The New Jersey Devils are the worst good team in hockey. For the last thousand years, they’ve mined success by sucking the fun out of hockey. If it feels like the game is less exciting when the Devils are playing, it’s not just you. The team’s style inhibits shooting by both teams– on average almost 20 fewer shot attempts per game. That’s part of why I was a bit mild heading into Saturday’s pre-Olympic finale between the Devs and the Washington Capitals.
The teams traded power plays in the first period without biscuit-basket despositage. The Devils owned the puck for the most the second period, but left the basket unbiscuited. The third period was more of the miserable same until rookie Julien Brouillette put the biscuit in the basket with ten minutes left. The Devils emptied their net and then Marty Erat finally brokered a biscuit-basket merger and then Troy Brouwer was like, “yeah, this basket can handle more biscuits.”
Caps beat Devils 3-0. Braden Holby’s third shutout!
Yeah, the Devils play a miserable style of hockey, but I can’t help but chalk this game’s tedium up to the Caps’ plainly insufficient lineup and plainly not-working system. For all the talk of Adam Oates aping the defensive formulations of his old club, the Caps defense looks nothing like Jersey. The Devils D-corps seem to attack where the Caps retreat, leading to more Caps turnovers right around the blueline and more deep zone time for the visitors.
I really, really, really wanna see the Caps try something different after the Olympics. Like, remember when Boudreau went to (was forced to?) play the Trap in December of 2010? I wanna see the opposite of that now– a systems change by edict, this time maybe less disastrous.
This was an important win for the standings. It’s gonna get ugly after the Olympics, so getting these four points in the last two games may end up looming large in retrospect– even if we don’t appreciate ’em much now. Kind of like Blade Runner.
Speaking of the Olympics, that’s it for us for now. The next two weeks will be all-Sochi/all-the-time unless Troy Brouwer tweets something funny while on vacation. We’re still figuring out our coverage, but you can expect us. We’ll be tweeting at 7 am (ugh) and writing recaps and sharing cool stories and generally doing the RMNB thing on a global scale. It’s Olympic hockey in Russia starring Alex Ovechkin. We were built for this.
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