Andy Greene

Andy Greene #6 of the New Jersey Devils is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal
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The Buzzer: Devils end Lightning winning streak; Predators shut out Jets

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Three Stars

1) Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

The Atlantic Division playoff race will be fascinating down the stretch. The Panthers captain tallied a goal and two assists as Florida skated to an entertaining 8-4 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Barkov’s goal in the opening period was not anything spectacular, but his assist in the second period to set up Frank Vatrano was impressive. Barkov batted a puck out of mid-air as he intercepted a pass then raced up ice to set up Vatrano to extend the Panthers’ lead to 5-0 at the time.

2) Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils

Every individual has their own leadership style or opts to use different methods depending on the situation. Greene implemented a lead-by-example process when he clobbered a one-timer in the Devils’ 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Devils have been a huge disappointment this season and fired their general manager Ray Shero shortly before puck drop. Expect New Jersey to sell off several pieces as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches.

3) Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators

John Hynes collected his second victory behind the bench with the Predators when Saros made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season. Practice time is severely limited in this day and age, but Hynes is starting to implement his defensive philosophy. The Predators have not played up to expectations this season but are within striking distance if Hynes can get the most out of his players.

Highlights of the Night

Huberdeau ties Olli Jokinen for the most points in franchise history with a nifty deke. He would later add an assist to become the Panthers’ all-time points leader.

Barkov displayed his incredible hand-eye coordination on this interception at the blueline and then added an assist at the other end of the ice.

Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian shows off his ability to stickhandle

Stats of the Night

Scores

Nashville Predators 1, Winnipeg Jets 0

Vancouver Canucks 4, Minnesota Wild 1

Buffalos Sabres 5, Detroit Red Wings 1

Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Arizona Coyotes 3 (SO)

Florida Panthers 8, Toronto Maple Leafs 4

New Jersey Devils 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 1

Devils won’t give out team awards this year, Lamoriello mum on why

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It’s been an, ahem, unconventional year in New Jersey, so consider that while reading the latest from The Record’s Tom Gulitti:

Gulitti notes the Devils didn’t hand out trophies during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign either; the reason given was that it wasn’t a full season.

As for this season, it’s been both odd and disappointing. The Devils began with one head coach (Peter DeBoer) and, barring something crazy, will finish with three (Lamoriello, Adam Oates, Scott Stevens). They also missed the playoffs for the third straight year, something former captain Zach Parise said he “never would’ve predicted.”

“Just because of the way things are run,” Parise said in early March, per the Star-Ledger. “I hope they can pull off something at the end of the year, or next year, and get back in.”

Your guess is as good as any to why the Devils aren’t handing out hardware. If it’s because Lamoriello and company didn’t want to celebrate a disappointing campaign, that’s fine, but New Jersey gave out trophies last year — Jaromir Jagr won MVP, Andy Greene earned Unsung Hero and Ryan Carter took home the Players’ Player — despite the fact the Devils finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, with just 35 wins.

As is often the case in New Jersey, you can probably chalk this latest decision up to Lou being Lou.

Devils ‘hope’ captain Salvador will play again this season

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As is usually the case with the Devils, details are far and few between about the status of captain Bryce Salvador. We know he hasn’t played since Nov. 10 in Boston, missing the last 31 games with what the club’s calling a lower-body injury, but anything beyond that is something of a mystery.

Here’s more, from the Star-Ledger:

That is the extent of the information the team has released and, at this point, you have to wonder if Salvador will play again this season.

“We hope so,” Devils GM/coach Lamoriello told NJ Advance Media.

What is the nature of Salvador’s injury?

“It’s hard to explain,” Lamoriello suggested. “With the style he plays, until he gets clearance from the doctors, he cannot practice.”

Salvador has periodically let it be known through text messages that he is doing okay, but not yet skating. Beyond that, he has remained mum.

Salvador, 39, is in the last of a three-year deal worth $9.5 million, one that carries an average annual cap hit of $3.167M. Signed on the strength of his impressive ’12 Stanley Cup Final run — 14 points in 24 games, averaging 22:25 TOI per — Salvador’s deal has been a bust given how the past three years have gone. Despite being named the 10th captain in franchise history, Salvador has only appeared in 94 of New Jersey’s last 176 games and has been a virtual non-factor this season.

That said, nobody is completely ruling out a return.

“I think it’s not out of the realm,” Devils d-man Andy Greene told the Star-Ledger. “He’s working hard to get things figured out and fixed.”

Brewer and Larsson, two unhappy healthy scratches on opening night

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Eric Brewer and Adam Larsson have a few things in common — both are NHL defensemen, for example — but on Thursday, they learned they shared another similarity:

Both are healthy scratches for their club’s respective season-openers.

In New Jersey, Larsson’s getting parked against the Flyers as head coach Peter DeBoer opts to go with Marek Zidlicky, Andy Greene, Eric Gelinas, Bryce Salvador, Jon Merrill and rookie Damon Severson on defense.

“This is a tough time for me because I worked out hard in the summer and I thought I had a good training camp,” Larsson said, per NorthJersey.com. “So, this is probably the toughest healthy scratch I’ve been going through. But, you can’t really focus on it too much or let it get in your way or in your head.

“I’ll try to stay positive.”

Down in Tampa Bay, Brewer — who, at 35, is the oldest d-man on the Tampa Bay roster — was equally upset about being left out of the lineup for a date against the Panthers.

“It’s been a long time,” Brewer said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s been a very long time. It’s their decision. I don’t like it.”

Unlike Larsson, who’s being scratched in favor of three youngsters in Gelinas, Merrill and Severson, Brewer was unable to crack a very deep and very experienced blueline for opening night. Bolts head coach Jon Cooper explained as much, saying the team’s defensive depth basically kept Brewer out of the mix — Tampa will go with Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, Jason Garrison, Radko Gudas, Matt Carle and Andrej Sustr tonight, and Cooper acknowledged Brewer’s displeasure with the choices.

“If Eric Brewer has to sit for a game, I’m sure he doesn’t like it, and he’s pissed,” Cooper said. “I’m pissed to have to do it.”

Report: Devils to lose money in 2014-15

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Despite having new owners in Josh Harris and David Blitzer, the New Jersey Devils are scheduled to once again lose money in 2014-15.

According to the report from Tom Gulitti of The Record, Harris and Blitzer — who purchased the team from Jeff Vanderbeek a year ago for $320 million — are still fixing previous financial issues.

The Devils missed the playoffs for a second straight season in 2013-14 and according to Blitzer the team will not turn a profit in 2014-15 even if New Jersey qualifies for the postseason.

“We’re not going to make money this year. Let’s be clear,” said Blitzer. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but our view is to get it to the right place and we know over a longer period of time we do believe we can get it to be a profitable team on the business side or the equation. It is not today. I don’t expect it to be next year, but over time you can’t have a business that over 30 years it doesn’t become a profitable team because that just doesn’t work.”

According to the report, the team had debt issues and was “under invested in” on the business side.

Devils CEO Scott O’Neil points out the team was severely understaffed on the business side with just 76 employees when the new group took over. Since then, the staff has nearly doubled.

The team’s debt isn’t expected to factor into the Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello’s ability to spend money. As it stands, New Jersey sits with less than $5 million to play with.

Lamoriello compared the situation under previous ownership to that of the Phoenix Coyotes saying that he had to report to the league as a result of the team’s financial struggles.

“It was like Phoenix from a hockey standpoint. That was fact,” said Lamoriello. “You had to do things in a different way.”

Lamoriello pointed to the signing of unrestricted free agent Mike Cammalleri and contract extensions to Cory Schneider and Andy Greene as ways things have changed under the new group.

The GM said things are “status quo”  with unrestricted free agent Ryan Carter. According to Gulitti, Carter seems to be waiting for the Devils to move a forward before re-signing him.

When asked about restricted free agent Eric Gelinas, Lamoriello said, “We have a month to go. We want to get him signed.”

New Jersey finished the 2013-14 season with a 35-29-18 record and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

Related: Devils GM shakes off 0-13 shootout record, pumps up free agent moves