We’re starting this game tonight on a 3-hour TiVo delay because Pookie had to work late. The one benefit of not being able to watch it in realtime? The fact that we don’t have to sit through VS’s pregame. If they’d asked us to come up with John Forslund and Eddie Olczyk’s talking points, though, we’d probably have them mention that the Devils have played exactly one period in this entire series in which they weren’t offensively uptight to the point of self-destruction. And that was the second period of Game 1, where they were down by three and had nothing more to lose. We recognize that Ottawa is a very strong defensive team, but in all honesty, they haven’t needed to be. What are the Devils hoping to have happen if they keep skating this way? Because at this rate, they’re not going to score again until next season.
19:55 Rupper is out, Clarkson is in. So much for the rumors of Oduya getting into the lineup.
19:47 Oh no. Eddie thinks we need Patty to score in order to win. We guess we’re not winning tonight.
18:08 Travis proves that he’s every bit as good as Gomer, in that he decides he’s going to try to beat all the Senators by himself and ends up overhandling into a turnover.
17:03 Patty shocks us by shooting the puck. Emery looks shaky on the save, and then the unthinkable happens: the Devils get the puck back. Whatever spell it is they’re under seems to pass, though, and they can’t get it back a third time on a rebound. We decide it’s for the best; a third time would have been ridiculous.
15:26 With the crowd chanting “Alfie” (we think it sounds like they’re chanting our cat Rollie’s name), Alfredsson scores on a bang-bang play on a nice feed from Heatley behind the net. We can’t decide from the replays how we feel about that. Was the D running around too much? Did Marty go down too soon? Are Heatley and Alfredsson just really good hockey players? Or is this all just inevitable?
15:07 John and Eddie try to tell us the Devils have come back from being down 2-1 in a series before; what they neglect to mention is that the Devils never trailed in Game 4 in Tampa.
14:22 Zach throws the most petulant-looking check ever while in on the “forecheck”. It is, expectedly, not very productive. We hope he feels better now, though.
13:57 Emery is having an impossible time controlling the puck. But will it matter? Not at this rate. Pookie updates the old adage, “100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in the net” by adding, “And 100% of the pucks you don’t get to you can’t shoot.”
13:49 We decide to zap over commercials, and Boomer wonders aloud, “Can we zap over whole periods?”
12:37 Travis hits the inside of the goalpost. That was probably going to be our only goal for tonight.
11:35 Gomer draws a hooking penalty thanks to his speed on attack. Maybe the rest of the boys will learn from that?
11:08 Again Emery leaves a huge rebound, but the Devils are too slow and unfocused to get on it.
10:48 Pookie declares the five-man snoozeout that fails here to get across the blue line “atrocious.”
10:06 Patty dangles high with the puck for a few seconds then seems to decide he’s just not comfortable with the idea of trying to score on this power play and hands the puck straight to a Senator. We wonder why the EGG line keeps getting all the PP time while the Poppers are stuck with the dregs of the man advantage.
8:27 Pando shows everyone the sacrifices he’s made to become a preeminent checker — he crashes the net after Emery struggles with a Rassmussen shot and completely lacks any of the finishing skills that he had in college.
8:14 The promised goaltender interference penalty gets called on the Senators as Vermette slams into Marty; Eddie thinks Marty sold it, but it looked like a really legitimate call.
8:00 The Poppers come out as the first PP unit. Pookie: “Okay, boys, don’t let me down.” She thinks her reputation as a blogger of great insight and wisdom is at stake. Schnookie hates to disabuse her of that notion.
6:04 The failed power play gives Boomer brain fevers. She starts moaning aloud, then finally shouts, “God! I’d say this is like they pulled five random people out of the crowd to skate as Devils tonight, but you’d think five total strangers would have better communication skills than these guys.”
5:15 Pando whips a shot that Emery isn’t great on (is there a theme here?), but Madden shows off the deterioration of his finishing skills by overskating the puck all alone in the slot.
3:04 Clarkson throws a hearty little hit in the corner after a nice bit of cycling by the fourth line. Is that the first hit the Devils have registered since Whitey’s on that first shift in Game 1?
1:14 Madden must have his flubber stick tonight — somehow every time he gets the puck it suddenly looks like he’s skating on MSG’s ice.
1:00 On the replay of a (admittedly) nice rush by Madden, Eddie praises the “speed” of Maddog. We wonder for moment who it was he actually meant to be talking about. Seriously? Madden? Speed?
0:25 Zach draws an interference penalty on Fisher, and VS’s director rewards us with the awful endzone camera. Thanks, VS director; we didn’t want to have to actually see this power play.
You really think we sat through this? It’s 10:45. And it’s VS.
The period starts with an absolutely adorable shot of Zach riffling his hair while getting some kind of instruction from Lou on the bench. That makes us slightly less unhappy with this game.
18:49 Okay, Mike Rupp? Would have scored there. Clarkson gets a wide-open net after a glorious pass from Zach and somehow manages not to score. We get the feeling that was the one chance the Devils were going to get this period. Pookie suggests Zach went back to the bench and spat, “I can’t work with these people!”
17:23 We’re told the last time a team had 3 straight home shutouts in the playoffs was the Bruins 1969. When Ottawa joins them in the record books, it should have an asterisk. This is the Devils, after all.
16:27 Volchenkov takes a slashing penalty on Madden; the fans boo the call half-heartedly, because they’re not at all worried that the Devils will actually score on this.
15:43 The camera angle VS chooses for this play is horrific — we’re watching in HD, we’re practically behind the net, and we groan at Gio for failing to stuff in another huge rebound… and then we realize WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! He did score! A power play goal! From Patty.
15:23 The good feelings come to a hasty, crashing halt as Paulie gets called for hooking. After four straight power plays, this is not entirely unexpected. (We don’t get to see a replay of the infraction, because VS decides we need to watch the all-important footage of Ray Emery standing at the bench.)
13:08 Wow! The Devs kill it off! We decide to celebrate with cupcakes.
10:08 We emerge from our cupcake bliss to note that the Devs have had a bit more step here; John and Eddie have been discussing the idea of the fleetingness of confidence in professional hockey players. Or something like that.
8:44 The EGGs get a fantastic chance, all three of them flying in the zone, but the (again) ginormous rebound hops over Gomer’s stick.
7:39 Marty takes a moment to remind us that he’s still back there, and makes a massive save on the Spezzas.
7:26 Coming back from commercial Pookie could swear the PA announcer is exhorting the crowd to “give it up for Sparty”. It takes her a minute to remember Sparty is Michigan State’s mascot, and thus not likely to elicit any “giving up” amongst the Ottawa faithful. (We would look up the Senators’ lion mascot’s name, but we don’t want to see the score. Pookie offers, “Stanley C. Lion”.)
6:50 Paulie streaks down the ice after an ill-advised pinch and swallows up the Sens ensuing 3-on-1. We imagine he then skates back to the bench and says super coolly, “Yeah. I stopped it.” And hopes no one notices how hard his heart is racing.
5:16 After Lukowich turns the puck over coming out from behind the net, Heatley scores “from an impossible angle,” as Forslund calls it. “Impossible angle”… “impossible angle”… where have we heard that before? Gah.
3:42 Our broadcast team is very much enjoying discussing the “moment”, the “confidence”, the “flow”, the “fragility” of this game. They say it, though, as if they’re trying to write haiku. Pookie composes one of her own: “Devils’ John Madden skating/like Paul Bunyon’s ox/immobile and very slow.”
2:18 Saprykin must be the dumbest guy on the ice — he “leg-whips” Matvichuk behind the Devils net to the tune of a tripping minor. Oleg, listen to us. He was just going to turn the puck back over to you if he got it.
1:38 We suggest a new look for our power play to try out: how about we put three guys at the blue line so we’re working a third point in the middle, and then have just two guys down low standing around doing nothing. As opposed to the current formation of two guys up high and three with their heads up their asses.
19:37 Eddie declares this a “must” third period for New Jersey. We’ll just see how they respond to that.
19:12 Paulie gets the puck behind the net and it looks like he decides he’ll start that five-man snoozeout whenever he damn well pleases. And he won’t please to do it for another week or so.
17:09 The Devils are apoplectic on the ice that there should not be a delay of game penalty on Clarkson, who fired the puck over the glass and into the bench. The officials powwow on it, and decide to let it go.
16:02 Perhaps it would have been better if there had been a penalty called. Fisher flips a shot through two defensemen practically at the blue line and the fluttering, crappy shot catches Marty by surprise and beats him. We feel like joining in on the jeering chants raining down on Marty right now.
14:57 Marty flings his stick around the net at Neil and gets called for tripping. How quickly things spiral out of control. Eddie calls this “a monster kill for Jersey” (Forslund intones, “This is the moment”; give the “moment” crap a rest, guys), as if somehow the outcome of this game is still in doubt.
13:54 The broadcasters praise the Senators for the “quality and quantity” of their defensemen. We get that they’re trying to say Ottawa has great depth, but they way they’re saying it makes it sound like somehow the Senators have an extraordinary number of D-men, like 16 of them or something.
12:57 Well, Eddie, Jersey killed the penalty. And, uh, they’re still losing.
11:20 Shocking — the Devils don’t have a shot yet in this period. Eddie suggests Lou start shaking things up, messing with his lines, double-shifting guys. Does Eddie realize who he’s talking about?
10:24 WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! For the first time in this series there is massive Devil traffic in front of the net, Paulie rips a shot from the point, and Pando (PANDO!!!!!) gets a glorious backhand redirection goal!!! Pookie exults, “Give that man the Selke!” (The VS director gets major kudos from us for the Devils fan reaction they find in the otherwise disappointed crowd; a Jersey fan is shown weakly waving a sign, then sitting back down, all without taking his attention from the conversation he’s having with his cell phone tucked on one ear. Yeah, that’s how it’s going for the Devils faithful toinght — we’re all busy doing other things and are startled to have to direct our focus back to the game.)
9:29 Patrik Elias is dead to us. DEAD. TO. US. With the Senators defense reeling, he passes on an open shot and a great scoring change gets frittered.
6:40 Patty might be a millstone around their necks, but Gio and Gomer are flying. Strangely, the Senators completely back off every time the Devils move toward the zone with a modicum of speed.
6:25 Eddie and John marvel at how the Devils are incapable of getting to the loose rebounds Emery keeps peppering all over the zone. They seem not realize that there is no team with a worse nose for the puck than the Devils. What was so remarkable about Gio’s 48-goal season last year was that, for the first time in about a decade, we had a guy who was capable of effectively crashing the net. This season? Not so much.
5:20 Whitey gets called for a stupid high-sticking penalty.
5:20 Coming back from commercial we are startled to discover Sparty is, indeed, the Senators mascot. We are treated to a lingering view of “Spartacat” rooting through some woman’s purse. No wonder the fans don’t give it up for him.
4:08 Excellent. Dowd takes a slashing penalty and gives the Senators 46 seconds of 5-on-3. That wouldn’t have happened if he still had the Dowdy Bandito.
3:15 Marty goes down after taking a shot off the collarbone and stays down long enough to warrant VS’s first ever shot of Clemmer on the bench. In the background we get to listen to Madden shouting at the officials that Comrie (who had flung himself headfirst into the crossbar at the whistle) is a fucking diver. The mic cuts out just before he calls him a little bitch. At least, that’s what we would have called him if we were Madden.
2:27 When Lou gets desperate he gets crazy: Zach is out for the last 26 seconds of penalty kill.
0:00 The Devils put some decent pressure on for the last minute with an extra man, but unsurprisingly, the Senators end up with a 3-1 series lead at the buzzer. Overall this was a better skating effort from the Devils, but once again they didn’t have enough urgency to win. Emery was tonight, as he has been all series, ordinary, but the Devs weren’t able to capitalize on his mistakes. And as much as it pains us to say this after how well he played in Game 3, Marty reverted back to his “Games 1-4 in the Tampa series” form and gave up two questionable goals. So where do they go from here? We can only hope they go all “2000 Eastern Conference Final against Philly”. Lou, that means we expect to see all the guys showing up for the next game with wastepaper-basket-shaped dents in their heads.
Final score: Senators 3, Devils 2