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Archive for February, 2009

Saturday Open Thread

It’s one of those terrible Saturdays where the NHL schedule and Pookie’s schedule have conspired to make us have to watch the Devils on significant tivo delay. Bummer. So here’s an open thread for all the thrills and chills of today’s hockey. We aren’t on radio silence, so we’ll be in and out.

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We’re not going to lie, Gentle Reader – we never thought this day would come. It’s felt like a lifetime since we last saw Paulie, and now he’s back! WOO HOOOO!

Just kidding.

Seriously, though, this is the first game night since November 1 that feels normal to us. It’s been a great season, obviously, but we feel like we’re waking up tonight after four months of suspended animation. As Gel-O and Dano talk in the intro to the game, they mention the dreadful game last Saturday on the Island, and you know what? We don’t think anyone remembers that anymore.

FIRST PERIOD

19:23 Marty gets his first touch on a soft dump-in, and the crowd roars, then starts the “Mar-ty! Mar-ty!” chant. It feels so good.

18:06 Chico tells us this is a new situation for Marty, it being “almost March 1 and he’s only just getting his career started.” Wait, we thought the career was already really well-established. Well, we guess NHL.com needn’t get that all-time wins countdown up and running again, because he’s starting now from scratch.

17:08 Pando forces a turnover at the Devils blueline, then isn’t quite fast enough to beat the Av defenders on a race down toward the Colorado net. Schnookie: “If Pando scored tonight, I might die.”

15:50 Applesauce very calmly stands up an onrushing Av, then coolly swats the puck off the guy’s stick. It’s like having Paulie back on the blueline has caused the rest of the d-men to stop panicking and remember how to play hockey.

15:22 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Poppers decide to send a message that they’re capable of thinking offense even though Marty’s behind them. Zach springs Travis and Langer to chug up the ice on a two-on-two, Travis dishes to Langer, and he fires a wobbly, fluttering shot that gets through Raycroft. 1-0 Devils.

15:09 Marty goes behind the net and cleanly handles the puck. We nearly faint with excitement, and Schnookie triumphantly shouts, “Oh my god! We have a goalie who can stop the puck behind the net!” Pookie: “Yeah, that’s funny… those always got through Clemmensen.”

12:02 Pookie, watching happily as the Devils D carries the puck around behind Marty’s net: “Our HD looks crisper tonight.” Schnookie: “And the whole world smells better, too.”

11:35 Foote trips Langer, and puts the Paulie-powered PP on the ice. PaulieMartinNation expects great things to happen here!

10:44 After a long Avs clear, Marty stops the puck behind the net, then hands it off to Paulie for the five-man snooze-out. It has been months since we last saw a clean goalie-to-defenseman handoff behind the net! Pookie: “I bet Paulie wasn’t hurt. I bet he was just tired of playing with Clemmer. He went to Sutter and said, ‘I can’t work under these conditions!’ And Sutter said, ‘Fine. You can sit down at your dumb card table, punk.’”

9:35 Huh. That PP really, hugely sucked.

7:32 PaulieMartinNation is horrified. He turns the puck over on the near boards, and it turns into a pass to a wide-open Av in the slot, then a bunch of scrambling around the goal, and basically what we’re saying is that we’re never going to speak of this again.

6:26 Since the goal, the Devils have looked really sloppy. So much so that Schnookie says a bit smugly, “I still think they’re in their March Swoon,” and Pookie can’t disagree.

5:46 The Avs get their first official scoring chance, and it’s one of those stand-up-right-next-to-the-goalpost saves by Marty while the forwards whack away at his feet until he gets a whistle. Ahhh. Feels like old times.

4:27 Gah! Zach is never going to score again! The Poppers have another zesty cycling shift that leads off a few broken plays to a glorious chance that proves not to be easy or breezy enough for Zach.

3:22 There is a faceoff in the Colorado zone that Schnookie narrates thusly: “Oooh! Look at Pando totally showing up Shanny! Blobby got thrown out of the faceoff, and Pando scampered in to take it even though everyone was looking for Shanny to step in.” Long pause. “Pando backed off, though, at the last second.” Yeah.

1:25 The Zubrus/Patty/Gio line tries to do their best Popper impersonation, with some wildly good opportunities in front while the Avs D collectively piles up in a panic in the crease, but they’re still the Zubrus/Patty/Gio line, so they don’t score. Or even get any shots through.

0:00 Here is what we have to say about this period: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Marty! Marty! Marty! We don’t care about anything else about it.

FIRST INTERMISSION

We’re drinking it now — the eiswein. And you know what? Even at $7,133 per drop, it’s worth every penny. Phenomenally delicious, and perfectly matched to the occasion.

SECOND PERIOD

19:35 It might be a new age of Marty being back in net, but it’s the same old Rolston. He takes a flat-footed, lazy hooking penalty to start off the period.

17:50 And that is what you call rebound control. Marty makes a stand-up save on a sneaky-angle shot, then, with that Marty economy of motion, kicks the puck up to Oduya to send Johnny Handsome on a shorthanded three-on-one with Patty and Gio. Patty isn’t able to score on it, though. Because, well, it’s almost March.

15:50 Doc mutters something again about that time when Blobby chastised him and Chico for only interviewing the goal scorers between periods. We have heard this ten billion times already. Seriously, quit it, Doc.

15:23 Clarkson attempts a high-speed kamikaze Clarkaround that involves an inevitable wipeout, but he still manages to draw a tripping penalty to Raycroft. Chico remarks that the power play gets a second chance after a first-period attempt that wasn’t very powerful. Pookie: “I’d even say it wasn’t much of a play either.”

14:15 Any old time that the Devils want to start playing hard works for us. The Avs get a slow-developing shorthanded chance that turns out not to be a goal only by virtue of the initial shot hitting the pipe, and then some crazy-good backchecking by Zach. Pookie: “Zach is the bomb-diggity.”

13:23 It’s like the ghost of Perry Pearn has possessed the Devils PP or something.

12:15 We come back from commercial to see highlights from Patrick Roy’s career, and now our HD has gone away. We are not above blaming Roy for it.

11:47 After a wonky rebound from Raycroft yields a great chance for Patty at the side of the crease, which he, of course, doesn’t convert. That said, someone somewhere on the play draws a hooking penalty to the Avs, and the PP goes back to work.

11:22 The PP might blow, but it’s brought our HD back!

11:17 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paulie is a genius, firing a shot from the high point deliberately wide to get a fat rebound off the backboards for Travis and/or Patty to punch in from the top of the crease. Amazingly, it’s Patty who gets to it and shovels it home on his backhand to make it 2-0 Devils.

9:56 Marty’s back! Marty’s back! Marty’s back! (He makes a stop and freezes the puck on a scramble in front that, at this time last week, would have led to at least another minute of opponents hammering away while Devils d-men fall all over the place.)
6:56 A Frankenline of Shanny, Clarkson and Zubrus cycles for a shift, and Pookie sighs happily, then says, “There’s nothing to say about this game other than ‘*happy sigh*’.”

4:33 It took about a period and a half, but it looks like the Devils have finally arrived to play this game. They stage a sequence of shifts that are like relentless waves of offensive pressure that all lead to shots aimed at Raycroft’s head. Raycroft’s head is pretty good at stopping shots, though.

4:16 Chico gets talking about the wins record and says that he hopes Patrick Roy will be in attendance when Marty does break it. Schnookie: “Well, he is so gracious. I can’t imagine him saying no.” Pookie: “And he’s always liked Marty so much.”

4:02 Johnny Handsome takes a penalty, perhaps for being too handsome.

2:02 The PK is the kind that gets the crowd chanting “Marty! Marty!” In other words, life is grand.

1:41 Travis makes a totally sassy yoink steal deep in the Avs zone. Pookie: “Travis is the bomb-diggity.” Schnookie, watching as Zach joins the play: “He is. There’s a lot of bomb-diggity out there right now.” Pookie: “Yup. I’m going to start calling them the Z.Z. Bomb-diggiters.”

0:18 Schnookie: “I bet Lou sent Clemmer down because if he didn’t, Sutter would keep starting him. He had to be like, ‘If you don’t stop playing with that, I’m going to have to take it away from you.’”

0:00 *Happy sigh*

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! And we go into *happy sigh* overload because we get a Paulie interview. He gives Zach the credit for thinking of shooting that puck wide. We think he’s being modest, because that’s just the kind of PP mastermind he is.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Pookie is having a terrible allergy attack this evening, and we are now vaguely concerned that she might be allergic to a healthy Devils team.

THIRD PERIOD

It’s “Chico Eats!”! Tonight Chico’s showing off the restaurant ledge. Looks swanky!

18:05 Marty stops a sharp angle shot with another of his sassy stand-up kick saves that work as a pass of the rebound to his d-man (yes, Clemmer, his d-man). We channel our inner Faye Dunaway from “The Starlet” and say, “Now that’s acting!” What, no other “Starlet” fans here?

16:09 Zach barrels into an unimpressed Av at the end boards behind the Colorado net. The boards shake mightily, but we suspect Zach managed to contort himself to hit the wall on either side of the Av while not making any actual contact with the player.

15:17 Pookie: “There’s a very good chance Lucic broke Paulie and that’s why he had to miss all those games, but I’m not going to boo him. I’m not turning him into Boo-cic.”

11:54 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Okay, so Zach is going to score again! DAMN! That was AWESOME! Langer fires the puck down the side boards from the Devils’ zone, and Zach outhustles the Av defender to the puck, holds the guy off while cutting to the net, then, with an almost imperceptible flick of the toe of his stick, flips the puck up over Raycroft’s shoulder. It’s 3-0 Devils, and we’re in a deep swoon here at stately IPB Manor for our very own superstar.

9:16 Chico gets going in an annoying blather about how Zach’s like Ovechkin, and scores goals with flair, and that’s somehow so much better than Jeff Carter, who only scores because he has good positioning and strength, and blah blah blah, and we snarl at the TV, “Chico, we don’t want to hear it about Ovie, and we don’t want to hear it about Zach.” There’s a lot to be said for the subtle goal, and anyone who doesn’t love the sight of a Jeff Carter wrist shot is a moron. Sheesh.

8:09 The Devils are really warming to the task now, and with some more cycling forecheck, the dynamic dynamo that is Travis draws a hooking penalty to the Avs. Boomer: “It’s hard to say whether we’re playing better or whether they’re…” she trails off. Schnookie finishes for her, “Rolling over?”

7:25 The dynamic dynamo that is Travis fails to score on a wide open net. He’s never going to get another acorn again.

6:54 In keeping with the Ovechkin/Zach discussion, Chico now pipes up that they are two players who “celebrate their goals very differently,” and then passes judgment in that distinctly Chico way of his. We’ll leave it to you, Gentle Reader, to decide which one he prefers. (Hint: it’s not the one who he says “hot dogs”.)

3:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, that may very well be our favorite shift of the entire season. The Poppers, started off with a gorgeous steal in the neutral zone by Zach, proceed to stage a sequence of sheer dominance that culminates in a hard-earned goal by Travis. It’s 4-0 Devils, and have we mentioned tonight how much we love Zach, Travis and Paulie?

2:09 Needless to say, even though there’s a four-goal lead, we are very tense. Heh.

1:48 The “Mar-ty! Mar-ty!” chant is in full throat.

0:36 Pando gets tagged for tripping in the Devils zone, and Chico says the S-word while the teams line up for the faceoff. The Hockey Gods would be angered, but the fact is that we’ve been thinking it since at least the start of the second period, so they’re already probably cracking their knuckles and trying to figure out how best to ruin this.

0:04 The puck squirts out over the blue line and the building goes up. And we guess the Hockey Gods are sitting back and smiling, saying, “You know what? You guys have been through enough. We’ll let you have this one.” Thanks, Hockey Gods. It has been a rough few months. Other than the fact that the Devils have been winning…

0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Marty! Marty! Marty! Holy flirking schnitt!!!! This was AWESOME!!!!

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Tonight we had a terrible realization at stately IPB Manor. It was identical to the moment in a mob movie where the hard-working, blue collar guy, who started out doing minor footsoldier stuff for the mob but with only the best and most honorable intentions, realizes he’s in too deep. It was during the early minutes of tonight’s Flyers-Capitals game, when the Caps scored quickly off a faceoff on the power play. Niittymaki played the sequence as badly as Biron did in blowing that game last weekend against the Pens. And as disappointment settled like a blanket over our living room, Pookie had just this to say:

“I can’t believe I’m being heartbroken by Flyers goaltending. I thought I was in control! I thought I had a handle on this! But it turns out I didn’t. I never should have gotten involved with them. I should have known with how this season was going that this was where my liking the Flyers was going to lead.”

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Disaster!!!

Sad news, Gentle Reader — we are without interwebs here at stately IPB Manor until Sunday at the earliest. So we’ll be watching the Devils, but mutely.

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Aw, bummer. No Paulie tonight again. Gel-O kicks off our game by telling us it’s the same line-up as Sunday’s, and if that lineup could beat San Jose 6-5, we can only assume they’ll mop the ice with the Panthers. Right? Right?

FIRST PERIOD

17:37 We’re busy talking about how many points it’s going to take to get into the playoffs in the EC this year, and kind of aren’t paying attention to the game really. It seems we have foggy memories of Langer not scoring on a great chance, but the first two and a half minutes have been a blur.

15:42 Okay, anyone who says that Clemmer has good rebound control is on drugs. The Devils give the Panthers a point shot, and Clemmer fumbles the rebound to Weiss, who is undefended in the slot. Weiss gets a week to turn and fire the puck past a now panicky Clemmer, and it’s 1-0 Panthers. We suddenly realize this is probably a major let-down game.

14:47 Schnookie, slightly tipsy still from dinner: “Oooh. Do you suppose Clemmers’ ‘turning back into a pumpkin’-ness is worse now because he’s on a road trip with Marty?” Pookie: “I hadn’t thought of that! Weekes is like, ‘AWK-ward!’”

11:44 Doc and Chico inform us that if the playoffs started tonight, this would be our first-round matchup. Hm. That makes the fact that the Devils don’t look like they’re going to score tonight look that much more ominous.

10:41 Clemmer turns the puck over to a forechecking Panther by whiffing twice on a no-pressure tap-the-puck-to-a-d-man play, and Boomer’s head explodes. Marty needs to come back soon, because she can’t take much more of this.

9:43 The Panthers get a mini two-on-one, and it is only a failure by the trailing Florida guy following up on the play that keeps the brilliant rebound control from ending up in the back of the Devils’ net. But, um, he’s really good, that Clemmensen guy. The Flyers should totally make him their number 1 next season.

8:04 Pookie, watching the Devils blunder around the Florida zone and then the neutral zone: “I don’t think we’re going to win tonight.” Schnookie: “I don’t think we’re going to score tonight.” Pause. “Top that.” Pookie: “Uhhh…”

7:10 MSG+ gives us a graphic screen that says the Devils are 27-7-0 against the Panthers since the 2000 first-round sweep. Schnookie: “No wonder I’ve always thought of them as our get-well team.” Pookie: “What happens if we’re already well? What then?”

5:54 Zach pounces on a turned-over puck behind the Florida net, and a flurry of amazing scoring chances that go un-scored-on follows. That is what happens when the Devils are already well and play their get-well team, apparently.

1:51 The scorched earth PP takes the ice…

0:43 …and Travis blows it by skating near a Panther who is falling over, and gets called for tripping. Poor Travis. He always seems to be getting caught on complete, utter, bullshit, the-official-really-wasn’t-paying-very-close-attention penalties.

0:00 We may have been distracted by other things during this period, so our assessment of it comes down to this: the clock has struck midnight on Clemmer. As the Devils skate off the ice, Pookie snarls, “I dunno, Clemmer. Your stem and spiky vine are showing.” (She didn’t mean that in a dirty way! Pumpkins have very spiky vines!) Boomer: “And your seedy interior.” (They have seedy interiors, too, but everyone knows that, right?)

FIRST INTERMISSION

MSG+ has a feature to remind us, in case we’ve forgotten, that the Devils’ season has been marked by a surprisingly good performance in Marty’s stead. No, we hadn’t forgotten either. (Hilariously, the feature includes interview footage of Weekesie going on about how great Marty is, and then Clemmer going on about how great Clemmer is.)

SECOND PERIOD

For reasons we can’t entirely understand, we have been having a fevered debate this evening about what size a Tastykake is. Boomer thinks five inches. Schnookie thinks closer to three. We find the specs for a Twinkie online, and it turns out to be 9.9 cm, or roughly 3.9 inches. HA! Schnookie wins! (Not that Twinkies are Tastykakes, but they’re a reasonably close facsimile, right? We… don’t often come in close contact with that oeuvre of foodstuff.)

17:23 Dude, the Devils are not going to score tonight. Dumbass Blobby gets a great scoring chance skating around Vokoun on the rush, and ends up shooting the puck out through the crease and the other way up the ice. Chico then shows us replays of this rush and a prior one by Zach; he says that the latter shows “the majesty” that is Zach Parise and the former would have been a goal if Pando had gotten to the goal mouth following up on the rush a little faster. PandoNation aims its sternest death glares at the TV. (We should mention that there is a Panther penalty on the Blobby rush.)

15:15 The Devils get an opportunity to hammer away at a loose puck at the side of the Panther net, but to no avail. We’re too busy looking at the Tastykake website to really mind too much. Apparently, if you like their “Juniors”, you can order a case of 24 individually wrapped kakes for $37.99. Pookie: “Schlittsy’s got his calculator out and is saying, ‘Those aren’t the numbers I’m getting…’”

11:27 Zach is motoring quite hard tonight, so after another good shot that Vokoun shuts down, we get a long look at a loogie-hocking Zach on the bench. Pookie: “I’m concerned about the soul patch he seems to be growing.” Pause. “I’m not concerned about a lack of secondary scoring. I’m concerned about Zach’s possible soul patch.”

10:26 The Panthers have no shots yet this period, which means the next one’s going in.

10:10 The Iron Boar takes a penalty for something. We are being terrible diarizers tonight, but the Tastykake website is just so fascinating! Doc is also not entirely engaged; during the stoppage after the penalty call, the arena is pumping insanely loud music, and he grouses that it’s inordinately loud, so much so that it’s making their table vibrate. “Of course, I’m from the William of Orange period,” he laughs, as he admits he’s probably just being a crotchety old man. It’s okay, Doc – we think the music’s too loud at most arenas, too. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we don’t enjoy going to live games very often.

8:33 Nice rebound control, Clemmer! And great coverage down low, PKers! Chico tries to say that Clemmer handles the rebound on a long shot perfectly and it was passed by a Devils defender directly to a Panther on the doorstep, but replay shows the goal is scored thanks to Clemmer putting the rebound right on a Panther’s stick, and that Panther then passes the puck to the open guy on the doorstep. 2-0 Panthers, and do we hear Marty cackling with glee somewhere? Or are we just projecting?

5:44 Barf. The Devils are now all thinking of Tastykakes, too, and decide, to a man, to stop playing defense, and the expected happens. 3-0 Panthers, and Boomer says, “For them not having any shots in the second period, they’re doing pretty well.”

4:03 On some planets we’d be excited that the Panthers have just taken a truly moronic holding penalty against Gio while he was skating through the neutral zone, but this is not one of those planets.

3:55 We’re now reading the Hostess website. On their FAQ page, they explain that yes, you can freeze Hostess snacks, but “the packaging is not designed for freezing. We recommend putting your treats in a freezer bag first.” Schnookie: “That’s sound advice for any treats.”

1:56 After Clemmer manages to successfully stop a shorthanded rush, Schnookie declares, “You know what? If I was going to freeze this game, I would not put it in a freezer bag first.” Pookie: “No. Because it’s the opposite of a treat.”

0:00 Oof.

SECOND INTERMISSION

During this intermission we take a stroll through the latest NHL news and notes with Gel-O. It’s all quite thrilling.

THIRD PERIOD

20:00 Before the puck drops, Chico tells us he was just talking to Paulie (who seems to think the Devils are playing well tonight, but just not getting breaks. Typical). Schnookie: “He talked to Paulie?” Pookie: “Why can’t we talk to Paulie?”

18:22 Chico says the Devils are working hard, but Pookie retorts, “Paulie says they’re hardly working.” Nope, nothing’s too low-hanging a fruit for us.

15:42 Chico tries to tell us that the Panthers are getting away with all kinds of uncalled penalties tonight. We don’t think that’s what’s causing the difference.

15:35 Zubrus hog ties and hauls down Horton, and Chico tells us Horton took a dive, and it’s totally unfair because Zubrus was tripped at the other end of the ice just moments earlier, but now he’s an innocent man stuck in the penalty box. Replay suggests otherwise.

12:45 We come back from commercial to see that sponsor feature where they show off what an HD picture looks like (it’s obviously money well spent by whichever sponsor’s doing it, because we have no idea who it’s for), and the video footage isn’t game highlights – it’s Chuck the Duck! Tooling around a roller hockey rink on a remote controlled car! And then driving into a goal, so Chico gets to say Chuck’s done something today that the Devils haven’t, and they need to take a page out of his book with the speed and finish. Chuck the Duck’s so dreamy.

11:05 Clarkson draws a holding penalty in the far corner. Replay shows Horton put a hand on Clarkson, and Clarkson toppled over like Doug Dorsey skating for the first time with toe picks. Chico politely refrains from grousing about what a lame-assed dive that was, and how it was very much like the lame-assed Panthers dives from earlier this evening.

5:37 The Devils, continuing to look like they’re not really a threat to accomplish anything good tonight, get another power play, and Sutter pulls Clemmer for the extra attacker. Boomer: “Why not? We’ve been playing with an empty net all night.”

4:58 A Panther gets the puck on the near wing, darts toward the empty net, and Langer trips him just inside the Devils blue line. It’s not called a goal, though, and Langer just goes to the box for a tripping minor. Clemmer gets back into the net, and not even interestingly on the fly or anything.

2:54 Just as the Panthers are scoring their fourth goal, Doc is saying, “If you’re a Devils fan, there’s just not much to say about this one.” Pookie: “That’s our cue to stop diarizing!” Schnookie: “Huh? I wasn’t listening. What did he say?” 4-0 Panthers.

0:00 This game was utterly wretched.

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3:03 PM As much as we’re pleased that Shanahan is out of the line-up, it really does make us wonder about the effectiveness of shot-blocking. Is keeping Clemmer from facing four more shots from the blue line in one game worth taking yourself out of the entire next game?

FIRST PERIOD

3:06 PM What???? No Paulie???? NOOOOOOOOO! This game sucks.

3:10 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Before we even really have a chance to settle in and start paying attention, it’s 1-0 Devils. On the replay, Chico goes out of his way to tell us the goal wasn’t Claude Lemieux’s fault. Chico, guess who we don’t care about? Yeah, Claude Lemieux.

3:15 PM The shutout streak is over (probably as a result of the Hockey Gods snorting in disbelief at Pierre McGuire asking Doc during the earlier NBC game, “Do you think Marty’s going to get his job back?”), as Rob Blake (surely he died in Vegas) beats Clemmer on a long, stoppable, very-reminiscent-of-the-2001-SCF shot. 1-1 game.

3:21 PM WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Gio, Rolston, and Maddog get a nice little cycle going that ends with Rolston tapping one right through Nabokov’s five hole. This is not, we don’t think, what either team had drawn up for this game. 2-1 Devils.

3:23 PM Clearly Paulie is the straw the stirs the drink. The Pauile-less d-corps can’t handle Marleau who camps out, undefended, at the side of the goal to knock an easy PP goal behind Clemmer. That’d be 2-2.

3:29 PM Chico chuckles that the talking points for these two teams is usually the strong defense but sometimes the storylines change. Good thing NBC’s not broadcasting this one. Pierre’s head would explode. On second thought…

3:29 PM What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here??? WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Clarkson, of recent “why is that guy still playing for us?” fame, gets the puck up high while Madden drives the net (?!? We know! Shocking!), then does a little Clarkaround/Clarknado combo move that involves building up a head of steam by skating a couple of circles around the puck, then spinning and firing it low into the corner of the net. It’s 3-2 Devils, and we’re not entirely sure Nabokov has realized yet that there’s a hockey game going on in front of him.

3:40 PM Chico tells us that he doesn’t see the craziness of this game disappearing at all as it goes on. We beg to differ. There’s an intermission coming up, during which both of these coaches are probably going to throw a clot. We eagerly anticipate the final two periods being a shut-down D-stravaganza.

FIRST INTERMISSION

That feature about the sculpture moving in at The Rawk is the coolest thing we’ve ever seen.

SECOND PERIOD

4:05 PM The Devils are in the midst of not scoring on a PP, and Schnookie suddenly shouts, “Oh my god. I have just had the most HORRIBLE thought. Obviously, Marty’s not going be the Devils’ MVP this season. If Clemmer wins it instead of Zach, I am going to kill somebody.” Pookie, calmly: “That won’t happen.” Pause. “Zach would burn down The Rawk if that happened.”

4:10 PM The Iron Boar skewers Travis’s eye with his stick blade. This game just got way less fun.

4:16 PM The team fund just got richer as Rolston wins the $1,000 Shanny had on the board for the first guy to take a stupid penalty that negated a PP. Zubrus shakes his head on the bench, because that slash was totally committed by him, but the officials tagged Rolston for it, probably because they looked at all the Devils on the ice and figured him as the guy most likely to do something stupid like that.

4:24 PM Langer takes a high stick in front of the Sharks net, and the Devils go back on the PP. Chico points out that, in Travis’s absence, the Poppers are being centered by Holik, and the line is staying out for the start of the power play. Boomer: “Well, that means the power play will be negated before too long.”

4:32 PM The Sharks get a great scoring chance, and Clemmer manages to make a groin-exploding post-to-post save that goes to review. It’s the old “the puck is probably in the net, but the goalie’s pads are over it” situation that always goes against the Devils, whether it’s Zubrus losing a goal on the play or the Ducks getting one, and for the first time that we can remember, the call goes the Devils way.

4:34 PM Far be it from the Devils to take advantage of a good break. Buoyed by the non-goal call, the Gio/Patty/Zubrus line puts together a good rush that ends catastrophically with Zubrus skating himself out of a scoring chance, and then Cheechoo ties the game at 3 heading up the other way and firing a mid-range shot that Andy Greene decides needs to be assisted with a little deflection action on its way toward the goal.

4:40 PM The Devils’ good luck is gone now, as they get called for back-to-back iffy penalties to go down two men. And with 12 seconds left in the period, Setoguchi makes it 4-3 Sharks. We start a “BULLSHIT!” chant in the living room of stately IPB Manor.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Dano spends this intermission frothing at the mouth about what a dumb waste of time the video review was of the non-goal by the Sharks, because in his opinion, the puck was kicked in in the first place and shouldn’t have counted anyway. Pookie: “And so begins Dano’s descent into Stan-dom.”

THIRD PERIOD

4:59 PM Chico Eats features Chico making cotton candy (or candy floss, to our Canadian friends). The only thing the segment was missing was Kevin Weeke’s porno music as Chico’s narration mentioned how the girl in the cotton candy booth was “good with her hands”, and “he didn’t know when to pull it out” but when he did “the shaft broke”. We wish we were making this up. That never happens when Gracie Sutter guest stars.

4:07 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Sharks start off the third period in predictable “make-up” penalty trouble, and Zach is right on the doorstep on a 5-on-3 to motor his way to a bunch of rebounds and finally tap a pass from behind the goal line to Patty, who is waiting in the crease. Patty makes it a 4-4 game.

4:13 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On another PP (this one off a ticky-tacky hooking penalty by Setoguchi), Zach fires a huge shot from above the faceoff dots that Nabokov doesn’t handle well, and with the Sharks PKers being a bit unattentive, Langer streaks down the slot and fires the big rebound home. It’s 5-4 Devils, and Boomer cracks, “The officials just skated by the Devils bench and said, ‘Happy now?'”

4:20 PM Zubrus is carrying the puck in the neutral zone on the PP, and turns it over. Pavelski then carries into the zone against Rolston, and just as Schnookie is darkly muttering “Zubrus is not having a game to remember,” Clemmer gives Pavelski a huge hole between his arm and the goalpost on the short side, and it’s a 5-5 game.

4:30 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Let us present “The Devils’ Sixth Goal: A Play In One Act”:

[The Devils pass the puck around the perimeter, and Rolston gets the puck up high but opts not to shoot and continues the passing.]

Schnookie: “God, Rolston, we pay you $5 million a year for your slapshot! What are you doing passing there?!?”

[Rolston gets the puck back and cranks an enormous slapshot that gets tipped by Clarkson through Nabokov and trickles into the net. 6-5 Devils.]

Finis.

4:36 PM The final three minutes are just insanely fantastic. The Devils on the PK, the Sharks with the extra attacker, the crowd in full roar… Let’s just say that we both suddenly found ourselves in that “You know what’s awesome? Playoff hockey is awesome” state of mind. The frenzied seconds finally tick away on a 6-5 Devils win, and life is just sublimely good.

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It’s a perfect Friday evening at stately IPB Manor, Gentle Reader – we’re having beer and artisanal cheese for dinner, we’ve got the Devils playing the Bruins on TV, we’re staring down the barrel of a holiday weekend… The only problem is that we made went into NYC today for a hectic tour of the Greek Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art while waiting on processing for business visas for some people in Schnookie’s office. So we’re exhausted. We are not as young as we used to be. We’re going to try to keep up with the game diarizing thing, but we make no promises. “Foot-weary after a day in the City” + “huge plate of cheese and bread” + “lots of beer” = sleepy Ookies.

Oh, and it needs to be mentioned, we go into the City for one day and we come back to find out that Chico’s been nominated for an Emmy???? What’s going on here? We adore Chico, but unless they have a category for charming rambling inanity, or kind-hearted shallow-thinking sports analysis, we’re not entirely sure what they’re thinking.

FIRST PERIOD

18:54 We start the game off with a Clemmer-riffic bang, where the D pairing decides not to pay much attention to a slow-moving puck in the far corner, so a mildly-forechecking Bruin kind of whiffs it toward the net, and Clemmer decides that he’s going to play it to a defender, but he either doesn’t communicate his intentions to them or they’re not listening, so what should have been a total non-event of a play turns into a great scoring chance for the Bruins.

17:04 The Devils get a succession of good chances, and then the big, slow, dumb fourth line takes the ice as Doc tells us Sutter’s line-matching. We sigh with disgust. We thought Pando lost his job because Sutter wasn’t doing that anymore.

16:07 Pookie: “If we lose tonight, I’m going to say we lost to the best team in the East. If we win, I’m just going to say that Boston clearly isn’t that good.”

15:42 Clarkson takes a page out of the Bruins’ book from the last meeting between these teams, and when Chara holds him up behind the Boston net, Clarkson goes down like a sack of potatoes. He draws the penalty in what is perhaps the first successful dive by a Devil all year, and it leaves a strangely bitter taste in everyone’s mouths, not least Doc’s and Chico’s. Sure, we all complain that the Devils don’t draw enough penalties because they never embellish, but as soon as they actually do it, we all kind of what our old “win with honor” team back.

13:42 If there is a lesson to be learned from that power play, it’s that more often than not, hockey justice prevails. (Although, to be fair, Chara was holding Clarkson. There just should have been an even-up call.)

9:54 It appears the Devils refuse to try to score on anything other than a cross-crease pass from deep in the corner. It would help in finishing that play if there was someone on the other side of the crease to receive the passes, but it looks like the Devils are honing their skills at making the pass before moving up to Step Two of the process.

8:57 After the teams swap icings and mill about for a while, the Devils D decides to see what would happen if they stop paying attention to what’s going on. Clemmensen scrambling is what happens. Pookie: “I’m not feeling very good about our chances tonight.”

6:15 The Devils weather a few more shifts of relentless (but still contained) pressure in their own zone, then, when they finally get the puck into the other end, Savard trips Paulie on the near boards. Now there’s a penalty with honor. Savard and Paulie jaw at each other a little bit, and Pookie declares she is going to heartily boo Savard every time he takes the ice from now on. Considering she still boos Marc Staal for injuring Paulie last year, Savard better believe her.

4:22 The PP sucks. Pookie: “I’m sensing a 0-0 final.” Schnookie and Boomer, in stunned unison: “You really think Clemmensen can shut out the Bruins.” Pookie: “Um… after the first. Let me finish my thought.”

3:20 Why is Clarkson still in the lineup?

0:50 Well, we know why Zach and Langer are in the lineup – MSG+ gives us a graphic informing us that there are only two games in the last 15 where neither of those guys scored. Um, not that the Devils are slowly returning to being a one-line team, though. *Pointed glare at the slumping secondary scorers*

0:00 This was not one of the world’s most exciting periods. We’ll chalk it up to being a feeling-out period, and adjust our expectations for run-and-gun awesomeness in the next two frames.

FIRST INTERMISSION

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MARTY!!!! MARTY!!!! MARTY!!!!!

SECOND PERIOD

We come back from intermission to see Chuck the Duck standing outside The Rawk holding a heart-shaped box of chocolates and wearing a pinstriped three-piece suit. Chico: “Chuck is wearing those pinstripes because they make him look taller.” Okay, he totally deserves an Emmy.

17:40 It’s probably fair to say that Clemmer has been completely hung out to dry on this shift. Just further feeding his Plankton ambitions, we’re sure.

17:09 Patty hooks Chara in the offensive zone. Chara goes down like Clarkson. Because life is inherently fair, Patty gets the only penalty on the play. Meanwhile, Pookie is floating a theory that the team plays better after MSG+ shows us Chuck the Duck: “He’s the straw that stirs the drink.” Schnookie: “No one’s stirring much of anything yet in this one.” Pookie: “Right now all the guys are just standing around a Capri Sun, listlessly poking at the straw.”

16:01 Langer chips the puck out of the defensive zone to send Travis down the wing shorthanded, and Travis, with Chara defending him, totally fakes the Bruins into thinking he doesn’t see Paulie joining him on a wide-spread two-on-one, then laces a lovely, soft pass to spring Paulie on a mini-break. Paulie, as we all know, has no finish. But we swoon anyway.

11:03 Hm. We’ve not been paying very close attention the last few minutes. In case you’re reading this to know what actually happened, no one scored.

10:12 Schnookie really hopes she just misheard Chico – the Devils have a whopping NINE shots so far in this game. Gotta love when you play in a measuring-stick type of game and measure up very poorly.

9:02 WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA????? WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Pookie has had a terrible case of the hiccups for the last few minutes, and declared just moments ago, “I need the Devils to score here, to startle my hiccups out of me.” Madden wins an offensive-zone draw completely cleanly, passes back to the Iron Boar at the high point, and the Iron Boar just whips a long shot through Thomas. Pookie: “Consider me shocked!” And, no joke – her hiccups are gone.

3:04 Holy crap. Clemmer is clearly feeling the heat from Marty, and is totally saving the Devils’ bacon tonight. After breakdown after breakdown in the defensive zone, Clemmer coughs a huge, juicy rebound up the crease, and then makes a crazy, miracle save on the kicked-in shot from the onrushing Bruin.

0:00 That period was WAY cooler than the first!

SECOND INTERMISSION

Dano shows off a valentine he got from a six-year-old. Have we mentioned lately that we love Devils games on TV?

THIRD PERIOD

We start the period off with “Chico Eats!” and in this episode, Chico enjoys some meatloaf from the concourse at The Rawk. In the feature, he demonstrates how you can take the meatloaf to your seats, and, in so doing, takes someone else’s seat and has to be ragged further down the row. Well played, “Chico Eats!”, well played.

16:12 We have settled into a quiet contemplation of the game, which is now in its “desperate chess match” phase. We are jolted out of our stupors briefly thanks to an amazing diving backchecking play by Oduya to shut down a breakaway.

15:28 It seems Shanahan’s not into the idea of playing intelligent defensive hockey with a 1-0 third period lead, as he takes a penalty for a dumb clearing attempt that goes over the glass behind the benches.

14:11 Travis dogs a Bruin in the Boston zone while killing the penalty, and Pookie says softly, as the chase plays out, “Travis is hunting the most dangerous game.”

11:23 Uh oh. MSG+ gives us a graphic telling us how long it’s been since Clemmer’s given up a goal. If the Bruins can’t score now that MSG+ is playing the mojo like that, they’re stupid.

7:47 This is some good, old-fashioned, super-fun defense-first hockey. It feels like old times. And doesn’t lend itself well to commentary.

4:58 Patty is so fired. Shanny actually has a good block of a shot attempt from the Bruins point, then carries the puck up the wing and opts to go for the criss-cross play with Patty rather than going to the net. And Patty partially fans on his shot, then meanders lamely off out of the play. Sigh.

2:36 We discuss what, exactly, has been the defining characteristic of this game to date, and we conclude that the best description of it would probably be “cerebral”. If you like your hockey brainy, this was the game for you.

0:47 Okay, here’s trouble – the Bruins have pulled Thomas.

0:00 HOLY CRAP! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the hell???? Clemmer with back-to-back shutouts? Dogs and cats living together! We may have been underselling this game at the outset, but now that it’s a 1-0 win, we’re going to say that the Bruins really are that good. Heh.

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