Gotta admit, as jaded as I have been about this team and their new head coach, you don’t have a soul if you can’t smile at this clip of the players giving Alain Nasreddine the puck for his long-awaited first win.
What makes it cool is he was only looking to give the puck to Kyle Palmieri for the game-winning goal till he got surprised by the captain and an approving locker room. From what little I’ve listened to his pressers so far, Nas seems certainly more introspective and communicates better than his former boss at least. And give credit where credit is due, the last two games the Devils have played well in trying circumstances at Colorado and Arizona, two West contenders (ironically both among the rumored teams for Taylor Hall’s services).
Sure they still haven’t actually scored goals yet, but at least they’re playing with the passion that’s been missing for most of this season. And while they tried to play up-tempo under John Hynes early in the season, going back to the up-tempo approach along with playing younger players more could just be what the doctor ordered. One good result and two good games aren’t going to solve all the team’s woes, for one coach Nas still needs to solve the puzzle on what’s wrong with PK Subban and his dissapearing offense. Perhaps playing better defensively will eventually start to get the offense going, Subban did have a +2 in the Devils’ 2-1 win last night…baby steps.
Also coach Nas (and GM Ray Shero) need to solve the puzzle of backup goalie, you can’t go on with goalies having a 4+ GAA and .850 save percentage literally giving the team no chance to win in non-Mackenzie Blackwood starts. Even in Colorado you could see the difference as Louis Domingue’s soft goal torpedoed the team in spite of Blackwood’s solid relief work afterward with nineteen saves. Blackwood’s somehow managed to get his save percentage near .910, an achievement considering this team’s season and his own bad start.
As the team, fans and hockey world still sits and waits on the inevitable Hall trade, the games go on and stop for nobody. Hopefully there’ll at least be something to watch in the second half of this season, honestly this year has been even more frustrating than 2010 was although not quite as inept. It just felt like all the hope got sucked out of the season immediately with the 0-4-2 start, and all the bad feelings about this team’s losing the past several years came to a head. At least last night was a moment to smile at…baby steps.