Look, the only real story here is that Connor McDavid has a freakish skill set that is unlike any the NHL has ever seen before. The sick hands and unfathomable footwork required to spin in protection of the puck at full speed before throwing a no look feed to a teammate cutting backdoor are the only things that should be focused on in this highlight.
Unfortunately, far too many hockey fans insisted on displaying the suspect knowledge of the game that makes it difficult to sit within a 5 row radius of them in a stadium setting, so I feel obligated to reference the incompetence of the defense instead of just sitting back and appreciating the absurdity of the offense.
Seriously, if your first instinct is to shame Duncan Keith for an attempt that was admittedly less than Norris Trophy-worthy then you need your peripheral vision checked. Not that catching up to the fastest man on two skates and staying in front of him was the best he could have done at keeping the puck out of his net, but if you think that he got taken to school then his defensive partner must have slept right through class. Now, I'm not saying that I too wouldn't find myself mesmerized into a statuesque state if the NHL equivalent of a unicorn were bearing down on me at about a billion miles per hour, but in terms of unforgivable efforts? Brent Seabrook looking like his controller's battery died is first, and - objectively speaking - there is no close second.
First and foremost, hats off (almost literally) to Nico Hischier. Not only was it awesome to watch him go from somewhat snake bitten to a point-per-game player in one single game, but it's a credit to how involved he's been from the first drop of the puck. The goals are great and hopefully they keep coming in bunches, but they are simply a statistical pay off for a kid that was playing above his numerical production. The first overall pick officially arrived well before last night, but he finally announced his presence by pocketing back-to-back goals in the tough areas of the ice.
So yeah, I'm with Taylor Hall in thinking it might be time to take his online coat off and stay awhile...
As for the Devils as a whole? Well, they keep cooking up a recipe for disaster, so I'm not entirely sure how it's been so consistently palatable. Unnecessary penalties and a subpar penalty kill generally aren't ingredients that compliment a victory, so I guess that makes a shockingly formidable offense a culinary crutch that would comparatively make bacon look like an unflattering addition. Saying that the Devils are only winning because they are scoring a lot reads like a pretty piss poor dad joke, but it's as true as it is unsustainable. If this team wants to continue to give themselves an opportunity to win games over more experienced teams then they absolutely have to stay out of the box, because I don't need to be an analytics expert to tell you that recent results will serve as the outlier sooner rather than later. It's exciting that they proved they are resilient enough to overcome handing out a half dozen power plays while losing a large majority of face-offs, but - long term - there's not a team in the league that is talented enough to keep pushing the right buttons while turning all the wrong keys.
All that pessimism aside, it's been surreal to watch this team take their inevitable mistakes in stride without letting them effect their work ethic. The game tying goal came on a play that even the most biased of fan would have to consider a lucky bounce, but those bounces don't go your way without a relentless forecheck. You can treat Guy Boucher's postgame praise as nothing more than coach speak, but the fact that it reads like a goddamn Ray Shero press release or the transcript of a John Hynes press conference is unbelievably encouraging...
I'm not one to blindly repeat the company line, but the commitment to being fast, attacking, and supportive through the 60th minute has served as the anti-venom to the kryptonite that is undisciplined hockey . Young teams are prone to playing stupid, but if this young team can cut down on the self inflicted wounds then they'll stand a much better chance of continuing to make their detractors - of which there was no shortage - look even more stupid.
Taylor Hall - Hopefully those that were overly concerned with last year's point totals are learning how much easier it will be to surpass them now that he has a handful of capable players to pass to...
Will Butcher - Consummate beaut...
John Moore - Extra time extraordinaire...
Cory Schneider - Whew, breathe it deep...
Odd slip of the tongue or extremely generous description of a penalty that required a whole hell of a lot of ineptitude. Either way, I couldn't be more certain that they got this call semantically correct. Never mind this being a shockingly egregious example of a 'Too Many Men On The Ice' penalty, because the fact that they couldn't even break out of their zone with an additional player involved in the play is proof positive that they also had about six 'Too Many Gentlemen On The Ice'.
Christ, would it kill the Carolina Hurricanes to put a damn body on somebody? It's natural to wonder how they didn't realize they had too much support when a third of their active roster ended up huddled within a 10 foot radius of their crease for an alarming amount of time. If I were a Cane-iac, however, it'd be slightly more concerned that not a single one of them could win a battle or create a safe outlet. Like, how far down the bench would we have to go before finding a player that was willing to grab the puck by its proverbial pussy instead of helplessly waving like they were trying to hail it a cab in the rain? I'm absolutely stunned they were able to score the victory when their late-game pursuit of the biscuit looked destined to have them stuck in the (friend) zone for the rest of the night.
Let's assume the biggest pitfall of having a young team is the likelihood with which they tarnish an otherwise promising performance by sprinkling in a couple dumb, almost unforgivable mistakes. If that's the case, then the fact that the Devils were able to bear down and overcome what likely should have been fatal errors in toppling one of their conferences most formidable foes must make them a pretty damn good young team.
Between gift wrapping a go-ahead goal for someone who has never needed to be done any favors in the offensive zone, to taking thee most egregiously unnecessary offensive zone penalty with two minutes left in a tie game, to going down a man in overtime and giving an absolutely lethal powerplay even more room to maneuver, the Devils easily surpassed what was a small margin for error. The fact that it didn't cost them one single point is not only a credit to their resilience, but also a credit to their uncanny maturation process.
Most fans who are rooted in reality are still waiting for the other shoe to drop in what is - objectively speaking - supposed to be another rebuilding year, but I'll be damned if the Devils haven't kept that shoe lodged deeply in our throats with what has been nothing short of a stunning start. The season is still young, but a youthful roster that's been completely remade appears wise beyond it's years. To be 5-1 with contributions coming all throughout the entirety of the lineup had to be considered a pipe dream, and it's been a goddamn blessing watching them actively avoid their wakeup call.
Sooner rather than later they are going to stop facing backup-"quality" goaltending, but it's been encouraging to watch them light it up quicker than whatever Miles Wood smokes before he speaks publicly. Going toe-to-toe with a talented Tampa Bay team that's been on a tear would have been no small feat - no matter who was in net - and the Devils somehow managed to pull a victory out of the jaws of defeat. Six games into the season is still far too early to make any declarative statements about long-term potential, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this team has a far stronger mental makeup than the one that missed every branch in their abrupt plunge into the abyss of NHL irrelevance.
Pavel Zacha - I don't want to pile on the guy because I think his struggles are overblown, but he's only digging himself deeper by trying to make up for those struggles. Theoretically, I appreciate him doing what this team has made a point of doing in sticking up for a teammate. In practice, dropping the gloves with two minutes to go in a tie game as retaliation to a missed high stick is not the time, place, or circumstance to prove your worth. Especially since it was almost guaranteed to result in taking an offensive zone penalty for the third straight game when the second straight game earned you a two period benching. Whatever shrink made Jesper Bratt's balls drop quicker than his now-egregious descent to the 6th round could easily earn his commission with Pavel Zacha, because his worst enemy has been whatever has been going on in his own head. It's not abnormal for a 20 year old to have confidence issues, but he has to stop letting them put his team in bad spots.
Steve Santini - Not sure even the most eternal of optimist could have drawn up a better start for him. When it became painfully clear that filling the holes on defense was going to be more costly than tearing down your entire house just to add an extra bathroom, the organization appeared to cross its fingers in hopes that giving someone like Santini more responsibility would aide in his development. That prayer - as well as the begging and pleading that convinced Will Butcher to sign in New Jersey - has paid off in spades.
Andy Greene and Damon Severson - They are obviously in over their head as a top pairing against a top line like Tampa's, but they have to do a better job making it harder on them than they did last night. In essence, they are expected to contain players like that as opposed to completely stopping them. However, Damon Severson did neither in dry humping Cory Schneider's net like he was trying to get rid of his red rocket on the back of the couch as Andy Greene left a loose puck sitting casually in his own crease.
Nico Hischier - Doesn't need to change a single thing. Just got to get his first one out of the way before his luck changes, and - like Rick Pitino in an Olive Garden bathroom - it's coming...quickly.
The "Vets" - The youth movement has been getting a ton of praise - and rightfully so - but Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, and Taylor Hall have undoubtedly made it easier on them. You need your best players to play like your best players when your other players are still learning how to best groom the hair on their balls. Henrique has made noticeable contributions in every game, which is something you definitely couldn't say last year. Palmieri has honestly looked like a player possessed since the preseason. Hall has given them what the rest of the roster partly prohibited him from giving them last year. Watching the latter two continue to abuse the seam worse than an overweight woman in yoga pants has been glorious since it begun when they switched wings on the powerplay last season.
The NHL Is Thinking About Doing Away With The All Star Game In Favor Of Holding Some Sort Of Hockey Fair In Europe
SportsNet- The NHL has made a concerted effort to focus on international growth, which has resulted in some interesting ideas being bandied about.
The league and the NHLPA have even discussed the possibility of scrapping the all-star game in favour of potentially holding some type of event overseas as a way to grow the NHL brand in Europe.
It’s unclear specifically what type of event the league and Players’ Association might be considering.
Johnston also reported that the NHL has recently hired Jaka Lednik — a European-born, Harvard-trained businessman — to oversee the league’s European growth strategy.
More meetings between the NHL and NHLPA are expected to take place soon.
Speaking of international NHL hockey, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Edmonton Oilers have expressed interest in playing games in China if the NHL decides goes back there next year.
The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played a pair of pre-season games in China in September — one in Shanghai, the other in Beijing. They marked the first games in NHL history to be played in China.
Finally, an event that could grow both the game of hockey and the brand of the NHL overseas! What a novel concept! Almost makes you wonder why there's never, ever been some type of international competition that could simultaneously allow professional athletes to embrace their heritage and fit both those orders of business into an already existing schedule?
Oh well, that's neither here nor there. I suppose it sucks that it might cost existing fans the not-at-all overrated viewing experience that is 'NHL All Star Weekend', but it's totally worth the sacrifice if it's going to help market the league globally in the only super vague and non-commitall way possible. That's always been Gary Bettman's biggest concern, and - since he's historically quick to compromise on behalf of his loyal customers - it's only right that we make that respect mutual by conceding our ability to watch the best players in the world display their otherworldly skills in a non-cutthroat environment. Fair is fair, and giving the rest of the world a 72 hour opportunity to embrace the multi-cultural landscape of the NHL without having to worry about the financial ramifications of some 5-ring circus is basically justice in a form so pure that it would bring a single tear to the eye of the most over-protective of enforcer.
Honestly, I couldn't care less about the NHL All Star Game, and would actually welcome the extinction of a spectacle that annually feels like a viewing obligation to this hockey fan when a (understandably) half-hearted and defenseless effort inevitably lacks intrigue. That said, I'm about ready to fight to the death to defend it's honor if the NHL is going to pull a 'Pinky' and insult my 'Brain' by trying to sell a weekend-long, European hockey fair as it's plot to take over the world. They - in counterproductive conjunction with the IOC - lost the benefit of simply doubting their own marketability when they made sure to keep their pockets packed by pulling their players from the Olympics. No matter how many brand awareness booths they setup outside the lightly attended exhibitions they host in Shanghai.
I'm Not One To Complain About A Win, But The Devils Looked Positively Dreadful In Their Victory Over The Rangers
How did I feel after watching the New Jersey Devils get back in the win column less than 24 hours after taking their first loss of the season? Well, somehow much, much better about a goaltending situation that I was already extremely confident in. That said, Keith Kinkaid must be feeling pretty damn lonely on that list of positives...
I mean, there's only one reason to be anything less than completely pessimistic about a performance in which 1/3 of the top six played their way onto the bench for 2/3's of the back end of a back-to-back. That reason is that the early season optimism that preceded it has afforded me the opportunity to not blindly praise the team after every win. In recent years, I may have given that piss poor display of passing aptly known as "the first period" some empty compliment simply because it ended in a tie. However, after seeing that this team is capable of better and - more importantly - smarter hockey, I can't wave my pom-pom's in good conscience knowing that Keith Kinkaid stole a victory from a team that had no business being as dominant for long stretches as they were. Every good team grabs a couple victories that they don't deserve, but - current record aside - the Devils damn sure aren't good enough to be relying on talent to make up for a disparity in effort. Especially when that disparity in effort is coming from some of those who have been gifted with the most talent.
Now, I don't expect the Devils to apologize for beating the Rangers in their own building, because I don't plan on apologizing for walking out of said building with a smirk on my face after they did. I just hope the fact that they did win doesn't take away from the impact of the lesson John Hynes tried to teach by turning Pavel Zacha, Marcus Johansson, and Jimmy Hayes into spectators. Luckily tired legs didn't cost them the game, but - even if they did - that would have more acceptable than losing due to careless offensive zone penalties and mind numbing defensive zone turnovers. It's disappointing that some of the most trusted players on the team required a benching so early into the season, but it's promising that this team finally has the depth to hold it's players accountable without it resulting in sure defeat.
Credit to the man who has been disproportionally criticized by fans despite not being given the horses (or as I call it, has received the 'Cory Schneider treatment') for realizing that he now has enough horsepower to leave those that aren't quite hoofing it in the stable. Being a scapegoat is in John Hynes job description, but he deserves a proverbial pat on his (hard) ass for flashing the same balls that he did in sitting Ben Lovejoy for the season opener.
Also of note:
- Will Butcher has actually looked pretty solid defensively in his sheltered minutes, but even if he brought nothing more to the table than the threat of this needlepoint pass that he made to Drew Stafford then he'd already have given this team something it hasn't had in a long, long time...
- I don't envy the position John Hynes will be put in when Brian Boyle (fingers crossed) makes his return to the lineup, because Blake Coleman has given the Devils everything they could possibly want out of a bottom six player. Whether it was calmly breaking the zone, laying out to block a shot in an odd-manned situation, or winning puck battles, he stood out as one of the better player on the ice without even getting on the scoresheet. That doesn't even take into account that he selflessly made the conscious choice to get his ass kicked by that scumbag Tom Wilson on behalf of his teammate just one night earlier. If all that isn't enough, then the fact that he's got an endearingly weird quirk - that is apparently now sponsored(?) - must be considered when decided his role going forward...
- This isn't exactly newsworthy, but John Moore's physical tools (mainly his skating) are far beyond his implementation of them. If we are going to be mean about it, he moves like a pro and thinks the game like a pre-teen. Look no further for proof of that than the goals that have put the Devils in a hole the last two games.
- Adam Henrique owns the New York Rangers. That shouldn't be something that you didn't already know, but - to be quite honest - it's fun to type out.
Two days late and two points short, but the Devils finally learned a valuable lesson; It's really fucking hard to win hockey games against top heavy teams when you take unnecessary penalties. That was an easy flaw to brush off when literally thee most unlikely of shorthanded goals, a couple posts, and Cory Schneider's insane ability to remain conscious while standing on his head were able to help offset the gifting of EIGHT extra man opportunities to a team as spoiled with offensive riches as the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not so much when you give the most dangerous power player in the game 4 minutes to go to work in a closely contested third period.
I don't want to be too hard on Pavel Zacha because anyone that's played the game knows that sometimes your stick instinctually gets away from you, but that double minor served as the blood drawing dagger in the innocence of a team that's been a little too guilty of playing undisciplined.
Now, of course, the Devils were otherwise unquestionably outplayed by one of the best teams in the conference. Much more importantly, however, they weren't outclassed. Aside from the careless turnover (looking at you John Moore) that led to Oshie's first goal and the sloppy puck work that led to the back breaking insurance goal to end the second, the Devils were in last night's game up until the fateful high stick.
They could certainly benefit from playing a better brand of hockey tonight, but I don't think too many dramatic tweaks to be made to give them a pretty good chance to win a battle of the backups that - comparatively speaking - makes Keith Kinkaid look like the second coming of the man immortalized in bronze outside the Prudential Center. Let's hope they take advantage of that chance, because I think a struggling team like the Rangers is vulnerable to a fast, hungry team that should be eager to prove that their first three games were no fluke.
Also of note:
- I think getting his first goal out of the way would do wonders for the psyche of Nico Hischier. I don't exactly have an undeniable command of the body language of professional athletes. Luckily, the inherent inability of a teenager to hide his displeasure with himself through his facial expressions has made it clear - to me anyway - that he's mildly frustrated. He has by no means looked out of place, but he also hasn't been playing with the same creative fearlessness that had fans salivating after one game. Something tells me getting on the scoresheet will change that.
- You know that feeling when you're absolutely crushing a date before one awkward silence ruins the whole thing? Like, she's laughing at your jokes, there is obvious chemistry, things seem to be progressing, and then your mind goes blank, there's an awkward silence for a few seconds, and next thing you know you're overthinking everything that comes out of your mouth?
I feel like that situation is the career of Damon Severson in a nutshell. I don't feel comfortable continuing with that analogy and hoping that Damon Severson develops into hockey's Harvey Weinstein, but if I were to do so then the outlet pass he made to spring Kyle Palmieri on this breakaway would compare favorably to whipping his dick out and placing it on the dinner table....
Let's hope he continues to play with the confidence required to make that pass, because if he does then there's no reason the Devils shouldn't end up very happy in the 6 year (rape and harassment free) relationship they just committed to.
SportsNet- It’s literally been decades since we’ve seen a player get selected in the sixth round of the entry draft one year and make his NHL debut the next – at least until the 19-year-old winger stormed on the scene with the New Jersey Devils these last few weeks.
While we might easily point to Bratt’s size (five foot 10, 175 pounds) or his circumstances (playing in Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier league) as reasons for why he was previously overlooked, the teenager points at himself.
He readily admits that he struggled with focus and preparation in the past. He would get anxious and overthink things. There was very little consistency in his play.
“Last year was a pretty tough year for me,” Bratt said in an interview. “It was tough for me to be confident on the ice and I was always nervous before games. So I never performed at my highest level. I didn’t know how to make myself ready for the next day and that’s something that I worked on a lot this year to play on my highest level every night.”
Bratt credits the decision to start working with mental coach Andy Swärd as the moment where his potential was truly unlocked. Swärd’s client list includes athletes in various sports, including a handful of Swedish Hockey League goalies, and his message immediately resonated with a player who had scored just 14 goals in 94 games for AIK over two seasons.
“He makes me feel very comfortable,” said Bratt. “He’s a very well-known guy in Sweden. He’s a great guy and he’s one of the biggest reasons I’m standing here.”
Honestly, the only thing that makes less sense than a 6th round pick from a year ago making the roster and working his way up to the top half of it while amassing six points in the first three games of his career is that 6th round pick ever having dealt with a lack of confidence. It's straight from the workhorse's mouth so I guess I have no choice but to treat it as the truth, but before five minutes ago I would have been more likely to believe that Jesper Bratt had six nipples and a goddamn tail than a self esteem issue. The kid has been an absolute terror to each and every professional power play he has faced thus far, and he's one summer removed being unsure of himself?
Metaphorically speaking, going from being a role player in some random (bush) league in Sweden to taking the NHL by storm is the developmental equivalent of been a wallflower at homecoming to finger banging the hot chaperone in the middle of the dance floor at prom. Assuming puberty didn't just randomly hit him about 4 years too late, this unforeseen boost in big dick syndrome is radically uncharacteristic of any 175 pound Swede.
Now, all the credit goes to Jesper Bratt for having the endless potential that needed to be unlocked like throwback uniforms in a video game, but who is this goddamn gatekeeper and why is not already employed full-time by the Devils? Pretty sure the 18 year old first overall pick who - for the first time in his young career - looked mildly overwhelmed last night could benefit from the services of Andy Sward and his mental wizardry. Shit, Jesper Bratt basically became Henrik Zetterberg overnight so who is to say that this Swedish witch doctor couldn't tap into Nico Hischier's inner-Pavel Datsyuk after 5 minutes on a leather couch? I've been pushing for Damon Severson to start playing like his proverbial nuts dropped for years now, and we're just going to leave hockey's Mr. Miyagi coaching up players who are destined for SKA (KHL) when the S-K-Y is apparently the limit in New Jersey?! The guy who made the following play happen was apparently sitting in some 8 square foot locker room cringing at the idea of touching the puck a year ago. They better get his shrink to the states so this team can blow up, and I mean STAT(S)...
The Red Wings Are Threatening A Lifetime Ban On The Fan That Christened The Ice At Their New Building With An Octopus
LBS- Nick Horvarth told CBC News that he was ejected from last week’s home opener at Little Caesars Arena and told he is not welcome back after he threw an octopus onto the ice.
“The crowd was going nuts,” Horvath said. “As they were escorting me out people were booing them, ‘Let him go!’ People were high-fiving me, giving me spanks on the butt, slaps on the butt … everyone loved it.””
Unfortunately, arena security was not as receptive to the act, which became a tradition for Red Wings fans 65 years ago. Horvarth said he was told he can never return to a Red Wings home game.
“The two supervisors of security told me I’m done,” he said. “I think it’s very stiff. If they want to fine me I understand, if they wanted to ban me for a year … I can deal with that, but to get banned forever? That can’t happen.”
Why yes, because what better time to exile a loyal fan for eternity than after having moved a team that is predicted to be an abject disaster for the first time in two decades to a new building that is undoubtedly yet to feel like "home"? If there were ever an opening to put the clamps on a tradition that spans over half a century then it would be immediately upon the closing of one of the most decorated venues in the sport. Sure, someone was inevitably going to throw an octopus on the ice at Little Ceasar's Arena. Not only did the building need christening, but the people in it needed at least temporary distraction from the fact that went from having season tickets at The Joe to indirectly investing in the namesake of a Roman midget's atrocity of a "pizza" chain. Still, how can you strongly set the precedent that deceased marine life is no longer welcome without FOR-EV-ER shunning the type of life long supporter who is dedicated enough to smuggle animal carcasses past security?
In all seriousness, I understand why the Detroit Red Wings came to the conclusion that the custom of launching celebratory sea creatures on to the playing surface has run its course, but let's relax with the whole "lifetime ban" nonsense. For one, its an egregious way to treat a fan when your floundering (pun intended) franchise should be doing everything possible to keep each and every one of them in the building. More importantly, it's an impossible thing to institute. How many times have you walked around the concourse at a professional sporting event and seen a "If Spotted: Call 1-800-RentACop" poster featuring a drunken mugshot? You think the apathetic ushers or ticket takers are memorizing the face of every asshole that's been dragged out of the building smelling like an abandoned raw bar? That "lifetime ban" is somehow less effective than just about every policy Donald Trump has put in place to try America into an Aryan nation, so let's not pretend there's a proverbial wall blocking Nick Horvath from entering the 'Pizza! Pizza!' palace.
Can we just call this what it actually is? This dude has been issued a lifetime of probation that he's only realistically capable of violating if he decides that it's worth packing 8-armed squids in the name of tradition at the risk of spending the night in a Detroit holding cell. Personally I think that's a fair punishment, but let's not play with the semantics to make it sound like a worse sentence.
I know this seems like an odd place to start given the fact that last night's game finished with a score of 6-3, but to prioritize praising anyone else prior to Cory Schneider would simply be disingenuous with how good he's been early in this young season. I understand that the mind of the average, offensively depraved Devils' fan wants to immediately jump to the fact that they have somehow already doubled up their amount of 6 goal games from last season. However, without a 47 save effort from the top tier goaltender who became the scapegoat for the entirety of an (a)pathetic roster last year, we would be forced to talk about the team's defensive woes just as much as their apparent offensive enlightenment. Simply put, every single person that suggested trading Cory Schneider or implied that his admittedly porous numbers were this team's biggest problem can choke on their own foot, because the differential in the last three games has been a glimpse into just how easy he makes it look when he has goal support.
And what unbelievable goal support it has been. I didn't think it was possible to find myself more impressed with a Devils' team that's lit the lamp more often than a teen who has yet to have worried about an electricity bill, but then I realized that a grand total of ZERO goals have come from the stick of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, or Nico Hischier. I don't expect the Devils' to drop touchdowns on every team they play, but if they are going to continue to get substantial contributions in secondary scoring then I'm much more likely to believe that this early season offensive outburst is an undeniable sign of significant improvement up front. Non-facetiously speaking, this team would have considered themselves lucky if their bottom-6 tallied 4 goals in the longest month of last season, and they were able to casually hit that number last night alone.
Miles Wood didn't even crack the opening night lineup and he got on the board twice in a period. Blake Coleman might not even be in New Jersey if it weren't for Brian Boyle's unfortunate cancer diagnosis, and he ripped a bar-in laser that could only be described as a goal scorer's goal. There's literally not one single person outside the organization (or his immediate family) that thought Brian Gibbons was anything more than training camp roster fodder, and he potted a shorthanded goal while down two men to keep his PPG pace alive. Pavel Zacha was the most likely person to get on the scoresheet (twice), and he had all of 8 goals last year. The depth of the roster has been on full display, and top of it hasn't even fully gotten going yet.
Now, the Devils' aren't going to win games this consistently if they continue to give up 40+ shots while marching to the box 8 times per night. Still, the fact that they were able to overcome some pretty piss poor first period passing to win this particular game, on the road, over an extremely talented team should be enough to differentiate this '3-0' from the '3-0' that turned into the unceremonious, midseason dismissal of Peter DeBoer in comically quick fashion. I don't know that their superb special teams play (from multiple guys who weren't expected to be on the team a month ago) is sustainable, and they certainly aren't going to be able to lean on the luck of the iron as often they did last night, but there was nothing fluky about the amount of chances they were able to create with their collective speed and relentless forecheck.
This was the Devils' first true "test" and - while not exactly acing it - they somehow still managed to set the curve higher. I hope they are prepared to start living up to expectations as opposed to setting them, because since the drop of the puck in their first preseason game they've been making it insanely hard for their fans to continue managing them.
P.S. Absolutely loved watching Adam Henrique jump in to dry hump Matt Martin when he took a late game run at Jesper Bratt. I'm sure it had a lot to do with losing on a bi-weekly basis, but this team lacked that type of attitude last year. John Hynes wanted the Devils to become hard to play against and there is nothing more difficult then trying to pry a grown man who is desperate not to get punched in the face from a top you...
P.P.S. Someone check on Lou Lamoriello. I'm concerned as to whether or not his heart could handle watching a young, dynamic player wearing a recently altered Devils' uniform embroidered with the number 13. Hey Lou....BOO!
Welp, Donnie Boy managed to do the unthinkable, and no - I don't mean he was able to speak into existence the advancement of the Washington Capitals past the second round of the playoffs. Of course, the only think that is less likely than Alexander Ovechkin playing meaningful puck well into May is a professional hockey team consciously breaking tradition. You'll never believe this, but the presence of '45' (as well as a proverbial, judgmental death stare from the NBA) actually got the Pittsburgh Penguins to '86' at least some aspects of the annual Presidential ass patting.
Now granted, deterring from the norm was more of a reaction to the wealth of well deserved criticism they received for publicly RSVPing to 'The White House' on the same goddamn day in which every professional team that employs more than one minority was (either literally or figuratively) kneeling in the stupid orange face of its inhabitant. Refusing to give into Trump's undying narcissism by placing something big and shiny in front of him while presenting him with a jersey embroidered with his very own nameplate was the bare minimum as it pertains to counterpunching his pettiness.
That said, at least they did something that served as a "hey, sorry for being too white for words" to the sports' community whose efforts were undercut by their temporary transformation into the Pittsburgh Pawns. It wasn't much, but - considering hockey's insistence on doing everything by the book - having their championship representation not give in to the pandering and partake in the window dressing of a forced photo op was something. Which unfortunately is more than the nothing the NHL usually does right.
Not sure why they even felt the need to go if they were all just going to stand around in the background with the facial expression of Larry David as an episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' comes to a painfully awkward conclusion, but hey - every rich white owner has political connects to appease...
I know that headline reads as over confident, but - more than anything - it's tone should be considered suspicious. I know the wins came over a hopeless Avalanche team and a Sabres team whose superstar is probably already trying to find an opt-out loophole in the 8 year extension he signed last week, but it's the fashion in which they came that really has me scratching my chin. The last time the Devils scored ten goals in a two game stretch was probably right around the same time they won two afternoon games in one season, and - without doing a single second of research - that had to be during the era in which wearing a helmet wasn't a requirement.
Obviously the schedule is about to get a hell of a lot harder in Toronto, but I was led to believe that I shouldn't read too far into a dominant preseason, only to see that same type of performance carry over once the games started counting. It's one thing to ride a 40 save performance from Cory Schneider to victory over a bad team in an emotional home opener, but beating the brakes off Buffalo in Buffalo with a depleted lineup that was even more heavily dependent on rookies? It's impossible not to get excited about this team's ability to put up points out of the gate, even if a step up in competition undoubtedly makes those points harder to come by.
There honestly aren't enough good things that could possibly be said about Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher, and their NINE combined points in two NHL games. Coming into the season, most Devils' fans were just looking for proof of a better tomorrow and they already got it as of yesterday.
Never mind that Taylor Hall has been all over the ice, because somehow the Devils' best forward has been an afterthought. Never mind that Marcus Johansson had three points yesterday, because the most proven acquisition of the offseason has basically been a footnote. Cory looks like Cory. Adam Henrique seems rejuvenated after a disappointing season. Kyle Palmieri appeared to have gone through the adult version of puberty before going down to leg injury temporarily. The defense seems deeper and improved (although it would be pretty impossible for it to be any worse). Yet, all that seems secondary to the fact that this team's future has arrived, even if the road to relevance only stands to get rougher from here on out.
Starting 2-0 shouldn't be giving anyone (d)illusions of a potential playoff berth from a ludicrously deep division, but the manner in which it was achieved should solidify the preseason promise of exciting hockey in New Jersey. I'll be damned if that's not a massive step in the right direction after the nightmare that was almost the entirety of last season.
Tampa Bay Lightning's J.T. Brown Has Received Death Threats For Raising His Fist During The National Anthem
Sadly, I can't say that I'm surprised by the following display of racism, ignorance, and cowardice (and undoubtedly the countless others like it) made towards an NHL player whose gesture served as nothing more than a reminder that he is both a proud African American and a professional hockey player...
While I think it's counterproductive to rank which professional athletes have risked the most by peacefully protesting racial inequality, if - and only if - I were to do so then J.T. Brown's name would probably fall behind Colin Kaepernick's at the top of the list. That may seem silly since his gesture was harmlessly made from the oh-so-important standing position. However, the fringe 4th liner whose job security was already questionable basically guaranteed he'd draw the ire of a audience that consistently jumps to conclusions while having no idea what the fuck they are watching once he decided to raise his fist.
As a diehard hockey fan, I can confidently say that no other sport is as frequently misunderstood by those that are the most highly invested in it, so I'm not going to act stunned that some of those people can't tell the difference between hating this country and wanting better for it. I mean, some of the quacks that considered a raised fist a showing of disrespect to America are probably the same fucking losers repeatedly screaming "SHOOT IT!" for two straight minutes during every goddamn power play. In fact, while I pissed about 50 ounces of Canadian beer during the National Anthem at the Devils' home opener on Saturday, I would venture to guess there was at least one person that didn't see the irony in being a J.T. Brown critic while emptying his bladder into an adjacent urinal. It took all of one period and a single turnover for someone seated behind me to call into question the six year, market value contract paid to a 22 year old first pairing defenseman, so excuse me if I'm a little wary of the average hockey fan's ability to judge inherently unfair treatment in a rational manner.
Simply put - due to the self important, "experience the game how I experience it or leave" culture surrounding hockey - protests (of any nature, really) and pucks do not go together. Look no further than the Pittsburgh Penguins decision to accept an invite to the White House on the same day that the rest of the sports world was collectively shunning the Presidency for proof of that. That's why I respect the hell out of J.T. Brown. Not only did he go with his heart, but he did so knowing damn well it would result in idiots calling for his head.
Bruins' Jake DeBrusk Scored His 1st NHL Goal In His 1st NHL Game, And The Hockey World Already Knows His Sister Is Hot
It just doesn't seem fair, does it?
Twenty year old kid starting his professional career against the defending Western Conference champions with a twinkle in his eye wastes no time in potting his first career goal - in pretty impressive fashion, mind you - while bringing a tear to the eye of his father, and what question are most of us heathens left asking? "Damn, what you got in them genes (jeans)". He couldn't get the spotlight to himself for one night before we collectively said "that was sick dude, but...like...your sisters". Considering the thorough investigative abilities of the internet, it was only a matter of time before they dug up the well proportioned bodies he's been trying to hide across the upstairs hallway, but Game 1 Goal 1? Couldn't the poor bastard soak in a couple hours of glory before his sultry siblings went viral?
Jake DeBrusk basically woke up this morning to realize the realization of his dream, opened his laptop, and the thirsty ass NY Post was already circulating a snapshot of his sister in a bikini. Having your blood become Insta-famous is a fair price for your actual fame, I suppose, but I bet it's a price that he wishes he didn't have to pay almost immediately upon entering an NHL scoresheet.
So, with that, I am going to go against the conventional wisdom of my easily distracted brain by just saying no to the eye candy. I'm going to prioritize applauding Jake DeBrusk on his incredible debut, and his father on what was a hell of a proud poppa moment. If only because I grew up playing hockey with a younger sister that spent far too much time in the stands.
Stop The Presses: Chico Resch Is Back In The Organization And Officially A Member Of The Devils' Radio Broadcast!
I think I speak for most, if not all, Devils' fans when I say that I love Chico Resch like family. Everyone needs a mildly senile (but insanely friendly) grandfather who has a bottomless appetite (RIP 'Chico Eats!'), a wealth of stories, and - most importantly - an undying need to share them. That's what he brought - in all it's glory - to each and every New Jersey Devils' television broadcast that he was a part of, so it's great to hear that he's back in-house where he belongs.
Unfortunately, that's why I am going to jump on the grenade here and say exactly what everyone else is feeling too sentimental to say...
Chico Resch doing radio is a logistical nightmare. Take the emotions out of the decision and it couldn't possibly be a worse idea. I'm talking like a "Helen Keller as your babysitter"-esque hire. The beauty of Chico was that he was comic relief. He had the uncanny ability to watch the same damn play that you were simultaneously viewing on television, and describe something wildly different than what actually transpired. That was unbelievably endearing when it was aided by the 'Hall Of Fame' help of Doc Emrick and the emergence of 35 different indisputable video replays. Something tells me that quality doesn't quite translate to painting a second-by-second picture for people trying to focus on literally anything other than driving off the road and ending it all while sitting in standstill traffic.
That last paragraph wasn't meant to be a buzz kill, because I - for one - am willing to sacrifice having any idea what who has the puck and/or what they are doing with it a couple times a year just to get the comforting presence of New Jersey's favorite homer back in my life. Seriously, hearing that a warm, familiar face will be back within the Devils' organization gave me that fuzzy feeling that I assume the regulars had while waltzing into 'Cheers'. From the fans to the front office to the staff to the players, Chico knows everybody's name and - with opening night right around the corner and my dedication to watching games on TV having peaked - that seems more important than knowing if the puck is in Cory Schneider's glove, the back of the net, or the 23rd row.
Former NHLer Jiri Hudler Allegedly Threatened To Kill A Flight Attendant That Wouldn't Bring Him Cocaine On An International Flight
ClickOnDetroit- Jiri Hudler is accused of threatening a flight attendant while demanding cocaine on his way from New York to Prague, according to a Czech newspaper report.
According to the report, the 33-year-old former Detroit Red Wings forward told the flight attendant he wanted cocaine. When she told him that would be illegal, Hudler allegedly threatened the woman and told her he would have his friends kill her when they arrived in Prague.
Moreover, the flight staff accused Hudler of doing cocaine in the airplane bathroom and said he tried to urinate on a food cart.
In a statement to Blesk magazine, Hudler denies the accusations.
Oh please, are we really going to act like requesting that an airline servant fetch you recreational narcotics while 30,000 feet in the air en route to the Czech Republic is a rare occurrence? You heard the lady. She said it was "illegal", not impossible. Seems like more of a "technically still in US territory" issue more than anything else. I mean, if booger sugar wasn't one of available seasonings then she failed to make an extremely important distinction to a former professional athlete whose uncanny acceleration on the ice is starting to make a hell of a lot more sense.
Now granted, threatening to have her murdered by your local cronies because she was unable to provide a "fix" to your drug dilemma is a bit excessive when the destination in question makes that potential "hit" more intimidating than any check that Jiri Hudler has ever thrown. The type of guy who openly expects cocaine to be delivered to him on a silver mirror while undergoing the inherent inconvenience of overseas travel is not the type to be treated facetiously, so I understand her level of concern. However, before we go chastising someone whose outrageous demand really makes you wonder what kind of...::sniff, sniff::...amenities the NHL was providing him, let's take a second to focus on the more important issue at hand...
Who in the hell forgot to board the blow?!?!
I feel like everyone is piling on Jiri Hudler and assuming that the high maintenance demon up his nostril is the same one responsible for the damningly downward spiral of a former 30 goal scorer's career. Pretty presumptuous if you ask me. Maybe we should just wait and see if there's any validity to this oddly specific story. And even if there is, the hypocrites might want to hop off their high horse like they have never responded to an unscratched itch by promising homicide and/or relieving themselves on a food cart while stuck in isolation with hundreds of strangers miles above solid ground.
Friendly reminder: The Lady Byng Trophy is awarded to the player that exemplifies sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and a high standard of playing ability on the ice, not necessarily in the air...
Jaromir Jagr Says There's a 99.9% Chance This Is His Final NHL Season, Though I Doubt That's His Choice
Wait, there's a 99.9% chance that the ageless wonder is retiring after this upcoming year? And that's out of, like, how many total percentage points?
In all seriousness, that's got to be the strongest fraction of a percentage in the history of sports. Are there any sports books translating this quote in futures betting, because - regardless of not being a gambling man - ignoring the most heavily weighted .1% of all time would be flat out financially irresponsible.
What this poorly calculated declaration really reads as isn't Jaromir Jagr's desire for some long, drawn out retirement tour. It's not an acknowledgement of his decreasing interest in putting in the work necessary to compete with the next generation of kids that he is easily old enough to have fathered. Instead, it's an indictment of just how callous the NHL, as a whole, was in shaming him for his lack of acceleration. Poor guy gives his entire adult life to hockey at it's highest level, and that very same league turns around and makes someone that registered over half a point per game last season feel self conscious about the fact that he predominantly used lower body strength, skill, and veteran savvy to do so?
Make no mistake, that 99.9% figure is nothing more than a reflection of Jagr's confidence in an NHL team paying him to continue playing beyond this season. Somehow, it's not an admission that the end of the road is near for a 45 year old man playing amongst teenagers, but rather a recognition of the road block that 31 GM's who were blinded by their love of speed were so quick to lay out once free agency hit.
Personally, I hope that there will always be a "Calgary Flames" out there so that Jaromir Jagr never retires. Not just because I selfishly yearn for his witty soundbites and age defying highlights, but because he's made it pretty damn clear that never wants to.
Obviously my inclination is to side with the professional hockey team over the high-end fashion designer. After all, one plays a sport I happen to love, and the other steals things that aren't theirs, does a piss poor job repurposing them, and still somehow manages to sell them for about 25-30x what they are actually worth. I'm about as close to lacing them up and taking the ice with the best players from across the globe as I am to dropping a stack on a goddamn sweater, so I should feel comfortable saying FUCK Versace. That is very clearly a bastardized version of the Vancouver Canucks logo and they damn well know.
Speaking of bastardized versions of the Vancouver Canucks logo...
Yeaaaah. Kind of hard for me to be overly sympathetic when the organization that was ripped off willingly ditched what was undoubtedly their best look ages ago. It's almost as if they threw their classic uniforms in the dumpster and let them sit there for decades as the colors faded before some high classhole came across them while taking out his own garbage for the first time in his life, snatched them up after tossing out the remainder of his organic kale smoothie, cut the logo out, rotated it, threw it on some outrageously overpriced piece of fabric, and labeled it 'vintage'.
As much as I want to hate Versace for profiting off fairly blatant plagiarism, I'm going to have to consider this a "one man's trash is another man's treasure" situation. Make no mistake, the throwback Canucks' jerseys are a national treasure, and it's about damn time somebody (over)valued them as such. Even if that somebody is a company that caters to snobs who are more likely to spend triple figures on a tee shirt than understand how icing works.
Moment of silence. No longer gone or forgotten, just gentrified...
Of All Days, The Pittsburgh Penguins Chose Yesterday To Publicly Accept The President's Invitation To The White House
They said a professional sport that's predominantly made up of people who are the color of the surface it's played on couldn't possibly get any whiter. They said a league that has a racial ratio that makes New Hampshire seem diverse couldn't possibly get any more nauseatingly caucasian. They said a business that's failed in hysterical fashion when it comes to expanding it's outreach couldn't possibly be any less in touch with obvious social cues...
::suspenseful sound effect::
They were wrong.
In a weird way, I'm actually relieved an NHL team made a complete mockery of the league as a whole by zigging when teams in sports that do have to concern themselves with the Constitutional rights of minorities were zagging. I was dreading having to defend hockey for it's inherent whiteness if/when not one member of the Pittsburgh Penguins turned down the opportunity to fluff the President's tiny penis by way of a forced photo-op. Luckily for me, tweeting an RSVP to the prejudice propaganda party on the same exact day in which athletes everywhere were kneeling in solidarity against the host is so incredibly indefensible that I now longer have to. Sorry NHL, but - thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins inability to read a room - you're on your own here.
The truth is, I don't think visiting the White House unquestionably equates to supporting the beliefs of the person who is currently reaching peak narcissism inside of it. That is, until your organization makes it seem like you are doing that person a favor by coming to his aide when damn near every business of a similar practice is actively distancing themselves from his divisive drivel. It's not that the Pittsburgh Penguins are wrong for agreeing to a tour around a historical landmark, but the timing in which they did so is so disgracefully tone deaf that the old, white idiots that made the decision might as well have literally sung the praises of the President.
P.S. I do have to give them credit for including the picture with Obama. It was very "I have a friend that is black, see?!?" of them.
After watching this about three times trying to decide whether this mascot-run penalty tutorial was an example of the type of innocent, but egregious condescension that Americans have made their calling card...orrrr the perfect way to grab the eye of the casual Chinese fan, I have come to a conclusion...
It's actually both.
I was cringing pretty hard during the intermission entertainment that treated those in attendance like a bunch of foreign idiots that had no idea what they were watching by trying to teach them the game through a performance that appeared to be the lovechild of 'Disney On Ice' and 'The Three Stooges'. That said, I'd be willing to bet that all six people - in a city that's populated by 24 million - that decided to show up for the NHL's laughable attempt at growing their game overseas found themselves most intrigued by watching people dressed as animals trying their oversized paws at vaudeville. I'm not sure this kind of blatant patronizing would fly in other hockey-less areas of the world, but credit to NHL for doing this song-and-dance for a handful of people from the one culture that's just eccentric enough to appreciate it.
I guess my only complaint with that game of instructional charades was that it wasn't thorough enough. I suppose it would have run a little long if 'Bailey' the lion and 'Fin' the whale were tasked with providing all the examples of what a goddamn slash is. That would probably require an hour long variety show in and of itself since the integrity of the spectacle would be compromised by them yanking off their heads off and trying to translate to the audience that the NHL is still working on defining that one.
I don't know, maybe it's just me but penalties are the one aspect of the game that I wouldn't currently be trying to explain to the untrained eye without spoken word since even the most diehard of fans and veteran of players are having trouble wrapping their minds around the nauseating concept of a face-off violation. Luckily, I hardly think the target audience was paying as much attention to the lesson as they were to comical way it was being taught, but if they did truly want to learn then that class would have required extensive, postgame office hours.