WOO HOOOO!!! You know what we’re doing tonight? We’re watching real hockey on TV! WOOOOO!
It is, like, the wee hours of the morning when the Devils finally return to our lives. It feels like it’s been a lifetime since we last saw them, since we also pretty much completely missed their last two games before the Olympic break, when we were in Buffalo. We hope they’re more up for this game tonight than we are!
It appears that Chico spent his break in the tanning salon, and his hair spent it in the silvering salon. The color of the week for sixty-four colors is “timberwolf”, and it looks like Chico’s rug aspires to attain that shade.
In super-duper exciting news, Clarkson is back tonight. What we’ve learned this season is that Pando has passed his drink-stirring straw to ClarksonNation’s young emperor-god. For better or for worse, David Clarkson is totally the straw that stirs the Devils’ drink. And apparently, unlike Paulie, he’s not dead.
19:05 The first big save of the game comes from Marty. So far he seems like he hasn’t forgotten how to play hockey, despite the reports to the contrary that we heard from the Olympics. There’s still plenty of Brahms to be played, though.
17:23 MSG+ gives us a graphic of the Devils lines and D pairings. We’re suddenly a lot less enthused about the return of the regular season. Pookie: “It’s not so much that I hate all these guys, it’s just that they’re like an entire team of Zubruses. I’m just like, ‘Oh right – Colin White. Oh right – Ilya Kovalchuk. Oh right – Andy Greene.'”
16:47 After Chico says sadly that he won’t even speculate when Paulie’s coming back, Pookie wails, “He’s never coming back. He’s not even cleared to shoot the puck.” Pause. “PaulieMartinNation has erased itself from its own map. It’s now the Lost City of PaulieMartinNation.”
15:43 Marty makes his third sparkling save of the game. Chico takes this moment to tell us that Lemaire is confident it won’t take the Devils long to “shake off the rust”. Schnookie: “The rust they were playing with before the break?”
13:35 Huskins must not have bothered learning anything about his opponent tonight, because he takes a lazy, ticky-tacky hooking penalty against Zharkov on a nothing sort of sequence in the Sharks zone. Although maybe he did learn a lot about the Devils, and figured the power play is not something to worry about.
11:35 The Devils power play was not improved by the two-week vacation.
9:06 While the teams mill about the neutral zone, Chico tells us that he asked Zach if those were tears in his eyes during the medal ceremony after the gold medal game, or sweat. And Zach answered that it was the first time he’d cried since peewee. Schnookie: “That’s ridiculous. He cries all the time.” Pookie: “What he meant to say is that it was the first time he’d cried since he killed a man in the ring.”
7:39 The stat of the night is that the Devils were 5-10-2 in their 17 games leading up to the break, but that’s nothing to worry about, because they’ve won 6 of their last 7… in San Jose. Thanks, Chico. Pookie: “That’s, like, over the last 10 years.”
5:10 Travis gets a gift of a turnover right in front of the Sharks net and opts to go for a drop pass into a highly-trafficked slot in the hopes of connecting with a slowly-advancing Langer. Why would he do that? Why??? Gah.
3:24 We’re still discussing Travis’s idiocy on that scoring chance. Pookie’s conclusion is that he’s afraid of the acorn. Schnookie: “He probably spent two weeks being terrorized by the acorn in Costa Rica.”
0:00 Well, it could have been a lot worse.
19:59 The period starts ominously, with a stat telling us the Sharks have outscored their opponents by about 30 goals in the second period this year. If the Devils are heading into the third period with a deficit any smaller than 25 goals, we’ll consider it a moral victory.
15:20 Pookie’s interwebs are acting up, and we’re distracted by it. Is this the Hockey Gods telling us we’re nuts for staying up this late?
14:04 The Devils weather a few Sharks rushes, then attempt to head up the other way; on this sequence, the rush concludes with a pass to Salmela, and even though he doesn’t receive the pass cleanly, and he’s not even facing the right direction, he still attempts a shot on net. His teammates are all horrified. Devils aren’t supposed to shoot, silly.
11:22 For some strange reason MSG+ is running a promo on the bottom line talking up the Devils/Flames game later this week. They try to tantalize us with the exotic nature of that matchup by reminding viewers that this is the only Devils/Flames game this year. Schnookie: “Ooh, ooh – set the tivo!”
10:28 Chico tells us, flat-out, that Scott Niedermayer told his teammates in Canada that he wants to retire after this year, and that he wants to go to a contender. NOT THAT CHICO IS ONE TO BELIEVE OR SPREAD RUMORS, MIND YOU. And that can only mean one thing – he’s going to the Devils. NOT THAT CHICO IS SPREADING RUMORS OR THAT HE EVEN BELIEVES INTHEM, MIND YOU. It seems highly dubious to us that someone who wants to go to a contender would agree to a trade to the Devils. NOT THAT WE’RE ONES TO BELIEVE OR SPREAD RUMORS.
8:47 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dainius “The Human Snowplow (TM Chico)” Zubrus turns near-disaster into awesomeness when Kovalchuk passes on a three-on-two rush (honestly, what is with this team’s abject refusal to ever shoot?), then Nabokov mostly stops Zubrus’s shot but the puck sits in the blue paint behind him in the crease, then Patty scrambles to shove the loose puck into the net and misses, then Zubrus dives into the scramble and just like that it’s 1-0 Devils. Patty gets credit for the goal at first, but that’s only because the scorers here don’t realize that’s the Human Snowplow out there.
8:12 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now that’s more like it! Clarkson, being the drink-stirrer he am, leads the Devils into the San Jose zone, shields the puck while waiting for his teammates to catch up (great defense, Rob Blake. Heh), then passes to Fraser at the high point… and Fraser actually shoots the puck. And scores. There might be a lesson in that. It’s 2-0 Devils, and timeout Sharks.
5:32 Gel-O’s play-by-play call has some ratcheting-up excitement as he tells us the Devils are on a two-on-two rush “that could be a three-on-two if they hurry…” Pookie: “Notice how all the Devils slow down when he says that.”
4:49 Awwww! An attempted Clarkaround! It’s been so long.
0:23 The Patty/Kovalchuk/Human Snowplow line takes to the ice, buzzes all around the offensive zone, gets a Pattyaround (but no goal), and draws a penalty to the Sharks. Who are these guys?
0:17 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAA??? Is it? How can it be? Seriously? A power play goal? Right off the faceoff? From Ilya Kovalchuk? Travis wins the draw, passes right back to Kovalchuk, he waits until there are heaps of Sharks blocking the shooting lane, then lasers a shot through them all to make it 3-0 Devils. And we have absolutely no idea what is going on here.
0:00 We were hoping to emerge from this period no more than down 25-0, and ended up up 3-0. That’s like a 28-goal swing! We get an interview with the Human Snowplow, and he is shockingly orange. As if maybe he spent the last two weeks taking the sun rather than plowing snow. Pookie: “What’s his name again? It’s Mr. Plow.”
19:31 JoeTho starts things off with a bang by taking an interference penalty by hitting Zach in the neutral zone well behind play. Zach flings himself spinningly to the ice after the moderate contact, prompting Chico to wonder, after watching a replay, what “got” Zach to make him fall so dramatically. Pookie: “Air.”
18:38 Ha ha. Kovalchuk attempts to hand the puck to a Shark immediately in front of Marty’s net, then just barely scrambles to keep the Shark from getting a shot. Chico laughs and laughs. We don’t.
16:14 The wide-angle camera has developed a strange blue tint this period. It’s all getting a bit teal in here.
14:22 The Sharks look like they’re finally putting something together in the offensive zone, pretty much for the first time since the first period, but just as a cross-slot pass from the corner tries to make its way to a ready-to-shoot Heatley, Langer pounces from behind and yoinks the puck. Just like that, the Devils head up the other way.
14:16 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Travis spent the last intermission getting intensive acorn therapy, because, when fed the puck outside the blue line by Zach, he just walks in a few steps and rips a shot past Nabokov. 4-0 Devils, and boy did we not see this coming.
11:31 We marvel at how quickly this game is going. Schnookie suggests that the officials are on East Coast time and just want to go to bed. Pookie remarks that there seem not to be very many commercial breaks. We then agree that, after two weeks of watching the prime-time Olympics coverage on NBC, any time we can go longer than 45 seconds without a commercial seems like weeks of uninterrupted programming.
11:14 Rats. Our hopes for Marty to silence his critics with a big, honkin’ shutout are dashed by Setoguchi (who had been brutally robbed on several plays in the first period, so he was kind of due), and now it’s 4-1 Devils.
10:22 Are the officials no longer on East Coast time? They finally call the Devils for a penalty, tripping by Hambone in the neutral zone. We have a bad feeling about this.
9:25 Are the Devils on East Coast time? They don’t handle their PK duties well, and Setoguchi makes it 4-2 Devils.
8:28 Remember back a few minutes ago when we liked the Devils? That’s over. We’re back to hating them again. A massive defensive breakdown ends with Pavelski making it 4-3 Devils, and it’s timeout New Jersey. We didn’t honestly think that we’d get to see a Devils win when staying up this late on a school night, did we?
7:40 Kovalchuk gets a breakaway, but he totally sucks. Pookie: “What has that guy done for us lately?”
6:44 This isn’t even the first time the Devils have given up three goals in a 2:39 stretch. Hell, this isn’t the first time they’ve done it in the last month. According to Gel-O, they gave up three goals to the Rangers in that same amount of time just five games ago. And Chico thinks they’re a contender.
4:45 We come back from a commercial to be treated to some highlights of Zach’s dogged backchecking in this game. It doesn’t work to distract us from the sinking feeling that the Devils are going to lose in regulation.
1:05 The Devils are keeping the puck in the San Jose zone, so Nabokov can’t get off the ice. It’s the one good thing they’ve done all period.
0:10 Langer flips the puck the length of the ice, and Kovalchuk gets to it before the Sharks players, but then can’t tuck it into the empty net. He makes up for it a few seconds later by breaking up the last-ditch rush through the neutral zone.
0:00 It’s almost 1:00 in the morning, and we suppose we can be big enough now to say that we’re happy with this. A win’s a win, but still. Not very encouraging.