Anyone Who Dares To Question Mackenzie Blackwood's Athletic Ability Should Be Prepared To Get Dunked On... Literally
Oh? So, it's like that?
I don't think anyone who has witnessed almost any one of Mackenzie Blackwood's starts during his stints in New Jersey this year needed to be reminded that his best attributes are his size and athleticism. The kid has quite literally stretched the parameters of what can be expected from young and unproven mid-season call-ups, especially considering he plays a position as pressure packed as goaltender for a team as fundamentally flawed and as physically beaten up as the New Jersey Devils. Still, I feel as though I just watched him take about six less gather steps than James Harden before jumping flat off two feet for a two-hand throw down on an NBA hoop through a monocle, as it really put in perfect perspective his physical capabilities.
Perhaps my brain isn't programmed to translate lateral explosiveness to vertical explosiveness, but I did not see foresee him turning an ability to shoot quickly from post-to-post from across the ice into an ability to casually dominate the post from above the rim. For the sake of the Devils' foreseeable future in between the pipes, it's a good thing he grew up in Ontario. After all, had he seen asphalt and picked up a rudimentary understanding of how to dribble a basketball on it during his childhood there's no telling which 12-man bench his athletic career might have taken his white, puck-magnetized ass to the end of.
Penguins' Fans Started A "16,000!" Chant In Honor Of The Amount Of Days The Flyers Have Gone Without Winning A Stanley Cup
While I typically take issue with those that swing down, as Penguins' fans undoubtedly did by verbally donkey punching a Flyers' organization that hasn't won a championship since attempted murder was both encouraged and celebrated on the ice, the rules are definitely different as they pertain to rivalries. Therefore, I can't help but credit Pittsburgh, as a collective, for speaking for their sizable portion of bandwagon fans in keeping an eye on 44 year's worth of calendars only to give Philadelphia a 5- figure reminder of their futility as a franchise.
I honestly didn't know the Flyers' perennial failures could be made to seem even worse, but slapping a number on it really draws more negative attention to their accomplishment of going nearly four a half decades without an accomplishment. A dollar for every day that Broad Street has been left pumping the tires of bullies as opposed to winners and Flyers' fans wouldn't even need to hopelessly play the 50/50 in hopes of financing a few more years of season tickets on which the investment is otherwise unreturned.
Pretty incredible when you think about. 16,000. Penguins' fans almost had to let them hear it loud enough for Doc Emrick to feel obligated to soften the blow of downright disrespect. After all, that milestone might actually be harder to reach than the promised land that Flyers' fans have been left somberly staring up at since the mid-70's. Certainly would be for the one particularly prodigious playoff performer rostered by their in-state rival for which nearly all of Philadelphia harbors an obsessive inferiority complex.
Assistant Coach Rick Kowalsky Forgot To Take His Skate Guards Off Before Practice, As The Devils Continue To Find New Ways To Risk Injury
Well, other than the fact that Rick Kowalsky's entirely avoidable spill was met with jeers and cheers as opposed to a 911 call and a vague timetable for recovery, everything about this scene sounds fairly fitting of the Devils' season. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, especially when you don't do the most fundamental of things right.
Honestly, the most shocking part about this is that it ended up being worthy of laughs, for if one of the few NHL mainstays left in the lineup had forgotten to uncover their blades you can rest assured they would have been leaving the ice immobilized with a day-to-day "lower-body injury". Go figure, the only person in the locker room that can take a fall and get right back up is the assistant coach that can't even remember to take his skate guards off prior to hopping on the ice. Perhaps that's what he should have spent the first drill teaching them since practice most certainly doesn't make perfect a powerplay that features Drew Stafford.
Anyway, in reading the tone of the team's reaction, it sort of sounds like this Benny Hill moment could crack the Top 10 of the Devils' most galvanizing moments on the road this season. I say that not because I think John Hynes' locker room is as figuratively fractured as it is literally fractured, but rather because they have only won 9 nine games away from home this season. Let's hope that blooper rounds out the list, for with the way things are trending they are better equipped to rally together for a fluke funeral than a third period comeback in an unfamiliar building.
A Night After Getting Embarrassed In Calgary, The Binghamton Devils Put The Flames To The Edmonton Oilers' Playoff Hopes
While I would gleefully give back the coinciding two points in the proverbial one-legged race for increased odds in the draft lottery, I can't help but feel like last night's convincing win was just as important as making another small but steady contribution to the tank. It definitely didn't seem like things could get much worse than being on the ass end of a 6-goal third period while Johnny Gaudreau beat a shit that probably clocked in at 3x his body weight out of the Devils' defense. Needless to say, the tape certainly didn't do anything to wipe clean the feeling that they'd thoroughly soiled themselves...
That's why it felt good to spoil another underwhelming season for an organization that ultimately serves as the rest of the NHL's constant reminder that someone always has it worse than you. A group that rosters potentially the most dynamic player in league history got the brakes blown off playoff hopes that had already hit the skids by a glorified AHL team that was playing their second night of a back-to-back on the forever unforgiving Western Canadian road trip. The Devils realistically have no business beating anyone with a lineup that makes that of the first preseason game seem strong, never mind handily beating a desperate team with fresher legs in their own building.
Need a little optimism during a dreadful year? Look at the contracts attached to the clown shows that put forth an undeniable awesome effort in a 60+ second scrap. The Edmonton Oilers are paying a premium for every single one of those punches for the next four years whereas the Devils are just going down swinging because they (and, more specifically, he) have so little to lose...
It has absolutely sucked being a Devils' fan that silently roots for a good effort and a bad result as they play out an otherwise meaningless stretch, but let last night be your evidence that it's a hell of a lot better than being an Oilers' fan. A team that had scored 7 goals in the 6 games prior to their current road trip nearly matched that total in having a stat night that shot out the bulb on Edmonton's last glimmer of hope. With the amount of injuries they've suffered, New Jersey has seemed destined to be a dumpster fire. However, with all due respect to the following players, I can't possibly conjure up a worse fate than having another 100+ point season for Connor McDavid pumped out to pasture by Kenny Agostino, Kevin Rooney, and John Quenneville.
It wasn't just nice to see that the Devils hadn't completely quit on themselves. It was also nice to see that, even while woefully undermanned, they are still capable of making other teams completely quit on themselves. Again, I'm not happy about picking up two points in the standings, but I am happy about denying them from a team that makes everyone feel better about themselves at a time when the Devils needed to do just that. Therefore, I'll consider that completely imbalanced...ahem...one for one trade-off to be an indisputable overall victory.
From The Lips Of Ray Shero, The Chances Of Him Trading Taylor Hall At The Deadline Were "Less Than Fucking Zero"
TheAthletic- At the trade deadline, we saw the trend of teams moving players with term on their contracts continue to be an effective strategy. There seems to be a higher appetite among GMs to use assets on players who will contribute beyond just the one playoff run while shopping at the deadline. So with that in mind, was there any consideration in the Devils front office about shopping Hall at the deadline?
“Less than fucking zero,” Shero said. “Zero percent. Someone (in the media) asked me that two weeks before the deadline. Zero chance. Zero. Just to make it clear.”
So, one percent?
“Zero. Zero,” Shero said. “It was zero.”
Put it on a damn t-shirt. Time will tell whether that t-shirt will grow saturated with the tears of Devils' fans after another star player decides against committing the remainder of his prime to New Jersey, or if it will instead grow faded while being worn with pride throughout Taylor Hall's extended stay in Newark. Whatever the case may be, "less than fucking zero" is the type of defiant answer that either goes down in lore or laughs.
Of course, it's mostly just an obvious statement of fact, as the only way Ray Shero would have explored trading the reigning Hart Trophy winner so prematurely is if said MVP had grabbed him by both cheeks in making it clearer than clear that an unceremonious exit was inevitable. Especially since he was still nursing an undisclosed injury at the time. Still, sounding so sure of himself ahead of the start of a negotiation period that will speak volumes about Taylor Hall's trust in the direction of a team that's currently tanking is risky business for Ray Shero. That percentage could realistically jump to 50% as soon as July 2nd, so for it to be subzero at the end of February sets up for "less than fucking zero" to become the new "trade is one for one", for better or a hell of a lot worse.
And that's how it is done, with "it" being a rerouting of career paths from semi-professional hockey to amateur MMA, since I can't imagine this sneaky little scumbag will be welcomed back onto the rink anytime soon. Never mind driving an opponent's head into the ice using jiu jitsu, thus rendering him unconscious, because waiting until almost everyone had their head turned to do so makes that move even more frowned upon than your "average" karate on-ice. If not for that goaltender, there's about a 99% chance we would have seen that coward shamelessly slither back to his skates and puff out his chest like he didn't just do the equivalent of enter a fist fight while hiding a frying pan behind his back. In my opinion, that would have been just as unforgivable as going full tiger-style in the first place.
I'm not even a big hockey fight enthusiast, but there's a code of honor amongst those that have the ball bags to try to beat each other senseless while desperately trying to maintain their balance. Though I'm less familiar, I'd imagine there's also a code of honor amongst fighters who are tasked with taking their combatant to the ground by any means necessary. Something tells me both of those codes, at the very least, infer a little something about not executing skull-crushing leg sweeps on a solid sheet of ice, though I doubt it's a subject that's ever needed to have been broached all too extensively.
Jesper Bratt Is Now Week-To-Week With A Lower Body Injury, As The Hockey Gods Continue To Stab Their Devils' Voodoo Doll
And the tank ruthlessly rolls on, though I'm starting to think they are under it as opposed to aboard with it the amount of injuries the Devils have begun to obtain on a game-by-game basis. The upcoming schedule might as well be that of the medical staff, because each and every line-up is low-key just a lottery for who will be the sacrificial lamb of the night. If the alarming opening of roster spots is a blessing in disguise by giving some premature prospects a chance to prove themselves in otherwise meaningless games then that disguise is basically a body cast, because the trainer's table looks like a quest for some good karma. With each nick, bang, scratch, and break it has become a constant, idiotically optimistic flow of speaking too soon...
Nathan Bastian has really come alo...
Great to see Miles Wood back on the ic...
Glad Sami Vatanen finally feeling bett...
At least Nico looks awes...
I can't believe Jesper Bratt is still on fi...
Travis Zajac's reputation is rocky amongst Devils' fans that have little to no idea what they are watching half the time, and he's a Blake Coleman brush with fate away from them being forced to reach a consensus that he's the primary offensive catalyst. I honestly don't even know what to openly root for anymore, because I feel like I've been bugged by the hockey gods as they look to break my will to watch a team that's about as recognizable as anything else you might find imported from Binghamton. I really hope there's some super enlightening lesson to be learned at the end of this surgical dissection of any and all positivity, preferably with Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko serving as the teacher's assistant.
Sidenote: I'm a John Hynes apologist, but finding a more depressing way to describe Jesper Bratt's timetable than "he's done for the year" was very insensitive to a fragile fanbase...
Devan Dubnyk Is Arguing An Entirely Fair Point On Entirely Deaf Ears In Taking Issue With Ryan Johansen's Shootout Goal(s)
This past Sunday:
There's two ways to view that rant, as well as the polarizing play(s) that inspired it.
The first being that Devan Dubnyk is arguing against an entirely legal goal being scored against him, as Ryan Johansen moving at a pace that would make the tortoise assume the role of the hare isn't the same as Ryan Johansen coming to a complete stop. Even the most desperate cop waiting around the most blind corner from the most unnecessary yield sign in looking to fulfill the most strict quota wouldn't be enough of a dick to determine that to be a discernible enough difference. However, there's still technically a difference and it's one that, by the letter of a lazy ass law, accurately allows for the call on the ice to stand.
The second being that Devan Dubnyk is standing up for goaltenders everywhere - after far too long, might I add - in calling out a bush league tactic that requires a lack of shame more so than a ton of skill in drastically tipping the scales in favor of the shooter in what's supposed to be an equitable one-on-one matchup. Going so slow that a frail grandmother would use her walker to brush by you in an audible huff if you were in any setting other than NHL ice doesn't just remove whatever insanely slight semblance of game-like circumstances might otherwise exist during the shootout. It also creates an asinine competitive advantage during an event of which the only redeemable quality is the head-to-head competitiveness.
Those viewpoints aren't mutually exclusive, as they are both very much true. The shootout sucks, and players looking for any cheap and easy way to find success in it sucks even more. What you watched above is basically gimmick-ception, except nowhere near as clever or innovative as any one aspect of the movie being referenced. Ryan Johansen is a great player, but in those clips he's just a dude that doesn't mind resorting to a half-empty bag of borderline bullshit to score on a breakaway. Goaltending is almost entirely predicated on taking away time and space, and making a zamboni look like Connor McDavid gifts time and (relative) space to the shooter in spades. That doesn't make it illegal, but it does make it lame, as skating like a 6 year old with a dump in his pants takes an obnoxiously slow, mildly constipated shit all over the sprit of one of the shootout's only rules.
In my opinion, we are about as many years removed from being able to justify allowing a slow-motion charade as we are removed from a skills competition being an enjoyable way to break a tie in a team sport of which there is now far too much talent to only have two guys on the ice at once. I don't even care that Devan Dubnyk only did so out of self interest, because someone had to say it.
The Devils Lost The Game But Won Some Goodwill In Putting Together A Tribute Video For Keith Kinkaid In His Return To New Jersey
There are undoubtedly some self-loathing people that think you should have to either win a Stanley Cup or save a baby from a burning building to earn a tribute video, and thus find a flash in the pan backup goaltender to be undeserving. I'll never understand those people, since the regularly scheduled programming of an animated cookie falling face first in allowing a stupid-looking water ice to win the race to get through a routine ice-cleaning without being bored to tears isn't exactly what I would consider sacred, but you can bet your ass that they do exist.
Luckily, however, they aren't currently in charge of the Devils' gameday operations, because showing appreciation to a player whose heroics are largely responsible for the only real success in the recent history of a struggling franchise felt like the proper way to go about his return. Maybe not entirely necessary, as the only way you'll find yourself reverently repeating the name Keith Kinkaid to your grandkids is if this rebuild takes longer than the construction of the Xanadu, but a cool thing to do for someone that made his mark on the organization in helping will them back to the playoffs nonetheless.
Lou Lamoriello did a hell of a lot right in running the ship into the 21st century, but creating a personality-friendly culture in which the customer could view the player as...::audible gasp::...an actual person was most certainly not on that list, as he'd rather that ship be lost at sea than be wired for WiFi. Keith Kinkaid ran with the opportunity to endear himself to fans, and - considering how often they sucked something serious during the five years he spent in New Jersey - the fact that the team was no longer suppressed was about the only thing going for it. His resume isn't exactly putting him in the Ring Of Honor, but let his answer to the idea of a tribute video serve as an addition to the short but sweet on-ice argument for why he deserved one...
Beelzebub Marchand Scored The Only Goal In A 1-0 Win Over The Devils, To Finish His 666th Game With 666 Penalty Minutes
I'm not saying that Brad Marchand bursting into flames would have been a possibility or a pleasure, but I am saying a huge opportunity to spritz him with holy water as a precaution was missed on Saturday night. With the Department of Player Safety looking out for the well-being of players more than ever, it required negligence of the highest order for them not to send a representative to Boston to sit rink-side armed with a Bible and a crucifix. At the very least, it could have potentially saved them a hell of a lot of headaches in the future if, however unlikely, the Devil's cover as a rat-nosed prick of a really good hockey player was finally blown.
I'm not even particularly religious, but seeing as those that are tend to obsessed with signs, I find it a bit odd that the hockey world just laughed off the most satanic of symbolism like it was nothing more than a mere coincidence. Even if the mark of the beast making multiple appearances wasn't enough to spark your suspicion, the way Brad Marchand's 666th game diabolically played out certainly should. Scoring the only goal mere minutes in. Starting and finishing said game with 666 penalty minutes despite injuring someone with a blindside crosscheck directly in front of a referee...
If Lucifer himself wasn't responsible for maintaining such inherently evil statistics then the on-ice officials sure need an optometrist. I was already skeptical of the unholiness that was Marcus Johansson swallowing his pride and selling his soul in teaming up with someone who cost him millions of dollars in free agency with an elbow from hell, never mind the least inconspicuous scumbag in hockey getting away with another cheap shot in ending up the hate-fueled hero in a win over the Devils. I don't know that Brad Marchand is the actual Prince Of Darkness, but I do know that letting him leave the building without even attempting an exorcism was about as safe as his style of play, with just about every aspect of the night pointing to him as the antichrist arisen.
As is the case with almost all the overwhelmingly good and disturbingly bad things to be found on the internet, I've become dangerously desensitized to videos of professional athletes doing right by their most impressionable fans in offering souvenirs, autographs, and all that other fun stuff to children.
Therefore, the lakes that started leaking down my face when Carey Price showed no hesitation in taking off his equipment to offer something far more moving than any piece of memorabilia to a kid who desperately needed it lead me to believe there was nothing average about that interaction.
Saying someone is a great player and a better person has become a bit cliche, but credit to Carey Price for blurring the line between player and person while making the day of someone who was blurring the line between goalie fan and griever. That was just a special moment created a simple showing of sympathy that reminds even the most cold-hearted of curmudgeon that, from innocent kids to their athletic idols, we all have the emotional struggles that come as a result of being human in common.
Regardless Of Whether Or Not John Tavares Did Anything Wrong, Islanders' Fans Put On A Performance For The Ages In His Rocky Return
I'll say it before and, since absolutely nothing has changed, I'll say it again. John Tavares didn't owe the New York Islanders a damn thing after the organization basically sat on their thumb for the vast majority of a decade as his illustrious career slowly wasted away with nothing but a mere smattering of early playoff oustings to show for it. The stars aligning and damn near cosmically gifting the franchise a Stanley Cup-winning Head Coach and the goddamn Godfather of General Managers when they needed them the most made for a pretty nice pitch, but it's more than understandable that it was too little, too late from a team that is basically still living couch-to-couch in trying to lock down a home arena. The image of a young John Tavares sleeping tight under his Maple Leafs' sheets with dreams of playing in Toronto dancing in his head aside, the Islanders' fans acting like they were done more wrong than the superstar who devoted a third of his life to date to dysfunction are flat-out irrational.
Fortunately for them, however, the entire concept of fandom is also irrational. As ridiculous as it is to crucify a player for finally taking the long overdue opportunity to do right by himself and his career, it doesn't hold a candle to the inherent absurdity of living and dying with the successes and failures of a team you don't play for, no matter who is on it. It doesn't matter what inspired John Tavares to leave, or how difficult the decision was to do so, or if he went about it the "right" way. Shame on anyone for thinking that unconditionally rooting for a logo on some laundry is that nuanced. All that matters is that a transformational player used to play for their team, and now - by choice - he doesn't. That obviously doesn't justify throwing things at him, but it sure as shit is enough reason to boo 'Pajama Boy' back to beddy-bye.
That's exactly what Islanders' fans did as their team ran the player who chose not to be a part of it anymore off the ice and back under the covers. Regardless of what you think of the "why?", the "how?" was nothing short of incredible. By the time the third period rolled around, I legitimately had to remind myself that I had not one single issue with John Tavares, as the home crowd was so convincing in their contempt that I started to sympathize with their scorn like that socially awkward serpent of a traitor had slept with my non-existent girlfriend behind my back. Johnny might be the furthest thing from Judas, but I came pretty damn close to believing every word that came from the collectively loud mouth of Islanders' fans as the game wore on and their team continued to provide circumstantial evidence to their resounding cries of "WE DON'T NEED YOU!".
Any obsessive pissing, moaning, whining, and crying that preceded last night was more than a little pathetic, as highlighted by this video, but the unrelenting performance of Islanders' fans in a building that lends itself to letting frenemies hear it was anything but. The chants were original, the energy was infectious, the Islanders responded, their opponent looked entirely overwhelmed, and an afternoon that's painful to remember was turned into a night they'll never forget. Fandom at its core is nothing more than the most toxic of relationship and, at its most faithful, it is dependent on far, far more crazy than classy. Simply put, last night was a deafeningly awesome display of it.
Secret's Out: After Being Sidelined For Two Months, Taylor Hall Underwent Successful Knee Surgery Earlier This Week
First and foremost, I would be remiss not to say that I'm very happy to hear that Taylor Hall is still alive, never mind recovering from a successful knee surgery. Considering the suspiciously vague way in which the organization has spoken about the status of the league's reigning MVP (or, more accurately, been shameless in their refusal to) the last few months, I was half expecting to next see him starring as the dearly departed host in a Weekend At Bernie's-inspired intermission skit. In that sense, I was absolutely ecstatic upon finding out that that all he needed was to go under the knife after two full months out of the lineup. Talk about managing expectations!
In all seriousness, if I had to diagnose how the Devils have handled the previously inexplicable absence of their best player, I think I'd suggest an organizational lobotomy. Admittedly, I'm short a medical degree, so I'll leave the well-being of the franchise's most important joint in the hands of the professional practitioners. If they thought the smartest course of action was to rehab around surgery until doing so presumably became unrealistic earlier this week then far be it for me to tell them otherwise. However, mum continuing to be the word regarding the whereabouts of a transformational player while a flushed season circled round-and-round the toilet is a step back for an organization that was thought to be decidedly less secretive since being relinquished from the vice grip of the eternally tight lips of Lou Lamoriello.
I'm not even that annoyed by the fact that only now is Taylor Hall actually healing from what ailed him since late December, as - well before this point - I assumed he was going to be done for the remainder of a season that's long been lost regardless. I am annoyed that a franchise that, albeit understandably, has done very little to improve the team over the last year thought the smart play was to treat their frustrated fans like they're stupid.
I just don't understand what was to be gained from leaving everyone lying in wait and wonder about the availability of a superstar who could, if a nightmare were to be realized, have played his last game as a Devil with nothing else to distract them but a whole hell of a lot of piss poor hockey. Disclosure can be a hell of a drug when trust is what you're looking to attain. Ipso facto, leaving those that are already starved for any sort of success also in desperate need of a fix is both a surefire and entirely unnecessary way to make them manic. I still believe in the light at the end of the tunnel, but much less so when the conductors are leaving the paying passengers in the dark for no apparent reason.
All Positive Vibes Go Out To Mirco Mueller, Who Has Feeling In His Extremities After Being Left Lifeless By A Scary Crash Into The End Boards
It's probably a bit premature to say crisis entirely averted, as we should learn the full scope of the damage done to Mirco Mueller by the awkwardly incidental collision that sent him sprawling head first into the end boards before speaking so cavalierly of it.
That being said, with how temporarily terrifying it was to see him laying face first on the ice without a sign of life in sight, the thought of him being able to move, speak, think, and respond even prior to being taken to the hospital of which he's since been released is endlessly encouraging. Any time the stretcher makes that quick of an appearance it's a very bad sign, so - especially relative to the alternative - all the news that's come out since he was wheeled off the ice with his thumb held high has been very good. The diagnoses following incidents that remind everyone of the undeniable and potentially life-altering dangers of sports as fast and physical as hockey typically aren't as forgiving, so I'll gladly accept that apologetic outcome from real life for interrupting the insignificance of sport with its damn ramifications.
Never mind Mirco Mueller the player, because Mirco Mueller the person is alive and apparently well enough to return to his own home, which is by far the most impactful win of the Devils' season. Hopefully they can rack up another one by returning him to ice in a much more flattering fashion, but that's a much less important battle to be fought another day.
Random tangent: I'm aware that I am only speaking to the few, the loud, the morons that probably seemed to be attending in higher numbers than they actually were due to the silence of the rest of the building, but the time to berate officials is not when they are looking helplessly down at a potentially paralyzed player. I know it's a craaaaazy concept that accidents happen when professional athletes fly around on skates banging bodies with one another, but not every fall is the result of penalty. Hell, even if that were the case, being worried about the game (especially one as meaningless as...well...the rest of the Devils season) while one of your team's players looks like he's about to be lined in chalk is borderline sociopathic behavior. I know the thing that stupid fans in every city lack the most is self awareness, but if everyone around you is completely silent then do right by your poor parents by taking a hint and shutting the fuck up.
An Almost Entirely Unrecognizable Group Of Players Wearing Devils' Jerseys Are Set To Take On The Calgary Flames Tonight
Being that almost the entirety of the season to date has been governed by Murphy's Law, I should really only be surprised in how little I'm surprised by looking at a woefully underwhelming lineup. Still, I found myself genuinely taken aback by the shocking results of the New Jersey Devils' forwards falling victim to a bizarro world plot of 'Final Destination' in which their inevitable and eventual resting place is with the dregs of the draft lottery. In between short stints of rooting for Cory Schneider to have some long overdue success, I have been a loud and less-than-proud member of Team Tank for awhile now, but having their odds increased by the whole damn team taking a group trip to the emergency room sort of feels like a sick joke.
For example, let's take the curious case of Egor Yakovlev. I spending the last month or so merely wanting nothing more than for a mildly promising Russian defenseman with an impending incentive to defect to scratch an NHL ice surface ahead of the lame-duck likes of Eric Gryba, Mirco Mueller, and - to a much lesser extent - Ben Lovejoy. Hoping to see more of someone who'd shown flashes that could light the night sky relative to those of his competition at a depleted position felt like a reasonable request. Yet, here I am - having watched him go from inexplicably playing in Binghamton to bringing so much of Binghamton with him out of necessity that he's been forced into playing forward - realizing that no wish is a careful wish during such an apocalyptically anti-climactic year.
I wanted to see the young players in the system be given a shot to make an impression at the end of an otherwise lost season. So, in that sense, it's refreshing to see Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, and Connor Carrick being given a sizable opportunity to do just that. I just didn't think the means to that potentially encouraging end would be the injured list looking nearly indistinguishable from the list of high scorers.
Neither the players, the coaches, or the front office would ever say and/or think so, but each loss is a bit of a win at this point. For that reason, it doesn't really matter that they are rolling out four lines that couldn't even intrigue a desperate junkie going through withdrawals. Still, the harsh reality that their goaltending has somehow gone from their achilles heel to their main source of excitement in the blink of an eye is...well...the type of painfully ironic yet entirely unexpected plot twist that would make M. Night Shyalamalan hit the pause button and take a deep breath...
This Goalie Used His Innovative Powers For Evil In Snapping The Stick Of An Opponent Who Was Involved In A Scuffle
Being all-too-familiar with the frustration of having a wildly overpriced stick broken in just about any form or fashion, I really hate to do this, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He's undoubtedly being docked a couple letter grades for being a douchebag, but that goaltender earned his points for creativity. Intentionally breaking someone else's stick is psychotic behavior, but - seeing as you have to be a bit of a psycho to play the position of puck stopper - the source must be considered. For what it's worth, which is no excuses whatsoever, that particular source sure found a way to surprise me in using the repurposed tools at his disposal to MacGyver that stick into multiple pieces.
Now, I don't know that leveraging his net against his post to cause property damage is what you'd consider a trick of the trade, but there was a bit of genius to his evil. The moment of "did he just..." that froze his foe long enough for him to dodge a well-deserved ass-kicking of epic proportions tells you all you need to know about the ingenuity that he put into being an asshole. After all, brakes are one thing you typically don't see used on the tracks of someone who just saw their $200 dollar investment snapped like twig.
A News Network Filmed A Video Of Select Islanders' Fans Criticizing John Tavares, Complete With All The Second Hand Embarrassment You Can Possibly Handle
Alright, make it stop. No seriously, make it stop. I said, MAKE...IT...STOP!
Honestly, fifty seconds was more than my fair share of second hand embarrassment for the calendar year, so someone needs to shut down the shameless search for attention that is the 3-minute extended version to save me from deafening myself with internal screams.
I obviously understand that this video doesn't even come close to representing the collective opinion of actual Islanders' fans. For, if it did, then I'd remind them that the "woe is me" act doesn't quite play when it basically translates as "woe is the franchise that waited nine full seasons before finally getting their shit together when their homegrown superstar already had one foot out the door". Again, it goes without saying that this is the most preposterously pathetic portrayal of a loud and proud fanbase. However, just so we are clear, this season has provided the perfect cure for whatever separation anxiety might have existed before it started, so to still be sick over John Tavares' departure is to be sick in the head.
That doesn't mean Long Island's finest shouldn't boo the socially awkward misfit that is 'Pajama Boy' to the highest of heavens when he takes the opposing end of all-too-familiar ice on Thursday. It does, however, mean you need both a massive mirror and therapy if, for even a single second, you found yourself nodding along with a collection of pawns that were scripted to look like absolute imbeciles by a news network that was actively exploiting the type of sports' agony that breeds illogical opinions.
Rooting for the first place team in the Metro Division should have more than expedited the mourning process, so News 12 should be just as ashamed of themselves as those they bamboozled into publicly embarrassing the organization they regionally cover.
I think any rational fan, of which there are very, very few this time of year, was hoping for a 1st round pick and expecting a 2nd round pick in return for someone who did his damnedest to inflate his trade value throughout the month leading up to the deadline.
In that sense, getting the latter plus a future 4th round pick for Marcus Johansson following the better part of two underwhelming, injury-plagued seasons after trading a 2nd and 3rd round pick for him isn't at all disappointing. Especially since it sets the Devils up pretty nicely to use their brand spankin' new abundance of assets to make a move similar to the one that brought him over from Washington.
On the other hand, in the sense that the team that gets to benefit from his appropriately priced services is the same one that rosters the walking, talking, licking bag of douche whose elbow intentionally derailed his tenure in New Jersey, this trade is somewhat disappointing. Especially since it's well within the realm of possibility that MoJo's worth could potentially be a lot higher, both personally in free agency or to the Devils at the deadline, if not for dealing with the difficulties from the following inexplicable cheap shot that kept him out of the lineup nursing a head injury for the second half of last season...
At the end of the day, the Devils didn't do right by Marcus Johansson. When he was actually healthy, one of the best passers/playmakers on the team wasn't often flanked by the pieces necessary to maximize his production. If that wasn't evident early in the season when he kept putting the puck on a pin but still couldn't buy a point then it was evident throughout the last few weeks during which his chemistry with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt was as palpable as it was statistically proven.
That said, the Boston Bruins somehow did even worse by him, as their resident rodent very well could have caused irreparable damage to his brain, never mind his career. Again, I don't think the trade is at all bad, but the taste it leaves in my mouth certainly is, as there is something about Brad Marchand now benefitting from said brain and said career that feels as dirty as his sliver of a snake-like conscience.
I have no doubt that Ray Shero got as much as he possibly could in making a more than fair deal, which is obviously all that really matters when flipping an asset. Unfortunately, I also have no doubt that Marcus Johansson will act with the upmost professionalism in letting bygones be bygones, which is obnoxiously annoying since the person that couldn't help but concuss him for no conceivable reason doesn't deserve the fucking courtesy.
As someone who is typically against entirely purposeless fights, you might think I'd frown upon fisticuffs that occurred off the rink prior to puck drop. Usually you'd be right, as you can't argue these two were providing some sort of momentum swing when there was not yet any momentum to be swung.
That being said, limiting yourself to a two foot wide island of rubber amongst an ocean of concrete while attempting to punch each other in the face with skates on is too stupid to not lead me to believe that these two have some deep-seated animosity. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's such a wildly inefficient place to pound on one another that I have no choice but to believe that rage blinded them to their spatial circumstances. If it was merely an attempt at intimidation then surely they could have walked three more feet down the runway into the room or waited until after the opening face-off when the whole rink would provide them a proverbial oyster on which to crack each other skulls. Therefore, I'm thinking this was just one of those conflicts that needed to be resolved immediately, be it at a bar, a church, or literally anywhere in between.
Well, either that, or it was just a result of one or both parties spending too much damn time in the ECHL to care where, how, who, what, or why they fought.
Never forget. Just, never forget.
I can't possibly pretend I am excited about the prospects of a fifth round pick in the NHL equivalent of an eternity, just like I can't - in good conscience - act like Keith Kinkaid was worth anything more at this point in what's become as humbling a season for him personally as it has been for his now former team. For that reason, this trade is entirely unmemorable in a way that doesn't feel fair to a guy whose performance was anything but in willing a young Devils' team into the playoffs for the first time in six years.
This move became inevitable as soon Mackenzie Blackwood burst on the scene and Cory Schneider (and his contract) finally proved himself more capable than a corpse. However, I refuse to let the god awful goaltending behind a dumpster fire of a defense that "helped" stamp New Jersey as eventual sellers by the time people were last-minute Christmas buying tarnish the memory of Keith Kinkaid shouldering the load during an unexpected postseason push. That extended flash of brilliance, be it in a pan or not, was absolutely awesome to watch throughout a month in which he went entirely unafflicted by playing every game as they were each packed with the pressure of playoff hockey.
As somebody who, like basically everybody, finds Keith Kinkaid to be an endearing personality, I hope that last season doesn't end up being the highlight of his career. Realistically, with neither age nor the odds of a larger sample size working in his favor, we've probably seen his best. Therefore, the least we could do is replay it from time to time in doing justice and giving thanks to a player who, through the fleeting ups and extended downs, looked to love being a part of an organization for which he was once undeniably a savior. To put it in his language, don't be ? that it's over, be ? that it happened.