Oh dear heavens – the MSG+ intro looks like someone in the truck just got some new software, and they’re playing with all the different special effects they can use on the highlights from the last game. Most of them make it look terrifyingly like one of those ugly paintings the Devils give guys to commemorate milestones have come to life.
Oh, and ugh. Gel-O’s got the call tonight. That can’t be a good sign.
19:04 Well, the Poppers look like the Poppers again, with a great forechecking shift, and nice work from the d-men at the points, but it doesn’t lead to a shot.
18:21 While Zubrus takes a colossal tumble at center ice, Gio leaps on the puck he’s just coughed up and then darts into the offensive zone. He looks like he’s added a new level of speed to his arsenal, but alas – with that increase in speed comes a decrease in aim. His shot attempt ends up hitting heavily against the boards in the far corner.
16:22 We didn’t miss anything, did we? We just had to get up to get dinner out of the oven.
15:38 Zach attempts a centering feed from the far boards, but Langer’s busy standing all the way over on the near boards, so it ends up turning into basically just an ill-advised shot attempt. Not a Poppers shift for the ages.
15:09 Clarkson had a typical Clarkaround attempt a few minutes ago, and now LaRose shows him how much he has to learn about turning “skating around from behind the net with the puck” into an actual scoring chance. Marty’s up to the challenge, though.
13:26 So what are the chances we can get through this whole period without a whistle? It’s looking pretty good right now.
12:16 Rats. Our dream of seeing this period played in real time has come crashing down to earth, as the Madden/Pando/Shanny line does its best Poppers impersonation, with the cycling and the scoring chances and the yoinking and whatnot, and Madden draws a roughing penalty to Cole.
We come back from commercial to find that Hooters and Whitey had a bit of a tiff during the break, but it’s Gleason and Whitey getting the coincidental roughing minors.
10:27 Chico assures us, as the PP isn’t doing much to, like, score and shit, that when professional athletes say they’re not nervous for big, but rather are excited, they’re lying. He then says he admires Ward for admitting when he’s nervous. Actually, that’s kind of charming. In a puppy-mill puppy kind of way.
10:14 Just as the PP expires, Brind’Amour goes to shovel the puck out from deep in the corner and ends up hitting Shanny in the cheek with his follow-through. Chico tries to tell us this is a bad call, but the replay makes it look like Rod the Bod speared Shanny in the eye.
9:40 The Devils put the puck in the net when Ward flips a rebound way up in front of himself, but it’s immediately waved off for a high stick. It goes to review, and if this counts, that’s just wrong. Oh good. It doesn’t count.
9:16 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now that one counts! Paulie slaps a perfectly tippable shot from the point, and Zach, swooping around the high slot, tips it ridiculously artfully into the net. Zach’s puck-tipping skills are just scary – that shot basically ended up arcing gracefully just up over Ward’s shoulder, then dipping down inside the crossbar. It’s 1-0 Devils, and WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7:57 What the hell? We’re nibbling away on dinner, with half an eye on the game while the Hurricanes are attempting a foray into the Devils zone, and all of a sudden the Devils are heading back on the PP. Replay shows us it’s Ruutu, getting called for charging after he leapt several feet in the air while gently jostling Whitey in the corner. In other words, it’s the dictionary definition of “stupid penalty”. On the bench, Paul Maurice is perfecting his deep, deep scowl.
7:12 The Devils are working the puck from point to point, building up a head of steam, and suddenly the whistle blows as Travis gets nabbed for a wee spot of goaltender interference. He doesn’t argue much, but replay makes TravisNation quiver with rage. He barely touched Ward! They better call that at the other end, too.
5:49 Yeesh. It’s a close call as the Canes start their PP, but the shot from up high that beats Marty doesn’t beat the goalpost.
4:32 Marty freezes the puck with a Cane down on the ice in front of him, and after the whistle blows, the Cane kicks Marty’s glove. As the three of us become apoplectic, Marty just gives his a stern little whack with his stick, then returns to his business of languidly standing in the crease, leaning on the crossbar, and generally looking cocky.
3:44 A Cane forward decides he’s about to blow into the Devils zone with speed and the puck, but as he tries his swaggery power move past Paulie, he suddenly realizes he is now skating just with speed alone, as Paulie is coolly heading up the other way with the puck. Pookie: “Dr. Pancake is in the house. He’s hung out his shingle for this game.”
2:09 We get a stats screen showing us the impressive TOI, +/-, shot and hit numbers for the Madden/Pando/Shanny line in Game 1. When we return to live action, they’re on the ice and Madden is just going crazy, giving the Canes everything they can handle and essentially being an offensive dervish. Schnookie: “It’s like it’s 2000 again.”
1:07 TravisNation is shocked and appalled as its emperor-god takes a really stupid hooking penalty in the neutral zone. Pookie: “Travis is going to have to be benched at this rate.” Schnookie: “I have to say, that never happened to PandoNation’s emperor-god.”
0:24 Poop. Travis is totally fired. As the crowd is all het up about a Cane player falling into the Devils’ bench, the PKers forget all about their jobs. Everyone decides to ignore Hooters at the side of the net, and Whitney’s intentionally-wide shot kicks off the endboards directly onto his stick, and Hooters punches it past a helplessly sprawling Marty. 1-1 game.
0:00 It might not have ended the way we wanted it to, but that period was another fun one. We get an interview with Zach, and Pookie points out, “His hair-spiking device was set to ‘wild and crazy’.”
We flip on some other game action during the Dano/Gel-O portion of our programming this evening.
19:32 We’re all still a bit groggy from our lazy afternoons (read: hours-long naps), so as the PA announcer is giving the scoring from the Hooters goal in the background while play resumes, Schnookie starts drowsily saying, “Hoot. Hoot.” It’s a happening night here at stately IPB Manor.
18:18 The Poppers are working behind the net, and Pookie suddenly declares, “For a second there I thought Travis was Zubrus, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, he really did get benched. I was joking, Sutter!’”
17:32 The Poppers just will not quit on this shift, and the crowd starts to get to its feet to cheer them just as Corvo starts molesting Langer at the point. The ovation turns into an unhappy cry for a penalty to be called, but Chico suggests that perhaps the officials are “letting them play” now. Of course, it could also be the officials telling Langer that he was just as culpable on the play as Corvo.
15:14 Hm. The Canes are getting to all the loose pucks now. Coincidentally just as Gel-O and Chico are telling us that the Hooters goal was pretty much just a bad break. Yeah, a bad break in which no one was bothering to defend the other team’s 40-goal scorer. This game suddenly doesn’t seem as fun.
14:31 The Poppers try to make us feel better by sassily zipping up the ice and ripping a quick shot at Ward. In the ensuing scrum, Zach draws an extra penalty to Pitkanen. Replay shows it’s for a minuscule cross-check. There’s the even-up for Travis’s goalie interference call.
13:37 Travis mis-plays a pass attempt on the halfboards, and the Canes get head up ice shorthanded. Schnookie: “Travis is having a Hooters baby tonight!” Pookie, channeling Jack Edwards, “Oh the IRONY! HA HA HA HA HA!”
10:44 Travis tries to beat three defenders, but the terrible burden of his Hooters baby is too much for him to bear. Pookie, sighing: “I wonder how you can exorcise a Hooters baby?”
9:51 Patty unveils his fancy new Pattynado move, which involves him darting between two defensemen, then spinning to the ice after being hit simultaneously by both of them. It’s surprisingly ineffective as an offensive tactic.
8:24 You know what we love tonight? The Devils’ commitment to cycling. And you know who we love best at it? The Madden/Pando/Shanny line. They have been beasts out there so far.
5:44 Rod the Bod can’t handle Gio at all, so he has to take a hooking penalty off more Devils cycling. He complains the whole way to the box, but dude. That was textbook. Chico tries to tell us it’s a bad call, but he’s been a Rod the Bod apologist all night.
4:30 Langer has left the game with an injury. Well that’s discouraging.
2:36 The Hooters line finally gets the better of play in the Devils zone against the Madden/Pando/Shanny line, but as Chico points out, they don’t ever really get the puck away from the perimeter. But still. We like the game a lot more when the cycling’s down at the other end.
1:35 After relentless Canes pressure, Marty finally freezes the puck. Whew. This is getting tense.
0:26 Patty stands up an onrushing Hurricane and then suavely heads up the ice. Schnookie: “Ooh! That was nice! Patty just stole Paulie’s Dr. Pancake shingle.” Pause. Pookie has no response for that, so Schnookie adds, “And beat him with it.”
0:00 The national audience is totally missing out by not having a Blersus spotlight on this series, but we’re not complaining.
We go to the studio intermission show with Butch and Deb, and Deb voices over about things being “all tied up at The Rock” while MSG shows us an aerial shot of Madison Square Garden at night. Boomer: “That’s not The Rock.” Schnookie: “No. That’s the A-Hole Building.”
20:00 Crap. Still no Langer. It looked during a replay in the intermission like he exploded something – either groinal or shoulderal – on an attempted point shot on the PP. Chico doesn’t think we’re going to see him again tonight. He says that in a tone that makes it sound like we’re never going to see him again. It’s the unspoken, “They’ve had to take him out behind the barn and shoot him.” That’s right: Langer’s had to move to a farm where he’ll have lots of room to run around and play, and they’ll feed him juicy steaks at every meal, and there are all kinds of other Langers he can play with, and the sun’ll shine every day, and hey, we can go to the pet store this weekend and get a new Langer – would you like that, kids?
19:22 Patty’s been promoted to the Poppers. It looks to be paying dividends right away as Zach and Patty get a long two-on-one, but Zach’s shot hits the goalpost.
17:48 Gio rags the puck a bit just inside the blue line while biding time during a slow line change, and after wheeling a dump-in softly into the corner, he gets to be on the receiving end of Pitkanen just completely losing his mind. Pitkanen is lucky Gio didn’t bleed after getting smacked in the face with a bunch of glove and stick, and he only gets a single minor for roughing.
15:48 That would have been an awesome power play if Patty was capable of not one-timing his glorious scoring chance wide.
14:37 Maybe Travis managed to exorcise that Hooters Baby himself during intermission? He scoops up a loose puck to the side of Ward’s net and swaggers in around a few d-men, but isn’t able to beat Ward’s sprawling leg pads. It’s a good start, though.
12:32 Ack! A skyhook of a dump-in bounces around in front of an oblivious Whitey and suddenly Cole comes streaking out of nowhere to snatch the puck up and fire it at Marty. Chico remarks that that’s the Cole we expected to see, but that it’s okay because Marty knew he was on the ice. Pookie: “That’s good that Marty did, because Whitey sure didn’t.”
11:03 Gel-O tells us “there is an eerie calm” at The Rawk. We’re not sure “eerie” is the word he’s looking for there, unless the sky is turning yellow and the birds have all fallen silent, or something like that.
10:43 Langer is now officially out with “lower body”. Bummer. Dano had assured us during the intermission that upper body would be the better injury.
8:58 Yay! Back-to-back icings! Just what the doctor ordered.
8:14 Zubrus smushes a Cane just outside the Devils blue line well after the puck has left the area. The crowd boos, but it’s PK time.
7:54 Dear Gel-O,
The Hurricanes player you are referencing is not Jarret Stoll. He’s Eric Staal. It shouldn’t be too hard a name to deal with, since there are oodles of other Staals in the Atlantic Division. Sheesh.
5:54 That was an awesome penalty kill. But the icing to follow it up was less cool.
4:51 Damn but Hooters is fast. He just blows past everybody, going essentially coast-to-coast, but Marty is calmly up to the task of stopping the shot, flipping out a teensy rebound, and then covering the puck before anyone can respond to it. If we weren’t so freaking tense right now, this game would be really fun to watch.
3:50 Oooh! The Iron Boar has speed no one knew about! The Canes are busting up the rink on a two-on-one, and Salvador turns on his jets and stuns the guy with the puck by coming up behind him and stolidly punching the puck away with a deft stick check.
2:41 Fuckety fuckety fuck. Pando slams inadvertently into Cole at the side of the net, and stays down. After staying down long enough to draw a whistle when his linemates start up the other way, he walks off with the trainer and heads straight down the tunnel. We get a look at Sutter letting out a long, aggrieved sigh, with which we agree whole-heartedly.
0:37 The Devils touch up on an icing. We are trying not to throw up.
0:00 OT, anyone?
Chico exhorts Devils fans to make sure they’re well-fed and hydrated before the extra session starts, because he thinks this could go a long time. Considering Marty’s career OT record, we’re not holding our breath for that. (Meanwhile, the fans in the bar are singing “Happy Birthday” to Dano, leaving him totally flustered.)
20:00 Before the drop of the puck, we get some good news, some bad news, and some depressing news. The good news is that Pando’s back. The bad news is that Langer isn’t. The depressing news is that the Devils are, as a franchise, 13-23 in playoff OTs.
19:00 LaRose tosses a short-range shot into Marty’s feet, and he struggles to keep the puck out. Or even to have any idea where the puck is.
18:34 The Hurricanes are buzzing. Pookie: “Do they have a power play or something?”
17:41 Carolina is, so far, the significantly better team in this frame.
17:20 Make that 13-24. Marty has not even the remotest idea where the puck is as the Canes just hammer away, and with Hooters parked on top of Marty and Havelid parked on top of Hooters, a point shot comes in, Havelid deflects it perfectly and it’s 2-1 Hurricanes. It is astonishing at how terribly the Devils came out for that overtime. That was dreadful. We guess the brief renaissance was exactly that – brief.