Guess Derek’s finally as apathetic as me about both our teams’ meaningless late-season games. This is the gamble schedule makers take when you bunch four-five games with a team’s biggest rival from the last day of January on, if one team’s out of it, that’s bad enough – when both teams are out of it? Forget it, we might as well be playing Anaheim and they might as well be playing Vancouver. Even on a Saturday night. Being home on Saturday is the only reason I even had on the latter part of the third period when OF COURSE the Devils blew it in the end, turning a surprise 2-0 lead into another stupid 4-2 loss.
The sad part is I should be happy, each loss slightly ups our lotto odds and as a bonus their win slightly decreases theirs. Of course I don’t actually want to see my team lose every single game the rest of the season (right now our losing streak is at six in a row with another four straight road games looming), and you always want to beat your rivals even if the game means zilch. I’ve always said this, and it’s especially true when you do have nothing but younger guys and depth guys playing but when you have extended losing that doesn’t help anyone learn. That only promotes a culture of losing and shows you don’t really have as many in-house solutions as you thought.
At least the goaltending’s held up for whatever that’s worth. Cory Schneider certainly turned back the clock to 2016 last night, do just well enough to look good losing. The sad part about games where you really have no chance to win is that you can’t even take joy out of the little things all hockey fans should smile at, like a kid’s NHL debut. Last night it was Brandon Gignac who played his first game, and fortunately with less than twelve hours’ notice his family somehow made it from Quebec to see him play.
Of course it would be nice if in a meaningless game, the kids actually got to play. Gignac played just 9:04 last night, unfortunately for him it was long enough to register a -2. At least that wasn’t as pointless as Mike McLeod’s NHL debut where he played just under five minutes. What’s the point of having a guy come up here and go through all the butterflies only to play sparingly once you’re here? That’s not a cup of coffee, that’s a sip.
I get that coach John Hynes doesn’t want to lose games 8-1 or 10-1 but this is glorified preseason anyway, and the team’s still not winning despite playing your few NHL players (Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, Blake Coleman) 20-minute nights and having Andy Greene play nearly ten minutes shorthanded yesterday. Cory quipped that Greene was the Alex Ovechkin of penalty killing. He’s certainly getting treated as such by the staff but if the Devils are going to move forward next year, Greene can’t have as big a role on the team.
You would think with thirteen games left in the season the Devils would find a way to get at least a couple of random wins, even with their depleted lineup. I can’t picture losing nineteen in a row to end the season, even with the roster as decimated as it is. Problem is you look at each game individually and there really isn’t a single game you would favor the Devils in at this point. I thought last night would be one of those random wins when the Devils jumped out in front late in the first period with goals from Damon Severson and Coleman.
Even with the Rangers’ own rebuliding and lineup issues, their roster is still miles better than what we’re icing and it showed in a dominant second period that turned the tide completely. Despite being outshot 14-2 somehow the Devils still led 2-1 after forty minutes but it was just a matter of time before the roof fell in and sure enough two more third-period goals would follow, then an empty-netter to seal the Rangers’ third straight win over us in the most meaningless season series at least since the glory days when the Devils curbstomped a hapless Rangers team during the regular season for 4-5 straight years, if not before then.
Honestly the Rangers should have been embarassed if they lost this game with no fewer than ten injured players – including eight Opening Night regulars out of the lineup for the Devils, not counting the four others that were traded in February. That’s what things have come to now, we’re every other team’s get-well marker. Except maybe Ottawa, who we’re finished playing this season. I’m not even going to the last home game of the season against the Rangers…what’s the point? At least the Devils smartened up and made ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ the next to last home game in years they play the Rangers in the last home game, which happens too frequently to be honest.