Not too long ago Katebits introduced us to the notion of “giving away your marbles” instead of “losing your marbles”. It’s in those situations when you’re kind of letting something drive you batty instead of genuinely being driven batty by something outside of your own control. And so that brings us to the Washington Capitals, or, as Pookie declared them tonight, “The Washington Pookie-Giving-Away-All-Her-Marbles-es.” Yes, they annoy us way out of any reasonable proportion, but you know what? That doesn’t change that they really, really, really annoy us. So… here we go with the Devils and their atrocious home record playing against the team we let piss us off to no end. It should be fun.
19:48 Off the opening faceoff, the teams ping pong the puck around the neutral zone until the Caps clear it over the benches. Bruce Boudreau promptly complains that the Devils are playing with an express intent to cough up the puck weakly when the Caps are looking flat-footed so the Caps will cause a whistle.
17:24 For all the Ovechkin-haters out there (and we proudly include ourselves among them, in case there was any question) who thought this game would be a blissfully Ovechkin-free respite, think again. Doc informs us of all the details of all the shots Grape Ape has ever taken against Marty. Ah, we remember them all so fondly. Boudreau, meanwhile, complains to the media that the Devils are making a point of mentioning Ovechkin all the time just to try to throw the Caps off their game as they reflect on how much they miss him.
15:44 Rolston takes a short-range slapper after a little pump-fake freezes Varlamov in his crease, and the puck bounces high off the goalie’s shoulder and hits the outside of the net. The horn blows, even though a goal has not been scored. Boudreau bitches to the media that the Devils are deploying unfair goal horns.
12:55 The Caps try to mount some offensive pressure, but the Devils D is resolute in their own zone and skates safely out with the puck. Pookie, as Boudreau: “Since when are you allowed to steal the puck? We clearly had established possession.”
11:19 We go to commercial with the Iron Boar being whistled for some kind of penalty. As the picture fades to the advertisements, Boudreau can be seen passing notes to a sideline reporter in which he grouses that not enough penalties were called on the play. When we come back from commercial, the replay suggests that it’s not entirely clear what, exactly, Iron Boar was getting called for. Pookie posits that Boudreau cashed in one of his Sad Grape Ape cards to get the officials to give him a call to make up for this game being so terribly bereft of the inventor of fun.
9:58 The Devils get a long clear on the PK. Pookie: “Boudreau is like, ‘It’s not fair! Why are they allowed to ice it? That’s illegal when we do it.’”
6:55 Zach is sprung on a quasi-mini-break, and gets hog-tied and hauled down from behind, losing the puck and crashing into Varlamov. There is no call. Doc and Chico and the denizens of stately IPB Manor are baffled. Boudreau makes a note to mention to the media after the game that the Devils are a bunch of divers.
6:47 Chico informs us that the Russian media is claiming that Canadian players are targeting the top Russian players so as to undermine the Russian Olympic team. (Speaking of things to which we give all our marbles, it’s the Olympics and that baffling way that everyone starts every NHL season sounding surprised that hockey players get hurt. Yay!) Boudreau agrees with them.
3:45 Doc asks Chico how he feels about the Devils play so far, and as we watch the team kind of milling about with moderate purpose, Chico responds that it’s the best first period of the season for them. We think he might mean “at home”. Because this has not been an inspiring period of hockey from the team in red. Bruce Boudreau issues an official statement pointing out that it shouldn’t be fair for Atlantic Division teams not to play hard against the Caps, because it undermines the Caps media/fans’ argument that life would be so much more awesome if they were in the Atlantic instead of the Southeast.
2:50 Most of the Devils on the ice decide that Langer is going to successfully get the puck out of the defensive zone, because, we guess, they don’t realize that he’s Jamie Langenbrunner and can’t do anything right anymore. As Zach and Cory Murphy head off into the neutral zone, the Caps get the puck back, waltz down the slot, and some guy whose name we’re not going to bother learning calmly shoots the puck right past a bewildered Marty. It’s 1-0 Caps, and Pookie states firmly, “That wouldn’t have happened if Paulie wasn’t hurt.” Boudreau grumbles to anyone who will listen that the Devils shouldn’t be allowed to have a chance to try to even the score now.
1:44 Rolston looks like maybe he’s thinking about possibly making a good play in the offensive zone, but gets muscled off the puck by Tom Poti. Tom Poti. Pookie, to Rolston: “Tom Poti just made a good defensive play against you. You are the worst hockey player on earth.” Bruce Boudreau writes a letter to several major newspaper editors whining that we aren’t giving Tom Poti – or Tom Poti’s coach – enough credit on that play.
0:00 We get an interview with Mark Fraser in which he charmingly tries to assure everyone that the Devils will eventually figure out how to play at home. We disagree. The general consensus at stately IPB Manor is that the Devils are going to end the season 1-40 on home ice.
19:45 The intermission ended with a featurette on Varlamov’s mask, and Chico informs us that Varlamov’s “English is getting much better.” That’s the Russian-player version of Boomer’s favorite pat expression for how content a player is on any given team: “His kids are happy in school.” (Meanwhile, Marty has to make a flashy glove save on a point shot while Chico is talking about how crappy the Devils are. Pookie: “Boudreau is filing a complaint with OSHA that Marty is working in the salt mines without proper papers.”)
17:52 Clarkson is out with Zach and Travis. We like this a million, billion times more than Zach and Travis with Langer. Pookie dubs this new line “ZZ Dos-Tres”. Boudreau sends a telegram to the league asking them to review whether it’s allowed for a team to try mixing and matching players to figure out a line that will work well together, because he thinks it sounds pretty unfair when someone’s doing it against his team.
16:57 Egg gets involved in a scrum to the side of the Caps goal, yet the arena continues to sound sepulchral. There’s nothing quite like Devils home games when the Yankees are playing in the World Series. Boudreau says aloud to no one in particular on the bench that it’s just wrong that the Devils should be permitted to play in a sports market in which fans care about more than one professional team at a time.
16:27 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brian Rolston is, for just one play, only the second worst player on the ice as his centering attempt from behind the net (after some admittedly good work by a line of him, Nieder the Lesser, and Langer) ricochets into the goal off a spinning, sliding, pathetic defender in front. It’s 1-1 Devils, and replay shows us all manner of plays leading up to the goal that Boudreau will probably hold up later as uncalled penalties. (Replay shows the pathetic defender is Mike “Game Over” Green. It warms the cockles of our giving-away-all-our-marbles hearts. Heh.)
13:23 Doc tells us the Devils are “a different team” than they were in the first period, as they seem to be warming – albeit slightly – to the task of playing hockey. Boudreau takes him literally and declares the rest of this game is being played under protest. Meanwhile, Marty has to make a good kick-save on a flurry in front, and Pookie enjoys booing Cory Murphy on the play. During our early days as hockey fans, Larry Murphy was playing in Toronto and getting booed by the home fans every time he stepped on the ice, so ever since then, every time we’ve heard his name, we’ve instinctively booed. We are now delighted to have our very own Murphy to boo.
11:34 We come back from a commercial to see Zach chewing on his mouthguard on the bench, while Chico tells us how he’s second in the league in shots taken. He explains that Zach has figured out that the more shots you take, the more goals you’ll score, and makes it sound like it took Zach exactly this long to realize that. Zach’s like, “I say! I’m not a moron!” Meanwhile, Boudreau is wondering how it can be within the rules for a player who isn’t Ovechkin to take lots of shots.
11:04 Semin slashes Whitey’s stick out of his hand and gets called for it. Pookie: “Boudreau is wondering now how it’s fair that you can have only one hand on your stick, get the stick slashed to the ice, and the other team gets called for slashing.” Pause. “Also, he’s declared that if the Blue Jackets are targeting Ovechkin, then the Caps are going to target Whitey.” Sounds like a good plan, Gabby.
8:21 Zubrus turns the puck over behind Marty’s net. Schnookie says very slowly, “Zubrus. I’d forgotten about him.” Pookie: “I keep forgetting about, like, half of our lineup.” Boudreau complains that the Devils are obviously playing with invisible players, and that’s got to be against the rules.
5:43 The ZZ Dos-Treses get a sort of slow-developing four-on-three on which Zach decides to try a cross-rink pass to the trailer rather than shooting. A goal does not result. Schnookie, exasperated: “Zach! Whatever happened to Mr. Shootsalot?” Pookie, as Zach: “You said you don’t like how Ovechkin plays, so I decided to pass!” Boudreau: “It’s like they’re going out and making questionable decisions on odd-man-rushes. It’s not fair!”
5:20 We come back from a commercial to get a visit from Stan on the sidelines talking up what he’s going to discuss during intermission. He promises to examine the Coyotes ownership situation, and Boomer suddenly perks up, “Is that what you guys got me for Christmas?” Boudreau adds a chapter to his book for the next printing in which he will complain at length about how fans of poorly-attended East-Coast teams should not be allowed to buy poorly-located Western-Conference teams for their mothers for Christmas.
4:39 Marty draws a little happy cheering from the crowd when he makes a big, sassy glove save on Mike Green. Chico tells us, while we watch a replay, that Marty stopped “the guy they call ‘Lambourghini’.” Pause. “’LambourGreenI’.” Pookie: “’LambourGameOveri”. Boudreau quivers at the outrage of Chico and us making fun of a valiant Cap’s valiant nickname.
3:11 Zach flicks a little feed from behind the net to a player dashing into the crease, but the attacking player doesn’t convert. Pookie gasps in exasperation, “TRAVIS!” Then she realizes it’s Halischuk. “HALISCHUK!” she sighs, “Why can’t you be more like Travis?” Boudreau mentions to members of tonight’s attending media that the Devils are cloning players, and he thinks that’s not right.
2:06 Zzzzz. Egg fights Chris Clark. Her? And Her?
Pookie: “Clark just got beaten up by an egg.” Boudreau: “Cheater!”
1:25 Chico tells us something about how Jacques is such a great coach because he’s always cheering on his players and keeping things positive. Pookie: “Do you get the feeling he only cheers them on sarcastically?” Schnookie: “Yeah, he’s always giving them slow claps and they’re always like, ‘Oooh! He’s clapping for me! I love applause!’” Boudreau issues a statement in which he decries that the Devils are stacking the deck unfairly against the Caps by employing a coach this evening who has previously won a Jack Adams trophy.
0:00 We think that period was a lot more like what Chico thought he was seeing from the Devils in the first before they gave up the goal.
Our Chico Eats tonight features the Brick City Grill, and it features Gel-O eating with Chico. And after we watch in horror while Gel-O took an outrageously humongous bite of whatever, Pookie says in awe, “Gel-O just took a bite the size of his head. He unhinged his jaw like a snake.” Boudreau shrieks, “No fair! They have a snake man hosting their studio show!” Meanwhile, Gel-O is now shaped like a slowly-digesting 32-oz. steak.
18:44 We are having a hearty laugh at the thought of Caps fans watching their team be as flat as the Devils tonight and howling about how it’s all the Devils’ and their no-good trap. Pookie suggests that Boudreau is going to complain that the Devils aren’t playing a 1-2-2, but rather a 6-0 trap. “I mean, there’s no one behind Brodeur!” she protests, “He’s just lining up on the goal line!”
17:52 Despite a high-energy forechecking shift, the ZZ Whoevers are not able to score. In fact, Zach is never going to score again. Boudreau would be able to find something shady about that if he wasn’t so busy right now protesting “Chico Eats!” for clearly being a jab aimed at him for being fatter than Ken Hitchcock.
16:41 Semin has a week and a day to walk across the crease and shoot over a challenging Marty, but Marty bests him with a sliding, stacked-pad save. Boudreau indignantly informs everyone watching that it seems as though Marty is specifically trying to stop the Caps players from getting goals.
16:09 Whitey has apparently left the game, and Doc and Chico don’t know why. Pookie: “He’s tired of being hunted. He didn’t sign up to be the Most Dangerous Game.” As soon as we type that, Whitey returns to the ice. A messenger pigeon from Boudreau flies into the picture window in the living room of stately IPB Manor with a note attached to its leg that reads, “Isn’t that cheating that Colin White gets to come back to the game after leaving it?”
15:07 Knuble gets called for boarding Zubrus in the corner to Varlamov’s right. Pookie, as Boudreau: “Whatever that call was, it’s not fair.”
13:59 Doc mentions Cory Murphy in the course of his play-by-play. Pookie: “BOOOO!” Bruce Boudreau wonders if it’s within the rules for fans to boo players on their own teams, and decides that it’s of questionable legality and definite classlessness.
13:07 Chico tells us a story, apropos of Rolston’s slow start, about how he used to get all stressed out whenever he made mistakes early in his broadcasting career. And Doc used to tell him, way back when, to just forget about it after he said something wrong, “because it’s already on its way to Mars.” That is good life advice, we think. And Boudreau thinks it’s way unfair that the Devils broadcast team gets first dibs on a manned mission to Mars, because he’s the one with a new book out, and isn’t that who Martians would want to meet? Also, he was in Slap Shot.
9:24 Chico’s summary of the third period to date is that the Caps are sitting back waiting for the perfect, long-range offensive strike to present itself, and the Devils are working the puck down low and trying to generate chances through effort. Boudreau lets the media know that it doesn’t sound very fair when you put it that way.
8:59 Semin’s approach to trying to get that one perfect offensive strike involves taking a terrible hooking penalty deep in the Devils zone. Boudreau whines that the Devils getting more PPs than the Caps in this period is the result not of the Devils outplaying the Caps, but rather because the league hates Washington.
8:37 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Mere moments ago Schnookie wondered aloud, “Has Bergfors been playing in this entire game?” Cue an olde-tyme, classic, real-deal five-man-snoozeout that culminates in a Bergfors slapshot that blows right through Varlamov. It’s 2-1 Devils, and Boudreau is pretty sure he has a point about the league hating the Caps, since they didn’t get put in the Winter Classic and all.
6:55 Boomer refers to Boudreau as “Chatty” instead of “Gabby”, prompting Pookie to declare his book should be called Chatty Cathy: Confessions of a Shameless Self-Promoter. Boudreau complains that Pookie has just stolen and plagiarized the sequel to his book that is, by the way, available for purchase at bookstores now.
5:48 We come back from commercial to find out that the Devils bench is short one guy, but we don’t catch who it is. Boudreau is outraged that the Devils aren’t required to forfeit for being unable to field a full lineup for the remainder of this game.
5:36 Morrison, whom Doc and Chico have delightfully passive-aggressively spent much of tonight referring to as “an ex-River Rat”, takes a really atrocious hooking penalty deep in the Devils zone. Boudreau prepares his postgame rant to the media about how he’s noticed a trend in this game of the officials noticing when his team commits hooking infractions, calling them for it, and then forcing them to skate for two minutes without the offending hooking guy on the ice.
4:50 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The unfairness! It’s so awesome!!! Who is this dynamic power play, and what has it done with our Devils? After some nice puck movement around the perimeter, Travis rips a long-range wrist-shot that Zach is right on the doorstep, completely undefended, to tip just past Varlamov. 3-1 Devils. Boudreau is horrified that the Devils would be so classless as to shoot pucks toward the Capitals net and actually try to get them past the goaltender. (Replay later shows that Zach did not tip that shot, but the goal is credited to him at first. By the time the three stars are announced, the goal is changed to Bergfors, who apparently tipped it out higher. Boudreau finds that all very suspect.)
3:56 The parade of horrendously lazy, terrible, quitting-on-the-game penalties for the Caps in the offensive zone continues, and the Devils go back on the PP. Boudreau wonders when the even-up calls are going to come, because there’s a guarantee every night that both teams will get even chances, if not more for the Caps.
1:46 Semin gets a breakaway coming out of the penalty box, and Marty calmly stops him. We cackle with glee, tossing our marbles everywhere, while Boudreau grouses that the goal the Caps shoot at should be bigger than the one the other team shoots at, just because it’s so much funner when Caps players score than when anyone else does.
1:37 After a Caps timeout, the Caps score on their set play off the faceoff in the Devils zone. It’s 3-2 Devils, and Boudreau fumes to the off-ice officials that he should be allowed to have a second timeout, because he was pretty awesome during the one he just took.
0:00 Things get very hairy during the last 100 seconds of the game, but the Devils D bends without breaking, and the horn finally sounds on what turned out to be, less the first period, actually not a badly-played game at all. For the Devils. After the first period, the Caps were terrible. Boudreau calls a press conference to ask that the trap be outlawed, because that’s clearly the reason the Devils won tonight. Meanwhile, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!