Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12-11-06: Penguins 5, Capitals 4

“It doesn’t get old, talking about these youngsters.”

–some Versus commentator

Yes, actually, it does. It really, really does. I wrote a fairly lengthy and fairly weird meditation these two and the differences between them, because they’re actually very interesting players. Now not only do I not want to post it, I don’t even want to think about it, I do not even want to type those two names. Listening to all these creepy old men repetitively lust after them for a whole week has gone from being funny to irritating to disturbing to soul-crushingly depressing. It’s gotten old. Totally old. There’s a fine line between promoting something and, well, beating it to death with a stick. They’ve beaten this to death with a stick.

1. If a woman was to talk about Crosby and Ovechkin the way the average male analyst has been for the bulk of the week, she would have been pilloried as a slavering puckbunny and tuned out since last Thursday. Seriously, a female says that [Player X] is hot and everybody gets all huffy and critical, but male commentators can have long, detailed discussions about what nice thighs Crosby has without anyone being weirded out in the slightest?

2. The rest of the Pen Caps should just go join other teams where they might have half a chance in hell of being actually appreciated. The commentary on this game was disgusting. If Crosby, Ovechkin, or Malkin was not on the ice, the commentators weren’t talking about the game, hell, they weren’t even watching the game. They’d just ramble on with long, crazy anecdotes about shit that happened in like 1973, and then show Crosby on the bench staring at the ice and looking grouchy, and then go back to their pointless fucking story. Laich’s goal was beautiful and barely even got a second look, and I don’t think they even noticed when Talbot scored, until some cameraman smacked them upside the head and told them to pay attention to the fucking game. Listen, paid hockey shills, Crosby and Ovechkin are obviously great. I don’t need people to tell me that. Tell me something that isn’t fucking obvious to every human being with eyes.

3. The Caps are actually looking quite interesting, much more so than I remember them being at the beginning of the season, and honestly I think they were clearly the better team on the ice tonight- better coordinated and most of the time stronger defensively, with a nicely muscular (if sometimes strategically misguided) style. I want to pay attention to them now. Props to Clark, by the way, for not only playing wonderfully in spite of his smashed face, but for playing wonderfully in spite of that crazy thing he has to wear to protect his face from getting even more smashed. It looks like it would be a gigantic distraction, but hell, the way he played the first part of this game, maybe everybody should get one. I’m still not sure how they managed to lose this.

4. The Penguins I still don’t get. Occasionally they get these bursts of non-Crosby-related energy where they work incredibly hard and do great things, but they still seem to revert to their strategy of taking bad shots, trying to make passes to teammates who aren’t there, and giving away the puck like it had cooties or something (Eeeww! We don’t want that!). They’re saving grace, aside from Crosby, is the enthusiasm they can manage when they really try, but for some reason they’re not always trying, and they just don’t play a very smart game. I don’t know how Pens fans manage to watch them habitually without tearing their hair out. Do they just take comfort in Crosby and pray for the future?

5. However, I am beginning to really like Fleury, partly because of my aforementioned RDS-induced Quebecois Affection Syndrome, but mostly because I love the seizure-inducing-yellow pads. You’ve got to respect a guy who’s like, “Fuck this black-and-white uniform shit, I want to look like a dandelion and I’m damn well going to!” And in addition to being the sexiest fashion statement in contemporary goaltending, I suspect they may also have a tactical advantage- if the opposition’s forwards can’t look at you for more than 10 seconds without suffering stabbing eye-pain, it probably means they take worse shots. This is the real reason Ovechkin wears the tinted visor.

I know the NHL is trying to promote celebrity players to bring more attention to the sport, but they’re doing a terrible job of it. I already like hockey and this was a pretty interesting game, but the way they packaged it made me want to do nothing so much as change the channel. There’s no sense of humor or sense of style in their self-promotion, it’s like a 1950s kind of advertising wherein you repeat ‘[name of product] is good!’ over and over again. Honestly, I think it’d be better if they just gave Ovechkin (or hell, almost any player) a camera, told him to make a bunch of 30-second clips trying convince people to watch hockey, and broadcast those. It certainly couldn’t be more annoying or less entertaining then what they’re doing now, and at least it would have some credibility.

This Saturday is Crosby Night in Montreal, but I think the Penguinomania will be more subdued than previously expected. Given the terrible, terrible week it’s becoming up here, the Habs will probably be so depressed and injured by the weekend that they, and indeed the entire crowd, will just sit there thinking about the ultimate pointlessness of the game and the futility of even trying to do anything in such a capriciously, casually brutal universe, while Sidney scores 83 consecutive gorgeous empty-net goals and wonders why, in this usually hockey-mad town, nobody really seems to care.


Julian said...

Just wanted to say I'm a fan of your blog. Stumbled across it by accident, and I really liked a few of the entries, especially the one on the role of pain and the symbolic value of violence rather than the oft-presumed bloodlust reasons.

I just figured I'd respond here instead of in a post from a while back.

Have you read "Grace Under Fire" by Lawrence Scanlan? It deals with the issue of violence in hockey, and the importance of the balance between "ballet and murder".

The hockey library needs more intelligent writing, rather than biographies/hagiographies of 70's 2nd tier stars.

E said...

thanks! kind words are always appreciated, and i'm glad you like the pain essay- it's one of my favorites as well, largely because it's a subject i still feel torn about, but i was afraid it was maybe a little weird in the context of hockey blogistan.

thanks also for the book recommendation- the only hockey book i've tried reading is robidoux's 'men at play', which is kind of an ethnography of an ahl team. i thought it would give perhaps a more insightful view than the hagiographies you mention, which seem to be the most common thing available at general bookstores. unfortunately, it's pretty disappointing- he tosses a lot of different ideas at the game, but none of them really seem to illuminate anything. i'll seek out the scanlan book- sounds like perfect holiday reading...

Julian said...

I'll be honest, it's not the most solidly written book out there, it's rather disjointed and sometimes the author jumps from topic to topic or throws in an anecdote that he doesn't bother to relate to the chapter at all.

But its still more intelligent than anything you'll hear outta Don Cherry.

I had a notion a while back to start a "hockey literature" collection... unfortunately there just isn't much out there. Still, if you need any other reccomendations, I can leave you some.

E said...

"more intelligent than don cherry"- what an endorsement. i feel like that should be a blurb on the book jacket for the next edition.

i'm always interested in book recommendations. you can post them here, or just email them to me, if the fradulence of pretending these are comments on the pen-cap circus troubles you.

Reality Check said...

On Saturday, Habs fans will be dreaming of 2012.

Julian said...

"if the fradulence of pretending these are comments on the pen-cap circus troubles you."

I have no idea what that means. Hah.

I'll see what I can do about coming up with a list. I've thought about making a hockey book review blog, but... I don't live in Canada right now, so this would be a bad time to start.