When the New Jersey Devils hit the ice and embark on their 2016-17 campaign, they’ll be well aware of expectations. Those expectations will be raised a notch. It’s year two of a process, a process which remains in progress. While they don’t play the games on paper, they won’t be playing on skates for a few months, so we’ll make due with what those scheduled games look like at first glance.
Upon the release of the 2016-17 NHL schedule, here’s a list of which games the Devils faithful should look for and look forward to:
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) June 21, 2016
October 13 at Florida Panthers
The Devils will open the season on the road and face the defending Atlantic Division champion Panthers. Florida went 47-26-9 (103 points) last season, setting a franchise record for victories. In three games last season, New Jersey went 1-2-0 against Florida. The Devils split at home, losing 5-1 and winning 4-2. In their lone trip to Sunrise, New Jersey dropped a 3-2 decision. Adam Henrique paced all Devils’ scorers with four points against the Panthers, while Jaromir Jagr led the way for the Panthers, with five points versus the Devils. In total, the Panthers outscored the Devils 10-7.
October 18 vs. Anaheim Ducks
Five days later the Devils home opener features yet another division champion, with an inter-conference contest against the Ducks. Anaheim went 46-25-11 (103 points) last season, winning the Pacific Division in the process. In a pair of games last season, the Devils went 0-2-0 against the Ducks. At New Jersey, the Ducks edged the Devils 2-1. Conversely, at Anaheim, the Devils suffered one of their worst losses, falling 7-1. Six Devils, including Michael Cammalleri, Devante Smith-Pelly, John Moore, Tyler Kennedy, Damon Severson and Lee Stempniak led the way in scoring against Anaheim with a point apiece. For the Ducks, Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler topped the Ducks in points with four apiece against the Devils. In total, the Ducks outscored the Devils 9-2.
November 21 at San Jose Sharks
On the tail end of a West Coast road trip, the Devils play former head coach Peter DeBoer and the defending Western Conference champion Sharks. In two games last year, the Devils went 1-0-0-1 against the Sharks. The Sharks topped the Devils at New Jersey, winning 2-1 in a shootout. At San Jose, Keith Kinkaid recorded a 30-save shutout, preserving a 3-0 Devils victory. Travis Zajac’s two goals paced the Devils in scoring against the Sharks. On the flip side Patrick Marleau, Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward led the Sharks in scoring against the Devils, posting a point apiece. In total, the Devils outscored the Sharks 4-2.
November 26 at Pittsburgh Penguins
This marks the first time the Devils face the defending Stanley Cup champions. Across four contests last season, both squads split, going 2-2. In two games at New Jersey, the clubs would split, with Pittsburgh winning 6-1 and New Jersey winning 4-0. At Pittsburgh the teams also split, the Devils winning 3-0 and the Penguins winning 2-0. Scott Wedgewood, Cory Schneider and Marc-Andre Fleury all recorded shutouts for their respective teams. With three points apiece, Kyle Palmieri, Henrique, Cammalleri, Severson and Reid Boucher topped the Devils. With three points apiece, Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust led the Penguins in scoring. In total, both teams netted eight goals apiece.
December 11 at New York Rangers
The Devils visit their Hudson River rivals for the first time. Last year the Devils took the season series 3-1. In New Jersey, the Devils won both games by final counts of 3-2 and 5-2. At New York, the Devils won 2-1 in overtime and lost 2-1. Leading the Devils in scoring was Henrique with five points. J.T. Miller led the Rangers with three goals. In total, the Devils outscored the Rangers 11-7.
December 22 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
The turnpike rival Flyers pay a visit for the first time. Across four contests last season, the Devils took the series, going 2-1-1-0. Home ice was not a factor in their four battles. The Flyers won both games at New Jersey, 4-3 in overtime and 6-3. Meanwhile, the Devils won both contests at Philadelphia, 4-1 and 2-1 in the extra session. Palmieri’s six points led the Devils in scoring. Claude Giroux led the Flyers in scoring, also registering six points. In total, both teams tallied 12 markers apiece.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.