The pregame tonight features several very distressing developments:
Patrik “Captain Sniffles” Elias was apparently sicker than we thought; during his interview the negative force field around him makes the picture go all wonky and blue. We imagine him saying in his goofy accent, “That cold messed up my wertical hold and made my colors all Varholian.”
The Dowdy Bandito has been shaved. This is a travesty. A travesty. Since Jim seems not to think that kind of facial hair has an important impact on the team, it’s clearly going to fall on someone else to pick up his slack. We’re volunteering Pando. Because seriously, how great would a Pandito Bandito look? It would be like the bushiest, craziest chopper moustache in the history of the universe.
We should warn you now, by the way, Gentle Reader — we’re drunk. We had a relatively early dinner and already took care of today’s NYT puzzle; Saturday always needs a bottle of wine to wrestle it into submission. So there’s our disclaimer: any commentary you read here that seems idiotic or baseless… it’s the wine talking. (In case you’re wondering, that puzzle was sorry it met us.)
Among the countless reasons we hate the Red Wings there is this: their game on NBC this afternoon has denuded our FSNY broadcast of Doc. And so we are subjected to another Steve Cangialosi call tonight; we realize it’s hardly as bad as the poor Ottawa fans up in Canada listening to Bob Cole dismiss their team left and right, but still. There’s nothing like Steve’s amateurish play-by-play to make a game feel like a preseason match. We’ve enjoyed watching Steve becoming more and more comfortable laughing in Stan’s face during intermission shows, but his game calls? Leave a lot to be desired.
Perhaps we should mention here before the game starts that there are a handful of Senators players we hate on their own merit. We can’t be nice to them, no matter how hard we try to respect an opponent who is clearly more talented than the Devils. Those players are Mike Comrie, Ray Emery, Dany Heatley and Chris Neil. We waffle between ambivalence and disgust for Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips. So, uh, be advised… anything we say about them in particular is not indicative of our overall feelings of the Senators team in general.
Chico promises us Marty is going to bounce back tonight. We think he probably promised that before games 2, 3 and 4 against Tampa. We’re not waiting hanging from a rope ’round our necks for that to happen.
Even Dano has shaved his playoff beard. Sure, we didn’t understand why he was growing one (dude, you’re not on the team anymore), but this is a really bad sign.
19:15 Wait, what? Marty got new pads and catching glove for tonight? Chico promises us Marty does this all the time (Marty apparently says, “That’s why my pads and I never part on good terms”), but we’re deeply suspicious.
18:53 Volchenkov didn’t get the memo that Patty is hardly a threat — he takes a slashing penalty against Cap’n Sniffles.
18:17 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gio beats Emery on the blocker side after some high-speed passing through the neutral zone from Patty and Gomer. The building looks surprisingly full, too.
17:37 Marty makes a save on Spezza, on the glove side to boot. Maybe there is something to these new pads. In Game 1 that would have gone in.
15:54 The Madden line is skating against the Fisher line. This is a very interesting development. Chico tries to tell us it’s because the Fisher line has “been hot, too,” but we all know what this is. Lou’s admitting the Madden line isn’t doing any better against Spezza than the EGG line could.
14:50 The experiment in interesting ends, and the Madden line has a hard time keeping up with the Spezza guys. Well, duh.
13:46 Gomer trips Vermette in the neutral zone. Sigh. In the ensuing scrum (wherein Gomer tried to draw a roughing penalty from Neil) Boomer exclaims at the sight of Neil, “He looks like he’s crying.” She does not like him. (The end result of the Gomez-Neil sideshow is matching minors. Nice one, Gomer. Our best forward off the ice for four minutes. Excellent.)
13:01 Without the Dowdy Bandito, Dowd looks like a totally average penalty killer. With the Dowdy Bandito? An all-star.
11:46 Fantastic penalty kill! If that hadn’t been Pando and Madden out there we might even have outchanced them!
11:09 The Poppers come out feasting on the energy of the PK and, while not getting a great chance, draw a penalty behind the net. That said, Gomer’s still in the box, so how good a power play can it be?
9:04 Well, that answers that: without Gomer the power play can be very bad indeed. Nothing of interest transpires. (We’ll consider the positives here: no short-handed goal this time.)
7:56 Matviclutch goes down for a big block on Heatley on a 1-on-1. We don’t like to see D-men leave their feet for blocks, but considering Marty’s recent past, we won’t complain on this one.
7:12 Our Geico game quote of the night is from Matvichuk telling us he was “100% sure” a different Devils team would be taking the ice tonight. And you know what? He’s right. The Devils aren’t down 3-0 yet. (Chico makes us want to bang our heads against a brick wall when he cheerfully points out, “The Devils aren’t giving the puck away tonight!” Really, thinking about it, that Game 1 loss is going to eat away at our souls all summer.) (And can we get a piece of that advertising money for dropping the sponsor name there?)
6:36 Langer needs to shoot the puck. He squanders a great opportunity by overpassing in the slot.
5:05 For years we have referred to the Devils’ patented breakout pattern as the “Five-Man Snoozeout”. Pookie declares of this particular attempt at it, “That Five-Man Snoozeout sucked.” Well, it’s kind of inherent, isn’t it?
3:53 We keep getting major “scoring” vibes from the Poppers, then Langer keeps disappointing us. He looks unsure whenever he gets the puck of what he wants to do. Travis, though, looks like a beast tonight.
3:08 He might not know what he’s doing offensively, but Langer’s got his easy-bleeding skin on tonight. He draws a double-minor for high sticking on Shaeffer, who seemed to lance Langer right in the face, despite Chico calling it “accidental.”
2:03 The downside of a double-minor is that we get to watch twice the lameness of the Devils power play.
1:20 Bryan Murray seems to be behaving totally normally to us (read: crazy, crazy old man), but actually he’s reacting to a rather weak slashing call on Fisher that puts the Devils up two men. Don’t worry, Ottawa, we won’t score.
0:00.2 Off the faceoff Brylin puts one past Emery at the buzzer, right off the goalpost. The Senators stream off the ice, but the overhead shot shows 0.2 second left when the puck crossed the line. WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This goal is made even sweeter that the Senators pissily huffed off the ice before finding out what the result of the review was. Also off the ice already (and still messing with the wertical hold) is Patty, who tells Stan that he’s keeping his “shorts very shrift.” There is no puck drop after that goal, as much as we wish the officials would make the Senators come back out.
Stan Fischler, that fount of wisdom, informs us in a totally non-inflammatory and rumormongering way that Emery darted off the ice in such a rush after the late goal because he needed to ralph. To be honest, if we were Senators fans we’d be yarfing now, too, so we can hardly blame the guy.
Bryan Murray is now hopefully imploring the officials that the clock started late on that last faceoff before the goal. He, despite being a crazy, crazy old man, has a point. Chico kind of rightly points out that every faceoff has a bit of a delay on the clock.
19:02 Alfredsson gets a sneaky shorthanded shot off, but Marty bests him. That is, according to Steve, only the Senators’ sixth shot.
18:24 Marty reacts slowly after taking a shot off his mask. As he kind of staggers in the crease for a second, Pookie says, “He’s vomiting too. They all had the fish.”
17:03 FSNY gives us a graphic telling us that, historically in the playoffs, when the Devils have a 2-goal lead after the first they have a 22-4 record. We’d like to feel confident, but records are made to be broken, right? Right?
17:03 Dowd takes a hooking penalty. Chico sounds nervous. If Chico’s nervous, we’re all nervous.
16:13 Patty’s on the PK. Again, we really like to see him get time doing this because our kill is so much more offensively dynamic with him out there. The stoic crowd peps up thanks to Patty’s effort.
15:36 Alfredsson scores. Yeah, we kind of saw that coming. Pookie sighs, “Well, Alfredsson’s a good hockey player.”
15:21 So far the only time the Devils have spent in the offensive zone has been when Patty was out on the PK. This period sucks.
14:00 Raffie ices the puck. Have the Devils not heard Stan’s exclusive that Emery is puking his guts out? Why not try to spend some time as far away from our own goal as, say, the neutral zone? Or at least above the faceoff dots?
13:28 Chico tells us the Devils are “just trying to survive” now. We’d prefer if they were just trying to, we don’t know… win?
12:54 A blast from Patty squeaks through Emery, but perhaps it’s all the vomit — the puck just kind of sticks in the crease and trickles wide of the post. While following up around behind the net Patty finds the time to throw his head back in his patented “I suck and will never score again” eye-roll.
11:18 The Senators are using the Madden line like bumpers in a pinball machine. They keep bouncing the puck off our boys and getting great scoring chances off the takeaways.
11:05 Ottawa commits their first icing infraction of the series. At least, it seems that way.
8:19 The fourth line is out there. Let’s see if Rupper, Rasser and Dowd can keep themselves from taking killer penalties.
7:11 Once again Langer snuffs out any hope of the Poppers connecting on some good work by Travis and Zach. Don’t pass to Langer!
6:47 Whitey takes an iffy boarding penalty on Comrie. That little bitch probably deserved it.
6:20 Chico tells us confidently that if the Senators don’t score they’re going to lose a lot of their momentum. We find that highly unlikely.
4:45 How did the Senators not score on a prone Marty there? And how did Whitey breaking down the ice alone coming out of the penalty box not turn into a goal? (Don’t answer the second one there.) (The replay shows why the Senators didn’t score there: it was Comrie shooting.)
3:43 Considering how little offensive pressure the Devils have been able to put together in this period, we are dismayed at Patty opting to pass instead of shooting. Of course, if Patty actually made a choice that made us happy, we’d know something’s really wrong with him.
1:24 Pookie: “You guys aren’t coached by Claude Julien anymore. You can get it out of your zone.”
0:50 Playing the role of Rupper, Rasser and Dowd tonight: Scott Gomez. He takes an idiotic slashing penalty on Neil.
0:00 Somehow the Senators don’t manage to tie it up before the horn. If they’re anything like the Lightning, though, it shouldn’t take long in the third period to knot this one up.
Dano and Stan think Bryan Murray’s bitching at the officials after the first period caused the officials to make an even-up call; he didn’t like the boarding call against Whitey. Frankly, we’re not going to get all het up about that. And we’re bigger homers than Stan and Dano, if that’s even possible.
The FSNY camera people decide now’s the time to remind us of our favorite thing from back when we attended every game in person: the popcorn. We love CAA’s popcorn. But the key was always to get the popcorn from the popcorn-specific stand; the stuff from the regular food counters was always stale and nasty. (Gentle Reader, you should be thankful that the traffic patterns on Rte. 1 and the Turnpike got so that our drive is now in excess of 90 minutes one way to the Meadowlands, or you would not be enjoying our running game diary right now.)
19:30 The Senators ring one off the post. Nervous grumbling fills stately IPB Manor’s living room.
18:35 Gomer flies up the ice after the PK, clearly desperately thankful the PK bailed him out on that one.
18:09 After Gio whiffs on a shot Pookie says, “Gio, make a case for us not trading you to Buffalo for Vanek.” Gio: “Maybe that Buffalo isn’t going to trade Vanek?” Pookie: “No, make a different case than that.”
16:30 Raffie’s new middle name? Icing. Is that the 600th time he’s done that tonight?
16:10 We’ve already mentioned tonight the Senators we hate, so it’s only fair to say that we really, really love Wade Redden. Part of it is because of how much joy he brought us in 2003, but part of it is because we’re really shallow and think he’s hot.
14:16 Tic tac toe passing from the Poppers…. with a pass too many. They are not going to get a better chance than that, and they wouldn’t shoot the fucking puck. This is killing us.
12:55 Madden proves something that we already didn’t doubt: he is not Sidney Crosby. In an attempt to one-handedly stickhandle the puck around behind the net he just leaves the puck behind.
11:44 Cute effort by Zach to bank the puck off Emery from behind the net.
11:10 This game is getting crazy. What in the hell is going on here? The play is just wheeling wildly up and down the ice and no one seems to be anywhere near being in control. (We hate to say it, but this really favors the Senators, no matter how many chances the Devils generate.)
9:33 Marty makes a huge glove save off Alfredsson. Chico says Marty made the right choice switching to a new glove tonight. We suspect maybe the old glove had a puck-sized hole in it.
9:33 Coming back from commercial we get to see a replay of Pando blocking a shot with his mouth. He’s so tough all he has to do is drink some water, spit out some blood, and he’s back on the ice. (He also had a lot more gray in his beard last year — is he coloring it this time around?)
7:44 Marty lays a nice pokecheck on Neil and Lukowich bats the puck out of the air, all Drury-style.
7:31 OH MARTY! Dazzling glove save. We are horrified to realize there are over 7 minutes left, because this entire period has felt like the final frenzied two minutes of a one-goal game.
7:07 Alfredsson, frankly, HAD one. How on earth did Marty stop him?
6:44 The Devils now officially look like they’re sitting on this one-goal lead like it’s six.
5:00 It takes too much effort for the Devils to get the puck out of their zone now, so when they finally do, they have to be happy with a soft dump-in. Come on guys — get the puck. Skate it down the ice. Score. (Because it’s just that easy, right?)
4:05 Gio’s stick is lifted a just as he has a chance at an open net. We grudgingly give credit to Phillips on that one.
3:32 Marty stones Preissing on the rush. We are now all doing our best Emery impersonations.
3:08 We don’t want to hear any more crap about bad crowds at CAA. Tonight’s crowd sounds awesome on TV.
2:43 Ottawa decides to pay a little homage to Raffie and ices it. That’s nice of them, after that goal he gave them in Game 1.
2:31 And they do it again. Chico points out the Devs are sucking on faceoffs (not to put too fine a point on it), so it probably won’t come to anything.
2:30 Sure enough, they don’t win the draw. Defensive zone draws at this point are as valuable to the Senators as offensive zone ones, considering how easy getting possession is for them.
1:00 We are dying at stately IPB manor. Hearts… Exploding…
0:26 Marty whiffs on a clearing attempt, and eventually it gets to Spezza in front and he scores. The Devils are startled to find out they aren’t still leading by five. (Shades of Game 2 in Carolina last year.)
0:00 Gio takes a penalty at the buzzer. This. Sucks. So. Fucking. Bad. What in the hell was Gio thinking on that? What is wrong with him? God fucking dammit.
We barely listen to Stan and Dano; we probably can’t hear them for all the blood rushing in our ears. We like to mark the hockey holidays (Opening Night, the All-Star Break, and the Playoffs) with treats from La Maison Du Chocolat; now would be a nice time to try to soothe ourselves with some of the tasty chocolates we have on hand, but as Pookie points out, they would probably just turn to ash in our mouths.
It’s become chic these days for the hockey pundits to point out something we’ve been cognizant of for years: Marty is almost automatic in the playoffs. Automatic for the loss, that is. Add that to a full two-minute power play, and this shouldn’t take long. (Oh, and add to that the fact that the Devils have been sitting back for 40 minutes, and this should last but a blink of an eye.)
19:21 Madden takes a shorthanded shot, but he puts fear into the heart of exactly nobody these days.
17:46 Gio at least gets a shot as he tries to atone for the penalty. Gio, the boys might have killed it, but we haven’t forgotten.
16:07 Travis almost sets up a nice chance for Langer but the puck hops over his stick. Ahh, figure-skating ice.
15:18 The checking line is oficially a liability now. But Paulie Martin completely loses his mind and gets a crazy chance deep in front of the net.
13:43 Half the building thinks Langer scores when he hits the outside of the net.
12:30 The Madden line, as much as we love Pando, is driving us to drink. They can’t win a draw, they can’t get to the puck, they can just close their eyes and pray every time they’re on the ice. In Game 3 we’d like to see more of the EGG line out against Spezza.
10:56 As long as Marty’s going to freeze the puck, the Senators are going to keep getting easy shots. When was the last time the Devils won a faceoff? Game 1 against Tampa? (Although seriously, the Devils couldn’t win a draw to save their lives in 2000, but they were unstoppable at puck retrieval. Not so much with that anymore.)
10:35 Complete bullshit call on Matvichuk. That is heinous, considering Gomer got flattened down at the other end with no call.
9:44 As if to accede that the holding call on Matvichuk was crappy, the officials nail the Senators for too many men. Ohhh… 4-on-4. That ought to favor the Devils.
The clock goes away. We have no idea how much time is left in this penalty.
The Senators get away with a hook/trip against Paulie. The Devils look like they have no interest in exerting any offensive pressure.
Wow, those blind passes to vacated points are such a great offensive concept.
6:23 The Devils get away with too many men, then Gomer lobs a wrister at Emery that he has to juggle.
6:18 Volchenkov gets a penalty for closing his hand on the puck. For a moment we thought Gio was getting one for slashing. That is way too crappy a penalty for the Devils to be able to capitalize on the power play.
4:57 Paulie doesn’t want to shoot from outside now that he’s had a taste of shooting in tight on Emery. And he doesn’t want anyone to learn the secret of his gyroball.
1:45 Gomer uses his go-go gadget arm to keep a puck flipped high in the zone. But he shoots it into the backs of two Senator defensemen.
1:16 We agree with Chico — if Gomer doesn’t score, no Devil will tonight.
0:27 The Madden line comes out and Chico says, “Okay, Madden line. They just want to get the puck out of the zone now.” It’s come to that. We find the prospect of that happening unlikely.
0:00 Dear God. Another overtime?
SECOND OT INTERMISSION
We both decide to risk our fine chocolates turning to ash, and they turn out to be quite the opposite; Pookie has a honey ganache and Schnookie has an orange mousse, and frankly, they’re delicious.
We decide anyone who reads this entire running game diary wins a medal of honor from IPBNation. As can probably be sussed out from the writings above, it has gotten extremely tense and quiet here.
19:20 Steve and Chico hopefully suggest Alfredsson has had too much ice time and is getting fatigued. Dream on, fellas.
18:46 Chico discusses during a replay that Gomer sticks his tongue out as kind of a trademark, and that it’s almost part of his shooting motion. We decide it’s his tell on 2-on-1′s.
HOLY FUCKING CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Langer gets in on a break, and after 4 periods of making all the wrong decisions, he undresses Emery and slams the puck in around his spread, prone legs.