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Archive for the ‘Johnny Oduya’ Category

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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The Ecstasy: Yay! We re-signed Oduya! Every time we’ve looked at the pending UFA lists in the last few months, his was the only name on there that set our hearts a-flutter. We would have been some very sad Ookies if he’d flown the coop, so thank goodness our very own Johnny Handsome remains our very own.

Also, Yay! Scott Gomez’s life is about to get a lot more miserable. Have fun playing for Jacques Martin, Gomer! And enjoy the scrutiny as you very expensively continue to not be Vinny Lecavalier. HAHAHAHAHA!

The Agony: Wait, someone actually took Gomez off Glen Sather’s hands? BOOOOOOO! That blows. What kind of world do we live in?

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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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Ever since we saw the call for submissions for questions for Paul “Paulie Martin” Martin to answer, we’ve been on tenterhooks. Would he answer our questions?

Dear Paulie,

Who are your favorite bloggers whose names rhyme with “ookie”?

Dear Paulie,

Have you ever seen Zach and the Itty Bitty Katamari prince in the same place at the same time?

Dear Paulie,

Can you swim?

It was with much anticipation that we opened up the article today. No, our questions weren’t there — but we’re not too upset as we know the answers already; us, no, yes/maybe/no — but there was ever so much more there to squee/swoon/die-laughing over. Here is a look at some of our thoughts about Devils fans’ questions and Paulie’s answers:

— When asked about his worst roommate experience Paulie offered up yet another priceless chapter in the annals of “Welcome to the NHL, Whippersnapper: By Scott Stevens”. No, it’s not quite as good as “Gomer, pick up the birds”, but Paulie bemoaning that his rookie season involved rooming with Stevens, a prospect Pauile admitted “scared” him, is up there. You see, Paulie goes on to admit that Stevens declared lights out at 9 p.m. every night. This breaks our little hearts! Poor, poor Paulie! Finally making it to the bigs, dreaming of all the wild scenes he’d get to experience on the road as a professional athlete, eager to report back to his college buddies what great partying he’s up to! Instead, he was left “staring into the dark”, wide awake after Scotty’s draconian old-man curfew, because he couldn’t fall asleep and didn’t know what else to do. We started to feel a little less sorry for Paulie when, halfway through the answer, he suddenly declares it wasn’t a 9 p.m. lights-out, but 8 p.m.. We’re pretty sure the editor of the Devils website has the original copy of this that concludes with Paulie saying, “It was a 5 p.m. lights out. If I wasn’t in my bed at 5 p.m., even on game days, I was locked out of my room. And not given anything but gruel and stale bread for dinner. And I was forced to pick up lots of dead turkeys. Lots of ’em! It was awful!”

— We were surprised at the question asking, “Have you been to any amusement parks this summer? Are there any rides that you absolutely won’t go on, or are you fearless?” Joe from Stockton, NJ, that is an awesome question. That’s like “Can you swim?” but less out-of-the-blue, assuming Paulie is a noted amusement park enthusiast, of course. Which we didn’t know he was. In fact, we had this exchange about it:

Schnookie: I didn’t know Paulie was into amusement parks, but I guess he must be, since he answered the question.

Pookie: It does seem like an unusual question to ask a stranger. [Suddenly growing increasingly panicky] I know what would happen if someone asked me that. [Shouting] I’d answer, “NO!”

Schnookie: I’m going to post that on IPB.

Pookie: [Pertly] Well, it’s the truth.

— When asked about the offseason changes the team made, Paulie is predictably pro-Rolston and Holik. Then he adds, “I’m a big fan of Rollie”. No, it’s hardly Mike Rupp saying, “It’s good to have interchangeable parts”, but we’re still taking that as a shout-out. Or at least, a shout-out to our cat Rollie. Who knew Paulie liked our pets so much?

— Riley from Red Bank asks Paulie about how he and Johnny Oduya worked so well together (Riley’s phrasing was artfully delicate: “Your pairing with Johnny Oduya turned out to be one of the highlights of last season.” That’s a deft touch, Riley! We probably would have said, “Okay, really the only good thing we can think of about last season is how surprisingly competent you and Oduya ended up being by the end of the year”), and Paulie says in his answer, “He’s as good a guy off the ice as he is on”. That’s awful! That means poor Oduya was a raging loser off the ice, too, for the entire first half of last season! Poor guy.

— When Paulie says he loves burritos, does this mean he wants to go on an IPB picnic to Pookie’s absolutely favoritest restaurant on Earth, the one and only Burritoville, this season? We’re pretty sure it does. We mean, how could it not? Don’t answer that.

— In unrelated news, while on the Devils site, we took a gander at “Catching Up With… Kevin Weekes” and were pleasantly surprised (yup, it was all Asham-like). First up, Weeksie answers the question we’re always asking — “I don’t even swim!” Shout-out! Shout-out! Shout-out! Thanks, Kevin! One down, 29 to go! Secondly, in discussing the charity work that filled his summer activities, he actually used the phrase “bridging the digital divide”. Dude. Just… dude. Kevin Weekes might just be the hottest guy the Devils roster has ever seen. Sure, some of those other guys are foxy, but ten bucks says if asked, Zach Parise would probably tell you the digital divide is a thing of the past. We know better, and evidently, so does Kevin Weekes.

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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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Remember how yesterday we waxed poetic about those days when a blog post idea just finds us, instead of us having to labor excessively to produce something half-assed? Well guess what, Gentle Reader! It happened again today! We were finishing up dinner and something marvelous happened: we either stumbled across some old pictures on one of our laptops from our trip to training camp last year, or we had the TV on and it was set to TCM while they were showing the James Cagney movie G-Men. One of those things. We’re not saying which one. At any rate, we realized we simply had to share these photos of the Devils in their full training-camp splendor, to help brighten these brutally hockeyless dog days of summer.

The first thing we saw at training camp that day lo so many months ago was the boys doing some loosely-organized stretching. Here’s Paulie Martin, notorious non-stretcher, in the background leaning against that column, doing his best to limber up his hamstrings while the coaching staff mills about in the foreground.

That Paulie! He’s such a hard worker!

Meanwhile, Zach and Travis were at the other side of the training facility, Zach in his black woolen turtleneck and Travis in gray sweats. While Captain Fuck This Shit wandered between them, conducting their stretches, Travis worked his stretchy rope things attached to the wall, and Zach defiantly held his indian clubs at his side.

“Can’t make me do indian club stretching!” he snotted, but one stern look from Langer made Zach fall into line.

The Devils have the finest indian club facilities in the NHL, it should be noted. No one else works the indian clubs with the kind of focus and dedication that the Devils training staff has, and that’s why you see so few indian-club related injuries on the Devils in comparison to other teams. Also that’s why you see the Devils so far surpassing all other teams in the areas of hockey that require the skills needed to wave bowling pins around one’s head.

Once most of the stretching was done, Coach Robinson did a little mano-a-mano work with Johnny Oduya to practice the best way to respond when you’ve dropped your stick in the middle of intense pressure in your own defensive zone. Because Whitey is a seasoned vet, he already knows to roll around on the floor in a panic, so he was able to opt out of the drill. You can see him in the background, staying warm with the jumprope.

Whitey was looking every which kind of hot in his short shorts and midriff-baring top, especially when Coach Sutter strutted through in his tight gray sweatpants. Grrrowl!

That’s a lot of hott!

So while it was really awesome to get to see world-class athletes working out with state-of-the-art equipment, the real highlight of our trip to training camp was when the fighting practice started. Ever wonder why the Devils are such feared heavyweights? Because they are students of aesthetics; they value the art of fisticuffs, and the traditions. Behold:

The blows they land are not as important as the composition they strike. Function follows form when you’re a Devils goon. And look at the classroom environment! The boys drape themselves over the high-tech gym apparati like pommel horses and lightly-stuffed gym mats, and soak up every pearl of wisdom bestowed upon them by Coach Sutter. There’s a reason the Devils were a playoff team last season — the seeds of success were planted in the early days of the preseason.

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We were driven today to the outer edges of sheer boredom, and did something that only the most desperate of hockey fans should ever do — we read the CBA. Some people read the CBA and come out of it with a clearer understanding of the financial picture of the NHL. Others walk away shaking their reads at the madness of it all. And yet others totally ignore all the serious business statbitty parts (read: 99% of it) and cut straight to the titillating, behind-the-scenes stuff. Like how the players get fined if they don’t pay their own incidentals on their room bills when the team is checking out of hotels on the road. And how a player is reimbursed for up to six months of his rent/mortgage when he’s traded. And what the NHL per diem is. In typical fashion for us, though, a discussion of the finer points of everyday life as outlined by the CBA quickly evolved into our vision of how the Devils handle their per diems. The following is how we figure it goes down, and we suspect we’re spot-on. Because we know the Devils really well. (This is also the actual IM conversation we had, verbatim.)

Pookie: Paulie packs all his meals so they’re bland enough for him and then he pockets the per diem. He’s saving up for something nice. Like a new Goldie Christmas ornament set.

Schnookie: Yup! He’s savin’ up. And enjoying those ambrosia cups, all at the same time.

Clarkson spends his on lottery tickets. All of it.

Pookie: Yup.

Schnookie: At the first place that he sees that sells them.

Pookie: As soon as they get to the hotel lobby he buys them all up and then goes, “D’oh!”

Schnookie: Then he spends the rest of the day salivating over the other guys’ food, asking, “Are you going to eat all of that?”

Pookie: Fortunately it doesn’t take much for him to charm his way into food. He’s always missing team meals because he’s eating with the maids in their breakroom.

Schnookie: Well, Travis is a sucker, too, so he always shares.

Pookie: Travis does all kinds of research before going to a city to determine the cheapest possible meal. Then he saves the rest of his per diem under his mattress. Out of fear of being an Okie.

Schnookie: Travis always takes out $5 and mails it home to his parents. With a letter:

Dear Mom and Dad,
Am still making good in the big city.
Your son,
Travis
P.S. I miss you both.

Pookie: Nah, Rod Pelley does that. Mr. Kitimat.

Schnookie: Right!

Pookie: Marty has Brylin handle his per diem for him. When he has to pay for something he just snaps his finger, walks away, and assumes Brylin is covering it for him.

Schnookie: Marty’s like, “Here, Sarge. You probably need this more than I do.” And he throws the money in Sarge’s direction and forgets all about it.

Pookie: Yup.

Schnookie: Zach has his converted to gold.

Pookie: Langer goes to the dog track. And eats there. No betting, though. Betting would be stupid.

Schnookie: He just loves the food carts at dog tracks. “They have the best cheap Chinese food,” he explains.

Pookie: Yup.

Schnookie: Gio thought he was going to the horse track with his money, until he ran into Langer there. “Shit. Horses must be HUGE,” he says.

Pookie: Sutter gets his per diem changed into pennies and then gets pissed off when he has to count them out to pay for stuff. Just the way he gets pissed off when he has to put unprepared losers out on the ice. “Life,” sighs Albelin in commiseration, “imitates art.”

Schnookie: Travis loves counting and rolling those pennies for Sutter. It causes a lot of tension with his roomie, though. “Suck up,” Zach hisses at him.

Pookie: Just the way Travis loves being an unprepared loser.

Schnookie: “Being an unprepared loser is my favorite thing in life,” he attests.

Pookie: You bet! Sutter’s like, “Grrrreat. Have a penny!” And he wings a big handful of pennies at Travis’s head.

Our team has issues.

Schnookie: Travis just lets the pennies hit him, and then he says, “Do you want me to count and roll those, too, or should I leave them?”

Pookie: Oduya uses his per diem to buy the ingredients to make his mom’s special Swedish cookies, which he sells in the hotel lobby, thereby doubling his per diem amount.

Schnookie: Oduya’s the secret smart one!

Pookie: He usually uses his extra dough to buy Paulie a more interesting lunch, feeling sorry for him having to eat ambrosia AGAIN.

Schnookie: So Paulie’s the one who’s doubling his per diem! After four years in the NHL, you’d think Paulie could afford the Goldie ornament set by now. But the sad truth is, Paulie has no idea how much it costs. “If you have to ask,” he says wistfully. Greener’s like, “You don’t have to ask. Look. The price is right here on the website, it’s $49.95–” Paulie: * DUNK! *

Fortunately, he eats enough pot brownies that he soon forgets that Greener broke the mystique surrounding the ornament set.

Pookie: Yeah. And when he retires he’s going to have like $600,000 in per diem money. Which… He’ll blow on 600,000 Mr. Pibbs and thus never get the ornament set.

But then, in his old age, when he’s like 86, his roomie in the Old Folks Home For Aged D-Men, Old Man Oduya, will give them to him for Christmas.

Schnookie: Awwww! That’s so sweet! Maybe our team doesn’t have issues after all!

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