Tag Archives: chico

Four Reasons The Devils Will Beat The Rangers

I’m going to invite the evil eye and all other manners of superstitious bad karma by saying the Devils will beat the Rangers to go on to the Stanley Cup Finals (against the LA Kings, who have taken the slot reserved for “One of Gretzky’s Former Teams”). I’m fully prepared to ward off all untoward energies, having packed my playoff towel and my “Chico Eats” t-shirt to enjoy the game remotely tomorrow night. The parallels to 2000 are plentiful: I’m in a Starwood hotel, watching a big game against a hated rival, and I’ll likely be yelling at the TV. In 2000, I got a call from a Westin front desk manager asking me exactly who “Freakin’ Brylin” was and if he could do what he was doing without me hollering. We know how that one ended up (I now stay at another hotel in the Boston area).

Without further historical arcana, here are four reasons the Devils are going deep(er):

Creativity. First the sports press said the Devils couldn’t get by the Rangers’ shot-blocking. Then it was the Rangers defensive scoring prowess. And the Lundqvist meme keeps surfacing like a bad Facebook virus. The Devils are winning by being creative, and for that credit goes equally to the players and Peter DeBoer. On the first goal in Game 4, Josefson set a huge scren in front (in his first playoff game); on the second goal Parise waited for the shot-blocker to slide wide, then fed Zajac. The oft-repeated basic tenet of hockey is to create time and space – time moving with the puck, space moving without it. The Devils are doing both to control the pace of play, and more important, control the shape of play in the attack zone. Leave your feet all you want to block shots — they’ll just skate around.

Responsibility: Parise decided not to talk to the media after Game 3, then came up huge in Game 4. Everyone is focused on the job at hand, and it translates into every little detail of the game. Was I sad to see Petr Sykora in the press box for Game 4? Yes, but the decision to play Josefson was smart. DeBoer is making good calls and the team is sticking with him, his decisions and his style. Elias may not have a point this series, but he’s running the forecheck from center or left wing, driving the power play from the half boards and killing penalties. The Rangers blue line gets the press, but Bryce Salvador has the highest plus/minus rating on both teams at +9.

Poise: The Rangers lost it in Game 4. Hagelin took two dumb penalties on either end of consecutive shifts. Mike Rupp lost any remaining fans he had in the Devils Army when he sucker punched Brodeur. Tortorella can whine about picks and missed calls, but that goes out the window when he races to the glass at the end of his bench, finger wagging, to scream at DeBoer.

Respect. While in the Tortorella vein, the same coach who made a stink about DeBoer starting his scrapper line (in March) sent out Bickel, Boyle and Rupp late in the third period of a game in which they were down two goals. The Rangers have had two players suspended during the playoffs for head shots, and Gaborik received an implicit gift for not having a sit-down with Shanahan regarding his elbow to the head in Game 4. The issue of respect is more than respect for the game or for your fellow athletes; it’s about conducting yourself with a high ethical standard at all times. A number of my regular Devils fan crew have tried to put our collective fingers on what we despise about the Rangers, and I think it comes down to respect – despite a storied arena, a 85 year old Original Six history, and a penchant for buying the premier free agents every season, the Rangers never seem to exhibit respect in any way, and it surfaces as an air of superiority or above-the-law behavior that is tiring even when not echoed by Rangers fans. That lack of respect shows up when Mike Rupp punches his former team mate, or Chris Drury deteriorates so badly he is bought out of his exhorbitant contract, or Scott Gomez forgets how to score goals and make plays (that time and space thing again), or why Bobby Holik believes he is the hockey themed Albert Camus whenever he opens his mouth.

For all that is good, fun, and competitive about a simple game played by simple men: Devils in 6.

Counting and Accountability

It’s another night of saying “no ken a horas” after watching a 5-0 Devils lead shrink to 5-3. As the Festrunk brothers would say, “I blame myself.” Had to tweet that Elias’ points streak is now five games with the assist on Zubrus’ second goal. An extended two on one that started with Elias falling down (and later admitting to the “D” that he made a mistake, most likely, in a sidebar by the bench). A bit of 4-on-4 as a result of slightly time offset penalties, and then a penalty shot goal? This game is passing strange on the way to heart-wrenching.

Bright spots: Defense looks solid, to the point where Chico and Doc are commenting on it. Jay Leach (up again from Lowell in level, down in geography?) notches NHL point number one, just to add to the counting. The second period is only 3-3 even though the last 3 were scored by the Bolts.

Dim spots: A few minutes of el-stinko hockey made a potential laugher into a game that can go either way. It’s dark – literally – on the ice. Not sure if it’s me or my semi-random, pausing and stuttering MSG broadcast, but the ice surface looks like the players took out half of the lights during warm ups.

With accountability extended to fans, armchair coaches and those of us flipping between the NFL and NHL tonight, I’m going to stop counting altogether.

Tourney Time

I love tournament hockey. It’s not for the hardware or the glory: in ten tournament tests, over the course of 4 seasons, my son’s team has brought home exactly one bronze and one silver medal. Many times we were mathematically eliminated before the last game was played, giving us sympathy not for the Devil but the Flyers and a healthy dose of humility.

I love tournament hockey because you experience every range of emotion that you know, compressed into about 60 hours. You have hope, when you arrive at a new hotel from which you have yet to receive a warning about hallway hockey games, and every scoresheet and tote board is as white as pure snow. There’s pure rush, when your team takes the ice for the first game, and well, anything is possible. There’s superstition, heightened when it snows here in Washington, DC, because snow has become something of a good luck omen for your boys. A first-round game in which you fall behind 2-0 surfaces disappointment, only to be chased by excitement as it’s 2-1, and then hoarse, throat-scarring cheering as the game is tied 2-2 with 40 seconds left. A team dinner brings pride, and appreciation, not only for the young men who play but for the parents, siblings and friends who have spent the past six months as my extended family.

Each shot on goal, each change in the game’s pace, modulates the tenor of the weekend and the potential matchups. We tied our first game, putting us in the middle of the pack, and then worked out a win this morning. Being up 3-0, we had our sights set on tonight; when it was 3-1 suddenly our opponents were the ones doing the mental mathematics and thinking through ways to stay in the hunt. A shot, a goal, a big save either way and you start to work the permutations in ways that high school probability teachers never anticipated.

Our goalie was startlingly good today. Three breakaways foiled, and a kick save on a rebound shot that would have had Chico Resch extolling his virtues until at least the next commercial break. Our blueliners stepped in to protect the house; one of our centers who was too sick to play yesterday scored a pretty short-handed goal; and the boys played as a team, on and off the ice. Not bad for a day that started a 5:45 AM. Every emotion includes exhaustion and bewilderment at the lack of easily reached Dunkies outlets near the rinks.

As I write this, a half dozen boys are playing a spirited game of knee hockey in my son’s room, using pillows and furniture for goals and slapping a foam puck around with the same intensity with which they chased the real rubber earlier in the day. They’re having fun, and they’ll remember the knee hockey game and the signs we taped to our doors long after the scores are forgotten.

Four hours from now, we’ll know what President’s Day brings: a medal game or a consolation game in which pride is the reward. Judging from the sounds next door, though, with Pillows having a slight lead over Desk Chair, the best reward has already been claimed.

Mamalushen with Chico

I bust a gut listening to the telecast of tonights Devils-Habs game. During the pre-game Chico Resch made a big deal of Sheldon Souray’s lack of scoring against Brodeur, trotting out enough cross-linkages between the Devils, Canadiens, traded players, Brodeur’s home town and defensement leading their teams in scoring to make a serious wikipedia entry.

Chico called it: halfway through the first period, Souray scored on a wicked shot. So much for trends, streaks and historical references. And then Chico said “Well, in Hebrew there’s a word for that, it’s ken-a-hora.” Nothing like some mamalushen (mother tongue) with Chico (Glenn) to dismiss a ken-dryden-a-hora (early blessing, invitation of the evil eye). Technically, it’s more Yiddish than Hebrew, but Chico gets a hall pass for at least being in the right demographic.

All’s well that ends well, and the Devils rallied, converted on both ends of their first 5-on-3 and half of the next one, despite losing Madden (facial laceration and swelling), White (upper body injury), and Gionta (groin pull while getting pulled down). Elias iced the cake with a nifty backhander, and zeit gezunt (be well) Chico.

Chico may decide that spurring the red and black on with some blue and white is a good idea, so here’s a handy field guide to Yiddish in hockey:

Nudnik. Brendan Shanahan. Even if it doesn’t concern him, he’s got his nose into it. I bet he knows what the inside of Jagr’s bag (interpret as you wish) smells like.

Petzel. Sean Avery. Literally, a little wiener. Not like the dog.

Klop. A wrist shot. Literally, kind of a knock, but with finesse.

Zetz. A more serious slap shot, with some serious lumber on it. What the “D” need to do – give the puck a zetz.

Meeskite. Ugly, really really ugly. Makes Pascal Rheaume (above) look like he should be on Grey’s Anatomy.

Heymish. What you’d expect to find in a man’s man den. Homey, yet solid. Rafalski’s goals: very heymish

Chico – welcome to the mishpocha (family). And if you’re laughing, make sure you check this out: