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Yesterday we took Boomer to see her first game at The Rawk. Because the Devils were playing the Wings, it was “Honor the 1995 Cup Team” night, and they showed a little two-part documentary during the intermissions about that SCF. It was a standard-format documentary, with a narrator reading a script over game highlights, flavoring snippets of the real-time TV commentary from the series, and frequent flavoring clips of interviews with Devils players reminiscing about that Cup run. What was hilarious was that every interview clip of Shawn Chambers involved him stated whatever obvious thing the narrator just said. Like the part where they got to Nieder’s coast-to-coast goal in Detroit, and after the narration explained that Nieder was young and fast, Chambers popped up to say, “Scott Niedermayer was such a fast skater.” Thanks, Shawn! In that spirit, here is a documentary post about our day yesterday, with Shawn Chambers providing the insider commentary.

Narrator: It was a perfect December Saturday at stately IPB Manor. There was hockey on the TV, quilt fabric to be cut, Christmas cookies to be eaten, presents strewn about everywhere, and snow gently falling outside. And there was a festive spirit in the air, as the Ookies were taking Boomer to her first game at The Rawk that evening.

Shawn Chambers: It was snowing outside. And that’s a lot of presents.

A Glorious Afternoon At Stately IPB Manor

Narrator: At about a quarter to five, the denizens of stately IPB Manor put on their Devils sweaters, loaded up their camera bags, and piled into the car; they were finally going to try driving to a game instead of having to wait for the train. Armed with Christmas carols on their iPod, everything should have been perfect for an easy drive to Newark, but the Ookies and Boomer hadn’t counted on the lousy weather. Snow is great when you’re home and don’t have anywhere to go, but it’s a completely different creature when you’re trying to drive in it.

Shawn Chambers: Snow is hard to drive in!

Hyperspace Snow

Narrator: While Pookie struggled with the low visibility, Schnookie tried to take pictures to preserve a sense of the yuckiness of the roads for generations to come. Ultimately, Pookie did a better job with the driving than Schnookie did with the camera.

Shawn Chambers: Someone needed to take the camera away from Schnookie.

Driving to the Arena

Narrator: The drive was an adventure. There was a call to 911 to report a minor accident that, as it turned out, had already been reported.

Shawn Chambers: The Ookies and Boomer called 911. They were trying to be good citizens.

Narrator: There were the weird new traffic patterns on Rte. 1 in New Brunswick.

Shawn Chambers: The traffic patterns on 1 in New Brunswick are weird.

Narrator: And then there was the matter of the driving directions to the parking garage that the Devils offer on their website.

Shawn Chambers: The Devils offer driving directions to the arena parking.

Narrator: Before leaving the house, the Ookies tried to match up the directions with a look at the area on Google Maps, but the interchanges between the Turnpike, 78, 1-9, and everything else around Exit 14 is nothing but a tangle of ramps and cloverleafs when you look at a map.

Shawn Chambers: The map makes no sense.

Narrator: But as it turns out, the directions on the Devils site are tragically vague. It would have been helpful to clarify whether a person should be taking the ramp for 1-9 north or 1-9 south, and also to figure out whether they really mean that the exit to 21 is three miles after getting on 1-9 (north? South? Who even knows?).

Shawn Chambers: Those directions make no sense.

Narrator: Before long, after getting off the Turnpike, the Ookies realized they were lost.

Shawn Chambers: The Prudential Center isn’t in Elizabeth.

Narrator: It was 6:15 at this point, and the GPS system in Pookie’s car wasn’t helping, because no one knew what the area they were looking for was supposed to look like, thanks to the street map in that area being a Gordian knot, and the Devils-provided driving directions being a pile of poop. Some bickering flared up.

Shawn Chambers: Schnookie was sorry she ruined Pookie’s life, and vice versa. Boomer was sorry that she got dragged into this in the first place.

Narrator: Wishy-washiness set in, that sense of “we’ll just keep driving in a straight line in this direction forever and ever now that we’re lost, because there’s simply no point in ever trying to be found again” ennui. Pookie’s iPhone’s GPS was brought into play. The iPhone told the Ookies that they were 1 hour and 48 minutes from the arena. It was 6:30.

Shawn Chambers: That sucked.

Narrator: Despair overtook the stately IPB Car. They were going to miss the game at this rate. But then they realized that the iPhone was giving them walking directions.

Shawn Chambers: It’s faster to drive than to walk.

Narrator: It turns out they were just 12 minutes from the arena. But they hit every stoplight in Elizabeth and Newark along the way, so they arrived inside the arena just as the Devils starting lineup was being announced.

Shawn Chambers: They didn’t miss any action!

Narrator: The trauma of the trip to the arena was quickly forgotten, though, because Boomer’s mind was blown by the awesomeness of the arena, and by the awesomeness of their seats.

Shawn Chambers: The fifth-row seats rocked. They had a really good view of the ice, and of the Devils bench. It was cool.

December 5 2009

Narrator: As if they knew this was Boomer’s Christmas present, the Devils decided not to suck in the first period, unlike recent games. In fact, they went up 2-0, including one of those crazy Johnny Oduya goals where he gets the puck in his own zone, starts skating, realizes the other team sucks, and just scores on his own. He does that whenever the Ookies are at the game in person, so it was a great convergence of his return to the lineup and their return to Newark.

Shawn Chambers: Johnny Oduya likes the Ookies.

Narrator: The Ookies are total girls, and got all excited when Zach took off his helmet on the bench.

Shawn Chambers: Zach’s dreamy. I love it when he takes his helmet off on the bench.

Zach Parise Helmetless

Narrator: Having been in the building in October for Marty’s shutout against the Hurricanes, the Ookies were highly confident they were going to see the record-setting shutout on this night. They were wrong.

Shawn Chambers: 2-1 is not nearly as good a score as 2-0.

Narrator: But things started looking up again when PandoNation’s emperor-god got an assist! Welcome back to the lineup, Pando! Pando also almost scored a goal, but the puck was pulled off the goal line by a Wings defender; Schnookie thinks that should have counted.

Shawn Chambers: 3-1 is a very good score, and 4-1 would have been even better.

Narrator: But this is the Devils, and it wouldn’t be a Devils game lately without a blown third-period lead.

Shawn Chambers: 3-3 is not nearly as good a score as 3-1.

Narrator: AndyGreeneNation’s emperor-god took a bit of a stumble in the eyes of his adoring people.

Shawn Chambers: It wasn’t Blandy’s best game.

Action Sports Photography At Its Finest

Narrator: But a game in person is all about the experience, and Boomer and the Ookies had a great time. There was lots of action on the ice, and the chicken fingers in the Fire Lounge were plentiful.

Shawn Chambers: Chicken fingers taste good.

Narrator: The only problem was that rude guy in front of them who wouldn’t sit down.

Shawn Chambers: Victory Euro Mats is so rude. He thinks he’s the only person at the arena.

Down In Front!

Narrator: In the end, Boomer’s Christmas present turned out to be a 4-3 shootout win! WOO HOOO!

Shawn Chambers: In actual hockey terms, that’s less a 4-3 win than a somewhat disappointing 3-3 tie. The Devils didn’t fool Boomer that much.

Narrator: But it was a great a great night, and the stately IPB Car did not get lost on its way back home.

Shawn Chambers: Getting home is nice.

VE Mats At The Rink

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A while back we published a shocking list of 38 things you don’t know about Sid Crosby. In order to drum up a bit more interest in this godforsaken Stanley Cup Finals, we decided to do some investigating and come up with a similarly shocking and similarly numbered list of things you don’t know about tomorrow’s Game 7. We’re not trying to start any kind of trouble or ensnare anyone in any scandals — we’re just trying to bring the truth to light.

(Unrelated to this list, but related to Game 7, we’d like to thank Tyler from The Triple Deke for asking us to pen a guest post about our experiences with SCF Game 7s. The Triple Deke is a wonderful blog, and if you’d like to read our post, you can find it here.)

1. If you rub a balloon on Zetterberg’s beard for five minutes, you can use the ensuing static electricity to power a 75 watt lightbulb for the length of the first intermission.

2. There are only 39 things you don’t know about Sid Crosby, and we’ve already told you 38 of them.

3. Kirk Maltby revs himself up for games by reading the Oconee County phone book.

4. Joe Sakic contacted a lawyer in the hopes of suing the Red Wings over the term “Joe Vision”; Sakic had been planning to unveil a brand of signature glasses frames under the name “Joe Vision” in July.

5. Bill Guerin is quite literally a “pea-brain”. His brain stem terminates in a pea. The rest of his cranial cavity is filled with sawdust.

6. Prior to stepping in late in the season to guide an NHL team to the Stanley Cup Finals, Dan Bylsma’s greatest accomplishment was successfully inventing device to keep bananas from bruising in brown bag lunches.

7. Brian Rafalski stole a Scott Stevens sweater from the dressing room before leaving NJ. He keeps it in a mahogany box hidden under his bed, and whenever he’s feeling down in the mouth, he puts the sweater on, poses in front of the mirror, and asks his reflection, “Who’s a pretty boy? Who’s a pretty boy?”

8. Whenever Doc Emrick’s mic is turned off, he silently weeps for what hockey broadcasting has become.

9. Darren Helm is hot. No really, you probably don’t know this, because you’re so tired of hearing him lauded as being the greatest hockey player to ever breathe that you instinctively ascribe entirely negative attributes to him.

10. When Troy Crosby heard Rob Scuderi’s new nickname, he used his superstar son’s money to purchase every jigsaw puzzle for sale in the greater Pittsburgh metro area. He then arranged them in the shape of the Rbk logo, set it alight, and giggled as the bonfire burned.

11. Hal Gill has an actual medical condition that prevents him from ever doing anything right. He caught it from Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a rare intermittent case of it.

12. When asked, none of the players involved in the Stanley Cup Finals could correctly locate Chile on a world map.

13. It’s all a conspiracy against both teams. All of it.

14. Maxime Talbot hopes to quit his day job as soon as he can make a decent living off his Etsy shop.

15. The Devils played cribbage during their playoff “run”, the Hawks let loose with Wii MarioKart, and the Wings spent their downtime playing Trouble. That is, until Kronwell obliterated the little plastic dome that houses the dice. Lidstrom suggested they simply roll the dice to continue the game, but at that point, the spell was broken.

16. Kris Letang has a fillet of penguin in his freezer.

17. Ray Shero is terrified of ice.

18. Chris Chelios has also forgotten that he exists.

19. NBC is losing considerable amounts of money on this game because their permit to use Mike Milbury in public expired on Wednesday; the extension fees for a Milbury permit are designed to be exorbitant enough to discourage anyone from applying for one. This is one of very few financial burdens the network failed to shunt onto the NHL in the fine print of their broadcast agreement.

20. Win or lose, Henry and Linda Staal still love Jordan third-best of all their sons.

21. Miro Satan doesn’t think it would be at all funny to play for the Devils, but sadly, most of his teammates do. There have been no less than 45 man games lost by the Penguins this season as a result of injuries he has inflicted on teammates who have made the mistake of saying, “You know what would be funny? If you played for the Devils.” Satan’s explanation for his short temper is always a terse, “It’s pronounced differently, jackass.”

22. Nick Lidstrom’s testicle has long wished that it was the center of attention, so it’s delighted at the recent media kerfuffle about it.

23. There are concerns in the Pittsburgh front offices that Sid Crosby will not be able to play well, as he’s announced behind closed doors that he’s “waiting for Game 87 to make [his] statement.” No amount of explanation of how the playoff format works seems to have made a dent.

24. That giant cartoon-esque octopus’s arms are getting very sore from holding that pose all season. It can’t wait for the series to end so it can just go out behind the Joe to stretch and smoke a cigarette.

25. Evgeni Malkin spends six hours every day having extensive, life-like make applied to give him his trademark lumpen potato face; in actuality, he is strikingly handsome but has always been insecure about imagined flaws in his visage.

26. Pierre McGuire plans to get invited to as many of the winning players’ days with the Stanley as possible, in the hope that one of them will let him sit naked in the bowl of the Cup so he can poop in it.

27. Mike Babcock keeps a list of all the names of every pro athlete he thinks never should have been drafted. The joke’s on him, though, because several of the names on there — including, surprisingly, Brian Rafalski — weren’t drafted at all.

28. Marian Hossa can’t wait to eat that monkey.

29. Ed Olczyk has petitioned the League to allow his name to be included on the Cup if the Pens win. His grounds for inclusion are that he was “responsible for making Marc-Andre Fleury awesome.” The League hasn’t responded because they’re still not sure whether the petition was a joke.

30. The NBA has petitioned the League to allow LeBron James’s name to be included on the Cup if either team wins. If not LeBron proper, they will be satisfied with Puppet LeBron.

31. Mike Babcock has petitioned the League to allow only his name be engraved on the Cup if either team wins. If the League won’t comply, Babcock is prepared to whine his way to victory.

32. Pavel Datsyuk doesn’t know what this “candy corn” is that you speak of.

33. The GMs of both teams are beginning to believe that every rule in the CBA was devised specifically to keep them from succeeding by a cabal of shadowy League officials. Only one of those GMs is right.

34. Chris Osgood credits his surprising playoff success to his new yoga and meditation regimen. “I had literally forgotten how to play hockey,” he says in a testimonial for a Detroit-area chain of yoga schools, “but now my mind is open again and the hockey has flooded back in.” The Red Wings’ defensive system has plans to file a lawsuit against the chain of yoga schools, because it believes it deserves the credit more than the yoga does.

35. In a further attempt to have himself declared the next Scott Stevens, Brooks Orpik challenged Petr Sykora after Game 6 about the veracity of his alleged foot injury. Further proving that Orpik is no Scott Stevens, Sykora ignored him.

36. The Stanley Cup doesn’t think the whole “Mario’s swimming pool” thing was very funny, because it can’t swim.

37. The series is fixed.

38. We aren’t going to like either one of these teams more for winning. Oh, wait. You already knew that.

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So it begins! Tonight we have the two Conference Semi-Final series we’re not as excited for, Montreal-Philadelphia and Detroit-Colorado, but we’re going to be watching anyway. It’s not that far off that’ll we be sitting here wondering where the heck hockey went, so here we are. We’ll be bringing our “Around The Dial” hockey observationalysis (as opposed to analysis, which, as you know, Gentle Reader, isn’t really our strong suit).

— Not surprisingly we opt to watch this on CBC on the satellite rather than in HD on Philly’s Comcast on the cable. We figure fewer Tastykake references is undeniably sad, but it’s a fair trade-off for no Bill Clement. Moreover, Pookie has yet to see Sid’s Gatorade commercial. Keep your fingers crossed for her!

— Philly scores first. Did we cheer? [Sly smile] We’ll never tell!

— Jim Dowd scores for a case of Surf Tacos and Jersey Mike’s subs! (Being a South Jersey guy he rejected the Tastykakes in favor of something closer to home.)

— The first period ends and we’re left with the impression that this is a classic “Game 1” in that it won’t be at all indicative of what the series will have to offer.

— We stick around on CBC for a few minutes and are rewarded with Sid’s Gatorade commercial. “It’s science… Look it up.” Uh… We’ll just take your words for it. While waiting for that little gem of Sid’s March Towards Global Advertising Domination we are treated to an ad for Toronto FC.

Pookie: Who, one wonders, does the Toronto football club play?
Boomer: Ottawa?
Schnookie: The Harlem Globetrotters?

— We have no stomach for Coach’s Corner (glorifying racism, sexism, and jingoism isn’t really our speed; why does Don Cherry still have a job?!) so we flip over to VS. At the mere sight of the Colorado Avalanche Schnookie launches into full-on rant mode only to be brought up short: “For God’s sake, I’m cheering for Detroit! The Avs are so despicable! I hate them so mu — Oh! Look! The games are staggered! How delightful!” The Playoffs are all about the ups and downs, aren’t they, Gentle Reader?

— As we watch the Red Wings on a first-period power play, the following exchange occurs in the living room of stately IPB Manor:

Boomer: “Who are we cheering for in this one?”
Schnookie, aghast: “Who are we cheering for???”
Pookie: “We’re cheering for the team that doesn’t have Ryan Smyth.”
Schnookie: “We’re cheering for the team that doesn’t have Peter Forsberg.”
Pookie: “I keep forgetting about Forsberg.”
Schnookie: “NEVER. FORGET.”
Pause
Boomer, distressed: “So we’re cheering for Rafalski?”

Yeah, the 2008 playoffs are the times that try a fan’s soul.

— We’ve hit the second period doldrums. Instead of watching we’re cleaning out hundreds of old order confirmations from our Yahoo inboxes and waving a laser beam around for Matsui The Cat to chase. Sigh.

— No sooner do we say this than the Habs score but a high stick leads to a lengthy review. Nothing will grab one’s attention away from months-old email order confirmations more than a lengthy goal review!

— We switch, during intermission, to the Detroit-Colorado game. It’s 4-2. We’re watching the wrong game, aren’t we?

— We get so wrapped up in the end of the Detroit-Colorado period that we miss the 3rd Flyers goal. We have no idea who’s the proud recipient of case of Tastykake/Surf Taco (Tastytako?).

— With 2 minutes left in the Habs/Flyers tilt, things get interesting! Montreal starts buzzing, then Richards trips Kovalev to put the Hab on the man advantage for the final minute. Meanwhile, a fan douses Richards with a beer. Where’s Tie Domi when you need him? (And no, we never thought we’d say that.) Between Jeff Carter getting hit with a beer bottle and Mike Richards getting hit with the contents of a beer bottle, we’re wondering if the bad karma of the Flyers organization is coming back to bite their nicer, more talented players in the form of unsavory hockey fans’ version of the old pie-in-the-face trick.

— Talk about interesting, Kovalev ties it up. Hey, on a night when there are no late games, we’re all about OT!

UPDATE:

— The Detroit game ends with a bang, with Osgood making a killer stop to save the game. We didn’t pay attention to much of this game, but the Tra-La-La-FeelingsBits emanating from our TV suggest this game was very indicative of the series as a whole. We cackle gleefully when we hear Edzo pointed out that Forsberg didn’t dress.

— Like true professionals we flip back to the OT aaaaannnndddd… We’ve missed the winning goal. Kostopoulos scores less than a minute in.

— Are we sad the Flyers lost? [Sad smile] Look at that hobo!

— Now, bring on the series we do care about! Go Pens! Go Stars!

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