Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
Mackenzie Blackwood was the starter for the New Jersey Devils against the San Jose Sharks and continued his winning streak by moving up to five consecutive wins in a 36-save performance in a Devils 2-1 victory in regulation.
The Devils came into last night’s contest after a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, where if it were not for Devils’ goaltender Louis Domingue at certain points, the score could have been 8-0. With that said, Devils’ fans got hit with the news that Domingue would be scratched from the lineup for “precautionary reasons,” which could mean a trade is in the works.
Cory Schneider was also recalled from Binghamton, and Domingue was being sent through waivers all before the game. With all that occurring leading up to the game, the Devils still showed up and performed. The scoring started in the first period with a goal from Tim Heed to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The Devils would take the lead in the second period after a beautiful deke from Jesper Bratt off a phenomenal pass from Pavel Zacha. P.K. Subban would score the game-winner in the third period, and Nikita Gusev had assists on both of the Devils’ goals. Blackwood turned aways 36 shots out of the 37 he faced, and Devils fans left happy with a win from the Prudential Center.
Mackenzie Blackwood should be in the Calder conversation … and that’s it. Devils’ fans might not be happy with me saying that but in reality, you have got Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes fighting for the award as the perceived top two right now, as well as Dominik Kubalik in Chicago, who currently has 25 goals and 13 assists in his rookie season.
Of course, as a goaltender, the impact on your team is tremendous as you alone can literally steal games for your teams. While the Devils are 20-12-7 with Blackwood in net this season, it is just too little too late. Let us not forget that Blackwood was not strong out the gate, which was ok because fans knew he was still developing. While he has turned it around, the Devils are nowhere near a playoff spot, and that makes it harder for a player to win the Calder trophy.
Blackwood set another record against the Sharks, becoming just the third Devils’ goaltender to reach 20 wins in his rookie season, with Martin Brodeur at the top spot with 27 wins and Sean Burke at 22 wins. The question becomes, will Blackwood get an opportunity to hit or break 27 wins this season? The Devils have 22 games remaining, so there is certainly a chance as of right no. And if Blackwood can keep his level of play up, there is no reason he should not break the Devils’ rookie wins record that Brodeur owns.
Nikita Gusev keeps making an impact. He registered two assists last night, and his level of play has certainly become much better throughout the season. Gusev is not perfect defensively, but he has certainly gotten better as the season has gone on. I would make the argument that he’s player who should not be traded as a part of this rebuild right now. He’s 27 years old and if this steady improvement keeps up, he will either become a great asset to the Devils if they wish to and can sign him to an extension.
Final Score, Stats, and Highlights
|25 (47.2%)||Faceoffs(%)||28 (52.8%)|
|0 for 3||Power Plays||1 for 6|
- Mackenzie Blackwood – Win, 36 Saves, .973 Save %
- P.K. Subban – Game-Winning Goal
- Nikita Gusev – 2 Assists