Pre-season home is finally underway. Fans get to see their favourite teams hit the ice for the first time in a long time. Even though it is preseason, notable names and starters will get to see game-time action. For the New Jersey Devils, Mackenzie Blackwood was a player to watch in the first preseason game. After a season riddled by injury and poor numbers, bouncing back is in the cards now that he is at full health.
New Jersey Devils Mackenzie Blackwood Has Good Pre-Season Start
The Devils took on the Montreal Canadiens in their first preseason game. Tomas Tatar returns and the world got a first look at number one pick Juraf Slafkovsky. While notable core pieces such as Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Ryan Graves got to start, Blackwood got the opportunity to start in goal. This would be his first game action since last year after a nagging heel injury limited his game.
New Jersey Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood looked good in the team’s first preseason game. He looked sharp right from the start. The team trailed early, but you can’t fault Blackwood, that was a beautiful top-shelf shot by Cole Caufield. From that point on, Blackwood looked calm and poised. He looks confident in his play and challenged the shooters. It really was a completely different goalie from last year.
During Blackwood’s time on the ice, the Devils smothered Montreal and did not allow them to get to the high-danger area. His big improvement thus far came in the medium danger area. Blackwood stopped four out of four shots in that area. Last season his save percentage in the area was .895. The sample size was small, but you saw a difference in his performance tonight. The majority of his workload came from the low-danger area as he faced seven shots.
Overall this was a good performance from Blackwood. As time goes on, all eyes will be on how he performs in each area facing shots. His final stat lines for the evening were a .929 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average.
What The Performance Means To Blackwood
This performance was huge for Mackenzie Blackwood. After a year derailed by injury and just never gaining confidence, this was a good game for him. Blackwood got to show why management believes in him and that they made the right choice keeping him around. This game is good for his confidence and self-morale going forward.
He allowed one goal on 16 shots and looked confident in net. Just everything fans would want to see from their goalie. As the Devils look to take the next steps this season, it all starts within goal and Blackwood is a key factor in that. If he can return to his 2019-20 form, then he is in business. That was the year he shined brightly and installed hope in the fan base that they finally found their guy.
How This Impacts The Devils Going Forward
It is so early but Blackwood looking the way he did is a good sign. If he follows up, the Devils are in very good shape. New Jersey also has Vitek Vanecek in the fold and together they could form a very good young tandem in net. The Devils have the pieces up front with the young core, and if the goaltending holds up they will be a team to watch out for. Overall this was a good sign for the Devils and even though it is only pre-season, Blackwood being healthy simply makes the team better.