Ohmigod! Ohmigod! Ohmigod! Ohmigod! Our pregame has us all kinds of wound up, because it’s MSG’s show about Game 6 of the 2000 SCF. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! It’s been a kind of rough past 24 hours for those of us who are friends with bottoming-out Sabres fans, as we’ve walked down memory lane to times when we’ve not loved hockey so much. But here’s MSG whisking us away from the lousy times and taking us right back to sheer, fucking awesomeness. Sure, it’s great as a fan to find the marvelous in the everyday, but you know what? Winning the Stanley Cup is, well… the best. It’s worth it. It’s definitely worth all the bad times. Just in case you’d forgotten. Heh.
Our pregame narrative from Steve is all about the star players for the Devils who are doing well these days. He’s all, “In the last game, Zach kept up his torrid goal scoring, and Patty was a beast, and Rolston is finding his all-star-caliber groove, and… ” He pauses, and searches for the right words, “Well, even Pandolfo got into the act.” PandoNation bristles, and wonders what he means by that.
19:51 Zach gets a lightning-quick shot basically off the opening draw, then sags when Turco turns it aside. “That’s strange,” he thinks, “That went in in St. Louis.”
16:48 There is some confusion in front of our TV as Pookie and Boomer are handing off some handcraft supplies, and Pookie sees Paulie following up on a rush down the slot after a Pando shot, dropping Stars all over the place as he goes. “Oooh!” She exclaims, “Paulie just made someone explode!”
15:57 Furious at his making-guys-explode trick not working, Paulie decides to carry the puck through the neutral zone and gets tripped up on the play. He falls down, slides a few yards, then in one smooth motion gets back to his feet, probably adding a “TA DA!” at the end. The Stars get a penalty, and it’s scorched earth time.
15:01 If by “scorched earth” we mean “offsides”.
14:22 Rolston misses the puck at the point, and as he turns to chug down the ice after it, Schnookie misreads his 12 as 17: “I just thought that was Rupp playing the point on the PP. I was like, ‘Has Sutter taken leave of his senses?’” Pookie: “Sutter, everything would not be tickety-boo then!”
14:04 Is it just us or is the ice nuclear-blast white?
12:52 Turco thinks he’s really hot shit, and decides to do some Ovechkin-style baseball-swinging, puck-bobbling clear of a Madden shot, but executes as well as Ovechkin did in last year’s ASG Superskills. Madden gets the puck back and has a look at the open net, but can’t finish on the bad angle. Pookie: “Madden’s got that barn he’s going to be taken out behind and shot flashing in front of his eyes.”
11:15 Zubrus flies up the ice with a little spinarama in the neutral zone, then barrels behind Turco’s net, passing to himself off the end boards, then wheels through a bunch of Stars defenders before finally losing the puck. Schnookie wonders aloud what the hell is going on with Zubrus, and Pookie answers, “Zach’s got him convinced there really is a plastic star scout in the building.”
10:42 We feel like we’re watching Blersus again, because there’s a penalty on the Stars and Chico has no idea how it happened. We get one replay, but no one can see what happened to earn Landon Wilson an interference penalty off a draw in the Devils zone. (When he goes to the box, Schnookie goggles, “Landon Wilson? The Landon Wilson?”)
9:51 Poop. The PP gets a dreadful reminder that it’s not a good idea to rest on your laurels. Eriksson scores on a long two-on-one that comes courtesy of a lazy, lazy change. 1-0 Stars. We all vomit copiously.
9:06 Clemmer thinks he’s Turco or something, and does a really good approximation of him, leaving his net to handle a mid-range dumped-in puck and completely muffing the whole thing. He barely scrambles back in time to be in net while an opportunistic Star fires a shot wide. We are further confident that the Clemmensen-as-this-year’s-Conklin Era is now over.
6:38 Clemmer freezes the puck after another flurry of Stars activity, and Schnookie wonders aloud, “Is Patty playing tonight? I haven’t seen him yet.”
5:32 Steve tells Chico he’s hoping for a Robidas “rabby-doo”, or however you spell Chico’s hilarious word for “scrap”. Chico giggles happily. We scurry to spend the next few minutes trying – and failing – to find any instance of this “rabby-doo” online, so as to verify the spelling at least. Do you suppose Chico invented his own language?
3:01 It’s good we haven’t been paying attention, because the Devils are pinned in their own zone.
2:30 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Applemotherfuckingsauce!!!! The Patty/Zubrus/Gio line creates all kinds of cycling havoc, and just as Schnookie is growling that someone needs to throw a garbage can at Patty’s head during intermission because of his insistence on touch-passing to guys at the point when he could otherwise be shooting, Mottau receives said touch-pass and blasts it through traffic to tie the game. 1-1 tie.
1:50 Another shift in the Stars zone yields a hooking penalty some Star. Let’s just not give up a shorty here, okay? (Wowza. Steve takes this stoppage to tell us that with that assist, Patty has now moved within 15 points of his entire season total from last year. Anyone who thinks the Devils have played in front of Clemmer the same way they’ve played in front of Marty the last few years need look no further than that.
0:32 The burned-out, blazing glare of the ice at center ice has been getting stronger and stronger all period, and now the Stars logo and red line are literally no longer visible.
0:23 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clarkson protects his eyes from the glare of center ice by parking behind the last PKer in front of the net, and is on the doorstep to dig loose a rebound of a Gio point shot and push it around a sprawling Turco to make it 2-1 Devils.
0:00 That period kind of encapsulated our point from the pregame – being a sports fan is all about high highs and low lows. And we get an interview with Applemotherfuckingsauce that MAKES OUR YEAR. Yeah, the highest high of all of 2008 is Mottau saying very earnestly that, as we all know, it’s good to have Intahchangeable Pahts.
For those who missed it the first time around, here’s the thing about the 2000 SCF again. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!
19:30 Chico clearly doesn’t remember a single thing about last year when he tries to tell us Zach “has never been weak defensively”.
18:25 In praising the Devils’ four lines while the Rolston/Clarkson/Some-Other-Guy line is working the Dallas zone, Chico tells us that players hate when their coach is all about line matching. After a pause, he adds, “Well, they don’t hate it when they’re on the checking line.” “Damn straight,” say Madden and Pando as they share a fist bump on the bench.
16:37 Chico is on a roll here. He is telling us some rambling story about Langer’s origins with the Stars, and finally just trails off. When he realizes what he’s done, he chortles, “I’m sorry. I get distracted when the puck gets down into that scoring area. When that happens, Steve, you need to just jump in.” As if we needed to be reminded of what a consummate professional Doc is.
15:50 Hm. This seems to be the icing period for the Devils. Things are not going the way Sutter drew up. We hope. We suppose he might have drawn up a bunch of icings during the intermission. Surely he’s done crazier.
15:08 The Devils look hopelessly lost in their own zone, and are just lucky that the Star who finds the puck all alone in front of the net spins around and fires way wide.
14:33 If the Stars don’t tie the game up in the next minute, we’ll eat our hats.
14:21 Okay, they tie the game up in the next 12 seconds. There’s only so much running around chasing the puck (or, in most of the Devils’ cases, not chasing the puck) you can do before someone’s going to put the puck through Clemmer. After all, he still is Clemmer. And yes, it is that Landon Wilson tying the game at 2.
12:32 Dude, this period BLOWS. The Devils have checked out completely, and when the Modano line overpasses down low in front of Clemmer, the Devils are so flat-footed watching it happen that the Stars have plenty of time to recover the puck after they should have given it up and still fire a point-blank shot wide.
11:36 It only took 8 ½ minutes for the dreadful play of the Devils to cost them a penalty. As play is whistled, Pookie, not looking up from her quilting, says, “Let me guess. It’s on Holik.” She’s right. She is also hell-bent on blaming this period’s sucktitude on Clemmer; she’s been saying since the Stars goal, “We want Weekes! We want Weekes! Or, um, we want Clemmer to play better. Probably the latter.” When Schnookie suggests that Sutter could perhaps call a timeout now to go all “Mount Sutter eruption” on his team, Pookie says, “Yeah, and to put Weekes in!” Schnookie and Boomer inform Pookie that they think she’s crazy.
10:45 Please note that every single Holik penalty of the season so far has been accompanied, on the replay, by Chico saying, “They’re going to call that every time this year.” Not that Holik’s a relic or anything.
10:02 Happy, Blobby? We get a long look at him skating, unchagrined, from the box after Leach and Clemmer mishandle a rebound to allow Parrish to score in close. 3-2 Stars. Pookie: “I’m blaming Holik for that.” Schnookie: “Actually, I was going to blame Clemmer.” (Chico blames Clemmer, too.)
9:33 There are Devils flying everywhere at the near point, and it seems that Ott is making a game tonight of running our boys. One man’s petulant little ice troll is another man’s cheapshot artist. Let it be said here, if he injures a Devil, he’s going to the very top of our list. Myra.
9:20 We go to commercial with the still overwhelmed Devils going on the PK. We don’t know who took the penalty or how. (When we come back from commercial we just see on the scoreboard that it was Greener, for hooking.)
7:46 We are deep in discussion of whether this is the worst period the Devils have played since that first post-Marty game against Buffalo. Pookie’s not sure, but Schnookie can’t remember a period of this sustained craptitude across the board.
6:07 Lehtinen’s still alive?
4:22 The most shocking stat of this period comes from Steve: the Stars are outshooting the Devils 11-2. There is no way the Devils have two shots here.
4:04 Rupp hits Ott hard at the near boards at the Devils blue line, Ott does that “I’m dropping the gloves” feint, and Rupp bites. The officials seem to have a sense of The Code here, whatever it is, and don’t call any penalties.
3:06 As the Devils continue to be complete ass in their own zone, Chico tells us that the Devils will need to take liberties with Ribeiro, since Ott isn’t going to fight because he has a broken hand. “Can’t fight City Hall,” Pookie cracks. “Especially since City Hall is also a yapping douchebag.”
1:52 Clemmer makes a snappy save on an out-of-nowhere shot from the slot by the reanimated corpse of Lehtinen. In the course of making some “why am I talking so loud? Because I’m wrong!” statement about Holik, Schnookie says, “Wow, that was a great save by Clemmer.” There is a long pause, then Boomer says, “No.”
1:13 There is finally something good happening for the Devils on a two-on-two rush, but Clarkson decides to barrel into Turco just as Paulie’s firing a turned-over puck into the net. No goal, of course, as Clarkson gets called for goalie interference. Way back when we were new fans, we heard the criteria for goalie interference hilariously defined as, “Could he have stopped himself if it was a pit of snakes he was falling into?” Pookie says of this one, as Chico tries to say it wasn’t necessarily a penalty, “He could have stopped himself if that was a pit of mice.” We watch as he settles into the box, and she adds, “Playing the part of Bobby Holik…”
0:22 Paulie gets called for cross-checking in front of the net. The wheels? Have fallen off.
0:00 It’s official: that was the worst period of hockey the Devils have played since that Buffalo game. That was dreadful, from top to bottom.
We get a feature about how they’re putting together the ice for the Winter
Retread Classic. This should surprise absolutely no one to hear that we couldn’t care less about the NHL’s outdoor games.
We really hope Sutter made the boys ride the bikes during intermission, while he threw garbage cans at their heads.
19:50 The Stars start the period with a five-forward 5-on-3 unit.
19:08 And miracles do sometimes happen, in this case the Devils managing to kill the 45 seconds of two-man advantage.
18:12 Other miracles? Killing the remainder of the penalty, while Clarkson is out on the PK. We did not see that coming.
17:44 Zach tries to put on a razzly-dazzly rush to beat a defender straight-up, but leaves the puck behind in his deking. Pookie: “Obviously Zubrus believed Zach about the plastic star scouts, but the rest of the guys have managed to convince Zach since then that there is no such thing as a plastic star scout.” The idea of Zach no longer believing in plastic star scouts is almost too sad to bear.
16:34 Steve tells us the two shots the Devils got in the second is the lowest single-period total allowed by the Stars this season. Great.
14:34 There is a faceoff in the Devils zone for which the Poppers take the ice. Chico tells us this is a big shift, on which Zach and his cohorts will want to “keep up the momentum”. Pookie: “What momentum? The ‘not getting scored on’ momentum, I guess.”
13:41 The teams are trading grade-A chances, which, while frustrating that the Devils are giving up grade-A chances, is, we guess, a step up, since they’re at least taking some in turn.
12:52 Steve has insisted all night on calling Niskanen “NEESH-ka-nin”. It’s driving us batty.
11:59 What is this we see? Hard work? By a Devil? Say it isn’t so! Rupper bowls down the wing and draws a holding penalty for his trouble. Ott yaps at him all the way back to the bench, and we hope he’s saying something about how he’s not worried, and the Devils aren’t going to score on the PP anyway. That would be funny because it’s true.
10:52 The Stars get another great shorthanded chance. We are having a special New Year’s Eve countdown now – to the end of this game.
9:59 Gio carries the puck in offsides, but it confuses Chico to no end that the Devils are getting called for too many men because the lineman waits about a week before making up his mind and blowing the whistle.
9:50 Pookie, as Chico calls the Devils’ opponent “the Northstars”: “He’s as out of it as the Devils are.”
5:53 We don’t have much to say about this one anymore. It’s kind of surprising that, after how wretched they’ve been so far, the Devils are only one goal back. But one goal seems like a completely insurmountable lead.
4:38 We go to commercial and see the one for the Marines with the guy talking about facing his greatest challenge while diving off a platform. Pookie regales the room with the biggest challenge of her workday: “Someone asked me to explain what the Marines are. And I had to do it without using the word ‘badass’.”
4:23 Madden’s out with Rolston and Clarkson, and Chico tells us this is a move made for “more speed.” We’re stunned. Pookie: “You know the game has passed you by when A) your name is Derian Hatcher, or B) you’re getting replaced by Madden for more speed.”
3:05 Patty gets sprung on a mini-break, but he can’t beat Turco five-hole while defying his poke-check. Pookie is aghast: “Turco never stops those!” Schnookie: “Well, he can stop them now because he’s not tanking to get rid of Avery.” (It merits mention that Patty’s fired.)
0:46 The last best chance for the Devils is a not-very-wild wild scramble in front on which the white sweaters are all blocking each other’s shots.
0:40 The foregone conclusion when a Devils goalie leaves the net is an empty netter. Honestly, the other teams in the NHL are shooting 100% when the Devils have the extra attacker in the final minutes. Ericksson gets this one, and it’s 4-2 Stars.
0:00 We hated, hated, hated this game. It was nothing short of puketastic. But hey. It’s New Year’s Eve, so we’re supposed to be looking at the big picture – our boys are doing a hell of a lot better than we ever would have expected when Marty got hurt. And to cap off the year with a happy thought, let’s all just think back to Patty in the far corner, firing a backhand pass off the boards to Arnott down low… Yeah. The high highs are so much better for having been through the low lows.
And win, lose, or tie (we wish!), we hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2009!