Brad Richards, Artem Anisimov

Devils’ special teams slump emerges as concern


After breaking an NHL record for penalty killing efficiency, the New Jersey Devils raised eyebrows by struggling mightily against the Florida Panthers’ power play in round one. The Devils survived that issue to advance and then turned the tide against the Philadelphia Flyers, yet special teams is becoming a concern yet again as they trail the New York Rangers 2-1 in the Eastern Conference finals.

Generating a 3-for-10 success rate isn’t towering, but either way, the Rangers have scored a PP goal in all three contests so far (including one on just two chances in Game 3). Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk scored the Devils’ only PP goal in the series as New Jersey is just 1-for-12.

Dainius Zubrus took the blame for the Dan Girardi PP tally that ended up being the game-winner for the Rangers, as he told Tom Gulitti.

Dainius Zubrus said he was “way out of position” Girardi PPG. He jumped in on lost draw, leaving Girardi with the wide open shot.

It’s great that Zubrus is owning up to that mistake, but the question must be asked: what will Devils coach Peter DeBoer do to turn the tide? So far, it’s been a tight series – Saturday’s contest was 0-0 going into the third, for example – which places every weakness under a spotlight. Special teams could make or break this series for New Jersey; so far, that factor – plus Henrik Lundqvist’s goaltending – is making the big difference.

Memorial Cup champion goalie Appleby signs with Devils

Ken Appleby
The Canadian Press via AP
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Ken Appleby never got drafted, but his efforts during the New Jersey Devils’ training camp have earned him an entry-level contract, per the Bergen Record.

Although no team saw it fit to take him before the preseason, the 20-year-old is coming off of a very strong season. He had a 2.08 GAA and .924 save percentage in 50 games with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He went on to lead them to a Memorial Cup championship and earned the the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s top goalie.

Appleby is the fifth goaltender the Devils have under contract after Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, and Yann Danis. He’ll likely begin the season in the ECHL.

Alexandre Goulet and Jacob Sweeney also participated in the Devils’ training camp on an amateur tryout basis, but both of them have been released.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL stars weigh in on McDavid

Connor McDavid
The Canadian Press via AP
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)

While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)

Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (