1. Go Navy, Beat Army! Two years ago, the Devils took their annual team bonding trip to West Point in upstate New York, this year, it was Navy's turn. On Sunday, the team departed from Prudential Center for a couple of days in Annapolis. Things got off to a competitive start, just hours after arriving, the team setting sail in two teams, learning to sail a sailboat - some more successful than the others! - and ending the day with a sailboat race. Throw in an obstacle course on the Monday, a tour of the Naval Academy, a leadership speech with a retired Naval officer and lunch with the midshipmen on campus and the Devils schedule was full for their time in Annapolis.
2. I'll admit, a highlight had to be the sail-boating, despite the fact I was on the losing boat. But I'm pretty sure we had more fun. It was great to sit back and watch how all the players took their roles on the ship very seriously, knowing full-well they had no business doing what they were doing. P.K. Subban worked alongside Nico Hischier and Ty Smith on the navigation, and we're not talking using a GPS, this was all compass work and mapping things out by hand. Cory Schneider, he was the only one with sailing experience, so he jumped in as the captain. I'd be lying if I said I understood what everyone else was doing, there was a lot of loosening and tightening ropes. At one point, we were so bad, we stopped moving altogether.
Kyle Palmieri was on the same boat - he was manning the gib and wasn't too impressed with the rest of his crew!
"The other boat looked like things were going really well," Palmieri said. "Schneids was book-smart, he had all the answers for the quiz at the beginning but as far as execution, the navigation team struggled a little bit. But I was up at the front of the boat, we had a couple of guys that were executing, that's for sure!"
The boat captained by Nikita Gusev lapped us.
3. While in Annapolis there was also a hockey season to prepare for, so the Devils also took advantage of the sports complex on the Naval Academy grounds. There's a subtle connection between the Devils and the Brigade Sports Complex on the Naval Academy grounds. The arena in which the Devils participated over the two days is named after Dr. John J. McMullen, a name that should pique the interest in any Devils fan. Dr. McMullen was the one who bought the Colorado Rockies and in 1982 moved the team to New Jersey, renaming the team the New Jersey Devils. The 1000-seat rink is named after Dr. McMullen, who was part of the graduating Naval Academy class of 1940.
"You realize the history, the tradition and how great of a person he was," Zajac said. "Anyone who has played for him just had high regards as far as him being a great leader, a great person, always cared about a person's family and how the guys were doing. Obviously, he's in the Ring of Honor in our rink, so you kind of see how much he means to this organization."
"Just his impact on not only the Devils, but the state of New Jersey and all he did for the whole state," Andy Greene added. "Bringing the Devils to New Jersey, it's just such an impact and it's so great to be able to see his name on the building."
4. Speaking of the captain: He missed the Devils final pre-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. And he was missing for a pretty special reason. Greene has not only captained the Devils for the last four years, but he also captained his college team at the University of Miami, Ohio. On Friday, September 27th, Greene traveled to his alma mater where he inducted into Miami's Sports Hall of Fame.
Greene spent four seasons at Miami, two as captain, before joining the Devils as an undrafted player in the 2006-07 NHL season. He helped Miami qualify for the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2006, helping his team win a CCHA regular-season title in 2005-06, a team that became the first Miami sport in school history to achieve a No. 1 ranking in national polls.
5. I'll be selfish here: No one was happier for the Devils shutout in Columbus in the final pre-season game than I was. No, seriously. Columbus is known for its dear cannon that goes off in celebration of a goal. That's why shutouts by the visiting team are just so precious. It keeps not only the Blue Jackets off the board, but it silences the cannon. The thing with the cannon is that, even though you know it's coming, it's still going to make you jump three feet out of your seat. There's just no avoiding it. I've been known to block my ears, in an attempt to reduce the intensity - even that doesn't work. I feel a wave of embarrassment role over me whenever it gets me. You hear it at least once a game: when the Blue Jackets take the ice for the start of the first period, but after that, it's the opposing goaltender's job to prevent it from going off again.
I went as far as ending my post-game interview with Cory by thanking him for the shutout, on behalf of my anxiety and eardrums.
"I've had a few of those here!" Schneider joked when I thanked him. "It's nice, because I can't stand it. I forgot about it almost, it always scares the hell out of me!"
6. 951 save percentage.
That was Cory Schneider's save percentage through his four pre-season games. He made 114 saves on 120 shots.
He finished the 2018-19 NHL season with a .921 GAA in 17 games.
Keep your eye on him.
7. Speaking of Schneider, he and his wife Jill have two beautiful children, son Wyatt, and daughter Remi.
Cory and Jill recently added another to the fold: 18-year-old Jack Hughes has moved in with the Schneider family while he adjusts to life in the NHL.
8. Blink and you may have missed it. In the Devils pre-season game against Boston, without Taylor Hall or Travis Zajac in the lineup, decisions had to be made.
Nico Hischier had the 'A' on his jersey, something we saw a couple of times last season.
Wayne Simmonds was the other "A". Interesting to see one of the new guys get the letter, even in the pre-season. Speaks volumes to how the coaching staff and management feel about the addition of Simmonds.
9. It always has to be done at this time of year, and it's not always easy to do. The Devils made two rounds of cuts over the last week, sending 18 players to the Binghamton Devils. In the first round of reassignments, 16 players made their way to Binghamton for the opening of the AHL team's training camp.
The second round of reassignments involved just two players. Both Nathan Bastian and Mike McLeod were sent to Binghamton on the morning of Friday, September 27. Both players had strong camps with New Jersey that allowed them to stay around until the second to last game of the pre-season. I'd keep your eyes on what they do in Binghamton, likely at the top of the 'call-up' list.
"With Mike, he just needs to continue on the development path that he's on," Hynes said. "He's made strides in his strength and conditioning. He's played well away from the puck, his strength on the puck. He's turning into a more mature player, and his speed and abrasiveness and work ethic were factors in the game. He was able to play that way but also produce some points and have an offensive side to his game."
Of Bastian, Hynes had this to say:
"He came in, he was one of our biggest, physical forwards. He fought, was a physical presence, heavy on the forecheck. Played very, very consistent, and he impacted the games for us in a positive way. Again, he's a young guy. We feel like both guys aren't fully cooked yet. You can overcook some guys in the American League, and when you need call-ups, there are injuries, you have guys that can come in and can really perform. We feel good about those two guys being in that type of a role."
10. We're almost there! This time next week, the 10 Takeaways from the week will include stories from the first two regular season games. It's time to get this thing going for real! New Jersey open up their season hosting the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, followed by participating in the Sabres home opener on Saturday. The Devils will be part of three other team's home-openers this season: Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo and well, their own!