Check it out, Gentle Reader — we’re watching tonight’s game in real time! It’s game diary time! WOO HOO! However, be forewarned. This is what we had for our late lunch today:
If this diary seems a bit lackluster, it might be because of that. Or because of the Devils. We make no promises.
Our broadcast team tonight is apparently on drugs – some of them (read: Steve) think it’s a good thing for the Devils that Marty’s out, because it’ll shake things up in this misbegotten matchup, and there seems to be a belief that the Devils have the Rangers right where they want them because Gomez is out of the lineup. Uhhh… okay?
Chico also says, in the intro, that Zach is the new kind of power forward in the NHL, and is “like a windstorm”. Pookie: “He’s a little windstorm. Like a dust devil.” Pause. “See what I did there?” Thank heavens she took a vacation day today so we don’t have to be watching this game on tivo delay at 11:00 tonight.
Oh, and you can release your bated breath, Gentle Reader: Gio’s back in the lineup tonight. That’s a great thing, because who would the Devils be using to go offsides without him?
19:35 Callahan gets the first Rangers shot of the game, a wrister in stride on the far boards. Weekes makes a swooping glove save (even though it looks like it was probably going wide), and the Rangers start glancing around nervously on the bench, muttering, “Crap. The first shot always goes in against Brodeur.” Maybe Steve was on to something.
18:13 Zach enthusiastically hits a Ranger while Travis is busy pouncing on a turnover at the blue line, and Pookie says happily, “Look at that little dust devil go!”
16:31 Our very own itty-bitty dust devil almost gets sprung on a long breakaway (cherry-pick much, Zach?), but the pass is just out of his reach. Lundqvist tries to clear the puck high past him, and Zach just picks the puck out of the air and launches an off-balance shot from the far boards. Doc marvels at how Zach will shoot from “everywhere except the locker room”, and then he and Chico talk a bit about how marvelous Zach is. Pookie: “I feel like whenever anyone talks about the things that make Zach great, they always leave out the psychosis.”
13:04 Travis blows his own mind by just skating the puck right through Redden; in fact, he’s so impressed with his deft puck-handling skillz that he totally forgets to shoot once he’s in the clear.
12:56 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach retrieves the puck behind the Rangers net, muscles it to the point while being beaten to the boards, then Mottau fires a shot that Lundqvist can’t freeze, and Travis is right on the doorstep to put the puck into the net. 1-0 Devils, and then all hell breaks loose behind the net because the Rangers are taking umbrage with Zach for the way he cross-checked a defender on the play. The Rangers get the only penalty out of this scrum.
11:29 There are terrible power plays, and then there’s the 2008-2009 New Jersey Devils power play.
8:53 After a little bit of the Rangers managing to shift play more toward the Devils end of the ice, Travis and Zach leap on a loose puck and sprint up the ice on a two-on-one. Or rather, Travis sprints and Zach chugs to keep up. Seriously, where did Travis get those wheels? And has anyone seen Derian Hatcher recently? Are we sure Travis doesn’t have him chained up in his basement so as to harvest his power-enhancing saliva? Pookie: “I think that is the only possible explanation. There is literally no other explanation for Travis looking faster.”
7:06 Chico tells us this game “has a look to it, like it’s really important to both of these teams.” So what he’s saying is that the previous few games were totally irrelevant to the Devils? Great!
6:16 Langer and Zach get a hugely long two-on-one on which Langer smartly dishes just inside the blue line while drawing the defender all the way to the boards, thereby letting Zach walk in alone on Lundqvist… and his shot hits Lundqvist in the shoulder. Moments later, as play moves up into the neutral zone, Pookie remarks, “If the Devils bench looks emptier right now it’s because Zach’s in the dressing room flagellating himself.”
4:11 Brookbank is fired. He fails to keep a slow-moving puck at the near point while the Rupp line is wreaking some havoc in the Rangers zone. Actually, we’re kind of surprised Brookbank is still around for us to fire at all – isn’t there some Trenton Devil who could be taking his ice time right now?
1:00 The teams bumble around a bit in first the Devils zone and then the neutral zone, and Doc dryly suggests the appropriate call here would be, “They got it… no, we got it… no, they got it… no, we got it…”
0:00 Another scrum breaks out at the buzzer, deep in the Devils zone, as a result of Orr and Whitey batting at each other’s raised hands but being totally disinterested in actually fighting.
Steve interviews Travis, who has his old red forehead back; that’s got to be why he looks so fresh. He’s finally got an ill-fitting helmet again.
As for that period, it was, without doubt, the best 20 minutes we’ve seen the Devils play since even before Marty got hurt. Who knew these guys had that in them?
We fail to pay attention to the intermission show. Pookie says it best when she sighs, “It’s November. I can’t be bothered with intermissions in November.”
Holy crap! The MSG guys got Doc a popcorn machine to celebrate his HOF-ness! That’s so cool! They also give him a 50-inch TV, but we’re far more impressed with the popcorn machine.
Meanwhile, on the ice, the period is starting with the Devils on the power play because Orr took an extra minor in that period-ending scrum.
18:00 The Devils power play may very well be engaging in the time-honored art of coach killing, considering how craptacular they have been in direct response to Sutter publicly calling them out. Pookie, who insisted during intermission that she didn’t think the PP was that bad during the first, says, “I do think they’re that bad now.”
16:47 Madden fires the puck slowly the length of the ice, and the Ranger defender chasing it down suddenly become afflicted with excruciating snail-paced-ness. It’s called icing.
16:30 Weekes manages to overcome the sprawling, out-of-control, completely ineffective shot blocking attempts of the skaters in front of him and gets a shoulder on an incoming point shot.
14:53 Gio manages to generate some craziness around the net, and Zubrus darts down the slot to shoot at a wide-open net. At the last moment, though, he decides the open net is too easy a target and opts instead to shoot at the much smaller area covered by Lundqvist’s blocker. Bullseye! Great aim there, Zubrus.
14:12 Rupp takes one of those awful “Hey, are the officials still calling hooking when you tap lamely at the hands of your opponent while he’s blowing right past you?” hooking penalties. Yes, Rupper, they are still calling that.
13:43 As Callahan is trying to jam a bouncing puck over Weekes at the side of the net, he gets flattened by the Iron Boar. Cross-checking is rightly called, and Chico says, while watching the replay, “I don’t know what Bryce does there…” Schnookie: “I don’t know. Maybe cross-checking?”
12:15 Considering how putrid the five-on-four Devils PK is, it is not at all surprising that they are hugely outmatched by a five-on-three. Roszival’s point shot hits the post, ricochets across the goal mouth, bounces off the back of Weekes’s leg, and goes in. 1-1 tie.
10:53 It looks like the portion of tonight’s game in which the Devils are better than the Rangers is over.
10:36 The Poppers aren’t able to get a shot on a rush, and then get caught deep in the Rangers zone as Drury chugs up the near wing, leading a four-on-three. It feels like a wholly inevitable outcome when Drury fires an eminently stoppable shot from above the circle that even Chico says Weekes wants back. 2-1 Rangers.
10:07 With Brookbank covering the slot, what could possibly go wrong? Oh, right. That Laurie Peckarovsky guy (no, we can’t look up how to spell his name) could score. 3-1 Rangers. Pookie, on Peckarovsky: “I can’t help but notice I hate the look of his sit-spin.”
9:21 It is very telling about the make-up of the Devils right now, that after the first period, which stood as the best period of hockey they’d put together in ages, they had a wholly surmountable lead of a whopping one goal. Even at their very, very best, this team is fantastically easy to beat.
6:46 Pookie has a great idea for the NHL to consider: “This season is a perfect argument in favor of relegation to the AHL. The Devils would get relegated for being sucky this year, but then next year, in the A, they’d win every game!”
6:17 Chico breaks down the Peckarovsky goal’s blown coverage when we come back from a commercial, and he explains the problem was that Zubrus left his man to chase someone else into the corner. Pookie: “They seem to be doing that a lot lately. What are they working on in practice?” Schnookie: “They’re working on panicking.” Pookie: “That’s probably the part Paulie can’t participate in.”
5:30 Captain Shit-Cubed takes a hooking penalty. Because he’s a fantastic captain. As we go to commercial looking at Sutter’s disgusted expression on the bench, Pookie says, “Ten bucks he quits by Christmas.”
4:44 There is a loose puck ping-ponging around the crease, and when Madden gets a stick on it, he has a long moment to think about where he wants to clear it to. After assessing the situation he notices Zherdev is streaking down from the point and decides to loft a perfect feed to him for a one-timer.
4:32 Patty must be worried that Sutter might strip Langer of the C and give it back to him, so he hooks Naslund. Boomer, from the depths of her chair: “Maybe Sutter will just quit between periods. He’ll hand the keys to Johnny Mac, say, ‘It’s your problem now’ and walk out the door.”
4:10 Who ever would have guessed that a second stupid penalty taken immediately after a first stupid penalty would lead to a power-play goal against? Zherdev makes it 4-1 Rangers. (Doc tells us the scoring chances in this period are 13-2 in favor of the Rangers. Nice.)
0:46 Clarkson tries to introduce a new move to his repertoire, the close-in, bad-angle, roofed shot. It doesn’t work.
0:36 There’s a bit of a scrum in front of the benches, and after a long, hugging delay, Dubinsky and Zubrus finally fight. It’s not the most exciting exchange of fisticuffs of all time.
The hell? Orr gets an extra minor out of the whole affair, while Doc and Chico posit that Zubrus is going to get tossed from the game for having his sweater pulled up over his head during the fight. Maybe Zubrus actually did get the extra penalty, but the punishment the officials thought the Devils most deserved was to have to go on the power play? That must be it. (And yes, Zubrus does get a game misconduct for the failure of his tie-down.)
0:00 The buzzer sounds and we get a long look at a seething Sutter, who is clearly wondering, “Should I quit? Do I really want to go back into the dressing room right now? Maybe I can still catch a flight to Red Deer tonight.”
So the first period was the best 20 minutes we’ve seen from the Devils in quite a while, and the second period was just another look at the Devils as usual. In other words, god-awful.
The intermission show wisely tries to distract us with talk of high school football. Then Dano whines about the officiating, complaining that the refs “took matters into their own hands” during that period. No, Dano, the Devils were just bad. Blaming the refs is weak.
We come back from intermission with Doc pitching that Bridgestone “Vote For The Best Captain” promo thing. Schnookie: “I know who I’m not voting for.” We see Zach and Travis lined up for the opening faceoff, with Patty on the wing. It seems we know who Sutter’s not voting for, too.
Also, Clemmensen is in now. Pookie insists she called earlier today that Weekes would get pulled tonight, but neither Boomer nor Schnookie heard her. It’s really not that hard a prediction to make, though.
18:36 Not surprisingly, the Devils do not score on the power play. It also doesn’t look like the sort of dysfunction that will be corrected by the return of Brian Rolston. Someday. Three years from now, or whenever Rolston’s coming back.
16:40 Doc is talking about the standings, and stops himself midway through his spiel by chortling, “It’s hard to say ‘playoffs’ this early in the year.” Schnookie: “I can say ‘playoffs’! As in, ‘Something the Devils aren’t going to be participating in’.”
15:38 WOOOO. Lundqvist kicks a giant rebound off a Salmela shot directly to Langer, almost correctly assuming there is no freaking way Langer will score. Every single person in the building and watching on TV is shocked to their very core when Langer completely mishandles his attempt at missing the net and instead fires the puck directly into the goal. 4-2 Rangers, and that’s Salmela’s first NHL point. Pookie, who has been insisting his skates look like he’s wearing old-fashioned formalwear, cheers, “Way to go, Spats!” Boomer and Schnookie think his skates look perfectly normal, but still like the nickname Spats, so we’re going with it.
13:38 Oh no! Langer is rubbing off on Zach! Or maybe Zach’s afraid he’s going to get the C. Either way, he takes a moronic hooking penalty on the forecheck. This game is awesome! (That’s Zach’s first penalty of the season, and Pookie posits that he’s going to spend his time in the box scrubbing himself with a coarse lye soap while freaking out, “The stink of penalty is on me!” Langer, meanwhile, thinks the stink of stupid penalty is the most seductive scent in the world.)
11:35 After a surprisingly passive PP attempt by the Rangers, Zach is sprung from the box and he hits the ice sprinting, tapping his stick furiously in announcement that he’s open. Patty has the puck in the Devils zone, but he’s still in spaced-out PK mode and is unable to engage in quick decision-making. Consequently, there is no long outlet pass, and Zach has to spend the rest of the night whimpering to Sutter, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I tried to make up for the penalty! I did! I tried so hard! I’m sorry!”
10:06 With Clemmensen in goal, what could possibly go wrong? Oh right. Mottau could deflect a Zherdev shot from way out right over Clemmer’s shoulder. 5-2 Rangers. On the replay, Chico says, “[Mottau] knows he shouldn’t put his stick in front of it, but it’s just so hard not to…” and Pookie finishes for him, “Because Clemmensen is just so bad.”
9:00 Pookie: “My god. There’s still nine minutes left in this.”
4:17 There is a broken sequence of plays that leads to a mano a mano showdown between Colton Orr and Scott Clemmensen. Amazingly, Orr’s crappy goal-scoring touch is crappier than Clemmer’s crappy goaltending abilities. We didn’t think there was anyone in the NHL who couldn’t score one-on-one against Clemmer. Huh. Orr really showed us.
A scrum breaks out after the whistle and Rupp gets an unsportsmanlike penalty from it.
3:39 As the silent crowd watches disinterestedly while the Rangers go through some additional PP practice, Pookie says, “This is one of those games where I really expect them just to stop playing now. Like, take a knee, Devils! Take a knee!”
2:11 Clemmer freezes the puck and another dispassionate scrum erupts in front of the goal. Chico: “This is really where the Devils want to make a stand.” Right. With two minutes left in a game they’re losing by three. Dubinsky gets an extra penalty. Fan-fucking-tastic.
0:45 Chico is getting bitchy about the “Let’s go Rangers” cheer in the building. He tries to laugh it off by saying he would have left, too, if he was a Devils fan, but he’s still not happy about it. Chico, shut up. Marty himself said it’s the team’s fault if they can’t fill the building with Devils fans. Quit trying, even passively, to put this on the Devils fans who aren’t willing to pay idiotic prices to watch this team.
0:00 Finally it’s over. That was entirely as bad as we predicted. Seriously, Gentle Reader, the Devils are not a good hockey team.
Read Full Post »