Devils News & Rumors: Hischier, Goaltending & More
Welcome to New Jersey Devils News & Rumors, a new weekly segment that will be released every Friday this season. Since our last edition, the Devils swept their home-and home-series against the Calgary Flames and earned an overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators.
The Devils are on an eight-game winning streak for the first time since 2011, with a 9-1-0 record in their last ten games. When NHL.com released the latest edition of their Super 16 rankings, New Jersey jumped from the sixth spot to fourth behind the Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Tatar and Hischier Continue to Find the Scoresheet
Tomas Tatar met with the media during the preseason and was brutally honest about his performance last season. As a reminder, he finished with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 76 games.
“I worked pretty hard this summer to come here and prove a point,” he said. “I was excited and kind of had anger driving me through this summer. … I know it was not just about me. I think the whole team after last season was pretty unhappy with how things went, and we wanted to come stronger, and now is the time to prove it.”
He is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was a standout in exhibition games, scoring four goals. He may have started a little slow, not finding the scoresheet until Oct. 24, but he has been one of the team’s hottest forwards this past week. The 31-year-old earned four points in his last three games and is riding a six-game point streak.
Captain Nico Hischier is playing some of the best hockey of his career with a team-leading eight goals and 16 points, ranked second on the team behind Jesper Bratt (18 points). On Nov. 10, head coach Lindy Ruff talked about the captain reaching a new level in his game.
“I said at the end of the year I saw some play by Nico (Hischier) that I thought was the best I’ve seen, and I think he’s gone to another level.”
Like Tatar, the 23-year-old is on a six-game point streak and collected five points this week (three goals, two assists). This season, the Devils are 10-0-0 when their captain records a point.
Vanecek Leaves Game After Collision
The Devils hosted the Senators on Nov. 10, and for the third consecutive game, goaltender Vitek Vanecek was the club’s starter. In the second period, Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot collided with the Devils’ netminder in the crease, leaving Vanecek lying face-down for several seconds before an athletic trainer came out. Eventually, the 26-year-old got to his skates and tried to remain in the game. However, with over eight minutes left in the third period, a decision was made to pull him.
“It was a group decision,” said Ruff. “We talked about it, and we thought the best thing was to get him out.”
During his postgame press conference, Ruff did not have an update on Vanecek but said he isn’t concerned. The team held a practice Friday afternoon, and Devils reporter Amanda Stein confirmed that the 6-foot-2 goaltender made an appearance near the end of practice, working with goaltending coach Dave Rogalski. After practice, Ruff told the media it was a good sign that he was able to come out and face some shots and again reiterated that he is optimistic.
Schmid Earns His First NHL Win
With Blackwood off the ice with a sprained MCL and Jonathan Bernier on long-term injured reserve, the club recalled Akira Schmid from their American Hockey League affiliate on Nov. 5. Last season, he started four games for the Devils and had a 0-4-0 record with a goals-against average of 4.83 and save percentage of .833.
On Thursday night, he entered the game cold after Vanecek was pulled. He played 13:50 and made seven saves on seven shots to secure his very first NHL win and preserve the team’s winning streak. After the game, defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler said he gave the 22-year-old his game-winning puck. Schmid was all smiles when he met with the media and summed it up best by saying, “Obviously, you don’t expect your first win to be like this, but I’ll take it, for sure.”
Catching Up With the Comets
Since last week, the Utica Comets only played two games, earning a victory and a loss against the Rochester Americans. Nolan Foote scored a goal in each game and now has seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine games. The 6-foot-3 forward has been playing on a line with Brian Pinho, who leads the team with nine points.
During an interview with Ben Birnell of the Rome Daily Sentinel, Comets head coach Kevin Dineen spoke about Foote’s development.
Related: Devils’ Prospect Report: Foote, Pasic, Bardakov & More
Latest News & Highlights
“Nolan is a young kid who is very goal-oriented. His goal is to play in the NHL like every one of these players. I think he’s matured to the point that he’s not worried about hopping a step and thinking that he’s going to get right there,” said Dineen. “He does have a great shot. Although I think he understands that a big body like him and his skill set, that he’s not shy about going to hard places. You can talk about that all you want and review and prepare, but when it is actually showing up on the scoresheet, I don’t know that there’s any better lesson and development tool.”
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.
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.