Game #54: Sad Sack Saturday – Wild 4, Devils 2

In an already bad season for the Devils this has been a pure week from hell. As a message board post succinctly put it, we lost to and got a goal scored on us by both Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, and in the middle lost to Lou Lamoriello’s new team who also happens to be an area rival. Lordy. Like most Devil games over the last couple of months, this afternoon was completely unwatchable. I couldn’t tell whether it was us playing the Wild or the 2000 Devils playing the Leafs in that famous six-shot playoff game. Too bad I was contractually obligated to watch.

Honestly the only reason I didn’t sell this pair of tickets is because I’m already passing on a lot of other games this month as it is. Plus Saturday afternoon games are a more likely vehicle to find people to socialize with, as today proved. I ran into one couple who I hadn’t seen in a couple months and sat with them for most of the final two periods and got to meet up with another friend postgame who I hadn’t seen in years. Ironically the latter guy I’d met through adult dodgeball so he got to congratulate me on my team’s win a couple days ago. As usual the best things about going to Devil games no longer have anything to do with the hockey. At least it’s not the gambling lounge for me, though I suspect it might be for a few other people.

Even our early-season home success seems like a distant memory now, as the last home win I was in attendance for was back in 2018, making me 0-3 in the new year with every one of them fairly convincing losses – though the Leafs game and today was illusory close for a while, in neither game did I really feel we had a shot once we got behind given how both teams dominated us. Somewhat fittingly, the one real good stretch we had after the first period when Jesper Bratt scored early in the third period to pull it to within 3-2, Frankencory struck again allowing yet another soft 1980’s style unscreened slapshot goal through the pads to give the Wild back it’s two goal lead which might as well have been twenty.

Coincidentally that’s also the number of consecutive regular season losses for goaltender Cory Schneider. If Thursday’s game was one step forward, today was two steps back as he lost his stick on the Wild’s first goal early in the game, then had that disasterous momentum-killing fourth goal against. Not that this team really deserved to win having just a few good minutes between spurts early in the first and third. Still you would have liked to have seen Cory make Thursday’s game stick from an execution standpoint. Seeing Cory try to get off the schneid was one of the few things that was s keeping my interest in the actual game, especially with our dissapearing lineup.

As Derek posted a few days ago, we did trade Brian Boyle to Nashville, starting the inevitable pre-deadline selloff. I haven’t commented yet in the blog but like I said in the comments section of his post, he had an unusual impact for a guy who was a fourth-liner here less than two years, and not just cause of the whole cancer thing. Although certainly everyone’s reaction to both his disagnosis and the way he handed it bonded him with the fanbase and his teammates at warp speed, people also respected the player and person he is, ask any of his other teammates during his various stops in his career including the Garden. Just like only a handful of players can gain respect from both the Mets and Yankees fanbases (David Cone and Curtis Granderson come to mind), only a handful have universal respect from Ranger and Devil fan alike, Boyle’s certainly one of them.

Starting the selloff isn’t the only factor that’s decimated our lineup though. As the season continues to go further and further down the drain, the injuries continue to mount. Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen, Stefan Noesen and now Miles Wood all weren’t available due to various injuries. I might even be missing a couple but I don’t really care to look at the moment. Marcus Johansson got hurt in a seemingly scary fashion in the third, but perhaps the only good thing about today’s game is he was able to come back later on. That and the return of rookie Joey Anderson who had a brutal leg injury early in the season. Selfishly that’s part of the reason I was glad we traded Boyle three weeks early, might as well cash out your expendable assets once you get a fair price in case injury hits. Plus in Boyle’s case he gets a deserved chance at a Stanley Cup, so it was a win-win situation there.

Sadly the events of this week pretty much ensure the next game I bother to watch will be the one I attend on the 19th, when they have ’90’s night at the Rock against the Penguins. While I’m not as big on the David Puddy bobblehead as some, at least it’ll make it a hot ticket to go and clearly the Seinfeld bit will be the headliner in spotlighting the ’90’s just like Ghostbusters was for ’80’s night. Maybe the team will even show up since it seems the only times they ever have after the first four games are when they see Penguin jerseys.

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