It’s a surprisingly cranky night here at IPB Manor, so what are the chances the Devils make things better for us? Things don’t start out promisingly on FSN: not only is Madden out again, but Stan’s working tonight’s game. Great.
Pookie announces, while watching Doc’s intro that summarized the season series to date between these teams, “I refuse to believe that. We have not seen the Panthers once this year.”
Doc and Chico present us with a look at Zubrus and Travis, and the segment is kicked off with a stats screen titled “Z-Power”. We wonder if Zach feels left out. Is he saying, “I have a Z! Do I also have power?” Or are his teammates calling him “Ach” now because he clearly has no Z-Power?
18:20 Doc rattles off a boatload of stats about this matchup, and concludes that the Devils are hoping, based on past experience, to score early and often. It would help for them to not keep turning the puck over at their own blue line.
17:20 Pelley takes an easy shot from outside that Craig Anderson (who?) stops without effort. We pause the TV to get our dinner. (Just to keep you updated, Gentle Reader, because we know you’re wondering.)
17:15 Booth welcomes us back to the action with a crazy fancy move after getting in alone on Marty, but Marty’s stretching leg is able to stop him. That was… a more challenging save for Marty than the one Anderson made moments before on Pelley.
14:50 After Doc gives us a rundown of the injured Devils, Chico remarks of Pando’s injury that he’s never heard of any hockey player ever having exactly the same thing. Schnookie: “That’s because no one’s ever skated as fast, as hard, and as clumsily as Pando does.”
14:18 A Gio shot ricochets goofily off a bunch of people in front and just bounces wide. Anderson then has to freeze the puck after a zesty little shift by the Poppers, and we go to commercial. When we come back, it’s Geico Quotebook time, and Marty’s saying something about how, with the standings being as tight as they are, everyone’s just playing to get to OT to guarantee they get a point. We are, needless to say, delighted to hear our team is not playing with two points as their goal every night.
11:52 Matthias gets himself on the scoresheet in his first NHL game by taking a hooking penalty on Rupp. We’re sure, after watching the Devils’ PP against the Islanders on Wednesday, Matthias will not regret this.
10:36 Anderson makes a good shoulder save on a slapshot from Patty above the faceoff circle, and Chico tells us he’d recommend that the Devils shoot a lot to “loosen [Anderson] up”. Pookie, thinking back to all the many instances when the Devils have made inexperienced goalies look like HOFers: “Yeah, so he can get a 60-save shutout instead of a 40-save one.”
7:38 Zach almost gets sprung for a breakaway after a great bit of scrambling D by the Devils, but he can’t handle the pass and watches lamely as the puck bounces ahead of him harmlessly into the Panthers zone. He is clearly lacking in Z-Power these days.
4:44 Holy flirking schnitt! With the Devils sucking ass all over their own zone, Zednik gets a chance when a deflected puck comes straight to him while Marty is apparently otherwise occupied at the other side of the net. And as Zednik tees up the can’t-miss shot, Marty barrels across the goalmouth with his pads stacked and amazingly makes a miracle save. It is, well, awesome.
1:58 Vishdog gets beaten by some Panther speed while he’s flat-footedly watching them motor through the neutral zone. As the Panther gets a step, Vishdog and Rachunek converge behind him, hooking and holding at him all the way. The puck is turned over and the whistle blows for a penalty when the Devils touch, and Doc wonders if the call’s going against Vishdog or Rachunek. Pookie: “It’ll be both. This is going to be just like the Islanders game.” (It’s Vishdog.)
1:11 We are learning everything anyone ever wanted to know about Matthias, and then a lot no one ever cared about him. Seriously, Doc, we don’t care what college his brother goes to. We think we’re starting to understand why so many people who only ever see him on NBC or VS hate Doc.
0:00 And so ends a quiet period. We spent most of it silently nibbling on our frozen pizza (yeah, we live in style) and basically trying to keep this game as un-memorable as possible so Pookie can say honestly the next time the Devils play Florida that she doesn’t remember playing them at all this year.
We have better things to do than listen to Dano and Steve.
“Chico Eats!” features a trip to the upper concourse now that Chico has exhausted the main concourse. We get to see Chico cheerfully riding the escalator, and then the look on his face when he digs into his pastrami sandwich is just priceless.
19:17 Marty deserves a better D in front of him tonight. He makes about 600 saves on Zednik as his defenders stand there pointing at the Panther and saying, “Ohmigod! That guy has the puck! Stop him, Marty!”
18:50 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Z-Power!!!! Langer rips a waist-high wrister from the high point that Travis artfully tips to the ice at his feet right in front of the crease, then skates it around Anderson and punches it home. 1-0 Devils, and we kind of feel like Marty should get an assist on that, just for stopping Zednik on that sequence moments earlier.
17:47 FSN shows us a fan-made “Chico Eats!” T-shirt that is simply beyond awesome. Pookie says with grave seriousness, “Whoever made that shirt ROCKS.”
15:52 Doc tells us that his scorecard has Zednik with no fewer than seven shots tonight. Schnookie: “The Marty/Zednik mano-a-mano battle tonight has been worth the price of admission.”
14:27 Clarkson throws a hard shoulder into Salei, and suddenly Glass comes flying out of nowhere to slam Clarkson into the boards and then fight him. It is not the world’s most interesting fight.
14:20 Campbell clears the puck high over the glass and gets called for delay of game.
13:59 Pookie’s Zach Goggles are well and truly gone. When Zach takes a few panicky cracks at a loose puck in the crease, and his shot finally ends up going wide into the corner, she sighs, “Come on Zach. Make me not hate you.”
12:25 The best scoring chance of the power play comes when one of the Devils turns the puck over immediately in front of Marty. Our frozen pizza turns to ash in our mouths.
11:48 Anderson makes a big save on a shot from the slot, and Pookie grumbles, “I hate this Anderson character.” Boomer: “What happened to the regular sap we used to do so well against?” Pookie: “Luongo? He went out west.” (We kid! We kid!)
11:09 Bouwmeester is bested by Rupp in front of the Panthers net and has to take a hooking penalty. Chico tries to tell us that drawing a penalty on the play is as good for Rupp as scoring. Considering the Devils PP, we think not.
10:31 Baumann can be heard leading the “Gimme a D! Gimme an E!” Devils cheer, even though the Devils have not just scored. When will he learn to save it until after goals? (Pookie tries to tell Schnookie that it’s only unlucky if the Devils haven’t scored at all, but Schnookie thinks it’s flat-out unlucky if it’s deployed in any way other than as a goal celebration.)
9:16 Chico tells us during a stoppage that Zach is having a great game and is taking lots of shots. Pookie: “I wonder if he’ll transition during this game from ‘taking lots of shots’ to ‘taking good shots’.”
8:12 Clarkson gets around behind Horton, and as he is trying to get a shot off, Horton embraces him and hauls him down. The power play gets back to “work”.
6:04 The power play expires after a second good flurry of shots from in close that ultimate yields nothing but frustration for us. Pookie sighs, “Can’t you guys just score? I mean, not even on a power play?”
5:15 We go to commercial with the Devils going back on the power play thanks to the Panthers having too many men. Schnookie: “Why are they constantly trying to make us so unhappy?”
3:15 Surprise, surprise. After another power play, the score remains the same.
2:17 Asham does the inevitable, hooking Montador as he’s cranking up a shot from the blue line, and finally the Devils demonstration of unparalleled mediocrity with the man advantage is ended, and now they get to show off how mediocre they can be on the PK.
1:03 Pookie: “What…” Pause. “The…” Pause. “Fonk?” Marty makes an absolutely sick, whirling, spinning, stretching save to pull a Kreps shot out of the air right before the goal line with his blocker hand, then, facing into the net, he finds the puck at his side and covers it. Yeah, it’s just the system in front of him.
This goes to review, just because, and we get to see a long close-up of Marty while the officials converse with the War Room. Pookie: “I love when they show us Marty during these stoppages after he’s made a great play, because he always looks like he’s thinking [“Meow Mix” jingle].”
0:35 Pelley tries his patented, short-handed, rounding-the-horn-and-shoveling-a-backhander-along-the-goal-line attempt, but Anderson doesn’t let it in.
0:00 This period was less quiet, despite the suck-fest of the PP. We get an interview with Travis, and he giggles that he accidentally blocked Langer’s point shot on his goal, rather than deliberately tipping it to himself to tap it in. He is also sporting a haircut that is looking suspiciously “ship’s prow”-ish. Is this some SWF thing going on here, where he’s gradually becoming Zach? Pookie is concerned his hairdo is actually stealing Zach’s mojo. We’ll have to keep an eye on this situation.
Do you know what we hate? The way FSN promises us “locker room react” during the post-game. People, it’s “reaction”. The three extra letters are not going to take up so much space that you can’t fit it on the screen.
Ugh! If we aren’t interested in listening to Dano and Steve, why would we be interested in listening to Dano, Steve, and Stan?
It turns out we can’t help ourselves. We can’t help but pay attention, and after laughing at Stan suggesting Colin Campbell should be the new GM of the Leafs, we suddenly find ourselves BLEEDING OUT OF OUR EARS. Shut the fuck up Stan! We don’t want to hear you defending Gomez for dissing on the Devils organization in his conference call today! And now we’re taking back everything mean we ever said about Steve for the way he snarked back about how without the time he spent in the Devils disciplined system, Gomez wouldn’t have two Stanley Cup rings (and an understood $10 million salary this season). Well played, Steve. Well played.
18:43 We are not paying very close attention to this period yet because Pookie is reading Gomez’ conference call transcript aloud. We had reached a point where we were thinking of Gomer as a particularly ugsome footnote to this season, but suddenly we find the hate flaring up anew.
17:32 What are the chances that when you don’t score when you have a 1-goal lead and get 7,000 power plays, that you’ll hold that 1-goal lead for long? The Panthers get a three-on-two when Clarkson wipes out in the neutral zone, and Dvorak ties the game at 1 when he shoots a rebound past a diving Marty.
16:15 What are the chances that when you stand around in your zone while sitting on a 1-1 tie like it’s a 6-0 lead, that you’ll emerge from this shift with a 1-1 tie? Booth finds the puck on a big kick off the end boards off a Salei missed shot, and gets it past another heroically diving Marty. 2-1 Panthers.
15:31 Paulie tries to kill Gio with a shot to the face. Gio staggers to the bench, and gets taken out by Allen along the way. Nice.
14:22 Word was that the Devils worked exhaustively on their power play in yesterday’s practice. We wonder what would happen if they didn’t practice the power play for a change.
11:22 We discuss whether we think the Devils are playing poorly because they’re thinking the wins will come easily now that they’re starting in on the long stretch of home games. We decide it was hard to tell on Wednesday night, because there was so much Islanders-crap subtext to that one, but tonight it looks like the Devils are kind of expecting to win.
9:10 As the Devils repeatedly overskate pucks in their own zone, we get the distinct feeling that this is what it looks like when a team is playing, like Marty’s Geico Quotebook suggested, with a stated purpose of trying for just one point. And, um, failing.
8:18 Zach has the puck behind the net and Anderson way out of position, but he stands still for what seems like hours before making like he’s going to try for the wraparound, thereby giving a Florida defender time to drift down and strip him of the puck. Zach has negative Z-Power now.
7:46 A three-on-one for the Poppers (or, as we just typed it, “the Poopers”) yields nary a shot, as Langer has to chug into the corner to retrieve the puck on the rush in the first place.
5:54 You know what the Devils need right now? To take a penalty. That’ll put the Panthers right where they want them. Oh, great! Greener does exactly that, holding Booth coming out of the corner. Super job, Greener.
3:54 The game plan is being executed to perfection, and the power play ends with the Panthers still right where the Devils want them. Or something.
2:38 Pookie: “I have nothing to say about this game. I am so having one of those ‘I hate hockey’ nights tonight.”
2:14 Boomer, in a heart-breakingly sad tone: “The Devils have let me down tonight.” Long, wistful pause. “I wanted them to win tonight.” Happy now, Devils? You’ve made our mother cry.
1:12 Marty is trying to get off the ice, but the Panthers have the Devils tied up in the neutral zone.
0:51 Pookie: “You know, if Ryan Miller was in goal at the other end I might have a little hope. But this scrub who has never played in the NHL before is no Ryan Miller.” Burn!
0:31 With the Devils unable to gain the Panthers zone, Salei gets the puck at his blue line and just fires it the length of the rink toward the empty net. He misses, and the Devils sprint down to touch up the icing. Chico tells us that Salei’s play was idiotic, and “seasons have turned on plays like this.” Not tonight, they haven’t.
0:00 That. Was so. Bad.
And so we’re off for the weekend to visit our grandmother in the New Orleans suburbs, trying to get the awful taste of this out of our mouths. Stupid Devils.