Like any sport, hockey has its faithful as well as its fair-weather fans. Now I could go all Foxworthy on your ever-readin’ asses and delineate the subtle differences between the two species, but I think you guys know what I mean. So you may as well just go on ahead and give me a quick ‘hell yeah!’ right now so we can move along.
But, yeah, faithful and fair-weather. That’s why most stadiums have a lower- and upper-bowl set-up. People that love the
game don’t want to see a Tampa Bay jersey customized to say ‘Greatest Grandpa’ with number 1 tucked into some relaxed-fit Lees and advocates of NHL player safety probably don’t want the faithful down near the glass…
Well, one thing a true fan of the game does is watch games, and not just when someone’s cousin’s boss ‘can’t make it to the game’. Real hockey doggz check things out even if their team isn’t playing. Or even if the teams playing aren’t that good, a hockey aficionado sticks around. But what if the, uh, Blue Jackets are playing? What then, hot shot? Well, I hate to admit it, gang, but this Hockey Dogg is feeling like the runt o’ the litter with a severe case of the sneezy-wheezies. With the acute viral rhinopharyngitis setting up a 1-3-1 trap in my sinus, now might be the best time to ‘put up or shut up’ or, as our Canadian frenemies (you totally know that’s what they are!) say ‘put up or kindly stop making boastful claims, please.’
THE PREGAME SPEECH: So, turns out that the best way to feel like a complete, inert lump of crap is: spend Thursday eating and drinking like a hypnotist tricked you into thinking you were really Andre the Giant, then work off your food hangover Friday by watching the Bruins/Red Wings game and downing a spicy Italian hoagie, a 40 and the scraps of a bottle of Ezra Brooks; you suddenly find yourself (gasp!) sick on an unseasonably-gorgeous Saturday and then recover on Sunday by vowing to watch and report on a Blues-Blue Jackets game. I kinda suspect my 20s are going to go by in exactly the same way.
20:00, 1stperiod: It’s never a good indicator when the lead-off to the game is pumping up the fact that St. Louis coach Ken “Haystacks” Hitchcock used to coach in Columbus. It’s also not a great indicator of your franchise when your winningest coach was two games over .500 over, like, four years.
15:34, 1st period: Gots to love Darren Pang Chung doing the color commentary for the St. Louis Blues broadcast. And hey, did you know that washed-up goalies can provide entertainment and ha-has both on and off the ice? Punchline: Steve “Red-Headed Step-Child/Rented Mule” Mason, who is not starting, lamentably. Curtis Sanford (who has a ‘sandman’ on his mask that is undeniably a wizard) gets the nod for Columbus.
8:00, 1st Period- Well, since nothing else is really happening, I’d like to point out that Movemeber is ending. So check out the ‘staches while you can. And am I the only one that hopes that at least one NHLer is just, like ‘Hey, wait. This thing looks great! I am keeping the mustache!’?
5:17, 1st Period- We got a goalie duel! Sanford and Brian Eliot are both proving that, uh, the average heavily-padded man can take up a lot of space in front of a goal.
1:45, 1st Period- Why does every NHL announcer like to regularly talk about a player’s height/weight and then proceed to second-guess this information? ‘180-pounds soakin’ wet would be putting it generously’ or ‘yeah, maybe if he was wearin’ some of Darren’s old disco platforms!’ Like, do these guys really think the players themselves fill out a form every year and lie about how short/fat they actually are and nobody checks? Are hockey players that goddamn sensitive/manipulative? Are they?
1st Intermission- I was going to offer some insight about the Blue Jackets, but then I got a phone call. It’s none of your business what it was about.
18:43, 2nd Period- Well, I meant to talk about this during the intermission, but it looks like I don’t got much else to report on. So, what the hell’s up with these Blue Jackets? I mean, firstly, who the fuck names a team ‘the Blue Jackets’? That is pretty much the worst start you could give a franchise: The Blue Jackets. Sounds more like a Leonard Cohen song than an ice-hockey team. Furthermore, how is this Howson guy still the GM of this club? Look, I’ve led more than a few EA Sports NHL franchises to e-glory, and let me tell you, this guy doesn’t know his ass from a Bobby Holik in the ground. Seriously, how do you explain the contracts on this team? Steve Mason makes about $3 mil-per, which could be worse financially, though it’s difficult to imagine Mason playing worse ice-hockily.
And I know Columbus’ power play was real stinky last year, but signing James “Polish Joke” Wisniewski? $5.5 million thru 2017!? Let me punctuate that again, with some feeling: !!?? Yeah, he racked up points on the PP, but he also got in trouble for making a lewd gesture involving an invisible pee-pee. And he’s been released/waived/annulled/traded-for-draft-picks/suspended enuff times in his career that one could probably safely conclude that he is not the type of defenseman you settle down with.And then there’s… Well, without going any deeper: poor Rick Nash.
16:34, 2nd Period- I knew Hitchcock has always been well-respected for his defensive game, but, c’mon! You actually want your team to score at least some goals against these guys, right? So much mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up play in the neutral zone with almost no momentum. It’s like a Scrabble game wherein each player spends 37 minutes to put down a three-letter word for six points a piece. The longer this goes on this way, the more likely it is to be boring. I mean, the more likely it is for the Blues to lose.
10:14, 2nd Period- Phew, nothing appears to have happened while I put my clothes in the dryer and freshened up my tea.
5:06, 2nd Period- Welcome back our old hockey friend: GOAL. Derek “The Corset” Dorsett scores on a mini-breakaway, puttin’ the puck right where Brian “Billy” Eliot hides the cookies (in the crux of his armpit- you didn’t think he actually paid for those cookies, did you?).
4:31, 2nd Period- I’m getting a CFL Grey Cup Update for some reason while Get It On, Pang a Gong is speaking some heavy Canadian shit.
2:21, 2nd Period- To sum up this game: Blues defender Barret “No, My Brother’s Not Hugh” Jackman falls down and on the ensuing Columbus 3-on-1, recent acquisition Jeff “Tha” Carter “IV” gets the puck and then fires it directly at the butt of the remaining Blues defenseman, Roman Polak “Joke” (note: this does not count as the same joke twice- sez me).
:07, 2nd Period- Kris “the Muscle” Russel scores on a rebound against his old team with only seven seconds left. Oh wait. I already typed that. St. Louis should have about three or four goals of this type right now, as Sanford is playing like a guy out of the NHL since 2009. You can hear him saying “Christsakes, Curtis, c’mon, don’t fuck this one up” under his breath everytime the Blues deign to shoot a puck in his direction.
2ndIntermission- What is it about them Blues? Remember when they were really good every year but you knew they’d get smashed by Detroit, Dallas, Colorado, or some random upstart team come beard-growin’ time? Then they were bad? Except this one year, kinda recently, they made the playoffs and got swept and went back to being bad? Ok, so now that you are caught up with 40-plus years of franchise history, let me tell you what stinks about the Blues.
This team really looks and plays like it is made up of guys who were rewarded too soon with too much. There’s a lot of laziness and ennui that’s better suited to a Parisian cafe than an ice-hockey rink with this St. Louis team. The Blues have a lot of ‘promising young talent’ and what not, but, the fact is, dudes just don’t tend to strive to improve once they’ve got some hot chicks and sick whips. Any major dude will tell you. It’s like giving a high-schooler $50 for every C, $75 for each B, and a cool hundo for every A they pull down. As a grown-up, you think ‘hell, I’d study a little each day and collect twice as much money down the road.’ But. More often than not, the kid’s gonna say ‘sweet!’ and let you pay them $350 for a 2.5 GPA. Maybe cagey vets like Jaime “Guess My Name Or I Get to Keep Your Baby” Langenbrunner and Jason “…” Arnott will cut down on some of the rowdy horsin’ off that undoubtedly holds this team back. Who knows. After 40 minutes of this: who cares.
16:20, 3rd Period- Man, you know a game is a stinker when you are getting regular CFL Grey Cup updates.
15:00, 3rd Period- Well, nevermind. I got it. Blues winger Ryan Reaves just knocked the block off of Cody “Big Mouth Billy” Bass because, according to Chitty Chitty Pang Pang, he was trying to spark his favorite team- the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In an unrelated note, all three sports teams named thus far have the word blue in the name.
12:10, 3rd Period- The Blues snap a so-bad-it’s-italicized 0-for-22 powerplay outage with a real humdinger capped off by David “Baby Got” Backes. A little tic-tac-goal highlighted by TJ Broshie’s suh-weet behind-the-back-and-through-the-wickets pass.
11:08, 3rd Period- Blue Jackets get a powerplay, their sixth of the game. Sadly, this feels like it could be their last opportunity… with ten minutes to go. Oh wait, they just took a hooking penalty, chasing Broshie around in their own zone. Jeez, these guys…
6:07, 3rd Period- Sanford makes a pretty good save against the Blues and Vinny “Please Don’t Make Me Retire” Prospal takes a slashing penalty or something. Then at
5ish Minutes, 3rd Period- Columbus is denied by Eliot on a 2-on-1, shorthanded attempt. I don’t know what it is, bad bounces or a lack of talent or what, but, I swear not all games are like this. If only St. Louis had worn some flashier jerseys or something to jazz this snooze-festival up…
:30, 3rd Period- Can’t believe it’s a one-goal game. But it is! 2-1, Blues. The last-minute, empty-net rush is kinda better than the other episodes of falling down, passing to the wrong guy, and shooting the wrong direction that plagued the first 59:30 of this game, as whatever happens here could result in overtime and/or a sports bloopers tape.
:00, 3rd Period- Those last 30 seconds must have been very frustrating to any of the Columbus fans that didn’t win their tickets in a pack of hot dogs or something.
POSTGAME ANALYSIS: Well, guys… sorry. I did prove that I was a real hockey fan (by talking about how bad this hockey game was), though. Surprise of the night goes to Brian Eliot, who is now 10-1! Overall, I’d say neither team brought their A-game to this Sunday evening tilt. The Blues looked like they knew who they were playing and the BJ’s knew what team they were playing on.