Here we are, Gentle Reader, girding ourselves for yet another Devils-Rangers game. The Good Ship Devil has lately seemed like a ship stranded on a becalmed sea, having lost their last four games in increasingly depressing fashion. We are currently wondering which Devil is the Jonah; popular opinion at IPB Manor is that it’s Langer.
Our pregame chit-chat includes this gem from Chico: the Devils didn’t get a single second-chance shot against Pittsburgh in their last game. Not a single one. That is not a statement about the iron-clad defense of the Penguins. This team is killing us.
Before the drop of the puck, we get a massively long look at a scruffy Gomez on the Rangers bench. Other than demonstrating how much Gomer looks like a hobo when he doesn’t have a dress code to keep him in line, we’re not sure why MSG+ is showing us this. It’s Paulie’s 300th game! Let’s see some Paulie!
19:36 The circus is apparently in town, and after some talk about elephants, Chico chirps, “There are also tigers under the ice tonight! That’s how these teams want to play. Like tigers.” Pookie: “The Devils want to play like those lazy tigers that just lie around in the sun and let the females hunt for them.” Schnookie: “Those are lions.”
18:39 Madden shakes off a defender and goes hard to the net, but Hank barely has to move to stop his stuff attempt.
18:07 Pookie: “I am beginning to get so down on this team that I’m wondering when Oduya is going to regress and go back to being awful.”
17:16 Avery and Vish-Dog meet up along the boards in the Devils zone, and they go down in an operatic heap. It looks like tempers might be flaring, and frankly, this sideshow crap is just so tiresome. Replay shows that Vish-Dog got away with an elbow to the head. Well played, Vish-Dog. Well played.
15:10 Madden strips some misbegotten Ranger d-man behind the goal line in the Rangers zone, but promptly spins a blind pass out front… to another Ranger. Very impressive.
13:25 Our Geico Quotebook tonight features Marty saying that he thinks the Devils will be better for the adversity in the long run, but that, yeah, well… “not scoring goals is not a good sign.” Thanks, Marty. We wouldn’t have been able to figure that out ourselves.
11:56 Patty is fired. He tries to swagger through the Rangers D at the blue line, but doesn’t even come close to keeping the puck. Jagr wheels up the other way, laces a seeing-eye pass through a thicket of legs, and finds Straka at the side of the net for a tap-in chance. Marty, though, is not fired, and makes a phenomenal stop on the play.
10:11 It’s quiet here, other than Pookie grousing that her eyes are going crazy with allergies, and the overexposed look of the feed we’re getting tonight is not making things better. For some reason, the feeds from Madison Square Garden always look like they’re getting beamed to us from the 1980’s.
8:45 Zach, Patty and Langer are doing an amazing job tonight of never being where they’re expected to be. Every time they get the puck deep in the Rangers zone, they go to pass to each other, but end up tossing pucks to spaces that are 15 feet away from the passes’ intended recipients.
5:59 Travis is fired, too. The Devils look to be pinning the Rangers in their zone after a truly egregious turnover, but then Travis, standing near the point, passes to the defenseman behind him, who happens to be about ten feet beyond the blue line in the neutral zone. Seriously, what the hell happened to this team’s ability to function on even the most basic level in the offensive zone?
4:30 After a classic one-and-done foray into the Rangers zone (this one yields little more than a passive Rupp wraparound chance without any linemates in front to look for rebounds), the Devils watch the Rangers clear, then go back the length of the ice to regroup. It’s like an ineffective power play, but without the added fun of failing with an extra attacker. Pookie: “I don’t think they’ve addressed the problems since the last game.”
4:14 We come back from commercial to see Shanahan in the box, and to hear the PA announcer reading off that Shanny’s been called for slashing, but Chico tells us it was Backman.
2:14 The power play never threatens, and Chico starts in on some sort of drivel about what a great job the Rangers are doing of blocking shots from the wings. Schnookie: “I’m tired of hearing about how good other teams are at blocking our shots. That’s not the other teams being good.”
1:14 Zubrus hilariously tries to beat Gomer up in the corner to Hank’s right well behind the play. It manages to distract us for a brief, gleeful moment.
0:03 Chico says something about how both teams tonight are “in playoff mode”. Pookie: “Good God. If the Devils are in playoff mode…”
0:00 The period ends with a whimper, although there is a delay with the clock in the waning seconds, about which Doc says the officials are making sure the timekeepers aren’t “schnookering” anyone. Pookie: “That’s almost a shoutout to you, Schnookie!”
We contemplate emailing the intermission show to ask Steve which Devils, if any, can’t swim. Ultimately, we chicken out.
We see a scenic shot of Chuck on 33rd St. when we come back from intermission. Boomer is distressed to see that his cigar is gone. Chico tells us that Chuck needs to be careful, because there are hawks in NYC; “I saw a documentary about it,” he says proudly. Pookie perks up, “Pale Male is the hawk’s name.”
19:32 Zach has an inner-ear problem (read: “he dives”) and falls over hugely while a couple of Rangers are standing near him. Mara gets called for a penalty on the play.
19:09 Gio puts on his rocket skates and blows through the PKers on a bit of a swaggering power move, but his shot from in close hits harmlessly off the bottom of the crossbar.
17:32 The power play expires in epic fashion, with all five Devils skaters running into each other along the blueline and the puck harmlessly drifting away into Ranger possession.
15:55 There is a pileup in Marty’s goal mouth, and as the camera follows the puck down the length of the rink, the fans start roaring unhappily. As it turns out, the pileup is Avery having been roughed-up by Whitey, then plummeting atop a prone Marty, and then Marty swinging a cranky butt-end of his stick into Avery’s mouth. Avery and his ridiculous leathery tan are predictably infuriated. Whitey gets a penalty for roughing.
14:39 What a surprise. How does a power play that’s 1-for-its-last-32 get better? Play the Devils. Shanahan shakes his defender and gets a wide-open shot at the side of the net off a feed from Gomez behind the goal. 1-0 Rangers.
14:19 Doc asks rhetorically how the Devils will respond to giving up the first goal. Pookie: “I’m going to guess that they will respond by the Rangers continuing to roll along, and the Devils will keep the majority of the puck possession just as they have, and they’ll say they’re doing fine, and they’ll lose.”
12:31 Madden and Asham get in on a two-on-one, but we’re don’t even bother being disappointed when nothing comes of it. Pookie sighs in frustration, “I don’t even understand how we’re getting, like… shots.” Schnookie grumbles, “It’s just that everything is an isolated event. There are no sequences of good plays. One good thing happens, and there is no follow-up on it. No one strings a second good pass after a first one, or a good shot after a good pass, or being on the doorstep after a good shot.”
9:21 We don’t want to be watching this game anymore. Really. It’s dreadful. It’s hardly a miserable blowout, but the Devils, for the fifth game in a row, are unwatchably mediocre.
8:18 Boomer: “Oh my God! We just scored a goal!” Paulie makes PaulieMartinNation proud by getting his point shot blocked right back to him, then holding up on his next shot, then lacing a tippable puck toward Patty in the high slot. Patty deftly tips the shot over Hank’s shoulder, and it’s a 1-1 game. Color us absolutely stunned.
7:15 Madden stumbles on some bad ice, and Doc cracks about the ice being bad “because of the elephants”. He then adds that it’s not the animals’ faults that the circus screws with the ice, so “you can’t blame the animals”. Pookie: “That’s how I’m starting to feel about the Devils. You just can’t blame the animals.”
6:55 Well after Boomer tried to guesstimate how many minutes it had been, Chico remarks, “It’s been over six periods since the Devils last scored.” Boomer is delighted that she beat Chico to making that point.
4:33 As things seem kind of quiet on the ice, Chico decides to bring up the story from today’s Post about Marty allegedly dissing on the Rangers and bragging about how much better the Devils are as an organization. Or whatever. We haven’t read it. Chico sounds like his head is about to explode as he spits that the story was a “fabrication”.
4:18 Perhaps rattled by the inference that the New York Post would fabricate a story about the Devils (or anyone, come to think of it), the Rangers turn the puck over to Patty deep in their own zone, and the sequence leads to Hank making a great glove save on a shot from Langer in the slot.
3:49 This game is suddenly wide open, with Gomez springing Avery for a semi-break up the wing that Marty calmly meets with a hyperaggressive sliding save, then the Madden line sprinting up the other way to hammer a few times at rare rebound chance in Hank’s crease.
1:47 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have a Zach sighting! Backman has the puck comfortably on his own halfboards, then panics completely when Zach swoops in on him and tricks him into passing the puck straight to him. Zach then coolly skates in on Hank and beats him high glove side. 2-1 Devils.
0:51 Chico telestrates Zach’s goal by showing off how Zach made it look like he was holding his stick along the boards, leaving the center of the ice wide open, then, at the last minute, moved his stick to the inside and cut off the pass. Chico: “He schnookered him!” Schnookie: “It’s… me!”
0:00 This period was the worst of times and the best of times. To reward us for surviving it, we get an interview with Paulie. He is deliciously pallid and freshly shorn. We don’t think we’ve ever seen his hair so short.
There is no opportunity to ask which Devils can swim. Thanks for nothing, MSG+.
19:27 As we watch Whitey roll his eyes and shake his head while looking at the officials, Chico wonders who is being called for slashing Jagr’s stick in half. Pookie: “I’m guessing it’s the guy they’re showing on the screen right now.”
18:37 The Rangers fans are booing Backman.
18:22 Now they’re not booing him, thanks to Backman’s pretty wrist shot from up high to tie the game at 2. It’s so fantastic to see the Devils PK so capable at keeping as wretched a power play as the Rangers’ in check like this.
17:47 Schnookie: “Well thanks, Devils. I was feeling better about life for a bit there, but now I’ve learned my lesson.”
16:52 The Asham line (we have no idea who else is out there with him) does some good work in the Rangers zone, skating and swirling around smartly, but then dishing back to the pointmen every time they get open ice. And after laboring to set up point shots, the forwards all peel back and retreat from the crease. This is a tactic that doesn’t make a lot of sense to us; Paulie and Oduya are not chopped liver, but they’re not guys who are going to be beating Hank clean. Why are the forwards not going to the net here?
16:33 Zach is fired. He has the puck on his stick in the crease, with Hank out of position, and he waits to get flattened by two defenders rather than taking a whack at the puck. Pookie: “For fuck’s sake! You aren’t going to get a better chance than that!”
15:53 Marty freezes the puck after a bank off the end boards, and a shoving match breaks out with Vish-Dog and Gomez in the middle of it. The “Let’s Go Rangers” chant starts in full throat.
13:44 The puck gets chipped past the Devils pointman, and Avery and Pando start a race up the ice after it. Pando dives to sweep the puck away at the last minute, and both guys careen hard into the boards; before either can make any indication of being injured or not, the whistle is blown. We really, hugely don’t understand why play was stopped there, especially considering neither player is hurt on the play. In fact, Avery springs to his feet hastily, bitching for a call. We’ll take solace that at least the faceoff is outside the blueline.
12:33 The wheels completely fall off the Devils, and in the midst of it, their intrepid captain takes a lazy, shitty, pathetic hooking penalty. We swear, he’s the Jonah.
12:10 We chorus in unison after Gomez goes hard to the net along the goal line with speed, “I thought that went in.” The shot actually whizzes just wide.
12:04 Chico praises Gomez for playing tonight with his injured ribs and all. “He could have gone the easy way out [and not played],” he gushes. Pookie: “He could have gone the easy way out and signed with the Rangers for a buttload of money.”
10:20 Pando puts on a super-awesome show of forcing turnovers in the Rangers zone and basically one-on-three ass-kicking on the PK. We exhort the Devils to build on what their Playahs’ Playah is doing here. They probably aren’t listening to us, though.
8:07 The Rangers are now going for the “bank the puck off Marty from behind the net” tactic, having tried it on successive shifts. It’s not working. For now.
7:42 A soft Rangers shot from the halfboards nearly turns to disaster as Whitey tries to deflect the rebound through Marty’s feet. Is this because we recently publicly proclaimed that we love Whitey? Because we can take that back.
6:36 Chico, delighting in the pace of this game, says, “If you haven’t played hard [tonight], you’re going to get left in the dust.” Pookie: “Well then call the Devils okies.”
5:42 Callahan gets sent on a long breakaway, and Marty calmly steps up and makes a monster glove save. We go to commercial with Chico literally whooping in the background over Doc’s call of the play-by-play.
3:03 We are throwing up profusely. Drury throws a puck into Brookbank, and it deflects onto Marty. The rebound then kicks out and Dawes, falling to the ice in a tangle with Travis, slides into the net while waving at the puck with his arm. It is called a goal. 3-2 Rangers.
Speaking as whiny fans, we’d like to mention now that considering that the War Room admitted after the Mottau no-goal in Washington earlier this year that if they’d watched the replay a few more times during the game, they would have called that one a goal, we keep waiting for the call we’re owed. It keeps not happening.
1:53 We have officially given up on this Devils season. There is no evident urgency on the ice right now.
1:14 Why is Langer on the ice right now? When is the last time he’s done anything good offensively?
0:00 It is impressive when a team can manage to lose five games in a row, and each loss is more grotesque than the one that preceded it. And really, the worst part about being a fan is knowing that you care more than the players do.