Once again, it’s time for this space’s year-end tradition of selecting a real-life movie title and critic’s review (from www.RottenTomatoes.com) that aptly summarizes each NHL team’s season. We’ll start this week with Western Conference franchises and turn to the East in a special Monday edition of Screen Shots.
Summary: The Ducks’ efforts to shake off the loss of Chris Pronger do not work – and you know how people hate it when a plan doesn’t come together.
Real Review: “Despite a talented cast, this…is rarely more than bloated and boring.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today
Summary: Despite a season in which the Flames missed the playoffs and turned over half their roster, Calgary management denies reality at the end of the year and claims all is well.
Real Review: “Begins as merely intolerable and ends up borderline-reprehensible.” – Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
Summary: Youngsters don colorful outfits and combine violence with skill to become superheroes.
Real Review: “A couple of times, I was in the middle of thinking, ‘They did not just do that,’ when I had to interrupt my own thoughts to think, ‘OK, maybe they did just do it, but they did not just do that, too!’ ” – Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Summary: A franchise nobody expected much progress from shortens its timeline for success.
Real Review: “(N)ot constructed from the finest materials, but its…actors make the most with what they're given to provide a sweet, breezy escape.” – Mark Pfeiffer, ReelTimes.blogspot.com
Movie: Fired Up
Summary: The Blue Jackets improve their play after dismissing coach Ken Hitchcock in February, but not in time to make the playoffs for a second straight year.
Real Review: “What could have been something hearty…is instead unpleasant like sweaty bedsheets.” – MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com
Movie:Up In The Air
Summary: The Stars are inconsistent and miss the playoffs – and with a changing-of-the-guard in net and a pending ownership sale, their future as contenders is not assured.
Real Review: “(H)as the lifespan of a state-fair churro: tasty at the point of consumption, it congeals soon afterward into its component ingredients of sugar and lard.” – Dana Stevens, Slate.com
Summary: The veteran Wings nearly fall out of the playoff race early in the season, but qualify thanks to gutsy showings from their top players.
Real Review: “A simple, rough around the edges character study, buoyed up by some pretty fine performances.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony And Ecstasy
Summary: Like their favorite team, Oilers fans spend 2009-10 (a) with mouths agape; (b) wearing blank expressions; and (c) emitting guttural cries of agony – making for a less-than-human entertainment experience.
Real Review: “A minor diversion dripping in splatter and groaning with self-amusement.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Movie:Away We Go
Summary: After six straight years of stalling in their drive for a playoff berth, the Kings finally find the right mix and count themselves as a rising power in the Western Conference.
Real Review: “Works because of the incredible performances at its core…but just misses the opportunity for greatness.” – Brian Tallerico, MovieRetriever.com
Movie:Where The Wild Things Are
Summary: The first year of the Wild’s rebuilding program is uneven, but gives fans some hope that GM Chuck Fletcher’s blueprint for success will be more fun to watch than the blandness they saw in the Doug Risebrough/Jacques Lemaire era.
Real Review: “(A) blurry vision that comes into focus only intermittently.” – Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer
Summary: Year after year, the Predators are assumed to be hamstrung by their ownership’s financial constraints – and year after year, GM David Poile and coach Barry Trotz employ some sort of voodoo magic to keep the team competitive.
Real Review: “Simple. Effective. Terrifying.” – Alex Zane, Sun Online
Summary: Just because Wayne Gretzky, the game’s greatest mind and former Yotes coach is gone, doesn’t mean there aren’t some big-time performers left in the desert.
Real Review: “An injection of adrenaline straight to the eye.” – Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
Movie: Old Dogs
Summary: Veteran stars Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk experience a drop-off in production, while the rest of the Blues stand around waiting for the duo to be taken behind the woodshed and given the Old Yeller treatment.
Real Review: “Good will generated by familiar faces cannot overcome all obstacles.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Movie: Star Trek
Summary: Dany Heatley is added to the Sharks’ group of top talents, yet the franchise again fails to go boldly where other franchises have gone before.
Real Review: “This is not…a structural mess. It’s just not special.” – David Poland, Movie City News
Movie:The Brothers Bloom
Summary: Henrik and Daniel Sedin push the Canucks to a second straight Northwest Division title, but their Cup hopes crumble again in the conference semifinal.
Real Review: “(I)t will baffle and infuriate some, and enchant and entertain others.” Daniel M. Kimmel, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
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 regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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