Games #70 & 71: Alberta Edition

I guess it’s true…even the worst offenses in the NHL are capable of getting hot for a couple of games or so. If you’d given me an under on 3.5 goals for these two games in Calgary and Edmonton I probably would have taken it. So it just figures the castoff Devils would score ten goals combined the last two nights. Of course a lot of good it did us in Calgary, where the Devils turned a surprising 4-3 lead after two periods into a horrifyingly bad 9-4 defeat with poor Mackenzie Blackwood being left in for all six unanswered third-period goals. Less said about that game the better, except that hopefully it doesn’t lead to a hangover effect for the rest of Blackwood’s season. His save percentage got bumped down all the way from the .930’s to .919 off of that one game.

Can’t say I watched much of either game although I was following both games somewhat online. In fact, I didn’t bother turning either game on. I knew we’d blow the Calgary game after wasting a shocking early 3-1 lead (just like we blew the Ranger game after a surprise early 2-0 lead), even if a suddenly hot Travis Zajac scored late in the second to give the Devils back the lead. Even following the third period meltdown from a distance was annoying though. It was a clear quit job from early in the third on, and every skater owed an apology to Blackwood after that game, even if he likely wasn’t at his best either.

I really was starting to think in terms of 0-6 on the road trip and 0-19 to end the season after the Ranger and Calgary games. If you can’t even win games where the other team takes you lightly and you get a multi-goal lead, when are you going to win them? Guess just like in October, the Oilers provided a good tonic for that. Amazing to think we opened the season in Sweden against Edmonton with a dominant 5-2 win that kicked off a dominant 4-0 stretch where it looked for all the world as if this team was actually going to take a step forward from its breakout 2017-18. If the mainstream media gave a crap about the Devils you could write a book about how a team that outscored its opponents 17-4 over the first four games completely collapsed after that.

Clearly we don’t have anywhere near the same team now than the one we brought to Sweden who took names and kicked Oiler butt. Shockingly for one night though, the result was the same despite icing an AHL lineup against a team desperate to stay in the playoff hunt out West. In the latest edition of ‘I made my NHL debut for the Devils’, defenseman Colton White played his first game last night when Egor Yakovlev took ill before the game. He played a decent 13:10 with a +1, hooray for him I guess but he’s got some work to do to force his way up even a bad pecking order on defense.

I can’t say the Devils were really much better on defense against the Oilers, but it is the Oilers after all – the same team that can somehow still screw up while having Connor McDavid. They even allowed two power play goals to US for heaven’s sakes. It was an inverse of a first-half season game where the other goalie was the one giving up all the bad goals, but hey Mikko Koskinen actually got a GM fired by signing his extension so what’s a few more bad goals? Hooray for Cory Schneider actually outplaying Koskinen and Jersey native Anthony Stolarz, who was no better. I honestly forgot he went to the Oilers in the Cam Talbot trade.

As you would figure would be the case, when you score six goals with an AHL lineup a lot of them are going to come from unexpected sources like Kevin Rooney and Kenny Agostino. Perhaps the most shocking of all was the embattled John Quenneville finally – FINALLY! – getting his first NHL goal this season and only his second in thirty-two career games. Sadly I don’t even remember the other one (two years ago). All the better Quenneville’s goal turned out to be the game winner, maybe he can actually make something of his last ten games this year and get back in the mix for a spot next season.

I paid even less attention overall last night than I did against the Flames, but part of that was the score since it seemed even the Devils couldn’t blow a 5-2 lead once they got it. I did get a little nervous at 5-3 in the second but I still was expecting to wake up to a win, which finally happened despite the desperate Oilers playing both McDavid and Leon Draisaitl nearly twenty-seven minutes apiece. At least we were able to play spoiler to one team I suppose, as the Oilers went from four points back to six in a crowded but mediocre Western Conference.

I’ll worry about the lottery another day. Right now, with ten games left it looks as if our range will be from 2-6, as in anywhere from the second best chance to win one of the three drawings for a top three pick to the sixth best odds. With our chances to win any game dwindling with each new injury and illness, I was just glad we weren’t going to end the season with nineteen losses in a row. Still would rather get a couple of wins in the last ten games, especially the Saturday games I’m going to next weekend and on the 30th. Hard to get greedy though, either you get a non-inept team or better lotto odds. Such is the life of a team out of it – again – well before Spring.

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