In terrible, terrible news tonight, we are not getting any satellite signal on our DirecTV, so there is no MSG for us. In wonderful, wonderful news, our totally superfluous cable subscription is paying for itself, because we’re getting our Comcast just fine. So that means tonight’s game is from the Flyers perspective. Should be fun! It’s like signals beaming from another planet.
Our interesting Comcast tidbit in the pregame intro is that if the Flyers win tonight, it’ll be the first time in over 20 years that they’ll have four wins in a season against the Devils. That’s almost as crazy as the fact that they’re even playing this game tonight. There are, like, six people in the stands. We’re assuming those people all live at the arena.
For the uninitiated, the Flyers broadcast team is hilarious. JJ’s the one on play-by-play, Keith Jones does the color, and Steve Coates is the “between the benches” guy. JJ leads us off with his customary greeting of “a very pleasant evening,” then quickly adds, “I’m kidding, of course.” Meanwhile, Coatesy gives us a rundown of the Devils’ scoring threats, which is too laughable to contemplate. Apparently, Zach is “red-hot”, a term that implies a spate of recent scoring, and Kovalchuk is just “scary scary”. They have no mention of the rumors we’re getting online that Zach’s not playing tonight, nor of the fact that the Devils are not a threat to score against anyone at any time.
19:57 Just at the puck drop, JJ excitedly tells us that Zach has been scratched. Pookie: “He’s frightened of Farts, and doesn’t feel any of his henchmen are up to snuff.”
19:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Travis takes a nothing kind of shot from outside, the kind that’s just a peremptory sort of “let’s get into the offensive zone and set up” shot, Leighton goes down to stop it, and it juuuuuuuust trickles through him and slooooooowly creeeeeeps agonizingly toward the goal line behind him, then into the net. 1-0 Devils, and JJ tells us this is the Flyers’ worst nightmare.
18:40 Jonesy breaks Zach’s heart by suggesting that Travis “forgot about him quickly”, just going ahead and scoring like that.
17:25 The Devils are milling around in their own zone while Comcast has its list on the scoreclock of the opposing team’s lines. JJ apologizes that with the way Lemaire works his warm-ups, they had no idea who was going to play with whom with Zach out. Jonesy adds that Hambone has now left the game, so there’s really no point trying to guess. A replay now shows us that Hambone suffered some sort of shoulder injury when he was lightly jostled on his first shift. We had no idea he was made out of damp tissue paper and balsa.
16:02 Despite Leighton showing no signs of being able to stop Travis’s shots, no matter how weak, Travis passes on a two-on-two rush when he could have gone strong to the net. Sigh.
13:42 There’s a shockingly robust crowd now. We’re discussing how disappointed all those people must be – it seems the only reason to go to a hockey game on a day like today is the possibility of being in one of those legendarily eensy crowds.
13:10 We come back from commercial to see a shot of Kovalchuk (or, as Pookie suggested the other night, Boogerchuk) on the bench. Sitting next to Hambone. So… Hambone’s back?
11:59 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! PANDO!! PANDO!!! PANDO!!! Schnookie: “WOOO! Wait, I missed it.” Pookie: “So did Leighton.” Replay shows this was not Pando’s goal at all – it was Niedermayer (the Lesser) spinning a backhand cross-crease pass attempt that kicked into the net off Timonen’s skates. JJ: “I called that based on Pandolfo’s reaction. He was celebrating as if he’d scored it.” Schnookie sniffs, “That’s just how Pando is, JJ.” 2-0 Devils.
11:27 Ew. Asham scores (for a case of Tastykakes) on a wrister over Marty’s shoulder, and it’s 2-1 Devils. Pookie: “That was unpleasantly predictable.”
9:37 Uh oh. Briere takes a slashing penalty. It’s time for the game-killing Devils’ PP.
6:43 After being terrible with the man advantage, the Devils promptly take a tripping penalty. Whitey gets called for taking down Briere after falling over in the neutral zone, and for good measure, he also trips Pando. (The Power Play Payoff for the Flyers is at $225, if you’re wondering.)
6:00 The Flyers ring a shot loudly off the post while the Iron Boar is staggering to the bench, holding his face. We don’t know what happened, but Comcast does cut in for a closeup following the Iron Boar all the way to the bench while play is going on. That’s very thoughtful of them, being so considerate of their Devils fan audience.
5:15 Marty makes a monster, diving glove save on Hartnell, which the officials immediately wave off, but which Hartnell and the Flyers announcers think crossed the goal line. We have a lengthy video review, and the broadcast team goes on at length about how obviously the puck crossed the line, but how Marty’s glove probably obscures the “conclusive evidence” of it. The Devils have been on the wrong side of these reviews in the past, as far as obvious goals not being called, so we’re going to be really annoyed if they don’t get the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Oh thank goodness. The review ends in “no goal”. Of course, they’ll probably score right off the faceoff.
4:25 We come back from commercial to a panning shot of the arena. Coatsey is very impressed by the number of people who came out for the game, and then starts raving about how marvelous the arena is. JJ suggests that Coatsey is just buttering up the arena staff in the hopes that they’ll help dig his car out of the snow in the parking lot, and Coatsey protests that he is, in fact, very good at digging cars out of the snow, then JJ and Jonesy snark that they wouldn’t know, because they’ve never seen him do it. This leads to JJ thanking the various Flyers players and staffers who helped then dig their cars out after they returned home from their western road trip during the snowstorm last week. This entire exchange occurs while play is going on. Doc’s head would be exploding right now, and there wasn’t -even a chinchilla pay-off to make it worth it to him.
1:07 The play is getting a bit choppy and goofy. Pookie: “This game is like when everyone shows up at work on a Friday and kind of tacitly agrees that they’re not going to do any work that day.” Schnookie: “Or like when your teachers would just give you, like, fun handouts to do the day before Spring Break.” Pookie: “Yeah! This is like the players all get to just sit outside and color tonight.”
18:14 Jonesy is very happy to report the first-period stats, which include a grand total of zero shots by Kovalchuk. Or, as Schnookie likes to call him, Kovalsuck. Pookie, of the new name: “It was only a matter of time.” Pause. “How about ‘Boogersuck’?” Schnookie: “I considered that, but decided it sounded disgusting.” Pookie: “Well then, how about ‘Boogerbooger’?”
17:00 This is looking very much like the typical Devils second period. After being pinned in their own zone for the better part of the three minutes of play, Leblond takes a bad interference penalty. (The Power Play Payoff is at $250 now.)
15:49 With such a small crowd, the “Rangers suck!” whistle is tremendously audible on the TV feed. The actual “Rangers suck!” part of the chant is meager, but the “Flyers swallow” part (of which we really don’t approve, by the way. Get off our lawn, kids!) is lusty. JJ chortles nervously and remarks, “The crowd here is very energetic.”
15:09 Marty goes behind the net to handle the puck coming around the boards, and it hops over his stick. Giroux is right there to scoop it up, and it looks like disaster is about to follow, but Marty just sassily strips Giroux of the puck, bounces it between his feet, then calmly passes it to safety. It sends the denizens of stately IPB Manor into fits of laughter.
14:49 You know what we love to see when the Devils aren’t scoring? When Travis and Patty, on a two-on-one rush, skate themselves entirely out of real estate going, “No, you take the shot.” They’re both fired.
11:32 As if to make up for the awesome play stripping Giroux of the puck, Marty takes a penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid here. (Power Play Payoff = $275.)
9:26 The Devils just barely survive a flurry immediately after the penalty expires, but it’s Hartnell trying to get the puck to the front of the net while Marty’s prone on the ice, so nothing comes of it.
8:34 Kovalchuk takes a mid-range shot, then shocks his teammates by following up on it to jostle the puck loose. He doesn’t score, and the rest of the Devils say to him, “See? It’s not worth it!” Meanwhile, JJ is thinking aloud about the weather conditions back in Philly, and remarking that it’s “a strange time to be getting two such big storms back-to-back.” There is a long pause in our living room as we digest that statement, and then Schnookie says slowly, “Well, it is winter. I think it might be more strange if it happened in the summertime.” Boomer: “Maybe it’s strange where JJ comes from.”
7:57 A few minutes ago, Pookie remarked that this game seems so weird because there’s almost no hitting in it. As if to underline this point, when we come back from commercial to get the “Check of the Game”, which is a meek little hit by Beaks. Pookie: “That’s the only hit in this game.”
7:44 The official word is that the Iron Boar is out with an upper-body injury for the rest of the game. Because the Devils aren’t fully capable of losing even without injuries. Comcast pulls out a replay now to show us the injury to the Iron Boar was a very scary-looking high stick from Gagne to his eye. JJ takes this moment to sing the Iron Boar’s praises for not just going down and lying on the ice after taking a stick to the face, but instead thinking of his role as a penalty killer while the other team had the puck.
6:13 The Flyers engage in a tic-tac-toe bit of passing while the Devils look completely lost defensively thanks to a stutter in the rush while everyone was trying to stay onsides, and Carter rips a laser wrister over Marty’s glove (for a case of Tastykakes). 2-2 game. Comcast tells us now that the Devils have been outscored 11-1 over the last five second periods. That seems low.
4:31 Guess what? The Devils were 23-0 when taking two-goal leads this season up until that Kings game the other day. And since then? They’ve blown three such leads. Isn’t being a Devils fan fun?
3:47 The lights are flickering ominously here.
3:34 The Devils are working in the Philadelphia zone for the first time this period, and the fans are letting rip with a much heartier “Rangers suck!” chant. Much better. Leighton finally covers the puck, and Kovalchuk ends up standing lamely over him. Schnookie: “It’s like Kovalsuck has decided he’s getting his giant contract anyway, so he’s not going to bother playing well for the Devils.” Pookie: “He’s mentally weak. When the Devils didn’t win his first game, he was like, ‘Well, fuck this shit. I’m not going to bother.’” It is a long time before Schnookie says, “Wait a sec. The Devils did win his first game.” Boomer: “Yeah, I was going to say that we haven’t lost all the games because he can’t score.” Pookie: “That’s not what I’ve been told.”
2:25 Patty hits Gagne at the same moment as an offsides whistle, and Carcillo starts to go after him. Coatsey is apoplectic about the late hit, but JJ, after a bit of flame-fanning outrage, backs off and tries to be a voice of reason that there was nothing wrong with the hit. The Flyers fans listening to him, though, are probably too busy foaming at the mouth to hear the later bit of commentary. That Elias! He’s such a goon!
0:00 The period winds to a pathetic end with the broadcast team discussing how Kovalchuk is visibly pressing now. It’s good times all around. Meanwhile, do you know what they have commercials for during Flyers games? Aqua Velva.
19:25 The Devils come out with some decent offensive-zone pressure, and it’s kind of shocking to see. Meanwhile, Mahmoud the cat is trying to eat an entire chocolate chip cookie. We think the cat has more of a chance of success than the Devils.
18:52 The announcers are discussing how Farts is likely to take Getzlaf’s place if his ankle injury is bad enough that he can’t play at the Olympics. The add that Getzi is insisting he’s fine, and Boomer says, in her Getzi voice, “Over my dead kokopelli’s body.”
17:35 The Devils keep desperately trying stretch passes to spring some sort of miracle, and keep getting turned back at the Flyers blue line. One one such attempt, Schnookie perks up, then sags: “I keep thinking Niedermayer (the Lesser) is Kovalchuk, because he’s the only guy on the team as big as him, and then I keep getting disappointed.” Boomer: “I bet Kovalchuk’s just like, ‘I got traded to skate with these guys?’” Pookie: “No, he’s like, ‘I can’t can’t believe I have to skate with these sad fucks.’” Schnookie: “He’s the sad fuck! Kovalsadfuck.” Pookie: “It was only a matter of time.”
16:32 Kovalchuk falls over at the far boards when he is lightly jostled by Pronger. Pookie: “GAWD! He’s like a fainting goat!” Pause. “Kovalfaintinggoat—” Schnookie finishes for her: “—fucksuck.” Pookie adds: “—booger. –farts.” Boomer: “—marshmallowmanboogerfarmermarshmallowfan.” Wow. We never thought it would come to that.
14:10 Blandy attempts a shot from the high point that gets deflected harmlessly into the corner. Schnookie, sadly: “Those used to go in.” Long pause. “On net.”
12:16 Kovalchuk suddenly goes totally crazy on a one-on-the-entire-Flyers-team rush, gets hauled down, smushed into the ice, and still gets a shot off. And on the ensuing as everyone converges on the corner where Kovalchuk ended up, Patty draws a penalty to Coburn. Pookie: “Okay, so he’s not that bad. He’s just Boogerboogerfarts now.” Of course, the Devils Power Play Payoff is at about $675,831,950.
10:41 Oh no. With 25 seconds left on an all-flash-but-no-substance Devils PP, Carle takes a holding the stick penalty on Land Zhark in front of the net. This isn’t going to end well.
10:40 The Devils don’t even manage to win the draw on the 5-on-3.
9:47 It’s as if the Devils are constantly taken by surprise that power plays are a part of hockey. Like, “Oh, we had no idea playing with a man advantage was part of the rules!”
9:12 The power play sequence ends in ignominy, as Patty hooks Timonen. Which is strange, because we thought we’d fired Patty on that two-on-one rush in the last period. (Power Play Payoff is at $300, if you’re scoring at home.)
6:35 Mike Mottau is terrible. No big surprise there, but he just seems to want to remind us of it when he gets the puck just below the faceoff dot to Leighton’s left, has not a single defender in sight, then clutches and double-clutches and triple-clutches until everyone can get safely back into position to keep him from getting a good shot. And then he fires wide.
2:46 JJ tells us the shots are 20-13. We wonder if that’s for the period, or the whole game, or what. It just seems like a weird number.
1:38 Hartnell tries to wind up on a giant one-timer up high, but whiffs terribly. JJ tries to say it was great checking by Patty.
1:01 Leighton easily stops a long wrister from Patty, and Pookie says with exasperation, “Patty! This is the Flyers. You used to be able to score on these guys at will!” Schnookie, as Patty: “I miss Boucher.” Pookie: “We all miss Boucher.”
0:00 What is this strange and wondrous thing that just happened? Is it…? Can it be…? A standings point? We’d forgotten what that felt like.
4:43 Whitey whiffs on a keep attempt at the Flyers blue line, and Gagne is off to the races chasing the puck down the ice. Marty gets out to it first, though, and looks like he’s going to play it past Gagne with his stick, but instead turns at the last minute, beds over like he’s thinking of scooping it up with his glove, then goes to play it on the backhand at the last minute of that. JJ speaks for everyone when he says, very gently, “Brodeur plays it… in his own special way.”
2:13 This OT has been completely loopy. But despite having tons of offensive-zone presence, the Devils look, to a man, terrified to be the guy who’s taking the shot. They’re all fired.
1:54 Marty overcommits when Gagne looks like he’s going to walk out from the near corner along the goal line, and then Gagne goes for the sneaky wraparound instead. But Blandy manages a sliding check as Gagne tries to skate out the other side. Who knew Blandy could do that?
1:33 Yeah, we saw that coming. As soon as the Flyers establish themselves in the Devils zone, they get some sustained pressure, and career Marty-killer Gagne scores (for a case of Tastykake). 3-2 Flyers. And the Devils continue to be unmitigated poop.