Obviously playing on a road back-to-back against one of the best teams in the league with points in fifteen straight games coming into tonight, little was expected from the Devils given their ever-mounting injury list – which saw another big name added to it during the contest when Nico Hischier went out with a suspected wrist injury (no update was given in the postgame). Even just losing by a single goal and holding the Bruins to one in their own building was a moral victory of sorts for a lineup that was mostly AHL-caliber.
Of course things could have been a lot worse if Mackenzie Blackwood wasn’t stellar in net again with a 29-save performance that earned him a third star. Among Blackwood’s saves was stopping a penalty shot from many Devil fans’ most loathed player Brad Marchand in the first period. Of course, as usual Marchand got the last laugh by scoring the game’s only goal on the power play within the first three minutes, and also attempted to injure another Devil (Sami Vatanen) with a crosscheck to the back in the final moments that went unpunished. Maybe because he knows the league isn’t going to punish a golden boy anyway, coach John Hynes demurred on saying that cross-check was a penalty, unlike last night when he was much harsher judging Nolan Patrick’s retaliation penalty to Kurtis Gabriel.
Thankfully Vatanen (apparently) escaped serious injury this time though it didn’t look good initially when he was shaking his arm. Seems like only a matter of time before every Devil will make a visit to IR at some point though. Even from afar this is getting depressing, I actually have to credit the players at this point for grinding through and trying to get results from these recent games, however meaningless they are. Of course, it’s easier to get max effort when most of your roster either is trying to prove they should be in the NHL or should have a bigger role but still the way this season’s gone in the toilet with injury after injury has to get depressing even to them.
With the Devils’ upcoming six-game nightmare of a road trip coming up I almost forgot they have one more home game Tuesday before that point. I have no plans to go and watch us get killed with Columbus. Thankfully my next home game isn’t for another three weeks, I’ll probably only be at two or three max. If coach John Tortorella has a morbid sense of humor he’ll take recent acquisition Keith Kinkaid out of mothballs to play us. I’d put down a few bucks on him getting a shutout too. Columbus has looked bad lately since going all-in with their deadline deals but I’m sure we’ll be a nice get-well tonic for them, especially given how bad we’ve played against them when we had much better rosters.