In Front Of The Screen: Takeaways From Episode 3 Of 'Behind The Glass: New Jersey Devils Training Camp'
When I first read that the New Jersey Devils, of all teams, were doing an all-access, behind the scenes look into the inner-workings of the organization, my first thought was whether it was an idea that was forced upon the front office by ownership. Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, my first thought was "fuck yes", my second thought was to send someone to check in on the well-being of Lou Lamoriello, and my third thought was how the all-telling presence of cameras at training camp might resonant with a head coach coming off his first appearance in the NHL playoffs.
After three episodes, I can confidently say it's more likely that John Hynes pitched the damn idea to NHL Network himself than having to have been coaxed into it by someone who disproportionally prioritized the exposure. Think of how much Hard Knocks pulled back the curtain on Hue Jackson as the type of in-over-his-head head coach who's liable to find himself stuck diving into dirty bodies of water after mismanaging his way to a winless season. Behind The Glass has done just as much in portraying John Hynes as a firm-but-fair motivator of men that knows exactly what it takes to get the absolute most out of young players in guiding them above expectations.
Whether it be constantly hammering home the importance of the culture that was ever-present throughout last season, or efficiently breaking down what happened during each period, I can't imagine someone better equipped to get through to an impressionable roster. Never mind icing the best possible lineup on any given night, I'm liable to trust John Hynes as the guardian to my far-from-conceived children, whether tragedy strikes me or not. As the executive that brought on John Hynes to best position his pieces in trying to resurrect a once proud franchise, Ray Shero's self-confidence must have been reinforced more than the motif of Brotherhood throughout the filming of this show, as any questions to whether his coaching hire was the right one are honestly no longer worth answering.
I suppose it's understandable given it's importance to the success of the upcoming season, but I personally think too much was made of some potential goaltending controversy. Keith Kinkaid is clearly the Devils' last line of defense until further notice. When Cory Schneider is ready, his play will determine whether or not that changes. If he's performing up to his potential, he'll take over primary starter duties and it typically hasn't been all that hard to tell when he's not. I tend to think that, barring injury, there's still a lot of good tread on the tires of the player who is superior positionally, but - unless there is a massive systematic regression in store - I'm not all that concerned with riding the player who is debatably superior at making some saves he probably shouldn't make until the time comes to find out. Given Keith Kinkaid's carefree personality, I don't think he is either.
Blake Coleman and Pavel Zacha:
You won't find too many scenes more relatable than two dudes in their young-to-mid 20's trying to uncomfortably maneuver through unfamiliar territory. I damn near got secondhand anxiety watching them attempt an overseas order, never mind sympathizing with their disappointment when checking under the hood of their mystery sandwich to find a key ingredient missing. If nothing else, the fact that cultural uncomfortability is something that exists from Texas, to the Czech Republic, to Switzerland, and everywhere in between is comforting.
There was nothing overblown about how much chemistry played a part in the Devils success last season, that much is now obvious. I would imagine that a trip that saw them in four different countries throughout a two week span could only stand to enhance that compatibility. If the way the team embraced Nico Hischier in trying, sometimes counterproductively, to make his return to Switzerland a successful one didn't convince me of that then the way they played against the Oilers most certainly did. There's way too many unknowns and fluctuating factors to know how the season ultimately plays out, but there's plenty of reason to believe that collective complacency won't be their downfall.