Whew! We just barely get ourselves settled in front of the TV in time for the start of tonight’s Gomez-a-rama, and as Steve, Doc and Chico discuss how much Devils fans dislike Gomer now for his slag-facedness (uh, no, they don’t use that term, but they infer it), Pookie says happily, “Oh! Maybe the Rangers fans will boo him tonight!” Here’s hoping.
The pregame discussion then turns from Gomer (Chico very dryly says that while expectations were high for Gomer in Jersey, they’re now “a million times higher”) to Pando and Brylin, and Doc slyly editorializes in his segue that there are some players on the Devils “who have had opportunities to leave… but chose to remain.” Chico then piles on by telling us how there are some players (*cough, cough*) who underachieve, but Pandolfo and Brylin have never been accused of doing that. Huh. Who are they backhandedly referring to right here? (And seriously, Doc and Chico – tell us how you really feel.)
Dano doesn’t give us a ton of faith in Marty when he informs us he watched skatearound, and Marty looked “mentally prepared.” That’s fine, Dano, but did he seem physically prepared?
19:03 Doc and Chico chit-chat a bit about how the Rangers haven’t been scoring and chortling about whether they’ll be able to break their shutout streak (which, come on – the Devils are giving up about 18 goals a game), and no sooner are those words spoken than Rachunek tosses a pass up to Oduya and Greene who are dawdling in a too-many-men kind of change, Shanahan pounces on the puck, and Marty makes no effort to stop Nigel Dawes. 1-0 Rangers, but considering we expected the Rangers to score within 20 seconds of the start of the game, it’s better than we thought it would be by now.
17:34 Brook-BANK! It’s our first Sheldon Brookbank sighting. And it’s very exciting. In as much as him playing a puck along the boards in the corner can be exciting, that is.
16:48 Derisive cheering erupts at stately IPB Manor after Marty covers a shot.
16:23 Pookie: “The Devils don’t look very prepared, do they? Maybe they’re playing their second period first, so they can put their two good periods together back-to-back for some momentum.”
15:50 Chico starts stammering about how we can’t underestimate how much the losses of Langer and Whitey mean to the Devils, and Pookie snarls, “Thanks, Chico. It’s great you’re making excuses already.”
14:29 Okay, we can look for the positives here – Zubie, Gio and Zach build on some nice pressure by the Zajac line and pin the Rangers in their zone for a full shift. Unfortunately, Hank looks sharp. Maybe Marty could learn a thing or two from him.
12:31 Clarkson gets called for interference on a goofy-looking play where he skated into Hossa while a drifting puck hit off Hossa’s stick. The cameramen are unsure for a moment whether we should be watching the Rangers bench, the Devils bench, or the play continuing on the delayed penalty. Now it’s time to feel the wrath of a 68%-effective PK, Rangers!
11:11 Patty gets his second short-handed shot on this shift, and during the ensuing stoppage we get to see a replay of Travis making a fantastic steal at his blue line. Pookie declares that play was so good, Travis “has earned himself a free pass for the next five minutes.”
9:35 Zach almost gets a breakaway when he sneaks in behind the Rangers D, but the stupid MSG ice stymies him.
8:43 Asham and Patty get a two-on-one from center ice, but Asham is the puck-carrier and nothing comes of it other than the Rangers D-man skating into Hank as Asham’s shot drifts harmlessly off Hank’s arm.
8:27 Asham has not earned himself a free pass for the next five minutes, taking a stupid, offensive-zone hooking penalty.
7:35 Holy flirkin’ schnitt! Marty makes a save on a point-blank shot from Shanny in the slot after the Devils’ PK staggers around helplessly for a minute and a half. We didn’t think Marty could still do that. The Rangers are so surprised they promptly get called for icing.
5:47 The Asham-Elias two-on-one was kickstarted by a great little bank pass from Travis, and during this commercial break Pookie announces, “I know what Travis’ goal for tonight is. He wants for every Devils fan to run out and buy his sweater tomorrow.”
Coming back from commercial we hear from Steve that Brookbank is living in the Residence Inn right now. EEEEEEEE! We love that Residence Inn!
3:30 We’re told that during intermission we’ll be hearing from various Devils about their thoughts on Gomez’s signing with the Rangers. Pookie: “I want to hear their candid responses from the moment they heard the news. Seriously. How much would you pay to hear that?” Schnookie: “Oh, at least $5,000.”
2:43 While the Devils are cycling in the offensive zone, albeit listlessly, Chico regales us with some stories about how Marty is dealing with his shitty start. He concludes by saying he doesn’t really know what the cause of Marty’s lousy play is, “I can’t quite put my finger on it…” he drifts off. “Oh right,” Pookie concludes for Chico, “He sucks.”
0:00 Well, that was craptacular. But we’ve seen worse 20-minute stretches from the Devils this season, so we’re both mildly pleased that they’re not down by 8 yet, but also very, very afraid of what’s going to happen in the infamous, dreaded second period house of horrors.
Oh! A Pando interview! Come on, Pando — please spit bitterly, “FUCK Gomez!” Aw, Pando’s such a pro, and such a Devil: he just says the usual platitudes.
HA! How much do we love Marty, even though he’s sucking right now? VASTLY. How magnificent of him to say of Gomer’s signing with the Rangers that “he went where the money was”! We also love Langer saying that the dressing room sans Gomer isn’t a group of “deadbeats”. And of course Brylin, being all business about Gomer leaving, “Stuff like this happens every year.” Brylin’s such a good little Lemaire acolyte: players come, players go.
We briefly consider changing channels during this period, based on the Devils track record.
19:45 Chico opens this period telling us all about Gomer, and his family, and how so many people love him, and then starts to tell us that Rangers fans have said to him that they love taking players away from the Devils, but it hasn’t really turned out all that well for them in the past. What, they didn’t like Bobby Holik? Why ever not?
19:30 Jagr skates through Paulie like he’s not even there, and gets in alone on Marty, mercifully shooting high. PaulieMartinNation decides to pretend that never happened. (On the replay later, Chico makes Pookie snort rice up her nose by saying, “Ohhhh, Jagr’s playing well tonight! He isn’t always playing well, but…”)
18:40 On a delayed penalty, with Hank hung out to dry and the puck squirting loose all over the place, the Devils drive us completely up the wall by being oblivious, flat-footed and incompetent at putting the puck into the net. We never find out what the penalty was for or who it was on, but it doesn’t matter, because the Devils don’t score.
15:31 Jagr is having his way with whomever is out on the ice against him, but an overeager play by one of his linemates to crash the net results in a goaltender interference penalty (not that FSN tells us who that Ranger was – we guess we’re supposed to be memorizing their names and numbers with our evening prayers) that both Doc and Chico agree should have been a dive on Marty.
15:09 Patrik Elias sucks. He’s fired. He gets the puck just inside the Rangers blue line, and makes the dazzling choice of making a blind, half-hearted drop pass… to no one.
13:51 After a bit of mild pressure that yields nothing for the Devils, Chico says, “Oh boy. The Devils are doing everything…” and Pookie finishes for him, “Wrong. They’re doing everything wrong.”
13:31 Drury gets a long breakaway, but Marty saves us from having to gouge out our eyes by stopping him.
13:01 Chico walks us through the Drury chance again when we come back from commercial, and wraps up his point by saying that the Devils had been getting good chances, and if the Rangers had scored there, it would have been really bad “for the direction they were going in.” That is Chico’s polite way of saying the Devils will not come back from being down 2-0 tonight. Boomer grouses, “Yeah, if the Rangers score again, put a fork in the Devils for tonight.” Pookie: “Just for tonight?”
10:53 Our discussion of Patty’s play tonight, as compared to Travis, concludes with Pookie declaring, “If the Devils aren’t sending him to a sports psychologist, then I will pay for it.” Pause. “Boyfriend’s nuts.”
9:30 A strange, slowly-developing play somehow becomes a Pando-and-Clarkson two-on-one, on which Pando gets a pretty decent shot, but sadly, the Devils aren’t facing Marty Brodeur tonight.
8:26 It is almost as if Marty heard Pookie snark in the first period about him, “Trade him now, while we can still get something in return,” because he makes three ginormous stops on Drury and cohorts, culminating in one of his patented “how in the hell did he do that???” glove saves.
6:33 Madden manages to whiff on a pass on a deliberate three-on-two mosey up the ice; he’s taken every opportunity tonight to show off his ability to not get all of the puck on shots and passes, as if he’s trying to prove that not only can he replace Gomez, he can do it without ever fully striking the puck. If that’s really his plan, he can stop now, because it’s not working.
5:02 Zach endeavors to remind us that he’s still a Devil, but his rush along the wing and bad-angle shot do nothing to chip away at the Rangers lead.
4:27 Ryan Hollweg proves his worth by taking a moronic offensive-zone boarding penalty against Oduya. He skated all the way across the rink to hit Oduya from behind – that’s the kind of marginal player the league should really be trying to promote.
4:18 After a whistle, Pookie shares her feelings warmly: “Brian. Fucking. Gionta. Is always. Offsides. On every. Fucking. Play.”
1:53 The Devils squander the power play, then remember it’s the second period and let themselves get pinned in their own zone.
0:50 We have our first moment of levity when the camera follows Paulie around during a stoppage, and he pounds his chest in a kind of “I am indicating something affirmative about myself” sort of way. Schnookie suggests he’s trying to show of how “b-baller” he still can be, but Pookie nails it by saying he’s declaring, “Me Pancake. You Devils.”
0:00 We will take comfort in the small blessings: the Devils didn’t give up 25 goals in that period.
Oh! Paulie! He looks very, very bizarre here. What did MSG do to his hair? It’s all red, and so is his forehead… Hey! Is he getting styling tips from Travis? He looks very smiley and chipper, though, like a guy who’s getting paid whether he wins or loses. Not that we think he thinks that way. (He admirably refrains from grunting, “Me Pancake!” though. That impresses us.)
As much as Stan Fischler annoys the living crap out of us, we have to love when he turns his curmudgeonly ways on stupid people. Some moron emails the intermission show to ask all archly how the Devils plan to sell out their new “big” building if they couldn’t sell out the old “small” one. And with just the tone he used in 2000 to call Schnookie an idiot during an intermission show, Stan spits that this idiot “has it all wrong” considering how CAA was a much larger arena than the new one will be. Thanks, Stan. That felt nice.
Steve and Dano are talking about Bon Jovi and Vish-Dog (as one does), and we suddenly realize what Steve is wearing — Pookie says slowly, “That jacket. Is wrong.”
Katebits emailed us during intermission to say that she understands now why we include Patty on our list of hott Devils after she saw him interviewed on the Rangers feed. Schnookie responded thusly: “Patty has the sexiest accent in hockey. Period. I will brook no argument on that one. (And he’s totally adorable, and his hands look like they belong on Michelangelo’s David. In that they’re sculptural and beautiful, and in that they’re made of stone. ZING! Sigh. He’s not having a good night tonight.)”
18:53 Patty shows off those hands of stone after his linemates spend almost a full minute working the puck on the backboards, only to kick it loose and out to Patty all alone in the slot… and Patty rips his shot wide. If Michelangelo really had sculpted those hands, he’d be smashing them up in shame now with a hammer.
17:35 Prucha tries to best Mr. Pancake one-on-one, but Paulie will have none of that. His triumphant “Me Pancake!” can almost be heard through the on-ice mics.
15:45 Clarkson makes a defensive play that elates Doc, and when he realizes how overexcited he just sounded, he says, a bit chagrined, “You can tell I really like this guy.” You and every other person who watches the Devils, Doc. (But we’re sure Mr. Frisby will fight you for him.)
15:00 Doc, as the teams are changing: “[blah, blah, blah, play-by-play] and the Devils are getting a penalty.” Chico, calmly and totally in stride: “And it’s a bad one, too.” Travis is going to have to work hard to make up for this neutral-zone hook if he wants everyone watching to run out to buy his sweater tomorrow.
13:53 Oduya leads a three-on-two that almost turns into something great on Brylin’s backhand shot, but ultimately yields a four-on-two back the other way by the Rangers. PaulieMartinNation tosses pancakes at the TV when Paulie calmly breaks it up.
12:11 Clarkson barrels down the wing with the puck, and we wonder if he realizes what Devils rookies who wear 23 are supposed to do in their debut games at MSG.
11:33 After getting a sneaky good shot that Marty just barely gets a glove on, Dawes takes an elbowing minor. Great. A power play.
10:03 Poor Paulie, stuck on the high point between Patty and Zach, both of whom compulsively tap their sticks on the ice to demand the puck regardless of how open they are or aren’t. Chico ends up criticizing Paulie for not shooting, and fairly so, but we can see how the decision-making process may just have been Paulie thinking, “If I give Patty the puck he’ll shut up, right?”
6:38 The Rangers might ultimately have skated out of the exchange with the puck, but we take no small delight with the way Zach goes into Marc Staal’s corner after the puck and, by just tenaciously poking away, makes Staal fall over like Bambi on ice about 14 times.
4:53 Pando, Brylin and Madden have a nice shift deep in the Rangers zone, setting up behind Hank and working the puck around, and Brylin goes and ruins it all by taking a holding penalty.
4:14 Doc and Chico marvel that the Devils have been getting good offensive chances tonight on their PK; Doc even jokes that the kill has been generating more than the power play. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, that’s so funny. Stupid fucking Devils.
3:53 We knew it was too much to ask the Devils to kill another penalty tonight, what with their track record, but at least it’s only Nigel Dawes who scored. We are not at all surprised that goal happened as a direct result of Oduya losing several physical battles around the puck.
1:15 Thanks to the way he’s been all but invisible tonight, Pookie declares sadly, “Zach’s not going to get more than ten points this season.”
0:00 Well, that was a way, way, way better loss than the one in Philly. The Devils at least didn’t suck for any entire period, and Marty looked a bazillion times better tonight than he has all this season. It seems this team is capable of only doing one good thing at a time, though: they can either score or they can play acceptable D, but not both.