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Baseball Distances Itself from Farmingdale State, Posts 7-1 Triumph

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – William Paterson (8-1) turned seven hits, four bases on balls, a sacrifice bunt and sac fly, a balk and four Ram errors into seven straight runs scored, posting a 7-1 baseball victory at Farmingdale State (3-2) March 11.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • A pair of two-out walks and a base hit handed the Rams a 1-0 third-inning edge.
  • The Pioneers got that run back in the top of the fourth when junior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt, and scored when junior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) singled to right field.
  • WP made it a 4-1 game in the fifth. Senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) opened the frame with a base hit to left, and after a Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) sacrifice bunt and a Carlos Perez (Hawthorne, N.J./Hawthorne) walk, sophomore second baseman Colin Lombardo (Edison, N.J./Edison) sent a two-run single into left field and DiGirolamo launched an RBI-triple to the right-center gap.
  • Junior right fielder Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) led off the top half of the sixth inning with a home run over the left-field fence. His second round-tripper this spring, and the seventh homer of his career, pushed the Pioneers ahead by a 5-1 count.
  • Lombardo walked, advanced to third via a failed pickoff and touched home on a Weis groundout during the seventh frame.
  • William Paterson tacked on a ninth-inning run with an error, a Frank Cascio (Hillsdale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) hit and error, and a DiGirolamo sacrifice fly that plated Perez.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Carter was 2-for-4 while adding a double and home run. Lombardo contributed a two-run single, and he and Perez each scored twice.
  • Junior Jason Palmeri (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) pitched 6.0 innings of three-hit, one-run ball. He struck out four batters and walked four. Freshman Darmany Rivas (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) handled the next 2.1 innings and allowed one hit and a walk while registering one strikeout. Classmate Chris Nelson (Boonton, N.J./Mountain Lakes) recorded the final two outs with a groundout and flyout.
  • The Pioneers and the Rams both received votes in this week’s D3baseball.com/National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Top 25 Poll.
  • DiGirolamo moved into a tie with his uncle, John, for fourth place on the WP career triples list (13). John played for the Pioneers from 1989-92, and was an all-American outfielder on the 1992 Division III national championship team.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson starts play at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational Saturday, March 14, at 9:15 a.m. against Fitchburg State.
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Sports

DiGirolamo’s 5-for-5 Effort, Ferrara’s Walk-Off Single Spark 7-6 Baseball Win

WAYNE, N.J. – Junior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) went 5-for-5 at the plate, including three extra-base hits, and senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) delivered the winning run with a ninth-inning single as the William Paterson baseball team (7-1) capped off a seven-game homestand with 7-6 triumph against St. Joseph’s-Long Island (1-2) March 10.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • The Pioneers crossed the plate twice during their first at-bat. DiGirolamo doubled down the left-field line and advanced to third via a passed ball, while junior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) drew a walk. Junior right fielder Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) sent both runners home with his ground ball that tucked just inside the third-base bag and carried down into the left-field corner, a two-run double for a 2-0 edge.
  • The Golden Eagles hit a solo home run in the top of the second inning, but WP got two more runs in the home half of the same frame. Junior catcher Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) drilled a double to center field and DiGirolamo followed with his second career homer, clearing the fence in right center for a 4-1 lead.
  • A double and a single added one run to the St. Joseph’s-Long Island total during the top of the fourth.
  • SJLI took its first lead of the game with four seventh-inning unearned runs, taking advantage of four hits, a sacrifice fly and two errors.
  • WP leveled the score during its next opportunity. Junior designated hitter Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) started the bottom of the seventh with a ground-rule double and Carter’s single to center sent him home. An Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) base hit into right field and senior pinch hitter Vin Dorio’s (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst) bunt single loaded the bags for Ferrara, who drove in the tying run with a single to left.
  • Alarcon opened the bottom of the ninth with a base hit into center field, but he was out at second after an unsuccessful sacrifice bunt attempt by junior third baseman Greg Cuevas (West New York, N.J./St. Mary (Rutherford)). However, Cuevas advanced to third when the pitcher’s pickoff attempt short hopped and rolled away into foul territory, putting the winning run 90 feet away. After a groundout, Ferrara delivered the clutch hit again, this one a walk-off single that tipped off the end of the second baseman’s glove and into right field.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • DiGirolamo finished 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles, a pair of RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. Alarcon was 3-for-4 while scoring a run, Carter posted two hits and three RBI, and Ferrara went 2-for-5 while plating two runners.
  • Sophomore Matt Lawler (Linwood, N.J./Mainland Regional) went 5.0 innings as the starter, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out one. Freshman Elian Mendez (Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) was charged with four unearned runs, five hits and two walks, posting one strikeout during his 1.2 innings. Senior Jack DeFouw (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) earned the win in relief with 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings of work, striking out two and walking one (1-0).
  • The Pioneers received votes in this week’s D3baseball.com/National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Top 25 Poll.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson heads to Long Island to play at Farmingdale State Wednesday, March 11, at 3:30 p.m.
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Sports

New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 3/10/20

The 23rd week of the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils prospect update is highlighted by Ty Smith’s insane production, Graeme Clarke continuing his impressive return for the Ottawa 67’s, Matt Hellickson’s season ending, and the Devils Russian based prospects playing in their playoff series. Let’s take a look at how each prospect performed over the past month.

QMJHL

Xavier Bernard had an assist, +1, 6 PIM, and 6 shots across 2 games last week. He now has a goal and 16 assists in 29 games with a stacked Sherbrooke team.

OHL

Mitchell Hoelscher had a SH goal, 3 assists, +5, 7 shots, and won 58.06% of his faceoffs across 2 games last week. He has been quite the threat in short handed situations with 4 SH goals and 4 SH assists this season.

Nikita Okhotyuk was a +3 with 4 PIM and 6 shots across 2 games last week.

Graeme Clarke had a goal, 2 assists, +3, and 12 shots across 2 games last week. All of his points came against Barrie on Saturday.

Kevin Bahl had 2 assists (1 EV, 1 PP), +3, 6 PIM, and 2 shots across 2 games last week.

Michael Vukojevic had a goal, -4, and 7 shots across 3 games last week.

WHL

Ty Smith continues to lead the way for Spokane. Last week he had 2 goals, 5 assists (3 EV, 2 PP), +5, 2 PIM, and 14 shots across 3 games. His current point streak stretches 5 games with 7 goals and 10 assists. You can check out his most recent goals below:

Nolan Foote continues to be out with a lower body injury. He is supposed to return before the end of Kelowna’s regular season so hopefully we see him back in action soon.

NCAA

Please note that all team rankings are reflective of their seedings in their respective conference tournaments.

Reilly Walsh had a big weekend to help #5 Harvard sweep #12 St. Lawrence in 2 games in the 1st Round of the ECAC Tournament. Walsh had 2 PP goals, 2 assists, +1, and 8 shots in the series. Harvard will take on #4 RPI in the Quarterfinals this weekend. You can check out his goals below:

Matt Hellickson saw his season come to an end as #5 Notre Dame lost their Big Ten Quarterfinals series 2-1 to #4 Minnesota. Hellickson was a -1 with 2 PIM and 3 shots across the 3 games. Notre Dame finishes with a disappointing 15-15-7 record. Hellickson saw an increase in ice time across all situations as a top pairing defenseman for the team. He just completed his junior season and could turn pro if the Devils want to sign him right now, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back for his senior season in 2020-21. The Devils control his rights until August 15, 2021 as he was a 7th round pick in the 2017 draft. He has been developing steadily with Notre Dame and I think it would be best for him to continue to play large minutes another season for the team as he continues to develop at both ends of the rink. He turns 22 on March 21 so there isn’t a rush to get him into pro hockey just yet. Sure, the Devils could risk him to the free agent market should he not sign after his senior season but I don’t think he projects as a prospect with enough upside to worry about that happening. Another year of college hockey seems like a good situation for all parties involved.

Aarne Talvitie and #1 Penn State will take on #4 Minnesota in a Big Ten Semifinal on Saturday. It will be their first game action since 2/22 so we’ll see if they are rusty or not.

Tyce Thompson had an even rating, 3 shots, and won 6/10 faceoffs in a loss to Maine last Friday. Patrick Moynihan had an even rating and 3 shots. Providence is the #8 seed in the Hockey East Tournament and will take on #1 Boston College in the Quarterfinals this weekend.

Case McCarthy made his return to the Boston University line up after missing a pair of games due to injury. In a weekend split to Northeastern, McCarthy had an even rating, 2 PIM, and 2 shots. Boston University is the #6 seed in the Hockey East Tournament and will take on #3 UMass Lowell in the Quarterfinals this weekend.

USHL

Akira Schmid didn’t play or dress in either of Sioux City’s games this past week. He now hasn’t played in 8 straight games and hasn’t dressed in 6 straight games.

Cole Brady had a busy but successful week for Fargo. On Friday he made 14 saves on 15 shots in a victory over Sioux Falls. He followed that up with 18 saves on 20 shots in regulation and stopped all 4 shots he faced in a shootout victory over Sioux Falls. On Sunday he made 22 saves on 26 shots in a victory over Omaha. He has helped Fargo climb to 3rd in the Western Conference, just 2 points behind Omaha.

On Wednesday, Arizona State officially announced their 2020 signing class which includes Brady. Here is what head coach Greg Powers had to say about Brady:

”Cole is a special talent. He’s a big and very cerebral goaltender,” said head coach Greg Powers. “He’s developed a very high compete level over three years of junior hockey and is ready to come to ASU and really add to our goaltending group with Evan and Justin. He’s a great teammate and loves to win. He’s been committed to us for a long time and we’re thrilled he’s finally coming to Tempe.”

Russia

VHL/MHL

Yegor Zaitsev had an assist, even rating, 4 PIM, and a shot while averaging 18:17 per game across 3 games last week. #4 Dynamo Moscow is currently tied 2-2 with #5 Spartak Moscow in their Western Conference Quarterfinals series.

Daniil Misyul remains out of the line up since suffering an injury on 2/3. #6 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is currently trailing #3 Jokerit 3-2 in their Western Conference Quarterfinals series.

Arseni Gritsyuk had a goal, +1, and 5 shots in 21:15 in Omskie Yastreby’s opening playoff game on Monday. Omskie Yastreby is the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and is out to a 1-0 lead over #7 Mamonty Ugry in the Quarterfinals.

Finland & Sweden

Eetu Pakkila had an even rating, 2 PIM, and 8 shots while averaging 13:00 per game across 2 games last week.

Nikola Pasic was a -2 with 2 shots and average ice time of 14:21 per game across his final 2 games of the regular season. Pasic ended the regular season leading all U20 players in the Allsvenskan in scoring with 35 points in 45 games. BIK Karlskoga finishes 4th in the regular season standings and will advance to the Allsvenskan playoffs.

Just to note how the Allsvenskan post-season works and how it affects promotion to the SHL. The top 2 teams in the regular season advance directly to the Finals where they play a best of 5 series where the winner will advance directly to the SHL Qualifiers. The 3rd through 8th place teams play in the Allsvenskan playoffs, a single round-robin tournament, where the teams that finishes first advances to the playoff to the SHL qualifiers. This playoff pits the the winning team from the Allsvenskan Playoffs against the losing team from the Allsvenskan Finals in a best of 3 series. The winner of that joins the winner of the Allsvenskan Final as they take on the bottom 2 teams from the SHL. The Allsvenskan Final winner takes on the 14th place SHL team while the other Allsvenskan team takes on the 13th place SHL team. These are best of 7 series which determine which teams play in the SHL the following season.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this week? What did you think of Matt Hellickson’s junior season at Notre Dame? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!

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Third Periods & the New Jersey Devils Part 3: Better Results But Not in On-Ice Performances

Earlier in the season, the third period was one to dread for the New Jersey Devils. Within their first 22 games, they only led after two periods eight times and only won four of them amid some massive failures. In the following 22 games and after one coaching change, there were some improvements – such as the Devils not being only outscored by four in third periods after being outscored by 19 in their first 22 games. That 22 game period ended on January 11, which ended up being Ray Shero’s final game as general manager of the New Jersey Devils. Since then, the Devils have went 12-7-5. Mostly thanks to some incredible goaltending – especially in February – but the team’s performances have been better recently. Now is a good time to ask the question: Are third periods still a problem for the Devils? Let us look into it in this post and find the answer.

Third Period Results in the Last 24 Games

After the conclusion of yesterday’s win over Our Hated Rivals, the Devils have played 24 games since Shero was fired and the previous post about third periods. That win over Our Hated Rivals included a rare occurrence for the Devils this season: winning in regulation while being outscored in the third period. The only other time this happened to the Devils this season was on November 15, 2019 against Pittsburgh (0-1 in the third, 2-1 final score). Unfortunately, it also represented the ninth time the Devils were outscored in the third period in this stretch, which indicates that third periods remain as a point of concern for the Devils.

As with the previous two third-period posts, I captured all of the third period results and on-ice data from Natural Stat Trick between January 11, 2020 and March 7, 2020 for two reasons. This can also be known as the Post-Shero Era So Far. Since this post is an update, here are the results of those 24 games.

Again, the Devils went 12-7-5 over these 24 games. From perspective of just results, the Devils improved from the previous set of games looked at by taking leads into the third period in half of their 24 games. They won ten of them and lost none in regulation. There are some mitigating factors for the two games they lost after going into the third period with a lead. First, the Devils did get a point out of each game; the January 30 game against Nashville and the February 4th game against Montreal. First, the Devils also blew only one goal leads in each. Second, the Devils did not lose any games where they went into third period with a lead of at least two goals in this set of games. Third, it has not happened in over a month. Compared to the situation that led to the first post about third periods, that is a big step up. The Devils did blow leads in two other games, but they salvaged them by winning them in a shootout: January 27th in Ottawa and February 16th against Columbus. That is also a step up. Better that then two more heartbreaking losses.

One of the main factors for the third periods not being so nightmarish since Shero was canned has been the scores going into the third. Over this whole set, the Devils out-scored their opposition 46-43 prior to the third period. In these 24 games, the Devils were only down by two more goals going into the third just five times. The last time it happened was back on Valentine’s Day. That does not seem like a long time ago, but in the Devils’ season, it was eleven games ago. With more favorable situations going into the third, the Devils have been able to finish the job and win seven of these eleven games even if they only out-scored their opposition in two of those eleven third periods.

That also points to what did not really improve: their results within third periods alone. The Devils won outscored their opponents) just six out of these twenty-four third periods. More often than not, they would be tied or get outscored in the third period. In the previous post, the Devils won six third periods out of 22 games. Six out of 24 is a smaller proportion, which is not good for anyone. Again, yesterday’s win was the first time in months where the Devils lost a third period but still won in regulation. The Devils did have those two shootout wins after losing those two third periods. Otherwise, the Devils lost most of their games where they were tied or out-scored in the third. Over the whole season, the Devils have lost the majority of games where they are either tied in the third period or lost in the third period. While the Devils’ game results in the the last 24 games did yield seven wins out of eighteen of those combined third period results, they still did not win the majority of those games. The Devils have not been blowing big leads, which but they still seem to have issues in the third period.

Third Period Performances in the Last 24 Games

As important as the score is, they only reveal a part of how a team actually performs on the ice. One should look at the on-ice stats in the third period to get a better understanding of how the Devils has performed in that period. Therefore, I went to Natural Stat Trick and pulled the Corsi (shot attempt), shots, and expected goals data from each of the team’s previous 24 games for both 5-on-5 and all situations. For the sake of comparison, I included the totals of each stat for each situation from the previous two posts. While the Devils have an extra two games in this set, it actually helped their total numbers a little bit – which are as ugly as this chart:

In 5-on-5 hockey, the third periods have not been pretty at all. The Devils have been out-scored by six over the last twenty four third periods. The Devils have been out-attempted and out-shot in many of their games and by large margins in total. In terms of expected goals, the Devils have only out-done their opposition in eight out of their twenty-four games. Given that eighteen of these twenty four third periods was in a 5-on-5 situation for 75% or more of the total ice time, being poor in 5-on-5 hockey is, well, just poor.

When you add in the special teams and extra-skater situations, the numbers are a bit better looking for New Jersey. Power play, shorthanded, extra-skater, and empty net goals have boosted the Devils up to at least match their opponents goal totals in third periods. The gaps in shots and expected goals are closer. For the latter, the Devils out-done their opposition in ten of those games, including their two most recent games. That points to improvements that we have seen with the Devils on special teams for the better part of the last two months.

Of course, a clearer way to represent the total stats over these 24 games would be using for-percentages. They answer the question: what percentage of the goals (GF%), attempts (CF%), shots (SF%), and expected goals (xGF%) did the Devils have in these situations in their last twenty four third periods?

Third period performances by the Devils since Shero was fired? They were Not Good.

After some serious gains and actual good performances on the ice in the previous post, the Devils have sunk big time since January 12. The only percentage to go up from the previous post was the all situations goals for percentage. Goals are indeed important. However, the 9-10% drop in CF%, SF%, and xGF% in both situations is horrid. It is true that the Devils took leads into more third periods than in the previous post. It is true that teams who are leading tend to be out-shot, out-attempted, and by function of those out-done in expected goals. However, there is being out-performed by an opponent desperate to get back into the game and there is the 2019-20 Devils getting regularly pounded in these categories. An on-ice CF% of a little over 42% is just plain bad regardless of the score situation. The Devils in these last twenty four third periods collectively have performed worse on the ice than they did even under John Hynes, which was when the team would and sadly did blow multiple-goal leads in the third period. It is sad.

It is unfortunately not that surprising. It is rather apparent that the 2019-20 Devils are a bad team in the run of play. Their 5-on-5 team stats are abhorrent this season per Natural Stat Trick and were worse than Detroit – yes, Detroit – in their most recent month. Adding in special teams and extra skater situations does little to turn the tide. The Devils surge in results since the All Star Break has been fueled by amazing goaltending. The team’s save percentage in third periods has been a solid 91.6% and that includes five games (out of eight) where Louis Domingue posted an overall save percentage below 90% in a game. That prevents goals. It does not prevent the other stats or help the Devils go out and attack the opposition. The Devils have been getting their teeth kicked in the run of play all season. That it continued into the third period should not be seen as something out of the ordinary. It should also been seen as something in spite of the Devils’ 12-7-5 record in these 24 games. It is a further indictment of the coaching staff and the player’s performance in this lost season. Perhaps the real surprise is that this has not blown up in the Devils’ face in third periods since Shero was fired.

Conclusions & Your Take

The on-ice stats and percentages in third periods over the last 24 games are simply not good at all outside of the scoring. This needs to get better in the future and I hope it will with a different coaching staff, different tactics, and a different roster.

That stated, there were positives to pull from this look back at the team’s previous 24 third periods. The Devils did not enter the third period with a multiple-goal lead and went on to lose the game. That nightmare from earlier this season is now in the past. The Devils have taken more games into the third period with a lead and won the majority of those games. The Devils still do not win many games when they do not also win the third period, but they did win seven games in this stretch of games when they are tied or get out-scored in the third period. That is a step up from the previous look back. Lastly, the Devils have not been in a multi-goal deficit going into the third period in their last eleven games in this dataset. They have managed to keep the game close or head into the final frame with a lead of their own. They have pulled off plenty of results with just two regulation losses in these last eleven games. While the performances have not been good in 5-on-5 or all situations in third periods since January 12, there is at least a little less reason to fear third periods for the Devils based on the results.

As one final point, the Devils have demonstrated that the best defense for protecting a lead is to have a multiple goal lead. In six of their twelve games where they went into the third period with a lead, they were up by two or three goals. The Devils won all six and won them all in regulation. Having the insurance goals helps when a bad bounce happens or a breakdown occurs or the opposition turns up their intensity and steamrolls through the Devils. If you are still worried about the Devils have played in the third periods and still hold onto the harsh memories of the Devils blowing games late in October, then you should be cheering for the Devils to go up by a couple in the first two periods. They have achieved that in their last four wins, including their recent back-to-back set of wins over St. Louis and Our Hated Rivals.

Now I turn to you, the People Who Matter, for your take on all of this. Do you still have concerns or fear of third periods in Devils games? Do you see the Devils being able to take more leads into the third period in the remainder of this season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Devils and how they have played in third periods since Shero was let go in the comments. Thank you for reading.

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Baseball Churns Out 28 Combined Runs, Sweeps Keene State with 18-2 and 10-6 Victories

WAYNE, N.J. – The William Paterson baseball team (6-1) struck for a total of 28 runs during just 12 at-bats, sweeping a seven-inning doubleheader from visiting Keene State (0-5), 18-2 and 10-6, March 8.

GAME ONE
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • The Pioneers batted around during the home half of the first to produce a 4-0 lead. A four-pitch leadoff walk to junior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) and a double to right by junior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) made it a 1-0 score, then a flyout and wild pitch led to a ground ball to short from junior Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield). The throw to the plate was late and wide, allowing Carter to land at second base with an RBI-fielder’s choice. A Carlos Perez (Hawthorne, N.J./Hawthorne) walk and an Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) single loaded the bases, followed by a wild pitch and a run-scoring single through the left side by senior second baseman Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) for a 4-0 advantage.
  • WP ran through its lineup again during the second inning, adding four more runs to its total. DiGirolamo started the frame with a single through the right side, and took second base on a late throw back in. Weis reached via an error, junior designated hitter Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) singled in DiGirolamo, and a wild pitch and walk loaded the bags. Alarcon plated a run with his base hit into center field, Ferrara had an RBI-hit by pitch, and a wild pitch pushed it to an 8-0 margin.
  • Seven more runners crossed home in the fourth, thanks to RBI-walks from junior shortstop Tyler Kulish, DiGirolamo and senior pinch hitter Vin Dorio (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst), a run-scoring hit by pitch for Carter, and RBI-singles by Ferrara, freshman third baseman David Backo (Wallington, N.J./Wallington) and junior left fielder Frankie Deane (Dumont, N.J./Dumont).
  • The Owls got on the scoreboard during the top of the fifth inning with a two-out run-scoring single.
  • Senior pinch hitter Mike Grasso (Wyckoff, N.J./Ramapo) opened the home half of the sixth with a shot over the left-field fence, his first home run as a Pioneer. Ferrara’s fielder’s choice and a bases-loaded error pushed the Pioneers’ lead to 18-1.
  • A walk and a double allowed Keene State to tack one on seventh-inning score.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Ferrara went 2-for-4 while driving in four runs, and DiGirolamo finished 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Alarcon registered a 2-for-2 performance that included one RBI.
  • Junior Jordan Manne (Mahwah, N.J./Mahwah) tossed 4.0 shutout innings, giving up two hits and a pair of walks while striking out six (1-0). Freshman Chris Nelson (Boonton, N.J./Mountain Lakes) allowed one run on two hits and a walk, collecting two strikeouts in 1.0 inning. Junior Jason Rivera (Clifton, N.J./Clifton) struck out one of the three batters he faced during the top of the sixth, and Carter came in for the seventh and surrendered one hit, a run and one walk.

GAME TWO
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Weis tripled to center field and scored when a throw to the plate was dropped, handing the Pioneers a 1-0 first-inning advantage.
  • William Paterson broke the game open with a five-run third. Grasso’s sacrifice fly drove in Weis, Carter doubled in Yelin, sophomore second baseman Colin Lombardo’s (Edison, N.J./Edison) first career home run was a two-run shot to left, and Alarcon had a run-scoring base hit to center field to send home Ferrara.
  • Three hits, including a solo homer, got two runs back for Keene State in the top of the fourth. However, the Pioneers answered with four scores during the bottom half of the same frame. Back-to-back doubles by Yelin and Perez, Carter’s run-scoring base hit to center field and a two-run Alarcon single to left pushed it to a 10-2 lead.
  • The Owls strung together two hits and five walks to manufacture a four-run sixth.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Weis tallied three hits, including a triple, and two runs scored, while Carter was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a pair of RBI and two runs. Lombardo finished 2-for-4 while adding a home run, two RBI and two runs scored, and Alarcon went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs.
  • Freshman Ian Metzger (Verona, N.J./Verona) improved to 3-0, spinning 5.0 innings and allowing two runs, six hits and a walk while striking out five. Junior Zac Polzer (North Haledon, N.J./Passaic County Tech) was charged with four runs allowed, one hit, three walks and a strikeout during 0.1 inning, senior Armando Ovalles (Union City, N.J./Union City) walked two and gave up one hit in 0.1 inning, and senior Jack DeFouw (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) retired all four batters he faced, two by strikeout, for his second save of the year.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson plays host to St. Joseph’s-Long Island Tuesday, March 10, starting at 3:30 p.m.
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Sports

New Jersey Devils Smoked Shesterkin & Spoiled the New York Rangers, 6-4

I hate the New York Rangers. They are Our Hated Rivals. I love it when the New Jersey Devils beat them. As the Devils won 6-4 and played well in the process of that victory, I am in a very good mood.

The score does not really reflect how the game went. The last two goals by Our Hated Rivals were ultimately consolation goals. Sure, it made the game more tense for a little bit and it woke up the normally sleepy crowd at the World’s Most Overrated Arena. The Devils did not lose the lead once they obtained it, which is more important than that. They blew up Igor Shesterkin for four goals in the second period to turn a 1-2 deficit into a 5-2 lead going into the third. While the Rangers may have technically won the third period, they needed a miracle and a massive Devils meltdown to come back in this one. They received neither. The second period was enough for the Devils to put the game out of reach and they did.

After a first period that was not so bad from a run of play point of view but still infuriating in how the Devils conceded two goals – both from wide open shots in the slot – the Devils played with a purpose in the second period. Kyle Palmieri, who scored the Devils’ first goal when he fired a shot from just above the goal line that went off Shesterkin’s right pad and in, provided a quick equalizer in the second period. Dakota Mermis flung a puck towards the net, Miles Wood tried to put home the rebound, and Palmieri got away from Mika Zibanejad to slam in the second rebound to make it 2-2. Shortly after that, Nikita Gusev made a fantastic pass to a trailing Fredrik Claesson. With acres of space, Claesson fired a laser of a shot past Shesterkin to put the Devils up 3-2. The Rangers were not only stunned, but David Quinn used his timeout to settle his team down. Even with the slim lead, the Devils maintained it thanks to MacKenzie Blackwood, successful penalty killing, and being able to force the Rangers to play defense regularly instead of just getting rolled over for large stretches. It was as if the Devils carried over their performance from the St. Louis game albeit with the Rangers being more successful in getting close to the net than Friday’s opponents.

The Devils would extend the lead late in that same second period. Adam Fox took the sole penalty for the Rangers tonight and the Devils made him pay. Travis Zajac took a loose puck after Palmieri collided with a Ranger, sent it across to Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes set up in front of Shesterkin, and then Hischier fired a hard pass to Zajac in the slot. Zajac re-directed the pass on net and the puck beat the screen (yes, a screen by Jack Hughes) and the goalie. The PPG put the Devils up 4-2. On the very next shift, Damon Severson fired a long shot and John Hayden – yes, the same guy I just called the worst Devils regular skater this season – redirected the shot past Shesterkin. The Devils were up 5-2 and the Rangers looked lost. I would be too if John Hayden lit the lamp on my home rink. The Devils fans all around the world were jubilant and Shesterkin got replaced by Henrik Lundqvist for the third period.

The only way the game could have been better was if the Devils just built on the lead like they did in Chicago earlier in the season. Alas, it was not to be. Lundqvist shut down the five-hole on a Jack Hughes breakaway (created, not taken, by Miles wood). Jesper Bratt hit the crossbar after two sick moves to get to the slot for a shot. The Devils’ attack became less threatening but they did enough to keep Our Hated Rivals honest. They forechecked. They challenged in the neutral zone. They even played some good defense on some shifts. Again, a re-direction by Grant McKegg from a Brendan Smith shot gave the Rangers some semblance of hope. But we can say now that it was just that – hope. It was not realized and the fate of Our Hated Rivals was sealed when Adam Fox coughed up a puck to Travis Zajac, who proceeded to fire the puck into the empty net. A bad bounce off Connor Carrick’s skate did nothing to change that fate.

About a month ago, the Devils would have won this game solely on the back of Blackwood playing out of his mind. Do not misunderstand me. Blackwood did play well. I would not blame him on any of the four goals against. But the Devils skaters played a good game of hockey themselves. In 5-on-5 situations and with a lead for most of the game, they out-attempted OHR 51-50, out-chanced them 25-19, and out-high-danger chanced them 15-9. The Devils were out-shot but only by four. If you add in the non-5-on-5 situations, the Devils were only out-attempted and out-shot by six while still leading in scoring chances. The Devils also won the expected goals battle too. The point of those numbers is that they represent a solid team effort by the Devils. There has not been a lot of those in this season; they are worth praising when they do happen in a winning effort.

And the winning effort is even sweeter by the fact that the Devils took down Our Hated Rivals. They were hot not that long ago. They were making a real push for a wild card spot. Those of you who follow the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot knows that race is very tight and one good week or one bad week can make a huge difference. After two regulation losses, Our Hated Rivals busted out an OT win over Washington whereupon Zibanejad scored five goals. The Devils went to Manhattan and absolutely spoiled them from building off any of that. The Devils’ 6-4 win keeps the Our Hated Rivals in seventh in the division and behind Carolina and two spots behind the last wild card spot in the East. Teams that are looking to make the playoffs generally need to beat the teams well below them in the standings. I sincerely hope tonight’s win by the Devils will ensure them setting up tee times on April 5. You love to see it. I absolutely did.

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: Over at Blueshirt Banter, Bryan Winter has this recap. It is very standard, but I sense the salt in between the lines.

Mea Culpa: On Friday, I wrote a post about John Hayden being the worst regular skater on the Devils and questioned if he was the worst Devils skater who played a significant amount of games with the team since 2007. Hayden ends up with the game winning goal as well as the marker that sent Shesterkin packing. Hayden also ended up with the best CF% of any Devils skater at 58.8% (10 for, 7 against) and the second best xGF% of any Devils skater at 86.8% (0.56 xGF, 0.09 xGA). Hayden, Kevin Rooney, and Michael McLeod legitimately had a very good game. Hayden made an important impact in this win. Thank you for making me look stupid, Hayden. I am glad to hold this ‘L’ this evening.

Fourth All Time Goal Scorer in Franchise History: Thanks to Fox’s generous turnover, Zajac scored his second of the game with an empty netter. That goal was the 195th of Zajac’s career and he now is the sole holder of fourth place in franchise history for goals. His power play re-direction tied him with Zach Parise. Zajac is now behind Bobby Holik (202), John MacLean (347), and Patrik Elias (408) per Hockey-Reference.

Zajac and his line had an up-and-down game. They did get pinned back quite a few times. There were some less than good passes by Joey Anderson and Hughes that helped the Rangers get going. But they also created as many attempts and their quality led to a negative but somewhat small expected goals differential. That is to say that they were not a sore spot in 5-on-5, but they could have been better.

Zajac was better on special teams. When he was on the ice on the penalty kill (which lasted over three minutes), he only saw one shot against. On the power play, Zajac’s one shot converted it. When Lundqvist was pulled for an extra skater, Zajac powered through two Rangers to get the puck into and through the neutral zone. He kept going forward and received a gift from Fox for his efforts.

Hughes 1, Kakko 0: In the third period, Kaapo Kakko lined up Jack Hughes for a big hit. Hughes hopped away and Kakko slammed into the boards like he was Cam Janssen. It was a fun moment. It also represented how the game went for each.

While Hughes lost possession not long after that dodge due to other pressure, he at least moved it forward. While Hughes lost a puck that ended up becoming McKegg’s defleciton goal, it was not a horrid giveaway like, say, Fox to Zajac. While Hughes lost an edge a few times, he kept the puck moving. While Hughes got stopped on a breakaway early in the third, Hughes at least had a breakaway. While pointless, his screen on Shesterkin helped Zajac’s goal be a goal. The point is that Hughes was not great but it was far from bad.

Compare that to Kakko. He registered no shots on net. When he was on the ice, the Devils out-attempted Our Hated Rivals 12-5 and out-shot them 8-2. Kakko was a total non-factor. For someone who played against men last season, he looked out of his element this evening. The men in the NHL are different then the men in Liiga. Right or wrong, the Hughes-Kakko comparison will be there in this and future games like Devils-Flyers game bring the Hischier-Patrick comparison to mind. Tonight, it was more like Hischier-Patrick even if you wanted more from Hughes tonight.

Dakota & Damon: The Devils’ best pairing on defense tonight was Dakota Mermis and Damon Severson. Each took a shot that led to a goal in the second period. Each won plenty of pucks along the boards and behind their net. Each kept their turnovers to a minimum; Severson only had one bad one in the first period. Each were a factor in the Devils keeping the Rangers to a mere twelve attempts on net and eight shots on net in 5-on-5 situations in the third period. Each were positive in the run of play in 5-on-5 hockey too. The only other mark against this pairing was Severson’s cross-check on Artemi Panarin that yielded a power play in the first period. But the Devils killed that one. While a defense that yields 35 shots on net is not exactly sterling, this pairing was a net positive on the score sheet and elsewhere.

As a quick aside, I also thought P.K. Subban and Mirco Mueller had a good game too. Even though they looked very bad on Zibanejad’s goal. It was as if they were the sea and Zibanejad’s presence from twenty feet away parted them. But they did well after that moment.

Much Better: After a rough night against St. Louis, Nikita Gusev was much better in Manhattan this evening. His highlight will be his great pass to Claesson for his first goal as a Devil. But overall, Gusev was good at getting the puck forward and finding his teammates to keep offenses going. He was also not at all shy about firing away. Gusev led the Devils with seven shot attempts and three were on target. As Gusev was more able to get the puck and move it in all three zones, this led to a better night overall for Pavel Zacha and Bratt as well. They did more than just have one or two rushes, they generated a bunch and when they were on the ice, the Devils were usually going forward. I enjoyed that.

I also enjoyed Kyle Palmieri breaking a five-game goalless streak with two goals. The Pride of Montvale, New Jersey was fortunate for his first goal. That was more or less an error by Shesterkin. He was in the right place and right time for his second too. However, in several games over the past four or five weeks, he would have nights where he could not seemingly buy a goal despite getting some sweet passes and shooting situations. His goals were important early on in the game and I hope that means more contributions from the first line.

Oh, Well: Miles Wood unfortunately missed an empty net from the Rangers’ blueline and then was stick-checked later when he had a second chance within twenty feet from it. It is no big deal since A) Zajac would score an ENG later and B) the Devils won the game.

Wood, Hischier, and Palmieri were not as effective in the run of play tonight as they were against St. Louis. They lost their match-up against Panarin and Jesper Fast. They broke even with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. Even so, Palmieri made his mark twice, Wood assisted Palmieri’s second goal, Hischier set up Zajac’s PPG, so the unit did contribute to the scoresheet.

About Blackwood: MacKenzie Blackwood played a very good game despite conceding four goals. I do not think any of them were his fault. Filip Chytil and Zibanejad each scored in the first period when the Devils skaters left the slot wide open for those players to get into for shots. One-timers are hard enough. One-timers from the slot are remarkably difficult shots to stop. The Devils hung him out to dry on each one. The latter two goals were deflections. McKegg re-directed a shot from Smith while in Blackwood’s grill and Tony DeAngelo’s lone point of the night was a pass intended for Brent Howden that hit off Carrick’s skate by accident. Blackwood did come up big multiple times when the Rangers did get other one-timers off in close. He shut down Panarin twice, he shut down Buchnevich four times, and he shut down Brendan Lemieux – their leading shooter tonight – five times. Blackwood was in control on the penalty kill, which was important as the third one was really driven by Blackwood making stops. The scoresheet does list 4 GA for Blackwood but that should not be taken to mean he had a poor night. He did not.

It was notable how much better Blackwood performed with traffic in front compared to Shesterkin. The MSG broadcast kept noting from time to time how Shesterkin struggled when players were able to get in close. To their credit, the Devils scored three of their four goals in the second with someone close to the crease. Wood had a shot off a rebound in front before Palmieri came in close to put in that rebound. Hughes, of all players, set a successful screen on Shesterkin on Zajac’s PPG. Hayden was right in front of the goalie on his re-direction. Clearly, the Devils got the message and it paid off.

By the way, this is the first time Blackwood was beaten more than three times in a game since conceding five against Nashville on January 30.

Not Yet: Before tonight’s game, Janne Kuokkanen was called up from Binghamton. He was the young player from the Sami Vatanen trade last week. He was very productive with the B-Devils right away. I assumed that with his call up, we would see him play tonight as Binghamton had an important game against Lehigh Valley today. He did not. His New Jersey debut will have to wait. Fortunately, Binghamton took down Lehigh Valley 5-1; check out Jeff’s recap of that win.

Also Making Me Smile: Fredrik Claesson was with the Rangers organization last season. He did not last after 37 games there. Claesson scored his first NHL goal as a Devil with a picture-perfect shot past Shesterkin that put the Devils up in the second to build a lead that would not be lost. He did note that in the second intermission interview with Erika Wachter. Claesson and Carrick were not as good as they were on Friday as the Devils were out-shot by a good margin when they were on the ice. However, Claesson’s only shot of the game was an important one and I was happy to see it happen. Even if it was a surprise since, well, it was Claesson firing an unscreened shot from about forty feet away.

Sherman Abrams is Swearing At Me so His Section is Suspended for Now so Enjoy This Out of Town Scoreboard Fact: While the Devils were spoiling the Rangers’ playoff hopes, Philly extended their winning streak to nine. They beat Buffalo. This now means that the Devils are ahead of Buffalo in the standings. This is the same team that traded for Wayne Simmonds (who waived his partial no-trade clause for this deal) and put a condition on the pick that is based in part on whether they make the playoffs. Take this as another sign that the playoffs are not happening, Buffalo.

One Last Thought: I will never get tired of the Devils beating Our Hated Rivals, who still inherently suck. I hope you never get tired of it either.

Your Take: The Devils beat Our Hated Rivals 6-4 with goals by Palmieri (2), Zajac (2), Claesson, and Hayden. I loved this win. What was your take on this one? Who on the Devils impressed you the most tonight? Which of the five goals was your favorite? (Mine was Claesson’s, which was a perfect shot.) What should the Devils learn from this game before their next one against Pittsburgh? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this win over Our Hated Rivals in the comments.

Thanks to Chris for the game preview. Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and/or followed along on Twitter with @AAtJerseyBlog. Thank you for reading. You are all indeed the People Who Matter.

Categories
Sports

A Night of Firsts: The New Jersey Devils Prevailed Over St. Louis Blues, 4-2

Tonight was the first home game for the New Jersey Devils after a five-game road trip that started just after the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline and ended on Tuesday. Those who attended, watched, or followed tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues were treated to a 4-2 win where the Devils actually played well and never fell behind in the game. The game also turned out to be night of firsts. In addition to the Devils playing their first game at the Rock in about a week and a half, the following other firsts stuck out:

  • Jesper Bratt scored the first goal of the game after torching Colton Parayko and beating Jordan Binnington in the first period. The goal was Bratt’s 100th career NHL point in the regular season.
  • Bratt’s absolutely sick goal was the first goal the Devils have scored on Binnington this season.
  • Defenseman Dakota Mermis got away from Alex Pietrangelo in the Blues’ zone, turned, and floated a shot towards the net. The shot was absolutely perfect as it went past Kevin Rooney and Binnington to the top right corner (Mermis’ right) for his first NHL goal. It was a meaningful goal too as it put the Devils up 2-1 at the time.
  • Mermis’ goal included another first. A scoring change after the second period added a secondary assist to the goal for goaltender Cory Schneider. The assist is Schneider’s first of the season (and so his first point) and first in years. Schneider had not registered an assist since the playoffs in 2018 and not since 2015 in the regular season. Schneider not only made 31 saves out of 33 shots in another great performance (yes, that’s four in a row now for him), he added his first point of the season on top of that.
  • Late in the second period, Travis Zajac took a loose puck, went behind the net, and fed a pass to Fredrik Claesson at the left point. Claesson calmly sent a pass across to Connor Carrick. From the right point, Carrick fired a wrist shot – and it beat a double-screen of Joey Anderson and Marco Scandella as well as Binnington to the far post. The goal was Carrick’s first of the season, Claesson’s first assist (and point) with New Jersey, and gave the Devils their first two-goal lead of the game.
  • With time in regulation running out, the Blues pulled Binnington for an extra skater. On a zone entry, P.K. Subban knocked Zach Sanford away from the puck. Mirco Mueller collected it by the right post, took it around the corner, and attempted a lead pass out of the zone. The pass was deflected by Parayko, but the puck was only slowed down and made it easier for Pavel Zacha to collect it over the blueline. Zacha sent a pass across to Anderson, who fired the puck into the empty net to make it 4-2. The goal is Anderson’s first empty netter of the season and the Devils’ first ENG since Miles Wood iced the win against Tampa Bay back on January 12.
  • Cory Schneider picked up the win. It was his first home win since March 25, 2019 when the Devils beat Buffalo, 3-1.
  • The Blues came into Newark with eight straight wins. This was their first loss since a 2-1 regulation defeat at Nashville on February 16.
  • The biggest first of all is that tonight’s 4-2 win over the Blues is the Devils’ first win against St. Louis since January 21, 2014. Yes, the Devils ended a six-year plus losing streak to the Blues tonight. The previous win was a 7-1 blowout amid a winter storm that was hitting New Jersey hard. Since then, St. Louis has picked up twelve wins over New Jersey. That ended this evening.

Adding to these achievements is that the Devils legitimately played a good game this evening. Cory Schneider played well but the Devils were not really leaning on him for most of the game. The Devils were only out-attempted by six in 5-on-5 situations and nine in all situations. Shots were even at 24 each in 5-on-5 and New Jersey was only out-shot by one, 32-33, in total. Scoring chances had the Devils down by two to the Blues, 18-20 in 5-on-5 and down by one in all situations, 24-25. They more or less hung with the Blues even with the lead for much of the game. While the Devils had their usual woes on defense at times, they were able to keep the Blues from dominating large stretches of the game save for perhaps the final five minutes or so in regulation. Even that final stretch did not skew the numbers a lot. They took advantage of St. Louis’ miscues on the puck to extend some attacks, force a tough save by Binnington, and/or throw off their breakouts. The Devils built a lead going into the third and ultimately protected it. There was a lot of legitimately good things done by the Devils this evening and they did it against a hot team that currently leads the Western Conference. I find that to be impressive since just over a week ago, they looked remarkably sluggish against a lesser team in San Jose. I appreciated the performance by the Devils as much as I enjoyed the firsts they achieved this evening. I hope you did too.

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: Justin03 at St. Louis Game Time has this recap of the Devils’ victory that snapped two St. Louis streaks.

Carrick’s Best Game So Far: Connor Carrick did more than just get his first goal of the season on what is usually a very low-percentage shot, a wrister from about 60 feet away. Carrick finished the game tied for the team lead in shots with five, and he finished with positive on-ice attempt (12-9), shot (10-6), and expected (.43 xGF to .26 xGA) goal differentials in 5-on-5. Few Devils can claim better rates this evening. The pairing of Carrick and Claesson was generally effective in their limited use. They clearly supported the offense. Carrick himself jumped up in the zone a few times early on and nearly cashed in early on a rebound try in an abbreviated 4-on-4 situation in the first period. Carrick has not played well this season. Between an extended injury and being the 7th defenseman, Carrick’s on-ice rates in 5-on-5 were only better than John Hayden’s outside of short call ups. Tonight, Carrick looked good, he made an impact on the scoresheet, his goal held up as the eventual game winner, and he played a legitimately solid game. I think tonight was his best game this season.

The Miles Wood First Line Experience: Prior to tonight’s game, it was revealed in practice that Miles Wood was skating as a left winger for Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. Jack Hughes was moved down to play left wing with Anderson and Zajac. I feared that Wood plus Hischier and Palmieri would be a problem. I was wrong tonight. They were a net positive.

Wood certainly had no issue taking initiative as he tied Carrick for the team lead in shots tonight with five. When the Hischier line was on the ice, the Devils were usually on offense. Among all four lines, they were undoubtedly the most effective in 5-on-5 hockey given their high on-ice attempt, shot, and expected goal percentages. They did plenty right but unfortunately did not score.

If you were concerned about Wood not being able to go off on breakaways or force one-on-one rushes against the goalie with his new line, then tonight erased them. Wood was sprung or fought for at least four such attempts. As is typical for Wood this season, he did not finish any of them and even lost the puck on his last try in the third period. Still, I will take creating opportunities and not finishing them over not having them at all. Of course, because Wood did these rushes up ice and others looked for him to chase down long passes or dumped-in pucks, there were some shifts where Palmieri and Hischier just were not in a position to help him out. That concern that Wood may force the other two to play more of his style than the other way around, one that I share, is still present.

Regardless, it worked well enough this evening if only because the line did not get caved in. As for Hughes’ new line, they had a good game too. They were just below 50% in attempts, just above it in shots, put up a stronger expected goals percentage, and were even in scoring chances. Hughes continued to steal pucks, make some really impressive passes, and keep attacks going with his skates. I thought Zajac and Anderson did OK playing off of that but it did not yield a goal. Anderson had some issues, most notably getting beaten inside by Jaden Schwartz for a third period goal against, but he did get the ENG and otherwise handled his business well enough. We shall see if they can produce where Hughes, Hischier, and Palmieri did not.

A Surprising Stat: Kyle Palmieri had no shots on net this evening. That is a concern of its own. Perhaps it was an off night for him and he will be more right tomorrow at the World’s Most Overrated Arena.

Bratt’s Goal was Sick – and That Was It: The Devils’ fourth line struggled early on but did string some decent shifts and Kevin Rooney did get onto the scoresheet temporarily. However, the unit of Zacha, Bratt, and Nikita Gusev struggled in the run of play all night long. P.K. Subban made a super pass to Bratt that led to a score and Colton Parayko being lit up, so he has that. Zacha can point to being effective on the penalty kill and setting up a game-securing goal. Gusev – he did not do much. He was not good in his own end, which was more often than not this evening. He only managed to have one shot on net on offense. He looked very much like he was just having an off night as well. While the Blues did not flood the Devils with attempts and shots when that line was on the ice, they created even less than St. Louis – Bratt’s goal included. It was notably a step down from the Zajac and Hischier lines. Hopefully they have a stronger effort tomorrow.

By the way, this combined with the fact the Devils have a game tomorrow means I am not too bothered about how Bratt only played 9:58 in 5-on-5 hockey tonight whereas Wood played 15:19. If it happens again tomorrow, then well, I will sigh and make a comment or a Tweet about it.

The Sick Goal That Was Not: Right after Carrick’s goal, Kevin Rooney did something astounding. He drove the puck to the net, got past Robert Bortuzzo, cut across the top of the crease, spun, and put home a backhanded shot through Binnington’s five-hole. It was amazing. It was stunning. It was not technically legal. St. Louis challenged the coolest looking goal Kevin Rooney will ever score in this league and won the challenge to wipe it away from the books.

They did not show the replay of the goal during the review. After the decision was made and the fans at the Rock booed the ref off the ice for it, they showed it and I (begrudingly) agree with the officials. While Bortuzzo did get a hand on Rooney’s back, the forward stretched out his left leg as he went across the crease. His skate caught the top of Binnington’s right pad and dragged it (and his leg) about a foot or two. This opened up the large five-hole that Rooney scored through just after that happened. It was truly incidental contact and so I understand why the goal was erased. At least we can remember it in this recap that it did occur even though it did not count.

By the way, Rooney in 5-on-5 tonight was not good but that goal would have made up for his usual 5-on-5 ineffectiveness. He did have two other chances to score. In the first period, while the Devils were changing members, Hischier hooked Rooney up at the crease with a great pass. Binnington quickly reacted to deny the bang-bang play. During a penalty kill in the third period, Zajac tossed a puck to Rooney at the right wing as they moved into the Blues’ zone. Rooney took a harmless looking backhand shot at a not so dangerous angle. It somehow handcuffed Binnington and the goalie turned on the shot thinking he had it. He did not. But Rooney could not pounce on the loose puck by his right pad and jam it in. Alas.

Special Teams: The Devils’ power play had two opportunities and did not do a whole lot with them. There was a shot or two that seemed rather dangerous, but the Devils struggled to gain the Blues’ zone, much less get set up for an attack. The Devils’ penalty kill was more active. They had four penalties to kill, including a body scissors by Rooney on Vince Dunn, a high-stick off an offensive zone faceoff by Wood, and two needless defensive zone calls on Damon Severson (hook) and Subban (trip). Only Severson’s hook ended up being costly as the Blues scored with a few seconds left on that kill. Tyler Bozak re-directed a shot on net, Schneider stopped it, Dunn buried the rebound off the iron and in. The Devils’ PK was doing OK before then. After the goal, they were OK as well. There some stretches where St. Louis was threatening but more often than not, the Devils kept them at bay. It could have been better. I would have like to have seen better discipline given the opponent and that the Devils were holding onto a lead at the time of each call. But it was not too costly or so abhorrent that it was an issue.

Video Game Night: The Devils’ has their Video Game Night with all kinds of graphical and musical call backs to many classic video games. Not a lot of recent ones, but I think the theme was more meant for the people who grew up on games and played them from childhood and some still play as an adult. Such as myself as I could recall most of the referenced songs and looks the team went with. To put it another way, I felt old. But the Devils were doing well against the Blues so I was pretty happy regardless.

One Final Thought: I hope the Devils have plenty left in the tank for tomorrow night. This was a very good team win. They have a game tomorrow. Our Hated Rivals await, somewhat rested for this one. The Devils ended multi-year losing streaks to Columbus and St. Louis within the last thirty days. Spoiling Our Hated Rivals would be a tantalizing achievement amid this lost season.

Your Take: The Devils beat the Blues, 4-2, and achieved plenty of firsts in the process. I was pleased with the win. Now I want to know your take. Who impressed you the most tonight? How do you think Wood looked on the first line? Do you think Bratt will keep Colton Parayko’s jock strap in a container for safekeeping? What do you want the Devils to learn from this game before they go face Our Hated Rivals tomorrow night? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about tonight’s game in the comments.

Categories
Sports

Baseball Builds Early Lead, Defeats NYU by 7-2 Count

WAYNE, N.J. – The William Paterson baseball team (4-1) seized a first-inning lead and never looked back, defeating visiting NYU (1-1) by a 7-2 score March 5.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • The Violets took advantage of a two-out walk and double for a 1-0 edge during their initial at-bat.
  • That lead was short lived, however, because the Pioneers answered with a three-run first. Junior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) opened the frame with a double to left center and junior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) promptly followed with an RBI-single into right-center field. Junior right fielder Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) dropped a double inside the right-field line, and with two outs junior designated hitter Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) lined a two-run single into center.
  • WP made it a 4-1 game after two innings when sophomore second baseman Colin Lombardo (Edison, N.J./Edison) led off with a base hit, moved to third on a pair of wild pitches, and touched home when junior catcher Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) singled to center.
  • Two more runs crossed the plate for William Paterson in the bottom of the fourth. Junior shortstop Greg Cuevas (West New York, N.J./St. Mary (Rutherford)) was issued a seven-pitch base on balls, he stole second and scored via a DiGirolamo triple to the center-field fence. Two batters later, DiGirolamo scampered home on a ground ball to the right side.
  • NYU had a double and single with two outs during the top half of the sixth, making it a 6-2 margin.
  • Cuevas singled in Lombrado, who had launched a triple to center, for the game’s final run in the home half of the eighth.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Lombardo went 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored, while DiGirolamo finished 2-for-4 while posting a double, triple, RBI and pair of runs. Eight different Pioneers accounted for the team’s 11 hits.
  • Junior Jason Palmeri (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) faced one batter in the fifth, finishing with a line of one run allowed on two hits and five walks with seven strikeouts during his 4.0 innings as the starter. Freshman Elian Mendez (Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) tossed 3.0 innings of one-run ball during his first career appearance, surrendering three hits while striking out six for the victory (1-0). Senior Jack DeFouw (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) handled the final 2.0 scoreless innings, giving up two hits while punching out one batter.
  • DiGirolamo moved into a tie for fifth place on the WP chart with his 12th career triple.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson plays a pair of home games against Keene State Sunday, March 8, starting at 11:00 a.m.
Categories
Sports

Shut Down: Robin Lehner Keeps Devils Scoreless in 3-0 Loss to Golden Knights

First Period: Travis Zajac had a golden opportunity in his first shift of the save, as Jesper Boqvist found Zajac all alone in the faceoff circle to the right of Robin Lehner. Zajac tried going glove side, but Lehner knocked it away.

Josh Jacobs played the puck ahead but turned it over to the Golden Knights just past four minutes into the period. The Hischier line was able to disrupt the Vegas zone entry twice, however, getting the puck to their own offensive zone the first time and causing an offsides the second time.

Just under six minutes into the period, P.K. Subban turned the puck over in the defensive zone, and the Golden Knights had an opportunity to continue their attack. The puck was won back by the Devils, but Kevin Rooney was tripped as he left the defensive zone, giving the puck back. Blackwood went down to the ice with his pad stretched to the post to deny the one-on-none for Stephenson.

MacKenzie Blackwood had a series of terrific stops with seven minutes to play in the period. The Zacha line was being pressured with the Severson pairing. After stopping a point shot, Paul Stastny picked up the rebound and forced Blackwood to cover a seemingly impossible stretch to prevent a backhand goal.

The Devils took the first penalty of the game with five minutes and 53 seconds to play in the first period for tripping. Connor Carrick took the call while defending the Vegas rush. It was away from the puck, as Nick Cousins was trying to get positioned around the net.

On the penalty kill, Travis Zajac and Joey Anderson started the two minutes with Mueller and Severson. They got the puck out of the zone multiple times, preventing the Knights from getting shots on net. When the second unit of Zacha, Rooney, Mermis, and Subban came on, Subban failed to prevent a pass from behind the net from being sent to the lower half of the faceoff circle, forcing Blackwood to make a save. The Devils killed the rest of the penalty.

Through one period, the shot count was 11 to eight, Golden Knights, while the attempts were much more in their favor at a 65.63 CF% against the Devils.

Second Period: Max Pacioretty opened the scoring with his 31st of the season just 45 seconds into the period, assisted by William Karlsson. Pacioretty hit the corner from the top of the faceoff circle on a rush. 1-0, Golden Knights.

Jesper Bratt had a great opportunity to score six and a half minutes into the period, as the Devils broke up a breakout and Bratt was all alone with Lehner. Bratt chose to go backhand in the slot, but his shot went over the net

Max Pacioretty took a hooking penalty after Mirco Mueller blocked a shot, and the Devils went to the power play for the first time of the game, having had a lot of trouble getting anything going at even strength.

Jack Hughes took an early shot from high in the faceoff circle with Travis Zajac in front, but Zajac couldn’t get his stick on the shot and Lehner covered. After the second faceoff, the Devils had space to shoot but didn’t make anything of their opportunities. Nico Hischier hit a post on a rebound, and Nikita Gusev came on for the second minute with the first wave of the power play. Gusev took a slap shot that got blocked, and the Knights were able to soon after take the puck and clear it, effectively ending the power play having registered two shots.

Max Pacioretty took a second minor penalty of the period for holding Travis Zajac as Zajac tried to break out with six minutes and 12 seconds to play. Jack Hughes sent a bad pass to Nico Hischier early on, allowing the Golden Knights to converge on the puck in the corner and get a clear 35 seconds into the power play. With the first unit still on the ice, the Golden Knights stifled the second entry, and the Devils reset with their second unit for the last 45 seconds. Miles Wood was called for offsides with 33 seconds remaining. Zacha lost the draw, and McNabb cleared the puck to Subban, who allowed Zacha to dump in. Zacha spun away from a defenseman and played to Gusev, who tried to set up Bratt in the high slot – but he deferred to Subban. Subban’s blast from the point was turned away and cleared, ending the power play.

MacKenzie Blackwood had an amazing save, as William Karlsson played a puck to Nicolas Roy behind the net, who centered a pass for Max Pacioretty in the slot. Blackwood made the stop, and fell on the puck to freeze play. Pacioretty came very close to getting his second goal of the game, but Blackwood was on point.

The period ended 1-0, with the shots 20-19, Devils.

Third Period: Travis Zajac lost the opening draw, but turned play around after the Golden Knights entered the zone. The Devils’ counterattack failed to get a shot off, however, and the Golden Knights caught the defense sleeping early on. With Severson on his weak side, William Karlsson took a pass from Daniel Roy and sniped past MacKenzie Blackwood on a one-timer for his 15th goal of the season, and the 100th of his career. Max Pacioretty got his 34th assist on the season with the secondary assist. 2-0, Knights.

The Devils had trouble getting much going in the third period, as the Golden Knights were mostly able to just use their structure to prevent the Devils from approaching the net. The Devils were not eager to shoot, and only had a couple shots through the first several minutes of the third period.

The Golden Knights extended their lead with eleven minutes to play with the fourth line on the ice against the Zacha line. With the Knights shooting away on Blackwood, they were able to get behind Subban and Mueller – and Ryan Reaves chipped a rebound past Blackwood to make it 3-0, Vegas. William Carrier and Tomas Nosek got the assists.

Brandon Pirri took a minor penalty for slashing Jack Hughes’ stick with just over six minutes to play. The Devils were doing terribly at creating chances, and the power play started with the second unit. Pavel Zacha found Nikita Gusev with a cross-ice pass, who slid it across to Jesper Bratt for a wrist shot with Miles Wood in front. Lehner made the save and covered the rebound. After the second faceoff, a Subban shot was turned away and the Knights got a clear, and then a pass from the corner to the point split Subban and Bratt. The first unti came on for the second minute, but Nico Hischier couldn’t hold a soft pass with 35 seconds, and the Devils were offsides with 25 seconds. The Knights killed the penalty, and after it expired a Damon Severson one-timer hit Zach Whitecloud high, and the referees blew play dead after the Knights cleared the zone. Whitecloud went to the locker room.

With under two minutes to play, the Devils were still managing to get out-possessed by the Golden Knights, despite being down three goals and barely having even pressured the Knights in the third period. In the final minute, the Hischier line attempted to forecheck, and Josh Jacobs gave up possession with a dump-in at 40 seconds. In the final 30 seconds, P.K. Subban sent it ahead on the breakout, and Jesper Bratt created a one-timer for Pavel Zacha from the blueline with seven seconds to play. Lehner stopped and covered it. Zacha chipped the puck off the draw to Bratt, but it couldn’t be handled, and Nikita Gusev sent a last-second shot wide from the boards.

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: Check out Knights on Ice for their recap.

Few Positives: Only a few Devils managed to break even in possession tonight. They were: Pavel Zacha (50.00), Jesper Bratt (52.00), Nico Hischier (57.14) and Kyle Palmieri (58.62). However, Zacha and Bratt had very unfavorable xGF% at 22.48 and 26.15, respectively. Five Devils had an xGF% above 50. They were Connor Carrick (50.75), Jack Hughes (53.76), Joey Anderson (59.47), Nico Hischier (62.65), and Kyle Palmieri (69.35). These numbers were very unimpressive when you take into account that how low the xGF totals were for some of those five. With Carrick on the ice, the Devils had 0.42 xGF. With Hughes, only 0.59. And with Anderson, just 0.53.

Nico Hischier was the best player for the Devils, with one of the more spirited efforts in the third period, a great showing on the power play, and consistent defense early on before the team started to break down. He also led the team in individual expected goals (ixG) at 0.57 in all situations, with the nearest being Hughes at 0.39 (which I noticed was mostly off of Hischier passes). Nico also had two rebound attempts and created one rebound according to Natural Stat Trick, being very active on the first power play. He came closest to scoring for the Devils there, ringing a shot off the post after he collected a rebound, on a play that was mostly created by him.

MacKenzie Blackwood saved 29 of 32 for a .906 save percentage on an expected 2.98 goals against. Considering how weak the Devils defense is, it should come as no surprise that Blackwood turned in what ended up a flashy but imperfect performance in a game where perfect wouldn’t have even been enough.

Defensive Culprits: Dakota Mermis had a very negative effect on first line performance tonight. In the five minutes Dakota Mermis played with Nico Hischier, the teams tied in shots and attempts, but the Devils allowed four scoring chances and two high danger ones while earning just two scoring chances and none of the high-danger variety. In those five minutes, the Devils had an expected goals ratio of 0.08-0.35 for a 17.86 xGF%. In the minutes played without Dakota Mermis on the ice, the Devils with Nico Hischier had an 84.72 xGF%. The Devils with Hischier registered three high-danger chances with Mirco Mueller also on the ice, posting a 0.66-0.13 xG ratio for a 83.10 xGF%.

Bad Combinations: The Carrick-Jacobs pairing was not a good mix with the Zajac line tonight. In the four minutes and 31 seconds that Josh Jacobs played with Travis Zajac, the Devils got outshot 5-0, and didn’t even register an attempt with a 0.00 CF%. The Zajac line with Carrick and Jacobs allowed five scoring chances and two high danger scoring chances, accounting for all but one scoring chance against for the Devils’ bottom pairing. The 0.32 xGA with Zajac’s line accounted for all but 0.09 of the xGA accumulated by the Carrick-Jacobs pairing.

The Mueller-Subban pairing might have done well with the top line, but they played awful behind the Zacha line. On the goal allowed, both Subban and Mueller strayed from the net and allowed the Golden Knights’ crash to gain position. Ryan Reaves was practically uncontested when he scored, having no defensemen between him and Blackwood. With Mueller, Pavel Zacha and the Devils had 0.89 xGA and a 18.56 xGF%.

Boqvist and Wood…: The attempt of tonight by Alain Nasreddine at a new iteration of Travis Zajac’s line failed pretty miserably. In 11:01 together, the Devils took five attempts and allowed 15 for a 25.00 CF%, getting outshot eight to two, and allowing a goal on a 0.22-0.62 xGF-xGA ratio and 26.01 xGF%. Jesper Boqvist, in his first game back, was one of five Devils to not register a shot. I think that this line needs a more dynamic presence than Miles Wood, as his defensive zone coverage leaves a lot to be desired. I think that Alain Nasreddine should consider using Michael McLeod and Joey Anderson with Zajac, as he would be an improvement for them over Kevin Rooney.

Superior Coaching: Peter DeBoer knew how to beat Alain Nasreddine tonight. By taking away space to get the puck close to the net, he exposed the Devils’ system’s lack of ability to cycle the puck to create breakdowns. Unforced errors, bouncing passes (too often from Jack Hughes on the power play), missed zone holds all contribute to the picture of sloppy play the Devils gave us tonight. When that continually happens across 60 minutes, it will almost always be impossible to beat a team so devoted to structure. This could be seen most significantly in the third period, when the Golden Knights outshot the Devils 12 to seven while only allowing six shots in 18 minutes of even strength play with the Devils already down a goal. By halfway through the third, they were down three goals, but failed to swing possession or shots in their favor regardless afterwards. DeBoer shut Nasreddine down tonight, and this will probably happen a few more times against playoff teams as this season winds down.

Your Thoughts: What did you think about tonight’s game. Did you miss John Hayden? Were you disappointed in what you saw from Boqvist on the Zajac line? Do you think Nasreddine should have been more aggressive in making changes? Is he avoiding in-game line adjustments too much? Does this feel like the beginning of a return to a more normal level of performance for MacKenzie Blackwood? How would this have looked if Cory Schneider was in net? How did the breakouts and entries look to you? How did the effort in the third make you feel? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Whether you followed along in the gamethread, or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog, thanks for reading. This is Chris – goodnight.

Categories
Sports

Sensational Schneider Shut Out Anaheim Ducks in 3-0 New Jersey Devils Win

As the New Jersey Devils played (and lost) in Los Angeles last night, Cory Schneider was the appropriate choice to start tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. Since his return to the New Jersey roster, Schneider has been great. It has been just two appearances but you cannot knock just three goals allowed in two games. Schneider was even better tonight. He was locked in from the get-go and stopped all 34 shots the Ducks placed on net. Schneider shut out Anaheim as the Devils end their games against California teams this season with a 3-0 victory.

Much of what has plagued Schneider earlier this season and in past seasons was not present tonight. He made no real mistakes handling the puck on his stick. He was not guessing very much in the crease. He did not try to overcompensate with a hard push to one side when a play went that way, with one notable exception in the third period. His glove was well placed. His rebound control was quite good. This was very much a vintage Schneider performance whereupon he demonstrated how good he could be. Outside of one opportunity, he was not going to be beaten tonight. And on that one opportunity, Jack Hughes denied Rickard Rakell an empty net attempt after Schneider slid out of the crease from a Getzlaf deke. But that was the only time Schneider was out of control. All other times, he was very much in control of the game.

Schneider also faced a variety of shots. As the game went on and the Ducks became more desperate, they tilted the ice more and more against the Devils. Unlike previous games last month (or all season), this was somewhat expected as opposed to a result of just inept play. Even so, Schneider came up big on several opportunities. A blocked shot yielded a breakaway for Ryan Getzlaf in the second period; Schneider tracked him and denied him on a shot deflected high. A one-on-one for Rakell after Damon Severson was picked at his blueline also in the second period led to Schneider following Rakell and forcing his shot wide. Just before Josh Jacobs was whistled for a high sticking penalty, Jakob Silfverberg set up Christian Djoos for a shot in traffic and Schneider robbed him with the glove. During said penalty kill, Schneider stayed calm and collected when chaos happened on his doorstep amid a rebound. Schneider stopped the routine shots, the open chances, and everything in between. He was sensational. I was pleased to see it.

I was also pleased with how the Devils carried themselves in this game. As opposed to previous efforts in the past few weeks where the goalie had to stand on his head because the skaters were not going to help him, the Devils skaters offered support. They battled Ducks for pucks many times and forced several turnovers. They never really stopped attacking until the final ten minutes or so, which helped lighten some of the pressure. While the on-ice attempt differentials for much of the Devils were not good by the end of regulation, there were fewer horrible miscues than usual. Their special teams really helped them out. They converted their first two power play goals; both from great zone entries and passes by Jesper Bratt to Pavel Zacha for the finish. They killed back-to-back penalties and even scored – Nico Hischier tipping in a Connor Carrick shot – right after the second one ended. This was not like previous games where the goalie stood on his head and the Devils got fortunate a few times to score. No, they played a competitive game and earned this win.

As I noted on Friday, the schedule is going to get much harder from here on out. To that end, I am happy the Devils were able to put in this kind of performance and support their goaltender for a decisive win.

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: Check out Anaheim Calling for their take on tonight’s game.

Two Goals, Five Shots, Six Attempts, Less than 14 Minutes: Pavel Zacha finished two great passes for two power play goals this evening. He had a couple of opportunities for the hat trick, which would have been awesome for him. A Ducks turnover in their own zone led to Bratt setting up Zacha in the slot. Zacha sent the puck across to Gusev, who was robbed by John Gibson on the shot. Selfishly, I wanted Zacha to try his luck and fire at the goalie straight-up. Unselfishly, I respect that Zacha made the right call as setting up a one-timer to make the goalie move is generally a good play. Later in the second, he was found at the crease in close and Gibson had to scramble to deny him.

Unfortunately, it appears that Zacha was hurt at some point in the game. He only played three shifts for 1:50 in the third period according to the NHL’s time on ice report. When he left the ice with 8:55 left to play, that was his last shift. It is bad news as Zacha was having a very good game and it was continued evidence that Gusev, Bratt, and Zacha should be kept together. Even with the early exit, Zacha led the Devils in shots with five and attempts with six. That speaks to how well Zacha was performing this evening in Anaheim.

There is some good news. After the game, interim head coach Alain Nasreddine said Zacha had a minor injury as reported in this tweet by Corey Masisak. That should mean if he misses some time, then it would not be for long.

Consistency, Nasreddine, Consistency: Jesper Bratt’s two (primary) assists night means he now has four goals and three assists since his silly healthy scratch.

As far as other streaks, Nikita Gusev’s point streak is still alive too. He picked up the secondary on Zacha’s second power play goal, making it a six-game run of nine points now. The run of play was slightly against the Zacha line in 5-on-5, but they were not pinned back a lot. They did their damage in the first two periods and ended up slightly below 50%. It was a good night in 5-on-5 and they shined on the power play.

A Streak Breaker: Nico Hischier’s tip-in of Carrick’s shot ended a nine-game goalless drought for the center. It was his first since his injury from the Dallas game on February 1. It helped seal the game and it definitely drained the intensity of the Ducks after being denied on two straight power plays.

The combination of Kyle Palmieri, Jack Hughes, and Hischier has not worked out all that well. The line was forced to play a lot of defense tonight. Whatever few opportunities they created, they could not finish. Most memorably was a great pass by Hughes to Palmieri where Palmieri had Gibson beat on the backhand but he missed the net. Perhaps the goal will help Hischier get going. I suspect this line needs a change soon because while it may make sense in theory, it has not worked in reality over the past two weeks.

An Under-the-Radar Comeback: Joey Anderson had a bad game in Los Angeles. He had a very good game in Anaheim. The line of Anderson, Travis Zajac, and Miles Wood was New Jersey’s best from the perspective of on-ice attempt differential and expected goals differential. The Devils were behind the Ducks in attempts, 54-66, and expected goals, 2.39 to 2.98 in 5-on-5 play. But when Zajac’s line hit the ice, they were constantly going forward. Anderson had the best line; the Devils out-attempted the Ducks 19-7 and out-shot them 12-3 when he was on the ice. Anderson himself had four shots, including two scoring chances in the third period. He was not far from scoring himself but John Gibson denied him. On special teams, Anderson put in some good work on the penalty kill including a very important stick-check during the Kevin Rooney minor penalty. After an invisible night in L.A., Anderson did rather well in the O.C.

The Season Debut: Josh Jacobs was called up earlier in this trip and he was dressed tonight. Fredrik Claesson was ruled out as he was banged up. Jacobs made his season debut with New Jersey and he had an active one. His mobility was apparent as a replacement of Claesson. He was paired with Carrick, which made for a pairing of two right-handed shots. Jacobs showed no resistence to pinching in down low as he did so a number of times this evening. He was OK in his own end and when he was on the ice, the Devils were out-attempted just 21-24 and the Devils out-shot the Ducks 12-9. By no means was he or the pairing with Carrick a detriment to the Devils’ cause this evening. He made no memorably bad errors in judgment (you may correct me on this). In terms of the scoresheet, Jacobs registered two shots, one missed shot, and a high-sticking penalty on Andrew Agozzino as Schneider made that sweet glove save on Djoos. I would not go as far as to say that Jacobs should stay in the lineup for very long. However, I would say I prefer him over Claesson and I thought he did well enough in his debut.

You Wish You Were Carey PriceLate in the second period, Kevin Rooney was chasing a dumped in puck as John Gibson was behind the net to play it. Gibson moved the puck and then pretty much dropped Rooney with a hit. As Rooney was on the ice, Gibson gave him another shot as two more Ducks went in to vent their disagreement. Gibson was appropriately given an interference penalty as he did literally deny Rooney a chance to go after the puck legally. I thought he should have been given more for that additional and unnecessary shot. At least he was not trying to punch him in the head multiple times like The Puglist, Carey Price.

Alas, out of the three power plays tonight, this was the one where the Devils did the least. They registered no shots on net, much less a goal to punish the goaltender for his crime. Still, I have little to complain about with the power play tonight. They did go 2-for-3 on their situations and 2-for-2 on shots. You cannot ask for much better in terms of performance. Given how slick Bratt’s passes to Zacha were, you cannot ask for much better in terms of aesthetics either.

Why?: Prior to this game, the Devils announced they called up Jesper Boqvist from Binghamton. Boqvist did not play. I get that traveling cross-country on short notice is difficult and tiring. But if he was not meant to play, then why not call him up on an off-day? Would he not have been more useful playing in a big game in Binghamton today instead? Between this and Jacobs being called up to be a scratch before tonight, I believe the Devils used two of their four non-emergency call-ups. I do not get it unless there are more players hurt than they are letting on. Even so, wait until there is someone out and then the Devils could use an emergency call up instead of burning of one of their four call ups. In the bigger scheme of things, this may not mean much. It certainly had no impact on tonight’s game. It is still something that irked me prior to the puck dropping tonight.

Turnover, Turnover, Turnover: The Devils helped themselves quite a bit by forcing plenty of turnovers from the Ducks. While the Devils were certainly guilty of those, the Ducks were as loose with possession if not moreso. This meant a lot of opportunities for Hughes to steal pucks, Devils defensemen to keep attacking movements alive at the blueline, and find some surprising spaces for fast skaters like Bratt and Wood. Having both the Devils and Ducks scramble for pucks in the corners even in their own end was a benefit for the Devils as it meant they were not just teeing up great shot after shot on Schneider. Gibson played fairly well as the guys in front of him were not that cool under pressure at points. I would have like the Devils to have kept that pressure going more in the third period, but it was what it was.

Follow Jeff & Binghamton: Binghamton had a huge weekend. Earlier today, the recently acquired Zane McIntyre shut out Bridgeport and the recently acquired Janne Kuokkanen scored the game’s only goal. Check out Jeff’s recap of the game here. You can view all of the Binghamton-specific coverage on our site here. New Jersey does not have anything to really play for. Binghamton does. Plus, it is serendipitous that both the New Jersey and Binghamton teams won with shutouts today.

One Last Thought: The last time Schneider had a shutout was on February 21, 2019 against Ottawa. Another year-plus long drought was broken for Schneider. Thankfully, no one on New Jersey tried to score on him unlike the last time in Anaheim. Although an accidental deflection by Severson in front did happen, Schneider swallowed that up and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Your Take: The Devils won 3-0 against Anaheim and did not play poorly. Schneider was great. Zacha had a very strong game prior to his exit. Bratt made a big impact again as a part of the power play. The penalty kill was solid again. The Devils should feel good about this one.

Now that you know my take on this evening’s win, I want to know yours. What is your take about this win? Who do you think played the best among the skaters today? How well do you think Jacobs did this evening? What should the Devils learn from this game before they play their last game of this road trip on Tuesday in Las Vegas? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about tonight’s win in the comments.