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Archive for the ‘Bummerdude’ Category

Thanks to the triple-whammy of the Devils playing as late as they did last season, Assassin’s Creed III being released at the end October, and the discovery that “The Voice” does a decent job (in a junk-food kinda way) of filling the “competitive but mostly low-key and fun” role of early-season games, we’ve managed to do a pretty good job of being chill about the fact that there’s no hockey on our TVs. One thing the lock-out has let us do is focus more energies on finding and listening to new (and new-to-us) music; another thing it’s let us do is not see the same NY Kicks commercials a thousand times a night on MSG. So yeah, we’re chill.

Or rather we were! There’s only two reasons why seeing the same NY Knicks commercials a thousand times a night wouldn’t be a pain worse than death. One would be if the commercial started with some dorky dude shouting “We’re baaaaaaallin’!” We’ve never made any bones about how here at stately IPB Manor, the phrase “we’re ballin'” is guaranteed to get more than a snicker from us every single time. That commercial aired years ago, and yet it’s still a source of much amusement for us. We’re very sophisticated.

The other reason would be if the commercial was set to one of our favorite songs:

So what MSG is saying is that right now, if only the NHL and NHLPA could play a little nicer with each other, we could be watching competitive-but-mostly-low-key hockey and listening to good music? At the same time?! A thousand times a night, every night?!? Alright, now we’re pissed at this stupid lockout!

But… we’ll worry about it after this next mission in Assassin’s Creed III.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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We’ve been sort of hilariously insistent that summer is over for the last few weeks. It’s been cool and rainy here at stately IPB Manor, with predictions of the weather continuing on mildly this way for the foreseeable future, and we’ve got a pumpkin on one of our garden fenceposts, and the earliest leaves are starting to turn. It’s been lovely, especially now that there’s tennis on TV every night for us to get back into the whole “watching sports” thing instead of our summertime “watching Star Trek” routine. Hockey anticipation was building right along with the season shift… until this afternoon, when we read Gulitti’s report that Travis’s leg fell off and he’s out for, like, ever. The season hasn’t even started yet and it already sucks! We started to slip into a spiral of depression and gloom, until we remembered one important thing:

It’s not not summer yet! We don’t have to worry about Travis’s Achilles tendon, or the fact that no significant Devils injury has healed on the projected timetable that Lou tried to assure fans of in the last few years, or, as Boomer said, lament that at this rate we’ll never find out what the Travis/Zach/Kovalchuk line can do. No, we don’t need to spare any of that a second thought for a few more weeks yet, because it’s still August.

So we spent our evening toasting marshmallows and watching the bats wheeling overhead in the twilit sky. And that’s all this Devils blog has to say about hockey tonight.

August 18 2011

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Dude, it’s Monday night! Pookie works late on Mondays! NHL, we’ve told you this a thousand times — don’t schedule Devils games when she’s at work. How hard would it be to take our schedule into account? Obviously they’re not listening to us on the 7:00 start time issue, but really, is avoiding Mondays all that difficult?

UPDATE: On second thought, thanks Schedulers. Keep up the good work!

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3-2-1 Hockey: 13

August 9 2010

Not too long ago, we were all elated because the Devils had signed Ilya Kovalchuk. There was much hoopla and rejoicing, and there was a big press conference (their first one ever!!11!!!!1!), and it was all going to be awesome. And then the NHL rejected the contract. And then we found out that the team knew the contract was going to be rejected but went ahead with the announcements and the “ooh, ooh, buy season tickets!” crap anyway. And then the NHLPA grieved the contract rejection, so we all had to wait for arbitration. And today the arbitration came down in favor of the league. So Victory Euro Mats did what any sane unofficial Devils mascot would — he found a sturdy beam on the patio table out on the deck, and hanged himself.

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The scene: ChucklesNation International airport, in the deserted arrivals hall.

Gary Bettman darts out of a shadowy doorway, slinks around the perimeter of the hall, forages a half-eaten cinnabon from a garbage can, hisses softly at the Ookies, then scurries away.

The Ookies: “We got our cymballs out of storage for that?”

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After a day of wallowing in the predictable failure — yet again — of the Devils, we find ourselves thinking, horrifyingly, of numbers. You know how much we hate statbits on the whole, Gentle Reader, but the fact is that there is one statbit we do consider worthy of significant regard. And that statbit is wins. No, no, not, like, wins in a granular sense; wins in a big-picture way. When we break down our experience with the Devils, the statbits tell a dispiriting tale.

This was our 13th postseason as Devils fans. In those 13 postseasons, we’ve seen a grand total of three trips past the second round. Yes, all three of those good playoff runs ended in the SCF, and we’re immeasurably thankful for that (even though the one that didn’t result in a Cup win should have, by all counts), but seriously, that is an extremely weak track record. That’s 10 playoff seasons, eight of them with a top-four seed, that involved not just coming up short, but coming up hugely short. Because only three of those 10 years saw the Devils even get out of the first round. And when they did manage the herculean task of beating a lower-seeded opponent in the opening round, the Devils never even managed to be competitive in the next round, losing in six games once, and five games twice. For all that the Devils have one of the best regular-season records over the last 13 seasons, and for all that they’re on an historically impressive streak of playoff appearances, and for all that they, for at least part of that time, were legitimately considered a modern-day sports dynasty, when you look at the big picture, the successful years were the anomalous ones.

There’s a reason we’re always such negative nellies about our favorite team — it’s because, 10 times out the 13 we’ve seen them in the playoffs, they’ve come up small. So what do we make of the latest collapse? Not much. ::Shrug:: That’s just the Devils, right? How does an observer even lay blame for this loss to the Flyers?

The first place a seasoned Devils fan should be looking to point the finger is the coaching. Lemaire said pretty clearly (in the extremely few postgame quotes we bothered reading) that the players weren’t listening to him when it came to how the power play was being run during this series. So… should we take that to mean they were tuning him out? Or that he’s not able to communicate effectively? Or that he’s too much of a hardass? Fuck that. The Devils have tuned everyone out since we’ve been fans, and the bad-cop coaches get run out of town, while the good-cop coaches have nervous breakdowns. Did Lemaire juggle the lines too much? Fuck that. Claude Julien had the top three lines set indelibly in stone, and look how that turned out. It has become pretty clear to us that changing the coach is not going to solve this team’s problems.

So let’s look next at the goaltending. Marty is, someday, going to retire, and we will proceed to think of him the way we do now of Scott Stevens — to remember his playing days as a time when the sun always shone, birds always sang, and only good things happened to the Devils. Until that day, though, we’re watching him with an ever more critical eye. He was a huge reason the Devils lost last year, and probably an even huger reason the year before, but this time around, he’s shockingly not really to blame. Sure, he wasn’t great most of the time, and he was pretty consistent about giving up bad goals at terrible times, but based on the way the team played in front of him, it didn’t matter what Marty was doing. The Devils were not going to win this series.

Which leads to the skaters. Zubrus, if you’re reading this, you can leave the room — this isn’t on you at all. Kovalchuk, we know that a lot of Devils fans aren’t all that enamored of you right now, but we kind of absolve you as well. All of the rest of the Devils? Should be ashamed of themselves. It is almost as if they realized the season was over and thought that meant the preseason was starting right up. Only we would expect them to play better than that even in the preseason. They were, as they have been 10 of the 13 years we’ve been watching this team, inexplicably and excruciatingly shitty. We’d name names (hint: one of them rhymes with “blangenbrunner” and another rhymes with “blarise” and another rhymes with “blajac”), but that would suggest that we felt this was the failing of just one or two individual players. And there have been a lot of individual players who’ve sucked over those 10-of-13 years, so that kind of brings us to…

…the organization. Look, we love the regular season winning. We really do. But we’re willing now to trade in the current Devils culture for something new. Yes, the current culture is steeped with pride and winning, but it seems to be hidebound. It’s a pride only in what has already been accomplished, not in what’s happening in the here and now. It’s like the players all just figure the fact that they are Devils is enough, and that the organization’s mystique, or its “system”, or whatever will take care of the rest. The only time this past season that the team played hungrily was during the extended stretch of injuries, when the roster was studded with minor-leaguers trying to make the most of their chance in the NHL. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence, too, that the Devils were at their hungriest last year when they were trying to prove that they could win without Marty. But when the roster is healthy, and the team is locked into its annual trip to the post-season, it looks as though all those veteran guys don’t feel like there is anything to prove. They’re the Devils, they seem to think. They go to the playoffs every year. They’ve won Cups. Isn’t that enough?

We have no idea how to make changes to this team. Among the core players, there are a lot of contracts that can’t be moved and a lot of past-their-prime veterans it’s hard to imagine any other team would want. Plenty of the peripheral guys are UFAs and likely won’t be back, but we can’t say we’re hopeful the roster is going to look wildly, significantly different next season. We’re ambivalent about Lemaire staying or going, because clearly it doesn’t matter who’s behind the bench with this franchise. It would be great if there were big personnel shake-ups, but the truth is that it won’t change the big picture if there aren’t big cultural shake-ups too. If the way this team thinks doesn’t improve, nothing about them will.

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The Flyers broadcasts have this promotion where one entrant gets his or her name drawn at random before each Philadelphia power play, and if the Flyers score on that PP, the lucky person wins $25. And if the Flyers don’t score, the next person drawn on the next PP could win $50; if the Flyers don’t score then, the next PP is worth $75, and so on and so on. At one point this season, we happened to be watching on a night when a PP drought was ended, and the lucky prizewinner got in excess of $700. With this as background, the following was overhead at stately IPB Manor during last night’s Devils/Flyers game as a New Jersey PP was winding fruitlessly to a halt:

Boomer: “It’s a good thing the Devils don’t have that power play promotion, otherwise it would be like Powerball.”

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