During the Most Solid 60 Minutes They Have Played This Season, The Devils Still Managed to Find a Minute or Two to Make Themselves Easy Prey for the Coyotes
The good news is that Devils put forth their best overall performance of a young season, that has its target audience feeling more doomed than the team's line combinations, against a Coyotes' team whose (even) strength seemed so destined to expose their defensive zone weakness that its failure to do so may have put the reputation of advanced analytics on short-term IR. The first overall pick didn't just make good on a first line role. Jack Hughes shined like a star, as opposed to looking like he was seeing stars, in force-feeding a foot to every idiot that considered a 6-game sample size - during which the teenager's play incrementally improved despite his production failing to follow suit - to be a permanent black mark against his "manhood"...
You'd think that collecting the lion's share of the shots in demonstrably dominating the run of play, in part due to the unreal efforts of someone who is still at least one growth spurt away from requiring a razor replacement, that the bad news would begin and end with the length of the beer lines.
Unfortunately, the bad news is that all the good news didn't mean jack shit, as a team who self-sabotages more efficiently than a drunk double-texter after a first date managed to make lemons into lemonade...only to immediately dump it down their shirt while taking the first sip. The Devils, as has already served as a nauseatingly familiar plot to many a soul-draining defeats, watched multiple leads, including a multiple goal lead, evaporate with the ease in which a half-full glass becomes half-empty, and untimely turnovers "helped" to defy the physics of what was decidedly tilted ice.
Now look, I'm just as baffled as everyone else in John Hynes being the 'Jill' to John Hayden's 'Jack' in dying on the hill with a fringe fourth liner. I can't even begin to comprehend how Nikita Gusev earned a promotion despite maintaining an apple-per-turnover ratio that would make a baker swear off gluten. Especially since the more accomplished NHL player (Jesper Bratt), who hand-fed him two goals of the three goals that seemingly make up the entirety of his weak argument for an increased opportunity, serves time sitting in a luxury suite for his offensive and defensive sins. The Jespers being granted not a single reprieve, while the Goose uses his (apparently unconditional) spot in the lineup to fly blindly throughly the neutral zone multiple times a game reeks of the type of double standard that tears at the inherent fabric of a team's chemistry. Point being, Hynes is anything remotely close to innocent in this early season ordeal.
That being said, if you wanted an example of a loss that strongly supported Ray Shero's unmistakable message stating that the all-world athletes that need to hold themselves more accountable, above all else, then look no further than the fuckery that took place Friday. The sacrosanct "system" has been under siege from all corners of an understandably fed-up fanbase, and rightfully so....
However, there is not a single system in any walk of life, never mind just sports, that is entirely immune to the type of situational stupidity that undercut the Devils' otherwise encouraging effort against Arizona...
The fact of the matter is that being made more clumsy by the presence of a blueline than by your first sexual experience isn't in the blueprint. Lacking focus in fleeing the ice early keeps coaches awake at night, but it's not because they see dawn while drawing up easy exit strategies for professionals that can't process the flow of play. MacKenzie Blackwood certainly didn't help matters in failing to fall ass-backwards into a big save, but it was the players in front of him that ensured the opponent quality over quantity in pissing away their hard work by making that of the Coyotes all-too-easy.
Truthfully, it feels counterintuitive to say the following about a team whose scheme already seems brutally basic. Still, the Devils have to cleanse themselves of counter-productivity in getting far, far better at the basics that were learned long prior to entering the highest level of hockey before it makes any sense whatsoever to blame the coach, no matter how jumbled his judgement.
For at least one game, it was the "system" - that is undoubtedly more scrutinized than it is understood - that helped them push the Coyotes back on their heels. It's the fatal and fundamental fuck-ups in executing said system, however, that had them spoiling Jack Hughes coming out party by getting knocked off their toes in falling even deeper into a grave that's as much a product of their own digging as it anything designed on the drawing board.