The latest in our ongoing series of game diaries featuring teams about which we know next to nothing brings us to Dallas, for a matchup with the Kings. LA’s feed opens with a little feature about their last meeting, which they’ve decided is now being called the “Royal Rebound”. Um, no offense, FSN, but we really doubt anyone calls it that. Thanks to Center Ice giving us freedom of choice, we also have the Dallas feed, and we intend to spend some time tonight comparing and contrasting the two broadcasts, because we can’t imagine how jumping between Jim Fox and Daryl Reaugh would be at all awful or anything. (It bears mentioning that FSN Dallas is not talking up the Royal Rebound.)
18:30 Whoever is calling the play-by-play for the Stars tonight (if it’s Strangis, he sounds like he’s suffered a back-alley lobotomy) sucks. We flip back to the Kings feed in time to hear Bob Miller get very excited about a mundane shot on the Stars goal. The play is followed by a very cool Frolov iso highlight replay. Hm. The Kings so far have a decisively better feed than the Stars.
15:22 We have pretty much only seen the Kings this year playing the Ducks, and they kind of seem like they should be a package deal. This is so odd, seeing Stars where we expect thuggish goons to be.
14:18 Nothing interesting has happened yet, on either feed.
12:44 We are reassured that the problem is with the game and not with us, as the announcers explain there have only been three shots total so far.
12:16 JMFJ bulls down the wing and forces Smith to make a decent save against him. Pookie: “I have not been impressed by Jack Johnson yet.”
11:53 We go to commercial after Hagman takes a holding penalty, and we’re treated to a Der Wienerschnitzel commercial that features the single most unappetizing-looking foodstuff we’ve ever seen on television. And we watched Sandra Lee’s Thanksgiving special on Food Network last night, so we have a wealth of experience with nasty-looking foodstuffs on TV.
7:27 We realize this game is zipping by and we’ve had nothing to say about it. Pookie: “Well, now that I’m on the record saying Jack Johnson sucks, he’ll probably get 18,000 points.” That would be pretty exciting.
5:05 We suspect Handzus is either a total wimp or is embellishing things when he acts like he’s been shot after a gentle cross-check to the chest in front of the Stars net by Boucher. Just because, from everything we’ve heard, Boucher is a sweet, kindly angel who would never dream of hurting an opponent. Or something.
4:31 Schnookie declares that this has been the most boring period of hockey she’s seen all season. Pookie decides we should switch to the Dallas feed for the last five minutes, to see if things are spicier over there. Huh. Turns out that was Strangis doing the call. How unfortunate.
2:54 It seems Smith is allowed to handle the puck outside the trapezoid. We narrow our eyes darkly at the television. Cheater.
2:29 The name “Ott” is called as the Stars cycle lamely in the Kings’ zone. Pookie: “Ott is a name that I think should have more letters.”
1:52 Strangis cracks that the Leafs will be coming into town for the first time in “16 years”, and Reaugh gives a master class in sportscaster-style fake laughing.
0:54 Zubov tries to set up a homerun pass to a streaking forward and it doesn’t connect; LaBarbera goes out to play the slowly-advancing puck, then decides not to… and for a moment it looks to us like he’s just going to back up while watching the puck drift into his net. Alas, nothing that exciting happens.
0:00 At the buzzer, Reaugh tries to tell us this was a hard-fought, tight-checking period. He’s wrong. It was just slow, lethargic and boring.
Mr. Patty, Philippe Boucher, is interviewed to kick off the intermission. Something happens out on the ice to kick off the horn just as he’s answering Reaugh’s question about the Royal Rebound and it sounds like they’re novelty-horning out his profanities. Whatever it was he was saying, we hope it doesn’t come to that.
We pay even less attention to intermission than we did the first period.
18:22 In some discussion of some aspect of this game (yes, the second has picked up right where the first left off), Reaugh says something about always being “interchanging”. Pookie: “What’s that? I just very clearly heard him say ‘Go to Interchangeable Parts.’”
16:56 There is a moment of almost thrillingness as Kopitar decides to slingshot up the ice and fling a shot at Smith. Reaugh ruins things for us, though, when he describes Kopitar’s stick-handling on the replay thusly: “Look at him manipulate the pill!” Pookie: “Does he mean the puck?”
16:18 We have to give the Stars guys credit for talking a lot about the Kings. Most home broadcasts don’t go into depth about their opponents’ secondary-scoring woes the way Reaugh has in discussing how the Kings are looking for someone to skate with Kopitar.
15:28 Modano tries to match Kopitar by attempting a circling-the-net, fling-the-puck/pill-at-the-goalie-a-few-times play. LaBarbera doesn’t crack.
14:48 Anderson gets a short-distance breakaway on LaBarbera, and decides to drop-pass to a trailer instead of shooting. What?
14:37 A Star is in the box for holding, but Strangis and Reaugh are not being forthcoming with the offender’s name.
13:33 We are now convinced that Strangis got a back-alley lobotomy and is also calling this game from his cell phone after falling down a well. We go back to the Kings feed.
11:33 This is very odd – we’re getting all kinds of close-ups of the Stars on the Kings feed after seeing the Dallas feed zooming in on the Kings all the time.
10:56 Bob Miller uses a much more engaging style of play-by-play than Ralph Strangis does for fans who don’t know the participating teams’ lineups inside and out. It’s more of a traditional, radio-style play-by-play, as opposed to Strangis’ snarky, look-at-how-Reaugh-esque-I-can-be style, which we’re sure is a ton of fun if you actually know the team. This game seems 10,000 times more interesting on the Kings feed.
9:01 The Stars’ offensive gameplan seems to be to either get in behind the goal line and try to pass to a forward in front, or to lob cross-rink passes to nobody from below the faceoff dots. It has not been overwhelmingly successful yet.
7:10 There is a scroll at the top of the screen trying to tell us to book our holiday parties in VIP Suites, and the number is 1-888-KINGS-LA. Pookie: “I wonder who had 1-888-LA-KINGS.”
6:02 Schnookie: “This game is so awful! And my God – there’s more than six minutes left!” Boomer: “It feels like it’s been going on all night.”
5:49 There is a little scramble in front of the Kings net, but nothing LaBarbera can’t effortlessly shut down.
4:32 Jim Fox: “Yeah… Not much happening here.” No kidding.
4:30 Handzus gets called for tripping, and as the Kings feed gives us prolonged footage of him skating to the box, we wonder if the Stars guys are bothering to tell their viewers who this is on. We flip in time to hear Reaugh saying, “The Stars don’t have a power play tonight” right before the PA announcer bellows, “It’s time for a Stars POWER PLAY!” Well, that answers that.
3:21 Reaugh is commenting that the Kings are giving “strange looks from the penalty killers” just as the Stars feed is giving us an even stranger look at the rink; they’re using a camera set in the back corner of the upper deck. Pookie: “I feel like I’m watching from the blimp that drops coupons into the seats.”
1:23 We do a Steve Holt “Steve Ott” cheer when the man himself, with his name short a few letters (maybe an “L” somewhere in it, or a silent “PH”?), gives the Stars a 1-0 lead on a nice little deflection.
0:33 Reaugh mentions offhand that the Stars have had “the last 9 or 10 shots”. Boomer, “Yeah. Since this game started.” Pause. “Three years ago.” Pause. “When I was young.”
0:00 Reaugh sends us to intermission suggesting a 1-0 lead will be more insurmountable than 4-0 was in the Royal Rebound. “Maybe proximity will help the attention span!” That is greeted by a chorus of, “What?” from the denizens of stately IPB Manor. Pookie: “It’s like he just drew a handful of words out of a hat and decided, ‘I’ll make a sentence with them.’”
We flip to the Kings feed just in time to hear this snippet from a flavoring piece about the Kings goalie: “When I said earlier that LaBarbera doesn’t sweat, I meant that figuratively. In fact, he sweats a lot! He’s know as a sweater. That makes the sweater he wears really sweaty.”
We kick things off with an interview with Marc Crawford on the bench. On top of looking like his usual clueless, hapless self, he also looks like he’s convinced his spiked hair is holding his headset on, doesn’t have a great grip, and will let go if he makes any sudden moves. Pookie wails, “That’s what Zach Parise is going to look like some day! We need to stage an intervention before it gets to that.”
18:00 The Kings almost have a decent chance, with a loose puck in front of a kneeling Smith, but Dustin Brown can’t get a stick on it.
16:58 The FSN West team is trying to tell us the Kings are putting in the right kind of effort tonight, but just not getting the bounces. Now, we don’t pretend to know the first thing about this team, but we know enough about hockey to say, “Don’t patronize us, Kings announcers.”
14:52 The Modano/Halpern/whoever-is-on-that-line-with-them unit gets a nice bit of sustained pressure while the Kings employ a team defensive scheme that involves just barely getting sticks on loose pucks and shoveling them to open Stars in great scoring position.
13:42 After a Frolov chance is well defended Fox chirps, “No one collapses like the Dallas Stars!” Realizing his entire audience is thinking back to the last meeting between these teams and nodding smugly, he adds, “In the defensive zone.”
13:32 Niskanen gets called for hooking. Happy Meals!
9:48 We realize the Stars look like they’re on the power play even though they’re not, but we’re too busy in a game of one-upmanship discussing inflatable furniture (see comment 61 below) to really care. (Boomer has contributed “inflatable folding chairs” which Schnookie says had to be inflated before they could be folded out, making them “unnecessarily complicated”. Schnookie also declares the market for inflatable Shaker furniture was surprisingly dead when she invested heavily in it.)
8:21 Feeling she was left behind, Pookie casts about desperately for an inflatable furniture item funnier than what Boomer and Schnookie have offered up. She says, “How about an inflatable curio cabinet?” Schnookie: “I’d prefer a bouncy one.” Long, stymied pause. Pookie: “No. Not bouncy. Inflatable.” Play continues as before.
6:51 On some nice passing by the Stars (after some directionless and awful offensive pressure by the Kings) Hagman gets a breakaway and beats LaBarbera easily. 2-0 Stars. Pookie declared Alan Rickman will have the title role in “Niklas Hagman: The Movie”.
6:14 The Stars are on the power play again. Schnookie: “Who was that who took that penalty?” Boomer, definitively: “Handzus.” Pause, then less confidently, “Or somebody.” We are so awesome at this diarizing thing.
4:36 The Kings are getting close to having the Stars right where they want them – Ribiero makes a great pass through JMFJ to find Lehtinen in front, and it’s 3-0 Dallas. After watching JMFJ on the replay, Pookie smugs, “See?”
2:19 We go to commercial with Pookie saying, “I so want the Stars to score another goal and the Kings then to score five in the next two minutes and 19 seconds. So the Stars have to fire Brett Hull.”
1:30 Fox keeps trying to reassure Kings fans that being shut out in back-to-back games doesn’t mean they’re bad, per se. “It’s not like they’re being dominated,” he attempts to convince himself.
0:00 Wow. That felt like it went on for at least five weeks. Pookie declares, as the teams stream off the ice, “I never thought this day would come. It’s finally over! Over!”