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You know, when this season started, if you’d told us that our favorite series with any opponent in the league would be the one with the Pens, we would never have believed you. But as it’s shaken out, if we could have had 82 Devils/Pens games like the ones they’ve played so far this year, we’d take it.
That said, we wrote this open letter to the Devils during the second intermission:
When the officials are gift-wrapping a game for you, there is only so much they can do. You have to actually score on those power plays and penalty shots, because as much as the officials might want you to win, they’re not about to pick the puck up and toss it into the other team’s net for you.
After the third Devils goal, we have to recant. Apparently the officials will essentially pick up the puck and toss it into the other team’s net for you.
In other postgame wrap-up news, this was the exchange we had after Niedermayer (the Lesser) had his ass vehemently handed to him in that “fight” with Cooke:
Pookie: Cooke just got him with the old “I know something you don’t. I am not left-handed” trick!
Schnookie: And Robin fell for it!
Pookie: He was like, “WHAAAAAA???”
Schnookie: When the correct response is, “I know something you don’t. I am also not left-handed.”
Pookie: Yup. But instead, he was just like, “OH SHIT!”
And finally, in his postgame interview with Stan, Marty said that goaltending is fun with the other team doesn’t score. We… aren’t sure what to make of that.
Join us for a Saturday night open thread as the Devils and Flyers do battle. We’d say they’re going to engage in battle royal, but according to Wikipedia, that requires 3 or more parties, and frankly, we’re on vacation, so we’ll take a rain check.
Yesterday we took Boomer to see her first game at The Rawk. Because the Devils were playing the Wings, it was “Honor the 1995 Cup Team” night, and they showed a little two-part documentary during the intermissions about that SCF. It was a standard-format documentary, with a narrator reading a script over game highlights, flavoring snippets of the real-time TV commentary from the series, and frequent flavoring clips of interviews with Devils players reminiscing about that Cup run. What was hilarious was that every interview clip of Shawn Chambers involved him stated whatever obvious thing the narrator just said. Like the part where they got to Nieder’s coast-to-coast goal in Detroit, and after the narration explained that Nieder was young and fast, Chambers popped up to say, “Scott Niedermayer was such a fast skater.” Thanks, Shawn! In that spirit, here is a documentary post about our day yesterday, with Shawn Chambers providing the insider commentary.
Narrator: It was a perfect December Saturday at stately IPB Manor. There was hockey on the TV, quilt fabric to be cut, Christmas cookies to be eaten, presents strewn about everywhere, and snow gently falling outside. And there was a festive spirit in the air, as the Ookies were taking Boomer to her first game at The Rawk that evening.
Shawn Chambers: It was snowing outside. And that’s a lot of presents.
Narrator: At about a quarter to five, the denizens of stately IPB Manor put on their Devils sweaters, loaded up their camera bags, and piled into the car; they were finally going to try driving to a game instead of having to wait for the train. Armed with Christmas carols on their iPod, everything should have been perfect for an easy drive to Newark, but the Ookies and Boomer hadn’t counted on the lousy weather. Snow is great when you’re home and don’t have anywhere to go, but it’s a completely different creature when you’re trying to drive in it.
Shawn Chambers: Snow is hard to drive in!
Narrator: While Pookie struggled with the low visibility, Schnookie tried to take pictures to preserve a sense of the yuckiness of the roads for generations to come. Ultimately, Pookie did a better job with the driving than Schnookie did with the camera.
Shawn Chambers: Someone needed to take the camera away from Schnookie.
Narrator: The drive was an adventure. There was a call to 911 to report a minor accident that, as it turned out, had already been reported.
Shawn Chambers: The Ookies and Boomer called 911. They were trying to be good citizens.
Narrator: There were the weird new traffic patterns on Rte. 1 in New Brunswick.
Shawn Chambers: The traffic patterns on 1 in New Brunswick are weird.
Narrator: And then there was the matter of the driving directions to the parking garage that the Devils offer on their website.
Shawn Chambers: The Devils offer driving directions to the arena parking.
Narrator: Before leaving the house, the Ookies tried to match up the directions with a look at the area on Google Maps, but the interchanges between the Turnpike, 78, 1-9, and everything else around Exit 14 is nothing but a tangle of ramps and cloverleafs when you look at a map.
Shawn Chambers: The map makes no sense.
Narrator: But as it turns out, the directions on the Devils site are tragically vague. It would have been helpful to clarify whether a person should be taking the ramp for 1-9 north or 1-9 south, and also to figure out whether they really mean that the exit to 21 is three miles after getting on 1-9 (north? South? Who even knows?).
Shawn Chambers: Those directions make no sense.
Narrator: Before long, after getting off the Turnpike, the Ookies realized they were lost.
Shawn Chambers: The Prudential Center isn’t in Elizabeth.
Narrator: It was 6:15 at this point, and the GPS system in Pookie’s car wasn’t helping, because no one knew what the area they were looking for was supposed to look like, thanks to the street map in that area being a Gordian knot, and the Devils-provided driving directions being a pile of poop. Some bickering flared up.
Shawn Chambers: Schnookie was sorry she ruined Pookie’s life, and vice versa. Boomer was sorry that she got dragged into this in the first place.
Narrator: Wishy-washiness set in, that sense of “we’ll just keep driving in a straight line in this direction forever and ever now that we’re lost, because there’s simply no point in ever trying to be found again” ennui. Pookie’s iPhone’s GPS was brought into play. The iPhone told the Ookies that they were 1 hour and 48 minutes from the arena. It was 6:30.
Shawn Chambers: That sucked.
Narrator: Despair overtook the stately IPB Car. They were going to miss the game at this rate. But then they realized that the iPhone was giving them walking directions.
Shawn Chambers: It’s faster to drive than to walk.
Narrator: It turns out they were just 12 minutes from the arena. But they hit every stoplight in Elizabeth and Newark along the way, so they arrived inside the arena just as the Devils starting lineup was being announced.
Shawn Chambers: They didn’t miss any action!
Narrator: The trauma of the trip to the arena was quickly forgotten, though, because Boomer’s mind was blown by the awesomeness of the arena, and by the awesomeness of their seats.
Shawn Chambers: The fifth-row seats rocked. They had a really good view of the ice, and of the Devils bench. It was cool.
Narrator: As if they knew this was Boomer’s Christmas present, the Devils decided not to suck in the first period, unlike recent games. In fact, they went up 2-0, including one of those crazy Johnny Oduya goals where he gets the puck in his own zone, starts skating, realizes the other team sucks, and just scores on his own. He does that whenever the Ookies are at the game in person, so it was a great convergence of his return to the lineup and their return to Newark.
Shawn Chambers: Johnny Oduya likes the Ookies.
Narrator: The Ookies are total girls, and got all excited when Zach took off his helmet on the bench.
Shawn Chambers: Zach’s dreamy. I love it when he takes his helmet off on the bench.
Narrator: Having been in the building in October for Marty’s shutout against the Hurricanes, the Ookies were highly confident they were going to see the record-setting shutout on this night. They were wrong.
Shawn Chambers: 2-1 is not nearly as good a score as 2-0.
Narrator: But things started looking up again when PandoNation’s emperor-god got an assist! Welcome back to the lineup, Pando! Pando also almost scored a goal, but the puck was pulled off the goal line by a Wings defender; Schnookie thinks that should have counted.
Shawn Chambers: 3-1 is a very good score, and 4-1 would have been even better.
Narrator: But this is the Devils, and it wouldn’t be a Devils game lately without a blown third-period lead.
Shawn Chambers: 3-3 is not nearly as good a score as 3-1.
Narrator: AndyGreeneNation’s emperor-god took a bit of a stumble in the eyes of his adoring people.
Shawn Chambers: It wasn’t Blandy’s best game.
Narrator: But a game in person is all about the experience, and Boomer and the Ookies had a great time. There was lots of action on the ice, and the chicken fingers in the Fire Lounge were plentiful.
Shawn Chambers: Chicken fingers taste good.
Narrator: The only problem was that rude guy in front of them who wouldn’t sit down.
Shawn Chambers: Victory Euro Mats is so rude. He thinks he’s the only person at the arena.
Narrator: In the end, Boomer’s Christmas present turned out to be a 4-3 shootout win! WOO HOOO!
Shawn Chambers: In actual hockey terms, that’s less a 4-3 win than a somewhat disappointing 3-3 tie. The Devils didn’t fool Boomer that much.
Narrator: But it was a great a great night, and the stately IPB Car did not get lost on its way back home.
Shawn Chambers: Getting home is nice.
Before we launch into tonight’s open thread, we have a few thoughts:
1. You know what sounds really disgusting? Having a broken — or even partially broken — kneecap. Zubrus has our sympathy, at least when we’re not throwing up from how disgusting that sounds.
2. One of the reasons we love this time of year is that we cash in all our credit card reward points and spend it all on Williams Sonoma Christmas candies. The crown jewel of those candies is the Peppermint Hot Chocolate, and last night we broke into our stash, thereby officially kicking off the holiday season at stately IPB Manor.
We aren’t complete Christmas freaks, though — we only staged this photo on that “5 Golden Rings” dessert plate because we just bought it and haven’t found a cupboard place for it. It was sitting on the counter, and it was closing in on midnight, and we hadn’t taken our 365 picture for the day. We’re just lazy.
So when we bought the hot chocolate, we decided that it was going to be a couple of weeks before we were going to get around to making marshmallows, so it made sense to buy some of the gourmet marshmallows Williams Sonoma sells. We had to choose between chocolate and vanilla flavored ones, and opted for vanilla. As it turns out, they did not taste like vanilla. You know what’s even more disgusting than a broken kneecap? Peppermint hot chocolate with butterscotch marshmallows.
3. We kind of had no idea the Devils were playing the Stars tonight. WOO HOOO! Patty and Myra and Hub and the Kid are all gonna be cryin’ into the butterscotch/peppermint hot chocolate Gatorade of losers tonight, while we drink deep from the flagon of Champagne of winners.*
*Or vice versa. We’ll see.
One of the really wonderful things about being a sports fan is that you never know what’s going to happen in any given season. Now that a reasonably substantial chunk of hockey has been played in the ’09-’10 season, it seems like we can start looking at the bigger picture and thinking about what have been the biggest surprises for us in the early going.
SURPRISE #1: We actually like what Jacques Lemaire has done with the Devils. We can be gracious and admit that we were wrong about him (so far). Now, we keep hearing that the non-Devils feeds of Devils games spend the better part of their time fixating angrily on how trappy the Devils are, and we’ve gleefully read through many a sour-grapes comment thread on opposing team blogs where the fans of the teams that are losing to the Devils bitch (to the point of giving the Devils all their marbles) to high heaven about the trap. But just how Stephen Colbert says he doesn’t see race, we don’t see the trap. Seriously. We never notice it. Not when the Devils are playing it. Not when the Devils’ opponents are playing it. We barely notice it when the announcers point it out during games. It’s so prevalent that we kind of just don’t care about it. We just care about the Devils not ossifying like they did at the end of Lemaire’s last go-round in New Jersey, and were terrified we’d see that right out of the gate this year. And what a pleasant surprise — they’re sassy! The defense (before they all got injured) jumps up into plays a billion times more often than they did under Sutter’s regime. The forwards still seem to go into the offensive zone, but they also know how to play in their defensive zone, unlike during Sutter’s regime. Hell, they even score into empty nets! We know we’ve already apologized to Lemaire in this space once, but we’re happy to do it again today. Are the Devils peaking too soon, and we’ll spend March and April wistfully recalling the heady days of the November Juggernaut? Probably, but that’s to be worried about in March and April. For now, we’re just going to keep luxuriating in the deliciousness of the sassy, injury-overcoming, pleasantly-surprising, youngster-heavy Devils.
SURPRISE #2: David Clarkson, Niklas Bergfors and Andy Greene. None of those guys are emperor-gods quite yet, but they are all definitely the regionally recognized demi-emperor-gods in outlying tropical-paradise islands. Like, AcornsNations Cruise Lines does a steady business sending the citizens of AcornNations on weeklong, all-inclusive tours of the AcornsNation Clarkson Islands and the such. Of course, Bergfors Islands better not get too comfortable as a PaulieMartinNation protectorate, because PaulieMartinNation is not afraid to abandon Bergfors Islands’ sorry ass if need be.
SURPRISE #3: During Thursday night’s open thread, IPB Irregular EJGRgunner made a startling discovery — the missing piece in getting Bergfors to ascend to emperor-god status is that he’s not the Swedish Chef. In unrelated Bergfors news, Jacques Lemaire told TG over at Fire & Ice that Bergfors had a crappy game because Zach Parise has superstar offensive talent but also works harder than anyone on playing defense so why can’t Bergfors. Thanks to our superior skills at investigative reporting and the press passes we received for being such professional Devils bloggers, we were able to procure video tape of the confrontation that followed between Bergfors and Zach’s representative.
SURPRISE #4: Tonight we were watching the Blue Jackets (our new Tranny Gentleman Callers, which is a surprise in and unto itself) playing the Ducks, and at one point RustyKlesla injured himself on a play that strongly resembled this:
This prompted the BJs announcers to launch into the “shocking, unheard-of number of injuries in the NHL” angle, in which they started gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair over how injuries could possibly be taken out of the game. When thinking about solving the problem of injuries like RustyKlesla’s, we were surprised to realize that we know exactly how to fix the game:
1. Remove the banana peels from the trapezoid. Without the ability to obstruct those banana peels, defensemen are helpless to keep them from carpeting that area of the ice.
2. Replace the boards with haybales.
3. Replace the stanchions with pipe cleaners.
4. Replace the glass with that see-through bouncy castle window material.
These are changes that could be put into effect immediately, without altering the rulebook. If the GMs want to consider expanding on it, perhaps they can reach an agreement by the start of next season to just replace all the league’s rinks entirely with bouncy castles. We think this is a fantastic idea, and wonder why more people haven’t been talking about it.
That the Devils are fifth overall? That they’re only two points behind the Penguins?! That they’re 8-2-0 in their last ten games?!? That they’re four points behind the league leaders with two or three fewer games played?!?! Wowza! The things you learn when you bother to check the standings before mid-March!
Other things that stood out as we marveled at the after-one-month standings:
– The Sharks have as many points as the Avs, but don’t seem to get any press for it. Must be everyone’s finally really learned their lesson when it comes to SJ.
– Schnookie’s been saying all along that the Rangers were going to do their usual coming out of the gate strong only to tail off starting in November. She’s a genius, that one.
– There are two teams that have identical records. One team’s coach is on the perpetual hot seat. The other is being lauded as a rejuvenated genius. Who are the teams? Why, the Flyers and the Sabres, of course. (Obviously, the situations and expectations of the two teams are wildly different, but it’s still noteworthy to us because everything we’ve heard around the water cooler [and by "heard around the water cooler" we mean "read on Puck Daddy"] suggested to us that the Sabres were tearing it up while the Flyers were having a disastrously slow start.)
– The Hurricanes are worse than the Leafs. Good thing we didn’t go on record picking the Canes for the Presidents Trophy.
– We did go on record picking the now-24th-overall Ducks. Are we chagrined? Hell no! Instead, we’re looking forward to the wild second-half that’s going to catapult Getzi and his compatriots to the top.
Yes, yes, Gentle Reader, we know. Looking at the standings this early is a foolish exercise, but… watch out for those Ducks.