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BLOG: Devils Setting Blackwood Up for Heavy Workload

After the upcoming back-to-back series, Blackwood will handle a heavy workload

by Sam Kasan @SamiKasan /

NEWARK, N.J. - The Devils have a back-to-back series forthcoming at Buffalo (Thursday) and at home against Pittsburgh (Friday). 

The Devils will likely split the starts between goaltenders Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood, which is the typical rotation protocol. Even in normal circumstances, NHL teams very rarely play a goaltender on consecutive nights. That is even more so the case in the abbreviated current schedule. 

So, even though Blackwood is a goaltender that likes to play a lot of games, the Devils are taking a longer-term view on the matter. 

"It's not ideal to have (Blackwood) in because you really don't want to stretch him into four (games) in five (nights) or four in six," Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. 

Blackwood had played seven of eight games before getting a night off Tuesday when the club turned to Wedgewood. Though the team could have played Blackwood that night and given him a break in one of the upcoming back-to-back affairs. 

If the goalies do split these next two contests, Blackwood will only play once in a three-game stretch for New Jersey, a rarity. But the coaching staff felt that with the extra day off Tuesday and getting through this back-to-back will have Blackwood well rested for a heavy workload the rest of the season. 

"Once we get by the back-to-back, it's an ideal situation to get a guy like Blackwood, who now has had some rest, get him some game reps," Ruff said. 

Following Friday's game, the schedule sets up the same way for the remainder of April, and the next three weeks, with games every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Although it is still a lot of games ahead, the uniformity could help with consistency. And Blackwood will no doubt get the bulk of the starts. 

"(Upcoming) he'll have a game day, practice day, game day," Ruff said of the schedule layout. "Once we get through (Friday), the schedule sets up pretty ideal to giving (Blackwood) a pretty good workload."

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