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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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So it’s theoretically snowy in other parts of the world, but today we’re lightly iced under at stately IPB Manor, and again humbled by the fans who are made of sterner stuff than we are and were willing to brave the elements to get to Newark today. Because who doesn’t love an icy, snowy matinee Devils game? (Don’t answer that.)

Noteworthy information from the intro: Madden is still out with his flu-like back injury, and Iron Boar is out with an Iron Upper Body Injury. Meh. We didn’t need those guys anyway.

FIRST PERIOD

18:27 Has it been a really long time since the Devils have played a matinee? We’re totally out of practice, and it seems very difficult to be able to pay attention to hockey so early in the day. 1:00 is, like, the crack of dawn for us!

17:33 1:00 must also be the crack of dawn for the Devils, because they have spent the first two and a half minutes of this game watching the Flyers take shot after shot at Clemmer.

16:37 Rupp and Gratton fight.

IPB Fight

The consensus here is that Flyers/Devils fights are always boring-bordering-on-depressing.

15:43 Pookie: “I bet in this game Travis bites someone.” Pause. “I can’t think of who would be funniest.” Boomer: “Briere’s still out, so it’s hard to say.”

14:36 The Timocil song echoes on the air as Timonen gets called for a phantom penalty of some kind for standing near Clarkson (everyone else sings the Timocil song when they hear his name, right?). We won’t complain. Unless the Flyers get a shorty.

12:36 That was not the world’s most impressive PP.

11:34 We come back from commercial to this Geico Quotebook from Langer: “Patrik has been as much of a leader in the room and on the ice as any time we have played together.” Langer is apparently on board with our planned grassroots “Give Patty The C Again” movement. Either that, or he’s taking backhanded swipes at Patty’s shittiness as captain back when he actually was wearing the C. To which we hope Patty would say, “I was captain during a coach-killing! No fair! You can’t judge me on that!”

10:56 Timocil! Timonen is rightly terrified of Patty (we were informed earlier in the game that he has some ungodly career points total against the Flyers), and shoves his stick under one of Patty’s skates while facing a slow-moving offensive rush. The scorched-earth PP rears back into action.

8:56 Sigh. Doc and Chico keep telling us the Devils PP is really awesome, but we don’t see it.

5:34 We come back from a commercial to find out that the Patty/Zach combo has the same number of points as the Gagne/Carter combo, and are tied for third highest teammate scoring duo in the NHL. Something’s gotta give today.

5:07 After a scramble in front of Clemmer’s net, Greene freezes the puck against the boards behind the goal, and after the whistle Powe goes to the box. Everyone is puzzled, as it looked very much like a Devils penalty was being called there. Great. So now the Devils PP can spend another two minutes spinning their wheels. Pookie: “My goal for the Devils power play today is for Paulie not to have a pass that gets picked off for a shorty. I’m fine with all the other guys doing it, but just not Paulie.”

2:49 We didn’t even notice the penalty was over. That’s kind of been the story of this entire period.

0:00 The period ends with the puck in a pileup on the far boards, and Pookie remarks that it looks like everyone is falling over as if the rink was on a 5% incline or something. If so, it was the most interesting thing to happen in the first 20 minutes.

FIRST INTERMISSION

We see the very cute feature from the pregame show about the Devils’ wives and girlfriends participating in a holiday shopping spree for members of the Boys & Girls Club. Even we are not such heartless shrews that we could think of something bad to say about this kind of feature. Other than maybe, “What, the Devils themselves can’t do that?”

SECOND PERIOD

17:42 The Devils start this period better than they did the first; it’s almost like they’re on a power play, except they’re getting shots and stuff, so that can’t be it.

15:19 Just as we are hitting an insanely low ebb with trying to think of things to say about this game, Chico remarks on how it’s so quiet in the arena he can hear the players talking on the ice and “you just hope something will happen here. A goal, or a fight or something.” No kidding.

14:14 It seems Blobby has broken Upshall. Somewhere in Russia, Brylin remembers being crosschecked in the throat last season by him and gives Holik a little spiritual fist bump.

13:42 Hartnell takes issue with Zubrus hitting him from behind and roughs Zubrus up as they head back toward their respective benches. So now the Devils get to go 0-4 on the PP.

13:07 Richards nearly scores a shorthanded wraparound. Clarkson narrows his eyes in disgust at Richards trying to steal his move. “It’s called a Clarkaround,” he hisses, “Not a Richaround.”

12:30 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So who can the Devils count on to put an end to the stupidity of not scoring on a zillion PP chances against the Flyers? Patty, of course! Paulie fires a nice shot from the point that creates a juicy little short-range rebound, and Zach and Travis are on the doorstep to bat the puck loose for Patty to roof. It’s 1-0 Devils.

11:24 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clarkson and Rollie work the far boards like demons, and after Clarkson works the puck free and into open ice, Rollie steps into it and rips the puck right through Niittymaki. 2-0 Devils. This is a thoroughly unexpected turn of events, given this is the dreaded second period.

8:55 The Flyers are dropping like flies. There are apparently only 11 guys on their bench right now, and it’s sort of a rotating smorgasbord of injured players. They might be our Tranny Brides, but we’re not sorry to hear that right now.

6:17 Brookbank and Coburn fight. Or, um, grapple. Or, um, engage in some kind of weird dancing death-hug.

IPB Fight

We scramble to think of the best cultural comparison to that fight. Schnookie thinks it’s like at the end of Saving Private Ryan when the Nazi slowly stabs the guy in the heart (it’s been while since she’s seen that movie), and Pookie thinks it’s “like that scene. In that play. Which one was it?” Long, long, long pause.

4:26 Pookie: “I think it was Desire Under The Elms, where there was supposed to be a love scene and the director just had the actors strip naked and wrestle. It was like that. Only more artistic.”

3:30 Pookie digs the hole deeper: “I want you to know how on-my-game I am. I was pretty sure that play was Tennessee Williams, but when I went to look it up in Wikipedia and it wasn’t there, I thought, ‘Wow. Wikipedia is missing one of Tennessee Williams’s plays.’” Boomer: “I think you should add it.” Pookie: “Yeah. I’ll just write in, ‘And that play that Pookie saw ten years ago at St. Mark’s Place. The one with the naked people wrestling.’”

3:28 We come back from commercial to find out Greene got called for high-sticking.

2:42 How totally unexpected. No one picks up Carter in front of the net (we’d blame someone, but that someone might be Pando, so we’ll just say it was a systemic failure), and he easily punches a rebound into the net. It’s now 2-1 Devils.

1:22 The Poppers have an awesome shift in response to the Flyers goal…

1:05 …but then Clemmer completely mishandles a rink-length dump-in and needs to be bailed out by Oduya to keep the Flyers from tying things up.

0:00 It’s not often the Devils outscore a team 2-1 in the second period. So we’ll take it. That said, Doc tells us, for what seems like the first time this season, that the Devils are 13-0-1 when leading after two. It seems like an ominous unveiling of that stat.

SECOND INTERMISSION

We don’t pay attention to the intermission (they’re showing the “Devils visiting the children’s hospital” feature again) because the sun has come out and we’re busy taking a billion terrible pictures of the sunlight glinting off the ice-covered trees. It’s very poetic and beautiful, not unlike that Coburn/Brookbank fight.

THIRD PERIOD

Chico Eats is all about popcorn!!! The official IPB-approved foodstuff of seeing games in person! Chico gives Doc a big bag of the stuff in the spirit of the holidays, but then cruelly takes it away from him. We guess Doc’s not allowed to eat while he’s calling the game or something.

18:20 The Flyers get a three-on-two that Gio breaks up heroically with some mad backcheck. Of course, the Flyers recover and get another great chance, but Clemmer accidentally blocks the shot after falling over.

16:33 Gratton slams Oduya face-first into the boards, then Oduya gets up and goes to challenge Gratton, and the hilarious possibility of an Oduya/Gratton fight is nipped in the bud when Leach steps in to fight in Oduya’s place. Pookie rightly points out that Leach looks just like a puffed-up wild turkey on the play. Gratton, by the way, gets a boarding minor.

14:40 Clemmer is forced to make a shorthanded save on Hartnell. This is not a power play for the ages. The Devils look like they’re challenging the Flyers to tie the game up.

14:33 Chico thought the Flyers would have had a legitimate beef that Gratton got a penalty for hitting Oduya almost identically to how Zubrus hit Hartnell earlier. Of course, they sort of lose the need for complaining considering how that PK seemed like one of those tide-shifting kills.

10:04 We’ve settled back into the relatively uneventful part of today’s game. Pookie: “This has been the least intense intense game I’ve ever seen.”

8:53 We come back from a commercial to hear the PA announcement, “Come on, Devils fans! Let’s hear you! Let’s make some noise!” It is a fruitless exhortation, but it prompts Schnookie to wonder aloud, “What if only one fan goes to the game? Does the PA announcer say…” She trails off. “Oh. That’s probably a recording. Bummer. I wanted him to have to say, ‘Come on, Devils fan!’”

7:19 We are still discussing Coburn’s fighting style, and have decided his technique is to hug the breath out of his opponent while performing Tennessee Williams as if it was written by Eugene O’Neill. Pookie: “It’s the most boring thing ever!” The 1997-98 Devils say, “Au contraire. We are the most boring thing ever.”

4:44 We are not quite sure how the puck manages to go in after the Flyers work the puck really well in the near corner. Several replays later, we realize it’s because no one was covering Lupul when Carter fires a hard pass along the goal line to him in the crease. It’s a 2-2 game, and Chico states the obvious when he says this is a prime example of how a prevent defense is not a good plan. Doc drives the point home by informing us the Devils have exactly zero scoring chances in this entire period. No wonder we’ve been spending the better part of this frame making lame jokes about the canon of great American playwrights.

2:41 Doc and Chico are positing that it looks like the teams are playing for a tie now. We beg to differ. It looks like the Devils are waiting for the Flyers to score.

0:00 Okay, so Doc and Chico were right. Fine. And while it’s a bummer not to hang on for the regulation win, this is one more point than we were expecting today.

OVERTIME

4:20 Both teams seem to have agreed to use flubber sticks in the overtime.

3:22 Paulie, Zach and Patrick combine for a swirling, passing, losing-the-puck-then-strangely-getting-it-back, falling-over-and-then-getting-up-to-realize-you-still-have-the-puck shift that has Pookie marveling, “This is like watching Mites On Ice.”

1:53 This OT has been a billion times more interesting than the rest of the game, and the latest frenzy of activity culminates in Carter not quite being able to release a one-timer quickly enough to beat Clemmer moving side-to-side.

1:19 You know what this looks like? This looks like two teams that don’t have enough faith in their goalies to want to go to a shootout. And you know what would be TOTALLY awesome? If neither team scored here, and then they had to do five minutes of three-on-three.

0:00 Did we say there were parts of regulation that were sort of not interesting? Well, they seem wildly exciting now in comparison to how this game is being “decided”. NHL, your shootout rules are a travesty.

Because Travis beats Niittymaki, the Devils get an extra point.

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After a few days of talking about off-ice stuff, and what seems like a billion years since the last time we’ve seen our team in action, we finally have some NHL product to enjoy. What is this thing on our television? Is it… can it be… a Devils game??? Will wonders never cease?

Our intro kicks off with Steve cheerfully announcing that there are some big additions to the Devils lineup tonight, and Pookie equally cheerfully says, “Yeah! Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond!” Oh right, and some guys named Madden and Rolston. (Wait, Rolston’s a Devil? When did that happen?)

The pregame show then turns to tonight’s opponent, and Doc and Chico tell us how the center tandem of Carter and Richards is so dreamy and awesome. As we’ve mentioned around here lately, we, um, might be enjoying, recreationally, some of this year’s Flyers team’s games (just on the side. It’s not like they’re leaving orange lipstick smears on our collars or anything. We mean, the Devils totally know we’ve been watching them, and it’s not like we cheer for them…), and the alpha and omega of why we’ve been drawn to them is Carter and Richards. We wonder if Flyers management would solve our embarrassing Tranny Bride problem for us by trading those two to the Devils for, say… Brian Gionta?

FIRST PERIOD

19:14 It’s “strength against strength” to start off the game, according to Doc, as the Poppers match up against the Gagne/Richards/Knuble line. The Poppers manage some weak shots, and then Gagne figures he’s going off to the races up the other way, but doesn’t count on a certain Paulie Martin waiting for him in the neutral zone. Paulie so artfully strips him of the puck that Pookie cackles, “That was just Paulie slamming a pancake straight into Gagne’s face!”

17:23 There is some sort of hubbub in Devilsland about Jay Leach wearing 28 tonight, because that’s totally Salmela’s number, or something like that. To which we say, “Whatever.” If Salmela wants to lay claim to 28, he can start by not getting sent down to allow Leach to stay in the NHL Devils lineup.

16:59 For some reason Gagne decides to tangle with Clarkson in front of the benches while the teams are changing (has he decided he hasn’t been concussed enough or something?), and the all-too-common roughing/too-many-men matching minors are exchanged. (Clarkson gets the rough, the Flyers get the idiotic change.)

15:24 The Langer/Travis forward pair on the four-on-four is not doing well against the Richards/Gagne pair. Shockingly, Clemmer is. That’s not how we would have imagined that playing out.

13:39 Our confidence in the Devils defense tonight takes a massive hit when Oduya mishandles a puck at the point, it gets bounced slowly down the ice, bounces through the last Devil back, and forces Clemmer to put a shaky glove down to cover it and get a whistle. Sigh.

13:16 After MSG+ gives us a look at the hilarious glove-throwing move Hartnell engaged in against Malone the other night, we get an in-the-corner-camera view of Paulie ragging the puck behind the goal line in the Devils zone while Hartnell chases him back and forth. Pookie asks, “What’s Paulie doing?” Schnookie responds, “Waiting for Hartnell to throw a glove at him.” Pause. “Travis is probably saying, ‘No, you don’t want them to throw gloves at you. You want them to bite you.’” Pookie says she’d like for a Flyer to bite Travis tonight to get his scoring going again, and wonders aloud, “What would happen if Carter or Richards bit him?” Schnookie suggests that would be a problem, because he was bitten last year by Hatcher, not by an actual good hockey player. “What we need,” she says, “Is for him to be bitten by a living joke. Who on their team is a living joke?” Boomer: “Hartnell.”

12:18 Oduya needs to be bitten by someone whose saliva will make him not take penalties. He misses a check on Metropolit and ends up going high to get some of his head instead. He gets called for holding.

10:18 Despite Doc and Chico’s assurances that the Flyers PP is highly potent, they are not even forced to engage in play-by-play during the kill. Instead, they spend their time talking about Kelly Zajac scoring a goal for Union College with .2 seconds left in the game.

9:04 Asham and Clarkson grapple. Chico’s call for the ages: “They were on the Devils together last year. And now… they’re… on… opposite teams.” Thanks, Chico.

IPB Fight

We come back from commercial to find out Clarkson’s now left the game with a tweaked knee. See? Fighting is stupid. We are not pleasantly surprised by this, Asham.

7:14 Just as Schnookie is saying, “I haven’t noticed a single Devils scoring chance yet in this game,” Patty and Gio combine for a great opportunity down low. They don’t actually score, but they do prove their point. And as history has proved, that’s enough for those two.

6:08 Rupp gets a hold of a loose puck in the defensive zone and promptly clears it gently off the glass down most of the length of the ice. Schnookie: “That’s becoming Rupp’s signature move.” Pookie: “Yup. It’s the Ruppaforward.” It doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Clarkaround” but probably happens more often.

4:17 We can all release our pent-up breath – Clarkson is back. So maybe fighting isn’t stupid after all. HAHAHAHA! Just kidding.

4:16 Whoops. We’re all holding our breath again – Timonen takes a high-sticking penalty, and the Devils’ five-forward power play takes the ice.

2:34 Chico: “This is about as bad a situation of puck control as they’re coming up the ice as I’ve seen all year [from the Devils’ power play].” Yeah.

2:16 As the power play peters out to its whimpering end, Chico piles on, “Well, that was one of the best penalty kills of the year by the Devils!” HA! We wish we’d thought to say that. Chico’s hired.

1:38 Both teams look like they’re disinterested in executing at all any closer to their opponent’s goal than the tops of the faceoff circles. Honestly, this game has been laughably dreadful by both sides. Chico keeps up his hot streak by declaring it the worst passing he’s seen all year.

0:00 Well, we’re glad we didn’t pay to attend that period in person.

FIRST INTERMISSION

We get an “Ask Chico” feature that involves him trying to do a butterfly drop. It’s… amazing. Chico’s hired.

SECOND PERIOD

18:12 Both teams are showing a bit more interest in pursuing offensive chances, and after a good shift by Patty’s line, the Flyers come back with a great scramble down low. Clemmer flounders hopelessly outside the crease while the Flyers buzz all around, but their glorious chance at tapping a puck easily into a wide-open net is stymied by the only sliding shot-block by a forward that we’ve ever approved of. Yeah, that’s right – Madden falls over in the blue paint, does a sort of stacked-pad pose, and the Flyers forward shoots it right into him.

16:51 Clarkson drills Vaananen in the mush with a dump-in attempt. Vaananen gets up, swollen and bloodied, and reminds us why hockey is so rad: you can clearly read his pulpy lips as he says, “No, I’m fine.” Somewhere out there, Dwyane Wade is thinking, “Surely that guy needs a wheelchair to get to the sidelines now, right?”

15:55 Pookie: “This is starting to look like the world’s most predictable 0-0 tie. It sucks that this is the shootout era, because this would be one of those zero-goal ties that looks cool on paper, but sucked in real life.”

13:51 Rolston gets a penalty for furtively hugging Coburn while they skate up the ice together.

13:09 After a goalmouth stand in which Clemmer sucks, Hartnell sucks worse, and the Devils seem to be trying to do The Stack, the Flyers regroup and Timonen scores from the point. It’s 1-0 Flyers, and Chico tells us the whole sequence was Madden’s fault for not dumping the puck in on a shorthanded rush earlier in the PK. We think it might also be the fault of the panicked and lubberly defensive-zone coverage by the rest of the guys on the kill.

12:01 Pookie’s feeling philosophical tonight. She declares sagely, “Tonight I feel like I’m turning over a new leaf. My team is bad. The reasons it used to be good… are no more. And I’m just learning to deal with it.” We’ve finally reached Acceptance in the Seven Stages of Scott Clemmensen Is Your Starting Goalie Now.

9:13 Our zenlike balance is totally undone thanks to an outside influence – we might be mellow about the game, but WordPress just this minute rolled out the new dashboard and it’s horrible. We don’t do well with change. We might have accepted Clemmer, but now we’ve got to go through all Seven Steps again because of the dumb dashboard. We can’t buy a break around here.

7:33 Pookie has abandoned acceptance: “I’m going to go on pretending this was a 0-0 tie, because it would be if not for Clemmensen.”

6:30 Oh for fuck’s sake. Clarkson decides his knee’s not jacked up enough, so he fights again. This time with Alberts. It’s not even remotely interesting. In fact, it’s so bad that the camera cuts away while it’s happening to show us shots of the slack-jawed Flyers with their eyes glazing over on the bench.

IPB Fight

Pookie: “He’s really putting the boneheaded dullard into ‘boneheaded dullard’.”

6:25 Speaking of boneheaded dullardliness, the Iron Boar takes a hooking penalty in front of Clemmer’s net almost as soon as play resumes.

5:37 Travis makes a good play to get to a loose puck off a rebound, then sprints out of the zone, holds off the backchecking Flyer hounding the puck, and makes a smart, sassy clear the length of the ice. Pookie, as Travis: “See, Madden? The game’s passed you by, old man.” Pause. “Any time Madden wants to make me have to stop making these jokes would be great.”

2:41 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! The Poppers put on a nice bit of pressure, swarming the net, and just as Zach misses a chance so badly that Pookie says, “Ugh. Zach is never going to score again,” Vaananen hauls Langer down on top of Biron and Zach wheels around behind the net to fire the puck over the fallen pile. 1-1 game, and Biron and the Flyers fans are not pleased with that play. Hey, complain to Vaananen, people.

0:52 All hell is breaking loose now. Hartnell slashes a Devils defender’s stick behind Clemmer’s net to pry the puck loose, and Carter pounces on it. He fails on a stuff attempt, though, as Clemmer flails over the puck, and well after the whistle, Hartnell punches the puck into the net from underneath the prone goalie. Whitey takes offense and he and Hartnell leap into each other’s arms, embrace passionately, and fall to the ice. It goes on the scoresheet as matching roughing minors.

0:00 We’re still glad we didn’t pay to see this one in person, but it certainly picked up there toward the end of the period. Steve interviews Zach, and Zach looks horribly plastic in the harsh MSG+ lights.

SECOND INTERMISSION

They are giving us the pregame feature on Rolston that was actually filmed during preseason and has no pertinence at all to the current state of the team. So we spend our intermission futzing with the new dashboard. Our initial panicky reaction may have been a bit hasty. Nice redesign, WordPress! We really like it! (And no, we’re not going to change our minds about Clemmensen, though.)

THIRD PERIOD

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! Chuck the Duck! Chuck the Duck! We get a little travelogue of pictures of him in Florida (posing on a tree and then posing next to a tiny Chuck-sized plane near the Everglades), then outside the Igloo in Pittsburgh, then inside the Igloo next to an Iceburgh doll, then on a Harley inside the FU Center, then on the floor of the FU concourse while a Flyers fan walks by looking puzzled in the background. Doc and Chico then discuss whether Chuck’s visa is in order to join the team on the road trip to Montreal, and Chico says Chuck should just put his wings to use and fly up. He then cracks himself and us up by exhorting, “Come on, Chuck!” Dude, he is so hired.

18:38 The Devils mount a little rush on a delayed penalty to Knuble for high-sticking, but can’t connect on the three-on-two. After the Flyers touch, there is some puzzling delay, but eventually the mysterious issue is resolved and the scorched-earth power play gets to strut its stuff.

17:42 Rolston is not doing a great job at the point. Just saying. There seems to be some rust.

16:44 The second power play unit is not doing a great job at anything. Just saying. Pookie: “I thought they practiced this shit.”

14:52 We don’t think we’re ever going to stop finding the Hatcher bite funny, and now we’re discussing how Travis is probably skating around waving his hands out hoping someone will take a chomp. Pookie: “He’s stuffed his gloves with pastrami.” Schnookie: “And liverwurst. Hartnell’s like, “I love liverwurst! Dur-hurr!” Pookie: “He’s been trying to bite him all night but he just sucks so bad that he keeps missing.”

11:39 The Square PEGZ magic is gone. We notice it first when Zubrus isn’t able to tip a puck far enough forward in the neutral zone to spring Gio on a break, and it’s driven home with a hammer when Patty and Gio go to criss-cross on a two-on-two rush over the Flyers blue line and Patty ends up dropping a suicide back pass for Gio to try to corral while the tangled-up Flyers defenders crash into him with their sticks at head height. Well, we all knew it was too good to last.

10:59 Chico informs us that the Wachovia Center will probably be no longer, thanks to Wachovia being bought out, not that it matters to us because we still like to call it the FU Center. Doc mentions that Wachovia was purchased by Wells Fargo, though, and Schnookie delights, “Oooh! We can call it the WtF Center!”

9:47 Clemmer is handcuffed by a Hartnell shot from the red line. Doc oohs and ahhs that it was “a tough one.” Yeah. A Hartnell shot. From center ice.

9:38 Kukkonen tries to bat a puck down at center ice with his glove, but can’t resist closing his hand on it and shovel passing it into Madden’s shorts. He gets called for it, and the Devils get another chance to give up a shorty, or just stand around looking ineffective for two minutes, depending on how much they want to piss us off.

8:39 Chico informs us that Gagne has left the game. We hadn’t noticed. Pookie: “I wonder how long he’s been out. I haven’t seen him since he took on Clarkson.” Considering his history, that might have been enough.

7:39 Gio, Clarkson and Zubrus pepper a few good shots at the Flyers net, but can’t break through. Pookie growls, “You guys, come on. Biron’s not much better than Clemmer.”

6:14 We are aghast. Paulie takes a hooking penalty behind Clemmer’s net. Against Hartnell. Paulie, he’s too stupid to take penalties against! What are you thinking? (On some planets, there could have been an even-up for diving on the play, but whatevs. PaulieMartinNation is still horrified.)

4:58 As Clemmer watches a flurry of Flyers shots hit his pads, Pookie is in shock: “I can’t believe this game is 1-1 with these goalies.”

4:28 The game is no longer 1-1. Upshall flings the puck from behind the goal line and it deflects off a lunging Iron Boar over Clemmer’s shoulder. 2-1 Flyers. PaulieMartinNation is still furious about that call.

3:39 We come back from commercial to hear an announcement that Gio’s been called for hooking. Gio, quit trying to undermine your trade value, because it’s not going to work. We are still going to find a way to leverage you into Lecavalier, Carter, Richards and Getzlaf.

2:02 We are disinterestedly watching the final minutes tick away on another Devils loss when Pookie suddenly says, “Maybe Paulie hit Gagne too hard in the face with that pancake.”

1:30 Biron is disinterestedly watching the final minutes tick away on another Devils loss when Gio, after smartly ragging the puck around the offensive zone while waiting for his linemates to finish their change, feeds a little pass to Patty, who cranks a big slapshot from the blue line that finds its way ever so sloooooooowly through Biron’s pads. 2-2 game. And was that ever a classic Patrik-Elias-against-the-Flyers moment.

0:00 Well, that was an unexpected point!

OVERTIME

3:15 Paulie makes up to PaulieMartinNation by making a sassy stop of some oncoming Flyer forward by just sticking his feet into the Flyer’s trajectory with the puck. It’s pure economy of motion and defensive awesomeness. We swoon.

2:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Patty! Patty! Patty Elias! The Hockey Gods may have taken the Marty out of the Devils/Flyers matchup, but they forgot about Patty and his passion for scoring huge goals in Philly. Whitey makes a great play pinching to keep the puck alive in the Flyers zone, and Zach finds Patty in the slot with a smart pass. Then Patty just skates up to Biron and shovels a backhander right through him. He and Zach proceed to elevate their adorableness in OT celebrations to new heights by rolling hugging and doubtless giggling like seven-year-olds. 3-2 Devils and WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (With that goal, Patty moves into a four-way tie for most career regular-season OT goals. It’s… shocking.)

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