Today’s the day Scott Stevens is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and we feel kind of bad for not having put up a post about him. The fact is, though, that we don’t really feel qualified to write about him. His HOF credentials had already been established by the time we came to the Devils, so we have no real perspective on what he was before he became the face and heart of our beloved organization. And as for the eight seasons we were lucky enough to see him play, what can we even say? He is, as far as we are concerned, simply the greatest player at anything ever of all time. Seriously. Some people might want to boil the essence of his career down to a few highlight-reel hits or points-and-PIM stats, and for those people we’ll mention this: Scott Stevens taught us, as fans, about the single most important objective in sports: winning. And he played in more wins than any other player in the history of the NHL. But that’s just a stat. The fact is that Scott Stevens was there when we came to the Devils, the unflappable, relentless, stalwart, awesome, steady, inspiring, fierce cornerstone of the franchise, and we don’t have the words to even begin to describe his greatness. He meant everything to the team that means everything to us. (For a more eloquent look at Scotty, hop on over to In Lou We Trust.)
So in the spirit of Scotty’s accomplishments, we’re trying something new this week at IPB: we’re going to be happy for a change. Or at least happier. We’re aiming to find no fewer than three positive things in every game we watch this week, starting with tonight’s Penguins-Devils matchup:
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We need to start today, we think, with a bit of a disclaimer: IPB’s official sister, Kate The Great, was visiting this weekend (in anticipation of Schnookie’s birthday, which is actually next week. Gentle Reader, you may send presents accordingly) and brought with her the leftovers of a recent beer tasting party she hosted. We are, to put it mildly, soused. We just finished up a long, delicious lunch of pork-and-bacon kebabs and a stroll through the world of innovative beer-brewing techniques. Mmmm… beer.
The NBC studio pregame show features Ray Ferraro discussing how Giguere is good despite his not being very athletic. He neglects to mention the fact that he really annoyingly drinks from a water bottle with a goofy straw on it.
To our endless delight, NBC gives us a “Stanley Cup Memories” featuring Scott Niedermayer. Nieder discusses in it how the first time he won the Cup it was just very exciting, but the second and third times had much more of a feeling of recognizing how difficult the winning is. We don’t doubt the shoot for this interview was followed by Baby Nieder saying, “Fuck you, Scott.”
We are quite impressed — the Joe is full today!
18:27 We get our first report from Pierre between the benches today. He blathers on meaninglessly about Pronger while wedged into a teensy space. Pookie complains, “I bet if they made that space smaller, he’d just stand in there sideways.”
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We’re starting this game tonight on a 3-hour TiVo delay because Pookie had to work late. The one benefit of not being able to watch it in realtime? The fact that we don’t have to sit through VS’s pregame. If they’d asked us to come up with John Forslund and Eddie Olczyk’s talking points, though, we’d probably have them mention that the Devils have played exactly one period in this entire series in which they weren’t offensively uptight to the point of self-destruction. And that was the second period of Game 1, where they were down by three and had nothing more to lose. We recognize that Ottawa is a very strong defensive team, but in all honesty, they haven’t needed to be. What are the Devils hoping to have happen if they keep skating this way? Because at this rate, they’re not going to score again until next season.
19:55 Rupper is out, Clarkson is in. So much for the rumors of Oduya getting into the lineup.
19:47 Oh no. Eddie thinks we need Patty to score in order to win. We guess we’re not winning tonight.
18:08 Travis proves that he’s every bit as good as Gomer, in that he decides he’s going to try to beat all the Senators by himself and ends up overhandling into a turnover.
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(Final Score: Devils 3, Lightning 2)
Our pre-game predictions, based on the Devils long and storied history of choking in possible elimination Game 6’s, hover between 4-0 and 6-0 TB.
Oh no. Pierre McGuire’s working the game. He starts out with an interview with Vinny and it looks like Pierre is trying to climb into Vinny’s uniform with him, then when the angle cuts in closer to show Vinny’s face, you can see Pierre’s lips moving hungrily. He could not possibly be more creepy.
We really don’t like watching the feeds on NBC. Yes, the HD is nice (no Devils HD availability here in Flyer Country), but the three-man “booth” makes for very awkward chemistry. Could they possibly make Pierre behave like a sideline reporter rather than a second color guy? Doc ends up not doing play-by-play but rather serving as an Eddie-Pierre facilitator, and the dynamic between those two always reeks of pathetic toadyism on McGuire’s part and thinly veiled disgust on Eddie’s.
19:51 Icing already? SERIOUSLY???
19:42 Madden and Pando on a two-on-one, Madden misses the net. Pierre is horrified Torts is going with the checking line against Vinny. Um, that’s not been a bad matchup for TB.
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Devils 3, Lightning 0
(As we are writing this Boomer is sitting to the side, narrating her own blog post to herself, “Like a vintage Rolls, Marty was priceless… And Patty at auction wouldn’t draw a bid.”)
Well that’s a bit more like it! That was 60 minutes of classic Devils hockey; they gave up a zillion shots but Marty was only called upon for monster saves on a few occasions, they took only a handful of shots themselves but managed to score when it mattered most, and somehow it just never seemed for a second that the outcome was in doubt. Tonight we named Marty, Matvichuk (recently upgraded in IPB nickname parlance from “Matvisuck” to “Matviclutch”) and Gomer the three stars. Yeah, that’s right: Gomer! (The anti-star award goes to Zach Parise. What is up with him not scoring even one goal? We expect so much more from him!)
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Our game(s) diary tonight joins Game 2 of the Sharks-Preds series in progress (we had to finish dinner and the NYT crossword puzzle before we could turn our full attention to the game). It is 2-1 Preds with 11:00 left in the 2nd when we are finally ready to get bloggin’. The Sharks are on a 5-on-3 at the tail end of a totally ineffective 5-minute major power play; IPB’s official older sister Kate The Great (aka KTG), not a serious hockey fan, is visiting tonight and is disgusted to hear the Preds have now taken major penalties in consecutive games. “If you’re not going to win the Cup,” she says with a sneer, dismissing Nashville just like that, “You shouldn’t be injuring any other team’s guys.” If you are going to win the Cup, though….
Dumont scores shorthanded and boomerang fish fly everywhere. We have to admit to KTG that we are really bad judges of whether a goal was soft or not. What can we say? We’re Devils fans. We expect shutouts every night.
More boomerang fish fly as Dumont scores on a 5-on-3.
We’re getting the Nashville feed tonight and they keep showing us a commercial featuring shots of young Preds fans doing that dumb “fang” thing with their fingers before powerplays. Frankly, the gesture looks less like saberteeth and more like weaselly little rodent mouths. Pookie suggests it looks more like something the fans of a team called the “Prairie Voles” might use.
2:08 left in the 2nd, 4-1 Preds — we declare this game “craptacular” and switch to the Stars-Canucks game. How much do we know about the Western Conference this year? As we flip channels Pookie declares, “I want to watch Luongo versus… Craig Ludwig? Does he still play for the Stars?” We have scouted the West as well as the Islanders scouted the Sabres. (more…)
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Islanders 3, Devils 2 (SO)
Well this answers the question: Which organization do the Devils hate more, the Islanders or Leafs? A generation of Toronto Maple Leafs fans will hate our snack-sized Sergei Brylin for the rest of their lives thanks to this, the craziest game we’ve seen all year. There were times during this dreadfully boring match that even we were tempted to send the tape to the League offices to protest the obvious tank-job the Devils were trying unsuccessfully to hide. Every play that could be off-sides was; every pass that could miss its target did; every opportunity to turn the puck over was capitalized on. That said, what were the Islanders doing only being able to muster 2 goals, and those from Richard Park of all players? The Devils might as well have been skating fans as part of some twisted fan-appreciation day event. But Toronto really has no leg to stand on complaining about that lack of effort, since they had plenty of chances to win big games (including one against the Islanders a week ago) down the stretch.
This game was meaningless to the Devils so any serious analysis of their effort seems kind of pointless. We could look at this in a glass-half-full light, and say the team once again found a way to tie it up with less than a second on the clock. The glass might be half-empty, though, if that late goal after 59 minutes of sleepwalking reinforces bad habits. The glass might have been completely empty because, well, the team was tanking. It’s tough to tell. We’re inclined to say they were tanking. Why else would Lou put Brylin out for the last shot over Langer, Zajac or Madden, other than to revel in the knowledge that North of the Border thousands of fans will be crying into their Maple Leaf patterned pillows tonight.
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