In one sense, today’s result was a best-case scenario for the Devils, lose but don’t lose by such a overwhelming margin that it destroys the confidence of your goaltender – tonight being Mackenzie Blackwood, playing for the first time since his post-deadline recall. However, this whole week has been straight out of the Twilight Zone as far as guys getting hurt. Even with the good news of Sami Vatanen returning to the lineup tonight after missing the last several weeks, he was replaced on the injured list by multiple players. To wit:
All within the last few days, all forwards. And that doesn’t include the continued absence of MVP Taylor Hall. Small wonder this forward group has become preseason level bad, especially after dealing off Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson earlier this month. In theory with Vatanen back the defense was the best on paper it could possibly be, for whatever that’s worth. Predictably for the second straight game the Devils were outshot by a wide margin against a better team (30-10 in the first two periods alone). This time even great goaltending couldn’t save them, as they came out on the short end of a 2-1 score.
To add even more injury to insult, Mirco Mueller fell awkwardly into the boards during the third period, providing a scary few minutes as he lay apparently motionless on the ice before coming to and giving the ol’ thumbs up while being stretchered off. Thankfully it’s nothing more serious than having a second straight season go south after an awkward spill into the boards for Mueller – last year it was his collarbone. Even coach John Hynes narrowly escaped going on IR when he got hit with a puck in the head on the bench later that period.
Overall I can’t even think of much else to say, honestly. I had the game on background noise but can’t say I was really watching, especially fearing a blowout. With all the injuries and trades, is there really a single game left on the schedule where the Devils will be favored to win at this point? Since we’re done playing Ottawa and the Kings (who did just spank us a few weeks back at the Rock themselves), I’d say no.
I’d love to say yeah it’ll be fun, give me some no-pressure hockey to watch the kids but really all it is, is one long, extended preseason. This isn’t exactly the best environment right now for kids to develop. Ironically the most compelling aspect of the season going forward is the one that most worries me because of the state of the team – the goaltenders. Right now it’d just be best to split the workload between Blackwood and Cory, so one doesn’t have to take the brunt of this mess going forward. Especially if you have to see the kids play ‘the system’ and aren’t just going to go with some low-event hockey to protect your goalies.
It’s a good thing the team has a lot of road games coming up, I still won’t have to worry about going to meaningless games for another couple weeks – except Friday. When the Flyers on the fringe of the playoff race come to the Rock to goon it up…oh joy.