Last-place Devils and competitive Columbus: Remembering the worst catches of 2022-23

Even the best and brightest hockey minds get things wrong sometimes. Hosts Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna admitted that much of Wednesday’s edition of Daily face-to-face live, when the duo recapped their preseason predictions for the Eastern Conference. Between McKenna’s forecast for a Devils living in the basement and Seravalli’s ill-fated bet on the Columbus Blue Jackets, there was a lot to unpack.

Frank Seravalli: Let’s talk about « old takes exposed ». On Tuesday we took part in the Western Conference and we just took a look at some predictions we made earlier this season that we’re a little embarrassed about and can laugh about now. What do you remember from the way you perceived the Eastern Conference to start the year?

Mike McKenna: Well, I took the New Jersey Devils to finish last in the subway. Swing and miss! Couldn’t have smelled bigger on that one Frank.

There were a lot of things about the Devils that I didn’t think were quite ready. I thought the staff was still missing some things, I wasn’t sure what Lindy Ruff could do this year. I think I underestimated the quality of the rally for John Marino, who was fantastic on the blue line for this team. Even in his absence, Kevin Bahl’s growth on the backend has mattered.

You have players who have been healthy all year; Hughes and Hischier have been in the line-up almost every night. The rise of Dawson Mercer and the addition of Andrew Brunette to this workout. Of course, he just won the President’s Trophy last year with the Florida Panthers as head coach.

I thought at the beginning of the year the devils were a little immature. I no longer have these questions. The only thing I’m looking at for the playoffs is who’s gonna be the goalie, but man, the last? Frank, I picked them last in the Metropolitan Division, and they’re awesome, man. I totally fell for this one.

Frank Seravalli: I can’t even laugh at you because I had them 7th and definitely out of a playoff spot, so it’s really not better. The scary thing about the Devils is that over the season I think they’ve looked better and better with their consistency and now with Timo Meier they’re certainly impressive.

The scary thing for the Underground is that the Devils aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but for me my big swing-and-miss has been the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I went back and looked at my column of 32 bold predictions from before the start of the season and the actual text of it is amazing. “PointsBet Team Point Total Stone Cold Mortal Lock: Columbus Blue Jackets OVER 79.5 points. They had 81 last year and they’ve improved a lot. Let me re-emphasize that: stone cold kill block on 79.5 points. I even launched a haughty « you’re welcome ».

The Blue Jackets have spent most of the past month in 32nd place in the NHL, which is exactly where they are waking up this morning, number one in the Connor Bedard Contest in terms of odds. They have a 25.5% chance of getting perhaps the best player to enter the NHL Draft since Auston Matthews. Could you be more wrong than that? Stone cold deadlock? Take me to the stake for this pickaxe.

Mike McKenna: You’re too hard on yourself, Frank, we don’t need so much violence here. But it’s a terrible choice.

Frank Seravli: Yeah, the math is pretty lousy for the Blue Jackets to even reach 60 points. I was only 20, it doesn’t matter.

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