In arguably the worst week in franchise history, the Devils season sunk to new lows with each day this week.
8-1 loss to the Bruins. Blown 4 goal third period lead against the Panthers at home. Hughes injured, loss to the Islanders. Sharangovich injured, lost to the Rangers. The Devils have been getting their asses kicked in every way imaginable in the past week and just when you think it’s rock bottom, we just keep sinking to an even lower point. I already addressed the 8-1 disaster in my last blog so lets talk about all the fresh pain since then shall we?
Yegor Sharangovich, or SharanGOALvich as he is sometimes known, earned his first career hat trick in front of the Prudential Center crowd on Saturday afternoon. The Devils 2018 5th round pick is continuing to prove that he can be a legitimate top six winger and perennial 20-30 goal scorer in the NHL. Despite this positive and fun to watch achievement, the Devils season hit yet another depressing new low on Saturday afternoon when they blew a 4 goal lead in the third period to lose the game 7-6 in overtime. I mean, that’s almost impossible. It shows how incredibly mentally fragile this team is, how undisciplined they are, and just how flawed the coaching staff is.
“A young team that got scared”???? What a totally non serious answer from a guy who knows that he isn’t going to be here next year and is just phoning it in at this point. Let’s not forget that this same team cam back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Avalanche, one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup this year. Let’s remember that this team has beaten Washington on the road in overtime. This is also the same team that blew out these same Panthers in Newark 7-3 in November. What the hell could have possibly been so much more scary on Saturday afternoon? Nothing. Because they didn’t get scared, they got sloppy. The fourth Panther goal is a perfect example. The play was total dumpster fire as goalie Andrew Hammond (great trade Fitz) flopped around like a lunatic and no Devil skater could control the puck or cover a Panther player, leaving the top half of the net wide open for Forsling to put home an easy one. The fifth Panther goal resulted from both Graves and Tatar choosing not to put the body on Huberdeau, and allowing him to start a tic tac toe play that ended with an easy goal for Barkov as Hammond horribly misplayed the shot, leaving the short side of the net wide open. Looked like he had no clue where the post was. (Still loving the trade Tom…)
The Devils lost 4-3 to the Islanders on Sunday afternoon. Now, when the team is this far out of the playoffs and already eliminated this late in the year, individual losses don’t mean much. The health of one of the best players in the entire world that is under contract for eight more seasons does matter however. Jack Hughes awkwardly collided with Oliver Wahlstrom as Wahlstrom tried to hit Hughes and Jack tried to side step out of the way. Some people online were trying to call this a dirty hit from Wahlstrom but I strongly disagree with that assessment. Wahlstrom was aiming to hit Hughes in the body, but as the two were moving in opposite directions and Hughes tried to step out of the way, their knees collided and the resulting MCL sprain has ended Hughes’ spectacular season early. 26 goals and 30 assists for 56 points in only 49 games is elite level production and shows that Jack Hughes is developing into the star we always knew he would become. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if next season Jack scored 35 or more goals and earned over 100 points. Thankfully this is a sprain and not a tear so Hughes should be fully healed and ready to go when training camp begins in about 5 months. Despite that, it still sucks to see such a great season be derailed by two serious injuries. When Hughes went down, PK Subban responded by jumping Wahlstrom and throwing some punches. Even though it was a clean hit from Wahlstrom, I like that the Devils will stick up for each other and not allow their teammates to be run over with no response. Some people don’t like it, but that is part of becoming a team that is hard to play against. You need to make guys think twice about being physical with your best players. This has always been a part of hockey and it always will be.
1-3 for the season against the Rangers and all four games were played in front of crowds made up mostly of Ranger fans. I feel like I can end the blog right there because those are some very depressing facts. The Rangers won the season series and took over our building twice. Many Ranger fans always have, and unfortunately probably always will, live in in New Jersey. Those traitors to the Garden State choose a poverty franchise with one championship since the Allied invasion of Normandy over their own home town team. Makes me sick. In years like this, when the Rangers are playoff bound and the Devils are in the basement, the Prudential Center is easily taken over by dummies in blue because it is cheaper to go to the Rock than it is to go to MSG, not to mention being closer to home for the traitors. Regardless of the fans in the stands the Devils were not able to generate much offense at all, despite out shooting the Rangers 14-4 in the game’s final 40 minutes. No Hughes, Sharangovich was injured in a first period fight and missed most of the game, no Nate Bastian to work the front of the net on the power play, and Jimmy Vesey injured his knee in the second period. As a result, the Devils played the majority of the game with just 10 forwards so it is not all that surprising that the Devils weren’t able to apply much offensive pressure to the Rangers in this game, but it is still frustrating as all hell to see.
There isn’t much else to say as the Devils get closer and closer to the bottom of the standings. Some fans are hoping for another first overall pick so the Devils can take Shane Wright or Simon Nemac. That would be fine but there is arguably a stronger case for trading the pick for an established NHL player to help the team right now. Hughes Hischier and Bratt are all in their prime. Mercer and Sharangovich are developing quickly. We don’t have time to wait 3 more years for this top prospect to start helping the team win. We need players who can help right away next season, but that is a discussion for later.
12 games left. I’ll be watching all the continued misery because I know I am going to miss hockey all summer. Follow along with the pain on Twitter at PatBoooooth