Taylor Hall Absolutely Undressed A Penguins' Defenseman...And That Concludes Your Devils' Highlights
Look, I was over the goddamn moon when Taylor Hall casually danced through the defense and assisted P.A. Parenteau in the easiest goal he's ever scored in his career. The only way you could have peeled the smile off my face as I watched multiple replays of Hallsy toe-dragging what was left of Chad Ruhwedel's pride along the ice by the string he had the puck on was by giving me another celebratory beer, and even then I probably would have spilled all over myself through the grin in my teeth. Unfornately, that's also what made my impending realization that much more depressing. You see, there wasn't even a slight possibility that game was going to get any more enjoyable than it was when Taylor Hall left a jock in his wake merely 78 seconds into the contest. The Devils stood next to no chance of beating the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. If I was acting in the best interest of my mood then I would have left the building prior to the following center ice faceoff, because that was the beginning of the end of any and all optimism.
We are talking about a team that wasted almost no time in taking the lead, and they still managed to precede that by giving their opposition (and the best player in the entire NHL) two glorious chances right in front of their own net. I'll go to my grave defending a struggling Cory Schneider, but with him having recently misplaced his ability to do backflips while carrying the entire team on his back, the Devils are in severe trouble against damn near all of their divisional opponents.
Andy Greene was already counted on to do too much before he aged a year and lost a step. Severson was already in over his head before his confidence leaked helplessly down his leg and he morphed back into the player that was a healthy scratch at times last season. As for a the rest of the "defense"? Well, they hardly even deserve that title. Ben Lovejoy went to 'The Colin White School of Puck Possession'. John Merrill's absence from the AHL team he belongs on for the rest of his career is really of detriment to his current NHL team. John Moore has a set of wheels on him but he spends most of the time using them to skate away from any and all of his defensive responsiblities as quickly as possible. Kyle Quincey might actually have what it takes to contribute to a 3rd pairing, but I don't think he has the upper body strength to dig his way out of the mud he's been stuck in since the season started. I know it seems like I am giving a mediocre offense a pass, but that's just my belated Christmas gift to a unit that won't even hit each other on the tape with an accurate one during a 4 minute powerplay that was only 'Fool's Gold' for those that haven't been watching them go impotent with a man advantage all season.
This team is downright dreadly and there's no quick fix that is going to make them any better than slightly less dreadful. I still think nearly every one of Ray Shero's moves will benefit this franchise long term and firing John Hynes would do nothing but make a bunch of uneducated Devils fans happy for the amount of time it takes them to realize that his replacement would still be coaching the same shitty players. That said, it's not fun knowing that watching a singular spectacular highlight is going to provide the highest high that you'll feel all night. Such is the rebuilding process, I suppose.