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These guys again? And the Sabres too? Well, here we go, we guess. That’s the one problem with it not being the offseason – sometimes you have to watch some pretty awful hockey.

PREGAME

— We spend a delightful half an hour before the broadcast starts playing Super Mario Brothers on the Wii. There’s nothing like watching Mario cheerfully plummet to his doom repeatedly in world 7-1 to put everything into perspective. The elephant seems to be trending highly unlucky, but miracle of miracles, Mario eventually pulls it out and clears the course. Lucky elephant, indeed!

— We spend a slightly less delightful few minutes in the broadcast’s intro wondering why our dinner isn’t ready yet. How long can it take baked potatoes to cook? This elephant wouldn’t know luck if it kicked him in the face.

— Tedenby sighting! We have a Tedenby sighting! The elephant is less pachyderm and more hummingbird-on-crack.

FIRST PERIOD

19:06 The arena looks laughably empty. The elephant is too lonely to bother choosing sides at first, but swings negative when Kovalchuk fancy-pantses his way through the entire Sabres team, gets Enroth sliding out of position, but shoots wide. Pookie: “Well, Enroth is really intimidating.”

13:05 We miss some action because our potatoes are starting to come out of the oven. You know what’s exciting? We’re eating with our new sporks!

November 8 2010

The elephant thinks our flatware is trending stylish.

10:27 There’s not a lot going on in this game, so Chico decides to pump us up by pointing out that Hedberg made a stop on the first shot he faced tonight, which is a big step up from the last time these two teams played. The elephant, like the crowd, is asleep.

9:46 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Enroth juggles an Elias shot from long distance, and Arnott is at the crease — being casually and politely observed by a Sabres “defense”man – to just be able to chip the tiniest bit of the puck into the net while drifting off into the corner. It’s 1-0 Devils! And Tedenby got the secondary assist! WOOOOOOOOO!! Schnookie: “That was all elephant.” Pookie: “Yup. That was the unseen trunk. It gonged in off it.”

7:26 The Sabres very nearly put the puck into their own net from the entire length of the ice on a delayed penalty to the Devils. Alas, the elephant is napping on the job, and luck isn’t with that slowly creeping puck – it taps the outside of the goalpost before coming to rest and drawing the whistle.

0:28 There’s a stoppage for some reason, and MSG+ takes the opportunity to plug their intermission content, including LICENSE PLATE REVEAL! EEEEEEEE! Pookie: “The elephant is looking up, up, up, baby!”

SECOND PERIOD

20:00 We get our Trenton Devils update before the puck drop, and Schnookie sadly laments about Doc’s calling them “the T-Devs”, “I wish he called them the TrenDevs.” Lucky elephant: “Me too.” Also, just for the record, we think it’s hilarious that Gel-O spent the intermission talking about how great the first period was. The Devils are up by one goal against the second-worst team in the conference. Pookie: “And a fluky goal at that.” Let’s not go crazy here, people.

14:36 The elephant mocks the MSG+ team’s crowing about how awesome the Devils are for having a whopping one-goal lead (Chico even goes so far as to call it a “cushion”) against the Sabres, and Pominville makes it 1-1.

14:23 The elephant says, “Soon I’ll be dancing on your graves, losers!” as Hedberg gives up a long-range goal to Roy-Z. 2-1 Sabres. Chico: “Whoa! That’s a shocker!” Pookie: “Chico. How is that even remotely shocking? Tell me when you were shocked.” Chico starts the replay by suggesting maybe the goal wasn’t wholly shitty, because maybe the shot was tipped ever so slightly by Tallinder, but you know what? That would only make it worse.

10:53 The diarist is not in the room when the Devils score. She comes back to find a 2-2 game, and says, stunned, “The Devils scored?” The other -ookie: “Yup. On a Vasyunovaround that bounced in off Clarkson.” The elephant is stunned – it doesn’t know what to think anymore.

9:32 Doc has a moment where he realizes his own looming mortality as Clarkson celebrates in front of the net after a Volchenkov shot, prompting Doc to shout “SCORE!”… except the puck is in the corner. The elephant chortles evilly.

8:16 Langer gets spun headfirst into the boards at the bench, and we will admit – we gasped with horror. Even for Langer. See? We’re not monsters. Ennis gets called for hooking on the play, so the one-for-the-last-33 Devils PP takes the ice. The elephant is like, “I don’t actually need to bother here, do I?”

7:58 WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE? Suck it, bad-luck elephant! Arnott just grips it and rips it from above the faceoff dot, and the shot ricochets off of an almost impossible number of things to find its way into the net. It’s the second PP goal in 11 games for the Devils, and now it’s 3-2 Devils. The good-luck elephant smirks at his bad-luck cousin, but Chico ruins the moment by immediately wondering if this is going to be “a hat trick night”. No, Chico, it isn’t.

6:09 The bad-luck elephant starts pummeling the good-luck elephant with his own upraised trunk, and Myers scores a goal from the mirror-image location of Arnott’s second. Only Myers doesn’t need 10,000 deflections on his shot because Hedberg is a terrible goaltender. 3-3 game.

5:00-ish We come back from commercial to see this awesomeness:

It's Like A Kind Of Torture...

That’s pretty much the exact same facial expressions you’ll find on the denizens of stately IPB Manor when we have to watch the Devils play! It’s like our living room, but with more expensive clothes! Pookie: “It looks like Marty’s regularly kicking Zach in the back of the head.”

1:53 If only the Devils could play this Enroth kid every day! Of all the ridiculous things, they score again. Langer makes it 4-3 Devilswhen he tries to feed Travis in front, but Butler does all the work for him by tipping the pass perfectly into his own net. The good-luck elephant stuffs the bad-luck elephant into a steamer trunk and sits on the lid.

0:00 The period comes to an end on a frenzied Sabres PP thanks to some idiocy by Arnott. It’s a bit of a shooting gallery in the waning seconds, prompting Pookie to remark, “It’s almost like the players are all stopping after every shot to be surprised that it didn’t go in.”

THIRD PERIOD

11:06 Rather like the Devils, we’re not paying very close attention to this period. Until it’s 4-4 thanks to Tallinder having no idea how to make decisions in front of his own net. We’re so glad that bad-luck elephant was manning the helm as the Devils GM this past summer, so the team could acquire such a dazzling defensive talent.

6:48 Bad-luck elephant starts sharpening his tusks to gore good-luck elephant when the Devils go on the PP.

2:42 Both good-luck and bad-luck elephants are shocked to see how quickly this period has passed. The hell? This game’s flying by! How unusual for Devils/Sabres.

0:57 Despite it being a clear night outside, our feed is completely breaking up. The elephants are trying to tell us something, but we’re not quite sure what it is.

OVERTIME

We have nothing to say about this because we can’t see what’s going on. What the hell is going on with our feed? It better not have fucked up our tivoing of ANTM, because while we don’t mind not being able to see this OT, we will NOT abide missing ANTM.

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We might not be especially smart people, but one thing we think we’ve finally figured out is this simple mathematical equation:

Ookies who are tired and cranky from having too much to do during the work day + a Devils team that is playing like they think it’s the first round and they drew the Rangers as their playoff opponent + writing a game diary = excruciating, unending pain.

So we’re going to enjoy (or, more accurately, “enjoy”) tonight’s game the way the hockey gods intended — with an open thread. We hope you’ll join us!

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This is one of those nights where the world has conspired to combine the Devils, the Sabres, Versus, and Pookie working the late shift at the reference desk. The combination of these elements is normally a volatile and putrid cocktail, but maybe this will be the night when everything goes great and Pookie ends up missing the game of the season. You won’t want to miss participating in an open thread of that, will you?

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Please join us tonight as we enjoy an open thread and some woolgathering for the much-anticipated debut of IronBoarsylvania.

— Before this game starts, we have to ask — what is it with the Sabres always being the team the Devils play right after they lose a crucial player to an injury? Last year the Sabres were our first post-Marty opponent, and the Devils gave up 20 shots in the first period. We can only assume the Devils are giving up 40 shots in the first now that they’re reeling from losing Paulie. Because Paulie is twice as important to them as Marty, right? Right?

— The potential for Johnny Oduya to take over as the temporary emperor-god in place of Paulie suffers a serious blow when he stands around watching while some stupid Sabre scores a stupid goal to make it 1-0 Sabres. Sure, other Devils might also have been at fault, but we both had crappy days at work and are drinking wine with dinner. We’re blaming that on Oduya and moving on.

— Schnookie is extremely cranky tonight, and has also guzzled the aforementioned wine. In response to watching Boogerfors and Clarkson wheel around the Sabres zone with no purpose shortly after the early goal, she snaps, “Gah! I hate the Devils! Let’s watch the Blue Jackets instead. At least they’re in HD.”

— This game just keeps getting stupider. We have no idea how it happened, but suddenly it’s 2-0 Sabres. We were busy showing Boomer how to download a Battery Bar for her laptop, and missed the goal. From what we could glean from the surprisingly unillustrative replays, it was stupid. How long before Paulie comes back?

— Okay, so after the game got pretty far out of reach there in the first period (honestly, do the Devils look like they can overcome a two-goal deficit tonight?), we spent until intermission focusing our attentions on ordering an extremely exciting Devils-related holiday present for Boomer. Don’t tell her, though — it’s a surprise! Anyway, when we look up, Patty Elias is on our TV screen. Pookie squeals happily, “Patty! He is alive!”

— How far has Andy Greene come since losing Sutter as his coach? So far that when he scores on the PP to make the game 2-1 Sabres, Doc calls him Parise in his play-by-play. Then, when he realizes it wasn’t Parise, announces with complete disbelief that it was Greener of all people. Greene! Scoring on the power play! Who ever would have thunk it (other than us way back when Rafalski signed with the Wings, and we were all, “Pfft. Andy Greene is the younger, cheaper, BETTER Rafalski!”)?

— Late in the second period, Langer leads the Devils on a possible shorthanded odd-man chance, on which he is being defended by a guy with no stick. And when he goes to dish his telegraphed pass, he very carefully makes sure that it’s placed so that the defender can easily block it with his feet. Pookie wonders aloud, “Has Langer made a single good play yet this season?”

— Tonight’s “Chico Eats!” features Chico trying to defraud a local coffee establishment by using his comp tickets to get their Devils fan discount. Chico is such a rapscallion!

— SHOUT OUT! SHOUT OUT! Chico leads us in after a commercial in the third period with a little featurette about Crunchy’s mask. (Like we’ve never seen that before, just by the way. Find some new material, MSG+ 2.) And first he walks us through the “exploded Buffalo” on the front, then, when he gets to the back, he says, “‘Miller Time’. It’s a play on words.” (Okay, it probably doesn’t count as shout out when we’ve just been making fun of Crunchy all this time. Maybe it’s just hilarious that Crunchy is still, four years later, claiming that “Miller Time” is a “play on words”.) For the record, after the mask feature, Chico finds himself completely stymied trying to describe the hat Crunchy was wearing while showing off his mask. It wasn’t a fedora, but apparently had a “beak”. Chico, you can just leave it at “Crunchy was wearing a toolish/dumb hat”. We know what you mean.

— Also dumb? This game. Midway through the third, it’s 3-1 Sabres.

— When Goose tries to take Zach’s face off with his stick, Pookie realizes something we all should have known ages ago: Paul Gaustad can’t handle the Devils who are prettier than he is. That’s why he’s targeted Paulie and Zach. (That’s her theory and she’s sticking to it.)

— How many too many men penalties can one team take before someone on the coaching staff gets fired? (Pookie, ever single-minded, says when the Devils get called on the too many men during their power play, “When Lemaire was complaining about the too many men calls last time, I thought he was singling out Paulie for not paying attention. So at least this time I’m like, ‘It’s not Paulie’s fault!'”)

— The Devils take another penalty mere moments after killing the too many men one, and we finally decide life is too short to be watching bad hockey in standard def. We move on to find a different game in HD, ostensibly just during the commercial break. Not to watch for good, mind you. Just a nibble.

— We come back after the “commercial break”. It’s now 4-1 Sabres. Pookie, who mans the zapper at stately IPB Manor, says, “Whoops. Sorry we missed the goal. I’m going to assume it was Oduya’s fault.”

— Welp, that game was poopy. Thank heavens we’ve got Yodels and ANTM to fall back on.

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Tonight, in honor of our boys facing off with the favorite team of so many of our buddies in the hockey blogosphere, we’re shaking things up. Instead of doing an IPB-style game diary, we’re tipping our toques in homage to The Willful Caboose in the form of a TWC-style game diary. We’ve long admired Katebits’s effortless, breezy, and illustrative diarizing style; we strongly suspect the end result of this exercise will be a little like Ken Daneyko trying to emulate Niklas Lidstrom, so, uh, bear with us.

PREGAME

Schnookie’s Mood: Resignation. Hockey seasons are like the tides, and I think that Rangers game was a high-water mark, and now we’re in an ebb. It’s the cycle of life.
Pookie’s Mood: Cautiously optimistic that the Devils are on enough of a downswing that this game will not go into a shootout, unlike every single other Devils-Sabres game post-lockout.

Schnookie’s Favorite Devil: I was going to say Rupper, because he’s just such a friendly giant, but then I remembered that Zubrus is also a friendly giant AND he’s the reason Patty’s playing well lately. And as Patty goes, so go the Devils.
Pookie’s Favorite Devil: Bryce “Iron Boar” Salvador. Last season, not a game went by when I didn’t bemoan that the Devils “defense” was barely AHL-quality. This season, when Marty went down, I thought, “Good grief, with our defense, we’ve got less than zero chance of succeeding at all!” Then, a month later, I realized that I hadn’t once worried about the D; I chalk this up to the steadying prescence of the Iron Boar. Paulie’s steadying prescence was obviously wasn’t enough, but between him and the Iron Boar? It’s magic.

Schnookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Bobby Holik.
Pookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Bobby Holik.

Schnookie’s Prediction: Based on our recent history with the Sabres, this game is going to be a total snoozer in which the Devils completely suck ass and I question my motivation as a hockey fan.
Pookie’s Prediction: 500-0 Sabres. In a shootout. Don’t ask how, just know it will happen.

Item Representing Our Hopes That The Devils Win This Game: An Egyptian mummy.

mummy2

Mummies are educational; we’re interested, in an academic way, in how the Devils handle this possible ebb in the season. Mummies are also gross. Potentially, so are the Devils.

AFTER THE FIRST PERIOD

Schnookie’s Mood: Pleasantly surprised! That was a dynamic period, all things considered. Except for Holik. And Clemmer.
Pookie’s Mood: Giddiness tempered with caution. The first was much more uptempo for the Devils than I was expecting, but the second will, by nature, be the second period. That’s never good.

Schnookie’s Favorite Devil: Paulie. He was playing some seriously dreamy defense.
Pookie’s Favorite Devil: Just as I announced that Zach was unquestionably my favorite Devil this period, Paulie Martin started showing off, making awesome plays in all three zones. Sorry, Paulie, I may be a Devils fan but I’m also human — score a goal, then we’ll talk.

Schnookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Still Holik. Always and forever.
Pookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Bobby “Stupid Penalty” Holik.

Schnookie’s Summary of Events: Other than that stupid goal by Staffy, the Devils looked sassy and fiesty and not at all like they were in some kind of letdown-game funk or post-Marty’s-injury gloom. The Sabres must be really confused, and thinking, “That’s funny. The Devils don’t do that at home.”
Pookie’s Summary of Events: The Devils shockingly capitalized on poor rebound control; the Sabres predictably capitalized on lazy back-checking by Elias.

Item Representing Our Hopes That The Devils Win This Game: Queen Nefertiti.

nefertiti

Offense is the sexiest defense.

AFTER THE SECOND PERIOD

Schnookie’s Mood: I’m not saying. The hockey gods might be listening.
Pookie’s Mood: Shocked! Did Sutter finally make the mad-scientist coaching move of convincing the players that there were playing the 1st period over again rather than the 2nd?

Schnookie’s Favorite Devil: Iron Boar!!! He’s an iron goal-scoring machine!
Pookie’s Favorite Devil: Paulie Martin. (If the Iron Boar can score after I declare him my favorite at the top of the game, maybe Pauile can find that missing finish in the 3rd.)

Schnookie’s Least Favorite Devil: I have not seen anything to make me reconsider my heretofore unshakable belief that it is impossible to be a less favorite Devil than Holik.
Pookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Bobby Holik. I’m sorry Chico, but Holik playing as if he’s never been made aware of the post-lockout rule book is not compelling in any way shape or for

Schnookie’s Summary of Events: That might very well be the first time since Sutter started coaching the Devils that they scored in the second period. Into the other team’s net. Granted, they made up for it by giving one up to the Sabres about three seconds later, but still. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Pookie’s Summary of Events: It’s like both teams realized uptempo hockey is fun.

Best News We’ve Heard In A While: Stanta Claus will not be coming to Devilstown this year!

Item Representing Our Hopes That The Devils Win This Game: The Great Sphinx of Giza.

sphinx

Answer me these riddles three… Who will win this game? When will Clemmer realize he’s just not that good? Who on the team can swim?

AFTER THE THIRD PERIOD

Schnookie’s Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! Elated! That didn’t look like an ebb AT ALL!
Pookie’s Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Now that’s a hockey game!

Schnookie’s Favorite Devil: It’s a toss-up. Clarkson was foxy with all the goal scoring and Crunchy-flattening, but Paulie! Going berserk! Getting payback at that dirty, cheap-shotting punk Goose! They were all dreamy.
Pookie’s Favorite Devil: Paulie didn’t score like I’d hoped I’d tricked him into doing, but I’ve never seen him get into a tussle like that before! In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him open his mouth to speak on the ice, let alone yell. He put the “sexy”, the “passionate”, and the “warrior” in “sexy, passionate warrior” tonight.

Schnookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Sigh. I realize he contributed to Clarkson’s goal with that big hit. But he’s still Holik.
Pookie’s Least Favorite Devil: Bobby Holik. He’s probably borrowing Stan’s Santa costume right now so he can tape a 2-hour “Holikta Claus Holiday Special”. I don’t care if his old-school hitting set up Clarkson’s goal; I’m sure Clarkson could have scored it anyway.

Schnookie’s Summary of Events: I have been told more than once that the Sabres are not very good at hockey, but I don’t want to believe it. I want to believe the high-flying, big-swaggering Devils were just awesome tonight, other than the quick goals they gave up. They were dreamy! DREAMY! I loved this game.
Pookie’s Summary of Events: Lots of goals, lots of hitting, few whistles, and a Devils win? Sweet.

Item Representing Our Feelings Now That The Devils Won This Game: King Tut.

tut

Some mummies are gross, but some are glamorous, sexy, solid-gold winners.

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Okay, so the Devils have won something like 50 of their last 51 games, and are coming off the most emotionally wild, high-highs-and-low-lows-and-then-high-highs-again game we can remember from any time in our decade-plus of fandom. Is there any chance tonight is a classic letdown game? Nah. No way. Anyway, stay with us, Gentle Reader, to hear our deep thoughts about tonight’s game as it unfolds.

FIRST PERIOD

7:00 p.m. No Doc again? Bummer. What’s impressive about the Docless MSG+ feeds is that they make us miss Steve in his host role, because that guy they have filling in for him is just. That. Bad. Pookie: “I don’t know what his name is, and I hope to never, ever, ever learn it.”

7:07 p.m. Lalime vs. Weekes? Now there’s a sexy matchup!

7:08 p.m. Wait, letdown? No way. Vanek scores while Whitey, Oduya and the Poppers stand around watching. 1-0 Sabres.

7:14 p.m. Lalime mishandles a rebound, then flails around outside the crease while a Devil skates around behind the net for a fantastic wraparound stuff attempt… and misses. We groan with disgust at the missed scoring chance, then realize it was Blobby Holik taking the shot. If we could get in a time machine to go back a few seconds to readjust our expectations for that play, we would.

7:38 p.m. As the period is winding down, Chico says something about how the Devils are showing way less energy than they did last night. Considering we barely even noticed the game was on, we probably can’t complain. It’s a letdown game for Devils bloggers, too!

SECOND PERIOD

7:54 p.m. “Chico Eats!” tonight features Chico serving dollar dogs to a group of Devils fans while wearing a three-part sign around his neck that says “New Jersey Hot Dogs” “Beat” “Buffalo Wings”. He also loads up the dogs with two hot dogs per bun. And then tells us he works out a lot “because you have to pay the piper if you want to eat like that.” Au contraire, Chico. We eat like that and don’t ever work out. You just have to be willing to be fat.

7:55 p.m. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Patty is fighting hard to steal Langer’s title of Captain Fuck This Shit. After a nice breakout feed from Whitey to Gio, Patty gets a chance to crank a shot over Lalime’s glove that kisses in off the crook of the crossbar. 1-1 game.

8:05 p.m. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Blobby rips a low, fast shot from the slot that Lalime inexplicably doesn’t react fast enough to. It’s 2-1 Devils, and the response to the goal here at stately IPB Manor goes something like this:

Schnookie, looking up with surprise from her stitching: “Whoa!”
Boomer and Pookie: Stunned silence.
Pookie: “I had no idea Blobby had that in him.”

8:12 p.m. Steve needs Doc’s guide to pronouncing NHL names — he is calling Goose “Gow-stad”. So, um, if you’re out and about, give a moo for the Gow-stad.

8:16 p.m. When Oduya takes a cross-checking penalty in front of Weekes’s net, Steve tells us the Devils have killed their last 17 penalties, and the Sabres lost their game last night largely on the strength of their PP sucking. So it comes as no surprise when Staffy promptly scores on the man advantage. 2-2 game.

8:19 p.m. Leach and Mair fight.

IPB Fight

Whatevs.

8:35 p.m. The second period ends without much fanfare. We find ourselves wondering why the Garden of Dreams isn’t offering a Chuck-The-Duck-themed prize. In all the (deserved) hullabaloo over “Chico Eats”, poor Chuck the Duck has been somewhat forgotten. We want to bid on the opportunity to have a photo shoot outside various NHL arenas with Chuck!

8:39 p.m. In the intermission banter segment Chico proves he also never, ever wants to learn the name of the lame fill in studio guy. He calls him “Steve”, then catches himself. While No-Name buffoons about having called Chico “Doc” earlier so it’s all good, Chico clearly looks likes he’s praying that the voices in his ear-piece feed him the correct name for the doofus next to him. It sounds like the truck doesn’t come through for him, so he just starts blurting out random names, and seems to hit on “Jimmy” by mistake.

THIRD PERIOD

8:56 p.m. It takes until now, five minutes into the third period, for Steve and Chico to mention the Zach/Staffy connection. Sheesh, MSG+. It’s not that hard. If you’d just asked us, you could have had that angle covered by the end of the pregame!

9:05 p.m. Patty’s fired. He takes a bad penalty on a 4-on-4, and Roy scores on the ensuing 4-on-3. It’s 3-2 Sabres.

9:08 p.m. Steve mentions in the course of his play-by-play that this could be the Sabres’ second win in New Jersey this season. We realize that, by a quirk of scheduling, they’ve been the team in town to capitalize on the hangovers from the two biggest emotional moments of the season for the Devils this year, in the first game after Marty’s injury and now tonight. Maybe Lou should talk to the schedulers and see if he can’t arrange for the Devils to get the Rangers on similar letdown nights.

9:10 p.m. Vanek capitalizes on more sloppy, flat-footed defensive play by the Devils, and it’s 4-2 Sabres.

9:27 p.m. The game ends with the Sabres winning 4-2. We can’t really be even the tiniest bit upset about this game, nor can we really blame the boys for being flat-footed and dispassionate, not after last night’s wild game. This was the let-down-iest let-down game that ever was a let-down game.

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Blersus leads off tonight with a shot of Kevin Weekes, starting Devils goaltender. We pass out. They try to make us feel better by having a skatearound interview with Zach as part of the pregame introductions, but the highlights of Zach’s goals include footage of pre-“upper body soreness” Paulie, and it makes us pass out even more. The mood at stately IPB Manor in these bleak days of Devil injuries is one of heightened panic and hysteria, in case you were wondering.

The studio show pregame segment leads off with the host dude asking Engblom what Marty’s absence from the game will mean to the Devils’ D. We splutter in an attempt to figure out how someone could sum that up in a soundbite-sized way. Engblom, needless to say, doesn’t do a very good job of it. (Also, neither Engblom nor Jonesy mention that the Devils are also without their top defenseman tonight. Schnookie scarfed her dinner down moments earlier, so as to be ready to type this diary, and Pookie, who is still working on hers, says in disgust, “It’s a good thing you finished your dinner already, because my ravioli just turned to ash in my mouth.”)

FIRST PERIOD

Before play starts, Pookie breaks down in tears when Razor mentions that Weekes is “closing in on a hundred victories” in his career. Pookie, wailing: “Marty’s closing in on a hundred shutouts.” Yes, we’ve been very spoiled in our careers as Devils fans.

18:56 The Iron Boar does a nice job of blocking a Sabre shot with his stick and then working his way with it out of the defensive zone. We’re not sure whether we’re happy to see that, or sad that he’s capable of making a good play without Paulie’s help.

18:09 Weekes makes a save on a long shot/dump-in. We breath steadily into paper bags.

18:01 As Doc and Razor discuss Crunchy’s slight build, Razor says, “He puts the ‘lank’ in ‘lanky’!” Crunchy: “I’ll have you know that I cut my hair ages ago.”

16:55 The modest crowd is not deeply into this game yet.

16:19 Blersus takes small mercy on us and, when they have a graphic showing the Devils injuries, they make a point of having it on the screen at the same time as a shot of the three Stanley Cup banners.

15:49 No the fuck way! Travis and Zach stand around Weekes’s crease (who even knows what the D guys are doing during this sequence?) watching a Sabre hammer away at the puck in Weekes’s feet, and miraculously, the puck doesn’t go into the net. Nice, hold, Weekesie! We didn’t think you had it in you!

15:09 The Devils look as confident in their ability to win this game tonight as we are, and have one of those pathetic, “go ahead and just score on us, because we totally suck” defensive zone shifts that leads to Brookbank taking a penalty. Boomer takes offense to Razor claiming the Devils have been “hemmed into their own zone” for all of this game, but doesn’t really have an argument when we point out that the only times the puck’s been in the Sabres’ end has been when the Devils have been able to make rink-length dumps while making changes.

14:54 Razor’s pandering to us: “I love Pandolfo and Madden killing penalties together.” Us too, Razor!

13:59 Weekes freezes the puck, and Doc tells us there have been six scoring chances so far tonight, “and guess who’s had them?” Pookie, sadly hopeful: “Paulie?” Someone needs to put us out of our misery.

12:07 Gio forces the puck loose against a Sabre defender at the Buffalo blue line, and looks for a moment like he might be able to get around him for a mini-breakaway. Pookie cheers with gusto, “NICE, Gionta!” But the play peters out into nothing, and she sags, “Fuckin’ Gionta.” That’s kind of the story of his career for the last few seasons right there.

11:51 Boomer: “I think they guys are all just thinking ‘defense’ right now.” Pookie: “I think they’re all either thinking, ‘AAAAAAHHHHHHH!’ or ‘[Meow Mix jingle]’.”

10:44 Clarkson takes a boarding penalty that leads to some kind of grappling with Goose (that’s a lot of handsome in that clinch!), but we don’t see how all of this unfolds, and this being Versus, when we come back from commercial they don’t bother with a replay because they’d rather show us footage of Weekes standing in his crease during the stoppage.

9:51 The Devils put in a great show of feverish penalty killing, complete with a monster save by Weekes, and then Vanek takes a marvelously stupid-assed hooking penalty on Pando.

8:57 Afinogenov looks like he’s about to do some fancy-shootin’ coast-to-coast stuff after stripping a Devil at the far boards in the Buffalo zone and flying up the neutral zone, but Zach (Zach!!) holds his ground in front of Weekes and Max loses the puck in Zach’s feet. As we are marveling at Zach’s defensive prowess, Razor says, “I think they’d say in Texas that Afinogenov is all hat and no cattle.” No! That was all Zach! Shut up, Razor!

7:08 In the course of Doc’s play-by-play he mentions two of the Devils forwards on the ice, “Bergfors… and Vrana.” Schnookie, despondent: “Bergfors… and Vrana… and Weekes…” Pookie, picking up where she trailed off: “This ball of tape… and this paper bag… oh, I’m sorry. That’s Brookbank.”

4:50 A Goose shot flies just wide of the net, and Pookie sighs, “I thought that was going in.” Pause. “Then I saw that Vrana, Bergfors, Salmela and Brookbank were out there, and I realized, what could possibly go wrong?” As if on cue, Brookbank takes another penalty.

3:52 Whitey topples to the ice after blocking a shot with his chest. Pookie: “Oh god, no.” Whitey then leaps back to his feet and continues on his chipper way. Pookie, as Whitey: “No worries. It’s just my heart. It’ll start again.” Schnookie adds, as Whitey: “Yeah. It’s not like it’s my pinky or anything. Bobby.

2:44 Razor states the obvious when he says that Weekes has been amazing to keep the score at zero, and that the Devils have looked “out of sync” so far. Schnookie: “No fucking kidding! Have you looked at this fucking lineup?”

2:38 Woo hoo. The Devils take a too many men penalty. At least one thing looks normal for the boys tonight, as Sutter looks like he’s throwing a clot behind the bench.

2:14 Weekes makes yet another save from a shot off the Sabres rush, and Oduya takes a penalty somewhere on the sequence. Versus doesn’t tell us what for, or show us the infraction. We’d make some crack about how they’re broadcasting tonight as shittily as the Devils are playing, but who are we kidding? They’re always like this.

0:38 Doc makes fun of Razor’s invented adjective for Weekes’s performance so far, “mastodonic”. Pookie, as Marty: “Weekesie, he’s calling you fat!”

0:33 The inevitable finally happens, and the Sabres get the first goal, on a nice one-timer by Pominville. 1-0 Sabres.

0:00 Wow. That was every bit as bad as we expected!

FIRST INTERMISSION

They talk to Pommers. He says some blather about how the Sabres know their opponent tonight will sit back and take their chances, and that they’re really good on the power play. A ha! We’ve just caught on tape evidence that Pommers either doesn’t pay attention in the pregame scouting meetings he sits through or he has no idea who he’s playing on any given night.

SECOND PERIOD

The consensus at stately IPB Manor is that we’re willing to give the Devils one game to mope around feeling sorry for themselves. We came into this game feeling exactly the way the boys played that first period, so we can’t really blame them. So enjoy these next two frames, remaining actual NHL-caliber Devils players, because we’re not going to be nearly so patient with you on Wednesday.

18:45 Whatever Sutter screamed at his players in the intermission didn’t have much of an effect. They still look shell-shocked in their own zone.

18:09 A puck trickles out of the New Jersey zone and almost makes it all the way to the red line, and Pookie cheers.

17:48 We rub our eyes in disbelief. What is this wondrous thing we see? A shot on goal?? Langer, really? Crunchy makes an easy glove save, but still. It’s a shot!

17:17 Brookbank cranks a shot that rings loudly off the crossbar. It won’t count on the scoreboard, but we’re counting that as a goal. Just to take what we can get tonight.

16:49 Not a group to build on the great work of that shot hitting the crossbar, the Devils promptly give up a rush the other way that leads to Gio taking a lazy tripping penalty. Of course, Afinogenov takes an equally lazy dive to even up the calls. (Razor suggests that diving should have a 10-minute misconduct to go with the even-up call, and we are firmly behind this notion.)

14:49 Weekes has to make a zillion more saves off gruesome turnovers on the four-on-four; we can only imagine he’s having a George Lazenby moment right now, and is going to turn to the camera any minute now to say, “This never happened to the other fellow.”

13:39 Doc is completely stunned when the Devils mount a three-on-two. But it’s Bergfors with the puck, so nothing happens.

13:04 Razor suggests the Devils are playing rope-a-dope. Doc dismisses the notion out of hand while saying, pretty much, that this is by far the worst he’s ever seen the Devils play. (Because he’s forgotten Game 6 of the 2001 SCF.)

12:54 Pookie is surreptitiously looking on YouTube for a link to go with that Lazenby reference a few lines ago, and when we go to commercial she mutes the TV. Suddenly we hear a familiar theme song coming from her laptop, and Boomer says jealously, “Wait a minute! Pookie’s watching Bond movies right now! No fair!”

10:55 Schnookie: “Marty’s probably watching this game right now and thinking, ‘Excellent!’” His plans to strongarm the Devils into letting him start 70 games a season until he’s 150 years old are looking solid right about now.

10:19 Razor and Doc are positing that the Devils are having such a hard time playing hockey tonight because they can’t function with Marty not being around at all. We think they’re not giving this team’s history enough consideration – the Devils have been, for the last decade, the laziest group of highly-accomplished professional hockey players ever assembled. You think they killed that many coaches by being easily motivated? Hellz no! They just saw Marty being out as an opportunity to take a night off. These guys are highly accomplished underachievers; you think they’d let a chance like this go?

9:33 The four fans at the game give a hearty cheer when the first signs of life by the Devils lead to Zach getting (and missing) a scoring chance, followed by a penalty by Tallinder.

8:35 Right about now the four fans at the game are wishing they could take back that cheer for the power play.

8:04 A Mottau point shot hits Gio square between the shoulder blades, and Schnookie cracks, as Gio, “No worries. It’s just my heart. It’ll start again.” Pookie amends that, as Gio: “It’s just the hole where my heart should be.” Pause. “Just kidding. It’s not like he’s Mats Sundin.”

6:15 The Poppers have a marvelous shift with lots of scoring chances and hustle, and draw a cross-checking penalty on Rivet. We are not sure who these guys are and what they’ve done with Langer, Zach, and Travis.

6:04 The four fans in attendance enjoy a “Rangers suck!” cheer. It warms the cockles of the holes where our hearts should be.

5:49 A building-up of a rush led by Patty gets called back on a bullshit offsides call. Did these officials see the first period? Don’t they realize the Devils are totally remedial and need all the help they can get?

4:53 Pookie: “You know what this game needs? Some Applemotherfuckingsauce.” Schnookie: “I was thinking that earlier, and then he Applemotherfuckingsauced right into Gio’s back.” Pookie: “This game needs a snack cup. A snack cup of applemotherfuckingsauce.” Schnookie: “Yeah, there’s no way we can say this that doesn’t sound dirty.”

4:02 Patty sprints in one-on-one against Spacek, cranks a huge wind-up, and tries to cannon a shot through the defender and Crunchy. Crunchy shoulders off the shot, and Spacek falls to the ice in a weird sort of shot-blocking attempt. Boomer: “Well, at least he hit him.” Pookie: “Yeah, Spacek was as surprised as the rest of us on that one.”

3:19 The Sabres ice the puck, and then call a time-out. We thought that wasn’t allowed anymore. Cheaters!

2:07 After Gio, Clarkson and Teppo fall over in rapid succession in the Sabres zone, Doc says it’s some Keystone Kops action. We aren’t sure whether we can take that as a shout-out, like that he saw the Buster Keaton clip we put up last night, and has had the golden age of silent film comedy on his mind all day. First he called the Devils PK unit in the first period “the iron three” (NEARLY “the Iron Boar”), and now this? He obviously reads us!

1:20 Lydman hooks Zach, because he can’t handle our very own Itty-Bitty Prince. Wait, no, on second thought, it turns out it was Travis he couldn’t handle. Pookie: “That’s pathetic.”

0:00 It seems that after a few minutes of this period, the forwards realized that the defensemen might have an excuse tonight, but Marty’s absence shouldn’t have any effect on the Devils’ ability to forecheck. All in all, it was far less miserable than the first period. But that’s kind of damning this period with faint praise.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Jonesy praises Crunchy for his awesomeness at the very difficult task of facing very little pressure for half a game before finally having to stop a growing barrage of shots. Oh, sure. It’s a great skill and an illustration of how fantastic a goalie Crunchy is, but when Marty does it, he’s just a product of the system. Gah.

Also, Versus wants us to feel like this is a Devils broadcast, and spends a fair deal of the intermissions talking about the Rangers.

THIRD PERIOD

We’re making our own fun now by meowing the Bond theme. Maybe you had to be there.

18:17 Play has been fairly even going up and down the rink, but we’re still meowing Bond music. Pookie wishes she could remember how the zany helicopter-chase music goes, but Schnookie only knows the Sexmob version of it off-hand, and thrills the other denizens of stately IPB Manor with her impersonation of a jazz sax. We are so cool. And so focused on this game, considering the likelihood that the Devils will pull it out.

17:06 Zach’s hustle leads to an rink-length rush, and then the Poppers draw another power play. Crunchy’s quaking in his skates.

17:02 Boomer has mentioned, since we’ve all got Bond on our minds now, that Zach could benefit from an invisible car to get up and down the ice tonight. Pookie decides he’s hoping for exactly that, and is now calling Boxworthy “Q”, Sutter “M”, and Travis “Moneypenny”. Travis is probably delighted at this upgrade from “Robin”.

15:18 This power play is good enough that we’ve stopped with the Bond crap. Of course, just when we start paying attention, Langer weakly gives up the point and things all peter out.

14:15 Madden forces a lovely turnover behind Crunchy’s net, and drops a beautiful feed out to a streaking point man in front… but the Iron Boar whiffs on his one-timer. We still remember the first period well enough that we’re happy to take this as a moral victory.

13:36 Shaquille O’Neal is a Devils fan? Wha-huh?? The sideline guy interviews him in the stands, and he’s wearing Pando’s favorite t-shirt, one that features a giant bedazzled Rolls Royce logo.

12:19 Travis loses a defensive-zone draw cleanly, and some Sabre (first they say Paille, then they say Kaleta) artfully tips a shot from the high point past Weekesie. It’s 2-0 Sabres, and Boomer, who has been holding out hope, finally agrees with us, “Now this one’s over.”

12:08 Crunchy, under zero forechecking pressure, fires the puck over the glass behind the net, putting the scorched-earth New Jersey power play back on the ice.

11:56 Razor tells us that people have been saying since Travis broke into the league, “That is a young version of Joe Nieuwendyk!” Pookie: “Really? Well there’s your problem.” (Oh, Nieuwy. We kid because we love. And because you were the one who cried in the dressing room during the 2003 SCF to “fire up” the Devils who weren’t being scratched in that series.)

10:29 Vanek puts the Devils on a five-on-three when he takes a lazy hook against Zubrus in the neutral zone. A shot of Lindy Ruff at the Buffalo bench shows he’s thinking, “Seriously? You guys are still calling stuff in this game? Haven’t you noticed it’s over?”

10:16 Patty is a remarkable creature – in a game where we’ve stopped expecting anything from the Devils, he manages to get us to sigh, “Patty, you’re fired.” He is the guy at the top of the formation on the five-on-three, and after the puck is moved around the perimeter, he takes a week to look like he’s ready to shoot, waits for the PKers to go down in front of him, then shoots the puck straight into them.

8:51 The Bond theme continues as Pookie sums up this game experience thusly: “This is like Never Say Never Again. I thought going in that it would be like one of the Timothy Dalton ones, you know, expectedly awful and unnecessarily dour, but instead it’s just been so much worse than that.”

8:41 Pookie: “I feel like if anyone’s going to score tonight, it’s going to be Zajac.” Pause. Schnookie: “And we all know that’s not going to happen.”

6:33 Travis drives home our point that he’s never going to score by having his stick break in half on a shot attempt from the blue line.

6:03 Doc is talking about how Crunchy’s nursing a shutout, having had one in his previous game, and how it would be his first career back-to-backer. This one might deserve an asterisk, though.

4:25 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! We found it! We found the link! Here’s the movie equivalent of Weekes’s experience tonight. (What, did we make you think the Devils might have scored there? HAHAHAHA! That’s not going to happen, silly!)

3:21 Ooooh. Back-to-back icings. The Devils are really awesome. And, um, wouldn’t have done that if Marty and Paulie were playing tonight.

1:49 Weekes gets to the bench, and with the extra attacker on, Whitey cranks a bunch of shots. For some reason, we find that hilarious. Zach’s probably like, “You puck hog! You’re supposed to be setting me up!”

0:00 Things we expected to have happen tonight: The Devils losing. The Devils being shut out. The Devils looking like ass. Things we didn’t expect: Us working in an On Her Majesty’s Secret Service quote. We’re really proud of that. Thanks, Devils!

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