Friday, November 12, 2010
Sign of the apocalypse
Okay I admit it, I've finally gone off the deep end with this Devils team. How else can I explain actually being excited for the return of one Brian Rolston tonight? Yes, the same cap-killing Rolston that's been a massive dissapointment in his first two seasons back with the Devils. Of course, beggars can't be choosers and absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder when your team's 4-10-2. However, just from his play in the preseason and some of the things he's said recently, you do get the feeling he's out for a little redemption this year. Almost any professional athlete has some pride somewhere, and his had to be hurt by all the Kovy-speculation in the offseason and how his deal was our main obstacle to getting under the cap. Not to mention being shelved for thirteen games after sports hernia surgery as this team continues to sink faster than the Titanic.
All that said, we don't need words at this point, we need action - from Rolston or anyone else who wants to step up. In a normal year, rebuilding 4-8-2 Edmonton would be an easy game at best and a letdown game at worst. However, this year it's a big game period, vital for this team if they're going to make a run back to a playoff spot, which they need to make soon. Not to mention the 0-5-2 embarassment that is the Devils' home record so far. Once again the team was booed off the ice after a shootout loss to a Sabres team that was struggling almost as much and icing a third string goalie, to boot.
Granted though, most of the boos Wednesday were directed at one Ilya Kovalchuk for obvious reasons - Derek's YouTube of the humiliating shot 'attempt' that ended our shootout against the Sabres and has been mocked endlessly in the last twenty-four hours on numerous sports shows that almost never talk about hockey being chief among them. Not to mention a partial breakaway which our $100 million man put into the stands with just under two minutes left in regulation. Perhaps that wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the fact that the star sniper hasn't scored period in his last seven games and has eight points with a lovely -7 fifteen games into his 15-year Devils contract.
Sure, Kovy is far from the only underachiever here. It just stands out more when you spend a whole offseason to get him, in the process handing Kovy double the richest total contract in team history. Especially when he's supposed to pick up the slack for the injured Zach Parise. It would be nice if some others got going too. Maybe Jamie Langenbrunner's two goals - one in the shootout - Wednesday help the captain get in gear since he only has nine points with a -8 through 16 games. Of course the Devils being the Devils, the captain is now questionable for Friday's game after a hit he took early on in the loss to the Sabres.
At least it was nice to see David Clarkson finally remember where the front of the net was. His tap-in goal in the second period Wednesday was just his second goal and third point to go along with a -8 over 16 games. Patrik Elias's two goals and -8 isn't cutting it either. Neither is Travis Zajac's seven points considering he's supposed to be the first-line center though to his credit he's one of the few pluses on the team somehow (+1). I could go on and on...Andy Greene and his -12, Henrik Tallinder's horror show, etc.
You get the picture. At least some good news is that our walking wounded on defense are slowly coming back. Anton Volchenkov's off the shelf, Colin White's over the flu and Matt Corrente is about ready to return too. Shoot, even the immortal Anssi Salmela is skating again, how about that? Doesn't look like Bryce Salvador will be ready anytime soon unfortunately but having some reinforcements should help a defense that has been playing three rookies in the starting lineup for most of the season.
And maybe, just maybe Martin Brodeur will make his return tonight after missing the last three games with a 'bruised' elbow. Part of me's still skeptical enough to think that the injury to Brodeur is more serious than the Devils have let on, especially since Brodeur doesn't miss games with bruises. It wouldn't shock me if we withheld that kind of info long enough to sell (or give away) tickets to the two home games this week. If you take the Devils at their word though, at least it looks like all systems are finally ago for our franchise goaltender. At least Johan Hedberg played credibly in his two and a half games filling in though he seems to have a quota of giving up one bad goal a game, he's had to make his share of highlight-reel saves too.
Speaking of the homestand, it's really shameful that the Devils have already had to resort to flat out giving away tickets to inflate attendance...in NOVEMBER! Okay, I realize that giving out free tickets for the two games this week was part of the Jersey's Tour promo where the Devils went all over the state during the summer interacting with fans but in a game that probably would have had just over 10,000 in attendance otherwise the Devils had around 15,000 in the building Wednesday and probably will have over that amount tonight when the Devils haven't drawn even 13,500 for a non-Opening night game yet. Did we really give away that many free tickets?! There was also a ticket giveaway that was supposed to be for thirty fans before the first Sabres game a few weeks ago and wound up being for more than three hundred.
As a season ticket holder, I don't mind if the Devils have to do certain things to pump up the attendance and get people in the building but giving away so many tickets so early in the season is just totally counterproductive and devalues all the non-$15 season tickets. And it's only going to get worse if the team continues to struggle. Wouldn't it just be easier for the Devils to admit that their pricing of certain sections (corner uppers being $37 face, $31 for seasons, the mezz level which never sells period and the lower corners) are ridiculously out of whack instead of having to scramble to fill the seats later with promos and giveaways? I mean this isn't a Canada-NYC-Minnesota fanbase that will sell out no matter how badly overpriced the tickets are in relation to the market and the economy.
Anyway, I've said my piece for now...hopefully all of us in attendance tonight really see a sign of the apocalypse tonight - a Devils home win!