Adam Henrique

It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT


It’s debatable that the New Jersey Devils were a normal shootout record away from making the playoffs in 2013-14, but the bottom line is that they were pretty close.

With a 35-29-18 record (including a stunning 0-12 mark in the shootout), the Devils finished with 88 standings points, leaving them tied for 10th in the East (although they would have taken the tiebreaker from Ottawa if that mattered). The Devils finished five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings for wild card spots.

That’s not to say that the Devils were a great team with awful luck. Instead, it might be better to describe them as a one-dimensional team that lacked the goaltending needed to make their defensive strengths pay off. New Jersey tied Calgary for the third-fewest shots per game (26.8) while limiting opponents to an NHL-low 25.5 per contest, so chances rarely happened for either side during their games.

While that doesn’t exactly sound fun, it could prove to be an effective formula if Cory Schneider backs up that mammoth extension he received this offseason and the team improves on offense.

It’s tough to imagine Jaromir Jagr replicating his astounding work from 2013-14, but the Devils are likely banking on improvements from within (maybe at least a sign of life from Ryane Clowe?) and nice outputs from Mike Cammalleri and injury-ravaged former star Martin Havlat. There are quite a few ifs at work for the offense – example: will Adam Henrique make another step in the right direction? – but it’s conceivable that things might be a little better next season.

Unfortunately, their defense doesn’t look as stout now that sorely underrated defenseman Mark Fayne is a member of the Edmonton Oilers. The Devils tend to make the most of their defensive groups, so don’t be surprised if they’re still stingy.

In broader terms, the Devils seem like they’ll make their living being “pesky,” at least if Schneider can carry a workload that will conjure up comparisons to departed icon Martin Brodeur. Much has been – fairly – made about the struggles Brodeur faced the last few seasons, yet if things don’t go well, the pressure could really start to wear on Schneider.

(Some might even call it a “be careful what you wish for” moment for a guy who’s faced a lot of roadblocks to becoming the No. 1 goalie.)

This team seems just as likely to be a bubble team as it could be a cellar dweller, but here’s one near-certainty: the Devils will probably have a better shootout record in 2014-15.

Numerous jobs up for grabs in Devils camp


There may be more than a few jobs up for grabs during training camp with the New Jersey Devils and the team’s slew of prospects know they’ll have a shot to cash in.

One area that will see a lot of competition is defense. The Devils lost Anton Volchenkov to a buyout and Mark Fayne to Edmonton in free agency. That means guys like Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson, and Jon Merrill will likely graduate to the big leagues full-time.

As Devils coach Peter DeBoer told Mike Morreale of, they need guys to show they’re ready to make the jump.

“I think the organization sets the table with opportunity, and over my time as coach the one thing I’ve seen is opportunity for players to come in and play,” said DeBoer. “Some of the young players grabbed it and ran with it, like Jon Merrill and Adam Henrique (in 2010-11), and some haven’t yet. We need a few of these guys to do that this year.”

With a couple of guys gone on the blue line and possible openings at forward, the Devils want guys to be pushing to get in the lineup and force DeBoer to make tough decisions.

Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky, and Peter Harrold make up the veteran portion of the defense for the Devils so youth will need to be king. After how Merrill and Gelinas played for portions of last season, things are looking up.

Cammalleri signs with Devils — five years, $25 million


Mike Cammalleri wanted to cash in on the open market. Mission accomplished.

The New Jersey Devils signed the 32-year-old forward to a five-year, $25 million deal. Cammalleri spent the past two and a half seasons with Calgary and had 89 goals and 89 assists in 216 games with the Flames. He had been with Montreal and Los Angeles previously.

Cammalleri joins a Devils team in need of some extra offense. Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique led the way with the team last season and both Jagr and Elias aren’t exactly young anymore. Adding Cammalleri to that mix helps provide more punch to their top-six forwards and a guy who can score and distribute the puck.

Jagr keeps playing because he ‘wants to have fun’


The career of Jaromir Jagr is a fascinating thing to look at and at 42 years old, he’s showing no signs of letting up.

Jagr is playing for the Czech Republic at the 2014 World Championships and recently re-signed with the New Jersey Devils for another season. After starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990, his philosophy for keeping at it is pretty simple as Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press shared.

I want to have fun. As long as you have fun, everything is a lot easier,” Jagr said. “But you have to work hard, you have to love the game, and that’s what you do.”

Jagr said one of the things that keeps him ahead of the game at an older age is being smarter when playing and look for any advantage he can get. With so many younger, faster players out there, being the “wise veteran” has its place as well.

This past season with the Devils, he led the team in scoring with 67 points. He potted 24 goals and was one behind 23-year-old Adam Henrique for the team lead.

While guys like Teemu Selanne are hanging it up and Martin Brodeur is coming to the end of his road, Jagr just keeps on rolling along. Wonder if he’s talked to Chris Chelios about playing until you’re almost 50.

Get your game notes: Wild at Blackhawks


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Minnesota Wild starting at 9:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Wild defeated Colorado in seven games to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Their Game 7 win at Colorado on Wednesday ended an eight-game road losing streak in playoff games, and raised their record in their last 14 road games to 2-12. The Blackhawks, who won all three games at United Center versus St. Louis in the first round, are 14-2 at home since the beginning of their Stanley Cup-winning run last postseason.

• Fourteen of the 46 first-round games went to overtime. Both the Wild and Blackhawks went to overtime four times in the opening round, the most among any of the remaining teams, and became the 11th and 12th teams in NHL history to go to OT four or more times in one series. Minnesota played 21:04 of extra hockey, going 2-2 in those games. Chicago played more than three times that much (65:09), also going 2-2.

• This will be the second-ever postseason meeting between the Wild and Blackhawks; Chicago beat Minnesota last year in the first round in five games, outscoring the Wild 17-7. Chicago’s lone loss in the series came in Game 3, a 3-2 OT loss at Minnesota. The Blackhawks outscored the Wild 12-4 at home in the series, scoring five goals in two of the games and holding Minnesota to no more than two goals in all three home games. Chicago has won 11 straight playoff series with home-ice advantage dating back to 1993, when they were swept by St. Louis in the Norris Division Semifinals.

• Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp (one goal) was held in check by the Blues in round one. However, he was the star of last season’s series versus Minnesota, scoring five goals in five games, on his way to a playoff-leading 10 goals. Since 2009, the Blackhawks are 23-4 in the playoffs when Sharp scores a goal.

• One Blackhawks career postseason record was broken, and another was matched versus St. Louis. In Game 4, winger Patrick Kane scored his third-career overtime goal, tying him with Jeremy Roenick for the most in franchise history. Center Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goals for Chicago in Games 5 and 6. The second of those gave him nine for his career, one more than Roenick for the franchise high.

• In Game 7 versus Colorado, Wild winger Nino Niederreiter scored two goals, the second of which was the OT winner. Niederreiter became the third player in NHL history whose first two postseason goals came in a Game 7. (Pittsburgh’s Jiri Hrdina, 1991; New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, 2012). Elias Sports Bureau

• For Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who made one save in relief of the injured Darcy Kuemper and was credited with the victory in Game 7, the “Madhouse on Madison” has been a house of horrors. In seven starts since the 2007-08 season (all in the regular season), he is 0-5-2, with a 3.81 GAA and .873 save%. In his only start with Minnesota (Apr. 3), he allowed two goals on 26 shots in a shootout loss.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (4-2, 1.98 GAA, .935 save%) was one of three goaltenders with a goals-against average under 2.00 and save% over .930 in the first round. (Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Philadelphia’s Steve Mason were the others.). In the past two postseasons, Crawford has the most starts (29), wins (20) and goals allowed (60) of any goalie, and the second-most shots faced (889) and saves (829). Only Rask has faced more shots (946) and made more saves (890) during that span.

• The Blackhawks had the best penalty kill among all teams in the first round (27/29, 93.1%) after finishing the regular season T-10th worst in the NHL (81.4%). The Wild also improved significantly in the opening round, with the fourth-best PK efficiency (22/25, 88.0%) after posting the league’s fourth-worst PK (78.8%) during the regular season.