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 did the Eastern Conference last week; read that here.)
Plot Summary: Many counted out the Ducks when salary cap concerns forced GM Bob Murray to dismantle a significant portion of Anaheim’s roster. But Murray’s moves made his flock a stronger, hungrier team that nearly eliminated Detroit in the Western Conference final.
Real Review: “(M)ay lack the sort of emotional punch that sticks, but its story of courage and responsibility is undeniably compelling.” – Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
Movie: 17 Again
Plot Summary: Flames GM Darryl Sutter’s cap management skills leave something to be desired – and force his coaches to go with a shortened roster for a number of games – as Calgary’s window to win with its current core continues to shrink.
Real Review: “There was nothing here that was particularly funny, new or inventive.” – Ben Mankiewicz, At The Movies
Movie: Pride And Glory
Plot Summary: From the Winter Classic to a Western Conference final appearance, the Blackhawks used the ’08-09 season to serve notice that the long-languishing franchise has reclaimed its must-see status.
Real Review: “It's smooth and competently crafted, an efficient thriller punctuated by startling bursts of violence and nuanced performances.” – Rossiter Drake, San Francisco Examiner
Plot Summary: The Joe Sakic Era in Colorado hobbles toward a non-ideal conclusion, with depleted prospect ranks, nagging injuries and bewildering goaltending.
Real Review: “Sloppy, overheated, sometimes involving, ultimately shallow.” – Christopher Smith, Bangor Daily News
Movie: Revolutionary Road
Plot Summary: After seven years of playoff-less springs, the Blue Jackets build on their base, receive standout performances from Rick Nash and rookie Steve Mason, buy into coach Ken Hitchcock’s system and finally discover what the post-season feels like.
Real Review: “Skillfully adapted and superbly directed…an emotional tornado, delivered with exceptional performances from not only the two leads, but the entire cast.” – Andrew L. Urban, UrbanCinefile.com
Plot Summary: Sean Avery’s short stay in Texas throws a sizeable wrench in what had been a smooth-moving engine; the ensuing, admirable, in-season reconstruction job nevertheless costs all of Stars upper management their positions.
Real Review: “(M)ore crafted than it at first appears, but a big finish doesn't always make up for everything that came before.” – Kyle Smith, New York Post
Movie: Role Models
Plot Summary: Although they were one win away from a second consecutive championship, the Red Wings maintain a level of dominance and professionalism every other NHL franchise would kill for.
Real Review: “Like any formula, it can work if done well…strewn with enough serendipities to make it a worthy variation on the dudes-grow-up genre.” – Dana Stevens, Slate
Plot Summary: Sure, some Oilers were up to the task of competing like they cared night-in and night-out. Unfortunately, some other Oilers were anything but prepared to compete.
Real Review: “(S)o mechanically inept and lacking in suspense that it doesn't even pass muster as lowbrow Halloween-ready entertainment.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times
Movie: Angels & Demons
Plot Summary: The Kings continued to develop their stable of skilled young forwards and blueliners, but without sufficient veteran know-how, their playoff aspirations were crushed for the sixth straight season.
Real Review: (F)ast-paced and serviceable…relies on constant forward momentum to ensure its audience doesn't have time to stop and think about it too much.” – Vicky Roach, Daily Telegraph
Plot Summary: Doug Risebrough and Jacques Lemaire get one more kick at the can in Minnesota. Unfortunately (or on second thought, fortunately) for Wild fans, the can kicks back and they both become ex-employees.
Real Review: “Remarkably dour and unsexy.” – Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
Plot Summary: In the same season former team co-owner William ‘Boots’ Del Biaggio pleaded guilty to fraud, the Preds proved they were a somewhat helter-skelter collection of players, capable one night of shutting down the Red Wings or Sharks, but just as apt another night to stink against Atlanta or Colorado.
Real Review: “I started out loving (it); by the end, I wanted to strangle it.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
Movie: Body of Lies
Summary: Did you know there’s really nothing wrong, financially or otherwise, with the Coyotes franchise? That’s what the NHL wanted you to believe prior to Jim Balsillie’s just-about-lost crusade.
Real Review: “(N)o matter how energetically the characters tear around the desert…we remain underwhelmed.” – Kurt Loder, MTV
Summary: After a couple of disappointing seasons, the Blues get an enormous boost from a solid mix of youth and experience and give fans some big-time anticipation material for 2009-10.
Real Review: “It feels nervy and adventurous and a little messy, the result of formidable creators and genuine wits working on an enormous budget, enormously well-spent.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Movie: Fool’s Gold
Summary: Another stupendous regular season for the Sharks is derailed by another dreadful playoff showing.
Real Review: “(M)anages to be everything - romantic comedy, adventure film, family melodrama, farce, gangster movie and history lesson – and absolutely nothing all at once.” – Josh Rosenblatt, Austin Chronicle
Summary: Despite middling pre-season expectations and mid-season lulls, the Canucks ride breakout performances from many of their youngsters, as well as the usual standout showing from Roberto Luongo, and enjoy a playoff run that, though ultimately disappointing, provides optimism for years to come.
Real Review: “Look closely and its disparate pieces fit clumsily together; step back and the overall effect has an undeniable allure.” – Matt Glasby, Total Film
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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