Devils 3, Lightning 0
(As we are writing this Boomer is sitting to the side, narrating her own blog post to herself, “Like a vintage Rolls, Marty was priceless… And Patty at auction wouldn’t draw a bid.”)
Well that’s a bit more like it! That was 60 minutes of classic Devils hockey; they gave up a zillion shots but Marty was only called upon for monster saves on a few occasions, they took only a handful of shots themselves but managed to score when it mattered most, and somehow it just never seemed for a second that the outcome was in doubt. Tonight we named Marty, Matvichuk (recently upgraded in IPB nickname parlance from “Matvisuck” to “Matviclutch”) and Gomer the three stars. Yeah, that’s right: Gomer! (The anti-star award goes to Zach Parise. What is up with him not scoring even one goal? We expect so much more from him!)
Starting with the third star, Marty. Some people might think a goalie who has been suspect in the first four games of a playoff series, then steps up with a shutout might deserve the first star. Those people have clearly not been watching Devils hockey for the last 13 years. First star is not automatic for Brodeur after shutouts; hell, third star isn’t a given. Dude watched Jean-Sebastian Fucking Giguere skate off with his Conn Smythe after he notched his seventh shutout of the playoff year in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2003. He’s used to being taken for granted/snubbed. Tonight he was encouragingly solid, and on several plays, spectacular. He was helped out a lot, though by the Lightning missing about 700 shots and Matviclutch blocking shots like a madman. But we are delighted still, hours later, by that poke-check he laid on Marty St. Louis (it prompted Chico to giggle, “It’s Marty vs. Marty,” a thought that Pookie figures sums up this whole series. “It’s like Marty vs. Marty,” she said, “internally. For Brodeur.”). (Here Boomer’s imaginary blog continues ominously, “The two faces of Marty…”)
Second star was Richard Matviclutch. Holy Schneikie! We spent all season forgetting completely about him, and were more than a little concerned when he popped up in the lineup when it really, really matters… and he’s made us look like the ill-informed armchair GM/Coach/CEO/Presidents that we are. For a team that supposedly has a terribly questionable D-corps, the Devils have looked surprisingly steady. Tonight Matvichuk was leading the way, with bubbly props going out to Andy Greene for scoring his first playoff goal in true French rococo genre romp fashion.
It could not feel better to award first star to Gomer tonight; it seems 2/3 of the EGG line is peeved at the criticism coming their way and trying to shut us doubters up. When the pace of the game demanded the Devils put in a goal to thoroughly demoralize the strangely ineffective (yet still possessing the puck a great deal) Tampa offense, Gomer was there to spark the play. But what would a post-game reaction in this series be without us wondering about that other 1/3 of the EGG line? Patty is driving us crazy. Crazy. This is a guy who was once one of the undisputed top-five players in the league, yet there he was tonight, making a fantastic move to split the Tampa D and swaggering in alone on Holmqvist… then seemingly giving up on the play and letting a lame backhander dribble onto Holmqvist’s prone pads. Now, Johan Holmqvist has proven himself to be better than most people gave him credit for after Game 1 (although that Gionta goal tonight was a backbreaker), but a player of Patty’s theoretical talent shouldn’t have to think twice about how to beat him in that position. It’s as if any goalie of NHL- or AHL-caliber talent is so deep inside Patty’s head that they’re looking out his eyes.
As for the “fisticuffs” (Doc, we missed you tonight) at the end of the game, we had two thoughts. First, in the Rupp-Roy fight, it looked like Andre Roy was wearing a tear-away stripper outfit a la GOB on “Arrested Development”. Pookie suggested this dialog took place before the fight:
Rupper: “You can wear stripper clothes when you’re not stripping?”
Roy: “You tell me.” (Rips off the various components of his uniform)
Second, what in the hell was up with the Pratt-Langer “fight”? We hate to look like crazy old men, but we completely agree with Stan’s post-game rant that the linemen should have broken that up long before they did. And while we love getting a chance to see our players laughing at a coach-on-coach shouting match across the benches, there really isn’t anything more gauche in hockey than a losing coach yelling at the other team’s bench. Tortorella. (And Bryan Murray.) So, yeah. Stay classy, Torts.
We’d toss out a prediction here for Game 6, but we’re not sure which Marty Brodeur is going to show up on Sunday, the Rolls or the Lada. And when will Zach break out of this slump?