The big question about tonight’s game is whether this is going to be one of those classic depressing defeats at the hands of the woeful Panthers, or if it will be the Devils using Florida as its traditional get-well team. You don’t have to know us very well to guess what we’re predicting.
Last weekend we called for more injuries to the Devils, since that seems to be the only way the players stay hungry, and we got what we asked for. Everyone is hurt, and a whole bunch of strangers are in the lineup tonight. And our pregame is talking about how the Devils D, specifically Greene and Mottau (!?!), need to score more. Sounds like it should be a good one tonight!
20:00 One of our favorite quotes from Marty is his remark about playing in the minors in Utica, where he said he didn’t see a bird the entire year there. So when Doc introduces us before the opening faceoff to Nick Palmieri, Utica native, Schnookie blurts, “He’s probably terrified of birds!”
18:45 Chico informs us, after the Devils get the first hit of the game, that hits and shots are “something they can control” (presumably as a sop to fans like us, who are convinced there’s nothing else about the game that the Devils can control). Pookie mishears him, though: “Did he just say that the Devils can’t control the hitting? Gawd! They’re like a whole team of Mr. Hamgravies.”
17:38 Vokoun (called “Vacuum Vokoun” by Chico in the pregame, which prompted Schnookie to ask, “Gee, Chico, did you think of that yourself?”) gloves an easy shot from the faceoff circles from Palmieri. He is wearing the cursed number 16. Before long, after a weak shot gets shut down like that, we can expect him to blame his teammates while insisting that he can look in the mirror without any problem.
17:26 We are informed of the new D pairings, Iron Boar/Blandy and Fraser/Oduya. We groan with disgust. Pookie: “Try finding a D pairing that you do like these days, though.”
14:32 The Panthers finally get their turn being the team with the offensive-zone pressure, and they easily best Mottau to get a great scoring chance on the doorstep. Marty shocks everyone by being able to stop it.
13:31 We go to commercial discussing the D pairings further, as Schnookie realizes that it’s Fraser/Oduya, not Fraser/Mottau like she first feared. Pookie: “If you put all six names in a hat and drew out random pairs, they would all be terrible, though. And each pair would be worse than the last.” Schnookie: “And you know what? It wouldn’t be any better with Paulie in that hat.” Pookie, sadly: “Paulie’s never coming out of that hat.”
10:43 On consecutive sequences, the Devils find themselves in a situation where a scoring chance would have happened if the forward crashing the net had his stick on the ice, but instead, they get nothing because the forward crashing the crease has his stick at waist height. Honestly, is there any team in the NHL that is less competent around the net than the Devils?
8:50 A Panther trips Zach, and the Devils go on what Chico calls – and we are not making this up – the “powerless play”. He’s as cranky as we are!
8:07 Well, no wonder this is a powerless play. It’s got Rolston, Hambone and Palmieri on it. And two Devils d-men of your choice.
5:56 This game feels strange. Probably because the Devils aren’t down 2-0 yet.
3:46 After a whistle in the defensive zone for Marty playing the puck with a high stick, we wait for a faceoff while Chico tells us all about how he just can’t see Marty getting any rest in the next stretch of games. He then airily informs us that the Devils coaching staff knows best, so ours is not to question. Pookie, acidly: “Because there’s nothing in the last seven years that suggests overplaying him is a bad thing.”
0:00 The period ends with Niedermayer shooting the puck into Pando on the best Devils rush of the game. It seems fitting. That said, this is the first time we can remember that the Devils aren’t going to the first intermission down by two goals. So, since they ended up scoring 0 goals instead of the -2 we’re used to, that’s almost like a normal team going into the dressing room with a 2-goal lead. Stan interviews Palmieri, and he looks like Razor from Make It Or Break It. If you don’t know who we’re talking about ,you’re seriously missing out.
18:49 An offensive shift led by Zach and Travis leads to nothing when they are forced to include Boogerfors in the play. Schnookie: “Boogerfors is making me miss Langer being on this line.” When you find yourself missing Jamie Langenbrunner as a top-line player, you know things are going badly.
16:56 Pookie has to get up to get something in the kitchen, but tells the cat in her lap that he has until the next commercial break before she’ll get up. Boomer asks her what she’s waiting for: “It’s just an offensive-zone draw. What could possibly come of it?” Schnookie: “Yeah. At best we might see the puck get deflected out of play for another whistle.” And that is exactly what comes to pass, except the puck, according to Doc, lands in the stands in a group of kids. The producers then cut to a shot of the stands where the puck landed, and there is, no joke, a gaggle of about a dozen little youth hockey kids wearing matching Devils-colored customized sweaters, fighting over the puck. Doc and Chico start cracking up, as Chico aptly describes it as being like a rugby scrum. And it goes on for ages. It’s the most entertaining thing we’ve seen tonight. And Pookie’s glad she didn’t get up and miss it.
14:03 The Panthers get a series of attempts that culminates in a cannon shot from the point ricocheting off the glass behind the net and bouncing into the crease while Marty is overcommitted to the original shot. The puck lands about a foot away from the goal line, and the Iron Boar is there to calmly dish it away to safety. Pookie: “The Iron Boar, surprisingly, I don’t hate. IronBoarsylvania is a ghost town, but I don’t hate him.”
13:14 You know what that totally crazy-assed thing we just saw was? A flurry of offensive pressure from the Devils! We know! It’s madness! With scoring chances, and Vokoun having to work for his saves, and all that stuff!
8:04 Patrick Davis, the newest of our great hopes from Lowell, draws a hooking penalty on McCabe behind the Florida net. It’s powerless play time again! When we come back from commercial, MSG+ shows us a replay of Pando congratulating Davis for his effort on the play, and Chico tells us it’s just that kind of kindness and rah-rah attitude toward a first-game rookie that makes Pando a playah’s playah. PandoNation swoons. In a good way. Not in a “the Devils are swooning” kind of way.
6:14 The Devils are inventing new ways to not score, as the best chance on the PP involves Zach firing a point-blank shot at an open net that finds its way to roll across the top of the crossbar and off the net to the side. They could not, at this point, not score any better than they are. This is the absolute pinnacle of not scoring. Someday, there will be songs sung to the memory of this not scoring.
4:45 You know what’s not eventful? A Rolston-Pikkarainen two-one-one.
4:09 We come back from a commercial to MSG+ showing replays of the most recent scoring chances for both teams, and Chico telling us that the chances are there, but the puck is stubborn tonight and won’t go in. Pookie: “Yeah, let’s blame the puck.”
1:30 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO WAY! It’s a goal! For the Devils! From Acorns! Sprinting down the far wing, Travis just cranks up a shot and lets rip, like he’s as tired as the rest of us with a scoreless game. It’s kind of a Fuck This Shit sort of moment, but because it’s Acorns, it’s more Fudge This Stuff. 1-0 Devils, and Palmieri gets the secondary assist, his first career point.
0:04 Responding well on the first shift after a goal, Niedermayer (the Lesser) takes a hooking penalty behind Marty’s net. So much for our good spirits.
0:00 This period ended up being like when a normal team scores three goals!
18:25 Olesz could totally be a Devil! On an absolutely picture-perfect set-up in the waning moments of the Panthers PP, he has a week to just tap the puck into a yawning net… and he manages to direct it about three feet wide of the far post, under the diving Marty.
15:07 Are the Devils planning to sit on this one-goal lead like it’s four goals?
13:35 The hell? Chico drops this crazy stat on us: it’s almost seven minutes into the period, the Panthers have had the puck the whole time and had almost a full power play, but they haven’t gotten a shot on net yet. Things would probably be different if Clemmensen was in net.
11:44 Reinprecht blows down the wing and then tries to dance around Mottau to get a wheeling shot that Marty very coolly covers. On the play, Reinprecht sort of jumps around the completely befuddled Mottau, and somehow that turns into a penalty on Applesauce. We hope the call two minutes for looking like a bumbling boob.
9:38 You know what’s not eventful? A Langenbrunner/Niedermayer (the Lesser) two-on-one. Pookie aptly notes that this particular exercise in wretchedness is a perfect analogy for the Devils season: “It starts looking great, has all kinds of potential, then gets slower… and slower… and slower… until it peters out into nothing.” (For some ridiculous reason, after McCabe breaks up the two-on-one, and Vokoun covers the puck, this goes to review. Despite the fact that the puck only got loose after the whistle and never came close to going over the goal line.)
6:01 The Devils are settling into their “making Marty earn it” defensive scheme. As Marty barely manages to freeze a fluttering shot in the face of some intense Panther pressure, Pookie sighs, “We are so losing 2-1.”
2:03 Okay, to be fair, now the Devils are settling into their “smart play” defensive scheme. It’s been so long since we’ve seen it!
1:39 Vokoun has vacated the net, and the fans are sad that Marty doesn’t get time to shoot toward the other end after making a save in traffic.
1:29 For fucking fuck fuck’s sake. Langer pursues Seidenberg and the loose puck in the neutral zone, approaching the empty net, and takes a hooking penalty. Chico tries to tell us that it’s a bad call because Langer didn’t hook Seidenberg’s gloves. Because, we guess, Chico thinks it’s okay to hook the guys arm and torso?
1:19 In discussing the prospect of the Devils being on the PK against a team that has pulled its goalie, Chico tells us that “the Devils could get the puck behind the net and just wing it down into the other goal.” We snort derisively. Pookie: “The Devils could also fly to Pluto after the game, but they won’t.” As if on cue, Niedermayer (the Lesser) attempts a rink-length shot at the open net that misses by a mile.
0:20 PandoNation swoons dreamily as its emperor-god does what he does best – launching a looooong clearing attempt at the empty net that looks like it’s juuuuust going to get into the goal, only at the last second it clangs off the goalpost and ricochets sadly into the corner.
0:00 Hambone beats the horn with an empty-netter to make it 2-0 Devils, and Marty gets another shutout. It’s feast or famine with these guys, isn’t it?