This time we had the All-Star weekend and three regular season outings, with the period lasting from the 7th through the 13th.
Hughes had a miniature clone during the Skills section and then went off in the 3-on-3's.
Versus the Pacific, he put two in the net. Against Central, he had another plus an assist. He was clearly having a good time and his talent was on full display. It's just tragic that the Devils aren't in a better place right now, instead relying on him often to fill holes and add sparks on his own. It's a lot of weight for a young player and he deserves better. Ownership needs to step up big right now before they waste this franchise player.
In all, it was a fun weekend of content. I know the All-Star stuff can be a bit pointless to some, and I suppose it is in many ways, but it's entertaining and can revitalize teams just as much as it can halt momentum.
Back to the regular season, and the fun went right back out the window into the snow.
A 4-1 L to Ottawa began the stretch. That's a 1-9 record out of ten. We saw no change from the issues that have plagued the group all year, especially in the goal. Outside of a power play goal early in, the chances were slim and the finishes non-existent.
Against Montreal, the group once again started with an early goal. It was a rather entertaining play in that it was well-executed and also because it saw McLeod land a V-Trigger after putting one in. Another made it in to put New Jersey up 2-0 in the first. By the end of the second, the Red & Black were up 4-1 and seemed to be enjoying themselves more than I had seen almost all season. They added three more before it was done and crushed their losing streak with a boulder. They didn't deviate much from the standard gameplan they've attempted all year, it's just that it worked better this time. The Canadiens are somehow an even bigger dumpster fire than New Jersey right now, so there's the answer to why.
They followed that up with a game against a much better team; St. Louis. Props are needed because they carried their energy over and pushed on, refusing to drop back and bouncing back to answer each call. A late 4-on-4 goal in the final minutes of the 3rd saw New Jersey pull ahead 4-3 and they added another moments later for good measure. They'd net three more with the Blues only getting one before it was all done.
That's the worst part, though. There is a lot of energy on the team and a decent amount of talent. A better coach I believe could have gotten the Devils far closer to the playoffs. Instead, we're just twirling our fingers for a few more months looking for signs that next year will be better.
Anyway, sadly the win-streak ended cold last night but it was a good, and very close, game against the Pens and the return of Hughes following a positive COVID test post-All-Star game. It wasn't until the third that the goals began and things stayed within range until the last moments and I think some props are needed here.
I just wish the team could remember how to win and could keep that energy, but I think it's worth an Orange Cassidy style thumbs up for this week of action. They looked lost against the Sens, bounced back after, and lost a close one to the Pens.
At this point in the season, it's about all we can hope for.