Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Calling For The New Guy's Head On A Plate’ Category

We feel like we’ve been strangely silent about the Devils so far this season, so we’d like to take a moment away from our just-started Dallas travelogue slideshow to share with you our thoughts about the putrid pile of puke that is our favorite hockey team.

— The Devils are like a red, red rose. If you are allergic to roses. And it’s got bees in it. Killer bees. And you keep forgetting that it’s covered in thousands of those little tiny thorns that get stuck in your skin and feel like white-hot metal barbs even though they’re practically microscopic. And if you don’t realize that the little tiny thorns stuck under your skin are probably covered in teensy tiny bee eggs, so then the bees hatch inside your skin. The Devils are like that.

— The Devils are like that awful co-worker who knows exactly how much time has passed since his or her working test period or last disciplinary action so that he or she knows exactly when he or she can break the rules, or show up to work late and/or drunk and/or high, or yell at customers, or steal stuff from someone else’s desk, all without being fired. Like clockwork, they can be counted on to perform when they absolutely have to so as to not get canned, but the rest of the time they’re only known for being unreliable. We can only assume the Devils knew that the game in Anaheim corresponded to the end of their probationary period. If they lost that game, people would have been held accountable. But since they won, their boss could only rip up the already drafted “written notice” and start anew. And thanks to all the injuries, they know they have a built-in excuse for poor performance, but instead of just letting it lie there, they’re going to try to play it for sympathy. You know that type — totally manipulative, lazy, self-centered, and falsely entitled.

— The Devils are like that bad book you should have put down 25 pages ago. The plot drags, the characters are boring, and whatever you’re thinking might happen to make it better if you just give it one more chapter doesn’t. But it’s not even like it’s bad in an interesting way, where you could get angry at the characters, or keep reading in the hopes that misfortune will rain down on them, or that the writing is so horrid that it’s laughable. It’s just bad.

— The Devils are like the team in the NHL with the worst captain. Seriously, how is it even possible to quantify how terrible a captain Langer is? The best part is the way he bitches every time the fans boo the Devils at The Rawk, because if he played in a market that was even just the tiniest bit more intense, he would have been stripped of his C ages ago. He’s a captain who pouted publicly after getting a “maintenance day” in an essentially meaningless game at the end of last season. He’s a captain who scores on average less than 18 goals a season (and less than 50 points total), but who has had coaches fired for not playing him on the top line. He’s a captain whose team has looked listless, unprepared, uncaring, and gutless in every (brief) postseason during his reign of terror. Wait, now that we mention it, the Devils aren’t like the team in the NHL with the worst captain, they are the team in the NHL with the worst captain.

— The Devils are like a team of idiots who are constantly trying to one-up each other with how idiotic they can be. Why is it every year there’s some guy who gets a summertime injury, but who waits until the regular season to get surgery on it? Zach’s knee injury is like a virtuoso performance at that particular game; Langer and Patty with their sports-hernia/groin surgeries are probably seething mad that they didn’t think of it. (And while we’re on the subject of injuries, we should add that the Devils are like the Flyers of the mid-’90s, in that their medical staff seems to be a bunch of malicious quacks. Wait, malicious quacks? Dr. Chuck the Duck, we presume?)

— The Devils are like the lentil balls in yogurt we got from the Indian place tonight. There were good ingredients in those lentil balls, like lentils and yogurt, and, um, tamarind? But they were really sort of disgusting. Because those ingredients weren’t working together like an orchestra. And whoever created the recipe decided they should be served ice cold. WTF? Basically, the chef had a decent starting point, but then fucked every step up along the way. That dish was a systematic failure wrapped in lentils drenched in yogurt tamarind sauce.

— The Devils are like an orchestra. An orchestra led by someone who doesn’t know anything about musical instruments, the people who play them, and, well, music in general. We had been pretty psyched for the Devils to do the same thing this year that the Flyers did that year they sucked so bad and finally fired Bobby Clarke. We hoped that sweeping changes would be made with the inner workings of the organization to finally wrest the team out of the past’s cold, dead hands and launch it into a bright future. And then the bloated corpses of the late-contract veterans would be shipped out of town to desperate renters in exchange for tasty prospects and future all-stars. And the season would end with a top-two draft pick. And then we’d all wake up the next season and have a team that goes to the ECF. But then we remembered this is the Devils. There are no organizational changes with the Devils. They don’t move expiring-contract UFAs for draft picks or prospects (because really, who would want draft picks or even just a live body under the age of 23 when we can keep the band together for one more five-game loss in the first round?). And if they got a top-two draft pick, Lou would stand there at the podium at the Draft, wearing that “cat that got the canary” smirk, while shocking the hockey world by going off the board to draft Adrian Foster’s older, less-talented, more chronically-injured brother.

— The Devils are like a team that plays in a state that’s about to start selling Devils-themed license plates! Woo-hoo! Seriously, for all this, we are some kind of psyched for license plates.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

While the team was on the road, we headed up to Newark to do some sleuthing to figure out why the Devils suck so bad. And while snooping around the practice rink and dressing room, we stumbled across a shocking book pamphlet leaflet index card that we are copying verbatim below. We think it really helps explain the current dreadful state of the Devils.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS OFFICIAL OFFENSIVE PLAYBOOK – SECOND SET

Note: In normal seasons, the second set of official offensive plays are deployed on February 1. Due to the Olympic break, the second set of offensive plays for 2009-2010 will be deployed on January 1. The penalty for using plays during games that are not included in the official second set, be they from the official first set or of the player’s own creative impulse, remains the same: rooming with Lou Lamoriello. There will be no exceptions to this rule.

Introduction: All of the plays below shall begin in the defensive zone. The process of collecting the puck in the defensive zone, regardless of offensive play to follow, is the same. The forward skater shall stand above one of the faceoff dots and wait for the goaltender (30) to make a save and either direct or pass the rebound to him. Forward skaters should never “try to be a hero” and make a play to retrieve the puck himself. Under no conditions should a defensive skater ever touch the puck with his stick in the defensive zone. If a defensive skater feels he cannot resist touching the puck with his stick in the defensive zone, he should either deflect or shoot the puck into his own net.

Offensive Plays

1. The Steamroller

After retrieving the puck in the defensive zone a forward skater shall carry the puck toward the offensive zone on an angle toward one of the wings. The forward skater’s linemates shall accompany him, while the defensive skaters hang back, creating an even-numbers three-on-three rush. The play shall remain onsides while entering the offensive zone. When the puck-carrier reaches the top of the faceoff circle, he shall gently shove the puck forward into the possession of the opposing team, pull up, and retreat back to the defensive zone. The puck-carrier’s linemates shall follow.

2. The Bulldozer

This play shall unfold identically to the Steamroller except a defensive skater shall jump into the play after the puck-carrier releases the puck into the possession of the opposing team. While the forward skaters turn around and skate back to the defensive zone, the defensive skater shall “pinch”, skating past the opposing players toward the opposing net, so as to remain behind the play as the opposing team returns to the other end of the ice.

3. The Steamdozer

After retrieving the puck in the defensive zone a forward skater shall carry the puck straight up the ice toward the opposing net. He shall be accompanied by one linemate, so as to create an “odd-man rush” of two skaters against one. The puck-carrier shall stickhandle all the way to the blue-painted crease, then attempt a backhand shot that the opposing goaltender can turn aside without difficulty. The accompanying forward skater shall then pull up outside the blue-painted crease, mindful not to get in the way of the opposing goaltender and under no circumstances touching the puck, then turn around and skate back to the defensive zone. The puck-carrier shall remain below the opposing goal line while the opposing team returns to the other end of the ice.

Contingency Plans

There are times when the opposing team makes it impossible for a conscientious New Jersey Devil to perform his game plan to the letter. Such situations often occur in the neutral zone. If a New Jersey Devils skater finds himself in possession of the puck in the neutral zone, he should take one of the following actions:

1. Take a penalty
2. Clear the puck off of the playing surface
3. Return the puck to the opposing player he got it from
4. Go for a line change
5. Play dead

There are also times when the opposing team conspires to force the New Jersey Devils into situations where they are ahead on the scoreboard. If a New Jersey Devils skater finds himself in possession of a lead, he should take the following action:

1. Lose it.

Read Full Post »

The Devils spent their day practing line changes, so we decided to do the same while giving Patty (in Princeton) a tour of the university campus. It was simple to be just the like Devils. All we had to do was face different directions, space out, and cease to pay attention to anything around us (such as say, Patty taking our picture).

Photo Ookies

Read Full Post »

1. Yesterday afternoon something really strange happened here at stately IPB Manor — we had a long, rambling conversation about the Devils roster. It’s been about a year since we’ve done that, since all of our conversations last season were all about how much of a disconnect we had from the team thanks to a bunch of old, slow, washed-up one-year free agent signings. And in the course of this conversation, Boomer off-handedly mentioned Kevin Weekes, as she hadn’t read that Weekesie was on his way out. As we explained that the Devils had signed Yann Danis, and then refreshed Boomer’s memory about who Yann Danis is, we had a shocking realization. Danis is not just the latest forgettable guy who’s going to get three starts for the Devils behind Marty; no, he’s part of Lemaire’s new offensive scheme. Remember how last year it always took the Devils about 45 shots to score a single goal against the Islanders? Well, now we’ve got an Islanders goalie facing the Devils during practice. This means that Lemaire’s going to be able to hold up a truly shitty team shooting percentage from practices and issue an edict that they need to rethink their shooting strategy. We figure he’s going to enact a rule that Devils players are only allowed to shoot if they are absolutely certain the puck will go in, and if they don’t, they’ll get tazed.

2. On something of the same note, now that the Islanders have Biron, we are not going to be subjected to low-scoring games against the Islanders anymore. We’re still guaranteed to be able to score 36 goals in six games against one division opponent this coming season, but that opponent is now on the Island instead of in Philly.

3. Also continuing on that same note, is Zach going to have to change the name of Shot Club when shooting is no longer allowed?

4. And continuing even further with some of the themes discussed in item #1, we’ve been very surprised at the vehemence with which Boomer hates the Lemaire hiring. We’ve said it before here, but it bears repeating that Boomer is normally extremely mellow about the Devils. Deeply dedicated to them, yes, but demonstrative? No. And yet she can’t shut up this summer about how miserable she is about Lemaire. How much the team has disappointed her. How much she’s dreading the season starting again. It’s nothing but doom and gloom. So we’ve decided she should start her own “I Hate Lemaire As Coach Of The Devils” blog, just to make us look cheery and optimistic by comparison.

5. And speaking of the Lemaire hiring, we got to discussing yesterday afternoon who we would have chosen in his place. We were forced to admit that we actually pay very little attention to head coaches around the league, because so much of what seems to be genius coaching often smacks just of “the right guy in the right place at the right time” (see: Robinson, Larry, in 2000, and Bylsma, Dan, last year). After agreeing that we didn’t really have any idea who would have been a better choice, the following exchange took place:

Schnookie: Of course, I will be more than happy to admit in mid-June, if necessary, that I was wrong about Lemaire.

Pause.

Schnookie, Pookie, and Boomer, [in unison]: SNORT!

Pookie: I’ve never cared before about our head coaches because no matter who they are, the team is always the same.

Schnookie: That’s why I figured as long as it wasn’t Lemaire, it wouldn’t matter who Lou hired. But the qualifier there was “as long as it wasn’t Lemaire.”

Boomer: [Spluttering in incoherent rage about Lemaire.]

Pookie: I knew all along it was going to be Lemaire, so I didn’t bother even considering “as long as it wasn’t him”. I knew it was going to be him, so it wasn’t worth it.

Schnookie: I can’t think of the last time Boomer was this pissed off about a move the Devils made. I think it might have been when we brought Claude Lemieux back.

Pookie: And look how that turned out! Maybe this time around Jacques will win us two Cups!

Schnookie: I didn’t feel that way about Lemaire. But I was positive before it happened that we were bringing Blobby back last summer.

Boomer: And look how that turned out.

Pookie: Yeah, he won us, like, the opposite of two Cups.

6. Finally, last night we were watching Jeopardy (we know, we know…) and saw a local commercial for Path-Mark. And it was so bizarre and so charmingly “regional grocery store commercial” that we felt like we were watching a hockey game on satellite from Canada. It was a nice feeling. We wish the season would hurry up and get here already.

Read Full Post »

One of our very favorite jokes to make around here at stately IPB Manor, where the living is easy, is drawn from this “That Mitchell & Webb Look” sketch about a pediatrician who treats children with dire illnesses and his ice-cream-factory taste-tester companion. When we have bad days but are still able to retain at least a shred of perspective on how good we have it, we complain that we’ve had a bad day at the ice cream factory. Well, the last week or so has been a bad one at the ice cream factory, and today’s news of the Lemaire/Tremblay hiring has only made it worse. Here is a transcript of our gtalk exchange immediately following the announcement.

Pookie: We were planning to have a good week at the ice cream factory, but Lou came along and shut the ice cream factory down. And when it started back up again, Lemaire had replaced all the fun flavors like Parise’s Pistachio Praline Party and Paulie Martin’s Leader of Young Gopher Gumball Surprise with low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt.

Schnookie: And Coconut Clutch & Grab Frozen Milk. And Trap Torture Surprise.

Pookie: Yeah, low-fat vanilla yogurt sounds too appetizing. The surprise is that the ice cream cone is empty. And that there is no cone. But you still spent $5.75 on it.

Schnookie: So right.

Pookie: Boring Bonanza. It’s a cardboard box filled with blank shredded newsprint.

Schnookie: Rocky Road Retread.

Pookie: The marshmallow is Rolston. The peanuts are Marty.

Schnookie: The chocolate is — JUST KIDDING! THERE IS NO CHOCOLATE!

Pookie: And the rest of the crap that goes into Rocky Road is Lemaire.

Schnookie: It’s more shredded newspaper.

Pookie: It’s really less an ice cream factory and more a shredded newspaper factory. If you’re really, really, really lucky, you might go for ice cream on a day when they’re serving Funfetti conFection. It’s shredded newsprint with the teams Goals For stats typed on it. Just kidding! There are no goals for!

And so it went, Gentle Reader. And until we see otherwise from the 2009-2010 New Jersey Devils, we’re going to gird ourselves for a long series of bad days at the shredded newspaper factory.

Read Full Post »

Today saw yet another thrilling installment of “As The Devils’ Search For A New Coach Turns”, this time starring Brian Rolston. Devils beat writer Rich Chere picked the brain of last summer’s big Devils UFA signing about the possibility of Jacques Lemaire returning to NJ. After snarking about how Sutter didn’t give him a “fair shake”, Rolston made the bold assertion that Lemaire would be an excellent choice to coach the finally-no-longer-trapping-quite-so-much team. His thesis? That all the other coaches suck. No really, Gentle Reader, his exact quote was: “I think you have to look at the candidates out there. Who is a good coach? I don’t think there are any candidates out there as good a coach as Jacques. That’s my opinion.” Our guess? Lemaire goes to Montreal and Rolston doesn’t see a lick of PP time under Coach Laviolette.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »