Welcome to New Jersey Devils News & Rumors, a weekly segment that will be released every week this season. Since our last edition, the team improved their record to 21-4-1 and are tied with the Boston Bruins at the top of the league standings with 43 points.
Devils’ goaltender Vitek Vanecek is coming off of his second shutout of the 2022-23 campaign. The 26-year-old made 24 saves versus the Chicago Blackhawks, securing his team’s 3-0 victory. After the game, the netminder said it’s nice to get the shutout, but the win is always bigger. Entering tonight’s contest against the New York Islanders, he has the third-best goals-against average in the league and sixth-best save percentage.
Now that the first quarter of the 2022-23 season is in the books, it is time to give the Devils the credit they deserve, at least according to broadcaster Kevin Weekes. Over the first 26 games of the season, New Jersey has continued to prove they are the real deal by winning a multitude of different ways, and it’s time to admit they are among the elite this season.
Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler agrees with Weekes and feels it’s time that his team gets the respect they deserve.
“It’s not a fluke at all. We showed it enough,” he said. “How we play, we can dominate games, win games, we can play with the lead as well… I don’t know how many times we’ve got to prove it. …It’s time for people to respect us.”
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New Jersey’s young stars have raised the bar this season and are showing they are among the NHL’s elite. The added bonus is there is a ton of talent in their farm system, including Luke Hughes and another blueliner who received exciting news regarding the World Juniors.
Simon Nemec to Play in World Junior Championship
This week Utica Comets head coach Kevin Dineen confirmed that Simon Nemec would be participating in the World Junior Championship. Miroslav Satan, who is now the president of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation, was the first to make the announcement that Nemec would play at the tournament.
“Yes, he’s been notified that he’s going to go to the World Juniors,” said Dineen. “I couldn’t be happier for him. I’m an Olympian, as a coach and as a player, I played in the world championships, and I’m a huge fan of the male and female game at the international level. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see him go there and try to finish in second place behind Canada.”
The 18-year-old, who was selected second overall in the 2022 NHL Draft, has appeared in 19 games for the Comets this season. He has collected seven points (two goals, five assists), which is second-most among all defensemen behind Reilly Walsh.
The Devils Visit Local Hospitals
Devils players, alumni, and staff spent Thursday afternoon spreading holiday cheer visiting various hospitals throughout the state. Former players included Ken Daneyko, Chico Resch, Bruce Driver, Grant Marshall, and Jim Dowd. Players were scheduled to visit with patients and staff in multiple departments, including pediatrics, oncology, orthopedics, and cardiac rehab.
Breakdown of Player Groups and Hospitals:
- Clara Maass Medical Center: Kevin Bahl, Jesper Bratt, Andreas Johnsson, and Vanecek.
- Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center: Jonathan Bernier, Ondrej Palat, Yegor Sharangovich, and Brendan Smith.
- Jersey City Medical Center: Nico Hischier, Damon Severson, Jonas Siegenthaler, and Tomas Tatar.
- RWJUH New Brunswick & BMSCH: Jesper Boqvist, Alexander Holtz, Akira Schmid, and Fabian Zetterlund.
- RWJUH Rahway: Nate Bastian, Michael McLeod, and Dawson Mercer.
- Trinitas Regional Medical Center: Ryan Graves, Dougie Hamilton, and John Marino.
- Newark Beth Israel Medical Center & Children’s Hospital of NJ: Mackenzie Blackwood, Erik Haula, Jack Hughes, and Miles Wood.
The patients and staff aren’t the only ones who enjoy this special holiday event. The players understand what their visit means, especially to the children who are forced to spend the holidays away from home.
“It’s important,” Jack Hughes said. “We still need to do more, but to come here and do that, see some kids. If you put a smile on one kid’s face, it helps. Yeah it was a good day coming here.” (from ‘Devils players encourage patients, healthcare workers at hospitals across N.J.’, NJ.com, 12.08.22)
Bastian Remains Out Indefinitely
To the dismay of many Devils fans, the club have not officially announced Bastian’s injury or provided a timeline. The only information that has been provided is that he is out indefinitely and needs further evaluation.
The good news is he has been spotted around the rink and joined McLeod and Mercer at RWJUH Rahway. On the ice, the coaching staff has moved Zetterlund into this position on McLeod’s line with Wood. The new trio has a combined seven points in their last four games. Bastian was injured on Nov. 26 when the Devils hosted the Washington Capitals. He played 1:25 before leaving the game after taking a hit from T.J. Oshie.
That’s all for this week’s News & Rumors. Be sure to check back next week to find out the latest happenings surrounding the Devils.
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Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and is a credentialed correspondent covering the New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.