Miles Wood

Babcock: Devils skated Leafs ‘into the ground’

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In a battle of two unbeaten NHL teams, the New Jersey Devils prevailed on Wednesday, handing the Toronto Maple Leafs a 6-3 defeat. And Mike Babcock was not pleased.

After the game, Babcock said his team (now 3-1-0) was “skated into the ground” by the upstart Devils.

“Hockey’s fair, you get what you deserve,” Babcock said. “We got what we deserved tonight.”

Multiple Maple Leafs saw a serious difference in the speed of the 3-0-0 Devils, yet they also consistently admitted that they were out-played.

If that’s true, then Cory Schneider was far busier on paper than he was in reality.

The Devils goalie faced 50 shots on goal as the Maple Leafs went 2-for-8 on the power play (the Devils, meanwhile, fired 31 shots on Frederik Andersen and went 1-for-5). Some of that might boil down to “score effects.” Even so, you have to think that some puck luck and strong work from Schneider factored into some of that.

Fresh faces power Devils once again

Not every young Devils player who factored into this win qualifies as a rookie. Most of them count as inexperienced, though.

Take Miles Wood, for instance.

Yes, this marked the 63rd game of the 22-year-old’s career, but he’s still the sort of name that will make you do a double-take in seeing him score two goals in less than two minutes, as he did on Wednesday.

(Interestingly, he was a guy who could generate random offense in 2016-17. He managed two goals in one game against the Flyers, three points in four games in early January, and three goals in five games in December last season. That’s a big chunk of the 17 points he managed in 60 contests.)

Pavel Zacha is probably a more mainstream name as the sixth pick in 2015, but the 20-year-old is still finding his way. Wednesday was promising in that regard, as he scored two goals of his own.

Jesper Bratt continues to make (more than a funny) name for himself in adding an assist, while Will Butcher continues to live up to the early hype with two more assists.

History that will make Babcock especially mad

Brian Gibbons, 29, likely spiked Babcock’s blood pressure the most on Wednesday, scoring a rare shorthanded goal in a 5-on-3 situation.

How rare? The Devils tweeted that this was the first time it’s happened for them during the regular season:

***

Rare goals like those are something of a red flag, at least for Devils fans who are getting too ahead of themselves. (Don’t place any reckless bets just yet.)

Still, the Devils might be onto something if they choose to evoke the Penguins, an organization that once employed GM Ray Shero and head coach John Hynes.

On paper, New Jersey has one of the worst defense corps in the league. They’ve added a slew of promising forwards, especially if they have rookies beyond the obvious in Nico Hischier. After a tough 2016-17, many also believe that Schneider can bounce back to his top-10 form, maybe placing the Devils in a spot where their goalie can clean up some mistakes.

So, if some of the anger from the Maple Leafs revolves around their perception of their opponent, that might be unfair. And, really, they might be a little too harsh on their efforts, overall.

Then again, maybe Babcock’s merely wise in trying to keep his team’s rising ambitions in check?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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NHL suspends Desjardins two preseason games for illegal check to the head

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has issued another two-game preseason suspension, this time to Andrew Desjardins of the New York Rangers.

The incident occurred during the first period of Saturday’s game between the Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as Desjardins delivered a hit to the head of Miles Wood.

Desjardins received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head, and a two-game preseason ban on Monday.

“Desjardins, looking to prevent Wood from cutting to the front of the net, steps in front of Wood and delivers a high hit, which makes the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable,” stated the Department of Player Safety in a video explanation.

“It is important to note that Wood is eligible to be hit on this play, provided it is done in a legal manner. However, rather than taking an angle of approach that results in a legal, full-bodied check, Desjardins takes an angle of approach that picks Wood’s head, making it the main point of contact.”

The Rangers are in action right now versus the Philadelphia Flyers. They have one game remaining on their preseason schedule after tonight, as they take on the Flyers again tomorrow.

Desjardins was attending Rangers camp on a professional tryout.

 

Wayne Simmonds takes blame for penalty that resulted in game changing goal

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The Philadelphia Flyers had a tough second period on Saturday night on their way to a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

It all started when Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was penalized for clipping Devils forward Miles Wood on a play that the Flyers felt was a legal hip check. Following that call, forward Wayne Simmonds had a brief discussion with referee Dan O’Halloran — the referee that made the call — resulting in Simmonds picking up a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It wasn’t even a particularly heated discussion (watch it here) and seemed to be similar to ones you see happen in most games across the league on any given night without further incident.

That gave the Devils an extended 5-on-3 power play that resulted in a Kyle Palmieri power play goal to break what had been a 1-1 tie.

Just three minutes later Wood scored his first of two goals on the night to begin putting the game out of reach.

This was the entire sequence that led to the Palmieri goal.

“I’ll take blame for that,” Simmonds said after the game, via CSN Philadelphia when asked about what happened. “I didn’t agree with the penalty, I got an extra two that’s my fault. They score a goal, make it 2-1, that’s a momentum changer, I take all of the blame for that.”

Simmonds would not say what was said between the two, only adding “The referee was talking to me; I was talking to him. I am not commenting on calls; it is what it is. It happened, it’s over with now. I am not going to say anything about that.”

Simmonds has been arguably the Flyers’ best player this season with a team-leading 18 goals entering play on Sunday.

Whether that was what sent the game in the wrong direction for the Flyers or not, the most concerning thing is that was another big loss that continued their recent slump that has seen them win just three of their past 15 games. They remain one point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference but have already played three more games than them.

Video: Simmonds drops the gloves with Wood

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Wayne Simmonds is not only a productive power forward, but he’s one tough customer.

He showed that again Saturday, dropping the gloves with Miles Wood of the New Jersey Devils during the first period.

The fight occurred right after Wood drove Radko Gudas hard into the boards on the forecheck. The scrap didn’t last long, however, with Simmonds landing a few shots and then taking the Devils forward to the ice.

Simmonds was assessed an extra roughing minor.

Major victory: Habs power play erupts to defeat Devils

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.

The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.

“I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”

Alex Galchenyuk added a goal and two assists, and Alexander Radulov had three assists as Montreal ended the Devils’ three-game winning streak.

The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenseman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.

The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.

“It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”

Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.

“All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”

The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.

Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.

“It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”

Rookie defenseman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.

Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.

Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.

Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.