Bahl's Development on Display | FEATURE
In his third season with the Devils, Kevin Bahl has seen big strides in his play and confidenceby Catherine Bogart catherinebogart / NewJerseyDevils.com
Defenseman Kevin Bahl's development is on full display this season. The 6-foot-6 blue liner is finding confidence, focused on the little details, and dedicated to understanding the intricacies of playing at the top level. What would Bahl say his biggest improvements are this season?
"Mentally and learning little things and grasping on to little plays and stuff that veterans do," Bahl shared. "Just little things like how you accept the pass. If you watch a guy like Marino or Severson, when they get it a d-to-d pass, they'll pull it all the way over without stick handling, instead of getting it, stickhandle it to a spot where they can make a play. So it gives you an extra second to think and make a play.
"So I think little things like that I've been doing well. Gaps, and calmness on the ice," Bahl continued. "You want to be calm out there, (have) good plays when the other team has the puck. Just calm down, look for the play that they're going to make and take away that. So just little things like that."
Devils Practice Before Weekend Back-to-Back | NOTEBOOK
Before heading out to Chicago and Winnipeg, the Devils practiced at Prudential Centerby Catherine Bogart catherinebogart / NewJerseyDevils.com
After a big 2-1 win over the New York Rangers the Devils were back to work on Friday. New Jersey held a practice before hitting the road for a weekend back-to-back that starts in Chicago and wraps in Winnipeg.
"We've maintained a high level of play on the road, I think the last couple of games, that play has slipped," Devils head coach Lindy Ruff shared following Friday's practice. "We got to get back to being that real good road team."
Clinched | BIG READ
On Saturday, the Devils clinched their first playoff berth since 2018, the culmination of work from many, from players to training staff to equipment staff to medical staff to hockey operations to ownership.by Sam Kasan SamiKasan / Devils Beat Reporter
"Phase one was, our goal was to get in the playoffs. Proud of all the work you guys put in to this point. Hell of an accomplishment. We achieved where we wanted to get. That's step one.
"Great accomplishment just getting in the playoffs. There's going to be 16 teams that don't do it. We're in there so awesome job. Awesome job. Well done."
That was the message Devils head coach Lindy Ruff delivered to his team in the locker room Saturday night following the club's 5-3 victory against Ottawa at Prudential Center.
On this night, March 25, the Devils punched their ticket to the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, becoming just the third team in the league to clinch a spot in postseason play. It's also the first playoff appearance for the franchise since 2018, ending a four-year drought.
"It feels great. The work you put in during the summer and the work you put in during the whole year to get rewarded," captain Nico Hischier said with a smile. "It's an empty feeling after an 82-game season when you're not in the playoffs. It's finally coming together so it feels good."
What came together was a lot of work from many people in the Devils organization, from players to the coaching staff to training staff to equipment staff to medical staff to hockey operations to ownership.
X Marks the Spot | 10 TAKEAWAYS
It's been a big week, starting with the Devils clinching their first playoff berth since 2018, read about it and more in this week's 10 Takeawaysby Amanda Stein amandacstein / Lead Reporter, NJD.TV
What kind of person would I be if I didn't start this week's 10 Takeaways, presented by Ticketmaster with the obvious... oh what a feeling that was!
The Devils are off to the postseason.
I remember that feeling from 2018, but this time it feels different. There's nothing wrong with having had Taylor Hall nearly singlehandedly pull the Devils towards a postseason last time around, but the group effort, the connectivity this time around, it just has a different feeling to it.
Maybe it's like Jesper Bratt said. The emptiness that we've been left with over the last few seasons, after 82 games is no longer there. There is something beyond the regular season and not having to watch it all play out on TV.
Where they go from here, that's up to them alone, but I'm excited to see where this goes. Because this isn't just about a one-off, this is about a window opening.
November's Biggest Moments | THREE THINGS
Take a look at three major games or events from November 2022 on Three Things presented by GEICOby Catherine Bogart catherinebogart / NewJerseyDevils.com
November was a month of many highs for the Devils who made a statement to the NHL that New Jersey is good and they're ready for a big season. The month kicked off in Western Canada on a three-game road trip for New Jersey and ended against their Hudson River Rivals at Madison Square Garden. Take a trip back to November on this edition of Three Things presented by GEICO.
The 16 Toughest Devils | 40 YEARS WITH STAN
Stan Fischler digs into his 16 toughest New Jersey Devils over the yearsby Stan Fischler StanFischler / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com
If you can't beat 'em in the alley, you can't beat 'em on the ice.
Those deathless words about our favorite game were uttered at the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp in the fall of 1946.
The speaker was Conn Smythe, the Toronto hockey boss, and the listeners skated for his team which had missed the playoffs a season earlier.
Smythe added six rookies to that team and each one was loaded with a mean streak. And guess what? They won the Stanley Cup in four of the next five seasons.
The lesson here is that tough hockey often is equated with winning hockey. And with that in mind, The Maven will hark back four decades and bring you my 16 favorite All-Time Toughest Devils -- in alphabetical order:
One of Lou Lamoriello's earliest acquisitions also happened to be one of his toughest. A bundle of energy, Perry contributed to New Jersey's first playoff year (1987-88) with a devil-may-care attitude toward body checking. His biggest hit was a smashing boards rap against the Islanders Hall of Famer in the Devils 1988 playoff-clinching game against the Islanders. Andy's arithmetic was rough that year -- 222 penalty minutes and 113 more in only ten playoff matches. Needless to say, the fans loved him.
Lindy Ruff likes grit players as much as any coach and this current Devils whirlwind plays the game a lot like Anderson did more than three decades ago. In addition to being fiery with his fists, Nat The Bat also delivers mightily on the forecheck, backcheck and the very valuable -- grit is a must -- presence in front of the enemy net.
Looking Back to October | THREE THINGS
As the 2022-23 regular season is winding down, take a look back at three big moments or games from October 2022by Catherine Bogart catherinebogart / NewJerseyDevils.com
Think back to October - doesn't it feel like forever ago? As the final stretch of games in the 2022-23 regular season is underway and the Devils are getting set to begin a playoff push, we're taking a look back and highlighting big moments and games from each month of this season that led to the New Jersey's first postseason berth since 2018.
What were three keys from October and the start of the season? More below on this edition of Three Things presented by GEICO.
Devils Practice, Travel to Buffalo | NOTEBOOK
The Devils travel to Buffalo today after practice, to face the Sabres on Fridayby Amanda Stein amandacstein / Lead Reporter, NJD.TV
It's off to Buffalo for the Devils this afternoon, fresh off a practice session at the RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House. The team is preparing to play the Sabres on Friday before returning home to host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
The team, for the first time in several weeks, had a two-day break without games, having last played on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. But with the stretch run of the final 11 games on the horizon and practice sessions few and far between, the team is using their down time wisely to prepare for what is set to come next in the post-season.
"Just do the little things, it's really important down the stretch what you do off the ice," captain Nico Hischier shared today, "You've got to get the extra rest, sleep well, eat well, just treat your body well. It's a long season, we're on a good track and we obviously want to go down the stretch here have a good feeling about ourselves."
On the ice today a couple of changes were made at the forward lines as well as on the power play units and you can read about it all here in the Devils Notebook!
The Rundown | PROSPECT WATCH
With hockey seasons entering the final regular season stretch and gearing up for post-season runs here's a look at where some of the Devils' prospects teams are headedby Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com
The season is getting down to the brass tacks for many Devils prospects on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with critical games taking place all week.
The most notable game is between Michigan and Colgate in Allentown, Pa., on Friday.
Devils defensive prospects Luke Hughes, Seamus Casey, and Ethan Edwards all play critical roles on the Wolverines blue line, who are the NCAA tournament's third seed and will be looking to improve upon their national semi-final appearance at last year's Frozen Four.
The winner of the Michigan-Colgate game will take on the winner of Penn State-Michigan Tech on Sunday.
This year's Frozen Four is taking place in Tampa from April 6-8.
All eyes will be on Hughes, who last week was named to the All-Big Ten team; Casey was named to the rookie squad.
Whenever Michigan's season ends, Hughes is expected to join the Devils in Newark. It has been quite a run for Hughes, who will have just turned 20 when next season's training camps open, with 39- and 42-point seasons in Ann Arbor. His freshman season saw him post 17G-22A in 41 games, while this season he flipped his stat line, scoring nine times and adding 33 assists in 36 games so far.
Down to a Dozen | 10 TAKEAWAYS
From Haula on playing with Hughes, Steven Stamkos' impression of Jack and a new story from the day Nico Hischier was named captain catch it all in 10 Takeaways, presented by Ticketmasterby Amanda Stein amandacstein / Lead Reporter, NJD.TV
It feels good that at this time of year, the mentality is about gearing up, instead of winding down toward the end of the regular season. There are only 12 games left in the regular season and there's no going through the motions that can seep in when the end of the season is near and you know that's when your season ends.
Not this year.
There's a lot of work to do in the final 12 games, but I'm really excited to see what the playoff experience is going to be like for this group. It is a more talented group all around, than the one that made the post-season in 2018. That five-game series with Tampa was like a lightning bolt - no pun intended - in time. It was here and then it wasn't. Just barely getting a taste. I don't know what this group will end up accomplishing when it's all said and done, but the ride to get to this point has been so much fun. So much progress has been made on multiple levels, both individually and as a team. Gearing up instead of winding down is so much more appealing!
In this week's 10 Takeaways I chatted with Erik Haula about playing with Jack Hughes, chatted with Steven Stamkos about Hughes and heard a story about the day Nico Hischier was named captain that I hadn't before... so with that in mind, lets get started with this week's 10 Takeaways, presented by Ticketmaster!
After talking to Steven Stamkos about Ondrej Palat last week, I also wanted to get his thoughts from one star about another, so I asked him his thoughts on what Jack Hughes is doing this year. I always enjoy talking to other incredibly offensively gifted players about the other ones around the league, they provide insight and observation that we lamens cannot. We're just not on their level.
Here's what Stamkos had to say:
"I've had a chance to meet him and watch him up close at some All-Star events over the years. You know, the skill set he has is just, it's just off the charts. When you mix that with confidence and physical maturity and just playing more games and having that experience, it starts to translate into the consistency that he's shown. It's been you know, it's not even a run, that's what his game is. That's the level that he's at. So it's been impressive."