Can you believe it, Gentle Reader? It’s hockey! For reals! It might be from England, but according to the schedule, it counts. It’s impossibly bright and sunny here, and this noon start time feels like we should be watching football, but who are we to complain? IT’S HOCKEY!
Unlike many with fancy TVs, we’re not watching today on HDNet, since the tree in our backyard is blocking our satellite HD feeds, and Comcast doesn’t want to carry it on our cable. Instead, we’re rocking the Center Ice, with the Kings feed; we love these two guys. Bob Miller does a pretty decent play-by-play, and Jim Fox is like the most chipper guy in the universe. We love his cadence when the Kings do something crappy – they could take a catastrophically stupid penalty and he’ll chirp, “And that was a stupid play by [that guy], so now the Kings are going to be down a man!” like it’s something to be really happy about. We heartily approve of Jim Fox.
Our anthem singer today demonstrates right off that we’re not in our fair country by starting off way too high. We worry she’s never heard this song before. Pookie, as it gets worse and worse: “This is not going to make people like hockey more.” We note as they show players remarkably not flinching that Bryz’s mask looks a great deal like the banner on BoC. They should definitely take that as a shout-out. (The anthem singer’s “God Save The Queen” is no better than “The Star-Spangled Banner” was. She’s just a bad singer. That’s reassuring that it wasn’t a deliberate insult.)
While they wait to figure out how to turn on the lights at the arena, Miller and Fox discuss the coaches. Apparently Marc Crawford has whined that last season was hard for the Kings because the coaches, scouts, GM, et al were all “new”. Yeah, but they’d all worked in hockey before, right?
When we see a shot of Baby Nieder on the bench, Pookie remarks that she expects he’s an awful lot like Randy on “My Name Is Earl”. When they show a shot of Bertuzzi on the bench, she says, “Oh! I should look for Mags because she said she’d be next to the penalty box. Oh wait. The game hasn’t started yet. He’s on the bench.”
Bill MacDonald and Brian Hayward are hosting a studio show for us, which feels great, because there’s nothing that makes things more like a brain-killing Ducks game than the unique stylings of Hayward. The two are treading water, as they are completely unprepared for technical glitches; after promoting a “Name This Rivalry” contest, MacDonald just stops speaking. These guys are some serious pros, people!
We’re now getting some exciting footage of various and sundry broadcasters in the dark arena, and Miller is giving us updates on the delay. Fox helpfully suggests that he saw a bunch of “big cables downstairs” and posits that maybe unplugging one of them would fix things. That’s the kind of problem-solving we’d expect from the likes of Pommerdoodle!
A lengthy look at Rob Blake provides a textbook view of “heavy-lidded”. Pookie: “Well Blake looks ready to go!”
Wow! The players have left the ice! Pookie was grousing before this started that she is annoyed by the “enjoy the novelty!” crap people have been spouting about this game. “Once it starts, it’s just a hockey game with the same rules, the same officials, the same players. It just has a different logo at center ice.” England must have heard her and taken offense.
19:59 With absolutely no warning, they rapidly cut to the game.
19:24 We think we might be getting the CBC feed of this, too, but when we decide the FSN feed looks like it was filmed through felt and switch over, it’s an informercial for debt consolidation. Blurry little hockey feed it shall be!
18:10 A shocking development! The first penalty of the season is a dumb holding call against Bertuzzi. Boomer: “Bertuzzi looks like something out of the wax factory.” Pause. “I mean museum.” Pookie: “I prefer factory.” Boomer: “Well, with this fine HD feed we’ve got here…”
17:25 A shocking development! The Kings take the first “stupid, lazy holding penalty to negate a power play” of the season. Nice one, Kopitar.
17:00 Ever one to find the silver lining, Pookie points out that with this shitty a feed, the slim-fit sweaters really don’t look that bad.
15:47 Has the “new NHL” passed Brad Stuart by? He is caught flat-footed in front of his net and has to hook a Duck.
14:35 Pookie comments that she isn’t sure who she’s cheering for in this game. The Anaheim power play, though, features Pronger and Bertuzzi. Schnookie thinks there’s no question we should be cheering for the Kings.
12:45 Pookie: “This looks a lot like a preseason game, doesn’t it?”
12:29 Shane Hnidy, trying to show he’s on board with Burke’s goon squad, knocks a King over off the puck. He gets two for interference.
11:54 Miller, in the course of the play-by-play, praises Visnovsky for “being able to move the puck out of the defensive zone.” He says it as if this never happened for the Kings last year. We think we may have spotted one of their problems.
11:45 Baby Nieder takes a ticky-tacky interference penalty near the neutral zone; Pookie grumbles of the penalty parade, “This isn’t going to make English people love hockey more.”
11:27 WOO! Some nifty across-the-box passing sets up Cammalleri for a goal. That’s what we like to see – make Baby Nieder suffer for taking lazy penalties! Calder set a great screen in front, and our announcers go on and on that his nickname is “Grease”. They laboriously explain that most hockey nicknames have cutesy suffixes added to the last name, like “-ie” or “-er”. But – and stay with us here, Gentle Reader – Calder can’t be nicknamed that way. So they call him Grease, of course. This seems very important to Fox and Miller.
10:11 The Ducks are picking up right where they left off last season. Marchant gets called for hooking. Sure it was a pretty bullshit call, but these are the Ducks, after all.
9:13 The Kings are keeping possession of the puck in the offensive zone in spite of themselves. Pookie marvels, “The Ducks have now had three opportunities at slow-moving pucks being pursued by slow-moving Kings and haven’t gotten to them!”
7:09 This is very difficult to watch because the play is not being stopped by guys skating to the penalty boxes. What is going on here?
5:33 A very nifty shift of end-to-end action demonstrates that several players in this game (Kopitar, Perry, McDonald) are pretty decent at this sport.
3:43 Blake takes a screaming shot from the point that goes over the net. Schnookie says dispassionately, “I’m looking forward to hockey between two teams I care about.”
2:47 Ivanans (??? Seriously?) takes a penalty in the offensive zone that’s awful even by this game’s standards. His ghastly visage in the penalty box fills our screen and we send silent prayers of thanks to the satellite gods for blocking our HD feed.
0:47 That was not an impressive power play.
0:00 We get a shot of Cammalleri wandering off the bench at the buzzer; Pookie declares, “All right. Cammalleri does not make my eyes burst into flames.” We are in agreement that he’s a cutie, and that tips the scales definitively in the Kings favor. We now officially like more of their players than we do Ducks players.
We don’t bother unmuting this; it’s still early on a Saturday morning for us, and we just split a growler of Oktoberfest beer so we’re a bit drowsy. At one point we look up to see Jack “MF” Johnson’s headshot. Pookie remarks, surprised, “He looks like a British prince. As played by a young Gary Busey.” That’s not a compliment, in case you’re wondering.
A look at the veterans who have been brought in by the Ducks features a graphic explaining this is Schneider’s 19th MLB season. Wow! We wonder how long he’s been playing hockey on top of that.
19:10 Bertuzzi goes hard to the net… and kind of just falls over when Visnovsky looks at him sternly. We don’t remember that play from his glory days. Should Ducks fans be worried that he’s not going to single-handedly replace Selanne and Penner?
17:50 We get a prolonged look at Kunitz as the announcers explain that he’s wearing an A now. Schnookie: “That’s Chris Kunitz? He looks like a date rape-ier Staffy.” Pookie: “Yeah. And that’s not an easy thing to be.”
16:58 Fox discusses the Downie suspension vis-à-vis Pronger. Apparently Prongsie was asked about it, and he said all assily, “Yeah, well, I can’t change my game.” Can the league just preemptively suspend him for the season?
16:34 Visnovsky forgets for a moment that he’s playing 2007 Bertuzzi rather than 2002 Bertuzzi, and takes a holding penalty.
14:34 Once again the Ducks underwhelmed with the man advantage. The crowd did a lot of whistling during the PP, and while we don’t pretend to understand European crowds, that sounded distinctly unhappy. We’d be pissed, too, if we’d paid through the nose for seats and then the Ducks announced that half their team is “injured” or “contemplating retirement” or “stuck pretending to contemplate retirement because the cap hit implications of other players contemplating retirement have to be sorted out before they can be signed”.
13:40 We hate to sound snide or superior, but the Atlantic Division has some of the baddest-assed rivalries in hockey, and none of them have names. It seems “Devils-Rangers” kind of says it all, no?
13:20 Hnidy hopes for a moment that they didn’t bring the delay of game rules across the pond with them, but too bad for him and the Ducks. The Kings go back on the power play.
11:20 This power play was positively Ducks-ish.
10:39 Because he’s not demonstrated his Goon Squad credentials enough in this game, Hnidy demonstrates his commitment to Burke’s unique hockey mentality and takes yet another penalty, this time for the much manlier offense of boarding O’Sullivan.
10:04 Kopitar earns the first “How the hell did he not score there?” of the season, as he somehow doesn’t put the puck away on a wide-open net.
9:45 WOOO! After some scrambling in front during which Pronger opts to take the little guy in front of the net rather than Rob Blake, the puck falls loose behind Bryz and Blake puts it away. That was some very nice cross-box passing by the Kings again.
8:55 Ivanans takes one of those great “We’ve got momentum! We’ve got momentum! We’ve… not got momentum anymore” idiot penalties on the forecheck immediately after the goal. His ghastly visage remains as ghastly as it was in the first period.
7:15 We hear all about how when Kopitar was a little kid he frequently asked his grandmother to interview him in English. That’s probably why we’re not professional athletes – we didn’t commit enough to the dream of being interviewed a lot when we were kids.
4:59 Stuart and Bernier combine to stymie a pretty nifty chance by the Ducks. At the risk of causing things to fall off the rails here for the Kings, Bernier has looked pretty steady today. A scrum breaks out in front of the net that results in matching minors to JMFJ and some Duck. We neglected to pay much attention to the affair.
2:56 The four-on-four was uneventful enough that FSN took some time during it to show us slo-mo replays of Bernier in action off the puck.
2:15 Pookie has a new angle for hating Pronger that many in the hockey world haven’t focused on yet: his skates. Unprompted, she shouts, “I hate Pronger’s skates so much!” Schnookie: “Why is that?” Pookie: Pause. “Because they look like roller skates. And he has those tongues that flap out so they also look like ski boot bags. They accentuate the Frankenstein way he looks like he’s made out of dead bodies, only in this case they play up the way he looks like ski boot bag dead bodies.”
0:52 Just as we’re remarking that the Ducks look sluggish and winded, a loose puck finds Bertuzzi right in front of the open net, and Modry makes a great play to stop him cold and carry the puck away to safety.
0:00 The teams waddle into their dressing rooms, and we have to say that we’re pleasantly surprised by the Kings, who seemed the hungrier, more tenacious team in that period. We’re not ready to declare anything bold like that the Ducks look like Carolina did at the start of last season (where it was clear from the first minute of their first game that they weren’t going to make the playoffs), but we will say they look pretty crappy so far this afternoon.
There is only so much Kings-Ducks talk we can handle, so we don’t listen to the intermission.
19:41 Pronger starts things off with a bang by taking a tripping penalty. He protests the call, probably insisting to the official that he should be congratulated for committing an infraction that didn’t involve his elbows. Of course, the replay shows that before the trip, he elbowed the little King player in the head.
18:50 WOO! A totally dispassionate, unfocused PK by the Ducks results in a 3-0 lead for the Kings. FSN does us proud by cutting directly from the goal celebration to a shot of Pronger looking stupid and frustrated in the box. Our favorite off-season pick-up for the Kings, former SCF boyfriend Preissing, gets credit for the goal, but there is some suspicion that Cammalleri may have tipped it in front.
15:36 Boomer reappears after spending much of the last period on the phone with Kate The Great. “Wow,” she says as she sits down, “From what I’ve seen of this game, the Ducks look awful.” That’s our Boomer – she doesn’t miss a thing.
15:11 A shot of the bench prompts a response of stunned silence from us. That’s Jason LaBarbera? He looks like a lost member of Monty Python.
13:25 We are treated to Kopitar’s ghastly visage in the penalty box after he takes a hooking minor. What is with all these Kings being so monstrously ugly?
13:04 We develop itsy-bitsy crushes on O’Sullivan after he makes Pronger look like a complete suck-ass loser by making a nifty short-handed shot that used Prongsie’s big, oafish feet as a screen. Cranky at being shown up, Pronger knocks O’Sullivan to the ice after the whistle when Bryz covers the puck. The crowd is displeased at the lack of a call.
12:27 Bryz makes a great save on a short-handed two-on-one. The crowd was really ready to go up cheering Pronger’s failings. He has now officially alienated the entire hockey fanbase in England, too. He’s just the sort of ambassador the NHL should consider sending into new markets all the time.
10:05 As the announcers pointedly explain to us that Rob Niedermayer is on the ice, Pookie pertly comments, “You know, they don’t have to specifically tell us it’s Rob anymore.”
8:34 The Preissing goal is now credited to Cammalleri. It’s okay, Preissing. We still love you, now that you’ve washed the stink of Senators off yourself.
7:45 Frolov and Calder combine on a nifty, high-speed passing play that forces Bryz to make a good save, but the end result of it all is a Frolov tripping minor. Boomer remarks of the Kings’ unis as we watch Frolov skate to the box, “I’m not sure how I feel about the ‘LOS ANGELES’ in their groins.”
6:51 Bobby Ryan bangs home a rebound to cut the lead to 3-1. That sucked. It seems the problem was probably that the announcers were already looking in the Kings record book to see how many other rookie goalies have had shutouts in their debut games.
5:22 The Ducks are swarming a bit more now, as if it’s suddenly occurred to them that it’s late in the third and they’re facing a 19-year-old goaltender.
3:34 After 19 years in the NHL, Rob Blake has not figured out yet not to ice the puck when both teams are in the middle of line changes.
1:38 We are vaguely distracted from the wild, deep-in-the-Kings-zone action as we realize Derek Armstrong is in the Kings lineup. Isn’t he about 8 billion years old? It’s at times like these that we love to quote the wonderful movie, Funny Bones: “Surely he died in Vegas.”
0:52 With an extra attacker on the ice, the Ducks get a two-man advantage when Stuart takes a tripping penalty. The close-up of Stuart in the box displays yet another ghastly visage. Why can’t the cute ones take these penalties?
0:39 We develop itsy-bitsy crushes on Bernier as he stonewalls Perry with a great save on what looked like a sure-goal, gaping net. Pookie: “I’m not sure whether that was awesome by Bernier or just a lazy play by Perry.”
0:27 Our itsy-bitsy crushes on O’Sullivan turn into full-blown love affairs with him, as he, for the umpteenth time this period, bests Pronger, then yoinks the puck from him and passes it out to a trailing Handzus, who calmly pushes it into the empty net.
0:12 All hell breaks loose after Marchant and May team up with some classic Ducks gooning. What a satisfying conclusion to this game – stay klassy, Anaheim!
0:00 The buzzer sounds on a very satisfying 4-1 Kings win. Before saying farewell to this season opener, we rewind to watch that O’Sullivan yoink on Pronger a few more times. Ohhh, that feels good.