It’s icy and rainy and awful outside, but inside the walls of stately IPB Manor we’re cozily ensconced in front of the TV, ready for some hot Devils/Senators action. And can we just say we’re so happy that we didn’t have to deal with getting up to Newark tonight in this weather. Kudos to everyone who managed to drag themselves to the game.
So the latest injury news is that Madden “took ill” (Steve’s words, theoretically quoting the team) after the Sabres game, and the Iron Boar has an upper-body injury. Which means it’s time to find out which Andy Greene is going to be coming back from IR tonight – will it be frighteningly ineffective Greener, or the surprisingly good one who was just rounding into form before getting hurt?
Meanwhile, the Sens are hardly juggernauting their way into town. The big news from their side is that the big Heatley/Alfredsson/Spezza line is being broken up. Madden’s probably faking his “taken ill” in a misguided attempt to prove to Sutter how wrong he is about not needing a checking line, and this development is not going to help Mad Dog’s cause one bit.
Right before the opening draw, we get a loooooong look at Greener huffing smelling salts. He doesn’t look any more alert when he’s done.
19:39 There are, like, four people at this game. Like we said, major kudos. No one should be outside on a night like this.
19:20 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Patty/Gio/Zubrus line looks eager to assert their wills on the Senators, and after a smart shift of sassy perimeter passing, Paulie cranks a point shot that Gio tips on its way in. 1-0 Devils, and Paulie looks like maybe that Gaustad crosscheck in the last game is going to be his version of getting bitten by Derian Hatcher.
17:26 Doc points out that the Devils have scored the opening goal in their last three games within the first two minutes. Pookie, suspiciously: “That’s not the Devils’ way…”
16:10 Chico goes on and on about whatever it was Clemmer was saying about his own awesomeness as a workhorse starter, and Schnookie grouses, “This is the yakkiest gag order I think I’ve ever heard.” Pookie: “Unfortunately, he’s only gagged for part of the day.”
12:44 Greener turns the puck over twice in his own zone. The Sens respond by hitting the crossbar with a shot, a play that Clemmer will doubtless later spin as a miracle save on his part. We guess that answers which Greener would be in the lineup tonight. And hilariously, Chico sternly reprimands Clemmer on the play for going down too early on the play, and says he clearly doesn’t have his head in the game yet. Clemmer’s probably trying to prove to Lou that the gag order is only going to make him a worse goalie.
9:40 Paulie holds up behind Clemmer’s net while, one would imagine, waiting on his teammates to change. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes turn to hours, hours turn to day… Christ almighty, Paulie! Just pass the fucking puck! Sheesh. It’s like he’s planning to kill the final ten minutes of this period just by chilling back there.
8:22 The Senators are third-best in the league in team GAA? Seriously? Since when?
7:58 We have been discussing how we’re all just totally blissed out by it being a holiday-season Friday; we’re all in such good places that the game, at least up until now, has been like the most delightful ambient mood music. Pookie says, “This game is like a Japancakes song.”
7:53 Leach and Neil fight. It ends when Neil tries to pull Leach’s face off with the chin strap of his helmet.
7:31 Yayson gets called for goaltender interference. Replay suggests Clemmer dove. Although we might be biased.
5:30 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Devils work their “pass the puck down to Zach next to the crease, then have Zach laser it across the crease for the guy sneaking down to tip in” play to perfection. The wrinkle is that Travis is playing the decoy in front and tying up the defender who would normally cover the sneaky backdoor play, so Oduya is able to dart down completely unmolested to make it 2-0 Devils. Chico informs us it’s another goal from the “smoking hot” power play, and we agree – any goal by Oduya is smokin’ hot.
0:00 The period comes to an end with Heatley trying to mount some kind of rush, but being stymied outside the Devils blue line by Zach waggling his ass at him. Seriously. That’s exactly how it happened. We get an interview with Gio, but Stan’s the one doing the interviewing, so we vomit copiously.
Dano doesn’t have a single nice thing to say about the Senators. He is nigh-on appalled at how shitty they are.
17:51 The teams are sort of just mellowing out right now, so Doc is rambling. Among many other things, he ruminates on the next Devils game, which is against the Flyers; he says “It’s one of two rivalries involving the Devils in which the fans wear tie-downs on their jerseys.” Heh.
15:45 As we have been pondering the precipitous collapse of the Senators, Schnookie announces, “I know what’s happened to them. Craig Hartsburg is not a good hockey coach.”
15:23 Just as Chico is mentioning that the Senators are as bad now as they were back when he coached them (they have three goals in their last three games and only three shots in this one so far), Alfredsson finally decides that conventional hockey isn’t working anymore, so he tries to flip the puck over the net from behind to bank it in off Clemmer’s head. The puck ends up landing on top of the net, and Alfredsson is left to meekly poke at it until the officials take the faceoff to center ice.
14:57 If there’s one thing that can cure the Sens, it’s playing the Devils in the second period. They’ve had more puck possession in the last five minutes than they had in the first period.
14:29 Mottau takes a tripping penalty, upping the ante in this standoff of suck vs. suck. Which is worse – the Senators, or the second-period Devils? And will a man advantage tip the scales? Stay tuned!
12:19 The PK ends successfully, and Applesauce is even able to spring Gio and Zach on a two-on-one when he steps out of the box. The standoff continues.
12:02 Oooh, the Sens are highly committed to being the worst team in this period – they take a too many men penalty.
11:23 Sneaky, Ottawa. Very sneaky. They take advantage of Langer’s defensive lameness on the point (Chico tries to blame Paulie, but says that Paulie’s fault there is thinking Langer’s playing better than he is, so we’re not buying it) and Ruutu scores the first shorty against the Devils this season. 2-1 Devils.
10:40 Clemmer very nearly lets another shorty past him, but Applesauce is there to dig the puck out of the crease behind him. Sigh. Pookie: “We’re not winning this game.”
8:18 Gio gets a nice chance off some hard work by himself and Travis, but Zach isn’t able to get his stick on the ginormous rebound Auld kicks back up the middle.
7:33 HAHAHAHA! It turns out that Neil might have won the battle in that fight with Leach, but lost the war thanks to sustaining a knee injury in the doing. When Doc announces he’s out of the game, Boomer chortles, “There’s nothing I like better than seeing the end of Neil.” Pookie responds, “Except seeing the end of Clemmer. Come on, Leach! Fight him!”
5:35 Our Geico Quotebook is about Marty’s rehab process, and then we get to see a shot of him sitting in his box, reading the game notes. He looks massively flummoxed by all the little letters and punctuation marks that make up this thing called “the written word”.
3:24 Brookbank’s playing tonight? We had no idea! Well, he’s on the scoresheet now thanks to an utterly moronic high-sticking penalty behind the play. On Neil, who apparently was not informed that he’s no longer in the game. Boomer: “Obviously Leach is going to have to fight him again.”
1:24 Zach laces a perfect clear at the end of the PK to send Brookbank in on a breakaway.
1:04 Brookbank doesn’t score (shocking, we know), but the ensuing bit of forechecking by Zach draws a penalty on Schubert. As he skates to the box, we get a long look at Schubert’s mustache, one of many on a team that is apparently doing a mustache-growing thing these days. Pookie correctly observes, “These mustaches make the Senators look like the boring guy who loses the girl in a period British movie.” Boomer elaborates, “They all look like they’re Edwardian bank clerks.”
0:53 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Patty basically unleashes a whole heap of subtle artistry on the PP, starting a back-and-forth with Zach to get the PKers moving, then tapping a gorgeous tip pass to Paulie at the point, then deftly parking in front to dig a rebound out through the legs of the defender at the top of the crease, and suavely shoveling the puck into the open side of the net before Auld even realizes what’s happening. 3-1 Devils, and that was a thing of beauty.
0:00 How bad are the Senators? They couldn’t capitalize on the Devils in the second period. That’s really bad.
Dano spends the better part of the intermission belaboring how horribly at fault Paulie was on the Ruutu goal. We are horrified that Stan is the only person coming to Paulie’s defense to point out that Langer might also have to bear some of the responsibility for misplaying the puck at the point and then not getting back at all on the two-on-one. Dano will have none of it, and Pookie narrows her eyes at him meanly while adding his name to the list she keeps of people who have wronged Paulie.
EEEEEEEE!!!! Chuck the Duck! Doc tells us he “has some owl in him” as we get to see some footage of him sitting in snowdrifts at night in Montreal and Buffalo, while wearing sunglasses. Chuck is the bomb.
19:22 Doc tells us the assists on Patty’s goal have been changed from Zach and Paulie to Zach and Travis. Pookie hisses, “Did they just take Paulie’s assist away? I’m going to have to add the scorer to my list.” Schnookie asks, “Not Travis?” and Pookie chirps, “Of course not! That would be stupid!”
16:22 It seems Gio’s allowed to hit Auld. Not that anything comes of it or anything. Just saying. We’re back in Japancakes mode here.
15:07 Patty gets a mini-break, but does such a weird job of making it look like he didn’t take a shot that Doc has no idea how to call it. The whole play just sort of peters out with a soundtrack of Doc making a sound that verbalizes “???????” perfectly.
12:51 As we go to commercial, Boomer is pretty much talking to herself about the Senators’ mustaches: “They look like they made a run on Gary Meadows’s merchandise. Like it was a Gary Meadows clearance sale. Saved by zero, at Gary Meadows.”
12:15 Yikes! Doc tells us Travis has a faceoff percentage on the season over 50%, and was 11-for-13 going into the third. We guess he’s really leaving that sophomore slump behind. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t trade him for Lecavalier.
10:57 Doc is excited to point out the numerical oddity the Senators are sporting: a defenseman who is wearing 9. Chico offers a free hot dog to the first fan who can come up with another NHL d-man who wore or is currently wearing 9. Have we ever mentioned how much we love Doc and Chico?
9:55 Rupper wants to finish the job on Neil, but the linesman breaks the scrum up off camera before it can turn into a rowdydow.
7:46 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Travis bungles a go-ahead pass to Langer on a three-on-two, but Langer goes ahead to retrieve the puck in the corner on the goal line and flings it creaseward. Zach, of course, is hanging around the goalmouth and beats the defender and Auld to the puck to punch it into the net before tumbling to the ice in a cartwheely celebration. It’s 4-1 Devils, and have we ever mentioned how much we love Zach?
6:15 We come back from commercial to see a replay of Zach informing the officials that he did not, in fact, get a stick on that last goal, and that it deflected in off Volchenkov, making it’s Langer’s. Awww. But we’d like Zach better if he was insisting it was Travis’s goal instead. [Much later, we discover the goal was Travis's after all, and we're just terrible at paying attention. WOOOO!!!! Good choice, Zach!]
5:57 Vermette throws Patty to the ice after a faceoff in the Devils zone and gets called for interference. Chico remarks that Patty could probably have gotten two for diving, but given the calls that have gone against Patty in the last few games, it seems fair. If you can’t beat the divers, might as well join them. Or something.
5:21 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s a really nice feeling when the Devils have a competent PP, or when they’re playing a team with an incompetent PK, whichever the case may be. It looks like they don’t even have to break a sweat as the Devils fan some passes around the points, then move the puck down to Zach, who takes advantage of the Sens high PKers who have overcommitted to rushing the points. Facing a gaping passing lane, he dishes to Patty in the slot, and Patty deftly tips the puck up into the net to make it 5-1 Devils. Pookie wonders, “Do you think Patty and Zach like playing together on the PP?” Then she adds, “This is like the best Japancakes song ever.”
3:07 Oduya gets jumped on by a Senator and gets called for interference. The ensuing stoppage gives us a chance to see the attendant in the Senators penalty box dabbing at his forehead with a towel, and it turns out Vermette got pissy when the Devils scored their last goal, slammed his stick on the glass, and ended up hitting the dude in the box. We never did like that Vermette kid.
1:07 Not an impressive PP by the Senators, a team that seems to have given up all hope. Heh.
0:25 Chico gives a tip of his hat to the fans who made it to the game, who are on their feet and cheering the Devils for an awesome showing tonight.
0:07 Doc says, of the fans, “They are taking a liking to Clemmensen.” We scream in unison, “NOOOOOOOO!”
0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! That was a delightful game! Seriously, we love it when the Devils play really bad teams. Chico concludes his thoughts about the game by telling us how well Clemmer played, and Pookie retorts, “It helps that the Senators never had the puck.” The three stars are Travis, Zach and Patty, and we are overcome with tremendous fondness for our boys in rouge, blanc et noir. All hockey seasons have their stretches that make you question your reasons for following your team, so it’s always wonderful to recognize those moments that remind you again why you do.