The Day After

It’s been said over and again, by Scott last night, by comments both here and elsewhere, by talking heads on TV.  Last night, simply, was amazing.

I sat down to try to put something up on this blog before heading back to my much-less-thrilling day job, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to say.  I’m 60 words into this thing and I still don’t know, really.

I do know that last night’s game re-affirmed my love for this game, for this team, for that goaltender, for this franchise.  I’ve never been to a Stanley Cup Final game – I can only imagine that the atmosphere in the Rock last night was as close as it gets without Lord Stanley’s mug riding on the outcome of the game.

I love that this game fell on St. Patrick’s Day.  There was a nice, loose atmosphere to the crowd – whether it was the history-in-the-making aspect, the beer flowing pre-and-during game, or (most likely) a healthy combination of both, it made the Rock truly feel like home for perhaps the first time.  Sure, there was the stray Blackhawks fan (and the obligitory guy in a Rangers jersey despite their team actually playing a pretty important game at the same time), but last night, the Prudential Center was the DEVILS building.  That is what it should have felt like during last year’s playoffs, and hopefully will feel like this year.

I love that Patrik Elias’ record-setting assist was a primary assist, and that everyone in the building saw the play and recognized it for what it was instantly.  The eruption for Patty’s assist was worth the price of admission alone, regardless of Marty’s feat.  I love that the response to Patty’s record-breaking point was so intense and so overwhelming that I actually had to look up who scored the goal just now, because for the life of me, I couldn’t remember.  It was Brian Gionta, by the way, and it was shorthanded.

I love that there was no scripted cheesy celebration after the game, that Gary Bettman didn’t hit the ice to shake Marty’s hand and present him with a plaque.  There will be time for that before another game, but the celebration last night was rightfully focused on Brodeur.  As awkward as it became after a few minutes, I love that he was given scissors and cut down the net.  I love that the rest of the team jumped in to help out so Marty could take his victory lap.  Without his team, he wouldn’t have won one game, let alone 552, and without his team, he would still be cutting that net down this morning.

I love that we had the greatest play-by-play man in all of hockey (and arguably all of sports) in house to call the historic game, just as we have the greatest play-by-play man in all of hockey to call every game, historic or mundane.  Doc Emrick, as we’ve stated many times on this blog, is one of the greatest perks to being a Devils fan.  We’re lucky to have him.

We’re a lucky fan base in general, I think it’s safe to say.  We’ve got the greatest goalie of all time.  We’ve got the greatest point-scorer in Devils history on the ice right now.  We’ve got the greatest announcer.  We’ve got three Stanley Cups, four Eastern Conference championships, seven Atlantic Division championships, sixteen consecutive winning seasons, eleven consecutive playoff appearances.  A good number of those will likely go up by the time this season’s over.

We’ve also got among the greatest fans in hockey.  Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to be a Devils fan.  We’re too quiet.  We can’t fill our building most nights.  We’ve got a preoccupation with the team on the other side of the Hudson.  We’ve heard all of that before and undoubtly will continue to hear it for a long time.

But last night – last night I was proud of our fan base.  Proud of our franchise.  Proud of our owner, GM, coach, team, game-day crew, ushers, building, city, state.  Last night was one of the greatest nights I have ever experienced as a Devils fan.  A night I will never forget.  Thank you, Mr. Brodeur.  Thank you, Mr. Elias.  Thank you, Mr. Lamoriello, Mr. Vanderbeek, Mr. Sutter.  Thank you, Mr. Langenbrunner, Mr. Clemmensen, Mr. Weekes, Mr. Martin, Mr. Parise, Mr. Zubrus, everyone who’s ever skated with a Devils crest on their chest.  Thank you to everyone involved in getting that building where it is, to the people who make the games happen every night.

Thank you to those who read what we have to say on this site, whether you like us or…not so much.  Thank you, Devils fans.  Last night was special, because of all of us.  Hopefully, this is not the last time that building feels like it did last night.

…not bad for not knowing what I wanted to say, eh?

Devils @ Panthers LIVECAP!!

10:06 PM: So a five-game winning streak for NJ after nearly losing the game in a poorly-played few minutes in the third. Nothing like a little tension to head into turkey day. That’s it for me tonight. Check back in the next few days for the launch of a major initiative from the 2ma! Goduya! Happy Thanksgiving!

10:01 PM: Johnny mothereffin’ Oduya!!!!! After botching a 2-on-1 just minutes ago, the reborn defenseman rips one through Anderson to win the game for New Jersey! Devils win! 3-2 in OT.

10:00 PM: Penalty killed, Devils on the attack. Thankfully the Panthers are still playing like little more than an AHL squad.

9:56 PM: OT underway and hot jesus on a hammock, they throw the puck over the glass and draw a penalty. Would somebody please find the Devils from 90 minutes ago?

9:53 PM: Damn. David Booth puts one home with 7.8 seconds left. We’re going to OT folks! Major Buzzkill is undoubtedly laughing from the bench, twirling his evil mustache. I completely blame this on my girlfriend, who wished against the shutout so her fantasy team would do better.

9:52 PM: Stop by Clemmer. Good pressure by the Panthers though, under 30 seconds left.

9:51 PM: Buzzkill pulled. Less than a minute to play.

9:49 PM: Ooof. Out of nowhere the Panthers put one in on a quick bang-bang play to Bouwemeester in the slot. 2-1. Two minutes to play.

9:43 PM: Major Buzzkill strikes again. Anderson stones Parise on a great breakaway chance. I feel like Anderson was stroking his Snidely Whiplash mustache under his helmet after that one.

9:41 PM: And now what it would have looked like if it were 1943! Anyone else getting sepia-tone replays?

9:38 PM: The Panthers look like the mighty mites on the 5-on-3 and Clemmer shuts them down when they get their act together for the subsequent 5-on-4. Still 2-0 in the second half of the 3rd.

9:35 PM: Ooooh boy. Now it gets interesting. Gio takes down a Panther and is called for tripping in what was a far more legitimate infraction. 5-on-3. The Panthers have “Right Now” by Van Halen on in the arena to boot. This sh*t’s about to get intense, hair band style.

9:33 PM: BS roughing call on Colin White. Nathan Horton comes up high on a hit on Whitey in the corner and he retaliates and gets called for a minor.

9:28 PM: 7 minutes of unremarkable hockey is broken by an absolutely absurd pair of saves by Clemmer! He made a solid save on an initial shot and I think somehow detached his spine to catch the rebound with his lower back. Johnny Oduya backs him up by kicking the puck out of harms way near the goal line. Whew! That woke me up.

9:22 PM: Back at it here in the third. Man, I agree with Josh, this Craig Anderson character is a bummer.

9:01 PM: Clemmer’s looked great during a bit of pressure from the Panthers at the end of the second there. Might be time for Weeksie to find that crossword puzzle book he was working on last year. Devils still up 2-0 after two.

8:58 PM: It even looks like the refs are taking pity on the thus-far hapless Panthers. Jay Leach gets called for a questionable interference minor and the Panthers are on the PP.

8:53 PM:Man, Patty and Gio are playing like it’s ’05-’06. Every shift has just been gold for them lately. A great give and go gets stopped by Anderson, who admittedly has done well to stonewall the Devils here in the second.

8:47 PM: And another powerplay without a goal. Still, as MSG-1294 just flashed up on the screen, the scoring chances are 16-1 at this point, so I’m not going to throw a pissy fit over it.

8:43 PM: Another penalty to the Panthers!

8:42 PM: My girlfriend, who has been affectionate to me in the comments arena tonight, just pointed out that Clemmenson is quite intimidating in net. I never noticed it, especially since there’s been no focus on him whatsoever tonight, but the dude seriously looks Devilish in net with his dark pads and mask.

8:39 PM: Another strong powerplay by the Devils with nothing to show for it. Still, the Devils look like they’re in a different league than the Panthers, who might have stayed a little too long out in the sun today.

8:36 PM: 17-4 is the shot total right now in favor of New Jersey. 17-4! Clarkson takes a spill (which I’m convinced has more to do with the fact that his skating ability is akin to Happy Gilmore than a trip) for a penalty and we’ve got another Devils powerplay!

8:29 PM: Back again for the second to find that Thomas Voukon has made a hasty exit in lieu of Craig Anderson. That’s two games straight that the Devils, the New Jersey Devils mind you, have chased goalies in consecutive games. What’s going on here? I ain’t about to question it.

8:11 PM: Hahaha. Doc ends the period with the most uncomfortable “whoohooo” ever to announce the Devils next Nathan’s hot dog night.

8:09 PM:Wow! A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from Parise to Cap’n Langs on over to Zajac and it’s a 2-0 game. All four lines are looking great heading into the final minute of the period down in Florida.

8:06 PM: Man, the boys are buzzing tonight. I’m almost terrified at this point that Rolston and Holik coming back will upset this magnificent chemistry that’s been stumbled across.

8:03 PM: Some good puck movement on the powerplay but nothing to show for it. The Devils are outshooting the Panthers 9-2 so far this period, so I’m not gonna complain. Are we on MSG-153 tonight? This looks like it’s being filmed in a cave.

8:01 PM: Penalty on Florida! Looked like a hook as Elias is taken down. Devils PP!

7:55 PM: Back and forth hockey here, nothing too spectacular. We could invent some Devils drama in the process I suppose. Bryce Salvador totally just rejected Parise’s stick after he broke his in the defensive zone. Is there trouble in paradise?

7:51 PM: The Devils really have a zip to their game again tonight. I dunno what Grumpy McMonkey Ears behind the bench has been saying to them lately, but he better keep it up. Is it injuries? Is the road to Lord Stanley paved with sports hernias? No probably not.

7:47 PM: Gionta scores!! The streak continues! Five straight games with a goal for Gio on another beautiful deflection setup by Mr. Johnny Oduya, who has looked freakin’ phenomenal this year.

7:45 PM: Elias just barely fans on an opportunity in front. Chico points out that this is in fact hockey and not soccer and Elias would not have been able to kick the puck into the net. Whew, that’s a load off.

7:43 PM: Penalty killed. Jesus, are the Devils really only 68 percent on the penalty kill at home? WTF? Devils powerplay as the Panthers take a minor!

7:40 PM: After figuring out some dual live-cap madness we’re underway! And less than 2 minutes in we’ve already got a penalty to Elias. Devils on the PK early.

7:35 PM: I think this truly must be a 2ma first.

7:32 PM: Oh! Dueling livecaps!!!! Damn you Burnett!!

7:30 PM: P.S. I had some trouble finding the game tonight on my cable. If you’re having the same problem, this is where I found the info on what asscrack of television the devils broadcast is on tonight.

7:25 PM:So Scottie Clemmensen gets the start tonight as we continue to work through the weird and wild post-Brodeur apocalypse. We’re still working on fixing the Zubbie Counter after last night’s explosion, but those repairs could be helped along by some continued stellar play (ahem).

7:19 PM: Hey all, it’s been a while I know. I’ve been giving a little too much love to my other wordpress baby lately (i sorta get paid for it), and I apologize. But OMG, two livecaps in a week?! We’re totally spoiling you. Let’s go Devils!