Woo hoo! Another matinee game this weekend, but this time we get to watch it in real time! Thanks, schedulers!
We’d like to take a moment to complain that Gel-O has been sounding very smugly confident of the Devils winning the Atlantic this season. Has he forgotten that in 2006 we trailed the Rangers and Flyers by six points with three games remaining, and won the title? There’s a looooong way to go still, Gel-O.
Our Doc and Chico intro focuses on the Rolston/Clarkson/Shanahan line, and Chico informs us that Clarkson is “like a piece of bread. He goes with anything.” Oh, of course. Pookie: “Zach is like a Valomilk, in that he makes everything better.” (Stan appears with Gel-O after the first commercial break, and he says that “piece of bread” line means that Chico is now officially funnier than him. Only just now?)
19:20 Oh, it’s going to be that kind of game, is it? Paulie gets the puck behind Marty’s net, circles the net lazily while waiting for a change, circles some more, then, after presumably considering all of his outlet options, he fails to connect a pass and sends the puck the length of the rink.
18:03 We think Doc was trying to warn us that the ice is going to suck today when he told us there was a Seton Hall basketball game at The Rawk last night.
17:24 Schnookie: “We need to trade for Nieder: Andy Greene just barely outraced Riley Cote for an icing.”
16:22 The Patty/Zubrus/Gio line looks a bit scarily outmatched by the Beaker line for the better part of a shift, but finally get to wheel up the other way, criss-crossing on a three-man rush… and then Patty turns the puck over with a soft drop pass at the blue line. We would not mind one bit if Patty would quit it with the soft drop passes.
16:08 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sutter decided to keep the Poppers as his ace in the hole, it seems, and after we spend the first four minutes of the game without a single shot, our top line comes off the bench like a rocket. Zach laces a hard pass from behind the net out to a streaking Langer, and just like that it’s 1-0 Devils.
14:34 The Iron Boar gets a penalty for pushing Lupul over in the far corner. Chico informs us that the problem is just that the Iron Boar is too strong.
12:34 That. PK. Was. So. Hott. PaulieMartinNation and TravisNation are in deep, deep swoons right now.
11:46 Schnookie: “I feel like we’ve been in the offensive zone for one shift. And it was a short one.”
11:02 EEEEEEE! Paulie!! Knuble finds the puck after a Schlittsy shot gets blocked by the crowd in front of the net, and he skates around to the side of the net to fire a backhand at the wide-open goal while Marty dives desperately across… and instead of scoring, Knuble finds himself stymied by the unflappable defensive presence that is Paulie. Pookie: “He just stopped that with his adamantium aura.”
9:45 Shanny’s fired. He has literally the entire goal to shoot at from the blue paint, and misses. (Replay later shows the chance wasn’t as good as we thought, but he’s still fired.)
8:25 Well, that would be Marty’s first huge save of his comeback. The Devils turn the puck over deep in their own zone, and the Flyers tic-tac-toe across the crease to set up Beaker on the doorstep, but Marty’s there with a monster blocker save. Pookie: “That’s another thing I’d forgotten a goalie could do: playing up to his opponent. I don’t think Clemmer could do that.”
6:29 Powe gets called for a lazy, moronic hook of Madden in the neutral zone. Our cameramen for today have to pay attention to the Flyers zone now for at least the length of the faceoff.
5:06 Gagne takes a Rolston slapshot in the hand, and quickly leaves the ice.
4:18 The PP expires with little more than breaking Gagne to its credit, and then the Flyers pick right up where they left off before the man advantage, getting a two-on-one on which Marty easily bests Upshall. (Marty: “On the go this!”) We don’t think we’re going to be hearing any postgame quotes from Sutter saying Marty’s still well-rested after this game.
4:00 Coming back from commercial, we get to enjoy something else this season has been missing: Chico telestrating a save while waxing rhapsodic about the half butterfly.
2:09 The Patty line manages to string together a sequence of shot attempts from bad angles that plays out as basically an entire shift of ping-pong across the crease.
0:00 Whew! Now that was an awesome period! It’s periods like that, with that kind of pace and intensity and focus that makes us wonder why more people don’t love hockey. Of course, it’s immediately chased by Stan, who makes us wonder why anybody loves hockey.
Stan gives us a report about the mysterious Butthead trade situation. He tells us he knows Butthead has been traded to either the Rangers or the Bruins because Butthead told him directly that he was “going East”. And Stan thinks Manhattan is east of the Island. Dano asks whether the Capitals are possibly the team, as rumors suggested, and Stan shoots it down by saying that it would only be the case “if you turned the map upside down”, what with DC not literally being east of Long Island. Schnookie: “Oh for god’s sake! Bill Guerin doesn’t know geography!” And as she says that, Dano shoots Stan down, “I played with him! He’s not that smart!” Gel-O then scores a direct hit by closing the segment with a pert little reminder that he’d learned in school that Manhattan was west of Long Island. Stan 0, The Rest Of Us 3.
19:21 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! The Flyers do not open this period as well as they did the first one, and as they nap for the opening shift against the Zubrus/Patty/Gio, and Gio tips home a point shot from Oduya to make it 2-0 Devils.
18:41 Our Geico quotebook is Marty telling us the Devils’ destiny right now “smells good”. Have we mentioned today how much we love Marty?
18:10 Blobby takes a staggeringly stupid interference penalty for knocking Asham over away from the puck in the offensive zone. Doc and Chico try to tell us the Flyers should have taken an even-up on the play for clearing the puck over the glass, but they can’t distract us from how much we hate Blobby.
17:26 Paulie takes a stick in the face, but there is no call. He is furious, and we see him skating to the bench looking like Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, with his powdery white face and blood-smeared lip. Then we get to see a replay of the infraction, and it turns out it was Madden’s stick. Poor Paulie.
16:10 Doc’s call of the end of the PK: “And that’s it! Holik gets to come out of the box to play with his friends.” Pookie: “Please. He has no friends.”
14:01 Travis yoinks the puck on the boards in front of the Devils bench just as nothing seems to be going on at all, and then bulls into the zone while Zach leaps up on the play to make a two-on-one. All of this just as Doc is talking about how Zach is like a hawk, which is kind of sad, since it was Travis who was the hawk in the first period. Pookie, as Zach: “I say! We can’t both be hawks!” (Zach just misses the top corner on his shot.)
11:31 After a couple of not-entirely-threatening shots by the Gio/Zubrus/Patty line, Gio decides it’s been a long time since he last took on an opponent his own size, so he starts tussling in front of the net with Schlittsy. Pookie: “Of course, Gio probably weighs more than Schlittsy.”
11:06 This is one of those games that is just delightful. Great pace, both teams playing well, totally uptempo. It’s left us with very little to say other than that we’re loving it.
9:02 Eesh! Gagne (having regenerated a hand during intermission) flings a prayer of a shot along the goal line that surprises Marty a little as he hugs the post. Pookie: “Okay, that would have beaten Clemmer.” Schnookie: “Actually, that’s the kind of shot that normally beats Marty. Especially from a certified Marty-killer like Gagne. Either Gagne’s still broken, or Marty’s bicep really is bionic.”
8:46 Upshall chases Zubrus behind Marty’s net after he gets stripped of the puck, and he ends up basically just lunging after Zubrus, flinging his arms around his legs, and hauling him down. That was… not a smart penalty.
7:57 Zach and Knuble jostle for a bouncing puck heading into the corner, and Knuble takes a hooking penalty to put the Devils up two men.
6:46 In the long and storied history of 5-on-3 power plays, this one really wasn’t all that notable.
5:20 Pando and Holik get a long two-on-one, and come oh-so-close to scoring, but they’re Pando and Holik, so that’s the best we can hope for. Alberts then responds to the play by launching himself like a missile at Pando’s head along the boards. The erstwhile PandoNation narrows its eyes unhappily at Alberts and the officials for not calling anything on the play.
4:22 With the Flyers gaining a modest head of steam going deep into the Devils zone, Hartnell decides now’s a good time to run Marty. Pookie: “Hartnell has a death wish.” We watch as the Devils swarm around him, and she suggests, “They’re going to show the bench now and Clarkson’s going to be there in a steel cage, with Sutter rattling a stick along the bars, saying, ‘Are you ready to go? Ready to go get ‘im Clarkie?’” Boomer: “Yeah, and he’ll have big hunks of meat skewered on the stick.” (Hartnell gets a minor for goalie interference.)
2:00 Marty makes a stand-up save on Carter from a sharp angle. Schnookie: “Marty’s really enjoying being a stand-up goalie, isn’t he? I haven’t seen him go down at all.” Boomer: “That’s because they didn’t tell us they took a tendon out of his knee to put into his elbow.” (We figure the half-butterfly is really so rare that it looks shockingly alien to us after going so long without it. We’ll get used to it again, though.)
0:00 The period ends with a last-ditch flurry by the Flyers that involves a dogged effort by Zubrus to keep any pucks from getting to the net. It’s sort of hilarious how dedicated the Devils are right now to keeping Marty from having to see any action. We wonder how hard Sutter lit into them about that after the first period…
And Stan interviews Oduya. We guess they’re not the good buds Stan claims to be with Langer, because it seems like a relatively journalistically staid interview (right up until Stan says he discovered Oduya. Oduya is clearly thinking, “The fuck? Who is this crazy person? Is this David Conte? He’s not what I expected.”).
Stan reports that the Butthead Situation is getting stupider by the minute.
“Chico Eats!” features a birthday party for two adorable sisters, enjoying stuffed cupcakes at Hobby’s. It’s hopelessly cute. And Doc asks, “You’ve sung. You’ve danced. [In the gyro feature yesterday.] What’s next? Chico on Broadway!” Please let that happen.
19:30 Paulie gets clipped in the face again while getting hauled down by Gagne, and goes to the bench without a penalty called. Schnookie: “He’s going to go on a bloody rampage soon.” Replay, though, shows that Gagne merely got his stick near Paulie’s face. What a faker!
18:53 While waiting on a defensive-zone faceoff, we get a look at Paulie on the bench. It’s actually kind of an HD tour of Paulie’s hanging-open mouth. He’s a pulpy mess.
18:12 The Flyers are criss-crossing on a two-on-two, but the whistle blows in response to some shenanigans at the other end. Replay shows the sequence started with Briere grabbing Holik’s stick then falling to the ice to make it look like he’s been wronged, and then Holik getting into a shoving match with Guenin. Holik goes for roughing, and Briere for holding the stick (and being lame).
16:24 Travis tries to beat Knuble one-on-one while waiting for a change to be completed so he can have some reinforcements in the Flyers zone, and he ends up unveiling his Travisnado move, where he twirlingly leaps around the defender, then tumbles to the ice. Knuble looks puzzled as he skates away with the puck.
15:13 Marty stops another sharp-angle shot (that’s really all he’s seen since the first), flips the puck up with his glove, then slaps it off into the other corner by batting it, over his head, with the paddle of his stick. Marty, we have missed you so much.
15:12 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Johnny Oduya hates these Flyers! He slingshots kind of like Gomez straight up the ice, then fires a snappy wrister through Schlittsy that eludes Biron, and it’s 3-0 Devils.
14:10 Marty makes a save with all kinds of pressure by the onrushing Flyers, and as we start to freak out that the rebound is going to be trouble what with all that orange in front of the net, Marty reminds us that he is not Scott Clemmensen. He threads a needle with the rebound, and the play continues on safely. Anyone who wants to say that the GAA and save percentages are the whole story with Devils goalies needs to just take a look at the replay of that.
10:05 Apparently the Devils/Flyers series this year is the matchup with the most fights in all of the NHL. We have not had to break out our fight graphic today, though.
9:16 We are proudly blabbing on and on here at stately IPB Manor about how we love when the Devils are looking like a dominant, swirly, hungry puck-possession team, and just when it seems the patting ourselves on the back is reaching its crescendo, the Devils get lazy for half a second in their own zone. The Flyers get off a good shot, but then, as the rebound gets kicked out into open ice, two Devils converge on the chasing Flyer, muscle him out, head up the ice, and suddenly we’re watching Langer and Zach go to the races. (The rush culminates in Langer feeding a saucer pass to Zach, then Zach quieting the puck and flipping a shot through a defender in one lightning-quick motion.)
6:15 Travis’s yoinking skills are at an all-time high, and he steals the puck right outside the Flyers blueline, then leads the Poppers in on a three-man rush. The play ends with a foxy shot by Travis that Biron makes a big glove save on, then Zach going flying thanks to Hartnell checking in front, then Langer and Travis go nuts to defend Zach, but do so by picking shoving matches with guys who aren’t Hartnell.
5:45 The hell? How did Marty stop that? A broken sequence in front of his net leads to Knuble getting a great chance out of nowhere right on the edge of the crease, and Marty does this awesome little flip-of-the-hips move on his pads to cover the puck and get the whistle. Chico goes nuts talking all about how a butterfly goalie can’t make that save.
4:13 We are starting to whimper a bit, looking at the clock.
3:04 Zach really wants to score for that little birthday girl, but Biron apparently hates kids and won’t let him.
1:00 Still… staring… at… the… clock…
0:30 The Devils ice the puck. As the teams line up in front of Marty for the faceoff, we get fidgety. Pookie: “Maybe I’m not ready for the playoffs.”
0:00 HO. LY. SHIT. The buzzer sounds on Marty’s 100th shutout, and Chico actually calls it, “WOO HOOOO!” This is like Marty’s pissed that there are still people out in the hockey world who think the Devils are just as good without him. We knew we missed him when he was gone, and we knew we think he’s the greatest of all time, but sometimes it’s really nice to have him remind us again.