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.
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.
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.
Holy shit, you guys — Tim Thomas invented yoga.
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.
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.
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!
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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