Yikes. 7:00 creeps up on us in a hurry tonight, and we just barely get ourselves settled in front of the TV in time to behold the Devils taking on the Thrashers. And it’s a good thing we did get here in time, or we would have missed Doc’s really bizarre outfit. Pookie says of his suit: “That’s like the guy who came up to the desk today and said, ‘I want to print out a picture of this school bus.’” Pause. “‘Made out of butter.’”
18:07 It seems there’s every which kind of “first place” on the line this evening; if the Devils win, they’ll move into first in the Atlantic, and if the Thrashers win, they’ll move into a tie for 10th in the conference, aka “First in the Southeast”.
17:24 We are too busy fretting that Pelley being sent down to Lowell means something Janssen-related to really note what’s going on. It seems, at cursory glance, that the teams are kind of meandering up and down the ice.
14:53 Zach walks niftily out of the corner for a snappy little shot that Hedberg handles without trouble. Now we’re a bit distracted by the report from Boomer that she had been invited out “by a gentleman” to the theater tonight. Schnookie: “Who?” Pause. “Would invite you to the theater?” (For the record, Boomer didn’t think twice. There’s no theater on Devils gamenights, thank you very much.)
13:52 Oh, we’re paying attention now! Thanks, Holik, for crashing deliberately into Marty to wake us all up, and put the Devils on the PP. On the replay, Chico “explains” the infraction smugly, “Bobby is… not the best skater here I guess.”
13:16 Doc tells us the Devils PP is 2-for-its-last-17, but the Thrashers PK is gunning at about 75% lately. Well, something’s got to give!
12:34 Paulie bobbles the puck twice in rapid succession, with near-disastrous results. Pookie: “Ew. That was not good. Paulie looks like he was hit by a bus. Made out of butter.”
11:49 Chico goes on and on about the Devils anemic PP, and the relative merits of the Devils current D as point men, and the possibility of those players blossoming and reducing the need for a power play specialist (a term Chico loads with distaste). The whole spiel culminates in a long look at Madden on the bench, and Chico saying that he talked to Madden about all this, and Madden (who has, per Chico, “a lot of confidence”) declared he would be a great point guy on the PP. Yeah, just like when he declared he’d be a 40-goal scorer.
10:21 It takes the Devils a week and a day to touch on a delayed call on Clarkson for hooking. It’s always so encouraging to see the Devils get pinned in their own zone for 30 seconds even before the PK has to start. We’re informed Kovalchuk has left the Atlanta bench, but it’s likely just for an equipment issue.
8:11 A neutral-zone-wide, diagonal lead pass from Rachunek to Gio is flubbed doffusily on the reception. Schnookie: “Oh good. Gio sucks again tonight. Everything’s normal.”
7:30 The Thrashers ice the puck, and Paulie makes up for his earlier getting hit by a butter bus when he flips the puck in the air on his backhand, then bobs it in the air a few times, then snatches the puck out of the air with an overhand catch and tosses it casually to the official with nary a glance. PaulieMartinNation is suckers for that.
4:56 Pookie exhorts Paulie to make something good happen as he’s carrying up out of the Devils zone; “C’mon Paulie!” she cheers as he crosses the blue line, “Make up for your –” He cuts her off by turning the puck over heinously.
3:05 It looks like the period is winding down into a lazy conclusion and suddenly Zach steals the puck from a Thrashers d-man behind Hedberg’s net, and he feeds Patty all alone in front for a spectacular chance. Patty, of course, doesn’t score and instead treats us all to his patented head roll.
2:48 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Devils win the draw, then Zach and Langer do some great back-and-forth work on the boards in the corner, then Langer peels off to pass to Patty in the high slot and Zach curls to the net. Patty handcuffs Hedberg with a great shot, and Zach is there in front to handle the rebound. 1-0 Devils.
2:05 With the goal being announced over the PA, Madden and Clarkson find themselves chugging down on a two-on-one, but the options are limited just to a shot for Madden. Pando, trailing the play, is typically Pandoriffic and isn’t in the right place to bang home the giant rebound.
1:25 Holik smushes Gio in the neutral zone along the near boards, and Gio springs to his feet and takes a cranky whack at Holik. Pookie: “C’mon, Gio! Chara-nate him!”
0:11 Did we say this period looked like it was winding down to a lazy conclusion? Because a magonza scrum breaks out in front of the Devils bench, out of which Whitey and a Thrasher get matching roughing minors. Before the puck drops again we see Sutter on the bench, shouting for Pando and gesticulating to show him where he wants him to stand. After several moments of making it pretty clear he wants Pando to switch with someone, but neither Pando nor that someone are paying attention to him, he suddenly drops his hands and gets a look like, “Oh for fuck’s sake. I don’t know why I bother.”
0:00 It was a slow period to engage with us, but we’re not unhappy with a 1-goal lead, nor are we entirely unhappy with how the Devils seemed to be playing.
Stan says Zach has “Gretzky-like skills”. Um, at what? Which Gretzky?
19:17 Madden once again finds himself steaming down the ice with only one defender in front of him, and suddenly Pando jumps up to join him on a two-on-one. Hedberg doesn’t have any trouble stopping Pando’s shot. PandoNation has a very hard time thinking of anything nice to say about Hedberg.
18:06 Chico is talking again about Madden’s vast offensive skillz, and says Madden commented to him, “I’m not bragging, but when I was in the minors I was a great goal scorer.” Pookie, as Madden: “I’m not bragging, ladies, but when I was in the minors there was nothing minor about me.”
17:46 Silly Slater! There’s no need to trip Gio as he’s trying to gain the blue line – he’ll go offsides all on his own! Oh well. Slater doesn’t listen to us, and the Devils go back on the PP.
16:48 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nobody bothers to step up to cover Gio when he walks off the high boards with the puck (read: Holik stands there watching him), so Gio just cranks up a huge shot that we momentarily think has just rung off the pipe before we realize wonders will never cease, and the puck has, in fact, ricocheted off the pipe and into the net. 2-0 Devils, and that’s two goals in two games for Gio! Someone doesn’t want to be traded.
Rupp and Boulton fight immediately off the faceoff. It is so unscintillating as they stand there for hours sizing each other up that the fans start booing.
16:08 Rupp has gone off for repairs to a cut on his hand, and Doc and Chico start discussing how 20 years ago the establishment freaked out that helmets would be the end of fighting because so many players would injure their hands on them. Chico pipes up that now we feel the same way about visors, and there has to be a way for players to take their visors off when they fight “because it’s not fair when one guy has a visor on and the other doesn’t.” Schnookie: “How about making it so they both have to wear visors?” No, Chico hasn’t thought of that.
16:01 Madden is so busy thinking of himself as a 40-goal-scoring PP pointman that he neglects to defend Kovalchuk, who easily scores on a bad rebound by Marty. 2-1 game.
15:01 Zach goes all Travis on some unsuspecting Thrasher at the Atlanta blue line, and coolly yoinks the puck away from him. He is then hooked to the ice, thereby not being able to make much of anything out of the turnover, but nothing is called.
13:05 Langer has a two-goal lead on his stick after a great shift by the Zach/Gio/Langer line, but he is hooked down while trying to spin on a big rebound of a Zach shot. Doc, dryly: “The players are being left to decide the game.” Heh.
11:38 A third consecutive strong shift by the Devils in the Atlanta zone finally draws a penalty, to Enstrom, a spectacularly weak holding call.
11:05 We are reminded why we shouldn’t have cared about non-calls, as the PP stands around watching Perrin get a long shorthanded breakaway. Marty stops him calmly, but we hope he’s rolling his eyes at the skaters in front of him.
9:21 Patty gets a nice, quick feed on a blueline-to-blueline pass from Gio, then decides to dazzle us all with his one-on-three moves. They are less than breathtaking.
8:46 Ugh. Not cool. Clarkson gets called for holding behind the play, and Chico smarms, “Guess who he’s aggravated with? Bobby Holik.” It’s not funny, Chico. It’s annoying. Replay shows that we may just have witnessed the stupidest penalty taken by a Devil yet this year. (Of course, if Janssen gets back in the lineup, it shouldn’t take long for Clarkson to lose his crown on this one.)
8:29 Stupid penalties never get killed, and this one is no exception. The Thrashers connect on a goal-line passing play and White tips the puck past Marty for a 2-2 game.
7:12 In an interesting turn of events, it suddenly appears the Devils are shaking things up and have played their “good 30 minutes” first, and have now transitioned to the “bad 30 minutes” phase of the evening. The Thrashers get about 10,000 shots on one massive après goal shift.
6:12 Do the Thrashers all think Zach is wearing a white sweater? He gets his umpteenth easy steal in the Atlanta zone, but for the umpteenth time he passes to Patty and Patty does absolutely nothing with the puck.
4:33 The Thrashers are not afraid to fling pucks on Marty from bad angles. And we can’t blame them, because he’s got a lot of holes on those kinds of shots.
3:51 Chico: “Lots of energy here in this game!” Pookie, breaking the silence in our living room. “Because it’s sucked all the energy out of stately IPB Manor.”
3:40 In the course of his play-by-play Doc remarks that Holik has hit Paulie hard. Boomer: “If I hear Bobby Holik’s name again…” Pookie: “At this point I just want someone to shoot a puck at his head. Not because he’s annoying to play against, just because I’m so tired of hearing about him.” Doc continues his call, this time praising Klee for the gazillionth time, so Boomer adds, “I’m tired of hearing about Holik, and I’m tired of hearing about Klee.” Pookie: “Yeah. Holik, Klee and Madden.”
2:29 We come back from a commercial to hear Stan telling us that there are Canadiens scouts in the house tonight, as they’re looking to unload Michael Ryder. He says, “David Clarkson is playing terrible tonight and took an awful penalty.” And… apparently that means he should be traded. Rightnow. Stan seems disgusted at the thought that Clarkson would finish this game in a Devils sweater.
0:37 In response to a fancy move toward the goal by Kozlov, Chico giggles, “Do you think he would have done that if Scott Stevens was still playing?” Okay, we always love laughing at Kozlov for that hit.
0:00 How much can you say about a period in which your team gains and then blows a two-goal lead? Good times, Gentle Reader, good times.
We don’t care what noted hockey specialist Lorraine Bracco has to say about this game.
Chico has apparently eaten everything there is to eat at The Rock. So we start off this period with an anecdote from Chico about Bobby Holik. For fuck’s sake. Wasn’t there a hot dog somewhere that needed eating?
18:00 It is very quiet to start this period off.
17:39 The thrill-a-minute pace is maintained with a Thrashers icing. Paulie tries to be all sassy and hand-eye coordinated flipping the puck around and all, but he’s too bored to manage it.
16:28 Hedberg freezes an on-goal dump-in, and after the whistle we can hear Baumann leading the “Gimme a D! Gimme an E!…” cheer. Baumann, it’s a tie game in which the Thrashers have scored the last two goals. You can’t do that cheer until after the Devils score. Have you learned nothing in all these years of cheering?
15:37 Doc says there is a buzz in the arena “as the fans here are watching with some interest” as the two teams are feeling each other out. Boomer and Pookie, in unison: “Some interest, but not much.”
15:25 PandoNation is outraged when Zhitnik steps on the blade of his stick and draws a tripping penalty. Outraged! This is the seventh minor of the year for Pando, and we are ashamed of our emperor/god’s ridiculously outsized PIM totals.
14:37 How in the hell did Paulie not score there? Madden chugs up the wing on yet another shorthanded rush and makes a glorious pass to a streaking Paulie, but Paulie manages to shovel the puck right into Hedberg’s toe. As Chico’s mancrush on Madden swells to nearly epic proportions (“That was the best pass he’s made all year!”), Pookie cracks, “Madden’s probably never going to speak to Paulie again.” Long pause. “I think I just realized why Paulie didn’t score there.”
13:25 PandoNation exhales its pent-up, terrified breath as the penalty expires.
11:30 Oh! We come back from a commercial to see a “Chico Eats!” with Vanderbeek leading things off in the intro. Chico is eating a lamb gyro tonight, and says of the deliciousness of it, “That was no Greek tragedy.” As the broadcast falls into a long, awkward silence, Pookie and Boomer say, in unison again, “Doc has no idea what to do with that.”
11:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Chico is keeping up his Greek tragedy commentary after play resumes in the Thrashers zone: “I hear [the gyro] turns you into Hercules.” Just as Doc is trying to politely laugh and change the topic, his chuckle turns into, “heh hehaaAAH! A goal!” We fall apart laughing at the brilliance of that goal call, and Chico then adds, “Well, here’s some food for thought.” See what he did there? Anyway, the goal comes off Madden deciding maybe the Thrashers are onto something with this whole “flinging pucks at bad angles on net” thing, and catches Hedberg with a hard shot along the goal line. The puck kicks up into the top corner of the net, and it’s 3-2 Devils.
8:19 We get a long look at Rachunek on the bench after an Atlanta icing, and it merits mention here that he’s a very handsome man.
7:20 Pando makes a great play to pick the puck out of the air at the Devils blue line, then draws a bunch of Thrashers to him; he dishes a nice pass through the Thrashers to a streaking Madden, and Madden, that glory-hog, makes a great spinning play to beat a defender and fling a decent shot on net. Chico gushes about how amazing Madden is, then offhandedly mentions, on the hundredth replay of the sequence, that it was an okay pass from Pando. Be warned, Chico — PandoNation is taking names.
6:21 Everyone in the building thinks Zach has just scored, but the shot he tipped through Hedberg only kicks off the pipe and harmlessly out into the crease.
5:35 The feeling-out period seems to be over, and the Devils get another great chance off the rush, this time Zubrus darting through two defenders and getting in alone on Hedberg. He doesn’t score, and ends the play by falling to the ice and crashing face-first into the boards. We recoil, convinced he’s badly hurt, but he just leaps to his feet and saunters back to the bench after the whistle. Boomer declares that Zubrus is “indestructible, like a posable doll.”
2:51 PaulieMartin Nation swoons as its emperor/god makes an attacking Thrasher (whose identity eludes us, as they all look the same to us) hand over the puck on the cycle just by the sheer force of his awesome presence. Doc also swoons, which makes us think he’s going to be applying for citizenship soon.
1:21 The puck deflects over the glass on a Thrashers dump-in, and Atlanta calls a timeout. We are momentarily hopeful this means the Devils will promptly score, but then we realize this is kind of a standard type of timeout, not a MacTavish-style unnecessary and bizarrely-timed timeout.
1:00 The Thrashers get the puck in deep and get Hedberg off the ice.
0:24 Madden gets the puck on his stick after Marty scrambles on a rebound, and thinks coast-to-coast (because he’s a 40-goal scorer, you know), opting to stickhandle through four Thrashers in the crease instead of looking to just clear the fucking puck. Not surprisingly, he coughs it up.
0:18 We are blaming this all on Madden, as the Thrashers convert on a goal-mouth play, Hossa being the last guy to get a stick on a puck trickling along the goal line behind Marty. 3-3 tie.
0:00 Well, it’s a point, right? Stupid Madden. (And yes, we fully put forth that the third Devils goal was from Madden. So what?)
3:40 Marty gloves a weak Atlanta shot, and the officials make him play the puck. None of the Devils bother giving him any support, though, so he’s forced to toss the puck out to a Thrasher at the point.
2:59 How do the Thrashers not score there? Somehow Marty comes up huge while he’s spread-eagled on the goal line with Kozlov right in front of him with the puck and all kinds of time to shoot it. Replay shows Marty making one of those awesome glove-stacked-over-the-leg-pad saves.
2:20 Whitey takes Klee out with a stick in the schnozz from behind while the Thrashers are mounting a wave-after-wave-of-attackers rush. Klee collapses into the end boards, and after a whistle, jumps to his feet, furious and bleeding profusely from a cut on the bridge of his nose. None of the officials noticed the blatant high sticking infraction, so Klee just gets to skate to the bench, shouting a stream of obscenities, with rivulets of blood trickling all over his face. That was… not a great call.
1:31 Kovalchuk gets loose in the slot, and Vishdog blatantly trips him. Langer seems to be arguing the call, which seems like unusually poor form, considering the fact that Klee was gushing blood from the Whitey high stick and nothing got called.
0:47 Marty makes a monster glove save on a great shot from the slot.
0:00 The OT ends with Marty stopping a flurry of shots, and the game, as far as we’re concerned, ends in a come-from-ahead tie for the Devils.
After a 10-man shootout, Dupuis and Hedberg are given an extra superskill point by the league, which they are forced to share with their team.