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Season preview: New Jersey Devils


Season preview: New Jersey Devils

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: New Jersey Devils

2014-15 record: 32-36-14, 7th in the Metropolitan

How they finished: Did not make the playoffs

Coach: John Hynes (1st season)

Notable additions: D John Moore, C Kyle Palmieri

Notable subtractions: RW Steve Bernier, C Scott Gomez, D Peter Harrold, RW Michael Ryder, D Bryce Salvador, LW Dainius Zubrus

RELATED: Capitals' depth at center hinges on Backstrom's health

Schedule against the Capitals: Sat. Oct. 10 at Washington, Sat. Feb. 6 at New Jersey, Sat. Feb. 20 at Washington, Fri. Mar. 25 at New Jersey

Outlook: First-year coach John Hynes has his work cut out for him as he takes over a Devils team in transition.

Here's the good news: goaltending is not an issue and the defense is improving.

Corey Schneider provides stability in net and still managed good numbers last season despite New Jersey's dismal year.

Of the six defensemen expected to get the bulk of the playing time this season, five of them are 24 or younger. Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson all gained valuable experience last season and return as the team's young core. Greene is 32, but still likely commands a spot on the top pairing. The addition of John Moore, 24, puts the pieces in place for what could over time become one of the top defenses in the NHL.

Here's the bad news: who the heck is going to score on this team?

The Devils finished 28th in the league last season in goals per game with 2.15 and two of New Jersey's top five point producers from last season, Scott Gomez and Steve Bernier, are gone. Only two Devils managed more than 40 points last season and no one had more than 50. Just to put that into perspective, the Caps had six players with more than 40 points and three with more than 50.

New Jersey has not had a 30-goal scorer since 2012.

As the Devils start to transition to a younger roster and a first-year coach, it is time for Adam Henrique to assert himself. Henrique has yet to surpass the 51 points he tallied in his rookie season in 2011-12. If he wants to become the superstar player the Devils hoped he could be, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

New Jersey will also have a choice to make before the start of the season with prospect Pavel Zacha. The Devils selected him sixth-overall in the 2015 Draft, but find themselves in the same position the Caps were in with Tom Wilson. Zacha can play in the OHL or the NHL, but not the AHL. Do they let their 18-year-old future playmaker develop in the OHL or does a team starved for offense risk bringing him to the big leagues?

Despite some of the older veterans who are still sticking around such as Patrick Elias and Mike Cammalleri, clearly this team is focused on getting younger. At 40 years old, Hynes is the youngest head coach in the NHL. He has spent the last five seasons coaching in the AHL where development is a must. Will that help him reach the young players the Devils are building around? You bet.

Expectations: With an established goaltender and improving defense, the Devils look to be just an offense away from turning the corner. Hynes has promised New Jersey will become a more aggressive, attacking team, but this will take some time. The Devils were 20 points short of the last wild card spot last season and I don't see them making that kind of a leap in what is going to be a very competitive Metropolitan Division this year.

The pieces are coming together in New Jersey, but I don't see Hynes in his first season as an NHL head coach being able to turn things around that quickly. 

MORE CAPS: Team Russia fined for walking off the ice at Worlds

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New York Islanders 8/26 
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Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.


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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 7 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, time, TV Channel, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 7 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, time, TV Channel, live stream

Game 7.

It's the best phrase in all of hockey, and on Wednesday, May 23, Game 7 of the 2018 NHL Eastern Conference Final between the Capitals and Lightning will go down in Tampa, Fla.

The Capitals' path to Game 7 was less than ordinary. After racing to a 2-0 series lead with back-to-back road wins in Tampa, the Lightning responded with three straight wins, forcing the Capitals' to the brink of the 2017-18 season.

But in Game 6 on Tuesday night, the team put on their best performance of the season, blanking the Lightning and forcing Game 7 at Amalie Arena.

The winner of Game 7 advances to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Vegas Golden Nights await, having defeated the Winnipeg Jets to advance to the championship round in the team's inaugural season.

Game 7 Capitals at Lightning
Date: Wednesday, May 23
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Amalie Arena. Tampa, Fla.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)


Game 7 of the Capitals-Lightning 2018 NHL Eastern Conference Final takes place on Wednesday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.


The TV broadcast of Game 7 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 7 Capitals vs. Lightning
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Game 7 of the 2018 NHL Eastern Conference Final between the Capitals and Lightning is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.