An embarassment on and off the ice

Through ten games the Devils’ season so far has been blown lead after blown lead with brain cramps, bad play and hideous coaching galore in a nightmare that just won’t end.  Or just as accurately, we’ve become an endless loop of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown right as he’s about to kick it, emblematic of the blown lead syndrome.  Each blown lead and near miss has seemingly been more frustrating than the last, although it’s still hard to top Opening Night for sheer horror.  Tonight was pretty close though, against a quasi-rival in Tampa.

Not that it really should have been a great shock we managed to blow another multi-goal lead, even against a Tampa team playing without their best defenseman and at basically half speed still slogging through the hangover of last year’s playoff washout.  Don’t be fooled by the shot total, yeah the Devils played well in stretches but honestly it reminded me more of a late February game between two non-playoff teams just throwing up crap against a wall and playing pond hockey.  For a game that ended up with the score it did, you would have figured it was at least exciting but it was sloppy with spasms of good play followed by a bunch of nothing.

If the game mattered more I might have enjoyed the wild swings of momentum, but I’ve already been beaten down so much by this team and the losing over the last several years that even when Kyle Palmieri miraculously tied the game with under ten seconds remaining with a hat trick goal, I couldn’t muster much more than a clap for the player himself.  Not after the Devils had already blown a 5-3 third period lead to go behind 6-5 in the first place.  I’ll give the crowd credit in that the 11000 people there were into the game emotionally, although like me they’re on their last nerve with this team and there was plenty of booing during the game, for the most part when it was deserved (more on that later).

There isn’t much I’m even going to bother to recap although I’ll say this, other than Palmieri the Devils’ so-called best players and veteran leaders really need to start acting like it.  So far P.K. Subban has been a massive dissapointment, but there’s only so much I can really get on him because at least (unlike a certain other big star on the team who I’m getting to soon enough) he’s more self-aware to realize he’s not playing well and take responsibility for it.  We definitely need better from PK though, other than the Ranger game he really hasn’t had much of a positive impact at all.

As much as I’ve bagged on Cory Schneider in recent years and it’d be nice to get a key save more than once every few months I can’t really blame tonight on him to be honest, the breakdowns when they happened were truly spectacular, as were a couple of the odd deflections that got by him.  Plus he’s self-aware likely to his detriment in taking his share of the blame for the disaster that is this team.  I can’t get on Andy Greene too much because it feels like picking on a senior citizen at this point, at least a senior citizen in NHL years but this team’s lacked leadership in a lot of recent seasons and that you can get on the captain for.  Travis Zajac really hasn’t done much either (one goal and four points in ten games).  All that is true.

And yes, the coaching staff is a disaster but what’s the point of rehashing that?  I feel like I’m going to die holding my breath wondering whether John Hynes or Adam Gase bites the dust first, but in both cases seemingly competent GM’s are undermining themselves with loyalty to a horrible coach.  In the case of Devils GM Ray Shero though, he’s had five seasons here and now it looks like more than ever we’re going to need a second rebuild to get out of our current cycle of suck.  That the GM needs to take responsibility for whenever (or if) he finally decides to make a change behind the bench.  Because even if he does make a change it’s extremely unlikely the team’s going to make the playoffs at this point.  I hate to wave the white flag before November but what in this first ten games would suggest the team as currently constituted is capable of a massive 72-game run needing a pace just behind Tampa’s President’s Cup season last year to make the playoffs?

That said, none of these guys are looking for an $80+ million deal this offseason.  If you’re just looking at stats and see Hall has nine points in ten games you might think things are peachy, but the 2017-18 MVP really hasn’t been playing anywhere near as well as that number would suggest, starting with the fact he only has one goal himself.  It’s one thing to be in a slump scoringwise and maybe have your timing still off due to not playing for about nine months because of his injury issues last year.  It’s another thing to just be careless and stupid like he was on the fifth Tampa goal, the one that tied the game when he turned the puck over, then tipped a perfect deflection past his own goalie matching his offensive goal total for the season.  For a supposed leader on the team that’s bad enough, reminiscent of the bad old days in Edmonton and his first year here when he would sulk around regularly.

When you compound all that with just being absolutely tone deaf enough to rip the fans for booing after yet another hideous loss (which you were a main culprit in) when you have two wins in ten games, then Houston we have a problem here.

As a fan who was there…yes the fans booed one or two of the power plays – which by the way Taylor was 1-5, not 1-3.  And which has been operating at a wonderful 10.3% clip on the season (good for 26th in a 31 team league).  So yes one lousy goal early in the first period – after which you blew that lead anyway – wasn’t exactly enough to get people off a hideous PP’s back.  More to the point though, how can you rip the fans for voicing their displeasure of a dissapointing team that has two wins in ten games and has blown a billion different leads when you haven’t even been pulling your own weight?  Not to mention it’s not like things have been going so much better for you on the road with no booing home fans to worry about where the team is sucking even worse for a second straight season.

Yes nobody can ever take 2017-18 away from you Taylor…but right now you’re just confirming the bad press you were getting on the way in here, and when it looks like when you have one foot out the door to boot.  I’ll be honest for the last couple of games I’ve been wondering silently whether it’s even a good idea to re-sign him, now after tonight’s wonderful on and off ice display I’m saying the silent part out loud.  As much as it annoys me to do so because trading Hall means rebuild 2.0, but really what other outcome could this season have at this point anyway?  This team’s running out of time to change the narrative, beginning a stretch of 15 games in 30 days the losses could come fast and furious if something doesn’t change, and soon.

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