I'll stop short of calling it a conspiracy. Despite some questionable calls against them, there's no doubt that the Devils deserved to lose last night. However, the schedule falling in such a way that they had to go on the road to a city that had just been made aware that it lost it's NFL team is far more than an unfortunate set of circumstances. They have overcome a lot this season, but this Devils team has nowhere near enough talent to take on all the other forces that were at work for a formidable Blues team.
I don't want to trivialize the loss of human life, so I won't compare this to playing the Yankees after 9/11, or the Bruins after the Boston Marathon, but I'll be damned if it's not one or two steps below that. No one lost any friends or family members, but an entire city effectively lost Todd Gurley, and for 16 days a year that will probably feel nearly as devastating. January 12th, 2016 was the night that an entire fanbase died inside, and the Devils had to play the ONE team that was still fighting on behalf of it's memory.
Talk about a no win situation. The Devils weren't just up against the wall, they were up against the wall with their hands tied and their pants around their ankles. They showed up to play a hockey game and ended up thrown into battle against the entire state of Missouri and ever single sports god that's ever been summoned upon bended knee. They weren't even given enough notice to make sure their backup goalie wasn't in as their last line of defense. Thanks a lot Stan Kroenke. How can anyone expect a team that is playing for nothing more than one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference to beat a team that's fighting for the mental health of 19,000 people in attendance and countless others watching at home? I think it's fair to call that a slight difference in stakes. New Jersey learned that their all time leading scorer was having knee surgery, while St Louis learned that their sports landscape was having open heart surgery. Scott Stevens himself couldn't have matched the Blues level of intensity last night. Losing a football team might not be a tragedy in the most dramatic sense of the word, but I dare you to tell that to a St. Louis native right about now.
If the Devils miss the playoffs by a single game then it will easily be traced back to a fateful night in January where the NFL's greed resulted in an intervention that can only be described as divine. I would say that sports aren't fair sometimes, but something tells me that's Blues fans might take exception to that comment right about now...