Through their first eight games at home, the New Jersey Devils have gathered 15 of a possible 16 points, and remain the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss at home thus far (7-0-1). Which of course means they will probably lose at home now in their next home game (November 25 vs. Detroit) because we wrote this article. Still, though, for a team that not a lot of people expected a lot from, this has been an impressive and fun ride for the team and its fans.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 24, 2016
“Winning makes everything better, honestly, ” said Beau Bennett following the latest Devils home triumph. “It’s crazy. If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is,” he added with a chuckle. “Everyone’s in a better mood, the meetings are shorter; it’s just a better atmosphere.”
Cammy Can Do
A big boost in that game was the return of Michael Cammalleri, who put up four points (1g—3a); he had missed the previous six games while his daughter was battling pneumonia. “We missed him; he’s a great guy, a great leader,” Bennett said of no. 13. “He’s always around the puck and getting points, it was good to have him back and you all saw how effective he was.”
Coach John Hynes said there was no pep talk, no yelling and screaming from the coaches after a disastrous first period that had them in an 0-3 hole. Instead, he said it was his players that all rallied together and turned things around quite quickly. “It was the group of players in the lineup tonight; they dug in, in between the first and second periods. It was good to see that the players themselves really got themselves together and did a nice job in the second period and I give a lot of credit to those guys.”
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 24, 2016
“You see a guy step up like that; like Cammy did – he’s playing really well – coming back after a little time off there, I think that sparked the guys a little bit,” Nick Lappin said. “I thought we had a really good second and third period.”
Along Came a Schneider
“It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up,” Cory Schneider lamented after the Toronto win. “I figured that after the travel cross country; I’ve seen it before where the first period the team might be a little tired. So for me, it was my job to shut the door in the first and give us a chance to get our legs. I didn’t really do that, and we came out of it down 3-0; that was frustrating for me because I really wanted to play well in that first period.”
“My teammates stuck with me; my coach stuck with me. They did a great job tying it up in the first five minutes and all of a sudden it was a new game. It feels good, It’s a good win for us to come back like that after a tough road trip. It wasn’t always pretty but we found a way and that is all that matters right now.”
“None,” was Hynes’ response when asked how much thought he put into yanking his goalie after the first period. “When your goaltender is mentally tough, mature, and experienced; you have to stick with him more often than not.” With the win, Schneider improved to 7-0-0 at the Rock this season.
“I was thankful I was able to come out in the second (period) and I knew I had more to give,” Schneider went on to say. “The way they (Toronto) play – they’re going to get some chances, they’re going to get some 2-on-1s; and open looks. The way we started scoring to open the second, I said: hey if I can make a couple of big saves here and keep us in it, get us close…then anything can happen.”
“I feel bad putting my team down 3-0 and I felt like I had to make up for it down the stretch,” said Schneider who stopped 15 shots in the third period and overtime, then stopped all three of Toronto’s shootout attempts. “It was a fun game, it was an entertaining game – not one that we would always love to be in – but, it’s always nice to win.”
“I don’t want to say we’re comfortable at home but, there is a different energy when you play at home. Right now we’re kind of riding that wave and you have to be a tough team to play against at home if you want to make the playoffs. If you’re not good at home, you’re not going anywhere,” Travis Zajac told The Hockey Writers after a 5-4 comeback shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It’s important for us to keep this going and make it a tough place to play.”
“There was a lot of talk that we weren’t going to be able to win without certain guys,” said Hynes. “We have an identity, and we have to play to it. I thought tonight we did a good job at that. We need to have a strong team performance every night. Tonight, we did that.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.