The Devils continued their stretch of unlucky hockey as they dropped their second game in a row to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-2. This was yet another game where it felt like the Devils had the puck for most of the game and could not convert when it mattered the most. With that said, there were multiple off-the-ice stories coming into the game that need addressing.
Monday’s Deadline Looms Large
After sending Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the Islanders on Wednesday, it appears the Devils are not done making moves. When the lines were announced by head coach Lindy Ruff during pregame warmups a key name was missing. Veteran defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was scratched because of “precautionary reasons.” Kulikov, the former Winnipeg Jet, signed a 1-year with New Jersey during the free-agent period.
Teams in playoff contention are always looking to bolster their depth for the back half of the season. Not only would Kulikov provide that aforementioned depth but he would also give a receiving team an experienced veteran. He is a physical defenseman who provides good size on the backcheck. Kulikov will be a free agent at season’s end lessening his value. However, his services can be extremely valuable for a team on the outside looking in. If General Manager Tom Fitzgerald can find the right destination for Kulikov, the return could warrant a decent asset.
Marian Studenic Makes NHL Debut
Another Devil prospect got his first taste of NHL action this evening. Marian Studenic, a 2017 fifth-round pick of the Devils in 2017 made his debut tonight. While he did not get on the scoresheet, he skated well and seemed to gel with his linemates. The Devil wearing 67 seemed to skate freely when his nerves must have been uncontrollable.
Rust Rings up Two Points
There are some players that just seem to kill other teams when faced with the challenge. Bryan Rust for whatever reason enjoys playing the Devils. it seems that every game the two teams play Rust has an impact on the box score. He bridged the second and third periods, getting on the scoresheet twice. He beat goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood on a play that was challenged for goaltender interference. The challenge would wind up unsuccessful. He would then grab an assist on a goal by Jake Guentzel.
Subban Scores, Adds Drama
One of the Devils’ two goals came from newly named assistant captain P.K. Subban. This came with a somewhat ironic circumstance as the goal was originally waived off due to goaltender interference. The call was once again challenged, this time with success. The goal would cut the Pens lead to two with about 14 minutes to go. However, the final minutes would tick away as the Devils looked fairly punchless.
The Devils have played well in a majority of their games this season. They have a young core that plays with speed and physicality however, the roster is nowhere near complete. The defense needs upgrades in the worst of ways and the offense is missing that prolific scorer. With that said there is a lot to be excited about if you are a Devils fan. They have a lot of young talent on the roster that should develop into a solid core down the line. The Devils will take on the Rangers at The Rock on Tuesday in the first of four games against the Blueshirts.