When the hell do we play again?

I don’t like the schedule very much this year.

I mean really – there’s a two-week Olympic break in February, right?  So what happened to the condensed schedule?  Why did the Devils have a bunch of days off, then two games in a row, and now a bunch more days off?  It’s mighty boring.  Especially if you’re a Met fan like me and am physically disgusted at the baseball playoffs.  And if you’re a Seahawk fan like me and am embarrassed by your favorite football team’s performance week in and week out.  I NEED MY SPORTING DISTRACTIONS, NHL SCHEDULE MAKERS!

I guess in the mean time, since the Devils don’t play again ’til tomorrow, I can always do a little housekeeping with respect to Devils news & notes:

First off, Cory Murphy cleared waivers.  I’m only a touch surprised by this.  He’s already down in Lowell, and we may very well never see him again.  Unless someone gets injured.  Please, no one get injured.  Thanks.

The L-Devs also signed Dean McAmmond.  It’s okay, you can yawn, I already did.  He’s on an AHL contract and won’t be with the big club unless Lou offers him a big boy contract, too.

Patty Elias will see a doctor on Friday as he continues to work his way back into playing shape.  Still no definitive date for his return, but did you really expect anyone with the Devils to say so, even if there was?  My guess is November 7th @ Ottawa.  Dunno why, just a hunch.

Finally, Wednesday night’s home game against the Sabres suddenly has all kinds of crazy goings-on.  Mystery puck night is back – complete with jacked up price!  What was $20 for a puck signed by a mystery Devil last year is now $25.  But the proceeds benefit UNICEF, so you’re a real jerk if you complain about it.  Touche, Devils.  Touche.

I wish I was going to the game Wednesday night, I’d TOTALLY pay $25 for a Pierre-Luc Letourneu-Leblond puck.  Think about it, with a name like that, how’s he supposed to fit it all on one little puck?  It’d be the craziest puck signature ever, more silver marker than vulcanized rubber!

Also Wednesday is the return of College Night.  Irony for me being that I can’t attend, because I have to go to two college classes.  D’oh.

And since it’s Halloween week and the Devils play in the very scary location of Tampa Bay on Halloween itself, there’s a costume contest at the Rock Wednesday night as well.  Winner gets the choice of a catered suite to a future Devils game or four tickets to see Miley Cyrus.  Who’d you rather spend an evening with, Miley or Andrew Peters?  (…on second thought, don’t answer that.)

But since I won’t be there Wednesday, I guess my “Blind NHL referee” costume will have to remain in the closet for another year…

Devils @ Senators LIVECAP!

10:19 PM: That’s gonna be it for me tonight gang, thanks for hanging out.  See you at the Rock on Saturday!

10:14 PM: Devils win the Atlantic Division and are locked into the number three seed – both of these determined before the game was even over.  The win tonight gives the team 50 wins on the year, a franchise record.  Montreal earned a point in Boston by sending the game to overtime, and now all eight playoff spots in the east are secured, it’s just a matter of seeding now.  Your elite eight of the east:  Boston, Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Carolina, Pittsburgh, New York, Montreal.

10:13 PM: Spezza denied by Brodeur and the Devils win the shootout 2-1 and the game 3-2!

10:13 PM: Langs stopped glove side by Auld.  Still 2-1, Spezza up for Ottawa.

10:13 PM: Fisher misses to the left, remains 2-1 and if Langs scores we win.

10:12 PM: Shanahan roofs it over Auld’s glove, 2-1!

10:12 PM: Alfredsson snaps it past Marty’s glove.  1-1.

10:11 PM: Zach Parise just completely undressed Alex Auld and it’s 1-0 Devils.  Remember the goal earlier this year against Washington?  It was like that.

10:10 PM: I predict Parise, Elias, and John Madden’s stick as shootout contestants.  Also, I think I just heard the TV change to NHL Network at Scott Mackie’s house.

10:09 PM: Seriously though, I can’t remember the last time we played in a shootout, let alone the last time I LiveCapped a shootout.  Interesting.

10:08 PM: Game over, 2-2.  Wait, what’s this?  Shoot-out?  What is this…shoot…out you speak of?  Surely you jest!

10:06 PM: Zach’s never gonna score again (with deference to the -Ookies once again).  Can’t tip Oduya’s shot, nor can he pull home the rebound.  A minute to go in OT.

10:05 PM: Capitals beat Tampa, and now the Devils are officially locked into the number three seed for the playoffs.

10:03 PM: Ooooooh man Marty with one of those magician-like glove saves – entirely too flashy with that previously-injured arm, but it shut up the Sens fans for a second there.

10:01 PM: Man, I’m tired, I just wanted to go to bed.  Stupid Senators.  Overtime on.

9:59 PM: Going to overtime now.  Life isn’t fair.

9:57 PM: DAMMIT!  Sens fire one off the post that looks like it’s in, White with a good defensive play to prevent a goal, then Dany Heatley manages to pound it home.  God-friggin-dammit.  Tie game, 30 seconds left.

9:55 PM: Alex Auld on the bench for the Sens now, timeout Ottawa…A minute and a half to go and it’s still 2-1 Devils.  Meep.

9:54 PM: Two minutes to go.

9:53 PM: Lots of pressure on the Sens goal…really nice shift there.  Zach Parise must be the hardest luck 45 goal scorer in history.  Okay, probably not, but still.  Boy can’t buy a goal lately.

9:48 PM: All penalties are up now.  Six minutes left in the game.

9:43 PM: …and now the power play’s totally done.  Andy Greene takes a tripping penalty and it’ll be four-on-four for a minute, then Sens on the PP.

9:42 PM: First minor is done, two minutes to go on the PP.

9:41 PM: Gio got smooshed again.  Gio’s too easily smooshable.

9:39 PM: Ooooh, Daniel Alfredsson got pissy with a ref over a penalty and now is serving two minutes for interference (I assume) and another two for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Four minute power play for the Devils!

9:36 PM: Welp, Rangers win so they’re in the playoffs.  Sigh.  BUT, it does mean that the Devils are officially 2008-09 Atlantic Division champions!

9:35 PM: Jebus.  Marty can’t hold onto the puck and gets creamed by about 20 Devils and 14 Senators.  …I may be exaggerating a little.

9:32 PM: Ruutu takes a hook and we’re back to the PP.

9:25 PM: To borrow a line from the -Ookies of Interchangeable Parts, ZACH’S NEVER GONNA SCORE AGAIN!  Hits the post on the power play.  Shortly afterward, Martin with a drive, breaks his stick, and then breaks up an ensuing Sens breakaway WITHOUT A STICK.  Paul Martin is a defensive machine!

9:23 PM: Devils have a full two minutes of PP time to start the period.  Fresh ice, fresh legs, full length power play…surely we have to score, right?  Surely…?

9:22 PM: I love the Chuck the Duck season recap.  Almost more than the actual season recap.

9:05 PM: That’ll be the end of a much better second period.  Penalty on the Senators as time expires and it’ll be the Devils on a full two minutes of PP time when the third starts.  Yay!

9:01 PM: I wonder if John Madden’s hockey stick is also an unrestricted free agent this year, and how much it’ll cost to lock it up for three years.

8:59 PM: BRILLIANT!  The pass bounces off of John Madden’s stick – which Madden was not holding – and out of the zone.  LOVE IT!

8:58 PM: And now John Madden has no stick.  Crap.

8:58 PM: Yep, Whitey’s in the box…again…

8:57 PM: Colin White (I think) takes a hooking penalty.  Even if it wasn’t him, I’m gonna blame Colin White anyway.  Just for the hell of it.  Someone, because of Colin White, takes a hooking penalty.  So the Sens head to a PP.

8:52 PM: Leblond with a Cam Janssen-like heat-seeking missle type hit.  Awww.

8:51 PM: Nearly a two-on-one for the Devils but Zajac is a step slow and Langenbrunner misses the net on the shot.  Two-on-one the other way and Marty stones ’em.  Phew.

8:45 PM: White and Chris Neil get pissy with one another and start bitchslapping each other – Colin won’t drop ’em ’cause of the eye injury, and Neil won’t drop him ’cause he’s Chris Neil.  Two minutes each for roughing.

8:42 PM: Alex Auld plays another puck behind the net.  He didn’t just give it to one of the Devils this time, though.  Drats.

8:39 PM: That was Gionta’s 20th goal of the season.  Kind of sad when we’re looking at that as a milestone for Brian Gionta.

8:34 PM: WHOO!  Auld with an awful giveaway to Clarkson, who attempts the world-reknowned Clarkaround – misses terribly, but the puck slides straight out to Brian Rolston and it’s 2-1 Devils!  Also, Gionta’s goal did not come at the tail end of the power play, it came just after it ended.

8:33 PM: GIONTA!  Gio tips-in Shanahan’s shot at the very end of the power play and we’re tied!

8:32 PM: Ugh.  Terrible giveaway by Andy Greene.  On the plus side, at least he recovered and was able to play some decent Greene-fense to prevent a shot on goal.

8:30 PM: Senators take a very stupid too many men on the ice penalty while in the offensive zone, after a nice save on a very impressive drop-pass-and-shot from…a pair of Senators.  God I’m not very good at LiveCapping tonight.

8:29 PM: We be back yo.

8:12 PM: And that’s that.  1-0 Senators after one.  Sigh.  See ya in seventeen.

8:11 PM: The time remaining in the period and the power play are exactly the same.  Funky.

8:10 PM: …not a very GOOD power play, mind you, but a power play nonetheless.

8:09 PM: On a long delayed penalty, Gionta gets the puck to Zubbie, who drives, protects the puck, cuts for the goal…and falls and collides heavily with the boards.  Oh well, at least we’re on a power play now.

8:04 PM: Paul Martin was a puck-handling, puck-possession machine!  Killed the last 10 seconds on the Senators PP all by his lonesome, forcing his will on the puck carrier and qoinking it away.

8:02 PM: How did Ottawa get two Irish guys on their team?  Shannon and Kelly…I assume they’re Irish, don’t get much more Irish than that.  Also, a Devil took a penalty.  I think Colin White, but I wasn’t paying much attention.  Sorry.

8:00 PM: ‘nother odd-man rush, this time for the Sens, and Marty’s like “NUH-UH!”  ‘least he decided to pay attention tonight.  Much better save there than anything in the Toronto game.

7:58 PM: 2-on-1 with Zajac and Langenbrunner.  No goal.  No surprise.

7:55 PM: PLcubed vs. Winchester (who?).  Lots of grappling, not so much on the punching side.  “How’s your wife and my kids?” kind of affair.

7:51 PM: Elias gets sprung on a mini-breakaway but can’t do anything with it.  Why did you get those days off again Patty?

7:50 PM: All kinds of bad things are happening elsewhere tonight:  Rangers are winning, Panthers are losing…I was hoping we could get a win this evening to guarantee the division, then watch the Flyers sweep the Rangers out of the playoffs and helping Florida in.  Oh well.

7:47 PM: Elias is back too.  Only half as important as PLcubed’s return.  Rupp and Holik take a seat in the press box, much to the maniacal laughter of Jay Pandolfo.  Still no Havelid, which means there’s still a certain level of Greene-fense this evening as well.

7:46 PM: Apparently we recalled Pierre-Luc Letournau-Leblond!  OH JOYOUS HYPHEN-LOVING DAY!

7:44 PM: I rushed a post up for this?  Sigh.  1-0 Senators as Rutuu jams home a rebound.  Maybe we were better off without a LiveCap tonight…?

7:43 PM: Late start for me tonight, terribly sorry.  Game’s already underway, no score, sixteen minutes left to play in the first.  Let’s get this thing going.

Brian Gionta Goes Splat.

Crikey, it’s getting old. Brian Gionta just got pushed off the puck hard, and it looks like he hit both shoulder and head against the unforgiving Detroit boards. He skated off on his own power, but has yet to return to the game, which currently sits at 2-1 Detroit after two periods, on the strength of a pair of Marian Hossa goals. Parise notched a deflection off an Oduya slapshot for the Devils only tally so far.

Edit: As the third period is starting, it becomes apparent that Bryce Salvador has not returned to the ice either. Salvador was hit by a puck in the second period, leading to Hossa’s goal. Sigh.

So, the updated injury counter:

Martin Brodeur, torn bicep
Brian Rolston, high right ankle sprain
Bobby Holik, broken pinkie
Andy Greene, broken hand
Paul Martin, upper body soreness
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, cracked orbital bone
Brian Gionta, unknown head/shoulder injury
Bryce Salvador, some kind of puck-to-knee injury

Add to that Matt Halischuk’s apparently serious leg injury suffered in the L-Devils game at Wilkes-Barre the other night, and the Devils are short EIGHT players, less than one calendar month into the season.

Ouch.

That wasn’t a game, that was a statement.

And thus ends the saga of Brodeur V. Avery, at least for the time being. A 5-0 thrashing by the Devils, with every single player wearing the NJ crest looking spectacular. Check out Scott’s analysis below – even he couldn’t come up with someone to chew out!

As Scott mentioned, Andy Greene looked stellar, putting up two assists and bringing us back to the Andy halcyon days of the 2007 playoffs. Dainus Zubrus clearly is as upset as we are that the Zubbie Counter remains in the cob-webbed cellar of 2MA and is working to change that. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond had a wicked hit late in the game to go with his first career NHL point. Zach Parise continued his stellar start, adding another goal and assist to his growing point totals. And of course, John Madden finally scored on a fast break-like situation!

Perhaps most importantly though, is that – save for a bad penalty by Clarkson in the first period – the Devils FINALLY figured out how to keep Sean Avery from getting under their collective skin. In fact, I submit that the Devils/Clarkson/Brodeur gave Avery a small dose of his own medicine. Even ESPN took notice of the little shoves and the clearing attempt by Brodeur that whizzed by Avery’s head. The Devils frustrated Avery and made him a non-factor. My only question is why they needed a thirteen-game study session last year to figure it out.

So now, with a 5-1-0 record, we move on to a home-and-home with our dear dear friends, the (still winless) Philadelphia Flyers. This could be fun.