There is nothing we hate more in hockey than relentless media hype. There are lots of things that drive us batty in this great game, but nothing makes us fly off the handle with more vehemence and bile than having to hear repeatedly about a story we don’t think deserves the coverage. Which is why, after all these years of bitter resentment toward the Devils-ignoring media, we are lapping up all this Marty hype. We love that it’s finally our guy getting talked up 24/7. We are delighted that the national dialog is all about our oft-overlooked Devils. We are thrilled that, after years of underappreciation, Marty’s getting the full media slurp. And we are tickled to head over to NHL.com to see not one, not two, not three, but four headline stories about Marty. And our cold, shriveled, black little hearts are also endlessly pleased that there are countless fans out there who are losing their minds with how annoyed they are to have to hear constantly about Marty, Marty, Marty.
We also recognize that this is the first and probably last time our team will be getting the full glare of MSM attention. Even if the unthinkable happens in June, hey, we’ve been there before. No one cares about the Devils when they win things. Nope, we’re not taking this moment for granted. Right now it’s a New Jersey Devil who’s the biggest story in hockey, and it’s about damn time.
It should be noted that Pookie is a firm believer in signs, and today she got a big one at work. She periodically teaches computer classes to developmentally disabled adults, and today one of her regular students was engaging in his regular activity of sitting off to the side and playing computer solitaire. Now, he has no idea how to play solitaire, so really he just spends the class time enjoying the animation of moving the cards around meaninglessly. In the middle of today’s class, though, he suddenly leapt to his feet and shouted jubilantly, “I won! I won! I deserve a prize! I deserve champagne!” Pookie is very optimistic that this means the same triumphant cry will be spoken tonight in the Devils dressing room. (And it’s beside the point that the guy in her class had not, in fact, actually won.)
19:51 Marty has to make a save after the D misplays a wacky bounce off the boards immediately after the opening draw. Pookie: “We’re so not winning this game.” Optimism abounds, as always, here at stately IPB Manor.
19:22 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our favorite thing about the Devils besides Marty is opening shifts by the Poppers. Zach makes a gorgeous play to get into the zone by passing to himself off the near boards, then makes a backhand pass against the grain to Langer in the crease, and just like that, it’s 1-0 Devils. We think they might be a little ramped up tonight.
15:59 After some very high-energy shifts by the other lines, the Poppers get back out there, and Zach draws a holding penalty while ragging the puck on the boards behind the net. Duncan Keith is no match for our very own superstar.
13:57 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Travis misses a chance right on the doorstep when Khabibulin loses a rebound in close, and we have this exchange:
Pookie: “GAH! TRAVIS!”
Schnookie: “That’s why he’s my favorite. Because sometimes he’s like…”
And just before Schnookie can finish saying “‘I can be just as bad as Pando,’” Travis punches home the puck off an amazing cross-crease pass from Zach. It’s his 20th goal, and it’s 2-0 Devils. The crowd starts up its second lusty “MARTY! MARTY!” chant.
10:59 Chico tells us that before the game, he made the mistake of saying to Khabibulin, “Just think! Tonight you can be part of history!” Khabibulin apparently said, “I hope not.” Doc then wonders whether Khabibulin would believe that Chico jinxed him or something, and Chico then gets going about how Marty doesn’t care about that sort of thing. Pookie: “Marty doesn’t care because he’s, like, a Hockey Demi-God.” Schnookie: “Yeah. He has his own curse that he wields. He has power.” Pookie: “Exactly. And I don’t. So I care about those things, Chico.”
7:33 We have no idea what is going on right now. Khabibulin goes out to cover the puck at the left side of the net, and for some reason, the officials don’t blow the whistle. The Devils swarm and keep whacking away at it, and Khabibulin is sprawled flat on his stomach well away from the crease, but still no whistle. Eventually the puck gets loose, as the officials insist that it has to be kept moving, and the Devils aren’t able to score. Meanwhile, Khabibulin has got to be thinking that the deck is really stacked against him tonight.
6:16 Marty makes a shoulder save from way out, and the crowd goes up. We give four hearty thumbs up to the crowd tonight – it sounds awesome.
5:22 Chico and Doc are talking about Ben Eager, and mention how he has two career goals against Marty. Doc: “He’s one of few guys to have two goals against Brodeur.” Us, with visions of Marty-killers past and present dancing in our heads: “Um… Nice try, though.”
5:19 Blobby takes a penalty for roughing. Yes, a dumb penalty. We’re too busy unwrapping Valomilks to really notice it until we realize Doc is telling us about the Hawks’ PP stats.
4:48 Doc’s play-by-play when Marty plays the puck behind the net includes the phrase, “inside that ugly trapezoid”. He then says smugly, “I should stop editorializing.” Don’t ever stop, Doc.
0:59 Marty plays the puck forward totally cheekily on two successive Hawks rushes, so much so that Pookie chuckles, “This could go down in history as the biggest display of punk-assery since… well… since ‘I can’t hear Jeremy because I’ve got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears.’”
0:07 Doc, watching Kane chugging up the near wing: “Might be an odd-man rush…” Paulie, effortlessly catching up with Kane, overtaking him, then chopping the puck away to safety: “Or not.” PaulieMartinNation: “Swoon!”
0:00 Whew! Awesome period! And we get an interview with Travis and his aerobic eyebrows. He and his brows are very happy with being 20-goal scorers. But modestly and Travisly so, of course.
Gel-O tries to sound all smug that Dano apparently believed Travis had 20 goals in him this season. Hey, now. We thought he had 25 in him last year. (We’re… not very smart.)
19:47 Paulie is too hot to handle (and too cold to hold) behind the Devils net, and draws a tripping penalty to Troy Brouwer. (No, we’d never heard of him either, and Doc explains why when he tells us he was a 13th-round pick in 2004.)
19:08 Patty comes thisclose to the big scoring record that everyone’s talking about, but Khabibulin makes a snappy glove save off Patty’s quick wrister on the rush. He rolls his head with a surprisingly mellow smile. He’s really not putting his all into the Patty Head Roll at all, is he?
17:30 We get our first of the promised Devils’ dogs pictures, this one of Barclay Shanahan, who is an adorable grinning chocolate lab who turned eight years old today. Stupid Shanahan and his stupid endearing dog. And this was only brought up immediately after Doc and Chico had a few words to spare about Pando, reopening PandoNation’s wounds that Pando doesn’t get to be in a potentially history-making game tonight.
16:34 Paulie leaves his feet to block a shot and ends up watching the play go on around him while he lies helplessly on his belly. See, Paulie? Don’t leave your feet.
13:37 The Iron Boar does champion’s work with the greatest “standing behind the net holding the puck while just watching time blink off the clock” snooze-out we’ve ever seen. The cameraman even ends up pulling back to give us a vista view of the arena to distract us from the total absence of action here during the “play”.
13:14 We come back from commercial to get a stats screen of fun Marty factoids. Included on there is this stat: he’s won 237 one-goal games. Two hundred and thirty-seven. That’s over 43% of his wins. Yeah it’s just the system.
10:57 Doc and Chico notice that Whitey is missing from the bench and hasn’t played in this period. They have no idea why. This is not good news.
9:26 As the crowd is getting restless (constructively so, though), and Doc remarks that this is a Devils “lull,” the Devils ice the puck. And then after the ensuing face-off, Mottau takes a tripping penalty on Byfuglien behind the net. With no Whitey on the bench? We’re dooooooomed!
8:51 Patty, Gio and Paulie sprint up the ice on a rink-length three-on-one on which Patty gets the shot… and the entire building is ready to just go up for him… and he fires wide. The Hawks then wheel up the other way on their own three-on-one on which Marty coolly bests Campbell. This game? Awesome.
7:47 The crowd has been keeping up a “MARTY! MARTY!” chant pretty well throughout this whole game, and it’s building now.
7:13 Chico tells us the truck is reporting Patty got a shot on the three-on-one, but Khabibulin got it with his blocker. Sounds like home cooking scorekeeping there on the shot clock to us.
6:40 Chico informs us that Marty has faced 21 shots so far, stopped them all, and is leading 2-0. Then he, insistent he’s not superstitious and neither is Marty, hastens to add, “I’m not saying it!”
5:15 The Blackhawks are warming to the task. Marty is being tested, and the chants are picking up again. But Chico wasn’t saying it, you know. (We are so tense here at stately IPB Manor it’s almost ridiculous. Schnookie: “I’m so not ready for the playoffs.”)
4:11 Oduya decides to spice things up by grabbing the puck out of the air and tossing it behind his back. Sigh. He goes to the box for closing his hand on the puck, and we start rocking in place in fetal positions.
3:29 Playing the role of Whitey on this PK so far? The Iron Boar. He very calmly stakes his turf in the crease, then is there to blast a loose puck the length of the ice after Marty leaves a little rebound in his feet. Pookie: “He’s the Iron Boaracho. He’s stolen Havelid’s entire A-C-H-O.”
3:04 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new all-time leading Devils scorer!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Patty makes a gorgeous play to corral a bouncing puck at the point, then sprints up the far wing, leaving three Hawks in his wake, then laces a glorious backhand pass to a streaking Gio, who fires a shorty home to make it 3-0 Devils. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2:32 Oh come on, Blackhawks. What are you thinking? Would it have killed you to let this one go? They score on a point shot on the PP, and it’s 3-1 Devils. Meanwhile, the crowd is going crazy cheering Patty, and the “MARTY!” chant has turned into a “PATTY!” one. What a night.
1:55 The announcement of Patty’s scoring record over the PA brings the crowd to its feet. We get a look at Patty on the bench, and it looks like it’s pretty dusty down there. He makes a show of shouting some “Come on, boys!” exhortations to make it look like he’s not getting choked up. Meanwhile, Doc’s voice is cracking on the play-by-play. This is adorable.
0:48 Now the crowd is chanting “PATRIK ELIAS!” with the *clap-clap-clapclapclap*. We love this crowd tonight. (We do not love that the Blackhawks are having way better of the play in the last few minutes.)
0:00 The period ends with the crowd rising to their feet again. In other news, Madden’s also apparently hurt, too. Hm. We hate to take anything away from this moment, but we don’t like that news along with the Whitey missingness.
“Chico Eats!” tonight features corned beef and cabbage from Hobby’s, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, then poutine (they sell poutine at The Rawk?) to celebrate Marty.
18:53 Still no Whitey/Madden updates. Meanwhile, it seems like Paulie’s played every single minute of this game.
18:40 Boomer: “What, have Madden and Whitey been sent out for the cake and champagne?” Pookie: “Yeah, they went to get the donuts. They’re squeezing themselves into the donuts, so they can jump out of them during the celebration.” Schnookie: “Ew. I don’t want a donut that Whitey’s jumped out of.”
18:31 Oh. There’s Madden. No wonder Doc didn’t mention him. Here he is taking a penalty behind Marty’s net for holding. Madden? You’re fired.
17:12 A Blackhawk stands at the far point with the puck, and on the bench next to him, Weekes recoils a little and puts his glove up in front of his face. Schnookie: “I think Weekesie has one of those hypnotizing spiral things in his glove.”
16:24 The penalty expires without a shot for Chicago, but in bad news, Whitey’s out for the rest of the night with “lower body”.
16:05 Eager slashes Rollie’s stick out of his hands, setting the Devils PP on its earth-scorching way.
14:31 Yowza! Are the guys just a little fired up tonight? Langer hooks Versteeg to stop a shorthanded break, Versteeg goes down like a sack of bricks, and then all kinds of hell breaks loose as the Devils go after Versteeg for the dive and Versteeg goes after Langer in a preemptive strike. A wee donnybrook ensues, but the long and the short of it is that both Langer and Versteeg go to the box.
14:02 BOOOOOO!!!! Khabibulin gets the benefit of a really quick whistle (perhaps an even up for that time in the first period that he was forced to keep playing a puck he shouldn’t have had to), and Patty has a goal waved off. It’s a good thing Patty got 702 earlier, or we’d be losing our minds right now. Him too, probably.
11:31 We have now entered the part of the game where play is mired in the neutral zone and the clock ticks sooooooooooooo slowly. The crowd has quieted, and everyone seems to be marking time now.
10:14 Kane knocks the net off the moorings during a not-very-tense bit of Chicago pressure, the whistle blows, and then Eager and Rupp suddenly fight for no good reason. This is not the highlight of the game so far. During the replay, which shows the players trading punches, Chico says, “I should think this will be two each.” What? Chico, are you even watching anymore?
9:23 Ahhh. There’s the “MARTY! MARTY!” chant again. Just because.
8:25 A bunch of broken defensive plays inside the point by the Devils suddenly turns into Travis leading a two-on-one with Zach… that sadly gets snuffed out by a superb, stand-up defensive play by a Blackhawk.
7:43 Chico uses a replay of a typical calm Marty save to explain to the very slow why Marty faces so few shots – because he controls the rebounds and doesn’t give up second chances. It’s really not that hard a concept to grasp, people.
6:24 Doc and Chico concluded the rebound illustration by going on about how Roy and Marty are both great goaltenders and both “in the same solar system”. Pookie, jokingly: “Yeah, but Roy’s, like, Pluto and Marty’s, like, the Sun.” Pause. “And I mean Pluto when it’s not classified as a planet.” Schnookie: “Yeah! Like the Pluto that’s just a cold hunk of rock that people sometimes mistakenly think is better than it is.” Pause. “No, that’s Curtis Joseph.”
5:02 The crowd is, as Doc points out, having a hard time figuring out how to deal with the pacing on this game. Some are restlessly getting the “MARTY!” chant going again, and some are holding off, as if it’s too soon. Finally the Blackhawks get a long-range shot that Marty easily catches against his chest, and he gets a thunderous ovation.
3:04 Doc tells us when the crowd gets going, the play-by-play is going to shut up. He and Chico can’t decide when to stop talking. A tentative “MAR-TY! MAR-TY!” starts up, but it’s not the one that’s going to grow into the crescendo.
2:04 BOOOOO!!!! Marty’s clearing attempt hits a skate and kicks out in front in the high slot, where Byfuglien is there to wheel a shot in. It’s 3-2 Devils.
1:22 Zach gets tripped while cutting across the Chicago zone, but there is no call.
0:55 There’s an empty net now. Chico wants Marty to score. We just want Marty win.
0:08 The puck deflects off the glass out of the Devils zone. You can hear our hearts pounding right now. We are FREAKING. THE. FUCK. OUT.
0:03 Just to keep things interesting, Marty has to make one more lightning-quick save to hold the win…
0:00 And there you have it. 552.
There is no dopey skating him around on anyone’s shoulders – instead the team swarms him, then forms a skatearound-style semi-circle facing the net and they give Marty a stick-tapping round of applause. Then everyone, including Marty, spends an hilariously long time cracking up while Marty discovers exactly how hard it is to cut a net off an NHL goal. First Weekes steps in to help him, and finally Langer takes over while Marty takes a victory lap.
When Marty is named the first star, we are reminded of two things: first, that every one of those 552 wins was in a Devils sweater, and second, we have no idea how many times we’ve heard the name Martin Brodeur announced over the Devils’ PA system just like it is now. We are so lucky to have been here for Marty’s career, to have been able to enjoy his brilliance and thrill in the victories.
(And it should also be noted that when Patty is named the second star, he skates out in a green plastic leprechaun hat that he doffs jauntily to the crowd. We love Patty so much and can’t possibly imagine why Sutter wouldn’t want a goofball like him as the captain.)
And we want to say one more time here – major, major kudos to everyone who made their way to Newark for the game tonight. That was an awesome crowd that really did New Jersey proud.