Man, I don’t know.
All of that excitement leading into this season and here we are.
Seriously, 2-5-3. Two wins, eight losses. Eight losses in ten games. EIGHT LOSSES. TEN GAMES.
Defense in disarray. Offense barely making an appearance between the opening 40 minutes of the season and the last two games. And the goaltending... Good Lord, the goaltending.
I thought this was going to be fun. This should be fun. This has not been fun. Why isn’t this fun?
This year was supposed to be different. The Devils suffered another divisional last place season in 2018-19 to land high in the draft rankings. They had luck go their way at the lottery. They made substantial moves to better the roster in the offseason. They had a superstar returning from injury. They had great young talents entering their third seasons in the league. They had still more young talent poised to arrive and immediately make an impact. They had a promising rookie goalie and a veteran who looked like he had put injury troubles behind him in the spring. It was all supposed to be coming together into something that was competitive and fun to watch this season. And yet...
Since the Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982, here is the list of seasons where the team finished October with two or fewer wins:
- 1983-84 (1 win)
Yup. You are reading that correctly. The only season where the Devils have sent their fans home happy fewer times in the month of October is 1983-84. Anyone with a passing knowledge of early Devils lore will tell you that season is the one in which Wayne Gretzky called out the team for being utterly shambolic (yes, the famous “Mickey Mouse organization” quote). So this 2019-20 Devils team has planted their flag in the ground and said “we are very slightly better than the team the greatest hockey player in history once declared was ‘ruining hockey.’”
The inaugural 1982-83 team managed three wins. The 2013-14 Pete DeBoer outfit that started with seven straight losses managed three wins. Even the modern standard-bearer for awful Devils teams, the 2010-11 John MacLean Devils, managed to scrape together three October wins. This team one-upped them all. Two wins. What an achievement.
Honestly, it’s not even just about the losses (I mean, it is), but it’s they WAY they have been happening. The Devils have had a multiple-goal lead at home in five separate games this season. They have lost FOUR of those games. I would toss out the old “I’m not even mad, that’s amazing” line, except I am EXTREMELY mad. Conversely, in the Devils three road games, they have been promptly run out of the building in each case, getting outscored 14-2 in the aggregate. It’s like someone has engineered a hockey team in a lab to fill its fans with white hot rage basically every time they play. I’d be impressed if I weren’t so infuriated by it.
Gerard worked on why exactly this team cannot buy wins in his post yesterday. I’m not here to do that. I’m just here to say how profoundly tired I am of all of it.
I’m tired of being mad at this team.
I’m tired of being interested in draft rankings.
I’m tired of complaining about lineups.
I’m tired of wondering how long until the rebuild will end.
Do people, specifically coaches, need to be fired? I don’t know. What I do know is that people have been fired for a whole lot less in this league. Maybe I need to be patient. Maybe the turned corner is just ahead. Maybe the solid run of play in recent games is a sign of things to come. Perhaps all of those things are true. Here is another thing that’s true, though: it is November and the Devils have two wins.
Certain players are put off by the fans’ gloomy demeanor. Others are self-flagellating for their own failings. Others still feel that things are close to turning. I have grown weary of every variety of losing postgame quote at this point. I just want to hear postgame quotes that come after a freaking win.
How do we arrive at wins? Better goaltending? Decidedly yes. Generating more chances? Probably. Playing the talented players you added to your roster in the offseason? I’m no genius, but maybe. Cleaning up the turnovers and neutral zone play? Couldn’t hurt. More of the fourth line cycling for 35 seconds and then taking a shot from outside the dots? Probably not, but you never know.
So can they turn it around? Hell if I know. I have no answers, I just want to not be seething at my television every two or three nights at this point. So the Devils should do me and the rest of this fanbase a favor and either go on a run to get back into things soon or continue what they started in October and just put us all out of our misery by Thanksgiving.