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As you’ve probably already noticed, Gentle Reader, we don’t have much enthusiasm for NHL participation in the Olympics. Also, we don’t have any regard for anything Brian Burke says. But we put all of that aside when we read the flattering things Burke had to say about the Devils with regards to naming Langer captain of the US Olympic team. We’re now willing to concede that he’s batshit crazy about every subject except the sheer awesomeness that is the Devils organization’s commitment to character. We love that Lou looks to draft and sign players who are the right fit for the team, rather than just the statistically best guys available. We love that the team develops complete players. And we love that the organization is getting that recognition at such a high level.

BUT. (There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?)

We can’t help but wonder if maybe that’s not the real story here. After all, it is Brian Burke. And if he’s batshit crazy about everything else, how likely is it that he’s not doing something crazy in naming Langer the USA captain? Highly unlikely. So what could be his motivation? Sure, naming Langer captain instead of the inexplicably-included Drury is a bit unexpected and off-the-board, but it’s not really batshit, per se. And Burke’s a guy who probably fancies himself a Machiavellian genius. No, there’s something more afoot here. Could it be that he gave Langer the “C” for another notable Devils-developed trait?

Could it be that he’s using Langer (and giving Zach and Rafalski “A”s, to boot) to coach-kill Ron Wilson during the Olympics?

Now that we’ve said it, it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

* * * * *

In other news, we’ve realized with absolutely no sadness at all that our plans for tonight will require that we be getting to the Devils/Rangers game on Versus on a few hours’ tivo delay. Rats. We’re so broken up to be missing it. Try to soldier on without us in an open thread for it and all the other games on tonight’s docket. Spoilers are welcome!

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When the schedule was released back in July, we immediately put our heads together with Patty (Still In Dallas Back Then) to find the perfect October week to come here to see a Devils game in person and enjoy all the wonders that New Jersey has to offer. We targeted this week for one specific reason: we could use Patty as our excuse for not writing a game diary for this game (or even watching it very closely. Or at all). But we kept that to ourselves and just pretended instead that this was the best week to visit for reasons like “foliage” and “whatever”. So imagine our horror when Patty showed up, we assessed our hockey television schedule for the week, and she exclaimed with delight about tonight’s game, “Ooh! Are y’all goin’ to do a dang-tootin’ diary that night, so I kin see it all in-person-like? Yee haw!” (She may or may not talk like that in person.) And we groaned and pulled our hair and rent our garments and made a huge fuss, but in the end hospitality won out, and we agreed to diarize while she was here. She is under express orders to bring some hilarity, to make our jobs easier.

Meanwhile, making our jobs decidedly NOT easier, Devils fans are once again getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and are stuck watching in miserable, loathsome standard def. And our intro to tonight’s game includes Doc putting a hex on Travis by talking all about how he’s only missed two games in his career. Pookie: “Ten bucks says he goes down with a terrible injury in this game.” Schnookie: “No bet.”

We get a “Poll Question Of The Night” that asks which player we like most to watch. Our options are Malkin, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Crosby. Pookie: “Wow. They don’t even include Zach as an option. That’s how crappy his start has been this season.” Pause. “They also don’t have Marty on there. And the big story tonight is that he could catch Sawchuk if he gets a shutout tonight. Nice.”

FIRST PERIOD

19:37 The lines are stupid again tonight. We’re not going to dignify them with a response. Oh, and as the game starts, Pookie observes that they can put those “fancy” digital ads on the glass, but they can’t give us HD. Patty: “What is this? 2008?”

18:23 Putrid Paulie is dressed tonight, instead of Perfect Paulie. Marty makes a stop on the first Devils shot of the night, from Gaborik, and Paulie skates up to the well-directed rebound, makes like he wants to clear it, but instead flubs it and leaves it in the slot. PaulieMartinNation is deeply ashamed.

15:13 Some nice work on the near boards turns into the possibility of Zach getting a shot from the high slot, but he’s all spaced out and unresponsive to the incoming pass, and basically the whole thing just falls apart into a huge pile of poop. Pookie: “If Zach wasn’t having that Hooters Baby, we’d be up by a goal right now.”

14:30 Avery and Applesauce fight.

IPB Fight

Whatevs.

13:46 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach says, “Hooters Baby THIS!” as he sneaks behind all the Rangers to be the end recipient of a fantastic passing sequence (started by Perfect Paulie), gets in on the Prawn on a short breakaway, and scores with a sublime economy of motion. 1-0 Devils, and Pookie’s not sorry she accused Zach of having a Hooters Baby. We’re beginning to suspect he’s the new Patty Elias, in that we have to be constantly complaining about him in order for him not to suck.

12:15 The scorched-earth PP gets a chance to show off its stink lines when some Ranger trips a guy.

10:15 AIEEE!! The stink lines! They burn our eyes!

6:35 Gilroy attempts a point shot, and Boomer cracks, “Oooh, Gilroy. I can’t believe that didn’t go in.” Pookie adds, “I can’t believe the puck didn’t just ascend to heaven in a fiery chariot.” Patty: “He was doing that a lot but they finally had to ask him to stop because they were running out of pucks.”

4:46 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO WAY! We thought all Bergfors knew how to do was skate behind the net and fall over. But it turns out he can also beautifully tip a Clarkson shot/pass over the Prawn’s shoulder to make it 2-0 Devils. When he grins in celebration, Patty coos, “Aww. He hasn’t even grown into his adult teeth yet!”

0:47 Marty has to scramble to make a great goal-line stand because Paulie sets Langer up to be the outlet pass guy after offensive pressure from the Rangers, and Langer decides, after assessing all of his options, to feed a perfect pass to a streaking Blueshirt just inside the center of the blue line. There are no Devils anywhere around him. It’s hard to figure what prompted that play, if you discard out of hand the notion that Langer is on the Rangers payroll. And that’s not a notion we’re discarding out of hand. Just sayin’.

0:00 Well, we’ve certainly seen worse periods between these teams!

SECOND PERIOD

18:54 Chico is blathering on about how the Rangers are leading the league in goals by d-men, and how the Devils need more offense from the blue line, and then something about how the Bergfors goal is the first deflection goal for the Devils this season, and then he spends a lot of time trying to extricate himself from the facts of the Bergfors goal. Namely, that the deflection was on a Clarkson shot, and Clarkson is not a d-man. Facts and Chico are not good friends.

18:19 Applesauce spears an on-charging Ranger in the face while trying to avoid being hit, and Chico starts to complain that all he saw was Applesauce getting hit, and now he’s the one going to the penalty box. A perfect, slow-mo replay showing the Ranger’s head being skewered by Applesauce’s stick forces Chico to trail off a bit, and Pookie challenges him, “Just try to tell me that shouldn’t be a penalty, Chico.”

18:10 The PK is a brief and unsuccessful one. A long point shot through a thicket of players makes the game 2-1 Devils.

13:45 The Iron Boar looks gimpy after being forced to block a shot on a dreadfully putrid Putrid Paulie turnover in front of the Devils net. And then Putrid Paulie splays on the ice, swirling like a fallen windmill, as Gilroy (the Golden God) skates easily around him. Marty stops the play in its tracks, though, with a sassy break-up of a cross-crease pass.

12:46 After Halischuk gets in on a one-on-one but decides to pass instead of shooting, the Rangers head down the other way and Marty is called upon to make a dazzling little toe save. Chico stuns the entire MSG+ audience by sniffing that Marty just stuck his foot out and the puck hit it. Is this Joe Micheletti in a Chico costume?

11:23 This game has been taken over by Putrid Paulie.

10:23 Play is looking a little choppy right now, but mostly tilted, as Doc would say, toward the Rangers. Patty sums things up nicely while responding to a play at center ice, “Oh my gosh! If I was a Rangers fan I’d be mad.” Pause. “But then I’d be relieved.”

9:56 We had been mellowing a bit recently on our hard-line anti-Niedermayer-the-Lesser stance. But now we’re back to where we started with him; he hits Roszival on an icing and gets penalized for it. (Chico tries to tell us that it’s not Niedermayer’s job to know whether icing is being called on any given play where he might be chasing down a potential icing. It’s clearly not Micheletti anymore.)

7:56 It’s a miracle! The PK manages not to give up a goal!

6:21 Shortly after the Devils scored their second goal, Schnookie declared, “The game can end now. This was awesome.” It seems the Devils thought that was actually happening.

5:35 The Zach/Zubrus/Langer line manages to put together a good scoring chance, with Zach leading Zubrus for a shot from the near circle, but there are no Devils in sight after the shot to follow up on the rebound. And there also aren’t any Devils in sight defensively behind the play, and Kotalik scores on the ensuing breakaway. 2-2 game.

3:30 Schnookie has been on a loud, wine-fueled rant about how much she hates Devils/Rangers games, and finally Pookie tries to defuse the situation with a little Katamari humor. “Knock knock,” she says. “Who’s there?” Schnookie shouts belligerently. “The Rangers,” Pookie answers. “The Rangers who?” “The Rangers. That is our name. And we are assholes.” Good one, Pookie!

2:43 Niedermayer the Lesser (whom we may have mentioned recently we fully hate again) and Bergfors have an opportunity to get a two-on-none on a terrible Rangers change… and they go offsides. It seems like the Devils hate Devils/Rangers games as much as we do. At least we hope they do. Because they really suck at them.

0:30 Paulie makes a good play to keep the puck in the Rangers zone. “Come on, guys,” Pookie exhorts, “Build in that!” Still in the pits of despair, Schnookie grumbles, “He’s still got a lot of putridity to make up for.” Pookie: “Yeah, but I was hoping that was the courageous play they could all get behind.” Even she doesn’t believe that.

0:00 Well, we’ve seen better periods between these two teams.

THIRD PERIOD

19:53 We’re making ourselves feel better about this game by looking at pictures of a fabric line called “Chum=Chum bear”. It’s adorable. Chum=Chum Devils/Rangers is less adorable.

18:00 Rangers fans start their chant for The Prawn after he stops a Clarkson shot from the side of the net. Silly Rangers fans. Clarkson never scores from the side of the net unless he carried the puck around behind the net first.

16:55 Boyle tries to truck into the Devils zone, but after a long rush up the rink, has the puck roll off his stick around the faceoff circles. Doc’s call, though, is that Boyle was defended off by Andy Greene, who, by our judgment, seemed just to have been standing nearby when the puck was lost. Patty: “He was defended off by Greene’s heat shield. Which extends about eight feet in front of him.”

16:24 Pookie, grumbling to herself as Paulie goes offsides: “Paulie’s having a Mrs. Pancake Baby.”

15:31 In the course of his play-by-play, Doc says someone was “defended off by Rolston”. Pookie: “I’ll believe that if I see it.” Pause. “And because this is standard def, I can pretend I didn’t see it.”

13:37 Applemotherfuckingsauce saves Marty’s bacon hugely when Marty passes the puck from behind the net to a Ranger in the slot. As the MSG crowd is warming up its best mocking, goal-celebrating cheer, Applesauce dives to break up the turnover at just the last second. The crowd is left with the far less satisfying mocking, no-goal-was-actually-scored chant.

12:09 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wha-HUH???? No one – and we mean no one — is paying any attention as the Rangers seem to have everything under control with the puck behind their net, and suddenly the d-man is being pressured by a Devil, the puck gets turned over to Zach high around the far boards, Zach moves a shot netward in a blink of an eye, and Zubrus is on the spot to tip the shot past a completely oblivious Prawn. It’s 3-2 Devils, and even Chico thinks that lead came out of nowhere.

9:30 In the course of his play-by-play, Doc describes Girardi as “kneeling”. Pookie: “Girardi’s kneeling to pour libations for Gilroy.”

9:05 Travis gets a mini-break on the Prawn, but the Prawn’s glove is stronger than Travis’s shot.

6:39 Uh oh. The Devils are Applesauceless right now, and our intrepid broadcast team doesn’t know why.

5:53 The Rangers have a thousand glorious opportunities, with a madly scrambling Marty and Devils D losing the puck and their bearings, but all of a sudden Rolston’s got the puck, is looking to clear it, and the Ranger holding the point just decides to let him walk on by. So Rolston and Zach get a rink-long two-on-one on which neither guy wants to shoot the puck. What, because both of them are shy? Neither believes he deserves a chance to shoot? We hope it’s because neither thinks he’s good enough to score, because that would be correct.

2:38 Pookie: “Okay, there are two and a half minutes left in this game.” Schnookie: “Plenty of time for them to rip my heart out of my chest.” Pookie: “And put it in a tote bag while it’s still bleeding out.”

2:00 Callahan gets unleashed on a long breakaway, and at the very last minute, as his stick is just about to strike the puck on his big shot, Whitey dives from miles behind him and gets just the tiniest piece of the stick, breaking up the play. Yowza.

0:40 When the Rangers pulled the goalie, Pookie asked, “Why is Zach out there?” Well… WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! He’s there to score into the empty net. 4-2 Devils, and now we all get to revisit JP Parise’s first goal with the Northstars thanks to Chico never being able to let us get through a Rangers game without talking about him.

0:23 Oduya takes a hooking penalty. Argh!

0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have definitely seen worse games between these two teams! Not only that, but in closing out the broadcast, Doc says that Gel-O and Stan are going to “break down the game with soldering irons and saws”. Shout-out! Shout-out!

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7:04 PM You know what we don’t care about? This might surprise you, Gentle Reader, but what we don’t care about is “Brendan Shanahan facing off against his former team”. (Wait, we’re playing the Blues tonight? The Whalers? The Wings? Oh, right. The Rangers. He played with them, too, didn’t he?) Now, we don’t fancy ourselves anything more than just fans (which is why we have no interest in ever being credentialed), so we don’t feel at all idiotic when we say we’ve finally figured out why Shanny’s presence on the Devils roster is pissing us off so much: we feel like the Devils are to Shanny as community college is to an unmotivated-but-bright high school graduate. That high school graduate doesn’t have a lot of appealing options right off the bat, so he unhappily drags himself to community college classes until his emotional and social maturity catch up with his intelligence, at which point he transfers to a much better four-year program, then gets a graduate degree from an Ivy. Later in life, looking back at his accomplishments, that student will never talk up his community college years, but they were necessary at the time because he had no other choice. Likewise, when the book is finally shut on Shanahan’s career, his late-in-life return to New Jersey will just be a spot where he was able to keep afloat as a professional hockey player. Sure, that might not actually be the case, but that’s how we feel about it, and nothing he says or does will change it. We feel used and unloved, and Pando never acted like that. So there. Hmph.

FIRST PERIOD

7:11 PM Clemmer goes to handle the puck behind the net with the Devils on the PK and nothing bad happens. That doesn’t stop us from screaming, “GOD! Marty can’t come back soon enough!” Just as the negativity is about to completely overwhelm all of stately IPB Manor, Paulie draws a hooking penalty while killing time drifting into the Rangers zone. Thanks, Paulie. That feels better.

7:13 PM If Doc is required by Versus and NBC to call the trap “a 1-2-2 defensive scheme” one more time about “sexy” teams that don’t play sexily anymore (see: Penguins, Rangers, anyone whose name doesn’t rhyme with “Blevils”), we’re going to scream. We’ve been seeing a lot of commercials for Invent Help, and Pookie wants to invent a device that will make everyone’s televisions say loudly over “1-2-2 defensive scheme” “TRAP!”

7:15 PM Pookie: “I suspect Shanahan’s entire motivation in this game is to impress the Rangers so they’ll sign him again. He’s like, ‘Oh my god! There are Rangers scouts in the building! I better play well!'”

7:20 PM Versus finally gives us a replay of a penalty to show us Zach running over The Prawn, and we are saving that highlight for the next time Rangers fans accuse Marty of being a flopper.

7:23 PM Doc is talking up Shanahan’s proclivity for leaving his feet to block shots. He clearly doesn’t read IPB, or, if he does, isn’t trying very hard to sell us on Shanny. Honestly, we get Pando taken out of the lineup for a penalty killer who eagerly topples over at every opportunity in our single least favorite play in hockey? Fan-fucking-tastic.

7:28 PM Schnookie declares her concern for the outcome of this game, as the Rangers are getting the better of play in what is traditionally the Devils’ best period. “If we’re getting outplayed in the first, this isn’t going to go well.” Just then, the Devils put on a great bit of pressure during which Madden gets fired for not being able to put the puck into an open net. Because the Devils are nothing if not contrary.

7:35 PM Eddie floats the notion that when Marty comes back, he’s going to have to sit periodically to keep Clemmer in the lineup, especially if his first game back is the start of a back-to-back situation. Boomer cracks up. “Eddie,” she cackles, “When was the last time you coached Marty Brodeur and told him to take a seat?”

7:38 PM We get a teaser for the intermission show, and the studio host guy tells us we are not going to want to miss Paul Kelly talking about the role of fighting in the game. Pookie: “I’d rather hear Paul Kelly talk about the Lindros firing.” Schnookie, miming holding a clipboard and pen: “Before we get to your salary review, NHLPA employee, one question – Paul Kelly. Great NHLPA head or greatest NHLPA head?”

7:40 PM Clarkson and Reitz (really? There’s a Ranger named Reitz? And he’s serving as Mara’s bodyguard?) fight. Yawn.

IPB Fight

When it ends, Pookie says, “Well, I’ll give Clarkson this – he has a good sense of balance.” (Doc points out ominously several times over the course of the fight and afterwards, that both guys took off their helmets, and Eddie goes on a rant about how fighters should leave their helmets on, but “if you play that role [of fighter], you shouldn’t be allowed to wear a visor.” Schnookie: “Eddie, that is asinine.”)

7:45 PM The big, slow, dumb fourth line gets a shift, and big, slow, dumb Rupper takes an interference penalty, which is something like the 700th penalty by the Devils this period. It might be time for Sutter to take a page out of the Larry handbook and throw a garbage can at the head of the next guy to take a penalty, then staple his sorry ass permanently to the bench for the rest of the night.

SECOND PERIOD

8:07 PM The period starts the way all second periods in Newark do – with missed chances by the Devils, and glorious opportunities for the opposition. After Zherdev rings a shot loudly off the goalpost, Schnookie crankily says, “I’m calling this period ends with the Rangers up at least 3-0.”

8:10 PM Rupp and Orr fight.

IPB Fight

After the Clarkson/Reitz fight in the first, Eddie gave the old “all the fans are on their feet, so it must have been entertaining” line that drives us so batty when it’s used to justify the shootout. As we watch the current combatants go to the box, Pookie speaks for all of us when she says, “I don’t think I’ve ever stood for a fight.”

8:12 PM Look, the Devils’ inability to get penalties called on the opposition is starting to drive us completely bonkers. Gomez infracts badly enough in the Rangers zone that Eddie starts shouting about how he’s gotten away with a couple of hooks, and then at the other end of the ice, Zubrus gets called for boarding. Sigh. Gomez does go after Zubrus to take a retaliation penalty, though. So it all evens out in the end?

8:15 PM We sit in stunned silence as Clemmer gloves a high shot with a box of Devils standing all around him, then, when it seems he is going to hold on for a whistle, he instead drops the puck into his unaware d-man’s feet to turn a nothing play into a turnover deep in the Devils zone. The seethe-o-meter in our living room is rocketing off the charts.

8:17 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Patty gets an assist! Yeah, Holik gets a goal and Shanny gets the other assist, so we have to cling to what we can here. Keep our eyes on the prize: it’s 1-0 Devils (that’s AWESOME!), there was some laughably awful defense by the Blueshirts on that play (that’s DELICIOUS!), and we only hate two of the guys involved in the scoring (that’s MAKING OUR LIVES DIFFICULT!). (Are we cutting off our noses to spite our faces here? Probably, but go back to the opening thought of this post – we don’t claim to be rational. We’re fans. We follow our hearts. Heh.)

8:22 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! There’s one we can really cheer for! Travis and Zach team up for some great work in front on the PP, and Zach is able to punch the puck into the net, and it’s 2-0 Devils. Renney tries to pull a Mt. St. Sutter slow-burn eruption on the Rangers bench, but he just doesn’t have quite as lethal a glower.

8:29 PM Versus informs us the shootout is the brainchild of the famous Shanahan Coffee Klatch That Saved Hockey. Why don’t you just kick our dog while you’re here, Shanny?

8:31 PM Zach falls over when Gomez skates near him, and the officials, taking mercy on us, call it tripping. On Gomez. We’ll stop complaining now about the penalties.

8:37 PM Versus is trying to horn its way into PaulieMartinNation, as the entire broadcast grinds to a halt so we can all revel in the mad b-ball skillz that allowed Paulie to keep the puck on the PP that led to Zach’s goal. We’re not complaining about that, either, but we’re not granting Versus citizenship. Maybe, like, a 12-month visa, and we can see how things go.

7:41 PM The lights go half out at The Rawk, but for some reason the officials are not willing to take Zach up on his offer of lighting up the arena just with his smile for the remaining two minutes of the period. DING!

THIRD PERIOD

9:05 PM Rupp gets a mini-break. He doesn’t score. We’re stunned. (Actually, he surprises us a little by beating The Prawn, but he rings the shot off the crossbar.)

9:10 PM We feel a glimmer of sympathy for Rangers fans as Doc and Eddie are spending the better part of this period so far trying to figure out why Renney isn’t sticking with the line shake-ups he tried earlier in the game. We’ve been there. It’s not fun. Of course, it is the Rangers, and this means Rangers fans are miserable, so we’re not, like, sorry for them. Just sympathetic. While also laughing with maniacal glee.

9:16 PM Ah, so the Devils are going to take the second part last tonight. If they are counting on Clemmer holding the fort in the final frame here, they should take a long, hard look at how well he’s held shutouts in third periods so far this season.

9:20 PM The Devils are on the PK, and while watching the play unfold, Schnookie calls it: “Zach and Redden in a race down the length of the rink for a loose puck, Zach shorthanded and Redden with the angle. Advantage? Zach.” On the next sequence, Redden takes a hooking penalty against Shanahan. Sweet.

9:21 PM Sjostrom hits Madden from behind with the puck nowhere nearby, and the Devils go up two men.

9:23 PM The 5-on-3 is not as impressive as the Devils PK that preceded it.

9:27 PM The Devils draw a well-earned roar of approval from the surprisingly Devils-fan-heavy crowd for a series of shifts that involve Zach besting three Rangers with typical dogged play behind The Prawn’s net, and then a whole lot of standing fast by the rest of the guys in the defensive zone at the other end. It almost looks like the Devils are trying to issue a statement here.

9:35 PM WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy shit! Renney finally quiets Eddie by pulling Prawn with two minutes remaining, and just as we start to think, “Aw fuck, the Devils suck when facing an extra attacker,” the Devils retrieve the puck on a defensive zone draw won by Gomez, Zach skates it up the far wing, and then makes no mistake in putting it into the empty net. 3-0 Devils!

9:37 PM Look at us! We’re happy! For a Clemmensen shutout with a Holik gamewinner! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Once or twice a year we like to prove to our non-hockey-lovin’ friends that we are capable of leaving the house on a night when the Devils are playing. If one or two of those nights just happen to fall on nights when the Devils are playing our most hatred rival, at a time when we are convinced there’s no way the game can end in anything other than pain and tears, well, so what, right? In any event, we’re leaving the stately confines of IPB Manor this evening for a evening of old fashioned board games (which may or may not end in pain and tears). We’ll be catching up on the game on TiVo delay following said bout of social activity (because we may be capable of leaving the house on a night when the Devils are playing the Rangers, we’re not really capable of giving up on the game altogether) and we hope to complete another TWC-style illustrated game diary in the process.

PREGAME

Our Mood: Goalless. Two straight shutouts is… not fun.

Our Least Favorite Devil: Everyone and anyone who played in the two straight shutouts. (That includes you, Holik! Don’t think we’re letting up on you by not singling you out!)

Our Favorite Devil: Bryce “Iron Ear Boar” Salvador. We can only assume the boys can’t score without him in the line-up. We have no proof that this isn’t so.

Our Prediction: Devils – 0. The Rangers – More than 0. The Ookies – Tears and pain.

Playmobil Picture Representing Our Hopes That The Devils Win This Game:

3073800083_b2c456378b

Don’t bother sending a life raft.

AFTER THE FIRST

Our Mood: Stunned! The shutout streak ended, and ended early! And on the special teams, no less!! Wha-huh?!!!!

Our Least Favorite Devil: Brian “I Might As Well Be Bobby Holik What With These Dumbass Penalties I’m Taking” Gionta. For obvious reasons.

Our Favorite Devil: Patty “I”m Tired Of This Scoreless Streak And Hey, If I’d Been Playing Like This In The Past Two Games We Might Not Have Been Scoreless” Elias. Also for obvious reasons.

Our Summary Of Events: So far we see no reason why we shouldn’t leave the house every time the Devils play the Rangers. Of course, it’s not like we’re from the future or anything, so there’s still plenty of hockey left to be played.

Playmobil Picture Representing Our Hopes That The Devils Win This Game:

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It’s a valiant fight. So far.

AFTER THE SECOND

Our Mood: Happy but exhausted. We started watching this at midnight. The bad news is that we’re fading fast. The good news is that if the Devils are going to suck in this one, they’re only going to suck for one period.

Our Least Favorite Devil: Scott Gomez. Christ but he sucks! How many more years are we stuck with him again? Wait, what’s that? Oh, right! He’s a Ranger now! HAHAHAHAHA!

Our Favorite Devil: Travis Zajac. If Lundqvist had a book on Travis, it was missing the chapter about slapshots. Who knew Travis had that shot? Did Travis know he had that shot? (Honorary mention would go to Clemmer for the five-on-three, but we don’t want him to get a big head.)

Our Summary Of Events: This is a Devils/Rangers game, and we’re enjoying it. Down is up. White is black. Something must be terribly, terribly wrong in the universe.

Playmobil Picture Representing Our Hopes That The Devils Win This Game:

504821446_32e222f195

Travis’s game has so many new facets.

AFTER THE THIRD

Our Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! And zzzzzzzzz…

Our Least Favorite Devil: Impossible! We don’t not-love ANY of them! Wait, what’s that? Blobby who? No, he’s not a Devil, is he?

Our Favorite Devil: Everyone and anyone who played in this game tonight.

Our Summary Of Events: Gloriousness! Gorgeousness! Wonderfulness! We are tapping into our primordial memories of back when the Devils used to win at the Garden regularly. It feels so great! If it wasn’t after 2:00 in the morning right now, we’d probably be dancing in the streets.

Playmobil Picture Representing What This Win Feels Like:

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Is that a heavenly chorus we hear? No, it’s just Rangers fans booing the loss. Sweet!

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Check it out, Gentle Reader — we’re watching tonight’s game in real time! It’s game diary time! WOO HOO! However, be forewarned. This is what we had for our late lunch today:

So Much Beer!

If this diary seems a bit lackluster, it might be because of that. Or because of the Devils. We make no promises.

Our broadcast team tonight is apparently on drugs – some of them (read: Steve) think it’s a good thing for the Devils that Marty’s out, because it’ll shake things up in this misbegotten matchup, and there seems to be a belief that the Devils have the Rangers right where they want them because Gomez is out of the lineup. Uhhh… okay?

Chico also says, in the intro, that Zach is the new kind of power forward in the NHL, and is “like a windstorm”. Pookie: “He’s a little windstorm. Like a dust devil.” Pause. “See what I did there?” Thank heavens she took a vacation day today so we don’t have to be watching this game on tivo delay at 11:00 tonight.

Oh, and you can release your bated breath, Gentle Reader: Gio’s back in the lineup tonight. That’s a great thing, because who would the Devils be using to go offsides without him?

FIRST PERIOD

19:35 Callahan gets the first Rangers shot of the game, a wrister in stride on the far boards. Weekes makes a swooping glove save (even though it looks like it was probably going wide), and the Rangers start glancing around nervously on the bench, muttering, “Crap. The first shot always goes in against Brodeur.” Maybe Steve was on to something.

18:13 Zach enthusiastically hits a Ranger while Travis is busy pouncing on a turnover at the blue line, and Pookie says happily, “Look at that little dust devil go!”

16:31 Our very own itty-bitty dust devil almost gets sprung on a long breakaway (cherry-pick much, Zach?), but the pass is just out of his reach. Lundqvist tries to clear the puck high past him, and Zach just picks the puck out of the air and launches an off-balance shot from the far boards. Doc marvels at how Zach will shoot from “everywhere except the locker room”, and then he and Chico talk a bit about how marvelous Zach is. Pookie: “I feel like whenever anyone talks about the things that make Zach great, they always leave out the psychosis.”

13:04 Travis blows his own mind by just skating the puck right through Redden; in fact, he’s so impressed with his deft puck-handling skillz that he totally forgets to shoot once he’s in the clear.

12:56 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach retrieves the puck behind the Rangers net, muscles it to the point while being beaten to the boards, then Mottau fires a shot that Lundqvist can’t freeze, and Travis is right on the doorstep to put the puck into the net. 1-0 Devils, and then all hell breaks loose behind the net because the Rangers are taking umbrage with Zach for the way he cross-checked a defender on the play. The Rangers get the only penalty out of this scrum.

11:29 There are terrible power plays, and then there’s the 2008-2009 New Jersey Devils power play.

8:53 After a little bit of the Rangers managing to shift play more toward the Devils end of the ice, Travis and Zach leap on a loose puck and sprint up the ice on a two-on-one. Or rather, Travis sprints and Zach chugs to keep up. Seriously, where did Travis get those wheels? And has anyone seen Derian Hatcher recently? Are we sure Travis doesn’t have him chained up in his basement so as to harvest his power-enhancing saliva? Pookie: “I think that is the only possible explanation. There is literally no other explanation for Travis looking faster.”

7:06 Chico tells us this game “has a look to it, like it’s really important to both of these teams.” So what he’s saying is that the previous few games were totally irrelevant to the Devils? Great!

6:16 Langer and Zach get a hugely long two-on-one on which Langer smartly dishes just inside the blue line while drawing the defender all the way to the boards, thereby letting Zach walk in alone on Lundqvist… and his shot hits Lundqvist in the shoulder. Moments later, as play moves up into the neutral zone, Pookie remarks, “If the Devils bench looks emptier right now it’s because Zach’s in the dressing room flagellating himself.”

4:11 Brookbank is fired. He fails to keep a slow-moving puck at the near point while the Rupp line is wreaking some havoc in the Rangers zone. Actually, we’re kind of surprised Brookbank is still around for us to fire at all – isn’t there some Trenton Devil who could be taking his ice time right now?

1:00 The teams bumble around a bit in first the Devils zone and then the neutral zone, and Doc dryly suggests the appropriate call here would be, “They got it… no, we got it… no, they got it… no, we got it…”

0:00 Another scrum breaks out at the buzzer, deep in the Devils zone, as a result of Orr and Whitey batting at each other’s raised hands but being totally disinterested in actually fighting.

Steve interviews Travis, who has his old red forehead back; that’s got to be why he looks so fresh. He’s finally got an ill-fitting helmet again.

As for that period, it was, without doubt, the best 20 minutes we’ve seen the Devils play since even before Marty got hurt. Who knew these guys had that in them?

FIRST INTERMISSION

We fail to pay attention to the intermission show. Pookie says it best when she sighs, “It’s November. I can’t be bothered with intermissions in November.”

SECOND PERIOD

Holy crap! The MSG guys got Doc a popcorn machine to celebrate his HOF-ness! That’s so cool! They also give him a 50-inch TV, but we’re far more impressed with the popcorn machine.

Meanwhile, on the ice, the period is starting with the Devils on the power play because Orr took an extra minor in that period-ending scrum.

18:00 The Devils power play may very well be engaging in the time-honored art of coach killing, considering how craptacular they have been in direct response to Sutter publicly calling them out. Pookie, who insisted during intermission that she didn’t think the PP was that bad during the first, says, “I do think they’re that bad now.”

16:47 Madden fires the puck slowly the length of the ice, and the Ranger defender chasing it down suddenly become afflicted with excruciating snail-paced-ness. It’s called icing.

16:30 Weekes manages to overcome the sprawling, out-of-control, completely ineffective shot blocking attempts of the skaters in front of him and gets a shoulder on an incoming point shot.

14:53 Gio manages to generate some craziness around the net, and Zubrus darts down the slot to shoot at a wide-open net. At the last moment, though, he decides the open net is too easy a target and opts instead to shoot at the much smaller area covered by Lundqvist’s blocker. Bullseye! Great aim there, Zubrus.

14:12 Rupp takes one of those awful “Hey, are the officials still calling hooking when you tap lamely at the hands of your opponent while he’s blowing right past you?” hooking penalties. Yes, Rupper, they are still calling that.

13:43 As Callahan is trying to jam a bouncing puck over Weekes at the side of the net, he gets flattened by the Iron Boar. Cross-checking is rightly called, and Chico says, while watching the replay, “I don’t know what Bryce does there…” Schnookie: “I don’t know. Maybe cross-checking?”

12:15 Considering how putrid the five-on-four Devils PK is, it is not at all surprising that they are hugely outmatched by a five-on-three. Roszival’s point shot hits the post, ricochets across the goal mouth, bounces off the back of Weekes’s leg, and goes in. 1-1 tie.

10:53 It looks like the portion of tonight’s game in which the Devils are better than the Rangers is over.

10:36 The Poppers aren’t able to get a shot on a rush, and then get caught deep in the Rangers zone as Drury chugs up the near wing, leading a four-on-three. It feels like a wholly inevitable outcome when Drury fires an eminently stoppable shot from above the circle that even Chico says Weekes wants back. 2-1 Rangers.

10:07 With Brookbank covering the slot, what could possibly go wrong? Oh, right. That Laurie Peckarovsky guy (no, we can’t look up how to spell his name) could score. 3-1 Rangers. Pookie, on Peckarovsky: “I can’t help but notice I hate the look of his sit-spin.”

9:21 It is very telling about the make-up of the Devils right now, that after the first period, which stood as the best period of hockey they’d put together in ages, they had a wholly surmountable lead of a whopping one goal. Even at their very, very best, this team is fantastically easy to beat.

6:46 Pookie has a great idea for the NHL to consider: “This season is a perfect argument in favor of relegation to the AHL. The Devils would get relegated for being sucky this year, but then next year, in the A, they’d win every game!”

6:17 Chico breaks down the Peckarovsky goal’s blown coverage when we come back from a commercial, and he explains the problem was that Zubrus left his man to chase someone else into the corner. Pookie: “They seem to be doing that a lot lately. What are they working on in practice?” Schnookie: “They’re working on panicking.” Pookie: “That’s probably the part Paulie can’t participate in.”

5:30 Captain Shit-Cubed takes a hooking penalty. Because he’s a fantastic captain. As we go to commercial looking at Sutter’s disgusted expression on the bench, Pookie says, “Ten bucks he quits by Christmas.”

4:44 There is a loose puck ping-ponging around the crease, and when Madden gets a stick on it, he has a long moment to think about where he wants to clear it to. After assessing the situation he notices Zherdev is streaking down from the point and decides to loft a perfect feed to him for a one-timer.

4:32 Patty must be worried that Sutter might strip Langer of the C and give it back to him, so he hooks Naslund. Boomer, from the depths of her chair: “Maybe Sutter will just quit between periods. He’ll hand the keys to Johnny Mac, say, ‘It’s your problem now’ and walk out the door.”

4:10 Who ever would have guessed that a second stupid penalty taken immediately after a first stupid penalty would lead to a power-play goal against? Zherdev makes it 4-1 Rangers. (Doc tells us the scoring chances in this period are 13-2 in favor of the Rangers. Nice.)

0:46 Clarkson tries to introduce a new move to his repertoire, the close-in, bad-angle, roofed shot. It doesn’t work.

0:36 There’s a bit of a scrum in front of the benches, and after a long, hugging delay, Dubinsky and Zubrus finally fight. It’s not the most exciting exchange of fisticuffs of all time.

IPB Fight

The hell? Orr gets an extra minor out of the whole affair, while Doc and Chico posit that Zubrus is going to get tossed from the game for having his sweater pulled up over his head during the fight. Maybe Zubrus actually did get the extra penalty, but the punishment the officials thought the Devils most deserved was to have to go on the power play? That must be it. (And yes, Zubrus does get a game misconduct for the failure of his tie-down.)

0:00 The buzzer sounds and we get a long look at a seething Sutter, who is clearly wondering, “Should I quit? Do I really want to go back into the dressing room right now? Maybe I can still catch a flight to Red Deer tonight.”

So the first period was the best 20 minutes we’ve seen from the Devils in quite a while, and the second period was just another look at the Devils as usual. In other words, god-awful.

SECOND INTERMISSION

The intermission show wisely tries to distract us with talk of high school football. Then Dano whines about the officiating, complaining that the refs “took matters into their own hands” during that period. No, Dano, the Devils were just bad. Blaming the refs is weak.

THIRD PERIOD

We come back from intermission with Doc pitching that Bridgestone “Vote For The Best Captain” promo thing. Schnookie: “I know who I’m not voting for.” We see Zach and Travis lined up for the opening faceoff, with Patty on the wing. It seems we know who Sutter’s not voting for, too.

Also, Clemmensen is in now. Pookie insists she called earlier today that Weekes would get pulled tonight, but neither Boomer nor Schnookie heard her. It’s really not that hard a prediction to make, though.

18:36 Not surprisingly, the Devils do not score on the power play. It also doesn’t look like the sort of dysfunction that will be corrected by the return of Brian Rolston. Someday. Three years from now, or whenever Rolston’s coming back.

16:40 Doc is talking about the standings, and stops himself midway through his spiel by chortling, “It’s hard to say ‘playoffs’ this early in the year.” Schnookie: “I can say ‘playoffs’! As in, ‘Something the Devils aren’t going to be participating in’.”

15:38 WOOOO. Lundqvist kicks a giant rebound off a Salmela shot directly to Langer, almost correctly assuming there is no freaking way Langer will score. Every single person in the building and watching on TV is shocked to their very core when Langer completely mishandles his attempt at missing the net and instead fires the puck directly into the goal. 4-2 Rangers, and that’s Salmela’s first NHL point. Pookie, who has been insisting his skates look like he’s wearing old-fashioned formalwear, cheers, “Way to go, Spats!” Boomer and Schnookie think his skates look perfectly normal, but still like the nickname Spats, so we’re going with it.

13:38 Oh no! Langer is rubbing off on Zach! Or maybe Zach’s afraid he’s going to get the C. Either way, he takes a moronic hooking penalty on the forecheck. This game is awesome! (That’s Zach’s first penalty of the season, and Pookie posits that he’s going to spend his time in the box scrubbing himself with a coarse lye soap while freaking out, “The stink of penalty is on me!” Langer, meanwhile, thinks the stink of stupid penalty is the most seductive scent in the world.)

11:35 After a surprisingly passive PP attempt by the Rangers, Zach is sprung from the box and he hits the ice sprinting, tapping his stick furiously in announcement that he’s open. Patty has the puck in the Devils zone, but he’s still in spaced-out PK mode and is unable to engage in quick decision-making. Consequently, there is no long outlet pass, and Zach has to spend the rest of the night whimpering to Sutter, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I tried to make up for the penalty! I did! I tried so hard! I’m sorry!”

10:06 With Clemmensen in goal, what could possibly go wrong? Oh right. Mottau could deflect a Zherdev shot from way out right over Clemmer’s shoulder. 5-2 Rangers. On the replay, Chico says, “[Mottau] knows he shouldn’t put his stick in front of it, but it’s just so hard not to…” and Pookie finishes for him, “Because Clemmensen is just so bad.”

9:00 Pookie: “My god. There’s still nine minutes left in this.”

4:17 There is a broken sequence of plays that leads to a mano a mano showdown between Colton Orr and Scott Clemmensen. Amazingly, Orr’s crappy goal-scoring touch is crappier than Clemmer’s crappy goaltending abilities. We didn’t think there was anyone in the NHL who couldn’t score one-on-one against Clemmer. Huh. Orr really showed us.

A scrum breaks out after the whistle and Rupp gets an unsportsmanlike penalty from it.

3:39 As the silent crowd watches disinterestedly while the Rangers go through some additional PP practice, Pookie says, “This is one of those games where I really expect them just to stop playing now. Like, take a knee, Devils! Take a knee!”

2:11 Clemmer freezes the puck and another dispassionate scrum erupts in front of the goal. Chico: “This is really where the Devils want to make a stand.” Right. With two minutes left in a game they’re losing by three. Dubinsky gets an extra penalty. Fan-fucking-tastic.

0:45 Chico is getting bitchy about the “Let’s go Rangers” cheer in the building. He tries to laugh it off by saying he would have left, too, if he was a Devils fan, but he’s still not happy about it. Chico, shut up. Marty himself said it’s the team’s fault if they can’t fill the building with Devils fans. Quit trying, even passively, to put this on the Devils fans who aren’t willing to pay idiotic prices to watch this team.

0:00 Finally it’s over. That was entirely as bad as we predicted. Seriously, Gentle Reader, the Devils are not a good hockey team.

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The Stars are our favorite team in the world.

Until Wednesday.

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Tonight’s broadcast (in HD, although we shouldn’t be surprised, since it is the Rangers) is touting itself as a clash of two undefeated titans. That’s right! The mighty 2-0 Devils! Meeting the mighty 4-0 Rangers! And there’s no need to examine the fact that all six of those wins were pretty much just barely eked out. These teams are both behemoths of winningness! The fur is going to fly tonight!

FIRST PERIOD

18:21 With the sparse crowd trying to get a “Marty!” chant going in the background (the crowd noise is blissfully muffled on this feed), the Rangers get their first shot of the night from the high slot, and Voros follows up on the rebound a bit too hard and knocks Marty over. He gets called for goalie interference. The crowd muffledly doesn’t like it. We have no real opinion, because it’s Monday night.

17:34 We get a shot of the bench during a stoppage, and Travis is looking shiny-haired and helmetless. He also is lacking his trademark red mark on his forehead – could it be that he finally has a helmet that fits?

17:03 The power play is not going well. Pookie proclaims disgustedly, “I’m calling Rangers 5, and the Devils nothing.”

16:01 The Devils are ineffectually puttering around the Rangers zone, and Chico remarks, “you can see why the Rangers are 19-of-19 on the penalty kill this season.” Pookie: “Because the Devils are that bad on the power play?”

14:20 As the teams are sort of weakly back-and-forthing, Clarkson suddenly finds himself with the puck in the neutral zone with a lot of ice in front of him. MSG+ eagerly cuts to an ice-level angle so we can watch his walking-in-on-the-D attempt here, but Clarkson just crumples face-first to the ice for no obvious reason. Doc suggests diplomatically that perhaps he “tripped over his own stick”. We wonder if Paulie deployed his gopher army to the wrong end of the ice; Pookie suggests Paulie’s on the bench right now saying, “Come, my children! To the other zone! Arise and attack!”

12:21 We come back from commercial to see a close-up of Marty (while Chico is assuring us that Marty is very popular when he holds goalie camps. Really Chico? We never would have guessed that aspiring goalies think Marty Brodeur is awesome), and it bears mentioning that we still don’t like his stupid new mask.

11:01 A chorus of groans rises from the living room of stately IPB Manor after Zach deftly forces a turnover above the faceoff dots to Lundqvist’s right, dishes smartly to Langer, then Langer laces a great feed across the crease to a streaking Travis… who whiffs terribly on the shot attempt. Schnookie has been muttering about how she has the beginnings of a headache, and this play prompts Pookie to say, “That gave me a headache.”

10:04 This game is very strangely lacking intensity, which is odd, considering how the preseason game we saw between these teams at the Garden was a feisty, good one.

9:48 Did Doc just call the Holik/Rupp/Zubrus line “The Balki Line”?

8:25 The Rangers get a whole bunch of scoring chances for some reason or another, but we’re too busy talking about how this game feels like a college game, or an AHL game where all the players know they’re not going to be called up, or a somnolent shuffleboard match on a seniors-only cruise ship to notice how or why that’s happening.

7:43 The game is now feeling like the Rangers have “weathered the Devils attack” and are now settling into the pace for the rest of the game. They’re setting up with ease in the Devils zone, and the Devils D seems content to just try to get the puck past the blue line when they attempt to break up passes. Psst, guys – you’re allowed to try to take the puck to the other end of the ice. You don’t have to spend the whole game in Marty’s zone.

6:42 MSG+ decides to zoom in on some Ranger as he’s taking Paulie on rushing up the far wing, and just as the play is in HD iso filling the screen, smooth-as-silk ice-water-in-his-veins Paulie just sweeps the puck away and skates off as if nothing happened at all. There is some mention on the broadcast that the play was reminiscent of a guy whose name rhymes with “Bliedermayer”. (Hint: his first name does NOT rhyme with “Blob”. It rhymes with “Blott”.)

6:30 Marty decides to remind us why we hated hockey at the end of last season. Dubinsky cranks a soft shot from just inside the blue line that flutters toward the net after chipping off Oduya’s stick. Marty has a week to glove the shot, but instead it hits his cuff and falls into the net. 1-0 Rangers.

5:19 We’re nodding off listening to Chico making excuses for Marty (Chico: “Sure, goaltenders want to stop all those [kinds of shots], and maybe should…” Us: “Maybe????”), and it’s a good thing, because the wheels are completely falling off the Devils right now. The Rangers are getting shot after shot after shot on turnover after turnover after turnover.

3:12 Chico: “This is interesting – three games in a row now the Devils have given up the first goal.” Pookie: “That’s very interesting!”

2:42 You know what we didn’t get enough of? That playoff series from last year between these two teams. So thank goodness the Devils are doing their darnedest to recreate it for us now.

1:25 Some red wine and Xanax would be really good right now. And just as we type that, Doc informs us the Devils have not registered a single scoring chance in this period. Correction: A LOT of red wine and Xanax would be really good right now.

0:00 BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! *Throws beer-soaked mousepads at the TV*

FIRST INTERMISSION

Patty (In Dallas) spent much of last season telling us about how orange Steve Cangialosi looks in HD. Now that we’re finally seeing it, we’re a little disappointed; it seems Steve’s make-up wrangler has figured this “looking vaguely lifelike” thing out. However, Dano is totally picking up the slack.

SECOND PERIOD

19:17 Whatever Sutter told the boys in the dressing room, it must have registered in their heads as, “That 20 minutes was awesome! Keep that up! Go out and do more of that!”

18:34 After a shocking turn of events (read: a Devils shot on goal), Patty and Mara exchange some bitchslaps. They both get roughing minors. Chico floats the notion that 4-on-4 could be “to the advantage of the Devils”. We severely injure ourselves laughing uproariously at the suggestion.

17:16 To Chico’s credit, he clarifies that he only said that about the 4-on-4 because “5-on-5 the Devils have nothing going for them. You hope that 4-on-4, something might change.” Pookie: “And if that doesn’t work, you can just go to 3-on-3!”

15:51 All kinds of lameness is happening on the ice (so much so that Doc just throws up his hands on the play-by-play and says that the action is “crazy”, and not in a good or interesting way), and Boomer pipes up, “I’m hoping this is the clunker, and things will only get better from here.” Pookie responds, “That’s what I hoped all through the beginning of last season, too.”

14:26 Korpikoski walks out of the far corner toward the net, and Rolston hooks him before he can get to the crease. So now we get to see what these teams look like when the Rangers actually have one more guy on the ice, rather than just seeming like it.

13:24 The Rangers get three point shots in rapid sequence, and the last of the three gets tipped by Voros past Marty. 2-0 Rangers.

12:17 Ooh. Ooh. A Ranger clears the puck over the glass on what should have been an effortless, unpressured pass out of the defensive zone. The Devils are going on the power play. Pookie: “Yay. I think I’m going to knock myself out with a brick.”

We come back from commercial to hear Chico telling us that “not since Emile Francis has a Rangers coach been as warmly appreciated as Tom Renney.” Further proving that fanbases who have proclaimed they’d rather watch their team lose with a run-and-gun lineup than win with a trap are TOTAL liars.

11:48 The officials are taking pity on the Devils now, letting Marty get away with a clear hook on a shorthanded wraparound attempt.

10:00 Halfway through the game we’ve got two things to say: 1. If this is supposed to be some kind of measuring stick to see how much better this year’s version of the Devils is than last, we’re not impressed at the progress. And 2. Thank goodness for the retirement of the unbalanced schedule, because there are only five more of these things left this season.

7:33 Doc tells us the Rangers have out-chanced the Devils 10-3 so far in this game. That seems unlikely, because there is no way, with their whopping 7 total shots on net, that the Devils have had 3 chances.

6:47 In the best opportunity of the game so far for the Devils, Holik and the puck are both loose in front of a gaping net, and he manages to remind us of his previous tenure in New Jersey, what with the spinning around helplessly, unable to find the puck in his feet.

4:59 Meh. The Rangers get a 3-on-1 and overpass so that the Iron Boar is able to break it up without really trying. Whatevs.

3:36 On a bit of forecheck (We know! What is this word, this “forecheck”?) Zach does a wacky spin move to get around two Rangers in the near corner, but kind of just ricochets off both of them. Schnookie suggests that was his “Tornado” move, and Pookie posits that it was a dance move from his audition for West Side Story. Schnookie immediately pulls out one of her favorite bits of Zach trivia (that he appeared in several high school theatrical productions) to needle Pookie: “Yeah, that was part of his Brighton Beach Memoirs choreography.” Pookie flips her the bird. Schnookie just chuckles, because it’s not like she’s making up that Zach was in Brighton Beach Memoirs. That’s not the kind of thing a gal can make up. Oh, Zach. You’re a neverending fount of hilarity.

1:48 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach is out with Pando and Madden, and thanks to the jolt of Brighton Beach Memoirs energy he’s got, Zach forces a turnover and whips a shot at net. Hank falls over in the face of Pando’s tenacious goalmouth presence, and Madden is there to backhand the puck through him and into the net. 2-1 Rangers, and we decide Zach should always be on the Madden/Pando line. Until they have to actually check someone.

0:04 After Marty goes down to make a scrambling save, Callahan cuts around close behind the net, catching Marty’s arm in a painful-looking bit of a check. Oduya comes in from up high and jostles Callahan for taking liberties with Marty, and Oduya gets called for interference. Sigh.

0:00 Well, there was one more Devils goal in that period than we expected. And about 10,000 fewer Rangers ones. So we guess that should be considered some kind of moral victory.

SECOND INTERMISSION

Steve is predicting, based on Zach having three points in three games, an 80-point season for our Itty-Bitty Prince. He also tries to tell us that Zach is not the kind of person who sets goals this early in the season. Please. Zach has Boxworthy working on heaps of ledgers just of his shift-by-shift goals, and we all know it.

Oh, and that Phaneuf “Is This The Year?” commercial is, quite possibly, the worst commercial for hockey that we’ve ever seen. Who on earth saw that and decided it was worthy of seeing airtime?

THIRD PERIOD

18:21 The Devils are looking ever-so-calm running around all over the place as if they’ve never practiced the PK, and thanks to another Voros screen, it’s 3-1 Rangers on the umpteenth point shot of the man advantage.

15:42 Doc and Chico are discussing how craptacular the Devils PK is at clearing out the front of the net, and, after grousing about how you can’t cross-check guys like you used to be able to, Doc pulls back a bit and says that after four years of these “new NHL” rules, it’s not really a good excuse anymore. Schnookie: “But the Devils are still hoping to use it that way.” Pookie: “I know what. How about they try to counteract it by doing the same thing at the other end?” Stunned silence follows.

12:36 The Poppers put on a bit of Brighton Beach Memoirs spunkiness, but Zach’s shift-by-shift goal of picking up another point here isn’t met, as Langer’s dart-down-from-the-point-to-chip-the-puck-over-Lundqvist move doesn’t bear fruit.

11:26 Pookie says out of the blue, of Oduya’s play, “Johnny Handsome just looked like Johnny Confused there.” Schnookie responds, “Huh? I wasn’t paying attention.” Pookie explains, “There was lots of skating around in big circles, and passing to no one, and…” and she trails off. Schnookie finishes for her, “And having a big thought bubble with a giant question mark in it over his head?”

10:21 Voros heads to the bench for a change while the Rangers seem to have everything calmly under control, and decides to issue some kind of “I’m a manly-man, and can posture preeningly to prove it” challenge to Clarkson on the way, earning himself a slashing penalty for his trouble. Pookie: “This is the kind of penalty the Devils never kill.”

8:21 It is, however, the kind of penalty the Rangers do kill. Unsurprisingly.

7:57 Zubrus has a glorious point-blank opportunity, but appears to whiff on the puck. Less than 8 minutes until we can turn this off and play MarioKart! (Yeah, we know how cool we are. You don’t have to tell us.)

7:00 Chico’s not making excuses, but he’s saying the ice sucks tonight.

6:33 The Iron Boar fires the puck on his backhand over the glass and the Rangers go back on the PP. Almost exactly as Schnookie is positing that the Devils’ PK can’t handle big guys in front of the net because there’s no one on the team who can fill that role in practice.

6:21 Hey! The Rangers aren’t significantly enough better than the Devils with one man advantage, so Whitey cleverly takes a high sticking penalty right off the faceoff to give them a two-man advantage. That’s what we like to see.

4:20 We’re not going to lie – that was a satisfying stretch of penalty killing, even though it prompted Chico to say at one point, on a failed clearing attempt by Oduya, “It’s another example of the Devils doing so many things right, but…” letting us finish for him, “also doing so many things wrong.” The end result, no matter how unlikely, was that the Rangers didn’t score, so we’ll take it.

2:18 Langer gets all stupidly bitchy and petulant with Drury, and, despite slashing Drury, roughing him, and repeatedly punching him in the face with his gloved hand, somehow manages to draw matching minors on the exchange. Chico seems to think the Devils should have gotten the power play on the sequence. Really, Chico? Drury gets slashed, roughed, and punched repeatedly while offering only a single roughing-caliber response, and you think he should have gotten the extra minor? Interesting.

0:57 The Devils pulled Marty for the 4-on-4, and after failing miserably to be in the right place in front of Lundqvist’s net for a few rebounds (because no team goes to the net with less effectiveness than the Devils. Johnny Mac, we’re looking at you…), end up on the receiving end of an empty-net goal by Callahan. 4-1 Rangers.

0:00 This whole game kind of looked like the Devils said, “We really want revenge for the way things went last year, but we think it’s still possible for us to be just a bit more beaten down and humiliated. So let’s pile on one more loss for old time’s sake, and we’ll start focusing on the revenge thing in the next game.” Which… thanks, guys. It was fun.

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