Schott: Wedgewood Another Phenom In Devils Net

(Scott Wedgewood leads the Devils to the ice – @NJDevils)

When the Devils stalwart goaltender Cory Schneider went down with a knee injury on March 4, they turned to Keith Kinkaid.

Kinkaid, who put together a good season as the backup goalie, did well initially as the starter, notching a shutout of the San Jose Sharks and beating the Los Angeles Kings on the road.

Things began to turn for Kinkaid on March 14, when he surrendered seven goals against the Anaheim Ducks. He then gave up four to the Minnesota Wild three nights later, and was pulled after allowing three early to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the 19th.

The next day, in the second half of a home-and-home with Columbus, Scott Wedgewood got the start at Prudential Center.

Wedgewood made 27 saves and allowed only one goal to get the win over Columbus, as the Devils got the 2-1 victory.

Wedgewood, who was drafted the by the Devils in 2010, was the first Devils goaltender to win in his NHL debut since Martin Brodeur on Marrch 26, 1992 vs. Boston.

The Devils then faced a tough test on Thursday, as they faced the red-hot Penguins in Pittsburgh.

Wedgewood was incredible, as he made 39 saves to record a shutout in the 3-0 Devils win.

On Friday night, the Devils hosted the Washington Capitals,who have clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Braden Holtby, possibly the best goalie in the NHL, was in net for the Capitals, and he is trying to break Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record of 48. Holtby entered Friday night’s game with a record of 44-9-4 on the season, with a 2.25 goals against average.

Wedgewood was up to the task, as he shut out the high-powered Capitals during regulation, stopping 24 shots, most of which were high-quality.

The Devils only put nine shots on net during the first two periods, but turned it up in the third, getting 11 shots, which Holtby turned away.

The game went into overtime scoreless, and the Capitals won it on a goal from John Carlson 2:17 into the extra session.

Wedgewood said of the goal, “There was a little stick-on-stick I think. I just kind of knew where he was heading, it was a good shot just inside the post. I gave my best effort, you have to give him credit for where he put that.”

Wedgewood did not allow a goal for 159 minutes and 24 seconds. That is the second-longest scoreless sequence for a Devils rookie goaltender, behind the run of 164:18 by Martin Brodeur from March 7-17, 1994.

Incredibly, Wedgewood has stopped 91 of 93 shots in his first three starts.

Wedgewood said of facing Braden Holtby, “He’s obviously having a good year. He’s trying to get that Marty (Brodeur) record, would have been nice to give Marty some help and slow him down, obviously I’m kind of on Marty’s side there. He played well, he did what he had to do. It was nice of him at the end there to give me a pad tap, that was a pretty classy move.”

Wedgewood said of the Devils’ organization having him ready to step in for a week like this against top offenses like Pittsburgh and Washington, “The team’s been doing really well, I can’t take any credit away from them or put any more on myself. They’ve been doing what they had to, and I just stepped in. They’re gonna play their game, I’m gonna play mine, and it’s working pretty well for the both of us.”

The Devils have brought up a lot of players from their AHL affiliate in Albany, like Joseph Blandisi and Mike Sislo, who have done a good job at the NHL level.

Wedgewood said of how comfortable he felt in New Jersey seeing players from Albany, “It’s helpful, I’m friends with everybody on the team here in Jersey and Albany. I like to talk, like to get along with guys, and we’ve had a pretty good partnership and friendship so far. It’s been working out, obviously, I’ve been here numerous camps, I know the entire staff top to bottom. Obvously, new management this year, some new people I had to get to know, but I’ve had no issues. I think everybody’s treated me like I’d hoped for, and it makes things a lot easier to come in here and step in to a team that needed some help, and we’ve been doing it as a group. There’s not one guy that’s been doing it by himself, and that’s obviously a tribute to the team.”

Devils center Adam Henrique said of the job Wedgewood has done, “He’s been awesome for us. You know, obviously, the crucial time of the year he has come, played confidently. He’s calm in the net, which makes a difference for everybody around him.  He controls the puck well, plays the puck well, so I think he’s just calm and stays within his game, played how he has to play to have success and he’s been great for us. It’s great to see and, obviously, we’re going to need that going forward still.”

Wedgewood said of the best save of the night against Washington, “Tonight, not really, i don’t think so, I just felt confident tracking the puck the way I wanted to, and obviously held up as long as I could.”

On facing the Capitals’ offense, Wedgewood said, “They controlled the puck a lot in our end. They kind of just avoid the perimeter and wait for something to open up. I sat down with (Chris) Terreri before the game and he gave me a game plan that they kind of hang a guy off the back door and look for tips and things like that. They had good opportunities, but we had so many good defensive plays to tie up sticks and I took away the angles the best I could so we worked together as a team and it paid off most of the game.”

Wedgewood said of his confidence level, “I’m still confident in my game, didn’t do anything wrong out there. There were a few rebounds I would like to have back, a few different plays, but all in all, I was confident in the way that it went and obviously we’ll keep moving forward into this week.”

On the Prudential Center crowd getting behind him on Friday night, he said, “They were great again tonight. It’s fun. I hope they take to me like I have taken to them.”

On how surprised he was to play both ends of the back-to-back with Pittsburgh and Washington: “I was always hoping for it, I wasn’t overly surprised by it. Keith’s (Kinkaid) a good goaltender, he’s gonna get in there. he’s gonna do it all. Right now, I’ll play as many games as they want me to, I like the work. It’s just one thing right now that obviously I’m doing well and the team likes me back there, I’ll be there for them.”

Wedgewood said of Friday’s game being a trademark Devils performance of grinding hockey, “On the ice, they’re a hard-working group. We pride ourselves on playing tough defense and, tonight, it seemed like the last three games they played, they’ve been in front of me blocking shots, keeping things to the outside, making it easy, can’t take anything away from them.”


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