Well, Gentle Reader, it’s another beautiful day here for all manner of outdoorsy, autumnal activities, but only a crazy person would opt to do those things instead of watching hockey! So we’re settling back, keeping our fingers crossed that the tech crew at O2 arena has learned how to turn on the lights, and hoping against hope that the Ducks don’t remember how to play hockey before the end of today’s game.
Oh, that’s right! Today’s game is on VS! No Brian Hayward for us… we hope. Instead it’s Gary Green and Paul Romanuk, two guys we’ve never consciously heard call a game before. Nice of VS to bring their “A” team to the NHL’s stupid big media-event season opener, instead of just coopting the NHL Network’s feed. That’s just the sort of move a big-time sports broadcaster like ESPN would do.
After Bernier impressed us all yesterday, the Kings are doing what we all would have done if we were in their shoes – starting LaBarbera instead. In the studio show, Larry Murphy seems to think this is a good idea, because the Kings would just be “setting [Bernier] up for failure” if they left him in. Pookie says Cloutier is down in the minors saying, “Vindication! They set me up to fail! It wasn’t my fault!”
Oh no. They toss us out live to hear the anthems, and it’s the same chick from yesterday. A close-up of Andy McDonald shows he’s just as horrified to have her back again as we are. A close-up of Baby Nieder on the bench prompts Pookie to gasp, “He’s dying his beard to look more like Scott!” (His stubble is liberally sprinkled with gray that we don’t remember from last Spring. Nice try, Rob.) In all fairness, we’ll say the anthem singer did better today, but only marginally. It seems learning the words to our anthem was not a priority for her, and she didn’t mangle her own anthem as badly as she did yesterday. But still. We hope to not have to see anymore games in London if she’s a requirement at them.
In less notable news, it seems the Ducks are going with Hiller today instead of Bryz.
18:49 So far Getzi and Perry seem a bit pissier than they were yesterday, as if they woke up this morning and realized they’re 0-1 on the season.
17:53 These broadcasters have voices like cartoon characters. A shot of the Ducks bench at a stoppage in play prompts one of them to squeak, “Ah! Randy Carlyle! Mr. Grumpy!”
16:19 The Getzis get another shift deep in the offensive zone, but don’t force any fantastic chances. Pookie suggests they look like they’re still trying to decide whether they’re going to play hard today.
15:17 Baby Nieder gets pushed off the puck near the Kings blueline, and the announcers just simply call him “Niedermayer”. We take a moment to revel in the Big Niederlessness of the Ducks.
13:20 It took almost seven minutes, but this game has finally settled into normalcy: a really bad offensive-zone penalty by Bertuzzi (in this case, high sticking).
We’re sure it goes without saying that this Briere-shooting-out-windows commercial is really, really stupid. The part that really gets us is that he doesn’t even look angry in his “angry face” shots – he looks petulant and spoiled and like he’s got a bright light shining on his face. Pookie decides, “He looks like a guy I wouldn’t want to cheer for.”
13:10 Visnovsky gets things looking even more like yesterday’s game by taking his team off the PP with a bad interference penalty. As he skates to the box, the announcers give us the totally predictable report that Pronger was playing with an undisclosed injury during the playoffs last year (we hate these “no one knew it, but…” stories after the fact). It seems his ass hurt or something. Boo hoo.
11:17 The Kings head down the ice on a two-on-one, but Nagy wisely takes a high-sticking penalty well behind the play. We take a moment to discuss how we’re trying to get into this game but having a really hard time with it. It feels like we’re watching a game from a different league – these announcers are weird, the picture is strange, the crowd doesn’t sound like an NHL crowd… it’s like when you’re in a hotel room in Europe and stumble across a hockey game on the TV. That said, the London crowd is doing an NHL-caliber job of booing Pronger and his gimpy ass.
9:07 After the Ducks engage in some classic power-play overpassing, Perry makes a very nice move dragging the puck around the D and LaBarbera to take a 1-0 lead. Pookie grumps, “Bernier would have stopped that.”
7:36 Out of concern that his team is falling behind in the “stupid penalties” column of the stat sheet, Parros tries to even things up with a goaltender interference minor. We don’t think the Kings really look capable of taking advantage of this, though; they’ve had the puck in the Ducks’ end for about 13 seconds of this game.
5:36 We were trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but we can hold back no longer: the Kings suck today.
5:07 Brady Murray gets called for a flying, leaping stick-hold on Parros in the neutral zone. The flow of this game is almost more than we can handle!
4:43 The PP collapses down around LaBarbera and the hapless PK unit, and Kunitz punches an atrociously uncovered puck into a wide-open net. 2-0 Ducks. LaBarbera looks exactly how you’d expect a career minor-leaguer to look.
2:47 Guess what! Hiller is still awake!
0:17 LaBarbera manages to hang onto a rebound, thus ending a shift-long clinic by the Kings titled “How To Repeatedly Give The Puck Away In Your Own Zone”.
0:00 Well, that period sucked. But then to make us feel better, VS gives us our very favoritest commercial EVER: Jitterbug! It’s the cell phone Sid feels comfortable using!
We’re making lunch and not listening. Sorry. You’re on your own for this one.
19:35 The announcers are talking about what a success this London adventure has been, and assures us the NHL has plenty more such media stunts in the works. Like holding an All-Star game there. They’re kidding, right? They have a hard enough time getting guys to go to All-Star games in North American cities – how are they going to get them to go overseas for it? Do they mean an AHL All-Star game?
17:41 After several minutes of Ducks pressure, LaBarbera dives to cover a puck just outside the crease and misses. It is almost uncanny how every time he goes down he makes himself miraculously farther away from the puck than he was when he was on his feet.
17:08 A cannon shot bounces hard off the back boards, Perry finds the rebound and makes no mistake in putting the Ducks up 3-0. The ones who did make a mistake on that play? Most of the Kings. Replay shows LaBarbera and JMFJ both looking shocked that rebounds off the boards are still in play.
15:47 Was yesterday’s result a fluke? It would seem so. Moen scores easily over a flustered LaBarbera on a sequence that was started by LaBarbera flubbing a puck behind his net, and the Kings D standing around with their heads up their asses. The announcers seem to think LaBarbera was hung out to dry, and say, “He was in a little bit of trouble there.” Boomer, aghast: “Just right there? He’s been in trouble since this game started.” Schnookie: “He’s been in trouble since he had to start in the NHL and not the AHL.” Pookie: “He’s been in trouble since he was drafted by the Rangers.”
14:19 The announcers mention that the Ducks have “an awful lot of character.” Pookie: “The have an awful lot of character and a lot of awful character.” And you can quote her on that!
11:08 WOOOO! Cammalleri gives us some hope by swaggering across the goal line right at Pronger, then just whips the puck up over Hiller, who doesn’t even flinch. We whole-heartedly approve of this Cammalleri kid.
9:51 Oh for fuck’s sake. With the Kings buzzing around the offensive zone, Parros and some King (no we can’t be bothered to pay that much attention) start fighting for no good reason other than that the NHL wants to show off that British people aren’t disgusted by fights. Yawn.
When we come back from commercial we discover it was Thornton in the fight. It should be noted that he was interviewed during intermission, and his little tuft of facial hair prompted Pookie to regale the room with a lengthy story about a mangled roadkill squirrel tail she came across when she was taking a walk yesterday.
7:43 EEK! A closeup of Kopitar looks like he’s been weeping through layers of mascara. Someone give him a hand dabbing that all off with a tissue! Just… wow. We knew he has raccoon eyes, but he looks especially disastrous today.
5:48 Perry carries the puck with confidence and speed around behind the Kings’ net, and Pookie urges, “Come on! Put one more in behind Hanna Barbera [TM Katebits] so Bernier can come in!” We start a soft “Bernier! Bernier!” chant.
2:55 We look up to discover the Kings are on the power play. We totally missed the play that led to this because we were too deep in a discussion about Jordan Parise’s Shattuck tattoo (no, Gentle Reader, we are not making this up, and yes, Gentle Reader, this was only brought to our attention yesterday) to pay attention to the game.
0:55 Paying attention is highly overrated. Nothing of note happened on that PP.
0:00 Remarkably, this period had a bit more Kings puck possession, but unremarkably it also still had Hanna Barbera in net for them.
The way they do the highlights, without any voice-over or anything, it feels kind of like they’ve started the third period without warning.
We get a little interview with Mike Cammalleri, and before he starts speaking we both say, “I bet he talks like one of the Chipmunks!” He doesn’t. Pookie declares she thinks he looks better with his helmet on, and that she doesn’t like his “perpetual frown”. “I’d turn that frown upside down,” she says.
Coming back from intermission, the announcers are telling us how vital it is for teams to have strong Octobers. One of these guys is going on about how the Ducks kicked ass last October, the Canes did the year before that, and the Lightning did before that. You know who also kicked ass last October? The Sabres. And it gave them a false sense of entitlement, so there you go. Don’t get us wrong – the points in October are worth the same as the points in March, but we’ll posit that how you play in April, May and June means a lot more for your Cup chances than how you play in October.
17:41 The announcers are now telling us that Bettman is right when he tells us no other North American sports league is as international as the NHL. Considering that the NBA draws players from five continents, we beg to differ.
16:51 Getzi is stymied by LaBarbera just as the play-by-play guys are telling us he has no idea how good he can be. Don’t worry, Getzi – you might still be a “future star” in some people’s books, but you’re a present-day superstar in our hearts. Now, about your teeth…
15:50 We are terrible diarists; it seems there were some matching minors called, but we didn’t notice what for or on whom because we automatically stop paying attention when Pronger is on the screen and people are talking about the issue of head shots in the NHL.
12:46 LaBarbera accidentally makes a mask-save on a Kunitz shot. At least, we can only assume it was an accident, because if he’d been trying he would have somehow ended up somewhere far outside the crease.
11:04 The play-by-play leads to the statement, “Mike Cammalleri. Another guy who’s played in some big games.” A pause settles over our living room, before Schnookie prompts, “Like?” Pookie finishes for him, “Los Angeles Kings vs. St. Louis Blues, February 7th 2007…”
10:19 Nagy gets the puck behind Hiller’s net and suddenly gets struck with the thought that maybe Hiller sucks as bad as LaBarbera; he tries to walk out in front and just toss the puck into his feet. Hiller, as it turns out, does not suck as bad as LaBarbera, and the score remains 4-1.
8:00 The Kings get some sustained pressure in the Ducks’ zone, and Pookie is unable to contain a cheer of “GREASE!” when Calder touches the puck. She apologizes, and Schnookie reassures her it’s okay, “It’s hard not to say it. It’s just such a great nickname.”
6:24 The crowd is as quiet as we are. As the puck squirts down toward Hiller, someone on the ice whispers, “No ice!” and it reverberates through the catacomb-silent arena. This has not been one of the most scintillating periods of hockey we’ve ever seen.
5:07 Pookie announces, “This game has now sunk below ‘doing laundry’ on my list of things worth thinking about.” It really does feel like a Ducks-Kings game now. Stupid Western Conference.
4:55 We get to hear about how Rob Blake is not going to be traveling with the Kings back to the States because he’s going to Toronto to film a part in Mike Myers’s stupid hockey movie. We are now officially completely over this movie. We’d like to issue a moratorium on people talking about it. And we haven’t really even heard much about it. That’s how stupid this movie talk is.
2:50 A close-up of Hiller shows that the Ducks logo looks eensy-weensy on the front of his sweater. Moments earlier Pookie remarked that the font on the backs of the Kings’ sweaters looks really small, too. “It’s like everything is shrinking,” she says now. “Or I’m getting bigger.”
1:35 The color guy completely loses his mind after Frolov gives up a puck to Pronger too easily for his liking. “It’s like he just gave up!” the guy shouts. Pookie: “Like the rest of us.”
1:10 Perry prolongs our misery by taking a tripping penalty.
0:00 In assessing this overseas extravaganza, the NHL Network announcers can only muster an “I give it a 4 out of 5.” What? The NHL’s own broadcast can’t even give this a 5 out of 5? Then how bad was it for reals?
But we shouldn’t complain too much. It was hockey. Weird, Western Conference hockey. But hockey nonetheless. Now bring on the real stuff!