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Archive for July, 2007

The 37th in our 118-part series.

5-on-3 Penalty Kills

Doc calls them “The Iron Three”: the guys who have to go out and kill a two-man disadvantage. And seriously, what’s cooler than that? Than three stalwart defenders out-thinking and out-playing five attackers? As far as we’re concerned, a 5-on-3 penalty kill is as much as a momentum shifter as a shortie — and a 5-on-3 shorthanded goal? Forget about it. Of course, we don’t get to see our own boys kill them very often, what with that whole “discipline” thing, but when it happens it’s the most exciting play in hockey.

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The 36th in our 118-part series.

Shorties

This reason is really a no-brainer — who doesn’t love shorthanded goals? There are few things in hockey that shift momentum quite like a shortie just on principle, but considering that many of them are scored on breakaways or two-on-ones, they always seem to be of the especially dramatic, highlight-reel-worthy variety to boot. We might be biased because we’re Devils fans (and Pando fans), but we hold penalty-killing forwards in higher esteem than the guys who don’t skate on the PK, and the short-handed goal specialists are like the sexiest, baddest-assed gunslingers of them all. So despite the fact that the Devils have, of late, stopped scoring shorties themselves, and seem to really love giving them up, we still consider shorthanded goals a reason to love hockey.

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The 35th in our 118-part series.

Egregious Giveaways that Make You Go “Wha-huh?”

Reason 34 caused a bit of confusion, what with “giveaway” having a surprising number of definitions to a hockey-centric vocabulary. Today we’re celebrating the turnover giveaway, in particular the “Hey Ace!” goal. For a number of years there, Devils fans were treated to two styles of takeaways. The first was Nieder coming out of nowhere to rob a guy on a clear breakaway with just a deft swipe of his stick and an implied “yoink!”. The second was Stevens coming out of nowhere to bowl a guy over, setting up a forward to swoop in to pick the puck up from next to the prone opponent. But the best takeaway ever was the giveaway to end all giveaways. To set the scene, the year was 2001. The Devils had made it to the Eastern Conference Final, beating Carolina in 6 and beating Toronto in a nasty, dirty, hard-fought series. They were matching up with a Jagr-Lemieux Penguins team that seemed a bit over their heads, even without having to deal with Neider on the blue line. We have no actual recollection of which game it was, but late enough in the series that the Devils were pretty well in control of the ECF, and late in a game that the Devils were winning, John Madden, second year player and punk extraordinaire, skated up behind Mario and shouted, “Hey, Ace!” And viola! Perfect First-Ballot-Hall-of-Famer pass goes right from Lemiuex’s stick to Madden’s. In our memories, Madden promptly then scored. (He may not have, for all we know. Monday nights are not a good time for fact-checking at IPB Manor, sorry folks.)

Now, we should probably frown on such an obvious display of poor sportsmanship. If the role of John Madden had been played by that fictional paragon of fair play Horatio Hornblower, Madden would have spent the rest of the playoffs beating himself up for being an ass. But there are circumstances when we’re not only content to overlook our respect for fairness in all things, we’re happy to celebrate the punkiest of plays. And if that means shouting a hearty “Hey, Ace!” whenever Mario’s on the TV, well… we can do that.

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The 34th in our 118-part series.

Giveaways that make you go “Huh?”

Go to a few NHL games and you’ll find yourself the recipient of a giveaway. Everyone at some point in their lives has been handed a team picture, or a cap, or a pack of trading cards on the way out of the arena. And don’t get us wrong — we love those things, but what we’re talking about here, what we really, really love, is the crazy stuff. Like the commemorative coins we got at the 1996 World Cup that celebrated the inaugural event at the Flyers’ then-new arena, or those “beer mugs” the Devils gave us after a St. Patrick’s Day game against the Flyers that were little more than just plastic cups, or the badge holders we got when we traveled to Los Angeles to see the Devils play the Kings. It’s just so much fun to get a cheap piece of what would be considered nothing more than clutter if it wasn’t emblazoned with a team logo and handed to you by an usher as you shuffle out to the parking lot after a hockey game. The two items that stand out the most in our minds are the cereal bowls we got from the Devils after one late-season game against the Islanders (perfect for holding paint when we’re doing edgework while redecorating), and the famous, random, ridiculous inflatable Gulf blimp that didn’t even have a Devils logo anywhere on it. We don’t remember who the opponent was, or even what year it was, but we will always cherish that stupid blimp, just because it made absolutely no sense and was completely free.

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Several weeks ago we brought you a list of titles our offshoot publishing house, IPB Publishing, Inc., was offering, and we’re thrilled to report that the newest IPB Publishing, Inc. catalog has just been released. As with last time, every one of these titles is an actual search term that was used to find IPB, with spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar all intact. We would like to take a moment here to mention that it is with deepest love and respect that we dedicate each and every one of these books to one Grady Sizemore (or grady sizemore, or Grady sizemore, or grady Sizemore, or “Grady Sizemore”, or “GRADY SIZEMORE”, or “pictures of Grady Sizemore”), who has been the subject of no less than 413 search-term hits on IPB in the last week alone. Considering he appeared in one sentence in our MLB All-Star Game Diary, we’re very impressed at these searchers’ deep digging, and can only hope they’ve found what they’re looking for here. Grady, wherever you are, we thank you from the bottom of our stats page. And without further ado, we’re proud to give you the newest, bestest titles IPB Publishing, Inc. has to offer!

the months of hockey off season
This specialized off-shoot of the Farmer’s Almanac details every aspect of the doom and gloom facing hockey fans in summer. Suggestions are given for the best dates to watch month-old rerun games saved on one’s TiVo as a mid-season desperation move. Weather forecasts years in advance will highlight which summer days will feel most like Fall. Geographical mileage tables offer fans on Schedule Day a quick reference for which roadtrips are doable and which are too crazy to even consider.
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Today’s reason comes from Josh, a steady, if quiet, stalwart among our Gentle Readers, and contributor to the magnificent Devils blog 2 Man Advantage. Josh gets an A-plus in our book for being a Devils fan, and an A-plus-plus for writing such an awesome reason to love hockey. This is also the last of the Reasons You Love Hockey in IPB’s vaults, so if you’d like to see your name in lights (and get all the ensuing adulation and crazed groupies that follow), just email us at interchangeablepartsblog [at] gmail [dot] com. In the meantime, let’s give it up for Josh!

Hi, my name is Josh, and I love hockey.

There’s many reasons to love hockey. The speed, the intensity, the French Canadian names (It’s spelled Guy Damp-house but pronounce GE DAHMP-HOOS! C’MON! IS THERE NOTHING MORE AWESOME?!). But when it all comes down to it, the real reason to love hockey, the real reason all that time is invested as players, coaches, trainers, and fans, is the ultimate prize: The Stanley Cup.

Hockey may be relegated to the fourth most popular sport in a four-sport race, but ask any casual observer the name of a pro sports trophy and 90% will come up with the Stanley Cup. Hey basketball fans, what did the Spurs and Cavs play for? The what trophy?

The Cup has been left at the side of the road in Canada, used to plant geraniums, and dropkicked across a Canadian canal. Marty Brodeur has eaten popcorn from it, men have used it to propose to girlfriends, babies have urinated in it, mortgages burned in it. I haven’t done the research, but I’m reasonably certain that the Stanley Cup is the only professional sports trophy who’s Wikipedia page confirms buoyancy (it does not float). Can’t say that about the World Series trophy.

No other professional sport engraves the name of all those who have won it onto the trophy itself. When you win the Stanley Cup, your name does not go down in ink on paper. Your name gets etched into metal. It is going nowhere, and forever your name will be known as a champion.

The Stanley Cup is why I love hockey.

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We peeked ahead at the schedule for this summer’s tour of Devils games we’d rather, for the most part, forget, and Gentle Reader, there are four Rangers games included in this retrospective. Because 16 regular-season and four playoff games against them over the last two years isn’t bad enough. So here we go, with the second of four, and first of three in a row: Devils vs. Rangers. Whee.

FIRST PERIOD

Aw man! The intro for this involves highlights of the Devils-Sabres game with the phantom Crunchy “save” on Patty, and the ensuing retributive Madden goal and third-period comeback win that pulled Jersey to within four points of the conference lead… FSN, that was a game to remember. Why, Hockey Gods, why????

As if to throw us a tiny sop, we get a nice slurpy closeup of Pando at the outset. Jagr must be on the ice. Heh.

19:31 Jagsie starts the game off by being typically distracted by Pando to the point of being a detriment to his team; circling behind his net and facing only the mildest forechecking pressure, he dumps the puck blindly to Madden instead of a teammate. Maddog finds Pando all alone in front, but Pando’s just not really that good offensively.
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