And so, Gentle Reader, the trade deadline has come and gone, and there’s… not much different about the Devils. Sure, we’ve railed in this space about wanting a shakeup, or wanting Lecavalier (seriously, how did the Lightning not jump at the chance to have a few of our extra D-men?), or wanting moon particles to be named later in exchange for Gio, but now that it’s all over, we’re pretty cool with it. Because the looming specter of Janssen ruining the season is now a looming specter in St. Louis, and we’re back to the regular things that ruin Devils seasons (like “lack of scoring”, “tired goaltending”, and “roster-wide apathy”). It feels so nice to be back to normal.
Okay, perhaps “normal” isn’t the right word, unless you consider having nine (9) defensemen normal. We will spend all evening being delighted with Sutter’s quote on Tom Gulitti’s blog, about how he’s going to deal with having 9 D-men by skating “three pairs of three”. Just to drive the point home about how ridonk the Devils blue line is, here’s FSN’s graphic showing us our D-pairings… and extra pairing… and spare D-man to go after that.
19:38 We are crushed to find out that neither team is unveiling their hot new pickups tonight, since Salvador hasn’t joined the Devils, and Tuomo Ruutu is still en route to the Canes from Chicago.
18:57 Chico tells us, as he and Doc start their banter for the evening, that Marty has not given up a single soft goal this season. Boomer: “Chico.”
17:50 Doc hastens to tell us he lied when he said Ruutu hadn’t made it from Chicago – the newest Cane is actually in the lineup, although no one knows what number he’s wearing.
17:08 As the Devils go offsides after some mild pressure, we see the man himself! It’s Ruutu on the bench! We nearly swoon with excitement. Chico tells us Salvador was told by the Devils not to hurry to get himself to Jersey, since the need for another healthy body on the blue line is, well, not pressing.
16:27 Samsonov tries to show off that he’s not entirely done yet as an effective NHLer and leads a feisty little shift in the Devils zone that wakes the crowd up.
15:33 Ruutu runs Whitey hard in the corner to Marty’s left as the puck squirts past him. Chico thinks it should have been interference. Considering the puck was in Whitey’s feet at the time, we beg to differ.
15:21 Walker sneezes on Marty and gets called for goalie interference. Pookie: “Pookie = confused.” It is… not a good call.
14:03 Pookie: “Paulie looks sort of like a hunchback tonight.” Schnookie: “Paulie’s like, ‘Now that the trade deadline has passed, I can let my hunch show.’”
13:08 As the power play expires, the Devils manage their best scoring chance of the period, collapsing on a loose puck in the crease, but nothing really comes of it, since Zubrus is the guy who ultimately corrals the puck. Predictably, he shoots into a defender’s shinpads, and everyone just moves on.
12:51 Playing the role of Cam Janssen now that he’s gone is Mike Rupp, who throws an idiotic, crushing, sickening, head-first-into-the-boards hit into Gleason. He is rightly called for a major for boarding, and Gleason has to be supported off the ice by several teammates. Hedican goes after Rupp and gets tagged for roughing. We go to commercial, and when we come back, FSN shows us Walker limping off the ice after drilling his own thigh into Greener’s knee on an earlier play. This is not going well for the Canes, health-wise.
11:33 As the Canes try to settle into their formation in the Devils zone, Ruutu gets called for holding. And so the Devils go onto a four-on-three power play.
9:00 Nothing happens on the weirdly man-powered PP situations, and now we’re down to the remains of the major PP for the Canes.
8:18 The Canes seem to have been taken by surprise by this man advantage.
7:24 This game feels so weird already, what with the trade deadline vibe, and then the injurious hit to Gleason, and Doc having no idea who’s in the lineup and who isn’t, and now we’re told that a major for boarding doesn’t include a game misconduct, so apparently Rupper’s still in the game. The fuck?
6:28 The Canes are building up a head of steam now, and the Devils are forced to ice the puck.
5:50 An out-of-nowhere rush by Madden turns into a nifty little shot that Ward has to be sharp on. We are kind of surprised that there’s still hockey happening. It’s that kind of game.
4:52 Not surprisingly, Wade Brookbank fights Rupper. And for the people out there who think this is how the game should be policed, we guess this means Gleason has been avenged and right is now done. Those people are idiots.
3:44 Chico chirps, “It’s a good news/bad news situation here in the first, depending on who you’re cheering for.” (The news is that Ward is looking sharp so far.) Pookie: “Chico is so strange. He’s such a homer, but now he’s being careful to address how Canes fans would be happy at how Ward is doing.”
2:01 Travis intercepts the Canes’ forward thrust at the blue line, and proceeds to put on a clinic demonstrating to Langer how to correctly respond to having a puck in your feet.
0:53 Hooters gets a bit too close to Marty for the Devils liking after Marty freezes a shot, and all hell breaks loose. All five skaters pile onto Hooters, and while they hold him down, Marty takes a swat at him with his catching glove. Hooters then half-heartedly swats Marty back (while taking a soft punch to the head from Brookbank), and Marty flailingly loses his balance and collapses to the ice. Hooters and Brookbank get matching minors, and Chico giggles about how marvelously old-time hockey this whole game is getting.
0:42 Doc and Chico have been discussing how odd it was that Emery apparently wasn’t in practice today for the Sens, but then wasn’t traded. As Doc is meandering through an out-of-town scoreboard update, he wonders if Emery was just told by his coaches to take the day off, following the Sens losing 5-0 to the Leafs yesterday. Chico: “Because he played so well last night.” Pookie: “Day-um! We need to hire Chico to do our game diaries!”
0:20 Pando follows a desperately-leaning Cole near the point in the Canes zone and when he reaches in front of Cole with his stick, Cole loses his balance and topples over. The official at center ice calls Pando for tripping, and Pando is, for the first time in his career, demonstrably astonished at how shitty that call is.
0:00 This period was just really weird. Strange goings-on, strange officiating, no real flow… We thought this was supposed to be normal now!
We get to see sound bites from a bunch of Devils saying the same old line, about how sometimes the best move on trade deadline day is to make no move at all. Our boys have had a lot of practice with that one.
FSN shows us a shot of Chuck The Duck perched on a wood sculpture of Rod Brind’Amour with the Cup that’s in the Canes’ arena’s vestibule. Doc jokes that Chuck is “looking for his name on the Cup” and that while it’s not there yet, “maybe this Spring.” Schnookie: “That’s not going to happen.” Pookie: “Maybe he’ll get a front-office job with Detroit. You know how they are about putting everybody’s name on the Cup.” Pause. “I figured in the spirit of all the old names on the trade deadline today, I’d pull out that old joke. I mean, it hasn’t been funny in ten years to joke about the excess names the Red Wings put on the Cup.” Boomer: “Like ‘Sergei Fedorov.’”
19:19 Chico tempts fate as the Devils watch the Canes wheel around the zone on the PP for Pando’s bullshit penalty, when he says, “The Devils will take this – no shots!” Pookie: “Cue: Canes scoring.” (Actually, the Canes promptly weakly lob a blockable shot into the defense and then give up the zone.)
18:32 The officials make up for the Pando penalty when Brookbank tries to be the hard-driving trailer on a Madden shorthanded rush, and bumps into Ward with a lot more emphasis than Walker had on Marty on that earlier goalie interference call. There is no call.
18:10 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gio sprints down the wing, then hooks a pass attempt toward the slot where Travis is slowly following up on the rush, and the pass goes tape-to-tape perfectly to Hedican instead, and he helpfully deflects it perfectly off the pipe and into the net. 1-0 Devils. Boomer, who wasn’t really watching, says, “So Hedican tipped that in?” Pookie and Schnookie, in unison: “Hedican shot it in.”
16:03 Mottau gets called for high sticking Ruutu. Chico tries to tell us what the infraction was for while watching replay of an exchange between the two players from moments before the penalty actually happened. He stumbles around trying to figure out what the call is being based on, since there is no obvious “stick near head” stuff going on, and then just as he is getting a good het up about how bad the call is, FSN finally shows us footage of Mottau trying to corkscrew Ruutu’s head off. Um, yeah.
14:04 The PK seems to have everything under control, but then the guys in front of the net lose Samsonov, and he is able to punch a loose puck past Marty following a quick Aucoin shot on the rush. 1-1 game.
12:56 FSN gives us a graphic showing the trades the Devils have made in the years they’ve won the Cup, and Doc concludes by saying we’re all hoping Bryce Salvador gets his name on the Cup this Spring. Schnookie: “That’s not going to happen. Unless he gets a front-office job with Detroit.”
12:51 After a surprisingly good rush by the Devils, Brookbank and Clarkson face off because Brookbank takes umbrage to Clarkson tapping at Ward’s pads. And when we say Brookbank, we mean Wade. It would be a lot cooler if it was Sheldon.
12:37 Marty freezes a shot from a Cane on a rush after the post-fight faceoff. Boomer: “This game has had no flow.” Schnookie and Pookie: “No.” Pookie: “The next instance of flow is going to be huge.” Boomer: “Zzz… Huh? I think the paint is dry now. It’s time to put another coat on.”
11:29 A decent bit of offensive-zone play by the Devils ends with a Cane blocking a shot above the faceoff circles and losing the puck in his shorts. Langer then jostles the guy, and another scrum breaks out. Meanwhile, Pookie announces, “I was going to say that Zach looks like he’s wearing suspenders tonight… but I think he actually is wearing suspenders tonight.”
9:45 Hey, is that flow we see on our television right now? The teams actually back-and-forth a bit, and suddenly Aucoin finds himself swooping in on a breakaway that Marty calmly takes care of with a showy glove save. We go to commercial waiting to figure out which defender it was who took a hooking penalty trying to catch up to Aucoin. We come back from commercial to find out it was Brookbank. Sheldon. It would have been pretty cool if it was Wade.
8:20 You know who we’ve liked on the PK in the last few games? Patty. Don’t tell him we said that, though, because that sort of thing always goes to his head.
7:16 Travis and Zubrus start up some nifty swirling forecheck, and Pookie exhorts, “Come on, Travis! Show Lou he was right to not trade you!” The puck promptly finds its way to Paulie at the high point, and Paulie shoots it straight into a defender. Pookie: “Urgh. Next question!”
6:31 Marty covers a shot with a bit of Carolina rush barreling down the slot, and then looks like he’s whining to the official about the snow shower the charging forward sprays on him.
6:12 Ruutu flattens Patty just inside the Devils blue line, and as FSN shows us the replay about 600 times, Chico remarks about what a great, high-energy game Ruutu’s had tonight. “I don’t know what he drank before the game,” he marvels. Pause. “I’m talking about caffeine, of course…” Pookie, through our screeches of laugher: “I’m talking about cocaine, of course.”
4:46 We have no idea what is going on anymore. The best descriptor for this shift in the Devils zone is “chaos”.
3:09 Did we complain that there was no flow in this game? The teams are now sprinting from end to end, and Pookie says, “This game is like part playoffs and part…” she trails off. Schnookie finishes for her, “And part preseason.”
1:59 After Marty makes a miracle save through traffic, Langer wheels up the wing while Asham chugs up the middle on the rush with him. Somehow they cross the blue line without a whistle, and Boomer wonders aloud, “How was that onsides?” Schnookie: “Generously from the linesman.”
1:31 Chico and Doc are talking about what Janssen is going to be expected to for the Blues, and Chico says that he should not be expected to fight, because he can’t anymore after the shoulder surgery. Pookie: “So then what would you have him in the lineup for?”
0:18 In discussing how things went down today, Doc says that it’s hard to assess who made “good” trades, “because no fan ever considers a trade 100% good.” We beg to differ. We’ve thought from day one that the Langer-and-Nieuwendyk-for-Arnott-and-McKay trade was 100% good.
0:00 Whew! That period ended up being absolutely wild. And surprisingly enjoyable.
Steve talks to Gio. He seems happy that he wasn’t traded. Meh.
We also get interviews from Devils about their feelings on the Hossa trade. Marty seems to be laughing about it. So does Patty. Actually, so does Langer. As does Whitey.
We come back from intermission to see our new favorite ticket-checking usher person at the Canes’ arena – she is clutching Chuck the Duck under one arm while checking the tickets of a stream of fans walking past her.
We then cut to the ice surface, and Chico is wondering, “Where are the Devils?” The Canes and Devils coaching staff are on the benches, but the Devils are nowhere to be seen. Finally they stream out of the tunnel onto the ice, and Pookie suggests one of them turned around for some reason and the entire rest of the team filed after them. Boomer: “Yeah, Marty went back into the room to get a Sprite.”
19:11 Doc is still apologizing for misinforming us about Ruutu’s presence in the lineup for Carolina tonight. Doc, it’s really not that big a deal.
17:57 As there is strangely no call on a clear trip of a Cane in the corner to Marty’s left, Doc tells us how the landscape of the Southeast has changed thanks to the Caps acquiring “a star, in Sergei Fedorov.” Schnookie: “No, a former star.”
15:41 For the umpteenth time tonight, the Canes make Brookbank and Greener look like they have no idea how to play defense. We can only assume Rachunek and Vish-Dog are like, “Can we get back in the lineup now?” Maybe Salvador should have hurried to get here.
15:01 Pookie: “I think Lou had a ‘Let’s put a sumo wrestler in net!’ idea, and tried to get every defenseman so none of the other teams would be able to have any. But when he got to nine, he had to stop.”
13:55 Pando gets a penalty for being near Cole when Cole blows an edge, and Travis gets flat-out tripped below the Canes goal line while trying to walk out of the corner with the puck and there’s nothing? PandoNation is incensed.
12:41 More chaos reigns as a Hurricanes shot from the point goes wide, and Marty goes to play the ricochet off the end boards to the other side of the net… except it kicks right back out the way it came. A Cane leaps on the puck at the side of the net, and Marty just manages to scramble back to hold the post with the paddle of his stick.
12:07 We get a little tutorial in how “Dancing With The Stars” works, thanks to Chico telling us about how Kristi Yamaguchi is going on the show. We promptly begin discussing which Devils should go on it. Schnookie suggests Zach would be great because he’d make Rupper dance for him, and Pookie suggests Marty would do a number where he’d be Jabba the Hutt and his dance partner would be Princess Leia.
10:07 The teams go back and forth a bit and Doc says, “The probing continues.” Schnookie: “God! I’ve been thinking of Marty as Jabba the Hutt. The last word I wanted to hear was ‘probe.’” (We are delighted, though, that Doc breaks out the Steve Coates call, “We got it, then they got it, then we got it, then they got it.”)
9:12 What is going on? The Devils, to a man, including Marty, are running all over the zone, and the Canes keep coming within inches of scoring, but then gacking at the last second. Replay shows Marty makes an insane, blind, split save on what looked like a sure goal. And replay also shows that Rachunek and Vish-Dog should totally get back in the lineup soon.
7:43 Langer gets a weak shot on Ward after more sustained pressure from the Canes. It is, according to Chico, the Devils’ third shot in this period. That’s at least ten more shots than we thought they had.
6:53 Schnookie: “You know, the fact that I don’t hate the Canes is disguising the fact that the Devils are being badly outplayed for the second game in a row.”
5:12 Doc is confident this is going to OT 1-1. Not if Brookbank and Greener get another shift, it won’t.
4:12 Marty is reduced to making himself as tiny as possible in his own goal mouth as the defense in front of him keeps pushing the puck haphazardly across the crease. We’re about to grouse loudly that Greener and Brookbank are sucking again, but then we realize – whoops! – that’s Paulie.
3:47 Suddenly the Devils are, shockingly, on the inside of the Canes blue line, and Madden rips a hard shot through a screen that Ward makes a snappy glove save on.
3:09 Play continues as the Devils mount their first sustained offensive-zone pressure despite Patty apparently taking a piece out of Ruutu’s mouth with his stick in the neutral zone. The fans boo. Classless.
1:57 Gio busts past Hooters on a bobble at the point, but the puck is too far ahead of him for a breakaway, and Ward beats him in a race for it. Sigh.
FSN shows us a replay of the high stick that split open Ruutu’s face, and basically the sequence involved Patty slamming his stick into Ruutu’s nose and Ruutu falling to the ice, bleeding profusely. Chico explains away the non-call by saying, “It was so subtle!” Schnookie: “Yes. That was the essence of subtlety.”
0:55 Another gruesomely oppressive shift in the Devils zone leads to another icing by the Devils. The fans are in full, furious boo over all manner of defensive plays that they think should have been penalties. Sutter calls a timeout, and we get a look at Marty at the bench, with his mask pushed up over his forehead, grinning from ear to ear and looking as relaxed as a guy goofing around at an optional practice. Pookie: “It’s like working in the salt mines for him.”
0:00 The buzzer finally sounds, and somehow, miraculously (read: Marty), the Devils are not losing.
4:46 There is a moment that looks like Patty is setting up a good chance for Oduya swooping down on a deliberate rush, but his pass bounces hard off Oduya’s stick, and Oduya staggers awkwardly into the boards, flailing after the puck. Pookie: “This game is going to go down in history as ‘The Flubber Game.’”
3:24 Samsonov blows past the defense (*cough*GreenerandBrookbank*cough*), wrists a quick shot on Marty, then darts across the front of the crease without a defender following him, and he bats the rebound out of the air into the net. Canes win 2-1. Pookie: “That was a strangely unsatisfying end to a thoroughly strange day.” Rachunek and Vish-Dog: “Can we get back into the lineup soon?”