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Game Preview #69: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders

Well, yesterday was a disaster. How many games does this coaching staff get?

NHL: JAN 13 Devils at Islanders Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (24-38-6) versus the New York Islanders (31-27-9). SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

The Time: 4:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - TNT

What's There To Say?

  • to - he doesn't have much time until he's on the hot seat. But Tom Fitzgerald has said repeatedly this season that he likes his team - he likes his players, and they need to find the answer "in the room." Well, I think only one thing can be true at this point. Either the players are fine, or the coaches are. A 24-38-6 team is not that way by bad luck. Either these players should be winning and something institutional is failing them, or these coaches don't have players that are capable of winning. Some people believe neither are capable. Those people might be derided at times as overly negative, but they have a point: enough is enough. Tom Fitzgerald needs to choose which he needs to overhaul completely or this team will never break free from its stagnation. I believe the players need new leadership. How many more shiny new distractions are going to keep our eyes away from the fact that this team is not making progress even as the core of this team enters their athletic prime?

If you still care about watching this season, I'm glad you're around. It's not easy to stick something like this out, and I don't blame you if you can't bring yourself to watch a game at this point. The product on the ice is unwatchable. I'm glad I was at work yesterday during the game, and only had second-hand frustration from the texts I saw from my brother as I left work. And thankfully, reading a report of Ruff's platitudes after a four-goal lead got blown is much less blood-boiling than when I watch it first-hand. It still pisses me off, but it's not as bad.

But there's always tomorrow, and now we have another game to watch. If Yegor Sharangovich scores a hat trick this afternoon, will it be forgotten in the midst of another total and utter collapse? I mean, we could be focusing on some excellent play from our forwards right now. Janne Kuokkanen showed another flash, from what I saw in the replay of his goal, of what we saw from him last season in his first game back from injury. But as long as this team is putting up all-time horrific third period collapses following pathetic blowouts, we don’t even think to talk about those things.

The New York Islanders are trying to claw their way back into the playoffs right now. It’s an uphill battle, but they will not give up until the bitter end. Despite their terrible start and all the adversity they faced with uneven treatment from the league during the early season COVID issues, they have managed to be playing “meaningful games” in April. This coaching staff has me pining for the days of the three-headed monster behind the bench, which survived probably because of the tough veterans like Andy Greene (who, as maligned as he was the last couple years here, never led teams as magnetic to losing as this), who actually made it difficult for the opposing team to score. Despite their AHL-level depth, the Devils even pushed it as a team just beyond the playoff bubble when they acquired Kyle Palmieri, which leads me to a certain point...

Evolving Hockey

I know Fitzgerald only gave Tomas Tatar a two-year deal compared to the four years Lou Lamoriello gave Kyle Palmieri, but man do I miss the competitive spirit that Palmieri brought at times. In his last 25 games, Palmieri has 11 goals and six assists. Since that stretch started on February 15, the Islanders are 14-8-3. They are now 13 points behind the Washington Capitals for the eighth and last spot in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a game on hand and 15 games to make up the difference. The Islanders will be coming this afternoon, and it might not be pretty. If I were Tom Fitzgerald, I wouldn’t let the coaching staff finish the season untouched if the Devils have another bad game today.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of today’s game? How do you feel about Lindy Ruff and his staff? What needs to change?