We spent some time before the broadcast here started by reading the totally awesome series, Top Ten Reasons Why This Feminist Is A Sports Fan from Bitch Media. If you want to feel great about sports and why you enjoy watching it, male or female, feminist or no, take the time to check it out (it’s only reasons 10-2 as of this writing). We’re feeling all warm and fuzzy and choked up right now. Being a sports fan rawks, doesn’t it?
Oh, there’s a hockey game on! Let’s get to it, shall we?
Wait, no Doc? BOOOOO! This blows!
18:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! What the hell? Boogerfors is standing at the near boards, just a bit north of the corner, his back to the goal, with Travis working a little bit of puck-loosening forecheck, and suddenly Boogerfors whips the puck toward the goal and it goes right though Johnson into the net. 1-0 Devils, and we haven’t even had time to feel insulted that Fleury isn’t in net. Pookie wonders if maybe the NHL isn’t suffering an epidemic of crazy-ass, what with the Pikkarainen, Salvador, and Mason Raymond goals recently. She might be on to something.
14:49 Lemaire must read IPB, because he’s placated the militant LandZharkNation by putting their emperor-god on a line with Clarkson. Considering all the unrest between those nations’ borders recently, this could help facilitate a détente.
12:40 Gel-O and Chico are chortling about how Mike Rupp was in the starting lineup so he could be cheered by the Devils fans when he was announced over the PA, but Pookie speaks for all of PandoNation when she snarls, “Or they could boo him. Like the butcher he am.”
10:59 Hambone makes a great defensive play to help Marty with a juicy rebound under Pens pressure, and the fans cheer when Marty finally covers the puck. The audio is kinda bizarre, though, like we’re hearing the fans through a seashell or something.
10:25 Gordie Howe is in the house again! Yay!
9:29 Land Zhark touches the puck during a nothing kind of sequence in the Pens zone, and after a few seconds, Schnookie mutters into her bowl of soup, “Candygram.” Pookie: “Thank you. I’m so glad that’s caught on. Here. With you guys. It hasn’t taken the entire fanbase by storm yet, but it will. Someday Zharkov is going to be a Folk Hero, and Doc’s call will be, ‘BIG DRIVE! And CANDYGRAM!‘” What can we say? Pookie’s a dreamer.
6:11 We’ve been chuckling all evening over our new tranny gentleman callers’ approach to righting their epically sinking ship; it seems the Blue Jackets have gotten t-shirts that say “It Starts Now”. That’ll make it all better! Anyway, we’ve been trying to think of what dumb-ass acronym that could be, along the lines of those idiotic t-shirts teams invariably cook up during the playoffs, and Boomer suggested the guys are all required to carry the t-shirts in their pockets with them at all times. As the Devils let a power play chance peter out with a whimper, Pookie starts in again on the BJs. She suggests that Rick Nash’s new approach to captaining is to be all “Good Will Hunting” on his teammates, randomly hugging them and repeating “It starts now” over and over like the “It’s not your fault” scene.
4:09 Pookie, watching the Devils wheel pointlessly in the Pittsburgh zone: “This game has been like watching paint dry.” Pause. “It’s like watching a very thin coat of really beautiful paint dry.” Pause. “It’s been like watching the paint dry on the canvas after Monet’s painted.” Pause. “Just kidding. It’s like Klimt.”
4:02 Our Geico Quotebook is Langer’s remarks about how great a captain Captain Hugs will be for the Czech Olympic team. Chico tells us that Langer would be a reliable judge of that, because he knows a lot about what it’s like to be a captain. Schnookie: “He knows a lot about what it’s like to wear Patty’s C.”
2:08 MSG+ gives us our favorite stat screen so far of the season: the Devils have played the fewest games in the conference, and have the most points. It’s been a great slightly-less-than-first-half-of-the-season, hasn’t it?
0:00 Well, we’ve got no complaints about that period!
18:26 Just as Gel-O is telling us that the Applesauce/Whitey d-pairing is staying intact while Lemaire deals with the Iron Boar being out of the lineup, the Devils commit a series of defensive blunders that lead to a dazzling five-man turnover. That is some marvelous ineptitude in action there.
17:52 Applesauce shows off that he doesn’t need teammates to help him commit egregious defensive-zone turnovers. He can do that all by himself, thankyouverymuch.
14:41 So far, the Pens look like they might be remembering how to play hockey in this period. Marty is called on to hold fast as a handful of Pens get some pressure right on the doorstep. Meanwhile, we’re discussing the time that Pookie had a patron request the Clive Cussler book “Med U.S.A.”, which took her forever to realize was actually “Medusa”. When Marty has to make a snappy glove save immediately off the ensuing faceoff, Pookie steps away from her contention that “Med U.S.A.” totally sounds like it could be a Clive Cussler title (“It would be about a submarine class called ‘Med’ that belongs to the USA…”) to interject that she is confident the Pens are scoring the next goal. To which Boomer adds, “The next goal? Is huge.”
12:55 Why is all the background noise being muffled when Gel-O is speaking? This game sounds so weird. Like we’re watching it underwater or something, almost as if we’re aboard the Med U.S.A. There is now no audible sound from the crowd, and only the tiniest bit of schuss-schuss and clatter and clack from the ice.
11:36 Rolston goes offsides on a three-on-two. Pookie neglects to boo, but does remark, “He’s like the new Brian Gionta.”
10:33 There’s a stoppage in play, and the officials give a long lecture to Bylsma. Chico tells us that he wouldn’t want to conjecture about what it could be, but it could be because of verbal abuse from the bench. Or something. He wouldn’t want to say anything, since he doesn’t know for sure. Pookie, as Sid: “You can go fuck yourself!” (After the talk with Bylsma, the ref gives a shorter talk to Lemaire. When he finishes and turns back to the game, Jacques breaks into a smirky, shit-eating grin. We wouldn’t want to make anything up about what happened there, since we don’t know for sure, but we like to think that whatever it was, Jacques well above it all. Heh.)
8:37 Gel-O tells us the Pens are clearly showing frustration now. Which can only mean they’re about to score.
8:11 Whoa! Malkin, not looking even remotely frustrated, turns Fraser inside-out and appears to be about to score a highlight-reel goal with absolute ease, but Marty challenges hard, skating out of the crease to meet him, and makes a gorgeous stand-up save to stop Malkin in his tracks. It’s neither the first nor the last time that a defender is grateful for having Marty in the goal behind him. Rolston and Rupp take matching minors in the ensuing scrum.
We come back from commercial to find out that Clarkson has left the bench.
7:16 This four-on-four has been insane. First , Marty makes a lightning-fast save off a wildly clever faceoff move by Sid, then Sid humiliatingly shanks on a one-time attempt on the next rush, and then Travis gets in alone on a two-on-one with Zach, but can’t beat Johnson. Schnookie: “Argh! Those always go in against Fleury!”
4:21 The last few minutes have been utterly fantastic and uptempo. We’re sure the Pens announcers are currently telling their audience how boringly trappy this game has been, though. It is 1-0, after all.
3:31 Chico tells us that the Pens’ secondary is obviously going to have to score, since the “big guns” aren’t getting anything against the Devils this season. Schnookie: “Please. There is plenty of time for Sid and Malkin to score in this game.”
0:59 Pando yoinks the puck like the yoinking supahstah he am, then springs Langer in alone on Johnson, but stupid Langer doesn’t convert for a goal. Pookie speaks for all of PandoNation when she grumbles, “If he wasn’t saddled with such crappy linemates…”
0:00 We don’t have much to complain about with that period either.
17:45 Oduya puts on a little bit of a show, stutter-stepping around a defending Penguin, then circling behind the net, then lacing a perfect feed through a thicket of players in front, but his set-up comes to naught when the recipient of his pass, Pando, fires an eminently stoppable shot on net. Pookie: “If only Oduya wasn’t saddled with such terrible forwards…” Not. Funny.
16:48 Official word: Clarkson has a lower-body injury. Isn’t it reassuring to get that official report?
16:43 Cooke gets called for slashing and Chico insists that he has no idea what happened. Neither, apparently, does the director of tonight’s broadcast, because there is no replay. Hey, if we wanted that kind of coverage, we’d watch Versus or NBC! (Chico does assure us, though, that just because he didn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good call. Thanks, Chico. We were wondering.)
15:40 MSG+ is married to the behind-the-net overhead camera during this PP, even with play in the neutral and Devils zones. Pookie’s eyes suddenly start watering and she declares that her allergies always flare up around terrible live-action camera choices.
14:43 That was not a power play for the ages.
12:18 It looks like Blandy has just thrown his glove and stick at Dupuis while skating out of the corner to Marty’s left, but when the officials blow the whistle and call a penalty, it’s to Kunitz for slashing Blandy’s stick (and glove) out of his hands. That’s kind of sad. It looked like Blandy was losing his mind for a second there. When actually it’s just that he’s like a hockey-playing robot, who can’t be swayed from his mission to defend against Dupuis, no matter how bereft of stick and glove he might be.
11:14 Zach is stopped on a great set-up by Blandy, and Chico informs us that the Devils might not be scoring on their PPs, but they’re getting ever-so-much-closer with every chance. Schnookie, ever the optimist, says, “Cue: short-handed goal.”
10:52 Marty makes a snazzy glove save on a backhand shorty attempt by Sid, then feeds the puck up to Land Zhark for a three-on-two on which no one wants to shoot, but on which Zharkov emphatically launches one of the zippiest drop-passes we’ve ever seen. We’d still prefer to have seen a goal, though.
10:47 Sid attempts to make a rink-length clear, and instead lofts the puck and gets what is nearly a rink-length delay-of-game penalty. Pookie: “He didn’t know his own strength. He used his buttcheeks just a little bit too hard.” It’s now time for the Devils’ brutal five-on-three.
10:18 That five-on-three was, as advertised, brutal. Even with Gonchar hobbled (Boomer: “He’s hopping around on his bloody stump.”), the Devils can’t score. Chico cautioned us during Jacques’s timeout before the two-man advantage that scoring on the five-on-three “isn’t automatic”; we’ve been watching this team all season, so we didn’t really need that heads-up.
8:16 Gel-O alerts us that Bylsma is shaking up his lines. Malkin’s out right now with Rupp and Butthead. We wonder how Malkin feels skating with two butchers. It’s like an unholy monster line, with one Marty-killer, one Pando-killer, and one Paulie-killer.
5:53 Pookie has a coworker who recently lamented that she doesn’t know what to do with her free time since finishing grad school, and Pookie suggested she try watching hockey. The coworker’s response was that she can’t watch sports, because they’re too confusing. There is nothing confusing about what’s going on here – end-to-end, wild action, with Marty making a save at one end that draws a “Marty! Marty!” chant that even we can hear on the bottom of the sea in the Med U.S.A, and then a three-on-one the other way that leads to a great shoulder save by Johnson on Zach. Sports are great.
3:24 Gel-O’s play-by-play remarks that “the Pens captain” was met by Blandy behind the net, and Pookie finishes for him, “and the Pens captain is bested by Andy Greene.” This prompts Schnookie to start muttering, “You’ve bested my giant…”, and soon we’re imagining the Vizzini/iocane powder scene from “Princess Bride”, featuring Bylsma against Blandy. Pookie: “Clearly the poison can’t be in the burrito in front of me!”
1:26 Travis decides to be a human blanket on Malkin in the corner to Marty’s right, and when he gets called for it, it’s the Pens’ first power play of the night. The Pens call a timeout, and when they come back to the ice, Johnson’s on the bench for the extra attacker. Thank heavens Marty got 104 against these guys already, or we’d be losing our minds right now.
0:11 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What does it take for Langer to score into an empty net? Getting past the guy at the point and being able to skate the length of the ice to score from two feet out. 2-0 Devils, and honestly, the last minute and a half has been just fantastic goaltending, defense, and awesomeness in general.
0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! What a game! It might as well have been 1-0, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that a 1-0 game is inherently boring. This was 60 minutes of kick-ass marvelousness. Hockey is awesome, and right now, the Devils are awesome.