Mackenzie Blackwood was an awesome goalie for the Devils this season.
The New Jersey Devils needed some big-time goaltending this season in order to have a chance to win this year. They weren’t a good team, but they did get some big-time goaltending on a lot of nights. Cory Schneider wasn’t very good and Louis Domingue‘s short tenure wasn’t great either. Mackenzie Blackwood, on the other hand, was awesome. In his official rookie year, he came in sixth place for the NHL’s Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.
He didn’t receive a first-place vote, but he had one second-place vote, 16 third-place votes, 15 fourth-place votes, and 32 fifth-place votes. All of that combined to come in sixth. Cale Makar won the award while Quinn Hughes, Dominik Kubalik, Adam Fox, and Elvis Merzlikins are the other four that finished ahead of Blackwood. It is a very good group of rookies and they will all make an impact for a long time. It doesn’t feel like there are many one-hit wonders in that group. Blackwood was one of only two goalies to appear in the top ten of voting.
Blackwood had a record of 22-14-8 on a Devils club that went 28-29-12 so you can see how important he was to win. When he wasn’t the goalie of record, they went 6-15-4 which is an abysmal record. They need that to improve but that is a story for a different day. If Blackwood is able to keep it up and perhaps even continue to improve, this team has its goalie for a while.
Blackwood had a 2.77 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. Those are some pretty good numbers for a 23-year-old goalie who is going to continue to improve. The Devils need to start playing better in front of him because there are some games where he had too much work to do. If they can lighten the load on him and start to score more, they will be on their way as an organization.
The key for this team is to keep Blackwood fresh by getting some backup help. It appears that Schneider can’t do it for them anymore and you can bet that they will address that issue. For now, we can just appreciate the fact that Blackwood is there and be excited about what the future might hold for him.