It is extremely difficult to understand what prompted the decision-makers at Versus, when looking at this year’s NHL schedule, to choose to air a Colorado/Toronto game instead of anything else.
Archive for the ‘Around The Dial’ Category
We’re going Around the Dial again tonight, and Gentle Reader, we don’t think we need to remind you who we’re cheering for. We’ll be dropping in with our thoughts, hopes, and reactions as the game goes along.
– We start the game a little distracted after making the mistake of watching the Bob Costas vs. Deadspin video linked on Pensblog today. The fact that anyone could still be getting hung up on the issue of format over content is so quaint it’s blown our minds.
– We look outside and see that there are flowers blooming, trees turning green, and three bunnies cavorting in a field of clover. We can only assume that Mother Nature, too, celebrates the fact that the Rangers could be swept tonight.
– We applaud Sid for breaking through a clump of Rangers for a dazzling move, but we have to wonder about the two turnovers he made following that play. Sid, do you want those bunnies to have cavorted in vain?
– The bunnies are throw their paws up in disgust and twitch their ears in aggravation as the Rangers go up 1-0 on a goal by Jagr.
– The crowd is chanting “Jagr! Jagr!” As fans who got to chant “Dano! Dano!” in G7 of the SCF in 2003, we’re disgusted that these fans who’ve been calling for Jagr’s head for years are suddenly doing an about-face as they realize Jagr’s the only Ranger giving it his all. We hope Jagr gives them a withering look and then packs his bags for richer pastures overseas, leaving this team with only the “leaders” who are letting themselves get out-led by a petulant, aged superstar.
– Blersus shows replay after replay of Malkin barreling into Lundqvist, but never bother to slow it down. A super-slo-mo, frame-by-frame look would really have helped there. We have the technology to do this, Blersus. Look into it.
– Malkin attempts the rare “Slow-Moving Underwater James Bond Villain’s Robot” penalty shot move and just the way the slow-moving underwater robots never foil Bond, so Malkin doesn’t score.
– If Petr Sykora ever hopes to upgrade himself from “IPB’s Official Archnemesis” to “Guy We Just Really Kind Of Hate”, he’s going to have to work a lot harder than he is tonight.
– Well, if the Penguins had designs on becoming our muscle-bound Vegas tranny bride, they certainly went about it the wrong way in this game. Losers.
– We spend a little palate-cleansing break between games watching Rome burn and then Christians being fed to the lions in Quo Vadis on TCM. One of our favorite things about older movies is the race to shout “That’s real!” whenever an unusually cheesy special effect is used. It’s especially fun with really bad blue screening. For all that the cast-of-thousands sequences we’re sitting down for are surprisingly intense and disturbing, they’re also still peppered with plenty of “That’s real!”s. Good times. Anyway, by the time we remember to turn on the Detroit/Colorado game, it’s already 1-1, less than midway through the first.
– With the first period winding down, the Wings put on a demo showing the Pens how you’re supposed to be playing when you’re trying to step down on your opponent’s jugular. And while the Avs are hardly the Rangers, we still hate them, so the two quick goals in the final two minutes of the period manage to cheer us up a little.
– Look, Hockey Gods, we appreciate that you’re giving us a massive, swaggering blowout of a game to finish off a sweep tonight. But we don’t really care that much about Detroit. We don’t necessarily dislike them, and goodness knows we’d pick them 10,000 times out of 10,000 over the Avs, but really. If it had to be only one of the games tonight, why this one? Don’t you hate the Rangers, too?
– As the clock blinks down to zero on the second period, with the score 7-1 Detroit, Pookie says, “Okay, in the Avs fans’ defense, there are still a lot of people in the building.” Pause. “Ohhh! It’s only the second period. Okay. Detroit should really stop shooting now.”
– Well, disappointment can be exhausting. Our evening peters out with a whimper, as we all drift off to bed before the Wings/Avs game is over. It should be noted that most of the Avs fans have, too, so Pookie can stop thinking they stuck around to the final buzzer of a blowout loss.
Why, Hockey Gods? Why?! Why did you schedule the Pens-Rangers game at 7, and the Stars-Sharks at 7:30? What possible purpose does that serve? Sigh. Well, we’ll be here anyway, flipping back and forth from game to game as we go Around The Dial tonight.
– Being the negative nellies that we am, we are just in the midst of announcing how we fully expect the Pens to lose tonight when Hossa scores just over a minute in. Before the crowd even has a chance to work up a good anti-Sid boo-ing, too. Heh. Doc sounds a bit delighted when he dryly says, “Well that bollixes up the Rangers plans, doesn’t it?”
– Taking a page out of the Empty Netters playbook we find ourselves saying, “What? The Staals are brothers?!” Pookie was just praising Blersus the other night for letting the “brothers on opposing teams” storyline lie, but now Doc and Edzo seem to be relishing it as Marc steamrolls Gronk.
– We get up during commercial shortly after the Rangers score their first goal to clean up from dinner, and come back to find the Pens up 2-1 and going on a double-minor power play. We decide to spend the rest of this game standing in a huddle in front of the kitchen sink.
– The first period was mostly dominated by the Rangers, but ends up 3-1 Penguins. Doc delights us when he says, as the clock is winding down, “The buzzer is going to sound very loudly.” The self-congratulatory and self-vaunted MSG Rangers crowd is providing the dictionary definition of Pensblog’s “stunned”.
– We switch to the Sharks/Stars game during intermission, and we’re horrified. The Comcast Sharks feed is atrociously awful. This is the playoffs, Comcast, not Junior Pairs ’83. On our cable the picture is so murky and blobby that we literally can’t read any of the players’ numbers, and while the picture is slightly improved on our satellite, the sound on DirecTV makes it sound like Randy and Drew are calling the game over tin-can-on-a-string phone from a booth on the bottom of the sea.
– We flip back to the Pens game and hear a chorus of boos. Is Crosby on the ice? No, it’s just the Ranger faithful booing the fact that the Blueshirts iced the puck on the power play.
– The Penguins seem to have forgotten that they were going to have to play another 40 minutes after the first period. As everyone stands around the Pens zone, mesmerized by Jagr’s vagina facial hair, 68 ties the game at three and this game plummets from delightful to flat-out stupid.
– Okay, the game becomes considerably less stupid again when Malkin makes it 4-3 Pens on the power play. The building immediately falls deathly silent again after the goal, and Pookie remarks, “It’s like they’re maniacally quiet tonight.”
– We flip during intermission again to the Stars/Sharks game, and the sound has not been improved. Seriously, are they using voice distorters for this?
– Okay, the Sharks feed is giving us headaches. The ambient noise from the arena is doing this muted throbbing thing that makes us feel like our ear pressure and sinuses are all messed up. This is physically unwatchable. How can a professional sports broadcasting channel have such unbelievably bad sound design?
– Midway through the third period, all traces of stupidity have left the Pens/Rangers game. It’s 5-3 now, and after watching the Rangers piss away another power play and then look listless and pathetic while the Pens return to even strength, Edzo says with no small disgust, “Well if you’re going to just dump the puck, someone has to go and get it.” It’s great to see that the Rangers are lifting the entire recent-era Devils playbook, instead of just the “sound defense” part of it.
– WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did we think at any point during this Pens game that it was stupid? Because it turns out is was awesome. Unmitigatedly awesome from start to finish. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
– Meanwhile, under the sea, the Stars have tied things up in Dallas, where it’s 1-1. We flip over just in time to see Hagman drawing a penalty shot; it turns out not to be the most exciting play in hockey if you’re a Stars fan. We’re sure Sharks fans enjoyed it greatly, though.
– The Stars force Nabokov to make a desperation save with just over a minute left in the third period after Lehtinen makes a dazzling steal on two presumptively rushing-onto-offense Sharks at the San Jose blue line. Schnookie: “That was the most beautiful steal I have ever seen.” Drew Remenda: “That’s just ugly hockey.” Hm. We seem to be on different pages here tonight.
– The Stars/Sharks game goes to OT, and we spend the intermission watching the Rangers postgame on TiVo. Heh heh heh. Let’s see what Stan thought of the Pens game tonight.
– Stan is pinning the entire loss on Hollweg. Of course. He’s decided the Rangers’ inability to score on that protracted stretch of 5-on-3 had nothing to do with it.
– And meanwhile, over in Dallas, the Comcast feed has righted its audio just in time for us to revel in Norstrom’s OT goal and a Stars 3-0 series lead. What a fantastic night of hockey!
– We go back to the TiVoed Rangers postgame, and get to hear Gomez saying, “We owe it to our fans to win one.” Hm. We hope Rangers fans aren’t actually going to believe Scott Gomez thinks he owes his fans anything other than chasing the biggest paycheck he can find, even if that means signing with his fans’ least favorite team. He’s big into honoring his fans’ feelings that way.
Here we go, Game 2 of the Official Series We Care About — Go Pens! Go Stars! We’ll be filling this with what little thoughts pop into our heads as we watch the games today and tonight.
– This game has been a game of extremes: Extreme craptitude by Hossa, extreme awesomeness by Malkin and Sid; extreme coolness from Doc, extreme annoyingness by Pierre who’s decided it’s not enough to over-pronounce the French names and is now attempting to add some “Swedish” flair to Lundqvist.
– We learn that Sid requested there be no white-out in the crowd today. We’re hoping this is just the beginning of Sid flexing his divo muscles. Next up, he’ll demand the crowd wear only lilac. Then he’ll threaten to not skate unless every other seat is occupied by a shih tzu wearing a top hat. Finally, he’ll refuse to leave the dressing room unless the entirety of the upper deck is filled with pure white roses with the thorns removed.
– Just as we’re reliving Pierre’s awesome “Finno-Pierre” pronunciation of Jarko Rutuu in last year’s Playoffs (it sounded a little like “yahrkhuuu rrrhuttttuahwah”) he shocks us with this analysis: “I think that that # 87 had a lot to do with turning this franchise [the Penguins] around.” Wha-huh? Next up he’ll tell us the team with the most goals at the end of the game wins!
– Gronk scores for a case of sod! Woo-hoo! It’s a good thing he did, too, since we were getting to the hair-tearing-out-point with the Pens. Throughout the entire Devils series all we wanted to see was some players getting to the puck around the net. The Pens were doing that, then stopping to say, “Hey, look, we got he puck!” without following up on the play, as if to prove we have to be more specific in our directions. It was a tiresome little game, and we’re glad Jordan Staal had had enough of it!
– Mike Richter, makes Boomer’s day, by appearing on the intermission show to discuss his business ventures to fund green companies while encouraging major sports leagues to go greener. Despite her Devils fan-ness, Boomer will never forget that Richter was her first hockey true love. As an eco-conscious person herself (she spent her morning attempting to fix a leak in one of her five rain barrels) this whole segment is like a Cupid’s arrow making a direct hit on her heart. Meanwhile, Pierre continues to make himself look like an idiot by looking bored and asking Richter derisively, “Do you really think this will work?!” Also, he reduces the NHL players’ attempt to go carbon neutral by giggling over the Niedermayer brothers driving to games in a *scoff scoff* hybrid car. He also spews some nonsense about them drinking their Starbucks coffee out of “cups that can be refashioned into… um… other cups!” Meanwhile, we wonder why the Niedermayer brothers weren’t brining their own refillable cups to Starbucks in the first place. Do they want our Earth to die?
– Adam Hall scores for a case of sod-filled Tastykakes! The empty netter seals the Game 2 win for the Pens. We are loving this series so far!
– We’ll admit we very much enjoyed seeing Laraque appear of out nowhere to help Hal Gill defend Fleury there after the final whistle. Heh.
– Is it just us, or did Pierre look a little sad that Malone took the time to give Gronk a buddy-buddy facewash just before the post-game interview but didn’t give Pierre a second glance?
– We realize that Jordan Staal is the Pookie of the Staal brothers. The third of four, he doesn’t have the special status of being oldest or youngest, and Marc is most likely more concerned with framing his life in relation to his older brother not his parents. Pookie is fairly certain this means Gronk must be the smartest, most wonderful of the Staal children. Schnookie is concerned that this makes her the Marc Staal of the Ookie Family. “Does this mean I’m the one who looks like an especially inbred Prince Harry?” she asks. Pookie hates to be the one to tell her, but… yes.
– We will now take a brief intermission (if you can call a four hour break a “brief intermission”) but will return for the drop of the puck for the late game. Go Stars!
– Aaaaaand, we’re back! Go Stars!
– This game is giving us an opportunity to see how the Hockey Gods feel about defense. In one corner we have the Hero of Defense, Sergei Zubov. In the opposite corner we have the Zero of Defense, Brian “Spin-o-Rama O’ Despair” Campbell. Who will prevail?
– Schnookie is momentarily distracted from the game by a kamikaze bug that dive-bombs the back of her throat. Her surprised hacking drowns out the sound of the VS announcers. Pookie wonders if she can train an army of bugs to execute that move on command every time Pierre gets airtime.
– Anyone who doubts the power of recessive colors making the crowd look smaller should take a look at the wide angle of the sea of dark teal sweaters at the Shark Tank. Maybe it’s the lighting at the arena, but from far out, the building looks like swath of empty seats. Did Sid demand that this game be played without fans?
– We are assuming, after the Sharks score their second goal of the game on a breakaway, that Turco is thinking of his choice to try to race the attacking skater to the puck, “If I could go back, I might do that differently.”
– The VS intermission show reveals quite the shocker from the postgame comments following G1 of this series. What a surprise — Ron Wilson is blaming Patrick Marleau for the Sharks’ problems.
– Allow us to go out on a limb here and say that the Stars are looking really good. For all that they were in a deep and terrible swoon to end the season, they’re remarkably mentally resilient now. We’re ever so happy to have picked them as our favorite WC playoff team. Of course, there are still three minutes left in the third period as we say this, so if the Sharks end up coming back and winning this game, you can blame us.
– And even with us declaring this one over with a bit of time left in the final frame, the Stars still pull out the decisive win. No offense to our good friends who are pulling for the Sharks, but we’re delighted. It’s another great day of hockey!
– We talked a big game last night about caring about the match-up tonight — Penguins vs. Rangers and Stars vs. Sharks. Now’s the test of whether we can talk the talk.
– Sid Crosby is usually so accommodating to fans, so can he please keep those of us who get these games in HD in mind when “growing” his “facial hair”?
– Keith Jones announces in the pre-game that this series includes “eight superstars I’d pay money to see play”. Huh? We do a quick count and come up with six, if we stretch the term “superstar” to include Marc-Andre Fleury and Scott Gomez. Surely Jonesy can’t be including Shanahan and Drury on that list, can he?
– Blersus shows us the large crowd taking in the video feed on the rolling lawns around Mellon Arena and segues into talking about how ESPN the Magazine ranked Pittsburgh #1 in Fan Relations. Blersus explains that part of this is because of the “arena experience” at the Igloo and how while it has its perks, it’s a great place for watching hockey. Well, as long as we’re not getting pelted with beer-soaked mouse pads, we agree!
– The Rangers are criticized for not having a great penalty kill against the Devils in Round 1. Seriously people, the laptop we’re typing this on could have killed the NJ “power play”.
– Riddle us this, Batman. Why are the Bruins roundly blamed for playing soul-killing hockey and the Rangers are just playing “a mature defensive game”?
– Why does Hockey want us to hate it? Why?! Seriously, we have other things we can be doing, Hockey. There’s Katamari to be played, Season 5 of “The Wire” to be caught up on, vegetable plants to watch growing. Any old time you want to start having Good triumph over Evil, that’d be great with us. This Rangers 1, Penguins 0 thing just isn’t cutting it.
– We’re writing this game off, anyway, though, as the Pens have had nine days off. Nine! Sid’s probably forgotten how to pass in that time off!
– We’re speechless. Jonesy’s “ShoutyShoutShout” Segment — er, pardon us, “Odd Man Rush” segment — is about Johan Franzen, who’s nickname is “The Mule”. Jonsey shouts, “I looked it up in the dictionary and a mule is… half-horse and half-donkey!!!.” We looked up Jonsey in the OED (nerd-alert: Stately IPB Manor is home to a complete, unabridged, gazillion-volume edition of the Oxford English Dictionary) and learned he’s half-dullard and half-nincompoop. You learn something new every day.
– Rangers 2, Penguins 0. Looks like we picked the wrong day to stop soldering our eyeballs in disgust over bad hockey.
– We can hear it, ever so softly, ringing in our ears. The siren song of the Katamari. Naa-na-na-na-na-na-na-na….
– Rangers 3, Penguins 0. We have no words for how over this we are. T-Minus 1 hour, 45 minutes ’til the Stars start.
– We’ve noticed an phenomenon with our Wii. When playing “Super Mario Galaxy”, all Pookie has to do to win a level is to get to breaking point and say out loud, “I hate this game and I’m turning off as soon as I die next.” It’s like the Wii hears her and feels threatened, that it might never be powered on again, left to molder and grow dusty before finally being tossed in the trash. It then serves up some softball levels to lure Pookie into playing some more. This game is like our Wii. Just as we are going to switch inputs to the PS2, the Penguins pop in two quick goals, one by the Other Superpest and one off a beautiful feed from Sid. Sweet! Still… that Katamari music is still running through our heads, and if this starts to look bleak again, we will not hesitate to turn the game off. Are you listening, TV?
– The “Bud Light At-A-Glance” is a bit too ironical for us — it obscures 1/3 of the screen keeping us from seeing the action for the amount of time it’s up on the screen.
– Speaking of screens, there’s some weird smudge on our TV that we can’t see to wipe off… Oh! That’s just Sid’s “facial hair”.
– OK, Hockey, this is more like it! Two more quick goals and it’s Pens 4, Rangers 3. However, we could still turn on Katamari whenever we feel like it, so don’t get complacent, Hockey!
– Also, we’re gobsmacked that we forgot one of the greatest things about hockey in our 118 Reasons We Love Hockey Series — people dressed as the Stanley Cup. We catch a glimpse of a man in the crowd wearing a tin-foil Cup head-dress. While it follows the pretty standard “full head Cup costume” template, the wearer has gone the extra step to sport a Lone Ranger mask under the eye-hole. This attention to detail delights us. However, it’s not as good as the fan we saw at Game 7 of the SCF in 2003 who rocked the very rare, and awesomely sublime “full body Cup costume”. He was wearing a giant garbage can with arm-holes cut in it and could barely move, but he was still the toast of every section he teetered past.
– WOOOOO!!! That’s RAWK! That’s one a beauty of a shot, and a beauty of a goal celebration. No concussions, no showboating, no skating past one’s teammates. That’s what we like to see!
– Wow. That game turned out awwwwesome! Good thing we didn’t turn it off. That said, we’ll have the Xbox controllers in hand at the start of the next game just in case.
– We are treated to one of those oddly satisfying TCM-ish filler spots that feature some odd history lesson about hockey. In this case, the subject is Red Berenson, famous to Devils fan as the man who put the finishing touch on the chip on John Madden’s shoulder by suggesting, horror of horrors, that Maddog maybe consider writing up a resume upon finishing his last year of eligibility since he wasn’t going to get drafted. The clip ends and we cut to Keith Jones saying he knew the fun fact about Berenson’s biggest night in the NHL because the only homework he did in college was to look up what happened on the day he was born; of course he skipped the news sections and went straight to the sports page, where the hockey column was all about what Berenson had accomplished that day. Now if only VS wouldn’t command Jonsey to ape Cherry, he’d be adorable! He’d almost be like Kelly Hrudey South!
– We’re having a little trouble getting into the late game here, perhaps still on a bit of a high from the Pens win, but we have to say, whoever thought to assign Andy Brickley to the Stahs/Shahks series has genius bits.
– Whoops. We take back everything nice we said about Jonesy. In the second intermission of the Stahs/Shahks tilt, he tells us that Marty Turco’s stickhandling was “the focal point you had to focus your eyes on” during the first round. Sigh.
– We feel compelled to write an open letter to the Stars about the third period:
We have learned, after a long, painful season with the Devils, that trying to play an entire period in your own zone is really not a great game plan. Oops. Now you’ve learned it too.
– Okay, after looking totally disinterested in trying to win the hockey game, the Stars figured their shit out and took care of things quickly in OT, making this into a decidedly wonderful night of hockey. Since this playoffs has been characterized by wild mood swings from “fantastically enjoyable” to “utterly craptastic”, this bodes poorly for tomorrow. Considering these are the two series we really care about, we’ll take it, though.
So it begins! Tonight we have the two Conference Semi-Final series we’re not as excited for, Montreal-Philadelphia and Detroit-Colorado, but we’re going to be watching anyway. It’s not that far off that’ll we be sitting here wondering where the heck hockey went, so here we are. We’ll be bringing our “Around The Dial” hockey observationalysis (as opposed to analysis, which, as you know, Gentle Reader, isn’t really our strong suit).
– Not surprisingly we opt to watch this on CBC on the satellite rather than in HD on Philly’s Comcast on the cable. We figure fewer Tastykake references is undeniably sad, but it’s a fair trade-off for no Bill Clement. Moreover, Pookie has yet to see Sid’s Gatorade commercial. Keep your fingers crossed for her!
– Philly scores first. Did we cheer? [Sly smile] We’ll never tell!
– Jim Dowd scores for a case of Surf Tacos and Jersey Mike’s subs! (Being a South Jersey guy he rejected the Tastykakes in favor of something closer to home.)
– The first period ends and we’re left with the impression that this is a classic “Game 1″ in that it won’t be at all indicative of what the series will have to offer.
– We stick around on CBC for a few minutes and are rewarded with Sid’s Gatorade commercial. “It’s science… Look it up.” Uh… We’ll just take your words for it. While waiting for that little gem of Sid’s March Towards Global Advertising Domination we are treated to an ad for Toronto FC.
Pookie: Who, one wonders, does the Toronto football club play?
Schnookie: The Harlem Globetrotters?
– We have no stomach for Coach’s Corner (glorifying racism, sexism, and jingoism isn’t really our speed; why does Don Cherry still have a job?!) so we flip over to VS. At the mere sight of the Colorado Avalanche Schnookie launches into full-on rant mode only to be brought up short: “For God’s sake, I’m cheering for Detroit! The Avs are so despicable! I hate them so mu — Oh! Look! The games are staggered! How delightful!” The Playoffs are all about the ups and downs, aren’t they, Gentle Reader?
– As we watch the Red Wings on a first-period power play, the following exchange occurs in the living room of stately IPB Manor:
Boomer: “Who are we cheering for in this one?”
Schnookie, aghast: “Who are we cheering for???”
Pookie: “We’re cheering for the team that doesn’t have Ryan Smyth.”
Schnookie: “We’re cheering for the team that doesn’t have Peter Forsberg.”
Pookie: “I keep forgetting about Forsberg.”
Schnookie: “NEVER. FORGET.”
Boomer, distressed: “So we’re cheering for Rafalski?”
Yeah, the 2008 playoffs are the times that try a fan’s soul.
– We’ve hit the second period doldrums. Instead of watching we’re cleaning out hundreds of old order confirmations from our Yahoo inboxes and waving a laser beam around for Matsui The Cat to chase. Sigh.
– No sooner do we say this than the Habs score but a high stick leads to a lengthy review. Nothing will grab one’s attention away from months-old email order confirmations more than a lengthy goal review!
– We switch, during intermission, to the Detroit-Colorado game. It’s 4-2. We’re watching the wrong game, aren’t we?
– We get so wrapped up in the end of the Detroit-Colorado period that we miss the 3rd Flyers goal. We have no idea who’s the proud recipient of case of Tastykake/Surf Taco (Tastytako?).
– With 2 minutes left in the Habs/Flyers tilt, things get interesting! Montreal starts buzzing, then Richards trips Kovalev to put the Hab on the man advantage for the final minute. Meanwhile, a fan douses Richards with a beer. Where’s Tie Domi when you need him? (And no, we never thought we’d say that.) Between Jeff Carter getting hit with a beer bottle and Mike Richards getting hit with the contents of a beer bottle, we’re wondering if the bad karma of the Flyers organization is coming back to bite their nicer, more talented players in the form of unsavory hockey fans’ version of the old pie-in-the-face trick.
– Talk about interesting, Kovalev ties it up. Hey, on a night when there are no late games, we’re all about OT!
– The Detroit game ends with a bang, with Osgood making a killer stop to save the game. We didn’t pay attention to much of this game, but the Tra-La-La-FeelingsBits emanating from our TV suggest this game was very indicative of the series as a whole. We cackle gleefully when we hear Edzo pointed out that Forsberg didn’t dress.
– Like true professionals we flip back to the OT aaaaannnndddd… We’ve missed the winning goal. Kostopoulos scores less than a minute in.
– Are we sad the Flyers lost? [Sad smile] Look at that hobo!
– Now, bring on the series we do care about! Go Pens! Go Stars!