What’s to say right now? If this team isn’t at rock bottom now with three straight losses culminating in yesterday’s whitewash at Barclays with Lou Lamoriello being satisfied in his new post as GM of the first-place Islanders, I shudder at what will be rock bottom. I’m just glad that unlike Tuesday I followed through on my threat to boycott. I knew this game would be an ass kicking too just like in Tampa, and that’s basically what happened. Granted, looking at the boxscore the 3-0 final is slightly misleading since it was 1-0 until there were five minutes left in the game. Still, I figured on a multi-goal loss and wasn’t the least bit surprised when I finally turned the game on to see highlights of the empty-netter in the dying seconds and three-nil popped up on the score.
We’re now at the moral victory portion of the program where the message out of the room was at least we played better. I’ll buy that for a game or two since effort has been at least half the problem so far, but if they don’t start getting results real soon the Devils will be so far down the hole they’ll need at least a couple months to get out of it – if they can at all. Just don’t insult my intelligence like the football Jets and Todd Bowles frequently do and talk about how things have changed when they keep churning out the same record year in and year out, with the same number of no-show performances. I’m not giving the Devils any credit for effort at least until they start stringing a few better efforts together in a row, and eventually get a couple of wins out of it.
Arguably nothing happened in-game that was as important as in the day between games anyway, when the Devils sent out a blaring message by demoting Pavel Zacha to the AHL. Not being sure of the waiver rules I’d somehow believed a few days ago that they couldn’t demote Zacha without exposing him to waivers, but since he’s still under the 160-game threshold by a few the Devils were able to send this wake-up call. It’s one thing to tell someone to do something, it’s another to show there are real consequences if you don’t and now the rest of the room knows that even a recent high draft pick can be cut if he doesn’t pick it up. Hynes’ comments on Zacha were on-point (unlike the player himself).
Can’t say I loved the fact Kurtis Gabriel was one of the callups though, every year I and other fans complain one-dimensional goons shouldn’t play, but invariably if a team doesn’t have enough sandpaper in the rest of the lineup, that still ends up happening sooner or later. Especially after a string of recent games where the team showed little fight figuratively or literally – and one of the few guys who tried was defenseman Mirco Mueller, who was pummelled like a blowup doll in Detroit. Still, playing Gabriel in Brooklyn yesterday over the likes of Joey Anderson was even more laughable considering the Isles’ own enforcer (Matt Martin) was out of the lineup. At least Gabriel couldn’t look to take penalties against Martin the way he did in the preseason when he embarassed himself by taking a string of minor penalties there.
Another problem at this point is Hynes’ recent backing of himself into a corner by publicly pooh-pooing the question about breaking up the first line to spread out the scoring. While I was inclined to side with him in not breaking up the Hall-Hischier-Palmieri troika (at least until Jesper Bratt finally returned), maybe it would be nice to give Marcus Johansson someone to pass to since that’s all he’s good for at this point. Plus the first-line’s home/road combined splits I saw online last night were staggering.
Eight home games: 13 goals, 18 assists, +15
Four road games: 1 goal, 5 assists, -22
What does that mean? When you can’t get the last line change having a good chunk of your scoring in the first line can be more of a problem than it’s worth. With four more road games coming up and the team struggling, they can’t afford to be stubborn for too much longer. A looming back-to-back against the rival Pens on Monday, then off to Ottawa on Tuesday isn’t going to be any easier than the last few games have been. Adjustments need to be made and the effort supposedly showed yesterday needs to be sustained through multiple games or a once-promising season could be derailed in a hurry.