Blocked To Blockaid Keith Kinkaid Sparkles For Devils

Blocked. The definition of what it means to be a backup goaltender for the New Jersey Devils. Take 21 years of Martin Brodeur, coupled with Cory Schneider starting a franchise record 20 consecutive games and opportunities can be few and far between. Blockaid. That’s what rookie netminder Keith Kinkaid was in his first NHL start with New Jersey.

With a MASH unit lineup and facing a loaded Chicago Blackhawks lineup, Kinkaid displayed exactly why he belongs on an NHL roster. No, there isn’t a goalie controversy brewing in Newark but Kinkaid made the most of his opportunity and should earn some more playing time with the Devils.

Stopping pucks in Schenectady, the Farmingville, NY native helped raise the Union College Dutchmen to new heights, winning 25 games with a 1.99 goals against average as a sophomore in 2010-11. Leaving school early, Kinkaid signed a free agent contract with the Devils and began his professional career 19 miles east with the Albany Devils. In year one, Kinkaid posted three shutouts and split time with veteran keeper Jeff Frazee.

Before his initial start, most fans recall Kinkaid for his cup of coffee appearance against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Coming in the lockout shortened campaign, Kinkaid racked up a highlight reel save, making a sprawling kick-out stop on Steven Stamkos. It’s no wonder he hardly looked phased or intimidated by a who’s-who of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, etc.

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His win totals and save percentage up and his goals against average dropping in each of the past two years with the A-Devils, Kinkaid had more than paid his dues. Helping shepherd Albany to the playoffs with a career best 24 victories and four shutouts, many felt Kinkaid has more than paid his dues and earned a roster spot on opening night of 2014. While it wasn’t to be, Kinkaid soldiered on at AHL Albany, staying ready and fresh for the call.

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Watching from afar, as his successor at Union College, Troy Grosenick, made a record setting 45-save shutout victory, in his NHL debut for the San Jose Sharks, against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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After taking a hard luck loss in relief against the St. Louis Blues and getting some mop up duty against the Detroit Red Wings, Kinkaid finally got his opportunity against the Blackhawks and ran with it.

The ninth netminder in club history to wear number one, played like it against Chicago. Kinkaid turned away 37 of 39 shots on net, including a glove snapping save on the aforementioned Kane, along with a denial of Sharp on a breakaway. In the second, Kinkaid (along with a brilliant defensive effort by the likes of Andy Greene) helped stave off a four-minute Hawks power play.

While the Devils ultimately fell in another shootout, Kinkaid stood strong. How much he’ll play going forward is unknown but this much is certain, Kinkaid should have the confidence of the organization and more playing time because, he’s earned it.