Our pregame tonight leads in talking about the promised offense-stimulating line changes for the Devils, and Doc tries to sell us on the line “The Steamrollers” for Rolston/Elias/Zharkov. That is not better than the Pickled Eggs and Ham. (In a related aside, after coining that name for the Pikkarainen/McAmmond/Pelley line, Schnookie began to wonder whether it could really catch on, like, for reals. Surely, she thought, it’s no dumber than ZZ Pops. It wasn’t until much later that she realized that the reason it won’t ever officially catch on is that non IPB readers don’t call Pelley “Egg”. We need to work on this.) During their discussion of the line, Chico tells Doc that this line “oozes hockey sense”. Pookie: “That’s why I call them ZZ Ooze.”
18:57 We get as far as one minute into the game, and the fabled breaking up of the Zach/Travis/Boogerfors line has already fallen by the wayside. We love it when Jacques sticks to his guns.
18:18 Zach is never going to score again. He gets a mini-breakaway, but his unstoppable move is unstoppable no more, and he’s not able to beat Elliott on the backhand.
17:00 Doc: “The Devils have had a little trouble in their own end lately.” Chico: “That’s being really kind. They’ve had a lot of trouble in their own end.” Pretty much.
16:17 Pando — Pando!! — trips Fisher. We are horrified. Fortunately, Boogerfors gets called for it, so PandoNation breathes a sigh of relief and smirks at the burgeoning BoogerforsNation across the heavily fortified border.
14:05 We are distracted during the scrambly-yet-effective PK by our giddiness about the impending snowstorm bearing down on stately IPB Manor. We can’t wait to hunker down for wall-to-wall hockey tomorrow while the snow gently falls outdoors. Which means we’ll probably be shivering in a powerless house all day while the snow rages furiously outdoors.
12:11 Pookie: “I think Zach’s afraid of the acorn.”
8:51 Just when we are beginning to wonder what Senators end of the ice looks like, a Sen helpfully takes an offensive-zone penalty well off the puck. There’s nothing the Devils are less effective at lately than scoring on stupidly-taken penalties, so this should be awesome!
8:05 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who is this team, and what did they do with the Devils? Langer carries the puck up the ice, dishes to Game Over Greene to go wide around the defenders and go to the net, and Greene dishes the puck back to Langer across the crease for a tap-in goal. On the power play. Will wonders never cease? 1-0 Devils, and Marty picks up an assist. After the goal, Pookie says, “I just noticed something weird on the back of the goalie’s mask, and I was going to ask about it, but you know what? They’re going to tell us about it later.”
5:03 Doc is talking about some guy with Ottawa who was just called up, and was leading the AHL in +/-. Schnookie: “Why is it that even when Doc’s talking about guys who are currently in the minors, it always sounds like he’s talking about guys from the ’50s?” Pookie: “I don’t know, but I’m going to start calling Vrana Vrana Vrana ‘Scrap Iron’.”
3:39 Schnookie, still mulling over the Vrana Vrana Vrana thing: “I’m going to call Vrana ‘The Moxie Kid’.” Pookie: “That sounds very Stannish.” Pause. “But other than that, I love it.”
3:15 Based on what Chico’s saying the Devils aren’t cycling – they’re doing “The Swirl”. Pookie: “The Devils are doing a-swirl?” (ANTM fans will know what she’s talking about. In a quick check of the YubeTubes, we couldn’t find a clip of the Aswirl Twins, or whatever they are.)
2:39 Applesauce hooks Fisher while he’s headed to Marty’s net. Chico: “The Senators will have a chance to tie it now on the power play.” Pause. “Or the Devils will have a chance to score shorthanded.” We guess it’s not an option that the penalty could be killed without any change on the scoreboard.
0:39 Well, we were right and Chico was wrong.
0:00 That was a fun, fast period – we got to complain about the Devils looking hapless in their own zone, cheer for a surprising PP goal, nervously bite our nails over the tenuous lead, and Pookie practiced her booing Rolston. It was great! Meanwhile, Stan interviews Blandy, and Blandy happily reports that he takes more pride in his defense than his offense. Good answer, Blandy, in case Lou is watching. (Stan does not drop the word “moxie” in the interview.)
19:21 Tonight will not be the night of Shutout 104. The teams start the period rather how the first was played, with the Senators controlling play in the Devils zone, and finally a wonky point shot gets deflected high over Marty, hits the crossbar, and drops into the net. 1-1 game.
18:03 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Huh? There doesn’t seem to be anything going on, but suddenly Rolston takes a slapper after the Devils win an offensive-zone draw, it goes through some traffic in front, Elliott doesn’t seem to notice it, and just like that it’s 2-1 Devils. We were not ready for so much scoring right away in this period.
14:37 Marty gets barreled into by Cheechoo in pursuit of a loose puck, and Marty goes down like a sack of bricks. Nothing gets called, and Marty is slow to get up. Replay shows Cheechoo kneed Marty in the head, and Chico informs us that Marty’s neck is hurting right now, not his head. After a bit of drama queening with the trainer, Marty gets back up and seems fine. On the ensuing faceoff, Cheechoo’s stick immediately breaks, and Doc snips, “Is that the hockey gods paying him back? He definitely could have avoided contact.” Tell us how you really feel, Doc!
14:06 Doc is still complaining that Cheechoo “got away with one”, and gleefully notes when Cheechoo looks hurt after blocking a shot.
13:54 Ruutu roofs a shot over Marty while toppling over on the rush. 2-2 game, and Pookie snaps, “Maybe the Devils should have been looking ahead to this game.”
11:38 If the Devils win tonight, and the Caps don’t, the Devils will have sole possession of first place in the conference. Watching them Keystone Kops their way around their own zone, that is a staggering fact.
9:41 Langer giveth (with the PP goal in the first), and Langer taketh away (with this idiotic tripping penalty behind the Ottawa net).
7:41 While the PK was, on paper, successful, it was not the most encouraging one ever. If the Senators didn’t suck, they would have scored easily there. That’s probably why the Devils aren’t trying very hard defensively – they’re like, “Oh, that team will beat themselves for us.” We don’t think that’s a great strategy, but who are we to judge?
5:44 Ruutu returns Langer’s favor of taking a stupid offensive-zone penalty.
5:30 Now Niedermayer (the Lesser) takes up the theme of this evening’s game – stupid offensive-zone penalties – by whacking a Senator in the face with his stick just as the Devils are getting a good point shot set up. Pookie: “And to think – I said he was better than Mike and Mark Pandolfo combined. I take it back!”
4:53 The teams trade partial breakaways. Zach deftly backchecks the Senators’ chance into oblivion, and then Travis shoots wide to render the Devils’ opportunity moot. AcornsNation is beginning to suspect that maybe its emperor-god is also never going to score again. Zach’s drought is spreading like the plague!
1:36 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! PandoNation erupts into jubilant riots!!! The celebration might even spill across the fortified borders into BoogerforsNation, just for fun! Niedermayer (the Lesser) carries the puck below the goal line, then dishes from behind the net to Pando, waiting on the doorstep. And Pando makes no mistake going to one knee (the corrupt ruling priest class of PandoNation will say that he taught Sid Crosby that move) and shoveling the puck through Elliott. 3-2 Devils. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
0:00 That was a zippy period, full of terrible play, fantastic play, horrors and thrills. We might go so far as to say it was the best of times and the worst of times, to coin a phrase. And you can quote us on that!
While we wait for the intermission interview, MSG+’s filler is about none other than Pascal Rheaume. Doc says, “Remember Pascal Rheaume?” Us: “As a matter of fact, we do!” Pookie: “He was the original pleasant surprise.” Less pleasant a surprise? Our interview is with Niedermayer (the Lesser). We demand more Pando!
Our period starts with a new look at Santa Chuck the Duck outside Newark’s City Hall Christmas decorations. And Doc says, when he concludes the sponsorship spots, “Charles!” Chuck’s like, “Please, Charles was my father. Call me Chuck.”
16:26 For all the faults of this game, you can’t complain about the pace. This period picks up right where the others left off, with neither team looking like they know how to stop the other. Pookie: “I realize the Devils have the lead, but I really don’t think they’re going to win this.”
13:44 We come back from commercial to see Chico’s tour of the opponent’s mask, and Pookie gets all excited to find out about the mystery item on the back of Elliott’s mask. But instead, we’re learning about Pascal Leclaire’s. Rats. Anyway, first we get to see the “scary” and “mean” Roman legionnaires, and then, on the back, the kinder, gentler side of Leclaire: he has a little dancing goalie Snoopy there. Chico tells us his nickname is Snoopy, and adds: “Snoopy could mean a bunch of different things for a nickname.” Right.
13:19 Ooooh, Chico’s pissy about how the visiting Ottawa media people were apparently all “trap this, trap that” about Lemaire’s current Devils. He gets so mad about it that his voice cracks. “It’s from ten years ago!” he snarls, and concludes that the people who complain about the Devils trapping “just don’t know much about hockey”. Doc smugly explains that you tend to hear about the Devils trapping when you turn on the radio on your way out of a game that the Devils’ opponents lost. Heh heh heh. That placates Chico somewhat.
10:06 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Pikkarainen seems to have given trick shot tips to the Iron Boar, because he fires a dump-in/shot from outside the blue line that Elliott stops, but then loses sight of when it flips high up in the air over his head. The puck takes what seems like forever to fall, but when it does it rolls off Elliott’s back into the net. 4-2 Devils, and just as Pookie is starting to say that it’s seemed like forever since the Iron Boar’s last goal, the announcement goes up that it’s his first of the season. “It’s seemed like forever,” she concludes, “Like, almost the entire season!”
7:58 We are discussing the merits of the McAmmond pick-up; Pookie says, “I daresay I’ve been pleasantly surprised by ol’ Dean-o.” Schnookie: “Yes, I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by Hambone.” Pookie: “Now that sounds like a solid ’50s nickname.”
6:17 Hambone hooks Kovalev, who goes down like a ton of bricks. Chico says on the replay, “Look at the majesty of Kovalev there…” and as we start cracking up, thinking he’s snarking about the embellishment, he continues to marvel at Kovalev’s stick-handling skills. Bummer.
5:40 Why is it that Langer is often the biggest idiot on the ice for the Devils? After clearing the puck from the zone, he decides to finish off the play by hitting the Senators point man in the face with his gloves, just to give the Sens a long 5-on-3. There is a bit of scrummage after the infraction, but the only positive result of that is that Alfredsson gets a coincidental extra minor with Langer. The two-man advantage remains on the board.
4:15 That was some solid 3-on-5 penalty killing (Langer should buy all the Iron Three guys cars as thanks for saving his sorry-assed bacon there), and then Hambone gets a partial breakaway coming out of the penalty box. He doesn’t score.
3:41 We think perhaps our groan of disappointment can be heard for miles around after the mind-blowingly awesome two-on-one rush of Travis and Pando yields… and embarrassing failure. That was not pretty.
3:30 At the conclusion of all the penalty killing, Boogerfors gets a breakaway coming out of the box where he was serving Langer’s initial minor, but he, like the two odd-man rushes that preceded him, fails miserably. Pookie sees the silver lining, though: “Boogerfors has come so far! He no longer just falls over when he gets the puck!”
2:20 A doofusy Senator takes a roughing penalty.
1:50 Marty coughs the puck up to an attacking Sen while nowhere near the net, and it seems like everything in the arena stops moving for a looooong moment before the Sen spazzes out and loses the puck without even being able to take a crack at the vacated goal. Marty then resumes his position in the crease and makes a show of looking at his stick, as if trying to suggest it was solely responsible for that gaffe. Marty, a good craftsman never blames his tools.
0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That game was wackadoo! And since they lost, the Senators media will probably report that it was a snorefest, dullsville trap-a-thon. Good thing we all know differently.