So here we are again, Gentle Reader, ready for another season. We’ve been pretty willfully ignorant of the goings on in Devilsland since the hiring of Lemaire, so now Doc and Steve are assuring us that there is a youth movement afoot in Jersey. Good to hear. Meanwhile, in not-youthful news, tonight is Marty’s 1000th game. This would normally be an event for unmitigated praise, but even Chico has lingering memories of the playoffs, so he describes Marty as the uncontested greatest “regular-season” goalie ever. Burn. Our intro moves on to discuss Lemaire, and Chico says “he’s everything I remembered.” Pookie: “Every time I eat banana and coconut it’s everything I remembered too. That doesn’t make it good.”
Oh, and just so you know how much of a sacrifice we’re making for our game diary tonight, the Devils feed isn’t in HD (fuck you too, MSG), but the Flyers feed on our cable is. We’re watching the standard-def version, just to be able to comment on Doc’s and Chico’s bon mots. You better bring it, Doc and Chico. The channel we can only assume is called MSG-Poop does bring us the big opening-night roster announcement, though, giving Pookie the opportunity to say, during the middle of it, “This is the crappy part of our lineup. Basically everything between nine and 30.” We’re in mid-season form!
18:55 The first big scoring chance of the season comes from Rolston, and he hits the post. Actually, we thought he fired wide, but that’s because this picture is so bad it might as well be coming from Canada.
18:07 Paulie makes a leaping keep at the point, and Chico tells us something about how defensemen standing at the points is a thing we’re going to see a lot of this season. That sounds very exciting. Psst, Chico, you’re not selling us on Lemaire.
17:30 The Flyers get their first real offensive flurry of the game, and Doc jokes about calling Rob Niedermayer “Scott” for the first of what will probably be a million times this season.
15:15 Bergfors tries to outhustle an icing, wipes out, and doesn’t get the call. After watching him in a couple of preseason games, Pookie has this to say about Bergfors: “As far as I can tell, that’s his MO: skate behind the net and do something stupid that results in him lying on the ice and not getting a call.” Pause. “I’m sorry, but I don’t like Bergfors.” Before Bergfors gets all upset about this, though, he should remember that Pookie was very vocally opposed to the Iron Boar when he first came Jersey, too, and now he’s practically her Devils boyfriend. At this time next season, she’ll be ordering a Bergfors sweater.
13:00 Andrew Peters is quite possibly the worst hockey player in the entire NHL. In case you were wondering. Both teams’ fourth lines are on, and Doc informs us that “there is the potential for mayhem” out there. Instead of mayhem, Peters commits a dunderheadedly easy turnover to a Flyer in the far corner. On the continuation of offensive pressure for Philly, Oduya takes a hooking penalty.
10:10 The PK actually does a really nice job, even getting a grade-A scoring chance (the fact that Pando doesn’t bury it is beside the point), and shortly thereafter, draws a classic moron cross-checking penalty to Scott Hartnell. Because he’s jealous that we called Andrew Peters quite possibly the worst hockey player in the entire NHL. After much confusion and discussion by Doc and Chico on the TV and the Flyers and the officials on the ice, Farts is also sent to the box, for god-only-knows-what.
9:30 Zach is playing the point on this 5-on-3. That’s… kind of a scary thought. Chico informs us that “in this situation there’s not a lot of risk of being scored on,” then remembers that Beaker is a Flyer.
8:53 It looks like the Devils were not expecting to ever get two-man advantages, so they haven’t ever practiced it. Chico thinks a d-man needs to one-time a shot here. Pookie: “Has Paulie ever one-timed a shot?”
7:55 We come back from commercial to hear Chico talking up Zach’s new A, and remarks that Patty is the other alternate captain, but Paulie’s got the A in his absence. He assures us that Patty will get the A from Paulie when he comes back, but we’re not so sure about that. We hope Paulie’s clutching the letter tight, hissing, “Over my dead body.”
4:03 Farts scores a sharp-angle goal that beats Marty’s stand-up post-holding, and it’s 1-0 Flyers. Pookie: “I think we’re only going to win four division games this year.” Her prediction is two wins against the Pens (4-2 and 3-2), one against the Isles (1-0, to tie the shutout record), and one against the Rangers (7-2). How’s that for a bold prediction? You can write all that down in pen, Gentle Reader, and remember you heard it here first.
1:15 Pronger gets called for interference when he and Clarkson collide near the puck in the neutral zone. It’s enough of a questionable call that when the whistle blows, Clarkson immediately starts complaining to the officials.
0:01 Giroux gets a shorthanded breakaway right at the buzzer, and Paulie comes from out of nowhere to dreamily yoink the puck away from him. Chico tries to tell us that Giroux didn’t have time to score before the period would end, but PaulieMartinNation is going to swoon anyway.
0:00 At the end of the period, we get an interview with Travis. He mouthbreathes, “We just need to play smarter.” Our hopes aren’t too high for that.
19:47 The Flyers are profoundly good at taking terrible penalties, and with the Devils enjoying (or rather, “enjoying”) the carryover PP from the end of the first period, Emery handles the puck outside the trapezoid. We predict that once again, the Devils’ unmitigated craptitude on the 5-on-3 is going to bite them in the ass.
19:15 We were right.
17:59 Doc, watching the Devils carry the puck aimlessly around the Flyers’ zone: “Somebody must shoot.” Oh, Doc. You’re so silly.
17:22 Doc: “Another uneventful power play for the Devils.” Pookie, muttering: “I’m telling you, they’re going 0-for-15 tonight.”
14:17 There seems to be a burgeoning physical rivalry between Zach and Pronger, and as Zach keeps throwing shoulders into Pronger’s chest, he and the rest of the Poppers manage to put together a few good scoring chances. It’s all coming back to us now… this feeling of liking the Devils…
11:15 Travis is fired. When Zach laces a little go-ahead pass to him through the Flyers D, Travis’s immediate decision is to attempt a drop-pass back to Zach that instead finds Pronger. It’s almost as if the Devils don’t want to score tonight.
10:39 Okay, so things are picking up right where they left off in March and April. As in, Marty looks like he thinks it’s the playoffs here, as he lets an impossible-angle shot/pass from Ian Laperriere (Ian Laperriere) get past him. 2-0 Flyers, and it’s all coming back to us now… this feeling of just knowing our favorite team really sucks.
9:15 There is, shockingly, no sarcastic cheer when Marty manages to stop a terrible-angle shot from Carcillo.
7:42 Schnookie: “I’m glad we’re just cutting to the chase here this year. Why bother with October, November, December, January and February? Why not just jump straight to March?” Pookie: “That’s what we get for bringing in Jacques ‘March’ Lemaire.”
6:03 Doc tells us Peters is trying to get Laperriere to fight him. Laperriere is not as stupid as Peters.
5:23 We are now in the phase of the game where the lackluster offense of the Devils is giving way to the lackluster defense of the Devils. The youth movement is going swimmingly!
4:36 After the Devils decide to spend several eons with the puck in their own zone, Beaks finally puts everyone out of their misery by stuffing a wraparound over Marty’s shoulder. 3-0 Flyers, and Clarkson narrows his eyes at Beaker while muttering, “Who told him he was allowed to use my signature move?”
4:05 Pando has a wide-open net, but fires the puck right into a diving Emery. Chico tells us it’s one of the greatest saves we’ll ever see, but we know better. There is nothing “greatest” about this game.
0:00 The period ends with a shower of boos from the crowd. And, well, the Devils look like a team that has been surprised by the regular season starting.
The period starts with a slow pan down the Devils bench as Chico intones gravely that there are “a lot of wheels turning up top there” as the Devils players contemplate “scoring fast and furious.” The players the camera is lingering on are, in order, Egg Pelley, Rob Niedermayer, and David Clarkson. There do not, to the naked eye, seem to be any wheels turning on our screen.
19:21 Beaks hurtles into Marty on a scoring chance, wiping himself and Marty out, and Chico tells us this is evidence that the Flyers are not going to sit back on their three-goal lead. Pookie: “The Devils are like, ‘What?? This is a gentleman’s game! One always sits back on leads!’” Pause. “They’re going to petition the league on the grounds of ‘It’s not fair.’ They’re channeling Bruce Boudreau.”
17:09 We’re not really watching the play anymore, but Chico is providing some endlessly hilarious commentary. While we wait for a faceoff in the Devils zone, he tells us how great Emery’s been and adds, “He better watch out or he could get a following like Ron Hextall had in Philadelphia. They really love their goalies…” Long pause. “…to stop pucks and…” we suppose he means to finish something about fighting, but we’re laughing too hard at the notion of “In Philadelphia they really love their goalies” to hear what he’s concluding.
13:05 We go to a commercial, but then come right back without any ads playing, so we can watch everyone mill about during the TV timeout. Doc apologizes for the “technical glitch” and then Chico gets started again, saying that the Flyers won 2-0 last night and “are up 3-0 now,” then he adds optimistically, “ Who knows what’s going to happen yet…” Pookie: “I know what’s going to happen. The Flyers are going to win.”
12:25 Look, in the grand scheme, when his career is over someday, Marty Brodeur is going to be, for Devils fans, unassailable. But right now, in this game, and in the last game we saw him play in April, he’s terrible. An absolute no-hope shot from Powe flutters on net while Marty’s not paying attention, and it tips in off his startled glove. 4-0 Flyers. Of course, don’t get us wrong — all of the Devils are awful tonight, but we don’t want to hear any crap about Marty being any good or above it all.
11:11 The Flyers take a too-many-men penalty. We’re sure this will be the turning point. HAHAHAHAHAHA!
10:14 Just as we are discussing how the Devils look like a terribly ill-prepared team, like they haven’t done a single thing on the ice yet tonight that appeared planned, Rolston drifts down from the point, takes a nice cross-zone pass from Bergfors, and cannons a shot past Emery. 4-1 Flyers, but we stand by our statement that it looks like the Devils didn’t spend a minute of their training camp putting any kind of game plan in place.
9:38 A Papa John’s Cinnapie commercial comes on, the one where Papa John delivers pizzas and/or cinnapies to a screeching group of soccer players. Pookie pounds on the mute button just as the ear-splitting “PAPA JOHN!” shrieks start, and in the blessed silence that follows, Boomer remarks, “And then they’re all going to have to go in the woods to have diarrhea after eating that.” Pause. “Not to put too fine a point on it.”
8:45 Is 1000 games where Marty’s warranty runs out? Carle skates around Mottau and shovels an eminently stoppable shot toward the net that rolls off Marty (where he’s so passively deep in the crease that even Chico points it out) and into the goal. 5-1 Flyers.
7:55 Peters takes a double-minor for being a complete fucking waste of a roster spot.
6:20 WOOOOO. We will grudgingly admit that the teams trading two-on-ones was exciting, and then Langer picking off a Flyers cross-zone pass in the Devils zone was pretty nifty, and then him feeding a long pass to spring Zubrus at the far end of the neutral zone was snazzy, and then Zubrus finding Langer streaking up the near wing was fun, and then Langer blasting a fuck-this-shit-esque shorty through Emery was, well, pretty awesome. But we only say that grudgingly. 5-2 Flyers.
0:00 You know what this game was like? It was like when you really love a cheesy action movie and get all excited when you find out that they’re making a sequel, even though you know there’s no way that the sequel will be any good. And then when the sequel comes out, you notice that the commercials make it look really terrible, and the reviews are all really bad, but you still go to see it anyway, despite knowing better. And, no matter how prepared you are for it to be a lousy, lousy movie, you’re still surprised and disappointed by how dislikable and not remotely entertaining it ends up being. That’s what this game was like.