Great news, Gentle Reader! It’s raining cats and dogs here at stately IPB Manor, so maybe we’ll be spared having to watch this game by our satellite reception blinking out! Or not.
Gel-O and Chico lead things off with Chico saying “I guarantee that the Devils will win [tonight], because I can’t imagine how they would lose.” Considering that the thinks they played well in Pittsburgh, we’re not sure he’s really the best judge of how the Devils go about losing games.
And the rain stops completely in time for us to see the piles of ugly gifts the NHL and team give Marty to celebrate 552. Every one of those Tiffany plaques is worse than the one that preceded it – this one they give him tonight doesn’t even have a nice font on it for the writing around the etched picture of Marty. And seriously, if the Devils ever have an Ookies Night and give us a bunch of those wacky montage paintings, we’re not going to be able to not laugh at it when they unveil it.
19:36 So far so good – the Devils can’t clear the puck out of their zone.
17:19 Schnookie got up a few minutes ago to get dinner out of the oven. Pookie asked as she walked out of the room, “Want me to pause the game?” We both laughed uproariously. Upon returning to the room, Schnookie discovers it’s 1-0 LightningBOLTS!, and Chico apparently said that the Devils have fallen behind earlier than they wanted to. Yeah, Sutter’s probably pissed that they didn’t follow his instructions to fall behind only later in the first period.
14:22 We think Doc might be talking about how it’s hard to be a LightningBOLT! player this year. We’re not sure, though, because we’re too busy talking about how hard it is to be a Devils fan right now. Dude, this team blows, after having been championship-caliber two and a half weeks ago. And you know what? We kind of just don’t care anymore.
13:18 Pookie wins the “Master and Commander” reference of the night when she cracks of Ramo’s ugly mask, “Sutter hates playing against Tampa because Travis keeps coming back to the bench and saying, ‘Are them his brains, Doctor?’”
11:36 Chico tells us the matchup in this game is like those rankings-paddings games top NCAA football programs schedule. As he says it, we watch a two-on-one for the LightningBOLTS! followed by the Devils not being able to skate through the neutral zone and nearly icing the puck. Chico continues that the Devils are facing a tough defensive posture in the neutral zone as well as a hot goalie. Pookie: “Also, they suck.”
10:13 Rolton follows a Tampa skater into the near corner, holding him the whole way. Schnookie: “That’s not a penalty?” Pookie: “The refs don’t want to watch this game any more than we do.”
8:23 After some jockeying for the puck in the Tampa zone, the whistle blows, and no one’s sure who got called for a penalty. It seems, based on possession, that it should be the LightningBOLTS!, but based on recent history, it really should be the Devils taking a profoundly dumb penalty in the offensive zone. And sure enough, it’s Madden for boarding.
7:26 Chico tells us that the Devils PK has been scored on in five of the last six games, but they’re doing great so far. Pookie: “Chico, this game isn’t even half over. Give them time.” Schnookie: “Chico, this penalty kill isn’t even half over.”
4:49 There is a strange combination of forwards on the ice (they’re actually playing in the Tampa zone, too – WE KNOW! Shocking!), and Doc makes some snide remark about it. Pookie: “They’re out there because Sutter doesn’t give a fuck anymore.” Schnookie, who is not paying attention, asks who was out, and Pookie says slowly, “Um… Zubrus… and Zach… and… someone.” Boomer: “Sutter’s on the bench like, ‘Each of your names is on a button, and I’m going to put all the buttons in this bag…’”
2:11 Craig v. Clarkson. Yawn.
0:00 Will this parade of poop ever end? We’ll see, in the second period. We aren’t holding out much hope.
We spend our intermission talking about the fascinating series, “Whose Father Was He?” by Errol Morris in the New York Times this week. If you haven’t read it, you should. Fascinating, fascinating stuff.
19:02 Weekes twists awkwardly on a save on a long shot, and he stays down, twitching in pain. Chico can’t figure out how he could have gotten injured on the play, but even after a bunch of replays have elapsed, Weekes can’t get up at all. Marty makes his way into the crease, and frankly, of all the shitty things to happen to the team this year, Weekes deserves better.
17:01 This is the first time Marty’s come in in relief in 11 years. That’s insane. We can’t believe, considering how bad Marty’s backups have been, that he hasn’t had to do this more often.
16:25 To celebrate Marty being in the game, the Devils proceed to let the LightningBOLTS! fire on him at will.
15:41 The Poppers get a shift in the offensive zone just as Chico is telling us that with the way things are going lately, the Devils just really need something to help them turn the tide. “Like a goal,” he suggests. Schnookie: “Or the LightningBOLTS! forfeiting. I think that’s more likely to happen than a goal.”
15:25 And to conclude his shift in the offensive zone, Langer takes a profoundly idiotic penalty. We contemplate what we could get for him in a trade this summer, and decide asking for a sack of pucks might be too much.
14:51 After the PKers spend a few minutes whipping their heads around helplessly watching Tampa fire passes all through the zone, Stamkos gets Marty back for the sassy pokecheck Marty threw his way earlier. It’s 2-0 Tampa.
13:41 We’ve just figured out what Sutter was doing with his lame dressing room shake-up. Since he seems to have kept the guys all sitting in the same order, just on different sides of the room, he was probably trying to convince them it’s Opposite Day.
13:35 Chico wonders aloud what would happen in this game if Marty gets hurt too. Schnookie: “Chico, shut up.”
12:22 Dear lord! It’s a penalty, taken while the Poppers are in the Tampa zone, and it’s on the LightningBOLTS!. Langer’s probably appalled that it wasn’t on him.
11:23 Chico: “Devils’ second power play unit, coming out onto the ice now…” Pookie: “Quick, everyone! Pull up your chairs to the TV!”
10:33 Boos rain down from the crowd as Langer is stripped of the puck on an attempted wraparound.
9:31 You know what sucks? The Devils. You know what doesn’t suck? That Errol Morris series of blog posts we mentioned in the intermission. You should go read that now.
9:08 Blobby decides things aren’t stupid enough yet tonight, so he takes a goaltender interference penalty. Yup. That’s what our evening was missing. We go to commercial with Pookie on a rant: “You guys, I’ve decided the quilt I’m working on now is bad luck, because they started sucking when I started working on it. So I’m sitting here thinking about how I moved all the materials for my other quilt into the other room. And I’m thinking I can get up during commercial and put this quilt away and get the other one to work on instead. And then I’m thinking, ‘Wait a sec. I can think of things that might be causing a problem and I’m capable of trying to solve that problem. So why can’t the Devils???’”
We come back from commercial to find out that Halpern jumped Blobby on his way to the penalty box, and somehow the penalty situation shook out that Halpern and Blobby have matching minors, and Artyukhin somehow got an extra one. None of us has any idea how that happened.
7:22 The Devils very nearly score on the doorstep, but Ramo manages to blindly, fallingly sweep the puck out from behind him, and Mottau is too oblivious storming in from the slot to put the rebound away. The crowd starts booing again.
6:53 Oh great. Ramo throws his stick like a complete raging moron when the puck kicks crazily off the end boards out in front of the vacated net. There is a review of the save Ramo made moments earlier, and sure enough, it’s no goal. (Pookie suggests goalies should play with invisible gloves, so you can see if the puck’s over the line when they’re inside or underneath the glove.) But yay! The most exciting play in hockey! Shanahan penalty shot.
We’ll be damned. He scores. 2-1 LightningBOLTS!.
6:33 Doc and Chico promise us a very special “Chico Eats!” today. Pookie: “Please be funfetti. Please be funfetti.”
5:10 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Look who’s the new Fuck This Shit now? LOOK WHO! Suck on that Sutter! Pando gets sprung on a two-on-one that turns into a Pando-on-one when Zach decides to bail on it, so Pando just blasts the puck over Ramo’s head and into the net. It’s a 2-2 game now, and PandoNation, or the parts of our hearts that used to be PandoNation, even though they’re small and we’ve forgotten the last time we used them, rejoices.
3:03 Artyukhin must be trying out for the Devils, because he takes an idiotic penalty behind Marty’s net.
2:04 Chico tells us Shanny is “a double threat.” We have no idea what that means. Pookie: “Shanny’s like, ‘Yeah, I can walk and chew gum!’”
1:28 WHA-HUUUUUHHHH???? Captain Steaming Pile Of Puke flutters a shot through a Travis-ly screened Ramo, and it’s 3-2 Devils. We didn’t see that coming.
0:00 Doc tries to give Blobby credit for the turnaround in this game, saying it was Blobby drawing those penalties after his goalie interference that did it. We disagree. That PP sucked. The game turned around when Ramo lost his mind and threw his stick at a puck around which there were no Devils. It had nothing to do with Blobby.
Boomer points out that the bald guy on those greatest sports moments in New York history commercials is like the homeless man’s Benny Ninja. Pookie: “These commercials would be so much better if that really was Benny Ninja. How can we make that happen?”
Our special “Chico Eats!”… isn’t so special. They’re having birthday sandwich and cupcake for Stan at Hobby’s.
19:01 We get an update on Weekes, that he apparently blew out a knee.
17:22 Malone scores without any effort on a breakaway. Chico hastily makes excuses for Marty on it, and basically blames the goal on Paulie having been sort of halfway back on the play. He seems to think Marty would have stopped it if it had been a breakaway without any defenders anywhere in the picture, but considering how Marty looked utterly lost on the play, we kind of doubt that. 3-3 game.
15:46 Marty makes a save on a soft, mid-range shot, and Pookie cheers derisively. This is met by silence in the living room at stately IPB Manor, as Boomer and Schnookie are just too beaten down to say anything. Pookie: “Too soon?”
14:24 Boomer: “Did you guys enjoy that brief, floating fifteen minutes where you thought the Devils might actually win?” Us: “Yeah. That was nice.”
12:33 The Poppers put together a sassy shift, perhaps the first one from Zach we’ve seen since that Boston game, and it’s all kept alive thanks to a really cool keep by Paulie under pressure from three LightningBOLTS!. Langer promptly turns the puck over, though, to make up for it.
9:17 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! Once again the Poppers do some good work after an offensive-zone draw – Travis keeps a puck alive in front of the crease, and Langer is there to punch it home. It’s 4-3 Devils, and we’re just not sure what to think anymore.
5:54 We are busy looking up life expectancies of ants, and then look up in time to see the Devils completely losing all hope at defensive-zone coverage to give the LightningBOLTS! a clear shot at an empty net. Yup. It’s a 4-4 tie. Christ, this Devils team is terrible. We’ll eat our hats if they can get out of this game with a point.
3:22 Doc has been saying a name that we’ve assumed, all evening, was “Chuchurra”. Turns out it’s “Szczechura”. Just an interesting factoid. If by “interesting” we mean “not at all interesting.”
2:00 Pookie floats our previously-unspoken concern: “I think Zach’s having a Hooters Baby.” Schnookie: “I’m not sure what to say to that. The whole team seems to be having one.” This gets us thinking, and we conclude that the entire team, in celebration of Marty’s 552nd win, went out to celebrate and one of them accidentally killed a hooker during the festivities. Then the entire team collectively agreed to cut off her hands, feet and head, bury the body in the woods, and then throw the identifying body parts in an incinerator. Basically, all of them were involved in something terrible, all of them participated in some terrible decision-making, and now all of them are paying the price.
0:32 Ramo falls over at the side of the net, but three Devils hammering away at the puck can’t find a way to get it past him into the goal. Schnookie: “They are the dictionary fucking definition of ‘sad fucks’.” (We’re trying to decide which Devil is going to be the first to crack, move into the attic, and drill peepholes all over the ceiling. Pookie thinks Paulie. Schnookie thinks maybe Oduya.)
0:00 Okay, so the Devils manage to get a point. We’d eat our hats, but it’s not like the Devils ever follow through on anything. (We also have decided that Paulie and Oduya would both move into the attic with peepholes because, as Pookie points out, “You can’t break up the cliques.”)
3:39 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach isn’t never going to score again! Even without Patty on the ice with him, he manages to bury a great shot after Travis feeds him perfectly in the high slot. 5-4 Devils, and the team goes completely nuts like they’ve just won a playoff series. We can’t decide if that’s a sign that maybe they’re capable of turning things around, or that it’s a sign that this team is really a lost cause.