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So, are we all ready for the giant let-down game? Or are the Devils on a roll? Is Paulie just getting started on some kind of crazy-assed goal-scoring streak? We feel the answer to those questions is “almost certainly yes”! To all of them!

It should be noted that we had the following exchange during the pregame “Ask The Announcers” segment:

Schnookie: “I would ask Chuck a question.”
Pookie: “Totally. ‘Chuck, first time long time…'”
Boomer: “Can you swim?”

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Prior to tonight, we have been, at best, ambivalent about Ilya Kovalchuk. We kind of really didn’t ever care about him, and when he was brought to our attention, it was normally because Chico was throwing a clot during Devils/Thrashers games at how selfish and lazy he is. But… now we guess we’re totally on board with it. WOOOOOOOOOOO! Let the Kovalchuk Era begin!

After giving us a bit of background on Kovalchuk, MSG+ shows us that the Devils never even let Oduya’s 29 get cold. Welcome back, Batshit!

FIRST PERIOD

19:12 The snow-skittish crowd gives out an enormous roar when 17 comes over the boards for the first time.

19:11 We’re disappointed in Kovalchuk. Why hasn’t he scored yet? We gave up on Boogerfors for this?

18:13 The first Kovalchuk-led rush of the season ends with Kovalchuk getting pushed to the board and just weakly passing the puck forward to Langenbrunner, who does nothing. Pookie: “If all he’s there for is to give the puck to Langenbrunner, then what’s the point?”

16:51 We’re trying to think of a nickname for the new guy, because “Kovalchuk” is a pain in the ass to type. Pookie so far has suggested “Flashy”, “K-chuk” (it emphasizes the “Chuck” that way), and “O-Don’t-ya”, and Schnookie has suggested “Mr. Kovalchuk”.

14:38 After the first really sustained shift in the Leafs zone (with the Pando/Land Zhark/Niedermayer (the Lesser) line), the Devils proceed to get pinned behind Marty’s net as two Leafs forecheckers keep three Devils skaters frozen in place, petrified, with the puck in the trapezoid. Kovalchuk has not immediately improved the Devils breakout.

13:31 The Zubrus/Langer/Kovalchuk line gains the zone with some speed, skating three abreast, and Kovalchuk gets the puck up high… and makes a wide, wide pass to Langer, who accomplishes nothing. Schnookie: “Don’t pass, you asshole! Shoot! You’re the shooter!” Pookie: “Who does he think he is? Getzlaf?”

8:46 You know who’s been really clearly energized by the Kovalchuk trade? Land Zhark. That guy is flying tonight.

6:38 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kovalchuk has the puck on the near boards, where he’s being checked, and instead of passively giving it up or standing there, wasting time with it in his feet, he whips a hard pass into the slot. And Zubrus, leaping around a pair of defenders, takes that as a hint that having the puck in the offensive zone means you could, you know, try to score. So he chips the puck over the crouching Gustavsson to make it 1-0 Devils. We love it! That’s the most purposeful pass we’ve seen a Devil make in the offensive zone in weeks, and we’ll definitely appreciate the way Gustavsson saw the puck coming at him and actually worked to make himself smaller. He’s a Monster! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

5:19 Last time we saw the Devils, the broadcast was nearly unwatchably dull, as everyone involved was feeling moribund and maybe full of despair. It seems one giant trade is all it takes to wake everyone up, because even Doc is giddy tonight. When Chico breaks down Gustavsson’s incredible shrinking act on the Devils goal, Doc, mocking the “Monster” nickname, starts singing – in a gravelly voice – “C is for Cookie”.

2:09 We don’t mean to alarm anyone, but the Devils just had a dominant offensive-zone shift. On which they drew a penalty. This Kovalchuk guy isn’t half bad!

1:07 The PP is not, as advertised, better than before. After a fruitless, pathetic minute, Doc asks Chico, “Do you think they’re deferring too much to [Kovalchuk]?” Either that, or they’re their typically terrible selves. All the Kovalchuk in the world can’t change that Langer and Rolston are still out there with the man advantage.

0:00 That was fun! We can’t remember the last time we were excited about these guys, so we guess the trade’s working.

SECOND PERIOD

17:57 Chico is not making us feel good about the Devils as a newly-imagined juggernaut. He’s telling us, while play kind of hangs out in the neutral zone, that Marty’s feeling good that the Devils can be expected to score two goals every night now, what with Zach and Kovalchuk. That doesn’t sound like our expectations should be as high as we were starting to set them. Because with their defense, we’re not all that confident that two goals a night will be enough.

17:09 Niedermayer (the Lesser) is not feeling invigorated by Kovalchuk, and takes a lazy, stupid, idiotic slashing penalty in the neutral zone. Wait, maybe he is feeling invigorated, and is re-committed to being as bad as he can possibly be.

16:21 Ah, it’s the same old Devils coming out for this period. Kaberle’s point shot gets tipped on its way in by Pando, and it’s a 1-1 game.

16:08 Whoa. Rosehill’s been to the Niedermayer (the Lesser) School of Really Shitty Penalties, because immediately after the Leafs tie the game, he slashes Andrew Peters and gets called for it. Andrew Peters. Anyone who takes a slashing penalty while trying to stop an Andrew Peters offensive parry qualifies to be considered the stupidest hockey player on earth.

15:03 Land Zhark takes the Devils off the PP with a dopey interference penalty while Kovalchuk is wheeling at the point. Replay shows the play, in real time, looked a lot like a pick, but in replay, makes Chico’s head explode. Of course, Chico never thinks the Devils are at fault, and always thinks the Leafs are bunch of diving divers.

11:31 Land Zhark skates directly into Gunnarsson’s elbow while they are racing for a puck, and goes down like he’s been shot. The crowd boos lustily when nothing gets called, and Chico’s head explodes that there is no penalty called on Gunnarsson for having an elbow that a Devil skated into.

11:22 Kovalchuk responds to the lack of a call on the Land Zhark elbow by being a human blanket on a non-puck-carrying Leaf in the neutral zone. The Leafs go on the PP.

9:37 Do the Devils even practice their PK anymore? Stempniak beats Marty on a long-range shot through Whitey. 2-1 Leafs, and this new fucking shit suddenly looks a lot like the old fucking shit.

6:10 It might be fair to say that the dead-cat bounce the Devils got from Kovalchuk has passed.

5:22 We go to commercial with a shot of Peters trying to be a preening peacock against the Leafs “tough guys”. Schnookie wails, “How can we expect to win? We’ve got Peters in the lineup!” Pookie: “And Lablond. And Rolston. And Niedermayer.”

4:35 Salmela attempts one of those long-range, flip-the-puck-over-everyone dump-ins from the neutral zone, and flings the puck so hard it sails into the netting in the far corner. Chico, trying to make us all excited for something on this still-misbegotten team, chirps, “Salmela’s really good at flipping pucks!” Well, there’s something to look forward to.

3:51 There is not a single good word to be said about the Devils conspiring to hand the puck to a cluster of Leafs inside their own blue line, then giving up a goal, and then Whitey screaming at the officials for reasons no one understands. Perhaps he’s furious that the officials didn’t call him for a penalty for being so unflinchingly awful. It’s 3-1 Leafs, and Pookie sighs, “It’s like the dead cat bounced, then fell straight through the rotting floorboards.”

1:46 Okay, everyone was giddy in the first period. Doc was singing Sesame Street songs. We were feeling fond of the Devils again. Kovalchuk was probably thinking, “Say, this Zubrus guy isn’t so bad.” But now even Chico sounds like he’s trying not to vomit from the stink coming from the guys in red tonight.

0:45 There is some concern from our broadcast team that the Devils need to stop passing just to Kovalchuk, because the Leafs are predicting it and picking off their passes with ease. Pookie: “Maybe they’re just rightly thinking that Kovalchuk’s the only guy to pass to because all the other Devils suck?”

0:00 The Devils skate off the ice to a chorus of boos. Welcome to Newark, Ilya.

THIRD PERIOD

Before the start of the period, Chico tells us that he knows that Devils fans are disappointed tonight because they were hoping it would be “a constant offensive onslaught” with Kovalchuk in the lineup. Schnookie: “No. I was just hoping it would be an occasional offensive onslaught.”

19:45 There’s a delay at the start of the period because the goal light behind Marty is flashing (insert “they’re just turning it on now to save themselves the effort later” joke here), and Doc lamely starts cracking about police lights in your rearview mirror, and getting out his drivers license and registration, and blah blah. We’re all cranky, so Boomer and Pookie grumble, “Ha. Ha.” Then Pookie perks up, “Oh! Thanks for reminding me to check if my speeding ticket is in the system yet, Doc!” (It’s not.)

17:11 Boomer: “Why are we skating Peters?” Schnookie, not looking up from the magazine she’s flipping through: “Because the Leafs are truculent.” Boomer: “Oh, that’s right. I forgot they were truculent.”

16:28 Lemaire has blown our minds by putting Land Zhark out with Zach and Travis… thereby creating another ZZZ line.

16:03 Doc tells us the Leafs are “thinking defense all the way.” Pookie: “Meanwhile, the Devils are thinking [Meow Mix jingle] all the way.”

11:54 The Devils are looking typically hopeless, and Chico marvels at how amazingly good the Leafs are in the neutral zone. Schnookie: “Are the Leafs really good in the neutral zone, or are the Devils just really bad?” Pookie: “A pinch of Column A and a whole truckload of column B.”

11:10 Whitey gets hit in the corner to Marty’s left, responds, right in front of the official, with a crosscheck, then decides to slash the Leaf too for good measure. He gets called for the slash. Chico can’t understand how something so small can be called a penalty, but doesn’t seem to consider that maybe the slash on its own would have been fine, or the crosscheck, but not both.

9:30 It’s sort of hilarious to think about how, 30 minutes of hockey ago, we liked this game, and liked the Devils again. We take it all back.

8:23 Welcome to New Jersey, Ilya. Here are your new linemates, Brian Rolston and Dean McAmmond. Yeah, we agree – Don Waddell really must have hated you to send you here.

7:27 The Devils continue to be abominable, and Chico starts to say something about how the most commonly-used term about Kovalchuk this morning was “game changer”, and we cut him off. But as we are starting to complain, Schnookie points out, “Hey, we played these same Leafs on Tuesday and lost 3-1. This game is identical but for one thing – that one Devils goal. That was created by Kovalchuk. So he did change the game.” Pookie: “It’s true. And, unlike that game, I don’t feel like I would rather die than watch the end of it. I mean, I am not literally forced to leave the room rather than sit through the final ten minutes.”

5:26 For a team that is supposedly thinking only of defense, the Leafs are getting an awful lot of shots.

4:56 Pookie: “I bet Boogerfors would have had a hat trick tonight.” Schnookie: “And Oduya.” We both collapse into fits of laughter. See? It’s not the same old fucking shit. It’s new fucking shit!

3:04 What in the what??? Land Zhark feeds Hambone off a little rush, and Hambone takes advantage of Gustavsson’s shrinking-goalie act with a sassy little backhand shot. 3-2 Leafs, and the building comes back to life.

2:22 The Devils come back after the goal with the Showdown at the Triple Z Ranch line, and they dominate in the Leafs zone, finally drawing a penalty when Zubrus tries his “leaping across the crease while shoveling a backhander” move again.

1:01 Every time Kovalchuk gets the puck, the crowd starts to go crazy, this buzz of “what’s he going to do now?” humming through the air. Schnookie: “Guys, just keep giving him the puck because he knows what to do, and all of you don’t.”

0:44 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Don’t be alarmed, Gentle Reader, but the Devils just scored a power play goal. WE KNOW! It’s RIDICULOUS! They pass the puck like some crazy mofos, the swagger mounting with every time Kovalchuk touches the puck, and suddenly it’s Kovalchuk to Hambone, then a ballsy cross-rink pass to Travis, then an Acorns slapshot right through Gustavsson to make it a 3-3 game.

0:18 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY FLIRKING SCHNITT!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! PANDO!!! PANDO!!!! PANDO!!!!!!!!!! Gustavsson thinks he’s got everything covered by directing a rebound under pressure onto Pando’s stick, because hey, he’s Pando, right? WRONG, BEEYOTCH! 4-3 DEVILS! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0:00 No. The fuck. Way. That was UNBELIEVABLE.

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After a great day of commentary here at IPB, we hate to have to change the topic to the Devils again. Really, why are we watching this game tonight? We know what’s going to happen — the Devils are going to lose. The only question is which way they’re going to lose, because there are two possible scripts for this team. The first script is the “give up two quick goals in the first, and then two quick goals in the second” 4-0 loss (which actually has two sub-genres. The first sub-genre is the “give up two quick goals in the first, and get thoroughly outplayed in that period, but manage a flukey response goal from an unlikely scorer right before intermission. Spend the first intermission with false hope. Then give up two more quick goals in the second” 4-1 loss. The second sub-genre is the “give up two quick goals in the first, two quick goals in the second, then get a meaningless goal late in the third from Zach or Langer that serves solely to be an obfuscating stat later on, so Zach or Langer can be lauded for having X number of points in X number of games” 4-1 loss). The second script is the “have a comfortable lead for two periods, then a less comfortable, narrower lead for 18 1/2 minutes in the third period, then lose in regulation” one-goal loss. The Leafs almost pulled off the second of those scripts in the last match-up of these teams, but are so bad that they bungled it. It will be interesting (ish) to see which way this one goes.

FIRST PERIOD

19:11 Because the Showdown at the Triple Z Ranch was the only good thing that’s happened in the world of the Devils in what seems like weeks, the Poppers are reunited tonight. We’ve forgotten what joy feels like.

18:02 Speaking of forgetting what joy feels like, Zubrus is stuck skating with Rolston and Boogerfors. He’s probably got tears streaming down his cheeks right now. Meanwhile, the Leafs have a guy named Rosehill. That’s kind of awesome.

16:57 Doc mentions that the Hanson kid on the Leafs is the son of one of the Hanson Brothers. Boomer: “I was hoping Doc would resist mentioning that.” Pookie: “Maybe he’s gotten it out of his system now?”

15:54 Schnookie: “The Devils have 54 seconds to give up the two goals so that they officially qualify as being early in the first.”

15:20 Rolston hands the puck over to the mildly-forechecking Leafs at the Devils blueline, and the expected happens. 1-0 Leafs.

14:41 Wayne Primeau is still alive?

14:02 For some reason, Doc says in the course of his play-by-play, “If looks could kill…” Pookie finishes for him, “If looks could kill through the television…” Pause. “Woo hoo! Emergency expansion draft!”

13:09 Whitey fights Phaneuf for Zach’s honor.

IPB Fight

Pookie, observing a helmetless Whitey grappling with the bevisored Phaneuf: “Aren’t honorable gentlemen supposed to take their helmets off before they fight?”

Schnookie: “Yeah, well, then you get the whole thing where you hate the thought of guys hitting their heads on the ice, and blah blah blah…”

Pookie: “I should have said ‘Aren’t preening peacocks of fighters are supposed to take off their helmets’.”

The long and short of it is that we are in agreement at stately IPB Manor that Phaneuf looks like a pussy. (And Whitey gets an extra roughing penalty.)

9:21 Niedermayer (the Lesser) trips Exelby behind the Leafs net. Read: “in the offensive zone”. Read: “Why, God, why??????” Replay of the penalty sends Chico off on a rant that you never used to see “embellishment setting up penalties” back in the good old days. To which we say that Chico is living in a dream world, both in thinking no one ever dived before the “New NHL” and in thinking that wasn’t a reasonably legit call on Niedermayer (the Lesser).

8:23 In the pregame, MSG+ gave us a stat screen about Travis’s recent scoring successes, and it was titled “Polished Gem”. After he makes a good defensive play on the PK, Pookie says, “He’s the smooth side of the geode.”

6:32 The softest-sounding hockey fight match-up ever engages at center ice behind the play (while the Devils were in the offensive zone) when Leblond and Rosehill swing lamely at each other forever.

IPB Fight

Doc and Chico try to tell us this was really exciting. We are not especially anti-fighting on any sort of pacifist platform – no, we’re anti-fighting when it’s boring. Like this fight here.

5:03 Pookie discovered today that Alberta’s version of Punxsutawny Phil is Balzac Billy (a.k.a. the “Prairie Prognosticator”). Needless to say, as soon as Tyler Bozak’s name comes up in the course of play-by-play, Pookie calls him “Bozak Billy”. “I bet you weren’t expecting a Balzac Billy reference tonight.”

4:40 We come back from a commercial to find the Devils on the PP. We’re sure the Leafs are terrified.

3:56 Giguere makes what Chico calls “his best save as a Leaf”. Boomer: “Wow. I’m glad I got to see it.”

0:40 The Leafs seem to planning to snooze-out for the remainder of the period. Doc says to Chico, “If you want to tell a story about chinchillas, I think you’ve got time.”

0:00 That was a period we hope never to have to revisit.


SECOND PERIOD

17:37 Well that counts as a quick goal early in the period. Bozak Billy leads a rush, Danis makes a great save on which he can’t place the rebound well (just as Chico was telling us watching at home to cut him slack on rebound placement), Whitey and Mottau have no idea how to defend against a rush when a goalie who isn’t Marty is in net, and Kessel puts the puck into a wide-open net. It’s 2-0 Leafs, and Pookie wonders aloud, “Do we really need to watch the rest of this game?”

16:24 Rosehill starts to approach Hambone as if he is going to hit/trip him, and before anything can really happen that would lead, in real life, to a person toppling to the ice, Hambone falls over. Rosehill gets called for tripping, and Chico does not go off on a rant about how rampant diving is in hockey these days.

14:45 Chico chirps optimistically that the Devils’ PP is doing well, but just can’t seem to get the puck to the net. Pookie; “Oh, is that all?”

12:05 Leblond shoves Exelby in the back beside the Leafs net (read: in the offensive zone) (read: aaarrrrrgggghhhh!), and Exelby falls over. Leblond gets called for interference, and suddenly Chico’s all on the diving thing again.

8:12 Schnookie: “I’m not feeling particularly concerned that the Devils are going to score tonight.”

7:24 Mottau hooks Rosehill, or at least has his stick at Rosehill’s waist when Rosehill is falling over on his own. He gets called for hooking, and Chico starts to go on again about the diving and the lousy calls, and we’d be on board with it, but really, what has Mottau done lately to earn not having that call go against him?

5:51 On an unscreened shot from the high point, it’s 3-0 Leafs. Chico tells us that the lead is “starting” to look insurmountable. As if it wasn’t insurmountable at 1-0. Or even at 0-0 before the game started.

3:38 You know what’s terrible? The Devils. The only reason they seem to bother with the offensive zone is because they’re skating up and down the rink by rote. Like, they get the puck at their own end (off some sort of Leafs misplay, not defensive prowess), head up the ice because that’s what they’re conditioned to do, then they just turn around and skate back.

0:00 We can’t believe there’s still another a period of this.

THIRD PERIOD

17:43 We join the third period a bit late after spending the intermission watching yesterday’s Make It Or Break It. Things have not progressed much.

7:46 We have lost our will to live. The Devils are skating line of Zubrus, Zach and Andrew Peters.

0:00 It’s the end of the third period. Things have not progressed much. The best part of the game tonight was the “upcoming games” screen MSG+ put up at one point showing us that we have two blessed Devils-free days before the next game.

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Good evening, Gentle Reader! It was a traumatic afternoon here at stately IPB Manor as Pookie picked up her first speeding ticket. Mazel tov, Pookie! Nothing like going 15 mph over the speed limit when the cops are trying to fill their monthly quotas. Let’s hope the Devils are a bit more conscientious tonight as they take on the Maple Leafs. (Let’s also hope that if their play is the equivalent of zipping past a speedtrap at high speeds, that they at least realize the window lock is on when they go to greet the nice state trooper outside the passenger side window. Otherwise they’ll be mighty embarrassed when they keep hitting the “down window” button and nothing happens. At least, we think that would be embarrassing. Not that we’d know anything about it.)

PREGAME

Our assigned color for this week in sixty-four colors is sepia, which is a lot darker brown than you’d think. Doc and Chico seem to be on board with this project:

Sepia

Also, EggNation is celebrating BoogerforsNation’s loss today. As are we. Stupid Boogerfors, with his statistics falling off a cliff. Hmph.

FIRST PERIOD

–About five minutes in, MSG+ gives us replay of Gustavsson making a post-to-post pad save. Chico says, “His legs are his strength,” to which Pookie responds in stride, “His legs are his strength and his voice is his passport. He’s a monster.”

— About six minutes in, we feel like we’ve hard this song before. 1-0 Leafs.

— About seven minutes in, who is this team and what did they do with the Devils??? 1-1 game.

— Of all the long-term Devils injuries this season, Zubrus’s was the one we were least concerned about, because of all the guys who could return to the lineup after a long absence, he was the one we figured had the least to offer. Well, we were wrong. Lemaire has created a ZZ Z line tonight (or perhaps ZZ Zops?), and it’s looking awesome. They connected on an edge-of-your-seat passing sequence for the Devils first goal, and do it again about ten minutes later. Both goals by Zach, both primary assists by Zubrus. 2-1 Devils, and Pookie’s suggesting maybe calling this line “Showdown at the Triple-Z Ranch”. If “ZZ Pops” could catch on, surely this could too.

SECOND PERIOD

— The age-old question of whether Colin White could beat Colton Orr in a rink-length footrace is answered here tonight. Decisively in Whitey’s favor, thank goodness.

— We love the Showdown at the Triple-Z Ranch line! They’re awesome! Zach’s putting on a hustle clinic tonight, and for some crazy reason, Zubrus can totally keep up with him. Who knew Zubrus had it in him? When Travis feeds Zubrus on a pretty passing sequence to make it 3-1 Devils, we’re almost wondering if this is some elaborate prank, like the one the Comcast people pulled on Steve Coates last night. It should be noted, though, that the one drawback of the Showdown at the Triple-Z Ranch line is that when they have goal celebrations with Whitey on the ice, Zach looks miniature.

— The age-old question of whether Mark Fraser could beat Colton Orr in a breakaway footrace is answered here tonight. Decisively in Orr’s favor. 3-2 Devils, and Pookie sighs, “The Devils might as well have had their window lock on.”

— This game is crazy! We’ve got an effective Dainius Zubrus, a breakaway-threat Colton Orr, and now wee bairn Patrick Davis getting his first NHL goal. 4-2 Devils, and we’d love for this game to go on all season. (Of course, as soon as we type that, Langer takes a stupid penalty behind the play in the neutral zone. Never mind. We’d like this game to end right now.)

THIRD PERIOD

— Midway through the period, Doc informs us that there will be a special on-the-road version of Chico Eats! next week in Toronto. Chico promises that they will be introducing a “new food” during that episode. We can only assume that Chico is going to be inventing an entirely new food element, previously unheard-of in human experience. Pookie: “It’s going to be ‘U-chic-mi’. Like umami, but Chico.”

— IronBoarsylvania will never forgive its emperor-god for the way he passes the puck late in this period to Ponikarovsky right in front of the Devils net to make this game 4-3 Devils. Ew. And BOOOO!

— During intermission, Gel-O cracked that the Devils had to win this game, because to lose to a lowly opponent like the Leafs, at home, with a two-goal lead going into the third, would be devastating. To which Schnookie wondered aloud whether it would be as devastating as, say, losing a playoff game 7 at home in regulation after holding a one-goal lead with 80 seconds left in the third period. Ah, how well we know our team. With 91 seconds left, they collapse in their own zone and give up the tying goal. 4-4 game.

OVERTIME

— We’d cheer for that OT acorn, but honestly. Devils? You guys are a sad, sad sight. 5-4 Devils.

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Two signs about tonight’s game:

1. Pookie, on her drive home from work this evening, saw an oil tanker truck from a shipping company she had never heard of before. This is notable because she drives 100 miles every day in her commute, and is fairly well versed in all the trucking companies that frequent the highways of New Jersey. The truck in question? “Langer”! It had a dynamic logo, all movement and awesomeness and zoom, with a big arrow pointing Langer onward, ever onward. The problem? It was heading south. We figure the only sign that could have been more clear would be if it was driving down a toilet.

2. We’re not in HD tonight.

FIRST PERIOD

19:22 We’re sure something good is happening with the Poppers in the Leafs zone, but it’s in standard def. We can’t be bothered to try to see. How did we live before HD?

17:03 Chico informs us that the Devils are gunning for a franchise record for wins in a season, which means they’re going to lose.

15:17 Gerber coughs the puck up to Rolston behind the net, then falls over on his way out to the crease. The Devils politely wait for him to regain position before thinking about putting the puck netward.

14:03 We have been trying all during this period to figure out why none of us feel like we’re watching a Devils game, and Pookie finally puts her finger on it: “It’s the non-HD. It makes me feel like we’re killing time during another, better game. Also, it makes me dizzy because it’s blurry and I feel like I have to squint.”

13:28 Travis decides to jolt us awake with a monster shift, full of swaggery moves and sexy yoinky steals, and the end result is Zach drawing a hooking penalty in the slot.

11:28 Wow, that PP passed quickly and without event.

10:58 Awwww, it’s a sad day for Devils fans. Madden has lost his Maple Leafs touch. He gets a mini-breakaway, but ends up rolling his shot wide. Back in the day, Madden on the breakaway against the Leafs was golden. It’s the passing of an era.

10:02 Further supporting our faith in the symbolism of that Langer truck, Whitey and Mottau decide to fall apart completely in their own zone, turn the puck over, and leave Grabovsky open in the low slot. He fires a knuckler through Marty, and it’s 1-0 Leafs.

8:54 Doc is, for some reason, talking about Langer’s high school career. Pookie: “I can’t really imagine Langer in high school.” Schnookie: “I figure he’d be one of those guys in the ‘80s with a mustache.”

8:47 The fuck? Pookie: “Marty’s completely lost it.” Out of nowhere, Hamilton (who???) whips a wrister through a bunch of lazy, shitty d-men, and Marty isn’t paying any attention either. It’s 2-0 Leafs.

7:35 Apparently the Devils have lost consistently to the Leafs since the lockout. Huh. We’ve blocked all those games out.

6:42 Chico tries to tell us that the Devils can just toss this period out and have good second and third periods. We try to tell ourselves that there are 12 other games on the docket tonight, and sure any one of those would be more interesting than this one.

4:52 The Blobby line is holding the puck in the offensive zone in spite of itself, until finally Rupper’s attempt at a short-range pass to the point gets carefully aimed at a spot where there are no Devils. Boomer: “How about we try shooting at the end that their goaltender’s standing in?”

4:04 Yay. We just witnessed another first NHL goal for an opposing player. Some kid named Hanson is facing no defensive pressure at all from Oduya, so he walks down the slot and fires home a soft rebound past Marty. 3-0 Leafs. Pookie: “I’m worried about Marty.” Pause, as she watches the replay. “I’m worried about all of them.”

3:13 Travis fires a puck over the glass in the offensive zone, and as some boos rain down from the stands, Chico says, “What the Devils need now… is… a goal.” Pookie: “No Chico, what they need now is four goals.”

2:19 Seriously, put a fork in the Devils. We can’t stress this enough. It is going to be a short first round, thank heavens. We don’t know how much more of this crap we can watch.

2:09 For some idiotic reason, the Leafs take a penalty. We have a very good idea of what the next two minutes are going to hold for the Devils.

1:25 After Zach spends some precious PP moments fruitlessly attempting to score by shooting the puck into the outside of the net, Pookie sighs, “The Langer truck was heading south on Route 9, but I’m going to assume that has nothing to do with Zach.”

0:46 Gio takes a stick from Finger up under his visor and gets badly bloodied. He immediately goes to the dressing room, holding his eye, and the Devils go to a two-man-advantage.

0:25 Shanny is the latest guy to make Gerber look good, when he fires his point-blank chance on a back-door play into the crook of Gerber’s arm.

0:00 Well, that was, quite possibly, the worst period we’ve seen from the Devils since, well… we can’t think when. That just flat-out fucking sucked.

FIRST INTERMISSION

Gah. That’s all we have to say about this game. Just… gah.

SECOND PERIOD

18:06 We’re distracted from the craptitude of the Devils PP on a double-minor thanks to our 100mm macro lens and some Valomilks. That’s right – taking pictures of candy is more interesting than this game.

April 7 2009

14:30 Chico: “I’m sure the Leafs cannot believe how much free rein they’ve had here in New Jersey.” No fucking kidding. We expected the Devils to lose tonight, and even we can’t believe exactly how bad it’s been.

11:28 Doc and Chico are complaining that there hasn’t been a stoppage yet in this period. While we appreciate that the game is trying to get itself over with quickly, this relentless a barrage of incessant suck-assedness is like a form of torture.

10:45 Finally we get a commercial. The “$5 Foot Longs” Subway jingle has never sounded so good.

10:16 It’s a thrill a minute here. Hanson interferes with Pando and sends the Devils PP back on the ice.

8:04 Gentle Reader in the distant future, if you read the scoresheet for this game, do not be fooled by whatever impressive shot total the Devils amass before the final buzzer. They’re really not playing that well.

5:56 Chico’s voice drips with disgust when he points out that the shots are 28-12 in favor of the Devils right now. We, meanwhile, are far more interested in our stitching.

5:40 And we go to commercial with Rolston heading to the box for hooking. Pookie: “How ever will they score that goal Chico seems to think they need?” We come back from commercial with Chico telling us, of course, that the Devils goal will now have to be a shorty. Naturally. Why didn’t we think of that?

2:50 The Devils are on the power play again. We love scoring baseball (more than we love watching it, so it doesn’t happen very often), but the fact is, it’s very difficult to keep up on every single play. So one of our favorite bits of advice we ever got about being a sports fan was a hall-of-fame baseball broadcaster explaining his personal notations in his scorecards; for the plays he missed, he marked down “WW” for “Wasn’t Watching”. That’s what this power play was for. A Leaf got two minutes for WW.

1:37 Gerber makes his 10,000th simple save of the night, and Chico says, before praising the save, “You could criticize the Devils for some things tonight…” Pookie: “No, you could criticize the Devils for all things tonight.”

1:05 We get behind the play and thoroughly enjoy getting to watch about half a minute of play in fast forward. At the end of the zapping, Langer scores to make it 3-1 Leafs. We don’t stop to watch the play in regular speed. In fact, Pookie exhorts the television, “Don’t stop a-rockin’, fast forward!”

0:00 We hate this game.

THIRD PERIOD

19:08 We’re planning our summer viewing already, and ordering the first few seasons of “Medium” as we speak. Yeah, we’re old ladies. We’re not ashamed of that. And what can we say? We finished “Murder, She Wrote” last summer!

18:26 It’s 4-1 Leafs on a WW. Boomer: “Guys, can we leave now? I want to go home.” Pookie: “Can we cash in our LarionovBucks to just not have the Devils go to the postseason?”

16:49 Chico keeps belaboring how many shots and scoring chances the Devils have been credited with tonight, but what that means is just that we’ll get to hear a bunch of postgame quotes from the players about how they were trying hard enough, but didn’t get the breaks, or were facing a hot goalie, or whatever. Schnookie: “That’s just bullshit, because there has never been a single point in this game where I’ve thought, ‘Ooh, the Devils almost scored there.’” As if on cue, Zach has an opportunity where he has the puck on his stick, he’s at the top of the crease, and Gerber is down and out at the other side of the goalmouth, and Zach doesn’t even get a shot off.

16:33 Pookie: “The Devils’ battle level is so low it can’t even be called a battle level. Their tea party level is low. Their doilymaking level is low. Their tiddlywinks level is low.” Pause. “But their sucktitude level is high.”

12:34 Amazon is now, thanks to our purchase of four seasons of “Medium” on DVD, recommending “Ghost Whisperer” to Boomer. Those of you who have met Boomer will appreciate how hilarious that is.

9:55 Pookie: “Well, this answers the question about how we should have been feeling about the Tampa and Buffalo wins.”

7:43 Chico mentions that Patty is injured. Schnookie: “Get well soon, Patty.” He adds that Havelid is out, too. Schnookie: “Ugh. I thought he’d be addition by subtraction.” Pause. “That’s what those two wins were. The Havelid Injury Bump.”

2:29 We go to commercial and are asked by the Cialis narrator, “What are you waiting for?” Pookie: “This game to end.”

1:34 We get a close-up of Paulie on an offensive-zone draw, and he has a bandage of some kind across the bridge of his nose, like he’s involved in the bookstore hold-up in Bottle Rocket.

1:00 There is a hearty cheer from the remaining crowd for the announcement of the last minute of play.

0:00 The game winds down with Chico telling us, “You can’t say the Devils didn’t try hard.” Pookie: “The Devils didn’t try hard. There. I said it. And I meant every word.”

In some seasons we’d be sad that there are only two games left in the regular season. This year, though? They can’t be over soon enough.

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Gel-O starts things off tonight with the crushing news that we won’t be seeing Havelid make his Devils debut in this game. And to think, we baked cookies and everything for him. Oh well. We’ll just have to eat all the cookies ourselves.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Doc and Chico lead off, of course, with talk about Marty. Chico: “Martin Brodeur is just a fabulous freak of nature.” Well… yes. The next topic of conversation is the potential trades Brian Burke is going to make with the Leafs. Is it just us, or is Burke the most overrated person in all of hockey?

FIRST PERIOD

19:48 The period starts with a Leafs turnover to Shanahan right above the crease. Shanny’s as surprised as everyone else, and fires wide.

19:12 Pookie: “EEEE! It’s definitely time for it to be almost Spring – look what’s on the dashers!” Yup, it’s the “Rrroll Up The Rim” ads!

17:27 The Poppers have a loooong shift working deep in the Toronto zone. Schnookie, somewhat absently, “It’s like the A Line.” Pookie: “Yeah, except I can’t see any of these guys holding out.”

16:29 WOOOOOO? What? Huh? What just happened? Clarkson pounces on a turnover at the blue line, darts up the near wing, goes hard to the net, and whiffs on the puck weakly toward the far post. At the same time, Finger barrels down the center, runs over Toskala, and drives the net off the moorings. After the net has been moved, the puck hits off the far post and ricochets just barely over the line into where the net should have been. And, after a review, it’s ruled a goal, the second time this season that the Devils have benefited from the “if the defender pushes the net off the moorings, the goal still counts” rule. Weird. The money here at stately IPB Manor was that there was no way the call would go our way again. 1-0 Devils.

15:26 White (the Leafs one) randomly whacks Madden in the face with his stick, and the Devils go to the power play.

13:43 Well that’s not how you score on the PP. The Devils give up a shorthanded two-on-one, and Stajan fires his shot off the crossbar.

12:45 In the “I don’t want to lose my job to Havelid”-off, so far we’ve got Greene being the guy on that two-on-one, and now Mottau taking an interference penalty. Advantage Greener.

11:07 We keep saying all kinds of really pithy things about this game, but Schnookie’s too lazy to write them in the diary. Instead, she sprawls on the couch and says, “This isn’t going to be a very interesting game diary.” Pookie: “That’s okay. It’s not a very interesting game so far. All that’s happened has been the goal. That shift by the Poppers. And Rrroll Up The Rim.” Pause. “And not necessarily in that order.”

9:49 We come back from commercial to see black-and-white footage of JP Parise’s one game as a Maple Leaf. It is ridiculously old-looking footage, so much so that Pookie gasps, “What, is this from the 1940s? This looks like a One-Reel Wonder on TCM!”

8:07 The Devils withstand a mild bit of defensive-zone pressure, and then, as the puck clears to the neutral zone, we wonder how many shots the Leafs have so far. We agree on just one, and as we’re cracking jokes about Darcy Tucker and the famous six-shot game from 2000, MSG+ tells us they actually have seven shots in the period. Well poo. We totally disagree.

6:41 Doc: “We haven’t had a shot recorded by either side in the last three minutes.” Pause, as play meanders through center ice. “And we’re waiting on our first crowd reaction.” Burn! And yes, it’s deathly silent at ACC.

4:40 In the head-to-head battle of Zach and Schenn, Zach, not surprisingly, wins. He coolly skates up behind Schenn in front of the Leafs net, taps him on the shoulder, and just yoinks the puck away.

3:00 Gel-O tells us after a commercial that Havelid will be joining the Devils after the game, “and what does that mean for Andy Greene?” Schnookie: “It means ‘Skate harder, Greener!’”

2:56 The crowd is making noise now – Blake has two chances at a wide-open net with Marty sprawling and down-and-out… and somehow Marty keeps the puck out of the goal. The Leafs stand there and think, “Crap. This isn’t the goalie who was playing backup for the Marlies last year anymore, is it?”

0:00 The period ends with Chico talking shutout. Chico, it might not bother Marty, but it bothers us. We get an interview with Clarkson, who claims he “never knew” a goal would count if the net gets knocked off by the D. Because he wasn’t paying attention when Madden scored that way just this season. We forgive him for being vapid, though. Because we’re shallow that way.

FIRST INTERMISSION

We go into a deep blog-crush swoon over TG in his interview with Gel-O. He’s so dreamy.

SECOND PERIOD

16:38 With the club seat fans still up and about elsewhere in the building, it seems even more dead at ACC. This game is shaping up to be a real doozy.

16:17 We get footage of Terry Sawchuk’s 100th shutout, and, interestingly, it was March 4, 1967, in Toronto. Creepy! Or just almost coincidental. One or the other.

15:28 Oh, we should mention that Gel-O’s been giving us a running countdown of all the players who are being scratched by their teams tonight, presumably in anticipation of them being traded. Because this trade deadline is already not stupid and boring enough, now everyone’s doing the Butthead thing. Including the Caps with Nylander, which makes us wonder what GM is stupid enough to trade for Nylander and his shitty contract.

14:24 Greener tries to best Mottau again by drawing a hooking penalty to Kulemin. Meanwhile, MSG+ has just informed us that Marty is one of just two goalies in NHL history to record two shutouts in their first three games back after missing 60+ days. In case you’re keeping track, the other is Sawchuk. Creepy! and/or coincidental!

12:51 Greene tries to pass point-to-point along the blue line and ends up muffing the play and passing the puck out of the zone. Mottau chuckles with glee on the bench.

12:05 The consensus at stately IPB Manor tonight is that the Devils look like they don’t think they’re going to have to try hard to win this game. Pookie: “And I might need another cookie to help me deal with this.”

10:04 The Zubrus/Gio/Patty line does its best Poppers impersonation, but finally fails to convert on a loose puck lying in the crease. Pookie: “This is Toskala, Zubrus. Not Junior Pairs ’82.”

9:33 Zach is never going to score again. And he’s spending too much time with Patty. He digs the puck out of a pile-up in front of the net, flat-out misses the gaping maw of net in front of him, then stands there in stationary disgust, rolling his head and staring up at the ceiling, while his linemates are like, “Dude, play’s still going on.”

7:28 The Devils finally manage to clear the zone after a shift that involves a running count on our parts of turnovers below the faceoff dots by Devils D-men in their own zone. It got to six. Greene probably makes a point of insisting to Sutter that it was the Iron Boar committing all those turnovers and not him. Pookie: “This proves we can’t play without Havelid.”

4:36 This game is making us want to kill ourselves. Pookie: “It’s like Larionov Bucks night.” Pause. “But if we want the Devils to fly under the radar again, I guess they’re going to have to keep playing like this.” Boomer: “But last night you were all, ‘Everything’s great! I love hockey!’” Pookie: “Yeah, well… what have you done for me lately?”

4:31 We come back from commercial to see Lou and Burke talking. NOOOOOOOO!!! Lou, look away!!!

3:58 Greene and the Iron Boar are out again, pinned in their own zone. Schnookie: “Is Paulie hurt again?”

3:25 Pookie, as Toskala freezes the puck on a rink-length dump-in: “This game is almost as boring as the Islanders/Avs one last night.” Just then, MSG+ cuts away to show us the honored numbers hanging from the ACC rafters, and Chico tells us that Devils fans should remember Dougie Gilmour from his tenure in Jersey. Pookie: “WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO MAKE THIS GAME WORSE?”

1:11 We are grousing that the Poppers and Paulie seem not to be on the ice ever tonight, and Pookie posits that Sutter’s trying to effectively bench Zach, to make everyone think he’s getting traded. Zach then takes the ice and tries to beat two defensemen by his lonesome, but gets easily muscled off the puck by Ian White. And as the play unfolds, Boomer wonders aloud what the Devils could jokingly be getting for Zach; Pookie: “Maybe a forward with some size.”

0:00 Not a period for the ages, this one. And to drive that point home, our interview now is with Blobby. This is TERRIBLE!

SECOND INTERMISSION

We get an interview with Lou. He’s so dreamy!

THIRD PERIOD

19:55 Doc informs us, as the period gets under way, that we’ve had no scoring for “at least an hour and a half.” Yeah, the first hour felt like three days, and the second half-hour felt like…

19:05 Whitey trips Stempniak at the blue line. Chico tries to argue against the penalty, but even he hasn’t brought his A game tonight, so he quickly gives up.

18:49 Kulemin picks the Iron Boar after a draw in Marty’s zone, and the Leaf PP is history.

18:21 Paulie gets the puck caught up in a fallen stick at center ice, and the Leafs chug into the Devils zone on a breakaway. Paulie chugs after, and then makes a diving-from-behind play to push the puck off the Leaf’s stick. Pookie: “Paulie’s like, ‘Who needs Niedermayer?’” Pause. “’Because I can have my head in the clouds just as much as he does!’”

17:28 Well, that was inevitable. As the Devils stand around their own zone wondering when the win is handed to them, Blake feeds Mitchell on the doorstep, and it’s a 1-1 game.

16:02 The Leafs continue to pin the Devils in their own zone. Pookie: “This isn’t going to happen when we have Havelid. He’s our Hart and heart.” Schnookie: “Yup. He’s our True Savior. It’s not too early to say that.”

15:02 Oh goody. Another Devils PP.

14:39 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Well that was an emphatic and pissy PP! After Travis is cruelly bested by Toskala on a point-blank chance, the Devils start getting serious about whipping around some sexy passes, and then Patty blasts home a shot from above the faceoff dot. 2-1 Devils, and the ACC PA announcer sounds just like the guy who does the Westminster Kennel Club show at MSG.

13:58 Gio has an “it was the best of time, it was the worst of time” chance, where he awesomely skates out from the corner and gets around Toskala, but then he lamely isn’t able to backhand the puck into the open side of the net. He’s fired.

11:28 The lethal pairing of the Madden/Holik/Pando line with the Iron Boar/Greener d-pairing leads to another lengthy shift in the Devils zone, and then a penalty to the Iron Boar. We hate when these guys are on the ice tonight. Pookie: “The Iron Boar is just nervous that he’s going to lose his job to the Iron Hart. Or rather, Iron Bunny.” Schnookie: “A hart is a deer.” Pookie and Boomer: “No, it’s a rabbit.”

10:01 Schnookie: “It’s a deer.” Boomer: “What’s a male rabbit?” Schnookie: “A hare?” Boomer: “It’s one letter.” Meanwhile, this Leafs PP is a shooting gallery.

9:20 Mottau takes a penalty as soon as the Devils get back to even strength.

9:15 Mitchell scores basically right off the draw, on a ricochet of a Kubina point shot off Paulie’s shinpad. 2-2 game. Meanwhile, Pookie has discovered that a male llama is called a Macho. We quickly try to determine which Devil should be called the Iron Macho. Certainly not any one in the lineup tonight. That means it’s Havelid, Rupp, or Leach.

8:01 Clarkson has a wide open – and we mean wide open — net on a bad rebound from Toskala, but stupid Finger ties up his stick at the last minute. We liked Finger a lot more back when he was essentially putting the puck into his own net.

6:48 Ponikarovsky tries to haul Paulie down in the corner to Marty’s right, and as the two of them go down, Ponikarovsky impales himself on Paulie’s stick. Both guys look for penalties, and neither gets rewarded.

5:02 Patty is apparently now a mere six points from the all-time Devils point lead. Not that everyone in the NHL cares about that the way they did about Iginla and the Flames’ record.

4:32 Chico informs us this game is going to overtime. Okay. Can we then not bother with these last four and a half minutes?

3:30 Paulie took a slash on his hand while ragging the puck, and now we’re all in a panic that the Leafs have broken them. Not that we didn’t already hate this misbegotten franchise, but that only makes it worse.

2:49 Mottau passes the puck to Grabovski right inside the Devils blue line, and a frantic series of shots follows. On the bench, Greene chortles with delight. Behind the bench, Sutter wonders if maybe Lou isn’t going to trade for another d-man.

0:31 We get one last awesome shift from the Poppers, but no goal.

0:00 So Chico was right. Overtime it is.

OVERTIME

4:23 Marty makes the first big save of OT. No surprise there, that the Devils are all just standing around.

4:02 GAAAAAAHHH! Zach! Mottau throws a shot on net after a Leafs turnover, and Zach is right there on the doorstep to whack at the not-quite-covered puck behind Toskala, but to no avail. He is never going to score again.

3:23 Chico begins to wonder whether Kaberle has played lately. Doc counts players on the Leafs bench and comes up with a full roster, and so the intrigue is defused for the time being.

2:29 Firewagon hockey, anyone?

0:12 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was INSANE! After relentless pressure from the Leafs, all of a sudden Gio and Oduya are flying up the other way on a two-on-one, and as the clock is winding down, Gio’s shot trickles over Toskala’s glove, and then Oduya is there crashing the net to slam the puck home. 3-2 Devils!

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EEEEEEE!!! Doc’s back! And it’s snowing out! And it’s getting closer to Christmas! Does it get better than that? Well, yes, a Devils win would make it better than that, but let’s not put the cart before the horse here.

Our intro from Doc and Chico this evening is all about how totally competent the current Devils goalie tandem is, but despite Clemmer’s numbers, we still don’t believe it. It turns out Clemmer is starting tonight, and, presumably, Weekes will start tomorrow in Buffalo. Schnookie asks no one in particular, “Why is Weekes not starting tonight? Considering how he sucks against Buffalo…” Pookie responds, “And considering how Clemmer has a terrible career record against Toronto and a good one against Buffalo? Yeah. Shall I tag this post ‘calling for Sutter’s head on a plate’?” (She also floats a theory that the Devils flipped a coin when it became clear that they were no longer going to be able to not play in front of the backup goalies anymore, and Clemmer was the winner. So that’s why they play well in front of him and crappy in front of Weekes.) (She also theorizes that Sutter’s starting Clemmer tomorrow, too.)

FIRST PERIOD

18:11 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! What the heckin’ heck? Madden leads Whitey — Whitey!!! — on a two-on-one, and actually laces a really pretty pass that sits perfectly for Whitey’s very best shot. It is only Whitey, though, so Toskala makes the save, but then inexplicably pirouettes out of the play, so when Finger blindly flings the rebound up the middle, he’s nowhere near the net for the incoming shot. And the incoming shot? Comes from Rupper, who was probably in a state of sheer panic the entire way up the ice, thinking, “Oh fuck, Whitey’s in front of me. Oh fuck. He has no idea what to do up there, and I have no idea what to do back here… Oh! Look! The puck, and a wide-open net! Sweet!” It’s 1-0 Devils.

17:23 Toskala mishandles another easy shot. Schnookie: “Just put the puck on the net, boys!”

15:54 Leach and Deveaux fight.

IPB Fight

It’s such a great fight that it elicits this response from Pookie: “Leach has the dorkiest haircut in hockey. He’s bringing back The Niedermayer.”

13:55 Our Geico Quotebook tonight is Clemmer saying he’s not surprised at his success because four years ago he was playing in the A against a whole bunch of goalies who are now NHLers, so he knew he could compete. Schnookie: “So what Clemmer’s saying is that the goaltending in the NHL isn’t as good as it was four years ago?”

10:05 It looks like maybe the Leafs have scored, but as the puck slowly trickles past Clemmer and through the crease, it ever-so-gradually proves to be going wide. The crowd makes its first sound of night, giving a terrible groan of disappointment.

8:20 Clarkson takes an idiot penalty that kind of defies description as he takes down Deveaux while dropping his gloves and trying to make it look like he’s not doing anything wrong, and basically Chico sums it up best by saying maybe Clarkson’s hometown crowd anxiety got the better of him.

6:52 We will never forgive Clarkson for taking this penalty if it turns out Pando is hurt after getting hit in the foot by a point shot.

5:22 After successfully killing the idiot penalty, the Devils put on a great shift full of offensive pressure, and then Oduya draws a hooking penalty against Grabovoski (who really needs a haircut). Okay. Maybe we’ll let this one slide, Clarkson.

3:22 We’re still waiting for our Rolston-powered awesome PP.

0:00 And so concludes the period, a relatively uneventful 1-0 affair.

FIRST INTERMISSION

Dude, it could not be any more like the good old days in our early fandom — it’s a “Devils visiting the children’s hospital” video feature… with Brian Rolston! All really is right in the world!

SECOND PERIOD

18:00 Van Ryn takes a penalty when none of us are paying attention. The announcement is that it’s for hooking, and we’ll guess it was either a foul of the most egregiously vile order or was just really stupid.

16:09 Chico just will not stop talking about this Sifers kid on the Leafs and his douchey loathing of New Jersey. Not just the Devils. The state. Well, we’re glad you went back to Connecticut, asshole. We don’t miss you. So there!

13:49 The teams trade nearly identical great passing rushes that create glorious scoring chances on which the shooter fires way wide. The Leafs lead with Stempniak as the failing shooter, and the Devils see that and raise them Gionta.

12:51 This is starting to look like regular Devils second period.

12:34 As if on cue after we comment aloud on how characteristically crappy the Devils have been looking in this period, Antropov is able to cash in on a shitty rebound and even worse defensive-zone coverage. 1-1 game. It should be noted that the Devils seem to have a limited number of plotlines in their games, and one type they’ve demonstrated more than once this year is the “score in the first two minutes, then don’t score again in the game”. This is feeling a lot like that.

11:35 We get a graphic from MSG+ extolling the Devils size up the middle, and it includes a mysterious fellow named Paul Rupp. We wonder if that guy’s an amalgam of Paulie and Rupper, and does that mean he serves peanut butter ice cream pot brownie sundaes?

9:14 We have no idea what’s going on right now because stately IPB Manor is in a state of panic as a spider the size of a mouse has chosen just now to make its appearance in the living room. What is the point of feeding and housing a whole herd of cats if they can’t take care of the simplest tasks like killing mouse-sized spiders?

5:40 Chico has a hearty laugh at tonight’s Ron Wilson moment: a Leafs four-on-two rush that yields a dump-in as the forwards go to change for whatever line-matching scheme Wilson’s up to.

4:54 Williams strips Madden of the puck on the far boards, curls unmolested into the high slot, and then rips a shot right through Clemmer. It’s 2-1 Leafs, and Pookie’s immediate reaction to the goal is, “ARGH! I am so sick of Clemmensen!” Pause. “I realize there were five other guys on the ice, but still!”

3:56 The Devils are looking incapable of mounting any offense. “I really wish the Leafs still had McCabe,” Pookie sighs wistfully.

2:25 We go to commercial all still uneasy about the spider. It escaped under the couch, and now we’re all convinced it’s crawling on us. Schnookie tries to console herself, “I think I’d know if it was climbing on me. I’d hear it. I’d hear it breathing.”

1:24 Just as the unenthusiastic crowd is starting the first “Blow Leafs Blow” chant (wait, that’s not what they’re saying?), Finger trips Gio behind Toskala’s net. It’s scorched earth time.

0:53 Even with a pile of players pushing Toskala into the goal, the Devils still can’t put the puck into the net on the goalmouth scramble. Even after the officials blow the whistle and the Leafs D-men let up, the Devils still can’t put the puck into the net. Dude, this game is over. Put a fork in it.

0:19 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Zach will not put a fork in this game, dammit! He gets a nice pass at the side of the net from Patty, goes to step out in front and power around Toskala, and is met by Van Ryn’s stick along the way. The puck flings up Van Ryn’s stick, over Toskala’s shoulder, and into the goal. 2-2 game, and after a video review the official announces, “It’s a good goal.” Chico says, “Zach thinks it’s a great goal.” He’s probably sitting on the bench right now, crushed that the league has spoken and rated it only “good”.

0:00 Maybe the Devils should start practicing second periods.

SECOND INTERMISSION

MSG+ shows us another segment of the show about Patty’s visit to Belize. If you’d told us ten years ago that Patrik Elias was someday going to be an elder statesman (and ex-captain) on the team and real-life UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, we would have laughed in your face. Of course.

THIRD PERIOD

Before the puck is dropped, we see another replay of Zach’s goal, and it turns out that the puck deflected into the net off his shield. That’s right, after all that talk about it over the past few games, Doc and Chico have been rewarded by an actual goal being actually scored by actually gonging off a guy’s head. Hockey is such a wonderful thing.

18:29 The Devils also need to practice starting the third period. First they very nearly give up a goal on a bad goalmouth scrum (the only reason they don’t score is because their best shot hits a Leaf who is lying in the crease), and then Patty gets called for hooking when the play goes down the other end. Chico points out that this is the second game in a row where Patty’s taken a bad penalty at a key time, and then replay shows this is also the second game in a row where the guy drawing the penalty on Patty could have gotten an even-up on the dive.

16:36 After a chaotic series of good chances for the Leafs, Madden and Travis head down the ice on a nearly impossibly slow two-on-one. Travis needn’t have bothered skating all the way down, though, because Madden is hell-bent on firing a heavy shot well wide.

14:54 Travis confuses everyone by getting a close-range chance at a wide-open (like, yawning wide open) net, but for some reason the puck ends up in the corner. No one has any idea how that happened.

12:20 Paulie does a good job breaking up a Leafs scoring chance at the last minute, and Pookie says haltingly, “That… was a good play by Paulie. When I say that, though, he always promptly screws up.” We wait with bated breath for the screw-up, but it doesn’t come. Paulie’s probably going to pay us back with interest later in the game.

9:20 There is a flurry of possible scoring chances for the Leafs in front of Clemmer, but somehow nothing really comes of it, and after a shaky second where he seems to have to be thinking very hard about which way to direct the puck, Holik gets the clear. Pookie: “Blobby was considering putting the puck into his own net there.”

5:03 Finger takes a good shot from just below the faceoff dot, and Clemmer is able to fight it off. Schnookie remarks that it seems like Finger’s been the guy involved in everything in this game, and Pookie concurs, “His is the only name I’ve heard all night. Other than Stajak.”

1:00 There’s only a minute left in this period? But it feels like they’ve only played no more than 18 and a half already.

0:22 Zach is handed a choice turnover by Kaberle right at the blue line and gets to walk in on a slight angle on Toskala, but his shot into his mask isn’t enough to beat him.

0:00 60 minutes of the Leafs is never enough. Let’s have overtime!

OVERTIME

3:51 The Devils get a flurry of shots, and Doc totally has us fooled into thinking they might be able to score. He truly is the best in the business.

2:45 Captain Fuck This Shit goes for his patented fuck this shit OT goal move, but his heavy slapshot does not end up in the net. Patty smugly turns to Sutter on the bench, stretches out his hand palm up, and says, “C please!”

0:22 Patty’s bid at earning the IPB sanctioned nickname of “Unofficial Captain Fuck This Shit” falls short as his big game-winning rush involves a wide circle behind Toskala’s net, then drifting up above the faceoff dots, then dishing off to an open Applemotherfuckingsauce, who manages to hit Toskala right in the middle of his Leaf with the shot.

0:01 Travis is still a long way from getting a Fuck This Shit nickname. He’s not even, like, Fuck This Shit In Training. He makes a great defensively play inside the Devils blueline and ends up on a sprinting breakaway to beat the clock. And the clock is all he beats.

0:00 Chico’s call at the buzzer: “We still have the skills competition to go.” Nice! While we wait for the skills competition, we catch a glimpse of the back of Clemmer’s mask and Boomer, who hates every single thing about him, snarls, “Is that a cobra? Or a bird?” Pookie starts to say, “I’m pretty sure his childhood hero was—” and Schnookie cuts her off to conclude the statement, “Cobra Commander.”

The skills competition comes down to Blake scoring on Clemmensen and Rolston not scoring on Toskala. Whatever. It is constantly shocking to us that the shootout is still a part of the NHL.

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