Les Canadiens return from their West Coast junket to host the team that fun forgot, the New Jersey Devils. The Devils, as you know, are the mind-numbingly boring, trap-trap-til-you-drop, dour, nameless, faceless monster of dull created by Evil Genius Lou Lamariello, kept competitive by All-Universe goalie Martin Brodeur, a stout defence, timely scoring and an endless parade of grinders named Pandolfo or McKay or Brylin. They are the dark side of the moon for the new NHL, the fly in the Crosby and Ovechkin and Malkin and Lecavalier scoring soup. I hate watching them.
Waiting in line details: 7:30 pm EST start, LIVE! from the Bell Centre. Eastern Conference supremacy on the line as the always-in-the-mix Devils try and defend their perch against the happy-to-be-in-the-conversation Habs. Their last meeting was a test of wills, with the Habs trying their usual running and gunning and the Devils doing their evil, lull everyone in the building to sleep ruination of hockey thing. Jesus, I hate watching the Devils.
Pay Your Cover Charge to: Interchangeable Parts. Anyone willing to sit through that many Devils games is either a die-hard, an insomniac, or both.
Hot Sexy Habs to Watch: Koivu still scoring. Grabs centres the Danse a Dix again because Turtleplek remains felled by the flu. TFS between the stripper poles across the ice from the man whose mantle as "Best Goalie Ever OMG4SURE!!!" [trademark ESPN] is his for the taking soon (we hope).
Skanky Habs to Watch: Is Breezer playing? Cause we want O'Byrne back. The call for the return of Chips continues, as Slowinski still cashes paychecks he doesn't deserve. Gui! Gui! Gui! remains a nice kid but too bloody inconsistent. Oh, and hey, if someone wearing a CH on their chest would like to win some faceoffs, GO RIGHT A-FUCKING-HEAD. Seriously, does anyone even work on that shit?
Hot Sexy Devils to Watch: After being mind-tricked into signing a below-market deal last summer, Zach Parise is on pace for almost 40 goals, which makes him far and away the Devils leading threat. Brian Gionta always seems to score important goals, and Patrick Elias, while not the same guy who got some votes as best player in the league some years back, can still make you pay for mistakes. But like they have forever, the Devils go as Hall-of-Fame bound stopper Martin Brodeur goes; on pace for another 40 win season, all-time records for wins, shutouts, and opposing players frustrated in sight, Brodeur looks like he could keep the Devils in contention for another decade. For years, he didn't get the credit he deserved because critics claimed it was easy to tend goal behind Stevens, Niedermayer and Rafalski, but now Brodeur has the Devils in first place playing behind guys like Mike Mottau and Karel Rachunek. Oh, and his last three games he's 3-0, .972 save percentage and a 0.98 goals against. Fuck.
Evil, Evil Genius to Watch: We've run down the evil genius of Lou Lamariello before, but it needs to be said again: The man is intent on boring us all to tears, taking ill-gotten Stanley Cups and ruining all that is glorious about hockey. Fans of the Habs should feel even more grief when confronted by Lou's evil, evil ways: his Devils play "hockey" in a way that is the polar opposite to the firewagon Flying Frenchmen we all grew up with (post 1979 birthdates excepted. Sorry.) Seriously, the man got Zach Parise to take less money to play in front of 12,000 people a night in fucking NEWARK. That's some serious evil mojo.
Skanky Devils to watch: It won't matter. They've got an entire bench of clone shock troops ready to trap, hold, ice the puck, and grind the game to a halt just long enough for Brodeur and Parise to steal it.
Post-Game Entertainment: You're probably going to want to slit your own wrists if the Devils get their way tonight, so maybe it's best if you just go home and crawl into bed with a DVD of the classic 1975 New Year's Eve game. At least the souless, red-clad evil empire the Habs played in that epic played the game right.