Okay, Gentle Reader, we are not thrilled with this 5:00 start time. What is uo with that? Why are the Devils and the schedule makers so insistent on making it impossible for us to prepare nice dinners on game nights? Well, in the pregame show they had a feature called “Ask The Announcers” in which Chico mentioned that he reads a lot of blogs and gets a lot of his “best ideas” from “fans”. Chico, if you’re reading this (and you probably are), could you put a bug in someone’s ear to let them know that 5:00 Sunday starts are every bit as annoying as 7:00 weeknight starts? Thanks.
Anyway, we’ll be doing a bit of a lite game diary (same great taste but half the calories!) as this one goes along, updating as we see fit. Stay tuned!
Two thoughts: First, what are the Lightning thinking with these third jerseys? This season the NHL is establishing a new low for sheer putridity in sweater design. And second, with Clemmensen starting and no Madden to match up against Vinny, what could possibly go wrong for the Devils tonight?
19:02 Chico asks Doc to rank the new Tampa third jersey on a scale of 1 to 10 and Doc shocks us by saying 7. He then regains our good graces by snotting about how we’ll never see a 3rd Devils sweater because “that’s just not something that’s done”. (It should be noted that Doc’s opinion of 3rd jerseys seems to be entirely based on how easy it is for an announcer to read the names and numbers. We suppose that excuses him from not noticing that the jerseys, in addition to having names and numbers that are easy to read, also look like a retread of an old All-Star jersey, are continuing with this stupid trend of having team nickname wordmarks [those new “Sens” Senator jerseys are almost cartoon duck bad], and also seem to say “Tampa” across the ass.)
18:16 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Rupper’s giant wingspan and Kolzig’s big, slow five hole combine to make a beautiful goal out of Salmela’s artfully wide tippable shot/pass. 1-0 Devils.
12:30 Our feed is misbehaving a bit tonight, so it keeps getting hung up and then restarting, say, just as Chico is cracking up about Doc’s invention of the word “Salmelian”. We’re not sure we want to know what we missed.
9:41 The Patty/Zubrus/Gio line is looking pretty snazzy on this shift, and on one sequence in front of the net, Patty gets flattened from behind. Schnookie: “Isn’t that cross checking?” Pookie: “Not on Planet Bolt it isn’t.” We snort loudly. Seriously, who calls them “the Bolts”? We thought that was just their own PR people.
2:23 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! THE SLUMP IS OVER! THE SLUMP IS OVER! OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE HAS ENDED! Zach is inspired by a Salmelian scamper of a buttonhook to keep the blue line on a delayed Lightning/Bolt penalty, and he cranks a shot in off the pipe to make the game 2-0 Devils. We have this exchange after the goal:
Schnookie: “I hate to give him credit for this, but Clemmer had a great save to set the Devils up to draw that penalty.”
Pookie: “Yeah, and that’s a save Weekes couldn’t have made because his legs are too short.”
0:00 The buzzer sounds on a thoroughly delightful first period, and after a little interview with a very tall Rupper, MSG+ tells us we’ll get a chat with Clemmer during the intermission. Schnookie wails, “A chat with Clemmer? But we saw that in the pregame show!” Boomer solemnly adds, “I’ve talked enough with Clemmer.”
19:18 After Travis is unable to force the puck over the goal line against the paddle of a sprawling Kolzig, he looks hilariously embarrassed that the officials are even reviewing the replay. Aww, Travis. We cry for every other Devil to be fired when they can’t get the puck past a prone goalie’s stick into an otherwise wide-open net, but when he does it? We swoon.
18:02 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have we mentioned how much we love the Zubrus/Patty/Gio line? Because we love them a lot. Zubrus is not as impressed by Kolzig as Travis was moments earlier, and just fires a totally stoppable shot from above the faceoff dot straight through him. 3-0 Devils.
15:25 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Zubrus gets to literally sit in the crease and whack away at a loose puck until it gets past Kolzig’s feeble leg pads. Doc and Chico’s response is to discuss at length how well Zach just did by scoring (because people often see a guy who’s 6’5″ and think he’s Zach), and Pookie’s response is to say very slowly, “That was the worst defense I have ever seen in the NHL.” She’s right. The Lightning Bolts all just stood there, hands limply hanging at their sides, watching Zubrus score.
14:00 It had been very quiet in the Tampa building, but now the crowd is making all kinds of noise. Because the Lightning Bolts are on the PP and totally sucking. The noise all kind of rhymes with “STUUUUUUU!”
8:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Can we play Kolzig every night? This game is awesome! Gio whips a nifty little wrister into the net while Zubrus and Zach are creating all kinds of havoc amongst the hapless Lightning Bolt defense, and Kolzig is too busy spinning around like a top in the crease to be able to stop it. 5-0 Devils, and a might groan rises from stately IPB Manor as Kolzig gets the hook and Ramo enters the game as the new Lightning Bolt goalie.
6:52 Bummer. Paulie is victimized on a two-on-one, and it’s 5-1 Devils.
6:14 The Lightning Bolts seem to feel bad for ruining our awesome game, and take a too-many-men penalty. As we wait for the faceoff after the whistle, we get to see Paulie sitting on the bench screwing up his face. He needs our tender loving!
5:35 Travis is standing around doing nothing but getting pushed over near the crease, and gets called for interference. This is the site of his phantom diving penalty from the 2007 playoffs, too! Pookie: “Poor Travis! He’s going to end his career with 2,000 penalty minutes, only four of them earned.”
5:20 This game suddenly blows. St. Louis scores to make it 5-2 Devils. And Clemmer is just shitty enough that we’re fairly confident a five-goal lead is not safe. We’re even more nervous now that it’s down to three goals.
3:18 For fuck’s sake. Ryan Malone (of all people) gets behind the D, Pando trips him up to stop the breakaway chance, and he scores on the ensuing penalty shot. 5-3 Devils. Hey, remember how last year the Devils really, really sucked in every second period? Looks like it’s keeping on this year! (Pookie believes that play would never have happened if Marty was in net because Pando would have known his goalie could have stopped Malone [of all people] on a breakaway.)
0:25 Zubrus ends up twisted around a d-man right on the goalie’s doorstep with the puck just sitting on the goal line in front of an empty net. He attempts a spiraltortion jab at the puck, but misses. That would have gone in against Kolzig. Muh! Still, Chico makes a great point in saying that the Devils should be happy to go into the third with a 2 goal lead. We mean, that kind of lead would blow Perry Pearn’s mind!
For the second intermission in a row, we get material recycled from the pre-game show. Surely we could be seeing a slide show of Chuck the Duck’s Florida vacation right now! He’s always been so happy to lounge by the pool on Florida trips past. Bring back Chuck!
15:25 The game has tightened up quite a bit, and on a defense-first shift in the Devils zone, Zach clears the puck smartly high off the glass. Schnookie: “That’s the kind of play that won him the MVP of the YoungStars game.” Pookie, as Zach, holds out her hand and snots, “Plastic star, please!”
15:11 We are informed that Malone has been the first person to score on a penalty shot against the Devils since Freddie Olausson did it in 1999. We snarl at the TV that this one should get a big fat asterisk.
12:39 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Hats fly everywhere! Zubrus — ZUBRUS! — gets a breakaway just when it appears the Devils aren’t going to try to get the puck past center ice for the rest of the game, and he scores on Ramo with ease. His ensuing celebration is an hilarious twirling, leaping dance that looks even funnier for him being a giant. And his linemates have the kind of response for him that is normally reserved for OT game-winners and Kevin Weekes wins. Considering what a crappy turn this game had taken, it’s a delicious ray of sunshine. 6-3 Devils.
10:55 Pookie: “Every time Doc says ‘Ramo’ I think he’s saying ‘Grandma’.”
6:16 We’re distracted now by how hungry we are. Stupid 5:00 start. Schnookie isn’t going to even start making dinner until this is over. See what you’ve done to us, Devils schedule? See???
4:42 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Save something for the rest of the season, St. Zubby! A magnificent, swirling, forechecking shift by the Gio/Patty/Zubrus line leads to Zubrus being left all alone in the slot to score his fourth goal of the game. 7-3 Devils. This is… amazing. We fully expect for him not to score again this season.
4:35 Huh. This is the first four-goal game for a Devil since the infamous McKay/Madden simultaneous four-pointers against the Pens. Salmela is just as squicked out by how awful that game was as we are (Pookie was at NYU at the time, and didn’t get the game on her dorm cable. Schnookie vividly recalls telling her it was so lopsided that it became actually uncomfortable to watch) and takes a penalty in the neutral zone.
0:00 Okay, so there was a bit of a lull there, but you know what? The end result is that we loved this game. And now we’re faint with hunger and have to go make dinner.