MacKenzie Blackwood Could Save the Devils Future

New Jersey Devils Head Coach John Hynes mentioned before the holiday break that 22-year-old goalie MacKenzie Blackwood would play more often after the break was over. New Jersey had a game on the road on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins. Blackwood made 40 saves in the Devils 5-2 win.

It was his first career NHL victory. It was the fourth game he has played in this season. MacKenzie Blackwood has looked sharp in all of his appearances. He was a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. There were a lot of people expecting him to be the number one goalie one day in New Jersey, but I don’t think it was going to happen this soon.

One of the reasons why he is getting a serious look now is because the Devils are not very good this season. They sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division with a 13-16-7 record with 33 points. Despite how bad they have been, they are just two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes for seventh and sixth. New Jersey is only four points back of the New York Rangers for fifth in the Metropolitan Division.

Another reason MacKenzie Blackwood is getting a look is because Keith Kinkaid has shown what he can do as a starter, but he is more a backup. Kinkaid’s record so far this season is 12-10-6 with a .901 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA, along with three shutouts.

Another reason Blackwood is getting a look is because Cory Schneider might be done as a starting goalie and they need to see what they have for the future. Schneider is injury prone and he is 32 years old. His record is 0-5-1 with a .852 save percentage and a 4.66 GAA.

He has three more years left on his contract. Cory Schneider will be owed $6 million per season. It will be interesting to see what the New Jersey Devils do with him at the end of the season.

In only four games played this season, MacKenzie Blackwood’s record is 1-1 with a .939 save percentage and a 2.16 GAA. That’s a nice start and he will need to continue to do that. Blackwood has a chance to prove for the rest of the season that he is the answer in net for New Jersey going forward. They have a favorable schedule coming up and it could very well make his confidence grow.

Goaltending has been one of their problems this season. They don’t have a great roster to begin with, but goaltending can erase a lot of those problems and it will give this team a huge boost heading into 2019-2020 and beyond.


Jake Guentzel Receives Contract Extension From Penguins

Ever since Jake Guentzel reached the NHL level, he has been nothing but impressive for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Because of it, Guentzel was signed to a five-year contract extension worth $30 million. He was supposed to be a free agent at the end of the season, but that won’t be the case now.

Jake Guentzel is only 24 years old and Pittsburgh signed him for a bargain. He has been very good on the same line with Sidney Crosby. The chemistry between them is spot on. Guentzel has scored 15 goals and recorded 18 assists, in 36 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 8.

He has been very impressive during the 2017 postseason and the 2018 postseason. Jake Guentzel played in 25 postseason games in 2017 and he scored 13 goals and recorded eight assists. His plus/minus was 1. Guentzel was one of the reasons why the Pittsburgh Penguins won it all that year.

He played in 12 postseason games in 2018. Guentzel scored 10 goals and recorded 11 assists. His plus/minus was 10. Jake Guentzel scored four goals in Game 6 in the first-round against the Philadelphia Flyers on the road and it helped them eliminate Philadelphia from the postseason.

In his career so far, Guentzel has played in 158 games. He has scored 53 goals and recorded 61 assists. His plus/minus is 6.

Jake Guentzel was drafted in the third-round in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Pittsburgh Penguins scouting department deserves credit for this.

Kieffer Bellows Waiting for his Chance

Kieffer Bellows is one of the New York Islanders top prospects. His father Brian Bellows had a very good NHL career and he played for five different teams. They were the Minnesota North Stars, the Montreal Canadiens, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Washington Capitals.

For the Islanders sake, they hope Keifer Bellows will only play for New York his entire career. He plays on the left wing. Bellows ceiling is a top-6 forward. He was the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Keifer Bellows is currently playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL. In 32 games, he has scored seven goals and recorded five assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -7.

Bellows is waiting patiently to be called up to the NHL. He is only 20 years old and the Islanders are in no rush with him. Keifer Bellows will probably spend the rest of the season in the AHL. He will most likely get another strong look in training camp next season.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start next season in the AHL, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start next season in the NHL as well. Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson will all be free agents at the end of the season and it none of them are brought back, that will open up the door for a possible roster spot at the start of the 2019-2020 season.

With Barry Trotz as the head coach, Keifer Bellows will get the proper coaching necessary in order to succeed as an NHL player. The team is responding well to Trotz so far this season and they are overachieving because of it.

New York has a very good prospect pool in general, but they don’t have a very good roster. When Bellows gets his chance, he has the potential to score 30 goals and recorded 35 assists a season.


Calen Addison Waiting in the Wings for the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins have always not drafted well when it comes to defenseman. They always have to find good defenseman through trades. Pittsburgh might have nailed in the 2018 NHL Draft when they selected defenseman Calen Addison in the second-round.

He is a right-handed defenseman and Addison is 18 years old. He is currently playing in the WHL this season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. In 32 games so far this season, Calen Addison has only scored four goals but he has recorded 32 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -7.

One of the reasons why he was drafted by the Penguins is because of his puck possession and his puck distribution. Addison could very well be on a power play unit when he gets to the NHL.

They are getting deeper on defense and that is a good thing for this team. He has a lot of upside and Calen Addison will probably be receiving an entry-level contract sometime soon.

In the 2017-2018 season, he played in 68 games and scored 11 goals and recorded 54 assists. His plus/minus is -18. Addison’s defensive game has improved this season. In 16-playoff games, he scored seven goals and recorded 12 assists. His plus/minus was -11.

Calen Addison was a first-round talent taken in the second-round. He probably won’t be with the Pittsburgh Penguins until the 2020-2021 season. When Addison is done with juniors, he will need some time to develop his game some more in the AHL (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). His ceiling is a top-4 defenseman, but Calen Addison will probably be on the third defensive pairing when he starts in the NHL.

Defenseman Ty Smith is one of New Jersey’s Top Prospects

The New Jersey Devils have not had a very good 2018-2019 so far, but they do have something to look forward to and that is 18-year-old defenseman Ty Smith. He was the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Smith is one of their top prospects and he was signed to a three-year entry-level deal with New Jersey during the offseason.

Smith was good during training camp and the preseason, but they decided to send him back to juniors. Ty Smith is having another excellent season with the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL. In 28 games, he has only scored three goals but Smith has recorded 36 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 1.

One of the main reasons why he was drafted is because Ty Smith is a very good skater and puck distributor on the back end. Smith was impressive in the 2017-2018 campaign with 14 goals and 59 assists, in 69 games. His plus/minus was 44. In seven postseason games, he scored two goals and recorded five assists. Ty Smith’s plus/minus was five.

Smith was the sixth defenseman taken in the 2018 NHL Draft. He has the potential to be one of the top players in this draft class.

Ty Smith could very well be in a New Jersey Devils uniform by the 2019-2020 season. They don’t have a ton of depth on the blue line. Damon Severson, Sami Vatanen, and Will Butcher are their top three defenseman statistically, but they all have had a quiet season.

Smith would bring energy to the defensive unit and he could also be a very good number one defenseman on the power play. The New Jersey Devils are ranked 21st in the NHL so far this season on the power play at 17.8 percent.


Bryan Rust On Fire

The Pittsburgh Penguins depth scoring was a problem early in the season for them. It has been a lot better as of late thanks to Bryan Rust. He scored two goals again tonight, including the game-winning goal 8:12 into the third-period and Pittsburgh defeated the Minnesota Wild 2-1.

Rust also scored the game-winning goal in Wednesday night’s game on the road against the Washington Capitals and they also won that game 2-1.

Bryan Rust has now scored nine goals and recorded seven assists so far this season. His plus/minus rating is even. He only scored one goal through the first two months of the regular season. When the month of December hit, Rust has scored eight goals. All of eight of them are in the last six games played, including a hat-trick in a 6-3 loss on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday December 12.

Rust’s name was mentioned a lot in trade talks before this streaky stretch he is on now. I guarantee you that he probably won’t be traded this season. Bryan Rust is a versatile player and he performs well in the postseason. Rust will cool down again at some point, but his latest stretch is a sign of things that he will be just fine and that his slump was a fluke.



Penguins Top Capitals in Heated Atmosphere

Tom Wilson was ready to make his mark early in the game for the Washington Capitals against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. Wilson dropped the gloves 55 seconds into the game with Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and he knocked him to the ground in two seconds. Oleksiak’s teammates helped him off the ice.

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin chirped at one another on the bench. It was a playoff atmosphere like game. Bryan Rust scored the game-winning goal for the Penguins with 1:02 remaining in the second-period.

Lars Eller scored for Washington 6:36 into the second-period. Sidney Crosby scored a power-play goal for Pittsburgh 2:37 later in the second-period.

Riley Sheahan and Marcus Pettersson made defensive saving plays in the third-period and had they not made those plays, the Washington Capitals might have walked away with a 3-2 victory, but they didn’t.

Matt Murray made 31 saves for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Braden Holtby made 28 saves for the Washington Capitals.

It was a playoff like atmosphere game in the month of December. These two teams will play each other one more time this season, but a lot of people hope that it won’t be the last time these two teams meet this season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. The Washington Capitals will host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

Ducks Overcome Slow Start Against Penguins

After trailing 2-0 after the first-period on the road, the Anaheim Ducks needed to regroup. They found their legs in the second-period and they scored three goals, including the game-winner by Ondrej Kase with 1:13 remaining in the second-period and it lifted them to a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Evgeni Malkin scored a power-play goal for Pittsburgh 9:38 into the game. Bryan Rust scored for the Penguins with 5:28 remaining in the period.

Adam Henrique scored a power-play goal for Anaheim 2:07 into the second-period. Kiefer Sherwood scored a goal 3:26 later in the period for them.

Ryan Getzlaf scored an empty-net goal for the Ducks with 49 seconds remaining in regulation. Daniel Sprong and Carter Rowney both returned to Pittsburgh tonight as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Rowney received a video tribute and Sprong did not.

John Gibson finished with 28 saves for Anaheim and Casey DeSmith finished with 32 saves for Pittsburgh.

These two teams will play each other one more time this season. The Anaheim Ducks will play the New York Rangers on the road on Tuesday night. The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Washington Capitals on the road on Wednesday night.

Flyers Call Up Goalie Carter Hart and Fire Dave Hakstol

The Philadelphia Flyers have had a busy Monday. They called up goaltending prospect Carter Hart from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL). Philadelphia has also decided to relieve Dave Hakstol of his coaching duties and Scott Gordon will take over as the interim coach.

This will be a good transition for Hart because Gordon was the AHL coach. In the AHL, Scott Gordon had the Phantoms off to a 15-9-1-1 start with 32 points and they were currently in fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

Gordon is 55 years old and he has coached for Lehigh Valley for the past three plus years. His overall record was 144-86-15 and he reached the Eastern Conference finals with them last season. A lot of players on the Flyers roster has been coached before by him.

New Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher thinks he could be the coach long term. There were rumors floating around yesterday that Joel Quenneville would be the next Flyers head coach, but it was shot down quickly. He could maybe be a candidate for the long term if things don’t work out this season.

Philadelphia is currently in last place in the east with a 12-15-4 record with 28 points. They have scored 93 goals and given up 116 goals so far this season. The Philadelphia Flyers have one of the worst goal differentials in the NHL.

Maybe 20-year-old goaltending prospect Carter Hart will fix those problems. Anthony Stolarz and Brian Elliott are already on injured reserve. Alex Lyon was sent back down to the AHL. Michal Neuvirth will serve as the team’s back up, but he is also injury prone. Calvin Pickard also played some games for them between the pipes this season, but he was recently waived and claimed by the Arizona Coyotes.

Hart was a second-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2016 NHL Draft. He was the goalie of the year in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips last season.

In 17 games played with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms so far this season, his record is 9-5-1 with a .901 save percentage and a 3.05 GAA, along with one shutout. Carter Hart had a rough start in the AHL, but he finally got into a groove down there.

Hopefully the Flyers hope he could get into a groove right away at the NHL level. It is quite possible Hart makes his NHL debut on Tuesday night at home against the Detroit Red Wings.


Blackhawks End Skid; Extend Win Streak Against Penguins

The Chicago Blackhawks ended an eight-game losing streak thanks to a game-winning goal by Marcus Kruger with 3:09 into the third-period to lift them to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago extends its win streak to nine games against Pittsburgh.

Andreas Martinesen and Brent Seabrook scored goals for the Blackhawks in the first-period. With 1:20 remaining in the first, Bryan Rust scored a goal for the Penguins.

Rust tied it up at two 5:46 into the second-period. Alex DeBrincat scored a power-play goal for the Chicago Blackhawks later in the second. Bryan Rust scored with 57 seconds remaining in the second-period and he recorded his second career hat trick.

With Chicago leading 4-3 late in the third, they scored two empty-net goals by Jonathan Toews with 1:02 remaining in regulation and Brandon Saad with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.

Casey DeSmith finished with 23 saves for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Matt Murray was activated off of injured reserve on Tuesday, but he was not ready to play. Corey Crawford finished with 40 saves for the Chicago Blackhawks.

These two teams will play each other one more time this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins next game will be at home on Friday night against the Boston Bruins. The Chicago Blackhawks next game will be at home on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets.