This is your tri-weekly open post to discuss New Jersey Devils and hockey-related news going on. I am filling in once again for Nate today. He is expected to return next Wednesday. As usual, site rules apply so keep your comments clean and legal.
Here are your links for today:
The Devils were off on Sunday ahead of a back-to-back set that starts tonight. There is not a ton of news from the weekend outside of the game.
Yesterday was Matt Loughlin’s birthday. Happy birthday to the team’s radio play by play announcer and long-time employee. [NJ Devils on X]
The Devils placed forward Max Willman on waivers. The Devils went up to the limit of the active roster when Jack Hughes returned. In order for someone else (Brendan Smith?) to return, the Devils needed to demote someone. Willman clearing waivers would allow that. Also: He has clear waivers because he has played more than 10 games with the Devils (13) since last clearing waivers. [Ryan Novozinsky]
Larry Brooks of the NY Post did write about the Devils “season from hell.” I normally like Brooks’ takes, especially about the league and the player’s union, but I cannot agree that it is hard to explain. Still, check it out and make up your own mind about it. [Slap Shots]
I missed this on Friday, but the NHL did a re-audit of their hit stats and re-adjusted everyone’s numbers. The Devils are 14th in hits per 60 at 22.14 and 15th in total hits with 1,116. Peep at who is at the bottom of the list. [NHL Stats]
Per Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet, Jacob Markstrom to the Devils is unlikely. It’s not a no or “it’s off,” so we’ll see. [Sportsnet]
Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Qualification for the third round is over! Here are the winners:
- Group G: Japan edged Hungary 2-1 to win the group. Shout out to Utica Comet / Adirondack Thunder forward Yushiroh Hirano, who put up a goal and an assist in the three games [IIHF]
- Group H: Great Britain pulled away from Romania in the second period to win 7-4 and move on in the Olympic qualification process. Shout out to Liam Kirk, who was an Arizona draft pick back in 2016 and put up 10 points in this group. [IIHF]
- Group J: Ukraine secured their group win with a 5-3 win over Estonia. They went up 3-0 early on and never looked back in Poland. Shout out to their head coach, former NHL player Dmitri Kristich. [IIHF]
By the way, the next tourney for the IIHF should be the first World Championships division for the year: Division III, Group B. That is the group the Philippines will be in, which should include Lodi, New Jersey’s own EJ Sibug. That will start on February 23. What would you like to see in a group preview for it? [IIHF Tournament List]
These three teams now move on to the final round of qualification, which will take place on August 29 through September 1. I believe the groups each will go into will be based on IIHF World Ranking. That would be, in order, Great Britain, Japan, and Ukraine. If that’s the case, then: Great Britain will be Group F with Denmark (hosting), Norway, and Slovenia; Japan will play with Latvia (hosting), France, and Austria in Group E; and Ukraine will go into Group F with Slovakia (hosting), Kazakhstan, and (if they are allowed to play) Belarus. The IIHF has to decide soon about Belarus’ and Russia’s status for the Olympics.
Winners of those three groups will go to the 2026 Winter Olympics. Good luck to Japan, Great Britain, and Ukraine. [IIHF Men’s Olympic Winter Game Qualification]
The big story in the NHL over the weekend came in a hated rivalry game between Toronto and Ottawa. Ottawa’s Ridley Grieg iced the game with an empty net goal. No big deal, right? Except he decided to take a slapshot for it. Toronto’s Morgan Reilly took large exception to that display of putting an exclamation mark on the game. Moreso than, I guess, his team’s performance. Sportsnet has video of the incident on X here: [Sportsnet]
Reilly’s cross check to Grieg’s grill and melee-starting act has earned him an in-person meeting with the NHL Department of Player Safety. This means he could be suspended beyond 5 games. It will be tomorrow afternoon. [NHL Player Safety]
In a less violent and more silly/petty post-game moment, Edmonton was not so willing to give up the game puck to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings beat the Oilers in head coach’s Jim Hiller’s first win with the team. Devils play the Kings Thursday, by the way. [Sportsnet]
Interested in the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association) ice hockey championships? It will be different for 2024. For one, there are only three groups: Public, Public Co-op, and Non-public. For another, the two public groups will be split up into North and South with the winners of those regionals competing for the championship at the Rock. The girls’ championships will also be at the Rock. [Brian Bobal, NJ.com ($)]
The Professional Women’s Hockey League is in their first season so there will be a lot of firsts. Yesterday, there was the first trade in the league: defensesewoman Abby Cook and forward Susanna Tapani were sent to Boston by Minnesota, who received defensewoman Sophie Jacques. [PWHL]
Feel free to discuss these and any other hockey-related stories in the comments below. Thank you for reading.