We’ve settled in to watch, on TiVo delay, the second installment of “15 To Remember”. Tonight Pookie is testing the limits of her newly discovered “lack” of superstitions; all year she swore her “What Happened To Whitey In Outer Space” t-shirt was bad luck, so she’s wearing it in defiance of the Hockey Gods, since she knows the Devils win this one. Schnookie has her doubts about this exercise, because she knows the Devils win this one, but suck while doing it.
This game was the Devils home opener, and the intro, narrated by Doc, gives us chills all over again — it’s a delightfully Doc-ish, purple prose-y Devils history montage. Awww… We’re suckers for that.
19:46 You know what our summer really wasn’t missing? Darcy Tucker. But now here he is. Rats.
18:44 Patty is still skating with Langer and Zajac, and he’s looking a little petulant about it.
18:02 Apparently it’s not interference when Pando gets hauled off his feet a rink away from the puck! We demand justice!
17:31 Gomer dangles a bit in the offensive zone, but ultimately can’t convert on a few shots. Pookie: “Good riddance!” (It should be mentioned that Gomer, Gio and Zach get some really nice pressure here, prompting us to wonder why they ever got broken up in the first place… oh, that’s right. The Captain was sulking. That’s why they got broken up.)
16:14 Some dude wearing 22 for the Devils staggers around at the boards looking utterly incompetent. We literally have no idea who he is, a fact that doesn’t make us wonder why this fourth line ever got broken up.
16:02 Chico and Doc discuss Paul Maurice for a bit, and in the course of their talk, Chico says of the Leafs’ chances for this year, “They’re younger, they’re faster, they’re averaging over 40 shots game…” Pookie: “How’s that going to work out for them?”
15:13 Zach gets a great shot on a slow-moving (well, it was led by Zach, so it certainly couldn’t be fast) 3-on-2 in which one of the Leafs d-men doesn’t have a stick, but Aubin gets a shoulder on it. It’s okay, Zach — those will go in against Tampa in April.
14:44 Ponikarovsky takes a hooking penalty; Chico tells us the Devils lost their last game (in Dallas) because of the ineffectiveness of the power play. Yeah, we’ll get used to it.
12:44 And, uh, that power play passed without anything of note happening. We wonder if any fan, even of a team with a really good PP, has felt good about his team with the man advantage. Back in 2001, when the Devils had the best PP in the league, we would always go, “Not the power play!” every time an opponent would go to the box. Are other fans as negative as we are, or are we just overly demanding?
11:27 We come back from commercial to see Julien at the bench; Chico tells us, “Everyone we’ve talked to has nothing but good things to say” about him. Yeah, check back in six months and we’ll see how that’s going.
11:06 Marty makes a huge-assed bang-bang pad save on Ponikarovsky, who found himself wide-open right in front of the net. If we recall correctly about this game, that will be Marty’s last good save of the night.
10:12 After some very passive “pressure” by the Zajac/Elias/Langenbrunner line, Fahey makes a valiant effort to keep things going with a nice little pinch, but Langer and Patty are trying their newest offensive look: the Soporific Press. Dudes, seriously, a little effort won’t kill you.
9:17 The Madden line takes advantage of Patty’s putting the Leafs to sleep on the previous shift. They are all over the Leafs in the offensive zone, Pando smartly jabs a puck loose from a befuddled d-man, and then Sarge tic-tac-toes a nice little play to Madden, who scores. This is, we’re told, his 200th career point. You know, when he was a second-year player, Madden made it sound like he expected to be getting to that milestone a lot faster.
8:36 Chico tells us how this is Marty’s last home opener in the CAA, and adds, while we watch replays of a reasonably nice save, that it’s “good news” that Marty is playing so well. Considering this ends 7-6, well, we guess he stops looking so good.
6:06 Sarge takes a hooking penalty while lazily dawdling through the neutral zone. We are “treated” to a shot of Tucker, and Chico says, “He’s leading the Leafs in goals. He has three. He’s the only Leaf in double figures.” We’d laugh at how stupid that is for Chico to say, but opt instead to leave it all on Tucker; he probably bragged to Chico at the morning skate that he had double-figure goals, because we all know how good at counting he is.
5:51 Marty makes a humongous save on Wellwood, getting back to cover up a previously wide-open net. How does he give up six goals in this one? Does he just suddenly forget what his job is?
4:15 Oh. That’s how he lets in six. The Devils opt to stand around with their heads up their asses while the Leafs practice some nice passing through the stationary objects dressed in red. (Oh. O’Neill got open because Pando totally lost him.) Marty decides if his PK unit is standing around, so can he. (Doc tells us O’Neill is only 29 years old. No. Way. We would have put money on him being 873.)
2:31 We come back from commercial to hear Chico breaking down what went wrong on the O’Neill goal. It was 100% Pando’s fault, and a shot of Pando on the bench looking like he’s going to be beating himself up over this for months. We would both love to have Chico write our performance reviews at work, because he tapdances expertly around actually coming out and calling Pando on the blown coverage. There’s a lot of “you can’t really say it’s any one guy’s fault, but someone has to get out and cover that man” and “well, he was Pando’s man, but sometimes, it just… uh…”
Chico’s conclusion? “Sometimes a player just makes a better play than the defender.” Pookie: “That’s right. Sometimes the other player is just better than Jay Pandolfo.” Schnookie: “Ouch.”
1:24 We get a shot of Gomer and Zach talking on the bench. It looks distinctly like they’re embroiled in a deep discussion of which goal they’re supposed to be shooting at.
0:00 Huh. First period ends 1-1. Gosh. When does this all start to go off the tracks?
19:23 Marty flails helplessly on a Sundin-Wellwood combo play that makes us think we know how the Leafs get those five more goals. Perhaps someone drugged his first-intermission Sprite?
18:47 Stajan banks a shot in off Marty’s legpad from behind the goal line. The replay makes it look like Zach spent that shift pinned in his defensive zone, chasing Stajan uselessly, and panting, “I say, man, sometimes the offensive player just makes a better play than the defender!”
17:37 Chico tells us Mike Peca informed him at the morning skate that a mark of the 2006-2007 Leafs is that they can, among other things, “sustain pressure”. “They can keep this up for twenty, even thirty seconds at a time!” Chico chirps. Yeah, but the rest of the game? Not so much.
16:30 John Madden should be allowed to play the Leafs 82 times a season. There is something about this team that he just hates. He cranks up a booming shot from outside, with a hapless d-man screening the launching point of the shot perfectly, and blows the puck right past Aubin.
16:11 Just as the PA announcer is launching into the call of Maddog’s goal, Stajan cranks his own, not-quite-as-good shot from up high and Marty waves in effectually at it as it sails into the net. Schnookie: “Pookie, can you rewind so I can see how that happened? I wasn’t paying attention.” Pookie: “They shot the puck and Marty didn’t want to go anywhere near it.” Doc doesn’t even have to watch the replay before declaring that a soft, shit goal.
15:22 This game is one to remember? We want to pour bleach in our eyes and all over our brains after seeing this crap. A lazy, soft tap of the puck from the boards toward the net comes as a complete surprise to Marty and his D; Kilger comes around from behind the net and just stuff the puck, completely unencumbered by defensive pressure or goaltending presence, into the net.
Julien calls a timeout and Pookie declares: “You know Marty just skated over to the bench and said, ‘Hey, Clemmer, why are you standing up? Sit back down, loser, you’re not going anywhere.’”
14:35 Paulie hesitates… and hesitates… and hesitates at the point with the puck, and Tucker finally decides to make Paulie’s decision easier and goes down to block a shot that would never have come if he hadn’t taken himself out of the play. With Tucker sprawled helplessly in front of him, Paulie launches a long shot that deflects off someone in front and scores. The goal is credited to Paulie, but we suspect it will probably be taken away from him and credited to a Devils forward, because Paulie had such an atrocious first six weeks of the season it’s hard to believe he emerged from that stretch with a goal to his credit.
11:15 Ew! What is FSN thinking, showing us a game in which Tucker scores? He beats Marty on a quick shot off a nice faceoff win against Madden by Wellwood. Even though we’ve seen this before, we are disgusted all over again.
10:09 We see a little stoppage-time footage of Patty trying to look like he cares as he drifts around the Leafs zone before a faceoff. Chico tells us again how seriously he’s taking the captaincy. Yeah, he makes sure the oyster bar in the Devils dressing room is extra-foecal.
9:17 Peca gets called for tripping Gio. Pookie: “God. Peca just gets uglier with ever passing minute. You wouldn’t even need time-lapse photography to see it happening.”
7:08 Good grief. The Leafs high man on the PK didn’t have a stick and the two pointmen still couldn’t get any shots off.
5:20 Gomer and Zach combine for a high-flying (well, as high-flying as Zach can ever be) 2-on-1 with a nifty cross-over passing play, but Zach can’t finish it. He looks crushed; Pookie: “Don’t worry, Zach. Those’ll start going in as soon as you start skating with Travis.”
The Leafs bring the puck the other way and Ponikarovsky cranks a totally unscreened shot from just inside the blue line that Marty barely waves his glove at as it beats him. Boomer: “Ladies and gentlemen, your Vezina winner.”
4:37 Peca takes a weak shot that Marty manages to stop. Sarcastic applause rains down from the meager crowd. We’re from the future, Devils fans in attendance — it’s going to get a lot worse for this team before it gets better.
3:34 We come back from commercial to something horrible we remember very clearly from the first time we saw this game: Steve Cangialosi interviewing Danny Aiello. He is apparently a “good friend” of Patty’s, even though it seems they were just introduced a week ago. We feel so squicky after listening to him try to pretend to be a Devils fan while concluding, “You know, I’m also a big Rangers fan.” Patty, stop associating with these people!
0:54 Doc and Chico are still discussing Patty’s dinner plans with Aiello. Aiello dropped the name of some Italian restaurant in Hoboken that they were planning to meet at, but Pookie’s onto them. “It’s all subterfuge. They were really going to Crazy Igor’s Foecal Oyster Shack in Weehawken.” (Meanwhile a shot from Zach ricochets off Gio’s foot and rings off the bottom of the crossbar.)
0:00 With the score at 6-3 Toronto, we are desperately trying to forget this One To Remember.
Boomer is discussing her duties as a member of our home county’s Master Gardeners; it seems she’s been invited to next year’s “Lavender Festival”. Pookie suggests the Lavender Festival is Jason Pominville’s favorite event of the year. (She also asks, “Where is it? Provence?”)
17:50 We are wondering how the comeback gets started here. A lackluster shot by Patty is clearly not the spark for this upcoming conflagration.
16:22 We notice we haven’t written much about this period. We also notice Doc and Chico have yet to mention anything that’s happened on the ice, so we don’t really feel bad about our lack of insight. (They are talking right now about the toys in Happy Meals. No joke.)
14:37 Several lackluster thrusts and counterthrusts up and down the ice get dubbed “free-flowing offense” by Doc. We’re not buying it.
14:17 Awww… The Devils official scorers giveth and the Devils official scorers taketh away. Paulie’s goal is now Sarge’s. Poor Paulie. So putrid. (Chico begins, “If ever there was a night to just throw pucks on net…” and Schnookie finishes, “It would be when playing against Aubin.”)
13:56 McCabe takes a penalty for something or other. We weren’t paying attention.
13:27 Raffie cranks a shot from the point and Gio tips it through Aubin. Chico says happily, during the replay, “Oh, look at Brian Gionta, battling with Hal Gill!” And if ever there was a mark on a 6’7″ man’s escutcheon, it would be being “outbattled” by the ’06-’07 Gio.
12:50 O’Neill gets called for slashing Marty after Marty covered the puck. Which answers the question about how the Devils get back into this — the Leafs can be counted on to take staggeringly stupid penalties at all the worst times.
10:50 Perhaps that was optimistic of us to think the Devils were going to score on the PP.
7:45 The Devils really look spectacularly awful here. They keep trying long passes across the neutral zone and keep getting pinned in their own zone on the ensuing turnovers. Schnookie: “God, I know they win and I’m still just [disgusted groan].” Pookie: “I know. I’m sitting here thinking, ‘There’s no way they score two in the next seven minutes.’”
6:10 As bad as they were defensively, the Devs take ineptitude to new heights in the offensive zone. Patty works an awesome buttonhook spinarama around Stajan, feeds a sweet little pass across the crease to a streaking Raffie, and Raffie shanks the shot wide.
6:04 Gill gets called for sitting on snack-sized Sarge.
5:37 The worst player in the building on this night is not, amazingly, wearing red and black. A whippy little shot on a play coming out around behind the net by Gionta finds its way through Aubin. It’s almost as if he wants to best Marty in a game of “Who Can Give Up The Softest Back-Breaking Goal?”
4:31 Pookie, through a huge yawn: “I find it shocking this Devils-Maple Leafs game from October is making me sleepy.”
3:06 The Devils rattle around their own zone, unable to get past the Leafs one-man forecheck. Schnookie: “I can’t believe this team didn’t win the Stanley Cup this year.”
2:10 Patty shows off his one burst of speed for the night. We are fairly confident he limited himself to just the one every night.
0:37 Aw. As much as they drove us crazy, this team was good for last-minute heroics on a regular basis. In this case, a smartly put-together rush by Patty turns into a nice dish from behind the goal line to Gio in front, and he bangs the puck in past Aubin to complete his natural hat trick.
0:17 Chico comments about how Patty, Gio and Gomer connected on that goal, and fans often ask him why those three aren’t on a line together all the time. His explanation? “That would just be too much.” Pookie spits, “Too much what?”
3:53 We really liked how the Devils always looked like a happy team. Sure, they were sucky offensively and at times seemed like our cross to bear, but almost every shot of guys on the bench included a glimpse of at least one guy smiling. Boomer suggests it’s because they were so enjoying engaging in a drawn-out, season-long coach-kill.
2:21 The teams trade wild, high-percentage odd-man rushes that peter out because the shooters who end up with the game on their sticks are McCabe for the Leafs and Pando for the Devils. Overtime continues.
0:00 You know what we hate? Shootouts. What would have been so wrong about ending on a well-earned tie? (And why subject us to five more minutes of these two teams? What about “more Leafs-Devils bang for your buck” is marketable, NHL?)
As Doc and Chico brag that the youngster Stajan is all psyched out going up against “one of the greatest”, Marty decides to go down basically before the whistle is even blown, giving Stajan pretty much the entire net to shoot at. He takes full advantage. Chico is unable to apologize for Marty on that one.
Patty is next, feeling the full weight of October hockey bearing down on him. He does a play we can only hope he calls “The Foecal Snail” and takes a week to skate in wide, then “deke” right into Aubin.
Sundin’s turn is next. Marty goes down early again, but Mats just rolls the puck lamely right into him.
Gio, with his so-called “Flaming Stick”, rips his shot top shelf. We find it hard to believe he had so many goals in a game this early in the season and finished up with something like five for the whole year.
Tucker seems to shoot straight at Marty’s nuts. The two of them actually exchange angry looks as Tucker skates away — what was up with that?
Sarge, going for the win… and he’s stopped.
Marty makes a really sharp glove save on Ponikarovsky.
Madden, ever Mr. Clutch against the Leafs, beats Aubin’s glove on the same move Gio used. It goes to review, but this one’s over. Pookie: “One to remember: a shootout goal that goes to review.” Yup — that, people, is excitement.
Chico’s summation is, “It would be a hard game, Doc, to pick the first star.” Pookie: “I give it to me, for watching this game twice.”