After sleeping 3-4 hours in each of the previous three nights, the last thing on my mind was the Devils’ game in Vancouver last night. Finally getting up this morning after a much better night of sleep, it occured to me I knew nothing of what went on in the game. For some reason I thought this would be one of the random games we did win though, especially not checking out the result during it this time. Didn’t really run to check this morning but once I did finally get out of bed I did, and was bemused to find out it was a Devils comeback win in Vancouver. Not only coming from two goals down in the third period but having Damon Severson of all people end a fourteen-round shootout with a horrible deke goal that somehow went in.
Between that shootout goal and Tanner Pearson’s ‘goal’ off of Mackenzie Blackwood early in the third period there was some bad goaltending for a game that wound up 2-2 going to the shootout. Yet in the same game also some really good goaltending with Jacob Markstrom making 31 stops in the actual game and another five in the skills competition, earning the third star. And though Blackwood pulled a quasi Marty Brodeur-Sandis Ozolinsh move giving up a goal off his own stick in the third period, he showed both the mental toughness to bounce back from that shutting the door the rest of the way, as well as just not letting the Calgary fiasco affect him beyond that game. Both are a tremendous checkmark in the plus column for mental toughness.
Among the other guys who’ve stepped up recently is Severson himself, in eight March games he’s averaged 23 minutes of icetime a night with increased responsibility on the PK. He’s also put up three goals and seven points with an even plus-minus on a bad team, finally showing some of the consistent flashes of stardom he really hadn’t since his first ten-twelve games as a callup five years ago. You figure at least a couple of the AHL guys will step up showing they want jobs and Kevin Rooney’s been one of them, filling the tweener fourth-third line center role nicely and has been even doing well with extra icetime recently, putting up four goals in his last eight games. Even fellow Morristown native Kenny Agostino’s joined in the fun recently with two goals and five points in his last four games, taking advantage of a second chance in NJ.
With just one game left on this monster six-game road trip, you have to say the Devils achieved their realistic goal of two wins. Even if the Calgary and Ranger games were also winnable though frittered away – in Calgary’s case in frighteningly inept fashion. It’s not likely the Devils walk into Colorado and get two points out of that game with Colorado fighting for their lives to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Then again the Avs did just lose to a struggling Ducks team at home. I still don’t really want to get into the reverse standings at this point, especially since the Devils’ most recent wins have put them a full five points clear of the bottom three, while they’re still four points in front of the Ducks (albeit with a game in hand) for fourth best lotto odds. Wake me if the Devils somehow get three or more points out of this week, if that. Our homestand is a gauntlet with the Caps, Bruins and suddenly hot Coyotes this week before a game against the lowly Sabres next Monday that would be in the winnable column.