If you had told me after the first twenty-nine minutes of tonight’s game that I’d be storming out of the arena at the end of the second period booing the team off the ice yet again, I wouldn’t have believed you. After all the Devils had won three in a row coming into tonight, and scored first in an opening twenty minutes they largely dominated. Heck they pretty much dominated the first half of the game but in a familiar theme, shots and territorial advantage don’t ever translate into goals for us. In what’s also become a familiar refrain, every defensive mistake wound up in the back of the net in a brutal nine minute stretch that turned a 1-1 game into a 5-1 laugher. Yes the Caps are still better than the Devils, but this isn’t the 2010-18 Caps guys…this kind of stuff shouldn’t happen, especially with being shut down by another no-name goalie (Charlie Lindgren) until a couple of junktime goals in the third period which made our eventual 6-3 loss look like it was more competitive than it was.
Make no mistake about it, once the second goal went in, the team quit on the game for the remainder of the period, therefore I quit on them after the period was over. It’s one thing to be awful, it’s another to cave in once things didn’t go your way offensively. Whether it was Damon Severson with a bonehead turnover on goal #2, Jesper Bratt with a bonehead turnover on goal #3, Mackenzie Blackwood barely moving on three straight short-side goals or Jack Hughes (whose slow start is now up to six games with just three points) making dumb turnovers left and right, it just wasn’t a good day for almost anyone on the roster. Except maybe Nathan Bastian, who did score the first goal on a nice rebound play and could have had another later on in the first period.
It’s after games like this that I go on soapbox rants about how you can’t trust the advanced stats or shot totals as anything predictive of future success. Not with this team anyway. Maybe with other teams, but when you have a grand total of zero 30-goal scorers on the roster (yes I know Jack obviously prorated as one with 26 in 49 games last year) and your geriatric coach sees fit to scratch one of your top prospects in Alexander Holtz who might just be able to help with this little thing we’re lacking called scoring, then you’re gonna see more and more games like this where the Devils continue to annoy the analytic community and frustrate their fans.
Perhaps the only good thing about tonight’s disaster is finally the eleven forward and seven defenseman lineup can die now, as can the running into the ground of Blackwood – who hasn’t exactly shown even the durability to handle five straight starts, never mind earning the benefit of the doubt to be the guy just because he had a couple of good games and the team played good defense against some bottom-feeders. Of course Lindy Ruff will probably annoy me further by sitting Kevin Bahl while giving underwhelming penalty machine Brendan Smith carte blanche in the lineup cause after all, coach on the hot seat’s gotta have his vets in the lineup. I’m almost positive instead of Holtz as the twelfth forward, we’ll probably get Jesper Boqvist tomorrow, or maybe Fabian Zetterlund if we’re lucky but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Aside from my annoyance over the team in general comes the annoyance over having missed both home ‘wins’ last week on the COVID IL, then getting off it just in time to see another crapfest at Prudential Center with Colorado looming on deck Friday as our next inevitable home loss where we probably find a way to outshoot them 35-25 and lose 5-2. I should be used to this by now but it’s still annoying. While I’m obviously expecting the worst for that game, it would be nice if this team actually nutted up and beat the Wings in Detroit tomorrow. It’d be doubly nice if the coach decided to play Vitek Vanecek, and he decided not to suck – otherwise we’re gonna get more of our .871 starting goalie being ‘the man’