New Jersey Devils Game Day: A British Fan’s Perspective


Seventy times this season the New Jersey Devils had a face-off time between 7-8pm ET. Two games started at 5pm ET and the other ten games were on the road against Western Conference teams and started later. Or I could put it this way. SEVENTY TIMES me and many other UK-based New Jersey Devils fans were up between midnight and 1am. Well, sixty-eight for me as I was present at the Prudential Center for the games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues for my first time in the States.

I’m going to take you back to one of the worst games of this past season. Those of you living in the US or Canada don’t know how lucky you are that games end well before midnight when that’s when they start in the UK.

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Cast your minds back to December 23rd 2014. The New Jersey Devils would host the Carolina Hurricanes that night. A game which is very winnable. A game that fills the international fan-base with the hope of seeing a Devils win in the early hours. The day starts like any other. I wake up at 7am, wash, dress, eat breakfast and go to work. Face-off time is a little under 16 hours away as I get into the office. The mood looking ahead to the game is of slight optimism. It’s Christmas time and the New Jersey Devils are 12-17-9, Carolina are 10-20-4. An eight point gap in the standings.

The New Jersey Devils have only won six games since I got back in the UK. Six games out of twenty-two (23 counting the road game in St. Louis whilst flying over the Atlantic Ocean). The optimism came from the goalie match-up. Anton Khudobin was starting for the Hurricanes. Khudobin was going into the night winless in his last 10. Carolina was also low on goal scoring tallying 70 in their opening 34 games. The bottom line is they suck more than we do.

Work is an eight-hour slog. I walk 14 miles during the day before arriving home before 7pm, five hours until game time. The biggest decision now is how to go about the time to kill. What do you do? For midnight games I decide to power through by either playing video games or watching TV. I usually take a nap for games that start later. My local store is open until 11pm so a trip at the last-minute in search of sugary energy drinks isn’t out of the ordinary.

I often wonder what the guys waiting to close up for the night think when this guy in a big red jersey with a giant “N” shaped logo on the front slumps in at 10:45pm and picks up a four pack of Relentless three times a week. I truly envy the ones who can watch games in a social setting with a couple of beers. Drinking alone and trying not to wake the neighbors at 2am is not the lifestyle I want or need.

The game starts and it doesn’t take long to know this one is a stinker. I fight off sleep and raise my arms in joy as Stephen Gionta puts the New Jersey Devils ahead in the 1st period. It’s a shot from behind the face-off circle that starts wide and deflects in off a defenseman. But hey! So far, so good. Then the game descends back into a dry spell of two very mediocre hockey teams. Ron Hainsey scores a goal while I slipped away into the night. I wake to the horror of another bloody shootout.

Dec 23, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin (31) makes a save during the third period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. The Hurricanes defeated the Devils 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout 65 minutes of New Jersey Devils hockey they manage a whopping 20 shots on goal. In the process making Khudobin look like an immortal being, a beacon of light for Hurricanes fans to hold onto. Collectively through six attempts only one goal is scored during the shootout and Khudobin collects his first win in eleven games. Eighth in the Metro Division Carolina move one point closer to the New Jersey Devils.

It’s now approaching 3am. The second big decision of the night. Sleep, although very brief or keep busy knowing I can hibernate after work. Hey, it’s not like there’s another game tomorrow. After a couple of times dropping off on the sofa I choose to sleep in my bed. As I lay down to sleep I question why on earth I put myself through this.

The cycle repeats seventy times a season.

Next: New Jersey Devils In Limbo Waiting For A New Coach