One of the main benefits in an attending a sporting event is the possibility of seeing something exceptional. Maybe it is an excellent play that leads to a goal. Maybe it is an impressive save. Maybe it is a sick move for a score in the shootout. Maybe it is seeing your favorite team beat an opponent for the first time in over 24 months. On Sunday, I got to see all of that at the Rock as the New Jersey Devils beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. Those memories will stick out to me amid a season full of bad and ugly losses by the Devils. That is one of the possibility in sports and it is a good reason as any to make an effort to make it out to a game whenever you can.
I can understand that you may need a little bit more of a reason to care about this Thursday’s game between the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks. I get it. Both teams have face-planted to start their seasons. Both teams fired their coaches, only to see them hired somewhere else. Both teams are nowhere near the playoffs and have not much of anything to play for since the start of 2020. By no means is this a hot match-up on paper. That said, there are two reasons why you should pay attention and consider heading to the Rock for this one.
First, the Devils’ home schedule gets very difficult after Thursday’s game. On Saturday, they will host Washington. In March, they will host St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Carolina twice, the New York Islanders, Columbus, Calgary, and Philadelphia. All of those teams are in the playoffs or right in the playoff bubble as of this writing. The team’s final home game of the season on April 2 against Buffalo will be the next time the Devils will host a team playing for lottery balls. It is true that the Devils can pull off some home wins in March. But the Devils are 28th in the NHL for a reason and so it is not likely they will win many games against superior opponents. This Thursday’s home game against San Jose may be one of their better chances to get a ‘W’ in the Garden State. If enjoy seeing the Devils winning at the Rock, then you might as well try to see it live.
Second, this game could be the one of the last games for some of the players on either team. The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline is next Monday. New Jersey has already made two significant trades on this past Sunday. They dealt defenseman and team captain Andy Greene to the Islanders hours before their game against Columbus. The Devils held Blake Coleman out for “precautionary reasons” and he was traded to Tampa Bay during the game against the Blue Jackets. This means those who attended last Thursday’s game against Detroit can say they saw Greene (who scored a goal) and Coleman in Devils red for the last time this season and perhaps beyond. While both teams have at least one more game between Thursday and Monday’s trade deadline, deals can happen at any point. It is entirely possible that Thursday’s game may be one of the last ones or the last one for Wayne Simmonds and Sami Vatanen (if activated) as Devils this season. Likewise, it could be one of the final games for Brendan Dillon or Melker Karlsson for the Sharks. You do not know what you got until it is gone. At this time of the season, you cannot expect the players on the team this week will be there by next Tuesday. So head out to the Rock just to see a couple of players play for their teams for potentially one last time this season.
Now I think those two reasons are pretty compelling reasons to not only care about this week’s Devils-Sharks but also attend it at the Prudential Center. This does not mean you should have to spend a lot of money on tickets. On the contrary. I want to help you with that. As part of an affiliation deal between Vox Media and Stubhub, you can find tickets for the game without potentially spending nearly as much elsewhere through this link.
We will be having two more of these “pre-previews” as the season goes on to share similar affiliate links for future Devils games this season. In the meantime, I want to know what you think about this match-up ahead of Thursday’s game in the comments. Thank you for reading.
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