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Archive for December, 2007

The NHL is kicking off 2008 in style with the outdoor extravaganza Ice Bowl; IPB is kicking off 2008 the usual way — complaining. We fully put forth that we are the curmudgeonly curmudgeon’s curmudgeonly curmudgeon, thumbing our noses at anything that even hints at being “fun” or “playful” or God forbid, “fan friendly”. We are Devils fans after all. Thus we simply cannot get excited for this over-hyped, pandering gimmick. We look at the practice photos released today and think, “The players are probably required to wear those face warmers just so the people watching at home can tell they’re outdoors. What is it, 32 degrees? Ooooh.” We read Sid’s conference call and smirk at the exchange (paraphrased here):

Reporter: Sid, you and the other players will doubtless play a fast and free-wheeling style because you’ll be reverting back to your old shinny days, no?
Sid: No. You do realize it’s a regular season game with two vastly important points on the line? Also, we’ll be playing in less than ideal ice conditions which can only make us more tentative. Furthermore, none of us remember playing shinny…

We look at the Pens and Sabres recent play and think, “Are the Blackhawks playing that day?” We look at the schedule of bowl games being played that day, and we consider how a one-off outdoor event is going to attract new viewers to a sport that’s regularly played indoors, which makes us ask ourselves, “Is the NHL stupid? Wait, don’t answer that.” We recall the last outdoor game and cringe at the memory of Paulina Gretzky singing during the pregame festivities. In short, we scoff at the — what was it Brian Campbell called it? Oh yes — the “stupid fucking Ice Bowl”.

There is, however, more to the story.
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As many of you already know (and as some of you witnessed in person), Drew “Staffy” Stafford and Ryan “Crunchy” Miller made a very special appearance last night with Ronan Tynan and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Now, we have an in with the BPO, in the person of Katebits, and over a month ago (November 26, to be exact), we exchanged a series of emails with her in which we anticipated what was bound to be the single greatest moment in BPO history. Here, Gentle Reader, is how we called it:

SCHNOOKIE: You’ll be happy to know, by the way, that we are being inundated by searches for Staffy and Crunchy and what instruments they play. It seems the entire hockey blogosphere is super-excited for the New Year’s Eve Gala and their mad musical skillz.

KATEBITS: I know! It’s so hilarious how people are clamoring for information about this concert! For some reason I’m envisioning Crunchy and Staffy playing various percussion instruments. Can’t you see Crunchy earnestly holding a triangle, waiting for his cue? And Staffy, looking impish and naughty poised over a bass drum?

SCHNOOKIE: Crunchy would so be the world’s most earnest and serious guest triangle player. He’s probably practicing as we speak, in his dank, windowless room. Staffy can’t wait to stomp that big drum.

POOKIE: Au contraire, Staffy can’t wait to stomp that harp.

KATEBITS: One of my weirdest on-stage daydreams has always been imagining myself standing up during a particularly boring/stifling slow concert and flipping over a marimba. Or even better, pushing the grand piano off the edge of the stage. I’ve never thought too much about the harp as a good target for concert-ending disruption. Staffy is so smart! Attacking a harp would be very dramamtic.

SCHNOOKIE: I will not be satisfied unless Staffy destroys all three instruments. First the grand piano over the edge of the stage, for maximum drama and racket. Then, in the stunned silence, the marimba. And, in the midst of the tinkling of the marimba pieces skittering across the stage, he’ll shout “Staffy stomp harp!” and then follow through. It’s going to be awesome. And once the cacophony of breaking instruments falls silent, and the audience is still in a stunned, motionless haze, Crunchy will very earnestly hit his cue and DING! his triangle.

Well, let it be stated for the record, we are not satisfied. None of these things happened. Staffy and Crunchy, you’ve let us down. Next time, gentlemen, we expect better.

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So why couldn’t the schedule makers have anticipated that the Devils would be having trouble scoring these days and given them a game tonight against someone like the Flyers? They have no problem putting up four or five goals against them. But no, tonight we get the Islanders, whom the Devils have yet to beat this year. We keep getting this stupid Metro Ice Challenge update during the pregame that reminds us that the Islanders are winning the head-to-head, three-team matchup between them, the Devils and the Rangers. Interestingly, the Rangers are second and the Devils are in “last place”. Considering that’s the exact opposite of how the teams are standing in the division rankings, maybe we shouldn’t be putting too much weight on this Metro Ice Challenge after all.

In disheartening news for those of us hoping the Devils might score tonight, it is reported that Patty is out with a “tweaked groin”; as soon as we hear that, we both assume that means he’s being traded.

FIRST PERIOD

19:45 Doc announces at the outset that this is Zach’s 200th game. Sheesh! As Boomer says, “It’s been a fast 200 games,” Pookie adds, “He’s one third of his way to his own hotel room! Travis is like, ‘That day can’t come soon enough.’”

17:37 Pelley tries one of his signature shots, but it seems Dubie (yes, we’re going to be on a nickname basis with him for the sake of brevity) has read the book on Pelley, and is not going to give up a craptacular, bad-angle goal.
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After a really long holiday break, we can barely remember what this thing we’re watching is. Hock-ey? It sounds wonderful, but aaaaaaieeeeee!!! It looks terrible! FSN is having some trouble with the color red tonight, and Steve, with apple cheeks twinkling blindingly, seems to be perched in front of a hideously pink Devils logoed backdrop. And as bad as that is, Doc’s face looks even worse. It’s a great “welcome back”. (Steve’s intro threatens something even more awful than the color problems: Stanta Claus. Pookie groans, “I was going to write a post about how wonderful this year has been because we didn’t have to see him.”)

Meanwhile, there’s a game going on tonight, and Doc and Chico highlight the goaltending matchup in their lead-in. Crunchy would be so pleased that FSN loves using plays on words, what with the way the screen showing his stats is titled “Miller Time Most Time”.

FIRST PERIOD

19:33 We start out with a pleasantly surprising bang, with Asham blowing past a flat-footed Hank and drawing a hooking penalty against Mr. Heather. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s scorched-earth time. (If there are any Sabres fans reading this who are not familiar with the Devils, let us say for the record that killing Devils penalties is not something to be overly proud of.)
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We’ve received another response to the IPB Blogging Questionnaire, this time from John Fischer at In Lou We Trust. We are thrilled he took the time to answer these questions because, as the title of his excellent blog suggests, he’s a fellow Devils blogger. ILWT was the first Devils blog we started reading; the thorough, earnest and heartfelt analysis of the team was such a welcome change from the dispassionate and, well, grumpy coverage we’d been getting from the Devils MSM for years. We’re pleased to offer his answers here, but do check out his blog, required reading for all Devils fans.
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It’s Quiet. Too Quiet.

We are afraid. We are very afraid. You see, Gentle Reader, all is not well with the New Jersey Devils organization. Or rather, all is too well with the Devils. For the first time in the 12 years that we’ve been Devils fans there isn’t a single player who is publicly wishing to fly the coop and get more money, more fame and more glory with another team. Every year since we’ve come aboard, we’ve seen at least one guy (and as many as four or five) on the roster who openly hated being there. Sometimes they were contract holdouts, sometimes they were holdouts in honor of contracts signed by their teammates that they thought were insulting, sometimes they were snotty brats, and all the time they were players who just thought they were better than the team. The fact that every single player who did end up getting out discovered fame and glory didn’t follow and that sometimes more money isn’t a good thing (unless Bobby Holik doesn’t feel responsible for the lock-out…) never seemed to deter anyone from going to Mark Everson and announcing, “I can’t wait to fuck Lou over! That’s capital L, lower case o, lower case u. Did you get that? You can quote me on that!” Have you noticed, Gentle Reader, that Mark Everson hasn’t had the chance to publish any of these articles, the ones we like to call the Everson Special, this season? This is sort of freaking you out, right? Seriously, think about it: now that we’ve excised Scott Gomez, it seems like the Devils have a room filled entirely with players who want to be Devils. This is, for us, unheard of. And uncharted waters make us very uncomfortable.

Also making us a little uneasy is the realization that the Devils org chart is all topsy-turvy. It used to follow a very predictable pattern.

    1. Lou
    2. Marty
    3. Players
    4. Coach

This season, though, the cards have been shuffled, the chips have fallen differently, the little, tiny plastic pegs in the Life car rearranged.

    1. Lou
    2. Marty
    3. Coach
    4. Players
    5a. Patty Elias
    5b. Chuck the Duck

We’re not sure what to make of this. The only comfort we can take is that when the coach killing and player defection occurs this season it will be that much more unexpectedly disastrous! Oh, that and they’re in first place right now. We take some comfort in that, too.

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We believe we’ve mentioned before in this space that should the Devils organization ever completely lose its mind and start giving media credentials to bloggers, we wouldn’t really be all that interested in taking them up on the offer. Now, we realize the Devils are never actually going to start presenting this opportunity to bloggers (it would require a remarkable sequence of events that entails the organization proving to be computer literate, proving to understand this crazy new interwebs technology all the kids are using these days, and proving to care what the fans think of them), but we still get a bit nervous when we consider the possibility that we could someday be in a situation where we’d have to ask questions to Devils players. Really, the best we would normally be able to think of to say to a Devil after a win would be, “How awesome was that?”, and after a loss we’d probably ask something like, “How do you look at yourself in the mirror every day? And do you hate us? Is that why you suck so bad? Do you want us to be unhappy?” In other words, we don’t think we have a lot to offer the world of traditional sports journalism. Or rather, we didn’t think so, until now. Because we have actually, after much deliberation and serious thought, discovered a matter about which we genuinely would like to hear what a certain New Jersey Devil has to say.

That’s right, Gentle Reader — we’ve come up with a question we would really ask if we had some kind of media access to the Devils. And not only have we finally thought of something we want to ask a Devil, but it’s a question that is now consuming us. We simply must find out the answer.
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