Marc-Andre Fleury Refused To Leave His Net Entirely Unattended While Being Pulled For An Extra Skater Last Night
Whatever happened to quality gamesmanship in sports?! Like, have we really reached a point in which referees feel the need to intervene in the clever arrangement of ice shavings? Being familiar with both the shit-eating grin and the workplace hijinks of Marc-Andre Fleury, he was doing this more for the laugh than for some sort of slight advantage that would only make an actual difference in an insanely rare circumstance. Still, I can't help but feel like he should have been awarded for his MacGyver-esque resourcefulness with the reaching-between-the-couch-cushions-type payoff of allowing his ant-hill of an inanimate extra man to stand.
You can't push a puck through a localized dusting of snow then you don't deserve the insurance goal, whereas if you do manage to stop a puck with a localized dusting of snow than you deserve the credit that comes with making more than just your ingenious thought count. It's just a damn shame that the officials had to go and take away the one-a-in-million probability of MAF's joke packing a punchline powerful enough to force a bunch of grown-ass professionals to have a closed-door meeting about the appropriation of ice shavings, as I thought we encouraged the incitement of frivolous debates in sports.
I can't shake the feeling of deja vu, because it feels like just yesterday I was saying the following about Cory Schneider, but it's not entirely Keith Kinkaid's fault that the Devils have an uncanny ability to be almost instantly and entirely uncompetitive in games that he happens to start.
Now, that comparison is insanely unfair to the latter, as #1 has more heroic postseason pushes under his belt in the past year than #35 has wins. Also, due mostly to MacKenzie Blackwood's minor injury, it's more than worth mentioning that Keith Kinkaid has been bitten by getting the lion's share of the unfavorable match-ups as of late. I personally think it goes without saying that he hasn't had the luxury of winning a game during which he gave up a handful goals (like his understudy did against the Blackhawks just two nights ago) while trying to weather the storm against dominant teams that were repeatedly skating the Devils out of the building when Taylor Hall was actually in the lineup (i.e. Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets).
All that being said, for reasons that are both highly intangible and remain unknown, the Devils just look like a more engaged, energetic, and...well...exciting team when playing in front of their rookie netminder. That's probably somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy that's subjectively aided by the fact that each of his big-time, point-blank saves is a positive sign for his long-term future in net whether as those of Keith Kinkaid are seen as a dollar sign for his short term future in free agency. Especially since he undoubtedly gets a disproportional amount of bonus points for pissing on the Flyers' parade for their promising rookie goaltender. However, it's also an opinion that's aided by an eye-test for which MacKenzie Blackwood has set the curve with timely stops and a quiet confidence that appears to consistently rub off on his teammates.
Again, it's not Keith Kinkaid's job to motivate his dismal group of defenseman to not let a noted Devil-killer like Artemi Panarin whistle fucking dixie while gliding casually to the front of the net off an in-zone faceoff...
It is, however, his job to swing momentum by making up for their inexcusable mistakes from time to time. He's not currently getting that job done with an efficiency that allows for the final product to be anything more than channel-changing while MacKenzie Blackwood's command of that same crease has largely been must-watch television. Admittedly, it hasn't exactly been the fairest of fight, but the 22 year old with unteachable size and undeniable athleticism has taken full advantage of every single advantage that circumstances have offered him in battling his way to the top of an otherwise underwhelming card.
Tough look. That's just a tough, tough look.
To be more clear, I couldn't give less of a shit about a superstar player and relatively young coach firing back and forth at one another in the heat of the moment. Disagreements tend to be more demonstrative when those having them are embroiled in a physical game that's as competitive and emotional as the one offered by the NHL. It's far more likely than not that the argument we witnessed was over something laughably inconsequential to the future of a franchise that, other than having a rough go of it as of late, is trending in the right direction due largely to the two people involved in it. Therefore, the only uninformed conclusion to be drawn is to decipher who appeared more right from an outside perspective.
Unfortunately, that's where the tough look comes into play, because it's really, really hard to take Nathan McKinnon seriously after he looked like a kid who fell backwards off a swing set. I understand the concept of becoming so emphatic in your anger that you lose all control of your motor skills, but I also understand the value of appearing cool amidst chaos. I don't even know what case the Av's forward was trying to make, but it got dismissed as soon as he sat ass over teakettle while his head coach calmly stood there with a literal and figurative leg up. Almost impossible to feel smart when you know you looked stupid, so Jared Bednar was undoubtedly playing the upper hand when they inevitably hashed out their differences after the game. Can't toe drag around that harsh truth.
Something Tells Me That Adam McQuaid Regretted Dropping The Mitts With Ryan Reaves Before The First Punch Was Even Thrown
Full disclosure, I rarely find hockey fights intriguing enough write about. I'm not about to parade down to NHL HQ and demand they be banished from the game, but - in my humble opinion - YouTube's endless supply has put a huge dent in the demand for watching people fall all over themselves while flailing fists in each other's direction. I'm not offended by their existence, nor do I find them entirely unnecessary, but - from an entertainment standpoint - I think hockey has a hell of a lot more to offer than something I could witness first-hand by sitting on a park bench outside a dive bar at last call.
In this instance, however, I can't help but feel captivated by Ryan Reaves' zen-like approach to pummeling faces. Like, prior to the heaving of a single hand I already knew his opponent was in trouble, because someone displaying that level of calm in the face of absolute chaos is a flag that's more red than whatever the hell the Knights' heavy-fisted forward was seeing as he froze himself into a subtle striking stance that would force a proud tear to the eye of Bruce Lee. Credit to Adam McQuaid for having the personal pride to go through with what appeared to be a somewhat inevitable pounding as soon Ryan Reaves locked onto his target with focus of...well...a jungle cat. As tough as he is in his own right, I'd have to question his sanity if a small part of him didn't immediately regret dropping the mitts with someone that instantly transformed into a fully-fixated beast of prey. Good job. Good effort. Bad decision.
The Truck Driver Responsible For The Humboldt Broncos' Tragic Bus Accident Pled Guilty To All 29 Charges Against Him, Thus Avoiding Trial
SportingNews- The truck driver involved in the fatal bus crash with the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team has pleaded guilty to all 29 charges against him.
Jaskirat Sidhu was charged with 16 counts of dangerous operation of motorized vehicle causing death and 13 counts of dangerous operation of motor vehicle causing bodily injury. He appeared in court in Melfort, Sask., on Tuesday to deliver his plea.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team was bound for a playoff game on April 6 when the bus and a semi-truck collided at a rural intersection between Nipawin and Tisdale. Sidhu was not hurt, though 16 died and another 13 were injured.
Sidhu was arrested in July and held in custody before being released on $1,000 bail with conditions.
Oddly enough, in a way that pales greatly in comparison to the sympathy I feel for the countless lives lost or forever negatively altered by his actions, I actually feel a bit bad for Jaskirat Sidhu. Maybe that's an admittance that I, like most, have regrettably been recklessly inattentive behind the wheel for time to time, or maybe it's an understanding that waking up every single morning with that much on your conscience makes not for a life that most would even want to go on living. Whatever the case may be, while someone in charge of that much freight simply has to be more aware of the road, it's tough to look at him as some sort of villain when one stupid mistake cost him a lifetime of peace of mind.
Of course, the list of actual victims is hundreds upon hundreds of people long before you come upon the name of the guy whose inattentiveness resulted in a tragedy that irreparably tore apart families and friends. Still, regardless of them serving as the long overdue upholding of justice, I don't find any of the 29 guilty pleas that have almost certainly been weighing on Jaskirat Sidhu to be particularly absolving of the heartbreak caused. In reality, they are just another painful reminder of how flawed even the best of us are as humans and how fragile any of our lives can be proven in a single instant.
A Finnish Hockey Company Trolled Team Canada By Sending A Free Stick To Noah Dobson, Whose Broken Twig Led To His Team's Elimination From the WJC
If the question is "fair or foul?" then I'm going to have to side with the former on this one. It's definitely of ill intent, but it's so well executed that I can't even find any real fault. Trolling a country that has hard enough time taking a loss in hockey as is, but doing so in a clever and somewhat inconspicuous way that's nice enough not to take aim at any failures on the part of the teenage players themselves is about as praiseworthy as pettiness gets.
So long as PAMA doesn't plan on expanding their business to Canada anytime soon, I see nothing wrong with offering a prop as a present in an attempt to pour salt in the wound with an obvious marketing ploy. Don't take kindly to your team being made sport of in a way that's somehow only seems mildly condescending? Well, make sure they aren't taking the ice with shoddy equipment during must-win games that aren't anywhere near as important as the fans think they are. I have it on the good authority of their own kindly worded note that PAMA hockey would never do something so reckless.
Torey Krug And David Pastrnak Combined For The Most Preposterous Powerplay Goal You've Seen All Season
In a word, cocky. Being fully aware of how often they worked out the kinks of that play in practice and the amount of times they rewound the game tape to see if it might work against a particular opponent, risking an icing while on the powerplay by blasting a slap pass off the back boards from your own blue line is as arrogant as it gets. As Dorothy might say, there is no place like home, because you have to know your rink better than you know your own bowels to even attempt a type of wizardry that wouldn't even fly in the land of Oz if you're not trying to catch shit when you get back to the bench.
Fortune, as it tends to do, favors the bold, but bold doesn't even do a good enough job describing the fortitude in Torey Krug's testicles as he casually wound up from an area of the ice that would make Fulton Reed feel like a phony. The timing and execution of geometric excellence on a pinpoint laser beam from 150+ feet away was absolutely awe-inspiring. However, I still think that aspect is less impressive than having the casual confidence to unleash it (after having already surrendered a shorthanded goal in the game) like being off by a mere inch or two wouldn't make you look like a complete idiot. Credit to David Pastrnak for doing what David Pastrnak does by finishing off the filthiest of feeds, but I'm surprised they didn't need to bring out the stretcher to help Torey Krug haul his balls off the ice after that one.
Sidney Crosby Gifted A Signed Stick To A Rangers' Fan That Wouldn't Shut Up As His Team Got Shellacked
Leave it to Sidney Crosby. The guy goes on for over a decade being a painfully boring person when he's not being anything but boring as a superhuman hockey player, and what does he do the first time he decides to show both a personality and an ability to laugh at himself? He gives some loud mouth a signed stick as if the self-satisfaction of hearing his own stupid voice wasn't enabling enough. Couldn't show the slightest hint of a sense of humor in a postgame interview. Just had to give a heckler a happy ending as if that won't spawn a nauseating about of unoriginal imitations. As if an unjustly entitled fanbase needed even more incentive to talk directly out of their ass in stinking up the experience for those around them, now one is taking home a damn trophy for having the gall to talk shit throughout the entirety of a 7-2 stomping? Allegedly some of these chirps were harmless, innovative, and even funny, but I promise you the same won't be able to be said about the idiots that try to recreate them.
Gee, thanks a lot Sid. Next time you think it's the right time to show your presence in a room isn't that of wallpaper away from the ice....maybe just don't. Signed, everyone that's every met a single New York Rangers' fan.
A Fanbase Has Undoubtedly Been Divided, As The Devils Did The Right Thing By Signing John Hynes To An Extension
Before I ramble on about how reassuring it is to see Ray Shero imply accountability for an unready roster by turning a blind eye to the over-reactionary haters (of which there are many) and re-committing to a young, first-time NHL head coach that has grown in leaps and bounds since taking the job while...::pauses for breath::...commanding the respect of both his players and the entire hockey community, I do have to question the timing of this announcement.
If not for some puck luck and Mackenzie Blackwood standing on his head, the Devils easily could have lost by double-digits last night. Like, think of the book-based movie that did the worst possible job capturing the essence of its muse and then watch that instead of a scoreboard that flat out lied about the game script of a 5-4 loss. Somehow, registering just two shots through the halfway point of the game doesn't even come close to telling the whole story, as the most offensive aspect of the Devils' performance was their laughable lack of defense.
Of course, one god-awful game, especially one that comes on the heels of an uplifting winning streak, dictates not the hands in which you plan to place the fate of your franchise. However, as it was bound to be a polarizing decision regardless, I probably would have slapped it onto the ass end of a victory. I truly believe that John Hynes is the best man for the job and that the Devils would have lived to regret firing him just to turn down the heat under everyone else's seat during a humbling season. Still, last night was only evidence of his positive influence in the way that ashes are evidence of a loving home after it's been burned to the ground.
That said, regardless of the timing, this is good news. Some won't see it that way, as coaches are the most typical of target during times of tension, but John Hynes didn't go from master motivator of a young, upstart team successfully making an unexpected playoff push to an unqualified idiot in six months time. The Devils, as an organization, are doing their best to recover from somewhat expected growing pains, and canning a guy for failing to live up to unreasonable expectations that he helped to create in the first place would be to cut off their nose to spite their face while being more shortsighted than the length of two nostrils.
For what the Devils aren't, which is currently a complete team that's capable of contending, they are a cohesive group that appears to be on the same page. Time will tell whether that page eventually gets turned to a more promising chapter, but - even in a ruthless, results-oriented business - John Hynes has earned the right to be the one left licking his thumb. To think otherwise would be to not think at all, because the look we got Behind The Glass was almost an undeniable glimpse at a fair but firm leader who has earned some semblance of job security while developing a following more favorable to success.
The moment is a real son of a bitch. Far too often it's quick to imprison even the most objective of fans in it's unforgiving web of dire pessimism or, more recently, unadulterated optimism. For that reason, Mackenzie Blackwood's awe inspiring start to his NHL career has the jump to conclusions looking like the line for the diving board on the first day of summer. Expectations for the Devils' future in net are growing at a rate that is more unsustainable than maintaining a 1.25 GAA behind a defense that's more leaky than the ship on which their playoff hopes rest...well...restlessly.
Unfortunately, I can't even blame those that are getting their hopes up, because the rookie netminder has basically served as the anti-venom in running through a gauntlet of New Jersey's crippling kryptonite unscathed. Artemi Panarin, the Boston Bruins, and the Carolina Hurricanes would be the type of bosses that would make them routinely restart the console if the rigors of a typical NHL season were put it into video game form and the controller was placed in the hands of the Devils, so suppressing the excitement from a run of victories (be they actual or moral) that were previously unthinkable is not currently an option. Mix in the uncertainty of their early season goaltending woes, splash in a spritz controversial contractual situations at the position, and - voila - you have the recipe ripe for people to get dumb drunk off what, in a perfect world, would be an intoxicating dawn to a new day.
Plus, it's not just the statistics that Mackenzie Blackwood has put up during four starts, three straight wins, and two straight shutouts that are so encouraging, but also the reactionary saves, the rebound control, and the positioning and awareness that make both those things look much more casual than Devils fans are used to. All due respect to Keith Kinkaid, who has had bursts of brilliance over the course of Cory Schneider's winless year, but even at his most impenetrable he wasn't confidently commandeering the crease the way Mackenzie Blackwood has of late. He is very much finding the puck and dictating its path as opposed to vice versa. His numbers are definitely due a reality check, but there's nothing depreciating about assets such as the size and athleticism he's displayed while inflating them.
The truth is, throughout the last week and change, the last line of defense has made all the other lines of defense look better by association with timely saves, smart covers, and perfect puck placement that have helped immensely in weathering the storm. I'm not ready to start awarding Mackenzie Blackwood imaginary assists, as the Devils uptick in being opportunistic offensively was inevitable. However, there's probably some correlation with how much looser players like Blake Coleman, Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha, and Miles Wood have been gripping their sticks in knowing their margin for error - even without the Hart beat of Taylor Hall setting the pace - is no longer infinitesimal.
To label a rookie goaltender who spent time in the ECHL as recently as last year the savior is getting laughably ahead of yourself. The regression, even if it's just relative, is coming soon. That said, it's next to impossible to not only like but love what you've seen out of the kid thus far. He's not always going to be without error in using them to their max efficiency, but the tools to put together a bright future in between pipes that have otherwise yet to be taken ownership of this season are all there. That's something that couldn't have been said about the Devils' goaltending situation no more than two weeks ago.
Mackenzie Blackwood Put Forth A Winning Effort In His First NHL Start, Even Though The Devils Did Not
Full disclosure, if not for a rookie netminder displaying veteran-like composure in keeping a largely lifeless team in the game for the first 40 minutes of game that they probably shouldn't even have had a chance to win in the final 20, I wouldn't have had enough original things to say to be writing about yet another demoralizing Devils' loss.
The laughable desperate lineup changes that can be best explained by the type of inquisitiveness that could get someone to eat dog food out of morbid curiosity were quickly boycotted. Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson basically gave the middle finger to both their coach and their goaltender by jockeying for the position of RHD while the LHD's responsibility tapped home a goal that was easier to attain than the signing up for a gym membership step of getting in shape...
Taylor Hall, as he's become one to do in trying to dig the Devils out of their depressive state, did a little too much in turning an odd man rush for into a scoring opportunity against so quickly that it made Nico Hischier jealous. Then Cam Atkinson, as he's become one to do over the years, killed the Devils, this time with the resulting penalty shot...
I suppose a bunch of other shit happened along the way, but - all in all - it was a familiar 'too little, too late' type effort from a Devils' team that made things far too easy on their opponent and waited until the 3rd period to show any sort of urgency offensively.
What wasn't familiar, however, was Mackenzie Blackwood and the combination of size (I don't know if you've heard, but you can't teach that), positioning, and athleticism he put together in giving his team every opportunity to conjure up some competitiveness. Whether it was stopping Artemi Panarin on the doorstep more times in a three second span than he's been stopped by a Devils' goaltender...well...maybe ever, or getting across the crease in a form and fashion that made Cory Schneider in fast-forward seem slo-mo, Blackwood was a breathe of fresh air to a crease that basically been black mold whenever Keith Kinkaid isn't at the top of his game.
One game makes not a successful career, of course, but it was encouragingly obvious why he was drafted so high, and (not to name names, but...) that's sadly not something that can currently be said of all members of that same Devils' draft class. Relative to a season of overwhelmingly negativity, a standout effort that - even in defeat - made the goaltending situation seem slightly less doomed is a pretty big positive. For that reason, I'm not sure MacKenzie Blackwood is more deserving of a 'thank you', a 'congratulations', or a 'sorry', because (with the help of a few posts) his 36-save performance was an appreciated accomplishment that went completely to waste...
And there you have it folks. We've officially reached the "I wonder if this shit will stick to the wall" portion of an incredibly underwhelming season. Seems like just yesterday it mattered who was playing with whom, and all the sudden curiosity has taken over for chemistry as the driving force behind lineup decisions.
The truth is, after having suffered through watching their collective face get rearranged during Tuesday night's 60-minute assault, I wouldn't blame John Hynes if he randomly put players together like one might assort their laundry while wasted. Hell, I'd be half-surprised if a fifth of warm whiskey wasn't the lubricant on which Taylor Hall slid down to the second line.
Shall we keep going? Bratt on the fourth line? Severson and Vatanen together? Lovejoy being bumped up instead of out of the lineup by Santini? God bless Mackenzie Blackwood's heart, because the first start of his NHL career is pretty close to the last resort for a team that's now changing lines like one might get dressed in the dark.
Again, I don't blame John Hynes (nor want him fired, for that matter). There's only so many ways to inspire a team that still no-shows on a weekly basis, but one that was still available to him was making his players think they are driving him to drink. I have my doubts as to how well sympathy will work as a motivation tool, but it can't be any worse than whatever alcohol they were running on as Toronto put their toppling, tipsy ass in an Uber by the start of the second period. Who knows, maybe it's just crazy enough to work. Not like anything else is anyway...
Patrik Berglund Just Became Beloved In The City of Buffalo By Having His Contract Terminated For A Failure To Report
Disclaimer: When the potentially saddening explanation for his otherwise inexplicable absence eventually comes out, I reserve the right to retract the following "statement". Alas...
The good news? A mediocre player whose role on a surprisingly upstart team was quickly regressing just instantly became a hero in, of all places, the city of Buffalo.
The bad news? He just became a timeless punchline just about everywhere else.
Seriously, just wait until Jeff Skinner and his 50+ goal pace get signed long term with the money that the Sabres saved by saying "c'ya never" to a professional hockey player who appears to have valued his pride at a figure north of 12.5 million dollars. Hell, they might damn well save some of it to build a statue of Patrik Berglund sitting in a luxury suite outside the stadium. By my math, he would have had to increase his production about 10-fold to mean nearly as much to the organization as he did at the exact moment he was let go from it. Therefore, the 'one-man-mutiny' approach might have cost eight figures but it instantly bought him legendary status in a long suffering city.
Personally? I'd rather have the money, but some people think of legacies as priceless. This one, of course, would pretty much have to be in order to account for the shredding of a contract that still had 3 years at 3.85 million left on it, but who am I to question the priorities of a professional hockey player who better work on his bluffing if he plans to make up for his losses at the poker table?
Despite the depressiveness of the Devils' season thus far, I've tried to refrain from going full-blown eternal pessimist. In managing to take three out of the last four points despite facing third period deficits against superior teams without the help of the reigning league MVP on back-to-back nights, they've proven that the right way to approach a humbling year that - if only due to the ineptitude of the rest of their division - somehow still possesses the improbable potential for a playoff berth.
Unfortunately, as it pertains to the status of the one player who was the biggest unknown over the offseason, I'm not sure optimism is still a legitimate option anymore. Hell, at this point, I don't even know what the optimistic viewpoint would even be. Either Cory Schneider really is dealing with yet another injury to a part of his body that is essential to him doing his job with any consistency, or his injury is partly an excuse for his undeniable inability to do said job with consistency in anything other than losing.
On one hand, you'd hope that a physical ailment is what restrained him from getting from one post to the other in giving up an inexcusable backhand wraparound just over a minute into his first home start of the season...
And on the other hand, it's insane to hope that a goaltender who has yet to regain even a single shred of confidence following offseason hip surgery has been dealt another blow to his lateral quickness.
Cory Schneider carries a 6 million dollar price tag for 3.5 more seasons, and - as much of an apologist as I was - the Devils have only been somewhat worth the price of admission when he's nowhere near the net. We're talking about someone who took a routine glove save on a nothing shot and, in opposition of all findings of science, managed to help guide it through his own 5-hole...
That's not the work of a strained abdominal as much as it's the work of a shattered spirit. The Devils have undoubtedly been at their most disastrous with #35 in between the pipes, but the fact that they have often refused to play defense in front of him doesn't change the fact that his play has been indefensible. The only case he's made for himself so far is that his career as an NHL caliber goaltender is over. If the goal is to even stay on the outskirts of the postseason race, then the goal simply can't be manned by Cory Schneider. That's really the long and short of it. So, while in the short it's not incredibly awful news that he'll be inactive for a week during which a young player will presumably get a chance to prove himself, in the long there is no remotely good news regarding a player who appears broken mentally during the increasingly rare occasions in which he's not broken physically.
In The Midst Of Their Coaching Catastrophe, The Flyers Have Called Up Carter Hart For His Damage Control As Much As His Goaltending
I'm not sure there's a better way to describe the bipolarity of the emotional roller coaster above then to say I actually felt bad for the loathsome cretins that were stuck riding it as the Flyers out-Philly'd themselves in slamming the breaks during the most highly anticipated of plunge. Metaphorically speaking, the news that Joel Quenneville was replacing Dave Hakstol basically took Flyers fans to their happy place only for them to get there and find Shooter McGavin giving the girl of their dreams a tongue bath as it was almost immediately retracted.
As was likely when they handed their franchise legend of a GM his walking papers, and all-but-inevitable as they let it leak that they were canning their Head Coach, the Flyers...well...canned their Head Coach. However, there aren't many organizations that could surround an overwhelmingly agreed upon decision with such devastating disappointment. Yesterday afternoon, Flyers' fans would have signed up for Gritty grabbing the reigns behind the bench. Now, they'll be happy with nothing less than the second winningest coach in NHL history, and I can't even blame them for being impossibly insatiable, because their own franchise basically waved the finest of filet mignons under their nose only to leave them starving.
Therefore, while I find it hilariously disingenuous that they are acting as if the goaltending prospect they've been so cautious with that he has garnered an unsubstantiated support system only known to the likes of Jesus Christ himself finally developed into a finished product on the very same day in which the Flyers desperately needed a distraction, I totally understand why they are...
Never mind how well Carter Hart ends up stopping pucks at a professional level, because his main job at the moment is to control damage. To play the set of keys to a fanbase that has every right to be acting like disgruntled babies in the wake of being fed spoiled milk. The promising 20 year old is more than more than likely their best option at a position they've filled about as aptly as their trophy case for the last two decades, but that's not exactly some new revelation. I understand the Flyers are dealing with injuries in between the pipes, but - considering the timing - this is as much of a pounding of an "in case of emergency" button as it is anything else. Though, in fairness, with a volatile and long-suffering fanbase feeling its most scorned, this was definitely an emergency worthy of pulling the last ace out of their own asshole.
My instinctual reaction was to take umbrage with the idea that a puck can't go in off an official, as any referee that lacks focus in failing to get the hell out of the way should feel the shame that comes with drawing the ire of an entire team of professional athletes by having a direct impact on the outcome of their game.
After close consideration, however, I have quickly changed my tune. I still think humiliation is the ultimate deterrent for suspect supervision from those in stripes, but I don't think there's anything more humiliating than for Tim Peel to be sent sailing into the boards and sprawling to the ice as a goal horn blares in a way that basically signals his testicular pain as every eye in the building is immediately drawn to the insult of his groin injury. That poor, spatially unaware bastard paid his penance in taking one off the penis, so - if only because I'm uncomfortable with the ramifications of relying on referees to work on their rebound control - it's probably best his obliviousness wasn't reflected on the scoreboard. Even though it would be slightly funnier if it was.
NHL.com- What do you say to those emotionally invested fans who want to see improvement over last season?
"Last year gave both hope and optimism. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Our fan base finally saw the vision we talked about my first two years through drafting, developing, and making proper trades; you could see it start to come together. We established something where you could see more talent, more belief and a commitment to hold each other accountable, whether they were younger players or veterans.
"I know we have a ways to go, not just to get to Game 82 (this season), but over the course of the next two or three years. It's all really the start (of our build) I envisioned when I came here. I said last November (2017), that I felt like this is turning. I know it, I've been through this before with Nashville and Ottawa (as assistant GM). With Josh and David, we have stayed true to our plan, no shortcuts. There will be speed bumps along the way, but this is the right way to do it.
"Rebuilds are not for the weak. (New York Islanders GM) Lou Lamoriello once said, 'I have a five-year plan and it's changing every day' so you have to be prepared and have an idea what you want to do for the short- and long-term. We want to be a team that competes for a playoff spot every year and not just by chance or luck, and then from there become more of a contender.
"Our fans have shown their passion. We all felt the excitement last year, as we had a great run at the end of the season and witnessed how electric the building was when we clinched the playoffs at home. We built this the right way and our fans, other teams and the League noticed. We were selected to do the first-ever behind the scenes all-access training camp series, and obviously picked as one of the teams to go to Europe (for the NHL Global Series). That is on- and off-ice progress which we should be proud of."
Your thoughts on Taylor Hall in his third season with the Devils, and how do you think he handled his recent benching by coach John Hynes?
"I once told Taylor that he can't expect to be on his game all the time, but it's how he helps the team win when he's not on. I sent a text to coach Hynes after he benched Hall for the final seven minutes of the second period in our loss to Tampa Bay (on Dec. 3) and asked how Hall was doing.
"[Hynes] said he was fine. He said Hall apologized for putting him in a situation to sit him. He respected what [Hynes] did, and he still played him 16:17 and [Hall] said that was more than enough for him to get his game back. [Hall] appreciated the way we treated him and how we held him accountable and knows he has to be better and wants to be better. [Hynes and Hall] have a healthy respect for each other and Hynes was confident Hall would be OK. Hynes told me it was really a reset for him and Taylor's response was great.
"That's the kind of player and person Taylor is. He wants accountability for himself and those around him. What does he do after that conversation with John? He goes out the next day and is the best player in practice, he leads by example. These are the kind of things that prove how driven he is, how much he cares."
Hall, who won the 2018 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, has one season remaining after this one on his seven-year contract he initially signed with the Edmonton Oilers. The earliest you could sign Hall to an extension is July 1, 2019. How soon will you begin talks on a new contract?
"Taylor and I had dinner at the end of the 2016-17 season, and it ended up turning into this enlightening four-hour conversation covering so many different topics. Taylor was determined after that season. I met with all the veterans at the end of the season and it was clear they all shared their disappointment.
"Based on what his response was, the conversation could have lasted just five minutes. But he said to me this was the right fit. I told him that his legacy is important to me and that I cared about it. When I asked him about Hynes, he told me he was the best coach he's ever had. Once you hear those things, you know you have something together. Taylor came in and transformed this franchise.
"We will definitely talk after the season, and he is a priority, but an announcement, if any, won't come until after (July 1), per league rules. Our feelings haven't changed about Taylor. He's an incredible addition to our team and franchise. Like I said before, he has come in, bought in and transformed this franchise. This is a faster, younger and more exciting team in part because of Taylor. We made a trade for a player that became the MVP which is only the second time NHL history that has happened (Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks). I think we have a lot of unfinished business and it's been a great fit for both sides."
Why does John Hynes remain the clear choice as coach moving forward?
"The three areas important to me in a coach are an ability to teach, inspire and discipline. There's a fine line between being a friend and establishing a relationship and John has done that with his players. You've got to hold everyone accountable and can't defer to veterans. In three seasons he's shown great growth in how he's dealt with our veterans and young players. John's growth path has mirrored that of our team, and I like to see that. He's taken hard-working teams and helped them accomplish more. He coaches to his players' strengths and helps them find a gear or aspect to their game and brings it to the forefront. He's coached an immensely talented player to become an MVP. Everyone had a great inside glimpse into John with the Behind the Glass all-access series as a communicator, motivator, and his direction as a coach. You have to be honest with yourself as a coach, and sometimes that's not comfortable, but John has matured in that regard, too."
Can you offer your assessment of goalies Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid?
"Cory has worked really hard and he's physically fine. There are things we can help him with, but at the end of the day if Cory wants the net back he needs to be the best goalie in practice and that will help him become sharper when he gets into the game. He's got to push Keith and continue to be supportive, too, just as he was for Keith during his run last year. He's been great in that regard. Sometimes it comes down to the player and the player needs to make a difference.
"I tried to hire (goalie coach Roland Melanson) when I was in Pittsburgh (as GM) because I knew of his reputation. Rollie has worked hard with both Cory and Keith. He's helped Keith develop and take the next step and continues to work with Cory, day-in and day-out."
To be honest, I'm not sure what I expected. As someone who wants to believe in Taylor Hall's long-term future with the franchise, as well as John Hynes' ability to turn things around as a well-respected coach that - largely by default - gets more grief than he deserves, I like what I read. As someone who was hopelessly hoping for something other than the most elaborately worded translation of "status quo" that all-too-fittingly quoted Lou Lamoriello, doing so kind of triggered my gag reflex.
The truth is, I just don't see any drastic changes to be made that are going to help fix this team in the short term or long term. It sucks to...well...suck, but riding out a step back in the rebuild is better than setting fire to the undeniable progress that has been made solely because the high that comes as a result of destroying shit - like a foundation - is good as an extremely short-sighted cure for frustration.
There's no doubt that watching this team play has been an experience that's bi-polar to what it was last year, but to not understand the amount of promising pieces that have been put in place since Ray Shero took over is to have a comically short memory. Take a look back at the average AHL/AARP roster he inherited and impossible not to be impressed by the work he's done in flipping it. His plan might be one that's longer than either he or Devils' fans expected, especially after the seven month adrenaline rush of last season, but at least it's a plan. There's not one (undoubtedly overpriced) free agent that was actually attainable who would have this team in a drastically different position right now, and there's not one panic move to be made that's going to change that pathetic position for the better in the very near future.
It's painfully obvious this team isn't anywhere near complete, and that Taylor Hall playing God was as much of an impetus for their unexpected playoff appearance as his Hart Trophy indicated. However, doing something just to do something isn't going to miraculously recapture that magic, or guarantee the re-signing of the person who possessed it, as the Devils' shattered confidence isn't a single outside player or a new coach away from being reconstructed.
The goaltending has been garbage in a way that's fitting of the defensive dumpster fire around it, and that's a whole lot more problems than are fixable midseason. The climb to being a contender isn't always a steady one, and - if him saying nothing too shocking or scathing is any indication - then it looks like Ray Shero is prepared to wait out the occasional pitfall with a young, developing team as that makes for a more proven way up than letting pure desperation guide your decision making.
"The New Jersey Devils play better in front of Keith Kinkaid."
Even if you follow the team from afar, that's something you have heard deafeningly whispered about their inability to win a single game in which Cory Schneider gets the start. As of late, it's something that's become harder and harder to believe, as the quick fix of leaning heavily on Keith Kinkaid has stopped the bleeding about as well as a bandaid placed over a bullet wound.
Which honestly makes it all the more depressingly impressive that they went to such laughable lengths to keep that narrative alive last night. By the time they tipped, flubbed, or whacked the third puck into their own net, I was just about damn sure that they had taken it as a personal challenge to prove that they had saved a whole new level of dysfunctional defense for a goaltender who has become nothing short of disgraced.
Count em', one...
And, despite making solid contact, three strikes...the Devils arrrrre OUT of luck when #35 is in net...
The first goal he let up was an eye-roller, but Schneider made plenty of huge saves and gave his team plenty of timely opportunities to help out his shockingly sad record as a starter only for them to, almost literally, throw them back in his face.
The truth is, aside from netting a hat trick of self-harm, the Devils played pretty well in picking up a third of four possible points on a road trip that, historically speaking, has given them fits. Unfortunately, it's hard to think of it as even a small victory as they all but beat themselves prior to a shootout loss. One less own goal or one less missed breakaway and we're talking about a team whose inventory is still clearly lacking in the confidence department finding a way to turn things around while dealing with the ruthlessness of the road. Instead, we're left wondering if Cory Schneider accidentally sent a dick pic to a group chat containing every team mom over the offseason, as that seems just as rational a reason as any for how actively disaster prone they've been in front of him during what's been a relentless return from hip surgery.
If they manage to secure a win in San Jose then it'll be easier to forget that they pumped another elusive point passed their own netminder, as 5-outta-6 on the West Coast ain't bad. What won't be so easily forgotten is that their goaltending is as much a problem in and of itself as it is a byproduct of a bigger problem. That being that their mettle - offensively, defensively and otherwise - is currently as flimsy as tin foil...no matter who has the misfortune of taking a disproportional amount of blame simply by being in net on any given night.
In a word...
I'm not even sure I have all that much more to add, because I'm not even sure the victim of that vicious verbal assassination had enough life left in his lungs to conjure up a retort of his own worth hearing. "Waaaaaiv-ers" sung through that toothy, shit-eating grin of a shit-stirring legacy to someone who only made his way through them because no other team wanted him is pretty much a lullaby to a professional nightmare. Zack Smith's pride got serenaded to sleep by an indisputable reminder that the objectively bad team whose roster he's currently breaking his balls to remain on basically left him out on the curb like a used couch only to lug him back in when they couldn't find a better way to fill the space he vacated.
Of course, the stats of the two players involved in this interaction are oddly similar over the last few years and I remember people being relatively stunned when the Senators' forward was initially offered up to any takers like he was no more intriguing than a yellow Starburst. However, for the sake of a knife-to-the-sternum-style ribbing, waived is waived and the only thing more emasculating than being told to take a hike by your own team is having someone else mock the fact that they didn't really care if you ever returned from it.
Anyway, it's nice to see a good, old Canadian rivalry getting fired back up again. Just don't let anyone tell you that words don't hurt, because their power is what best explains Zack Smith going low blow-for-low blow in using a stick to try to break Max Domi's bone two nights later...
In Classic Vegas Fashion, The Golden Knights' Goal Horn Was Set Off Mid-Announcement Of A Disallowed Goal
Well, at the very least, we can let that be a lesson. It's just that the student isn't the anxiously optimistic goal horn operator with the itchy trigger finger, but rather the Vegas' virgin that thought Sin City was just going to sit silently still as he finished a sentence that started "after video review, the puck was in the net before the net came off...". Damn near everyone with a two mile radius of that arena is just looking for any old reason to get loud and enthusiastic in either figuratively or literally dropping their drawers, and this referee is out there burying the lede like an audience that's high off oxygenated casino air and drunk off desire has any intention of listening past it?
I don't want to make it seem like I don't appreciate the full disclosure of a detailed description, but save that shit for a building that isn't located in the heart of the a city whose draw is the immediate gratification or instant disappointment of flipped cards, rolled dice, and pulled levers. It's Las Vegas man. Whether the outcome be good or bad, ain't nobody got time or patience for a slow and/or misleading dealer, and that goes especially for the guy whose ability to send tens of thousands of fans into hysterics with the press of a button would make Pauly D. jealous.