This is exactly what happened at stately IPB Manor at the conclusion of the last Devils game:
Pookie: [At the final buzzer, with disgust] “That was awful! Let’s change the channel right now.”
Schnookie: [Clutching her head in sudden pain] “Oh my god, I’ve just this minute come down with the most excruciating sore throat of all time.”
Pookie and Boomer: “I hope the Devils are happy.”
It turns out that the loss on Monday inflicted a Bond supervillain of a virus on Schnookie, in that it was slow-moving and seemed on paper to be really ineffectual, but in practice somehow managed to incapacitate the most intrepid good guy anyway. It’s, like, Hugo Draxitis. Now it’s time to find out if the cure involves the Devils figuring their shit out and remembering how to kill penalties.
The cure doesn’t look promising off the bat, by the way, what with the Islanders getting the HD treatment tonight and us getting a stick in the eye.
Gel-O’s pregame spiel looks like his home-made audition tape for some kind of Star Trek convention activities. He’s got a wrinkled, clumsily seamed purple MSG+ backdrop and “dramatic” spotlights that give it a tie-dyed sort of look. Foxy!
20:00 We cut away from the Ferengi bar Gel-O was sitting in to a jarring underwater-ish picture of the players on the benches. In his “who’s back in the lineup” run-down, Doc doesn’t pause between telling us about the starting forward line and d-pairing, so it sounds like Zubrus is going to be centering Paulie and Oduya. Pookie: “That should be interesting.”
18:12 We get to find out early whether the PK has rediscovered itself, as Blobby trips a Blackhawk behind the play on a mildly-threatening rush. Boomer: “Of course.” He’s going to be benched for the rest of the game, right?
16:56 We are discussing ways to improve the Devils PK. Schnookie floats the idea of changing the players more often (as Sutter suggested), but changing to players who are not currently on the Devils’ roster. Pookie suggests not skating Blobby Holik at even strength.
16:04 Just as we are exclaiming with delight, “Dear Hockey Gods in Hockey Heaven, we just killed a penalty!”, Whitey hooks Versteeg right behind the Devils net and right in front of the official. We… don’t think this kill is going to go as well, as the key ingredient is clearly Whitey.
14:10 Doc tells us, as the Devils keep getting shorthanded rushes, that the recent behavior patterns of the PK is to do great for a most of the kill, then give up a goal late. So it’s very thoughtful of them to decide to make Doc look smart and clued-in, as they do exactly that. 1-0 Hawks. We feel like we’ve been here before.
13:37 Clarkson and Seabrook fight.
It’s actually quite a humdinger. We suspect Blobby will respond positively – by taking more stupid penalties.
12:35 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, take that, standard Devils-on-the-road ennui! Zach skates in on the near wing and just whips a prayer of a wrister toward the net that tips off a defender’s stick and flutters off Khabibulin’s mask and into the net. It’s a 1-1 game, and somewhere in Philly Jeff Carter is all annoyed that he’d finally caught up to Zach in the goal scoring, and now Zach’s pulled ahead again. (Actually, Pookie puts it best when she says, “Who are we kidding? Somewhere in Philly Jeff Carter is drunk in a ditch.”)
12:21 Oh for fuck’s sake. After narrowly avoiding going down two men on the previous PKs with a bad clearing attempt, this time Applesauce makes no mistake and very definitively clears the puck over the glass. This is a good development, because the PK is really good.
10:16 OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Patty fires the puck a mile over the glass now. GREAT. We’re ever so glad we got up to watch this game.
10:00 Paulie flubs a clearing attempt, and Pookie says, “He would have been able to clear that if this was in hi-def.” Pause. “Okay, now I’m really weirded out thinking about how Paulie’s seeing this normally because he’s playing in it.”
9:27 The Devils get a flurry of shorthanded chances, and Chico cracks that the Hawks look unsure of what to do because they’re not used to playing in their own end. Schnookie: “Ha. Ha. Ha.”
8:04 This feels weird. The game is at even strength. What do we do? What do we do????
6:42 We… just don’t have the words anymore. The fourth line is in the offensive zone, setting up some kind of fourth-line cycle, and just as Schnookie is shouting, “Dear Brent Sutter, Why is Blobby Holik on the ice? I would like a detailed response explaining why you’re still doing this to us,” he takes an interference penalty on the far boards. We are not making this up.
5:52 Boomer decided after dinner to go out to the local ice cream shoppe to get some kind of dessert-y treat to sooth Schnookie’s poor, sick throat. And, um, for the healthy denizens of IPB Manor, too. She comes back in the door now and shouts up the stairs, “Dear god! This is still on?” Heh.
3:09 We get a shot total for the period to date. 9 for the Devils, which is surprisingly high, and 18 for the Hawks, which is surprisingly low.
2:45 Chico, watching Holik still getting ice time: “Give Coach Sutter credit – he’s not benching Bobby. Some coaches would.” Us, in unison: “I am not giving him credit for that.”
0:18 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This ice cream is magic! On a delayed penalty (to the Blackhawks!!!), the Devils swarm around the goal mouth, hammering away at a flurry of rebounds, and then Paule — Paulie! — pounces from behind the goal line to bury the puck in the net. 2-1 Devils and PaulieMartinNation is completely losing its shit. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
0:00 That was like bizarro period! We don’t ever want to have to relive it, but we’ll take the end result.
Can’t talk. Eating ice cream.
20:00 Chuck the Duck! Chuck the Duck! Walking past the camera like Alfred Hitchcock! EEEEEEE!!!!
17:59 Still can’t talk. Still eating ice cream.
17:37 This period is a lot more mellow than the first, and Doc and Chico can’t figure out which team is dictating the pace right now. We didn’t realize there even was a pace to be dictated so far in this frame.
15:54 Marty makes a great coming-out-of-his-net-to-challenge save on a Blackhawks rush, but Versteeg is on the far post to almost be able to stuff the rebound into the vacated net. Applemotherfuckingsauce, though, is there to force his shot wide.
14:35 Doc mentions Paulie’s late-period goal from the first, and Pookie takes umbrage. “That was late-period heroics, not just a goal,” she sniffs.
12:13 Khabibulin stops and covers a long shot Clarkson, and then Clarkson draws the wrath of the Blackhawks by poking at his glove. Chico starts to whine that that should be a penalty on Clarkson – we know! It’s the first time all season he’s thought a Devil actually committed an offense, and the bitter irony is that nothing was actually called on it – and Doc basically tells him to get over it.
11:31 One of the officials gets clocked by a ricochet on a Devils dump-in. Doc says with concern that he has no idea where the puck hit him, and as he gets up from the ice with blood streaming from his mouth, Pookie offers, “I’d say it hit him in the mouth.”
10:51 Blobby gets knocked over at the blue line by Seabrook, and then gets all angry and charges at Havlat, and then the whistle blows for a penalty, so we all assume it’s Blobby again, but it turns out it’s actually Duncan Keith for a holding infraction that had nothing to do with the stupid crazy man. It’s a shocking turn of events.
8:51 The PP better not think we’ve forgotten that it’s part of the recent Devils’ failures. When you lose three straight road games because of crappy special teams, that doesn’t just mean the kill, PP.
5:38 Well that sucked. The Hawks establish their cycle, and Havlat fires a puck from the high point through a thoroughly screened and scrambling Marty, making it a 2-2 game. Doc reminds us that Havlat is a long-time Marty-killer, but it doesn’t make us feel better.
4:57 The Devils respond to the goal by getting pinned again in their own zone.
3:55 Chico is still reeling from the Havlat goal, desperately viewing and reviewing the film to find some kind of excuse for Marty on it. There isn’t one, and it’s killing Chico from the inside.
3:00 Marty lazily wanders back into his net after helping play the puck to a d-man behind it, and is almost caught napping when said d-man turns the puck over to a Blackhawk in front. The only reason this game isn’t 3-2 Hawks right now is because the guy who just had a goal gift-wrapped for him freaks out and fires his shot over the net.
2:00 The Devils are being completely outclassed right now. Pookie: “Ever since Chuck the Duck did his Hitchcock impersonation, this game has been a horror!” Pause. “Or it could just be that Whitey’s playing terribly.”
0:39 Sharp gets a mini-break while the Iron Boar decides that showing off his slapstick comedy chops is a better plan than playing defense, but Marty stymies him with a great lunging paddle save. Sharp responds by cartwheeling over Marty and ripping off his mask with a scissor-hold on Marty’s head with his knees.
0:00 The period ends with Shanny chasing after some Blackhawk guy, ostensibly in response to being slashed, but lip-reading suggests he’s telling those whippersnappers to stay off his lawn. (Yes. We just went there. It was that kind of period.)
We get an interview with Paulie, who is freshly shorn. Gel-O sets him up to whine that the Devils aren’t getting any even-up calls after the first, but Paulie won’t bite. He’s such a class act and a dreamboat. If you like your men pallid and Gorey-esque.
We get some kind of “Brodeur: 552″ stuff during this intermission. If you miss it now, Gentle Reader, we suspect it’ll get played a few more times on the MSG family of channels.
17:54 Havelid follows play into the Devils zone and just kind of falls over, taking himself out of a one-on-one defensive sequence. Schnookie: “Oh my god… The Iron Macho is just… he’s the Graphite Macho. No, he’s the Talc Macho.”
16:35 Gio almost manages to generate a scoring chance for the Devils when he blows past the Chicago D and tries to lace a cross-crease pass to a streaking Patty, but everyone on the ice is so surprised that the Devils are actually trying to put the puck toward the net that nothing comes of it.
15:31 Langer tries to hand the puck to the Blackhawks while crossing the offensive blue line, but it ends up bouncing back to him as he gets behind the D. Schnookie: “Langer’s like, ‘That was supposed to be a turnover.’” Pookie: “He can’t do anything right tonight!”
15:07 Oh, that’s more like it. The Devils go back on the PK when the Talc Macho takes a high-sticking penalty. (It should be noted here that Chico’s narration of this game is hugely confusing because he is pronouncing “Havlat” and “Havelid” exactly the same way.)
13:07 Marty! Marty! Marty! He manages to hold his ground on a last-ditch PP flurry on the doorstep by the Blackhawks. The Talc Macho gets back on the ice and heaves a sigh of relief, while Blobby probably silently vows on the bench that he will undo any good the Devils’ PK has done tonight. Oh yes, he will.
12:45 If you’re the kind of person who is into shot records (which we are not), then you’ll consider this game notable for it being the one in which Zach set the single-season shot total record for a Devil.
11:28 Oduya and Byfuglien wrestle into the corner after a loose puck, and Big Buff skates out of the exchange with a holding minor.
9:28 Yup. The PP’s still not scoring. Although they generated more chances than usual, so we’ll give them points for trying.
7:27 We come back from commercial to see Paulie being praised as the “Jaguar Performance” or something like that. Well of course. When he’s not being a gopher, Paulie’s totally a Jaguar. Rrrowrl! (Chico says something about how Paulie and his “mates” are doing something or other in this game, and Pookie mishears him. “Paulie and his minks? Has he replaced his gophers with minks?”)
6:28 We’ve decided Paulie’s mink army is actually just his gophers wearing mink turtlenecks.
5:45 We come back from commercial to see a shot of some fans in a luxury box, and Doc takes the moment highlight one of the people in the group. It’s the oncologist who saved Doc’s life, and tonight Doc was making good, apparently, on his promise that his doctor would never have to pay to see a hockey game again. That’s awesome.
3:41 The Patty/Zubrus/Gio line puts together some great scoring chances, but stupid Khabibulin.
3:16 Marty makes a stop while almost the entire Blackhawks lineup barrels, full-force, into him. We also don’t understand why there isn’t a penalty on the play.
2:04 Pookie: “I can’t believe Chicago hasn’t scored again. I can’t believe that there’s almost two minutes left and the Devils might not actually lose this in regulation.”
1:35 Pookie adds after a pause: “Which isn’t to say that I don’t think the Devils aren’t going to lose in regulation.”
0:25 Schnookie, watching Zubrus bull around behind the Hawks net: “I gotta say, I think Zubrus has been one of our best players tonight.” Pookie: “It’s because he’s happy to be back with that line. Centering Oduya and Paulie.”
0:00 Huh. The Devils didn’t lose in regulation.
3:55 Travis wipes out – on, presumably, a gopher hole or something – but manages to keep the puck and skate it through three Chicago defenders anyway. Schnookie: “That was hot. Travis was like, ‘I’m a klutz, but I don’t let that get in my way. I don’t let anything get in my way.’” Pookie: “’Except barriers. And turnstiles. And stop signs. And hay bales. And rain. And buttons.”
2:11 This OT is boring. The Blackhawks have all the possession. Give it to Patty!
1:47 So much for Zubrus being one of the best Devils tonight. He turns the puck over to Toews right outside the Devils blue line.
1:25 Poop. The Blackhawks keep the pressure on, and Seabrook scores on a slapper from the point. 3-2 Blackhawks. The Devils are still officially total crap on the road. March swoon, anyone?