A couple years ago, Screen Shots summarized the seasons of each NHL team by identifying a real movie, showing how its title meshed quite nicely with each franchise’s performance that year, and picking out a genuine review that also offered some valuable insight into that particular team’s fortunes.
It worked well enough that we’re tapping into that aquifer again and doing the same thing for the 2007-08 season (with a big hand from RottenTomatoes.com). So bust out the popcorn, get your shoes all sticky and have a gander at this season’s Oscar-caliber hockey franchises, and those more in line for a Razzie Award:
Movie: The Departed
Plot Summary: The early-season absences of Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne digs a hole even the talented Ducks can’t waddle out of.
Real Review: “Where once the bodies pulsated with life in all its vainglorious furor, here they drop like wooden ducks in an artificial pond.” – Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail
Movie: The Break-Up
Plot Summary: Marian Hossa and Bob Hartley both make their exits from what once seemed like a promising group.
Real Review: “…so depressing, painful and awful to watch that I felt like I had just been through a divorce myself.” – Kevin Carr, 7Mpictures.com
Movie: The Prestige
Plot Summary: Long derided for perpetual mismanagement, the Bruins shock the hockey world and regain a heaping of respect due to gritty, if not altogether entertaining, play and savvy coaching.
Real Review: “(It) isn’t art, but it reaps a lot of fun out of the question, How did they do that?” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Plot Summary: A team that won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2006-07 falls apart and misses the playoffs after losing a few key members to economic hardships.
Real Review: “…never comes close to hitting the mark of its forebears.” – Ernest Hardy, L.A. Weekly
Movie: Because I Said So
Plot Summary: Mike Keenan coaches the Flames whatever way he wants to. You got a problem with that?
Real Review: “If you don’t expect too much of it, you may find yourself pleasantly – all right, soothingly – surprised by it.” – Richard Schickel, Time Magazine
Movie: Flushed Away
Plot Summary: Despite showing moments of greatness, the ‘Canes waste their efforts thanks to a late-season collapse that allows Washington to nose past them in its 82nd game.
Real Review: “…cute, fast, uninspired, softly consumable.” – David Elliott, San Diego Union-Tribune
Movie: Step Up
Plot Summary: New synonyms for “stink” had to be invented to describe the Hawks’ plight in recent years, but with super-rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in tow, the hockey gods showed they’re about to let the good times roll in Chi-city.
Real Review: “Go for the impressive moves. Tolerate the mediocre story.” – Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News
Movie: Kickin’ It Old Skool
Plot Summary: The senior set got another kick at the can with the Avs this season; longtime veterans Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg were re-integrated into the lineup and Colorado had only middling results to show for it.
Real Review: “…seems lost in a time warp…” – Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
Plot Summary: Under their first full year of (Ken) Hitchcockian direction, the Blue Jackets took a giant step forward. Now they’ve only got about six more to take before they shed the “perennial pretender” label once and for all.
Real Review: “…a mess, but it’s a likable one.” – Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter
Movie: Definitely, Maybe
Plot Summary: Do the Stars have what it takes to be considered alongside the Red Wings as the class of the Western Conference? By the looks of Marty Turco, yes; by the looks of their offense, umm…
Real Review: “A diamond in the rough that could use some polishing…” – Matt Brunson, CreativeLoafing.com
Movie: Blades of Glory
Plot Summary: Throughout the regular and post-season, the Red Wings leave no argument as to which team is the class of the league.
Real Review: “…simply glides over the ice, never tumbling in the cracks or falling off course.” – Louise Keller, UrbanCinefile.com
Movie: Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Plot Summary: The Oilers make up for a disastrous ’06-07 campaign with a youth-fueled resurgence that promises to continue in ’08-09.
Real Review: “Subverts expectations by being not only complex, but surprisingly engaging even as it raises serious questions.” – Frank Swietek, OneGuysOpinion.com
Movie: Déjà Vu
Plot Summary: Yet again, the Panthers make a late-season charge towards a post-season berth, but fall short and disappoint their frustrated fan base.
Real Review: “…not nearly as smart as it thinks it is.” – Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star
Movie: Are We Done Yet?
Plot Summary: Despite employing some of the NHL’s brightest young talents, the Kings turn in a disastrous effort that had them out of the playoff race as of New Year’s Day.
Real Review: “…drags on until finally the predictable life lesson is taught and the credits roll.” – Brett Register, Orlando Weekly
Plot Summary: The tale of GM Doug Risebrough’s attempts to improve his team at the trade deadline.
Real Review: “…offers some tasty bites and bits of spice, but also quite a few mouthfuls that are impossible to swallow.” – Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Movie: A Mighty Heart
Plot Summary: Head coach Guy Carbonneau, captain Saku Koivu and the rest of the Canadiens prove skeptics wrong with a stunning display of smarts and skill.
Real Review: “Emotionally and viscerally compelling and retains a suspenseful, edge-of-the-seat quality.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today
Movie: Made of Honor
Plot Summary: With ownership questions hovering around the franchise and limiting their ability to retain talent, the Predators still nobly manage to defy the doubters and squeak into the playoffs.
Real Review: “…manages to massage such endearing performances from a very capable cast that the bad patches feel more like unfortunate hitches.” – Wade Major, Boxoffice Magazine
Movie: Dead Silence
Plot Summary: The Devils’ marketing philosophy and the noise emanating from their three-quarter-filled new arena sound suspiciously similar.
Real Review: “Formulas are great for chemistry, but relying on them…only leads to tedium.” – Pam Grady, Reel.com
New York Islanders
Movie: Good Luck Chuck
Plot Summary: Isles owner Charles Wang rolls the dice again with a mix-and-match collection of half-proven kids and so-so veterans, and winds up with a disappointing team that finishes out of the post-season.
Real Review: “It ends up being an unappealing abomination.” – William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
New York Rangers
Movie: Funny Games
Summary: By “funny,” I mean “strange.” Because any team that has Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, Martin Straka and Scott Gomez on it, yet finishes 25th overall in goals-per-game average, is a team that’s playing some strange games.
Real Review: “static, slow-moving and perversely timid…” – Jim Lane, Sacramento News & Review
Movie: Grace Is Gone
Summary: Labeled Cup contenders at the start of the season, the Senators storm out of the gate, only to implode spectacularly and fizzle out in the playoffs like a soaked firecracker.
Real Review: “…a downer worthy of a super-sized box of Kleenex.” – Matt Kelemen, Las Vegas CityLife
Summary: The Flyers rebound from a dismal ’06-07 showing and make it all the way to the Eastern Conference final by relying on youngsters playing like veterans and veterans playing like youngsters.
Real Review: “…soulless and heartless but at the same time it’s a lot of fun and contains a lot of ‘wow!’ moments.” – Michelle Alexandria, Eclipse Magazine
Movie: No Country For Old Men
Summary: Since their experiment with an infusion of veterans went horribly awry two seasons ago, the Coyotes go the opposite direction and see light at the end of a long, long tunnel.
Real Review: “Whatever laudatory adjectives you throw its way are going to stick.” – Andrew Wright, TheStranger.com
Movie: The Edge of Heaven
Summary: Going above and beyond anyone’s expectations, the Penguins move into the upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams before Detroit schools them in the Cup final.
Real Review: “ultimately triumphs…through the sheer power of its performers and the pleasures of some of its plot threads.” – Melissa Anderson, Time Out New York
Movie: The Hoax
Summary: The improved Blues were selected by some (ahem) observers to jump over Nashville in the Central Division standings, but their stagnant offense put an end to that notion – and their playoff aspirations.
Real Review: “(It) isn’t a fraud, but it isn’t the real deal, either.” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews.net
Movie: Smart People
Summary: The Sharks’ management team once again makes clear they are the masters of regular season play, but fall maddeningly shy of hockey’s ultimate prize.
Real Review: “So much good work must not go overlooked.” – Rex Reed, New York Observer
Summary: The Lightning’s “Big Three” theme blows up in an ugly way, resulting in Brad Richards’ trade to Dallas and coach John Tortorella’s firing.
Real Review: “…if they could just get some sort of focused, confident rhythm going, they might make things more satisfying for the audience as well.” – Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail
Movie: The Ruins
Summary: The atrocious soap opera that is the Maple Leafs continues on, with predictable, soul-crushing results.
Real Review: “Paranoia, spinal injuries, psychic distress, impromptu amputations, self-mutilation – it’s all in there, convincingly rendered…and finally pointless.” – Adam Nayman, Eye Weekly
Movie: The Brave One
Summary: Goalie Roberto Luongo valiantly attempts to carry the Canucks into the post-season, but falls oh-so-short.
Real Review: “(Its) final unforgivable fault is its sheer, plodding dullness.” – Martin Hoyle, Financial Times
Summary: The Capitals make up for a horrendous start under former coach Glen Hanlon and go out with a promising bang thanks to Bruce Boudreau and a superb band of youngsters and young stars.
Real Review: “…a masterful study of both the hurtful and redemptive effects of imagination.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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