In the second game of the 2018 Prospect Challenge in Buffalo, the New Jersey Devils prospects smashed the Pittsburgh Penguins prospects in a 6-2 win. The Devils just torched the Pens with a five-goal second period that ended with a 6-0 lead. This seemed like a big blowout victory. I have to say seemed because there was no broadcast of this game.
We apologize for inconvenience, but a livestream for today and Monday’s game will not be available. For up to the minute updates, follow our #NJDevils team reporter @amandacstein. https://t.co/fyAyTtwgs7— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) September 8, 2018
I know I complained about the video quality of last year’s Prospect Challenge, but I would rather have Bad Video Quality than the No Video Quality of this year’s. I will give credit to Amanda Stein for providing updates during the game. The two Devils’ official accounts - Binghamton and New Jersey - supported and provided video clips of certain highlights. Those clips were good but begs the question: Why again could they not stream this game? If the issue is with Buffalo or Harborcenter (the rink where this is taking place), then that’s rather asinine since it was not an issue last season. If the issue was not having equipment, then shame on the Devils. As I wrote yesterday in the Devils-Sabres prospect game recap, it is not right to hype something up that will get fans interested and then not provide a means for people to actually see it.
Since I was not at the game, I cannot really provide much insight or opinion about what happened. I did find out that the Harborcenter site does have a boxscore of the game, although it is not entirely complete. The shot counts for players do not match the shot counts for teams. Somehow, Brandon Baddock got a fighting major and a boarding minor 50 seconds later. Mistakes that you would not see elsewhere. I get that this is a pre-preseason exhibition, but this only makes trying to follow along more of a chore.
That said, here are my general conclusions from what happened.
Blow Them Away: The score seemingly reflected how this game went. While the Pens fired a lot of shots in the first period; Cam Johnson was strong in net and the Devils did get on the board first. A Brandon Gignac power play goal gave them a lead that they maintained. The second period was all about the New Jersey Devils, though. They lit up goaltender Tristan Cote-Cazenave so badly that he was replaced for the third period by Christian Propp. As you’ll see in the linked clips later in this post, there’s not a lot of Pittsburgh black and gold on the Devils. Unlike the Buffalo game, they were able to get separation and finish some open shots. Pittsburgh took four straight penalties and the Devils made them pay twice to really blow the game wide open. Not that Johnson was bored, but the 17 shots by the Devils meant the action was often in Pittsburgh’s end. This is consistent with domination. The third period was, well, what it was. The Devils took some calls, suffered, but it is hard to get too worked up over it since the Devils went into the period up by six. It was garbage time and provided no one got hurt, who cares if it ended 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, or even 7-2?
The Near Hat Trick: Brandon Gignac probably impressed whoever was at the rink today. He had a two-goal performance and nearly got the hat trick in the third period. He had a breakaway try early in the third plus a shorthanded chance prior to Pittsburgh’s second of the game. Both of Gignac’s goals came from the power play with each coming from a wide position: one left and one right. It would not surprise me if he’s on either half-wall in Binghamton power plays in 2018-19.
Here’s the first one:
I know it was a power play, but Yegor Sharangovich found that nobody was looking or was on Gignac. Easy pass by Sharangovich and a fine, far-post shot from the right circle by Gignac. The low shot beat a blocking attempt by defenseman Calen Addison that only served to be noted in a hockey blog at how it failed.
Gignac was on the left side for his second PPG of the game:
Jocktan Chainey was in a good position in the center of the zone and made a barely-look pass to Gignac in the circle. The forward one-timed it well past Wyatt McLeod and the goalie to make it 6-0.
Without being able to see the game in full, it is hard to say whether Gignac played well throughout the day. At a minimum, he was quite effective on the power play and made his mark twice on the game. Good job by him.
Anderson & Sissons: Joey Anderson and Colby Sissons were the other Devils to have two-point afternoons as each tallied a goal and an assist. In fact, they supported each other. Sissons converted a power play in the second period to make it 3-0:
You can only see the finish and it appeared that Sam Lafferty (#37 on Pittsburgh) deflected this pass almost perfectly for Sissons. Still, Anderson saw that the defenseman jumped up on the play and was alone on the right side. Sissons hit it high over Cote-Cazenave for a nice-looking goal. I don’t know why the boxscore as this at even strength as Jordy Bellerive took a minor penalty less than a minute before this goal. But it’s a goal all the same.
As for Anderson’s first in exhibition play, it was a more impressive play:
The cliche in hockey is that good things will happen if you go to the net. Sissons came down the near-side and took a sharp-angled shot. Anderson was coming down the middle. He fired it hard enough to force a rebound. Anderson cleaned it up. Addison (#76) was in the picture but he was not looking at Anderson and McLeod was certainly not doing much either. The whole rebound goal was helped out big time by the lackadaisical effort by the Pens. I get the sense that was their approach to defense in the second period.
Baddock Actually Contributed: Brandon Baddock was in the lineup. He did take at least two penalties: a roughing penalty near the end of the first and a fighting major late in the third. He, somehow, got tagged with a boarding minor after said fighting major. I think that was a mistake by the recorder. But Baddock drew a tripping call and he picked up an assist on a goal by Blake Speers that made the game 2-0 in the second period.
Just taaaaaap it in.— Binghamton Devils (@BingDevils) September 8, 2018
Speers makes it 2-0. pic.twitter.com/4hl45lqdwS
I think the credit to Baddock is generous. Speers gained the zone with control and it appeared the puck was defended away by Addison. The puck took a bounce and Speers was able to poke it forward as the puck hit the ice. The puck got past the goalie. It was a broken play and it showed good awareness (and speed) by Speers. Still, Baddock was not a complete load on the ice and that’s something of note.
Quiet on the Scoresheet at Least: Ty Smith and Brett Seney both did not make the scoring part of the box score today. Since nobody outside of the rink could see this game, this does not necessarily mean they were bad. Not a huge fan of Seney taking two minor penalties, especially since the second one did end with a goal by Pittsburgh; but again, that does not necessarily mean he was poor. The same could also be said of Zetterlund, who also only had an elbowing penalty to his name today.
Clipless: John Quenneville was thought to have a goal today. He quickly made it 4-0 - except he didn’t. The goal was credited to Marian Studenic, whereupon Quenneville was given an assist. This was notable in that there was no clip at all of this goal. All of the other goals got a short clip from somebody at the Harborcenter. Not this one. Maybe it was a jam play or a scrum in front of the net? Maybe it was just missed at all? I don’t know.
The Netminder: Cam Johnson did well to hold things down in the first two periods and allowed nothing at all at even strength. His athleticism was noted and he was the star of one of the few non-goal scoring clips from this game:
While Mackenzie Blackwood was held out to dry against a superior Buffalo team, Johnson had the better day in net. He was certainly far better than Cote-Cazenave. It is early but I think it will be a good competition for the crease in Binghamton this season.
Lastly, a Technical Note: Unless there is some kind of broadcast from the Boston end, there will not be a recap or a Gamethread of Monday morning’s game. I mean, what’s the point? There is little to discuss about a game where there is no live video or audio coverage. There is little to recap unless something significant happens. If you read the boxscore and saw the clips, then you saw as much as I did anyway.
I’m still a little frustrated that in a day and age where teams and players and leagues talk a big game about fan engagement and such, there are still roadblocks like this one. I know in the larger scheme of things, a pre-preseason prospect exhibition series is not a big deal. But in this particular case, knowing that the Devils have all of one home game for preseason and won’t be at the Rock until October 11, it is imperative that there be ways and means for us to follow our favorite team beyond just what someone is Tweeting or a poorly-updated boxscore or what team-approved clips are allowed to be posted. Yet, the team does not agree. Again, if you’re not going to provide the content, then don’t promote it or hype it or just not have it without a good reason why not.
UPDATE: As per TheUnseenHand and dirtyjerseydevils in the comments, the Devils did take video of this game and uploaded the whole thing to their Youtube channel tonight. Which is great - so why didn’t they say they would do that to begin with? Here’s the video.
Your Take: The Devils won big 6-2 in a game that only was shown in full only at the Harborcenter in Buffalo, New York. The Devils will look to finish the 2018 Prospect Challenge with a winning record against Boston on Monday morning. What do you think of this game? Were you there and, if so, what did you see that we all did not? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.