It’s almost over everyone. There are less than three weeks remaining in the 2021-22 season for the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are without their best defensive player and their 2nd best offensive (and most entertaining) player for the rest of the season, the goaltending is still trash, and the team is likely to finish somewhere between 26th and 29th in the standings. So not a whole lot to play for right now. They do have one game left against Vegas, so I suppose they could play spoiler there, but that’s pretty much it in terms of games left with major playoff implications for the opposing team. Now the Devils enter the time of the season where those still tuning in to watch this dumpster fire of a team will be doing so out of either boredom, masochism, or professional obligation.
If you are in the middle camp, well… enjoy, I guess? For the latter group, I’m sorry. But if you fall into that first category and have nothing better to do than watch this team disappoint you night after night, then allow me to attempt to make these games a little more bearable for you. Here are a few ideas for making the final 9 games of this season enjoyable to watch.
- Just pay attention to the prospects and young players. If there is a silver lining to the injuries the Devils have experienced lately, it is that it gives some young players and call-ups a chance to contribute and make a statement for next year. Not that anyone is earning a roster spot with 9 good games in a lost season, but certainly it helps to leave a good impression to end the year. In particular, players like Boqvist, Zetterlund, White, and Bahl are worth paying attention to. I would expect to see Thompson, Foote, and maybe even Walsh in the line-up at some point as well considering Utica has already locked up a playoff spot. A few of these players will likely play middle or bottom of-the-lineup roles on this team in the coming years so it is good to know what is coming down the pipeline and try to project where different players could fit.
- Ignore the scoreboard and watch the magic that is Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. Focusing on results is pointless anyway and we already know this team is awful defensively. Tune out the rest of the game and imagine what these two could do with some competent goaltending and a little more defensive structure. Both are having the best seasons of their young careers and are just entering their primes. Bratt has been electric all season, but Hischier hasn’t been a slouch either.
- Play a game. Every time the Devils let in a goal, pour yourself a 1.5 fluid oz glass of your favorite “soda”. The Devils are averaging over 3.5 GA/GP and have given up 43 goals in their last 10 games (prior to the Arizona game), so chances are you’ll have a good night. If you try this, please be responsible.
- Watch Utica instead. It’s still the Devils organization. Sure, Utica hasn’t been that hot either lately, but I still have more faith in the Comets putting forth a winning effort than New Jersey. Plus, you get to watch Alex Holtz continue what has been an excellent season for the 20-year-old sniper.
- Root for the Devils to not finish in 8th place in the Metro. A few months ago Mike wrote about the Devils new goal being to finish ahead of the Flyers in the Metro division. The race for 7th place in the metro has been neck and neck for a while now, with the Devils currently holding a 1 point lead in this battle of the basement dwellers. Which fanbase can pretend they have any self-respect left, hold their heads high and proclaim, “at least we didn’t finish in last place.” With both teams having 9 games left, it is anyones race to lose.
- Embrace the tank. Just root for the other team because in the end, the only thing the Devils are really playing for right now is draft position and more losses mean a higher draft position and better lottery odds. Even if you’re like me and believe the Devils should trade their pick, a higher pick is worth more in a trade.
So there you have it. Six ways to make the remaining 2 weeks of the season worth watching, or at least less miserable. Is there anything I’m missing? Do you intend to watch the remaining Devils games or just check the boxscore and call it a night? Which prospects or call-ups are you excited to see? Do you think the Devils can finish ahead of Philly? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!