It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New Jersey Devils.

The New Jersey Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but there were some major concerns going into the 2013 campaign. Not the least of which was their aging goaltending duo of Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, who turned 41 and 40 respectively in May.

On top of that, they lost forward Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2012 and Adam Henrique was still a question mark despite a standout rookie season.

At first none of that seemed to faze them as they got off to a 8-1-3 start. However, New Jersey struggled offensively and began a gradual decline that turned into a free fall when Ilya Kovalchuk suffered a shoulder injury. Kovalchuk missed 11 straight games and the Devils lost 10 of them — a fact which carries even greater weight now.

The Devils bounced back when the Russian superstar rejoined them, but it was too late. New Jersey finished with 48 points in 48 games, putting them seven shy of the playoffs.

Offseason recap

Oh boy.

Their summer did start out on a positive note. The longstanding question of who would take over for Brodeur was answered when they acquired goaltender Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the ninth selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (Bo Horvat).

They also managed to re-sign Patrik Elias to a three-year, $16.5 million deal and while the Devils lost David Clarkson, they attempted to replace his offense and grit with free agents Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder.

Then Ilya Kovalchuk “retired” so he could head to the KHL. The move sent shock waves through the hockey world and while getting out of that 15-year, $100 million contract might actually be beneficial in the long-term, it certainly leaves a huge gap in their offense right now. They couldn’t replace Kovalchuk, but they did get some help by signing Jaromir Jagr.

As if their summer wasn’t eventful enough, Joshua Harris and David Blitzer purchased the New Jersey Devils from former owner Jeff Vanderbeek. Harris and Blitzer both work for private equity firms and each own a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision during Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

And … just like that, the Lightning tied things up. Wow.

Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

Video will be added when available.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.