And so it’s time to begin the first in our Game Diary Marathon ’07, a bacchanal of sitting on our asses, drinking cocktails, and watching hockey with stately IPB Manor’s Official Game Diary Marathon ’07 Houseguest, the inestimable CapsChick. First up is the Canadiens and the Senators, and we’re picking up the Hockey Night In Canada feed. With Moscow Mule in hand, let’s sit back, relax, and let the hockey wash over us in waves.
We are astonished during the intro when Ron MacLean tells us PJ Stock is one of the in-studio analysts. Seriously? The PJ Stock? They kick us out to the play-by-play guys, then when we come back to HNIC Central, there’s the man himself. Pookie: “CapsChick, you are no longer not the smartest lightbulb in the room.”
We are not thrilled that the storyline for our Anglo-Canadian-centric feed today is that Spezza’s still out; Schnookie puts it best when she sighs disappointedly, “Jason Spezza is literally the only thing I like about the Senators.” CapsChick, though, is excited to be seeing the Habs on our big screen – they’re her secondary team, and she’s normally stuck watching them on her laptop.
19:43 We make CC’s day by proving we like twice as many Habs as we like Sens, since we like Higgins and Komisarek. They’re both Long Island boys, and while we we’re both true-blue Jersey girls now, we did spend much of our formative childhood years on the Island. So we’re, like, soulmates with those guys.
18:09 Pookie is trying to decide whether she dislikes Neil as much as she dislikes Avery, and Schnookie puts the comparison into appropriate perspective by saying, “This is like trying to choose between falling into hot lava or falling onto the surface of the Sun. There’s technically a big difference, but it doesn’t matter at all to you.”
17:41 The Habs swarm around Gerber’s net and the announcers say one of them is refraining from shooting while “looking in front for Ryder.” CC: “Don’t look in front for Ryder. No good has ever come from looking in front for Ryder.”
15:20 The Sens swoop in on a wide two-on-one, but a Hab breaks up the pass suavely with a calmly-laid stick across the passing lane. We have no idea who any of these people are.
13:01 The Sens fans are outraged — outraged — at the call, but Heatley gets sent to the box for a very clear-cut trip.
11:09 CC, disgustedly: “This does not look like a number-one rated power play, guys.”
10:33 Neil is called for delay of game when he shoots the puck over the glass; the announcers sound like it’s a specious call at best, but replay shows he not only shoveled the puck straight over the glass, but he did it directly in front of the official. Sorry, HNIC guys, but you’re team took another legit penalty there.
8:49 WOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Markov cranks a seeing-eye shot from the point that beats an oblivious Gerber above his blocker. 1-0 Habs, and there are lots of Canadiens fans in Ottawa today.
5:38 What in the hell happened? Eaves and Saku are fighting, and it’s, um, every bit as awesome a fight as one would expect from these guys.
During the ensuing commercial break we see a spot for Mr. Sub. CC, who’s lived in Canada, delivers this shocking report: “Mr. Sub just isn’t that good.” No way!
4:35 Things are getting a bit sluggish, and CC says, “They’ve really slowed things down here.” -ookies, yawning: “Yeah.” CC, chirping happily: “That’s how you play a road game, kids!” And who says you have to have playing experience to give good color commentary?
3:11 There’s all kinds of assholish swaggering in front of the net after Huet makes a great save on a two-on-one. We are not, by the way, fans of Huet’s mask.
3:01 Another little scrum erupts after Huet makes a routine save, and CC declares, “Look at Kovalev holding someone back there! There’s some poetry in that.” Pookie: “He’s like, ‘I’ve been holding myself back for years – now let me do the same to you.’”
0:45 We’re impressed by CC’s prescience – nothing good comes from Ryder carrying the puck on a two-on-one, skating himself out of room, then weakly poking the puck toward Gerber.
0:00 The first period gets a little round of applause from CC and a polite, “Well played, boys! I say!”
Intermission is spent scrounging up something to soak up the alcohol. Mmm… popcorn and crackers.
18:37 The Sens fans are up in arms after Wade is hurled face-first into the boards by Plekanec; Plekanec gets called for interference, and the announcers tell us “Wade had words with him” after the play. CC: “Yeah, I’d be so afraid of Wade.”
16:22 Plekanec tries to make up to his PKers by carrying the puck in wide on a three-man rush, but he lamely ends up pushing the pass behind the opposite winger.
15:40 The fans roar their unhappiness at a lack of a penalty after a Hab tries to beat two defenders, realizes he’s failing, then flings his legs up in the air, helicoptering to the ice without ever actually having been hit. We’re not sure what the fans are complaining about on that play – this crowd seems very split between the two teams.
15:10 The Canadiens suck – they have a loose puck in the crease, Phillips sitting on top of Gerber, and they don’t manage to score.
14:08 An anonymous, faceless Hab impresses us by making a diving poke-check from behind on what looked to be unfolding as a great chance for Ottawa.
13:00 We’ve been hearing about how flawless a juggernaut the Senators are, but we find ourselves wondering about their depth considering Paddock’s been double-shifting Heatley relentlessly.
12:45 Ryder is like a self-fulfilling prophecy out there, making CC look like a genius. He takes a moronically lazy hooking penalty going across his own blue line.
11:10 Huet gets us to stagger drunkenly out of our seats in amazement after making an absolutely unreal glove save on what looked like a wide-open, slam-dunk chance for Ottawa.
9:07 What starts as a pass attempt CC characterizes as, “that would have been a great pass if it had gone to a teammate.” Instead it goes to Alfredsson at the point, he gets a step on the last defender, and gets hauled down. The most exciting play in hockey ensues and Huet delightfully saves the penalty shot.
7:40 We are momentarily distracted when we have to rescue our cream cheese dip from an overly interested cat.
6:43 A blind clearing attempt from the corner up the middle turns into a wide-open chance for a Canadien, who misses. Schnookie: “Who was that?” Pookie: “Someone. Habby le Montreal.”
4:23 There is not much going on as the Habs are wandering around the Ottawa zone; CC says, “They’re the fourth line for a reason.”
2:20 Heatley, perhaps unhappy about getting knocked over moments earlier, decides pursuing a loose puck is best accomplished by swatting his stick at the head of a Canadien. Not surprisingly, he gets a penalty for it. The announcer intones ominously, “That shift was just way too long for Heatley.” And it was an offensive-zone shift. But no, the Senators don’t have any depth issues.
0:57 As Huet blockers away a shot from center ice, Pookie says, “Oops. I just thought the magic word.” Schnookie reassures her, “You have no power over Huet,” and CC seconds the notion, adding, “He’s stronger than you.” Pookie: “Most things are.”
0:00 Well, we didn’t love the Senators having the puck a lot more in this period than the first, but it was a pretty uptempo twenty minutes. Good times, good times.
We try to decide how to characterize this intermission. Schnookie suggests writing that we spent it cleaning up our snacks. Pookie suggests we spent it “listening to some old guy talking” on the intermission show. Either version conveys pretty well the thrills and chills we’re having here. (Things get a lot more exciting when we see a Tim Hortons commercial advertising their new Cream of Broccoli soup. No kidding. CC sings along with the jingle beautifully.)
19:40 We kick things of with a discussion of the various uniforms on the ice. CC can muster nothing more than a disgusted hiss when she seethes, “The Senators uniforms are so bad. Why are they so awful? It’s the sleeves. They’re awful.” We are also displeased with Gerber’s plain mask; CC thinks it looks like “he’s been called up from the minor-minor-minor league team.”
19:19 CC bowls us over by announcing, “Ryder is actually one of my favorite Habs.” Considering she’s spent this whole game grousing about him, it would seem she’s in a bad place right now with her secondary team.
18:18 Wade gets gently checked behind his net and falls over. Pookie: “That’s Wade’s signature move. He skates to the end of the rink, hits the wall, and falls over.”
17:52 Huet draws a chorus of “Holy shit! Are you kidding me??” when he stretches a desperation toe to stop Heatley on a bazillion-mile-per-hour wraparound attempt.
13:49 The Canadiens continue to suck, getting the puck at the goal line, Gerber desperately clinging to the blue ice, and they can’t get the goal.
12:53 Koivu gets sprung on a mini-break after a really nifty back-hand pass from the neutral zone. Volchenkov can-openers him to the ice, but Koivu still very nearly connects on his falling, backhand shot. Volchenkov gets two for tripping, and the Habs get another chance to impress us with their power play.
11:26 Here is a sample of what Devils and Caps fans think when watching a moderately functional power play: “Wait, a guy just passed the puck back to the blue line, but it got stopped by that guy’s teammate before it crossed into the neutral zone. Isn’t that against the rules? We thought you had to go all the way back behind your own net if you didn’t score on your first shot.”
7:41 CC, ever vigilant: “PINK JERSEY! PINK JERSEY!” She’s got an eagle eye, and is always on alert.
6:35 Pookie says a bit tensely: “You know, Habs, I’d like you a lot more if you could score another goal.”
5:10 Our announcers are super-excited when the always-classy Alfredsson beats a screened Huet on a nice cycling play.
3:30 It feels not unlike falling into a pit of hot lava right now. Neil leaps on a loose puck bobbling up along by the faceoff dots and rips it past Huet to give the Sens a 2-1 lead. Pookie: “This game is dead to me.”
0:25 Barf. Alfredsson puts this one away with an empty-netter.
0:00 We can only hope the next two games we’re watching tonight are better than this one was. The final word on this match? Puke-tastic.