Last weekend it felt like an empty win when the Devils beat Arizona, because of how it negatively impacted draft positioning and didn’t really mean anything for us this season. After last night I felt much the same – empty – after the Devils got their ‘needed’ loss to Detroit for draft positioning. Empty because what, exactly about last night’s game would give anyone hope things could be different in the immediate future for a Devils team who may finish with its lowest point total since the relocated team in the early ’80’s (and these teams have the loser point, to boot)?
Sure it was another decent game for Mackenzie Blackwood, who only allowed three goals including this junktime goal by Andreas Athanasiou where he sped past Mirco Mueller as if he was standing still to get his 30th for the season. However, getting shut out by a mediocre Wings team at home with two mediocre goalies doesn’t exactly speak well for our younger offensive players, nor does getting outplayed – again – to the extent they did speak well for coaching or the defense, most of whom will be here next year.
Moral of the story: Meaningless hockey stinks all around.
Of course last night was a good one for Tankathon month, since the Rangers’ surprise comeback and upset of the Blues kept them safely in front of us while losing to the Wings in regulation obviously helped our position the other way around. I don’t feel like making too much light of it though, just in case the joke is on us in the end. It’s eminently possible we do get higher odds than the Wings for the lottos but they wind up winning a top three pick and we don’t. As Devil fans we’ve only seen the good side of the lottery in recent years, perhaps a small penance for 1984 (which is a seperate story itself) so odds are many in the fanbase need a reminder this stuff is truly random.
Tonight will be my most divided home game yet, going with my friend to Fan Appreciation Night against the Blues. I honestly don’t remember feeling this conflicted in 2011, 2015 or 2017 – other ends of long, meaningless seasons. Of course in 2011 the lotto didn’t exist in its current form, and quite honestly that season’s finish helped in 2011-12, if we kept going the way we were in the historically bad first half, nobody will ever confince me it wouldn’t have been near impossible for the franchise to recover from that. In 2015 we were so far above the bottom teams it wasn’t exactly an issue since we were more or less trapped in the 6th spot. Clearly two years ago was the closest I’ve gotten to this kind of lotto angst when a mere point seperated 2nd from 5th in the odds, but things worked out for us in the end anyway by actually winning the lotto, so John Moore’s OT goal which knocked us down two spots in the lotto odds wound up not mattering.
Maybe the constant losing and the fact there’s been no hope since Thanksgiving has just beaten me down. Not to mention this season’s been the biggest of all letdowns after the promise of 2017-18. Nothing else I’ve experienced as a hockey fan has come close to that. To a degree maybe missing the playoffs in 1995-96 off of being defending champs, but at least that season had meaningful hockey throughout and there was still light at the end of the tunnel despite the trolls mocking our ‘half-a-Cup’ the year before attempting to de-legitimizing our lockout win the way no other team’s lockout win in the NHL or NBA has gotten scrutinized since.
Am I actively going to root against the team? Not really, once you’re in the arena it’s trollish to cheer for the tank. It’s fan nature to want to see wins live and really if you’re there, that’s what you care about. Would I be lying if I said I wasn’t silently cheering against the team tonight? Yes. Of course without Blackwood in net it’s a bit easier (sorry Cory), but now that we’re almost at the end I just want this season to be over with and to have the best odds possible for the lotto. T-10 days to the drawing and counting. The Fan Depreciation Recap may be my final true recap of the season since I don’t plan on watching the last three games to be honest. I’ll obviously do some form of season wrapup next weekend after the end of the regular season and a special Draft Lotto thoughts post, then go into hiding until the draft at least.
For me, emotionally the season ends today, not counting the lotto itself. Even if there are three more games left to be played and it could be a big deal in lotto positioning, or in the Hurricanes’ case for a playoff spot. Even playing spoiler to Carolina holds no charms for me since we’d only benefit Columbus and Montreal though, big deal. Not that I’d be able to watch that game Thursday regardless. And what’s the point in watching Monday when we play the Rangers or next Saturday at Florida in games meaningless to all other than for draft positioning? That’s part of my reason for not watching lately and avoiding going to games as much as possible…it’s easier to hope for the 2-1, 3-2 loss when you’re more detached from it.
It does help tonight that me and my friend will be in the club seats – a pre-planned season ticket points upgrade I would rather not have chanced using in the winter. How was I to know I’d lose interest in going to games for the whole last three months? So if we miss action getting something or maybe spend too much time outside the club seeing someone during an intermission that won’t exactly bother me. It wouldn’t even bother me if the game was 5-1 after two periods and we decided to leave early or just find an excuse at the arena to ignore the rest of the game. Other than the fact they do have prize drawings on Fan Appreciation Night. I’m not exactly expecting to win anything in the drawings though that’s certainly possible so I guess I should stick it out tonight, especially with it being the final time I have to deal with going to a game this season.