Damon Severson with his hands up in dumbfounded confusion and Cory Schneider staring off into space desperately dreaming of the day that he's blessed with enough defense to make it to the promised land of exploratory playoff appearances. I know the Devils' backbone has nowhere to look but in the mirror after giving up a backbreaking overtime goal to Mika Zibanejad, but that doesn't mean that this picture isn't depressingly symbolic of what has ailed his team this year.
I suppose it was just a matter of time before the lights got shot out on another lost year, but it would have been nice to have a relative meaningless comeback win against the Rangers to hang their hat on before the season all-but-faded to black. Instead - for the second time this season - New York turned a late lead into a soul crushing defeat, and reminded those in attendance that the home team is just not on their level as of yet.
I don't think one campaign that fell short of expectations is all that disastrous to a team that outperformed expectations in the first true year of their rebuild, but I do think it's sign that the work in progress isn't close to completion. The current blue line makes Adam Larsson look like Nicklas Lidstrom, and it's inability to create any consistent offense whatsoever makes their already struggling forwards look even worse. That's pretty impressive considering they have recently managed to botch chances that would have Tuomo Ruutu believing he still has a place in the league.
We've gotten glimpses of youthful promise (Wood, Zacha), shades of the 30 goal scorers that came into their own last season (Rico, Palms), and a pretty good look at why the Taylor Hall trade was one that absolutely had to be made. That said, this team needs to turn their cap space into players that don't cap out at being space eaters if they want to keep building on a core of forwards that are in their prime and reasonably priced on long term contracts (i.e. not Mike Cammalleri).
There probably should have been a bit more apprehensiveness entering the season with glorified veterans/certified pylons like Ben Lovejoy and Kyle Quincey manning nightly roles. Hell, throw John Moore into the rotation and John Merrill's performance has looked half decent, and I KNOW John Merrill can only look half decent by comparison. That lesson, hopefully, has been learned because going without a serious upgrade on the backend won't translate well to future positivity throughout the fan base or it's starting goaltender.
This season hasn't been as dejecting as the immediate aftermath of the loss to the Rangers made it seem, but it sure has been close. I'm ready to jump aboard the tank and lock-and-unload any impending free agent that's worth a damn. I just pray Ray Shero is ready to do what Ray Shero has already proven adept at doing in turning "a damn" into contributors, because the Devils sure don't have enough of those at the moment.