I guess I should be glad the Devils actually decided to have a game on what’s become a faux holiday afternoon and I had to work, missing going to another predictable fiasco. I remember growing up having off from school on Columbus Day but for whatever reason – PC, cancel culture, whatever you want to call it – it’s become de-emphasized in recent years on the state and federal level. And yeah Christopher Columbus was a bad guy but really now, the holiday’s not celebrating him as much as it’s celebrating the discovery of America. Sure we still have Independence Day for America’s true founding but it’s still nice for the next generation to learn the story of how America was ‘discovered’.
Be that as it may, how American hockey teams can have afternoon games on a weekday that isn’t a real holiday anymore (at least not here, it is Canadian Thanksgiving so let them play home games today) is beyond me. I get baseball teams do but you have 82 home games a year and have to have some weekday afternoon games for travel. Plus many of their weekday games are during the summer when school’s out anyway. If the Devils were playing better I’d be annoyed over missing this game, but with the way things were going I expected the worst, even against a Florida team struggling themselves. I figured they were too talented with too good a coach to keep puttering along, I’m not sure about either of those things with us.
Even as negative as I am about the Devils right now, I didn’t think we’d lose them all. And when they took a 4-1 lead over the Panthers in this unusual weekday matinee, I figured this was just gonna be one of those random wins that we’d forget about in a couple weeks when the team’s 2-10-3. Yet when I saw the score was 4-3 at the end of the second period and they gave up still another goal in the final fifteen seconds of a period I knew, you knew, everyone and their brother knew the Devils were blowing this game. The Devils’ defense and goaltending is as bad as the Met bullpen.
Sure enough, three more goals followed in the third due to the usual quota of mistakes, bad penalties and airhead coaching. Not that I saw most of it even after getting home early and turning it on, after the game had already been tied up. Neither today or in the Winnipeg game did Hynes use his timeout to try to stall the momentum of the other team as the roof was falling in, instead he used his timeout in the final minute down two goals as if to torture the fans still there on their day off. Or maybe he senses the end near and wanted to do something as a head coach before getting his walking papers. In a normal organization we’d be talking about days for Hynes to turn around the ship at most, but with owners all too willing to ‘trust the process’ and a GM who’s buddy-buddy with the head coach will GM Ray Shero do what needs to be done if this season continues to spiral out of control on this six-game homestand?
And as much as I want to bag on the staff and it usually is the staff’s fault when everyone on the team stinks and is playing below career norms, it’d be nice to see some form of leadership out of this locker room too. Yes that means you Taylor Hall, P.K. Subban, Kyle Palmieri, Andy Greene and Travis Zajac. I’d say Cory Schneider too but I’d settle for him actually just making a clutch save once in a while. Someone needs to take the bull by the horns and say enough is enough, we’re playing like dog crap and we need to hold ourselves accountable here. Unfortunately one of the bad trends of the end of Lou’s tenure has continued through Shero’s in having too many milquetoast guys who won’t rock the boat. It’s little coincidence that the one season that this team actually broke out of the loser mold they had vet leaders like Brian Boyle who would get down and dirty and say what needs to be said.
Honestly there isn’t much left to say right now until the inevitable coaching change, whoever that is. I haven’t the foggiest idea whether anyone’s out there, unless they bring in Guy Boucher who has at least made a couple of deep playoff runs and has a prior relationship with Nico Hischier (as his coach in juniors), which is a plus. Although Nico himself was hurt in today’s game with an undisclosed injury, adding to the misery. And Jack Hughes missing his first NHL goal on a gimme was indiciative of both the team’s poor play and fans’ frustration.
I watched the third period. It’s as simple as poor defense, sloppy puck management. Not enough details by the players including Palmieri, whose turnover opened the door. Subban is awful. He didn’t tie up the guy in front on the 4-4 goal. Gets skated around and takes a penalty. Gets completely outhustled on the Dadonov rebound.
They need a more structured system. I saw Stevens and Rupp on NHL Network and they were blasting the players for being easy to play against. I think the Devils should give a call to Stevens and see if he wants it.