After a great day of commentary here at IPB, we hate to have to change the topic to the Devils again. Really, why are we watching this game tonight? We know what’s going to happen — the Devils are going to lose. The only question is which way they’re going to lose, because there are two possible scripts for this team. The first script is the “give up two quick goals in the first, and then two quick goals in the second” 4-0 loss (which actually has two sub-genres. The first sub-genre is the “give up two quick goals in the first, and get thoroughly outplayed in that period, but manage a flukey response goal from an unlikely scorer right before intermission. Spend the first intermission with false hope. Then give up two more quick goals in the second” 4-1 loss. The second sub-genre is the “give up two quick goals in the first, two quick goals in the second, then get a meaningless goal late in the third from Zach or Langer that serves solely to be an obfuscating stat later on, so Zach or Langer can be lauded for having X number of points in X number of games” 4-1 loss). The second script is the “have a comfortable lead for two periods, then a less comfortable, narrower lead for 18 1/2 minutes in the third period, then lose in regulation” one-goal loss. The Leafs almost pulled off the second of those scripts in the last match-up of these teams, but are so bad that they bungled it. It will be interesting (ish) to see which way this one goes.
19:11 Because the Showdown at the Triple Z Ranch was the only good thing that’s happened in the world of the Devils in what seems like weeks, the Poppers are reunited tonight. We’ve forgotten what joy feels like.
18:02 Speaking of forgetting what joy feels like, Zubrus is stuck skating with Rolston and Boogerfors. He’s probably got tears streaming down his cheeks right now. Meanwhile, the Leafs have a guy named Rosehill. That’s kind of awesome.
16:57 Doc mentions that the Hanson kid on the Leafs is the son of one of the Hanson Brothers. Boomer: “I was hoping Doc would resist mentioning that.” Pookie: “Maybe he’s gotten it out of his system now?”
15:54 Schnookie: “The Devils have 54 seconds to give up the two goals so that they officially qualify as being early in the first.”
15:20 Rolston hands the puck over to the mildly-forechecking Leafs at the Devils blueline, and the expected happens. 1-0 Leafs.
14:41 Wayne Primeau is still alive?
14:02 For some reason, Doc says in the course of his play-by-play, “If looks could kill…” Pookie finishes for him, “If looks could kill through the television…” Pause. “Woo hoo! Emergency expansion draft!”
13:09 Whitey fights Phaneuf for Zach’s honor.
Pookie, observing a helmetless Whitey grappling with the bevisored Phaneuf: “Aren’t honorable gentlemen supposed to take their helmets off before they fight?”
Schnookie: “Yeah, well, then you get the whole thing where you hate the thought of guys hitting their heads on the ice, and blah blah blah…”
Pookie: “I should have said ‘Aren’t preening peacocks of fighters are supposed to take off their helmets’.”
The long and short of it is that we are in agreement at stately IPB Manor that Phaneuf looks like a pussy. (And Whitey gets an extra roughing penalty.)
9:21 Niedermayer (the Lesser) trips Exelby behind the Leafs net. Read: “in the offensive zone”. Read: “Why, God, why??????” Replay of the penalty sends Chico off on a rant that you never used to see “embellishment setting up penalties” back in the good old days. To which we say that Chico is living in a dream world, both in thinking no one ever dived before the “New NHL” and in thinking that wasn’t a reasonably legit call on Niedermayer (the Lesser).
8:23 In the pregame, MSG+ gave us a stat screen about Travis’s recent scoring successes, and it was titled “Polished Gem”. After he makes a good defensive play on the PK, Pookie says, “He’s the smooth side of the geode.”
6:32 The softest-sounding hockey fight match-up ever engages at center ice behind the play (while the Devils were in the offensive zone) when Leblond and Rosehill swing lamely at each other forever.
Doc and Chico try to tell us this was really exciting. We are not especially anti-fighting on any sort of pacifist platform – no, we’re anti-fighting when it’s boring. Like this fight here.
5:03 Pookie discovered today that Alberta’s version of Punxsutawny Phil is Balzac Billy (a.k.a. the “Prairie Prognosticator”). Needless to say, as soon as Tyler Bozak’s name comes up in the course of play-by-play, Pookie calls him “Bozak Billy”. “I bet you weren’t expecting a Balzac Billy reference tonight.”
4:40 We come back from a commercial to find the Devils on the PP. We’re sure the Leafs are terrified.
3:56 Giguere makes what Chico calls “his best save as a Leaf”. Boomer: “Wow. I’m glad I got to see it.”
0:40 The Leafs seem to planning to snooze-out for the remainder of the period. Doc says to Chico, “If you want to tell a story about chinchillas, I think you’ve got time.”
0:00 That was a period we hope never to have to revisit.
17:37 Well that counts as a quick goal early in the period. Bozak Billy leads a rush, Danis makes a great save on which he can’t place the rebound well (just as Chico was telling us watching at home to cut him slack on rebound placement), Whitey and Mottau have no idea how to defend against a rush when a goalie who isn’t Marty is in net, and Kessel puts the puck into a wide-open net. It’s 2-0 Leafs, and Pookie wonders aloud, “Do we really need to watch the rest of this game?”
16:24 Rosehill starts to approach Hambone as if he is going to hit/trip him, and before anything can really happen that would lead, in real life, to a person toppling to the ice, Hambone falls over. Rosehill gets called for tripping, and Chico does not go off on a rant about how rampant diving is in hockey these days.
14:45 Chico chirps optimistically that the Devils’ PP is doing well, but just can’t seem to get the puck to the net. Pookie; “Oh, is that all?”
12:05 Leblond shoves Exelby in the back beside the Leafs net (read: in the offensive zone) (read: aaarrrrrgggghhhh!), and Exelby falls over. Leblond gets called for interference, and suddenly Chico’s all on the diving thing again.
8:12 Schnookie: “I’m not feeling particularly concerned that the Devils are going to score tonight.”
7:24 Mottau hooks Rosehill, or at least has his stick at Rosehill’s waist when Rosehill is falling over on his own. He gets called for hooking, and Chico starts to go on again about the diving and the lousy calls, and we’d be on board with it, but really, what has Mottau done lately to earn not having that call go against him?
5:51 On an unscreened shot from the high point, it’s 3-0 Leafs. Chico tells us that the lead is “starting” to look insurmountable. As if it wasn’t insurmountable at 1-0. Or even at 0-0 before the game started.
3:38 You know what’s terrible? The Devils. The only reason they seem to bother with the offensive zone is because they’re skating up and down the rink by rote. Like, they get the puck at their own end (off some sort of Leafs misplay, not defensive prowess), head up the ice because that’s what they’re conditioned to do, then they just turn around and skate back.
0:00 We can’t believe there’s still another a period of this.
17:43 We join the third period a bit late after spending the intermission watching yesterday’s Make It Or Break It. Things have not progressed much.
7:46 We have lost our will to live. The Devils are skating line of Zubrus, Zach and Andrew Peters.
0:00 It’s the end of the third period. Things have not progressed much. The best part of the game tonight was the “upcoming games” screen MSG+ put up at one point showing us that we have two blessed Devils-free days before the next game.