Last year’s Devils were a little like the Cleveland Indians in the fictional movie Major League, picked for last by everyone they stun the experts and excite their fans to make the playoffs with a miracle late-season run. Welp, so far this season has been like the beginning of Major League 2 where that same group comes back fat and happy thinking of everything but baseball, going back to their previous losing ways as a result. Sadly once again the Devils are mirroring the faux Indians, playing aboslutely horrible and not even looking like they want to compete in the majority of these games.
For real life standards, this is bad now. 2-6-1 in their last nine games with an increasing number of blowouts is just inexcusable, whether you wanted to believe the Devils were a bubble team or a budding contender going into the season, this is bad by any standard. Not quite 2010 bad yet but it’s getting there at an alarming rate. It’s one thing to get blown out by Tampa Bay, but to get destroyed by OTTAWA, really?! An Ottawa team where the owner is basically pulling a Rachel Phelps from Major League? The same Ottawa team whose players were literally just outed in the back of an Uber having a grand old time complaining about their coaching staff and bragging about not paying attention to videos?
Even as negative as I’ve been about this team I didn’t see last night coming, especially after the previous night’s blowout win in Pittsburgh seemingly giving us a little momentum back. Thank goodness for ‘real life concerns’ (re: midterms coverage) taking my attention away from last night’s game. Unlike the Tampa game which I watched start to finish, I didn’t even turn it on when we got another 2-0 lead that would quickly melt away in an avalanche of goals. Not that I was actually expecting us to give up SIX unanswered goals…SIX! Clearly coach John Hynes has no answers anymore in trying to explain how a team that started 4-0 has disintegrated in such a short time, how this team keeps blowing either big early leads or mid-third period leads, and why this team just continues to be sloppy and haphazard.
They’re clearly an every-other-year team at this point in terms of effort and execution and Hynes’ early season popularity with the fanbase after last year’s playoff run and the Beind The Glass series visibility is going to disintegrate pretty quickly, especially now that Joel Quenneville was shockingly fired from the Blackhawks. Not that I’d expect Ray Shero to go full Lou and pull the plug but now that it’s an option people are going to start wanting change the more this team continues to fall over themselves.
One thing I know for sure, I’m sick of Cory Schneider, not that I’m blaming him for last night neccesarily since the team obviously played no better under Keith Kinkaid, but it just seems like he’s cursed at this point. Last night was a perfect prism of Cory’s entire tenure as a Devil – play well as the team collapses around him, then give up the killer soft goal in a close game and have that hangdog look on the bench as he gets pulled midway through the second period. Despite the fact he’s a pending UFA and Cory’s signed for the next few years, they must ride Kinkaid till further notice, Cory should only play the back-to-backs and you might as well sacrifice him against the better teams so we have more of a chance to beat the weaker teams like Ottawa.
Not that there wasn’t plenty of blame to go around last night, I’m sure there was. I would say it’s bag skate time but we already tried that a couple weeks ago, and the short term effect only lasted the next game and a half before the team went back to sucking lemons. Since I didn’t watch I really have little else to say, I’m not in the mood for more of a rant especially since I’m at a loss over what needs to be done. Unfortunately I think the staff is as well.
A big part of the problem is other than Hynes himself there’s really nobody in the locker room that will consistently get in his teammates’ face, there’s no bad cop other than the head coach. Andy Greene’s a milquetoast ‘lead by example’ captain which is fine if you have enforcer lieutenants but who’s the enforcer lieutenant here, UFA role player Brian Boyle? It’s certainly not Taylor Hall who’s also lead by example. All we can hope for is this movie ends the same way as Major League 2 with the team getting their heads on straight in time for another miracle run.