Devils penalty kill goes from historically good to disturbingly bad

During the 2011-12 regular season, the New Jersey Devils penalty kill led the NHL with 15 shorthanded goals and stopped a league-record 89.6 percent of the opportunities they faced. If you’re the type to actually take the time to make “best penalty kill ever” lists, they’d have to be up there. Yet that regular season success should make their work against the Florida Panthers that much more disturbing: it’s a big reason the Devils find themselves down 2-1 in the series.

The Panthers started off Game 1 modestly enough, going 1-for-3. Things picked up quite a bit in Game 2, however, as Florida scored two out of its three goals on the PP (2-for-4). Tuesday presented the most startling example, however, as the Panthers connected on all three man advantages, pushing the series total to a startling 6-for-10.

So, the question is: why?

There are a few possible reasons. Perhaps Martin Brodeur has been especially soft in 5-on-4 and 4-on-3 situations. The Panthers might not be amongst the league’s best in many categories, but “power play defensemen” is an obvious strength – and not just in Brian Campbell. Maybe Kevin Dineen deserves some credit for scheming against the Devils given the concentrated nature of playoff action.

Whatever the reason may be, the Devils need to figure things out quickly or the Panthers might complete a weird accomplishment: being a third seed that upsets a sixth seed.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.