So why couldn’t the schedule makers have anticipated that the Devils would be having trouble scoring these days and given them a game tonight against someone like the Flyers? They have no problem putting up four or five goals against them. But no, tonight we get the Islanders, whom the Devils have yet to beat this year. We keep getting this stupid Metro Ice Challenge update during the pregame that reminds us that the Islanders are winning the head-to-head, three-team matchup between them, the Devils and the Rangers. Interestingly, the Rangers are second and the Devils are in “last place”. Considering that’s the exact opposite of how the teams are standing in the division rankings, maybe we shouldn’t be putting too much weight on this Metro Ice Challenge after all.
In disheartening news for those of us hoping the Devils might score tonight, it is reported that Patty is out with a “tweaked groin”; as soon as we hear that, we both assume that means he’s being traded.
19:45 Doc announces at the outset that this is Zach’s 200th game. Sheesh! As Boomer says, “It’s been a fast 200 games,” Pookie adds, “He’s one third of his way to his own hotel room! Travis is like, ‘That day can’t come soon enough.’”
17:37 Pelley tries one of his signature shots, but it seems Dubie (yes, we’re going to be on a nickname basis with him for the sake of brevity) has read the book on Pelley, and is not going to give up a craptacular, bad-angle goal.
16:49 As the fans chant “Duuuuuuuube” when he makes an easy save on Rupp, Pookie declares, “You know what my least favorite thing in the new NHL is, after the shootout? It’s when fanbases chant the name of a goalie whose name rhymes with ‘Boo’.”
16:36 There is a prolonged sequence of confusion when everyone on the ice except for Dubie thinks the Devils are getting called for a penalty, but it turns out to be on Hilbert for diving.
16:18 Paulie rips a shot from the point that hobbles Brendan Witt, and after a whistle, Witt circles a bit, then leaves the ice. Pookie: “Wow! Paulie hurt Witt, in three places it seems. He’s favoring his foot, his hand, and his nuts!” Boomer: “Maybe he can’t tell the difference between the three?”
15:32 Chico tells us the Devils haven’t scored in the first period in seven straight games. Great.
14:57 The Devils sure look like their standard “game on the Island as the second half of a two-games-in-two-nights stretch” when they decide to respond to Chico’s joking that they’d better play good D if they’re not going to score in the first by spending their PP with their heads up their asses. They get a million chances to clear their own zone against a moderate forecheck, then give up a goal to Campoli on the third shorthanded shot in succession. 1-0 Islanders. Pookie sighs, “Whoever we’re getting in exchange for Patty better be good.”
13:36 The Devils defensive gameplan tonight seems to be turning the puck over in prime scoring position in their own zone. It’s awesome to behold.
13:27 Satan trips Gio weakly in the neutral zone, and we are so thrilled to get to see the Devils go back on the power play.
12:00 The Devils regroup lamely, and as Doc mentions again that it was Satan who took the penalty we decide to note for the record that there seems to have been an uptick lately in people in the blogosphere who think it’s hilariously funny to say that Miro should play for the Devils. Because get it? Satan? Devils? Get it? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Sigh.
10:30 We are left in a state of immeasurable delight in the aftermath of a Mottau-Comrie fight. The whole thing starts when Comrie knocks Mottau over while he’s trying to play an incoming, airborne puck, then the two exchange words after a whistle, and then they drop the gloves when play resumes. The fight itself is one of those appealing, these-guys-don’t-do-this-very-often bouts, but what’s so great about it is that afterwards we are given a view of Rupp and Clarkson on the bench, where they are both giggling and smirking deliciously. Then we get a look at Sutter, and he is, no joke, trying to bury his head in his collar while failing to hide that he, too, is giggling. That’s how funny a Mottau-Comrie fight is: it can make Brent Sutter giggle even while his team is sucking like they are tonight.
9:33 Bergeron takes a dumb-assed slashing penalty on Clarkson. Boomer: “Obviously the Islanders don’t have any fear of putting us on the power play.” Pookie: “Well, they shouldn’t.” Boomer: “Maybe they’re doing it on purpose, to laugh at us?”
7:33 That was… not good.
7:10 Oduya does Brian Campbell’s signature move one dumber by trying a spinarama out of his own corner along the boards, but instead just flings the puck blindly into a broken stick that has been discarded there. He was probably just trying to demonstrate why it’s so important for players to always pick their dropped sticks up immediately.
4:42 Marty has to come up big after the Islanders realize they are not, in fact, killing a penalty at the moment.
3:04 What had been a feisty period is no longer. This is now reminding us of the old “paint cans playing chess” days.
1:07 Doc praises the physical play in this game so far by commenting that no single player has avoided contact yet tonight, but we mishear and think he’s saying that there is just one player who’s avoiding contact. Schnookie: “It’s Zach. He can totally say it.”
0:38 Chico says that, despite the crappiness of the last five minutes, this has been a great period because “both teams came out hungry”. Schnookie, exasperated: “Both teams did not come out hungry! If the Devils had come out hungry they wouldn’t have given up that shortie!” Pookie: “They came out hungry for a loss.”
0:00 The buzzer sounds, and we get up to scrounge in the pantry for a potent beverage or two.
We get an interview with Pelley, and his pallor is so alarming, and his stiffness in front of the camera so comical, that we can’t help but think he’s become a brain-eating zombie now just like Staffy. He says of Mottau’s fight that it was “good for Mike.” Thanks, Rod.
Because this is one of those special nights when we get Al and Stan in the studio talking about the Rangers during our intermissions, we get to check in on Sean Avery and Marc Staal, two of the greatest men to ever breathe. Meanwhile, Stan tells us the answer to the Devils scoring woes is named Mike Rupp. Wait, there’s another hockey-playing Mike Rupp out there somewhere?
18:55 The Devils hold and hold and hold and hold while trying to set up a breakout, and end up settling for a desperation Hail Mary pass from behind the goal line to Brylin up on the Islanders blue line. Sarge doesn’t quite handle it cleanly, and then Clarkson hits Sutton with the puck only mostly in the vicinity (in the eyes of the officials), so the Islanders go on the PP.
16:55 The Islanders seem to be taking power play lessons from the Devils.
16:22 Say, have the Devils scored any first-period goals in the last eight games? How about first- or second-period goals in the last four games? Because it’s been at least three minutes since anyone’s said anything about that on this broadcast.
14:59 PaulieMartinNation is not pleased to see Marty setting Paulie up for failure, turning the puck over in his feet behind the net. The halls of stately IPB Manor echo with cries of “That was not Paulie’s fault!” on the sequence.
14:01 Marty is unimpressed with a Comeau semi-break.
13:50 We go to commercial with the a Devil going back into the penalty box and Pookie declaring, “This game is making me want to cry.” (The penalty is on Rupp for boarding. We’d add another minor for him not being the offensive panacea Stan keeps promising he’ll be.)
12:52 Chico tells us the Islanders have given up boatloads of shorties this year, and explains that’s why the Devils have been so “aggressive” on the PK tonight. Considering the Devils spent the entirety of the previous Islanders power lay in their own zone, this prompts Schnookie to blurt, “Chico, are you and I even watching the same game?” Pookie says sagely, “I often feel Chico and I are watching different games.”
11:36 There is a bit of a scrum to the side of the net after Marty freezes a good shot, and replay shows this all started when Guerin was flattened by Langer, but decided to go after Rupp instead after getting back to his feet. Sillinger (or someone like that) and Rupp end up getting roughing minors.
10:45 A Vishnevski-led two-on-one doesn’t even yield a shot.
9:19 The Devils put together a few shifts of swirling offense, leaving us confused and with a vague sense of unease. Who are these guys?
9:01 Butthead and Clarkson fight. It’s reasonably unremarkable, except that Clarkson seems to get a good shot in at Butthead’s nuts when he flings him to the ice.
8:54 Sutton and Rupp fight immediately off the faceoff. Whatever, guys. Whatever.
8:25 Marty gets jostled when he freezes a puck, and Asham gets sent to the box for, we guess, looking overly aggressive when standing toe-to-toe with the offending Islander.
7:58 Unsurprisingly, the Islanders score on the power play when Bergeron’s attempted goal-mouth feed deflects in off Greener. It’s 2-0 Islanders, and we eagerly await the even-up calls for the rest of this game. HAHAHAHAHA! Seriously, though, we eagerly await this game being over.
6:29 Dubie makes a save on a slowly set up passing sequence between Asham and Zubrus, and the fans go up like he just stopped the greatest shot in the history of hockey. Chico remarks that Dubie is “the underdog” and that the fans on the Island are just appreciative of “what he’s trying to do here.” How is it possible for him to still be the underdog when he was successful in that role last year? Isn’t there a point where the guy starring in the unlikely success story just becomes known for being a success story? How is Dubie any more of an underdog now than any other capable backup NHL goaltender?
4:59 As the Devils engage in a listless bit of offensive zone “pressure”, Doc informs us Langer has been shaken up off the play and is “slow to get up”. Pookie declares that she is now convinced someone key is going to get grievously injured tonight. (Replay shows Langer was trying to catch an Islander with a flying elbow and somehow got hurt when he missed his target.)
3:05 As Doc and Chico discuss how the Devils haven’t really even been putting any good chances on net, Schnookie grumbles, “Yeah, I feel like I could be defending the Devils tonight.” Pookie: “I feel like I could defend them just with my mind. And I don’t even have telekinesis.”
1:35 The cockles of our hearts are slightly warmed by the Islanders fans lustily singing “If You Know The Rangers Suck”.
0:56 Marty makes a save and ends up having to take off his glove to reach inside his leg pad to extricate the puck, which has become deeply embedded there. We giggle faintly.
0:24 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach suddenly remembers that he’s supposed to be committing his career to making the Islanders pay for passing him over in the draft. He and Gio dart in on a criss-crossing rush, and Gio makes a crazy nifty touch pass while taking two defenders into the corner with him, and Zach swaggers alone in on Dubie and roofs a sweet backhand shot over everyone’s favorite underdog. 2-1 Islanders.
0:00 Save for the last 30 seconds or so, that period sucked ass. But now we feel a lot better, so thanks for that, Zach and Gio.
Steve interviews Zach, and he looks as brain-eating-zombie pale as Pelley did. He also sounds pathetically sick.
Dano is giddy with delight about how many fights have been in this game, and jokes that he’s looking for a pair of skates so he can jump into the action. He would probably be an offensive improvement.
18:47 Mottau whiffs on a pass at his own faceoff dot, thereby handing the puck to the Islanders for a two-on-one down low. Marty comes up huge to stop Satan, and Pookie finds herself exhorting Sutter to start throwing garbage cans at his players’ heads.
17:43 The ice seems to have a thin coating of stickum on it, because almost every pass is ending up going a foot or so shorter than the passer intends.
16:51 We are all momentarily fooled when a pass attempt by Sarge on a nice rush gets deflected onto the goal by the defender’s skate, but alas, a goal is not scored.
16:01 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Madden smokes Comrie on an offensive-zone draw, then Zach makes a great strength play to kick the puck to Brookbank at the point while a defender is draped all over him. Brookbank then fires one of his trademark chaos-inducing wristers, and Madden leaps on the rebound when neither Dubie nor Comrie see fit to attempt to defend against it. 2-2 game, and Boomer intones gravely, “You know what? The next goal will be huge.”
15:26 The Devils get a second consecutive shift with great scoring chances. Chico seems to think the wheels are falling off the Islanders.
14:41 A deliberately-paced rush by the Devils results in Gio passing to Paulie instead of just putting the puck on the net. Paulie fires so far wide it’s almost as though he was aiming for the side boards, but Doc politely says the shot goes “just wide”. Paulie has actually been shooting with impunity tonight, and as the camera follows him to the bench, Doc reminds us he’s been sitting at 99 points on his career for quite a few games now. Well that explains it.
13:40 Dubie is not helping Travis get over his fear of acorns, and makes a great leaping save on a nice tip attempt.
12:58 The crowd murmurs with displeasure after the Freight Train From The Ukraine makes an appearance standing up Jackman at the Islanders blue line.
10:37 Wait, what just happened there? The teams are going end to end now, but all of a sudden the Islanders seem to be on a 400-on-one. They don’t manage to get a shot, though.
10:03 Gio is fired. In fact, Pookie declares, “Gio, you have never been more fired in your life than you are right now.” Travis handcuffs Dubie with a snappy shot, and Gio finds himself at the side of the crease with an almost entirely yawning, empty net in front of him. He lifts the puck well over the crossbar instead of scoring.
8:17 The Islanders calm the puck down in the Devils zone, and after some cool passing up high, Sutton catches Marty by surprise with a quick shot through a crowd. 3-2 Islanders. We console ourselves with the knowledge that at least this one wasn’t scored on some crappy standing-around by the Devils on the PP or on a bullshit penalty call.
7:43 Pookie: “I feel like I’m going to cry again. For a minute there, I was feeling happy. Carefree.” Does nobody feel for Pookie’s joie de vivre? Isn’t that a sadder underdog story than Dubie?
6:55 It seems the Devils’ interest in offensive pressure has died, and they are now reverting back to the “let’s get pinned for extended periods of time in our own zone” game plan we all know and love so well.
4:58 The “let’s get pinned for extended periods of time in our own zone” game plan executes perfectly, and Bergenheim easily puts home a loose rebound to make this 4-2 Islanders.
3:15 We are now settling into the comfortable feeling of knowing at least the Devils didn’t get shut out, which is better than we expected based on the first half of this game.
2:14 Paulie, hungry for his 100th point, decides to try to go coast to coast, but only manages to get to his own blue line before turning the puck over. PaulieMartinNation is confident that play will work next time, though.
1:15 We are informed the Devils have an extra attacker on now. If Doc hadn’t mentioned it, we never would have noticed.
0:15 Comrie hits the empty net, and we are given the obligatory shot of his celebrity girlfriend. Because he wasn’t loathsome enough without her.
0:00 Well, that was a much more interesting game than Devils games on the Island normally are, so we’ll give it that. But the painful lesson at the heart of it all was that the Devils simply aren’t going to win many games when they only show up to play for about 12 minutes spread between the second and third periods.