After a few days of talking about off-ice stuff, and what seems like a billion years since the last time we’ve seen our team in action, we finally have some NHL product to enjoy. What is this thing on our television? Is it… can it be… a Devils game??? Will wonders never cease?
Our intro kicks off with Steve cheerfully announcing that there are some big additions to the Devils lineup tonight, and Pookie equally cheerfully says, “Yeah! Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond!” Oh right, and some guys named Madden and Rolston. (Wait, Rolston’s a Devil? When did that happen?)
The pregame show then turns to tonight’s opponent, and Doc and Chico tell us how the center tandem of Carter and Richards is so dreamy and awesome. As we’ve mentioned around here lately, we, um, might be enjoying, recreationally, some of this year’s Flyers team’s games (just on the side. It’s not like they’re leaving orange lipstick smears on our collars or anything. We mean, the Devils totally know we’ve been watching them, and it’s not like we cheer for them…), and the alpha and omega of why we’ve been drawn to them is Carter and Richards. We wonder if Flyers management would solve our embarrassing Tranny Bride problem for us by trading those two to the Devils for, say… Brian Gionta?
19:14 It’s “strength against strength” to start off the game, according to Doc, as the Poppers match up against the Gagne/Richards/Knuble line. The Poppers manage some weak shots, and then Gagne figures he’s going off to the races up the other way, but doesn’t count on a certain Paulie Martin waiting for him in the neutral zone. Paulie so artfully strips him of the puck that Pookie cackles, “That was just Paulie slamming a pancake straight into Gagne’s face!”
17:23 There is some sort of hubbub in Devilsland about Jay Leach wearing 28 tonight, because that’s totally Salmela’s number, or something like that. To which we say, “Whatever.” If Salmela wants to lay claim to 28, he can start by not getting sent down to allow Leach to stay in the NHL Devils lineup.
16:59 For some reason Gagne decides to tangle with Clarkson in front of the benches while the teams are changing (has he decided he hasn’t been concussed enough or something?), and the all-too-common roughing/too-many-men matching minors are exchanged. (Clarkson gets the rough, the Flyers get the idiotic change.)
15:24 The Langer/Travis forward pair on the four-on-four is not doing well against the Richards/Gagne pair. Shockingly, Clemmer is. That’s not how we would have imagined that playing out.
13:39 Our confidence in the Devils defense tonight takes a massive hit when Oduya mishandles a puck at the point, it gets bounced slowly down the ice, bounces through the last Devil back, and forces Clemmer to put a shaky glove down to cover it and get a whistle. Sigh.
13:16 After MSG+ gives us a look at the hilarious glove-throwing move Hartnell engaged in against Malone the other night, we get an in-the-corner-camera view of Paulie ragging the puck behind the goal line in the Devils zone while Hartnell chases him back and forth. Pookie asks, “What’s Paulie doing?” Schnookie responds, “Waiting for Hartnell to throw a glove at him.” Pause. “Travis is probably saying, ‘No, you don’t want them to throw gloves at you. You want them to bite you.’” Pookie says she’d like for a Flyer to bite Travis tonight to get his scoring going again, and wonders aloud, “What would happen if Carter or Richards bit him?” Schnookie suggests that would be a problem, because he was bitten last year by Hatcher, not by an actual good hockey player. “What we need,” she says, “Is for him to be bitten by a living joke. Who on their team is a living joke?” Boomer: “Hartnell.”
12:18 Oduya needs to be bitten by someone whose saliva will make him not take penalties. He misses a check on Metropolit and ends up going high to get some of his head instead. He gets called for holding.
10:18 Despite Doc and Chico’s assurances that the Flyers PP is highly potent, they are not even forced to engage in play-by-play during the kill. Instead, they spend their time talking about Kelly Zajac scoring a goal for Union College with .2 seconds left in the game.
9:04 Asham and Clarkson grapple. Chico’s call for the ages: “They were on the Devils together last year. And now… they’re… on… opposite teams.” Thanks, Chico.
We come back from commercial to find out Clarkson’s now left the game with a tweaked knee. See? Fighting is stupid. We are not pleasantly surprised by this, Asham.
7:14 Just as Schnookie is saying, “I haven’t noticed a single Devils scoring chance yet in this game,” Patty and Gio combine for a great opportunity down low. They don’t actually score, but they do prove their point. And as history has proved, that’s enough for those two.
6:08 Rupp gets a hold of a loose puck in the defensive zone and promptly clears it gently off the glass down most of the length of the ice. Schnookie: “That’s becoming Rupp’s signature move.” Pookie: “Yup. It’s the Ruppaforward.” It doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Clarkaround” but probably happens more often.
4:17 We can all release our pent-up breath – Clarkson is back. So maybe fighting isn’t stupid after all. HAHAHAHA! Just kidding.
4:16 Whoops. We’re all holding our breath again – Timonen takes a high-sticking penalty, and the Devils’ five-forward power play takes the ice.
2:34 Chico: “This is about as bad a situation of puck control as they’re coming up the ice as I’ve seen all year [from the Devils’ power play].” Yeah.
2:16 As the power play peters out to its whimpering end, Chico piles on, “Well, that was one of the best penalty kills of the year by the Devils!” HA! We wish we’d thought to say that. Chico’s hired.
1:38 Both teams look like they’re disinterested in executing at all any closer to their opponent’s goal than the tops of the faceoff circles. Honestly, this game has been laughably dreadful by both sides. Chico keeps up his hot streak by declaring it the worst passing he’s seen all year.
0:00 Well, we’re glad we didn’t pay to attend that period in person.
We get an “Ask Chico” feature that involves him trying to do a butterfly drop. It’s… amazing. Chico’s hired.
18:12 Both teams are showing a bit more interest in pursuing offensive chances, and after a good shift by Patty’s line, the Flyers come back with a great scramble down low. Clemmer flounders hopelessly outside the crease while the Flyers buzz all around, but their glorious chance at tapping a puck easily into a wide-open net is stymied by the only sliding shot-block by a forward that we’ve ever approved of. Yeah, that’s right – Madden falls over in the blue paint, does a sort of stacked-pad pose, and the Flyers forward shoots it right into him.
16:51 Clarkson drills Vaananen in the mush with a dump-in attempt. Vaananen gets up, swollen and bloodied, and reminds us why hockey is so rad: you can clearly read his pulpy lips as he says, “No, I’m fine.” Somewhere out there, Dwyane Wade is thinking, “Surely that guy needs a wheelchair to get to the sidelines now, right?”
15:55 Pookie: “This is starting to look like the world’s most predictable 0-0 tie. It sucks that this is the shootout era, because this would be one of those zero-goal ties that looks cool on paper, but sucked in real life.”
13:51 Rolston gets a penalty for furtively hugging Coburn while they skate up the ice together.
13:09 After a goalmouth stand in which Clemmer sucks, Hartnell sucks worse, and the Devils seem to be trying to do The Stack, the Flyers regroup and Timonen scores from the point. It’s 1-0 Flyers, and Chico tells us the whole sequence was Madden’s fault for not dumping the puck in on a shorthanded rush earlier in the PK. We think it might also be the fault of the panicked and lubberly defensive-zone coverage by the rest of the guys on the kill.
12:01 Pookie’s feeling philosophical tonight. She declares sagely, “Tonight I feel like I’m turning over a new leaf. My team is bad. The reasons it used to be good… are no more. And I’m just learning to deal with it.” We’ve finally reached Acceptance in the Seven Stages of Scott Clemmensen Is Your Starting Goalie Now.
9:13 Our zenlike balance is totally undone thanks to an outside influence – we might be mellow about the game, but WordPress just this minute rolled out the new dashboard and it’s horrible. We don’t do well with change. We might have accepted Clemmer, but now we’ve got to go through all Seven Steps again because of the dumb dashboard. We can’t buy a break around here.
7:33 Pookie has abandoned acceptance: “I’m going to go on pretending this was a 0-0 tie, because it would be if not for Clemmensen.”
6:30 Oh for fuck’s sake. Clarkson decides his knee’s not jacked up enough, so he fights again. This time with Alberts. It’s not even remotely interesting. In fact, it’s so bad that the camera cuts away while it’s happening to show us shots of the slack-jawed Flyers with their eyes glazing over on the bench.
Pookie: “He’s really putting the boneheaded dullard into ‘boneheaded dullard’.”
6:25 Speaking of boneheaded dullardliness, the Iron Boar takes a hooking penalty in front of Clemmer’s net almost as soon as play resumes.
5:37 Travis makes a good play to get to a loose puck off a rebound, then sprints out of the zone, holds off the backchecking Flyer hounding the puck, and makes a smart, sassy clear the length of the ice. Pookie, as Travis: “See, Madden? The game’s passed you by, old man.” Pause. “Any time Madden wants to make me have to stop making these jokes would be great.”
2:41 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! The Poppers put on a nice bit of pressure, swarming the net, and just as Zach misses a chance so badly that Pookie says, “Ugh. Zach is never going to score again,” Vaananen hauls Langer down on top of Biron and Zach wheels around behind the net to fire the puck over the fallen pile. 1-1 game, and Biron and the Flyers fans are not pleased with that play. Hey, complain to Vaananen, people.
0:52 All hell is breaking loose now. Hartnell slashes a Devils defender’s stick behind Clemmer’s net to pry the puck loose, and Carter pounces on it. He fails on a stuff attempt, though, as Clemmer flails over the puck, and well after the whistle, Hartnell punches the puck into the net from underneath the prone goalie. Whitey takes offense and he and Hartnell leap into each other’s arms, embrace passionately, and fall to the ice. It goes on the scoresheet as matching roughing minors.
0:00 We’re still glad we didn’t pay to see this one in person, but it certainly picked up there toward the end of the period. Steve interviews Zach, and Zach looks horribly plastic in the harsh MSG+ lights.
They are giving us the pregame feature on Rolston that was actually filmed during preseason and has no pertinence at all to the current state of the team. So we spend our intermission futzing with the new dashboard. Our initial panicky reaction may have been a bit hasty. Nice redesign, WordPress! We really like it! (And no, we’re not going to change our minds about Clemmensen, though.)
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! Chuck the Duck! Chuck the Duck! We get a little travelogue of pictures of him in Florida (posing on a tree and then posing next to a tiny Chuck-sized plane near the Everglades), then outside the Igloo in Pittsburgh, then inside the Igloo next to an Iceburgh doll, then on a Harley inside the FU Center, then on the floor of the FU concourse while a Flyers fan walks by looking puzzled in the background. Doc and Chico then discuss whether Chuck’s visa is in order to join the team on the road trip to Montreal, and Chico says Chuck should just put his wings to use and fly up. He then cracks himself and us up by exhorting, “Come on, Chuck!” Dude, he is so hired.
18:38 The Devils mount a little rush on a delayed penalty to Knuble for high-sticking, but can’t connect on the three-on-two. After the Flyers touch, there is some puzzling delay, but eventually the mysterious issue is resolved and the scorched-earth power play gets to strut its stuff.
17:42 Rolston is not doing a great job at the point. Just saying. There seems to be some rust.
16:44 The second power play unit is not doing a great job at anything. Just saying. Pookie: “I thought they practiced this shit.”
14:52 We don’t think we’re ever going to stop finding the Hatcher bite funny, and now we’re discussing how Travis is probably skating around waving his hands out hoping someone will take a chomp. Pookie: “He’s stuffed his gloves with pastrami.” Schnookie: “And liverwurst. Hartnell’s like, “I love liverwurst! Dur-hurr!” Pookie: “He’s been trying to bite him all night but he just sucks so bad that he keeps missing.”
11:39 The Square PEGZ magic is gone. We notice it first when Zubrus isn’t able to tip a puck far enough forward in the neutral zone to spring Gio on a break, and it’s driven home with a hammer when Patty and Gio go to criss-cross on a two-on-two rush over the Flyers blue line and Patty ends up dropping a suicide back pass for Gio to try to corral while the tangled-up Flyers defenders crash into him with their sticks at head height. Well, we all knew it was too good to last.
10:59 Chico informs us that the Wachovia Center will probably be no longer, thanks to Wachovia being bought out, not that it matters to us because we still like to call it the FU Center. Doc mentions that Wachovia was purchased by Wells Fargo, though, and Schnookie delights, “Oooh! We can call it the WtF Center!”
9:47 Clemmer is handcuffed by a Hartnell shot from the red line. Doc oohs and ahhs that it was “a tough one.” Yeah. A Hartnell shot. From center ice.
9:38 Kukkonen tries to bat a puck down at center ice with his glove, but can’t resist closing his hand on it and shovel passing it into Madden’s shorts. He gets called for it, and the Devils get another chance to give up a shorty, or just stand around looking ineffective for two minutes, depending on how much they want to piss us off.
8:39 Chico informs us that Gagne has left the game. We hadn’t noticed. Pookie: “I wonder how long he’s been out. I haven’t seen him since he took on Clarkson.” Considering his history, that might have been enough.
7:39 Gio, Clarkson and Zubrus pepper a few good shots at the Flyers net, but can’t break through. Pookie growls, “You guys, come on. Biron’s not much better than Clemmer.”
6:14 We are aghast. Paulie takes a hooking penalty behind Clemmer’s net. Against Hartnell. Paulie, he’s too stupid to take penalties against! What are you thinking? (On some planets, there could have been an even-up for diving on the play, but whatevs. PaulieMartinNation is still horrified.)
4:58 As Clemmer watches a flurry of Flyers shots hit his pads, Pookie is in shock: “I can’t believe this game is 1-1 with these goalies.”
4:28 The game is no longer 1-1. Upshall flings the puck from behind the goal line and it deflects off a lunging Iron Boar over Clemmer’s shoulder. 2-1 Flyers. PaulieMartinNation is still furious about that call.
3:39 We come back from commercial to hear an announcement that Gio’s been called for hooking. Gio, quit trying to undermine your trade value, because it’s not going to work. We are still going to find a way to leverage you into Lecavalier, Carter, Richards and Getzlaf.
2:02 We are disinterestedly watching the final minutes tick away on another Devils loss when Pookie suddenly says, “Maybe Paulie hit Gagne too hard in the face with that pancake.”
1:30 Biron is disinterestedly watching the final minutes tick away on another Devils loss when Gio, after smartly ragging the puck around the offensive zone while waiting for his linemates to finish their change, feeds a little pass to Patty, who cranks a big slapshot from the blue line that finds its way ever so sloooooooowly through Biron’s pads. 2-2 game. And was that ever a classic Patrik-Elias-against-the-Flyers moment.
0:00 Well, that was an unexpected point!
3:15 Paulie makes up to PaulieMartinNation by making a sassy stop of some oncoming Flyer forward by just sticking his feet into the Flyer’s trajectory with the puck. It’s pure economy of motion and defensive awesomeness. We swoon.
2:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Patty! Patty! Patty Elias! The Hockey Gods may have taken the Marty out of the Devils/Flyers matchup, but they forgot about Patty and his passion for scoring huge goals in Philly. Whitey makes a great play pinching to keep the puck alive in the Flyers zone, and Zach finds Patty in the slot with a smart pass. Then Patty just skates up to Biron and shovels a backhander right through him. He and Zach proceed to elevate their adorableness in OT celebrations to new heights by rolling hugging and doubtless giggling like seven-year-olds. 3-2 Devils and WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (With that goal, Patty moves into a four-way tie for most career regular-season OT goals. It’s… shocking.)