A Dallas Stars Night at the Movies
For those times when you're watching a game and you're almost positive you've seen all this before, with different actors, on a much larger screen.
This all started just after a game late in December when I tweeted out "Watching Stars hockey is sometimes like watching a Michael Bay film: my column." That's it, that's the joke; I didn't have a column. But a couple of friends bit and we started talking about how we're all pretty sure we've seen all of this before, played by different actors on a much larger screen. Naturally, things evolved from there.
So here it is, a short list of movies, genres, or movie makers and the games that most remind me of them.
1. JJ Abrams' Star Trek: a story of how lens flares trick you into think you're watching something totally new
10/10/15 - The Stars play the Colorado Avalanche on the road in their second game of the season. They'd just beaten the Penguins at home in a 3-0 shut out and all seemed pretty right with the world. New goal tending, new top line, new season, everything set up for success. Dallas gets up 3-1 midway through the second period on two goals from Cody Eakin (we're gonna call that depth scoring the lens flares in this situation, because our broadcast is too professional for actual lens flares).
A big narrative in the 2014-2015 season was the number of times the Stars outplayed their opponents (and by outplayed I mean out-shot, out-scoring-chanced, and out-possessed) and still lost the game. So imagine my horror when, at the end of the second, despite having outplayed the Avalanche the whole game, the score is tied 3-3.
And then imagine me curling up in a fetal ball at the incredibly recognizable third period meltdown.
2. Hitchcock: master of suspense
12/26/15 - In the first game after Christmas break, the Stars hit the road to play the St. Louis Blues. There was no score in the first, which I personally find incredibly stressful. I grew up on a steady diet of basketball but I feel like I've finally gotten used to the (relatively) low scoring game of hockey, but scoreless games still give me the vapors.
You all remember this game, right? Alexander Steen scores first in the second, but the Stars get a goal a piece from Tyler Seguin and Colton Sceviour to head into the third. Robby Fabbri ties it in the dying minutes of the game and we had to overtime.
And it's in OT where Kevin Shattenkirk breaks the hearts of Stars fans, Patrick Sharp fans, and Patrick Sharps, and ups the suspense factor to 11.
that was close pic.twitter.com/QVitSjqFn5— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 27, 2015
No one scored and the game went to a shootout. A shootout that lasted nine whole rounds and featured the return of Jordie Benn's shootout moves (unsuccessful here). So. A suspenseful nine round shootout to end a game in tragedy. Thanks, Hitchcock.
3. Tarantino: you think you're watching one game and it turns into a totally different mess
12/8/15 - The Stars play the Carolina Hurricanes at home. An actual hurricane of scoring in the first period puts the Stars up 4-0 over the Hurricanes. An early goal in the second from Jaccob Slavin cuts the lead to 3, but a late goal from Valeri Nichushkin has the Stars up 5-1 heading into second intermission.
5-1, that's a pretty safe lead, right? You wouldn't expect anything weird to happen with a 5-1 lead. No one ever expects the gimp in the bondage suit, right?
The third period ends up being a lot like the Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves.
Go with me here. The Bride is the Stars, the Hurricanes are the Crazy 88. The whole thing eventually ends in the defeat of the Crazy 88 but not before The Bride (the Stars) end up pretty bloody and worn.
Because what happened in that third period? FOUR GOALS FROM THE HURRICANES HAPPENED. The Hurricanes, who are currently sitting at a minus-14 goal differential, scored four goals in one period. I'll say one thing about Stars games (and Tarantino films), they are rarely ever boring.
Patrick Sharp delivers the death blow with only 19 seconds remaining. Sources vary, but I heard he said "that might just be my masterpiece" in the hug afterwards.
4. French New Wave: no one understands what the point is
12/4/15 - The Stars visit Rexall Place for the last time for a game against the Edmonton Oilers. I'm going to blow the ending right now, because often French New Wave films have bizarre endings, and this one certainly baffled me. In a move clearly made to break the traditional narrative of the Oilers losing everything, the Oilers won.
Other things that ended up being baffling: roster decisions. Jason Demers was out with an upper body injury, which left a free space for either Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth. Lindy Ruff also decided to scratch Jyrki Jokipakka, for Lindy Ruff reasons, which put both Oleksiak and Nemeth in the lineup. Also playing this game: Travis Moen, in for Patrick Eaves.
Despite the Stars having 43, FORTY THREE, F O R T Y T H R E E shots on goal to the Oilers' 24 and having literally twice the number of scoring chances, the Oilers keep the Stars to precisely one goal, scored by rookie Mattias Janmark. Which was actually the game tying goal, because Taylor Hall had already scored in the first.
"there's been some catastrophizing" #razorisms— I Also Go By Ann (@merrinish) December 5, 2015
Jordan Eberle scores the game winner in overtime (so at least we got a point) but he looked just as surprised by it as anyone. It was his first point in seven games. (Not first goal, first POINT.)
5. The Matrix trilogy: does physics really need to work in this game?
12/21/15 - The Stars visit St. Paul to play the Minnesota Wild, a central division collision just before the Christmas break. The Stars are on the fourth of five games in seven days, and the first night of a back-to-back back home with the Blackhawks the next night. All of that to say, the Stars are pretty tired. So why not take a page from the Matrix and remember that the physical world does not exist?
The Stars allow two goals on the first four shots of the game, after which Ruff pulls Kari Lehtonen for Antti Niemi, who leaves the physical world behind and stops 30 of the 31 remaining shots on goal. The Stars get three goals in the middle frame from Jordie Benn (cue rejoicing from his underappreciated fan club), Vernon Fiddler, and Tyler Seguin.
But the real spoon bending moment comes in the third, after both teams have scored again. Mike Yeo pulls Devan Dubnyk for the extra attacker, against the team with the most empty net goals this season. That's gonna go well, right?
Cody Eakin, in a move that defies logic and science, clears the puck out of the zone for what looks like a future icing call but what instead somehow bends sideways and becomes an empty net goal.
Have you ever been bowling and thrown the ball and just sat there at the end of the lane, watching its inevitable glide to the gutter, and started leaning back toward center, hoping to guide it back to a strike? That's what Eakin does here, and it works. "There is no spoon," he said during media availability after the game. Allegedly.
6. Michael Bay: explosions and a bloody fight or it didn't happen
12/27/15 - In the second night of a post-Christmas home-and-home (first game mentioned in example #2), the Blues visit Dallas for an epic rumble. Why this one for my Michael Bay example? It's got a classic villain in the Blues, and I do mean villain by Dallas standards and not actual real world villain. It's no secret that Jamie Benn and David Backes are not precisely, shall we say, cordial with each other. (Jamie's lone fight this season was earlier in December against Backes.)
With just under three minutes left to go in the first, Jamie Benn gets butt ended by Robert Bortuzzo and a scrum breaks out that may (or may not) have given Jordie Benn the shiner he was sporting in the next game.
Bortuzzo serves a slashing minor that takes him almost to the end of the period in the box. Off the opening face off in the second period, Antoine Roussel and Troy Brouwer square off in what is ultimately judged a draw by the voters at Hockey Fights. And then, literally four seconds later, Travis Moen fights the actual culprit of the butt ending, Robert Bortuzzo, in what is (again) ultimately judged a draw.
All of this PG-13 rated violence while Kari Lehtonen gets his first shut out of the season, much like the hero of any Michael Bay film, and Megatron I mean David Backes is left limp and bleeding on the ice. (That last part may not have happened.)
Now here's hoping the Stars end the season with an Oscar.