Might as well post this YouTube of Alexander Holtz’s two-goal night in Utica that the Devils put up on their channel last night (foreshadowing his callup today) instead of anything from Tuesday’s fiasco of a game. Pretty much the less said the better about the Devils’ 4-0 loss in Anaheim, it was a perfect storm of crap starting with the mere fact the NHL schedule gods somehow gave us a West Coast game barely 48 hours after a back-to-back on the East Coast. Couldn’t one of our excess off days in October have been used to help give us more of a travel buffer coming off a back-to-back? Not that we didn’t have other issues regardless, our special teams were abysmal yet again with no fewer than two power play goals and one shorthanded goal allowed among the four the Ducks scored the other night.
I had the game on, but I wasn’t really watching it – especially since I didn’t plan to stay up for the finish of a weekday West Coast game – as much out of curiosity to listen to the ESPN+ broadcast as anything (especially with three games exclusively on the streaming service in the next week plus), without belaboring the point not a fan of Leah Hextall tonally at this point to be honest. ESPN didn’t exactly have a lot of proven broadcasters to pick from so some inexperience in their booth is natural. It does make you appreciate our home guys more in a sense. My bigger pet peeve was the noticeable delay on their stream. On one of the Ducks’ power play goals in the second period I saw the update of 2-0 on Devils Twitter like twenty seconds before I actually saw the feed broadcast the goal.
Of bigger concern for Devils fans was the undisclosed lower body injury to Dougie Hamilton that kept him out of the final two periods on Tuesday and probably this weekend’s games as well though coach Lindy Ruff stressed this truly was a day-to-day situation. God let’s hope so. We’re not exactly Tampa who can send its best player to
witness protection IR for an entire regular season and not have to worry about missing the playoffs. Part of me wishes we actually had a media presence enough to ask the coach what he and his beleaguered assistants plan on doing with this abomination that is our special teams, a la the Jet media grilling Robert Saleh on Mike LaFleur after their early-season offensive struggles.
At least the Devils finally had both their top goalies dressed for Tuesday night’s game. Not that Jonathan Bernier could have done much about the Devils’ special teams breakdowns. It does at least look like Mackenzie Blackwood will make his season debut this weekend in the LA/San Jose back-to-back. With both goalies finally healthy, Scott Wedgewood was waived – and subsequently claimed by Arizona. So goes the cycle of life as Wedge once shut us out in an Arizona uniform. For the moment, replacing Wedgewood is a Utica (AHL team) concern more than a Devils concern.
Along with the goalies coming back, there’s also other good news in Devils land as 2020 first-rounder Alexander Holtz got the callup to play his first NHL game tomorrow night after a hot camp and five goals in his first four AHL games showed he was ready for a shot with the big club. Although Tom Fitzgerald and his staff have been careful not to rush players they haven’t been afraid to pull the trigger either when guys like Holtz, or Dawson Mercer show they’re ready for more.
No kidding, coach…it’s hard to see how this power play (or our penalty kill) could get any worse!