12/31/16 Game Recap: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils

Any team that goes 0-9 on their power play in a single game deserves to lose that game. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing or how capable (or in the New Jersey Devils case, incapable) they are of scoring, you cannot expect to win games or even stay in games without scoring power play goals, or goals for that matter.

The Devils managed to score two goals in a brutal 6-2 loss to the Washington Capitals in a Saturday afternoon showdown. The first came from Kyle Palmieri at 6:53 in the second period, to cut the Capitals’ lead in half. The Capitals lead 2-1 with goals from Connolly and Beagle. Palmieri’s goal was his seventh of the season and his third in five games. Oshie, Ovechkin, and Williams all scored to extend the Capitals’ lead to 5-1. Beau Bennett scored his second of the season at 14:52 in the third but (to sum up the season) too little, too late. And if the game wasn’t already a complete annihilation, Johansson scores to seal the win for the Capitals, who remain fourth in the Metropolitan division and hold the first wild card slot in the East. The Devils, on the other end, are back in last place in the Metro with the Islanders’ 6-2 win over Jets.

The Devils’ defensive woes continue. Keith Kinkaid has played admirably this season (a few of his losses have come from no goal support) and after his outing on Thursday against Washington, it was hard to argue against starting him today as well. He again had no (little) goal support from his teammates but many of the Capitals’ goals came off of deflections or the Devils’ defensemen being in the wrong place at the wrong time (which seems to be a recurring theme this season).

And while this team has been unbelievably frustrating and there are times when I question why I love this team or continue to support this team but my favorite thing (or one of my favorite things) has always been how everyone bands together. During today’s game, Wilson sent John Moore into the boards and Moore laid on the ice for several minutes while the medical staff helped him and brought in a stretcher. It was a clean hit (in my opinion); it may have just been a matter of unfortunate positioning and timing. Regardless of the circumstances of the hit, Luke Gazdic was ready to fight Wilson and it’s nice to see someone step up and defend his teammate like that (and I’m not saying that nobody else on the team wouldn’t). Yes, his role as the physical enforcer of the team implies that he would drop his gloves if the need raised. I hate seeing any NHLer take a scary hit but John is one of the good guys, on and off the ice. You can’t hate him. The team helped John off the ice and not even just this game, but in every game, the team is close.

This team is a team. You can visibly tell that they’re close, by the way they talk to each other, the way they interact with one another. There aren’t any problems in the locker room (that we know of) but it doesn’t seem like there are any. They truly do have each other’s backs, on and off the ice. And I love this team because of it. Many other teams have locker room problems and the team becomes disjointed and dysfunctional (the Devils are dysfunctional but they have other reasons behind it). The Devils are not like that. They have never been like that.

My thoughts: other than that whole spiel about the team being and playing like a team, I wish they had the energy that their fans do. They still show up in droves to watch games and support the team. A lot of them stay until the end, even if the team is losing (by a little or a lot). I have never left a game early and never will. It seems as if the team just doesn’t want to play. There’s still four months of hockey left to play and plenty of time to rack up points, and make a potential playoff push. I’m also still not part of the “Fire Hynes and the entire coaching staff” campaign; no coach in the world could lead this team to the playoffs with how they’re playing. I also wouldn’t object to calling up more of the Albany Devils. We’ve seen how well Wood and Lappin have been playing; I’d love to see Blandisi or Pietela come back up and be aggressive forwards. Helgeson also played well in his brief stint in the NHL and would like to see him get some more playing time too. But I will end on this note: hope 2017 brings more Devils wins and a potential Stanley Cup playoff berth. Have a Happy New Year.

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