Friday, October 31, 2014

How Long It's Been: The New Jersey Devils Won a Shootout


The New Jersey Devils have won a regular-season NHL game in a shootout.

Would a "Hell freezes over" joke be appropriate? It's my blog, so I'm saying it is.

The Devils trailed the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 at the Prudential Center in Newark last night, when Michael Ryder forced home the equalizer with 3:27 left in regulation. There was no overtime winner for either side, so it went to a shootout.

Damien Brunner went first for the Devils, and was stopped by Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec. But Cory Schneider, finally living up to the mantle of Martin Brodeur, stopped Blake Wheeler to keep the shootout level. Jacob Josefson put one through to give the Devils the edge, and then Schneider stopped Andrew Ladd. Patrik Elias could have clinched it, but couldn't. So it was up to Schneider to stop Bryan Little. He didn't have to: Little shot wide of the net. You might even say Little came up small.

(Yes, you might say that, if you were a wiseass like me.)

A "crowd" of 12,837 erupted, because they knew that the Devils winning was a big deal, and that the Devils winning a game by shutout was a huge deal.

The Devils had lost 18 straight games that had gone to a shootout. It was an NHL record. This included all 13 that they had played in the entirety of last season. The last such win was on March 10, 2013, also against the Winnipeg Jets at the Prudential Center.

March 10, 2013. That was 1 year, 7 months and 20 days earlier -- or, if you prefer, 599 days. How long has that been?

*

This was also a shootout in which the Devils got only 1 goal -- unlike last night, Patrik Elias came through. It was also a shootout in which the Devils' goalie stopped all 3 Winnipeg shots. But it wasn't Cory Schneider, who wasn't even on the Devils yet. And it wasn't Martin Brodeur, who had a sore back. It was the Moose, Johan Hedberg.

Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta scored the regulation goals for the Devils. Missing shootout shots were Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson. Kovy, Clarky and Carter are all now playing for other teams.

The defending World Champions were the Los Angeles Kings (as is the case now), the San Francisco Giants (as is the case now), the Miami Heat (which was almost the case now) and the Baltimore Ravens.

At the time, Ravens running back Ray Rice was considered a hero. So was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The New York Rangers hadn't been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994. The Seattle Seahawks had never won a Super Bowl. And the Boston Red Sox hadn't clinched a World Series win at home since 1918. The idea of LeBron James ever playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again was laughable. All of those facts have now changed.

New Jersey had not won the Stanley Cup since 2003, and Winnipeg hadn't won it since 1902. That's right: Nineteen aught two. Neither of those facts has changed.

Writers Richard Matheson, Elmore Leonard, Doris Lessing, Amiri Baraka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frederik Pohl, Nadine Gordimer, Tom Clancy and Maya Angelou were still alive.

So were film director Paul Mazursky; special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen; movie theater sound genius Ray Dolby; actors Cory Monteith, Dennis Farina, Paul Walker, James Avery, Maximilian Schell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, Bob Hoskins, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Eli Wallach, Rik Mayall, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Richard Kiel, Peter O'Toole, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar and Robin Williams; and actresses Jean Stapleton, Esther Williams, Eileen Brennan, Karen Black, Julie Harris, Ruby Dee, Elaine Stritch, Polly Bergen, Jan Hooks, Joan Rivers, Lauren Bacall and Shirley Temple.

So were musical personalities Ray Manzarek, Bobby "Blue" Bland, JJ Cale, Eydie Gorme, Ray Price, Frankie Knuckles, Casey Kasem, Bobby Womack, Tommy Ramone, Johnny Winter, Jack Bruce, Lou Reed and Pete Seeger.

So were journalists Helen Thomas and David Frost. So were astronaut Scott Carpenter, Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, AK-47 designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, homophobe lawyer-minister Ian Paisley and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta.

So were Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, Polish dictator Wojciech Jaruzelski, Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Republic of Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze, Northern Irish statesman Ian Paisley, Australian Prime Minister Edward Gough Whitlam, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and South African President Nelson Mandela.

So were NFL owners Malcolm Glazer, Bud Adams, Ralph Wilson and William Clay Ford, and NBA owner Jerry Buss. So were baseball legends Ralph Kiner, Jerry Coleman, Don Zimmer, Frank Cashen and Tony Gwynn. So were football legends Clarence "Ace" Parker, Frank Tripucka, Pat Summerall, Art Donovan, Deacon Jones, Chuck Fairbanks and L.C. Greenwood. So were basketball legends Bill Sharman, Bob Kurland, Vern Mikkelsen, Tom Gola, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Sam Lacey, Lou Hudson, Walt Bellamy and Sergei Belov. So were soccer legends Bert Trautmann, Djalma Santos, Nilton Santos, Bill Foulkes, Tom Finney, Alfredo di Stefano and Eusebio. So were boxing champions Emile Griffith and Ken Norton, and boxing challenger turned convict turned civil rights activist Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. So was professional wrestler James Hellwig, a.k.a. "the Ultimate Warrior."

So were 4 New Jerseyans who mattered: Sportscaster Bill Campbell, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Sopranos star James Gandolfini, and my father.

All of those people were still alive the last time the Devils won a shootout. Now, none of those people is.

The Olympic Games have since been held in Russia, and the World Cup in Brazil. The President of the United States, the Governor of New Jersey and the Governor of New York have not changed, but the Mayor of New York City has: It was Michael Bloomberg, and it is now Bill de Blasio.

The TV shows Hannibal, Da Vinci's Demons, Mistresses, The Fosters, Graceland, Devious Maids, Ray Donovan, Drunk History, Orange Is the New Black, Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Blacklist, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, Masters of Sex, Reign, Ravenswood, Almost Human, Bitten, Wahlburgers, Resurrection, Turn: Washington's Spies, Fargo, Gang Related, Crossbones, The Last Ship, You're the Worst, The Mysteries of Laura, Madam Secretary, Forever, Black-ish, How to Get Away With Murder, Selfie, Jane the Virgin, The McCarthys, NCIS: New Orleans, The Flash, Gotham and Girl Meets World have since premiered.

Fringe, Private Practice, Attack of the Show!, 30 Rock, CSI: NY, Southland, Happy Endings, Vegas, the new 90210, The Office, The Cleveland Show, The Big C, Body of Proof, Merlin, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Army Wives, Futurama, Judge Joe Brown, Burn Notice, What Not to Wear, Nikita, Dexter and Breaking Bad all aired their last first-run episodes.

Jay Leno retired as host of The Tonight Show (no, no, really, he means it this time), Jimmy Fallon took his place, and Seth Meyers took Fallon's place on Late Night. A new edition of Cosmos aired. Game of Thrones aired "The Red Wedding," and then gave Joffrey and Tywin what they deserved.

In the late winter of 2013, Benedict XVI resigned as Pope, and was replaced by an Argentine of Italian descent, who took the regnal name Francis. Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine, rebel forces took the Central African Republic, the European Union bailed out Cypus, and 2 Chechen brothers set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Van Cliburn, and Hugo Chavez, and Margaret Thatcher died. Sebastian Taylor Tomaz (son of Wiz Khlaifa & Amber Rose), and Margaret Lawrence Hager (1st grandchild of George W. Bush), and North West were born. (Prince George of Cambridge came along a little later.)

March 10, 2013. The New Jersey Devils won a regular-season (not an exhibition) NHL game through a shootout. It seemed like it would never happen again.

Now, it has. Maybe this is the turnaround that the Devils are looking for, and it will send them onward to the Playoffs. And then, who knows... a 4th Stanley Cup, tying the Rangers and the Islanders, and doubling the Flyers?

Stay tuned.

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