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Archive for the ‘John Madden’ Category

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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Last night the IPB PandoPhone’s red light blinked cheerily. It seems we had a new message! A message from an IPB reader and harbinger of Pando goodness, one Cammy from New Jersey. Eagle-eyed Cammy discovered a special event had gone down recently in Boston that we must hear about. A special event involving Pando. A special event involving Pando and a bowling ball. Dude.

All of the pictures in this post came from the marginally-functional website for Noah Welch’s Hock, Rock & Roll

Dude! It seems Noah Welch organized a fun-filled bowling adventure to benefit Make-A-Wish (good on you, Noah!) and invited Boston’s hippest, hottest celebrity. Tom Brady was out of town, though, so Pando stepped in to fill his shoes. Cammy gave us a heads up that the website for the event — Noah Welch’s Hock, Rock & Roll — contained some pretty kick-ass pictures of PandoNation’s beloved (and feared) emperor-god.

Just being in the presence of PandoNation’s emperor/god made the woman on crutches able to walk.

Also, for the Devils fans out there, the one and only Mike “Pahk the Car in Hahvahd Yahd” Mottau was also in attendance.

No matter how many times he said he could prove it, none of these kids believed that Mottau is actually an NHLer.

There are only two words in the entire English language that we could think up to properly respond to Cammy’s incredible find: “wicked” and “awesome”.

PandoNation is swooning at the sight of those hairy arms!

It got us thinking, though, of what would happen if the entire Devils squad took a trip to local lanes. We suspect it would go a little something like this.

David Clarkson would be DQ’ed on every attempt for stepping over the line while attempting a wrap-around.

John Madden would score all 0’s because he would refuse to accept that simply glaring at the pins doesn’t make them fall down.

Paul Martin would make a bee-line for the snack machine and then head out back behind the building for some quality chillaxing time with his wacky tobaccky.

Patrik Elias would throw gutter balls on every toss, and then roll his eyes to the heavens in an exaggerated head-toss.

Johnny Oduya would get tossed out for breaking the floor after dropping his ball too often.

Brian Gionta would bowl a great first frame, but would then take such a nose dive the lane manager would insist on bringing in the lane bumpers.

Zach Parise would miss his turns because he was following Coach Sutter around offering to polish Sutter’s shoes, get a newer, better bowling ball, or picking up some fresh pitchers of beer.

Marty Brodeur would not be able to release the ball due to excessively sticky-fingers from his lane-side snacking on honeyed dormice.

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Today the spiders who live in IPB’s inbox had to scurry aside for a moment when we got an honest-to-goodness email from someone in response to yesterday’s edition of The IPB Hour. John Fischer very thoughtfully came up with statbitty rebuttals to a few of the assessments we made about which Devils forwards are overachieving and which ones are underachieving. Now, we are very much of the “Tra la la feelings” approach to discussing hockey (as Katebits so aptly puts it), so when someone comes at us with statbits, it’s like we’re in a gladiator movie and our opponent just threw a handful of dirt in our eyes. Now we’re staggering around, roaring with pain from the injury to our pride, and more than that, we’re suddenly having our asses kicked by the net-and-trident guy when we’re armed with what seemed to be a far superior weapon like a battleaxe, or a spiked club.

John F.’s statbits left us reeling; we had to let some time pass, flush the grit out of our eyes, and disentangle ourselves from his insidious weaponized net. But now we’re ready to return to the ring and address his concerns. The player in question? John Madden. We said he was overachieving, and we even went so far as to ramble off on a tangent about something ridiculous like how he deserves the C or whatever. We don’t really remember. We were probably drunk when we said it. But anyway, this is what John F. said:

I have a bit issue with your description of John Madden as an overachiever with his scoring this year. His 19 goals are currently the highest he’s had since 2002-2003 (incidentally, his second highest season in shots with 207). But between then he’s had 12, 16, and 12 then. While his 19 goals have helped a lot, it’s not exactly new for him. Furthermore, his 23 assists is perfectly in line with his last 4 seasons (22, 23, 20, 20). He’s certainly more accurate/lucky this year; but wouldn’t you think it’s a bit of stretch to say he’s overachieving considering his past numbers. He’s just simply having a better statistical year than he’s had since the lockout (seriously, check the +/-).

Aieee! Our eyes! Okay, we’re trying to play it cool and just blink it off. These are salient points, yes, that his assists are just more of the same, and his goal total, while higher than the last few years, is hardly a staggering increase. But the “tra la la feelings” aspect of Madden-as-overachiever is actually manifested statbitstastically there in his +/-. He was -7 in each of the last two seasons and is +2 as of right now. Again, not a humongous increase, but it is at least a bit indicative of the overall improvement of Madden’s game. The thing about Madden’s value as a player is that it’s not entirely measurable in the static statbits. As a checking forward, he’s a guy whose contributions in a game are often just his smarts, or his tenacity, or his speed, or his strength in holding off an opponent; scoring is often just gravy with him. And it has seemed, over the last two years, and especially in the playoffs last year, that Madden’s smarts, tenacity, speed and strength were all eroding. Maybe we were being overly hard on him, but our expectations were lowered considerably after an extravagantly putrid showing last Spring, and he’s been, to borrow Asham’s label, quite the pleasant surprise this year. So while John F. has exposed the weaknesses in our praise of Madden’s scoring this year, we still stand by our belief that Madden’s overachieving in the “tra la la feelings” arena. He might not be having a career year in a “monster numbers” kind of way, but there’s no question when you watch the guy play that Madden has been rejuvenated.

Basically, what we’re saying is this: comparing John Madden’s statbits from this season with where he’s been throughout his career, you end up with “average”. But comparing his tra-la-la-feelingsbits from this season with where he was last Spring, you come up with a massive improvement. Therefore, it is cogently evident that the salient points of our argument are:

Net-and-Trident Man

Title: Pollice Verso Source: Wikipedia

Okay, we think we’re also saying that John F. remains the king of the statistical analysis for the Devils, which is why In Lou We Trust is as good as it gets.

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Tonight marks one of the most anticipated events of the hockey season here at stately IPB Manor. Gentle Reader, you’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “Whatever is it that could be a significant event in the NHL at this time of year? Surely the -ookies wouldn’t get excited for Forsberg’s triumphant return or Ovie’s ascendance into ‘Greatest Man To Ever Breathe’ status.” No, you’re right, Gentle Reader, we really wouldn’t get excited for those things. In fact, we curse the hockey gods for finding ways to make March hockey even worse than it usually is. No, no, instead we’re excited for that most delightful evening of televised entertainment — Makeover Night on America’s Next Top Model!

Having said that, it probably won’t surprise you to know that we have long dreamed of New Jersey’s Next Top Devil. It would be a show that combines our favorite elements of ANTM (namely: the solid 10’s on the Bill Simmons Scale of Unintentional Comedy) with our favorite elements of hockey (namely: the Devils). We’ve conjured up all sorts of scenarios in which certain players fit the archetypal roles of the contestants on Tyra Banks’ magnum opus. Marty would be the spunky plus-size girl, persevering in the face of a complete lack of respect from the judging panel. Gomez would have been the girl who thinks she’s being really funny, original and outrageous, but who is only hanging around because someone else screws up enough each week to get kicked off instead. Holik would have been the self-righteous girl who lectures all the other girls all the time about their modeling skills and everyday comportment, and then flies off the handle when the subject of the lecture rolls her eyes or mutters, “Bitch” under her breath. Brylin would be the one Tyra ousts for “not having enough personality”. Mike Danton would have been the girl who with the attitude who thinks she’s better than the show, only to end up working at Wal-Mart when Tyra kicks her sorry ass off the show in Week 6. Oh wait. No, Danton doesn’t need a ridiculous reality-show analogy, does he? Anyway, we’ve decided, in honor of Makeover Night, to take a look at how our current Devils would fare if NJNTD was doing the same tonight.
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Several years ago, when the Sabres were in the midst of a goaltending controversy, we stumbled across a trade suggested by a fan on the interwebs. This well-reasoned, highly-plausible proposal was as follows: The Sabres would trade Ryan Miller and Martin Biron to the Devils for Martin Brodeur and Colin White. The fan explained that this solved everybody’s problems, and was one of those win-win deals for both teams; the Sabres would be giving up a headache of a goaltending controversy and be acquiring a hall-of-fame netminder still in his prime, and would shore up their D with a top-pairing, physical defenseman with a Devils pedigree and two Stanley Cup rings. Meanwhile, the Devils would be giving up the cornerstone of their franchise and their top D-man and be getting in return the entirety of the Sabres’ goaltending controversy. It made perfect sense! How did that trade, and the billions like it suggested by fans every year, not get made? Because professional NHL general managers are chicken, or stupid, or both, that’s why! In the spirit of that trade that never happened, here are a few proposals of how we’d be moving players around right now if we were GMing the Devils and any number of other teams.

1. John Madden and Johnny Oduya for Vincent Lecavalier.
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Saturday night means we’re too drunk and/or distracted to give you a running game diary, so instead, Gentle Reader, we offer a looser-structured taste of our thoughts, hopes, dreams and impressions as the game wore on.

PREGAME

— We hate this new pregame show format, where we only get 1/3 of a pregame because MSG has combined Islanders, Rangers and Devils into one pregame. We don’t care about the Isles’ lineup or what Jagr has to say about his game tonight. Come on! Give us boring Devils analysis! (Okay, they gave us Zach, Paulie and Travis interviews, so we will only complain mostly about this stupid format.)

— We were also trying not to freak out about Marty’s “personal reasons” for leaving the team. Damn you, Tom Gulitti, for giving us more news about the Devils than we know what to do with! We used to be able to do a very good job just imagining how dysfunctional this team is, without any facts to back it up. Now? We’re basketcases.

— The pregame show tonight forced us to take up smoking (a la Frisby) so we could avoid the mailbag. Al Trautwig led into it by saying, “We’ve gotten a great response from Rangers fans, Islanders fans are letting us know what they think, but Devils fans, you need to get online! This is your show too!” No, Al, this is a Rangers show because it’s hosted by you.
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The 66th in our 118-part series.

Pando & Madden

We know, we know — we’ve already written a Reason We Love Hockey about Pando, but this one is different. This is about the singular, monolithic unit, Pando and Madden. For the last gazillion years those two guys have been attached at the hip, as linemates and, most importantly, as PK partners. It’s hard to even say one of their names without the other rolling off your tongue. At this point it’s hard to imagine they don’t read each other’s minds, so well-established and effective is their partnership. Of course, they are also so single-minded in their sense of purpose; it’s always fun to see or hear post-game reaction from them when the Devils win, but the opponent’s top line scored. Pando and Madden are defense-first perfectionists, and while they always say the right things about being happy for the two points in the standings, neither of them can ever hide how miffed they are at not having done their job to the best of their combined abilities. They can end up sounding like an old married couple, completely in sync with each other’s moods and constantly able to anticipate what the other guy is going to do on the ice.
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