We’re not going to lie, Gentle Reader – we never thought this day would come. It’s felt like a lifetime since we last saw Paulie, and now he’s back! WOO HOOOO!
Seriously, though, this is the first game night since November 1 that feels normal to us. It’s been a great season, obviously, but we feel like we’re waking up tonight after four months of suspended animation. As Gel-O and Dano talk in the intro to the game, they mention the dreadful game last Saturday on the Island, and you know what? We don’t think anyone remembers that anymore.
19:23 Marty gets his first touch on a soft dump-in, and the crowd roars, then starts the “Mar-ty! Mar-ty!” chant. It feels so good.
18:06 Chico tells us this is a new situation for Marty, it being “almost March 1 and he’s only just getting his career started.” Wait, we thought the career was already really well-established. Well, we guess NHL.com needn’t get that all-time wins countdown up and running again, because he’s starting now from scratch.
17:08 Pando forces a turnover at the Devils blueline, then isn’t quite fast enough to beat the Av defenders on a race down toward the Colorado net. Schnookie: “If Pando scored tonight, I might die.”
15:50 Applesauce very calmly stands up an onrushing Av, then coolly swats the puck off the guy’s stick. It’s like having Paulie back on the blueline has caused the rest of the d-men to stop panicking and remember how to play hockey.
15:22 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Poppers decide to send a message that they’re capable of thinking offense even though Marty’s behind them. Zach springs Travis and Langer to chug up the ice on a two-on-two, Travis dishes to Langer, and he fires a wobbly, fluttering shot that gets through Raycroft. 1-0 Devils.
15:09 Marty goes behind the net and cleanly handles the puck. We nearly faint with excitement, and Schnookie triumphantly shouts, “Oh my god! We have a goalie who can stop the puck behind the net!” Pookie: “Yeah, that’s funny… those always got through Clemmensen.”
12:02 Pookie, watching happily as the Devils D carries the puck around behind Marty’s net: “Our HD looks crisper tonight.” Schnookie: “And the whole world smells better, too.”
11:35 Foote trips Langer, and puts the Paulie-powered PP on the ice. PaulieMartinNation expects great things to happen here!
10:44 After a long Avs clear, Marty stops the puck behind the net, then hands it off to Paulie for the five-man snooze-out. It has been months since we last saw a clean goalie-to-defenseman handoff behind the net! Pookie: “I bet Paulie wasn’t hurt. I bet he was just tired of playing with Clemmer. He went to Sutter and said, ‘I can’t work under these conditions!’ And Sutter said, ‘Fine. You can sit down at your dumb card table, punk.’”
9:35 Huh. That PP really, hugely sucked.
7:32 PaulieMartinNation is horrified. He turns the puck over on the near boards, and it turns into a pass to a wide-open Av in the slot, then a bunch of scrambling around the goal, and basically what we’re saying is that we’re never going to speak of this again.
6:26 Since the goal, the Devils have looked really sloppy. So much so that Schnookie says a bit smugly, “I still think they’re in their March Swoon,” and Pookie can’t disagree.
5:46 The Avs get their first official scoring chance, and it’s one of those stand-up-right-next-to-the-goalpost saves by Marty while the forwards whack away at his feet until he gets a whistle. Ahhh. Feels like old times.
4:27 Gah! Zach is never going to score again! The Poppers have another zesty cycling shift that leads off a few broken plays to a glorious chance that proves not to be easy or breezy enough for Zach.
3:22 There is a faceoff in the Colorado zone that Schnookie narrates thusly: “Oooh! Look at Pando totally showing up Shanny! Blobby got thrown out of the faceoff, and Pando scampered in to take it even though everyone was looking for Shanny to step in.” Long pause. “Pando backed off, though, at the last second.” Yeah.
1:25 The Zubrus/Patty/Gio line tries to do their best Popper impersonation, with some wildly good opportunities in front while the Avs D collectively piles up in a panic in the crease, but they’re still the Zubrus/Patty/Gio line, so they don’t score. Or even get any shots through.
0:00 Here is what we have to say about this period: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Marty! Marty! Marty! We don’t care about anything else about it.
We’re drinking it now — the eiswein. And you know what? Even at $7,133 per drop, it’s worth every penny. Phenomenally delicious, and perfectly matched to the occasion.
19:35 It might be a new age of Marty being back in net, but it’s the same old Rolston. He takes a flat-footed, lazy hooking penalty to start off the period.
17:50 And that is what you call rebound control. Marty makes a stand-up save on a sneaky-angle shot, then, with that Marty economy of motion, kicks the puck up to Oduya to send Johnny Handsome on a shorthanded three-on-one with Patty and Gio. Patty isn’t able to score on it, though. Because, well, it’s almost March.
15:50 Doc mutters something again about that time when Blobby chastised him and Chico for only interviewing the goal scorers between periods. We have heard this ten billion times already. Seriously, quit it, Doc.
15:23 Clarkson attempts a high-speed kamikaze Clarkaround that involves an inevitable wipeout, but he still manages to draw a tripping penalty to Raycroft. Chico remarks that the power play gets a second chance after a first-period attempt that wasn’t very powerful. Pookie: “I’d even say it wasn’t much of a play either.”
14:15 Any old time that the Devils want to start playing hard works for us. The Avs get a slow-developing shorthanded chance that turns out not to be a goal only by virtue of the initial shot hitting the pipe, and then some crazy-good backchecking by Zach. Pookie: “Zach is the bomb-diggity.”
13:23 It’s like the ghost of Perry Pearn has possessed the Devils PP or something.
12:15 We come back from commercial to see highlights from Patrick Roy’s career, and now our HD has gone away. We are not above blaming Roy for it.
11:47 After a wonky rebound from Raycroft yields a great chance for Patty at the side of the crease, which he, of course, doesn’t convert. That said, someone somewhere on the play draws a hooking penalty to the Avs, and the PP goes back to work.
11:22 The PP might blow, but it’s brought our HD back!
11:17 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paulie is a genius, firing a shot from the high point deliberately wide to get a fat rebound off the backboards for Travis and/or Patty to punch in from the top of the crease. Amazingly, it’s Patty who gets to it and shovels it home on his backhand to make it 2-0 Devils.
9:56 Marty’s back! Marty’s back! Marty’s back! (He makes a stop and freezes the puck on a scramble in front that, at this time last week, would have led to at least another minute of opponents hammering away while Devils d-men fall all over the place.)
6:56 A Frankenline of Shanny, Clarkson and Zubrus cycles for a shift, and Pookie sighs happily, then says, “There’s nothing to say about this game other than ‘*happy sigh*’.”
4:33 It took about a period and a half, but it looks like the Devils have finally arrived to play this game. They stage a sequence of shifts that are like relentless waves of offensive pressure that all lead to shots aimed at Raycroft’s head. Raycroft’s head is pretty good at stopping shots, though.
4:16 Chico gets talking about the wins record and says that he hopes Patrick Roy will be in attendance when Marty does break it. Schnookie: “Well, he is so gracious. I can’t imagine him saying no.” Pookie: “And he’s always liked Marty so much.”
4:02 Johnny Handsome takes a penalty, perhaps for being too handsome.
2:02 The PK is the kind that gets the crowd chanting “Marty! Marty!” In other words, life is grand.
1:41 Travis makes a totally sassy yoink steal deep in the Avs zone. Pookie: “Travis is the bomb-diggity.” Schnookie, watching as Zach joins the play: “He is. There’s a lot of bomb-diggity out there right now.” Pookie: “Yup. I’m going to start calling them the Z.Z. Bomb-diggiters.”
0:18 Schnookie: “I bet Lou sent Clemmer down because if he didn’t, Sutter would keep starting him. He had to be like, ‘If you don’t stop playing with that, I’m going to have to take it away from you.’”
0:00 *Happy sigh*
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! And we go into *happy sigh* overload because we get a Paulie interview. He gives Zach the credit for thinking of shooting that puck wide. We think he’s being modest, because that’s just the kind of PP mastermind he is.
Pookie is having a terrible allergy attack this evening, and we are now vaguely concerned that she might be allergic to a healthy Devils team.
It’s “Chico Eats!”! Tonight Chico’s showing off the restaurant ledge. Looks swanky!
18:05 Marty stops a sharp angle shot with another of his sassy stand-up kick saves that work as a pass of the rebound to his d-man (yes, Clemmer, his d-man). We channel our inner Faye Dunaway from “The Starlet” and say, “Now that’s acting!” What, no other “Starlet” fans here?
16:09 Zach barrels into an unimpressed Av at the end boards behind the Colorado net. The boards shake mightily, but we suspect Zach managed to contort himself to hit the wall on either side of the Av while not making any actual contact with the player.
15:17 Pookie: “There’s a very good chance Lucic broke Paulie and that’s why he had to miss all those games, but I’m not going to boo him. I’m not turning him into Boo-cic.”
11:54 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Okay, so Zach is going to score again! DAMN! That was AWESOME! Langer fires the puck down the side boards from the Devils’ zone, and Zach outhustles the Av defender to the puck, holds the guy off while cutting to the net, then, with an almost imperceptible flick of the toe of his stick, flips the puck up over Raycroft’s shoulder. It’s 3-0 Devils, and we’re in a deep swoon here at stately IPB Manor for our very own superstar.
9:16 Chico gets going in an annoying blather about how Zach’s like Ovechkin, and scores goals with flair, and that’s somehow so much better than Jeff Carter, who only scores because he has good positioning and strength, and blah blah blah, and we snarl at the TV, “Chico, we don’t want to hear it about Ovie, and we don’t want to hear it about Zach.” There’s a lot to be said for the subtle goal, and anyone who doesn’t love the sight of a Jeff Carter wrist shot is a moron. Sheesh.
8:09 The Devils are really warming to the task now, and with some more cycling forecheck, the dynamic dynamo that is Travis draws a hooking penalty to the Avs. Boomer: “It’s hard to say whether we’re playing better or whether they’re…” she trails off. Schnookie finishes for her, “Rolling over?”
7:25 The dynamic dynamo that is Travis fails to score on a wide open net. He’s never going to get another acorn again.
6:54 In keeping with the Ovechkin/Zach discussion, Chico now pipes up that they are two players who “celebrate their goals very differently,” and then passes judgment in that distinctly Chico way of his. We’ll leave it to you, Gentle Reader, to decide which one he prefers. (Hint: it’s not the one who he says “hot dogs”.)
3:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, that may very well be our favorite shift of the entire season. The Poppers, started off with a gorgeous steal in the neutral zone by Zach, proceed to stage a sequence of sheer dominance that culminates in a hard-earned goal by Travis. It’s 4-0 Devils, and have we mentioned tonight how much we love Zach, Travis and Paulie?
2:09 Needless to say, even though there’s a four-goal lead, we are very tense. Heh.
1:48 The “Mar-ty! Mar-ty!” chant is in full throat.
0:36 Pando gets tagged for tripping in the Devils zone, and Chico says the S-word while the teams line up for the faceoff. The Hockey Gods would be angered, but the fact is that we’ve been thinking it since at least the start of the second period, so they’re already probably cracking their knuckles and trying to figure out how best to ruin this.
0:04 The puck squirts out over the blue line and the building goes up. And we guess the Hockey Gods are sitting back and smiling, saying, “You know what? You guys have been through enough. We’ll let you have this one.” Thanks, Hockey Gods. It has been a rough few months. Other than the fact that the Devils have been winning…
0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Marty! Marty! Marty! Holy flirking schnitt!!!! This was AWESOME!!!!