One of the really wonderful things about being a sports fan is that you never know what’s going to happen in any given season. Now that a reasonably substantial chunk of hockey has been played in the ’09-’10 season, it seems like we can start looking at the bigger picture and thinking about what have been the biggest surprises for us in the early going.
SURPRISE #1: We actually like what Jacques Lemaire has done with the Devils. We can be gracious and admit that we were wrong about him (so far). Now, we keep hearing that the non-Devils feeds of Devils games spend the better part of their time fixating angrily on how trappy the Devils are, and we’ve gleefully read through many a sour-grapes comment thread on opposing team blogs where the fans of the teams that are losing to the Devils bitch (to the point of giving the Devils all their marbles) to high heaven about the trap. But just how Stephen Colbert says he doesn’t see race, we don’t see the trap. Seriously. We never notice it. Not when the Devils are playing it. Not when the Devils’ opponents are playing it. We barely notice it when the announcers point it out during games. It’s so prevalent that we kind of just don’t care about it. We just care about the Devils not ossifying like they did at the end of Lemaire’s last go-round in New Jersey, and were terrified we’d see that right out of the gate this year. And what a pleasant surprise — they’re sassy! The defense (before they all got injured) jumps up into plays a billion times more often than they did under Sutter’s regime. The forwards still seem to go into the offensive zone, but they also know how to play in their defensive zone, unlike during Sutter’s regime. Hell, they even score into empty nets! We know we’ve already apologized to Lemaire in this space once, but we’re happy to do it again today. Are the Devils peaking too soon, and we’ll spend March and April wistfully recalling the heady days of the November Juggernaut? Probably, but that’s to be worried about in March and April. For now, we’re just going to keep luxuriating in the deliciousness of the sassy, injury-overcoming, pleasantly-surprising, youngster-heavy Devils.
SURPRISE #2: David Clarkson, Niklas Bergfors and Andy Greene. None of those guys are emperor-gods quite yet, but they are all definitely the regionally recognized demi-emperor-gods in outlying tropical-paradise islands. Like, AcornsNations Cruise Lines does a steady business sending the citizens of AcornNations on weeklong, all-inclusive tours of the AcornsNation Clarkson Islands and the such. Of course, Bergfors Islands better not get too comfortable as a PaulieMartinNation protectorate, because PaulieMartinNation is not afraid to abandon Bergfors Islands’ sorry ass if need be.
SURPRISE #3: During Thursday night’s open thread, IPB Irregular EJGRgunner made a startling discovery — the missing piece in getting Bergfors to ascend to emperor-god status is that he’s not the Swedish Chef. In unrelated Bergfors news, Jacques Lemaire told TG over at Fire & Ice that Bergfors had a crappy game because Zach Parise has superstar offensive talent but also works harder than anyone on playing defense so why can’t Bergfors. Thanks to our superior skills at investigative reporting and the press passes we received for being such professional Devils bloggers, we were able to procure video tape of the confrontation that followed between Bergfors and Zach’s representative.
SURPRISE #4: Tonight we were watching the Blue Jackets (our new Tranny Gentleman Callers, which is a surprise in and unto itself) playing the Ducks, and at one point RustyKlesla injured himself on a play that strongly resembled this:
This prompted the BJs announcers to launch into the “shocking, unheard-of number of injuries in the NHL” angle, in which they started gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair over how injuries could possibly be taken out of the game. When thinking about solving the problem of injuries like RustyKlesla’s, we were surprised to realize that we know exactly how to fix the game:
1. Remove the banana peels from the trapezoid. Without the ability to obstruct those banana peels, defensemen are helpless to keep them from carpeting that area of the ice.
2. Replace the boards with haybales.
3. Replace the stanchions with pipe cleaners.
4. Replace the glass with that see-through bouncy castle window material.
These are changes that could be put into effect immediately, without altering the rulebook. If the GMs want to consider expanding on it, perhaps they can reach an agreement by the start of next season to just replace all the league’s rinks entirely with bouncy castles. We think this is a fantastic idea, and wonder why more people haven’t been talking about it.