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!
- Shoot. What am I supposed to do for bullets? The whole point of Devils hockey is that nothing happens. It’s the Godot of hockey.
- It’s not like I wish ill on Lou Lamoriello, but what if some kind of Regarding Henry thing happened where he survives an awful accident and then comes back a totally different, totally better person afterwards? I loved Regarding Henry by the way. Harrison Ford’s best role.
- I know some people will say Witness was Harrison Ford’s best role. That’s valid too. But don’t come at me with Blade Runner. Great movie, but Ford is a closed fist the whole time. Totally opaque. That’s part of the appeal, I know, but I don’t think it’s his strongest performance.
- Oh man, don’t even get me started on K-19: The Widowmaker. Harry doing a Russian accent for 110 minutes. No thank you, sir.
- That scene in Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls where Shia LeBouf and Harrison are chatting in the soda fountain place was pretty good. The rest of the movie is incomprehensible. It’s like Superman Returns, where you love (some of) the characters and the performances and dialogue, but the plot is so unbearable you’d rather just read fanfic.
- Brandon Routh was great if you ask me. Henry Cavill isn’t my Superman. Breaking Zod’s neck? C’mon dude. That’s not Superman. That’s not even Super. That’s just man.
- Here’s a thing that happened in the game:
- Dude hit other dude and then gave up the puck at the zone entry. Electrifying.
- Julien Brouillette scored in his second-ever NHL game at the tender age of 27. It was an unremarkable shot from the outside, given a little extra magic thanks to Marty Erat running interference up front. Brou has two points in two games and has looked better than I expected/feared. I still think the Caps D is a fiasco, but Julien-as-call-up isn’t so bad.
- New Jersey’s Stephen Gionta sent human giant Connor Carrick barreling into Braden Holtby after Brou’s goal. Didn’t seem to egregious to me, just a nasty little hockey accident that didn’t deserve a whistle. There should be a rule where you can shove any hockey player into any goalie as long as the player is under 5’6″.
- Oh Martin Erat. I always loved you. Even in the beginning, when you represented an overestimation of this team’s ability to win, I loved you. Even when you requested a trade. Even when you didn’t score a million times. Welcome to the scoreboard, holmes. Go get a billion more in Sochi.
- The Devils bled goals on an empty net but it’s still a good move. Losing by three ain’t much worse than losing by one, and at least they had a chance.
- Jagr sucks. Holtby rules.
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.