Even after the Devils won two in a row heading into Columbus, I had zero confidence they would do any better than they’ve done in almost all of their recent games against the Blue Jackets, especially on a road back to back. When I saw the score after the first period was 3-0 Columbus, I sighed and knew I wouldn’t be turning it on the rest of the night. Honestly my only fear – especially early in the second when it got to 4-0 – was that the game would get so out of hand that coach John Hynes would have to remove Keith Kinkaid to prevent him from giving up a ten-spot. Or as I call it, getting Valiquetted.
Pretty much the only good thing is that prized rookie Mackenzie Blackwood did get the entire night off after coach Hynes came to his senses and decided not to play him a third game in four days coming off of IR. And Blake Coleman somehow hasn’t been touched by the vortex of suck that’s affecting almost everyone else here. On a team full of soft players and dissapointments, Coleman’s a glaring exception. He’s made himself from a role player to a bona fide scorer (getting his seventeenth tonight to avert the shutout late in the second) with role player/grinder chops, and he’s under a ridiculously team-friendly contract for the next two years.
Speaking of soft dissapointments, if I was giving the three duds of the night (as opposed to three stars), Damon Severson might be the first and second dud. Bad enough his turnover led to the Blue Jackets’ first goal, and horrible defensive coverage led to the second one, in his first two shifts of the game but what happened early in the second period was far worse. Already down 3-0 by that point, Severson took a dumb holding penalty and follows it with a selfish unsportsmanlike conduct resulting in a double minor penalty, that eventually led to the Blue Jackets’ fourth goal and a well-deserved benching for the rest of the second period.
In a way it’s a borderline miracle the game didn’t get worse after it was 4-0 less than twenty-two minutes in. Maybe the Blue Jackets wanted to conserve their powder (literally and figuratively, since they didn’t want to use up all their dopey cannon fire for the rest of the season tonight). Clearly they wanted to get the game over with as badly as we did. Ergo another desultory blowout road loss is in the books. No doubt to be followed by another at the hands of the white-hot Isles Thursday, as one time czar Lou Lamoriello will probably look on with rare laughter at our plight. Deservedly so too, whatever you want to say about his personnel choices at the end of his tenure at least unlike the current regime he still values defense in defensemen.
Given I didn’t watch tonight, I am at least curious in the coming days to see who the coach was talking about with one of his parting salvos here (well besides Severson, who the staff already had to ‘talk to’ after some hideous defensive breakdowns in Buffalo):