It's a good thing that I wasn't in the room when Taylor Hall declared a Western Canadian road trip that was set to end against one of the hottest teams in the entire league a "do or die" moment of the Devils' season. Something tells me our extremely one-sided relationship would have been fractured beyond repair if I spit my drink out on his shoes before laughing uncontrollably right in his face. That lack of faith in a team that had seemingly been on life support since mid-November was only strengthened when they blew a late lead in Edmonton only to lose on a line change that was so self destructive that it must have had John Hynes' dialing up crisis centers and making suicide hotlines bling. So excuse me for throwing on a black suit and waiting for the inevitable phone call, because even the most optimistic of fans had to have accepted that the end was near.
That's not to say that a trifecta of hard fought wins - that were no more than a bounce from going the other way - are proof that the Devils' cancerous flaws are a thing of the past, but I'll be damned if they haven't found a cure that will, at the very least, keep their playoff hopes alive a bit longer. Obviously a red hot Cory Schneider has proven - once again - to be the ultimate life line, but a defense that has a renewed sense of accountability in their own end has provided a refreshing spark to a team who somehow looked more lost mentally than physically. I'm not exactly ready to un-retire Scott Niedermayer's #27 for Karl Stollery or watch the game through squinted enough eyes to trick myself into thinking that Steve Santini has adequately replaced what the Devils lost when they traded Adam Larsson, but they've basically been guardian angels to a blue line that had all but flatlined.
The offense might not be the most aesthetically pleasing thing to watch at times, but the high end talent that's being paid to score timely goals is finally starting to fulfill that promise. Expecting more four goal nights against a stellar goaltender like Devin Dubnyk is probably a dangerous proposition, but even Jacob Josefson has begun to create chances that he has no chance of finishing so maybe there is some more blind hope to be had.
This team is still far, far away from being able to think of the postseason as a possibility. That being said, last night Blake Coleman displayed some Jaromir Jagr-esque puck possession prior to finding Beau Bennett who finished with authority when he had the game on his stick. If you don't think that this game winner is definitive proof that 'Stranger Things' have happened then you're basically living in the upside down...
P.S. This picture turned me into a bundle of all-too-confusing emotions prior to the game last night, but now that the Devils have made Zach Parise leave the ice a loser twice this season I can say that it warmed my heart to see the bromance recaptured - if only in one single snapshot...