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Devils open training camp with sense of excitement

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — As the New Jersey Devils arrived for the start of training camp Thursday, there was a sense of optimism for the first time in a while.

The Devils were 44-29-9 last season and finished with 97 points and the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Although the team was ousted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, it was the team’s first postseason appearance in six seasons.

Making the postseason last season is the main reason for the upbeat attitude among the team as new season begins.

”I think we were all looking forward to getting back here,” said forward Taylor Hall, the reigning NHL Most Valuable Player who had 39 goals and 54 assists last season.

”We created a buzz and excitement here. We had a little success under our belts. Getting everyone back again is exciting. There’s a lot more interest in us. I think it’s my job to get the younger guys ready to take the next step.”

One of the young guys that Hall is referring to is center Nico Hischier, the former No. 1 draft pick overall by the Devils in 2017.

Hischier had 20 goals and added 32 assists last season as a rookie, mostly playing on the same line with Hall. The 19-year-old Hischier was a contender for the Calder Award as rookie of the year, an award captured by Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders.

”I’m definitely excited,” Hischier said. ”I think we all want to keep how we finished last year. I just have to play my game. I just want to be stronger this year and improve my shot. I definitely know all the guys here. I didn’t know them last year. That definitely helps. It’s going to be a tough training camp, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Hischier is also looking ahead to a preseason trip to his native Switzerland Oct. 1.

”That should be fun,” Hischier said.

Although the Devils reached the playoffs last season, it isn’t the ultimate goal of this young team.

”We want to be better,” said veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who begins his 10th NHL season and third with New Jersey. ”We want to be better than eighth place in the conference. It starts with having a good training camp. We need to have a successful training camp. We were embarrassed the year before and came out last year, working hard in training camp. We’re going to continue to get better.”

At this point last season, veteran center Brian Boyle was feeling a little fatigued and went off to have blood tests that revealed he had chronic myeloid leukemia, a rare form of bone marrow cancer.

The 33-year-old Boyle received medication to treat the cancer, but did not return to the ice until November. He managed to finish the season with 13 goals and 10 assists and was the recipient of the Masterton Trophy for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of hockey.

Boyle begins training camp this year with the illness in the rearview mirror.

”It’s a nice feeling to know that I don’t have to think about it and it’s in the past,” Boyle said. ”I’m feeling good and I’m excited to be back. We’re not satisfied with just making the playoffs. Yes, that was an accomplishment, but we want more.

”We want to finish higher in the standings and win in the playoffs. I look forward to every training camp. I hope I get about seven or eight more. I love doing this and I want to do it for a long time to come.”

Boyle’s contract is up at the end of this season.

Another prominent member of the Devils is goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who was the team’s starting goalie when Cory Schneider went down with an injury. Kinkaid responded by posting a 26-10-3 record and a 2.77 goals-against average.

While Schneider’s availability in training camp remains a question, the 29-year-old Kinkaid is now a proven commodity for the Devils.

”I want to pick up where I finished the season,” Kinkaid said. ”I’m very confident right now. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. Everyone has to buy into getting better. I’m pretty confident that nothing is going to get past me.”

Devils coach John Hynes said that he has one goal in mind with the start of training camp.

”We want to build a solid foundation,” said Hynes, who begins his fourth season as head coach. ”We want to work on fundamentals. Every training camp is the same. We have to work every day to establish that foundation. The guys we have in camp are expected to come here and work. It has to get to a point where they believe. I think we all have a long way to go.”

The Devils begin the season Oct. 6 against Edmonton in Sweden and their home opener is Oct. 11 against defending Stanley Cup champion Washington.

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    The Buzzer: Petersen gets first win for Kings; Skinner scores again for Sabres

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    Three Stars

    1. Cal Petersen, Los Angeles Kings. With injuries to Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell, the Kings have had to resort to their third-and fourth-string goalies Cal Petersen and Peter Budaj. On Friday night in Chicago it was Petersen getting the start and he was absolutely fantastic in a 2-1 shootout win over the Blackhawks stopping 34 shots through regulation and overtime to pick up his first NHL win. This is only the sixth win of the season for a Kings team that has struggled from the start. It also snapped what had been a three-game losing streak. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have now lost nine of their past 10 and have managed just four goals in their past four games.

    2. Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres. Things are starting to look good for the Buffalo Sabres who have now won four in a row and five of their past six thanks to a 2-1 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. At the center of this recent surge has been Jeff Skinner, their biggest offseason acquisition. His goal early in the third period on Friday was the game-tying goal and his 14th of the season, which keeps him in second place in the league’s goal-scoring race. He has been especially hot lately with five goals in his past four games and 13 goals in his past 12 games. He has been everything the team hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer.

    3. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues. After his 10-game point streak came to an end on Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Ryan O’Reilly was able to get back on the scoresheet with a pair of goals on Friday in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. O’Reilly has been the Blues’ best player by a substantial margin this season and is already up to 10 goals and 23 total points this season in only 17 games.

    Highlights of the Night

    The Washington Capitals were 3-2 overtime winners in Colorado on Friday night and it was Devante Smith-Pelly getting them on the board by finishing this beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play.

    Morgan Rielly continued his incredible season on Friday night with the game-winning overtime goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the win Toronto takes over the top spot in the NHL standings while Rielly continues to pace all defenders with 25 points in 20 games. Ottawa Senators rookie Thomas Chabot and San Jose Sharks defender Brent Burns are the only other players at the position with more than 20 points so far this season.


    This is a tremendous stat from the Washington Capitals-Colorado Avalanche game, where both Avalanche goalies are former long-time Capitals netminders, and the Capitals two goalies on Friday have barely played for the team.

    The Dallas Stars win over the Boston Bruins did not have a lot of offense, but it certainly had a lot of excitement thanks in large part to Brad Marchand. Still, it was the Stars getting the 1-0 overtime win. That is something that had never happened in Stars franchise history.



    Dallas Stars 1, Boston Bruins 0 (OT)

    Buffalo Sabres 2, Winnipeg Jets 1 (SO)

    Los Angeles Kings 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO)

    Washington Capitals 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)

    St. Louis Blues 4, Vegas Golden Knights 1

    Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (OT)

    MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Brad Marchand pulls a Roger Neilson, waves ‘white flag’

    Fox Southwest

    It was another eventful for night for Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

    After a series of penalties in the second period of his team’s 1-0 overtime loss in Dallas, he decided to pull a Roger Neilson and wave the white flag by sticking a towel on the blade of his hockey stick and … well … waving it from the penalty box. This was presumably a form of surrendering to the referees.

    Or simply Brad Marchand doing Brad Marchand things.

    His adventure started in the second period when he was given a double-minor for roughing Radek Faksa after Marchand came to the defense of his linemate, Patrice Bergeron, who was sent flying into the boards at the hands of Faksa. Bergeron briefly exited the game before returning.

    Here is the entire sequence.

    After serving his four minutes for that altercation, Marchand returned to the ice and was almost immediately sent back to the box for slashing stars goalie Ben Bishop.

    Nobody from Boston liked the call at all, with Marchand at being at the top of the list.

    That was when he waved the white flag and was sent off for 10 additional minutes.

    That might look familiar to you because you might recall former long-time NHL coach Roger Neilson doing something similar during the 1982 playoffs when he was coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

    Marchand has been in rare form this season, even for him. Earlier this month he was given a 10-minute misconduct for mocking Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons for embellishing a high-sticking call, which came after he bloodied Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller in the season-opener after Eller taunted the Bruins’ bench.

    In the playoffs the NHL had to instruct Marchand to stop licking opposing players.

    No matter what you think of Marchand as a player you at least have to admit this: It is never boring with him around.

    MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Josh Archibald suspended two games for hit on Ryan Hartman

    via NHL DoPS

    After holding a hearing with Josh Archibald earlier on Friday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety suspended the Arizona Coyotes forward two games for his “high, hard hit” on Ryan Hartman of the Nashville Predators.

    The league’s explanation video explains that Hartman’s head was “the main point of contact” and that contact with the head was avoidable.

    During the game itself (a 2-1 win for the Coyotes on Thursday), Archibald received a minor penalty. He doesn’t have a history of supplemental discipline at the NHL level, which may have prompted a lighter punishment. Hartman eventually returned to that loss for Nashville.

    Here’s the explanation video via the NHL’s DPoS:

    Archibald will be eligible to play for the Coyotes again on Nov. 23.

    MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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

    Penguins’ Matt Cullen fined $1,000 by NHL for dangerous trip

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    NEW YORK (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cullen has been fined $1,000 by the NHL for a dangerous trip of Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller.

    The infraction came during the first period of Thursday night’s game, a 4-3 victory by Tampa Bay. Cullen was assessed a minor penalty for tripping.

    In announcing the fine, the league said Friday the money will go the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.