So, after a little TiVo delay necessitated by dinner (once again we are undone by a 7:00 start time), we’re settling in to watch a battle between two of our erstwhile secondary teams. We know we announced at the start of this season that we were going to be following the Sabres and Capitals as ardently as Devils fans can, but the whole point of a secondary team is for it to be fun. With the Devils sucking, we really didn’t have a lot of room in our TV schedule for even more sucky teams; tonight we meet up with them a bit awkwardly, as strangers. As we fire up the TiVo, the following conversation takes place:
IPB: Stiffly “Sabres.”
Sabres: Nodding “IPB.”
IPB: Turning to the Caps “Capitals.”
Caps: Coolly “IPB.”
This should be fun.
Making things even harder for us, this game is on VS. We’ve got a team of Joe B. and Darren Eliot, and when they pop up on screen for the intro Pookie chirps, “Joe’s suit! I want to reach out and touch it!” It’s a gray pinstripe that looks like a very fuzzy flannel. The intro continues without any great discussion of the suit – instead we’re listening to Boudreau talking about being a new coach and getting HD looks at Caps in the dressing room. Olie looks lethargic (Pookie: “Olie looks ready to go”), Clark looks like he’s having a hard time getting dressed with a camera aimed at him, and Ovechkin is unable to sit in front of a camera without smiling. After a little chat about the resurgent Sabres, we get sent to commercial with Joe referring to “the flashy Ryan Miller.” Pookie: “When did the Sabres get a new Ryan Miller? I want the old one back.”
19:35 We are trying to determine whether Staffy’s back in the lineup for the Sabres tonight as VS gives us a long look at Lindy Ruff at the bench. Just at the bottom of the screen we can see the crown of a helmet and a set of resplendent eyebrows. If that wasn’t Staffy, we don’t know who’s wearing Staffy’s eyebrows.
18:30 Max looks to us for a moment like he’s responding to being called out by just about everyone on the planet; he does one of his fancy-skating moves through the D but actually manages to muster a shot, and then follows up with a wraparound attempt moments later.
18:04 What does a fight between Erskine and Peters do to improve the entertainment value of this game? Nothing, that’s what.
17:31 Pookie clarifies what the penalty on the Sabres is: “Two minutes for hooking. To number five. That monster.”
17:21 We’ve noticed the Caps’ red sweaters are more than our HD can handle. Everything is crisp and clear in the picture except for the sweaters, which are all pixilated. This is perhaps something the Caps should look into.
16:54 VS is not very helpful about letting us know who’s in the lineup and who isn’t; Pookie putters around the interwebs a bit and announces, “This game is dead to me.” It seems that was someone else wearing Staffy’s eyebrows on the bench there earlier.
14:38 For reasons we can’t fathom, the VS guys are laboring the term “hump day”, and saying something about it being such for the Caps right now. Pookie: “Please stop using that term.” Pause, during which Joe and Darren say it at least three more times. “I guess this broadcast is being brought to us by the word ‘hump’.”
12:13 The Sabres get their first bit of sustained offensive-zone pressure thanks to good board work by the Goose line, but it comes to naught when the set-up is for a point shot by Soupy, which he shanks miserable. Not surprisingly.
12:02 The Caps respond with a rush that ends with a not-at-all-flashy save by Crunchy on Ovechkin. The razzle! The dazzle!
11:28 Kozlov unleashes the wrath of the Buffalo power play by taking a tripping penalty.
10:15 Olie juggles a tiny rebound, but there’s no need for Caps fans to be concerned, because the Sabre pressuring him is Roy. Roy-Z artfully tips the puck away from the front of the net.
9:05 WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Yo-Yo is allowed by the aggressive, intelligent Capitals D to circle the net at will. Yo-Yo takes what they give him, tosses the puck toward the crease, and somehow it richochets into the net (did Ryan tip it? Did Eminger have it deflect in off himself? Who knows) giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead. (The PA announcer seems to think Ryan got it.)
7:33 Connolly gives the puck to Nylander on a terribly-conceived attempt at a backhand pass/shot/whatever, and Nylander chugs up the other way with Semin and some other guy on a three-on-two. Perhaps they don’t realize they’re on an odd-man rush and down a goal, though, because the entire play fizzles out in an even more grotesque display of ill-conceived passing than the Connolly play that started it all.
6:58 Bradley gives the Sabres another chance to unfurl their massive PP when he trips Max in front of Crunchy’s net. Really, that was not an example of a smart penalty.
4:06 Joe sends us to commercial by saying, as we see a closeup of Lydman, “The Washington Capitals entertaining Toni Lydman in their house…” cut to a shot of the White House, “Not far from another very famous house.” Sigh. We come back from commercial to a graphic about the Caps who played for the Hershey Bears that’s titled, “Chocolatetown Connection”. VS. Come on. That’s awful. All of it. Pookie moans, “VS, don’t make me hate chocolate. You’re already working hard enough to make me hate hockey.”
2:59 Darren tells us he was speaking with Crunchy earlier, and Crunchy talked about how Briere, Drury and Teppo not being in the lineup anymore is a big deal because “they managed [their] attitudes every day.” We can’t imagine anything worse than having your attitude “managed” by Chris Drury. “Keep it bland, boys. You’re getting a bit too zesty, and that’s never a good thing…”
1:13 The Caps get a decent chance on a broken play, but the shot ends up hitting Crunchy right in the Slug. Pookie: “FLASH! BAM! POW!”
0:39 We follow Goose to the bench, and Pookie ponders aloud, “I wonder whose eyebrows those were.” She’s really missing Staffy.
0:00 That was one hell of a flashy first period! How fitting for Crunchy. Just kidding. We actually completely forgot Buffalo even scored in this one, and were just about to summarize this period as being a scoreless snoozefest. Huh. Who knew. We get a delicious closeup look at Crunchy’s glass eyes rolling around in their sockets as we kick to the intermission show.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if you think we’re watching the VS intermission show, you, Gentle Reader, are on drugs.
19:11 Our entire screen goes crazy when the Caps congregate to celebrate Ovechkin’s goal – this red! So terrible! Pookie, watching the replay of Ovie turning Soupy inside out and then leaping on his own rebound: “Wow. Soupy did that so badly. And by ‘that’ I mean ‘defense’.” Poor Crunchy. Getting hung out to dry on that play. Way for some Sabres to try to stop that Ovechkin guy – we’ve heard he’s kind of good, guys. It’s a 1-1 game now.
17:19 Joe is discussing how this game is available in HD, and Pookie mutters: “Except for the Caps sweaters. Those are in, like, Donkey Kong Definition.” Or, um, something.
16:10 Ovie, perhaps smelling blood, swaggers enormously down the wing, and gets stopped cold by a tag-team effort of several Sabres, led by Lydman. Pookie: “Soupy’s on the bench going, ‘Ohhh! You want to stop him so he won’t score! I get it!”
15:54 Olie stops Pommers’ little shovel shot, and Darren says, “They call him ‘The Monument’ here in DC.” No, Darren, they don’t. And if they do? They’re stupid.
15:29 A puke-tastic Soupy turnover at the blue line leads to a two-on-one down low with Nylander carrying the puck. Soupy puts on a clinic of how to look terrible when defending such a play, sitting down on the ice, wildly swinging his stick, and generally just making things not at all difficult for Nylander. Pookie groans, “You know how Chantal on ANTM is so stupid she makes my head hurt? Well, that’s how Soupy is.”
14:51 Darren says of Crunchy’s recent save percentage, “That’s really good! In any league! Especially in the best league in the world.” Pookie: “It sounds like they’re parents of a young child saying, “No really, Crunchy, that’s a beautiful painting.”
14:20 A Cap takes a slashing penalty, but we don’t know who (or what happened really on the play) because VS wants us to see Turco looking like a minor-league goalie out on the Island.
12:40 Vanek seems to think the best method for being the go-to guy on a power play is to stand totally flat-footed in the high slot, trying not to move a single muscle.
11:53 WOOOOOO!!!! Paille makes a beautiful play to get the puck through a group of hapless defenders and Yo-Yo finishes things off with a great tip shot roofing the puck over Olie. Boomer, in mock disbelief: “Over The Monument?” Pookie: “Well, big slow monuments…” 2-1 Buffalo.
10:57 We go to commercial after Olie stops a weak shot. Pookie mutters, “If that had been Staffy, it would have been a goal.” Boomer: “Maybe they’re just saving Staffy as a secret weapon at the end of –” Pookie cuts her off and squeals with delight, and Boomer finishes, “The season.” Pookie deflates. “I thought you were going to say at the end of the game,” she mopes. Boomer points out that she doesn’t think that’s legal.
9:46 The Sabres demonstrate their crappy breakout, as Pookie muses aloud, “If there are any bad calls in this game I’m totally going to blame it on the officials being distracted by trying to look up Shmee’s skirt.”
8:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! During CapsChick’s recent visit, she informed us Fleischmann is known to her as “Fuckhead”, and right here he demonstrates how he got that name. Nylander drops a pass to him at the point on a crossover play, but Fuckhead is caught totally unawares, and Yo-Yo ends up darting up the ice in a loooong two-on-one with Pommers. The finish by Pommers comes off a really sweet pass by Yo-Yo, and The Monument continues to appear less than monumental in our eyes. 3-1 Sabres.
4:28 Things have gotten a little less interesting since the lead opened to two. Joe and Darren are talking captaincy right now, and Pookie grumbles: “I feel like Lydman’s been captain for a really long time. It’s like they’re a ghost ship with no sense of time, and Lydman’s their captain. And Crunchy’s their first mate.” This quickly spirals out of control into something about Crunchy having one plate of food for all eternity, and it’s turning to ash in his mouth, and that’s why he’s worried about what everyone else is eating, because he’s like, “Is your food ash, too, or is that just mine?” Ahhh, Monday nights.
3:11 Joe is blathering on about “Boudreau this” and “Boudreau that” and Boomer finally says, “Enough about the coaches! It’s like they have to mention their names in every other sentence.” Pookie: “Seriously. I am not tuning in to see the coaches.”
1:33 Schnookie demonstrates her vast knowledge of the Caps lineup by wondering aloud, “Who’s that huge, lurching pile of puke carrying the puck?” Pause. “Oh. It’s Kozlov.”
1:13 Joe says for the umpteenth time, that a player has just “passed into space”. Pookie: “He’s just so into ‘space’! Space, coaches and humping.” Schnookie hasn’t noticed this speech pattern, and asks how many times Joe’s used the word “space” tonight. Pookie: “Well, he’d have to have said it at least four times to make me say ‘I have to go into space now’ [A long-standing James Bond joke of ours] and I’ve said that twice now.”
0:00 The period winds to a close with Joe calling a play in the waning seconds, “Viktor Kozlov, in full flight!” Boomer shudders, “Ugh. That’s something I don’t want to think about.” Pookie: “What, Kozlov in full flight?” Boomer, cracking herself up: “Yeah. Kozlov, flying into his airspace.”
We notice in fast-forward that Biron got pulled again. It warms the cockles of our hearts.
19:48 Hey! We’ve almost caught up to real time! We are no longer from the future.
18:39 Darren and Joe are discussing Semin’s effectiveness in his return to the lineup tonight. Darren does not pull any punches in sniffing that Semin has been less than useless this season every time he comes back from this high ankle sprain.
17:52 We’re told that coaches are always talking about the “danger zones” twenty feet around the blue lines, where it’s most awful to give up turnovers. Pookie: “And there’s a special danger zone twenty feet around Soupy at all times, wherever he skates.” Boomer: “And he goes around everywhere singing that song from ‘Top Gun’.” Pookie: “Yeah. And badly.”
16:08 We look up with bated breath when Joe tells us Ovie is moving up the ice “in tandem with Viktor Kozlov”. We are not at all surprised when the play dissolves into a pathetic whimper when Ovie gives the puck to the hulking, lurching pile of puke.
15:15 Play hovers around the neutral zone, and Joe starts talking about how Nylander has been “a mentor, a big brother” to Backstrom this year. We really hope he’s not teaching Backstrom how to slash up his shorts so he’s baring his upper thighs every time he takes a stride on the ice.
14:33 Connolly passes to an invisible winger on a three-on-two. Darren, getting a bit cranky now that this game appears to be well in hand, grouses that Connolly is always thinking pass, even when he should be shooting, like in this case. Yes, it’s often a better choice to shoot than to hand the puck cross-crease when there’s no one on the receiving end.
14:24 Max gets called for slashing. We agree with Darren that the Cap concluded the play with a huge-assed dive.
13:27 We would be remiss not to mention that Soupy actually strips Ovie of the puck in the corner here. Ovie stands there in place, slack-jawed in amazement, so stunned that he’s forgotten completely that he’s still on the PP.
12:50 What the hell? Soupy stands Ovie up at the blue line, and Ovie, perhaps quitting totally on the play, goes down like a sack of bricks. Joe tells us Soupy is a soon-to-be UFA, in the same class with Redden and Boyle. Boomer: “Which of these things is not like the other?”
11:22 We go to commercial with the Sabres going on the PK again, and Crunchy looking flashily like he just got hurt. We come back from commercial with Max in the box for high sticking, and Crunchy apparently fine. Well, someone was being a drama queen, waving his glove hand around like his hand just got cut off.
10:58 We get a highlight reel of Crunchy’s flashiest, most dazzling saves from tonight in a bit called “Conquering The Crease”. Seriously, who is writing this shit?
10:54 Darren tells us the Caps suffer a shortage of talent when Semin isn’t in their lineup. Pookie: “The Caps are less talented when their hugely talented player isn’t playing? Really?”
9:28 Bob Harwood reports from the sideline about Crunchy’s recent shift in leadership tactics, and Pookie tunes in halfway through what he’s saying. She hears, “…barking out the philosophy and the energy…” and she says, “Please tell me he’s talking about Crunchy.”
9:05 Yo-Yo shovels a backhander right into a fallen, outstretched Olie, prompting Pookie to bellow, “Yo-Yo, you suck! Don’t you know that’s Olaf Kolzig?”
7:12 Kozlov shows off his mad skillz by demonstrating a play that involves looking like he’s going to turn the puck over deep in the offensive zone, then retaining possession just so he can pass it back and over the blue line.
6:56 Joe marvels at how well the Sabres have played without Hank. Pookie: “What about Staffy? They haven’t mentioned Staffy once. It’s like they don’t think he’s a key component of this lineup.”
5:18 Olie juggles a shot and finally collapses onto it, sending us to commercial. Joe exults, “Olaf Kolzig, still standing tall in crease!” Schnookie: “He’s losing 3-1. He’s not standing tall.”
4:23 This game has been reduced to a soporific discussion of how the Caps should – duh – lock Ovechkin up before he becomes an RFA. Darren tells us that good things happen whenever Ovie is on the ice for the Caps, which can only lead us to assume, based on their record since Ovie joined them, that bad things happen whenever every other Caps player is on the ice.
2:59 As if to prove that bad things happen for all the Caps who aren’t Ovie, Nylander gets a chance next to the net when Crunchy drops a rebound, where he’s got an opportunity to just tap the puck across the goal line… and he pushes it all the way across the crease and out.
1:33 With the extra attacker out there, the Caps manage a good chance in close for Nylander, but he’s just as clutch as he was a minute and a half ago, and Crunchy holds his ground.
1:25 We are all pumped up thanks to the Caps PA blaring GOB’s music.
0:39 Semin dawdles up the ice after a puck he assumes has been iced, but has not been. Schnookie, dripping sarcasm: “Way to hustle there, Semin.” Pookie: “I feel like you can probably say that all the time about him.”
0:20 We have no idea how the Caps didn’t score there – it looked like Crunchy was down and out with a loose puck in the crease, but it was a non-Ovechkin going after it, so we guess that’s why it doesn’t go in.
0:00 The game comes to a close with a 3-1 Sabres win; the score was preserved when Goose missed an empty net chance in the waning seconds, on which Joe snarked that the rest of the Sabres would be making fun of him about it afterwards. Pookie: “He’ll just hiss at them. And then break their legs with his surprisingly strong wings.”