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Archive for the ‘Jay Pandolfo’ Category

Today at work Schnookie had a lively, wide-ranging conversation about hockey with a colleague who self-describes as a Devils fan. Typical of conversations with near-strangers at this time of year, Schnookie struggled on the subject of how much she should or shouldn’t hate the Flyers, and struggled to convey to the near-stranger how much they should hate the Caps. Eventually, after tiptoeing around the subject of why “Flyers/Rangers” is not as good an example of a playoff series in which there are no winners as, say, “Caps/Rangers”, Schnookie got the coworker to concede that there are Flyers players she would like to have on the Devils. The conversation just got weird from there:

Schnookie: “Like Beak– Mike Richards?”
Coworker: “No, not him…”
Schnookie: “Like Claude Giroux?”
Coworker: “No, not him…”
Schnookie: “Braydon Coburn??”
Coworker: “No — Jeff Carter!”
Schnookie: Leeringly, “Ooh, with his blond hair and white teeth?”
Coworker: Protesting too much, “No, I want him for his skills!”
Schnookie: “Yeah, like I’ve never said that before.”
Coworker: “No! I think he’s good! We need him for the Devils!”
Schnookie: “Well, I’d definitely want him on the Devils, but Parise and Kovalchuk are both goalscorers. In this imaginary Flyers dispersal draft, I think I want a playmaker. Like Beak– Richards.” [Shifty eyes. This is totally a hockey-related choice.]
Coworker: “Who was the playmaker who used to be with the Devils? We need that guy back.”
Schnookie: Disgusted, “Scott Gomez?”
Coworker: Equally disgusted, “No! He was done even before he left. No… who was the other guy?”
Schnookie: “???”
Coworker: “You know who I want back for the Devils? RACHUNEK!”
Schnookie: Dumbfounded.
Coworker: Beams.
Schnookie: Completely uncertain of how to respond to Rachunek and changing the subject, “You know who I want back? Pandolfo.”
Coworker: Elated, “Yes! HE was a playmaker!”

Apparently, Gentle Reader, PandoNation never even realized what it had.

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Yesterday we took Boomer to see her first game at The Rawk. Because the Devils were playing the Wings, it was “Honor the 1995 Cup Team” night, and they showed a little two-part documentary during the intermissions about that SCF. It was a standard-format documentary, with a narrator reading a script over game highlights, flavoring snippets of the real-time TV commentary from the series, and frequent flavoring clips of interviews with Devils players reminiscing about that Cup run. What was hilarious was that every interview clip of Shawn Chambers involved him stated whatever obvious thing the narrator just said. Like the part where they got to Nieder’s coast-to-coast goal in Detroit, and after the narration explained that Nieder was young and fast, Chambers popped up to say, “Scott Niedermayer was such a fast skater.” Thanks, Shawn! In that spirit, here is a documentary post about our day yesterday, with Shawn Chambers providing the insider commentary.

Narrator: It was a perfect December Saturday at stately IPB Manor. There was hockey on the TV, quilt fabric to be cut, Christmas cookies to be eaten, presents strewn about everywhere, and snow gently falling outside. And there was a festive spirit in the air, as the Ookies were taking Boomer to her first game at The Rawk that evening.

Shawn Chambers: It was snowing outside. And that’s a lot of presents.

A Glorious Afternoon At Stately IPB Manor

Narrator: At about a quarter to five, the denizens of stately IPB Manor put on their Devils sweaters, loaded up their camera bags, and piled into the car; they were finally going to try driving to a game instead of having to wait for the train. Armed with Christmas carols on their iPod, everything should have been perfect for an easy drive to Newark, but the Ookies and Boomer hadn’t counted on the lousy weather. Snow is great when you’re home and don’t have anywhere to go, but it’s a completely different creature when you’re trying to drive in it.

Shawn Chambers: Snow is hard to drive in!

Hyperspace Snow

Narrator: While Pookie struggled with the low visibility, Schnookie tried to take pictures to preserve a sense of the yuckiness of the roads for generations to come. Ultimately, Pookie did a better job with the driving than Schnookie did with the camera.

Shawn Chambers: Someone needed to take the camera away from Schnookie.

Driving to the Arena

Narrator: The drive was an adventure. There was a call to 911 to report a minor accident that, as it turned out, had already been reported.

Shawn Chambers: The Ookies and Boomer called 911. They were trying to be good citizens.

Narrator: There were the weird new traffic patterns on Rte. 1 in New Brunswick.

Shawn Chambers: The traffic patterns on 1 in New Brunswick are weird.

Narrator: And then there was the matter of the driving directions to the parking garage that the Devils offer on their website.

Shawn Chambers: The Devils offer driving directions to the arena parking.

Narrator: Before leaving the house, the Ookies tried to match up the directions with a look at the area on Google Maps, but the interchanges between the Turnpike, 78, 1-9, and everything else around Exit 14 is nothing but a tangle of ramps and cloverleafs when you look at a map.

Shawn Chambers: The map makes no sense.

Narrator: But as it turns out, the directions on the Devils site are tragically vague. It would have been helpful to clarify whether a person should be taking the ramp for 1-9 north or 1-9 south, and also to figure out whether they really mean that the exit to 21 is three miles after getting on 1-9 (north? South? Who even knows?).

Shawn Chambers: Those directions make no sense.

Narrator: Before long, after getting off the Turnpike, the Ookies realized they were lost.

Shawn Chambers: The Prudential Center isn’t in Elizabeth.

Narrator: It was 6:15 at this point, and the GPS system in Pookie’s car wasn’t helping, because no one knew what the area they were looking for was supposed to look like, thanks to the street map in that area being a Gordian knot, and the Devils-provided driving directions being a pile of poop. Some bickering flared up.

Shawn Chambers: Schnookie was sorry she ruined Pookie’s life, and vice versa. Boomer was sorry that she got dragged into this in the first place.

Narrator: Wishy-washiness set in, that sense of “we’ll just keep driving in a straight line in this direction forever and ever now that we’re lost, because there’s simply no point in ever trying to be found again” ennui. Pookie’s iPhone’s GPS was brought into play. The iPhone told the Ookies that they were 1 hour and 48 minutes from the arena. It was 6:30.

Shawn Chambers: That sucked.

Narrator: Despair overtook the stately IPB Car. They were going to miss the game at this rate. But then they realized that the iPhone was giving them walking directions.

Shawn Chambers: It’s faster to drive than to walk.

Narrator: It turns out they were just 12 minutes from the arena. But they hit every stoplight in Elizabeth and Newark along the way, so they arrived inside the arena just as the Devils starting lineup was being announced.

Shawn Chambers: They didn’t miss any action!

Narrator: The trauma of the trip to the arena was quickly forgotten, though, because Boomer’s mind was blown by the awesomeness of the arena, and by the awesomeness of their seats.

Shawn Chambers: The fifth-row seats rocked. They had a really good view of the ice, and of the Devils bench. It was cool.

December 5 2009

Narrator: As if they knew this was Boomer’s Christmas present, the Devils decided not to suck in the first period, unlike recent games. In fact, they went up 2-0, including one of those crazy Johnny Oduya goals where he gets the puck in his own zone, starts skating, realizes the other team sucks, and just scores on his own. He does that whenever the Ookies are at the game in person, so it was a great convergence of his return to the lineup and their return to Newark.

Shawn Chambers: Johnny Oduya likes the Ookies.

Narrator: The Ookies are total girls, and got all excited when Zach took off his helmet on the bench.

Shawn Chambers: Zach’s dreamy. I love it when he takes his helmet off on the bench.

Zach Parise Helmetless

Narrator: Having been in the building in October for Marty’s shutout against the Hurricanes, the Ookies were highly confident they were going to see the record-setting shutout on this night. They were wrong.

Shawn Chambers: 2-1 is not nearly as good a score as 2-0.

Narrator: But things started looking up again when PandoNation’s emperor-god got an assist! Welcome back to the lineup, Pando! Pando also almost scored a goal, but the puck was pulled off the goal line by a Wings defender; Schnookie thinks that should have counted.

Shawn Chambers: 3-1 is a very good score, and 4-1 would have been even better.

Narrator: But this is the Devils, and it wouldn’t be a Devils game lately without a blown third-period lead.

Shawn Chambers: 3-3 is not nearly as good a score as 3-1.

Narrator: AndyGreeneNation’s emperor-god took a bit of a stumble in the eyes of his adoring people.

Shawn Chambers: It wasn’t Blandy’s best game.

Action Sports Photography At Its Finest

Narrator: But a game in person is all about the experience, and Boomer and the Ookies had a great time. There was lots of action on the ice, and the chicken fingers in the Fire Lounge were plentiful.

Shawn Chambers: Chicken fingers taste good.

Narrator: The only problem was that rude guy in front of them who wouldn’t sit down.

Shawn Chambers: Victory Euro Mats is so rude. He thinks he’s the only person at the arena.

Down In Front!

Narrator: In the end, Boomer’s Christmas present turned out to be a 4-3 shootout win! WOO HOOO!

Shawn Chambers: In actual hockey terms, that’s less a 4-3 win than a somewhat disappointing 3-3 tie. The Devils didn’t fool Boomer that much.

Narrator: But it was a great a great night, and the stately IPB Car did not get lost on its way back home.

Shawn Chambers: Getting home is nice.

VE Mats At The Rink

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We haven’t done much to hide the fact that, for the first few weeks of this season, we haven’t really been paying very close attention. At the very outset it’s all just a blur of fuzzy, happy “hockey’s back!” vibes for us, and since then we’ve been anticipating and then participating in Patty Party. So now that Patty’s back (In Dallas) we’re ready to hunker down and take some stock of the hockey landscape. Here are some of our thoughts:

— *Meow Mix jingle*

— We really liked that the Devils won fairly deliciously in Pittsburgh last night.

— We really, really liked that in addition to the old reliable players like Brodeur and Parise, the keys to the win included fresh faces like Bergfors, Egg, and Fraser. Let the youth movement begin! Or, at the very least, let the young players continue to score fluke goals against a kinda shaky Fleury.

— We really do not like that the delicious win in Pittsburgh came at the expense of Pando and Paulie. All kidding aside, the Devils are a markedly worse team without Paulie than they are with him. All kidding front and center, that’s saying a lot, because even with him, they’re awful. No, really, just kidding. Now, we are not surprised that it was Butthead who broke Paulie, because that’s just the sort of thing Butthead does. We already had his name engraved indelibly in the ledger of officials enemies of PaulieMartinNation, and now his name is being added again. What surprised us, though, was that it was Rupp who broke Pando. Of all the guys PandoNation thought we’d have to add to our ledger of official enemies, Rupp was probably the last one we’d have considered. We mean, we rode in an elevator with him once, and he seemed so jolly and nice! Turns out we were lucky to get out of that elevator alive.

— Based on current trends in the NHL’s injury-reporting system, we can predict already what the prognosis is for Pando and Paulie: they’re both going to be out for “weeks”. This “weeks” thing is even more annoying that the “upper/lower-body injury” thing. Just give us a window, okay? Or someone make clear now that “weeks” means “less than five weeks, because once we get to five, we’d be saying ‘month(s)'”.

— Based on current trends in the NHL standings, we can predict that our preseason choice of the Ducks for the Presidents Trophy might be wrong. Might.

— Based on current trends of the first nine games of the Devils season, our preseason prediction of Lemaire being a terrible choice for the new head coach might be wrong. Might. We might not currently hate him. Might.

— Based on his performance so far this season, Brian Rolston is the almost certainly the single worst hockey player to ever lace ’em up. Almost certainly.

— Based on his performance so far this season, Travis Zajac might be super-dreamy. AcornsNation is so proud to have splintered off from PandoNation after annexing those western territories. Especially now that Pando is surely out for “weeks”.

— Based on the performance of the Devils in last year’s playoffs, we are never, ever, ever going to look at current trends and try to extrapolate them into some sort of prediction, though. So we’re just saying that nine games in, we like the Lemaire hiring, hate Rolston, and swoon for Acorns. Of course, 58 minutes and 40 seconds into Game 7 against Carolina, we thought the Devils were going to advance to the second round, so make of all of this what you will.

— We have absolutely no idea how the landscape of the NHL looks right now. Because we think looking at the standings this early in the season is stupid (other than to be cognizant that our Anaheim Presidents Trophy vigil can probably be called off), we don’t know what anyone else’s record is. And because the NHL thinks it’s really cute to keep scheduling all 30 teams to play at the same time on the same night, we don’t ever watch any teams other than the Devils (and in the last week, the Stars).

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Scott Clemmensen won the Devils Unsung Hero award? Scott Clemmensen?????

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

To whomever on the team awarded him this, we don’t believe “Unsung” means what you think it means. Clemmer could not possibly have been more sung this year. People were talking about him keeping the starting job after Marty came back. There were idiot Devils fans suggesting trading Marty in order to keep Clemmer. If Marty had taken one more week to come back, there would have been 100-foot-tall granite sculptures of Clemmer erected outside the Prudential Center. If it had taken two more weeks, those sculptures would have been solid gold.

That is Pando’s award, asshole. And if not his, Travis’s.

At least it wasn’t MVP.

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This has not been an easy couple of weeks, Gentle Reader, as PandoNation has watched its emperor/god get shunted aside to make room for one of our all-time least favorite players. We’ve been angry and mopey by turns, and today, with the news that Pando was once again going to be scratched, but this time in his hometown, we reached breaking point. Here’s the thing – several years ago a friend of ours was devastated when her favorite player was traded from the Devils. We asked her if she was a fan of that player or a fan of the team, and she honestly couldn’t answer. We don’t want to be like that. We don’t want to be the fans who are more devoted to any one player than the team, even one who is as emblematic of all that’s good about his team as Pando. We had a long (totally work-related) discussion this afternoon that culminated in this proclamation from Schnookie:

I have no control over it, and it frustrates me too much to think about. Not least because I don’t want to be the person who hates her team because they’re jerking around her favorite player. Favorite Player should be nasty, brutish and short. Pando’s not it anymore. Travis is. The Favorite Player is dead! Long live the Favorite Player!

And so begins a new age here at stately IPB Manor. After almost a decade of Pando primacy, it’s time to let the apotheosis happen, let Pando ascend to the firmament, hang that 20 in the rafters of our hearts, and crown Travis an emperor/god.

If this means Travis is going to be traded this year, we quit.

FIRST PERIOD

19:34 Do the Bruins shoot at the wrong goal? Are they the opposite of everyone else? Seriously, the teams are both facing the wrong way to start this out.

18:28 TravisNation’s emperor/god starts the game off with an easy shot that Thomas has no problem stopping. Hm. New emperor/god, same old shit.

17:44 It should be noted that Chico spent the intro to this game comparing Zach to a mountain lion. Yes, we are going to spend all evening making that sound that the Panthers play after their goals. No, there’s nothing Zach can do to stop us.

16:57 Nothing much is happening in the Devils zone, and all of a sudden Thornton and the Iron Boar toss their gloves in the air and have a fight that involves the Iron Boar leaping on Thornton like a mountain lion. Zach seethes with jealousy on the bench.

IPB Fight

It should be noted that we don’t really like when Iron Boar fights – it seems like it shouldn’t be his job, and we feel even more so when he skates to the box waving his hand as if it’s hurt.

15:57 The emperor/god of PaulieMartinNation flattens Lucic at the blue line. It doesn’t do much good, though, as the Bruins set up in the Devils zone and proceed to spend an entire shift looking like they’re toying with the Devils until Clemmer is forced to cover the puck in his typical bobbly fashion.

14:09 Chico gives us the Tim Thomas Tale of Redemption, and Pookie says, “I’ve just figured out what Thomas’s story is! He’s the girl who gets cut on the third episode of ANTM, and says ‘You’re going to hear from me again.’ And now Tyra’s hearing from him again.” Pause. “Clemmer’s story isn’t that good. He’s the one who gets to stick around because he’s an obnoxious reality show contestant.”

12:12 Our obnoxious reality show contestant makes a very good quick save off a shot from the slot. Whatever, Clemmer. Whatever.

11:05 Shortly after giving up the puck directly in front of his own goal, Madden hurtles headfirst along the far boards into Clarkson, and looks rattled for a moment. We wonder if maybe Pando might be playing himself back into the lineup right now.

10:32 Doc also thinks the name Byron Bitz is hilarious. He doesn’t say it in so many words, but we can tell.

9:23 Chico says, “Good news for the Devils: Dainius Zubrus has a big snarl for this game tonight.” We are puzzled, as Schnookie thinks he said that Zubrus has a big smile for this game.

8:31 The teams trade rushes, but the Bruins’ rush leads to sustained offensive-zone pressure. Pookie: “We’re not winning this game.” On the bright side, though, it appears that Paulie may have broken Lucic.

6:58 The Devils finally set up in the Bruins zone for the first time in what seems like months, and what happens? Shanahan takes a lazy hooking penalty on the near boards. Boomer: “I told you! What did I say? I said he’d take a penalty. Leave him on the bench!” We might be ready to not be the fans who hate their team for pushing Pando to the margins, but that doesn’t mean we’re ever going to relent on Shanahan. (It should be noted that Wideman took an enormous dive on the play. It was a legit hook, but also a legit dive if they’d wanted to call two and two.

6:41 Wheeler is sprung on a breakaway on a nifty set cherry-pick play, and Whitey manages to cleanly dive at him from behind and throw his stick into his feet. Wheeler still gets a shot off, though, and it beats Clemmer, but bounces out off the pipe. Of the lack of a penalty shot call on the play, Pookie says, “Well, that evens out the dive non-call.”

4:59 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What in the hell??? The Devils stay strong in the face of a pretty uptempo PP and suddenly Langer and Travis are rushing down the other way on a two-on-one. Langer doesn’t have a pass option thanks to some strong D, so he just flings the puck toward the net, where it bobbles around all over Thomas for a moment then bounces through him and just over the goal line. Just the way Langer drew it up. 1-0 Devils.

2:26 Hm. It seems Paulie did not, in fact, break Lucic. He’ll never be a henchman for Zach at this rate.

1:51 We come back from commercial to see a teaser for the upcoming intermission content; MSG is going to be providing us with “an insight into Tim Thomas”. Only one?

0:00 The period comes to an end with Whitey smushing Kessel on the near boards, and he gets interviewed on account of it. Now, we watched most of the big Bruins/Caps game earlier this week, and we’ve got to say, this was a way more feisty, up-tempo, intense period than we saw from that one.

FIRST INTERMISSION

Holy shit, you guys — Tim Thomas invented yoga.

SECOND PERIOD

19:55 Chico points out that the Devils, having given up nothing in the first, have further cemented their standing as the best first-period team in the league. Yes, but now it’s the second period. And there is no way they’re the best second-period team in the league.

18:45 Zach suddenly finds himself at the side of the slot with the puck thanks to a Chara turnover, but he’s not quite able to beat a down-and-out Thomas. Pookie: “That’s why mountain lions shouldn’t play hockey.”

18:21 Langer’s fired. The Poppers are swirling madly, and when Thomas leaves a rebound in front of an open side of the net, but Langer’s facing the wrong way with his stick held at waist height, so he has no chance of putting it away.

17:46 Well, that was our favorite non-goal-scoring shift of all season. The Poppers just put on a clinic, and the whole thing culminates in a delightful exchange of Lucic trying to get back at Paulie by steamrolling him out of the zone and out of camera range, then Paulie springing back into the picture to deftly keep in a clearing attempt by the Bruins to set up one last good scoring chance before Thomas finally gets a whistle.

14:35 The fans are starting to get restless about the relentless Devils offensive pressure, and just as the boos are starting to crescendo on a Zubrus/Patty/Gio shift, Gio puts an end to the Devils momentum by taking a hooking penalty.

13:03 Patty whips a no-look backhand pass to spring Travis and Oduya on a short-handed rush, and honestly, we don’t know who this team is. Since when do the Devils look this interested in skating during the second period? Does this mean the third is going to suck? We don’t trust this game at all.

10:36 Things resume to normal when the Devils’ big, slow, dumb fourth line takes the ice, gets pinned in their own zone, and then, just as the Bruins look to be giving up control of the puck, Holik hauls Savard down from behind and gets called for holding. (Yes, Savard could have been called for the embellishment; once again we have a textbook case of when there is a legitimate infraction and a legitimate case for diving to be called as well.)

9:17 Schnookie: “I get the feeling that the momentum has…” Pookie, finishing for her: “Irrevocably transferred to the other team? Yes. The Unseen Hand has scampered down the ice to the other bench.”

8:36 That was a surprisingly emphatic PK. So emphatic, in fact, that Chico has to marvel at how every Bruins pass seems to be just “a couple of feet off. Or one foot.” For the shorter Bruins, that’s a big problem, but for Chara, there’s a wide margin of error when setting him up for a one-timer.

7:59 Kessel, that skanky little bitch, slashes the Iron Boar. The Iron Boar goes to the bench looking injured, and Kessel goes to the box.

7:00 This is an emphatically awful PP. Of course, it’s got Shanahan and Holik skating on it, so what did we expect?

6:34 Zach lace a perfect pass from behind the net through Thomas’s legs to Langer streaking down the slot, and Thomas makes an insane split save to get a foot on the shot. We’d fire Langer, but that was a really good save.

6:21 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Poppers dig hard at a tiny rebound off a Paulie point shot, and as the Bruins scramble to hold the post, Zach tosses the puck toward the paint from behind the goal line and it banks in off a stunned Thomas. 2-0 Devils.

4:31 Doc tells us that Rupp tortured him earlier today with a discussion of baseball, in which Rupp tried to convince Doc that Manny Ramirez was going to sign with the Pirates. Chico says very seriously, “You know that’s not true for two reasons. One is that the Pirates aren’t going to spend that kind of money. And the other is that Manny’s going to want to play for a team that has a chance to win, which the Pirates don’t.” Doc, feigning injury: “They’re not???” Chico, tenderly: “I know, I know. You don’t normally find that out until early April.” Have we ever mentioned how much we love Doc and Chico.

2:38 A potentially potent Bruins rush comes to naught thanks to some random chance (we may not have noticed the play), and Chico tells us it was the Unseen Hand at play. It definitely seems to have scampered back down the ice toward the Devils bench again.

0:00 The fans at the game don’t agree with us, but these forty minutes have been, without question, the best two periods we’ve seen in ages.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Boomer has busy this evening figuring out all the details that go into the transfer of power from PandoNation to TravisNation, like printing new money and stuff like that. Long after the conversation has moved on, she suddenly pipes up, “Oooh, you’ll have to issue new stamps, too.” That’s why we keep her around — she dots all the “i”s and crosses all the “t”s.

THIRD PERIOD

We come back from intermission to see footage of the old BC days for Clemmer, Mottau and Gio. We had no idea Gio and Mottau played together. In case you were wondering.

19:00 Lucic gets a mini-break, but his lumbering stride lumbers too much, so Oduya cuts him off. Lucic tries to crank a giant slapshot before running out of real estate, and in so doing, launches Oduya’s stick toward the glass. Remembering how Lucic stripped Greene of his stick during the second period, Pookie declares, “Lucic hates the Devils’ sticks!”

18:43 TravisNation throws up from sheer nerves as Travis rips a sassy little wrister through a defender, but hits the post. We demand a review of that! We’re pretty sure it went in. (Um, after further review, we’re pretty sure it didn’t.) Stupid Unseen Hand.

17:41 The hell? Kobasew strips the puck from an oblivious and criminally lackadaisical Clemmer behind the net, then tries to wrap the puck around to stuff it into the vacated goal, but for some reason ends up stuffing his shot hard into the short-side post so it just stays there. In the ensuing wrestling over it, the puck somehow kicks up into the air, and it looks like Clemmer has managed to pull it off the goal line with his glove. How… did that not go in?

Oh, Unseen Hand, you vixen. A video review ends up showing that the puck did go in, and it’s 2-1 Devils. It looks not unlike Salvador shot that into his own goal, too. He must hate the thought of a Clemmensen shutout as much as Boomer does.

13:43 It must be post-All Star Break, because we are nervous as all hell.

13:21 The Bruins fly up the rink on a three-on-three rush, and as soon as they gain the zone, bodies and sticks start flying everywhere. The Devils finally retrieve the puck, and the whistle blows as it’s Whitey who’s crumpled on the ice, clutching at his throat, neck, and shoulder. We go to commercial break as the fans lustily boo (why? The Devils had the puck when the whistle went, morons), and Whitey staggers to the dressing room. When we come back from commercial, we see on replay that Krejci basically ended up skewering Whitey in the throat with the toe of his stick on the rush. Whitey has already returned to the bench, and we get a long look at the vicious welt all over his neck.

12:49 Poop. The Devils to a hapless job of defending a play where the Bruins carry the puck behind the net, and leave Savard alone in front to put a half-whiffed-on shot past Clemmer, who is slow to figure out which side of the net the puck is on. 2-2 game, and Pookie half-jokingly declares, “I am so sick of Clemmensen.” We’re not nervous anymore.

10:51 Chico says what we’re all thinking on a play by Bitz: “Well, Doc, it’s Bitz puttin’ on the Ritz!”

8:40 We have seen so little of the Bruins end of the ice in this period that Doc drily remarks, “It has been a 60 minute game for over a century…” Burn.

8:31 There is what seems to be the first offensive-zone draw for the Devils in the period, and immediately off it, Rupp gets called for picking Savard. Replay reaffirms our long-standing dislike of Savard based on his days with the Rangers where he was the league leader in whipping his head back as if he’d been high-sticked on every play. The first two penalties taken by the big, slow, dumb fourth line could have been two-and-two; this one is just a flat-out missed call where the official bit on the dive. Oh well.

6:30 Just as we are about to say there’s justice in the world, and the PK ends successfully, the PK doesn’t end successfully. Wideman fires a shot from below the blue line, and Lucic appears to tip it past Clemmer to make it 3-2 Bruins. Clearly the trade-off for a good second period from the Devils is to have the usual second period in the third.

3:33 We pin all our hopes and dreams on our new emperor/god as he works the puck up the ice after Langer makes a nice play on the far boards to clear the defensive zone, but then Doc calls Travis “Shanahan” and our hearts break.

2:04 Clarkson isn’t seeing much ice time now, either, having lost his spot on the third line to none other than Shanahan. Shanny’s like a virus spreading across this entire team.

1:45 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Patty! Patty! Patty Elias! It looks like absolutely nothing is going on as Gio pulls up with the puck in the corner to Thomas’s right, and then Gio flings a prayer of a shot/pass toward the net, and Patty, crashing the crease, deflects the puck off his foot and/or leg into the net. 3-3 game.

1:10 Clemmer manages to get a piece of a giant slapshot from the point, and Boomer mutters darkly, “Do you think he can hang on for just this much longer?” We’re suddenly nervous again.

0:16 Zach gets a chance from an impossible angle at the side of the goal, but hits the outside of the net. He then tries to bank a shot in from behind the goal line, and Thomas says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

0:00 Whew! That’s one more point than we thought we were going to get after watching the wheels fall of in the third period!

OVERTIME

3:49 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY FLIRKING SCHNITT! WOOOOO!!!!!! Travis and Langer work the puck smartly off a dump-in, Travis sweeps a pass out to Whitey at the point, Whitey fires a rebound-creating shot at the net, Travis jostles the puck loose, and then Langer is there to whip the puck past Thomas. 4-3 Devils! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

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Around 11:20 or so on Wednesday morning, we had the following exchange via IM:

Pookie: Hey, according to TG, the Devils have the whole day off in Vancouver today! I wonder what they’re up to.

Schnookie: Drinking and whoring!

Well, guess what, Gentle Reader? We have photographic proof that at 11:40, at least, they boys were neither drinking nor whoring! They were doing the next best thing — curling! Today the Devils website did something it hasn’t done in ages and has posted interesting off-ice content about our boys, in this case, photos from the team’s trip to a curling rink for some of that fun-times team building that Bobby Holik pooh-poohed so unnecessarily. The photo gallery is available on devils.nhl.com. We took a gander, or two, or a thousand, at it after the one and only Morgan brought it to our attention this afternoon, and we’ve got some questions.

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Question the first: What’s with the dress code? What were they told to wear to the curling lanes (lanes? Is that the right word?), and how did they end up in such a wide array of styles of dress? We’ve got just in this picture alone Paulie in a suit with dress shoes, a bunch of guys in informal athletic wear, and Langer (more on him later). In a later picture we also see Mottau in full suit/dress shoe splendor. Were they, like Morgan suggested, told to wear curling clothes and those guys didn’t believe it? Or were the guys in suits all out of curling clothes after hitting up curling activities on their own in previous cities on this trip? Were they playing “suits vs. skins” but it was cold enough in the rink that the skins guys got to wear sweats? And why no middle ground? Does Lou still taser guys who think about wearing jeans and t-shirts?

Question the second: Dude, Langer, what is going on there? Is it just us, or is he wearing a cashmere bathrobe and pajamas? Boomer suggested that wasn’t Langer at all, but rather a homeless guy the team adopted for a fun curling outing as an act of charity. The more we think about it, though, the more it makes sense. We mean, if we were told before seeing the pictures that one of the players was going to appear in baggy plaid pants, we’d assume it’s either going to be Patty and that’s his dress suit, or it’s Langer in pajamas.

Question the third: Paulie is wearing his sliding curling shoe on the opposite foot from most of his teammates; does this mean he’s left-footed as well as left-handed? We’ve read that he can shoot both-handed at basketball, so if he was pressed, could he curl ambifootedly, too?

Question the fourth: We don’t understand curling footwear at all. Yes, we know that’s not a question, but it needs to be said. Schnookie was supposed to be taking a 90-minute online training at work today and spent the majority of that time studying this set of pictures and trying to figure out the shoes instead. And she got nowhere with it.

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Question the fifth: Speaking of footwear, check out Pando’s dress socks! Henceforth when celebrating his accomplishments, PandoNation shall bedeck the streets of the capital city with gray pin-stripe argyle sock fabric. And speaking of footwear, why does Pando seem to have different styles of curling shoes on each foot? Is he ambifooted, too?

Question the sixth: How does Pando curl, anyway? Is he the guy who always drops his rock into perfect defensive position? Can he never be the hammer? Does he just smartly bank his stone off the glass to get it safely out of the zone every time he takes a turn?

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Question the seventh: Why is Zach wearing nurse shoes?

Question the eigth: When Schnookie pointed Zach’s nurse shoes out to Pookie, Pookie rather pathetically suggested all the other guys were wearing the same ones (they’re not). That got us wondering if the guys buy their own sneakers, or is it like getting office supplies at Pookie’s workplace? Do they just fill out a little form on which they check a box for “sneakers” on a list of athletic gear, specify in “notes” which size they are, leave the form in their stalls, and then in a few days the sneakers are delivered to them? If that is the case, it still doesn’t excuse him, though, because the other guys are all wearing normal shoes, and Zach’s still in nurse shoes, which means he specified that’s what he wanted when he filled out the “notes” section of his form.

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Question the ninth: If the curling ice melted into a giant lake, which Devils would sink and which would, oh say, swim?

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Now that it’s after Thanksgiving, that means it’s full-time Christmas Season! WOOOO! It also means the quarter mark of the NHL season has passed, so Santa has a substantial enough body of work to assess when he makes his list of which Devils have been naughty and which have been nice. Sure, he’s still got a month or so to check the list twice, so these are entirely unofficial results, but we’re proud to say that we have spies in Santa’s workshop who have smuggled out — at great personal cost, no less — the preliminary draft. Let’s take a look at who on our team can expect a shiny new hockey stick for Christmas, and who’s in line for a honkin’ lump of coal.

Forwards:

Dainius Zubrus: Nice After spending last season being the 6’5″ Sergei Brylin, Zubrus has spent the last few weeks being the not-flakey Jason Arnott. We knew it! We knew he could be a good linemate for Patty! We don’t expect him to keep this up for very long, but even for just a few games, it’s worth a great present from Santa.

Zach Parise: Extremely Nice Santa should stop two or three times at Zach’s house this year for how extraordinary Zach’s first quarter has been. When all was darkness and despair, Zach was a bright shining light of talent, heart, and third-in-the-league-in-goal-scoring. We’ve been hearing for years that Zach is all but guaranteed to be the next captain of the team (we personally are pulling for Travis, but that’s a whole other post) and so far this season, we’ve seen why. When everyone else was content to say the season was a lost cause, Zach said, “Pshaw! Lost cause my arse! I’ll score fifty goals! What? Our defense and goaltending sucks so bad it won’t help? Whatevs.”

John Madden: Undecided Is it just us, or does it seem like Madden hasn’t been playing this year, even before he was injured? Santa has no idea. He’ll probably put him on the nice list, just because Madden’s a stalwart and a cranky-pants, but he’s our stalwart cranky-pants.

Brian Rolston: Naughty Oh, some people might say you can’t judge Rolston because he’s been injured all season, but you know what? That’s exactly why Santa’s stuffing his stocking with nothing but coal. You can’t go filling Devils fans with hope by being the first sought-after free agent to sign with New Jersey, then fail to make the power play instantly awesome right out of the gate, and then get injured in such a way that no one knows when or how you’ll ever be back, and have that injury happen to be the starting point for the most devastating team-wide run of injuries we’ve ever seen. No, Brian Rolton’s on the very top of Santa’s naughty list.

Brian Gionta: Nice Enough to Not Get Coal But… We had high hopes for Contract Year Gio. Those hopes haven’t really been fulfilled. He’s not been terrible, but we’re hoping Santa’s elves don’t knock themselves out making Gio’s toys this year. Give him a wooden train or two, but make them small enough to be packed in a suitcase come Trade Deadline Day.

Jamie Langenbrunner: Naughty, But Surprisingly Only Barely Langer can thank his lucky stars that Zach is a superstar and Travis remembered how to play hockey this year, because the resurgent ZZ Pops line is the only thing saving his petulant, stupid-penalty-taking, ineffective-captaining, open-net-missing, sucking-on-the-point-on-the-PP, craptacular ass. It’s hard to imagine what Patty did to make Sutter hate him so much, because there’s no way in hell that Langer is any better a captain than Patty was. But again, he’s the Pops for the Poppers (and that’s “pops” as in “lousy old man”, not “pops” as in “he’s what makes the offense pop”), so his lump of coal will at least be attractively wrapped.

Blobby Holik: Naughty There’s nothing Holik could have done to make Santa put him on the Nice List because, come on, Santa’s no dummy.

Mike Rupp: Nice As a jolly, fun-loving guy, Santa surely must love Rupper, what with his big grin and easy-going manner. We love Rupper, too, especially since this year’s he’s getting one of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon a Devil: The IPB Order of Pleasantly Surprising. That’s right, with Asham off being predictably bad with Philly, Rupper’s taken over the mantle of that player of whom we’re mostly likely to say, after a high-energy shift or an expected goal, “my, but I’m pleasantly surprised!” What fourth liner could ask for more?

Travis Zajac: NICE!, With A Capital “N-I-C-E” He’s still a tiny bit afraid of the acorn, but Travis has not only remembered how to center the ZZ Pops line, he’s become even more dynamic doing so. Santa is going to pile mountains of toys under Travis’s tree (that’s what she said!) to reward the way he’s become a dynamic, confident, powerful player in every zone. Of course, we fully put forth that we are totally blind to Travis’s flaws, but apparently so is Santa.

Jay Pandolfo: Nice, As Always Santa, like every important person of influence, is a citizen of PandoNation. Pando could have been sucking so bad that he was a healthy scratch every night and he’d still get every present he asked for. Sure, he’s not scoring as much as he was when he was in a contract year, but Santa doesn’t expect goals from Pando. We all spent half of last season with our hearts in our throats waiting for Pando to overcome his tragically shifted bits, but this year he’s bucked the teamwide injury trend and been his usual stoic, penalty-killing, defensively delightful emperor-god self. Santa will reward that handsomely.

Petr Vrana: Naughty Vrana Vrana Vrana! No matter how many times Santa sees his name on his list, it still doesn’t make him an NHL player.

David Clarkson: Nice Looking Santa’s elves are expected to be creative (no one wants the same dolly or toy truck year after year, do they?) so it would only follow that Santa would appreciate creativity in his gift recipients, too. So far this year, Clarkson has shown a shocking willingness to attempt moves other than his patented Clarkaround. Sure, those other moves aren’t really resulting in a huge increase in points, but as long as Clarkson’s still one of the prettiest names on Santa’s list, he won’t need to worry about making space in the coal bin. Santa may be smart, but he’s also pretty shallow.

Patrik Elias: Nice-ish, But Trending Nicer There was a time this season when Patty was heading up the Naughty list, but Santa’s been swayed by his recent resurgence. It might be because he’s got the same linemates every night for the first time in the Sutter Era (thanks to all the injuries making it impossible for Sutter to keep shuffling guys as much as he’d like to), it might be because Zubrus has been possessed by ghosts of the A Line, and it might be because he’s suddenly realized that with Marty out, the team MVP award is up for grabs (psst, Patty — as long as Zach’s on the team, that award’s not actually up for grabs), but whatever the reason, Patty’s playing decently again. For that, Santa will be bringing, like, an orange to put in the toe of his stocking, and maybe some shampoo, like a friend of ours always got in her stocking as a kid. He’ll need a few more good games before Christmas if he wants to upgrade past hair care products.

Defense:

Sheldon Brookbank: As a Defensmean, Naughty; As a Forward, Nice Santa doesn’t usually do the conditional thing (if there’s too much wiggle-room, the elves get confused), but in Brookbank’s case, there’s not much choice. Maybe he’ll get a Transformer in his stocking that goes from coal to toy and vice versa depending on where Sutter puts him in the line-up.

Colin White: Nice He didn’t spend the beginning of this year devastating the Devils d-corps with an eye injury, so Santa’s bringing him that pony he’s always dreamed of.

Andy Greene: Undecided Uhhh… right. Santa’s highly likely to accidentally fly right over Greener’s house, completely forgetting that he’s supposed to stop there.

Paul Martin: Nicest! Two seasons in a row now we’ve seen the team go into a tailspin when Paulie’s missed more than two games due to injury. No, he’s not the Niedermayer replacement we were promised (remember those days, Gentle Reader? Ha! Sigh.) but he’s clearly the North Star leading the d-corps to respectability. He’s also played well enough to convince Sutter to let him have carte blanche in the offensive quadrants — now if only he can convince all of us (especially his father) that he can finish. Fortuantely, Santa’s a Devils fan (we mean, duh! Whose team colors does he wear? Yeah. We rest our case) so making the nice list isn’t contingent on being a good finisher. (Unless your name rhymes with Blian Blionta.)

Bryce Salvador: Super-Duper Nice The Iron Boar went from “guy who was so bad in the playoffs last year that it was later reported that he was playing with an injury” to “guy we don’t really like being a Devil” to “Pookie’s fifth- or sixth-favorite Devil”. That’s quite a trajectory of niceness!

Mike Mottau: Naughty Sorry, it’s too soon after his deserved two-game suspension for Santa to be bringing Mottau the guitar and dog he asked for when he was a kid. Sure, it was an accident that he threw such a dirty hit, and he truly didn’t mean to hurt anybody, but still. Santa can’t go rewarding that kind of behavior. If Applesauce really wanted those things, he should have waited until after Christmas to go around hitting people in the head.

Anssi Salmela: Nice, And Batshit Bonkers Finally — finally — there is a d-man on the point on the Devils power play who will wildly fire the puck no matter what things look like in front of the net. And more than that, he so loves firing the puck no matter what things look like in front of the net that he is remarkably capable of retrieving it after it ricochets off people in front and keeping it after defenders have been able to stop his ill-advised shot attempts. But he’s crazy! It’s marvelous! We love it! And so does Santa.

Johnny Oduya: Much Nicer Than This Time Last Year Santa’s all about rewarding improvement, and for that, Oduya’s going to get some wicked awesome educational toys that teach fine motor skills — just like us, the elves don’t want Oduya regressing back to his “dropping the stick at every key opportunity” ways.

Goaltending:

Marty Brodeur: Naughty Every other record that Marty’s approached in his career has caused his game to go into a giant tailspin — just look no further than every time he approached 48 wins in a non-shootout season. So we fully expected that trait and his traditionally slow starts to seasons to combine to make the first two months of this year excruciating as we waited for him to round into form before surpassing Patrick Roy on the all-time wins list. So what does Marty go and do? He comes out of the gate on fire, plowing his way mercilessly toward the wins and shutout records. But that’s not how it was supposed to be! More than that, he changed his mask. As soon as he put on that douchey, stupid, website-promoting mask, we all knew bad things were going to happen. And oh how terribly, terribly bad those things have been. We hope he enjoys his giant lump of coal this Christmas, and more than that, we hope that “MB30” mask of his makes him happy this June when he’s watching one of his rivals accept the Vezina. In the meantime, we’ll just keep vomiting on the floor every time we have to hear the words “Scott Clemmensen, New Jersey Devils starting goaltender”.

Kevin Weekes: Naughty Sure, it’s not his fault, but he’s naughty by circumstance here. If he’d been even remotely passable as a starting goalie, we’d all have been spared the Clemmensen Reign Of Terror.

Scott Clemmensen: Naughty Just… no. He’s still on Santa’s naughty list for the way he whined to The Sporting News about how unfair it was that he had to sit on the bench because the Devils were giving too much playing time to a guy who can rightly consider himself one of the all-time greats. And now that he’s smugging it up after games with Stan Fischler about what a total bad-ass goalie he is just because the Devils finally had to pay for putting all their eggs in one goaltending basket, he’s doubly on Santa’s shit list. In fact, Santa isn’t even going to bother giving him coal, because to add insult to injury, Clemmensen’s been very good in net simultaneously with being very bad. No, Santa’s just not even going to stop at Clemmer’s house. He’s going to be like us and keep pretending Clemmer isn’t even on the Devils roster. Wait, Clemmensen who now? Isn’t he the guy who couldn’t crack the Leafs depth chart last season? Sigh. Is it March yet?

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