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Tonight is cheese night at stately IPB Manor, so we start this evening’s broadcast by settling onto the couch with our plates piled high with Bra Tenero, Caciotta al Tartufo, and Laurier. While in a state of cheese bliss, we are happy to find out that Patty is playing tonight, and Rolston isn’t. And the Devils are honoring the 2003 Cup team (welcome back to Jersey, Ducks!). And in honor of Veteran’s Day, MSG+ is letting us see Arlette sing the national anthem. Does it get better than this? (Seriously, these cheeses are really good.)

Cheese Portrait

FIRST PERIOD

19:22 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! We’ve been watching a lot of the Ducks this season, in part because of our pervasive fondness for Getzi and in part because we picked them to win the President’s Trophy when asked by a certain major media outlet’s hockey blog. And what we’ve seen has been hilarious – they’re defensively suspect, have no scoring depth at all, and their goaltending is just dazzlingly bad. So we assumed the Devils would be the Ducks’ get-well team, just because that’s how these things go, right? Well, so far… wrong. Andy Greene fires a soft shot from the point after Getzi loses a Ducks-zone draw, and with a tip from up high from Langer, the puck ends up behind Hiller. 1-0 Devils, and HAHAHAHAHA! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

16:00 The play is sort of gently back-and-forthing when MSG+ shows us a close-up view of Peters clumsily stick-handling on his way to the bench for a change. Pookie: “I was about to say that I have remarkable faith in the Devils tonight. But then they showed Andrew Peters, and I reconsidered.”

12:01 We go to commercial with Doc and Chico discussing Giguere’s recent douchey comments about preferring retirement to playing as a backup. It sounds as though he tried to clarify his remarks to Chico, but Chico’s explanation isn’t making it sound much better, as he’s being all, “Wah, wah, I had such a bad year last year, and now the only way I can get better is if I get to be the starter.” He’s basically just a few steps short of pulling a Clemmensen-style “if my defense plays better and doesn’t let the other team get shots against me, I could be awesome!” self-pitying rant. Then Doc points out that he’s the second highest-paid player on the Ducks. We love it when Giggy looks like an ass.

8:30 Cindy Crosby’s mother Ryan Whitney high sticks Zubrus in the face. And MSG+ gets to tell us that the Ducks have a PK that’s gunning at 68% effectiveness. That’s their polite way of saying that if the Devils can’t score here, they’re stupid.

7:56 Yep. The Devils are stupid. Brown carries the puck shorthanded into the Devils zone, and Clarkson has to attempt to hog-tie him while he bulls toward the net. The PP ends when Marty freezes the puck and Clarkson heads to the box.

5:40 The four-on-four and brief Ducks PP pass without event, but then Clarkson, leaping out of the box, leads the Devils on a mini-rush that concludes with him taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone. We go to commercial on a shot of Clarkson doing that dumb “WHO ME???” bewildered face of his. Oh, Clarkson. Don’t ever change.

0:45 As the Ducks are looking increasingly focused on trying to play hockey well, Doc tells us there have been seven scoring chances in the game, five of them by the Devils. We find both of those numbers difficult to believe.

0:00 We’re all in very good moods at stately IPB Manor as the period winds to an end. Like we said at the start, an evening of early-season hockey and artisanal cheese is pretty delightful. (We get an interview with Andy Greene, by the way, in which Greener totally gives Getzi’s wino kokopelli a shout-out.)

SECOND PERIOD

19:38 Many years ago, when we were still living in Arizona, we took a road trip to LA to see the Devils win against the Kings and the Ducks. When this period starts, Chico tells us the Devils have lost every regular-season meeting between these two teams since ’02-’03 (which is, to be fair, only four games), and Pookie is stunned. “Wow. Did we see the last Devils win over the Ducks in person?” Pause, as we all remember Pando’s game-winning shorty from that game. “Well, they’re not going to win without Pando.”

17:34 The Ducks run to the President’s Trophy starts on this shift: Ryan handcuffs Marty on a wraparound, Getzi punches the puck through Marty into the crease, and CoreyPerry (CoreyPerry) is there on the doorstep to tap the puck over the goal line. It’s a 1-1 game.

15:57 During a stoppage, MSG+ shows us a replay of the lousy defensive-zone coverage on the Ducks goal. Pookie sighs, “I’m looking forward to Paulie coming back. And Oduya.” Boomer watches the umpteenth replay and asks, “Did Whitey put that puck into the net?” Pookie: “No. That’s the one good thing you can say about Colin White on that play. That he didn’t shoot the puck into his own net.”

14:59 Well, it’s not a Devils game until there’s a too many men penalty. And just when we were getting warm fuzzies from the graphics screen illustrating how our boys have dropped an entire goal off the team GAA since October 12, and are now first in the league in team D. It’s an impressive stat when you consider that they’re a team that can’t execute a simple line change. (Pookie is dismayed by this stat, though. She wails forlornly, “Paulie’s a bad apple!”)

12:15 Schnookie suddenly realizes that it’s almost halfway through the game and the Ducks have had more PPs than the Devils: “You have to be really stupid to not be outchancing the Ducks on the PP by a wide margin.”

7:42 No one was more disappointed than we were that the GM meetings have not yielded the removal of the dumb trapezoid rule. No one, that is, but Doc and Chico.

7:06 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clarkson is continuing his relentless drive to ascend to emperor-god status – one shift ago he skated through all the Ducks defenders with such ease that Doc called them pylons, and here he bests Wisniewski and Hiller with an absolutely sick toe drag/wrister combo. It’s 2-1 Devils, but Clarkson isn’t an emperor-god just yet, considering how embarrassingly bad his goal celebration is.

6:26 The Clarkson goal hasn’t even been announced over the PA yet and Pookie is grumbling, “I feel like Zach would be well served to get his head out of his ass anytime soon.” Pause. “It’s like he brown-nosed up to Lou by going to Toronto for the HOF thing, and now he thinks he doesn’t ever have to do anything again.”
2:20 The play has been, in Doc’s words, “fancy” since the Clarkson goal (Schnookie: “Doc just called the Devils ‘fancy ladies’!”), and Doc and Chico have spent much of the time talking about how eagerly coachable Clarkson is. Schnookie: “Clarkson is the most golden retriever-y a hockey player as ever there was.” Doc adds that there is an unnamed EC GM who confided to Doc that he would sign Clarkson to a 12-year deal if he could. Pookie: “And that GM? Was Mike Milbury.”

0:58 Zubrus takes a penalty for something or other. The Ducks are like, “That’s strange. We never go on the power play at home.”

0:10 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There’s Zach! Whitey bests Nieder (the Greater) as the Ducks try to gain the Devils zone, Langer digs out the suddenly-loose puck, and he laces a perfect pass to a streaking Zach for a shorthanded break. With a Duck racing back to put some backchecking pressure on, Zach doesn’t have a ton of time to make one of his patented unstoppable breakaway moves, and instead puts on some of his patented unstoppable tenacity and puts a fluttering rebound past Hiller to make it 3-1 Devils. That’s our very own little brown-noser. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

0:00 We get an interview with Zach in which he is extremely spiky and does his patented, “Oh, did I score a goal there? Golly gee!” thing. He also does not give a shout-out to Getzi’s wino kokopelli.

SECOND INTERMISSION

We get an interview with Turner Stevenson. Gel-O asks him about the SCF G7 in 2003, and whether the G7 loss in 2001 affected how the Devils approached that game. Turner says of the 2001 SCF, and I quote, “A lot of people don’t remember that we had a chance to win at home.” Schnookie, extremely bitterly: “I remember. I was one of those people, Turner.”

THIRD PERIOD

15:57 We have spent this period in a feverish negotiation in email with Patty (In Dallas) about procuring real Texas pecans. It seems we haven’t missed anything colossal, as the score is still the same.

14:52 Want proof that Doc is the best play-by-play guy in the business? He calls CoreyPerry just “Perry”. Yeah. He’s just that good.

12:57 Woo hoo! Another too many men penalty for the Devils! A reaction shot of Jacques on the bench shows his head is about to explode. And MSG+ informs us this is the seventh such penalty for the Devils this year, after they took eight in all of last season. So we can be excused for being shocked at how high in the overall standings the Devils are right now.

7:33 EEE! The whistle blows when the Ducks touch the puck on a delayed penalty, and suddenly Getzi and Zach are posturing about coming to blows in the neutral zone. Pookie, in her Getzi voice: “My wino kokopelli can beat up your turtle!” We hope against hope that they’ll really fight, but they don’t. Replay shows the penalty is on Getzi because he was standing around in the Devils zone and Zach skated backwards into him and fell over. Getzi seems to be a general crankypants when he’s playing, but he’s especially cranky when his opponent dives; Pookie cracks in her Getzi voice while we watch him scowling in the penalty box, “I play with honor. Why can’t you?”

6:32 Well now it’s starting to feel like a real Ducks game, as they’re taking inopportune, terrible penalties. Here Nieder (the Greater) takes a hooking penalty on Zubrus in front of the Anaheim net. To be fair, Zubrus could probably have gotten a matching diving call on this one, but we’re not complaining. And furthermore, the Devils are terrible on the 5-on-3, so the Ducks shouldn’t worry.

3:44 The Devils PP does not put the game away. And here Applesauce takes a penalty to keep the Ducks confused about how they could possibly be getting more power plays than the Devils.

0:00 Well! That was workmanlike! And that was a sixth win in a row, and something like the billionth out of the last billion and one (we got lost in the litany of impressive numbers Doc read off at the buzzer). We are really liking the Devils so far this season! Of course, that can all change tomorrow in Pittsburgh, with first place in the division (in November) on the line. Our only regret tonight is that Getzi and Zach didn’t strip off their shirts for a knock-down, drag-out, hair-pulling (decided advantage: Getzi) fight at center ice. Oh well. Next time.

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(Please join us, Gentle Reader, as we wander our way around the dial here on Day 2 of the playoffs, a night with no Devils, and not a lot of interest for us until the late games. We’ll update this post as we go.)

We settled down in front of the TV a bit late this evening, about midway through the early games; since we’re equally ambivalent about these matchups, we opted to minimize our Versus exposure for as long as possible and turned on the Habs/Bruins game on CBC.

— We realize Montreal fans are building a bit of a reputation as singers, but we must admit that we frown on any fan-base belting out “Hey Hey, Na Na, Goodbye” during any non-elimination game. It’s like the obnoxious fan version of saying a Game 2 is “must-win”. It also smacks of hubris. Don’t Montreal fans know that the Hockey Gods frown on hubris?

— Kelly Hrudey’s giant telestrator television makes us wonder if John Oliver or Jason Jones is going to pop up and start making fun of it. It’s so very Indecision 2008. But with more Kelly Hrudey. And therefore, that much cooler. Or something.

— Between games, we flip channels to spare ourselves more Versus. And we settle on “Ziegfeld Girl” on TCM. Ack! Cognitive dissonance!

— Finally, it’s 10:00! We flip to Ducks/Stars in HD on Blersus, just in time to catch an interview with Chris Pronger in which he chortles that no, he doesn’t think about playing the game in a less suspendably dirty way because “it’s too fast to think out there.” Greeeeeat.

— We wrote a few days ago about playoff hockey commercials, and commented that we hadn’t yet been faced with that one commercial that drives us batty every single time we see it. That commercial has turned out to be the hockey fan banging on the glass of the nursery. The roles here at stately IPB Manor are clearly laid out: Pookie mans the television zapper and Schnookie and Boomer alert her when this commercial comes on by doing all they can in the face of this obnoxious ad, and by that we mean making unintelligible noises with increasing volume and decreasing control until Pookie hits the mute button. Six more weeks of “Hey Baby!” Six more weeks.

— We are pleasantly surprised to hear Neil Smith is calling this game.

— Totally fired up to be flipping channels between two games we’re really interested in, we dart over to the Sharks/Flames game during the first Ducks/Stars commercial… just in time for baseball highlights. We feel out-of-practice at this.

— Last year we ridiculed the Ducks for those ridiculous t-shirts and locker room signs that said “Heart”, “Sacrifice”, and… we can’t remember the other 3. “Illegal Hits”? “Oops, My Shirt Fell Off”? “Don’t Worry — It’s Just the Senators”? At any rate, it seems we can start the ridicule this year for their F.O.C.U.S. acronym. We’ve yet to learn what it stands for, but we thumb our noses at teams that need gimmickry (16W, anyone?) to motivate the team. Hm. Now that we think about it, 16W worked in 2001, as did “Heart, Sacrifice, My Shirt Fell Off” in 2007. Maybe the Devils need to stoop to this, too. Rock The Red isn’t enough. The boys need something that says, “The fact that it’s the Playoffs isn’t enough — I need a slogan to get me sufficiently revved up.” Maybe Mike Rupp can start taking suggestions from his teammates on that.

— Just as Schnookie snarks of a listless Dallas man-advantage, “This power play is looking potent” the Stars fire the puck past Jiggy. Pookie: “Jiggy’s like, ‘It’s potent enough, thank you!'” We’re firmly on the Stars side of this one. They are, after all, the Devils of the West.

— During the Sharks intermission, we see an interview with Ron Wilson in which he says that if the Sharks win the Cup, he “guarantees” that Patrick Marleau will win the Conn Smythe. We wonder if that’s his backhanded way of saying, “If we don’t win the Cup, it’s all Marleau’s fault.”

— Some discussion ensues amongst the IPB Irregulars about how all the games tonight have been almost perfectly timed to go to commercial at the same time, making the time-worn joy of flipping back and forth between games nearly impossible. We’re reminded that in his masterful March Madness Diaries last year, Bill Simmons gave this ugsome phenomenon a name — “An Urkin” (after a despicable character in “Borat”). It’s so much easier to complain about the synced commercials when you’ve got an evocative title for them.

— The Sharks feed has recently been taken over by Comcast (replacing FSN), and it really looks awful. Sure, it’s suffering by comparison with the HD Versus feed of the Stars game, but it’s also got this heavy, dark blue and red bar across the top of the screen with the score and clock. It takes us a while, though, to figure out that the bar is what’s bothering us about the picture:

Pookie: “Comcast’s feed looks like it’s coming from the ’80’s.”
Schnookie: “It’s that heavy bar at the top.”
Pookie: “It makes me feel like the ceiling is collapsing in on me. Like I’m in a…” She trails off
Schnookie: “In a trash compactor? In the Death Star?” (Yes, we know — it’s the walls moving in, but you get the idea.)
Pookie: “Yes. That’s exactly what I mean. But I was going to say ‘tractor beam.'”

— It should be mentioned that the anthropomorphic puck with the teal beard promoting Comcast’s fan playoff beard promotion is horrifying. Can’t sleep. Bearded puck with feminine legs will eat me.

— What a thoroughly entertaining evening of hockey! Have we ever mentioned that we love the playoffs?

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Hey! Guess who we don’t care about playing his first game back in Jersey since 2004? Yeah, Scott Niedermayer. Whoop-de-fucking-do.

FIRST PERIOD

19:40 Aw, we’re sad that there’s no Applemotherfuckingsauce tonight. Who will get our late, unlikely game-tying goal if Greener’s in instead?

18:47 The first offensive chance of the evening is a really nice set-up to Marchant sneaking down the wing and taking a snappy cross-zone feed from Baby Nieder. Marty is up to the challenge.

18:30 This is Whitey’s 500th game? Pookie wails, “I feel so old!”

16:03 Paulie shows off his mad smooth-skating skillz when he gets caught on a medium-bad pinch, then calmly gets back on a three-on-two to break up the Ducks’ passes. PaulieMartinNation swoons. (It, um, doesn’t take much.)

14:32 Getzi is clearly unable to handle how much we love Pando, and interferes with him while Pando is trying to get to the front of the net to take a nice feed from Madden. It’s scorched earth time!
(more…)

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We are strangely drawn this week to the Ducks, so here we are again with the team we love to hate (and hate to love), taking on the Flames. Here’s hoping this one is a bit more interesting than the Ducks-Canucks were. It’s no mean feat finding the game, though, because our Center Ice is totally wonky tonight; we find the FSN feed on a channel telling us it’s airing “Upcoming: Bruins @ Lightning.” But of course!

We polished off a growler of beer with dinner tonight, in the hopes that killing off a few of our brain cells would make Hayward more palatable. So far… not so good. He furrows his brow and intones to us like he’s Nicole Kidman in “To Die For” that tonight’s the night a guy named Jarome Iginla (you may have heard of him) becomes the all-time games-played leader for the Flames. That’s kind of a surprising thing to hear – it seems like just yesterday Iginla was a young kid bursting onto the scene. Has he really been around that long, or are the Flames just a franchise that doesn’t keep guys for long?

FIRST PERIOD

18:27 What is it with Canadian rinks? Do they not consider lighting their buildings for television up there? The picture here, as it did in Vancouver on Tuesday, looks remarkably murky.

17:26 Pronger picks up where the Ducks left off in their last game, and takes an interference penalty. This sets Hayward back off into his comical peevishness about how the Ducks didn’t give themselves a chance to win by putting themselves down two men 600 times against the Canucks.
(more…)

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Whew! That was close! After looking forward to watching this game for the last 48 hours, we almost couldn’t find it anywhere on Center Ice. Perhaps needless to say, that would have sucked – it’s hard enough to get through the light VS-friendly schedules on Mondays and Tuesdays. Of course, now that we’re here, we realize we’re going to get to enjoy the insipid stylings of Brian Hayward, and we can’t help but reconsider how badly we want to get to see this game.

Our lead-in on the Ducks feed is talking about Bertuzzi’s return to Vancouver, and we get a look at his mugshot, poorly photoshopped onto a Ducks-orange background. Pookie: “God! He looks in that picture like if Malkin was being played by a two-bit dinner theater actor.”

FIRST PERIOD

20:00 You know who we really don’t care about? Todd Bertuzzi. We spend our time between anthem and opening faceoff watching him standing out on the ice while the broadcasters talk about how Butzi was all worried about how the fans were going to treat him, and how the fans cheered him, and blah blah blah. Pookie splutters, “How stupid are Canucks fans that they’re cheering him?” She then buries her face in her hands and mutters, “I need to just let this go.”

18:24 The Getzi line putters around a bit while Hayward informs us that if the Ducks could get some consistent secondary scoring, they’d be harder to match up against. Really? (It never ceases to amaze us how little insight a person needs before they can be considered an “expert”. Thus, we guess, the popularity of bloggers.)
(more…)

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We have the option tonight between the regular FSN Anaheim and the HD, rinkside feeds. We’re looking forward to experiencing the differences between them, since it’s nice to have a plotline to focus on when the teams you’re diarizing about are complete strangers to you.

FIRST PERIOD

18:27 We’re really quick on the uptake, and take a surprisingly long time to realize this HD rinkside feed doesn’t have play-by-play. That might work for us if we’re watching two teams we know anything about, but since this is the Kings and the Ducks, not so much.

17:09 Having a feed with play-by-play is great and all, but this picture blows. The insipid announcers make us wonder if a feed without them might be an improvement, since they become the 10,000th announcers to crack jokes about how Matt Moulson’s name kind of sounds like a certain brand of beer. It’s like the “Miro Satan should play for the Devils” joke, but a billion times funnier and more original.

16:22 Prongsie and O’Donnell decide the best way to defend Cammalleri is to double-team Dustin Brown behind the net. Fortunately for them, Giggy’s up to stopping Cammalleri’s point-blank shot.
(more…)

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Well, Gentle Reader, it’s another beautiful day here for all manner of outdoorsy, autumnal activities, but only a crazy person would opt to do those things instead of watching hockey! So we’re settling back, keeping our fingers crossed that the tech crew at O2 arena has learned how to turn on the lights, and hoping against hope that the Ducks don’t remember how to play hockey before the end of today’s game.

Oh, that’s right! Today’s game is on VS! No Brian Hayward for us… we hope. Instead it’s Gary Green and Paul Romanuk, two guys we’ve never consciously heard call a game before. Nice of VS to bring their “A” team to the NHL’s stupid big media-event season opener, instead of just coopting the NHL Network’s feed. That’s just the sort of move a big-time sports broadcaster like ESPN would do.

After Bernier impressed us all yesterday, the Kings are doing what we all would have done if we were in their shoes – starting LaBarbera instead. In the studio show, Larry Murphy seems to think this is a good idea, because the Kings would just be “setting [Bernier] up for failure” if they left him in. Pookie says Cloutier is down in the minors saying, “Vindication! They set me up to fail! It wasn’t my fault!”
(more…)

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