EEEEEEE!!! Doc’s back! And it’s snowing out! And it’s getting closer to Christmas! Does it get better than that? Well, yes, a Devils win would make it better than that, but let’s not put the cart before the horse here.
Our intro from Doc and Chico this evening is all about how totally competent the current Devils goalie tandem is, but despite Clemmer’s numbers, we still don’t believe it. It turns out Clemmer is starting tonight, and, presumably, Weekes will start tomorrow in Buffalo. Schnookie asks no one in particular, “Why is Weekes not starting tonight? Considering how he sucks against Buffalo…” Pookie responds, “And considering how Clemmer has a terrible career record against Toronto and a good one against Buffalo? Yeah. Shall I tag this post ‘calling for Sutter’s head on a plate’?” (She also floats a theory that the Devils flipped a coin when it became clear that they were no longer going to be able to not play in front of the backup goalies anymore, and Clemmer was the winner. So that’s why they play well in front of him and crappy in front of Weekes.) (She also theorizes that Sutter’s starting Clemmer tomorrow, too.)
18:11 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! What the heckin’ heck? Madden leads Whitey — Whitey!!! — on a two-on-one, and actually laces a really pretty pass that sits perfectly for Whitey’s very best shot. It is only Whitey, though, so Toskala makes the save, but then inexplicably pirouettes out of the play, so when Finger blindly flings the rebound up the middle, he’s nowhere near the net for the incoming shot. And the incoming shot? Comes from Rupper, who was probably in a state of sheer panic the entire way up the ice, thinking, “Oh fuck, Whitey’s in front of me. Oh fuck. He has no idea what to do up there, and I have no idea what to do back here… Oh! Look! The puck, and a wide-open net! Sweet!” It’s 1-0 Devils.
17:23 Toskala mishandles another easy shot. Schnookie: “Just put the puck on the net, boys!”
15:54 Leach and Deveaux fight.
It’s such a great fight that it elicits this response from Pookie: “Leach has the dorkiest haircut in hockey. He’s bringing back The Niedermayer.”
13:55 Our Geico Quotebook tonight is Clemmer saying he’s not surprised at his success because four years ago he was playing in the A against a whole bunch of goalies who are now NHLers, so he knew he could compete. Schnookie: “So what Clemmer’s saying is that the goaltending in the NHL isn’t as good as it was four years ago?”
10:05 It looks like maybe the Leafs have scored, but as the puck slowly trickles past Clemmer and through the crease, it ever-so-gradually proves to be going wide. The crowd makes its first sound of night, giving a terrible groan of disappointment.
8:20 Clarkson takes an idiot penalty that kind of defies description as he takes down Deveaux while dropping his gloves and trying to make it look like he’s not doing anything wrong, and basically Chico sums it up best by saying maybe Clarkson’s hometown crowd anxiety got the better of him.
6:52 We will never forgive Clarkson for taking this penalty if it turns out Pando is hurt after getting hit in the foot by a point shot.
5:22 After successfully killing the idiot penalty, the Devils put on a great shift full of offensive pressure, and then Oduya draws a hooking penalty against Grabovoski (who really needs a haircut). Okay. Maybe we’ll let this one slide, Clarkson.
3:22 We’re still waiting for our Rolston-powered awesome PP.
0:00 And so concludes the period, a relatively uneventful 1-0 affair.
Dude, it could not be any more like the good old days in our early fandom — it’s a “Devils visiting the children’s hospital” video feature… with Brian Rolston! All really is right in the world!
18:00 Van Ryn takes a penalty when none of us are paying attention. The announcement is that it’s for hooking, and we’ll guess it was either a foul of the most egregiously vile order or was just really stupid.
16:09 Chico just will not stop talking about this Sifers kid on the Leafs and his douchey loathing of New Jersey. Not just the Devils. The state. Well, we’re glad you went back to Connecticut, asshole. We don’t miss you. So there!
13:49 The teams trade nearly identical great passing rushes that create glorious scoring chances on which the shooter fires way wide. The Leafs lead with Stempniak as the failing shooter, and the Devils see that and raise them Gionta.
12:51 This is starting to look like regular Devils second period.
12:34 As if on cue after we comment aloud on how characteristically crappy the Devils have been looking in this period, Antropov is able to cash in on a shitty rebound and even worse defensive-zone coverage. 1-1 game. It should be noted that the Devils seem to have a limited number of plotlines in their games, and one type they’ve demonstrated more than once this year is the “score in the first two minutes, then don’t score again in the game”. This is feeling a lot like that.
11:35 We get a graphic from MSG+ extolling the Devils size up the middle, and it includes a mysterious fellow named Paul Rupp. We wonder if that guy’s an amalgam of Paulie and Rupper, and does that mean he serves peanut butter ice cream pot brownie sundaes?
9:14 We have no idea what’s going on right now because stately IPB Manor is in a state of panic as a spider the size of a mouse has chosen just now to make its appearance in the living room. What is the point of feeding and housing a whole herd of cats if they can’t take care of the simplest tasks like killing mouse-sized spiders?
5:40 Chico has a hearty laugh at tonight’s Ron Wilson moment: a Leafs four-on-two rush that yields a dump-in as the forwards go to change for whatever line-matching scheme Wilson’s up to.
4:54 Williams strips Madden of the puck on the far boards, curls unmolested into the high slot, and then rips a shot right through Clemmer. It’s 2-1 Leafs, and Pookie’s immediate reaction to the goal is, “ARGH! I am so sick of Clemmensen!” Pause. “I realize there were five other guys on the ice, but still!”
3:56 The Devils are looking incapable of mounting any offense. “I really wish the Leafs still had McCabe,” Pookie sighs wistfully.
2:25 We go to commercial all still uneasy about the spider. It escaped under the couch, and now we’re all convinced it’s crawling on us. Schnookie tries to console herself, “I think I’d know if it was climbing on me. I’d hear it. I’d hear it breathing.”
1:24 Just as the unenthusiastic crowd is starting the first “Blow Leafs Blow” chant (wait, that’s not what they’re saying?), Finger trips Gio behind Toskala’s net. It’s scorched earth time.
0:53 Even with a pile of players pushing Toskala into the goal, the Devils still can’t put the puck into the net on the goalmouth scramble. Even after the officials blow the whistle and the Leafs D-men let up, the Devils still can’t put the puck into the net. Dude, this game is over. Put a fork in it.
0:19 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach will not put a fork in this game, dammit! He gets a nice pass at the side of the net from Patty, goes to step out in front and power around Toskala, and is met by Van Ryn’s stick along the way. The puck flings up Van Ryn’s stick, over Toskala’s shoulder, and into the goal. 2-2 game, and after a video review the official announces, “It’s a good goal.” Chico says, “Zach thinks it’s a great goal.” He’s probably sitting on the bench right now, crushed that the league has spoken and rated it only “good”.
0:00 Maybe the Devils should start practicing second periods.
MSG+ shows us another segment of the show about Patty’s visit to Belize. If you’d told us ten years ago that Patrik Elias was someday going to be an elder statesman (and ex-captain) on the team and real-life UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, we would have laughed in your face. Of course.
Before the puck is dropped, we see another replay of Zach’s goal, and it turns out that the puck deflected into the net off his shield. That’s right, after all that talk about it over the past few games, Doc and Chico have been rewarded by an actual goal being actually scored by actually gonging off a guy’s head. Hockey is such a wonderful thing.
18:29 The Devils also need to practice starting the third period. First they very nearly give up a goal on a bad goalmouth scrum (the only reason they don’t score is because their best shot hits a Leaf who is lying in the crease), and then Patty gets called for hooking when the play goes down the other end. Chico points out that this is the second game in a row where Patty’s taken a bad penalty at a key time, and then replay shows this is also the second game in a row where the guy drawing the penalty on Patty could have gotten an even-up on the dive.
16:36 After a chaotic series of good chances for the Leafs, Madden and Travis head down the ice on a nearly impossibly slow two-on-one. Travis needn’t have bothered skating all the way down, though, because Madden is hell-bent on firing a heavy shot well wide.
14:54 Travis confuses everyone by getting a close-range chance at a wide-open (like, yawning wide open) net, but for some reason the puck ends up in the corner. No one has any idea how that happened.
12:20 Paulie does a good job breaking up a Leafs scoring chance at the last minute, and Pookie says haltingly, “That… was a good play by Paulie. When I say that, though, he always promptly screws up.” We wait with bated breath for the screw-up, but it doesn’t come. Paulie’s probably going to pay us back with interest later in the game.
9:20 There is a flurry of possible scoring chances for the Leafs in front of Clemmer, but somehow nothing really comes of it, and after a shaky second where he seems to have to be thinking very hard about which way to direct the puck, Holik gets the clear. Pookie: “Blobby was considering putting the puck into his own net there.”
5:03 Finger takes a good shot from just below the faceoff dot, and Clemmer is able to fight it off. Schnookie remarks that it seems like Finger’s been the guy involved in everything in this game, and Pookie concurs, “His is the only name I’ve heard all night. Other than Stajak.”
1:00 There’s only a minute left in this period? But it feels like they’ve only played no more than 18 and a half already.
0:22 Zach is handed a choice turnover by Kaberle right at the blue line and gets to walk in on a slight angle on Toskala, but his shot into his mask isn’t enough to beat him.
0:00 60 minutes of the Leafs is never enough. Let’s have overtime!
3:51 The Devils get a flurry of shots, and Doc totally has us fooled into thinking they might be able to score. He truly is the best in the business.
2:45 Captain Fuck This Shit goes for his patented fuck this shit OT goal move, but his heavy slapshot does not end up in the net. Patty smugly turns to Sutter on the bench, stretches out his hand palm up, and says, “C please!”
0:22 Patty’s bid at earning the IPB sanctioned nickname of “Unofficial Captain Fuck This Shit” falls short as his big game-winning rush involves a wide circle behind Toskala’s net, then drifting up above the faceoff dots, then dishing off to an open Applemotherfuckingsauce, who manages to hit Toskala right in the middle of his Leaf with the shot.
0:01 Travis is still a long way from getting a Fuck This Shit nickname. He’s not even, like, Fuck This Shit In Training. He makes a great defensively play inside the Devils blueline and ends up on a sprinting breakaway to beat the clock. And the clock is all he beats.
0:00 Chico’s call at the buzzer: “We still have the skills competition to go.” Nice! While we wait for the skills competition, we catch a glimpse of the back of Clemmer’s mask and Boomer, who hates every single thing about him, snarls, “Is that a cobra? Or a bird?” Pookie starts to say, “I’m pretty sure his childhood hero was—” and Schnookie cuts her off to conclude the statement, “Cobra Commander.”
The skills competition comes down to Blake scoring on Clemmensen and Rolston not scoring on Toskala. Whatever. It is constantly shocking to us that the shootout is still a part of the NHL.