Monday, November 13, 2006

11-12-06: Ducks 3, Wild 2

I love the Minnesota Wild, purely on the strength of having an adjective for a name. Now I can go around tomorrow saying, “Yeah, I was watching the wild ducks game last night, and…” And it works with a lot of different match-ups! Wild predators, wild coyotes, and so on; although I think the only thing that tops wild ducks as an image is wild penguins. Anyway, very interesting game, more for what it wasn’t than for what it was. What it was: incredibly solid, well-executed hockey. What it wasn’t: particularly exciting.

  1. The Anaheim Ducks make me doubt my own love of team-coordination by proving that spectacular teamwork and very talented players can still be deadly dull. One must respect how good this team is- it’s the closest thing to a fact one can find in hockey, the numbers prove it in 67 different ways. Their offence is virtually robotic, scoring neatly more or less exactly when you’d expect them to, and their defense is like a pile of rocks- you need a freakin’ backhoe to get past them (Calgary, evidently, has some experience with heavy machinery which is paying off in this regard). The thing is, it must take amazing levels of training and commitment to achieve that kind of solidity, but it comes off as totally flat. Hell, they don’t even look happy when they score. Which brings me to a fact about myself as a hockey-watcher: I don’t really care about winning that much. I watch this game to see speed, style, grace, passion, and yeah, some violence. But mostly I’m looking for those crazy beautiful moments- that’s my fix, that’s what I want out of this. And most games, even most teams, give me that. Not always, but often enough. Not Anaheim. They’re a winning machine, and congratulations to them for that, but they're too colorless to love.
  2. The Wild, on the other hand (even leaving aside the fantastic name), have a certain charm. They played the first period on Anaheim’s method, everybody was very solid, nobody scored, and nothing much happened. But turns out they have it in them to make some very slick plays, and more then that, they have a sort of snarky talent for getting in the way which I found highly entertaining. It was rather like watching a gang of small children fight a group of cyborgs. You know, ultimately, that the odds strongly favor the cyborgs, but you root for the kids, and every time they manage to fuck up some perfectly-coordinated robot maneuver, it feels like a score. They could probably have won, with a bit more ingenuity and a heap more luck, but winning isn’t everything, and really, is there any shame in losing to the Ducks these days, other than perhaps saying the phrase, “I lost to the ducks.”? The only thing that might be more fashionable in the NHL right now is losing to the Sabres, and really, that trend is starting to look so October.

Also, I heard that some poor kid from Chicago took a skate to the neck in the game against Columbus. Didn’t see it, so no rants here, I just hope he’s recovering well (and now I feel vaguely guilty for knowing absolutely nothing about Chicago). But congratulations to them on winning (!), which as I understand it has not been happening as often as one might like.

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