It pains me to have to write in glowing terms about the New Jersey Devils, a team I hate with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. But sometimes you simply must remove your homer cap and tip it to the opposition. This is one of those times.
The N.J. Satans got their season underway on Friday night at home against the Winnipeg Jets, a team coming off a 6-4 loss to the New York Rangers. Still a bit hungover from that fast-paced, high-scoring affair, the Jets came out flat in Newark, quickly falling into a 3-0 hole late in the second period. With 6:17 to go, the Jets lost a face off in the Devils zone, and N.J.'s newest defenseman P.K. Subban lifted the puck to the other end of the ice in what appeared to be an innocent clearing attempt.
But that clearing attempt turned into a SportsCenter Top 10 play when Devils center Blake Coleman raced to the puck, beat out Jets defenseman Dmitri Kulikov and lifted the puck with one-hand over the right shoulder of Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit and into the back of the net. Not only is this already the goal of the year, it might be the goal of the decade, and possibly even the century:
My word. We didn't oversell that, did we? What a freaking play by Coleman, who scored a career-high 22 goals a year ago and is on pace to top that tally this season after his two-goal night on Friday. According to #math, that's a 164 goal pace, which would smash Wayne Gretzky's record total of 92 in one season. Shoot for the stars, Blake.
Surely, with a 4-0 lead, the Devils went on to win that game with ease, right? Yeah, about that...
Immediately filing this one under "things you hate to see." What you really hate to see is how the Jets won it. In a shootout (the worst way to lose), Jets winger Blake Wheeler absolutely undressed Devils backup goalie MacKenzie Blackwood, who came in for an injured Cory Schneider with the game at 4-2, promptly blew the lead and then gave up this game-ender:
Sheesh. Tough break for the Devils, who need to bounce back Saturday night in Buffalo to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2016.