It’s felt like a lifetime since we last got a good dose of Scott Clemmensen: Starting Goaltender, so let’s just jump right into the action:
19:32 It should be mentioned that we exchanged emails this morning about Gulitti’s post about Clarkson’s junior hockey connections to the Panthers’ coach, and we both agreed that we just love how he says he’ll do anything for his beloved coaches, including Sutter. Pookie then summed up our feelings for Clarkson best by remarking, “I love that boneheaded dullard.”
17:47 Zach is officially in a slump now – he has a great chance to shovel the puck into a gaping net, but forces it just over the crossbar. We’ll call it now: he’s never going to score again.
16:45 Pookie is still discussing Clarkson being a boneheaded dullard: “I feel like ‘boneheaded dullard’ makes it sound like he tries harder than other dullards. And he’s adorable because of it.”
16:14 Clemmer gloves and freezes a long dump-in from the Panthers. Pookie, swilling a glass of wine here after dinner has already been cleaned up: “I think it is no coincidence that now that Clemmer is our starter, I’m much more willing to drink wine after dinner than before. I’m going to become like Marge Simpson, having a single glass of red wine every evening and then worrying about my drinking problem.”
15:13 Chico tells us that Bouwmeester’s father was “ambushed” by a “small newspaper in South Florida” and “said some uncomplimentary things” about the Panthers. Doc says, with the perfect cadence of a pre-teen girl, “Ew.”
13:45 The teams are not doing anything noteworthy, and Doc makes Chico expound upon his pregame assertion that the Maple Leafs are a circus (he was talking about McCabe). Chico rises to the challenge perfectly and proudly exclaims, “I wouldn’t say they’re a three-ring circus. They’re more a six-ring circus!” And you can quote him on that!
13:18 Pando and Madden get a sort of mini odd-man rush with a perfectly executed cross play that results in a great chance by Pando. Stupid Vokoun gets a leg pad on it.
12:14 Gregory Campbell hooks Travis on his way out of the Devils zone, rightly figuring it’s better to put the Devils on the power play than let them put together a rush at even strength.
10:02 We suddenly notice, at pretty much the same time Doc does, that the power play is over. The Panthers miraculously survived.
9:31 Patty, looking desultory about being back on the Madden/Pando line for even just this shift, is not able to get a stick on Madden’s cross-crease feed on a two-on-one. Not that Vokoun was really worried when he looked up and saw those two guys bearing down on him.
8:56 For the first time in this game the Panthers set up in the Devils zone and end up with a not-half-bad scoring chance. The puck is deflected into the netting above the glass, and as we wait for the faceoff, Pookie announces, “I’m calling 1-0 Florida.”
6:07 Patty and Gio dart up the length of the ice on a give-and-go-tastic rush, and it’s really amazing how much notably happier Patty is not to be sharing the ice with Madden.
5:51 This game is so exciting that it merits mention that Boomer is deeply immersed in the latest issue of Booklist instead of watching.
5:21 Chico is being wildly catty tonight! The Panthers have a guy on their team who is known back in Czech as “Baby Jagr”, and Chico sniffs that while it’s a compliment to be held up to Jagr from a skill perspective, he had “other traits” that a guy should not want to be compared to. Hee!
4:18 The Iron Boar gets high sticked in the near corner on a rare trip into the Devils zone, and the power play gets another chance to strut its stuff as the reason why the team keeps losing.
3:20 Clarkson carries the puck hard to the net, with a defender draped all over him, and his fellow PPers pull up around the perimeter, stand in place, and watch him. Because who doesn’t want to see such a passive power play? We can only imagine Johnny Mac is clapping his hands with glee on the bench and shouting, “That’s the way boys! That’s just how I told you all to stand around when you’re on the power play!”
2:28 The best scoring chance of the power play is by some Panther guy. Clemmer makes a moderately snappy glove save on it. We just roll our eyes. Such is the life of the the 2008-2009 Devils fan.
1:25 Whitey sets up the Panthers perfectly to leave a period in which they’ve been massively outplayed with a 1-0 lead by taking a lazy hooking penalty.
1:10 We see a close up of McCabe near the benches, and Pookie says, “The A on his sweater looks embarrassed to be there.”
0:00 Wow. The script clearly said that the Panthers were supposed to score there. Somehow, they’re really bad enough that they didn’t, so we head into the intermission still tied at zero. On the bright side, we get an interview with a characteristically chipper and handsome Clarkson.
Mmm… Williams-Sonoma holiday candy. Oh, wait, was there an intermission show? Whatever.
Chico Eats! This season seems to be a bit more Chico Cooks!-oriented. Tonight he made a brick-oven pizza that he was too distracted about making to remember to eat it. Doc says that he and the production guys all had a bet that Chico would “burn the tar out of” the pizza, and then adds that he’s “becoming fearful” of all this food prep by Chico. Chico says that he’s going to start making Doc eat the stuff he makes, and Doc turns to the camera dryly and says, “It’s been nice knowing you all.” We really can’t measure how much we love these guys, especially now that we’re in the Scott Clemmensen Era and don’t really want to be talking about the Devils.
19:26 We are astonished that, in the head-to-head battle of sucktitude, the Devils PK is proven stronger than the Panthers PP.
19:01 The puck flies out of play as the game listlesses along and Pookie says, “Well, here’s something I never thought I’d say this season: ‘The Devils and the Panthers – two teams evenly matched.’”
17:41 Brett McLean is apparently married to Chico’s niece. That information kind of came out of nowhere. Pookie: “It’s so weird to think that Chico is somebody’s uncle.”
16:33 Paulie plays the puck (poorly) at the Florida blue line and Doc play-by-plays, “Paul Martin, himself from Minnesota University, ranked this week number one in men’s ice hockey.” Pookie: “Paulie’s ranked number one in men’s ice hockey?”
14:14 The Panther re-establish their offensive-zone possession after a poorly-conceived shot attempt by Gio was shut down at the other end. We decide that we are very comfortable with the idea that the Devils aren’t going to score tonight. Pookie: “I just don’t feel like it’s really even worth harping on what they’re doing wrong.” Schnookie: “They’re not really doing anything wrong. They’re just not scoring. That’s not bad – it’s normal.”
13:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Patty doesn’t like us talking that way about the Devils not scoring. Also, he likes that he’s not skating with Pando and Madden here. Gio and Rupp do a nice job of working the boards, then find Patty alone in front of the net. Patty, perhaps inspired by the discussion Chico and Doc were just having about Zach’s shootout move against the Caps the other day, sassily dekes Vokoun out of position and coolly slips the puck into the net. 1-0 Devils.
11:15 Clemmer, perhaps inspired by his team suddenly doing something good, makes a fantastic bang-bang pad save on a point-blank shot in the crease from David Booth. Pookie: “I don’t want to make this sound like I have any hopes for the Devils this season, but if Scott Clemmensen is the Ty Conklin of this year, I will eat my entire outfit, not just my hat. I mean, that’s just too bizarre to really consider.”
7:00 We’re just sort of sitting back here, enjoying a nice night of November hockey in HD. It should be mentioned that, no matter how crappy the Devils are, evenings like this are one of our favorite things in life.
6:36 Cullimore is felled by his own teammate falling on his leg. It looks extravagantly painful, and he is barely able to get off the ice while being pulled by his teammates. Ouch. Adding to our pain from watching this, Chico tells us Holik is probably two weeks from getting back into the lineup for the Devils.
3:35 Paulie is bested twice in rapid succession by some tenacious Panther offense, and somehow, miraculously, Clemmer keeps the ensuing shot at a wide-open net from going in. He… can’t have done that, can he?
2:32 On a well-conceived bit of behind-the-net play by the Panthers, the Devils manage to wrest control of the puck back by teaming up in a nice display of defensive competence. Pookie begins to say she’s puzzled by how shockingly effective the Devils just looked, but Schnookie points out, “We shouldn’t underestimate how bad this Florida team is.”
0:48 It’s kind of surprising to hear how badly the Panthers have out-shot and out-chanced the Devils in this period, because they still don’t look very good. (That’s not to say the Devils look that much better. This one is not going to be appearing on NHL Network as a classic game any time soon.)
0:00 We end the period with a look back at Clemmer’s monster save from a few minutes ago, and it’s really a beauty of a blocker save. Fine. We’ll say it. That was really, really good. We don’t hate Clemmer this minute. We get an interview with Patty, and he is typically adorably honest about how bad the Devils are.
Dano sounds surprised that Patty was able to score his goal. On the replay of it, he remarks that Patty, “when he’s off”, would normally put the puck directly into Vokoun’s pads. He leaves unspoken that Patty would also normally have been fired.
19:41 Paulie is trying to undermine Clemmer. He decides the best approach to helping him play the puck behind the net is to skate straight into him, blocking Clemmer’s attempt to backhand the puck into the corner.
18:18 Whatever Sutter said to his team after they got outshot 10-1 in the second didn’t make much of an impact.
17:56 Doc drops this bombshell on us: if Clemmer wins tonight, he’ll be above .500 on his career in the NHL.
17:03 Pando makes a great defensive-pressure play on the Panthers point man, then recoils in pain from what Doc says looks like “a stick to the midsection”. PandoNation is not happy to see its emperor/god’s bits being shifted even slightly. Leave his bits alone, Panthers!
16:31 Shortly after the Panthers somehow failed to score on a simple tap-in chance for Booth, Travis takes a short-range shot on Vokoun that seems to roll all the way up his arm, along his shoulder, over his head, and down the arm on the other side before clearing the crease.
14:08 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Madden buttonhooks deftly on a rush, then smartly dumps the puck across the zone for Clarkson to play to Paulie at the point, all while the Panthers are backing off in a panic. Paulie calmly waits for the idiot defender challenging him to leave his feet to block a shot that doesn’t come (See??? It’s stupid!), skates around the fallen body, then cranks a shot into the top of the net. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! It’s 2-0 Devils, and Paulie looks, in the goal-following close-up shot, like he’s saying all casually, “Yeah. I scored. With my stick.”
13:09 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zubrus does his wrecking-ball forecheck thing, letting loose the puck for Patty and Gio to back-and-forth gorgeously down the crease, and Gio taps a fantastic feed from Patty into the net to make it 3-0 Devils.
12:30 Patty giveth and Patty taketh away. He takes a dumb penalty when he just can’t resist hitting McCabe in the face with his stick. We think we understand the impulse, but still.
11:16 Patty lets out a sigh of relief as he is released from the penalty box, because he’s done his job of taking a stupid penalty that turned out to be costly to boot. Frolik scores easily as the hapless PK continues to suck, making it 3-1 Devils. Pookie: “I’m going to pretend I’m a Rangers fan now and present my realistic solution to my favorite team’s problems. Our PK sucks. Let’s go get Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.”
8:56 Clarkson tries a wide-radius Clarkaround, but he isn’t able to get a goal to show off for his former junior coach.
4:32 Just as Doc is telling us the first hat trick in Panthers history was scored by Johan Garpenlov (now there’s a blast from the past), a current Panther gets a wide-open shot from the slot that Clemmer manages to get a shoulder on. Yet another nice save from Mr. Clemmensen. Weird.
1:47 The Panthers have pulled Vokoun. Cue the defensive collapse.
0:59 McCabe isn’t able to hold the point on a not-very-challenging pass from a teammate down near the faceoff dot, and as he skates the length of the rink to retrieve the puck, Chico says, “What a tough break for McCabe.” Pookie: “That’s what the title of his biography is going to be.”
0:00 WOO HOOOO!!!! Paulie gets the gamewinner! Oh, and the Devils win! If only they could play the Panthers every night.