The New Jersey Devils have turned many heads this season. After missing postseason contention for the past six years, the Devils are on the brink of clinching a berth in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The play of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and even young gun Nico Hischier have all played a major role in the Devils success. But there is one player who has really stepped up and has been the cornerstone of New Jersey’s winning ways – goaltender Keith Kinkaid.
Keith Kinkaid Leading the Charge for the New Jersey Devils
Going into the 2017-18 NHL campaign, Cory Schneider was the Devils number one choice in between the pipes. As the season began and progressed, there was no argument as to why; Schneider has been the backbone of the Devils for the past several seasons, and this year he continued to fulfill this role. However, late January, Schneider was ill and missed some games. Right after that, he suffered a groin injury and missed a month of action. To step in for the injured netminder was backup Keith Kinkaid.
Since Feb. 15, Kinkaid has posted some amazing numbers, going 15-3-1 with a .923 save percentage. This season as a whole, Kinkaid has played in 40 games, 37 of which were starts, and has posted a record of 25-10-3. He has a goals average against (GAA) of 2.82 and a save percentage of .911% as well as one shutout on the year. These stats say a lot, especially for a backup who was tossed into the fire, but most importantly is how calm Kinkaid has remained under all the pressure.
“I think it was managing my body, managing my rest,” Kinkaid told NorthJersey.com regarding his workload since the Schneider injury. “I felt maybe I’d have to go on the ice a lot more. But it’s more about off-ice preparation. At the beginning, I was trying to do too much. Then, I really learned more about the starting position in the NHL. You can see the last five, six games, I’ve really come into my own. I’ve really gotten comfortable with it.”
New Jersey Set to Return to the Playoffs
The Devils currently hold onto the first Wild Card slot in the Eastern Conference with a total of 95 points. They are one point better than the second Wild Card slotted Philadelphia Flyers. With two games remaining in the regular season, it is safe to say that the Devils will indeed be clinching a berth in the playoffs.
The Devils organization and their fans know what it is like to win and what success feels like. The past few years have been disappointing, but there is a new era in New Jersey, and the team knows that. As of right now, with the playoffs beginning Wednesday, April 11, Keith Kinkaid appears to be the go to for the Devils starting netminder. There has been no word yet who the Devils will actually be starting, but Kinkaid is the hot hand and has been on a tear.
#NJDevils Keith Kinkaid post-game: "I think we’re all motivated to get back in the playoffs and give the fans what they deserve, and give [ourselves] what we deserve."
— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) April 4, 2018
On April 1, Devils head coach John Hynes had this to say regarding Kinkaid and his recent play, and how many starts he has been getting as of late- “I think the schedule sets up to where if he continues to deserve to be in there, we’ll make the decision game-by-game,” he said. “It’s not so much riding the hot hand, it’s just we feel like right now he’s playing very well, he feels good, the schedule lends itself to where you can play the guy because you have days off. You have days between games. Even if around this back-to-back, we had a day off Friday, we’ll have a day off tomorrow. It’s a situation where there’s no reason why a guy can’t play like he is now.” (Via NorthJersey.com)
#NJDevils: Coach John Hynes on Keith Kinkaid down the stretch:
"He makes the saves he should make, and he’s finding a way to make some saves that he shouldn’t make and he does. He’s been very thorough. If we’ve under siege, he may bend but he doesn’t break.”
— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) April 3, 2018
It will be interesting to see what happens going forward, but one thing is for sure- goaltender Keith Kinkaid has really stepped up and has helped the Devils surge and make their way back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Devils have a strong team both offensively and defensively, but having a goaltender who is confident and plays well night in and night out is truly something great.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 4, 2018
The Devils are back in action Thursday night against the hot Toronto Maple Leafs, who have clinched a playoff spot and are in third place in the Atlantic Division.
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