Well I guess it was too much to ask to get through January without another Devils COVID outbreak. It’s hard to keep track anymore of who’s playing and who’s not, part of the reason it’s been hard for me to get into these games the last few weeks. I know that Nathan Bastian and Jesper Bratt got put on the COVID list hours before our 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Saturday, which could be our last game for a while given previous postponements next week of games in Canada against Toronto and Montreal. After Damon Severson and Janne Kuokkanen got put on the list today, a postponement of tomorrow’s game seemed inevitable and arguably one game too late as the Devils’ lineup was clearly compromised Saturday night by having to play eleven forwards and seven D including a bunch of AHL call-ups. I mean if we’re gonna put off games due to crowd size in Canada, why not due to an actual competitive disadvantage on the ice?
Even if our Thursday night matchup at Belmont goes off as scheduled, the Devils will play at most that one game in the next ten days until their next scheduled game against Arizona on the 19th at the Rock. That’s probably a good thing for goalie Mackenzie Blackwood considering the Devils have no interest in playing another goalie at this point with only kids and journeyman Jon Gillies in the organization since Jonathan Bernier’s injury and good in the near term for the rest of the team to hopefully get over this season’s outbreak. Assuming it is the last one anyway…it seemed like things were heading to critical mass a couple weeks ago before the NHL postponed games en masse just before Christmas.
It’s also hard to keep track of how many games get postponed and why they did. Officially our game last month against Pittsburgh was canceled due to a compromised roster, and it’s likely our game against the Habs two nights later would have been postponed if it hadn’t been already due to travel concerns across the border, and the Devils also had a game with the Blues pushed back after the holiday when the NHL extended the Christmas pause one more day. With tomorrow’s cancellation and the NHL postponing two of our games in Canada in the next several days, that brings the number up to six games that will need to be made up from our schedule. At a certain point soon even squeezing them into the three weeks that were free due to the potential Olympic trip could become an issue.
Leaving out the Devils’ unsatisfactory record on the ice, the off-ice issues just make it even more difficult to really care about what happens in yet another season that’s become messy and disjointed. Overall the Devils will have played either six or seven games in exactly a month span by the time the team next hits the ice at the Rock. Not exactly conducive to keeping people’s interest in what’s already become yet another ‘wait till next year!’ season.