Devils rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made his first NHL start on December 20 in Columbus, bursting onto the scene with a strong performance, stopping 36 of 38 shots. He topped that in his next start in Boston, turning away 40 of 42 in earning his first NHL win. In all, he played 23 games at the NHL level.
"I was really happy the way things worked out for me this year," said Blackwood as the Devils took part in exit interviews to wrap up 2018-19. "I'm excited going into the summer to see how I can work on my game and come back here next year, build off this year and hopefully have more success next year as well."
Blackwood was returned to AHL Binghamton around the NHL All-Star break but came up for good after Keith Kinkaid was sent to Columbus near the NHL Trade Deadine. From then on, he formed a duo with Cory Schneider. A duo he hopes can continue through next season.
"I think the relationship me and Cory have is one that entices that kind of role," he continued. "We push each other. It's friendly competition. We can build off each other, give each other pointers and tips and keep each other accountable."
Blackwood was asked what he's hoping to improve upon this summer and into next season.
"The biggest thing for me is how to bounce back after something bad happens. Handling adversity, dealing with ups and downs and the rigour of the NHL schedule. Having a little mental grit there, just figuring out how to be cool and calm in every situation.
"Consistency is the biggest thing. Anyone can be good in the NHL for one game. It's doing it over and over again that makes you elite. That's the biggest challenge I have moving forward. Building off of it and doing better."