Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has the popularity of a movie star in some circles. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Now that the 2008-09 season is over, it’s time for a developing Screen Shots tradition: the year-end column in which, with the aid of RottenTomatoes.com, we decide on a real-life movie title for each NHL team’s season, as well as a genuine review of that film that also works as commentary on their fortunes. (For scrolling’s sake, we’ll do the Eastern Conference this week and the Western side seven days from now.)
Movie: Land of The Lost
Plot Summary: The Thrashers finish the year strongly under rookie NHL coach John Anderson, but their early-season woes dug too big a hole to climb out from. Thus, another year comes and goes without the first playoff win in franchise history, leaving Ilya Kovalchuk that much closer to finding a new team to play for at his first opportunity.
Real Review: “The only marginally interesting, if unsurprising, thing about (it) is that a lot of money has been spent on yet another cultural throwaway.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Movie: The Secret Life of Bees
Summary: Although they surprised many in 2007-08, the Bruins were still being looked at cynically prior to this season. One Eastern Conference regular-season title later, the B’s competitiveness – and the compelling personalities of Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas and Marc Savard – can’t be hidden any longer.
Real Review: “(M)akes you care about the characters and hope they live happily ever after.” – Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle
Summary: Ryan Miller’s high ankle sprain underscores a number of holes in the Sabres’ lineup and shows how far the 2006-07 Eastern Conference champions have fallen.
Real Review: “(A) missed opportunity, all the way through to its final scene, which isn't nearly the statement it might have been.” – John Moore, Denver Post
Movie: The Haunting In Connecticut
Summary: The Hurricanes defy meager expectations to reach the Eastern Conference final – and once again make Whalers fans in Hartford very depressed.
Real Review: “Exactly everything it's advertised to be and more.” – Staci Layne Wilson, Horror.com
Movie: What Just Happened?
Summary: The Panthers throw away another promising season with their now-traditional springtime letdown period and follow it by losing their GM (Jacques Martin) and, most likely, their best defenseman (Jay Bouwmeester).
Real Review: “Considering everyone involved, this is a disaster of epic proportions.” – Austin Kennedy, Sin Magazine
Movie: Chaos Theory
Summary: Canadiens GM Bob Gainey builds his roster with nearly a dozen unrestricted free agents – and after a strong start to their centennial year, the Habs slowly and noisily crash and burn.
Real Review: “(P)eters out in a fairly substantial way as it approaches its woefully melodramatic finale.” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
Movie: From Within
Summary: What happens when Martin Brodeur misses more than half of the regular season? The Devils replace him the way they replace virtually everyone who either moves on to another team or is sidelined by injury: through greater dependence on someone who already belongs to the swamp things.
Real Review: “(It) holds attention despite slow spots and routine scares.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Movie: The Wackness
Summary: With the city of New York lurking in the background, a group of kids, as well as a few world-weary adults, learn some more depressing life lessons.
Real Review: “There's nothing really new here, aside from a couple of roughly convincing performances by the younger, less recognizable cast members.” – Jeff Vice, Deseret News
NEW YORK RANGERS
Summary: From Wade Redden’s obscene contract to Sean Avery’s odd repatriation to John Tortorella’s run-in with a fan in Washington, there’s rarely a dull moment on Manhattan’s NHL team.
Real Review: “Full of whimsy but almost devoid of charm.” – Ray Greene, Boxoffice Magazine
Movie: He’s Just Not That Into You
Summary: Dany Heatley caps off an up-and-down Senators season by demanding a trade to a franchise that will buy him an oversized lollipop and a pony.
Real Review: “It has all the depth of a television sitcom parody. In the end, it’s hard to tell who is more miserable – the losers on the screen or the victims in the audience.” – Rex Reed, New York Observer
Movie: Inglourious Basterds
Summary: The Flyers stumble out of the gate, compose themselves midway through the year, then bow out semi-meekly to their cross-state rivals in Pittsburgh in the opening round of the post-season.
Real Review: “(E)ntertaining yet uneven…provides comedy, drama and some interesting psychological twists and turns, but never quite delivers on that 'men on a mission' promise.” – Chris Tilly, IGN Movies UK
Movie: Dan In Real Life
Summary: Mid-season replacement head coach Dan Bylsma turns a morose, confidence-lacking Penguins dressing room into a fun place to be again – and the results are sterling (and silver).
Real Review: “(I)nfused with a warm optimism that prevails even through the drama's thornier patches.” – Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
Movie: Year One
Summary: Oren Koules and Len Barrie’s first season as Lightning owners does not go exactly as planned.
Real Review: “(Q)uite a mixed bag of nuts...which could repulse viewers...But if you can suppress your gag reflex...it ascends to hyperventilating levels of hilarity.” – Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique Online
Movie: Get Smart
Summary: The Maple Leafs miss the playoffs for a record-breaking fourth straight year, but with Brian Burke as GM and Ron Wilson as head coach, most Blue and White fans are satisfied with the franchise’s direction.
Real Review: “No classic here, but not an embarrassment, either.” – Bruce Bennett, The Spectrum
Movie: I Love You, Man
Summary: The Capitals take another step forward in their team evolution. Still, the focus remains on No. 8. Who doesn’t love the hot stick-touching, “I-SWEAR-A-GAWD”-uttering, commercial-jingle-warbling Alex Ovechkin? (Besides Sidney Crosby.)
Real Review: “Great for men, excellent for women and perfect for a metrosexual man-date.” – Colin Newton, Courier Mail
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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