With the end of the NHL season, it’s time for an annual tradition: looking at each of the 30 teams, finding a recent movie title (via RottenTomatoes.com) to describe their year and picking out the perfect (and real) movie critic review that also applies to the hockey team. This week will be the Western Conference; last week, we looked at the East.
Plot Summary: With Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and (hopefully again after his bout with vertigo) Jonas Hiller, the Ducks prove there’s life after Scott Niedermayer.
Real Review: “It manages to tiptoe through the minefield – almost a literal one – that it lays out for itself, thriving on a back-and-forth momentum that skitters from worrisome turns of events to ludicrous outbursts and outcomes.” – Shawn Levy, The Oregonian
Plot Summary: After stepping down as GM, Darryl Sutter’s replacement Jay Feaster and the Flames organization has to make a choice: trade captain Jarome Iginla and rebuild, or try for a second-half playoff push to make up for an abysmal start. Feaster chooses the latter and still misses the post-season.
Real Review: “A suspenseless marathon of misguided male loyalty.” – Tim Robey, London Daily Telegraph
Movie: The Other Guys
Plot Summary: After winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Hawks get stripped of some key players (including Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien) by the salary cap and wind up missing them about as much as you’d expect.
Real Review: “Disjoined and inconsistent.” – Jason Morgan, FilmCritic.com
Plot Summary: The Avalanche gets off to a decent enough start to the year, then plummets to the bottom of the Western Conference standings after a trade that sent Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement.
Real Review: (T)here are nice things in (it), but they're little things and they're not enough.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Plot Summary: The Blue Jackets began the year 14-6-0 and were 20-14-3 as of Jan. 1. Steve Mason, their goalie of the present and future, looked lost most of the time. Is anybody really sure of what this team has going for itself other than Rick Nash?
Real Review: “Beyond the occasional plot frissons and juicy supporting turns, it's an emotionally and psychologically threadbare exercise.” – Justin Chang, Variety
Movie: Green Zone
Plot Summary: Joe Nieuwendyk puts together a Stars team that surpasses the expectations of most – for the first half of the season, anyway. But the specter of money problems cast a pall over the proceedings and leads to the likely departure of star center Brad Richards.
Real Review: “(H)as the feel of something backed into a corner.” – Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
DETROIT RED WINGS
Plot Summary: The ageless wonder Nick Lidstrom yet again defies Father Time, and the usual suspects – Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Franzen among them – keep the Red Wings pushing the boundaries of consistency as the NHL’s model franchise.
Real Review: “You almost feel yourself getting smarter as you watch. Remember how you felt sitting through Transformers 2? Kind of the opposite of that.” – Robbie Collin, News Of The World
Movie: The Kids Are All Right
Plot Summary: With the Oilers on a full-blown youth kick, the franchise needed to shelve dreams of realistic contention and gauge the quality of the youngsters they had. Another finish at the very bottom of the league won’t be worn well by anyone in the organization, but the promise of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle is reason for optimism.
Real Review: “The dynamic of affection, distraction, familiarity and frustration is deftly portrayed.” – Nell Minow, Beliefnet.com
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Movie: Grown Ups
Plot Summary: Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson continue to blossom into elite NHL contributors and the Kings’ young core continues to discover their identity in their second straight year of making the playoffs.
Real Review: “(D)oes have its moments, mostly thanks to the cast's undeniable chemistry.” – R.L. Shaffer, IGN.com
Plot Summary: The Wild scratch and claw their way to a 33-23-6 record by the end of February and are in the mix for a playoff berth, but completely collapse after that, winning just six of their final 20 games and costing coach Todd Richards his job in the process.
Real Review: “Fails to convince on every level.” – Matthew Turner, ViewLondon.co.uk
Plot Summary: Year after year, hockey pundits predict very little in the way of success for the cash-conscious Preds. Year after year, Barry Trotz and David Poile quietly ignore it and keep the franchise competitive – and this year, they pushed further (i.e. to the second round) than the organization ever has been before.
Real Review: “(T)here’s solid workmanship and an authentic emotional muscle in this.” – MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com
Plot Summary: For the past couple seasons, the ownerless Coyotes have impressed with a league-imposed budget and the cast-offs of other teams. Yet for the second straight season, they make the playoffs and draw the ultra-experienced and competitive Detroit Red Wings, with familiar, depressing results.
Real Review: “(A) convoluted set-up that fails to deliver on its promise.” – Bob Bloom, Lafayette Journal and Courier
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Movie: Extraordinary Measures
Plot Summary: The Blues’ strong start to the year goes awry because of injuries – then GM Doug Armstrong makes the biggest move since arriving in St. Louis with the Johnson-for-Stewart-and-Shattenkirk swap. It doesn’t get them into the playoffs, but it does signal a more demanding, aggressive approach by the franchise to win, and win quickly.
Real Review: “The road to mediocrity is paved with good intentions.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Plot Summary: With youngsters Logan Couture and Devin Setoguchi flourishing, the Sharks become an even speedier, more dangerous team – at least, until the Western Conference Final, where they win just once while being quickly dismissed by Vancouver.
Real Review: “The action combines buff bods, sculpted sheet metal, testosterone, guns, bone-crushing throwdowns, tattoos, revving engines and a Transformers-like delight in having as many things as possible smash into each other.” – James Verniere, Boston Herald
Movie:The Last Exorcism
Plot Summary: Favored to win the Cup by THN and many other hockey observers prior to the season, the Canucks run roughshod through the league during the year and banish the demons of playoffs past by eliminating the rival (and defending Cup champion) Blackhawks in the first round.
Real Review: “The direction and performances are solid enough to hold the attention right up to the maddeningly mishandled ending.” – Adam Smith, RadioTimes.com
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. Power Rankings appear Mondays, his blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.