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Archive for September, 2008

ZachLibs

In his recap of the Devils’ latest pre-season game, Tom Gulitti included this quote from Zach Parise: “I’m not making excuses but the ice was bad and we were chasing the puck all over.” This got us thinking that Zach might want to have a stock of these “I’m not making excuses but” excuses before the season starts. So we present to you, ZachLibs: The Excuse That Isn’t An Excuse Because Zach Says So.

I’m not making excuses but… the humidity at ice level was fogging up my monocle, and the equipment trainers weren’t handing me towels quickly enough for me to wipe them off.

I’m not making excuses but… my teammates don’t like me enough to help me score goals.

I’m not making excuses but… I think there was a pea under my mattress in the hotel room last night.

I’m not making excuses but…
I shouldn’t have skipped the pre-game meal of pasta and chicken in favor of $50 worth of post-Christmas-sale gumdrops.

I’m not making excuses but… it was terribly unclear which goal we were shooting at in each period.

I’m not making excuses but…
do I know you?

I’m not making excuses but… the Zach Parise memorabilia market is very hot right now, and if I play too hard, I might end up breaking sticks that could otherwise earn me a fortune as game-used equipment resales. I’ve already signed them all, and I just don’t want to damage their condition.

I’m not making excuses but… the other team’s defensemen and goalie seemed determined to not let me score and I felt it only polite to comply.

I’m not making excuses but… I’m doing perfectly fine. I might not have scored in 15 games, but I’m still doing well. I’m very happy with how I’m playing. I don’t think there’s anything more that I could be doing. I’M PLAYING WELL! I SWEAR I AM! PLEASE TELL ME I’M DOING WELL! PLEASE TELL ME I’M GOOD ENOUGH!

I’m not making excuses but… I wrote to ask the popular advice column “Dear Crunchy” to inquire into the proper care of precious plastic star trophies, and the response — according to Dear Crunchy, I’m too fat for trophies; harumph! — was so disheartening, I no longer wish to play well.

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Hello, morons!

Because you believe Marty is a product of the system, you are reading this letter. Now we’ll talk slowly and deliberately so you’ll understand us. If it is just the system — Still with us? Good — then why aren’t all the trapping teams (i.e. a considerable portion of the the NHL in the last ten years) producing goalies with career numbers like Marty’s?

We’re waiting for an answer.

Take your time.

No? Nothing? You’ve got nothing?

Right.

Hugs and kisses,
The -ookies

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Saturday Musings

On a slow, lazy Saturday we have a few things on our mind (mostly those things involve rum-soaked pound cake and MarioKart Wii):

— Today’s pre-season game against the Rangers could not have been better. The Rangers dressed pretty much their entire regular season line-up, including Lundqvist. The Devils had 1 1/2 NHL-caliber defensemen and 2 NHL-caliber lines. And yet the Devils still ran circles around the Rangers, who Joe Micheletti assured us were only sucking because they need it to be the regular season before they can play well. Handsome Hank got pulled in the second after the Elias-Gionta-Rolston powerhouse line scored their third goal. If that line can keep that going this season, we’ll be happy, happy campers.

— At one point in the game, Marc Staal went down to block a shot fired from the blue line by Brian Rolston. If there is one thing any scouting report should say about a game against whatever team has Brian Rolston it should be: “For the love of Pete, whatever you do, do NOT block a shot from Brian Rolston!” Staal appeared at the time to avoid any serious injury, but honestly, that boneheaded play had broken arm written all over it. Which got us thinking about why the Devils don’t go down to block shots. We’re pretty sure the reason is that every training camp there’s an oldish guy who shows up for one more shot at making the bigs. And then in the first big practice, he goes down to block a shot. Screaming, he gets up from the ice and… One of his arms falls off! Lou then leaps out from one of the benches and shouts, “And that is why you don’t go down to block shots!!!” It should be noted the Devils also never put empty milk containers in the fridge without a note saying someone needs to buy more milk.

— We had several goals in mind when we started this blog. Chief among those goals was to receive the following picture in our email inbox with the message, “I saw this and thought of you and the Devils!”

Photo Credit: Patty (in Dallas)

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After a long offseason of painting barns and busting broncs back on IPB’s Western Canadian farm, it’s time to get this blog back into game shape. Just like the Devils, we’re deep into our preseason preparations; our first test of our fitness is last night’s Devils-Rangers preseason game at The Rawk. We’re watching in tivo delay in part because Pookie was working last night (seriously, when don’t they schedule Devils-Rangers games on Wednesday nights?) and in part because we’re in no kind of shape for real-time diaries. So, without further ado, let’s see how our off-season workout regimens and free agent signings are shaping up.

Victory Euro Mats demonstrates the best way to get fit using Indian clubs.

SECOND PERIOD

9:00 NOOOOOOOO! We’re in terrible shape! We didn’t think to start the recording until over half the game was over! Thank goodness this one doesn’t count, because if it was a real game, those are two points we’d never get back. As it turns out, the Devils are up 2-1, and we have no idea what’s going on, who’s playing, how they’re playing, or anything. But there is one thing we do know – this preseason game is in HD. Sweet, sweet HD. One of the free agent acquisitions we made this offseason was DirecTV’s HD receiver, and so far it’s proven to be a wise, wise signing. We think the fans are going to be even more than pleasantly surprised by this one.

8:58 It’s Chico! We have no idea who the other person speaking is, but the dulcet tones of Chico make us not even care who this other blathering idiot is.

8:49 We seem to have started our recording just in time for back-to-back Devils icings. Well someone is in mid-season form.

8:48 It’s Doc! As Chico and the Other Guy are talking about one of the backup goalies in this game being 6’5”, the dulcet tones of Chico suddenly give way to the dulceter tones of Doc. HD and Doc? Can it get better than this?

7:44 A closer look at the Devils goalie prompts Pookie to say, “Oh, Clemmensen. It’s like you never left.” Except that he’s even lower on the depth chart now than he was last time around.

7:08 As we are sitting in embarrassed silence after Chico declares that Paulie will be able to realize his full offensive potential this season (Pookie: “Even this hardcore card-carrying members of PaulieMartinNation aren’t going to say that.”), we discover the Other Guy is Dave Maloney.

6:24 Clarkson seems to be pissy that something or other happened, so he “fights” Mara. The extent of the fight is the two hugging, and then Clarkson suddenly sneaking his hand loose and punching Mara in the side of the head. Atta boy! Replays show that Clarkson is pissy that Rissmiller hit him knee-on-knee, or, as Maloney says “knee-on-hip. Errr… Well, he might have a complaint there.” Yeah. He might. Clarkson gets the extra minor penalty out of the fight.

5:47 Clemmensen is forced to make a not-very-difficult save from behind the net. It seems the Rangers PP is in midseason form (read: craptactular), as is Paulie, who is staggering all over the place letting guys manage to bank shots off him from behind the goal line. PaulieMartinNation has a great feeling about this year!

4:38 Maloney praises Travis for doing a nice job of getting a shorthanded shot, and says his effectiveness is something that’s the mark of a real Devils player. Pookie: “I feel like every good thing anyone says about the Devils should have an amendment of ‘in concept’.”

4:06 Pookie is busy outfitting various and sundry objects in the living room with athletic headbands. As she garbs Chunky Beaverbutt in a pink UnderArmour hairband, she says, “All right, Chunky, if the Devils win this — and I don’t know if they do — then you’re wearing this all season.” Since we already know who wins this, it’s a good thing Chunky looks so cute in it.

3:08 We wander off on a tangent about calling all the guys who play for the Leafs “Blueberry”. It’s funny, if you’re here. Because we’re in preseason form, we have no idea how to convey any of that. And we spend so much time trying and failing to write it that we realize the period is winding down and we’re not even watching.

1:47 Pookie: “Having watched and paid attention to possibly, tops, 55 seconds or so of Zach this year, he seems definitely faster.” Mark our words.

0:00 The period ends with the Devils holding the 2-1 lead. It’s the best nine minutes of hockey we’ve seen in months.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Our interview is with Official Devils Killer Nigel Dawes. Really, we don’t need to see any more of him than we do in game situations. Pookie suggests this might be a televised ceremony where Steve Cangialosi hands him his Official Devils Killer membership card.

Another offseason addition to the IPB team is the New IPB Machine, and with it, Word 2007. It’s different, and scary. We don’t type as well in this format.

The intermission show informs us that Barry Tallackson will be getting minor heart surgery soon to correct an irregular heartbeat. We wish Barry the best of luck, of course, but can’t help but snicker when Steve says, “We don’t know what this will mean for his future as a…” he trails off, not wanting to say “Devil”; he settles on “hockey player”.

Whoops! Were we supposed to be paying attention to the highlights?

Oh dear god, MAKE IT STOP! We take a moment away from taking pictures of things wearing training-camp sweatbands to hear Stan telling us what a great interview Bobby Holik is.

Stan is also telling us that Holik is really well-read, because he “reads books [Stan’s] never heard of.” Stan, Holik reads some books that we have heard of, and that we have also read. And we know that he doesn’t understand them. We’re not impressed.

Stan also tells us that the Rangers are way better off now that they don’t have Jagr, because now Tom Renney can run the team without anyone telling him what to do. We’ll see how that goes.

THIRD PERIOD

We come back from intermission to see a little graphics screen showing Holik and Rolston, with a title “Fresh Faces in Old Places”. Pookie: “I’m surprised they didn’t hold that until opening night.” Schnookie: “What’s stopping them from using it again?” We then get to see some highlights of Rolston firing slapshots last season for the Wild, and Maloney says, “He can really shoot.” Pookie: “Don’t worry – the Devils will make him stop doing that.”

19:47 Doc is trying to sell us on Holik’s skill. And size. Pookie: “His size might be he only skill, in that he’s not shrinking.”

18:56 As the teams quietly skate up and down the ice, Chico giggles about how Holik once chastised the FSNY guys for only ever doing intermission interviews with the guys who have scored goals. Chico says, “Bobby, I hope we have you on 20 times!” Schnookie groans, “The only reason Bobby Holik would score 20 goals is just so we have to see 20 intermission interviews with him.”

18:32 The Rangers take a penalty, as called by Doc: “A hooking penalty by Petr Nedved.” Pookie: “I can’t believe Doc just got a name pronunciation wrong. It’s ‘Peeeeeeeetr Nedved’. Or perhaps ‘Petr Nedved????’’”

17:16 As Paulie is trying his hardest to reach his offensive potential as the puck-carrier on the PP (and failing), Doc is talking about Devils prospect Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. He says of this dude we’ve never heard of before, “That’s a name that’s like falling down the stairs.” And there are people out there who don’t like Doc. Those people are IDIOTS.

As the camera pans back to the ice after a stoppage, it looks for a moment like Clarkson is yapping at Renney. Just when we are about to say, “Naaaaah…” we decide we wouldn’t put it past him. And then the broadcast shows a replay that proves he was, in fact, exchanging words with the pinch-faced Rangers coach. Excellent.

15:45 Chico and Maloney are exchanging genuinely hilarious stories about Harry Neale’s coaching career. These guys have a long way to go if they want to get into mid-season “boring and inane” form, because these stories are making us laugh out loud. It’s all wrong.

14:30 There is a stoppage as some Devil guy who doesn’t play for the real time takes a penalty, and the camera pans down the Devils bench. After a stunned silence, Pookie speaks for all of us when she says, “Okay, I’ve been reading Fire & Ice and I still haven’t heard of any of these Devils prospects. Do they just draw random letters out of the sweater bin? The guys don’t just get their numbers assigned to them – they get names assigned to them too.”

13:57 Paulie does a lovely job of breaking up the Rangers’ PK’s set-up with his mad hand-eye coordination skillz, then swaggers up the ice… and then the play peters out into nothing. We feel this is a bold statement that Paulie will not be realizing his full offensive potential this year.

11:29 A Devils d-man tries to line a Ranger up for a big hit against the boards, but misses completely. Schnookie: “I was about to say, ‘There’s a guy who’s not making the big team!’ but then I realized it was the Iron Boar.”

10:41 If it seems like we’re neglecting the actual play in this game, it’s not just us. Our play-by-play team is spending the meat of this period talking about Hossa’s contract and speculating where Marian Gaborik might end up next year. It’s scintillating. It’s awesome. It’s PRESEASON!

8:41 After Fedorov manages a brief spurt of deft puck-handling through the neutral zone, Chico tells us that Fedorov won’t make the team out of camp, but he’s looking to make the team through a mid-season call-up. Then he tempers our enthusiasm a bit by adding, “I don’t know if this guy can get it together.” Oh. Well. We won’t hold our breath waiting for him, then.

7:41 Doc mentions Andy Greene in the course of a Rangers rush up the ice. Surely he’s playing for a midseason call-up, right?

6:35 The Devils are on the PP, and you can tell because they are constantly being rebuffed at the Rangers blue line. It’s a wondrous sight to behold. Thank heavens we’re witnessing it in HD.

5:33 It’s Fedorov of all people who manages to finally carry the puck into the Rangers zone. He should be the guy we all clamor for when the Devils can’t score to save their lives – take some of the pressure of Vrana.

3:38 We can only assume that Chico’s been reading IPB this summer, because he has a newfound wellspring of snark. As the guys are talking about the Islanders goaltending situation, and how Pretty Ricky is injured, Doc tries to make a sincere point about how Pretty Ricky still has a lot of years to be the cornerstone of the franchise. When he mentions the 15-year contract, he tries to reassure everyone that he’s not saying it to be catty. Chico asks, “Even though it’s not catty, can we still laugh?” HA! Chico, you’re hired.

3:20 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paulie zig-zags up the wing, flips a soft, fluttery little backhander toward the net, and Zach pounces on the puck, chipping it up over the non-Hank Rangers goalie. Maloney talks about some kind of puck-pursuit trait that supposedly is characteristic of Devils, and Pookie adds for him, “In concept.”

2:07 It looks like the Rangers have scored thanks to Nedved (Nedved????) whipping a wrister toward the net, where it deflects over Clemmers’s shoulder. The puck hits just inside the net in the top corner and ricochets out quickly, as play continues. The officials are slow to respond, but, despite there being no replay during preseason, they eventually blow the whistle and declare it a goal.

1:33 The Clarkson/Madden/Pando line suddenly wakes up and has a wildly spunky, turnover-forcing, down-in-front-of-the-Rangers-net-scrambling shift. Save some for the regular season, guys!

0:33 Chico shows us a replay of Travis breaking up a Rangers play with some quick skates, and says Travis plays defense “first with his feet”. Pookie: “First with his feet, and second with his brain.” Maloney tries to say that Travis’s bad season last year may have been because he didn’t adapt well to Sutter’s coaching style, but neither Chico nor Doc will touch that comment with a ten-foot pole.

0:00 The game ends with an all-smiles Zach, and we start arguing about whether he’s tanorexic or just went on a sun-soaked vacation right at the end of the off-season. Whatever the case, he looks a bit too orange.

And there you go. The Devils win, 3-2, our HD dish is awesome, and this broadcast (at least the part we saw) was delightful. Dave Maloney was a surprisingly welcome addition to the rambling chattiness of Doc and Chico when they’re not paying attention to the game. Thanks, MSG+, for showing this!

(Oh, and they send us off with a post-game interview with Zach, who looks less tanorexic just by sitting next to glowing-orange Steve. Zach claims he has “bulked up” by adding six pounds. Pookie: “I bet he just put a three-pound weight into each pocket.”)

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Gentle Reader, as you probably already noticed, it’s preseason. All across the league coaches, players, trainers and equipment guys are working hard to get themselves into shape before the season starts.

Here the Devils are getting some pointers in pugilism at their state-of-the-art training facility.

And they’re not the only ones! Bloggers the league over are getting into game shape, too, including us! We’ve got some game tape from last night’s Devils/Rangers match on our tivo, and we’ll be doing a special preseason game diary of it tonight. And just like the NHL, it won’t be regular-season quality work, but we’ll be charging you regular-season prices to read it! So tune in later tonight to see the IPB team in action for the first time since last year. There have been some personnel moves, some roster upgrades, some big names added to our already all-star roster. Be the first to see the changes, here! Tonight! Don’t miss it!

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Happy First Day of Autumn, Gentle Reader! It’s a cool September night here, and we have pre-season hockey on our television. Sure, it’s just the Rangers vs. the Senators, but it’s hockey enough to get us gathering a little wool about training camp and the season to come.

— Coach Sutter was quoted on Fire & Ice saying, “There is no reason to believe Patty can’t have a career year this year.” Au contraire, Coach. There are puh-lenty of reasons Patrik Elias can’t have a career year this year. Those reasons begin and end with “because he’s Patrik Elias”.

— Tom Gulitti is providing updates on the pre-season game in Philly. The Devils had three early PPs, including two five-on-threes, and yet didn’t score a goal and only managed four shots. Who says training camp is too short? Clearly the boys only need two solid practices before they’re ready to be playing in full mid-season form.

— While watching the Rangers-Senators game, MSG gives us a rundown of key rule changes, including that all face-offs after a penalty will be in the offensive zone. This causes Schnookie to froth at the mouth: “Great, so now Bobby Fucking Holik can lose all the face-offs on the PK. Let me tell you, if Bobby Fucking Holik gets even one second of time on the penalty kill I’ll… rant and rave ineffectually. And you can take that to the bank!” So it begins, this Second Bobby Fucking Holik Era. So it begins.

— Travis was recently featured in a Q&A on the Devils website, and it totally cracked us up. The highlights include him admitting that yes, New York has better pizza than Manitoba (shocking!), the horrifying confession that he pumps himself up for games by listening to Nickelback (NOOOOOOOO!), him listing his girlfriend only third out of the five things he’d take on a desert island (she comes after Xbox and a television, and is probably thrilled with his priorities), and him not including Zach at all on the list of five things. In fact, in another answer, Travis refers to Zach as “one of my better friends on the Devils”. That… doesn’t sound very enthusiastically pro-Zach. Does that mean Zach actually is one of Travis’s friends, or is that like saying the Blues third jersey is “one of the better third jerseys in the NHL” — that’s really damning with faint praise. We guess Zach’s glad his answer to “what five things would you take on a desert island?” didn’t get printed (it was “Travis, Travis, Travis, Travis and Travis”), and he still cherishes his half of the “BFF” locket more than Travis ever will.

— We are beyond thrilled that so many games will be carried in HD this season. We’re even getting this Rangers preseason game in HD! Preseason! In HD! Will wonders never cease? (Side note: While watching our summer viewing, we were gobsmacked to hear a character in one of the early seasons of Murder, She Wrote referred to HDTV. So Jessica Fletcher had heard of this a bajillion years ago but it’s only now that we’re finally getting it?! WTF, TV Gods? Where have you been all this time?) There is however one problem. You know us, there’s always a problem, right? Because of the additional HD channels, our sports package is all rearranged. MSG is now channel 634. We’re not sure we can handle this. It’s been 621 for as long as we can remember. We don’t handle change well. It’s bad enough that FSNY isn’t called FSNY anymore. We have to learn a new name and a new number!

— In case you missed it, the Devils annual “we pretend to have interesting behind-the-scenes content on our website” photo gallery of head-shot day is was up on the Devils website. It featured some darling pictures of Zach, Paulie, and Pando we were going to discuss, but it seems the window for pretending to have interesting behind-the-scenes content on the website is even shorter than we were expecting. The life of a Devils fan is never easy, is it?

— Last but not least, we’d like to humbly draw you attention to a collection of season previews presented over at ModFan. That’s right, ModFan lives! Today you’ll find an amuse bouche of in-a-nutshell season predictions for the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow, we’ll post the Western Conference. Bon appetit!

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Gentle Reader, we are watching hockey right now. Sure, it’s the Rangers and Senators, and it’s preseason, but… IT’S HOCKEY!

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