This season’s gotten to the point where I’m actually surprised after hearing about a Caps three-goal win over the Devils that things weren’t worse. After all, with our AHL lineup I figured Alex Ovechkin and company could pretty much name their score. Ovechkin didn’t even get a point against the valiant Mackenzie Blackwood who again held up well tonight with 33 saves, only allowing two goals – one a third-period power-play marker from Nicklas Backstrom, and the other an early tap-in goal from Andre Burakovsky that gave Washington the only goal it actually needed.
You can paper around a bad defense with good goaltending and system hockey, but there’s no way to invent offense when it wasn’t great to begin with, and you’re missing almost all of your biggest scorers. Since the trade deadline the Devils have scored seven goals in their last six games, and that ratio really shouldn’t improve all that much at this point considering the lineup is basically Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, a slumping Blake Coleman and a bunch of AHL’ers who either aren’t ready or can’t play.
Pretty much the only reason to watch down the stretch is Blackwood, who’s giving more and more hope by the game that our goaltending issue will be solved in the near future. Not just with his play but the mental toughness he’s exhibited in trying circumstances this season. Just don’t expect many goals in support of him or Cory Schneider (starting at MSG today) the rest of the season. Schneider can empathize with his younger teammate on that score, when he was actually playing above average on a consistent basis Cory got a similar amount of goal support. Going forward though, he probably should be the thing 2 to Blackwood’s thing 1 – see iconic photo below of Cory and former comrade Roberto Luongo:
If it’s tough getting into a normal Devils game, it’s doubly tough when there’s really nothing on the line for the team they’re playing. Washington’s basically playing for playoff seeding on top of the Atlantic and ten points clear of a playoff spot, while today’s opponent the Rangers are just as out of the playoff picture as we are, albeit seven points ‘behind’ us in tank-a-thon. Then come three late Western Canada games, which also fall in the zero motivation to watch category. If I’m going to watch meaningless hockey I’m not staying up past midnight to do it. I’ve had enough trouble sleeping the last couple nights as it is.
I could bother to recap the game later today but one of the good things about it being Devils-Rangers is I can let Derek handle that one. Especially if as expected the hungrier, healthier Rangers win again. I want to do some form of thoughts after every game but what’s the point on a meaningless back-to-back? If the Devils somehow win I may have to recap the game too out of pure hilarity. Probably will have the game on in some capacity but can’t say I’m that emotionally invested in it. Maybe we’ll actually score a goal at least, that’d be nice.