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Screen Shots: NHL teams and the silver screen

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

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:

Anaheim

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

Atlanta

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

Boston

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

Buffalo

Movie: Spiral

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

Calgary

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

Carolina

Movie: Flushed Away

PlotSummary: 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

Chicago

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

Colorado

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

Columbus

Movie: Semi-Pro

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

Dallas

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

Detroit

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

Edmonton

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

Florida

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

Los Angeles

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

Minnesota

Movie: Idlewild

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

Montreal

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

Nashville

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

New Jersey

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

Ottawa

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

Philadelphia

Movie: Transformers

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

Phoenix

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

Pittsburgh

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

St. Louis

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

San Jose

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

Tampa Bay

Movie: Superbad

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

Toronto

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

Vancouver

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

Washington

Movie: Atonement

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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