Categories
Sports

Devils Getting Solid Play From Janne Kuokkanen

If you can remember back before the world ended and the pandemic started (I know, it isn’t easy), one of the last normal things to take place, especially as it relates to the world of hockey, was the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline. That happened near the end of February last year, only a few weeks before everything shut down. It was perhaps also Tom Fitzgerald’s first serious event after taking over for Ray Shero as Acting GM, a job he has since taken on in a more permanent fashion.

Looking back on it now, one of the major successes from that deadline, and one of the reasons Fitzgerald definitely should be praised, was the trade that sent Sami Vatanen to Carolina in exchange for, among other assets, Janne Kuokkanen. The Devils also got a draft pick and a player, but in reality, the winner of the entire deal, on either side, has been Kuokkanen.

Before getting into his play, however, just think about the deal itself. Fitzgerald sent Carolina Vatanen, who was injured at the time, as a rental piece to potentially help Carolina in a playoff run. Since then, Carolina would bow out quietly in the first round of the 2020 playoffs to Boston, wouldn’t re-sign Vatanen, and Vatanen would once again come back to New Jersey before the team placed him on waivers and Dallas claimed him. So for Kuokkanen and other pieces, Fitzgerald basically gave up absolutely nothing. You arguably cannot do better than that. At the time, AATJ readers in the poll from that link above liked the trade but didn’t love it; now, how can you not love it?

And even though losing Vatanen obviously meant basically nothing to the Devils, last year and now, the biggest reason for the trade being so good has been the growth of Janne. The 22 year old Finnish forward made the team out of camp, and initially was given fourth line duties alongside Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian. I wrote about their early season successes back in January, when it was clear that the three of them were gelling and off to a good start. Since then, he has only improved. He has moved out of fourth line duty, and Miles Wood has more often than not taken that position instead.

More recently, Kuokkanen has been given top 6 opportunities. Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, for example, he played all of his 5 on 5 minutes on what was technically the top line with Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich, something he has done for several games now. And combined, they were one of the best lines on the team (as they have usually been recently). They were out there the longest of any line by far, thanks to McLeod and Nico Hischier flipping lines at some point in the game. With almost 12 minutes together at 5 on 5, Janne Jack and Yegor had an excellent relative Corsi at +10.84. They also had 9 Corsi For attempts between them, which was the most offensive line by far, none of the others having more than 5 Corsi attempts. And this wasn’t a line where Kuokkanen was merely a passenger, he definitely was a driver. If you look at with or without you numbers for the same game, among all skaters with at least 3 minutes on the ice with Janne, only Damon Severson and Ryan Murray had worse Corsi numbers when they were with Kuokkanen on the ice as opposed to when they were out there without him. Everyone else benefited in terms of possession by being out there with Janne. That is a great sign.

But of course, the solid play from him is not just limited to one game. That line stayed together for Thursday night’s debacle, and while that line was not as standoutish as compared to the other forward lines as it was on Tuesday, they did have a solid game, Janne included. That line had a similar relative Corsi, sitting at +10 even in that game, and once again their line had 9 Corsi attempts, the most of any line on the team. And just to show you that Kuokkanen has been productive on this line, not just a passenger to Jack Hughes, here is the chart Todd Cordell put out after the game showing shot attempts:

He wasn’t the biggest driver of play on the team, but that isn’t the point either. In his top line role, he has been productive, and is helping the group push play up the ice, not simply just along for the ride. If you really want to see a positive chart, however, check out the same data from Cordell after the last game against New York, where that top line crushed it in shot attempts, and Kuokkanen was a major driver along with Hughes.

In a season that has been disappointing for many reasons, the growth of Janne Kuokkanen from a young player just making the team out of camp in a fourth line capacity to someone who has played fairly well in a top line role alongside the team’s future superstar in Jack Hughes has been a huge boon for this team. The Devils traded for him hoping he would be an NHL contributor eventually, and it seemed possible, but I am not sure that anyone expected it to happen this soon, and in a top 6 capacity like he has been playing in recently. And perhaps the greatest part of it all is that Tom Fitzgerald gave up literally nothing to get him on this team. How can you beat that?

Categories
Sports

No. 24 Baseball Records One-Hit Shutout During 11-0 Victory Against Rutgers-Newark

WAYNE, N.J. – Five Pioneer pitchers combined for a one-hit shutout as No. 24 William Paterson (18-5, 9-3 NJAC) secured an 11-0 baseball victory against Rutgers-Newark (1-11, 1-11 NJAC) in baseball action April 23 at Jeff Albies Field.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • A one-out error put senior catcher Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) aboard during the bottom of the third inning. Junior third baseman Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) tripled to right field and senior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, making it a 2-0 score.
  • WP crossed the plate four times in the fourth. A Frankie Deane (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) walk and groundout left him on second base with two outs, and senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) promptly delivered him home with a base hit through the right side. Senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) hit a ground-rule double to left and Habeeb walked to load the bases for Yelin, who dropped a single between three fielders in shallow right-center field that plated two runners. Yelin and Habeeb then executed the first-and-third double steal, pushing the lead to 6-0.
  • Junior right fielder Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) started the home half of the sixth inning with a single to first, advanced to second when junior designated hitter Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a groundout and scored via Colin Lombardo’s (Edison, N.J./Edison) sac fly to left field.
  • DiGirolamo opened the bottom of the eighth with a homer to right, his third of the season. Two batters later, Habeeb drilled a pitch that the right fielder lost in the sun, ending up down the line and into the right-field corner for an inside-the-park home run. Yelin then doubled, Weis walked and Alarcon singled before getting caught in a run down, but not before both runners touched home for the final two runs of the game.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Yelin finished 4-for-5 while contributing a double, triple, three RBI and two runs scored. Habeeb was 3-for-4 with a homer and three runs.
  • DiGirolamo posted a 2-for-5 effort while adding a home run, two RBI and two runs scored, and Ferrara and Alarcon each had a pair of hits.
  • Senior Jason Palmeri (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) struck out six and walked five during his 5.0 innings as the starter, giving up just one hit (4-2).
  • Freshman Pat Warburton (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) tossed the sixth inning, striking out one, and senior Zac Polzer (North Haledon, N.J./Passaic County Tech) had a punchout and a base on balls in 1.0 inning. Carter tossed the top of the eighth, walking one, and Alarcon struck out three batters while working the ninth.
  • The Scarlet Raiders’ lone hit was a second-inning triple as WP registered its third shutout of the season.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson plays a doubleheader against The College of New Jersey Saturday, April 24, at 11:30 a.m. at Rider University.

 

Categories
Sports

Ramm Named NJAC Rookie of the Year, Leads Five Pioneer Honorees

PITMAN, N.J. – William Paterson forward Daniel Ramm (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Twp. ) capped off his spectacular freshman campaign by being named the New jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Men’s Soccer Rookie of the Year, leading a list of five Pioneers who received all-conference accolades.

Senior Chris Fuentes (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Regional), junior Jacob Von Giebel (Lambertville, N.J./South Hunterdon) and sophomore Johnny Gadaleta (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough) earned an All-NJAC Second Team selection, while sophomore goalkeeper Thomas Hatch (Kinnelon, N.J./Kinnelon) was tabbed as an all-conference honorable mention.

Daniel Ramm (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Twp. ): NJAC Rookie of the Year, All-NJAC First Team
Ramm started all four contests for WP this spring, tallying two goals (one game winner) and one assist, helping guide the Pioneers to the semifinal round of the conference tournament.

Chris Fuentes (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Regional): All-NJAC Second Team
A starter in all four games, Fuentes contributed one goal and a team-leading three assists.

Johnny Gadaleta (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough): All-NJAC Second Team
Gadaleta started all three of his appearances this spring.

Jacob Von Giebel (Lambertville, N.J./South Hunterdon): All-NJAC Second Team
Von Giebel recorded one goal while starting three contests this spring.

Thomas Hatch (Kinnelon, N.J./Kinnelon): All-NJAC Honorable Mention
Hatch started all four games this spring, posting 17 saves, a .708 save percentage and a 1.75 GAA.

Categories
Sports

No. 24 Baseball Runs Away from Rutgers-Newark, 10-3

NEWARK, N.J. – No. 24 William Paterson (17-5, 8-3 NJAC) spotted host Rutgers-Newark (1-10, 1-10 NJAC) a 3-0 first-inning lead before scoring 10 unanswered runs for a 10-3 baseball victory April 22.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • A single, sacrifice bunt, run-scoring base hit, single and two-run double handed the Scarlet Raiders a 3-0 first-inning edge.
  • The Pioneers tied the score during their next at-bat. Base hits by senior left fielder Frankie Deane (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) and junior designated hitter Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) set up an RBI-double by junior second baseman Colin Lombardo (Edison, N.J./Edison). After a groundout, senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) delivered a two-run double to right center.
  • Deane singled in junior third baseman Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional), who had opened the third frame with a double to center field, for a 4-3 game in the top of the third.
  • WP added one more to its tally in the fourth when senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) launched a leadoff home run over the right-field fence.
  • Junior right fielder Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) was issued a walk to start the top of the fifth inning, and two batters later Carter’s homer pushed the advantage to 7-3.
  • William Paterson scored during its fifth consecutive at-bat thanks to a two-run sixth, using a Yelin double to center, Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) triple down the right-field line and Alarcon run-scoring single through the left side.
  • One last runner touched home during the top half of the ninth when Ferrara singled in DiGirolamo.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Ferrara was 3-for-6 while adding a double and three RBI, and Yelin finished 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.
  • Carter and DiGirolamo each hit a home run.
  • Junior Jordan Manne (Mahwah, N.J./Mahwah) improved to 2-2 with 5.0 innings of six-hit, three-run action. He struck out three and walked four.
  • Junior Matt Lawler (Linwood, N.J./Mainland Regional) tossed 2.0 innings and allowed a hit and a walk while registering two strikeouts. Senior Jason Rivera (Clifton, N.J./Clifton) worked the final 2.0 innings, giving up one hit with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson hosts Rutgers-Newark Friday, April 23, at 3:30 p.m.
Categories
Sports

Devils Goaltenders, Scorers Paltry in 5-1 Loss to Penguins

First Period

Zacha, Hischier, and Bastian started for the New Jersey Devils, and they iced the puck 14 seconds into the game. After the faceoff, Aaron Dell misplayed a puck and had to make a tight save. The Devils were unable to regain the puck, and Sidney Crosby ripped a puck from faceoff dot off of Dell’s shoulder and in to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 1-0 lead. That was not a good goal to let in. Right after the next faceoff, Cody Ceci hit a shot off the post.

After Kasperi Kapanen missed the net on an odd-man rush, Nico Hischier set Nathan Bastian up in front of Tristan Jarry. Bastian rang a shot off the crossbar and out. A couple minutes later, the Boqvist line forced the Penguins to take an icing. Nico Hischier took the puck away behind Jarry, but his attempt to move the puck to Zacha was taken away. They got back into the offensive zone, and Zacha took a shot on the rush that went wide.

Eight and a half minutes into the period, Nathan Bastian was reunited with the Wood-McLeod line. After playing with a higher intensity, Michael McLeod was called for interference in front of the Devils’ net.

On the penalty kill, Crosby missed a one-timer at the side of the net early. The Penguins had a cycle going for awhile, but Nico Hischier took the puck away and cleared it, allowing Zacha and Bastian to come on for the second minute. The Penguins moved the puck high in the zone and tried to get deflections and rebounds, and nearly got a goal off a rebound as the penalty expired. However, Dell was able to keep the puck out.

Matt Tennyson missed the net from the high slot with under eight minutes to play in the period, and the Boqvist line pushed the issue on Jarry. Boqvist missed the net with a turnaround shot, and right after Ryan Murray missed with his shot and made the puck go around the boards, Matt Tennyson blasted the loose puck past Jarry from the blueline to make it a tied game at one.

After the Devils were hemmed in their defensive zone, Janne Kuokkanen took the puck down ice and had Jack Hughes on an odd-man rush. Hughes got the puck and drove the net, drawing a trip as he set Kuokkanen up for a one-timer that was just stopped by Jarry’s pad. The Devils went to the power play.

On the power play, Jack Hughes made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone early, allowing Zacha to move it across to Hischier, who missed the net with a low shot. The Penguins then cleared the puck multiple times, killing the whole first minute without a shot attempt on goal. The second unit then came on, and the Devils were called for knocking the puck down in the offensive zone with a high stick. The Devils finally got a shot with six seconds left in the penalty, as Bratt passed across to Kuokkanen for a one-timer. However, Kuokkanen’s shot was right into Jarry – though he had plenty of net to shoot at.

Cody Ceci got something back for his shot early in the game that hit the post, as he took a shot from the blueline with just two minutes left in the period, and it went right over Aaron Dell’s right arm and blocker. 2-1, Penguins.

The McLeod line pushed play in the offensive zone for much of the last minute of the period. Damon Severson took an attempt at a deflection that didn’t make it to the net, and the Devils played it back to Jonas Siegenthaler, who faked shot, recollected, and then shot high on Jarry. However, the Penguins took a penalty, as Bryan Rust went off for holding in front of the net. On the power play, Pavel Zacha set Jack Hughes up from behind the net, and Hughes shot it right into Jarry. The Devils would have 1:43 of carryover time for the second period.

Second Period

The power play successfully set up early in the period, but Yegor Sharangovich lost the zone with a bad pass from behind the net. Jesper Bratt took a low slap shot that was steered aside, and Brian Dumoulin threw the puck over the glass. However, they called it a deflection. The Devils lost the puck off the following draw, and the power play got nothing going.

Michael McLeod dodged a hit as he entered the offensive zone, off a takeaway in the neutral zone, and nearly created a goal for Nathan Bastian when he drove the net and left the puck on the doorstep. A couple minutes later, Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich almost connected for a great redirection goal on the rush, but the puck just hopped Sharangovich’s stick.

Jesper Boqvist drew a penalty eight and a half minutes into the period, as he had a chance to bury a rebound chance and was slashed by Colton Sceviour as he tried to shoot. On the power play, Jack Hughes sent a bad pass to the point 35 seconds in, killing the cycle that they set up to begin the power play. On the following entries, a shot was blocked and cleared out, and then the Penguins cleared it again. With the second unit on, the Devils failed to get into open space and the Penguins cleared as the penalty expired.

Just after the Devils failed to make anything of a rush, as Kuokkanen sent a backhand over the net, Jack Hughes missed with a pass from the blueline. He turned it over to Sidney Crosby, who passed ahead to Jake Guentzel. Guentzel had Bryan Rust on the two-on-one, and Rust scored to make it 3-1.

On the following possession, the Penguins took the puck through all three zones, and Kasperi Kapanen ripped a shot right through Aaron Dell on the rush to make it 4-1. Jonas Siegenthaler tried to push Kapanen to the outside, and the shot went through a wide open five hole. Scott Wedgewood was then called to come into the game. The fourth goal allowed was quite terrible on Dell’s end.

With six minutes to play in the period, Sidney Crosby was called for holding the stick. On the power play, the first unit cycled a lot but could only get a shot attempt for a deflection, which did not work – before Zacha ripped a wrist shot from the circle at the end of his shift. The second unit lost the puck before they could get a good shot on goal, giving a partial two-on-one to Teddy Blueger at the end of the power play. His shot went past Wedgewood to make it 5-1.

Third Period

The McLeod line started the period for the Devils, and Ryan Murray turned the puck over right off the draw before the Devils blocked a Guentzel shot out of play. The Hughes line then came on, and Scott Wedgewood made his first save of the period on a long shot.

Andreas Johnsson was set up by Jesper Bratt for a one-timer on the rush over six minutes into the period, but Johnsson couldn’t get the shot above Jarry’s pad. A couple minutes later, after Johnsson created a turnover on the forecheck, Jesper Bratt sent a shot wide.

Nick Merkley had a chance to stuff the puck into the net, after Pavel Zacha loosened the puck from the boards behind Jarry’s net. However, the puck stayed out, and the Devils stayed down four.

Jesper Boqvist finally got the Devils back into the offensive zone with 6:55 to play, after the Penguins and Devils played back and forth in the neutral zone for awhile. He went in on two Penguins, and skated toward the outside for a wrist shot, which was gloved and frozen for the faceoff by Jarry.

Andreas Johnsson hit the post after taking a feed from Nico Hischier low in the offensive zone. He one-timed a shot from the faceoff dot, and hit the outside of the far post.

With under three minutes to play, Bryan Rust hit the post with a shot on the rush. The Devils had trouble entering the offensive zone, as the Penguins’ defensive structure suffocated their puck movement. The Penguins iced the puck with 1:42 to play. However, they were able to take the puck back following the draw.

In the final minute, the Hughes line tried and failed to enter the offensive zone and set up, as the Penguins continually chased them off the puck. The Devils lost 5-1.

The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

The Opposition Opinion: Pensburgh has it.

By The Grace of Matt Tennyson

Had Matt Tennyson not been lucky enough to score his first goal since 2015, the Devils would have been shutout tonight by Tristan Jarry. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Devils had an expected goals for of 2.83 in all situations, far outpacing the Penguins’ 1.69. So what went wrong for the Devils’ goal scorers?

The first bad move of tonight was to take Nolan Foote out of the lineup. I think this was a good time to take an extended look at Foote, and it confuses me why they would want to take him out after the goal-scoring ability he showed in his second NHL game.

The second mistake I noticed was how much Lindy Ruff shuffled the lines tonight. With no practice under their belt, Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha returned to play tonight. Did Ruff keep them on consistent lines? Nope. Ruff’s original configuration, Zacha-Hischier-Bastian, played just 2:28. Zacha-Hischier-Bratt played 2:04. Zacha played another 2:04 with Boqvist and Merkley, while Bratt played another 4:07 with Hischier and Johnsson – mostly in the third period. Their third period lines were by far the most effective, with Zacha’s line sporting 0.16 xGF to 0.1 xGA, and Hischier’s line with a 0.16 xGF and 0 xGA. However, the Penguins were mostly sitting back.

Given the lack of practices, I don’t think it’s a particularly good idea for Ruff to play so loosely with the lines – especially when multiple forwards are returning from injury. When the Penguins started scoring, the Devils didn’t really seem to find their footing again, and being able to stay on consistent lines could have helped them tonight.

Backup Goaltenders

The Devils need serious help this offseason in the goaltending department. Were all the goals tonight bad ones? No, but the Devils counted on their goaltenders for some not-too-extreme saves to keep the team in it tonight – and Dell and Wedgewood could not do it. Perhaps it’s unfair to lump Wedgewood with Dell tonight, but a goal allowed on eight shots and 0.48 expected goals isn’t great. As for Dell, his four goals on 15 shots and 1.32 expected goals against was tough to watch. The goaltending really could not get worse than what the team’s gotten this month.

Let’s take a look at the statistics for our goaltenders playing for Binghamton-in-Newark:

  • Gilles Senn, 12 GP, 2-7-2 with an .894 save percentage and 3.67 goals against average
  • Evan Cormier, 7 GP, 2-2-3 with an .879 save percentage and 3.48 goals against average.
  • Jeremy Brodeur, 1 GP, 0-1-0 with a .940 save percentage and 3.07 goals against average.

Gilles Senn has had to face a lot of rubber as the Binghampton goalie, and has not been completely broken down by his team’s poor defensive play. At least, he hasn’t been rocking an .838 save percentage. I think Senn is worth a look as this season winds down – because Wedgewood and Dell are not much of an answer for beyond this year, and the team needs to be evaluating its options moving forward.

Missing Zajac

The Devils could really use Travis Zajac to shadow Sidney Crosby in these games. Crosby’s line feasted on the Devils at even strength today, with a 63.16 CF% as they outshot the Devils 14 to eight and outscored them two to one. Nico Hischier fared poorly against Crosby with a 31.25 CF% in 4:43 with a goal against, while Jack Hughes only played against Crosby for 2:30.

There’s a few ways the Devils can approach this moving forward. They could get Hischier and Hughes a better group of wingers so one of them can more easily play against top competition. Or, they can sign a center to use in a shutdown role, giving Hischier and Hughes the chance to play easier competition. However, those shutdown players don’t grow on trees. Unless the Devils are willing to sign some older veterans, they’re going to need to develop a shutdown line or acquire more scoring wingers to help keep play in the offensive zone.

Your Thoughts

What did you think of tonight’s game? Did you watch? Were you hoping for a comeback? How do you feel that Matt Tennyson prevented the shutout? How do you feel about Dell and Wedgewood? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Whether you followed along in the gamethread, or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog, thanks for reading.

Categories
Sports

Devils Comeback Thwarted By Penalty Kill in 5-3 Loss to Rangers

First Period

The Wood-McLeod-Bastian line started the game against the Rangers’ Panarin-Strome-Blackwell line. The Devils won the draw, and they got quickly on a dump and forecheck. Miles Wood did take the puck away, but the Ranger pushed it out of the zone. The Devils and Rangers then went back and forth, with the Devils blocking away a centering pass from Panarin to Strome.

The Hughes line acme on, and Jack Hughes got the first shot on goal of the game. He collected the puck at the edge of the faceoff circle, turned, and shot into Alexandar Georgiev’s chest.

Nolan Foote got his first shift of his career two and a half minutes in. The Rangers took the puck away behind the New Jersey Devils’ net, and got a good shot on Mackenzie Blackwood that had to be saved. On the following shift, Michael McLeod made a great play on the rush, doing a one-handed chip of the puck past a Rangers defenseman to Miles Wood, who was alone on Georgiev and lost the puck.

Yegor Sharangovich set Jack Hughes up in front of the net, but Hughes was unable to convert on the chance. Hughes pulled the puck around the crease for a backhand move, but let the puck go too quickly, allowing Georgiev to get his pad out.

Nico Hischier and P.K. Subban went after Jacob Trouba after Trouba laid a big hit on Andreas Johnsson. Kevin Rooney stepped in to intervene on Trouba’s behalf, and Subban and Rooney got into a rumble. The hit from Trouba was high, making primary contact to the head. Yet, the Rangers got a power play out of it. Nico Hischier was called for roughing.

The Devils did well to keep the Rangers to the periphery of the zone in the first minute, but Mika Zibanejad got an open lane to Chris Kreider at the side of the net. Blackwood went to make a save on Zibanejad, and Kreider was wide open for a tap-in. 1-0, Rangers.

Jacob Trouba put another big hit on Miles Wood, who was unable to stay on the ice. Wood hobbled off ice and into the tunnel as the Devils pushed the attack. Bastian had a chance for a redirection, and the Hughes line put several attempts on goal. Miles Wood was shown hunched over in the tunnel, but appeared to move back toward the bench. The replay showed Trouba making contact with his knee on Miles Wood.

Mikhail Maltsev rang a shot off the post off a feed from Matt Tennyson, who drove the net on the rush. Georgiev was waiting for puck movement away from the wall, and Maltsev took the shot instead.

After putting on multiple dominant shifts, the Devils turned the puck over on the breakout to Brett Howden. Howden slid it across to Vitali Kravtsov, who scored his first NHL goal on a one-timer under Blackwood’s arm. It was a shot that could have been stopped, but the turnover by Siegenthaler was an unnecessary test. 2-0, nonetheless.

The Rangers took a penalty with 3:24 to play, as Janne Kuokkanen lost the puck in the offensive zone, and Kevin Rooney decided to knock him down to keep him behind the play. So the Devils got an interference call. Mika Zibanejad got on the rush on the penalty kill, but lost the puck. The Rangers cleared after the Devils regained the zone. On the second attempt, Ty Smith had a one-timer that created a rebound off a Nico Hischier tip – but Wood was faced the wrong way for it. Smith then took another shot, but Georgiev covered the loose puck. Play was then stopped for an injury, as Georgiev seemed to have a leg issue. Igor Shesterkin then came into the game.

The first unit then came back on, given the long stoppage. They lost the puck anyway, and Mika Zibanejad shot wide on a counterattack. Jack Hughes had a shot that was redirected just wide, and Sharangovich’s shot was blocked at the end of the power play. At the end of the period, Marian Studenic had an amazing opportunity as he cut to the net for a redirection off a feed from Jack Hughes on the wall. However, Shesterkin’s pad just got the shot. Thus, it remained a 2-0 Rangers lead as the Devils went to the locker room. The shots were 12-6, Devils.

Second Period

With Georgiev back in net, the McLeod line was able to hold the Rangers’ top line at bay, allowing the Hughes line to get a more favorable matchup. However, the Rangers’ neutral zone structure prevented Jack Hughes’ line from doing anything. The Hischier line came on, but Tennyson turned it over at the blueline to Alexis Lafreniere. However, the Devils were able to counterattack after the Rangers flubbed an odd-man rush, as Hischier forced Georgiev to save and cover the puck.

Mackenzie Blackwood had to make two huge saves on Ryan Strome all alone, as Strome split Severson and Murray. These were huge saves to keep the Devils in the game. On the other end, a Subban shot created a loose puck right in front. Janne Kuokkanen had an open net, but turned the puck around too slowly to make use of it.

Alexis Lafreniere scored on a backhand shot on the rush, off a backhand feed from Philip Chytil. After Lafreniere scored, he was thrown into Blackwood and the net by Matt Tennyson, and both players were shaken up. 3-0 Rangers.

Marian Studenic took a penalty for sending Ryan Lindgren into the boards. He was sent off for a cross-checking minor with 9:35 to play in the period. On the penalty kill, the Devils had to deal with a very shoot-happy Rangers team. The Devils blocked a few shots, and Ryan Strome rang a shot off the post at the end of the first minute. The Devils then got two successive clears. Nico Hischier took the puck away from K’Andre Miller high in the zone, sending it ahead to Yegor Sharangovich, but the pass was too far and nothing came out of it. As the penalty expired, the Devils had a three-on-one, but McLeod took the shot rather than move the puck, and the Devils got nothing on the rebound.

Jack Hughes was called for tripping Anthony Bitetto, as he was about to be all alone with Alexandar Georgiev. Hughes was furious about the call, slapping the puck around the boards and whacking his stick into the boards as he entered the box. He was thus called for a ten-minute unsportsmanlike conduct. The replay showed no clear trip – but it was barely replayed by the broadcast.

The Devils did very well on the penalty kill, playing with far more aggression than they had in any kill I’ve seen this season. They had the puck in the Rangers’ defensive zone multiple times, and did not have to deal with any attempts on Blackwood.

The Devils finally got past Alexandar Georgiev with 1:05 left in the period. P.K. Subban shot it from the point, and it deflected off Yegor Sharangovich and then off Georgiev. Mikhail Maltsev got the rebound with his backhand for his fifth of the year to make it a 3-1 game. Subban and Kuokkanen were credited for assists.

The period ended with the shots 21-19 in favor of New Jersey, so the Rangers outshot the Devils 15 to seven in the second period.

Third Period

Nico Hischier stopped in the offensive zone with the puck, hesitating with passing options available as he drifted above the faceoff circle. Hischier took the shot, and it went past Georgiev’s glove and off the post.

Marian Studenic then got rewarded for his game, as he was sprung into the offensive zone by Mikhail Maltsev, and went far-side with the shot past Georgiev. 3-2 game. Andreas Johnsson got the secondary assist for tipping the cross-zone pass from Severson to Maltsev, which was dropped in for Studenic.

Nolan Foote won a puck battle along the boards against four New York Rangers, and passed it across to Nick Merkley. Merkley could have one-timed it, but held on to set up a cutting Nico Hischier for a one-timer, and hiss hot got past Georgiev to tie the game at three aside. With Jack Hughes in the box for ten minutes, the Devils rallied from three down.

Marian Studenic was tagged for another penalty with 12:23 to play in the game, as he held Artemi Panarin in the defensive zone. On the penalty kill, Damon Severson cleared the puck off the draw. Artemi Panarin entered the zone for New York, and started the cycle. The Rangers moved the puck quickly and cleanly, forcing the Devils back into their weak diamond. Mika Zibanejad got a one-timer from the side of the slot, but it went wide. On the other end, Nico Hischier took the puck away behind Georgiev, and only banked the puck off the pad weakly in hopes of a rebound. Jack Hughes came on at the end of the kill, but turned it over to Kaapo Kakko in the defensive zone. Kakko’s shot went high.

Nico Hischier set Miles Wood up for a redirection as Wood cut to the net, but Georgiev made a great save. A couple minutes later, Jack Hughes had K’Andre Miller one-on-one. Hughes flipped the puck up over Miller’s stick to himself, and his shot was turned just wide by Georgiev.

Andreas Johnsson showed more speed than he had all year, getting a short pass from Ryan Murray behind Blackwood’s net and taking it all the way down the ice. Johnsson took it to the far-end goal line and cut across Georgiev, creating a mess of players in front of the net as his backhand chance was a good one.

With five minutes to play, the Rangers largely controlled play with offensive zone time. However, none of their shots were particularly threatening yet. With 4:21, Nico Hischier iced the puck. Hischier lost the draw to Chytil, and Blackwood saved the shot off the draw, freezing the puck. After the following draw, Ryan Murray took a high-sticking penalty in the corner against Kaapo Kakko with 4:10 left to play.

On the penalty kill, the Devils were under threat early, with a shot blazing past Blackwood in the first minute that went wide. After Nico Hischier poked the puck out of the zone, the Devils’ forwards were the only ones who could change, and Mika Zibanejad went bar down from the slot. 4-3, Rangers.

With two minutes to play, P.K. Subban iced the puck, looking for Andreas Johnsson cutting down the boards. The Devils pushed the puck down to their offensive zone, but had to recollect in the neutral zone. With the Hughes line on, the extra attacker came on with a bit over a minute to play. Maltsev, the extra attacker, missed the net with his shot.

With under a minute, the Devils lost the puck to Artemi Panarin, who flipped it to Blackwell. Blackwell pushed it ahead to Ryan Strome, and Subban hooked him as he approached the net. Thus, the Rangers were awarded a goal to make it 5-3.

The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

Good Game for Hughes and Hischier

Ten-minute misconduct aside, this was a very good game for Jack Hughes. He was credited with five takeaways, five shots, four individual scoring chances, 0.43 individual expected goals, and his line had the Rangers pinned back most of the time they were on the ice. However, I was not as impressed with Sharangovich and Kuokkanen. Sharangovich, at least, was good at skating the puck around oncoming opposition, but neither were very good at making use of the chances Hughes created.

As for Nico Hischier, I can only imagine how good he will look when he has Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt back on his wings. His seven shots, six individual scoring chances, and 0.5 individual expected goals led the team, and his goal could have pushed the Devils toward victory, but Ryan Murray and Alain Nasreddine had other plans. Nico was also proficient on the penalty kill, as the Devils allowed zero shots with him on the ice for 3:27 at four-on-five.

Good Game for Foote and Studenic

If there’s one thing we want from the end of this season aside from the occasional win to stave off madness, it’s the positive development of Devils prospects. Marian Studenic, in his fourth NHL game, scored his first career goal. He was also on a very solid line with Nico Hischier. In 6:34 together, the Johnsson-Hischier-Studenic line had a 66.67 CF%, outshot the Rangers 5-3, and had a 56.34 xGF%. Of course, Studenic would get his goal while playing with Johnsson and Maltsev, and Hischier would get his goal with Merkley and Foote while Jack Hughes was in the box.

In just 8:07 of ice time, Nolan Foote had a 46.67 CF%, was on the ice for the Devils outshooting the Rangers five to four, was on the ice for two goals against, and assisted on the game-tying goal while sporting a 50.27 xGF%. However, he was not really to blame on the two goals against. Jonas Siegenthaler made a bad pass to Matt Tennyson, setting up Kravtsov’s goal. On the second goal against, by Lafreniere, Tennyson played the pass poorly on the two-on-one, and Blackwood let up a bad goal. Foote won a very important puck battle along the boards, leading up to the Hischier goal. Players like Foote are exactly what the Devils’ forward group needs.

Just Fire Nasreddine and Recchi

Another day, another potential win killed by the Devils’ special teams. The Devils had five minor penalties called against them, and the Rangers scored twice. On the first goal, the Devils left the passing lane for a far-side tap-in wide open, and on the second the Rangers preyed on the collapsed diamond the Devils used to try (and fail) to prevent puck movement into the slot. Nasreddine’s penalty kill structure was terrible today, and the only time the kill was working was when the Devils’ forwards got the puck in the neutral and offensive zone, allowing them to kill extra time and prevent breakouts. The actual defensive structure in front of Blackwood is rotten, and the 70.1% efficiency shows that.

As for Mark Recchi’s power play, the Devils only had one opportunity to make things happen today. It was just more of the same from that group as well. At 16 for 124, the power play is now operating at a 12.9% efficiency rate. With a -21 goal differential on special teams, the Devils should not sit back and watch this continue to happen. Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier were creating opportunities left and right at even strength today. Why can they not move the puck correctly with one fewer defender? With as talented a group of players as they have – especially with Ty Smith quarterbacking, Mark Recchi should have done a much better job than he has. It’s not about whether there’s been improvement since the start of the year – his group’s transition passing is still poor, their in-zone passing is atrocious, and they don’t create any momentum out of the power play.

Categories
Sports

No. 22 Baseball Drops Pair of Games at Host No. 17 Rowan

GLASSBORO, N.J. – In a clash between the top two teams in the league standings, the No. 22 William Paterson baseball team (16-5, 7-3 NJAC) dropped a pair of games to host No. 17 Rowan (11-3, 9-1 NJAC), 6-0 and 8-3, April 17.

GAME ONE
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • A triple and double plated one Prof run during the bottom of the first inning.
  • Rowan made it 2-0 in the fourth with a base hit, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and double.
  • A wild pitch and two-run double made it a 5-0 game during the home half of the seventh.
  • Two hit by pitches and a run-scoring single finished the scoring in the eighth.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Senior catcher Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) and senior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) were both 2-for-4.
  • Senior Jason Palmeri (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) gave up five runs on eight hits and four walks, striking out six in 6.2 innings as the starter (3-2).
  • Junior Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) retired the one batter he faced, and senior Jason Rivera (Clifton, N.J./Clifton) gave up a hit and a run with one strikeout during 1.0 inning of action.

GAME TWO
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • A single and triple handed Rowan a 1-0 first-inning edge.
  • The Pioneers took a 2-1 lead in the third with a two-out Habeeb base hit, a run-scoring double by junior designated hitter Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) and an RBI-double down the right-field line by Weis.
  • The Profs leveled the score at 2-2 with a solo homer to start the home half of the third.
  • Rowan posted two more runs in the sixth with a walk, sac bunt, RBI-single, balk, groundout and base hit.
  • A home run, base hit, RBI-triple and wild pitch made it a 7-2 game during the bottom of the seventh inning, and a sacrifice fly added one more Prof run in the eighth.
  • Junior second baseman Colin Lombardo (Edison, N.J./Edison) singled to shortstop, advanced to second when senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) walked, and scored when Habeeb sent a base hit to left field in the top of the ninth.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Weis was 3-for-4 with a double and RBI, and Yelin went 2-for-5 while adding a double, RBI and run scored. Habeeb finished 2-for-5 while driving in a run and scoring once.
  • Senior Jack DeFouw (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) tossed the first 5.1 innings, allowing four runs, seven hits and three walks while striking out four (4-1).
  • Senior Zac Polzer (North Haledon, N.J./Passaic County Tech) struck out one while scattering two hits over 0.2 inning, and junior Riley Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) gave up three runs on three hits during 1.0 inning of action. Junior Matt Lawler (Linwood, N.J./Mainland Regional) worked the final 1.0 inning and surrendered a hit and a run.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson plays a single game at Rutgers-Newark Thursday, April 22, at 3:30 p.m.

 

Categories
Sports

Devils Crack the Shutout Streak but Still Fall 6-3 to the Rangers

Before getting into this game, I want to prepare all of you for what’s ahead. Our lineup for this game consists of:

No Zacha, no Bratt, no Butcher, no Thompson, no Blackwood, not even Wedgewood. Instead we have Aaron Dell, and Matt Tennyson.

Apparently all my prayers for Nico’s return should have been more specific about ‘and also can we still have everyone else please’.

Alas, here we go:

First Period

Within the first 30 seconds Dell makes an easy save on Ryan Strome look like a dramatic, difficult play because he drops the puck nearly on the goal line after barely making the save. At least he made the save, so it’s slightly better than the start of our last game, but that does not bode well for the remainder of this game.

Johnsson, who for some reason is on the second line tonight, makes a nice play to take the puck back from the Rangers defense, but promptly loses it for the Devils by making his signature sloppy, out of control jumping puck pass. On his next shift he picks up a dangerous rebound in front of the Rangers net and very helpfully carries it away safely into the corner before losing it.

Panarin forces a turnover from Michael McLeod and creates a 2 on 1 for Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich against PK Subban. Zibanejad waits patiently for Subban to dive to the ice as a result of the invisible sniper that seems to shoot exclusively when Subban is defending on a 2 on 1, passes around him to Buchnevich who now has a wide open net to shoot at, and he doesn’t miss. 1-0 Rangers.

Severson is forced to take a penalty for holding soon following the goal to prevent yet another odd man rush. The kill is going well until 45 seconds in when we take yet another penalty for too many men. Yippee.

Tennyson fails to clear the puck on a perfect opportunity to do so, which leaves the puck still in the zone for the Rangers to pick up, find Ryan Strome, who rips it from the goal line across the crease to the opposite post and in. 2-0 Rangers. The Devils remain on the penalty kill for another minute and 15 seconds.

The Devils can’t clear the zone yet again, Pavel Buchnevich picks up a wild rebound from Dell with four seconds remaining in the penalty and roofs it past Dell. 3-0 Rangers.

To add insult to injury, the Rangers create another 2 on 1 opportunity, this time against Matt Tennyson, who defends it almost perfectly. Unlike the guy we pay 9 million dollars to do the same thing. I may have shed a tear.

The Crash line gets the blood really flowing as the third period starts to wane. Nathan Bastian starts it by boarding Libor Hajek, Miles Wood takes it to the next level and finds himself with three Rangers on top of him, then everybody gets involved. Somehow Wood gets a penalty for this as well and only Strome finds his way to the Rangers box, so we’ll end the period with yet another penalty kill.

The Devils narrowly escape several good chances to create another powerplay goal, and survive the final minute of 5 on 5 in their own zone as well before the end to the period saves us from letting in another goal, at least for the next 20 minutes.

Second Period

Unfortunately, the Devils made the decision to come back out for the second period. Even more unfortunately, Aaron Dell did not. Panarin picks off a pass and races into the zone, catching Ty Smith flat-footed and speeding past him. Panarin takes a shot that Dell barely gets a piece of as it whizzes past his ear and into the net. 4-0 Rangers.

The Devils continue to make things too easy for Igor Shesterkin at the far end of the ice. Our best scoring opportunities are wasted with shots to the chest and rebounds that no one is near to pick up.

Nico Hischier carries the puck into the zone and drops a slick pass for Nick Merkley to tip into Shesterkin. Shesterkin doesn’t actually make the save, but the puck dribbles in and just barely stops before crossing the goal line of its own accord. You really can’t make this up.

Merkley drew a penalty on his way to the net, so the Devils will go to their first powerplay of the game. Jack Hughes gets a single shot away and the rest of the powerplay fades into nothingness along with my hopes for finishing this season with any sort of dignity.

Mikhail Maltsev gets a blast of a shot off that Shesterkin is able to grab. Off the ensuing face-off, Siegenthaler gets a chance but no one can get a hold of the rebound amongst the crowd in front of the net. Back the other way and the Rangers have yet another 2 on 1 that once again is defended well by Matt Tennyson, and I am beginning to question every bit of respect I’ve ever had for the NHL.

Finally, the Devils create a scoring chance and rebound that someone actually gets. It’s Michael McLeod, who picks up a loose puck slid across the crease by Bastian and rips it up over the stretching Shesterkin to break his shutout streak and put the Devils on the scoreboard again. Still 4-1 Rangers, but the Devils are looking a lot stronger already.

The Rangers try to set up in the Devils zone, but Nico Hischier is having absolutely none of it. He steps up on Chytil, shoves him into the ice and waltzes away with the puck to clear the zone.

K’Andre Miller is the next player to try to shove the opposition to the ice, but he does it after Johnsson has already relinquished the puck, so he gets two minutes in the box for his trouble. Fortunately for Miller, the Devils’ special teams continue to be the cause of all grief and pain in the universe, and nothing happens out of it besides PK Subban taking a slapshot that misses the net. So nothing out of the ordinary.

The Devils will carry over about 20 seconds of powerplay time to start the third period.

Third Period

Things get scrappy quickly again as the third period takes off. Somehow Bastian is on the bottom again, after being thrown into Shesterkin and then thrown for daring to hit Shesterkin. Bastian and Kreider will both sit for coincidental minors, so we’ll go to some 4 on 4 hockey.

The Devils can score in any situation as long as we’re evenly matched. Jack Hughes finds PK Subban who amazingly manages to hit the net this time (probably because he stopped and set up the shot rather than ripping a bomb that has less than a 50% chance of even hitting the net) and the Devils chip another step off the Rangers lead. 4-2.

The Devils are not done with their 4 on 4 onslaught however Jack Hughes again carries the puck in, turns and feeds Ty Smith. Smith walks down the middle and rips it past Shesterkin to chip the Rangers lead down to a single goal. 4-3!

The 4 on 4 has ended but the Devils are really bringing the fight now. For the past two years the conversation has been Hughes vs Kakko, but today the battle is Hughes vs Shesterkin. Can Hughes set up the tying goal, or will Shesterkin snuff it out?

Spoiler alert:

Rangers take a penalty with just under 6 minutes remaining in the period. The Devils look good despite almost giving up a shorthanded rush, but can’t get anything done on it. Or the remaining minutes in the game. The most exciting thing was a few Rangers chance and me yelling pass the puck FORWARD at the TV.

The Devils pulled the goalie for some unknown reason, and Buchnevich nets an empty net goal to top off the birthday hat trick for him. And then Kreider gets another one, because for some even more stupid reason the Devils decided it was a good idea to still keep the net empty.

The game ends 6-3, the Devils lose yet again to the Rangers, but at least we didn’t give them another shutout this time.

No highlights, only this chart because the highlights are depressing but this chart at least makes things look slightly better (or worse depending on your perspective)

Post-Game Thoughts:

The Good:

The Crash line reunited and it feels so good. Please keep them together Lindy.

Faceoffs: Nobody had less than a 50% in the faceoff circle at 5v5. Nico Hischier finished the game at 70% throughout all situations. We spent most of the season saying we had to improve our faceoff numbers, so it’s nice to see that isn’t an issue anymore.

The Bad:

I know we sound like so much of a broken record y’all are probably going to report us as spam next time we say this, but I have to: Special teams was bad. So, so bad. It cost us the entire game.

As many people have pointed out: we might’ve won this game if it was played just 5 on 5. We out-shot them 53-34 at 5v5. We definitely would’ve won if it was played at 4 on 4. Unfortunately, hockey doesn’t work that way, so someone needs to find the cure for what is ailing our special teams, because they truly cost us not just tonight but this entire season. Powerplay troubles aren’t even new to this team, as our powerplay hasn’t been good for several seasons now. Considering the changes that have been made to the lineup and staff over those few years, it may well be time to look at who is in charge of the powerplay as the problem. The penalty kill has lost a number of successful killers in the past year and was one of the few things that was excellent last season, so I will extend that position a bit more grace. Only a bit though.

Categories
Sports

No. 22 Baseball Sweeps Gothic Knights, 14-3 and 22-13

WAYNE, N.J. – After a combined 52 runs and 6:20 of game action, the No. 22 William Paterson baseball team (16-3, 7-1 NJAC) completed a sweep of New Jersey City (3-16, 1-7 NJAC), 14-3 and 22-13, April 16.

The Pioneers were the home team for the first game, and the visiting team for the second game, during a doubleheader at Jeff Albies Field that featured two bouts of hail as well as numerous rounds of rain showers.

GAME ONE
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • The Pioneers plated six runners during their first at-bat. Senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) and senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) were both issued walks, and senior catcher Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) singled in a run with a ball hit through the left side. After a fielder’s choice, senior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) drilled an RBI-double to left-center field and senior left fielder Frankie Deane (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) drove in a run with an infield base hit for a 3-0 score. Junior right fielder Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for junior third baseman Chris Liriano (Bergenfield, N.J./Bergenfield), who dropped a run-scoring single into left field. Junior second baseman Colin Lombardo (Edison, N.J./Edison) lifted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Deane, and a throwing error on Alarcon’s advance to third allowed him to touch home and make it a 6-0 margin.
  • WP added to its advantage during the home half of the second inning with a Habeeb base hit to center and a home run over the left-center fence by junior designated hitter Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional).
  • A base hit/error play and a single to left field plated the Gothic Knights’ first run of the game, making it an 8-1 score in the third.
  • William Paterson added three more runs during the bottom half of the third, extending its lead to 11-1. Liriano was hit by a pitch and stole second before DiGirolamo walked. After a flyout, Habeeb doubled in one run and Yelin doubled in two more.
  • The Pioneers used a pair of two-out walks to Habeeb and Yelin and a Weis RBI-single to make it a 12-1 game after five frames.
  • An Alarcon walk was followed by a Liriano triple to right field and a Lombardo run-scoring groundout, adding two more runs in the sixth.
  • The Gothic Knights posted a two-run eighth inning thanks to a base on balls, double, triple and error.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Habeeb went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI and four runs scored, and Yelin was 2-for-4 while posting a double, homer, four RBI and two runs.
  • Weis, Liriano and Lombardo each drove in a pair of runners.
  • Junior Jordan Manne (Mahwah, N.J./Mahwah) tossed 8.0 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out three (1-2). Freshman Pat Warburton (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) struck out two and walked one during the ninth inning.

GAME TWO
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • WP opened up a 3-0 edge during the top half of the first inning. DiGirolamo led off with a solo homer to right-center field, and a Habeeb double and Yelin single put runners on the corners with one out. Yelin stole second before a strikeout, followed by run-scoring base hits off the bats of Deane and Alarcon.
  • NJCU got two of those runs back during their first at-bat with a double and pair of singles, then tied the game at 3-3 in the second via a base on balls and two groundouts.
  • The Pioneers re-took the lead with an eight-run top of the third inning. Habeeb and Yelin opened the frame with hit by pitches, and after a pair of flyouts, Alarcon and Liriano each plated a runner with a base hit. Lombardo was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and a wild pitch allowed Alarcon to scamper home. DiGirolamo drew a walk, Ferrara doubled in two runs, Habeeb doubled in two more and Yelin doubled in Habeeb, pushing it to an 11-3 edge.
  • The Gothic Knights strung together a solo homer, base hit, stolen base, double and triple for a three-run third.
  • William Paterson tacked on four more in the fourth thanks to a two-out Liriano walk and steal, Lombardo RBI-single and steal, DiGirolamo base hit and Ferrara three-run home run to left, making it a 15-6 score.
  • Ferrara doubled home Alarcon and DiGirolamo, and Habeeb delivered Ferrara with a base hit through the right side, for an 18-6 margin in the middle of the sixth frame.
  • Three walks and a pair of doubles sent home four runners for New Jersey City during the bottom of the seventh inning.
  • The Pioneers touched the plate four times in the eighth with a leadoff DiGirolamo single, Habeeb RBI-triple, Yelin run-scoring double, Weis base hit, Deane RBI-single and Alarcon run-scoring double, expanding the advantage to 22-10.
  • A pair of walks, a two-run single and an RBI-double added three to the NJCU ledger during the bottom of the eighth frame.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Ferrara contributed two doubles, a home run, seven RBI and three runs scored. Habeeb finished 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, a triple, four RBI and four runs scored.
  • DiGirolamo went 4-for-5 while adding a homer and five runs, and Yelin was 4-for-5 with two doubles, a pair of RBI and three runs scored.
  • Sophomore Darmany Rivas (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) improved to 4-0 after tossing 5.0 innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out six.
  • Junior Tyler Searles (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) allowed three hits, four runs and three walks with two punchouts during his 2.0 innings of action, and freshman James Longstreet (Cape May Court House, N.J./Cape May Tech) gave up three runs on two hits and a pair of walks in 1.0 inning. Senior Kyle Weiner (Wyckoff, N.J./Bergen Catholic) pitched 1.0 scoreless inning, scattering a hit and a walk while striking out one.

UP NEXT:

  • No. 22 William Paterson travels to Glassboro to play a doubleheader at No. 17 Rowan Saturday, April 17, at 11:30 a.m.
Categories
Sports

Devils Offer Dead Performance, Shutout Again 4-0

First Period

The Rangers scored in the first, as the Devils failed to get the puck out of the zone despite two Devils taking Artemi Panarin high in the zone. The Rangers worked the puck low, forcing Blackwood to make a couple stops before moving it back out to Jacob Trouba, who blasted it past Blackwood. 1-0, Rangers.

The Rangers then took a penalty less than a minute later, as Pavel Buchnevich went off for high sticking. With Kuokkanen and Sharangovich replacing Zacha and Bratt, the Devils had a good chance early on a netside Kuokkanen shot. However, the Devils failed to do much following their first couple of attempts, as the Rangers continually pushed them back.

Ryan Lindgren would later make it a 2-0 game, as Artemi Panarin was in the slot and sent him a backhand pass, giving him a great scoring opportunity as Will Butcher dove in front of Blackwood. Lindgren’s shot got past Blackwood on his blocker side.

Artemi Panarin then made it a 3-0 game, as the Rangers had a two-on-one with Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin. Damon Severson did not take away the pass, and allowed Panarin to one-time it past Blackwood as Jack Hughes tried to catch up to Strome.

The Rangers took another penalty when Kravtsov slashed Jonas Siegenthaler in the Devils’ offensive zone. Jack Hughes rang a shot off the post to start the power play. The Devils failed to get another attempt in the first minute. The second unit’s overly-long passing plays led to a Rangers clear and an offsides for Miles Wood. Damon Severson’s shot at the end of the power play went wide, and the Devils could have scored on an ensuing rebound scramble around the net. However, they did not. The period ended with the Rangers up 3-0. The shots were 10-3, in favor of the Rangers, obviously.

Second Period

Nico Hischier had a chance to score right in front of Shesterkin off a pass from the corner, but he was denied. The Devils did better early on in the second at getting some chances on goal, but could not get into much open space. Jack Hughes had a takeaway on the forecheck, intercepting a pass from Jacob Trouba and shooting from his forehand on the breakaway. However, Shesterkin made a glove save, as Hughes couldn’t lift the puck high enough.

Then, Michael McLeod took a slashing penalty five and a half minutes into the period. He slashed Mika Zibanejad in the neutral zone. The Devils won the draw, and the Rangers were forced back to the neutral zone. Andreas Johnsson cleared the puck shortly after a zone entry, and the first minute was entirely wasted. A shot by Jacob Trouba was stopped in the latter half of the penalty kill, and the Devils successfully killed the two minutes.

Jack Hughes set Janne Kuokkanen up for a one-timer right after the peanlty, but the shot went wide. Then, Hughes gave the puck away trying to cycle by the blueline, and had to force the Rangers to take an offsides call by disrupting their transition play.

The Devils haphazardly allowed the puck to roll around Blackwood’s net, with Blackwood reaching halfway with his stick at the puck deflecting off the end board before Strome swooped in and slid it across to Panarin. Panarin buried the shot, making it a 4-0 game.

Then, Ryan Murray and Damon Severson allowed Kevin Rooney to get in behind them, following a good shift by the Hughes line. However, Blackwood squeezed his shot between the pads, freezing play and stopping the breakaway chance.

Tyce Thompson made a good pass off an offensive zone entry, across the zone to P.K. Subban, whose slap shot sounded like he was trying to break the post in half. No goal, on the second shot hitting iron for the Devils in the game. On the other end, Blackwood had to stretch across to make a blocker save on a Strome one-timer from Artemi Panarin. Jack Hughes later took a tripping penalty as Zibanejad drove toward the net.

On the penalty kill, Blackwood made an early stop on Kaapo Kakko, who cut from the goal line to the front of the net. Mikhail Maltsev got a shot on Shesterkin late in the kill, but it was a tightly contested play. The Devils killed the penalty with relative ease, and Jack Hughes came back on. Hughes took a shot that created a rebound for Mikhail Maltsev, who could not get the puck past Shesterkin as Maltsev dove for the puck.

Through two periods, the Devils were down in shots 25-9. Any momentum they had created for themselves in the beginning of the period was long gone by the end of it.

Third Period

Nick Merkley set up a one-timer for Damon Severson nearly three minutes into the period, but the shot deflected off the post. The Devils did not get much more in the way of offense early on, and continued to play defense against rushes by the Rangers.

Marian Studenic forced a giveaway on the forecheck with a big hit in the corner several minutes into the period, but Michael McLeod lost the puck shortly after. A minute later, Nick Merkley had a two-on-one with Nico Hischier. The pass was well guarded, so Merkley took the shot and was denied from the slot.

Vitaly Kravtsov scored his first NHL goal on a weak shot on the rush. Pavel Buchnevich found him from across the zone, and Kravtsov went far-side to get it past Blackwood to make it a 5-0 game. Lindy Ruff then challenged for offsides. The referees then actually waved the goal off, as Mika Zibanejad was slightly offsides. Since Zibanejad didn’t even factor into the goal, that’s just stupid.

Janne Kuokkanen missed an open net off consecutive rebounds from Ryan Murray and Nick Merkley shots. There might not have been a better opportunity for the Devils as of that point of the game.

Chris Kreider took an interference minor penalty for knocking down Will Butcher, which gave the Devils another opportunity. Jack Hughes set Yegor Sharangovich up for a one-timer, but Sharangovich shanked it. The Devils did not get any shots on goal during the power play.

The Devils did not do anything of note for the rest of the game, losing it 4-0.

I don’t even need to break this down into sections – that was one of the worst two and a half hours of hockey I’ve ever watched the Devils play. Natural Stat Trick had them leading the Rangers in total scoring chances by eight (24 to 16), yet the Devils only had 16 shots on goal to the Rangers’ 33. Tonight was as easy a shutout as Igor Shesterkin could have asked for. The Devils occasionally did get into the scoring areas, but they cannot hit the net to save their lives.

The only players worth watching for the Devils tonight were the Hughes line, though Kuokkanen and Sharangovich both had trouble hitting the net tonight. Jack Hughes did his best to make things happen, but it’s easy for the Rangers to deny them when Blackwood allowed New York to get out to an early lead.

And as far as goalie performances go, this was an obvious backup night for the New Jersey Devils. Yet, Lindy Ruff trotted MacKenzie Blackwood out there again, keeping him on little rest and forcing the issue. Blackwood has not won any of his last seven starts, and is getting very close to sporting a save percentage under .900. Scott Wedgewood could have given up four goals in a shutout loss tonight, as Aaron Dell could have. Why waste Blackwood’s time and destroy his confidence behind this show of a “defense?”

And in terms of the defense, I do not see any reason to retain Alain Nasreddine beyond this season. I know the penalty kill has improved – I don’t care about that. What I care about is the Devils puck-watching in the defensive zone, and the passive acceptance of P.K. Subban or Ryan Murray turning the puck over with passes directly to opposition players. The Devils need new coaches, starting from the back end. On the Panarin goal that made it a 4-0 game, the Devils let Strome get to the loose puck. This team has no urgency, and it showed tonight.

As for their missing players, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt, I find it hard to believe they would have made so much of a difference in tonight’s game. Sure, they are two of the Devils’ only forwards who possess NHL-level skill. But, the effort down the lineup was too weak. The Devils work too slowly, while the Rangers crisply pass between each other up and down the ice, pulling off backhands and drops that the Devils could only telegraph for turnovers.

However, I would like to see Miles Wood and Andreas Johnsson as far away from Nico Hischier as possible. Miles Wood belongs with Michael McLeod. Andreas Johnsson belongs on a different team where he can actually score based on that team’s already-existing playmaking. Johnsson in particular was dreadful tonight, as you can see on the replay of the initial goal by Trouba. When two Devils took Artemi Panarin, Johnsson could have covered the pass across the blueline, but instead drifted low in the zone to vaguely guard the high slot. But as the Rangers pressured closer to Blackwood, Johnsson collapsed with the Devils, failing to take away any passing or shooting lane as he made a futile attempt to dive in front of the shot – a move which Will Butcher would pathetically replicate on the goal by Ryan Lindgren.

So, these are our veterans. Andreas Johnsson is not getting better than he is now at age 26. That ship has sailed – and the Devils don’t need a guy to play panic defense and miss the net all night. It’s bad enough that Nico Hischier is coming off of consecutive injuries and has barely played this year, looking like a hobbled version of himself. But to saddle him with someone so inept with the puck of late – not even in reference to his other winger, Miles Wood – is just sad.