Game No. 21: Speak of.. these guys

Well now I don’t know what to think.

So the Devils are pretty goddamn awful. If the Islanders weren’t so busy losing 30 in a row, or whatever they’re up to now, the Devils would be the worst team in hockey.

Like, they’re really bad, and almost every good player on the team is hurt. No Marty Brodeur (though if you want to start having the argument about if he’s now officially and finally past it, the line forms to the left, and that crowd’s shouts are getting more credible by the day), no Jamie Langenbrunner, no Zach Parise and no Scott Stevens. It’s not every day you run across a team with as much star power as the Devils and, upon looking at the standings, realize they have fewer points than the Flames.

But because Brent Sutter is a kind and generous man, and because nothing can ever be easy, Calgary is going to roll a fairly soft lineup in New Jersey tonight as it plays its third game since Sunday. Olli Jokinen is back, and rewarded for his not only his terrible suspension-worthy crosscheck but also his absolutely abysmal play of late by slotting straight into the top line alongside the resurgent Jarome Iginla (6-1-7 in three games since Jokinen stopped being in the lineup) and the also-resurgent-but-certainly-less-so Alex Tanguay (1-5-6 since Jokinen got suspended). This is brilliant stuff, though, unlike when people tell you that you can’t make something up, you probably could make this up if you’re a masochist or have watched the Flames this year (same thing).

Brent’s also giving a Steve Staios-Brendan Mikkelson pairing a chance, likely because he really feels badly that 28 defensemen currently have more points than Ilya Kovalchuk, and he wants to do all he can to rectify that. I know John MacLean’s not exactly having the greatest season behind the Devils bench, but the true litmus test of whether or not he should be allowed to continue his job is how many times he uses the last change on an O-zone faceoff to line the Kovalchuk forward group up opposite Staios and Mikkelson. If the answer is less than "all of them," he should be fired on the spot.

And then Henrik Karlsson gets the nod in net tonight. You remember him, right? The guy who gave up seven goals on the last 37 shots he faced? That’s the fellow.

It’d be nice to see the Devils finally pull out a W, and I think the Flames are really giving them a chance to d.. what? They just beat Washington by HOW much? Oh hell.