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It seems sort of strange that we should have to chase yesterday’s amazing game against the Pens with another game right away. Shouldn’t the schedule have built in some time for savoring? What gives? Anyway, we’re back in the saddle already, with the Devils in Chicago and in lo-def. BOOO! We wanted 2009 to go out with a bang, and instead, it’s going out with a murky haze of what might be two of the top teams in the NHL, but might also just be some red- and white-colored blobs moving around a blueish-white TV screen.

Our intro is all about Madden, whom we’d pretty much forgotten. If Marty lets him score tonight, our entire decade will have been ruined.

Wait, never mind – it doesn’t matter if Madden scores, because Stan manages to fit a whole bunch of so-lame-they-don’t-even-qualify-as-terrible puns about various players’ names before the game starts. And with that, our decade has been ruined. And the cherry on top is that Peters is back in the lineup tonight. Did we ever say we liked hockey?

FIRST PERIOD

17:11 When Land Zhark’s name comes up in the play-by-play, it’s greeted with a chorus of “Candygram!” here at stately IPB Manor, and then Pookie suddenly blurts, “Blandygram!” Pause. “Have I said that before?”

16:30 Chico chortles about Peters’s excuse for his tie-down issue in the last game he played. Apparently he was “so excited he forgot to tie his sweater down”. On the one hand, we want to complain about what a complete fucking idiot he is, but on the other hand, we really liked that he got tossed out of that game early. Peters makes life so difficult.

13:47 The first big scoring chance of the night for the Devils comes from some hustle by Zach in front of the net. It’s stopped by Huet, and then our audio picks up some jubilant female squealing that makes it sound as if Gel-O and Chico are broadcasting from a party boat. Which, considering the legend of Gel-O that Stalky thought up last season, is probably the case. It is the New Year, after all.

8:59 We miss a few minutes while assembling our meringue mushrooms, and come back to hear a story that Madden asked Marty to bring him a few game-used sticks that he could give to people in Chicago. And Marty apparently said that if Madden scores on him, those sticks will get packed up and go ahead with the team to Minnesota. Heh.

5:50 Marty makes an amazing save on what looks like a gimme at the far post (or maybe the Blackhawk just whiffs on his shot, or hits the post – we can’t really see because this picture is so terrible. It’s like we’re watching through the windshield of the Med U.S.A.) on a delayed penalty, and after the shot, Madden goes down in a giant, flailing heap, his gloves flying everywhere as he clutches his face as if his life force is ebbing out of it. Pookie then reminds us of our favorite Maddenism from his Devils days: “THAT STICK TOUCHED MY EYE!” We go to commercial, and when we come back Chico is confused about whether a second penalty is being called on the play, with the initial whatever-it-was, and then the high stick on Whitey. It turns out that Whitey is in the box, but only for one penalty. Madden hasn’t gotten any better at drawing high-sticking penalties than he was in Jersey.

5:16 Blandy didn’t bring his A game with him on this trip, it seems, and Brouwer scores the first of what we suspect will be many Hawks goals tonight. 1-0 Chicago.

3:31 The Med U.S.A. is taking on water! Blandy didn’t even bring his B game with him on this trip, and after he whiffs on an attempt to just carry the puck in the defensive zone, Eager scores. It’s 2-0 Chicago, and you know what? If the Devils are going to have a let-down game (which they clearly are, and we can’t blame them for that, since we’re not exactly all that interested in them playing tonight either), would it killthem to let the hot guys on the Blackhawks score? What’s with this Brouwer and Eager crap? Why not Mr. Beefy or Duncan Keith?

0:00 Remember how good that game against the Pens last night was? Remember that feeling? Yeah, we don’t either.

SECOND PERIOD

19:38 Gel-O brings us back to the action by casually mentioning that the Devils are down by two. Schnookie: “Yeah, but it feels like 17.” Pookie: “If they let in another, I’m throwing mushrooms at their heads.”

17:49 Just as Pookie gets up to check on the mushrooms, the Devils make themselves into mushroom targets by all stopping in the neutral zone to watch while the Blackhawks get a two-on-one way in close, and Ladd makes it 3-0 Chicago. At least Mr. Beefy got the assist, so there was some pulchritude involved. Boomer sums things up well by sighing, “Well, put this in the loss column.”

16:50 The Devils respond well to falling into an insurmountable hole by taking a penalty. Chico tries to cheer us up by mentioning now that the Hawks have such a terribly-managed salary cap that they are in a hard-and-fast “win now” situation. And you know what? We’re petty enough that it does help to hear that.

15:34 Gel-O decides to tell us now that the penalty was to Mottau, for holding. We don’t really care. It’s all of the same here on the bleak ship Med U.S.A.

13:51 Zach fails to score on a penalty shot. Pookie points out that he’s gone an entire game without a goal, and maybe it’s time for us all to get worried again.

13:03 The Chicago crowd gets to roar with derision at the patheticness of the Devils when Rolston winds up to take a giant slapshot on the fly, and a Hawk just skates up behind him and takes the puck away. Don’t get too excited, Hawks fans – after all, Rolston is the worst hockey player on earth.

8:30 Hey! There’s Mr. Beefy! Taking a tripping penalty! Thanks for letting a handsome guy on the scoresheet, Devils. Oh, and now it’s time for the first PP of this fine, fine let-down game. Should be exciting.

6:30 Hmph.

6:04 As if this game is feeling sorry for us, the Devils get another PP. Chico tells us the Devils need to start doing something to generate something. We’re not waiting for that while hanging from a rope around our necks. (We have spent the last few minutes reading the final entry on the Top Ten Reasons Why This Feminist Is A Sports Fan” list we linked to yesterday. The reason is “Sports are Joyful”. Schnookie reads it aloud to Pookie and Boomer, and after we contemplate that, we agree the author can only be saying that because she hasn’t seen this game.)

4:04 This entire fucking power play has been in the Devils’ zone. It is capped off, though, by Madden attempting a spin-a-rama shorthanded chance. It’s exactly as hilarious as it sounds.

2:25 If we had to come up with a list of top ten reasons why we hate sports, this game would be at least six of the items on that list. Gotta love going from the high highs to the low lows.

0:44 Boomer puts things into perspective by asking, “Which would you rather have? The shutout against the Pens, or winning this game?” She makes a good point, but would it have killed the Devils to give us both?

0:00 Woo hoo! Only 20 more minutes! (We get an interview with Andrew Ladd, and as Pookie emphatically hits the mute button, she snarls, “Shut up, Ladd. I don’t like you.” Pause. “And my friend doesn’t like you either.” Boomer then adds, “And shut up, Stan.” Schnookie: “I like you even less.”)

THIRD PERIOD

19:38 Pookie is busy staging a meringue mushroom photoshoot, and can’t unmute the TV. So we’re spared whatever Chico’s trying to say right now about how easy it’ll be for the Devils to get back in this.

18:44 Back-to-back icings is not, we don’t think, how the Devils are going to get back in this.

17:40 Pookie finally comes back into the living room and says, “Well, at least it’s not 4-0, which is better than last time I came in from the kitchen during play.” As if on cue, the Hawks take a delay-of-game penalty. Chico tries to suggest that the comeback is starting here. We’re not sure we believe him.

17:12 A clearing attempt whips into the Hawks bench and drills Hjarmalsson in the side of the head. He goes down hard and is slow to get back up, then staggers slowly off the bench into the dressing room. That’s not cool.

15:19 Well now it’s 4-0 Chicago. Instead of watching this game, would you like to see some baby pictures of our meringue mushrooms? Why, of course – we’d love to share them with you!

Makin' Mushrooms

Meringue Mushrooms 1

Meringue Mushrooms

10:30 We return to paying attention the game in time to hear Chico telling us all about how John Madden’s kid was all sad about having to leave New Jersey, and blah blah blah, and if he’s trying to get us to gain sympathy for the Madden family while we’re watching this crap, Chico’s crazier than we thought.

4:49 When Madden scores from long range to make it 5-0 Chicago, we call it quits. Pookie: “There goes that decade.”

0:00 Welp, that sucked from tippy top to tippy bottom. Regardless, Happy New Year, Gentle Reader!

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This is exactly what happened at stately IPB Manor at the conclusion of the last Devils game:

Pookie: [At the final buzzer, with disgust] “That was awful! Let’s change the channel right now.”
Schnookie: [Clutching her head in sudden pain] “Oh my god, I’ve just this minute come down with the most excruciating sore throat of all time.”
Pookie and Boomer: “I hope the Devils are happy.”

It turns out that the loss on Monday inflicted a Bond supervillain of a virus on Schnookie, in that it was slow-moving and seemed on paper to be really ineffectual, but in practice somehow managed to incapacitate the most intrepid good guy anyway. It’s, like, Hugo Draxitis. Now it’s time to find out if the cure involves the Devils figuring their shit out and remembering how to kill penalties.

The cure doesn’t look promising off the bat, by the way, what with the Islanders getting the HD treatment tonight and us getting a stick in the eye.

Gel-O’s pregame spiel looks like his home-made audition tape for some kind of Star Trek convention activities. He’s got a wrinkled, clumsily seamed purple MSG+ backdrop and “dramatic” spotlights that give it a tie-dyed sort of look. Foxy!

FIRST PERIOD

20:00 We cut away from the Ferengi bar Gel-O was sitting in to a jarring underwater-ish picture of the players on the benches. In his “who’s back in the lineup” run-down, Doc doesn’t pause between telling us about the starting forward line and d-pairing, so it sounds like Zubrus is going to be centering Paulie and Oduya. Pookie: “That should be interesting.”

18:12 We get to find out early whether the PK has rediscovered itself, as Blobby trips a Blackhawk behind the play on a mildly-threatening rush. Boomer: “Of course.” He’s going to be benched for the rest of the game, right?

16:56 We are discussing ways to improve the Devils PK. Schnookie floats the idea of changing the players more often (as Sutter suggested), but changing to players who are not currently on the Devils’ roster. Pookie suggests not skating Blobby Holik at even strength.

16:04 Just as we are exclaiming with delight, “Dear Hockey Gods in Hockey Heaven, we just killed a penalty!”, Whitey hooks Versteeg right behind the Devils net and right in front of the official. We… don’t think this kill is going to go as well, as the key ingredient is clearly Whitey.

14:10 Doc tells us, as the Devils keep getting shorthanded rushes, that the recent behavior patterns of the PK is to do great for a most of the kill, then give up a goal late. So it’s very thoughtful of them to decide to make Doc look smart and clued-in, as they do exactly that. 1-0 Hawks. We feel like we’ve been here before.

13:37 Clarkson and Seabrook fight.

IPB Fight

It’s actually quite a humdinger. We suspect Blobby will respond positively – by taking more stupid penalties.

12:35 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, take that, standard Devils-on-the-road ennui! Zach skates in on the near wing and just whips a prayer of a wrister toward the net that tips off a defender’s stick and flutters off Khabibulin’s mask and into the net. It’s a 1-1 game, and somewhere in Philly Jeff Carter is all annoyed that he’d finally caught up to Zach in the goal scoring, and now Zach’s pulled ahead again. (Actually, Pookie puts it best when she says, “Who are we kidding? Somewhere in Philly Jeff Carter is drunk in a ditch.”)

12:21 Oh for fuck’s sake. After narrowly avoiding going down two men on the previous PKs with a bad clearing attempt, this time Applesauce makes no mistake and very definitively clears the puck over the glass. This is a good development, because the PK is really good.

10:16 OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Patty fires the puck a mile over the glass now. GREAT. We’re ever so glad we got up to watch this game.

10:00 Paulie flubs a clearing attempt, and Pookie says, “He would have been able to clear that if this was in hi-def.” Pause. “Okay, now I’m really weirded out thinking about how Paulie’s seeing this normally because he’s playing in it.”

9:27 The Devils get a flurry of shorthanded chances, and Chico cracks that the Hawks look unsure of what to do because they’re not used to playing in their own end. Schnookie: “Ha. Ha. Ha.”

8:04 This feels weird. The game is at even strength. What do we do? What do we do????

6:42 We… just don’t have the words anymore. The fourth line is in the offensive zone, setting up some kind of fourth-line cycle, and just as Schnookie is shouting, “Dear Brent Sutter, Why is Blobby Holik on the ice? I would like a detailed response explaining why you’re still doing this to us,” he takes an interference penalty on the far boards. We are not making this up.

5:52 Boomer decided after dinner to go out to the local ice cream shoppe to get some kind of dessert-y treat to sooth Schnookie’s poor, sick throat. And, um, for the healthy denizens of IPB Manor, too. She comes back in the door now and shouts up the stairs, “Dear god! This is still on?” Heh.

3:09 We get a shot total for the period to date. 9 for the Devils, which is surprisingly high, and 18 for the Hawks, which is surprisingly low.

2:45 Chico, watching Holik still getting ice time: “Give Coach Sutter credit – he’s not benching Bobby. Some coaches would.” Us, in unison: “I am not giving him credit for that.”

0:18 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This ice cream is magic! On a delayed penalty (to the Blackhawks!!!), the Devils swarm around the goal mouth, hammering away at a flurry of rebounds, and then Paule — Paulie! — pounces from behind the goal line to bury the puck in the net. 2-1 Devils and PaulieMartinNation is completely losing its shit. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paulie Augustus

0:00 That was like bizarro period! We don’t ever want to have to relive it, but we’ll take the end result.

FIRST INTERMISSION

Can’t talk. Eating ice cream.

SECOND PERIOD

20:00 Chuck the Duck! Chuck the Duck! Walking past the camera like Alfred Hitchcock! EEEEEEE!!!!

17:59 Still can’t talk. Still eating ice cream.

17:37 This period is a lot more mellow than the first, and Doc and Chico can’t figure out which team is dictating the pace right now. We didn’t realize there even was a pace to be dictated so far in this frame.

15:54 Marty makes a great coming-out-of-his-net-to-challenge save on a Blackhawks rush, but Versteeg is on the far post to almost be able to stuff the rebound into the vacated net. Applemotherfuckingsauce, though, is there to force his shot wide.

14:35 Doc mentions Paulie’s late-period goal from the first, and Pookie takes umbrage. “That was late-period heroics, not just a goal,” she sniffs.

12:13 Khabibulin stops and covers a long shot Clarkson, and then Clarkson draws the wrath of the Blackhawks by poking at his glove. Chico starts to whine that that should be a penalty on Clarkson – we know! It’s the first time all season he’s thought a Devil actually committed an offense, and the bitter irony is that nothing was actually called on it – and Doc basically tells him to get over it.

11:31 One of the officials gets clocked by a ricochet on a Devils dump-in. Doc says with concern that he has no idea where the puck hit him, and as he gets up from the ice with blood streaming from his mouth, Pookie offers, “I’d say it hit him in the mouth.”

10:51 Blobby gets knocked over at the blue line by Seabrook, and then gets all angry and charges at Havlat, and then the whistle blows for a penalty, so we all assume it’s Blobby again, but it turns out it’s actually Duncan Keith for a holding infraction that had nothing to do with the stupid crazy man. It’s a shocking turn of events.

8:51 The PP better not think we’ve forgotten that it’s part of the recent Devils’ failures. When you lose three straight road games because of crappy special teams, that doesn’t just mean the kill, PP.

5:38 Well that sucked. The Hawks establish their cycle, and Havlat fires a puck from the high point through a thoroughly screened and scrambling Marty, making it a 2-2 game. Doc reminds us that Havlat is a long-time Marty-killer, but it doesn’t make us feel better.

4:57 The Devils respond to the goal by getting pinned again in their own zone.

3:55 Chico is still reeling from the Havlat goal, desperately viewing and reviewing the film to find some kind of excuse for Marty on it. There isn’t one, and it’s killing Chico from the inside.

3:00 Marty lazily wanders back into his net after helping play the puck to a d-man behind it, and is almost caught napping when said d-man turns the puck over to a Blackhawk in front. The only reason this game isn’t 3-2 Hawks right now is because the guy who just had a goal gift-wrapped for him freaks out and fires his shot over the net.

2:00 The Devils are being completely outclassed right now. Pookie: “Ever since Chuck the Duck did his Hitchcock impersonation, this game has been a horror!” Pause. “Or it could just be that Whitey’s playing terribly.”

0:39 Sharp gets a mini-break while the Iron Boar decides that showing off his slapstick comedy chops is a better plan than playing defense, but Marty stymies him with a great lunging paddle save. Sharp responds by cartwheeling over Marty and ripping off his mask with a scissor-hold on Marty’s head with his knees.

0:00 The period ends with Shanny chasing after some Blackhawk guy, ostensibly in response to being slashed, but lip-reading suggests he’s telling those whippersnappers to stay off his lawn. (Yes. We just went there. It was that kind of period.)

We get an interview with Paulie, who is freshly shorn. Gel-O sets him up to whine that the Devils aren’t getting any even-up calls after the first, but Paulie won’t bite. He’s such a class act and a dreamboat. If you like your men pallid and Gorey-esque.

SECOND INTERMISSION

We get some kind of “Brodeur: 552” stuff during this intermission. If you miss it now, Gentle Reader, we suspect it’ll get played a few more times on the MSG family of channels.

THIRD PERIOD

17:54 Havelid follows play into the Devils zone and just kind of falls over, taking himself out of a one-on-one defensive sequence. Schnookie: “Oh my god… The Iron Macho is just… he’s the Graphite Macho. No, he’s the Talc Macho.”

16:35 Gio almost manages to generate a scoring chance for the Devils when he blows past the Chicago D and tries to lace a cross-crease pass to a streaking Patty, but everyone on the ice is so surprised that the Devils are actually trying to put the puck toward the net that nothing comes of it.

15:31 Langer tries to hand the puck to the Blackhawks while crossing the offensive blue line, but it ends up bouncing back to him as he gets behind the D. Schnookie: “Langer’s like, ‘That was supposed to be a turnover.’” Pookie: “He can’t do anything right tonight!”

15:07 Oh, that’s more like it. The Devils go back on the PK when the Talc Macho takes a high-sticking penalty. (It should be noted here that Chico’s narration of this game is hugely confusing because he is pronouncing “Havlat” and “Havelid” exactly the same way.)

13:07 Marty! Marty! Marty! He manages to hold his ground on a last-ditch PP flurry on the doorstep by the Blackhawks. The Talc Macho gets back on the ice and heaves a sigh of relief, while Blobby probably silently vows on the bench that he will undo any good the Devils’ PK has done tonight. Oh yes, he will.

12:45 If you’re the kind of person who is into shot records (which we are not), then you’ll consider this game notable for it being the one in which Zach set the single-season shot total record for a Devil.

11:28 Oduya and Byfuglien wrestle into the corner after a loose puck, and Big Buff skates out of the exchange with a holding minor.

9:28 Yup. The PP’s still not scoring. Although they generated more chances than usual, so we’ll give them points for trying.

7:27 We come back from commercial to see Paulie being praised as the “Jaguar Performance” or something like that. Well of course. When he’s not being a gopher, Paulie’s totally a Jaguar. Rrrowrl! (Chico says something about how Paulie and his “mates” are doing something or other in this game, and Pookie mishears him. “Paulie and his minks? Has he replaced his gophers with minks?”)

6:28 We’ve decided Paulie’s mink army is actually just his gophers wearing mink turtlenecks.

5:45 We come back from commercial to see a shot of some fans in a luxury box, and Doc takes the moment highlight one of the people in the group. It’s the oncologist who saved Doc’s life, and tonight Doc was making good, apparently, on his promise that his doctor would never have to pay to see a hockey game again. That’s awesome.

3:41 The Patty/Zubrus/Gio line puts together some great scoring chances, but stupid Khabibulin.

3:16 Marty makes a stop while almost the entire Blackhawks lineup barrels, full-force, into him. We also don’t understand why there isn’t a penalty on the play.

2:04 Pookie: “I can’t believe Chicago hasn’t scored again. I can’t believe that there’s almost two minutes left and the Devils might not actually lose this in regulation.”

1:35 Pookie adds after a pause: “Which isn’t to say that I don’t think the Devils aren’t going to lose in regulation.”

0:25 Schnookie, watching Zubrus bull around behind the Hawks net: “I gotta say, I think Zubrus has been one of our best players tonight.” Pookie: “It’s because he’s happy to be back with that line. Centering Oduya and Paulie.”

0:00 Huh. The Devils didn’t lose in regulation.

OVERTIME

3:55 Travis wipes out – on, presumably, a gopher hole or something – but manages to keep the puck and skate it through three Chicago defenders anyway. Schnookie: “That was hot. Travis was like, ‘I’m a klutz, but I don’t let that get in my way. I don’t let anything get in my way.’” Pookie: “’Except barriers. And turnstiles. And stop signs. And hay bales. And rain. And buttons.”

2:11 This OT is boring. The Blackhawks have all the possession. Give it to Patty!

1:47 So much for Zubrus being one of the best Devils tonight. He turns the puck over to Toews right outside the Devils blue line.

1:25 Poop. The Blackhawks keep the pressure on, and Seabrook scores on a slapper from the point. 3-2 Blackhawks. The Devils are still officially total crap on the road. March swoon, anyone?

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