A Tough Stretch

I don’t know if this is just fandom to an unhealthy level, but when you get physically ill when your team plays horribly, there’s a problem.

It actually started back on February 29th. In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted since before that game. The Devils were going to play against the Washington Capitals – and I had a collection of friends and colleagues joining my fiance and myself to attend with discount tickets thanks to NJ Transit.

The result: a 4-0 loss that was disastrous. I mean they didn’t even play hockey. They kind of milled around the ice pretending to be figure skaters without toe-picks.

The next day I was secluded to the bathroom in my house wondering if it was something in the hot dogs or if it was just my stomach having a civil war with my digestive system to see who could evacuate all of their contents faster.

Perhaps I share too much.

Nevertheless, they lost the night after against Montreal, 2-1. Now I am thinking, “Should I panic? Could this be the down spiral I feared, just days after the trading deadline? Or is this just a minor fluke and they’ll come back next week?”

Sure enough, the following week the Devils won three games in a row, beating out Toronto, Tampa Bay, and then Toronto again. The games weren’t decisive wins, but hey, they were wins and two points desperately needed since the conference is so close.

Well last Tuesday they Devils showed an extreme amount of ineptness playing like the Lowell Devils. They had four goals scored against them, could not find the energy to get one little black disc past the netminder of Carey Price, and simply played like a team that is near the bottom of the conference.

I don’t get it. Doc and Chico were talking about confidence issues. What?!? How in the world could they have confidence issues? Last week they were first in the conference! And now I feel like I’m going to be sick again. Brent Sutter is talking about how he felt the first period was their best period and things went downhill from there. In case you didn’t know, Montreal scored TWO goals against them in the period. If things go downhill from there, you just fold. You get the sticks, the equipment, the jerseys; you pack them up and you get an early flight home.

Okay, I’m almost done ranting. So on Friday the Devils traveled to Minnesota, where they had over 300 family members present. Apparently people don’t know the meaning of birth control in Minnesota. By the end of the first 20 minutes, the Devils were down another two goals. For the record, that’s 80 straight minutes without even a good scoring opportunity. Furthermore, where the heck did our defense go? I mean I know Colin White and Paul Martin were out during the Montreal game, but this is just nuts.

Paul Martin did return for the Thursday night’s match up against Minnesota, and I suppose it did help because the Devils were able to tie things up in the second, lost the tie at the end of the second, tie things up in the third, and then kept the swelling down long enough to drag the Wild in to the Shootout, where Minnesota has problems apparently.

Now keep in mind after the first 60 minutes of regulation, there is a 4-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Montreal each have 87 points. Thanks to the lone goal by Jamie Langenbrunner in the shootout, though, the Devils received the second point for the win and now sit happily atop the Eastern Conference, ahead by 1 point.

Okay, I should be happy. My team is fighting its way to stay on top of the East and, for the most part, have held the position probably more in the past two months than any other team in the East. But I just find it unsettling when you can win four of your last five games, but that one loss was one heck of a loss – just not even close.

In my next post, I’ll be posting some tips for the Devils when they are having a bad night.

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