Hey, Gentle Reader, here’s an April Fool’s joke for you: we’re going to be positive about this game! (Yeah, it would be better if we did the reveal at the end of this post, but we’re not kidding when we say we’re terrible at pranking.)
So… we feel GREAT about the Devils! They’re facing some kid named Joey MacDonald, who is going to be the first anonymous scrub third-string goalie to not get a shutout against the Devils. In fact, he’s going to get shelled. We’re calling at least a 25-0 win for our boys. Also filling us with confidence tonight? The much-anticipated return of Andy Greene to the lineup. After a few games off, he’s probably mentally stronger than he’s ever been before, and ready to not make a single game-breaking mistake.
Boomer is getting into the positivism, too. Before the faceoff, MSG+ gives us a look at the stands, and she says, “I can see we’re a huge draw for the Islanders.” No, wait, she’s being sarcastic. Watch it with the negativity, Boomer!
19:47 The gameplan is being played to perfection: give Marty a test right off the opening draw and maybe, if he’s not awake yet, get in an early hole. Marty looks awake. So that’s another good thing.
19:34 Madden takes a really smart hooking penalty in front of the net, allowing the PK a chance to get into the game early. Pookie: “You know what positive I’m taking out of the first half-minute of this one? We haven’t made their goalie look good yet.”
18:24 Pando makes MacDonald look good. Schnookie: “But on the bright side, it’s a shorthanded chance.”
17:05 Greener falls over backwards when Brookbank tries to feed the puck around the boards to maintain defensive possession. That’s good… because… um… he’s getting the cobwebs out?
16:43 Wow. It’s hard to maintain your equilibrium when Chico’s being more negative than you are. He is grousing right now that the bad news tonight is that the Islanders have been exposing the Devils D. Just 3 ¾ minutes into the game.
15:13 Zach and Patty look like they’re trying to mount some offense, but Zach ends up coughing up the puck in the corner in the face of mild pressure. As the Islanders wheel up the other way with the Devils lumbering along behind them, Pookie chirps, “The positive on this shift is that at least the Islanders didn’t waste a pick on Parise.”
14:43 Doc mentions Greener in the course of his play-by-play, and Schnookie’s positive thinking comes to an end. “Why is Andy Greene on the ice again?” she grumbles. Pookie: “He has fresh legs.” Pause. “I’m shockingly good at this.”
13:56 In walking us through a replay of a Devils defensive breakdown, Chico describes the Islanders attacker as, “the always-dangerous Miro Satan. Well, maybe not this year.” Pookie: “That might be the best Chico-ism ever. It’s surprising in its subtlety.”
11:56 We come back from commercial to hear Chico assuring us that it’s impossible for the Devils not to be taking the Islanders lightly tonight. The optimists in us were kind of assuming that the way they’ve won only one of the previous seven matchups with the Isles this year, the Devils would know better than to do that.
11:23 Davison gets called for tripping. This means more vital special-teams practice for the Devils, like learning to defend against shorthanded attack.
9:49 As Paulie cranks shot after shot from the point toward an unscreened MacDonald, MSG+ tells us the Devils have scored only four times in their last 35 road power plays. Schnookie: “That’s better than none.”
9:23 Make that four out of their last 36 road power plays. Which is kind of a nicer ratio, since four goes into 36 evenly and all.
6:24 Paulie falls over because he’s a klutz, and Comeau gets called for tripping. As Comeau protests the call, and Chico tries to suggest Paulie fell because he caught his own skate on Comeau’s stick, Pookie says determinedly, “Paulie doesn’t fall like that at home.” That counts as positive thinking, right?
5:26 Our heads aren’t exploding right now because we’re furious at our loser team for not being able to score on a rapid sequence of glorious rebounds in close. No, our heads are exploding with happiness that they’re getting so many scoring chances and shots.
4:56 There is nothing positive to say about Zach shooting the puck into a defenseman when he’s got a wide open net and a week to tee the shot up. He is fired, fired, fired. He will never get a better chance than that.
3:43 This part of the diary is redacted for lack of positive thinking.
3:14 Chico proves that being upbeat about this period, and specifically that crap-assed failure to score on all those PP chances, is impossible. He tries to extol the PP and the fact that it had more good looks than any Devils power play has probably all season, but can only come up with: “The Devils have never had a… well, what?” Yeah, Chico.
0:52 On the bright side of Vasicek beating the D with ease, being down 1-0 means the Devils will have to open up and play more offensively. Right? Also on the bright side, it was Greener blowing his coverage to allow for the mini-break, which means he’ll probably not play in any of the remaining three games this season and possible four playoff games.
0:00 What a fun period.
We see an ad announcing the Devils are taking deposits for season tickets for next year. Well, Devils, if you move your start times to 8:30, maybe we could consider that. Or if you relocate to Trenton.
Before we come back from intermission, Pookie worries that she can’t maintain her façade of happiness any longer. Schnookie says confidently, “Oh, I’m going to keep on being positive. I’m going to be nothing but positive. I am going to be a ray of fucking sunshine.” Famous last words.
19:00 In a marked improvement over the first period, the Devils do not give up a Grade-A scoring chance in the first minute, nor do they take a penalty. So… they’re improving?
18:02 Clarkson races down the wing with an Islanders d-man after a loose puck, and he tries a one-handed poke around the defender, but then fails to do anything that resembles going around the guy and after the puck. Pookie: “What the ffff…” she trails off, having caught herself, and then continues, “Sam Hill kind of awesome play was that?”
16:21 The positive we take from Rupp’s latest shift is that, while his walking out along the goal line and going for the stuff attempt is just further making MacDonald look good, at least it’s not an unscreened shot from outside.
15:56 The positive we’re taking from this latest unscreened Devils shot from outside that’s helping MacDonald look good is that it was Pando taking the shot.
15:46 Okposo hooks Travis immediately off a faceoff in the Islanders zone, prompting Boomer to say, “What a waste of a penalty.” We’re not sure that counts as positive.
14:51 Doc mentions Spiller’s name in the course of his play-by-play, and Pookie explodes crankily, “GOD! I feel like Spiller’s been in every one of our last ten games.” She then collects herself and restates it, “I mean, ‘Wow. That Spiller’s everywhere.’”
14:18 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After some nice perimeter passing around to Patty above the near faceoff dot, Patty laces a shot through a thicket of players in front, and it’s a 1-1 game. And we don’t even have to work at being happy about that!
12:46 As it turns out, that was Patty’s 20th goal. Boomer: “If we’d known it would take Patty 79 games to get to 20 goals, would we have felt differently about our chances at the start of the year?” Schnookie: “Happy thoughts, Boomer. Happy thoughts.” Boomer: “Well, at least he got to 20.”
12:16 In happy news, it’s Langer’s 800th game tonight, and MSG+ tells us he has the third most games played by an active Minnesota-born player. We’re sure he eats out on that factoid all the time.
11:36 Patty cranks a shot on a three-on-two rush, and gets all of Meyer with it. As Meyer topples to the ice, Pookie asks, “Did Doc just say that shot ruined Freddy Meyer? I’m so sorry, Islanders fans, but he’s ruined.” (Actually, Doc said it “wounded” him.)
10:20 Doc informs us that Davison has not returned from the Islanders dressing room. Schnookie: “I thought something was missing.”
8:57 As Zach shanks a one-time into the outside of the net, Doc lets us know that Davison has, in fact, returned to the game. We chorus, “Oh, thank God.” (Schnookie then adds, “Fifty bucks says Davison scores the gamewinner.” Pookie: “No bet.”)
7:50 In great news, the Devils, looking to be warming to the concept of sustained offensive pressure, decide to give themselves a greater challenge by taking a too many men penalty. We guess should praise the individual players for all being so eager to be out on the ice.
7:20 Madden has an awesome shorthanded chance, turning the corner sharply around the defender one-on-one, then pulls the rebound of his initial shot out of the air while curling around the top of the crease, and then forces MacDonald to make another good save on his shot after dropping the puck onto his stick and flipping a shot netward.
6:17 As the Isles work the puck around the zone, Pookie mutters, “Positives… positives…” Then the Devils get a clear, and she adds, “See? I’d be cheering if I was at the arena! That was good!”
4:33 The Madden line follows up on a nice shift in the offensive zone by the Rupp/Zubrus/whoever line, and Paulie puts on a show of buttonhooking, spinaramaing in the corner to MacDonald’s left. (The glass-is-half-full fans in us neglect to comment on Oduya not holding the point on his pass.)
3:04 Travis goes to the bench in pain after another good-looking sequence of pressure (if not actual chances) by the Devils. Chico mentions that he thinks Travis might have taken “a slapper” off his leg. A moment passes as we digest this, and then Pookie pipes up, referencing a conversation we had earlier today with a friend about the Springtime frogs she’s hearing in her yard, “I thought Chico just said Travis had taken a peeper off his leg.” The thought of small frogs bouncing off Travis’ leg is kind of cute.
1:41 Whitey makes a great defensive play while Schnookie isn’t looking. She asks, “What happened? I missed it.” Pookie explains, “It was Paulie-esque. But Whitey.” (Play heads down to the other end of the ice, and Patty misses a shot from the halfboards by a mile. Pookie: “And that was Zach-esque. But Patty.”)
0:17 The positive we take from this late-period collapse that leads to an Islanders mini-break, is that this time Marty makes the stop.
0:00 So much fun!
In talking about the resilience of the Devils after giving up that late-period goal in the first, Dano says that a goal like that “can be demoralizing.” Pookie: “Not tonight! Not for me!”
18:00 One of our loose guidelines in writing these diaries is to try to go no more than two minutes of play between comments. So… we guess a positive so far in this period is that we haven’t had anything terrible to say after two minutes.
16:40 Through gritted teeth we will say that Pando does a great job here of forcing a turnover in front of the Islanders net. And we’ll add that Gio’s shot here is a good one. We will say nothing at all about the way not a single other Devil in the offensive zone shows the presence of mind to pursue the rebound.
16:11 With the Islanders swarming around the Devils zone, and Marty looking absolutely lost, Madden feels compelled to go down to block a shot. He comes up gimpy. That’s just fanfuckingtastic.
14:09 The pace is good here. There’s that. It’s mostly in the Devils defensive zone, but it’s still uptempo.
13:08 Travis and his little leg frogs seem not to be hurt, and even manage a good shot attempt in the slot after some great Brylin/Asham forechecking, but the shot is deflected harmlessly away well before MacDonald has to think about it.
12:44 Madden and his little leg frogs are also not hurt. But they can’t even get as much of a shot off as Travis did before they’re taken down awkwardly from behind.
11:30 Doc informs us MacDonald has 36 saves so far tonight. There are two ways to look on the bright side of that news – one would be that at least a couple of them were saves that he had to work for. Another would be to say that there can be some comfort in consistent things in life. It’s nice to know the seasons will always be there, and the tides, and the anonymous third-string goalies padding their stats against anemic Devils offenses.
7:35 The first thing of note to happen in quite some time is a Rupp-led odd-man rush. It quickly devolves into something that really isn’t of note.
6:58 The Devils fail to contain the Islanders in a stretch of tenacious boardwork by the home team, and we go to commercial when Marty freezes a bad angle shot in his feet. We drop all pretense and spend the break discussing the complete disappearance of the Devils’ top line. Other than two power play shifts, they’ve been invisible tonight. Pookie: “Do they not realize that they don’t have much time left to figure their shit out?” We contemplate that in silence, and then she adds, “You know, I’d say they’ve already run out of time to figure their shit out.”
6:48 Doc talks up the remaining schedule in the Metro challenge, and wonders aloud what the playoff picture will look in a week. Pookie: “Crap. Poop.” Pause. “Kittens. Puppies. Rainbows.”
5:19 On the bright side, there’s not much time left in this game.
3:13 Pando finds Gio streaking down the slot, and Gio decides instead of going to the net, that he’s going to spin around so his back is to the goalie, while holding the puck out in front of himself for the Islanders D to skate away easily with it. We could say of that choice that at least he’s being charitable?
2:22 The waning moments of this one are going swimmingly. On a scrambling segment of defensive ineptitude, Schnookie snarls, “Fuck! God! Fuck them!” But the Devils manage not to give up a goal, which is good. We guess.
0:48 Patty and Zach combine on a little give-and-go drop-pass sequence, but Patty’s all for making MacDonald look good when he passively whacks at the rebound chance. You know how when you truly love someone, you even love their faults? Well, that’s how it is for us and the Devils, and tonight, if we want to be happy about something, we’ll point out that we love the uncanny way the Devils are able to put up these 40-save nights for nobody goalies. They wouldn’t be our team if they didn’t do that, right?
0:00 This game has been so much fun that we’re absolutely thrilled to get overtime.
4:31 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oduya fires a lovely, low shot from the point, and Zach tips it past MacDonald for a 2-1 win and a clinched playoff berth.
And yeah, April Fool’s. This game sucked. Really, we’re delighted that this group of guys, who no one expected anything from at the start of the year, have clinched a playoff spot, but frankly, if they’re not going to figure out how to play better than this, it’s going to be a short and painful postseason. But maybe this was like the last-game-of-the-season OT win against Florida in 2000. Maybe it’s the turning point. And maybe the fact that we’re even floating this notion is proof that spending an entire game trying to be upbeat has caused permanent brain damage.