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Archive for the ‘Alex Ovechkin’ Category

Dear Sid,

I hear it’s really hard for teams to dominate in Game 7’s on the road. Is that true?

Alex, Washington DC

Dear Alex,

Not for me it isn’t.

–Sid

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1. The Sid/Ovie “Debate” This is so played out. We’re exhausted by the volume and the predictability of the whole thing. Yes, we KNOW you think Sid’s a whiner. Yes, we KNOW you think he has no personality. We’ve been hearing it for YEARS. And over those years, the pro-Ovechkin party line is that he’s all awesome, all the time. Well, until the hype machine backlash swings around full circle and the dialog about these two includes a universally-accepted and equally emphatic knee-jerk response of “Ovechkin’s a raging douchebag” (which is as fact-based as the boring/whiner response to Sid), we refuse to engage. As it stands, it’s just the same old tired shit, shouted louder and louder as if the person doing the shouting thinks they’re actually contributing something new or of value to the conversation.

mammothoctopus

Pictured above, the bloggers’ representation of the league’s two-pony show.

2. The Sid/Ovie Exclusivity We would like very much for IPB’s official stance to be: “In the battle of Sid vs. Ovie, we vote Parise and Getzlaf and Richards.” Wait, are we allowed to do that? What’s this, we’re getting a memo from the league? Let’s see here… It says we have to decide if we think Sid’s a diver or if Ovie’s a showboat. There’s no option for “We’re above this?” Please.

3. Specially-Engineered Dirt That Tells You When Your Lawn Needs Water Perhaps the most mentally-consuming stupid thing we’ve seen in these playoffs is a commercial for a lawn starter thing that advertises that it is specially engineered so that the dirt changes colors to tell you when you need to water. (No, we don’t know the name of the product, or its manufacturer, or where you can see the product/commercial online. We’re bloggers, not journalists.) We ended up in a bit of a panic after we considered this product, because we suspect we may have accidentally gotten some for our own garden, when just plain dirt would have sufficed. Seriously, consider this:

Onions Transplanted

That’s one of the beds in our garden, after being watered.

Potato Status Check

And that’s the one next to it, after drying out. Look at the dirt! It changed colors! This is terrible!

4. Changing The Playoff OT Format To 4-on-4 We get that NBC doesn’t like the prospect of limitless, commercial-free playoff OT. It really does fly in the face of their business model, when you think about it. But it’s also one of the best traditions in any sport. So why not, instead of jettisoning the concept of playing regular hockey until someone wins, jettison the idea of it being commercial-free? And if there is some sort of real programming NBC would like to have on in place of 3OT (man, did we get lucky during that Ducks/Wings game that it was just tape-delayed horse jumping, a fact that cracked Boomer up to no end. She kept giggling about all the little horsey tweens who were crying because they were stuck watching ugly old hockey), then slap the game over onto Versus when it runs too long. Sure, we all love to wail and beat our chests about the indignity of that Senators/Sabres game getting shunted aside for Preakness pregame drivel, but that was certainly a much smaller indignity than changing to a 4-on-4 format (a concession that starts us down the slippery slope to shootouts) just to keep our sometimes network happy.

5. Versus’s Great Hockey Moments We have been suffering the lousy broadcast standards on Versus (and NBC) since the lockout because we understand they are gearing their programming toward the elusive “new” or “casual” fan. Fine. You want to present hockey in as crappy a manner as possible because you think it might entice someone who was flipping channels? So be it. But how does that explain the deadly-dull Hockey Moments (or whatever they’re calling them) during the Versus intermissions? What MMA-starved 18-to-25-year-old non-hockey fan is going to see those and go, “Hot damn! This sport is AWESOME!”? TNT’s NBA intermission (er, halftime) show is the talk of the town and you know what it doesn’t include? Grainy footage of shit that happened forty years ago.

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Here is a list of players we think are worth 13-year, $124 million contracts:

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The 64th in our 118-part series.

Alexander Ovechkin

We both studied Russian in high school, and we both went on month-long “exchange” trips to Moscow (in which we hung out with a group of our American classmates and never spoke a word of Russian because our host school was an English-language specialty school where the Kindergarteners literally spoke better English than we did) when we were teenagers. While on our respective visits abroad, we both encountered examples of that most wonderful type of person: the crazy Russian exchange student. The crazy Russian exchange student is most often a guy, most often is 16 or 17, and is probably most closely translated to the American archetype of the “Class Clown”, but a lot is lost in that translation (things like his goofy accent, playful and creative approach to vocabulary, and typically Russian mindset). The best example we have of the crazy Russian exchange student is a tale Schnookie brings from her visit to one cathedral or another (they really all do run together). This particular cathedral was the resting place of many of the Tsars, and the group tour wended past their sarcophagi as the handful of American and Russian students just shuffled along dutifully while trying to pay attention to the tour guide. Suddenly Schnookie realized the kid behind her in line, Dima, certifed crazy Russian exchange student, was very quietly knocking on the tops of all the sarcophagi. And along with the knocking, he was saying repeatedly, just loud enough for the people immediately ahead of and behind him in line to hear, “Wake up, asshole.” Perhaps it was because Schnookie was 15 and homesick and traveling overseas for the first time in her life, but she found this utterly hysterical.
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Being good, dutiful Devils fans we hate superstars. We booed Mario, we booed Wayne, we booed Messier, we booed ’em all! Even though the Mikey Mouse fiasco was before our time, it still seemed like our right as Devils fans to be above the superstar thing. But then something strange happened: the NHL went away for a year and when it came back it was “The New NHL”. This New NHL offered Devils fans all kinds of surprise benefits. A 48-goal season from Brian Gionta. A Marty Brodeur who could prove his success wasn’t all about the Devs’ D. A ridiculous winning streak to close out the season, snatch the division title from the Rangers and the Flyers, and prove all the Devil haters wrong. But an even bigger surprise was looming as well — superstars we could love.

By all accounts, we should hate Sidney Crosby with the passion of a thousand suns. All that hype, all those giant endorsement deals, all those times we had to sit through “Honey, why is Sidney Crosby in our shower?” We should hate Alex Ovechkin for his one-sided play, his obnoxious apres-goal routines, his potato-chip commercial. We should loathe the run-and-gun Buffalo Sabres for the hockey media praising them for being everything the Devils aren’t (and never stopping to point out that the Devils have had a better record for all but the first month of the season). But a year without hockey did something strange to the cold, empty spaces in our chests where our hearts should be. Instead of lumps of coal, hardened by years of cheering for (dare we say it) interchangeable parts, we now had little piles of pumice, pervious to the charms of Sid Crosby’s highlight reel plays, Alex Ovechkin’s over-the-top goal celebrations, and the entire high-flying line-up of the Buffalo Sabres.

Is this something we should be concerned about? Have we gone soft not just in our hearts, but also in our heads? We can remember years when, after the Devils crashed and burned, we turned away from what was left of the playoffs while spouting bitter torrents of bile against the perceived heinousness of the rest of the hockey world. We were hard, mean and difficult to please, and we liked it that way. But this new NHL… there’s something undeniably pleasant about it. We’ve put our DVRs and Center Ice package through their paces this year, recording hundreds of hours of Penguins, Sabres, Capitals, even Hurricanes (it’s a Mike Commodore thing…) games. And as much as it pains us to say it, there are teams that are not the Devils that we actually — gulp! — like. We’ve had ample opportunity this year to prove to ourselves that when pitted against each other, our loyalties always, always, always lie with the Devs. But faced with the almost certain early-round demise of this year’s playoff hopes and dreams (thanks Forechecker for pointing out how deadly getting the #5 seed is) can it be anything other than a good thing that we’re looking forward to seeing how much Sid and his Sidguins can overachieve, or that we’re actively hoping Ryan Miller can prove the Sabres fans wrong that it was bad idea to let Biron go, or that we spent the summer telling ourselves Mike Commodore was more deserving of the Conn Smythe than Cam “One Season Wonder” Ward?

While discussing this strange new affinity for players and teams other than our very own Devils, Schnookie began by saying “It’s this new NHL. It’s not….” and the only word she could think of to finish her thought was “poop”. And Pookie had to agree with her. Will this new it’s-not-poop NHL love continue if the Devils are somehow single-handedly slayed by Sid Crosby and his mad “aren’t I special I can split 5 guys and score while falling down” skillz? Well, we weren’t vomiting in our mouths while watching the Hurricanes skate with the Cup last spring, so it’s a safe bet to say yes. Back in the Golden Age of being new fans we watched every game we could. We had players on other teams we loved, we had teams we followed avidly, we could survive the nights between Devils games. But as the years wore on, our hockey world-view shrank until the point came when we didn’t even bother watching the 2004 playoffs after the Devils bowed out with nary a whimper. This New NHL is like a hockey Renaissance for us. Bring on the hype! Bring on the Sid and Ovie commercials! Bring on the run-and-gun ‘Slugs! As Mike Commodore said of his day with the Stanley Cup, “Game. On.”

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