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.