Could this be it? Could this be our first Devils win in months and months and months? If it is, Steve doesn’t care – he leads off our pregame stuff with instructions how to find our local listings online so we can watch the far more interesting Rangers-Caps game on MSG.
When the pregame cuts to Doc and Chico, stately IPB Manor erupts into a flurry of discussion of their appearances. Of Doc and his chartreuse suit, Boomer asks, “Is that his South Beach look?” Schnookie: “Yeah. He looks like a cross between Hyman Roth and a banana.” And of Chico, Boomer wonders aloud if he’s let his rug go gray. Pookie: “He ordered the ‘Silver Fox’ for this season.”
Also exciting? James Wright, who is practically family to us, is in the lineup tonight. When a Lightning BOLT! gets the inevitable hat trick tonight, it better be him.
18:21 David Hale is a Lightning BOLT!? Since when?
17:41 We watch Pikkarainen fail to outplay any number of Lightning BOLT!s along the boards in the Devils zone, and Pookie tries to raise the energy level with a bit of cheering. “Come on, Ilkka!” she exhorts, “Let’s rehabilitate number 17 white.”
16:40 Just as Doc is about to tell us something about our BFF James Wright, the play picks up and he has to start discussing the Devils’ rush on a delayed penalty. Aaaand… the penalty is Wright, for high-sticking Zach. Pookie is outraged that alix’s cousin has turned out to be such a no-goodnik that he would show such disrespect for Zach’s pretty face. “Dude,” she grouses at him as we get a shot of him sitting in the penalty box, “I cheered for you at the draft.”
15:14 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hard work in front of the net! Power play pressure! Tenacity by Zach! A Lightning BOLT! goalie sweeping the puck into his own net with the knob of his stick! It all adds up to a 1-0 Devils lead! And the goal counts as Zach’s! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! As it turns out, he wasn’t never going to score again!
14:17 Andy Greene gets a wide-open net on a two-on-one, and misses. Schnookie: “Andy Greene is fired.” Pookie: “Don’t you mean Egg Greene?” Schnookie: “Ed Greene???” We’re in midseason form. Cesar Romero was tall. So was Marshall Dillon.
11:03 The Pelley/Pikkarainen/Whoever line is out, and buzzing a little. At one point Egg Pelley puts a mid-range shot on goal, and the guy on the line who isn’t Pikkarainen (we thought it was Bergfors, but don’t quote us on that) tries to muscle toward the rebound, but in slow motion. Schnookie shouts, “Come on Egg!” Pause. “’s assist.” Pookie: “I like to call this the Egg Line.” Heh heh. Suck on that, Gomez and Gionta.
9:05 We are still discussing the new Egg Line; Pookie is monologing about them, “Look at all those eggs standing up on their hind legs.” Pause. “Their hind l’eggs.”
8:13 Listening comprehension is going well for us tonight. Doc mentions Paulie in the course of calling some of the first offensive pressure by the Lightning BOLTS!, and Pookie immediately responds, “Paul Fartin??” Schnookie: “I can’t believe we never thought of that!”
6:25 After a disastrous shift by Applesauce is finally mercifully ended by a Lightning BOLT! hand pass, MSG+ gives us a graphic screen with the news that Patty has begun skating, and led the Devils in scoring in six of the last nine seasons. The header on the screen reads “But Not Forgotten”, which Schnookie thinks sounds ominous. “Also ominous?” she says, looking at Patty’s headshot, “His triangular hairdo.”
5:38 The Tampa fans get to rain lusty boos on the officials when they call Hedman for perhaps the ticky-tackiest slashing penalty of all time. Even Chico is outraged by how shitty the call is, but we think it’s just the hockey gods evening the score for that phantom diving call Travis got nailed with in Tampa during the playoffs three years ago.
4:47 Ryan Malone gets a shorthanded break, and Marty gets to make his first great save of the season, a smooth, sassy pokecheck that results in a giant Marty/Malone pileup in the crease and the Devils springing the other way for a scoring chance.
2:41 Chico tells us the Devils are “frustrated and mystified” by the way they stank up the first two games of the season. We, however, are not mystified by it. It was, in fact, exactly what we expected. But we are frustrated. So there’s that.
0:00 Okay, compared to recent Devils games, this was a phenomenal period. But while Chico is quick to tell us that all the problems plaguing the team are long gone, Pookie is quick to remind us that the Devils are only leading 1-0 on a goal the other team’s goalie put into his own net.
We get an interview with Zach, whose haircut makes him look like a very early-era Simpsons character.
18:30 Thanks to some severe failure of communication between Clarkson and an anonymous linemate of his in the neutral zone, Vinny gets to carry the puck in on Marty on a long two-on-one. But in the end, Marty’s glove hand is more than Vinny can deal with. That seems very unlike the Marty we’ve seen so far this year.
16:23 Malone is very much enjoying barreling into Marty tonight. He gets a semi-break and then decides, after not scoring, to fall to his knees and crash into the net. We’re not amused. Meanwhile, Chico tells us that this period has been rife with breakdowns by the Devils, unlike the first period. Also, it has not been rife with Mike Smith sweeping the puck into his own net. Unlike the first period.
15:55 Pelley/Pikkarainen/Halischuck take to the ice in the Tampa zone, and, as Egg Pelley goes after a loose puck in the slot, Schnookie exhorts, “C’mon Egg!” Pookie: “They’re like, ‘Which one?’”
14:43 We are now in the “the Devils are frustrated and mystified” portion of this evening’s entertainment.
14:01 Travis gets a mini-break, but can’t score. Because Mike Smith doesn’t like him enough to sweep the puck into his own net. Or something.
12:42 The Eggs are going crazy here! Egg Pelley has a shift like a man possessed, chasing down loose pucks in the Lightning BOLT! zone, then breaking up plays in the Devils zone, and then he and Egg Halischuk get a long two-eggs-on-one… but they’re also just eggs. Still. We like the Egg Line! Tonight.
10:39 This is what play in this period has been like, for the most part: Schnookie looks up, cringes, and asks, “How did the Lightning not score there? Is this a power play?”
10:11 Stamkos rips a shot from the high slot past Marty after sustained Lightning BOLT! pressure. 1-1 game. Chico informs us that the play was started ages earlier when Marty went for a pokecheck, missed, and instead knocked Whitey’s stick out of his hands. Pookie: “Maybe Marty can stop pokechecking for the rest of the night now.” (Replay later shows that the dropped stick was more of the Oduya variety than the “knocked out of his hands by Marty” variety.)
9:49 Showing the bend-but-don’t-break spirit that we love so well about the Devils, the Iron Boar takes an interference penalty right after the Tampa goal.
6:04 We make a sad attempt at creating our own fun by trying to cook up the lamest egg puns we possibly can, but the Devils are looking so disinterested in playing well that the best we can do is, “My egg has no nose.” “How does it smell?” “Terrible!”
5:41 The Poppers get a three-on-one that is well-defended to the tune of Langer carrying the puck up the near wing and taking the shot himself while walking in on goal. The shot hits the post, and then Ryan Malone comes flying in from out of nowhere on the way-too-late-for-it-to-have-been-able-to-help-anyway backcheck to pound Langer into Smith. We go to commercial with the oft-concussed Smith writhing in the crease, contorted painfully, with blood trickling from a couple of cuts on his face. We come back from commercial to see the oft-concussed Smith getting back into the game. Meanwhile, Malone has no respect for goaltenders – not his opponents’ or his own.
5:14 Oduya takes a holding penalty deep in the corner to Marty’s left. Chico is horrified at what a lousy call it is: “Oh no no no no no no no. That’s not a – well, there’s the arm around him, but it hardly slowed the Lightning player down!” So it’s not so much the bad call that’s got Chico upset, it’s the poorly-executed penalty by Oduya.
2:46 After the Devils weather another PK, Pookie says, “Well, at least the penalty killing doesn’t look as bad as it did last year.” Schnookie: “Other than the last kill, where they gave up 10,000 scoring chances.” Pookie: “Touché.”
2:01 Doc informs us that the shots in this period are Devils 8, Lightning 23. That is not a typo.
1:50 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wraparound Dos-Tres throws his trademark move at the unsuspecting Lightning BOLTS! and Pando is the Johnny-on-the-spot in front of the crease, there to backhand the loose rebound past Smith’s oft-concussed leg. PandoNation rejoices! 2-1 Devils, and WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1:12 The Iron Boar fights some Lightning BOLT! in response to that Lightning BOLT! delivering a leaping hit from behind on Halischuk in open ice.
Thanks, Iron Boar, for letting us get our fight picture out of mothballs.
0:00 Okay, that period was awful. It was very reminiscent of our favorite play-by-play call from last season, by Joe Beninati on the Caps feed of a Caps/Flyers game. In that game, the Caps outshot the Flyers 20-2 in one period, but were outscored 2-0. And Beninati spat with disgust as the period came to a close, “The Capitals have completely dominated the Flyers in this game, but if you just looked at the scoreboard, you’d think the Flyers were winning.” If you just looked at the scoreboard from this game, you’d think the Devils were winning. Heh.
PandoNation very much enjoys an interview with its emperor-god here, though, so we’re not complaining. (We are complaining, however, when the interview ends and Gel-O sends us to commercial with a promise that the intermission will feature an interview with Rolston discussing his favoritest coach, Jacques Lemaire. Pookie grumbles, “I think I’d rather listen to Giotto talk about Klimt than Rolston talk about Lemaire.” OUCH!)
18:55 Our commitment to game diary excellence is matched only by the Devils’ commitment to hockey excellence. When Paulie jumps up on the play and tries a sneaky shot into Smith’s feet from a bad angle, Schnookie declares, “I’m calling that a goal for Paulie.” There is a long pause as we dully watch the players mill about after the whistle, then Schnookie adds, “I’d put something about that in the diary, but I’m knitting.”
18:20 Oooh, the coaching staff is getting into the craptitude, too, as the Devils get called for too many men. We think it’s because the game has passed Lemaire by.
18:06 The PK does not look better than last year. Travis can’t keep up with the passing to Stamkos in the high slot (again), and Stamkos makes it a 2-2 tie with ease. Pookie: “I’m pretty sure Travis was thinking, ‘I’m not going to check that guy because he’s a joke.’”
14:19 Now if you looked at the scoreboard, you’d think the Lightning BOLTS! were winning. The D stand around watching while Hedman, taking them on one-on-four, lasers a pass across the Devils zone to Fedoruk, and then Marty just falls over like a fainting goat while Fedoruk fires the puck over him into the net. 3-2 Lightning BOLTS!.
13:02 You know what this game needs more of? The Egg Line. Schnookie shouts, “More Eggs!” at the TV, and Pookie says, “Weren’t the Eggs the ones who got burnt by Hedman?” Schnookie: “Yeah, but they make me laugh.”
11:57 Doc suggests we stick around for the MSG postgame show, to see, among other things, the highlights of the game. Boomer: “Highlights? That won’t take long.”
11:14 Bergfors looks gimpy going to the bench after a Tampa icing, and Chico informs us that he’s come up lame after falling awkwardly at one end of the ice. Pookie: “Bergfors? Falling awkwardly at one end of the ice?? I’m shocked!”
9:04 Zubrus takes a moronic penalty for something moronic, we go to commercial, and Pookie announces that she’s not going to wait until the end of the game to make tea. Boomer and Schnookie hasten to come up with some sort of urgent excuse to not be in the living room in front of the TV anymore, too.
7:00 We just realized that Lightning BOLT! who fought the Iron Boar is named Zenon Konopka. Zenon Konopka. That guy is AWESOME.
5:07 We miss some hot action when our tivo flips over to Project Runway. Whoops. That’s Devils suck-asstitude we’ll never get back.
3:15 So here’s our question: can we trade this entire team in for a new one? Geez, but the Devils are godawful. The offense sucks, the defense sucks, the special teams suck, the coaching sucks… they suck. Especially the offense, defense, special teams and coaching.
1:38 We watch as the Rolston/Zubrus/Bergfors line fails to stuff the puck past the oft-concussed Smith, and Pookie sighs, “I just don’t have the words for the Devils this year.” Schnookie offers, “Poo?”
0:00.6 NO. THE FUCK. WAY. Seriously. NO THE FUCK WAY. The three of us are in the absolute depths of darkest “we hate, hate, hate, hate, hate this team” despair as the Devils look completely hapless scrambling with the extra attacker, and then suddenly Greener’s batting the puck out of the air to punch it clumsily across the slot, and then Travis is darting down to desperately shovel the puck toward the net while the Lightning BOLTS! are collapsing ever more frantically, and then, with the clock run completely down, the Devils are suddenly celebrating because the puck has gone past Smith. AND IT BEAT THE BUZZER! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! (For the record, Schnookie was disgusted that Greene was out there for the final minute. She’s very smart.)
0:00 The Lightning BOLTS! fans are booing the last-second goal, and Boomer snarls, “You’ll get no sympathy from us!” Schnookie agrees, “Seriously. What, 0.6 seconds? That’s, like, a lifetime compared to 0.2 seconds.”
4:09 It’s the Paulie Martin Show here in OT. He’s an incorrigible puck hog, swooping down from the point, and muscling Ohlund off the puck in the far corner, and then waiting to set up the sneaky Mottau-from-the-point play. But like the man himself, the Paulie Martin Show has no finish.
2:31 Okay, now it’s the Mike Smith Show. He makes a sequence of awesome, sliding, stacked-pad saves against first Zach and then Travis.
1:29 When given his opportunity to make a sliding, stacked-pad save, Marty manages to also work in a sort of leg-whipping trip on Tanguay. Nice.
0:19 What the hell? Ohlund gets a wide-open – and we mean wide open – net but he manages to shoot into Vinny instead of the goal. Marty doesn’t see the Vinny obstruction coming, though, and commits to some horrible, embarrassing attempt at an anticipatory diving save. Watching it unfold in real time, Schnookie asks incredulously, “How did that not go in?” Boomer adds, even more incredulous, “How did Marty do a somersault?” Pookie: “I have no idea. I thought the laws of physics wouldn’t allow that.”
0:00 Well, whaddaya know! The Devils managed to play a full hockey game without incurring a loss. We never thought we’d see the day.
(Zach and Langer connect on their shootout shots, Stamkos and Tanguay don’t.)