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Archive for the ‘Florida Panthers’ Category

The big question about tonight’s game is whether this is going to be one of those classic depressing defeats at the hands of the woeful Panthers, or if it will be the Devils using Florida as its traditional get-well team. You don’t have to know us very well to guess what we’re predicting.

Last weekend we called for more injuries to the Devils, since that seems to be the only way the players stay hungry, and we got what we asked for. Everyone is hurt, and a whole bunch of strangers are in the lineup tonight. And our pregame is talking about how the Devils D, specifically Greene and Mottau (!?!), need to score more. Sounds like it should be a good one tonight!

FIRST PERIOD

20:00 One of our favorite quotes from Marty is his remark about playing in the minors in Utica, where he said he didn’t see a bird the entire year there. So when Doc introduces us before the opening faceoff to Nick Palmieri, Utica native, Schnookie blurts, “He’s probably terrified of birds!”

18:45 Chico informs us, after the Devils get the first hit of the game, that hits and shots are “something they can control” (presumably as a sop to fans like us, who are convinced there’s nothing else about the game that the Devils can control). Pookie mishears him, though: “Did he just say that the Devils can’t control the hitting? Gawd! They’re like a whole team of Mr. Hamgravies.”

17:38 Vokoun (called “Vacuum Vokoun” by Chico in the pregame, which prompted Schnookie to ask, “Gee, Chico, did you think of that yourself?”) gloves an easy shot from the faceoff circles from Palmieri. He is wearing the cursed number 16. Before long, after a weak shot gets shut down like that, we can expect him to blame his teammates while insisting that he can look in the mirror without any problem.

17:26 We are informed of the new D pairings, Iron Boar/Blandy and Fraser/Oduya. We groan with disgust. Pookie: “Try finding a D pairing that you do like these days, though.”

14:32 The Panthers finally get their turn being the team with the offensive-zone pressure, and they easily best Mottau to get a great scoring chance on the doorstep. Marty shocks everyone by being able to stop it.

13:31 We go to commercial discussing the D pairings further, as Schnookie realizes that it’s Fraser/Oduya, not Fraser/Mottau like she first feared. Pookie: “If you put all six names in a hat and drew out random pairs, they would all be terrible, though. And each pair would be worse than the last.” Schnookie: “And you know what? It wouldn’t be any better with Paulie in that hat.” Pookie, sadly: “Paulie’s never coming out of that hat.”

10:43 On consecutive sequences, the Devils find themselves in a situation where a scoring chance would have happened if the forward crashing the net had his stick on the ice, but instead, they get nothing because the forward crashing the crease has his stick at waist height. Honestly, is there any team in the NHL that is less competent around the net than the Devils?

8:50 A Panther trips Zach, and the Devils go on what Chico calls – and we are not making this up – the “powerless play”. He’s as cranky as we are!

8:07 Well, no wonder this is a powerless play. It’s got Rolston, Hambone and Palmieri on it. And two Devils d-men of your choice.

5:56 This game feels strange. Probably because the Devils aren’t down 2-0 yet.

3:46 After a whistle in the defensive zone for Marty playing the puck with a high stick, we wait for a faceoff while Chico tells us all about how he just can’t see Marty getting any rest in the next stretch of games. He then airily informs us that the Devils coaching staff knows best, so ours is not to question. Pookie, acidly: “Because there’s nothing in the last seven years that suggests overplaying him is a bad thing.”

0:00 The period ends with Niedermayer shooting the puck into Pando on the best Devils rush of the game. It seems fitting. That said, this is the first time we can remember that the Devils aren’t going to the first intermission down by two goals. So, since they ended up scoring 0 goals instead of the -2 we’re used to, that’s almost like a normal team going into the dressing room with a 2-goal lead. Stan interviews Palmieri, and he looks like Razor from Make It Or Break It. If you don’t know who we’re talking about ,you’re seriously missing out.

SECOND PERIOD

18:49 An offensive shift led by Zach and Travis leads to nothing when they are forced to include Boogerfors in the play. Schnookie: “Boogerfors is making me miss Langer being on this line.” When you find yourself missing Jamie Langenbrunner as a top-line player, you know things are going badly.

16:56 Pookie has to get up to get something in the kitchen, but tells the cat in her lap that he has until the next commercial break before she’ll get up. Boomer asks her what she’s waiting for: “It’s just an offensive-zone draw. What could possibly come of it?” Schnookie: “Yeah. At best we might see the puck get deflected out of play for another whistle.” And that is exactly what comes to pass, except the puck, according to Doc, lands in the stands in a group of kids. The producers then cut to a shot of the stands where the puck landed, and there is, no joke, a gaggle of about a dozen little youth hockey kids wearing matching Devils-colored customized sweaters, fighting over the puck. Doc and Chico start cracking up, as Chico aptly describes it as being like a rugby scrum. And it goes on for ages. It’s the most entertaining thing we’ve seen tonight. And Pookie’s glad she didn’t get up and miss it.

14:03 The Panthers get a series of attempts that culminates in a cannon shot from the point ricocheting off the glass behind the net and bouncing into the crease while Marty is overcommitted to the original shot. The puck lands about a foot away from the goal line, and the Iron Boar is there to calmly dish it away to safety. Pookie: “The Iron Boar, surprisingly, I don’t hate. IronBoarsylvania is a ghost town, but I don’t hate him.”

13:14 You know what that totally crazy-assed thing we just saw was? A flurry of offensive pressure from the Devils! We know! It’s madness! With scoring chances, and Vokoun having to work for his saves, and all that stuff!

8:04 Patrick Davis, the newest of our great hopes from Lowell, draws a hooking penalty on McCabe behind the Florida net. It’s powerless play time again! When we come back from commercial, MSG+ shows us a replay of Pando congratulating Davis for his effort on the play, and Chico tells us it’s just that kind of kindness and rah-rah attitude toward a first-game rookie that makes Pando a playah’s playah. PandoNation swoons. In a good way. Not in a “the Devils are swooning” kind of way.

6:14 The Devils are inventing new ways to not score, as the best chance on the PP involves Zach firing a point-blank shot at an open net that finds its way to roll across the top of the crossbar and off the net to the side. They could not, at this point, not score any better than they are. This is the absolute pinnacle of not scoring. Someday, there will be songs sung to the memory of this not scoring.

4:45 You know what’s not eventful? A Rolston-Pikkarainen two-one-one.

4:09 We come back from a commercial to MSG+ showing replays of the most recent scoring chances for both teams, and Chico telling us that the chances are there, but the puck is stubborn tonight and won’t go in. Pookie: “Yeah, let’s blame the puck.”

1:30 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO WAY! It’s a goal! For the Devils! From Acorns! Sprinting down the far wing, Travis just cranks up a shot and lets rip, like he’s as tired as the rest of us with a scoreless game. It’s kind of a Fuck This Shit sort of moment, but because it’s Acorns, it’s more Fudge This Stuff. 1-0 Devils, and Palmieri gets the secondary assist, his first career point.

0:04 Responding well on the first shift after a goal, Niedermayer (the Lesser) takes a hooking penalty behind Marty’s net. So much for our good spirits.

0:00 This period ended up being like when a normal team scores three goals!

THIRD PERIOD

18:25 Olesz could totally be a Devil! On an absolutely picture-perfect set-up in the waning moments of the Panthers PP, he has a week to just tap the puck into a yawning net… and he manages to direct it about three feet wide of the far post, under the diving Marty.

15:07 Are the Devils planning to sit on this one-goal lead like it’s four goals?

13:35 The hell? Chico drops this crazy stat on us: it’s almost seven minutes into the period, the Panthers have had the puck the whole time and had almost a full power play, but they haven’t gotten a shot on net yet. Things would probably be different if Clemmensen was in net.

11:44 Reinprecht blows down the wing and then tries to dance around Mottau to get a wheeling shot that Marty very coolly covers. On the play, Reinprecht sort of jumps around the completely befuddled Mottau, and somehow that turns into a penalty on Applesauce. We hope the call two minutes for looking like a bumbling boob.

9:38 You know what’s not eventful? A Langenbrunner/Niedermayer (the Lesser) two-on-one. Pookie aptly notes that this particular exercise in wretchedness is a perfect analogy for the Devils season: “It starts looking great, has all kinds of potential, then gets slower… and slower… and slower… until it peters out into nothing.” (For some ridiculous reason, after McCabe breaks up the two-on-one, and Vokoun covers the puck, this goes to review. Despite the fact that the puck only got loose after the whistle and never came close to going over the goal line.)

6:01 The Devils are settling into their “making Marty earn it” defensive scheme. As Marty barely manages to freeze a fluttering shot in the face of some intense Panther pressure, Pookie sighs, “We are so losing 2-1.”

2:03 Okay, to be fair, now the Devils are settling into their “smart play” defensive scheme. It’s been so long since we’ve seen it!

1:39 Vokoun has vacated the net, and the fans are sad that Marty doesn’t get time to shoot toward the other end after making a save in traffic.

1:29 For fucking fuck fuck’s sake. Langer pursues Seidenberg and the loose puck in the neutral zone, approaching the empty net, and takes a hooking penalty. Chico tries to tell us that it’s a bad call because Langer didn’t hook Seidenberg’s gloves. Because, we guess, Chico thinks it’s okay to hook the guys arm and torso?

1:19 In discussing the prospect of the Devils being on the PK against a team that has pulled its goalie, Chico tells us that “the Devils could get the puck behind the net and just wing it down into the other goal.” We snort derisively. Pookie: “The Devils could also fly to Pluto after the game, but they won’t.” As if on cue, Niedermayer (the Lesser) attempts a rink-length shot at the open net that misses by a mile.

0:20 PandoNation swoons dreamily as its emperor-god does what he does best – launching a looooong clearing attempt at the empty net that looks like it’s juuuuust going to get into the goal, only at the last second it clangs off the goalpost and ricochets sadly into the corner.

0:00 Hambone beats the horn with an empty-netter to make it 2-0 Devils, and Marty gets another shutout. It’s feast or famine with these guys, isn’t it?

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Oooh, it’s Scott Clemmensen night tonight! How exciting! Let’s see what he’s thinking as the game goes on.

FIRST PERIOD

18:02 Rolston gets a chance off a Devils rush, but his shot goes wide. Or, to put it more aptly, he’s too afraid of my mad skillz that he fine-tunes his shot too much. I scare guys like that.

16:05 I score first!!! Sure, some guy wearing a sweater matching mine is the one who puts the puck in off a great feed to him in the slot, but it’s Marty who sucks and me who’s ahead on the scoreboard, and that’s all the story that matters. 1-0 Clemmer.

13:12 I think Marty’s nervous about playing against me. He seems to be trying to do too much, as if to prove that the Devils weren’t stupid to let me go. Right now, he makes a big effort to make it look like he didn’t have any trouble stopping a bad-angle shot from one of the guys who skates in front of me. I’m not fooled. I know he struggled with that. Um, not because I would have struggled with it.

12:35 Rolston misses the net twice on one shift, starting on a decent set-up on a three-on-two rush. I’m telling you – he knows he can’t beat me.

10:30 MSG+ is telling its viewers about Slava Fetisov playing a game in Russia at 51. I don’t doubt that I’ll still be an NHL starter at that age.

10:01 I mean, look at that save I just made on Oduya! I’m the greatest!

9:32 Now MSG+ is telling the viewers that the Panthers have been outscored 17-6 in its last four road games, all losses. I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s the Panthers who have done that, not Scott Clemmensen. Gawd. These guys in front of me suck.

5:56 You know what I like about being in Florida? I like the warm weather. It was really cold here in Newark today, and it made my veneers hurt.

2:50 Wait, Bryan McCabe is our captain? And here I thought Jamie Langenbrunner was lame! Wow. How the mighty (me) have fallen. How did I not know this guy was my captain? Oh, that’s right – because I can’t tell any of the skaters apart. They all look the same to me.

1:10 Chico tells everyone how hard it is to pronounce the name “Oreskevich”. No kidding! He should just do what I do and call him “loser” or “that guy whose fault it is instead of mine”.

0:00 Dude, I’m awesome. Another 20 minutes, another 20 minutes of shutout. Typical of me. Now I get to spend intermission sitting in front of a mirror.

SECOND PERIOD

18:44 The skaters in front of me come out like a house afire to start the period, probably because I really inspired them with my first-period shutout. They get a bunch of shots (that Marty probably makes look better than they are, because like I’ve said before, these skating guys blow), and even draw a penalty to the Iron Boar, who sucked last year when he was a skater in front of me.

17:36 It’s 2-0 Clemmer now, after I move the puck with my mind through traffic from the point and beat Marty. I’m sure they’ll credit the goal to that skater who was standing as if he was tipping the shot right in front, though. The Devils are just a shell of their former selves since I left.

16:31 I’m so awesome! The Devils can’t figure their shit out at all because they’re so flustered about playing me. It’s 3-0 Clemmer, and frankly, I’m surprised Marty’s not moving right now to his rightful place on the bench.

15:55 Boomer: “I am going to be so pissed off if the Devils get shut out and it’s stupid Clemmer. I never wanted him to get shutouts when he was a Devil!” She better get used to the idea.

12:55 It’s 3-1 Panthers now, because I was expecting A) the defenseman to cover Rolston better, B) Rolston to miss the net like he always does, C) the sun not to be in my eyes, D) the other d-men skaters to do a better job of clearing my crease even on a three-man Devils rush that is still above the faceoff circles, and E) my glove to work better.

8:28 So, wanna know why the bleeding was stopped after the Devils picked up a lot of momentum after that goal on that blistering, unstoppable shot? Because I’m the best penalty killer on the team. That’s why. The Devils sent out a terrifying PP unit that got a dominating two shots in two minutes, and I stopped each and every one of them. Yeah. Me.

7:08 Chico, as the game goes to commercial: “The Devils can’t take their foot off the pedal because they’re still down two goals. Oh, and someone’s taking a too many men penalty – I think it’s Florida!” Pause. “No, it looks like it’s New Jersey.” Sweet.

Coming back from commercial, it seems it’s the Panthers. It’s because my teammates love me so much that they can’t help but flock to the ice to be closer to me and my teeth.

5:08 The skaters in front of me can take as many penalties as they want, because I’m unbeatable.

1:32 Some idiot Devil called Zharkov takes a hooking penalty behind my net, because he seems to think I need help to win. He’s so wrong. I’m considering taking a penalty here myself to negate the Panthers power play, just so the glory falls where it should at the final buzzer.

0:20 Pandolfo and Niedermayer (the Awesome) charge down the rink on a shorthanded two-on-one, and I make the greatest save in the history of the universe on it. That, or Pandolfo shanks the shot on the give-and-go, and there is not official shot on net. I’m going with the former.

0:00 My shutout streak continues, because I’m pinning the blame for the Devils goal on someone in front of me.

THIRD PERIOD

18:54 Okay, I am standing there in the net, totally doing my job perfectly, and then that butcher Ballard skates over to McAmmond behind the goal line, picks up the puck, and shoves it past my fighting body to put it into the net. 3-2 Panthers. Pookie says now, “If the Devils end up winning this, I’m going to have to assume that the Devils allowed themselves to go down three goals just to fuck with Clemmer.” Oh, I’ll show her “fucking with”. She’ll be sorry. My enemies, who are legion, are always sorry.

17:37 I score on a breakaway! 4-2 Clemmer! Suck on that, Pookie!

12:21 The Devils are so awesome tonight. It’s like the skaters split into two groups during practice, the passers and the shooters. And the passers are all getting coached by one guy, and the shooters are coached by another guy, and those two guys didn’t coordinate their game plan ahead of time. No, wait, I mean to say that they are an offensive juggernaut, and if not for my outstanding – nay, Olympian — goaltending, this game would not be a win for the Clemmers.

10:24 The soi-disant “ZZ Pops” line is on the ice, and doing nothing. Zach hasn’t scored in five games, and I think I deserve most of the credit for that. He should get a refund for whatever he pays for his membership in the Shot Club.

8:24 A break in the action allows Chico to share my mask with everyone, and I have to say, it’s gorgeous. I mean, just a work of art. I think the Hall of Fame, or maybe even the Louvre, will want it as soon as I retire when I’m 52.

3:32 Chico seems to think that the skaters in front of me suck and tend to choke away late leads. Schnookie seems to think that I suck and used to choke away late leads when I was with the Devils. I think both points are moot tonight. I mean, honestly. Have they seen my teeth? My teeth can’t lose!

1:00 Lemaire’s a genius and a hall-of-fame coach, and the man knows this is a lost cause for his team. He doesn’t bother pulling Marty because he knows his skaters can’t beat me for two goals.

0:34 Now he pulls Marty just for show. Ha! Skate faster for the bench, fatso! That’s where you belong!

0:00 Go me! I am the greatest! Chico thinks the Devils were looking ahead to the Flyers tomorrow night, but that’s just sour grapes, because I got the shutout and his precious Marty didn’t.

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Aw, bummer. No Paulie tonight again. Gel-O kicks off our game by telling us it’s the same line-up as Sunday’s, and if that lineup could beat San Jose 6-5, we can only assume they’ll mop the ice with the Panthers. Right? Right?

FIRST PERIOD

17:37 We’re busy talking about how many points it’s going to take to get into the playoffs in the EC this year, and kind of aren’t paying attention to the game really. It seems we have foggy memories of Langer not scoring on a great chance, but the first two and a half minutes have been a blur.

15:42 Okay, anyone who says that Clemmer has good rebound control is on drugs. The Devils give the Panthers a point shot, and Clemmer fumbles the rebound to Weiss, who is undefended in the slot. Weiss gets a week to turn and fire the puck past a now panicky Clemmer, and it’s 1-0 Panthers. We suddenly realize this is probably a major let-down game.

14:47 Schnookie, slightly tipsy still from dinner: “Oooh. Do you suppose Clemmers’ ‘turning back into a pumpkin’-ness is worse now because he’s on a road trip with Marty?” Pookie: “I hadn’t thought of that! Weekes is like, ‘AWK-ward!’”

11:44 Doc and Chico inform us that if the playoffs started tonight, this would be our first-round matchup. Hm. That makes the fact that the Devils don’t look like they’re going to score tonight look that much more ominous.

10:41 Clemmer turns the puck over to a forechecking Panther by whiffing twice on a no-pressure tap-the-puck-to-a-d-man play, and Boomer’s head explodes. Marty needs to come back soon, because she can’t take much more of this.

9:43 The Panthers get a mini two-on-one, and it is only a failure by the trailing Florida guy following up on the play that keeps the brilliant rebound control from ending up in the back of the Devils’ net. But, um, he’s really good, that Clemmensen guy. The Flyers should totally make him their number 1 next season.

8:04 Pookie, watching the Devils blunder around the Florida zone and then the neutral zone: “I don’t think we’re going to win tonight.” Schnookie: “I don’t think we’re going to score tonight.” Pause. “Top that.” Pookie: “Uhhh…”

7:10 MSG+ gives us a graphic screen that says the Devils are 27-7-0 against the Panthers since the 2000 first-round sweep. Schnookie: “No wonder I’ve always thought of them as our get-well team.” Pookie: “What happens if we’re already well? What then?”

5:54 Zach pounces on a turned-over puck behind the Florida net, and a flurry of amazing scoring chances that go un-scored-on follows. That is what happens when the Devils are already well and play their get-well team, apparently.

1:51 The scorched earth PP takes the ice…

0:43 …and Travis blows it by skating near a Panther who is falling over, and gets called for tripping. Poor Travis. He always seems to be getting caught on complete, utter, bullshit, the-official-really-wasn’t-paying-very-close-attention penalties.

0:00 We may have been distracted by other things during this period, so our assessment of it comes down to this: the clock has struck midnight on Clemmer. As the Devils skate off the ice, Pookie snarls, “I dunno, Clemmer. Your stem and spiky vine are showing.” (She didn’t mean that in a dirty way! Pumpkins have very spiky vines!) Boomer: “And your seedy interior.” (They have seedy interiors, too, but everyone knows that, right?)

FIRST INTERMISSION

MSG+ has a feature to remind us, in case we’ve forgotten, that the Devils’ season has been marked by a surprisingly good performance in Marty’s stead. No, we hadn’t forgotten either. (Hilariously, the feature includes interview footage of Weekesie going on about how great Marty is, and then Clemmer going on about how great Clemmer is.)

SECOND PERIOD

For reasons we can’t entirely understand, we have been having a fevered debate this evening about what size a Tastykake is. Boomer thinks five inches. Schnookie thinks closer to three. We find the specs for a Twinkie online, and it turns out to be 9.9 cm, or roughly 3.9 inches. HA! Schnookie wins! (Not that Twinkies are Tastykakes, but they’re a reasonably close facsimile, right? We… don’t often come in close contact with that oeuvre of foodstuff.)

17:23 Dude, the Devils are not going to score tonight. Dumbass Blobby gets a great scoring chance skating around Vokoun on the rush, and ends up shooting the puck out through the crease and the other way up the ice. Chico then shows us replays of this rush and a prior one by Zach; he says that the latter shows “the majesty” that is Zach Parise and the former would have been a goal if Pando had gotten to the goal mouth following up on the rush a little faster. PandoNation aims its sternest death glares at the TV. (We should mention that there is a Panther penalty on the Blobby rush.)

15:15 The Devils get an opportunity to hammer away at a loose puck at the side of the Panther net, but to no avail. We’re too busy looking at the Tastykake website to really mind too much. Apparently, if you like their “Juniors”, you can order a case of 24 individually wrapped kakes for $37.99. Pookie: “Schlittsy’s got his calculator out and is saying, ‘Those aren’t the numbers I’m getting…’”

11:27 Zach is motoring quite hard tonight, so after another good shot that Vokoun shuts down, we get a long look at a loogie-hocking Zach on the bench. Pookie: “I’m concerned about the soul patch he seems to be growing.” Pause. “I’m not concerned about a lack of secondary scoring. I’m concerned about Zach’s possible soul patch.”

10:26 The Panthers have no shots yet this period, which means the next one’s going in.

10:10 The Iron Boar takes a penalty for something. We are being terrible diarizers tonight, but the Tastykake website is just so fascinating! Doc is also not entirely engaged; during the stoppage after the penalty call, the arena is pumping insanely loud music, and he grouses that it’s inordinately loud, so much so that it’s making their table vibrate. “Of course, I’m from the William of Orange period,” he laughs, as he admits he’s probably just being a crotchety old man. It’s okay, Doc – we think the music’s too loud at most arenas, too. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we don’t enjoy going to live games very often.

8:33 Nice rebound control, Clemmer! And great coverage down low, PKers! Chico tries to say that Clemmer handles the rebound on a long shot perfectly and it was passed by a Devils defender directly to a Panther on the doorstep, but replay shows the goal is scored thanks to Clemmer putting the rebound right on a Panther’s stick, and that Panther then passes the puck to the open guy on the doorstep. 2-0 Panthers, and do we hear Marty cackling with glee somewhere? Or are we just projecting?

5:44 Barf. The Devils are now all thinking of Tastykakes, too, and decide, to a man, to stop playing defense, and the expected happens. 3-0 Panthers, and Boomer says, “For them not having any shots in the second period, they’re doing pretty well.”

4:03 On some planets we’d be excited that the Panthers have just taken a truly moronic holding penalty against Gio while he was skating through the neutral zone, but this is not one of those planets.

3:55 We’re now reading the Hostess website. On their FAQ page, they explain that yes, you can freeze Hostess snacks, but “the packaging is not designed for freezing. We recommend putting your treats in a freezer bag first.” Schnookie: “That’s sound advice for any treats.”

1:56 After Clemmer manages to successfully stop a shorthanded rush, Schnookie declares, “You know what? If I was going to freeze this game, I would not put it in a freezer bag first.” Pookie: “No. Because it’s the opposite of a treat.”

0:00 Oof.

SECOND INTERMISSION

During this intermission we take a stroll through the latest NHL news and notes with Gel-O. It’s all quite thrilling.

THIRD PERIOD

20:00 Before the puck drops, Chico tells us he was just talking to Paulie (who seems to think the Devils are playing well tonight, but just not getting breaks. Typical). Schnookie: “He talked to Paulie?” Pookie: “Why can’t we talk to Paulie?”

18:22 Chico says the Devils are working hard, but Pookie retorts, “Paulie says they’re hardly working.” Nope, nothing’s too low-hanging a fruit for us.

15:42 Chico tries to tell us that the Panthers are getting away with all kinds of uncalled penalties tonight. We don’t think that’s what’s causing the difference.

15:35 Zubrus hog ties and hauls down Horton, and Chico tells us Horton took a dive, and it’s totally unfair because Zubrus was tripped at the other end of the ice just moments earlier, but now he’s an innocent man stuck in the penalty box. Replay suggests otherwise.

12:45 We come back from commercial to see that sponsor feature where they show off what an HD picture looks like (it’s obviously money well spent by whichever sponsor’s doing it, because we have no idea who it’s for), and the video footage isn’t game highlights – it’s Chuck the Duck! Tooling around a roller hockey rink on a remote controlled car! And then driving into a goal, so Chico gets to say Chuck’s done something today that the Devils haven’t, and they need to take a page out of his book with the speed and finish. Chuck the Duck’s so dreamy.

11:05 Clarkson draws a holding penalty in the far corner. Replay shows Horton put a hand on Clarkson, and Clarkson toppled over like Doug Dorsey skating for the first time with toe picks. Chico politely refrains from grousing about what a lame-assed dive that was, and how it was very much like the lame-assed Panthers dives from earlier this evening.

5:37 The Devils, continuing to look like they’re not really a threat to accomplish anything good tonight, get another power play, and Sutter pulls Clemmer for the extra attacker. Boomer: “Why not? We’ve been playing with an empty net all night.”

4:58 A Panther gets the puck on the near wing, darts toward the empty net, and Langer trips him just inside the Devils blue line. It’s not called a goal, though, and Langer just goes to the box for a tripping minor. Clemmer gets back into the net, and not even interestingly on the fly or anything.

2:54 Just as the Panthers are scoring their fourth goal, Doc is saying, “If you’re a Devils fan, there’s just not much to say about this one.” Pookie: “That’s our cue to stop diarizing!” Schnookie: “Huh? I wasn’t listening. What did he say?” 4-0 Panthers.

0:00 This game was utterly wretched.

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Happy day before Thanksgiving, Gentle Reader! We hope you’re all settled in wherever your holiday will be, comfy, cozy and ready for some hot Devils/Panthers action. And, if you’re not American, we hope you’re having a really nice Wednesday night.

Steve leads us into Doc and Chico’s intro by calling tonight’s game “The Drive For Five”. Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Doc promptly makes it clear that he’s not a regular IPB reader because he grouses that the Patty/Zubrus/Gio line doesn’t have a name yet. Doc! Come on! They’re the Square PEGZ! Everyone knows that. (It should be noted that Doc looks like he’s dressed for an Easter Parade.)

Oh, have we complained yet that this game isn’t in HD? Because it’s not. That’s something we’re not thankful for.

FIRST PERIOD

19:36 Pookie is calling the Square PEGZ being -5 tonight. She also adds that she is not thankful for Scott Clemmensen, either. Which is fair. He’s probably not thankful for us.

18:41 Patty takes a dumb-assed hooking penalty in the neutral zone. The Drive For Five is falling on its flat on its face.

18:28 One of our favorite things about this season is the utterly moronic trades fans on the interwebs seem to think their teams will be able to swing for Bouwmeester. One example would be the school of Devils fans who think Gionta will be enough to bring him to Jersey. Silly fans. Gionta’s the bait we’re going to use to get Vinny Lecavalier, not Jay Bouwmeester!

17:17 By the way, Doc has noted this evening that the Devils have been suddenly good as soon as Paulie came back to the lineup. And then he melts our hearts by adding that Paulie would never take credit for it himself.

16:26 Sheesh. We get a stat that tells us the Devils PK is over 85% on the road and is under 69% at home.

16:09 Having survived the relentless Panthers PP, the Devils promptly draw a penalty on Kreps on a call Chico thinks is total crap. We’re too busy with our respective laptops to notice what happened. We’ll take Chico’s word for it.

15:35 Zach and Patty are fired. Vokoun goes behind his net to handle the puck and passes it directly to Zach, with no one in front of the net. Zach isn’t quite in position to shoot it, though, so he tries to drop a pass to Patty, and Patty misses it completely as it bounces over his stick. That would have gone in against the Lightning Bolts and Kolzig.

14:57 In discussing the missed chance by Patty, Doc and Chico posit that he could have headed the puck in; they decide it would be legal because it’s not a “distinct kicking motion”, but rather “a distinct gonging motion.”

14:27 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Gio scores. Schnookie: “I missed it!” Pookie: “So did Vokoun.” Replay shows a rush started by an awesome defensive play by Paulie, a great rush led by Oduya, and then Gio tipping an insanely stoppable shot straight through Vokoun. 1-0 Devils.

12:56 Brookbank and his fourth-line buddies work the boards nicely, and we start thinking about how Brookbank was quoted in TG’s blog today saying that the D-corps is starting to give him a hard time for being a forward now. Pookie hopes they’re shunning him like the Amish. Like, he’ll go into D meetings and the other guys will say, “Thou does not belongeth here.” Paulie would look so cute in an Amish outfit.

10:06 Chico tells us Clemmer’s been told he can get an apartment. Pookie: “That’s the worst news I’ve heard since November 4.” Thanks for ruining our holiday, Chico.

8:17 In a discussion of how Holik is one of the last guys left using a wooden stick, Doc casually mentions Chico has estimated a return to the lineup for Blobby next week against Philly. Pookie: “That’s the second worst news I’ve heard since November 4.”

6:52 Patty and Paulie pair up for a sassy rush, and while they don’t score, they do draw a penalty. And we all know how awesome the power play is. That’s as good as a goal!

5:26 Schnookie: “Why hasn’t Zubrus scored yet?” Pookie, in response, tells a story of how she had a blog up on her computer at work that had the title “A Look At Zubrus”. A coworker walked by and asked, “What’s ‘Zubrus’? Is that like hubris? What does it mean?” Excellent question, Pookie’s coworker. What does Zubrus mean?

2:24 We’re not paying a huge amount of attention to the game because we’re having a discussion about what kind of centerpiece Paulie’s going to have at the Thanksgiving dinner he’s hosting. Things quickly ratchet up from “a bong set next to a turkey decoration” to “a stuffed Oscar the Grouch” (a la Rick Nash) to “a stuffed Goldy” to “a real-life, tamed gopher” to “a real-life wild gopher”. Pookie: “He’s like, ‘I got the little turtleneck on him once, and now it’s just staying on.’” Schnookie: “Yeah, after trying that he missed a few games with ‘upper-body injuries’.” Pookie: “It was gopher-related lacerations. Again. He comes to the coaching staff and says he’s got gopher wounds again, and they have to say, ‘Just leave the gopher in the turtleneck. Stop trying to change it to a football jersey on Saturdays, and a hockey sweater on Fridays.’”

1:35 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! The Poppers are not thrilled that the Square PEGZ are stealing their thunder, and put on an awesome tic-tac-toe passing shift that culminates in a Travis goal. 2-0 Devils.

0:00 We’re thankful for that period! WOO HOOO! However, we get an interview with Gio instead of Travis. Bummer.

FIRST INTERMISSION

They replay the “Ask the Announcers” feature with Doc from the pregame. Unlike Chico, Doc says nothing to make us think he reads IPB.

SECOND PERIOD

20:00 The hell? The Panthers have replaced Vokoun. Well, we guess we agree with Chico’s assessment of what the goalie change means: “This is just to shake up the team. The Panthers were awful in the first period. Just awful.” He sounds like he can’t put enough vehemence on “awful” to truly express how bad he thought the Panthers were.

18:15 Schnookie: “Oh crap. It’s the second period. We suck at that.” Pookie: “Yeah, a second period with a new goaltender? I’m calling 4-2 Panthers by the time it’s over.”

17:30 As if on cue, the Devils allow the Panthers to pin them for a long shift in their own zone.

16:43 After firing a shot into Vrana’s back and then watching as the Panthers deflect the puck into the crowd, Zach decides he’s going to talk some smack to Wade Belak. He’s at least a foot shorter than Belak, and, after giving him what Doc calls “a tongue-lashing”, Zach then skates away from the bewildered Panther, waggles his eyebrows at the camera and gives that DING! smile of his. Zach? Is being a punk. Heh.

15:16 Doc is still marveling at Zach taking Belak on, and excitedly looks up Zach’s career stats to see if he’s ever had a fight. He could save himself some time just by asking us — of course he’s had a fight! He got his shirt ripped off during it! How could we forget? (Doc informs us it was against Dan Boyle when he was a Lightning Bolt. We didn’t remember that part. Just the shirt-ripping-off.)

15:00 Boomer suddenly remarks, apropos of nothing, “Just think of poor Greene having to skate back home with Holik. And you think your job sucks.”

14:13 The Rupp/Pando/Clarkson line decides to join the parade of sassy shifts by Devils forwards and, after some hard work in the Panthers zone, draw a tripping penalty to Horton.

12:13 That strangled, gargling sound you’re hearing? It’s us, witnessing another fruitless Devils power play.

11:16 The Panthers are, um, not doing everything in their power to take advantage of the Devils’ proclivity for sucking in the second period. They take a terrible tripping penalty in the offensive zone on a rare shift of solid puck possession. The fans send up a feeble booing that sounds more like a cry for help than actual dismay at their team.

10:30 As the Devils set up some perimeter PP passing, Chico says it’s looked like men against boys in this game. Boomer: “Yeah. Men against boys. But we only have two goals.”

9:16 This is starting to feel like a game where these empty power plays are going to come back to haunt us.

9:06 Doc and Chico can’t get enough of telling us how horrible the Panthers are and how terrifically the Devils are kicking them around, including having a 24-7 shot advantage and a 16-1 chance advantage, but really, it can’t be stressed enough: the lead is only 2-0. Unlike a certain broadcast pair tonight, we know enough about this Devils team not to count our chickens before they hatch.

7:13 The Panthers must be able to hear the Devils broadcast guys in this deathly-silent arena, because now they’re hemming the Devils in their own zone.

5:32 The Square PEGZ step up to try to wrest control back of this game. They don’t score, but at least we’re not holding our breath hoping Clemmer’s Moonraker days aren’t about to begin.

3:48 Chico is positing that the Panthers are playing as if they’ve been instructed that they can’t bodycheck their opponent. It really hasn’t been the most scintillating game in NHL history.

2:29 Leach is not able to legally hold his ground against the apathetic rush of the Panthers and takes a hooking penalty.

0:05 FINE. We’ll say it. Clemmer’s looked sharp here in the face of modest pressure as the Panthers are trying to cram all the Devils second-period sucktitude into the final two and a half minutes of the frame.

0:00 That period was a lot less giddy than the first, and it should be said that we hate having to say nice things about Clemmer. Grumble, grumble, grumble. We get an interview with Salmela, who we’ve decided we love. We hadn’t really noticed him until the game the other night in Tampa, but that kid is bonkers. Even Sutter says he cracks him up, and really, what cracks Sutter up? The guy we’ve dubbed Batshit Bonkers tells Steve that he doesn’t have plans to have Thanksgiving with any of his teammates, and Boomer is dismayed. “What? No one’s invited Batshit over? He’s going to have to go door-to-door ringing bells until someone lets him in?” Poor, poor Batshit.

SECOND INTERMISSION

We don’t pay attention to this intermission show. Although we do notice the NHL Shop commercial with the family of Rangers fans with the son who love the Flyers. Pookie loves this commercial for this reason: “The Flyers fan is miserable and the Rangers fans are douches. All is right in the world.”

THIRD PERIOD

19:32 Chico curses this period by saying the game is in the bag, and declares, “of all [the Devils’] wins lately, this was their most convincing.” Doc actually quotes Blazing Saddles in his effort to get Chico to stop putting the cart so far before the horse. And while it’s hardly one of the more iconic quotes from that movie, we’re still surprised to hear Doc saying it. He doesn’t really seem the Blazing Saddles type, does he?

17:15 Schnookie, who normally shoulders the diarizing typing duties, is instructed to go replenish everyone’s drinks, but we don’t pause the game. She grumbles that Pookie will have to diarize whatever happens while she’s gone. When she gets back, this is Pookie’s report: “We had it, then they had it, then we had it, then Clarkson shot.”

15:34 As we watch the Devils contain the Panthers at the near boards in Clemmer’s zone, Boomer sighs, “They can play like they were in the first period any time they want to. I won’t complain.”

14:44 We’ve settled into the prevent defense part of tonight’s action. We perk up a bit when Salvador makes a nifty little between-the-legs pass from behind Clemmer’s net to start a soft outlet by his teammates. When Boomer remarks that it was a nice play, Pookie declares, “I love Salvador. He’s like my fifth or sixth favorite Devil this season.” The Iron Boar appreciates her excessive ardor; he probably didn’t count on being anywhere above 13th or 14th favorite.

13:16 What the hell just happened? Clemmer is down and out, the fans are roaring as if a goal has been scored… but the Panther shooting the puck at the wide open net… what? We need to see a replay of this. When we come back from commercial we see that the shot kind of bounced around the crease, drifting ever closer to the goal line, and at the last possible moment Oduya kicked it out with the tip of his toe.

10:27 Whitey takes offense to getting a forearm to the head from a Panther and shoves the Panther a bit after he falls over. And predictably, Whitey gets the roughing penalty. We actually think both the initial hit and the rough were pretty weak, but whatever.

9:18 After a nifty shorthanded rush that doesn’t result in a goal, Gio takes a stupid tripping penalty in the neutral zone to put the Panthers up two men. Pookie: “It’s time for the Iron Boar Three.” Doc fails to include the “Boar” part when he promptly tells us Paulie, Pando and the Iron Boar himself will be the Iron Boar Three.

8:27 The Iron Boar Three prevail, even with Pando not managing to win a single draw.

7:18 The Iron Boar Four also prevail. In large part because the Panthers are really, really, really bad at playing ice hockey.

7:08 One of the fun features of tonight’s game is that some of the secondary cameras used for replays are, like, sepia-tone. It gives some of the replays a Ye Olde Civil War-Era Archived Hockey Footage feeling, which is nice during a nostalgia-heavy holiday like Thanksgiving.

5:00 Zach bests Bouwmeester humiliatingly at the point and gets a long breakaway (with a bit of pressure coming from behind from Bouwmeester’s much faster and more focused d-partner), but he opts not to use his Unstoppable Move when he gets to the goal. We guess he was just satisfied to have made Bouwmeester look like such a loser.

4:07 Doc tells us for the billionth time that Clemmer is the first ever NHLer from Iowa. We know, Doc. And we’d care if he were anyone other than Clemmensen.

2:19 Bouwmeester decides to make up for looking like a loser a few shifts ago, and when he finds some open ice in the slot after a defensive breakdown by the Devils, he breaks up Clemmer’s shutout. It’s 2-1 Devils.

0:32 With the Devils scrambling and Paulie without a stick, Booth makes a lousy choice to take a weak-angle shot that Clemmer easily freezes.

0:07 Oh for fuck’s sake. The criminally-bad defensive presence of the Devils facing an extra attacker in an empty-net situation once again lets us down, and Booth ties the game at 2. Honestly, has there ever been a team in NHL history as crappy when facing these situations than Sutter’s Devils?

0:00 We hope Chico’s happy now that he declared this game over at the start of the third. And if we knew the theme song to Moonraker, we’d be singing it now.

OVERTIME

4:19 The Iron Boar swats at a puck at shoulder height and clears it over the glass, giving the Panthers a power play.

2:19 One positive we’ll take from this game is getting to see how calm, cool, collected and supremely professional Pando is as a penalty killer. PandoNation swoons.

0:55 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Oduya! Oduya! Johnny Oduya! After a whole bunch of Panthers missed chances, Oduya leads Zubrus on a really slow two-on-one, ends up taking the shot, and rips a shot through Anderson. Devils win 3-2. That’s five wins in a row, all against fantastically putrid teams. If the schedule feeds us a steady diet of Islanders, Panthers and Lightning Bolts from here on out, things are looking pretty good for this season!

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It’s felt like a lifetime since we last got a good dose of Scott Clemmensen: Starting Goaltender, so let’s just jump right into the action:

FIRST PERIOD

19:32 It should be mentioned that we exchanged emails this morning about Gulitti’s post about Clarkson’s junior hockey connections to the Panthers’ coach, and we both agreed that we just love how he says he’ll do anything for his beloved coaches, including Sutter. Pookie then summed up our feelings for Clarkson best by remarking, “I love that boneheaded dullard.”

17:47 Zach is officially in a slump now – he has a great chance to shovel the puck into a gaping net, but forces it just over the crossbar. We’ll call it now: he’s never going to score again.

16:45 Pookie is still discussing Clarkson being a boneheaded dullard: “I feel like ‘boneheaded dullard’ makes it sound like he tries harder than other dullards. And he’s adorable because of it.”

16:14 Clemmer gloves and freezes a long dump-in from the Panthers. Pookie, swilling a glass of wine here after dinner has already been cleaned up: “I think it is no coincidence that now that Clemmer is our starter, I’m much more willing to drink wine after dinner than before. I’m going to become like Marge Simpson, having a single glass of red wine every evening and then worrying about my drinking problem.”

15:13 Chico tells us that Bouwmeester’s father was “ambushed” by a “small newspaper in South Florida” and “said some uncomplimentary things” about the Panthers. Doc says, with the perfect cadence of a pre-teen girl, “Ew.”

13:45 The teams are not doing anything noteworthy, and Doc makes Chico expound upon his pregame assertion that the Maple Leafs are a circus (he was talking about McCabe). Chico rises to the challenge perfectly and proudly exclaims, “I wouldn’t say they’re a three-ring circus. They’re more a six-ring circus!” And you can quote him on that!

13:18 Pando and Madden get a sort of mini odd-man rush with a perfectly executed cross play that results in a great chance by Pando. Stupid Vokoun gets a leg pad on it.

12:14 Gregory Campbell hooks Travis on his way out of the Devils zone, rightly figuring it’s better to put the Devils on the power play than let them put together a rush at even strength.

10:02 We suddenly notice, at pretty much the same time Doc does, that the power play is over. The Panthers miraculously survived.

9:31 Patty, looking desultory about being back on the Madden/Pando line for even just this shift, is not able to get a stick on Madden’s cross-crease feed on a two-on-one. Not that Vokoun was really worried when he looked up and saw those two guys bearing down on him.

8:56 For the first time in this game the Panthers set up in the Devils zone and end up with a not-half-bad scoring chance. The puck is deflected into the netting above the glass, and as we wait for the faceoff, Pookie announces, “I’m calling 1-0 Florida.”

6:07 Patty and Gio dart up the length of the ice on a give-and-go-tastic rush, and it’s really amazing how much notably happier Patty is not to be sharing the ice with Madden.

5:51 This game is so exciting that it merits mention that Boomer is deeply immersed in the latest issue of Booklist instead of watching.

5:21 Chico is being wildly catty tonight! The Panthers have a guy on their team who is known back in Czech as “Baby Jagr”, and Chico sniffs that while it’s a compliment to be held up to Jagr from a skill perspective, he had “other traits” that a guy should not want to be compared to. Hee!

4:18 The Iron Boar gets high sticked in the near corner on a rare trip into the Devils zone, and the power play gets another chance to strut its stuff as the reason why the team keeps losing.

3:20 Clarkson carries the puck hard to the net, with a defender draped all over him, and his fellow PPers pull up around the perimeter, stand in place, and watch him. Because who doesn’t want to see such a passive power play? We can only imagine Johnny Mac is clapping his hands with glee on the bench and shouting, “That’s the way boys! That’s just how I told you all to stand around when you’re on the power play!”

2:28 The best scoring chance of the power play is by some Panther guy. Clemmer makes a moderately snappy glove save on it. We just roll our eyes. Such is the life of the the 2008-2009 Devils fan.

1:25 Whitey sets up the Panthers perfectly to leave a period in which they’ve been massively outplayed with a 1-0 lead by taking a lazy hooking penalty.

1:10 We see a close up of McCabe near the benches, and Pookie says, “The A on his sweater looks embarrassed to be there.”

0:00 Wow. The script clearly said that the Panthers were supposed to score there. Somehow, they’re really bad enough that they didn’t, so we head into the intermission still tied at zero. On the bright side, we get an interview with a characteristically chipper and handsome Clarkson.

FIRST INTERMISSION

Mmm… Williams-Sonoma holiday candy. Oh, wait, was there an intermission show? Whatever.

SECOND PERIOD

Chico Eats! This season seems to be a bit more Chico Cooks!-oriented. Tonight he made a brick-oven pizza that he was too distracted about making to remember to eat it. Doc says that he and the production guys all had a bet that Chico would “burn the tar out of” the pizza, and then adds that he’s “becoming fearful” of all this food prep by Chico. Chico says that he’s going to start making Doc eat the stuff he makes, and Doc turns to the camera dryly and says, “It’s been nice knowing you all.” We really can’t measure how much we love these guys, especially now that we’re in the Scott Clemmensen Era and don’t really want to be talking about the Devils.

19:26 We are astonished that, in the head-to-head battle of sucktitude, the Devils PK is proven stronger than the Panthers PP.

19:01 The puck flies out of play as the game listlesses along and Pookie says, “Well, here’s something I never thought I’d say this season: ‘The Devils and the Panthers – two teams evenly matched.’”

17:41 Brett McLean is apparently married to Chico’s niece. That information kind of came out of nowhere. Pookie: “It’s so weird to think that Chico is somebody’s uncle.”

16:33 Paulie plays the puck (poorly) at the Florida blue line and Doc play-by-plays, “Paul Martin, himself from Minnesota University, ranked this week number one in men’s ice hockey.” Pookie: “Paulie’s ranked number one in men’s ice hockey?”

14:14 The Panther re-establish their offensive-zone possession after a poorly-conceived shot attempt by Gio was shut down at the other end. We decide that we are very comfortable with the idea that the Devils aren’t going to score tonight. Pookie: “I just don’t feel like it’s really even worth harping on what they’re doing wrong.” Schnookie: “They’re not really doing anything wrong. They’re just not scoring. That’s not bad – it’s normal.”

13:13 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Patty doesn’t like us talking that way about the Devils not scoring. Also, he likes that he’s not skating with Pando and Madden here. Gio and Rupp do a nice job of working the boards, then find Patty alone in front of the net. Patty, perhaps inspired by the discussion Chico and Doc were just having about Zach’s shootout move against the Caps the other day, sassily dekes Vokoun out of position and coolly slips the puck into the net. 1-0 Devils.

11:15 Clemmer, perhaps inspired by his team suddenly doing something good, makes a fantastic bang-bang pad save on a point-blank shot in the crease from David Booth. Pookie: “I don’t want to make this sound like I have any hopes for the Devils this season, but if Scott Clemmensen is the Ty Conklin of this year, I will eat my entire outfit, not just my hat. I mean, that’s just too bizarre to really consider.”

7:00 We’re just sort of sitting back here, enjoying a nice night of November hockey in HD. It should be mentioned that, no matter how crappy the Devils are, evenings like this are one of our favorite things in life.

6:36 Cullimore is felled by his own teammate falling on his leg. It looks extravagantly painful, and he is barely able to get off the ice while being pulled by his teammates. Ouch. Adding to our pain from watching this, Chico tells us Holik is probably two weeks from getting back into the lineup for the Devils.

3:35 Paulie is bested twice in rapid succession by some tenacious Panther offense, and somehow, miraculously, Clemmer keeps the ensuing shot at a wide-open net from going in. He… can’t have done that, can he?

2:32 On a well-conceived bit of behind-the-net play by the Panthers, the Devils manage to wrest control of the puck back by teaming up in a nice display of defensive competence. Pookie begins to say she’s puzzled by how shockingly effective the Devils just looked, but Schnookie points out, “We shouldn’t underestimate how bad this Florida team is.”

0:48 It’s kind of surprising to hear how badly the Panthers have out-shot and out-chanced the Devils in this period, because they still don’t look very good. (That’s not to say the Devils look that much better. This one is not going to be appearing on NHL Network as a classic game any time soon.)

0:00 We end the period with a look back at Clemmer’s monster save from a few minutes ago, and it’s really a beauty of a blocker save. Fine. We’ll say it. That was really, really good. We don’t hate Clemmer this minute. We get an interview with Patty, and he is typically adorably honest about how bad the Devils are.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Dano sounds surprised that Patty was able to score his goal. On the replay of it, he remarks that Patty, “when he’s off”, would normally put the puck directly into Vokoun’s pads. He leaves unspoken that Patty would also normally have been fired.

THIRD PERIOD

19:41 Paulie is trying to undermine Clemmer. He decides the best approach to helping him play the puck behind the net is to skate straight into him, blocking Clemmer’s attempt to backhand the puck into the corner.

18:18 Whatever Sutter said to his team after they got outshot 10-1 in the second didn’t make much of an impact.

17:56 Doc drops this bombshell on us: if Clemmer wins tonight, he’ll be above .500 on his career in the NHL.

17:03 Pando makes a great defensive-pressure play on the Panthers point man, then recoils in pain from what Doc says looks like “a stick to the midsection”. PandoNation is not happy to see its emperor/god’s bits being shifted even slightly. Leave his bits alone, Panthers!

16:31 Shortly after the Panthers somehow failed to score on a simple tap-in chance for Booth, Travis takes a short-range shot on Vokoun that seems to roll all the way up his arm, along his shoulder, over his head, and down the arm on the other side before clearing the crease.

14:08 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Madden buttonhooks deftly on a rush, then smartly dumps the puck across the zone for Clarkson to play to Paulie at the point, all while the Panthers are backing off in a panic. Paulie calmly waits for the idiot defender challenging him to leave his feet to block a shot that doesn’t come (See??? It’s stupid!), skates around the fallen body, then cranks a shot into the top of the net. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! It’s 2-0 Devils, and Paulie looks, in the goal-following close-up shot, like he’s saying all casually, “Yeah. I scored. With my stick.”

13:09 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zubrus does his wrecking-ball forecheck thing, letting loose the puck for Patty and Gio to back-and-forth gorgeously down the crease, and Gio taps a fantastic feed from Patty into the net to make it 3-0 Devils.

12:30 Patty giveth and Patty taketh away. He takes a dumb penalty when he just can’t resist hitting McCabe in the face with his stick. We think we understand the impulse, but still.

11:16 Patty lets out a sigh of relief as he is released from the penalty box, because he’s done his job of taking a stupid penalty that turned out to be costly to boot. Frolik scores easily as the hapless PK continues to suck, making it 3-1 Devils. Pookie: “I’m going to pretend I’m a Rangers fan now and present my realistic solution to my favorite team’s problems. Our PK sucks. Let’s go get Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.”

8:56 Clarkson tries a wide-radius Clarkaround, but he isn’t able to get a goal to show off for his former junior coach.

4:32 Just as Doc is telling us the first hat trick in Panthers history was scored by Johan Garpenlov (now there’s a blast from the past), a current Panther gets a wide-open shot from the slot that Clemmer manages to get a shoulder on. Yet another nice save from Mr. Clemmensen. Weird.

1:47 The Panthers have pulled Vokoun. Cue the defensive collapse.

0:59 McCabe isn’t able to hold the point on a not-very-challenging pass from a teammate down near the faceoff dot, and as he skates the length of the rink to retrieve the puck, Chico says, “What a tough break for McCabe.” Pookie: “That’s what the title of his biography is going to be.”

0:00 WOO HOOOO!!!! Paulie gets the gamewinner! Oh, and the Devils win! If only they could play the Panthers every night.

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It’s a surprisingly cranky night here at IPB Manor, so what are the chances the Devils make things better for us? Things don’t start out promisingly on FSN: not only is Madden out again, but Stan’s working tonight’s game. Great.

Pookie announces, while watching Doc’s intro that summarized the season series to date between these teams, “I refuse to believe that. We have not seen the Panthers once this year.”

Doc and Chico present us with a look at Zubrus and Travis, and the segment is kicked off with a stats screen titled “Z-Power”. We wonder if Zach feels left out. Is he saying, “I have a Z! Do I also have power?” Or are his teammates calling him “Ach” now because he clearly has no Z-Power?

FIRST PERIOD

18:20 Doc rattles off a boatload of stats about this matchup, and concludes that the Devils are hoping, based on past experience, to score early and often. It would help for them to not keep turning the puck over at their own blue line.
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What could be better than watching the Devils play the Panthers on a TiVo delay, so we’re just getting started at 11:00? Nothing! That’s what! So let’s get this party started.

Doc’s intro seems to be trying to suggest that the presence of Lowell Devils Noah Clarke and Barry Tallackson is some sort of “New in 2008!” iteration of the Devils and not the actual “Aw, fuck. Injuries and the flu are decimating our lineup” move it is. And in further “Aw, fuck” news, Sutter is going with 12 forwards and 6 D. We suppose we can just zap to the end because there’s no way the Devils win this one.

Oh, and why do we love Doc and Chico? Because when Chico gives his predictions for this game, he talks up how the Panthers are low-scoring, too, so “the most important players of course will be Tomas Vokoun and Martin Brodeur”. And how does Doc respond? By rolling his eyes. Fantastic!

When Dano pops up on the screen in his loose-fitting brown suit, Pookie says, “This might just be because I just watched ‘Project Runway’, but I totally think Dano looks like a chocolate bar tonight.”

FIRST PERIOD

20:00 Before the drop of the puck we see Tallackson on the bench, obsessively sweeping invisible dust off the dashers in front of him. Pookie: “Tallackson is totally Monkishly cleaning the boards!” Schnookie: “He’s turning to Pelley there and saying, ‘You’ll thank me for it later.’” Yeah, we’re not above Monk jokes, because we love Monk and we’re not ashamed of being 30-ish-going-on-90.
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