Happy Halloween readers of Devils Army Blog! Once when I was young, like six years old, I went trick or treating and one house was actually giving out soap. Instead of candy, they gave us soap. Why am I bringing up this story on this gloomy and rainy October 31st? Because my reaction to getting that soap in my candy bag was my same reaction to leaving the Prudential Center last night: disappointed.
The Tampa Bay Lightning might not be living up to their lofty expectations, but they still rank among the NHL’s most elite teams. The New Jersey Devils lucked out by catching them in a very winnable scenario. Not only where they on the second half of a back-to-back on the road, but they put their back up netminder in net. Just as we’ve gotten used to, the Devils couldn’t capitalize and the night ended with another heartbreaking loss.
Schneider In Goal
Even before the season began, the goaltending of the Devils was a huge question mark. Going into Wednesday’s game, Cory Schneider seemed like the safer choice, especially considering his opponent at the other side of the ice would be the Lightning’s backup in Curtis McElhinney.
Schneider had one of the worst performances of his career. Throughout the entire night, he only saw 23 shots but let seven of them in. In my post-game video, I guestimated that Schneider finished the night with a save percentage of under 75%. The real number was much worse, as he skated off the ice with a 0.69 save percentage.
Numbers like that usually see a goaltender pulled. That was not the case for Schneider, and it most likely never crossed head coach John Hynes’ mind. We can’t fault Hynes for that, as the Devils were leading most of the game, including sometimes by multiple goals. No matter how bad the save percentage is, you shouldn’t pull the goalie and change the tide of the game when your team is winning.
Kyle Palmieri’s Hat Trick
Even with a loss came perhaps the highlight of the Devils’ season so far in Kyle Palmieri’s hat trick. Not only did he open up the scoring, but added on two additional goals, including the tying goal to send the game into overtime as the third period winded down. Those tallies gave Palmieri six goals on the year, for a total of seven points including his one assist.
Many other Devils saw themselves with multiple appearances on the score sheet. Jesper Bratt, who found his way back into the lineup, scored twice. Wayne Simmonds found himself with three assists, while Taylor Hall and Will Butcher each collected two as well. Jack Hughes saw his mini three-game scoring streak snapped.
Let’s Talk About The Fans
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, Taylor Hall’s comments after the game added insult to injury. Hall commented that the team is “battling their own fans” amid constant booing. Being in Prudential Center myself last night, I can tell you the boos were aplenty, and not coming from Sam Darnold’s ghosts.
Here’s where I agree and disagree with Hall. The specific booing in question was during a power play while the game was tied. After seeing the team surrender a multiple-goal lead, it’s understandable that the fans weren’t happy. Yet at that point, the game hadn’t slipped away from their grasp.
Hall went on to explain he understood the booing after the loss. Fans didn’t have a reason to leave the game happy, but maybe we should tone it down until the game is out of our reach and the team earns their boos. There were plenty of times last night with pre-mature booing, that’s all I’m saying. When the final horn sounded, though, everything should have been free reign.
The Devils return to the ice this Friday to take on the Philadelphia Flyers. The matchup will take place at 7:00 at Prudential Center. The Flyers are 5-5-1 on the season.