You know what, Gentle Reader? We’re glad we tuned in for the pregame show tonight, so we got to hear Dano gleefully reporting that each time Scott Gomez returns for a game in New Jersey, he, like Blobby Holik before him, is reminded “how good New Jersey was to him, and how good he was for New Jersey.” And then he added that things are not going very well for Gomer in Montreal. Heh heh heh. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Heh.
Oh, and we feel that every single Devils/Canadiens game happens in Montreal, which prompts Pookie to say this when we realize this one’s in Newark: “If this was in Montreal tonight, I’d guarantee that the shutout is happening. With it being in Jersey, I’m not so sure.”
Apropos of nothing, Schnookie notices before this game that there is a story on NHL.com for the Winter Classic coverage all about Bob Costas. The link to it on the front page headlines is “Costas fond of Fenway”. Really??? Pookie: “Next they’re going to have a story up of ‘Pookie fond of Devils’ or ‘Marty fond of Donuts’.”
Mee-ow! In the pregame discussion of Gomez’s production in relation to his contract, Doc snarks that maybe Mogilny can come out of retirement to make Gomer good again. Everyone’s enjoying hating on Gomer tonight! (If Marty gives up any of his patented soft goals against former teammates to him, we’re going to have to hunt down and kill either Marty or Gomer. Hint: it won’t be Marty.)
18:27 Doc is saying something all smugly about Spacek having nightmares about his previous matchups with Patrik Elias. We have no idea what he’s talking about.
17:28 The Habs have had the puck in the offensive zone more than the Devils had so far. Pookie: “I was promised they’d be taking tons of penalties. That isn’t happening.”
16:27 Chico is every bit as confident as everyone else that Marty is getting 104 tonight. We expect that first Habs goal right about… now.
15:52 The ZZ Never Score Goals Anymores get some nice buzzing going around Price’s goal, but only manage to come ever-so-close to score. Because they are nothing if not aptly named.
13:58 Doc and Chico are tickled with how ardently the crowd is booing Gomez’s every move. At one point Doc’s play-by-play involves him wryly remarking, “It would seem that Gomez is on the ice now.” He then wonders whether Gio would have booed, too, and decides he wouldn’t have been, because when he left the Devils he didn’t immediately “go to the bad guys”. Schnookie: “Also, he’s not a douchebag.”
12:57 Grrrreg was right! The Habs do take stupid penalties! They get called for too many men, in spectacular fashion. They’ve practically got 18 guys skating on a rush here.
11:58 O’Byrne further makes Grrrreg look like a prophet by taking Travis down in a classic can opener move. The bad news for the Devils is that the first penalty was only half over, so now it’s one of those 5-on-3s of doom. Chico, oblivious to the patterns of sucktitude on the two-man advantage that the Devils have shown this season, predicts that the Devils are going to score the game-winner here. At this rate, Marty’s not only not going to get a shutout tonight, but Carey Price is.
10:09 As the PP continues to wheel aimlessly around the neutral zone, the commentary turns to Zach’s scorelessness. Chico tells us that of course a scoring drought weighs heavy on the mind of hockey players, and Zach has been up-front enough to admit “that he’s thinking about it.” Schnookie: “Every minute of every day.” Pookie: “He’s like, ‘Here, let me show you my day planner…’ and every page is just filled with ‘Think about how I’m not scoring’.”
8:07 300-foot-tall Gill flattens Land Zhark from behind while just sort of smothering him like an octopus picking up a coconut shell, and gets called for holding. Doc says it’s just his size that caused that penalty. He’s like Pronger, but more like a human blanket than a guy who’s elbowy.
7:37 Ah, yes. It turns out the Devils – including Marty – were also taking the shutout for granted tonight, and as they all stand around half-assing it in on the PP, they neglect to try to do anything to stop Moen from scoring on a shorthanded two-on-one. 1-0 Canadiens. Chico’s take on the lackluster play so far is that the Devils are looking like they did against Florida. Pookie: “And look how that turned out.” Pause. “Maybe the Devils are looking ahead to their big game against… Ottawa?”
4:38 Pookie has a terrible vision of our dystopian future: “I don’t think Marty’s ever going to get that shutout. Because that’s what he’s going to use as his excuse to keep starting every game forever.”
2:14 Chico is as impressed by the Devils fans’ ability to spot Gomez every time he’s on the ice. We have to agree – we’re barely ever aware of which Devils are on the ice, let alone the guys on the other teams. Pookie: “I’m going to train myself to get better at that. I’ll start by booing Rolston every time he’s on the ice.”
1:52 The hell? Price takes a trapezoid violation penalty. The Habs really are ridiculously undisciplined. But, as Doc would say, no matter. The Devils PP is a study in suck tonight.
1:14 The loudest boos of the night have been reserved for this PP. And deservedly so.
0:00 That period was crap, crap, crap.
20:00 There is no way this period can suck, because it is kicked off with a shot of SANTA CHUCK. We put ourselves on a bit of tivo delay to make it possible to share him with those of you who are not watching on MSG+:
18:49 Pookie is practicing booing Rolston. So far she’s doing really well at it.
16:43 The pace on this period is torrid. As the puck keeps getting deflected out of play, or iced, or both, Doc reminds of us a big goal against Montreal that Randy McKay had many years ago. To which Chico segues into a stat about all-time Devils goals by saying, “Well, unfortunately, Randy McKay is no longer here, but this guy [Patty], is!” There is a long pause in the living room of stately IPB Manor, after which we wonder aloud, “Randy McKay is dead?” He’s not, is he?
15:56 Spacek slashes Rolston’s stick, breaks his own stick in the doing, and then wonders, as he skates around with the broken remnants of his stick still in his hands, why he’s getting called for anything. His teammates, meanwhile, are probably thinking, “Just get in the box, a-hole. We’re doing fine just letting this team keep shooting itself in the foot.”
14:08 Niedermayer (the Lesser) hooks the Devils off the PP. Thank heavens. Maybe they’ll be effectual shorthanded? Chico sums this game up brilliantly: “Doc, I dunno. Maybe the Devils just want to keep playing five-on-five. At least they’re not losing momentum when they’re playing at even strength.”
12:50 The best scoring chance for the Devils this evening comes on a shorthanded rush by Zach. But it’s not so good that it means Zach can stop being consumed by the tortured thoughts of a guy who hasn’t scored in seven games (and counting).
8:05 This is the part of the game where Doc’s play-by-play goes: “And a shot from the Canadiens.. and another one… and another one… and another one…” Things are going great.
6:05 Oh crap. We just realized this is only the second period.
4:18 You know what Pookie’s one wish for Christmas is this year? For Paulie to come back. Is he ever coming back? Not that we think he’d make a difference in this game or anything, but we miss being able to make gopher jokes when things are grim.
3:35 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! NO THE FUCK WAY!!!! PIKKARAINEN! That must be one of the worst goals ever scored by a Devil. On a three-on-two rush, he fires a fluttering shot that should be going over the net, but Price puts a glove up to stop it and instead deflects it downward. The puck drops, hits the crossbar, lands in the crease… and Price, perhaps addled by the cheering of the crowd, backs obliviously deeper into the crease to kick the puck with his heel into the net. That is the craziest fucking thing we’ve seen today. 1-1 game.
1:34 It looks like things are looking up for the Devils when the McAmmond/Egg/Pikkarainen line gets another odd-man rush – this one a three-on-the-goalie. But they’re still McAmmond/Egg/Pikkarainen, so there is not a goal scored. Schnookie: “Maybe this line needs a name. How about the Pickled Ham & Eggs?” Pookie: “If only they played Andy Greene at forward. They could be Green, Egg and Ham.” Boomer: “I was thinking that, but didn’t say it.” Pookie: “That’s what makes me a comedy genius.”
0:00 Doc concludes the period by saying the Devils don’t deserve to be tied. No, that they don’t. We get an interview with Pikkarainen, and he’s a bit of a giggler.
19:45 Doc and Chico are discussing an incident from Chico’s playing days where a shot that hit the crossbar was called a goal. Meanwhile, the Habs come roaring out of the gate with two phenomenal scoring chances. The Devils somehow manage to survive, and Chico carries on with his story, explaining why he was arguing so vehemently with the officials in the highlights from that game of yore that MSG+ just showed. Hilariously, he explains that there were “water droplets” on the crossbar from where the puck hit, and he was asking the official to come down to the goal to look at it. “It was like CSI!” he insists. We would love to see Chico leading a team of crack forensics investigators in “CSI: Regina”. Getzi can be the cute, shirtless guy on the team.
16:36 We are marveling at the randomness of Doc’s play-by-play (he calls of a cool glove save by Price, “The tongue of the snake flicks out there,” to which Pookie says, “I’m really glad I didn’t have to ever hear Bill Clement say that.” Bill Clement makes everything sound doubly pervy), and he likens someone on the ice to Zhamnov. Pookie, stunned: “Zhamnov??” There is a pause, and then Chico says, “Zhamnov?? Whatever happened to him?”
14:01 The Habs mount a rush (that amounts to nothing), and Schnookie grouses, “That was offsides. They’re not calling offsides on the Canadiens tonight. That’s the second rush this period that was offsides that went uncalled.” Pookie: “The linesmen want this game to be over.” Schnookie: “Can you blame them?”
13:38 Our nightly tour of the opponent’s goalie mask features Chico pointing out that the Grim Reaper is featured riding on “a motorbike” on the side of Price’s mask. It doesn’t sound all that tough when you put it that way.
12:55 Oduya seems to club Laraque in the head while trying to hold him up while they skate up the far wing. Schnookie wonders why that wasn’t called, and Pookie insists, “I’m telling you, the officials want to go home.”
10:59 There have been four shots in this period. Total. It’s a doozy.
8:21 We take that back. Since we complained about how little action there’s been here, the Devils have put together a string of high-pressure offensive shifts, and had them answered by near-miss attempts at breakaways the other direction. It’s been so up-tempo that Doc has had to stop rambling about old-tyme minor-league players we’ve never heard of to get back to the play-by-play. (One guy he mentioned was nicknamed “King Kong”, which gets Pookie to wishing that she had a favorite player with that as a nickname. She’s considering calling Paulie “Gopher Kong” when he gets back. That should make him hurry his return.)
6:19 Baumann is starting the “Gimme a D!” cheer. Doesn’t he know this always makes the other team score when he’s not leading in response to a Devils goal? Regardless, it’s a hearty cheer that gets going, and Chico rightly praises the fans for having had a fantastic game.
3:29 We come back from a commercial to see footage from Gomer’s rookie hat trick on his birthday at MSG (and HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! for how that laid the groundwork for him thinking life would be grand if he could only play there every night), and it’s interesting for two reasons. One is that the quality of the video is terrible. Pookie wonders aloud whether it really looked that bad back then and we just didn’t notice, or whether they’re deliberately making it look that bad. The other is that Gomer is still the last Devil to get a hat trick as a rookie. We’re fairly confident Pikkarainen will be the next.
2:33 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just after it’s looking like the Habs are going to have all the momentum for the final few minutes, the Devils put together a four-pass, rink-length rush on which Patty sneaks behind the defenders, to pounce on the rebound of Rolston’s mid-range shot to stuff the puck past a slow-to-respond Price. 2-1 Devils, and we did NOT see that coming.
1:30 The Habs are swarming. Whitey gets away with tripping a Hab coming out of the corner, and Pookie says, “Whitey’s like that rented Christmas tree I don’t want to admit I don’t want to get next year.” Schnookie: “I don’t know what that means.” Pookie: “I mean he’s like that old dog I don’t want to admit is too old. Whitey needs dog-bed stairs.” Schnookie: “I still don’t know what you’re talking about.” Pookie: “You don’t have to put that in the diary.” Schnookie: “But I love it! It makes no sense!” Pookie, sadly: “It makes sense in my head.”
0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Habs put on a mad crush there at the end, but the Devils manage to hold fast, and get a wholly undeserved win. But hey, that’s what good teams do, right? Win games they shouldn’t?