Nathan Bastian (expansion, SEA), F Christoph Bertschy (NL), F Brandon Gignac (signed with Laval, AHL), F Mason Jobst (signed with Rochester, AHL), F Mikhail Maltsev (traded to COL), F Nicholas Merkley (traded to SJS), F Brett Seney (signed with TOR), F Ben Street (DEL), D Will Butcher (traded to BUF), D Connor Carrick (signed with SEA), D Josh Jacobs (signed with CAR), D Ryan Murray (signed with COL), D David Quenneville (SHL), D Colby Sissons (HockeyAllsvenskan), D Matt Tennyson (signed with NSH), G Corey Crawford (retired), G Aaron Dell (signed with BUF)

Still Unsigned: G Gilles Senn (NL, NJD reserve list), G Evan Cormier

Re-signed: F A.J. Greer, F Janne Kuokkanen, F Yegor Sharangovich, F Marian Studenic

Offseason Analysis: The Devils, like Chicago, turned some heads in the first half of the 2020-21 season. Unlike Chicago, New Jersey wasn’t really anywhere near the top of the standings in their division, but at least Yegor Sharangovich’s emergence and Ty Smith’s performance was a welcome reception for a team that’s yearning for more.

Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha and Miles Wood are all growing in their roles and looking for supporting cast members that haven’t been traded in recent years (think Blake Coleman, Kyle Palmieri and others) as the winds of change sweep through the Devils organization.

Now, it appears, is the time for New Jersey to blossom into something. What that something might be remains to be seen, however.

Sharangovich signed a two-year extension worth $2.000 million per season as a solid bridge contract after putting up 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) in 54 games in his first NHL season after starting the 2020-21 calendar in the Kontinental Hockey League with Dinamo Minsk, where he had 17-8–25 totals in 34 games.

His speed is impressive, but his hands and quick shot might be even more so.

Zacha may have led the team in scoring with 35 points last season, while Hughes trailed with 31 points, but Sharangovich was tied with Jesper Bratt for the third-most points on the roster. Few people outside of New Jersey could’ve seen that coming.

On defense, Smith was a welcome addition to re-igniting some semblance of an offense from the backend.

That said, P.K. Subban managed to score 19 points in 44 games and was on pace for about 27 points in a regular 82-game schedule.

After bottoming out with 18 points in 68 games in 2019-20, Subban’s rise back to relevance times out pretty well entering a contract year for 2021-22– and with Dougie Hamilton locked up via free agency to a seven-year deal at Subban’s $9.000 million cap hit, a little healthy competition might just be the thing that he needs.

Hamilton had 42 points (10 goals, 32 assists) in 55 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, which was down from his .852 points-per-game production in 2019-20, when he had 14-26–40 totals in 47 games prior to injury.

At .764 points-per-game in 2020-21, though, and being only 28-years-old, Hamilton is in the peak of his defensive prime and should be a power play specialist– quarterbacking New Jersey’s defense for a long time in the new-age era of two-way defenders.

Plus Hamilton is four years younger than Subban, so there’s less risk of things backfiring up front in Hamilton’s tenure with the Devils than Subban’s tumultuous drop in production from Nashville to New Jersey.

It’s a risk worth taking for a team that’s looking to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2018, when Taylor Hall went on his Hart Memorial Trophy winning MVP of the regular season run prior to being eliminated in five games in the 2018 First Round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Hall is a member of the Boston Bruins these days– a team the Devils went 5-1-2 against last season.

The additions of Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Bernier via free agency should shore up depth in the middle-six and in the crease where Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood looked fine, but in desperate need of veteran leadership– especially as Blackwood continues to emerge in the league.

New Jersey General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald, shouldn’t have to worry about any unexpected retirements like how Corey Crawford signed with the Devils before retiring prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway.

Offseason Grade: A-

Fitzgerald added one of the better free agents in the market to his roster and still has about $12.100 million in cap space to work with, which is the only reason why the Devils didn’t get an “A” since it seems like they could’ve done a little more.

Nobody’s really expecting New Jersey to make a deep run, but they should align themselves with better chances at playoff contention given the moves made this offseason.

For a team that’s been out of a serious run since making the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, it’s about time that the Devils get back into the playoff picture and adding Hamilton to New Jersey’s core certainly speeds things up by making the Devils a desirable destination at least.

Whereas other teams in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division are expected to falter, New Jersey’s stock is starting to rise so right about now would be the perfect time to buy in.

Ideally, they should be in wild card contention.

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NHL Nick's Net

Third period rally sparks Boston’s, 5-4, shootout win over Devils

For the fourth time this season, the Boston Bruins came back from trailing in the third period to winning past regulation with a, 5-4, shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The B’s lead the league in third period multi-goal comeback wins this season with four– setting a franchise record in the process.

Jaroslav Halak (8-5-3, 2.27 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 16 games played) stopped 31 out of 35 shots faced in the shootout win for Boston.

Devils goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (9-9-2, 2.87 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 20 games played) made 44 saves on 48 shots against in the shootout loss.

Boston improved to 18-9-5 (41 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New Jersey fell to 13-16-5 (31 points) and remained in 7th place in the division.

Tuesday night, the Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Sean Kuraly (COVID protocol) and Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), while Brandon Carlo and Brad Marchand made their returns to the lineup.

Carlo made his first appearance in 10 games since sustaining an upper body injury (concussion, though it was never officially stated by the team) against the Washington Capitals on March 5th, while Marchand returned from COVID protocol after a false positive kept him out of the last two games.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, adjusted his lineup, returning Marchand to his usual role on the first line left wing alongside B’s captain, Patrice Bergeron, at center and David Pastrnak at right wing.

Cassidy moved Trent Frederic to center the fourth line as a result and scratched Jack Studnicka.

On defense, Jeremy Lauzon suited up alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Matt Grzelcyk was partnered with Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Cassidy put Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton together on the third pairing, while Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Studnicka, Moore, Kase, Rask, Steven Kampfer, Kuraly, DeBrusk, Jarred Tinordi, Callum Booth and Miller made up Boston’s list of taxi squad members, healthy scratches and/or injured players out of the lineup on Tuesday.

Jack Ahcan was reassigned from Boston’s taxi squad to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Miles Wood (11) kicked things off with the game’s first goal on New Jersey’s first shot of the night after stopping P.K. Subban’s shot pass before firing it over Halak’s glove from the slot.

Subban (12) had the only assist on the goal as the Devils took a, 1-0, lead at 1:28 of the first period.

Moments later, the Bruins evened things up, 1-1, when Nick Ritchie (10) mustered a shot from just above the faceoff circle off of Blackwood’s glove hand and into the twine for Boston’s first 5-on-5 goal against New Jersey this season.

David Krejci (18) and Craig Smith (6) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal at 5:55.

Almost midway into the opening frame, an odd bounce didn’t go Karson Kuhlman’s way while the Bruins forward was pressuring to keep the puck in the attacking zone led to a New Jersey breakaway the other way for Devils forward, Michael McLeod.

McLeod (5) deked, pulled the puck to his backhand and beat Halak down low to give the Devils a, 2-1, lead at 9:34 of the first period.

Jesper Boqvist (1) and Ryan Murray (5) notched the assists on McLeod’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, New Jersey led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 12-11.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (2-1), takeaways (4-2) and hits (12-6), while both teams had two giveaways each and were 50-5o in faceoff win percentage after one period of action.

Neither team had yet to see any time on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Travis Zajac (5) tipped a shot from Jesper Bratt through Halak’s seven-hole on the blocker side to give the Devils a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 3:45 of the second period.

Bratt (15) and Murray (6) had the assists on Zajac’s goal, which was his 200th tally of his National Hockey League career in 1,021 games (all with New Jersey).

Moments later, Marchand yielded the first power play of the night to the Devils after receiving a roughing minor at 9;20 of the second period.

New Jersey did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Shortly after being free from the penalty box, Marchand made a big hit in the attacking zone that resulted in Bratt and Marchand exchanging pleasantries and receiving roughing infractions at 12:59 after the Bruins winger landed a takedown of the Devils defender.

About a minute later, Subban slashed Krejci and presented Boston with a 4-on-3 advantage for about 52 seconds before the Bruins would have an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

Nearly three minutes after his second roughing penalty of the game, Marchand (13) wired a catch and release snap shot past Blackwood’s blocker to pull Boston to within one.

Bergeron (17) and Krejci (19) had the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 15:48.

Less than two minutes later, a costly turnover for Lauzon in his own zone off of a faceoff benefited Kyle Palmieri (8) with a quick unassisted goal to put New Jersey on top, 4-2, at 17:06.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Devils led, 4-2, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 25-23.

Boston held the advantage in takeaways (9-6), hits (18-15) and faceoff win% (57-43), while New Jersey led in blocked shots (8-4) and giveaways (4-3).

The Devils were 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

Midway through the third period, McAvoy (4) buried a rebound to bring the Bruins back to within one– trialing, 4-3, at 10:22 of the third period.

Smith (7) and Marchand (23) had the assists on McAvoy’s goal.

Boston went on the power play at 13:43 when Damon Severson caught McAvoy with a high stick, but didn’t convert on the ensuing advantage.

Moments later, however, Grzelcyk (3) sent a wrist shot from the high slot off an attacking zone faceoff win past Blackwood on the far side to tie the game, 4-4.

Smith (8) and Krejci (20) each had their third assist of the night on Grzlecyk’s goal at 16:00 of the third period– forcing overtime after Bergeron’s hooking minor at 16:18 was successfully killed by Boston’s penalty kill.

The Bruins finished the 60-minute effort leading in shots on goal, 44-32, including a, 19-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The B’s also led in hits (23-19), while the Devils led in blocked shots (11-7) and giveaways (8-3) entering the overtime period.

Both teams had 11 takeaways each and were 50-50 in faceoff win% heading into the extra frame.

New Jersey was 0/2 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play entering overtime.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, started Pavel Zacha, Bratt and Severson in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to kick things off.

McAvoy slashed Severson while trailing on a play about midway through the overtime period, yielding a 4-on-3 advantage to New Jersey at 2:39 of overtime.

Boston then utilized their timeout to counter New Jersey’s power play and hold things off until the seconds ticked down and a shootout commenced.

Entering the shootout, Boston and New Jersey were tied, 4-4, on the scoreboard, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 48-35, including a, 4-3, advantage in overtime alone.

The B’s finished the night leading in hits (24-22) and and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Devils wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (12-8) and giveaways (8-3).

New Jersey finished Tuesday night’s action 0/3 on the power play, while Boston went 1/2 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins elected to shoot second in the shootout.

Ruff sent out Zacha, but the Devils forward’s attempt was stopped by Halak with a routine pad save.

Cassidy countered with Charlie Coyle, who promptly deked while skating towards Blackwood, pulling the New Jersey netminder out of position.

Coyle went from his backhand to his forehand while wrapping the puck around Blackwood– slipping it between the Devils goalie and the post to give Boston the, 1-0, advantage after the first round of the shootout.

New Jersey turned to Palmieri to even things up, but Halak got a chunk of the puck with his blocker before the rubber biscuit was deflected wide of the net.

Pastrnak mimicked Coyle’s goal– going from his backhand to his forehand and slipping the rubber biscuit between Blackwood’s outstretched pad and the post, only this time with less room between the Devils’ goaltender’s skate and the metal goal frame.

The Bruins won the shootout, 2-0, and added to their final total on the scoreboard– defeating the Devils in the process, 5-4.

Boston improved to 2-3-1 against New Jersey in 2020-21, as well as 3-2 in shootouts overall this season.

The Devils, meanwhile, fell to 0-4 in shootouts this season.

The Bruins improved to 6-6-2 (3-4-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Devils dropped to 11-7-1 (7-2-1 on the road) when scoring first in 2020-21.

Boston is now 4-6-2 (2-2-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 4-5-1 (3-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season, while New Jersey fell to 8-3-1 (4-1-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-2-1 (5-1-1 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

The B’s finished the month of March with a 6-4-3 record and will begin April with a pair of home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and Saturday.

Boston is 2-1-1 in their current seven-game homestand.

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NHL Nick's Net

Blackwood backstops Devils to, 1-0, shutout over Bruins

Kyle Palmieri scored the game’s only goal late in the first period, while Mackenzie Blackwood stopped all 40 shots that he faced– backstopping the New Jersey Devils to a, 1-0, shutout over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Sunday.

Blackwood (9-9-1, 2.82 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 19 games played) earned his first shutout of the season (the sixth of his National Hockey League career) in the 40-save effort for New Jersey.

Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (7-5-3, 2.17 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 15 games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 save percentage in the loss.

The Bruins dropped to 17-9-5 (39 points) overall and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Devils improved to 13-16-4 (30 points) on the season and in command of 7th place in the division.

The B’s also fell to 8-4-2 at home this season and 1-3-1 against New Jersey this season.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Sean Kuraly (COVID protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol) and Brad Marchand (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Karson Kuhlman returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s, 3-2, win against the Buffalo Sabres due to an injury sustained on March 25th against the New York Islanders.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few adjustments to his lineup on Sunday, leaving his first three lines the same as they were on Saturday, while inserting Anton Blidh and Kuhlman on Jack Studnicka’s wings on the fourth line and swapping Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon on the second and third defensive pairings.

Zboril was demoted to playing third pairing minutes alongside Steven Kampfer, while Lauzon was bumped up alongside Connor Clifton to round out the top-four defenders.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, injured players, taxi squad members and players in COVID protocol on Sunday evening included, Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Kuraly, Marchand, DeBrusk, Jarred Tinordi, Miller, Jack Ahcan and Callum Booth, who was recalled and assigned to the taxi squad late Saturday.

Weymouth, Massachusetts native and Bruins forward, Charlie Coyle, took part in his 600th career NHL game on Sunday, wearing an “A” on his jersey for the second-straight game with Marchand out due to COVID protocol.

Midway through the opening frame, Andreas Johnsson caught Craig Smith up high with an illegal check to the head and was assessed a minor infraction, yielding the first power play of the game to Boston at 11:27 of the first period.

Moments later, after killing the penalty, New Jersey struck first and scored the only goal of the game when Ty Smith sent a shot from the faceoff dot that deflected of Palmieri (7) and into the twine over Halak’s glove.

Smith (7) and Jesper Bratt (14) tallied the assists on Palmieri’s goal as the Devils took the, 1-0, lead at 16:37.

Entering the first intermission, New Jersey led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 12-9, in shots on goal.

The Devils also led in takeaways (3-2) and giveaways (3-0), while the Bruins held the advantage in hits (8-6) and faceoff win percentage (62-38) after 20 minutes of action.

Both teams had four blocked shots, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play and the Devils had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Clifton hooked Bratt at 11:55 of the second period, presenting New Jersey with their first power play of the evening, but the Devils didn’t convert on the advantage as Boston’s league-leading penalty kill did its job.

Trent Frederic caught his teammate, Patrice Bergeron, with an errant elbow to the face while making a hit in the corner that sent Bergeron down the tunnel before returning ahead of the third period without issue.

Late in the period, Matt Grzelcyk was penalized for holding against Miles Wood at 17:33 and P.K. Subban tripped Studnicka at 19:42, but neither team managed to get anything going on the special teams action.

Heading into the second intermission, the Devils held onto the lead, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-23, in shots on goal, despite the Bruins outshooting New Jersey, 14-12, in the second period alone.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-5), hits (20-14) and faceoff win% (57-43), while New Jersey led in takeaways (5-4).

Both teams had four giveaways each and were 0/2 on the power play entering the final frame.

Janne Kuokkanen caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick and drew blood at 4:49 of the third period, presenting the B’s with their best chance on the skater advantage as Kuokkanen cut a rut to the penalty box with a four-minute double-minor infraction.

Boston’s power play was cut short when McAvoy tripped Yegor Sharangovich at 8:36, lending the Devils an abbreviated power play after 14 seconds of 4-on-4 action.

Moments later, Zach Senyshyn took a holding penalty at 13:18, but New Jersey didn’t score on the resulting skater advantage.

Cassidy pulled Halak with 1:38 remaining for an extra attacker and Bergeron thought he tied the game while burying a loose puck from just outside the crease, but Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that David Krejci had interfered with Blackwood’s ability to make a save.

After review, the call on the ice was reversed and the score remained, 1-0, in favor of New Jersey as Krejci’s stick work while battling to free a loose puck in the crease was deemed goaltender interference.

With about eight seconds remaining, the Bruins thought they tied the game again, but the puck did not fully cross the goal line as was confirmed by video review.

At the final horn, the Devils had won, 1-0, and finished the afternoon with back-to-back shutouts against the Bruins in their last two meetings for the first time since 1997.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-29, including a, 17-5, advantage in the third period alone.

The B’s also led in hits (23-18) and faceoff win% (64-36), while New Jersey wrapped up the evening’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (14-10) and giveaways (12-5).

Both teams went 0/4 on the power play in the action.

The Bruins fell to 5-6-2 (2-4-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Devils improved to 11-7-0 (7-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

New Jersey also improved to 8-3-0 (4-1-0 on the road) when leading after one period and 7-2-0 (5-1-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Boston fell to 3-6-2 (1-2-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-5-1 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins close out the month of March against the Devils on Tuesday. Boston begins the month of April with a pair of home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (April 1st) and Saturday (April 3rd).

Boston is 1-1-1 in their current seven-game homestand.

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NHL Nick's Net

Palmieri nets two as Devils defeat Bruins, 3-2

Kyle Palmieri scored a pair of goals as the New Jersey Devils beat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, at TD Garden on Thursday night in Boston.

Mackenzie Blackwood (4-0-1, 1.94 goals against average, .945 save percentage in five games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots faced for a .926 SV% in the win for New Jersey.

Boston netminder, Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1, 1.66 GAA, .928 SV% in six games played) stopped 23 out of 26 shots against (.885 SV%) in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 10-3-2 (22 points) on the season, but remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division lead, while the Devils improved to 6-3-2 (14 points) overall and stagnant in 6th place in the division.

Once more, the Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), but Jakub Zboril (upper body) joined the pair of injured teammates in the press box on Thursday night– missing his first game of the season due to an injury sustained on Feb. 13th in the, 4-2, loss at the Islanders.

Kase missed his 13th game due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while Grzelcyk missed his ninth game due to an injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st against Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th against Pittsburgh and on Feb. 10th in New York (against the Rangers).

As a result of the injuries and more, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, jumbled his lines.

Jake DeBrusk replaced David Pastrnak on the first line right wing with Brad Marchand at left wing and captain, Patrice Bergeron, at center.

Pastrnak was “demoted” to the second line with Nick Ritchie and David Krejci, while Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith were reunited on the third line.

Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner made up the fourth line.

On defense, Cassidy left Jeremy Lauzon with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing, while John Moore filled in Grzelcyk’s usual role on the second pairing with Brandon Carlo and Connor Clifton was slotted into Zboril’s spot alongside Kevan Miller.

Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s taxi squad on Thursday, while Anton Blidh was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday and Par Lindholm had his contract terminated by the club on Monday after being placed on waivers for the purpose of terminating his deal on Sunday.

Lindholm signed a multiyear contract with Skellefteå AIK in his return to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).

Not much happened in the first period. In fact, so much not much that the only event on the scoresheet was a penalty against Wagner for tripping Devils forward, Miles Wood, at 10:29.

New Jersey did not convert on the ensuing power play.

After one period of action Thursday night at TD Garden, the game was tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 7-7.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (7-4) and giveaways (5-3), while New Jersey led in hits (9-8).

Both teams managed three takeaways aside and split faceoff win percentage (50-50).

The Devils were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle period, Jack Hughes pulled both Boston defenders out of position before dropping a pass to Palmieri (1) for the wrist shot goal over Halak’s glove side.

Hughes (6) had the only assist on Palmieri’s first goal of the night as the Devils took the lead, 1-0, at 1:34 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Palmieri cut a rut to the penalty box with McAvoy after the two players roughed each other up a bit after a stoppage in play, resulting in 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes at 2:14 of the middle frame.

Moments later, Moore tripped Jesper Bratt and was sent to the sin bin at 8:01, yielding a power play to New Jersey in the process.

Once again the Devils weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage, however, as P.K. Subban caught Bjork with a high stick and drew blood at 9:05 of the second period, resulting in a four-minute double minor penalty on Subban.

The two clubs shared 56 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins began an extended power play for a span of 3:04.

While shorthanded, the Devils forced a turnover in the neutral zone, presenting Palmieri (2) with a clear lane to the net for his second goal of the night on a similar shot to his first goal of the game.

Damon Severson (5) and Bratt (3) tallied the assists on Palmieri’s shorthanded goal as New Jersey led, 2-0, at 10:39 of the second period.

In the waning minute of their power play, DeBrusk (1) found a loose puck in the slot and buried a shot over Blackwood’s blocker side to cut New Jersey’s lead in half, 2-1, and give Boston their first goal of the night.

DeBrusk’s power-play goal was unassisted at 12:36.

Moments later, the Bruins tweeted that Krejci (lower body) would not return to the night’s action– necessitating some changes to Cassidy’s in-game lineup.

Late in the period, Nathan Bastian and Coyle received matching roughing minors after yet another post-whistle scrum at 15:08.

On the ensuing 4-on-4 action, New Jersey worked the puck in the offensive zone while Moore and Carlo struggled to remain in proper positioning in their own end.

Andreas Johnsson sent a pass to Pavel Zacha (4) for a one-timer goal over Halak’s blocker from the inside circle to the Bruins netminder’s right side.

Johnsson (2) and Will Butcher (1) notched the assists on Zacha’s goal and the Devils led, 3-1, at 15:37 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play on Thursday, New Jersey led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 18-15, in shots on goal, including an, 11-8, advantage in the second period alone while Boston struggled on home ice.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (11-8), giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (58-43), while the Devils led in takeaways (5-4) and hits (16-15).

New Jersey was 0/2 on the power play, while Boston was 1/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame of regulation.

The Bruins found themselves shorthanded when Lauzon tripped Palmieri at 7:01 of the third period, but made matters worse when Marchand caught Hughes with a high stick at 7:36 and presented the Devils with a two-skater advantage for 1:25.

Boston’s penalty kill got the job done, however.

Late in the final frame, Ty Smith sent an errant puck clear over the glass and received a minor infraction for delay of game at 17:49, presenting the B’s with a power play that– if they couldn’t score– would expire with 11 seconds left in the game.

Cassidy pulled Halak for an extra attacker to make it a 6-on-4 advantage for Boston.

About a minute into the ensuing power play, Pastrnak fired a shot from the point that McAvoy (2) deflected while battling Dmitry Kulikov in the slot to pull Boston to within one goal.

Pastrnak (6) and Ritchie (6) were credited with the assists on the power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 18:54 of the third period.

With 1:06 to go, Cassidy used his timeout to rally Boston for another goal, but it was too little, too late as the final horn sounded 66 seconds later.

New Jersey emerged victorious, 3-2, as time expired.

The Bruins finished with the advantage in shots on goal, 27-26, including a, 12-8, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.

Boston also wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-13), giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (61-39), while the New Jersey finished the night leading in hits (24-21).

The Devils went 0/4 on the skater advantage while the B’s converted on 2/3 power play opportunities.

The B’s fell to 3-2-0 (1-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period, 2-1-1 (1-1-0 at home) when trailing after two periods and 4-2-2 (1-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

New Jersey, meanwhile, improved to 2-1-1 (2-0-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, 4-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods and 6-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins hit the road for a home game outdoors at Lake Tahoe against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC) before returning to the road for a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th and New York Rangers on Feb. 26th, as well as Feb. 28th.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #182- Back In A New Year Groove

The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

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NHL Nick's Net

Devils ring in 2020 with, 3-2, shootout win over Bruins

The New Jersey Devils completed a, 3-2, shootout victory comeback over the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center on Tuesday afternoon to close out 2019.

Mackenzie Blackwood (13-10-5 record, 2.85 goals against, .907 save percentage in 30 games played) made 28 saves on 30 shots against for a .933 SV% in the win for the Devils.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (9-3-5, 2.20 GAA, .930 SV% in 17 games played) stopped 42 out of 44 shots faced for a .955 SV% in the shootout loss.

Boston fell to 24-7-10 (58 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Atlantic Divison, while New Jersey improved to 14-19-6 (34 points) and stayed in 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also fell to 10-6-2 on the road this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Torey Krug (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (lower body), Connor Clifton (upper body) and David Krejci (lower body) on Tuesday.

Miller has now officially missed half of the season, since Boston played their 41st game of the regular season in New Jersey.

As a result of the numerous injuries on the blue line for the B’s, Jeremy Lauzon was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Lauzon has 1-9–10 totals in 35 games with Providence this season and made his season debut with Boston on the second defensive pairing with Matt Grzelcyk at his side.

Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) was assigned to Providence on Monday in what might be a conditioning stint, if not just a return to playing action with a plethora of depth forwards seeking playing time in Boston.

Kuhlman has not played since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made changes to his lineup from Sunday night’s, 3-2, victory against Buffalo.

Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie were moved up to the second line, while Jake DeBrusk slid down to the third line left wing slot as Par Lindholm and David Backes drew back into the lineup.

Meanwhile, on defense, Lauzon was paired with Grzelcyk and John Moore remained with Steven Kampfer, while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo earned first pairing duties.

Danton Heinen was the only healthy scratch for Boston on Tuesday.

Devils defender, P.K. Subban, caught Sean Kuraly without the puck and was assessed a minor penalty for interference at 1:17 of the first period.

The Bruins capitalized on the ensuing power play when David Pastrnak unloaded a shot on a one-timer that trickled through Blackwood, but slowed before reaching the goal line.

As a result, Brad Marchand (20) ensured the puck reached the twine by tapping it in from the crease and gave Boston the, 1-0, lead on the power play.

Pastrnak (30) and Grzelcyk (9) had the assists on Marchand’s power play goal at 2:03.

Both teams swapped chances for the rest of the opening frame, but no more penalties were called or goals scored heading into the first intermission.

Boston led New Jersey, 1-0, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 14-10.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (7-4), while the Devils had the advantage in giveaways (4-2), hits (8-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had one takeaway aside and the Bruins were 1/1 on the skater advantage, while New Jersey had yet to see any time on the power play.

Marchand went to the box nine seconds into the second period after tripping up Devils forward, Nikita Gusev, but New Jersey couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Moments later, Kuraly worked the puck down low and squibbed it through Blackwood into the crease and off Sami Vatanen’s skate, whereby Joakim Nordstrom (4) poked the loose puck over the goal line to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Kuraly (12) and Carlo (9) tallied the assists on Nordstrom’s goal at 4:27 of the second period and Boston led, 2-0.

Almost midway through the middle frame, New Jersey sustained offensive zone pressure for a solid few minutes.

The Devils re-entered the attacking zone on a quick break while the Bruins were in the midst of a line change, as Blake Coleman dropped the puck back to Gusev for a give-and-go back to Coleman (12) for the one-timer goal at 8:58.

Gusev (16) and Vatanen (16) had the assists on Coleman’s goal as New Jersey cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Less than a minute later, Travis Zajac went to the penalty box for tripping Marchand at 9:07, but Boston’s resulting power play was short lived as Grzelcyk tripped up Nico Hischier at 9:20.

The two sides played 1:47 of 4-on-4 action before the Devils had an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

Entering the second intermission, the Bruins led the Devils, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 23-22, in shots on goal– despite New Jersey holding the, 12-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-6), while the Devils led in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (8-4), hits (15-7) and faceoff win% (55-45).

New Jersey went 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage after 40 minutes played.

Lauzon opened things up in the final frame of regulation with an interference minor against Miles Wood at 2:34 of the third period.

New Jersey didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Almost midway through the third period, Nordstrom tripped up Mirco Mueller and was sent to the sin bin at 7:55, but once again the Devils couldn’t convert on the skater advantage.

A few minutes past the midpoint in the third period, Jesper Bratt (8) tipped in a shot from Subban by standing right in front of Halak– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Subban (5) and Hischier (15) notched the assists on Bratt’s goal at 13:11 and New Jersey was in full swing with momentum on their side.

Neither team took another penalty until overtime and the two teams finished regulation tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard with the Devils leading in shots on goal, 41-28– including a, 19-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (15-13), takeaways (9-8) and faceoff win% (51-49), while New Jersey led in giveaways (14-5) and hits (19-13).

The Devils were 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into overtime.

Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and Moore in the extra frame for Boston, while Alain Nasreddine began overtime with Hischier, Damon Severson and Vatanen on the ice.

Late in the overtime period, Bratt hooked Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 4:48.

As a result, Cassidy used his timeout with 11.6 seconds left in overtime to drum up a plan if the Bruins won the ensuing draw and could muster a shot on goal before time expired.

At the horn, the B’s and Devils were heading for a shootout, tied, 2-2, through 65 minutes of action.

New Jersey finished the effort leading in shots on goal (44-30), giveaways (14-5) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (16-14).

The two sides were even in faceoff win% (50-50), while the Devils went 0/4 and the Bruins went 1/3 on the power play.

Nasreddine elected to shoot first in the shootout and sent Gusev out to face Halak in the opening round, but Gusev shot the puck square at the B’s goaltender.

Cassidy responded with Coyle to kick things off for Boston in the shootout, but Coyle missed the net after deking and losing the puck off his forehand while losing an edge in front of the crease.

Jesper Boqvist shot second for New Jersey and fired a shot directly at Halak.

Pastrnak was next up for Boston, but was denied by Blackwood as the Devils goaltender made a glove save while falling as Pastrnak stickhandled the puck and let it fly.

Devils forward, Kyle Palmieri, began the third round of the shootout with a shot off Halak’s glove and wide.

Palmieri was followed by Marchand in the third round of the shootout and for once the Bruins winger didn’t opt for a five-hole attempt.

Instead, Marchand rang the post over Blackwood’s blocker.

Through three rounds of the shootout, the two clubs were knotted, 0-0.

Wayne Simmonds began the fourth round of the shootout with an attempt at wrapping the puck around Halak’s outstretched legs, but Halak shut the door between the post and his skate.

Cassidy sent out DeBrusk to break up the deadlock, but DeBrusk crashed the net with speed and was denied by Blackwood’s leg pad as the New Jersey goaltender cut down on the angle of DeBrusk’s approach by playing out of the crease a little.

Just as it seemed like a shootout from hell, the Devils elected to utilize Jack Hughes’ skillset in the fifth round of the shootout.

Hughes dangled the puck and got Halak to commit to a hybrid stance before firing a shot below Halak’s glove and inside the post for the first goal of the shootout– putting New Jersey in command.

Not to be outdone, noted Bruins fourth liner, Chris Wagner, was sent out to tie the shootout and did just that after a nifty dangle to his backhand before roofing the puck over Blackwood and through the top-shelf– tying the shootout, 1-1, after five rounds.

In a grand twist from the other night’s own-goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Severson was sent out onto the ice to try to give New Jersey control of their own destiny and the Hockey Gods responded in kind.

Severson deked and scored a goal that was reminiscent of Wagner’s only about a minute prior with a backhand that he elevated over Halak to put the Devils ahead in the shootout, 2-1.

With the game on his stick, Bergeron had to score to extend the shootout, but Blackwood snagged the puck out of mid-air with his glove– denying Bergeron of yet another shootout goal.

No. 37 in black and gold hasn’t scored a shootout goal in about five calendar years as the Devils emerged with the, 3-2, shootout victory on home ice.

The B’s fell to 18-1-2 when having a two-goal lead at any time this season and fell to 0-6 in shootouts this season, while New Jersey improved to 2-4 overall past overtime.

The Bruins fell to 17-5-6 when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-3-2 when leading after the first period and 13-0-4 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston kicks off 2020 with a two-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and Edmonton Oilers on Saturday before making a quick visit to Nashville to face the Predators next Tuesday.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

New Jersey Devils 2019-20 Season Preview

New Jersey Devils

31-41-10, 72 points, 8th in the Metropolitan Division

Missed the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons

Additions: F Nikia Gusev (acquired from VGK), F John Hayden (acquired from CHI), F Wayne Simmonds, F Ben Street, D Dakota Mermis, D P.K. Subban (acquired from NSH), D Matt Tennyson

Subtractions: F Kenny Agostino (signed with TOR), F Kurtis Gabriel (signed with PHI), F Adam Helewka (KHL), F Nick Lappin (signed with STL), F Stefan Noesen (signed a PTO with DAL), F Blake Pietila (signed with ANA), F John Quenneville (traded to CHI), F Eric Tangradi (KHL), D Jeremy Davies (traded to NSH), D Ryan Murphy (KHL), D Steven Santini (traded to NSH), D John Ramage (KHL), D Egor Yakovlev (KHL), G Cam Johnson (signed with Milwaukee, AHL)

Still unsigned: F Drew Stafford, F Pavel Zacha, D Eric Gryba, G Eddie Lack

Re-signed: F Brandon Baddock, D Will Butcher, D Connor Carrick, D Josh Jacobs, D Mirco Mueller

Offseason Analysis: Ray Shero is an active General Manager and he was quite the active dealer this offseason– most recently acquiring Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a 2020 3rd round pick and a 2021 2nd round pick, while also sending Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies, a 2019 2nd round pick and a 2020 2nd round pick to the Nashville Predators to acquire P.K. Subban in June.

Gusev signed a two-year deal worth $4.500 million per season to begin his NHL career at the age of 27, while Subban joins New Jersey with three years remaining on his eight-year, $72 million contract that he originally signed as an extension with the Montreal Canadiens on August 2, 2014 before being traded to Nashville in June 2016.

Shero then went on to sign Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $5.000 million contract in free agency in an effort to bolster New Jersey’s top-six forwards.

Taylor Hall is a pending-unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

It’s not known whether or not the 2018 Hart Trophy winner has any desire to stay with the Devils or not, but Shero’s making every effort to keep his team relevant for what’s likely to be the rest of Hall’s prime.

Adding Jack Hughes with the 1st overall selection in the 2019 Draft is sure to help, while Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt come into their own among the forwards and Will Butcher (signed to a three-year extension this offseason worth $3.733 million per season) and Subban lead the new-age Devils blue line from the backend.

Pavel Zacha, the 22-year-old native of Brno, Czech Republic, scored 24 points in 70 games in his rookie season of 2016-17 and 25 points in each of the last two seasons (8-17–25 totals in 69 games in 2017-18 and 13-12–25 totals in 61 games in 2018-19).

Zacha is currently an unsigned-restricted free agent who should fit under New Jersey’s $8.712 million in currently available cap space, but shouldn’t be more than a one or two-year bridge deal as he has yet to prove himself of a larger role and the Devils are looking to avoid restricting themselves from next summer’s negotiations with Hall, Simmonds and others.

The one thing Shero hasn’t touched– mostly because he can’t– is goaltending.

Cory Schneider has a $6.000 million cap hit and three-years remaining on his contract and is coming off a career-worst, 3.06 goals against average and .903 save percentage in 26 games played as an NHL regular goaltender.

Mackenzie Blackwood emerged with a hot start to the season in 2018-19, but was limited both by the lack of protection in front of him, as well as injury, to just 23 games and a 2.61 GAA and a .918 SV% in his rookie campaign.

Blackwood’s .918 SV% is promising, but his 2.61 GAA is more endemic of an anemic defense the Devils are looking to get more out of– hence the addition of Subban.

Offseason Grade C+

New Jersey played it safe this offseason by not overpaying for a free agent (Simmonds), while keeping the term short and sweet– leaving the door open for further relations if it is mutually beneficial, but also at risk of being left for someone else if Simmonds looks to cash-in on a superb 2019-20 season elsewhere.

Shero bolstered his defense out of necessity, but might not have a playoff-ready roster without more work to be done. If the Devils were a yearly playoff contender, this offseason would look much better than it actually is. Sadly, it’s just a little above average for a team in transition from free-fall to “stable” rebuilder.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #166- New New New York

Nick and Colby recap the headlines from the last month as well as take a look at all of the New York market teams and try to figure out if any of them are actually any good as Season Six of the podcast begins.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

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Nick's Net

Bruins at Devils Preview: 3/21/2019

The Boston Bruins (44-20-9, 97 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) continue their four-game road trip after a, 5-0, shutout of the New York Islanders on Tuesday with a Thursday night matchup against the New Jersey Devils (27-38-9, 63 points, 8th in the Metropolitan Division).

New Jersey is coming off a, 4-1, loss to the Washington Capitals on home ice on Tuesday and is 1-1-0 against the Bruins this season, including a, 5-2, win in Boston on Dec. 27th and a, 1-0, loss at TD Garden on March 2nd.

Thursday night marks the final time the two clubs will see each other in the 2018-19 regular season.

It’s also a homecoming for New Jersey native and B’s defender, Connor Clifton, as he will once again be in the lineup for the Bruins while Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller remain out of the action.

Former Devil, John Moore, makes his return to Prudential Center as a member of the Bruins, while trade deadline acquisition Marcus Johansson will not be available for Thursday night’s action in Boston’s first game in New Jersey since trading for Johansson.

Grzelcyk (upper body), Miller (upper body) and Johansson (lung contusion) will join the Bruins in Florida on Friday ahead of their Saturday night battle with the Panthers and could all be back in the lineup at that time.

Krug (concussion) skated on his own after morning skate on Thursday and remains out of game action.

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated there would be no lineup changes, while Paul Carey remains the only healthy scratch and Tuukka Rask (25-10-5 record, 2.39 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 41 games played) will get the start in net against the Devils.

Rask had a 20-save shutout in Boston’s, 1-0, win over New Jersey earlier this month.

Across the ice, Pavel Zacha returns to the lineup for the Devils after missing 16 games with an upper body injury. New Jersey is 2-8-1 in their last 11 games and has already been eliminated from postseason contention this year.

Facing a lot of injuries to the roster, Josh Jacobs was recalled from the Binghamton Devils (AHL) and will make his NHL debut and wear No. 40 for New Jersey on Thursday, while Nathan Bastian (upper body), Jesper Bratt (lower body), Taylor Hall (lower body), Nico Hischier (upper body), Mirco Mueller (upper body), Miles Wood (lower body), Kyle Palmieri (upper body) and Will Butcher (illness) remain inactive.

Devils head coach, John Hynes, indicated Cory Schneider (5-11-3, 3.13 GAA, .901 SV% in 22 GP) would get the start for New Jersey against Boston.

Schneider is 2-6-3 in his career against the Bruins, allowing 27 goals against, while amassing a 2.51 GAA in 646 minutes played. He is also 5-4-1 in his past 10 games (nine starts) and has a 2.09 GAA and .934 SV% in that span.

Backup goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (7-9-0, 2.71 GAA, .915 SV% in 19 GP) is 1-1-0 this season against the B’s and allowed three goals on 72 shots against with a 1.52 GAA.