Devils News & Rumors: Holtz, Latest on Blackwood & More

The New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a four-game homestand that continues tonight when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Prudential Center. The club has a 1-1-0 record since returning to New Jersey and is now five points behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who are the top team in the Metropolitan Division.

New Jersey Devils News and Rumours
New Jersey Devils News and Rumours (The Hockey Writers)

The organization made a few movies in the last couple of days and below is a recap of everything fans need to know ahead of Thursday’s game.

Devils Are Fighting Illness

Before the Devils’ Feb. 21 game against the Montreal Canadiens, head coach Lindy Ruff shared that defenseman John Marino would be a game-time decision due to a non-Covid-related illness. He did play, but it was clear he was not 100 percent. The Devils struggled against the Canadiens and lost 5-2.

“Obviously we had some guys that were tired. We’ve had some guys fighting through illness, ” Ruff said during his post-game press conference.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Devils’ 5-2 Loss to the Canadiens

Latest News & Highlights

Of course, he implied that more than Marino was not 100 percent. More than a few players looked off in the team’s most recent loss. After today’s morning skate, Ruff shared that something was going through the team, and IV bags were given out. The club had a much-needed day off yesterday to recoup before they face the Kings.

After the game versus Montreal, Ruff said it best: “We have to treat rest as a weapon.”

Latest on Blackwood

During the team’s morning skate on Feb. 21, goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood tweaked something and left the ice early to meet with trainers. The organization recalled Akira Schmid from the Utica Comets, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, who served as Vitek Vanecek’s backup versus the Habs.

Mackenzie Blackwood New Jersey Devils
Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After the morning skate, Ruff shared the following news regarding the 6-foot-4 netminder: “I don’t have an update as of yet. He will see our doctors again tonight, and we may know more after that.”

What’s Going on With Holtz?

On Feb. 17, the Devils announced Alexander Holtz was assigned to the Utica Comets. The 21-year-old has spent most of the 2022-23 campaign as a healthy scratch, only appearing in 19 of New Jersey’s 57 games.

“He needs to go play,” Ruff said of Holtz. “He needs to get on the ice and needs to have some fun playing, being parts of wins, being parts of losses. He’s had too much time away from the game.”

The next night Holtz was in the Comets’ lineup, playing on the top line with Ryan Schmelzer and Andreas Johnsson. Two nights later, he was injured after a check to the hip against the Toronto Marlies. In a recent article, Ben Birnell shared that Holtz is considered day-to-day (from ‘Utica Comets’ GM: If possible, will try and ‘improve’ team; Schmid recalled’, Daily Sentinel, 02/21/23).

It’s my understanding that at least one team has shown interest in Holtz, who was selected seventh overall in 2020. From the outside, it doesn’t seem like he fits into the Devils’ plans. Holtz does not have the speed to keep up with the team’s young core and is not effective on the third or fourth line. The writing is on the wall; if Holtz wants to become a full-time NHLer, it likely won’t be in New Jersey. The young Swede will be one to watch over the next week.

The trade deadline is getting closer, and even though general manager Tom Fitzgerald has been quiet until now, things change in a moment. For Ruff and his team, it’s about the task at hand, which is collecting wins and fighting for first place in the division. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest surrounding the Devils.

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