MSGNetworks.com: It was a disappointing end to the Devils‘ season, losing to the Lightning in the first round, but there’s so much to be proud of for the fans after making the playoffs for the first time in six years. Give us your evaluation of their season.
Ken Daneyko: Well, it was a terrific year. It’s always disappointing to lose in the playoffs, but you have to say they lost to a good team. Obviously, Tampa was the best team in the Eastern Conference during the regular season and they might go on and win the Cup from the looks of it.
But it certainly wasn’t disappointing when a lot of the hockey media had the Devils finishing in last place in the Metropolitan Division. They were an underdog all year and they showed a lot of character and team unity to overcome all the odds.
MSGNetworks.com: Taylor Hall was magnificent from start to finish and we just found out recently about the torn ligaments in his left hand that he had to manage throughout the season. What can you say about his Hart-Trophy worthy campaign, and is a year like this the expectation for Taylor going into next season?
Ken Daneyko: Taylor showed so much character throughout the year. A lot of players play through injuries and have to battle through it, but it’s how you handle it and obviously, it didn’t affect his play!
Taylor Hall speaks with Deb Placey after scoring twice in the Devils' 4-3 win over the Islanders at the Prudential Center.
Playing through a tough injury like that just shows his leadership, character and what he wanted to accomplish this season — being the star player and guiding his team to the playoffs. It’s exactly what he did and he was the driving force all year long. It was fun to watch, along with the rest of the team. At the end of the day, you need a catalyst and no doubt about it, Taylor Hall was that catalyst. He has high expectations for himself because he’s all about hockey and all business all the time.
I think you can expect more of the same from him. From his mindset, he wants to be even better and wants to do more. That’s what you expect from your top player.
Taylor Hall reflects on the Devils' 2017-18 campaign and believes the best is yet to come from the team and from himself.
MSGNetworks.com: We talked about how Cory Schneider would play a role down the stretch and it turns out he was in net for the only win of the series against Tampa. We also found out he had to get hip surgery and could miss the start of the 2018-19 season. What can you say about the goaltending situation heading into next year with Schneider and Keith Kinkaid?
Ken Daneyko: Cory has been a top goalie in his career. You always go through some adversity and he handled it as well as you can possibly handle it. He puts a lot on his own shoulders, and after a really good start to the season, Cory was playing through some injuries and missed some games.
Cory Schneider says he relished the Devils' playoff run and is looking for the team to build off their progress during the 2017-18 season.
But he showed at the end of the season what he is capable of. He stepped in, banged up in the series against Tampa and was terrific. He looked like the Cory Schneider we had come accustomed to seeing when he arrived in New Jersey. It was good for his confidence the way he played against the Lightning and his stats during the series were sparkling. The problem was that the Devils ran into the best team in the East, but he can hold his head high.
He underwent surgery, but I’m sure he’ll make a full recovery and be ready whenever he gets fully healthy, whether it be October or November. Cory is a true pro, comes with the right attitude every single night and was great with how he supported Keith Kinkaid when Kinkaid ran with the ball and became one of the biggest reasons why the Devils made the playoffs. I think the Devils have a really good goalie tandem and hopefully, Cory will be 100 percent after his surgery.