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In terrible, terrible news tonight, we are not getting any satellite signal on our DirecTV, so there is no MSG for us. In wonderful, wonderful news, our totally superfluous cable subscription is paying for itself, because we’re getting our Comcast just fine. So that means tonight’s game is from the Flyers perspective. Should be fun! It’s like signals beaming from another planet.

Our interesting Comcast tidbit in the pregame intro is that if the Flyers win tonight, it’ll be the first time in over 20 years that they’ll have four wins in a season against the Devils. That’s almost as crazy as the fact that they’re even playing this game tonight. There are, like, six people in the stands. We’re assuming those people all live at the arena.

For the uninitiated, the Flyers broadcast team is hilarious. JJ’s the one on play-by-play, Keith Jones does the color, and Steve Coates is the “between the benches” guy. JJ leads us off with his customary greeting of “a very pleasant evening,” then quickly adds, “I’m kidding, of course.” Meanwhile, Coatesy gives us a rundown of the Devils’ scoring threats, which is too laughable to contemplate. Apparently, Zach is “red-hot”, a term that implies a spate of recent scoring, and Kovalchuk is just “scary scary”. They have no mention of the rumors we’re getting online that Zach’s not playing tonight, nor of the fact that the Devils are not a threat to score against anyone at any time.

FIRST PERIOD

19:57 Just at the puck drop, JJ excitedly tells us that Zach has been scratched. Pookie: “He’s frightened of Farts, and doesn’t feel any of his henchmen are up to snuff.”

19:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Travis takes a nothing kind of shot from outside, the kind that’s just a peremptory sort of “let’s get into the offensive zone and set up” shot, Leighton goes down to stop it, and it juuuuuuuust trickles through him and slooooooowly creeeeeeps agonizingly toward the goal line behind him, then into the net. 1-0 Devils, and JJ tells us this is the Flyers’ worst nightmare.

18:40 Jonesy breaks Zach’s heart by suggesting that Travis “forgot about him quickly”, just going ahead and scoring like that.

17:25 The Devils are milling around in their own zone while Comcast has its list on the scoreclock of the opposing team’s lines. JJ apologizes that with the way Lemaire works his warm-ups, they had no idea who was going to play with whom with Zach out. Jonesy adds that Hambone has now left the game, so there’s really no point trying to guess. A replay now shows us that Hambone suffered some sort of shoulder injury when he was lightly jostled on his first shift. We had no idea he was made out of damp tissue paper and balsa.

16:02 Despite Leighton showing no signs of being able to stop Travis’s shots, no matter how weak, Travis passes on a two-on-two rush when he could have gone strong to the net. Sigh.

13:42 There’s a shockingly robust crowd now. We’re discussing how disappointed all those people must be – it seems the only reason to go to a hockey game on a day like today is the possibility of being in one of those legendarily eensy crowds.

13:10 We come back from commercial to see a shot of Kovalchuk (or, as Pookie suggested the other night, Boogerchuk) on the bench. Sitting next to Hambone. So… Hambone’s back?

11:59 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! PANDO!! PANDO!!! PANDO!!! Schnookie: “WOOO! Wait, I missed it.” Pookie: “So did Leighton.” Replay shows this was not Pando’s goal at all – it was Niedermayer (the Lesser) spinning a backhand cross-crease pass attempt that kicked into the net off Timonen’s skates. JJ: “I called that based on Pandolfo’s reaction. He was celebrating as if he’d scored it.” Schnookie sniffs, “That’s just how Pando is, JJ.” 2-0 Devils.

11:27 Ew. Asham scores (for a case of Tastykakes) on a wrister over Marty’s shoulder, and it’s 2-1 Devils. Pookie: “That was unpleasantly predictable.”

9:37 Uh oh. Briere takes a slashing penalty. It’s time for the game-killing Devils’ PP.

6:43 After being terrible with the man advantage, the Devils promptly take a tripping penalty. Whitey gets called for taking down Briere after falling over in the neutral zone, and for good measure, he also trips Pando. (The Power Play Payoff for the Flyers is at $225, if you’re wondering.)

6:00 The Flyers ring a shot loudly off the post while the Iron Boar is staggering to the bench, holding his face. We don’t know what happened, but Comcast does cut in for a closeup following the Iron Boar all the way to the bench while play is going on. That’s very thoughtful of them, being so considerate of their Devils fan audience.

5:15 Marty makes a monster, diving glove save on Hartnell, which the officials immediately wave off, but which Hartnell and the Flyers announcers think crossed the goal line. We have a lengthy video review, and the broadcast team goes on at length about how obviously the puck crossed the line, but how Marty’s glove probably obscures the “conclusive evidence” of it. The Devils have been on the wrong side of these reviews in the past, as far as obvious goals not being called, so we’re going to be really annoyed if they don’t get the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Oh thank goodness. The review ends in “no goal”. Of course, they’ll probably score right off the faceoff.

4:25 We come back from commercial to a panning shot of the arena. Coatsey is very impressed by the number of people who came out for the game, and then starts raving about how marvelous the arena is. JJ suggests that Coatsey is just buttering up the arena staff in the hopes that they’ll help dig his car out of the snow in the parking lot, and Coatsey protests that he is, in fact, very good at digging cars out of the snow, then JJ and Jonesy snark that they wouldn’t know, because they’ve never seen him do it. This leads to JJ thanking the various Flyers players and staffers who helped then dig their cars out after they returned home from their western road trip during the snowstorm last week. This entire exchange occurs while play is going on. Doc’s head would be exploding right now, and there wasn’t -even a chinchilla pay-off to make it worth it to him.

1:07 The play is getting a bit choppy and goofy. Pookie: “This game is like when everyone shows up at work on a Friday and kind of tacitly agrees that they’re not going to do any work that day.” Schnookie: “Or like when your teachers would just give you, like, fun handouts to do the day before Spring Break.” Pookie: “Yeah! This is like the players all get to just sit outside and color tonight.”

SECOND PERIOD

18:14 Jonesy is very happy to report the first-period stats, which include a grand total of zero shots by Kovalchuk. Or, as Schnookie likes to call him, Kovalsuck. Pookie, of the new name: “It was only a matter of time.” Pause. “How about ‘Boogersuck’?” Schnookie: “I considered that, but decided it sounded disgusting.” Pookie: “Well then, how about ‘Boogerbooger’?”

17:00 This is looking very much like the typical Devils second period. After being pinned in their own zone for the better part of the three minutes of play, Leblond takes a bad interference penalty. (The Power Play Payoff is at $250 now.)

15:49 With such a small crowd, the “Rangers suck!” whistle is tremendously audible on the TV feed. The actual “Rangers suck!” part of the chant is meager, but the “Flyers swallow” part (of which we really don’t approve, by the way. Get off our lawn, kids!) is lusty. JJ chortles nervously and remarks, “The crowd here is very energetic.”

15:09 Marty goes behind the net to handle the puck coming around the boards, and it hops over his stick. Giroux is right there to scoop it up, and it looks like disaster is about to follow, but Marty just sassily strips Giroux of the puck, bounces it between his feet, then calmly passes it to safety. It sends the denizens of stately IPB Manor into fits of laughter.

14:49 You know what we love to see when the Devils aren’t scoring? When Travis and Patty, on a two-on-one rush, skate themselves entirely out of real estate going, “No, you take the shot.” They’re both fired.

11:32 As if to make up for the awesome play stripping Giroux of the puck, Marty takes a penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid here. (Power Play Payoff = $275.)

9:26 The Devils just barely survive a flurry immediately after the penalty expires, but it’s Hartnell trying to get the puck to the front of the net while Marty’s prone on the ice, so nothing comes of it.

8:34 Kovalchuk takes a mid-range shot, then shocks his teammates by following up on it to jostle the puck loose. He doesn’t score, and the rest of the Devils say to him, “See? It’s not worth it!” Meanwhile, JJ is thinking aloud about the weather conditions back in Philly, and remarking that it’s “a strange time to be getting two such big storms back-to-back.” There is a long pause in our living room as we digest that statement, and then Schnookie says slowly, “Well, it is winter. I think it might be more strange if it happened in the summertime.” Boomer: “Maybe it’s strange where JJ comes from.”

7:57 A few minutes ago, Pookie remarked that this game seems so weird because there’s almost no hitting in it. As if to underline this point, when we come back from commercial to get the “Check of the Game”, which is a meek little hit by Beaks. Pookie: “That’s the only hit in this game.”

7:44 The official word is that the Iron Boar is out with an upper-body injury for the rest of the game. Because the Devils aren’t fully capable of losing even without injuries. Comcast pulls out a replay now to show us the injury to the Iron Boar was a very scary-looking high stick from Gagne to his eye. JJ takes this moment to sing the Iron Boar’s praises for not just going down and lying on the ice after taking a stick to the face, but instead thinking of his role as a penalty killer while the other team had the puck.

6:13 The Flyers engage in a tic-tac-toe bit of passing while the Devils look completely lost defensively thanks to a stutter in the rush while everyone was trying to stay onsides, and Carter rips a laser wrister over Marty’s glove (for a case of Tastykakes). 2-2 game. Comcast tells us now that the Devils have been outscored 11-1 over the last five second periods. That seems low.

4:31 Guess what? The Devils were 23-0 when taking two-goal leads this season up until that Kings game the other day. And since then? They’ve blown three such leads. Isn’t being a Devils fan fun?

3:47 The lights are flickering ominously here.

3:34 The Devils are working in the Philadelphia zone for the first time this period, and the fans are letting rip with a much heartier “Rangers suck!” chant. Much better. Leighton finally covers the puck, and Kovalchuk ends up standing lamely over him. Schnookie: “It’s like Kovalsuck has decided he’s getting his giant contract anyway, so he’s not going to bother playing well for the Devils.” Pookie: “He’s mentally weak. When the Devils didn’t win his first game, he was like, ‘Well, fuck this shit. I’m not going to bother.'” It is a long time before Schnookie says, “Wait a sec. The Devils did win his first game.” Boomer: “Yeah, I was going to say that we haven’t lost all the games because he can’t score.” Pookie: “That’s not what I’ve been told.”

2:25 Patty hits Gagne at the same moment as an offsides whistle, and Carcillo starts to go after him. Coatsey is apoplectic about the late hit, but JJ, after a bit of flame-fanning outrage, backs off and tries to be a voice of reason that there was nothing wrong with the hit. The Flyers fans listening to him, though, are probably too busy foaming at the mouth to hear the later bit of commentary. That Elias! He’s such a goon!

0:00 The period winds to a pathetic end with the broadcast team discussing how Kovalchuk is visibly pressing now. It’s good times all around. Meanwhile, do you know what they have commercials for during Flyers games? Aqua Velva.

THIRD PERIOD

19:25 The Devils come out with some decent offensive-zone pressure, and it’s kind of shocking to see. Meanwhile, Mahmoud the cat is trying to eat an entire chocolate chip cookie. We think the cat has more of a chance of success than the Devils.

18:52 The announcers are discussing how Farts is likely to take Getzlaf’s place if his ankle injury is bad enough that he can’t play at the Olympics. The add that Getzi is insisting he’s fine, and Boomer says, in her Getzi voice, “Over my dead kokopelli’s body.”

17:35 The Devils keep desperately trying stretch passes to spring some sort of miracle, and keep getting turned back at the Flyers blue line. One one such attempt, Schnookie perks up, then sags: “I keep thinking Niedermayer (the Lesser) is Kovalchuk, because he’s the only guy on the team as big as him, and then I keep getting disappointed.” Boomer: “I bet Kovalchuk’s just like, ‘I got traded to skate with these guys?'” Pookie: “No, he’s like, ‘I can’t can’t believe I have to skate with these sad fucks.'” Schnookie: “He’s the sad fuck! Kovalsadfuck.” Pookie: “It was only a matter of time.”

16:32 Kovalchuk falls over at the far boards when he is lightly jostled by Pronger. Pookie: “GAWD! He’s like a fainting goat!” Pause. “Kovalfaintinggoat—” Schnookie finishes for her: “—fucksuck.” Pookie adds: “—booger. –farts.” Boomer: “—marshmallowmanboogerfarmermarshmallowfan.” Wow. We never thought it would come to that.

14:10 Blandy attempts a shot from the high point that gets deflected harmlessly into the corner. Schnookie, sadly: “Those used to go in.” Long pause. “On net.”

12:16 Kovalchuk suddenly goes totally crazy on a one-on-the-entire-Flyers-team rush, gets hauled down, smushed into the ice, and still gets a shot off. And on the ensuing as everyone converges on the corner where Kovalchuk ended up, Patty draws a penalty to Coburn. Pookie: “Okay, so he’s not that bad. He’s just Boogerboogerfarts now.” Of course, the Devils Power Play Payoff is at about $675,831,950.

10:41 Oh no. With 25 seconds left on an all-flash-but-no-substance Devils PP, Carle takes a holding the stick penalty on Land Zhark in front of the net. This isn’t going to end well.

10:40 The Devils don’t even manage to win the draw on the 5-on-3.

9:47 It’s as if the Devils are constantly taken by surprise that power plays are a part of hockey. Like, “Oh, we had no idea playing with a man advantage was part of the rules!”

9:12 The power play sequence ends in ignominy, as Patty hooks Timonen. Which is strange, because we thought we’d fired Patty on that two-on-one rush in the last period. (Power Play Payoff is at $300, if you’re scoring at home.)

6:35 Mike Mottau is terrible. No big surprise there, but he just seems to want to remind us of it when he gets the puck just below the faceoff dot to Leighton’s left, has not a single defender in sight, then clutches and double-clutches and triple-clutches until everyone can get safely back into position to keep him from getting a good shot. And then he fires wide.

2:46 JJ tells us the shots are 20-13. We wonder if that’s for the period, or the whole game, or what. It just seems like a weird number.

1:38 Hartnell tries to wind up on a giant one-timer up high, but whiffs terribly. JJ tries to say it was great checking by Patty.

1:01 Leighton easily stops a long wrister from Patty, and Pookie says with exasperation, “Patty! This is the Flyers. You used to be able to score on these guys at will!” Schnookie, as Patty: “I miss Boucher.” Pookie: “We all miss Boucher.”

0:00 What is this strange and wondrous thing that just happened? Is it…? Can it be…? A standings point? We’d forgotten what that felt like.

OVERTIME

4:43 Whitey whiffs on a keep attempt at the Flyers blue line, and Gagne is off to the races chasing the puck down the ice. Marty gets out to it first, though, and looks like he’s going to play it past Gagne with his stick, but instead turns at the last minute, beds over like he’s thinking of scooping it up with his glove, then goes to play it on the backhand at the last minute of that. JJ speaks for everyone when he says, very gently, “Brodeur plays it… in his own special way.”

2:13 This OT has been completely loopy. But despite having tons of offensive-zone presence, the Devils look, to a man, terrified to be the guy who’s taking the shot. They’re all fired.

1:54 Marty overcommits when Gagne looks like he’s going to walk out from the near corner along the goal line, and then Gagne goes for the sneaky wraparound instead. But Blandy manages a sliding check as Gagne tries to skate out the other side. Who knew Blandy could do that?

1:33 Yeah, we saw that coming. As soon as the Flyers establish themselves in the Devils zone, they get some sustained pressure, and career Marty-killer Gagne scores (for a case of Tastykake). 3-2 Flyers. And the Devils continue to be unmitigated poop.

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We may not be able to uphold a Pensblogian pledge to not diarize games until Andrew Peters is history, but we can stick to our guns on not diarizing games on Blersus. So, please, join us for an open thread!

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So here we are again, Gentle Reader, ready for another season. We’ve been pretty willfully ignorant of the goings on in Devilsland since the hiring of Lemaire, so now Doc and Steve are assuring us that there is a youth movement afoot in Jersey. Good to hear. Meanwhile, in not-youthful news, tonight is Marty’s 1000th game. This would normally be an event for unmitigated praise, but even Chico has lingering memories of the playoffs, so he describes Marty as the uncontested greatest “regular-season” goalie ever. Burn. Our intro moves on to discuss Lemaire, and Chico says “he’s everything I remembered.” Pookie: “Every time I eat banana and coconut it’s everything I remembered too. That doesn’t make it good.”

Oh, and just so you know how much of a sacrifice we’re making for our game diary tonight, the Devils feed isn’t in HD (fuck you too, MSG), but the Flyers feed on our cable is. We’re watching the standard-def version, just to be able to comment on Doc’s and Chico’s bon mots. You better bring it, Doc and Chico. The channel we can only assume is called MSG-Poop does bring us the big opening-night roster announcement, though, giving Pookie the opportunity to say, during the middle of it, “This is the crappy part of our lineup. Basically everything between nine and 30.” We’re in mid-season form!

FIRST PERIOD

18:55 The first big scoring chance of the season comes from Rolston, and he hits the post. Actually, we thought he fired wide, but that’s because this picture is so bad it might as well be coming from Canada.

18:07 Paulie makes a leaping keep at the point, and Chico tells us something about how defensemen standing at the points is a thing we’re going to see a lot of this season. That sounds very exciting. Psst, Chico, you’re not selling us on Lemaire.

17:30 The Flyers get their first real offensive flurry of the game, and Doc jokes about calling Rob Niedermayer “Scott” for the first of what will probably be a million times this season.

15:15 Bergfors tries to outhustle an icing, wipes out, and doesn’t get the call. After watching him in a couple of preseason games, Pookie has this to say about Bergfors: “As far as I can tell, that’s his MO: skate behind the net and do something stupid that results in him lying on the ice and not getting a call.” Pause. “I’m sorry, but I don’t like Bergfors.” Before Bergfors gets all upset about this, though, he should remember that Pookie was very vocally opposed to the Iron Boar when he first came Jersey, too, and now he’s practically her Devils boyfriend. At this time next season, she’ll be ordering a Bergfors sweater.

13:00 Andrew Peters is quite possibly the worst hockey player in the entire NHL. In case you were wondering. Both teams’ fourth lines are on, and Doc informs us that “there is the potential for mayhem” out there. Instead of mayhem, Peters commits a dunderheadedly easy turnover to a Flyer in the far corner. On the continuation of offensive pressure for Philly, Oduya takes a hooking penalty.

10:10 The PK actually does a really nice job, even getting a grade-A scoring chance (the fact that Pando doesn’t bury it is beside the point), and shortly thereafter, draws a classic moron cross-checking penalty to Scott Hartnell. Because he’s jealous that we called Andrew Peters quite possibly the worst hockey player in the entire NHL. After much confusion and discussion by Doc and Chico on the TV and the Flyers and the officials on the ice, Farts is also sent to the box, for god-only-knows-what.

9:30 Zach is playing the point on this 5-on-3. That’s… kind of a scary thought. Chico informs us that “in this situation there’s not a lot of risk of being scored on,” then remembers that Beaker is a Flyer.

8:53 It looks like the Devils were not expecting to ever get two-man advantages, so they haven’t ever practiced it. Chico thinks a d-man needs to one-time a shot here. Pookie: “Has Paulie ever one-timed a shot?”

7:55 We come back from commercial to hear Chico talking up Zach’s new A, and remarks that Patty is the other alternate captain, but Paulie’s got the A in his absence. He assures us that Patty will get the A from Paulie when he comes back, but we’re not so sure about that. We hope Paulie’s clutching the letter tight, hissing, “Over my dead body.”

4:03 Farts scores a sharp-angle goal that beats Marty’s stand-up post-holding, and it’s 1-0 Flyers. Pookie: “I think we’re only going to win four division games this year.” Her prediction is two wins against the Pens (4-2 and 3-2), one against the Isles (1-0, to tie the shutout record), and one against the Rangers (7-2). How’s that for a bold prediction? You can write all that down in pen, Gentle Reader, and remember you heard it here first.

1:15 Pronger gets called for interference when he and Clarkson collide near the puck in the neutral zone. It’s enough of a questionable call that when the whistle blows, Clarkson immediately starts complaining to the officials.

0:01 Giroux gets a shorthanded breakaway right at the buzzer, and Paulie comes from out of nowhere to dreamily yoink the puck away from him. Chico tries to tell us that Giroux didn’t have time to score before the period would end, but PaulieMartinNation is going to swoon anyway.

0:00 At the end of the period, we get an interview with Travis. He mouthbreathes, “We just need to play smarter.” Our hopes aren’t too high for that.

SECOND PERIOD

19:47 The Flyers are profoundly good at taking terrible penalties, and with the Devils enjoying (or rather, “enjoying”) the carryover PP from the end of the first period, Emery handles the puck outside the trapezoid. We predict that once again, the Devils’ unmitigated craptitude on the 5-on-3 is going to bite them in the ass.

19:15 We were right.

17:59 Doc, watching the Devils carry the puck aimlessly around the Flyers’ zone: “Somebody must shoot.” Oh, Doc. You’re so silly.

17:22 Doc: “Another uneventful power play for the Devils.” Pookie, muttering: “I’m telling you, they’re going 0-for-15 tonight.”

14:17 There seems to be a burgeoning physical rivalry between Zach and Pronger, and as Zach keeps throwing shoulders into Pronger’s chest, he and the rest of the Poppers manage to put together a few good scoring chances. It’s all coming back to us now… this feeling of liking the Devils…

11:15 Travis is fired. When Zach laces a little go-ahead pass to him through the Flyers D, Travis’s immediate decision is to attempt a drop-pass back to Zach that instead finds Pronger. It’s almost as if the Devils don’t want to score tonight.

10:39 Okay, so things are picking up right where they left off in March and April. As in, Marty looks like he thinks it’s the playoffs here, as he lets an impossible-angle shot/pass from Ian Laperriere (Ian Laperriere) get past him. 2-0 Flyers, and it’s all coming back to us now… this feeling of just knowing our favorite team really sucks.

9:15 There is, shockingly, no sarcastic cheer when Marty manages to stop a terrible-angle shot from Carcillo.

7:42 Schnookie: “I’m glad we’re just cutting to the chase here this year. Why bother with October, November, December, January and February? Why not just jump straight to March?” Pookie: “That’s what we get for bringing in Jacques ‘March’ Lemaire.”

6:03 Doc tells us Peters is trying to get Laperriere to fight him. Laperriere is not as stupid as Peters.

5:23 We are now in the phase of the game where the lackluster offense of the Devils is giving way to the lackluster defense of the Devils. The youth movement is going swimmingly!

4:36 After the Devils decide to spend several eons with the puck in their own zone, Beaks finally puts everyone out of their misery by stuffing a wraparound over Marty’s shoulder. 3-0 Flyers, and Clarkson narrows his eyes at Beaker while muttering, “Who told him he was allowed to use my signature move?”

4:05 Pando has a wide-open net, but fires the puck right into a diving Emery. Chico tells us it’s one of the greatest saves we’ll ever see, but we know better. There is nothing “greatest” about this game.

0:00 The period ends with a shower of boos from the crowd. And, well, the Devils look like a team that has been surprised by the regular season starting.

THIRD PERIOD

The period starts with a slow pan down the Devils bench as Chico intones gravely that there are “a lot of wheels turning up top there” as the Devils players contemplate “scoring fast and furious.” The players the camera is lingering on are, in order, Egg Pelley, Rob Niedermayer, and David Clarkson. There do not, to the naked eye, seem to be any wheels turning on our screen.

19:21 Beaks hurtles into Marty on a scoring chance, wiping himself and Marty out, and Chico tells us this is evidence that the Flyers are not going to sit back on their three-goal lead. Pookie: “The Devils are like, ‘What?? This is a gentleman’s game! One always sits back on leads!’” Pause. “They’re going to petition the league on the grounds of ‘It’s not fair.’ They’re channeling Bruce Boudreau.”

17:09 We’re not really watching the play anymore, but Chico is providing some endlessly hilarious commentary. While we wait for a faceoff in the Devils zone, he tells us how great Emery’s been and adds, “He better watch out or he could get a following like Ron Hextall had in Philadelphia. They really love their goalies…” Long pause. “…to stop pucks and…” we suppose he means to finish something about fighting, but we’re laughing too hard at the notion of “In Philadelphia they really love their goalies” to hear what he’s concluding.

13:05 We go to a commercial, but then come right back without any ads playing, so we can watch everyone mill about during the TV timeout. Doc apologizes for the “technical glitch” and then Chico gets started again, saying that the Flyers won 2-0 last night and “are up 3-0 now,” then he adds optimistically, “ Who knows what’s going to happen yet…” Pookie: “I know what’s going to happen. The Flyers are going to win.”

12:25 Look, in the grand scheme, when his career is over someday, Marty Brodeur is going to be, for Devils fans, unassailable. But right now, in this game, and in the last game we saw him play in April, he’s terrible. An absolute no-hope shot from Powe flutters on net while Marty’s not paying attention, and it tips in off his startled glove. 4-0 Flyers. Of course, don’t get us wrong — all of the Devils are awful tonight, but we don’t want to hear any crap about Marty being any good or above it all.

11:11 The Flyers take a too-many-men penalty. We’re sure this will be the turning point. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

10:14 Just as we are discussing how the Devils look like a terribly ill-prepared team, like they haven’t done a single thing on the ice yet tonight that appeared planned, Rolston drifts down from the point, takes a nice cross-zone pass from Bergfors, and cannons a shot past Emery. 4-1 Flyers, but we stand by our statement that it looks like the Devils didn’t spend a minute of their training camp putting any kind of game plan in place.

9:38 A Papa John’s Cinnapie commercial comes on, the one where Papa John delivers pizzas and/or cinnapies to a screeching group of soccer players. Pookie pounds on the mute button just as the ear-splitting “PAPA JOHN!” shrieks start, and in the blessed silence that follows, Boomer remarks, “And then they’re all going to have to go in the woods to have diarrhea after eating that.” Pause. “Not to put too fine a point on it.”

8:45 Is 1000 games where Marty’s warranty runs out? Carle skates around Mottau and shovels an eminently stoppable shot toward the net that rolls off Marty (where he’s so passively deep in the crease that even Chico points it out) and into the goal. 5-1 Flyers.

7:55 Peters takes a double-minor for being a complete fucking waste of a roster spot.

6:20 WOOOOO. We will grudgingly admit that the teams trading two-on-ones was exciting, and then Langer picking off a Flyers cross-zone pass in the Devils zone was pretty nifty, and then him feeding a long pass to spring Zubrus at the far end of the neutral zone was snazzy, and then Zubrus finding Langer streaking up the near wing was fun, and then Langer blasting a fuck-this-shit-esque shorty through Emery was, well, pretty awesome. But we only say that grudgingly. 5-2 Flyers.

0:00 You know what this game was like? It was like when you really love a cheesy action movie and get all excited when you find out that they’re making a sequel, even though you know there’s no way that the sequel will be any good. And then when the sequel comes out, you notice that the commercials make it look really terrible, and the reviews are all really bad, but you still go to see it anyway, despite knowing better. And, no matter how prepared you are for it to be a lousy, lousy movie, you’re still surprised and disappointed by how dislikable and not remotely entertaining it ends up being. That’s what this game was like.

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Blersus + Monday night + Devils game = no game diary on IPB. But please do enjoy our open thread!

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Woo hoo! Another matinee game this weekend, but this time we get to watch it in real time! Thanks, schedulers!

We’d like to take a moment to complain that Gel-O has been sounding very smugly confident of the Devils winning the Atlantic this season. Has he forgotten that in 2006 we trailed the Rangers and Flyers by six points with three games remaining, and won the title? There’s a looooong way to go still, Gel-O.

Our Doc and Chico intro focuses on the Rolston/Clarkson/Shanahan line, and Chico informs us that Clarkson is “like a piece of bread. He goes with anything.” Oh, of course. Pookie: “Zach is like a Valomilk, in that he makes everything better.” (Stan appears with Gel-O after the first commercial break, and he says that “piece of bread” line means that Chico is now officially funnier than him. Only just now?)

FIRST PERIOD

19:20 Oh, it’s going to be that kind of game, is it? Paulie gets the puck behind Marty’s net, circles the net lazily while waiting for a change, circles some more, then, after presumably considering all of his outlet options, he fails to connect a pass and sends the puck the length of the rink.

18:03 We think Doc was trying to warn us that the ice is going to suck today when he told us there was a Seton Hall basketball game at The Rawk last night.

17:24 Schnookie: “We need to trade for Nieder: Andy Greene just barely outraced Riley Cote for an icing.”

16:22 The Patty/Zubrus/Gio line looks a bit scarily outmatched by the Beaker line for the better part of a shift, but finally get to wheel up the other way, criss-crossing on a three-man rush… and then Patty turns the puck over with a soft drop pass at the blue line. We would not mind one bit if Patty would quit it with the soft drop passes.

16:08 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sutter decided to keep the Poppers as his ace in the hole, it seems, and after we spend the first four minutes of the game without a single shot, our top line comes off the bench like a rocket. Zach laces a hard pass from behind the net out to a streaking Langer, and just like that it’s 1-0 Devils.

14:34 The Iron Boar gets a penalty for pushing Lupul over in the far corner. Chico informs us that the problem is just that the Iron Boar is too strong.

12:34 That. PK. Was. So. Hott. PaulieMartinNation and TravisNation are in deep, deep swoons right now.

11:46 Schnookie: “I feel like we’ve been in the offensive zone for one shift. And it was a short one.”

11:02 EEEEEEE! Paulie!! Knuble finds the puck after a Schlittsy shot gets blocked by the crowd in front of the net, and he skates around to the side of the net to fire a backhand at the wide-open goal while Marty dives desperately across… and instead of scoring, Knuble finds himself stymied by the unflappable defensive presence that is Paulie. Pookie: “He just stopped that with his adamantium aura.”

9:45 Shanny’s fired. He has literally the entire goal to shoot at from the blue paint, and misses. (Replay later shows the chance wasn’t as good as we thought, but he’s still fired.)

8:25 Well, that would be Marty’s first huge save of his comeback. The Devils turn the puck over deep in their own zone, and the Flyers tic-tac-toe across the crease to set up Beaker on the doorstep, but Marty’s there with a monster blocker save. Pookie: “That’s another thing I’d forgotten a goalie could do: playing up to his opponent. I don’t think Clemmer could do that.”

6:29 Powe gets called for a lazy, moronic hook of Madden in the neutral zone. Our cameramen for today have to pay attention to the Flyers zone now for at least the length of the faceoff.

5:06 Gagne takes a Rolston slapshot in the hand, and quickly leaves the ice.

4:18 The PP expires with little more than breaking Gagne to its credit, and then the Flyers pick right up where they left off before the man advantage, getting a two-on-one on which Marty easily bests Upshall. (Marty: “On the go this!”) We don’t think we’re going to be hearing any postgame quotes from Sutter saying Marty’s still well-rested after this game.

4:00 Coming back from commercial, we get to enjoy something else this season has been missing: Chico telestrating a save while waxing rhapsodic about the half butterfly.

2:09 The Patty line manages to string together a sequence of shot attempts from bad angles that plays out as basically an entire shift of ping-pong across the crease.

0:00 Whew! Now that was an awesome period! It’s periods like that, with that kind of pace and intensity and focus that makes us wonder why more people don’t love hockey. Of course, it’s immediately chased by Stan, who makes us wonder why anybody loves hockey.

FIRST INTERMISSION

Stan gives us a report about the mysterious Butthead trade situation. He tells us he knows Butthead has been traded to either the Rangers or the Bruins because Butthead told him directly that he was “going East”. And Stan thinks Manhattan is east of the Island. Dano asks whether the Capitals are possibly the team, as rumors suggested, and Stan shoots it down by saying that it would only be the case “if you turned the map upside down”, what with DC not literally being east of Long Island. Schnookie: “Oh for god’s sake! Bill Guerin doesn’t know geography!” And as she says that, Dano shoots Stan down, “I played with him! He’s not that smart!” Gel-O then scores a direct hit by closing the segment with a pert little reminder that he’d learned in school that Manhattan was west of Long Island. Stan 0, The Rest Of Us 3.

SECOND PERIOD

19:21 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! The Flyers do not open this period as well as they did the first one, and as they nap for the opening shift against the Zubrus/Patty/Gio, and Gio tips home a point shot from Oduya to make it 2-0 Devils.

18:41 Our Geico quotebook is Marty telling us the Devils’ destiny right now “smells good”. Have we mentioned today how much we love Marty?

18:10 Blobby takes a staggeringly stupid interference penalty for knocking Asham over away from the puck in the offensive zone. Doc and Chico try to tell us the Flyers should have taken an even-up on the play for clearing the puck over the glass, but they can’t distract us from how much we hate Blobby.

17:26 Paulie takes a stick in the face, but there is no call. He is furious, and we see him skating to the bench looking like Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, with his powdery white face and blood-smeared lip. Then we get to see a replay of the infraction, and it turns out it was Madden’s stick. Poor Paulie.

16:10 Doc’s call of the end of the PK: “And that’s it! Holik gets to come out of the box to play with his friends.” Pookie: “Please. He has no friends.”

14:01 Travis yoinks the puck on the boards in front of the Devils bench just as nothing seems to be going on at all, and then bulls into the zone while Zach leaps up on the play to make a two-on-one. All of this just as Doc is talking about how Zach is like a hawk, which is kind of sad, since it was Travis who was the hawk in the first period. Pookie, as Zach: “I say! We can’t both be hawks!” (Zach just misses the top corner on his shot.)

11:31 After a couple of not-entirely-threatening shots by the Gio/Zubrus/Patty line, Gio decides it’s been a long time since he last took on an opponent his own size, so he starts tussling in front of the net with Schlittsy. Pookie: “Of course, Gio probably weighs more than Schlittsy.”

11:06 This is one of those games that is just delightful. Great pace, both teams playing well, totally uptempo. It’s left us with very little to say other than that we’re loving it.

9:02 Eesh! Gagne (having regenerated a hand during intermission) flings a prayer of a shot along the goal line that surprises Marty a little as he hugs the post. Pookie: “Okay, that would have beaten Clemmer.” Schnookie: “Actually, that’s the kind of shot that normally beats Marty. Especially from a certified Marty-killer like Gagne. Either Gagne’s still broken, or Marty’s bicep really is bionic.”

8:46 Upshall chases Zubrus behind Marty’s net after he gets stripped of the puck, and he ends up basically just lunging after Zubrus, flinging his arms around his legs, and hauling him down. That was… not a smart penalty.

7:57 Zach and Knuble jostle for a bouncing puck heading into the corner, and Knuble takes a hooking penalty to put the Devils up two men.

6:46 In the long and storied history of 5-on-3 power plays, this one really wasn’t all that notable.

5:20 Pando and Holik get a long two-on-one, and come oh-so-close to scoring, but they’re Pando and Holik, so that’s the best we can hope for. Alberts then responds to the play by launching himself like a missile at Pando’s head along the boards. The erstwhile PandoNation narrows its eyes unhappily at Alberts and the officials for not calling anything on the play.

4:22 With the Flyers gaining a modest head of steam going deep into the Devils zone, Hartnell decides now’s a good time to run Marty. Pookie: “Hartnell has a death wish.” We watch as the Devils swarm around him, and she suggests, “They’re going to show the bench now and Clarkson’s going to be there in a steel cage, with Sutter rattling a stick along the bars, saying, ‘Are you ready to go? Ready to go get ‘im Clarkie?’” Boomer: “Yeah, and he’ll have big hunks of meat skewered on the stick.” (Hartnell gets a minor for goalie interference.)

2:00 Marty makes a stand-up save on Carter from a sharp angle. Schnookie: “Marty’s really enjoying being a stand-up goalie, isn’t he? I haven’t seen him go down at all.” Boomer: “That’s because they didn’t tell us they took a tendon out of his knee to put into his elbow.” (We figure the half-butterfly is really so rare that it looks shockingly alien to us after going so long without it. We’ll get used to it again, though.)

0:00 The period ends with a last-ditch flurry by the Flyers that involves a dogged effort by Zubrus to keep any pucks from getting to the net. It’s sort of hilarious how dedicated the Devils are right now to keeping Marty from having to see any action. We wonder how hard Sutter lit into them about that after the first period…

And Stan interviews Oduya. We guess they’re not the good buds Stan claims to be with Langer, because it seems like a relatively journalistically staid interview (right up until Stan says he discovered Oduya. Oduya is clearly thinking, “The fuck? Who is this crazy person? Is this David Conte? He’s not what I expected.”).

SECOND INTERMISSION

Stan reports that the Butthead Situation is getting stupider by the minute.

THIRD PERIOD

“Chico Eats!” features a birthday party for two adorable sisters, enjoying stuffed cupcakes at Hobby’s. It’s hopelessly cute. And Doc asks, “You’ve sung. You’ve danced. [In the gyro feature yesterday.] What’s next? Chico on Broadway!” Please let that happen.

19:30 Paulie gets clipped in the face again while getting hauled down by Gagne, and goes to the bench without a penalty called. Schnookie: “He’s going to go on a bloody rampage soon.” Replay, though, shows that Gagne merely got his stick near Paulie’s face. What a faker!

18:53 While waiting on a defensive-zone faceoff, we get a look at Paulie on the bench. It’s actually kind of an HD tour of Paulie’s hanging-open mouth. He’s a pulpy mess.

18:12 The Flyers are criss-crossing on a two-on-two, but the whistle blows in response to some shenanigans at the other end. Replay shows the sequence started with Briere grabbing Holik’s stick then falling to the ice to make it look like he’s been wronged, and then Holik getting into a shoving match with Guenin. Holik goes for roughing, and Briere for holding the stick (and being lame).

16:24 Travis tries to beat Knuble one-on-one while waiting for a change to be completed so he can have some reinforcements in the Flyers zone, and he ends up unveiling his Travisnado move, where he twirlingly leaps around the defender, then tumbles to the ice. Knuble looks puzzled as he skates away with the puck.

15:13 Marty stops another sharp-angle shot (that’s really all he’s seen since the first), flips the puck up with his glove, then slaps it off into the other corner by batting it, over his head, with the paddle of his stick. Marty, we have missed you so much.

15:12 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Johnny Oduya hates these Flyers! He slingshots kind of like Gomez straight up the ice, then fires a snappy wrister through Schlittsy that eludes Biron, and it’s 3-0 Devils.

14:10 Marty makes a save with all kinds of pressure by the onrushing Flyers, and as we start to freak out that the rebound is going to be trouble what with all that orange in front of the net, Marty reminds us that he is not Scott Clemmensen. He threads a needle with the rebound, and the play continues on safely. Anyone who wants to say that the GAA and save percentages are the whole story with Devils goalies needs to just take a look at the replay of that.

10:05 Apparently the Devils/Flyers series this year is the matchup with the most fights in all of the NHL. We have not had to break out our fight graphic today, though.

9:16 We are proudly blabbing on and on here at stately IPB Manor about how we love when the Devils are looking like a dominant, swirly, hungry puck-possession team, and just when it seems the patting ourselves on the back is reaching its crescendo, the Devils get lazy for half a second in their own zone. The Flyers get off a good shot, but then, as the rebound gets kicked out into open ice, two Devils converge on the chasing Flyer, muscle him out, head up the ice, and suddenly we’re watching Langer and Zach go to the races. (The rush culminates in Langer feeding a saucer pass to Zach, then Zach quieting the puck and flipping a shot through a defender in one lightning-quick motion.)

6:15 Travis’s yoinking skills are at an all-time high, and he steals the puck right outside the Flyers blueline, then leads the Poppers in on a three-man rush. The play ends with a foxy shot by Travis that Biron makes a big glove save on, then Zach going flying thanks to Hartnell checking in front, then Langer and Travis go nuts to defend Zach, but do so by picking shoving matches with guys who aren’t Hartnell.

5:45 The hell? How did Marty stop that? A broken sequence in front of his net leads to Knuble getting a great chance out of nowhere right on the edge of the crease, and Marty does this awesome little flip-of-the-hips move on his pads to cover the puck and get the whistle. Chico goes nuts talking all about how a butterfly goalie can’t make that save.

4:13 We are starting to whimper a bit, looking at the clock.

3:04 Zach really wants to score for that little birthday girl, but Biron apparently hates kids and won’t let him.

1:00 Still… staring… at… the… clock…

0:30 The Devils ice the puck. As the teams line up in front of Marty for the faceoff, we get fidgety. Pookie: “Maybe I’m not ready for the playoffs.”

0:00 HO. LY. SHIT. The buzzer sounds on Marty’s 100th shutout, and Chico actually calls it, “WOO HOOOO!” This is like Marty’s pissed that there are still people out in the hockey world who think the Devils are just as good without him. We knew we missed him when he was gone, and we knew we think he’s the greatest of all time, but sometimes it’s really nice to have him remind us again.

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Ahhh, Philadelphia. It’s the City of Crazy-Assed Shit, as well as Brotherly Love. What did we think of today’s game? We liked it for a few reasons:

1. Gionta scored, thereby driving up his rental-player trade value. If he can keep this up, we’re sure some stupid team somewhere will give us three first-rounders and a few choice prospects for six weeks of having him going offsides and helping them lose in the first round.

2. Zach scored, thereby keeping our hopes alive for a 7,000-point season.

3. It allowed us to put together this artistic interpretation of the game:

Devils @ Flyers, 10/25/08

We didn’t like this game for a few reasons, too:

1. The offense sucked.

2. The defense sucked.

3. The special teams sucked.

And the thing we saw in this game that we’ve never seen before, but should have expected from Flyers fans:

1. The smoke/stink bomb. It’s actually pretty surprising that, after 14 years of watching Atlantic Division hockey, this is the first time we’ve seen that.

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This first round of the playoffs has been chipping away at our will to live lately, so we’re trying to be proactive tonight. No one’s going to make our happiness for us, so instead of passively waiting for hockey to bring the RAWK!!! to us, we’re going to bring the RAWK!!! to it. Or, in lieu of RAWK!!!, game diaries.

To start things off, we’ve got the Caps and Flyers, only because our cable is coming out of Philly, we’re either miserably stuck with the Flyers Comcast feed or blissfully unable to watch on VS, depending on your point of view. Regardless, it’s in HD, so that makes us happy.

FIRST PERIOD

20:00 Before the drop of the puck, it should be pointed out that we are really unfamiliar with the Flyers broadcasters, save for one. In case you were wondering where Bill Clement ended up after Pierre McGuire Eve Harringtoned him, wonder no longer. He’s doing color on Comcast for the Flyers. We have spent more than our fair share of Flyers games this season saying, “Hey, that guy sounds SO MUCH like Bill Clement!” and now we know why.
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