In between bouts of choking back the acidic taste that typically preempts projectile vomiting, it's becoming very difficult to find original ways to criticize a team that has only been consistent in finding sickeningly original ways to give away both leads and games at an obnoxious rate. The Devils might be a far cry from the unwatchable band of buffoons they were in starting the season by putting an almost immediate end to all optimism, but there's only so many encouraging pats on the ass you can give to a team of professionals who have only shown the killer instinct of manic depression with their only victims being anyone that is emotionally invested in their success.
The expected goals model might tell you that you've predominantly been watching a slightly above average hockey team for roughly the last ten games. What the advanced analytics don't take into account, unfortunately, is that the first month and a half of the Devils' season have basically turned a failure to meet any and all expectations into the bleakest of performance art. Not to pin the blame on one player, never mind one whose bags are reportedly packed and whose days are reportedly numbered, but Taylor Hall's Miles Wood-like success rate on the goddamn gift basket of breakaways he's received recently is the perfectly excruciating example of just how efficient they are in making bad on a good thing.
No "clutch gene" of which to speak, and yet the Devils' engine still manages to stall out when it comes to continuing to manually manufacture positive plays when they matter the most. Whether it has been bad goaltending, inexplicable turnovers, or the type of defensive zone coverage that makes even the smallest of co-pay seem outrageous in being unable to insure any sort of lead, the only thing anyone should actually expect from this team is the type of disappointment you can set your watch - or, more accurately, the game clock - to.
Last night it just so happened to be the latter. One stoppage after being bailed out by an incredible glove save from Mackenzie Blackwood....
...PK Subban had the look of the world's most expensive parking cone as his man was about as inconspicuous as a 6,000-watt motion sensor in casually gliding to the backdoor to tap home the game-winning goal...
Still, while Matt Tennyson tests the following conclusion almost every time he takes the ice, the truth is that there's not one particular person to perpetually point the finger at when it comes to the Devils' half-witted hobby of hunting for ways to lose.
Of course, that is probably why most fans are unconditionally pointing theirs at the man whose responsibilities are approximately 75% strategy and 25% scapegoat. I can't imagine John Hynes spends every second intermission drawing up a reverse course on what got his team the lead on a dry erase board, but an offense with more than enough talent being unable to extend it for 30-some-odd minutes against a shitty Senators' team at home is undoubtedly a reflection on him. I personally think he's a pretty good coach who'll eventually have success in the NHL, but with each passing gag you need a more powerful telescope to see that success coming behind the Devils' bench. This team probably requires intrusive group therapy and/or an exorcism to combat their late-game demons more than they require a new voice, but - with the schedule not allowing time for the former - the latter is starting to seem inevitable.
Maybe that changes if they are finally able to capitalize on whatever chances they have been creating. However, we're far enough into the season to believe much more strongly in their ability to defy odds in disastrous fashion than their ability to regress to a much more merciful mean. Therefore, I'd strongly advise double-bagging whatever this team has you barfing into as their season trends disgustingly close towards something that could realistically be titled 'Final Destination 3: 1st Overall Pick'.