After finally ending a six-game skid with a pair of big division wins earlier this week, the Devils regressed in another weekend beatdown at the hands of the Flyers, who are now 2-0 against their NJ rivals inside of a week. Worse, neither game was really close as the Flyers outscored the Devils by a combined 8-3 in the two losses (not including Drew Stafford’s laughable consolation goal down 5-2 with under a minute remaining at the Rock last Sunday). I was going to watch today’s afternoon matinee against the Flyers on tape delay this evening, but peeked at the score early and saw it was 3-0 in the first period and Keith Kinkaid was already pulled – due to injury as it turned out though ironically after a poor outing Kinkaid might have been given the hook anyway when he got hurt on the third goal allowed. Needless to say I’m not going to bother watching this one over.
Allegedly the Devils played better over the final two periods without the goals to show for it, and Appelby even showed a little something in what literally turned out to be an emergency appearance with Cory Schneider laid up for a week and counting due to illness, and now Kinkaid on the shelf. Even third-stringer Eddie Lack is on the shelf for Binghamton, so Appelby may very well draw a critical start at home Monday against the Red Wings, before the team winds up making a tough trip to Boston on a back-to-back, then comes back home Thursday to play a good Predators team.
Honestly I haven’t watched any game this week – Saturday and Thursday I was busy, while Tuesday I was too teed off at the beatdown against the Flyers Saturday extending our losing streak to six games and vowed not to watch till they got off the schneid. And well today, what’s the point? I will be at Monday’s game, sadly I almost forgot they had a home game since it’s the only one I’ll be able to go to this month. I still haven’t completely got the sour taste of my last trip to the Rock out of my mouth yet (the terrible Sabre loss that commenced the losing streak).
I can’t even complain after the two wins this week as much as I’m puzzled as to why today happened. After all on Thursday they played very well against a fine Caps team – granted one that was coming off their bye week and didn’t get a practice in – getting a 3-1 lead, then after blowing yet another two-goal lead late they still managed to win in OT in electrifying fashion when Taylor Hall caused a turnover and scored on a breakaway. In fact three of our goals – Stafford, Hall and Miles Wood – all came on breakaways against a Caps team clearly out of sync. Still, wins are wins and getting revenge on the Isles in Brooklyn followed by beating the division leaders at home should have been enough to power another surge.
Instead the team came out flat for the second time in a week against the Flyers, while Kinkaid after one good game and one game where the team survived him showed why he’s been a poor backup this season in spite of his W-L record allowing another poor early goal that set the tone. He’s a good kid, his emoji recaps are fun but he just has not been a good goaltender this year. If Lack weren’t hurt I’d be advocating giving him some games but we might literally be down to our fourth string goalie on Monday. Appelby did actually play well by all accounts today in his NHL debut but there’s also something to be said for coming in with no pressure and knowing beforehand you’re getting your first NHL start.
In summation things aren’t great right now but they’re better than they could be all things considered given our recent struggles (2-4-3 in the last nine games), given some of the other Metro bubble teams are falling off too. True, our eight or nine point lead on a playoff spot is down to three, but after the bye we still have multiple games in hand on our competition. So maybe it’s closer to a six-point lead, but still this team needs to keep its foot on the gas pedal and not have letdown games like this afternoon or objects in the mirror really will be closer than they appear.