Tonight’s broadcast (in HD, although we shouldn’t be surprised, since it is the Rangers) is touting itself as a clash of two undefeated titans. That’s right! The mighty 2-0 Devils! Meeting the mighty 4-0 Rangers! And there’s no need to examine the fact that all six of those wins were pretty much just barely eked out. These teams are both behemoths of winningness! The fur is going to fly tonight!
18:21 With the sparse crowd trying to get a “Marty!” chant going in the background (the crowd noise is blissfully muffled on this feed), the Rangers get their first shot of the night from the high slot, and Voros follows up on the rebound a bit too hard and knocks Marty over. He gets called for goalie interference. The crowd muffledly doesn’t like it. We have no real opinion, because it’s Monday night.
17:34 We get a shot of the bench during a stoppage, and Travis is looking shiny-haired and helmetless. He also is lacking his trademark red mark on his forehead – could it be that he finally has a helmet that fits?
17:03 The power play is not going well. Pookie proclaims disgustedly, “I’m calling Rangers 5, and the Devils nothing.”
16:01 The Devils are ineffectually puttering around the Rangers zone, and Chico remarks, “you can see why the Rangers are 19-of-19 on the penalty kill this season.” Pookie: “Because the Devils are that bad on the power play?”
14:20 As the teams are sort of weakly back-and-forthing, Clarkson suddenly finds himself with the puck in the neutral zone with a lot of ice in front of him. MSG+ eagerly cuts to an ice-level angle so we can watch his walking-in-on-the-D attempt here, but Clarkson just crumples face-first to the ice for no obvious reason. Doc suggests diplomatically that perhaps he “tripped over his own stick”. We wonder if Paulie deployed his gopher army to the wrong end of the ice; Pookie suggests Paulie’s on the bench right now saying, “Come, my children! To the other zone! Arise and attack!”
12:21 We come back from commercial to see a close-up of Marty (while Chico is assuring us that Marty is very popular when he holds goalie camps. Really Chico? We never would have guessed that aspiring goalies think Marty Brodeur is awesome), and it bears mentioning that we still don’t like his stupid new mask.
11:01 A chorus of groans rises from the living room of stately IPB Manor after Zach deftly forces a turnover above the faceoff dots to Lundqvist’s right, dishes smartly to Langer, then Langer laces a great feed across the crease to a streaking Travis… who whiffs terribly on the shot attempt. Schnookie has been muttering about how she has the beginnings of a headache, and this play prompts Pookie to say, “That gave me a headache.”
10:04 This game is very strangely lacking intensity, which is odd, considering how the preseason game we saw between these teams at the Garden was a feisty, good one.
9:48 Did Doc just call the Holik/Rupp/Zubrus line “The Balki Line”?
8:25 The Rangers get a whole bunch of scoring chances for some reason or another, but we’re too busy talking about how this game feels like a college game, or an AHL game where all the players know they’re not going to be called up, or a somnolent shuffleboard match on a seniors-only cruise ship to notice how or why that’s happening.
7:43 The game is now feeling like the Rangers have “weathered the Devils attack” and are now settling into the pace for the rest of the game. They’re setting up with ease in the Devils zone, and the Devils D seems content to just try to get the puck past the blue line when they attempt to break up passes. Psst, guys – you’re allowed to try to take the puck to the other end of the ice. You don’t have to spend the whole game in Marty’s zone.
6:42 MSG+ decides to zoom in on some Ranger as he’s taking Paulie on rushing up the far wing, and just as the play is in HD iso filling the screen, smooth-as-silk ice-water-in-his-veins Paulie just sweeps the puck away and skates off as if nothing happened at all. There is some mention on the broadcast that the play was reminiscent of a guy whose name rhymes with “Bliedermayer”. (Hint: his first name does NOT rhyme with “Blob”. It rhymes with “Blott”.)
6:30 Marty decides to remind us why we hated hockey at the end of last season. Dubinsky cranks a soft shot from just inside the blue line that flutters toward the net after chipping off Oduya’s stick. Marty has a week to glove the shot, but instead it hits his cuff and falls into the net. 1-0 Rangers.
5:19 We’re nodding off listening to Chico making excuses for Marty (Chico: “Sure, goaltenders want to stop all those [kinds of shots], and maybe should…” Us: “Maybe????”), and it’s a good thing, because the wheels are completely falling off the Devils right now. The Rangers are getting shot after shot after shot on turnover after turnover after turnover.
3:12 Chico: “This is interesting – three games in a row now the Devils have given up the first goal.” Pookie: “That’s very interesting!”
2:42 You know what we didn’t get enough of? That playoff series from last year between these two teams. So thank goodness the Devils are doing their darnedest to recreate it for us now.
1:25 Some red wine and Xanax would be really good right now. And just as we type that, Doc informs us the Devils have not registered a single scoring chance in this period. Correction: A LOT of red wine and Xanax would be really good right now.
0:00 BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! *Throws beer-soaked mousepads at the TV*
Patty (In Dallas) spent much of last season telling us about how orange Steve Cangialosi looks in HD. Now that we’re finally seeing it, we’re a little disappointed; it seems Steve’s make-up wrangler has figured this “looking vaguely lifelike” thing out. However, Dano is totally picking up the slack.
19:17 Whatever Sutter told the boys in the dressing room, it must have registered in their heads as, “That 20 minutes was awesome! Keep that up! Go out and do more of that!”
18:34 After a shocking turn of events (read: a Devils shot on goal), Patty and Mara exchange some bitchslaps. They both get roughing minors. Chico floats the notion that 4-on-4 could be “to the advantage of the Devils”. We severely injure ourselves laughing uproariously at the suggestion.
17:16 To Chico’s credit, he clarifies that he only said that about the 4-on-4 because “5-on-5 the Devils have nothing going for them. You hope that 4-on-4, something might change.” Pookie: “And if that doesn’t work, you can just go to 3-on-3!”
15:51 All kinds of lameness is happening on the ice (so much so that Doc just throws up his hands on the play-by-play and says that the action is “crazy”, and not in a good or interesting way), and Boomer pipes up, “I’m hoping this is the clunker, and things will only get better from here.” Pookie responds, “That’s what I hoped all through the beginning of last season, too.”
14:26 Korpikoski walks out of the far corner toward the net, and Rolston hooks him before he can get to the crease. So now we get to see what these teams look like when the Rangers actually have one more guy on the ice, rather than just seeming like it.
13:24 The Rangers get three point shots in rapid sequence, and the last of the three gets tipped by Voros past Marty. 2-0 Rangers.
12:17 Ooh. Ooh. A Ranger clears the puck over the glass on what should have been an effortless, unpressured pass out of the defensive zone. The Devils are going on the power play. Pookie: “Yay. I think I’m going to knock myself out with a brick.”
We come back from commercial to hear Chico telling us that “not since Emile Francis has a Rangers coach been as warmly appreciated as Tom Renney.” Further proving that fanbases who have proclaimed they’d rather watch their team lose with a run-and-gun lineup than win with a trap are TOTAL liars.
11:48 The officials are taking pity on the Devils now, letting Marty get away with a clear hook on a shorthanded wraparound attempt.
10:00 Halfway through the game we’ve got two things to say: 1. If this is supposed to be some kind of measuring stick to see how much better this year’s version of the Devils is than last, we’re not impressed at the progress. And 2. Thank goodness for the retirement of the unbalanced schedule, because there are only five more of these things left this season.
7:33 Doc tells us the Rangers have out-chanced the Devils 10-3 so far in this game. That seems unlikely, because there is no way, with their whopping 7 total shots on net, that the Devils have had 3 chances.
6:47 In the best opportunity of the game so far for the Devils, Holik and the puck are both loose in front of a gaping net, and he manages to remind us of his previous tenure in New Jersey, what with the spinning around helplessly, unable to find the puck in his feet.
4:59 Meh. The Rangers get a 3-on-1 and overpass so that the Iron Boar is able to break it up without really trying. Whatevs.
3:36 On a bit of forecheck (We know! What is this word, this “forecheck”?) Zach does a wacky spin move to get around two Rangers in the near corner, but kind of just ricochets off both of them. Schnookie suggests that was his “Tornado” move, and Pookie posits that it was a dance move from his audition for West Side Story. Schnookie immediately pulls out one of her favorite bits of Zach trivia (that he appeared in several high school theatrical productions) to needle Pookie: “Yeah, that was part of his Brighton Beach Memoirs choreography.” Pookie flips her the bird. Schnookie just chuckles, because it’s not like she’s making up that Zach was in Brighton Beach Memoirs. That’s not the kind of thing a gal can make up. Oh, Zach. You’re a neverending fount of hilarity.
1:48 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach is out with Pando and Madden, and thanks to the jolt of Brighton Beach Memoirs energy he’s got, Zach forces a turnover and whips a shot at net. Hank falls over in the face of Pando’s tenacious goalmouth presence, and Madden is there to backhand the puck through him and into the net. 2-1 Rangers, and we decide Zach should always be on the Madden/Pando line. Until they have to actually check someone.
0:04 After Marty goes down to make a scrambling save, Callahan cuts around close behind the net, catching Marty’s arm in a painful-looking bit of a check. Oduya comes in from up high and jostles Callahan for taking liberties with Marty, and Oduya gets called for interference. Sigh.
0:00 Well, there was one more Devils goal in that period than we expected. And about 10,000 fewer Rangers ones. So we guess that should be considered some kind of moral victory.
Steve is predicting, based on Zach having three points in three games, an 80-point season for our Itty-Bitty Prince. He also tries to tell us that Zach is not the kind of person who sets goals this early in the season. Please. Zach has Boxworthy working on heaps of ledgers just of his shift-by-shift goals, and we all know it.
Oh, and that Phaneuf “Is This The Year?” commercial is, quite possibly, the worst commercial for hockey that we’ve ever seen. Who on earth saw that and decided it was worthy of seeing airtime?
18:21 The Devils are looking ever-so-calm running around all over the place as if they’ve never practiced the PK, and thanks to another Voros screen, it’s 3-1 Rangers on the umpteenth point shot of the man advantage.
15:42 Doc and Chico are discussing how craptacular the Devils PK is at clearing out the front of the net, and, after grousing about how you can’t cross-check guys like you used to be able to, Doc pulls back a bit and says that after four years of these “new NHL” rules, it’s not really a good excuse anymore. Schnookie: “But the Devils are still hoping to use it that way.” Pookie: “I know what. How about they try to counteract it by doing the same thing at the other end?” Stunned silence follows.
12:36 The Poppers put on a bit of Brighton Beach Memoirs spunkiness, but Zach’s shift-by-shift goal of picking up another point here isn’t met, as Langer’s dart-down-from-the-point-to-chip-the-puck-over-Lundqvist move doesn’t bear fruit.
11:26 Pookie says out of the blue, of Oduya’s play, “Johnny Handsome just looked like Johnny Confused there.” Schnookie responds, “Huh? I wasn’t paying attention.” Pookie explains, “There was lots of skating around in big circles, and passing to no one, and…” and she trails off. Schnookie finishes for her, “And having a big thought bubble with a giant question mark in it over his head?”
10:21 Voros heads to the bench for a change while the Rangers seem to have everything calmly under control, and decides to issue some kind of “I’m a manly-man, and can posture preeningly to prove it” challenge to Clarkson on the way, earning himself a slashing penalty for his trouble. Pookie: “This is the kind of penalty the Devils never kill.”
8:21 It is, however, the kind of penalty the Rangers do kill. Unsurprisingly.
7:57 Zubrus has a glorious point-blank opportunity, but appears to whiff on the puck. Less than 8 minutes until we can turn this off and play MarioKart! (Yeah, we know how cool we are. You don’t have to tell us.)
7:00 Chico’s not making excuses, but he’s saying the ice sucks tonight.
6:33 The Iron Boar fires the puck on his backhand over the glass and the Rangers go back on the PP. Almost exactly as Schnookie is positing that the Devils’ PK can’t handle big guys in front of the net because there’s no one on the team who can fill that role in practice.
6:21 Hey! The Rangers aren’t significantly enough better than the Devils with one man advantage, so Whitey cleverly takes a high sticking penalty right off the faceoff to give them a two-man advantage. That’s what we like to see.
4:20 We’re not going to lie – that was a satisfying stretch of penalty killing, even though it prompted Chico to say at one point, on a failed clearing attempt by Oduya, “It’s another example of the Devils doing so many things right, but…” letting us finish for him, “also doing so many things wrong.” The end result, no matter how unlikely, was that the Rangers didn’t score, so we’ll take it.
2:18 Langer gets all stupidly bitchy and petulant with Drury, and, despite slashing Drury, roughing him, and repeatedly punching him in the face with his gloved hand, somehow manages to draw matching minors on the exchange. Chico seems to think the Devils should have gotten the power play on the sequence. Really, Chico? Drury gets slashed, roughed, and punched repeatedly while offering only a single roughing-caliber response, and you think he should have gotten the extra minor? Interesting.
0:57 The Devils pulled Marty for the 4-on-4, and after failing miserably to be in the right place in front of Lundqvist’s net for a few rebounds (because no team goes to the net with less effectiveness than the Devils. Johnny Mac, we’re looking at you…), end up on the receiving end of an empty-net goal by Callahan. 4-1 Rangers.
0:00 This whole game kind of looked like the Devils said, “We really want revenge for the way things went last year, but we think it’s still possible for us to be just a bit more beaten down and humiliated. So let’s pile on one more loss for old time’s sake, and we’ll start focusing on the revenge thing in the next game.” Which… thanks, guys. It was fun.