Happy day before Thanksgiving, Gentle Reader! We hope you’re all settled in wherever your holiday will be, comfy, cozy and ready for some hot Devils/Panthers action. And, if you’re not American, we hope you’re having a really nice Wednesday night.
Steve leads us into Doc and Chico’s intro by calling tonight’s game “The Drive For Five”. Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Doc promptly makes it clear that he’s not a regular IPB reader because he grouses that the Patty/Zubrus/Gio line doesn’t have a name yet. Doc! Come on! They’re the Square PEGZ! Everyone knows that. (It should be noted that Doc looks like he’s dressed for an Easter Parade.)
Oh, have we complained yet that this game isn’t in HD? Because it’s not. That’s something we’re not thankful for.
19:36 Pookie is calling the Square PEGZ being -5 tonight. She also adds that she is not thankful for Scott Clemmensen, either. Which is fair. He’s probably not thankful for us.
18:41 Patty takes a dumb-assed hooking penalty in the neutral zone. The Drive For Five is falling on its flat on its face.
18:28 One of our favorite things about this season is the utterly moronic trades fans on the interwebs seem to think their teams will be able to swing for Bouwmeester. One example would be the school of Devils fans who think Gionta will be enough to bring him to Jersey. Silly fans. Gionta’s the bait we’re going to use to get Vinny Lecavalier, not Jay Bouwmeester!
17:17 By the way, Doc has noted this evening that the Devils have been suddenly good as soon as Paulie came back to the lineup. And then he melts our hearts by adding that Paulie would never take credit for it himself.
16:26 Sheesh. We get a stat that tells us the Devils PK is over 85% on the road and is under 69% at home.
16:09 Having survived the relentless Panthers PP, the Devils promptly draw a penalty on Kreps on a call Chico thinks is total crap. We’re too busy with our respective laptops to notice what happened. We’ll take Chico’s word for it.
15:35 Zach and Patty are fired. Vokoun goes behind his net to handle the puck and passes it directly to Zach, with no one in front of the net. Zach isn’t quite in position to shoot it, though, so he tries to drop a pass to Patty, and Patty misses it completely as it bounces over his stick. That would have gone in against the Lightning Bolts and Kolzig.
14:57 In discussing the missed chance by Patty, Doc and Chico posit that he could have headed the puck in; they decide it would be legal because it’s not a “distinct kicking motion”, but rather “a distinct gonging motion.”
14:27 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Gio scores. Schnookie: “I missed it!” Pookie: “So did Vokoun.” Replay shows a rush started by an awesome defensive play by Paulie, a great rush led by Oduya, and then Gio tipping an insanely stoppable shot straight through Vokoun. 1-0 Devils.
12:56 Brookbank and his fourth-line buddies work the boards nicely, and we start thinking about how Brookbank was quoted in TG’s blog today saying that the D-corps is starting to give him a hard time for being a forward now. Pookie hopes they’re shunning him like the Amish. Like, he’ll go into D meetings and the other guys will say, “Thou does not belongeth here.” Paulie would look so cute in an Amish outfit.
10:06 Chico tells us Clemmer’s been told he can get an apartment. Pookie: “That’s the worst news I’ve heard since November 4.” Thanks for ruining our holiday, Chico.
8:17 In a discussion of how Holik is one of the last guys left using a wooden stick, Doc casually mentions Chico has estimated a return to the lineup for Blobby next week against Philly. Pookie: “That’s the second worst news I’ve heard since November 4.”
6:52 Patty and Paulie pair up for a sassy rush, and while they don’t score, they do draw a penalty. And we all know how awesome the power play is. That’s as good as a goal!
5:26 Schnookie: “Why hasn’t Zubrus scored yet?” Pookie, in response, tells a story of how she had a blog up on her computer at work that had the title “A Look At Zubrus”. A coworker walked by and asked, “What’s ‘Zubrus’? Is that like hubris? What does it mean?” Excellent question, Pookie’s coworker. What does Zubrus mean?
2:24 We’re not paying a huge amount of attention to the game because we’re having a discussion about what kind of centerpiece Paulie’s going to have at the Thanksgiving dinner he’s hosting. Things quickly ratchet up from “a bong set next to a turkey decoration” to “a stuffed Oscar the Grouch” (a la Rick Nash) to “a stuffed Goldy” to “a real-life, tamed gopher” to “a real-life wild gopher”. Pookie: “He’s like, ‘I got the little turtleneck on him once, and now it’s just staying on.’” Schnookie: “Yeah, after trying that he missed a few games with ‘upper-body injuries’.” Pookie: “It was gopher-related lacerations. Again. He comes to the coaching staff and says he’s got gopher wounds again, and they have to say, ‘Just leave the gopher in the turtleneck. Stop trying to change it to a football jersey on Saturdays, and a hockey sweater on Fridays.’”
1:35 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! The Poppers are not thrilled that the Square PEGZ are stealing their thunder, and put on an awesome tic-tac-toe passing shift that culminates in a Travis goal. 2-0 Devils.
0:00 We’re thankful for that period! WOO HOOO! However, we get an interview with Gio instead of Travis. Bummer.
They replay the “Ask the Announcers” feature with Doc from the pregame. Unlike Chico, Doc says nothing to make us think he reads IPB.
20:00 The hell? The Panthers have replaced Vokoun. Well, we guess we agree with Chico’s assessment of what the goalie change means: “This is just to shake up the team. The Panthers were awful in the first period. Just awful.” He sounds like he can’t put enough vehemence on “awful” to truly express how bad he thought the Panthers were.
18:15 Schnookie: “Oh crap. It’s the second period. We suck at that.” Pookie: “Yeah, a second period with a new goaltender? I’m calling 4-2 Panthers by the time it’s over.”
17:30 As if on cue, the Devils allow the Panthers to pin them for a long shift in their own zone.
16:43 After firing a shot into Vrana’s back and then watching as the Panthers deflect the puck into the crowd, Zach decides he’s going to talk some smack to Wade Belak. He’s at least a foot shorter than Belak, and, after giving him what Doc calls “a tongue-lashing”, Zach then skates away from the bewildered Panther, waggles his eyebrows at the camera and gives that DING! smile of his. Zach? Is being a punk. Heh.
15:16 Doc is still marveling at Zach taking Belak on, and excitedly looks up Zach’s career stats to see if he’s ever had a fight. He could save himself some time just by asking us — of course he’s had a fight! He got his shirt ripped off during it! How could we forget? (Doc informs us it was against Dan Boyle when he was a Lightning Bolt. We didn’t remember that part. Just the shirt-ripping-off.)
15:00 Boomer suddenly remarks, apropos of nothing, “Just think of poor Greene having to skate back home with Holik. And you think your job sucks.”
14:13 The Rupp/Pando/Clarkson line decides to join the parade of sassy shifts by Devils forwards and, after some hard work in the Panthers zone, draw a tripping penalty to Horton.
12:13 That strangled, gargling sound you’re hearing? It’s us, witnessing another fruitless Devils power play.
11:16 The Panthers are, um, not doing everything in their power to take advantage of the Devils’ proclivity for sucking in the second period. They take a terrible tripping penalty in the offensive zone on a rare shift of solid puck possession. The fans send up a feeble booing that sounds more like a cry for help than actual dismay at their team.
10:30 As the Devils set up some perimeter PP passing, Chico says it’s looked like men against boys in this game. Boomer: “Yeah. Men against boys. But we only have two goals.”
9:16 This is starting to feel like a game where these empty power plays are going to come back to haunt us.
9:06 Doc and Chico can’t get enough of telling us how horrible the Panthers are and how terrifically the Devils are kicking them around, including having a 24-7 shot advantage and a 16-1 chance advantage, but really, it can’t be stressed enough: the lead is only 2-0. Unlike a certain broadcast pair tonight, we know enough about this Devils team not to count our chickens before they hatch.
7:13 The Panthers must be able to hear the Devils broadcast guys in this deathly-silent arena, because now they’re hemming the Devils in their own zone.
5:32 The Square PEGZ step up to try to wrest control back of this game. They don’t score, but at least we’re not holding our breath hoping Clemmer’s Moonraker days aren’t about to begin.
3:48 Chico is positing that the Panthers are playing as if they’ve been instructed that they can’t bodycheck their opponent. It really hasn’t been the most scintillating game in NHL history.
2:29 Leach is not able to legally hold his ground against the apathetic rush of the Panthers and takes a hooking penalty.
0:05 FINE. We’ll say it. Clemmer’s looked sharp here in the face of modest pressure as the Panthers are trying to cram all the Devils second-period sucktitude into the final two and a half minutes of the frame.
0:00 That period was a lot less giddy than the first, and it should be said that we hate having to say nice things about Clemmer. Grumble, grumble, grumble. We get an interview with Salmela, who we’ve decided we love. We hadn’t really noticed him until the game the other night in Tampa, but that kid is bonkers. Even Sutter says he cracks him up, and really, what cracks Sutter up? The guy we’ve dubbed Batshit Bonkers tells Steve that he doesn’t have plans to have Thanksgiving with any of his teammates, and Boomer is dismayed. “What? No one’s invited Batshit over? He’s going to have to go door-to-door ringing bells until someone lets him in?” Poor, poor Batshit.
We don’t pay attention to this intermission show. Although we do notice the NHL Shop commercial with the family of Rangers fans with the son who love the Flyers. Pookie loves this commercial for this reason: “The Flyers fan is miserable and the Rangers fans are douches. All is right in the world.”
19:32 Chico curses this period by saying the game is in the bag, and declares, “of all [the Devils’] wins lately, this was their most convincing.” Doc actually quotes Blazing Saddles in his effort to get Chico to stop putting the cart so far before the horse. And while it’s hardly one of the more iconic quotes from that movie, we’re still surprised to hear Doc saying it. He doesn’t really seem the Blazing Saddles type, does he?
17:15 Schnookie, who normally shoulders the diarizing typing duties, is instructed to go replenish everyone’s drinks, but we don’t pause the game. She grumbles that Pookie will have to diarize whatever happens while she’s gone. When she gets back, this is Pookie’s report: “We had it, then they had it, then we had it, then Clarkson shot.”
15:34 As we watch the Devils contain the Panthers at the near boards in Clemmer’s zone, Boomer sighs, “They can play like they were in the first period any time they want to. I won’t complain.”
14:44 We’ve settled into the prevent defense part of tonight’s action. We perk up a bit when Salvador makes a nifty little between-the-legs pass from behind Clemmer’s net to start a soft outlet by his teammates. When Boomer remarks that it was a nice play, Pookie declares, “I love Salvador. He’s like my fifth or sixth favorite Devil this season.” The Iron Boar appreciates her excessive ardor; he probably didn’t count on being anywhere above 13th or 14th favorite.
13:16 What the hell just happened? Clemmer is down and out, the fans are roaring as if a goal has been scored… but the Panther shooting the puck at the wide open net… what? We need to see a replay of this. When we come back from commercial we see that the shot kind of bounced around the crease, drifting ever closer to the goal line, and at the last possible moment Oduya kicked it out with the tip of his toe.
10:27 Whitey takes offense to getting a forearm to the head from a Panther and shoves the Panther a bit after he falls over. And predictably, Whitey gets the roughing penalty. We actually think both the initial hit and the rough were pretty weak, but whatever.
9:18 After a nifty shorthanded rush that doesn’t result in a goal, Gio takes a stupid tripping penalty in the neutral zone to put the Panthers up two men. Pookie: “It’s time for the Iron Boar Three.” Doc fails to include the “Boar” part when he promptly tells us Paulie, Pando and the Iron Boar himself will be the Iron Boar Three.
8:27 The Iron Boar Three prevail, even with Pando not managing to win a single draw.
7:18 The Iron Boar Four also prevail. In large part because the Panthers are really, really, really bad at playing ice hockey.
7:08 One of the fun features of tonight’s game is that some of the secondary cameras used for replays are, like, sepia-tone. It gives some of the replays a Ye Olde Civil War-Era Archived Hockey Footage feeling, which is nice during a nostalgia-heavy holiday like Thanksgiving.
5:00 Zach bests Bouwmeester humiliatingly at the point and gets a long breakaway (with a bit of pressure coming from behind from Bouwmeester’s much faster and more focused d-partner), but he opts not to use his Unstoppable Move when he gets to the goal. We guess he was just satisfied to have made Bouwmeester look like such a loser.
4:07 Doc tells us for the billionth time that Clemmer is the first ever NHLer from Iowa. We know, Doc. And we’d care if he were anyone other than Clemmensen.
2:19 Bouwmeester decides to make up for looking like a loser a few shifts ago, and when he finds some open ice in the slot after a defensive breakdown by the Devils, he breaks up Clemmer’s shutout. It’s 2-1 Devils.
0:32 With the Devils scrambling and Paulie without a stick, Booth makes a lousy choice to take a weak-angle shot that Clemmer easily freezes.
0:07 Oh for fuck’s sake. The criminally-bad defensive presence of the Devils facing an extra attacker in an empty-net situation once again lets us down, and Booth ties the game at 2. Honestly, has there ever been a team in NHL history as crappy when facing these situations than Sutter’s Devils?
0:00 We hope Chico’s happy now that he declared this game over at the start of the third. And if we knew the theme song to Moonraker, we’d be singing it now.
4:19 The Iron Boar swats at a puck at shoulder height and clears it over the glass, giving the Panthers a power play.
2:19 One positive we’ll take from this game is getting to see how calm, cool, collected and supremely professional Pando is as a penalty killer. PandoNation swoons.
0:55 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Oduya! Oduya! Johnny Oduya! After a whole bunch of Panthers missed chances, Oduya leads Zubrus on a really slow two-on-one, ends up taking the shot, and rips a shot through Anderson. Devils win 3-2. That’s five wins in a row, all against fantastically putrid teams. If the schedule feeds us a steady diet of Islanders, Panthers and Lightning Bolts from here on out, things are looking pretty good for this season!