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Archive for March, 2007

Being good, dutiful Devils fans we hate superstars. We booed Mario, we booed Wayne, we booed Messier, we booed ’em all! Even though the Mikey Mouse fiasco was before our time, it still seemed like our right as Devils fans to be above the superstar thing. But then something strange happened: the NHL went away for a year and when it came back it was “The New NHL”. This New NHL offered Devils fans all kinds of surprise benefits. A 48-goal season from Brian Gionta. A Marty Brodeur who could prove his success wasn’t all about the Devs’ D. A ridiculous winning streak to close out the season, snatch the division title from the Rangers and the Flyers, and prove all the Devil haters wrong. But an even bigger surprise was looming as well — superstars we could love.

By all accounts, we should hate Sidney Crosby with the passion of a thousand suns. All that hype, all those giant endorsement deals, all those times we had to sit through “Honey, why is Sidney Crosby in our shower?” We should hate Alex Ovechkin for his one-sided play, his obnoxious apres-goal routines, his potato-chip commercial. We should loathe the run-and-gun Buffalo Sabres for the hockey media praising them for being everything the Devils aren’t (and never stopping to point out that the Devils have had a better record for all but the first month of the season). But a year without hockey did something strange to the cold, empty spaces in our chests where our hearts should be. Instead of lumps of coal, hardened by years of cheering for (dare we say it) interchangeable parts, we now had little piles of pumice, pervious to the charms of Sid Crosby’s highlight reel plays, Alex Ovechkin’s over-the-top goal celebrations, and the entire high-flying line-up of the Buffalo Sabres.

Is this something we should be concerned about? Have we gone soft not just in our hearts, but also in our heads? We can remember years when, after the Devils crashed and burned, we turned away from what was left of the playoffs while spouting bitter torrents of bile against the perceived heinousness of the rest of the hockey world. We were hard, mean and difficult to please, and we liked it that way. But this new NHL… there’s something undeniably pleasant about it. We’ve put our DVRs and Center Ice package through their paces this year, recording hundreds of hours of Penguins, Sabres, Capitals, even Hurricanes (it’s a Mike Commodore thing…) games. And as much as it pains us to say it, there are teams that are not the Devils that we actually — gulp! — like. We’ve had ample opportunity this year to prove to ourselves that when pitted against each other, our loyalties always, always, always lie with the Devs. But faced with the almost certain early-round demise of this year’s playoff hopes and dreams (thanks Forechecker for pointing out how deadly getting the #5 seed is) can it be anything other than a good thing that we’re looking forward to seeing how much Sid and his Sidguins can overachieve, or that we’re actively hoping Ryan Miller can prove the Sabres fans wrong that it was bad idea to let Biron go, or that we spent the summer telling ourselves Mike Commodore was more deserving of the Conn Smythe than Cam “One Season Wonder” Ward?

While discussing this strange new affinity for players and teams other than our very own Devils, Schnookie began by saying “It’s this new NHL. It’s not….” and the only word she could think of to finish her thought was “poop”. And Pookie had to agree with her. Will this new it’s-not-poop NHL love continue if the Devils are somehow single-handedly slayed by Sid Crosby and his mad “aren’t I special I can split 5 guys and score while falling down” skillz? Well, we weren’t vomiting in our mouths while watching the Hurricanes skate with the Cup last spring, so it’s a safe bet to say yes. Back in the Golden Age of being new fans we watched every game we could. We had players on other teams we loved, we had teams we followed avidly, we could survive the nights between Devils games. But as the years wore on, our hockey world-view shrank until the point came when we didn’t even bother watching the 2004 playoffs after the Devils bowed out with nary a whimper. This New NHL is like a hockey Renaissance for us. Bring on the hype! Bring on the Sid and Ovie commercials! Bring on the run-and-gun ‘Slugs! As Mike Commodore said of his day with the Stanley Cup, “Game. On.”

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It has come to our attention that the Devils don’t get their due (see what I did just there?) when it comes to hot players. The following is a full and complete list of the cute, the hot and the scrumptious in the noir, blanc et rouge. In order of uniform number (Lou wouldn’t have it any other way):

#30 Marty Brodeur
In this organization, everything begins and ends with Marty. It’s a rite of passage for all Devils fangirls to fall for Marty — and then move on. Yes, he’s funny, personable, laid-back, uber-punky, and perhaps the greatest goalie of all time, but seriously? He used to sport a spit curl, he slept with his wife’s sister-in-law and he admits to drinking 3 Sprites a game. But, he’s the greatest goalie of all time. That’s worth at least a bit of consideration. If you’re into that kind of thing. Around here? We take the winning for granted.

#29 Johnny “Johnny Handsome” Oduya
This rookie was a pleasant surprise — on the ice and off! He’s sneaky hot. If you like your handsome defensemen smooth-skating, silent and Swedish, he’s your man. We once caught a glimpse of him in street clothes and he was so Euro-cool all he was missing was the bistro table, beret and cigarette.

#28 Brian Rafalski
Not hot, although our ex-roommate had her picture taken with him at an autograph session; he’s perfected the art of looking like a prom date for his fans, which is pretty sweet of him.

#27 David Clarkson*
Here at Interchangeble Parts, we believe Clarkson was sent back to Lowell for bringing our hotness quotient too close to “Smoking” for Lou to be entirely comfortable. He looks like if a young Johnny “Mac” MacLean, a nicer-looking Jim Dowd and Tom Brady all (somehow) had a child. He’s also taller than most of our hotties, so he gets a leg up there.
*A Lowell Devil as of this writing.

#26 Patty Elias
His hands look like he stole them from Michelangelo’s David. His accent his adorkably cute. He’s so endearingly whackadoo (except when he decides it’s a good idea to order oysters at the Moscow Airport). He’s our best skater nine tenths of the time. And he’s our fearless captain. Of course, how hot you think Patty is depends largely on how captive you are to the Devils. There’s definitely some Stockholm Syndrome going on here. (There is no pictorial evidence on the interwebs of the hot elements of Patty; you’ll just have to take our word on this.)

#25 Cam “Click!” Janssen
Not hot. He’s directly responsible for the team’s recent schnide but more on that later. And Pookie’s going to lose her mind the next time she hears an out-of-town media person call him “Janssens”.

#23 Scott “Gomer” Gomez
So not hot. When he came to his first training camp as an 18-year-old he had all the hotness potential in the world. He was so cute even Boomer noticed him during a preseason game, and Boomer is not one to normally pay mind to the jailbait guys. We spent that season anticipating his return from Juniors, and when the wonderful day rolled around the next season with Gomer in the lineup as a full-time Devil… he wasn’t cute at all. What happened during that year in Tri-Cities? Who’s responsible for this terrible loss of cuteness? Is there legal action that can be pursued?

#21 Brad “Chocosnitch” Lukowich
Choco looks so much like a friend of ours, it’s distracting. But he gives us an excuse to call a guy “Chocosnitch” so he’s allowed to grace the team with his un-hotness.

#20 Jay “Pando” Pandolfo
Schnookie’s love for Pando transcends petty issues like hot or not hot. He is the truest Devil of all the True Devils. The concept of hot is tangible. Pando is entirely about the intangibles. PandoNation is a meritocracy, not a hot-ocracy.

#19 Travis Zajac
Travis is a hot mystery wrapped in a hot-hot puzzle wrapped in a hot-hot-hot enigma. There’s a class of player who looks drastically better or worse depending on his state of helmetness. Travis en chapeau looks like a dim, dullardly turtle. Travis sans chapeau looks like a big, tall drink of gentled-eyed, shy, dreamy cuteness. As if to further drive home the helmet issue, he insists on wearing one that is 3 sizes too small, leaving a red mark on his forehead — a constant reminder that at any moment, he can turn from hot to not hot in the blink of an eye.

#18 Sergei “Sarge” Brlyin
Not hot, unless you’re into snack sized elves.

#17 Mike “Folk Hero” Rupp
Not hot, unless you’re into 6’5″ Deadheads who scored the Cup-winning goal in 2003 (thus the “Folk Hero” moniker).

#15 Jamie “Langer” Langenbrunner
Langer has all the pieces to be hot — even features, youthful face, clutch-goal scoring, 2 rings, good personality — but he never seems to want to grab that brass ring of hottitude.

#14 Brian “Gio” Gionta
Take all the same problems Langer presents, apply them to a guy who’s three apples high and built like the Incredible Hulk, and you’ve got Gio. He was distinctly hotter when he was scoring 40 goals. Seriously, if you like punky plays and clutch goalie-pulled-7-seconds-to-play goals to tie it up, there’s no one better than Gio.

#12 Jim “Jersey Jim” Dowd
Not hot.

#11 John “Maddog” Madden
Ugh. Not. Hot. There’s not enough Stockholm Syndrome in the world to make us think Maddog is hot.

#10 Erik “Rasser” Rasmussen
Not hot. Even before the pucks to the face.

#9 Zach Parise
The rebirth of hot on the Devils. This golden boy has it all — shining white teeth, dimples, just the right amount of aw-shucks shyness to make up for the I’m-hot-shit arrogance, and a motor that gets the whole team going. Last season Zach suffered from what we like to call Trapper Keeper Syndrome. If a player seems too much like his name could easily pop up as the username on HFBoards attached to the word “chick” (e.g. PariseChick9), he counts as a Trapper Keeper Hottie and is thus too embarrassing to love. But this season Zach somehow overcame that. Maybe it was the 31-and-counting goals. Maybe it was the turning the 2nd line into the 1st. Maybe it was the habit of scoring that all-important first goal so many times. (Certainly it wasn’t the getting 2 teeth knocked out in one of the only HD games we’ve seen of the Devs all year.) Whatever the reason, Zach’s the flagship of hot for this team. (In dissecting Zach’s hotness, any Devils fan worth her salt wouldn’t dare overlook the fact that both the Rangers and Islanders passed up on drafting him — now that is hot.)

#7 Paul “Paulie” Martin
Okay, yes, there is no denying that Paulie looks, in profile, exactly like the Old Man Of The Mountain. But from every other angle? He is only the most adorable human embodiment of an Edward Gorey drawing ever to grace the ice. He looks like he should be lurking in desolate pen-and-ink gothic ruins, wearing black tie and tails, strangling winsome women in flapper gowns. Or, when wearing his off-ice wire-rimmed glasses (Eeeee!) he is just one bushy handlebar mustache away from being the surprisingly well-built professorial type in tweeds. He is one of very few current Devils we have seen in person, and oh my is he tall, strapping, and oozing the alpha-jock swagger (we agreed, after hours of discussion on the topic, that he walks like Homer Simpson impersonating a 1970’s-era NYC pimp). Furthermore, his eyes are midnight blue, and when he was in college he drove an ancient Buick named “White Lightning”. What more could you ask for?

#6 Andy “Bubble bubble bubble!” Greene
This all depends on your idea of “hot”. Basically the essence of Andy Greene boils down to this: his presence on the blueline turns even the most boring defensive snooze-a-thon into a French rococo genre romp.

#5 Colin “Whitey” White
Not hot. Heinous, heinous clown tattoo makes him even (impossibly) less hot. To fully express how not hot Whitey is, let’s put it this way: Pookie refuses to wear the sweater of any guy on the team that she thinks is cute, for fear she will be taken for a fangirl. She bought a Whitey sweater after the 2003 Cup (for lack of a better choice, and how can you not buy a sweater with a Cup patch for a year your team won?), but he’s sooooo not hot she’s now embarrassed to wear it to games for fear that someone will think she’s a fangirl with the world’s worst taste in men.

#40 Scott “Clemmer” Clemmensen
Of course, numerically he should have gone first here, but come on. Anyway, Clemmer is shockingly hot. Boyfriend admits to having spent $30,000 on his teeth alone. He has gotten exponentially cuter with every passing month he’s spent on our bench. We think he gets plastic surgery every few weeks just to keep us all guessing. He’s said that his post-NHL-career plans involve a desk job back home in Iowa, and let this be said: Ladies of Iowa, your office crush awaits!

Honorable Mention (in Lowell, never to get a whiff of NHL action): Jordan “Jordy” Parise.
Lou loves to collect the younger, less talented brothers of his Devils, and this season sees a record number of them in our various minor-league affiliates. Mike Pandolfo, Steven Gionta, and the shockingly older-than-Zach Jordy. And dude. Wow. Everything that’s physically perfect about Zach is present with Jordy, but edgier. Dirtier. Hotter. Maybe it’s just the sisters-as-best-friends thing we’re rocking that draws us to the Parise boys, but seriously, yum. And the best thing about him? Our favorite hockey quote of the year; when asked about his going undrafted he said, “I know why I wasn’t drafted. I wasn’t good enough to be drafted.” Oh, Jordy. Since you’re not going to be seeing any action on the ice with the Devils this spring, why not spend them watching your darling brother here with us?

So there you have it. Eight hotties out of 20? That’s not bad at all! Plus there are a couple more that could go either way, depending on your taste. The Devils get a bad rap for a lot of things, and deservedly so, but there is no excuse for anyone to impugn their hotness. After several dry years of having to rely on the Gomers and Martys for our fangirl sighs and eyelash-flutters, we’re finally back on track.

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Devils 3 Flyers 1

This one looked like the Devils cared about as much as we did during the first two periods (Friday night is NYT crossword night, and tonight’s was a doozy. Yes, we are, as Jon Stewart said of his own puzzle habit, ninety years old), but then the strangest thing happened: they found a way to win. For the zillionth time this year Marty played out of his mind, keeping the Devils, as Doc and Chico pointed out, in a game they had no business hanging around in. And for the zillionth time this year a random, unexpected Devil scored a huge goal, and this time it was our very own elevator buddy from our recent road trip to Buffalo, Mike “Folk Hero” Rupp. And fascinatingly enough, the entire team seemed to respond. How encouraging to see such a confident, controlled third period, even though Marty lost his shutout bid (that was Schnookie’s fault. She let the Hockey Gods hear her think, as the third was winding down without a single peep of offense from the Flyers, “Oh yeah. 13th shutout in the bag!”). A very exciting development in the eyes of Interchangeable Parts tonight was the realization that Zach is officially now the team’s motor. That title used to belong to Pando, but the elder statesman of keeping the team’s legs churning has passed the torch; when Zach is skating hard, the whole team skates hard. When he’s not… it’s ugly. We’d had some quiet concerns the injured guys wouldn’t come back in top form, but Patty on the Island and Maddog tonight have quelled those fears. Now if only there was a way we could have unloaded Janssen instead of Clarkson to get Madden back. Needless to say, it’s discouraging to see Gomer go down, but we’re holding out hope it’s not a big deal. All in all, this game was all about a surprising turnaround, and we can only hope, a sign of the Devils waking up from the malaise they’ve been in for the past month.

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When you’re a fan and when you’re a girl, there comes a time when you face the Fangirl Dilemma: can you still respect yourself as a knowledgeable fan when your post-game reaction to a 3-2 Devils win in Buffalo is, “Eeee! Zach Parise is so cute”? This thorny question is something we’ve spent years treading very cautiously around, and now that we’ve started our very own blog it’s time to come to terms publicly with the fangirls within.

Some history: we are sisters, and were raised by an ardent fan of Harrison Ford’s; our mother Boomer was a fangirl back before the term was even invented. Our childhood home had two “gallery” walls, one adorned with framed photos of us darling children, taken by our father, and the other a collage of magazine pictures of our second dad, Harrison. There is only one afternoon we can recall from our childhood days when Boomer wasn’t there to pick us up after school — she’d had to go into New York City for the opening day of “The Mosquito Coast”, refusing to let a limited theatrical release keep her from catching all of Harrison’s movies on the first day possible. This prioritizing runs in our blood.

Despite being from a family that is, to put it gently, sedentary, we also have the female sports-fan gene. Our great-grandmother legendarily died while watching a boxing match. Our grandmother would be happy if she could watch 24 hours a day of college basketball. Our mother’s proudest accomplishment in life was when she had to get stitches in her head after being hit by a puck fired into the stands at the Meadowlands by Wayne Gretzky. So while we have never played hockey (or any other sport, come to think of it), we come by the sports thing honestly, too.

We started watching hockey on television 12 years ago; immediately after seeing our first game (Mark Messier’s 500th goal game against the Flames) we bought the Center Ice package on our DirecTV, so smitten were we with this wonderful, beautiful sport. Less than a year later we were season-ticket holders with the Devils, four rows up from the ice in the corner by the Devils’ attacking goal. When we weren’t at the Swamp we watched two games a night on the dish; it became so we were spending 40 hours a week just watching hockey. Even as we soaked up serious, sportsy knowledge (we used to pull out the record book during late-night Western Conference blowouts and hit each other with pop quizzes) we couldn’t help but notice… those boys on the ice are, well, easy on the eyes. Attractive. Pleasant-looking. Hott.

So where did that leave us? We didn’t want to be the NYU girls across the lower bowl from us with their choreographed dances, matched white sweatshirts tied at their waists and the “Brian Rolston Melts The Ice” signs. We were more than that. We were the girls who emasculated idiot Ranger fans with our encyclopedic understanding of the sport and rapier wits. But at the same time… the NYU girls had a point. Brian Rolston really did melt the ice. But could we respect ourselves, while expecting male fans to respect us too, if we admitted that out loud?

After years of suffering in unconvincing silence, we’ve finally found in this wonderful hockey blogosphere the courage to say it loud and say it proud: we think hockey players are hott. But we also know our shit, and, if we’re drunk enough, we could probably still tell you who the last five picks of the second round in 1986 were. Bill Simmons excuses his deplorable ignorance of the NHL by saying he only has the brain space to follow three sports seriously. We actually think he may be on to something with this; we follow hockey rabidly (we don’t have season tickets anymore, but that just means more time for other teams on the dish), follow the NFL slightly less rabidly, then fill the third-sport sections of our brains with the tennis majors, the Olympics, the World Cup and being fangirls. Fangirldom exists parallel to our serious fandom.

Going back to the aforementioned 3-2 Devils win in Buffalo, would we have watched it if we didn’t think Zach Parise is the cutest thing on skates? You bet we would have. Would the thrill of the Devils winning keep us walking on air for three days if we didn’t think Paulie Martin is the Goldenest Gopher ever? Of course. But did we get to enjoy the game on more levels for the joy we take in objectifying our little hockey honeys? Most definitely. So there you go. Being a fangirl is nothing to be ashamed of. It just means you get to like your hockey that much more. Plus, it makes it a lot easier to let yourself down gently in the event your team loses; if the score that night had gone the other way the blow would have been softened significantly with the realization that Ryan Miller and Drew Stafford also, in their own lesser Buffaslug ways, melt the ice.

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Devils 3, Buffalo 4

Well. That was to be expected. The Devils were coming off a big win, playing the second game of a back-to-back and playing without Madden and Gionta. The Sabres were at home, coming off 2 humiliating games against the Leafs. Moreover, the Sabres were coming off 4 days of rest (and one 90 minute Ruff-led uberpractice). On the one hand, this was a huge game for both teams, but on the other… we all knew the Devils weren’t going to get the #1 spot, and frankly, do we even want them to? So really, it wasn’t that big a game at all.

Here’s the deal: here at Interchangeable Parts we’re totally satisfied with what the team has accomplished this year, but this probably wasn’t the best time for us to start blogging about this team. There’s a point in every season when you come to terms with the team. Some years you realize they’re the greatest group of guys ever and they’re a sure bet for post-season glory. Some years you walk away from Continental Airlines Arena after a 7-2 matinee loss to Carolina thinking, “This team’s done.” Right now, this year, we’ve realized that, personally, we have no expectations of the team from here on out. Maybe it’s still residual happiness over the Rangers series last year; maybe it’s the knowledge that the team is in transition between the old Stevens Era and the dawn of the Elias Era; maybe it’s the fact that we’re happy if our d-corps is only a collective minus-500. At this point, we sort of expect the team to lose — or rather, we don’t expect the team to win — but not in a gut-wrenching oh-my-God-I-hate-this-team way, but just in a “Hey, whaddaya gonna do?” way. We’ve seen some really awesome stuff this year that bodes well for next — Travis Zajac’s distinctly NHL-level talent, Zach Parise’s 31-and-counting goals, and oh yeah, Marty’s BEST SEASON EVER. We’ve seen some disappointing stuff, sure (Um, Patty? Gio? Don’t you remember Gomer was why you got such nice contracts? Ever consider returning some of that mojo?), but we’re cool with that. And everything good that happens from here on out is gravy.

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Pookie’s prediction: if Pretty Ricky had been playing it would have been 2-1 Islanders. With Dunham in net? 16-0 Isles.
Schnookie’s prediction: 4-1 Islanders. Dunham will only face 14 shots.
Boomer’s prediction: a half-hearted, “Ohh…. I’ll say Devs… 3-2.”

Before the game starts, let us say, between the random sketch comedy ad our satellite threw at us and that Vault commercial, Interchangeable Parts is feeling like we are decidedly NOT the target audience for this broadcast.

20:00 Having Doc call the game on VS makes this foreign broadcast feel homier. It’s like bringing your own pillows to a hotel.

19:36 Engblom tells us the Devils have the fourth-worst record in the NHL in March. ONLY the fourth? Feelin’ good about the playoffs….

18:23 Uh oh. Dunham can stop Parise. That can’t be good. Does this mean Zach’s over the Nilsson thing by now?

18:10 Doc mentions Tambellini is a second-generation Islander. We hope Zach heard that.

16:50 Raffie is one of only 7 defenseman ironmen in the league? Really? That seems difficult to believe, but we’re happy for Raffie. Oh, our happiness is crushed when Engblom adds Raffie’s got our best +/-. +5. We’re staggered. We suck so bad.

15:43 Doc cues the Islanders first goal by mentioning Marty’s shutout streak against them.

15:26 A broken play involving a high-lobbed puck, Marty missing his attempt to catch it, and a frantic scrum in front with the loose puck should have been an Isles goal (thanks Doc), but instead Yashin takes a penalty. We think we just got a glimpse of why Islanders fans are so totally enamored of their captain.

14:29 Engblom thinks Dunham looks shaky. He also earns his paycheck by pointing out Gomer is our best puck carrier on the PP, and perhaps the Islanders PK should focus on him. REALLY? Ya think?

13:50 WTF? We begin to shout at Zach that he is fired for whiffing on the open net, but how bad is Dunham? How bad is the Isles PK? Zach sticks with it, finds the rebound, and chips it home. Zach, you’re hired again. (Furthermore, that’s his 30th! He’s not stupid!)

13:02 Doc points out that Travis picked up the 30th-goal puck for Zach. He tells us that, when asked if he kept his 20th-goal puck, Zach couldn’t figure out why anyone would bother with something so insignificant. Pando: “Fuck. You.”

12:18 Pookie just noticed she’s watching hockey with the windows open, warm breezes blowing in, here in Central Jersey. Her innards clutch as she realizes the playoffs are just around the corner.

12:01 Christine Simpson is actually wearing a shirt today. What, the Devs don’t warrant a leopard-print bra? She wears those for Sid.

10:38 We notice Satan for the first time tonight. We had a roommate once who never missed an opportunity when confronted with the name “Satan” to crack herself up by saying, “I just want him to skate one shift with the Devils. Just one shift!!” Because, you know. Satan. Get it?

8:03 Engblom discusses the strong positional play of the Devils forwards and concludes “jokingly”, “Devils forwards use GPS. OnStar tells them to move 12 feet into the zone…” We are painfully reminded of the time we needed emergency assistance on the NJ Turnpike when our car spontaneously broke down in the middle lane. With traffic barreling all around us, we were informed that the OnStar operator could not call for help for us because we were within the jurisdiction of the NJ Turnpike authority. We imagine a Devils forward calling their little on-ice OnStar, “Oh my god! Get help! I’m defending a two-on-one” and the OnStar person saying, “I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about that, but call back when you’re in a safe place. Although I can make reservations at a number of fine restaurants in Secaucus if you’d like…” (We can only hope the forward would then say the same thing Pookie did when confronted with this situation: “Yeah, we’ll call back. If we don’t die.“)

5:37 Robitaille comes very close to scoring off the rush. Now that we think about it, we don’t like when the Isles don’t just roll over for us.

4:24 Nice keep by Paulie. Not so putrid tonight… yet.

3:20 Pookie suddenly wonders aloud, “Are we triple-shfting Brylin?”

3:07 Some flow is creeping into the game, as the play is moving up and down the ice. This can’t be good for us.

2:02 Clarkson holds off 5 Islanders deep in the offensive zone during a change. We love this kid. (Pookie: “So far.”)

1:30 Trivia Question! Who else has shut out the Isles 3 times in a season? Pookie says Richter. Boomer says Hextall. Pookie also suggests someone weird like Muzzatti. We are not historians of the game.

Going into intermission, we love the “NHL” sculpted out of a giant heap of pucks. Boomer suggests Marty is saying, “Hey, Dunny. Those are my shutout pucks. Where are all of yours? They could maybe be made into an ellipsis.”

FIRST INTERMISSION

We choose not to listen to the deep, meaningful commentary Bill, Keith and Eddie have to offer. The volume control on tonight’s feed is too wonky, we’re too lazy, and frankly, the VS studio show sucks.

SECOND PERIOD

Lukowich is miked! I bet this is interesting. Or not. He goes on about how he was yelling at the forwards. I’m sure they love listening to him do that.

19:24 Engblom thinks the Isles need to do something about Gomer. He says he’s been having his way with a myriad of teams. Um… I’m sure his recent stats (no goals in his last zillion games, or thereabouts) will back that up.

18:39 Pookie surmises Paulie is studying Bryan Campbell game tape and will only do things that require spinning.

18:20 Great 3-man rush, ending with Dunny stoning Pando. PandoNation hates to admit, every other Devil would have scored there. Rasser’s nice pass was wasted.

17:10 Is VS going to tell us who took this penalty? Ah. Easy Breezy Parise.

14:40 Gomer makes an insane pass to Clarkson… but Campoli blocks the pass into his own net. We’ll take it. (Gomer’s contract year stats will, too. We don’t think this season has gone as he may have hoped.)

14:12 Engblom says this is how the Devils win games, that we will capitalize on mistakes. But in this case we didn’t have to, because the Islanders took care of putting it in the net for us.

13:26 Pando again can’t put it away after a nice 3-man rush, this time led by SHOCKING speed from Raffie. Where did that come from? Raffie, save some of your legs for the playoffs, man.

10:52 As if to make Schnookie look like an idiot, after she said he doesn’t look that great (“I mean, he’s stopping Pando. Ooh.”), Dunham makes an amazing save on a really nifty move by Patty.

10:18 The on-ice mikes are a bit, um, loud. Gomer deploys Sid Crosby’s favorite word after being called for offensive-zone hooking. We are always titillated to hear players cussing on the ice but somewhere in Ottawa Bryan Murray is sputtering with indignant rage.

10:05 Doc is begging the Hockey Gods to break up Marty’s shutout. We think there’s a point where they’re going to see through his ploy and NOT deliberately make Marty give one up. Unless that’s what he’s planning, at which point they’ll see through that….

9:40 Yashin scores from above the faceoff circle. Thank you EVER SO MUCH, Doc.

8:35 Zach seems to hate when we give up goals; no one on the Devils comes off the bench with as much zip after we get scored on as he does. Patty, Gomer and Clarkson follow up a strong ZZ shift with one of their own and Gomer draws a penalty in front. He owed the team, because we all know the Devils NEVER kill lazy offensive zone penalties like the one he took that cost us the Yashin goal.

8:25 Engblom thinks this power play is the game here. Schnookie thinks Engblom is full of it.

6:33 The Devils don’t seem to think this is the game here, either.

5:16 Chris Simpson tells us how Nolan showed the Isles Invincible on a bus ride to Philly. We doubt they liked it for the same reasons we did. (An example of why we liked that movie: when Marky Mark went back to the old sandlot for his old buds’ football game, we, as sports fans, yelled at the TV, “Stay in the car, Marky Mark! Don’t risk injuring yourself in a pickup game!” And then clouds opened, and the wheels started turning in our collective brain. Marky Mark + pouring rain + thin t-shirt? “Get out of the car, Marky Mark!” We shouted, “Be true to yourself and play slow-motion football in the rain with your friends!”) Chris tells us some pablum about how “Papale was the one who was inspired” after meeting the Islanders, which seems to Pookie to kind of suggest Nolan’s brilliant inspirational scheme didn’t work out the way he’d planned.

2:22 We can’t recall the last time the Devils showed this much jump going toward the net. Is it the Devils, or is it the Islanders?

SECOND INTERMISSION

Keith says that, of all the injuries we’ve had, it’s Madden’s offense the Devils miss most. Pookie immediately gurgles in disbelief, “Keith Jones just proved he hasn’t watched a Devils game in SEVEN YEARS.” We’re sorry, but what does the fact that Pando and Brylin haven’t scored with him out of the lineup prove? Pando and Brylin ARE NOT HIGH-SCORING PLAYERS. And furthermore, what is he saying when he comments we rely heavily on our checking line? We rely heavily on our checking line to check. Duh. We rely on our scoring line(s) to score. And dumb, freaky luck. But not our checking line. Perhaps Jonesy is the last remaining guy who’s counting on Madden’s promised 40-goal season.

THIRD PERIOD

Ryan Smyth is miked. They cut him off just before he says, “I also liked me better when I was here as Mike Peca.”

18:50 Doc, in a discussion of the high-scoring players in the Eastern Conference being from Europe, says Sid Crosby is from “just this side of Europe”. Engblom gets nervous. He’s thinking “I could have sworn he was Canadian… Does this mean I can’t like him anymore?”

17:02 Doc lets us know it is an anniversary of the day Sherry Ross became the first woman to ever call play-by-play for an NHL game. We like Sherry Ross, as she was the writer who coined the description of Sarge as “snack-sized”.

16:12 Devils go back on the PP. Oh no. Not our power play.

15:16 After bitterly declaring we have now seen the best of Clarkson (who failed to convert on some choppy plays), Clarkson figuratively screams at us, “‘He’s done’ this, bitches.” We appreciate that the Islanders D were listening to our totally well-reasoned scouting of him and opted to leave him alone in front of the net for that rebound (“Why didn’t we try to pick that guy up, Coach? Uhh… because we heard from a very reliable source that he’s done as a player?”). He has 3 goals now, which means he’s ably filled in for — and surpassed — Madden.

14:56 Pando fails to score on his 700th shot of this game. Pookie: “Dammit, if only Pando and Brylin had been able to bury that we might have a chance of winning.”

13:23 We just killed Dunny. Wade Dubieliwicz (a name we shall never type again) is now in, which means, per Pookie, “Crap. We’ll never score again.”

13:08 Wade D has an electrified Fisherman on his mask. Pookie: “It’s like if Stan Fischler was in Dr. Frankenstein’s machine!”

11:30 Pookie, after Sarge makes a nifty, smart little play in the neutral zone says, “He’s a snack-sized player with a buffet-sized heart.” Pause. “And you can quote me on that!”

8:18 Engblom doesn’t know why Kozlov didn’t make an obvious pass to Yashin. Pookie suggests, “Because it was Yashin. And Kozlov.”

6:21 Blake backhands a loose puck over Marty after some scrambling around the net. That sucked. We fall silent, still in mental training for the intensity of the playoffs.

5:50 Whitey looks content to stand behind the net with the puck for the next 5:50.

4:51 The wheels look for a second like they’re falling off again. Raffie turns the puck over in the defensive zone on a weird bounce off the glass, then Whitey struggles to get it out after a Sillinger shot misses.

4:00 Gomer and Patty throw some shots at Wade D. Why have we not tested him more than this?

3:57 Chris Simpson reports Dunny left the game with that middle-school-girl gym excuse: “cramps”. (Okay, she said “leg cramps”, but it’s the same thing.)

2:46 Travis mugs an attacking Islander. How was that not a penalty? Pookie suggests they each wrapped their arms around each other and agreed to fall over like a tree. Okay, that’s not in the rulebook, we don’t think.

2:09 The Trivia Question is revisited, but we have to watch the postgame for the answer. Frankly, we don’t care enough for that. Although Boomer declares it “cheap” that they don’t resolve it for us in-game. Muzzatti is declared the correct choice.

1:02 Patty and Gomer wheel in on a two-on-one, and Patty shoots wide. In previous Devs-Isles games this season, Patty would have buried that shot. Engblom seems mad that the missed shot didn’t give Gomer, on whom he has a massive man-crush, a chance at the rebound and chastises Patty for making a fundamental error.

:35 Empty net now for the Isles.

:10-ish Marty makes one last awesome save, paddling the puck away on a rebound.

For the first time in ages, the Devils looked, from top to bottom, really good. Pookie: “[Huge sigh of relief.] Well, that was unexpected.”

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Post Game Commentary

Devils 4, Panther 3 SO

It feels like months since we last got 2 points out of a game. And gaining two points on the Penguins? Thank the Hockey Gods they’re just as inept at grabbing the brass ring as we are. Tonight’s game seemed to prove both what was right about the Devs early this season and what’s been wrong about them recently. When we were hot (it seems ages and ages ago at this point), we were finding increasingly improbable ways to win, and it seemed the entire team was fueled by often unjustified feelings of having been slighted. Every guy, from Marty out, had chips on their shoulders. (Seriously, Patty and Gio both felt they should have been All-Stars? Based on what??) But when we did the unthinkable and almost caught Buffalo, suddenly we were fat and happy and feeling totally sated. For the last few weeks the boys have been saying all the right things, trying not to blame the injuries, spouting platitudes about going “back to Devils hockey”, with one recent exception: Ocean County’s own Jersey Jim Dowd bitching that Pelley was getting more ice time than he was. So tonight, with Marty looking like he had no interest in giving his skaters a chance to win (and then his skaters saying, on the second goal, “right back at you, loser…”), who answered the call? Brick Dragon Jersey Jim and his ginormous sense of personal injustice.

So now all we need is for the other 19 guys to rekindle their love affairs with carrying huge chips on their shoulders, and we’ll be fine. (Luongo getting to 48 wins ought to get at least our goalie going again, no?)

It was great to see ZZ, sans Pops, stepping up in the shootout; it was especially nice to see them beating Eddie “I swear it was my cold medicine” Belfour so effortlessly. Oh, and on the Putrid Paulie watch? He actually wasn’t too bad tonight, and we were happy to see him jumping up on the play more. PaulieMartinNation rejoiced.

Elsewhere on our TiVo today….

We ground our teeth through most of the Penguins-Thrashers game today, not so much because they won but because they won on really crappy goals. (Full disclosure: until they started knocking on our standings door we didn’t dislike the Pens, but who wants to watch them win on goals from effin’ Ouellet and lame-assed ricochets from behind the net off Jordy “Pterodactyl” Staal? I mean, if they’re going to win, at least let Sid get 6 outrageously amazing, jaw-dropping, no-one-on-the-Devils-could-ever-in-a-million-years-even-by-accident-do-that plays.)

Two highlights from the Pens feed:

“Play-by-play” Steigerwald: “Speaking of big centers, it’s Bobby Holik.”
“Color” Bob Errery: [Audible shudder] “Ugh.”
“Bloggers” Interchangeable Parts: “And how, brother. And how.”

And after Colby “Elbow-Pad Sandwich” Armstrong returned to the game after suffering what looked like a devastating puck to the knee (Steigerwald at the time of the injury totally didn’t jump to any hysterical conclusions by exclaiming, “I hope he didn’t break a kneecap!”), he was praised by the announcers for his ability to rebound from injury. Steigy talked himself into a bit of a corner, and dug himself out with the classic comparison, “He’s like… like… Gumby.” Gumby? Really?

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