The Devils’ World of Frustration and Promise

In this week’s Q&A, Ken Daneyko looks at Keith Kinkaid’s resurgent performance in Columbus, Steven Santini’s development and recalls memories of a heated 2001 Stanley Cup Final between the Devils and Avs.

MSGNetworks.com: The Devils have had some good efforts in recent games, including Tuesday when they outshot the Blue Jackets, but have had few points to show for it. How frustrating has it been for the team?

Ken Daneyko: It’s frustrating, there’s no question about it. Fans don’t want to hear about moral victories, but when you analyze Tuesday’s game, the Devils played extremely well. They had a lot of chances and they were much better than they were in the home loss to the Blue Jackets. We know they have to score goals, but [Sergei] Bobrovsky has been the hottest goaltender in the league with three straight shutouts. You knew it was going to take something special to beat him.

You have no complaints about the effort against a good [Columbus] team that has 90 points this season. I even listened to some of the comments from the Blue Jacket players after the game, and they said that the Devils are a tough team to beat and play against. That’s a positive. If you play that hard and that well, you’re going to get better results eventually.

MSGNetworks.com: One of the players who had a nice rebound effort in Tuesday’s game was Keith Kinkaid. How good was it to see him get back in gear?

Ken Daneyko: It’s not easy to be a backup goalie. It’s tough when you have two-to-three week stretches when you don’t get a game. Backup goalies are special guys. They have to be more focused than No. 1 guy sometimes. You have to go in there and be prepared. You could see it from the morning skate that Kinkaid’s focus was at another level.

As a player, you learn what makes you perform at your best and what gives you the best opportunity to succeed. You could see his preparation for this one was at an all-time high. He made good saves when he had to, but unfortunately, the other goaltender was one shot better.

MSGNetworks.com: Since we’ve started doing these Q&As, we’ve been talking a lot about the young players on the Devils and their contributions. Another youngster that has been getting significant minutes this season is defenseman Steven Santini. What do you see from his game and what do you like about it?

Ken Daneyko: He’s been steady, there’s no other way to put it. He’s not a flashy or fancy guy — he’s strong, he’s solid and I really love the way that he’s played. He continues to develop and he wants to get better.

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He’s a guy that’s very focused and for a young kid, he’s very mature. He’s all business and very serious when you’re around him. I certainly like to see that approach. He cares, wants to do well and wants to help this team win. He knows his role on the team and that’s an important element.

I knew my role and it was hammered home — don’t try to do too much and use your best assets to help the team win. That’s the mentality Santini has and he’s going to be a big part moving forward. You can rely on him on a nightly basis and you know he’s going to be physical. That physical play is only going to get better as his confidence grows.

MSGNetworks.com: You’re back in Colorado for the game against the Avalanche. Obviously, some Devils fans may still hold a grudge for their Stanley Cup Final win over your Devils team back in 2001. What are your memories of that series?

Ken Daneyko: Well, I’m still ticked! I know we won three times, but when you have a team down 3-2 in a series with Game 6 in your building, you should win the Stanley Cup. I know it was frustrating and very disappointing to us at the time because we felt we were as good, if not better, than Colorado. We didn’t get it done in Game 6 even though we played outstanding in the first period of the game. The shots were heavily in our favor in the first period — 12-5 — we outchanced them, but Patrick Roy stood on his head in Game 6.

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They ended up beating us 4-0, but that wasn’t a 4-0 game. Roy was outstanding and we had to go back for Game 7 in Colorado. That was a tough spot. We believed, but Colorado had the momentum and got it done in Game 7.

They were a good and deep team, too. It’s tough when you’re that close. It would have been back-to-back Stanley Cups, but it’s so hard to repeat in this league. Call me greedy and call some of our other leaders like Scott Stevens, Marty Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer greedy! It would have been three Cups in four years.

That’s the standard we set back then and that’s the standard I hope the Devils get back to soon.