WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Can you feel the excitement? Can you feel the star power? Can you? Can you? Because it’s ALL-STAR TIME! Doc’s intro, singling out the biggest and brightest names, is hilariously short of actual big and bright names. It’s like he’s saying, “Come see the high-scoring Ovechkin, the dazzlingly talented Vinny Lecavalier, the, um, tall Zdeno Chara… and, um, the… uh… well, Rick Nash scored a really pretty goal a few weeks ago. Sigh.”
Eddie’s suit is SO BAD. Who told him a charcoal suit with pink pin stripes was a good idea? That person should be fired. Anyway, we cut to commercial before the suit can make our eyeballs turn to ash, and when we come back there’s some musical act on the ice. Doc says their name, and Schnookie asks, “Who?” Pookie: “The Hives? The Hibes? I don’t know.” We get a close-up of them, and Pookie shrieks, “They look like a band of Chris Prongers! They’re all wearing Philip Seymour Hoffman boarding school movie suits!” You know what makes us feel like old ladies? When we see whatever awful act the NHL ropes into performing at the All-Star Game. And we sit in front of our muted television in stunned silence, wondering if this is what the kids are listening to these days. Pookie ponders aloud, “I wonder if they wear those outfits all the time? And do their fans wear matching outfits to their concerts?” Note to the Hives’ stylists: we muted as soon as we saw the suits. If they’d not been wearing those suits, we might have given them a chance. Not a good sartorial choice, Hives. Very poorly played.
During the WC team introduction, Schnookie announces, “Ed Jovonovski looks like he is beaming into my living room from 1996.” He is just a constant blast from the past.
When the camera pans over Arnott, Pookie says, “Ugh. He doesn’t look like he’s wearing clothes under his clothes.” Pause. Schnookie: “And he’s really a guy who should wear clothes under his clothes.”
The EC unis are so awful. Upon gazing, in HD, at the shade of red the NHL chose for them, Schnookie sighs, “I cheer for a team that wears red. And looking at these unis, I just want to scream that I hate all teams that wear red. It’s that bad a shade of red.”
Our Canadian anthem singer appears to have never performed in front of an audience before. She looks way more pleased with herself after finishing it than her performance merits. The Altanta Boychoir does the American anthem. Can we tell you happy we are that there are no “God Bless America” shenanigans today? Being the Atlanta Boychoir, they are no-nonsense. As the camera pans over the boys as they go after the high note on “Land of the Free” Pookie goes for the cheap and easy, “Look! It’s the fourth Staal brother.” What, you thought we’d be above that?
Before the puck drops Doc tells us Pretty Ricky is mic’d up now. Doc asks him how his hip is, and Pretty Ricky refrains from saying, “Fucked up.”
19:48 As Pretty Ricky is settling into telling us about how his hip is, Nash gets in alone and beats him. Pretty Ricky tries to get a laugh by saying afterwards, “My hip’s killing me.” Pookie: “‘HAHAHA’, say all the Islanders fans.”
18:40 Hooters! Soupy makes a pass across the crease that should add at least another $3M per season to his asking price, and Hooters roofs it over Osgood. Meanwhile, Pookie is laughing at herself for seeing Marc Savard in 91 Red and thinking, “Sergei Fedorov?”
17:55 Chris interviews Duncan Keith on the bench, and is wearing a suit made out of Ovechkin’s tie from yesterday’s red carpet.
16:53 We will give Pretty Ricky points for the fact that he’s playing the “Crazy Puck-Handling Goalie” role to the hilt. We would probably love him unconditionally forever if he would do that spinarama again, but end it by shooting into his own net. Soupy can give him pointers on how to do that.
16:39 What is with the Atlanta fans chanting at Osgood? What did he ever do to them?
15:46 As Bob finishes a thoroughly disinteresting interview with Timonen, Pookie exhorts, “More Pretty Ricky! Let’s listen to him set himself on fire!”
14:04 Doc tries to impress us with Alfredsson’s 7-point night in the Senators’ last game before the break by mentioning that you have to go back 80 years in Senator history before you can find someone else who’s done that. Schnookie: “That would be a lot more impressive if there was 80 years of actual history between the old Senators and the current Senators.”
11:41 While carrying up through the neutral zone, Gonchar does a spinarama at the WC blue line. Soupy probably vows revenge against him for doing that move first.
11:13 Chris interviews Garth Brooks on the sidelines, and he proclaims of the NHLers, “These guys just want to skate, and help kids.” Yup, that’s just about it. They’re simple men, these NHL players.
10:36 While the fans continue with the “Osgood” chants, we realize why it is so important for there to be a representative from every team. We simply can’t be bothered figuring out who’s on the ice when, and who’s doing what, because there’s no one in this game in whom we have a vested interest. Sure, we know who all the players are, and yes, we have favorites on the rosters, and there are players we care about, but there’s no one we really want to see do especially well because there are no Devils out there.
10:17 Andrei Markov receives a nice feed from Richards while standing at the top of the crease and taps the puck through Osgood. It’s 2-1 EC, in case you’re paying attention to the score.
9:11 Pookie gripes, as the play just sort of meanders around while Doc and Eddie blather on about something, that it would behoove VS to talk more to Pretty Ricky. “When they had Turco mic’d up last year,” she explains, “It accomplished what they’re trying to do with all the on-ice cameras.”
8:38 Bob interviews Gomer on the bench. His voice is like nails on a chalkboard.
8:16 Pretty Ricky gets wiped out behind his net when he goes to play the puck. But stupid Gomer is talking, so we can’t hear what Pretty Ricky thinks of it.
7:17 Kovalchuk tries to go all “Owen Nolan in San Jose in ‘97”, but his mini-break is met calmly by Osgood. The fans do not chant that Osgood sucks.
6:25 Yayson can’t quite get to a breakaway feed, but he retrieves the puck from the corner and sets Ovechkin up for a lightning-quick goal. It’s 3-1 EC, and we’d like to see a replay of that sequence, but for some reason, VS is unable to produce footage of it. Doc then tells us how we all love Ovie so much because he looks like he’s having so much fun. You know what we’re so glad Ovie did? We’re glad he invented enjoying playing hockey. Because before he came along, it was just like toiling in the mines for everyone in the NHL.
4:50 Add another $6M per to Soupy’s asking price – Malkin calmly feathers a pass across the crease, and he darts down to make it 4-1 EC. Boomer: “I guess he likes playing everywhere but Buffalo.” The Osgood chant starts again.
4:12 After a Chris interview with Phaneuf on the bench, we get the contractually required update from Doc about Dahlia and Carlos Gomez. You know who we don’t care about being at the ASG? Dahlia and Carlos Gomez. And if they’re at the game, why was Gomer waving at the camera during the introduction and mouthing, “Hi mom”? Is he stupid? Wait, don’t answer that.
2:23 Doc and Eddie tell us that Soupy is the first Sabres player to appear in back-to-back ASGs since Hasek. Pookie: “Is it just me, or was that not that long ago? They’re trying to make this sound like it was ages ago, but come on.”
2:11 Ovie makes it 5-1 EC on a nice passing play from St. Louis. We appreciate that so far this game has had a nice flow to it that previous ASGs have lacked.
1:39 Pookie, spotting whichever WC guy is wearing 2 (Keith?), says, “I’m having flashbacks to ten years ago. I was about to say, ‘Look! 2 in Blue! It’s Brian Leetch!’ I’m a disaster.”
0:46 Ribbons doesn’t let his meat loaf, and takes a heavy slapshot at Pretty Ricky. Ricky stops it, but can’t find the rebound right away when it flips up the air. Doc tries to ask him about it, but when the arena plays music over the loudspeakers, Pretty Ricky doesn’t answer. Some guys want to dance, Pretty Ricky’s got to dance.
0:15 After admitting that he wants to do play-by-play someday, Eddie and Doc give the last 15 seconds to Pretty Ricky to call. We are in agreement: VS should have let him do that for the entire period.
0:00 The period ends 5-1 EC.
We get an interview with a sweaty, underarmoured Vinny. Suffice to say, Pookie’s Vinny Epiphany is now complete.
19:36 Vokoun is in for the East now, and he faces a bit of pressure from the West, without any playful or unintelligible commentary. We miss Pretty Ricky.
19:08 A Kovalchuk attempt gets deflected by Keith into the stands while Nabokov girds himself for the incoming shot. Is he girding himself for the chanting, too? Because these fans really hate WC goalies. (Or was that just Osgood they hate?)
17:53 Ovechkin loves hockey so much that he handcuffs Vokoun with a pass back to the crease from his own blue line. It’s so cute, isn’t it? We don’t know how we all got by watching this dreadful sport before he introduced sunshine and joy to it.
15:03 This period is way more boring than the first was. No Pretty Ricky? No scoring? BOO!
14:45 Doc relays a message from Sid Crosby: “Don’t feel bad for me.” Okay, we’ll stop rending our garments and pulling out our hair now. Thanks for giving us the green light to going back to enjoying life, Sid.
13:54 Osgood wonders what he did wrong, after Nabokov stones a series of Kovalchuk shots, but gets no response from the crowd.
12:54 The WC has had about 6,000 great scoring chances so far in this period, but they keep not being able to finish. There is now an unsettled, bored silence in the arena, as well as at stately IPB Manor. This game needs more booing!
11:21 Doc and Eddie are yammering on about the absence of Pascal Leclaire, and Doc chirps, “When you’re stopping 93 out of 100 shots, you’re doing well. As is Tim Thomas, who we’ll get a look at in the third period.” He makes it sound like watching Tim Thomas play is some kind of wonderful treat. VS is not paying him enough.
10:26 Rick Nash makes VS look good for talking him up as the super highlight reel guy — he gets a breakaway through two defenders and then throws about 40 moves at Vokoun before stuffing the goal around him. 5-2 EC.
9:24 Number 9 on the WC gets a long breakaway and is stoned on a great leg save by Vokoun. We have no idea who he is, though, because VS is interviewing Paddock on the bench right now, and he’s not responding to the play at all. We think it might have been Gaborik, but don’t quote us on that.
We go to commercial, and when we come back we get a lingering look at Ovechkin spacing out and appearing bored on the bench. Pookie: “When I look at him I just feel like having fun.”
7:08 Phaneuf tries to crank a bone-crushing slapshot that overratedly ricochets off the glass behind the net all the way out to the neutral zone, leading to a three-on-one by the EC. Nothing comes of it, because the East skaters are now desperately trying to set up Kovalchuk, who is adamantly not holding up his end of the Owen Nolan bargain.
6:07 Pookie: “I can’t believe I’m spending this All-Star Game saying, ‘More Vinny! More Vinny!’ This is awful.” Schnookie: “I can’t believe I’m spending this All-Star Game saying, ‘More Pretty Ricky.’”
4:52 Oh thank heavens the NHL saw fit to put the Greatest Man To Ever Breathe on the WC roster. Nieder scores on a shot from the high slot while trailing the play. It’s 5-3 EC, and Pookie sees fit now to complain, “We still haven’t gotten an interview with Getzi.”
4:19 We get a little flavoring glimpse of the various FanFest-y things that the A-S weekend has had to offer, like one of those goofy huge murals and a memorabilia fair. Among the features is a dude making a giant house of cards with hockey cards. Doc remarks that the guy is the record holder in the Guiness Book of World Records for building the highest house of cards, and Pookie puts on her librarian hat to say, “You know what the most annoying thing about the Guiness Book of World Records is? It’s actually called Guiness World Records, so it’s impossible for me to find when I have to look it up. I’m always looking for The Guiness Book of World Records and am then like, ‘Why isn’t it here? It was on the shelves yesterday…’”
2:17 Chris finishes an interview on the bench about Manny Legace’s work raising money for breast cancer research, and Boomer says, “Did you see Pronger face-plant there again?” We didn’t, so we rewind eagerly. It turns out it wasn’t a face-plant, but was, instead a sliding dive for the puck. Rats.
1:03 Kovalchuk gets a golden opportunity on a pass in front to where he’s waiting in the high slot all alone, and Nabokov makes a great glove save on him. Kovalchuk then collapses to the ice, lying on his back laughing. Eddie says, “Look at that reaction from Ovechkin!” Pookie: “Wait, that guy’s not allowed to have fun – he’s not Ovechkin. Oh, never mind. He’s having fun, so therefore, he is Ovechkin.” (Adorably, Kovalchuk gets up and hugs Nabokov. Seriously, guys, stop it. You’re not allowed to have the “having fun” storyline. That’s Ovie’s.)
0:00 At the buzzer, Kovalchuk gets a long breakaway, and Nabokov makes a fantastic stacked-pad save. The drama of Kovalchuk’s failed attempts at Owen Nolanism is keeping this game afloat.
There will be no epiphany during this intermission. Chris interviews Pronger. Even though his stupid attempts at joking yields us extra Getzi footage (We love the bald spot! Love it!), we’re still annoyed at an opportunity lost.
You know what opportunity was not lost tonight? The opportunity to play a keytar on ice. That’s right — Ne-Yo (who?) has a keytarist in his band. That’s about six thousand kinds of awesome.
We start the period with Bettman in the booth. He is magnificently adept at putting us to sleep every time he gets behind a microphone. Totally seriously, as soon as he starts speaking, the cat sleeping on the back of our couch starts snoring audibly. We are not making that up.
19:19 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Getzi continues his attempts to win Boomer over by walking in on Thomas, then peering over his shoulder to wink at Boomer, then zipping the puck up over Thomas’ head to make the game 5-4. That was hott.
18:39 It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, an in-game mic’d goalie talking to Bettman in the booth. When Doc and Eddie ask Manny what he’s got to say to Bettman, the following exchange ensues:
Legace: “You’ve got to stop taking away inches!”
Bettman: “You’ve got to stop being so big.”
Legace, shrieking: “I’m five nine!”
18:04 Nash gets the puck for a breakaway from about the blue line, and peers over his shoulder to wink at Boomer before turning to be approaching the goal at a 90-degree angle, and then shoveling the puck on the backhand into the top corner. It’s 5-5, and he’s finished the hat trick with a goal that elicits some honest-to-goodness “WHOA!”s in the living room at IPB Manor.
We get an interview with Getzi on the bench. He doesn’t win Boomer over with his doltish voice and his trailing off mid-sentence while trying to make a joke at Arnott’s expense.
16:14 Well, this game has shaken off its second-period doldrums; a bang-bang play down low leads to a puck sitting behind Thomas on the goal line, and Thomas manages to swipe the puck out of the net before it crosses over the line. We find ourselves exclaiming aloud again over the thrill of the moment, and wonder what this All-Star Game is doing right that previous ones haven’t to make it genuinely exciting.
15:52 Just as we are marveling at how not-cranky we’re being about this game now that the third has started, Gomez and Hossa have a tic-tac-toe two-on-one down low to give the East a 6-5 lead. Legace says, “You know, my little legs just don’t reach that part [of the net].”
14:53 Getzi tries to win Boomer over again with a nifty little backhand, toe-tap pass around Thomas to Phaneuf at the other side of the gaping net. 6-6 game.
13:04 Schnookie: “I’d be enjoying this game a lot more if I didn’t have to listen to Bettman patronizing me about the unbalanced schedule.”
12:24 Doc wrests control of the game away from Bettman and Eddie, who starts to lose his mind a little when Bettman contends that “the fans” don’t want every team to play in every building during the season. He starts doing some classic, shouting Doc play-by-play while the teams trade chances, and Pookie cracks that it’s Doc’s version of stepping into the middle of an escalating argument and saying, “Cards, anyone?”
9:29 Soupy tries to set Alfredsson up on the doorstep, but our new bestest friend Manny gets his “midget legs” (his words) across the net to stone Alfredsson on three chances, and then Vinny on the follow up.
9:03 Gaborik scores on a great feed from behind the net, and Eddie says, “There was no chance on that for Thomas.” Pookie: “Yeah, because he’s no Martin Brodeur.” We proceed to pretend that Marty has ever played well in an All-Star game. It’s 7-6 WC now, because no one in the East knows how to protect a four-goal, first-period lead. We are horrified to discover that we dislike Thomas so much that we are suddenly cheering for the WC.
We come back from commercial for the special treat that is a Chris Simpson interview with Babcock on the bench. We get to see Stinger in the crowd, and talk about epiphanies! Schnookie nearly faints when she sees his eponymous stinger. She knew what he looked like from the front, but seeing him in profile, with his stripy bug body and stinger tail, is almost more than her mascot-lovin’ heart can handle.
7:59 Kovalchuk gets another Own Nolan chance when he’s set up on the wing on a deliberate three-on-two, but Legace stones him.
7:25 Just as Eddie tells Legace to step in and pick up the color while Doc works play-by-play, Kovalchuk and Hooters back-and-forth on a dazzling passing play down low on which Hooters easily taps home a goal into a yawning net. It’s 7-7, and Manny cracks, “I should have had that.”
5:02 Schnookie is about to ask who the WC player who just made a subtle, sneaky, beautiful move around an EC defender was, but Doc answers with the obvious explanation that it’s Nash.
3:37 Pookie: “Has Ovie even been out there lately?” Schnookie: “I think he has been. I remember him making a fancy move at this end of the ice. Or maybe it was in the first period?”
3:26 After Legace weathers another good attack by the East, Doc asks, “How ya doing?” Manny: “Great! How are you?”
3:03 Vinny puts on a snappy little spinarama move at the blue line (you can hear Soupy’s teeth grinding to a powder as he clenches his jaw with profound jealousy), Legace calls out, “He’s like the French Janne Niinimaa!”
1:02 Boomer: “I wonder what did happen to Ovie.” Pookie: “I’m telling you, he’s pulled a Bure. Now that he’s got that contract, he can leave the All-Star Game whenever he wants to.”
0:30 The crowd is rising to its feet, confident of destiny about to play out, but Kovalchuk is not able to bury his chance when Soupy sets him up.
0:20 It’s not Kovalchuk, but the swirling, hard-skating, great-passing pressure by the East pays off, and Savard brings a full roar from the crowd when he roofs a shot from the slot to take an 8-7 lead.
0:00 The buzzer sounds after another frenzied shift, and the crowd roars again for the Eastern Conference win. And seriously, Gentle Reader, that was the rarest thing ever: an intense All-Star Game. Or at least an intense last 20 minutes of one. Or an intense last five minutes of one. Which is good enough, right?
We are pleased that Hooters wins the dorky car and the plastic star. He is fantastically dullardly in his post-game interview, trying to make a joke about how he’d be his parents’ favorite if he gave them the car, but he stumbles all over his tongue. Aw, Hooters. You’re our favorite Staal.
And now that All-Star Weekend is over we say bring on the second half of the season and bring on our Versus magnetic playoff tracker board!