This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.
Thursday, Oct. 22 – Senators vs. Devils
Times are tough in New Jersey, where the Devils, a team with a long history of being good without ever being entertaining, are now neither. An aging core and years of bad drafting have made the Devils a collection of old spare parts and young non-prospects; the team’s architect, GM Lou Lamoriello, directed them into long-term mediocrity so effectively that he has now been scooped up by the Leafs. When season previews for your team contain sentences like, “if all goes well, the Devils will get goals from Stempniak,” well, see you at the draft I guess.
It was easier to hate the Devils in years past, when they won Stanley Cups and concussed their rivals and were the second-most interesting thing in Newark after the airport. Now the Devils are just kind of there, like an old Dodge Caravan. Sure, it’ll get where it’s going eventually, but there’s nothing exciting about it and everyone on board seems tired and a little disappointed. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015-16 New Jersey Devils: a high-mileage Dodge Caravan where Mike Cammalleri is a first-line winger.
PREDICTION: The Senators have four days off to prepare for this game, which is sort of like getting six months of MMA training in order to put a six-year-old to bed. You just try not to psych yourself out first. Look for Mark Stone to score 22,000 points. Senators 5, Devils 0.
Saturday, Oct. 24 – Senators vs. Coyotes
The Coyotes only have six fans, but they all seem passionate. They are the kind of people who storm council meetings in cities they don’t live in and dress down municipal officials who aren’t supporting their team with other people’s tax dollars. They are the kind of people who believe in making ice in the middle of the most inhospitable landscape imaginable because they’re already diverting half the Colorado River to play golf. They look like the kind of people who have Crossfit-themed weddings where the couple screams their vows at each other, swinging kettlebells the entire time.
The Coyotes are bad, but apparently this is the plan. This year’s first overall pick is expected to be Auston Matthews, another one of those teenage hockey phenoms with a typo on his birth certificate, but in this case one with the added benefit of being from Arizona. Matthews is exactly the type of hometown star a struggling franchise in a non-traditional market needs to build around, which is exactly why the Coyotes will never win the lottery. They will try, though, sending out reheated cobbler like Steve Downie, John Scott, and Boyd Gordon, even trading for the $4.9M cap hit of a Hall-of-Fame dirtbag who hasn’t played in five years in order to reach the league salary floor without retaining any actual talent. The upshot is that the Coyotes have the second-lowest team payroll in hockey, with a roster put together like a home filled entirely with scratch-and-dent floor model furniture; you can see the scuffs and burn marks everywhere but the guy won’t shut up about how much money he saved. Then he spent it all on a cruise and stayed in his cabin puking the entire time.
PREDICTION: You know how it is when you’re a budget team with stupid uniforms being kept afloat by a franchise Swedish defenseman. Sometimes you have to go on the road and get your ass kicked by the Ottawa Senators. Senators 5, Coyotes 0.
Season prediction record: 3-2-1
Next week, two games against the team no Senators fan could ever hate: the Detroit Red Wings.