Okay, we’re staring down elimination tonight, but Coach Sutter thinks everything is tickety-boo. And you know what, Gentle Reader? If Sutter thinks it’s all tickety-boo, then we should too. So tonight’s diary is going to reflect our newfound tickety-booism. We’re going to be the tickety-booest fans around.
Woo hooo! We’ve got Doc again! Tickety-booyah! We’ve also got Chico wearing a giant red jacket over his suit, as he’s showing solidarity with the fans and support for the Devils, rocking his red. He says some fans gave him the jacket, and, um, it’s kind of warm, so, uh… yeah, he won’t be wearing it after this segment. Don’t rock that red too hard, Chico.
18:41 The hoped-for “coming out like gangbusters” for the Devils involves a lot of play in the Devils end, but the building goes up with delight when Zach sends Jagr flying just below the blue line. Tickety-boom! Replay shows that Jagr essentially clotheslines himself on Zach while Zach is just standing there minding his own business.
16:23 The Devils finally get the puck into the Rangers zone, but they’re taking things one step at a time – first comes puck possession, then slowly, slooooowly they’ll build up to things like shots on goal.
15:51 Well, there’s a shot on goal! Madden wreaks some havoc on the forecheck, and Pando sprints down as the wing and pounds a high shot at Hank that catches him by surprise. Hank pinwheels a glove save while rocking back on his heels, and gets a ridiculously quick whistle while the puck is rebounding out to a Devil’s stick.
15:20 TICKETY-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! What did Gio need to get himself going? To be put on a line with Travis and Zubrus. The three make a great defensive stand, then fly up the ice on a three-on-two. The D catches up to the rush, but Zubrus frees the puck in the corner with a huge check, and Travis carries it around the net to find Gio in the slot. Amazingly, Gio roofs his shot, and it’s 1-0 Devils.
15:02 Tickety-crap. The Patty/Zach/Langer line does its usual puke-tastic job of being able to play functional hockey on the shift after the Devils have scored, and before there’s even time to realize they (and Whitey and Mottau) are collapsing, Roszival ties the game at 1.
14:52 Okay, the wheels have completely fucking fallen off the Tickety-Boo Express. Patty trips a Ranger behind Hank’s net, and the Rangers go to the PP. Well, the 18 seconds of euphoria were nice, so thanks for that, guys.
13:22 It’s so strange to think that we were espousing Patty getting the C back just a few games ago. Now we think he, and Whitey, should be fired. Marty too, while we’re at it. Jagr gets a week to stand off to the side on the PP, with Whitey passively trying to choose between challenging him or covering the pass, and Jagr finally just whips a stoppable shot past him and through Marty. 2-1 Rangers.
11:03 Langer and Backman tie each other up in a bit of a hook-fest while going after a soft Devils dump-in, and somehow Backman skates out of the exchange with a penalty. The officiating in this game totally doesn’t make sense.
9:03 If the Devils are going to have that kind of power play tonight, the Rangers could take a zillion penalties without worry.
8:53 Well. We guess the Rangers were listening to us. We go to commercial with some confusion in the air, as the Rangers are being called for some sort of infraction that went down while Vish-Dog was meandering back behind Marty’s net to retrieve the last rink-length clear from the previous PP. We come back from commercial to find out it was for too many men.
7:33 PaulieMartinNation’s heart flutters when he makes a suave keep in the face of some intense pressure at the point. He’s so tickety-cool.
6:53 The power play comes to an end with a smart pass attempt from the boards into the crease that ends in pathetic failure when the puck ricochets harmlessly out of the paint off Zubrus’s foot. Chico remarks that the problem was that there were too many Devils in front, as Zubrus and Patty ran themselves out of room there, and Boomer laments, “It’s always either too many or not enough.”
4:44 The puck is ping-ponging around the neutral zone, as it gets turned over from one team to the other repeatedly as the game is going through its “stand-up, open-ice hitting” phase.
4:12 Patty busts past the D, leading a partial two-on-one with a trailing Langer, and as he gets too close to the goal to be able to shoot, he fires a pass to where Langer would be if he was skating hard, but of course, Langer’s not there yet. Pookie: “What in Patty’s past history with Langer made him think he’d be skating hard there?”
1:57 Is this team even trying anymore? Madden overcommits to chasing the puck into the corner with Shanahan, who is already covered by someone, leaving Avery alone behind the net to walk out and toss a puck into Marty. Marty goes down to hold the goal line as the rebound squirts out into the paint, and all five Devils collapse around him, facing inward, with the puck behind them. Gomez easily makes this a 3-1 game.
1:23 Gio gets called for slashing Tyutin’s stick into pieces. Just to make up for having scored. Doc cautions that the Devils are “in danger of self-destruction if they allow another one here.” Boomer: “The Devils have already self-destructed.” Pause. “I just don’t see them scoring three more goals and holding the Rangers to none.” Schnookie: “You know, I was thinking two goals isn’t insurmountable, but when you put it like that…”
0:00 What was tickety-boo about this period? Those 18 seconds with the lead. And Paulie being a beast on the second Devils power play. That’s it. Every single other thing was whatever the opposite of tickety-boo is. Tickety-poo, we guess.
We don’t need Steve and Dano to tell us about how sloppy the Devils were, from the goal out. Of course, we listen anyway, and get to hear Dano chastizing Devils fans for letting too many Rangers fans into the Rock. Look, Dano, we really don’t want to have to get into this with you right now. Maybe you can talk to the Devils about lowering ticket prices, and we can go from there.
18:25 We spend the first 90 seconds of the period still ranting about Dano laying the onus of this loss on the fans (the context of his comment during intermission was that Marty’s bad play is compounding itself thanks to an absence of fan support, because Marty’s apparently got a fragile psyche or something), but are calmed by another cute little Houdini move by Paulie. Unless he literally picks up the puck and throws it into his own net tonight, we’re going to hold him blameless.
17:01 We are stunned when a good goal-mouth play by Betts doesn’t go into the net. It seems like everything near Marty’s goal has gone into the net tonight.
15:10 Pookie: “I have to say, it feels like just yesterday that we went to Trenton for that pre-season game.” Schnookie: “That’s because they’re playing in pre-season form.”
14:56 Chico broken-records, “YOU CAN’T MISS THE NET” for the zillionth time tonight when Gio steals the puck in the slot, and promptly rips a shot about ten feet wide. Pookie addresses Gio, “No matter what you do tonight, no matter if you score four goals and single-handed win this game, I will still want to see you traded this summer.” Pause. “Let’s test this theory, Gio. Let’s see if I really mean it.”
14:25 If there were more Devils fans in the building, this undefended pass from Dawes in the corner to a Drury who has been abandoned in the slot wouldn’t have happened, and Drury wouldn’t have had a month or two to take his shot, and Marty would have been able to stop it. 4-1 Rangers, and it’s all on us. Tickety-booooooo.
12:55 Schnookie: “The Rangers are going to be in for a rude awakening when they meet a team that can put the puck on net.”
11:40 Chico is scrambling for something to talk about, now that praising Marty is off the table. He ends up rambling about how this is going to be a tough row for Marty to hoe now, as there won’t be any easy shots, and he can’t make any mistakes now, and blah blah blah. Psst, Chico – the horse is already out of the barn. Whatever Marty does from here out really isn’t going to have any bearing on how this one ends.
10:34 TICKETY-WHAAAAAAAA?!?!?! Marty may be sucking tonight, but at least he hasn’t giving up a goal on a shot from outside the blue line. The Iron Boar just tries an on-goal dump-in during a change and it gets tipped off someone up high, then down off Dubinsky’s face, then of Hank’s shoulder, then off the pipe, then off Hank’s back and into the net. 4-2 Rangers, and you know what? That was nice to see. Pookie posits that was like the Hockey Gods realizing it’s the end of the season, so they’re like, “Here you go, guys. Here’s a big fucking break for you.”
9:09 A Ranger falls over under little physical pressure in front of the Devils net, and Pookie gripes, “See, Avery should get called for diving there.” Pause. “Oh, that’s not Avery. Who was that?” Pause. “Heh heh. It was Gomez.”
8:19 While Zubrus, Travis and Gio put on a nice bit of cycling, we’re discussing the Zach/Patty/Langer line. Schnookie: “I don’t like it when those guys are on the ice. At all. They’re like the forward line equivalent of Brookbank and Greene.” Pookie: “No, they’re worse, because I have higher expectations for them. They’re like a combination of Brookbank, Greene and Vish-Dog.”
7:31 Dubinsky takes an interference penalty after a bit of scrambling play in the Devils zone that involves Marty coming so far out to challenge the shooter that he’s wandering around in the corner. We would suggest that the Devils just keep shooting from the neutral zone on this power play.
7:02 Staal puts the Devils up two men when he trips Zubrus in the corner. Pookie: “I smell shorty!” Tickety-positive thinking.
6:10 TICKETY-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! The Devils are looking like the very model of ineptitude down low, failing to get shots through, missing passes, whiffing on rebounds, and all of a sudden, out of a scramble, the puck is behind Hank, and it’s 4-3 Rangers. Replay shows that a rebound bounces off Tyutin and onto Patty’s stick right in front, and Patty tries to make a pass that bounces off Tyutin’s shoulder, off the pipe, and into the net. We are stunned. We can’t decide whether to cheer or not. Boomer gasps, “Oh my god, are we within one now?” Pause. “This can’t be happening to me.” It should be noted that the Devils remain incapable of actually shooting the puck into the net, but as long as the Rangers are going to offer up their flubbery bodyparts to deflect pucks past Hank, we can’t really complain, can we?
3:50 It takes a few weeks to get the puck out of their own zone, after Gomez wins draw after draw after draw off the Patty line, but finally the Devils get up the ice and are apparently allowed to precede the puck into the offensive zone by several yards. Yeah, they look like such a remedial group of losers that the linesmen are taking pity on them.
2:05 Patty and Zach aren’t looking remedial enough on this rush, and get called offside on a two-on-two sequence.
1:20 Gio tries to chip away at Pookie’s resolve by sprinting after a loose puck with speed and purpose as if he’s been shot out of a cannon, and then he pulls up on a dime to get inside on the last D back. He then rips a lightning-quick shot that does the unthinkable – hits the net. Hank is as stunned as everyone else, but manages to stop it.
0:22 Madden, Brylin and Clarkson build on what Gio started with that shot, and get the crowd totally fired up with a hard-cycling, grinding shift in the Rangers zone, in which we get to see the very moment when this brief era of Devils puck luck ends. The closest scoring chance bounces through the crease, but this time flubbers to safety off a defender’s leg.
0:00 That period was tickety-nutso.
Dano tries to give us a pep talk of what the Devils need to do in the third, and suggests that, among other things, they try not to get too wrapped up in trying to score and forget their defensive responsibilities. “Which they have done. At times. Throughout this series.” Yeah, no kidding.
19:30 Mottau shakes Jagr behind Marty’s net like a little mini-Houdini, then launches Pando and Madden on a two-on-one with a fantastic long outlet pass. Pando is pressured well by the D, and has to just shoot from up high, and Hank doesn’t give up a rebound. Chico tries to tell us that Pando blew it on the play and should have held the puck longer and gone for a pass, then has to issue an official apology to PandoNation when he watches the replay and realizes Pando didn’t have any other choices. Boomer: “Well, he could have chosen to hold the puck until he couldn’t get a shot at all.” Good point.
18:10 Paulie makes a dazzling play jumping up on a feed from the corner from Patty, zig-zagging around his defender, and ripping a slick shot that Hank just barely manages to get a shoulder on. We don’t mind that he can’t finish, because we were forewarned.
16:02 The Patty/Langer/Zach line jumps into play to swagger around the Rangers zone a bit, setting up some well-conceived chances, but the play finally breaks down when an Oduya shot from the point gets blocked by – who else? – Patty. The Rangers quickly wheel up the other way, and Pookie says, “I like that the Devils are buzzing a bit here.” Schnookie: “This is the Line of Doom, you know. They’re about to give up a goal here.” Pookie, serenely: “That’s okay. We’re losing anyway. As long as they’re buzzing, I’m happy.”
15:34 After a whistle for something Doc didn’t catch brings a faceoff outside the Devils zone, Chico tells us that the Rangers “better fear Paul Martin” in this period. Pookie giggles, “Yeah. Fear the dunk.”
13:19 A nifty three-man rush with some nice tic-tac-toe drop passing at the point by Patty, Langer and Oduya yields zero scoring chances as two Rangers go down to block Oduya’s approach, and he kind of just skates into this converging Bermuda triangle of sliding defenders before toppling over completely and turning the puck over. If that had been two Devils sliding on the ice on that play, we can’t even imagine how many goals the opponent would be able to score.
11:09 The crowd is in full, split “Let’s go [insert team name here]” mode, and the pace is just scorching, with the teams flying up and down the rink, and seriously, if you don’t like playoff hockey like this, you have no heart.
9:47 Whitey looks like he needs a summer vacation. He gets beaten badly by Straka on the far boards, and Marty has to hold his ground at the side of the net as Whitey scrambles to get back into the play.
8:59 It looks like the Patty/Langer/Zach line is settling in for a long offensive-zone shift, but Oduya’s point shot is blocked out to center ice. Paulie has to sprint after the puck to race Avery, who had a better angle on it, and as the camera follows the play down the ice, just as Paulie is about to do his patented flying poke-check from behind, we see Marty is racing out to meet the play. It looks like disaster is about to unfold, but then the puck is careening safely to the near boards, Avery is flying off in the other direction, Marty is lying unscathed in the high slot, and Paulie is cartwheeling into the crease. Schnookie: “What the hell just happened there?” Pookie: “Paulie just hadn’t done any tumbling in a while.”
7:09 This period has reached an absolute tickety-frenzy pace, and Clarkson laces a gorgeous pass to spring Madden in alone, but the worst possible thing happens when Girardi trips Madden clearly from behind. So instead of a power play, Madden draws a penalty shot. The expected happens on it, and it’s still 4-3. Boomer states the obvious when she sighs, “I would really have preferred a power play.”
5:00 The clock strikes midnight on the part of the third period where the Devils play hard and now we’re in the part where they historically give up dreadfully soul-killing goals. It’s as if a switch has been flipped – Paulie is handling the puck under only very mild forechecking pressure below the hash marks, and just falls over at Gomez’s feet, coughing the puck up into the crease. The only thing saving that from being a goal is the fact that the Rangers are playing a 1-2-2 that has the back two literally not crossing their own blue line and the middle two not crossing the red line.
4:09 The pace has slowed to a molasses-uphill-in-January crawl, and the crowd is flagging. Pookie: “That penalty shot killed this game.”
2:32 We are discussing how, now that we’re under three minutes in the game, the puck isn’t going to get down to the Rangers end again. We’re also wondering what the percentage is on the Devils giving up empty-netters. Schnookie posits that they’ve been scored on no less than 75% of the times they’ve pulled Marty.
1:15 Gulp. Chico points out that the Devils are going with four forwards and one D, with Patty at the point. Boomer: “No wonder there’s no one at the point.”
0:59 Sure enough, the empty Devils net is money in the bank. Dubinsky makes it 5-3. Chico voices his disappointment that there are so many Ranger fans in the building, cheering the win. Chico, don’t get us started.
0:00 Thanks, boys, for another season. This one was maddening at times, disappointing often, but also had its great times, its big wins, its pleasant surprises and its awe-inspiring moments. And most of all, it was another year we got to spend with our Devils. We’ll see you boys again in October.