Well, tonight’s the night we get our first look at Brendan Shanahan, New Jersey Devil 2.0. We are not thrilled. You know how every sports fan has that first experience where you discover the sad truth that pro sports is “just a business” and the players you cheer for don’t care about you or the team you love? Well, that moment for us was when Shanny stripped himself of the C and demanded a trade from the Whalers. The first hockey game we ever attended in person was Whalers/Islanders, in Hartford. We spent much of our first season as hockey fans watching the Whale on Center Ice, totally charmed by the Whaler unis, the Forslund/Reaugh broadcast tandem, and the personable, foxy young Shanny. Then we opened our second season as fans with a harsh dose of the reality of professional sports, and we have hated Shanahan ever since. We hated that he then had heaps of praise dumped on him for being such a valiant champion in Detroit and hated him triply when he became a high-profile Ranger. And now he’s essentially functioning as a rental player with the Devils, and to add insult to injury, it’s Pando who’s getting benched to make room for him. That’s right — Pando is being benched to make room for Brendan fucking Shanahan. It’s like some sort of sick joke; Pando’s being replaced by the Anti-Pando. No, Pando hasn’t done anything this season to justify leaving him in the lineup (that only makes this worse), but if Shanny thinks it’s going to be an easy way back into our hearts, he’s living in a dream world. Hell, if Lou thinks it’s going to be an easy way back into our hearts, he’s also living in a dream world. We are not happy. At all. And it’s not like there’s even some shred of “Well, at least he signed with the Devils of his own free will, so supposedly he wants to play for our beloved team” goodwill for him. No, the reason Shanny’s a Devil is because they’re the only team in the New York metropolitan area that would take him. So… yay?
19:35 Paulie tries to get our flagging spirits up by doing a sassy little spinarama Houdini move to keep the puck at the blue line. Pookie has a theory that the Pando-being-replaced by the Anti-Pando storyline is like something out of a bad superhero movie, but worries that Pando isn’t superhero enough to win out in the end. Schnookie suggests that the rest of the team will have to avenge him. After a few more nice keeps by Paulie and Travis, Pookie says, “Maybe they really are going to avenge him!”
18:26 We’re hoping it’s just our TV that’s so bright, because if the ice in Nashville actually does look like this, it’s a miracle the players can see anything.
16:18 We fail to notice that Shanny was on the ice. It must have been the blinding-bright ice, because it’s hard to miss a hulking slow guy with horse teeth wearing a Brylin sweater.
15:26 Pookie finally verbalizes what it is about the Holik and Shanahan signings we hate so much: “They’re turning the Devils into Old NHLer Island.” We thought we were rid of Old NHLer Island after the second year after the lockout. Guess we were wrong.
14:34 The Pando avenging isn’t going well. Rolston lazily hooks a Pred at the Jersey blue line and gets the Predators fans doing that cute “air quotes meet fangs” thing with their fingers to signify an impending Nashville power play.
10:05 We are totally distracted by the lighting from the ice here. Schnookie: “I can’t see the players. All I see are black shorts floating around out there.” Pookie: “All I see is a fuzzy white nimbus around the ice.” Pause. “And that fan blowing that whistle repeatedly isn’t helping. This game is like someone using a jackhammer outside my bedroom at 7:00 on a Saturday morning.”
9:02 Just after we get a close-up look at Shanahan before an offensive-zone draw, Holik takes a catastrophically idiotic penalty and we cut to a close-up of him shaking his head at the official. Pookie: “Ugh! That last 30 seconds was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen on television since Zednik got his throat cut.”
6:24 Rupp and Belak fight.
Afterwards, they spend a ridiculously long time with Rupp down on the ice and Belak standing over him while two officials negotiate the process of the two letting go of each other’s sweaters. Pookie: “I have no problem with fighting in hockey, but I wish they could make a rule that guys have to let go of each other right away. We’re wasting 25 seconds here while they refuse to be the first one to let go. It’s a useless delay of the game.”
5:47 Clemmer stops a shot from a modestly bad angle, and the rebound gets away from him despite his posture of “I totally got that”. Schnookie: “That’s the second time I’ve noticed that he went to stop something looking all like he’s freezing the puck, and then all of a sudden the puck is in the corner.” Pookie: “He’d probably tell you it’s his superior acting skills, psyching out the opponent.”
3:17 After the Rupp/Belak fight, Chico mentioned that the game had “lots of energy”, thereby sending us off on a tangent about how the energy has been like surface-of-the-sun energy, retina-searing energy, blinding energy thanks to the brightness of the ice. That naturally led to a bunch of Pi jokes, about how we’d spend this game staring into the glare of the rink and then, at the end, we’ll know the total value of pi, but have to lobotomize ourselves with power drills. As the Devils work a not-tremendously-effective bit of cycling, Pookie sighs, “If you guys keep this up, by the end of this shift I’m going to know the total value of the angles in a triangle. Which isn’t very impressive, considering I know that already and I sucked at math.”
2:50 The annoying fan has not stopped; Pookie: “Dude, I am going to get in my car, drive down to Nashville, find that fan…” Pause. “And ask them politely to stop.”
0:00 We’re not going to lie – we didn’t pay very close attention to that period. Apparently shots were 14-8 Predators, and our vague sense of the game so far is that that sounds about right. Gel-O interviews Langer, and keeping with the mood, we don’t really pay attention.
Gel-O sits down with Zach to talk about the All-Star Game. He asks Zach what he took from the Young Stars game in Dallas, and we chorus, “A plastic star.”
19:44 Ah, the avenging begins now! Legwand takes a penalty to kick off the period.
19:41 Hamhuis wants to avenge Pando, too! He takes an interference penalty immediately off the face-off to start the Devils PP, and it’s two-man scorched-earth time. Do it for Pando, boys!
18:53 This power play is… not going well. Pookie: “I’m beginning to think triangles have angles that total 20 degrees.”
18:22 Wooo. The horse-toothed guy in the Brylin sweater scores, it’s 1-0 Devils, and yeah, we feel dirty. Pookie says of the replay, “It’s like the Predators are on the ice, the Devils are on the ice, and there’s Shanahan. And he’s just hanging out scoring goals for whichever team will pay him the most while being close to his kids’ school.” Yes, we’re glad the Devils have a goal, we’re glad they have a lead, if this is the final score we’ll be glad for the win, but we just can’t be happy about it right now. Especially considering the celebration on the bench is, as Pookie points out, on a Pandoless bench. Schnookie fights back tears. We’re not sure it counts as avenging Pando if it’s the Anti-Pando doing the scoring.
16:39 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Rollie carries the puck way up to the tippy top of the high slot, wheels around over it, cranks a giant slapper, and Clarkson is in front to tip it artfully into the net to make the game 2-0 Devils.
15:00 A bracket pops off the glass and we have a little delay, during which the camera pans back a bit at the Devils end… and we have a Frisby sighting! Hi Frisby!
13:30 The Devils are milling about the Nashville zone doing not much, and Pookie suddenly says, “Hey! I think someone is reading our diary – the ice is a lot less bright!” That would also explain why the Devils have scored in this period: they were finally able to stop trying to find the goal through their little solar eclipse goggles.
12:54 We get a long look at a dullardish Shanny on the bench.
Schnookie: “It’s so good that they have that guy in the prison over his shoulder there. Because that’s Pando.”
12:15 Chico is talking about Sullivan and his Devils career, and he mentions that Sully got 13 goals with New Jersey. Pookie and Boomer both marvel that the total is so low, and they would both have thought he’d done much better than that. Schnookie, an absolute fount of sunshine and puppydogs this evening, grumbles, “Meh, he sucked.”
11:47 We have a Frank Doyle sighting! Or rather, mention. Doc tells us that our favorite hard-boiled private dick from the Devils system was an AHL All-Star Game MVP once.
9:50 Dear lord! We have a Jim McKenzie sighting! He’s in the crowd at this game with his disinterested-looking kids. His legacy as a Devil is summed up well by Pookie: “This may be revisionist history, but I think I liked him.”
7:29 Jim McKenzie’s legacy as a Devil is further summed up by Pookie: “You know, when they first showed Jimmy Mac in the crowd I thought, ‘Huh. Steve Kerr is here.’ And then Doc said, ‘Every Devils fan should recognize him!’ and I was like, ‘Really? Steve Kerr?’”
6:53 The Patty/Gio/Zubrus line does not score on a four-on-two, and then Sullivan doesn’t score on a one-on-Paulie the other way, in large part because of a sweeping defensive play. Schnookie: “Was that Paulie’s helicopter move?” Pookie: “That was his ‘helicopter hitting water’ move.”
5:30 Pookie discovers, thanks to TG, that Predators fans apparently blow whistles when Tootoo is on the ice. Get it? Tootoo/toot? Yeah. Schnookie: “Well, I guess you’re going to have to find lots of fans and politely ask them to stop.”
3:59 The ice is doing it again. Aiiieee! It burns! It burns! That, and 3.14159265… [/power drill]
2:50 Doc tells us the Devils are third in the league in road points. The two teams ahead of them are the Bruins and Red Wings. Considering that the Bruins and Red Wings have way more points overall than the Devils, we guess those two teams are, unlike the Devils, also capable of winning at home.
2:02 Pookie: “Tootoo fans, can you do that somewhere else?”
0:00 We paid more attention to that period and were, per the scoreboard, duly rewarded. But in our hearts, we’re still sad about half of it. Gel-O interviews Clarkson, but before he does, though, we get another “stats from Shanny’s interminably long career” screen that fails to mention that he was our inaugural Ring Whore.
Gel-O sits down with Weekesie and he is, per usual, the Anti-Clemmensen. (Read: we really like him.) He delightfully says of the road trip, “At home we all have commmitments, family and friends, and the days go by so quickly. But here, we just have each other.” Except for Pando. Pando has no one.
19:09 We shouldn’t laugh, but seriously, if you could pick one player to have had his new house burn down, Jason Arnott would be the one you’d pick, right? It is not even remotely surprising to hear that this happened to him – it’s the Arnott way. (That said, we are very glad to hear that no one was hurt.)
17:59 Pookie thinks the whistles for Tootoo are for how he always gets called for penalties. Schnookie stands by the “toot toot!” thing, though. Just in case you were wondering, Gentle Reader.
17:42 Chico tells us this arena holds great memories for Zach of getting drafted by the Devils. This sends us into paroxysms of laughter, as there is nothing in the world funnier than the sequence of pictures from the draft that show his little heart breaking into smaller and smaller pieces with each pick that passes him by. Pookie: “He was totally cat-carrier Zach refusing to come into the building tonight. He was like, ‘I say, I won’t go in there! You can’t make me go in there! No, wait, I was happy to be picked 17th. That’s totally what I wanted.’”
16:40 Paulie has yet another smooth, deft, sassy defensive play that prompts Pookie to say, “Paulie’s like really high-quality vanilla ice cream. In that he’s easy to ignore, but when you do notice him, he’s awesome.”
15:46 Applesauce pulls Legwand’s foot out from under him while he’s cutting a corner, and goes to the box. Meanwhile, Pookie is still worrying about something Chico said during play earlier: “Did he say ‘Che Weber’? Should I be worried that he’s going to lead an uprising of the BoxPanners against me?”
15:11 Travis gets a long shorthanded quasi-break up the wing, but isn’t able to cut around the goalie while the Predator backchecker gets back into the play. We take his not being able to finish as a shout-out to Pando. Which is fitting, considering TravisNation is a rogue state being formed by the corrupt ruling priest class in the Western Territories of PandoNation on the emperor-god’s land grants.
13:54 Whitey deflects in incoming slapshot up into his own face, and skates quickly off the ice, spitting copious quantities of blood.
13:21 Boomer, whose given name is Karen (she doesn’t even go by that in real life), has recently started reading the news on AudioVision, a radio broadcast for the New Jersey Library for the Blind. She was told to go by whatever name she wanted on air, so she chose “Karen Mott”, in honor of her Devils husband Applesauce. So when Applesauce gets back in the play after getting out of the box and breaks up the Preds attack, Pookie exclaims, “Great play by Mr. Karen Mott!”
12:07 Tootoo gets called for high sticking, and there isn’t a sizable uptick of whistles from the crowd, suggesting it’s a “toot toot” thing and not a penalty thing.
11:35 That power play didn’t last long, thanks to Captain Eh, Fuck This, who gets called for interference. There is much confusion on the call, and we get a long look at Paulie standing next to an official at center ice and gesticulating in bafflement. It looks like he’s thinking, “Vanilla ice cream? That sounds spicy.”
8:02 Zach yoinks a puck away from a Pred defender, then, with his motor going a million miles an hour, rips a shot past Rinne that clangs off the crossbar. He’s never going to score again.
6:32 Clarkson scoops the puck directly over the glass, then tries to argue that he shouldn’t really get a penalty for it. The officials have a little conclave that Rollie tries to crash, but to no avail. Predators power play.
5:48 The Predators finally break through, ending the Devils’ perfect PK string for this road trip. We see a fallen d-man in front of the net, and Pookie wails, “Oh no! Is Mottau hurt?” Schnookie: “Mr. Karen Mott!” Boomer: “He needs to get up – the visually-impaired seniors in New Jersey are counting on him for their news.” Replay shows it’s actually the Iron Boar going down, having taken a point shot in his Iron Bits. Chico tells us after the replay, “A timeout is being called by…” and he pauses while trying to figure out who called it. Pookie concludes for him, “Bryce Salvador.” It’s 2-1 Devils.
4:41 The Devils respond to the goal with a mightily furious offensive-zone shift, but manage pretty much just one little chip shot on goal.
4:36 The Predators goal is credited to Radek Bonk. Surely he died in Vegas?
3:14 If the Preds are having attendance problems, it might be because of all those whistles. Seriously. They should look into that.
1:56 What is fucking happening to our team? Who are these guys in Devils sweaters? A Predator winds up to fire a shot from the center of the blue line, and not one but two Devils topple over to leave their feet to attempt to block it. Needless to say, neither stops the incoming shot, and all kinds of chaos ensues because no one’s in position anymore because they’re all splayed out up near the blue line. GAH! Stop doing that! (Replay shows one of them was Shanahan. No fucking kidding. This isn’t the Rangers anymore, Horse Teeth. Stay on your feet. Pando never leaves his feet. Pando’s a hero. Waaaah!)
0:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! What the hell is that? The Devils win a defensive zone draw, then Patty feeds the puck to Zach on their way out of the zone, and Zach scores. Into an empty net. An empty net goal! We never thought we’d see the day. 3-1 Devils.
0:00 WOOOOOO! The Devils win, and, as ridiculous as it sounds, they are in first place in the Atlantic Division. That seems sort of bizarre, all things considered.