We’re back safely ensconced in the friendly confines of stately IPB Manor, our whirlwind month of socializing and travel finally at an end. And what better way to get into the swing of paying attention to the hockey season than the first half of a Devils-Flyers home-and-home? Someone who doesn’t seem to want to hang out with us tonight is Danny Briere, who Steve describes in the pregame segment as “one of the most popular players on the Flyers”. We’re not going to lie – until this very moment we had completely forgotten that he even was a Flyer.
HOLY CRAP! They’re playing the Yanni music that used to accompany the highlight reel during the pregame introductions at the arena! Shut up, Doc and Chico. We’re trying to listen to the background noise there and reminisce about our old days as season ticket holders.
19:14 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Boomer hasn’t even had a chance to settle down in front of the TV and the Flyers just fall apart in their own zone, apparently intimidated by the goal-scoring prowess of Travis. Our very own Acorn wheels out of the far corner, leaving panic and chaos in his wake as what seems like dozens of Flyers (including Biron) leave their feet to try to block a shot that doesn’t come. Finally Travis just whips a backhand from behind the goal line out front, and it banks in off another sliding defender. 1-0 Devils, and Pookie snaps while watching the replay, “And that is why you don’t go down to block shots.”
18:08 Boomer still hasn’t had a chance to settle down yet when Carter scores one of those Gagne Specials, where he lasers a shot from below the face-off dot over Marty’s glove shoulder. 1-1 game. And that’s pretty discouraging, if the Flyers now have two guys who can score like that on Marty.
15:57 Chico tells us that Travis had recently announced that if he didn’t score a goal soon, he’d start thinking of himself as a playmaking center. That sounds like something Zach would do. Pookie: “I really hope he announced that by flouncing into the dressing room one day and saying, ‘Fine. I’m just never going to score again!’”
14:04 Since Biron hasn’t allowed any more goals on flukey, weak shots, the Devils have decided they are all playmaking skaters, not goal-scoring ones. They also are not defender skaters, apparently.
13:31 A breakdown in the Devils zone turns into a point-blank shot from Richards in the slot, and it rings so hard off the crossbar that it takes ages to fall back to the ice; everyone just stands there wondering where the hell the puck just went. At long last it lands out by the near faceoff dot, and Gionta carries it up the rink to safety (if not a scoring chance). If that had been at the other end of the ice, the puck would probably have banked off the glass and back into the net, considering the kinds of goals Biron has given up to the Devils since moving to Philly.
10:56 Letourneau-Leblond (we refuse to drop the “Letourneau”, but we are in favor of the “PL3” nickname) goes all “circa 2007 Flyers” and slams Cote into the boards egregiously. He deservedly picks up a major for boarding. So much for being an effective NHLer. And looking at how the Devils have been struggling defensively in the last bit of play, this is a very well-timed major power play.
9:54 During a discussion of Doc’s description of “Letourneau-Leblond” being a name that’s like falling down a staircase, Pookie gets her artists confused and starts talking about Kandinsky (no, he did not paint “Nude Descending a Staircase”, and don’t let her try to tell you otherwise). Suddenly we’re all riffing on the Kandinsky from Six Degrees of Separation, and Pookie best sums up the Devils’ play since Travis’s goal: “Chaos/Chaos… Chaos/Chaos… Hm. This Kandinsky is only painted on one side.”
8:35 Marty goes for a poke-check on Knuble as he bulls in from the wing on a nifty feed from Richards, and it backfires horrendously, as he gets the puck, but deflects it in under himself. 2-1 Flyers. Our residual playoff fondness for our erstwhile tranny brides is ebbing.
5:35 Vrana Vrana Vrana is too much for Alberts to handle as he rumbles slowly down the near wing, so Alberts is forced to stand flat-footed and lazily fling his arm out to try to slow Vrana Vrana Vrana down. He gets called for it, and the scorched-earth power play of the Devils gets a chance to strut its stuff.
4:49 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Zach finds Zubrus in the crease with a nice pass along the goal line, and the Flyers penalty killers decide to just stand there watching Zubrus punch the puck through Biron’s marshmallow-soft butterfly (seriously, that was probably the most porous goal-line butterfly stance we’ve ever seen). That demonstration of crease-clearing ineptitude is the kind of thing we expect from our own team. 2-2 tie.
4:21 The Devils do not respond well to tying up the game, and give the Flyers a three-on-one in close to Marty. This time Marty’s able to stop the high glove-side shot.
3:11 On a replay of Upshall flinging Greener into the end boards, Chico says “Oooh, Upshall’s been a tower of strength tonight!” We don’t think you really have to be a tower of strength to knock Andy Greene over, but who are we to argue with Chico? Langer doesn’t like the hit and takes a stupid, stupid penalty roughing Upshall up. Upshall is not a tower of strength that’s trembling in its skates in the face of Langer’s rage, so he doesn’t rough back. The Flyers go back on the PP, and we look at Langer in the box and think, “So much for being an effective NHLer.”
1:41 The sparse crowd give a huge cheer for some sassy puck-hogging penalty killing by Patty in the neutral zone.
0:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! And AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Biron sees our amazement at his craptitude holding the goal line on the Zubrus goal and says, “I can top that.” Travis wins an offensive zone draw, Gio pushes the puck forward to Zach, who’s right on the doorstep at the side of the net, and Biron proceeds to crumble from the power of Zach’s weak shoveled shot into his pads. If we were in Zach’s shoes, we probably would have stopped to say, “Wait, are you serious?” but Zach’s a better hockey player than we are, so he just takes the opportunity Biron gives him and taps the loose puck sitting behind him across the goal line. 3-2 Devils.
0:00 There is no question that this was one of those periods where the Devils were not good, but their opponent was way, way, way worse. We’ll take it. And we get an interview with Travis wherein he adorably suggests that the Flyers “came in loaded for bear tonight”. Yeah, but they forgot about Biron.
We don’t pay attention to Steve and Chico during intermission. Sorry. You’re on your own for this one, Gentle Reader.
19:23 Travis is playing like he’s recently taken an injection of Hatcher saliva or something. He pulls a waist-high Flyers clearing attempt out of the air right at the blue line for one of the most artful keeps we’ve seen this season. (Of course, he doesn’t score, but we’re not complaining.)
17:58 As the teams mill about back and forth, we get a highlight package of Zach’s recent unstoppable goal-scoring machine-ness, and Chico says, “You can never see too much of Zach!” Right, Chico!
16:14 We just realize that Biron is still in this game. Huh.
15:59 Yawn. Cote and Letourneau-Leblond fight, bringing play to a screeching, boring halt after a bit of wild scrambling fun from the fourth lines in the Flyers zone.
It’s not a fight for the ages.
15:05 There is more tentative back-and-forthing in the neutral zone, and Pookie says, as Travis tries to launch an offensive rush, “Travis came loaded for blue whale tonight.” Pause. “Gio came loaded for housecat, but for him, that’s like bear.”
14:19 As the camera lingers lovingly on a shot of Pando on the bench, Chico tells us that the Devils are among the league leaders in goals against, “And that’s the reason why.” Damn straight. PandoNation is proud of its emperor/god, and the way he single-handedly keeps the Devils’ GAA so low. Pando for Vezina!
12:55 Just as Doc is cracking about how the game’s gotten a bit duller since both coaches spent the intermission reminding their teams to play defense, Clarkson fights Alberts to stop some offensive pressure from the Devils in its tracks.
Chico tells us that “it takes a special kind of personality” to be able to be a fighter in the NHL like Clarkson. Pookie: “Yeah, you have to be dumb as a post.”
12:17 We are discussing Clarkson’s fighting style (like the way he always seems to start fights by skating up to a guy, hugging him, assessing how much taller than him the potential opponent is, then deciding to go if he determines the guy’s at least six inches taller than he is), and while none of us are big fans of fighting as a whole, we like that Clarkson’s fights always involve him losing his helmet. Pookie explains, “His fights always end with him getting up off the ice, helmetless, and seemingly in slow motion, like a romance novel cover. Like, he gets up and he’s got the billowing white shirt and a border of roses.”
11:15 On a Zach/Travis/Rupper rush, Upshall skates near Rupper and gets called for hooking.
9:15 That was not a very good power play.
9:08 Upshall almost gets a break coming out of the penalty box, but Oduya artfully catches him with a foxy poke-check from behind.
8:18 Play is starting to open up again, and when Gagne tries to skate past Salvador coming up the near wing, he gets flattened in open ice. Pookie: “He just got Iron Boared.” And you can quote us on that.
8:09 Madden mishandles a long pass from Pando and hooks Coburn lazily in the neutral zone. That’s not really the kind of penalty that teams usually kill.
8:02 The PK doesn’t even bother trying to kill the bad penalty. Patty loses the initial draw, letting Richards get a long shot that Marty stops, but Gagne is there to do his Marty-Killing act by punching in the rebound. 3-3 tie.
3:53 The teams have settled into the usual “it’s the second period of a Devils/Flyers game” doldrums.
3:20 In the course of his play-by-play, Doc says Salvador’s name. Pookie perks up, “Did you hear that? He said ‘Salvadar. He’s slowly working his way to calling him Iron Boar!”
3:05 The teams have settled into the usual “one of these teams hasn’t won yet this season and one is due for a letdown” doldrums, and Hartnell beats three oblivious Devils to a rebound in front of a wide-open net to make it 4-3 Flyers.
1:38 We get a look at Kevin Smith in the crowd, and Chico tells us that he’s a huge Devils fan, something he learned from reading, “Uh, a, um, website that interviewed him.” We take that to mean that Chico either doesn’t know what a blog is, or is just not sure whether he’s allowed to say “Puck Daddy” on television.
0:00 The period mercifully ends with Doc and Chico discussing how Langer hasn’t been on the ice much since taking his dumb penalty. Sigh. And the Devils managed a whopping four shots in this period, too. Way to keep taking it to a shaky goaltender, guys.
Steve interviews Kevin Smith, and it bears mentioning here that we’re not his biggest fans as a filmmaker, but we love him unconditionally for how genuinely awesomely a Devils fan he is.
20:00 Langer is not on the bench to start the period. The rest of the guys look daunted but a bit determined as they face the challenge of having to take stupid penalties themselves with Captain Fuck This Shit absent from the game.
18:38 Hm. The Devils appear to have decided this game is over. They get very lucky when it seems Gagne has put the game out of reach on a slow-moving three-on-two, but his shot hits the post after beating Marty, and Marty is able to cover the puck in the crease. The first period was a lot more fun than this one.
16:46 Mottau carries the puck in across the Flyers blue line and takes a shot from up high that Biron has no trouble with. Schnookie says, “Huh. I hadn’t noticed Mottau at all tonight.” Pause. Boomer says dreamily, “I had. He’s been out there.” When your mother has a hockey husband, does that make him your hockey step-father? Should we feel awkward around him?
15:29 Patty suddenly remembers this is the Flyers and starts up a swirling-through-the-zone offensive thrust, drawing a weak hooking penalty from Knuble in the process.
15:22 Patty suddenly remembers he’s Patty and passes lamely from the point directly to a penalty killer standing ten feet in front of him.
13:29 Worst. Power play. Ever.
12:05 On a close-up shot of Richards on a faceoff, Pookie notices he’s wearing a necklace that looks not unlike a slim nylon dog collar. She decides this is proof that the Flyers are all required to wear their rabies certifications after the Hatcher incident last year.
10:21 It might sound like we’re damning him with faint praise, but we mean it with all sincerity when we say that Travis has been by far the Devils’ best forward tonight. He looks like a totally new Acorn.
9:22 Groans of disgust fill the hallways of stately IPB Manor after a hard-pressing shift by the Patty/Zubrus/Vrana Vrana Vrana line yields concludes not with a goal or power play, but rather a missed shot attempt by Zubrus on a hard cross-crease feed, and the puck sailing untouched to a vacated point and out of the zone. That stands as the best offensive pressure the Devils have had since the first period.
8:38 Ugh. Richards lays a gorgeous pass on the fly into the slot, and Lupul is there to tap it home, giving the Flyers an insurmountable 5-3 lead (and giving Richards his fourth assist of the night and something like his 10,000th against the Devils in the last two seasons. Just what we need. A Devils-Killer set-up man to go with Marty-Killer shooters like Gagne and Carter). It took the Flyers about two seconds to set up and complete that play after the Devils took about three minutes to set up Zubrus’s missed chance at the other end. We can only assume Kevin Weekes is secretly kind of psyched because this means he’s probably going to start tomorrow.
7:13 After another shot of Richards that showcases his neckwear, Pookie says, “Richards is totally showing off his collar. He’s really proud that he’s been rabies-free since 2003.”
5:16 Aww! Travis’s parents are here tonight! They didn’t get interviewed or even shown on the TV, probably because they’re not camera hogs like JP Parise.
3:09 You know what was the turning point in this game? When the Devils fell asleep watching those two boring fights. The moral of the story is that fighting can sometimes spark a team, but more often than not is just so soporific that it makes everything fall off the rails. (And don’t try to tell us the fights sparked the Flyers. That’s just stupid.)
1:56 Some things haven’t changed from last season – Marty is only barely on the bench when Hartnell gets the puck at the Flyers blue line, and fires it all the way into the empty net. If there’s one thing the Sutter Era can be known for, it should be that the Devils have given up empty netters 100% of the time they’ve had to pull the goalie. 6-3 Flyers.
0:55 There are some gentle boos from the sparse crowd when the last minute of play is announced. On the bench, Travis’s face is burning and he’s saying, “Mum and Dad, could you please not embarrass me in front of my teammates?”
0:00 It’s still October, so we’re just going to shrug and say, “Meh. You win some, you lose some.”