Just a friendly reminder from your neighborhood Russian-loving Stars fan that I’ll be liveblogging the game tonight starting at 8:30 p.m. CST here. Do me a favor and drop back by, will ya?
6:45 pm: Another quick reminder. If you have tickets to home games 3 & 4 here in Dallas for the Stars/Ducks playoff series, the Stars are aiming for a blackout in the stands. Wear your black home jersey, black shirt, black…whatever to the game. Don’t have one? Show up to the gate early – the Stars will be handing out black playoff shirts to the first 15,000 fans.
Also, I’m watching Detroit/Nashville and they just mentioned Russian on the broadcast. Somehow, that feels dirty and wrong.
If you’re interested in checking out an opposition view, I can’t direct you quickly enough to Battle of California. Earl Sleek is the Ducks blogger in residence over there who is by far the best Anaheim blogger I’ve read. Earl also writes for NHL Fanhouse and wrote a pretty fair-minded analysis of the Stars/Ducks matchup the other day. For everyone else in the Pacific Divison, BoC is a great place for a daily read.
Back soon; I’m off to eat dinner and do real-life things before the game.
It strikes me upon reflection that not all of our readers know the great and wonderful tale that is Russian and Happy Meals — as pointed out by Kirsten, who came in halfway through this glorious saga. So I’ve taken the liberty of summing up the Niskanen/Zubov defensive relationship for you, right here, before the game.
Way back when, at the beginning of this season, the Stars were planning to bring up a defenseman from our AHL affiliate permanently. The stars aligned well (pardon the pun) for Niskanen, who had never really played in the AHL and was straight out of college.
Somehow, little Happy Meals landed himself a defensive partner in one Sergei Zubov, who as WE ALL KNOW, is criminally ignored by the mainstream media (until this season), deserves a Norris (and they give it Lidstrom every year), and is generally all around one of the Stars’ best players. Let’s put it this way: before even thinking about resigning Mike Modano, the Stars were determined to get Zubov’s contract nailed down. Top priority.
So, Russian and Happy Meals began to solidly play on the blueline together. You would see these funny little moments where they were joking and laughing together on the bench. Now, we all know how we view Russian. Crotchety, cranky, a solitary fellow who enjoys a quiet game of chess against his pet alligator, Iskristiy, and a nice chilled bottle of vodka. Russian has no time for things like cameras, or press, and is terrified of people. He wants to play hockey. He wants to win. He likes team. End of story.
(Seriously, the man’s quotes are all the same, “That award’s nice but I just do it because I like to win, and I like my team and I love to play hockey.” Stick the quote in a blender and you’ve got every Sergei Zubov quote almost ever.)
Happy Meals, on the other hand, we knew NOTHING about.
So we speculated. An average conversation between Russian and Happy Meals would go like this:
Russian: You need to back into the defensive zone quicker.
Happy Meals: I’m trying, man, it’s just..
Russian: You are trying my patience, that’s what you are trying! Lenin help me, I will throw you into the Volga!
Happy Meals: *pause* …What’s the Volga?
Thus led to endless jokes about Happy Meals turning Russian’s television programming from Meerkat Manor to Beavis & Butthead, stealing all of Russian’s beloved Cocoa Puffs, and generally terrorizing him by cluttering and disordering Russian’s carefully organized, neatly planned existence. Russian counterattacked by mercilessly picking apart every aspect of Happy Meals’ defensive play, including making him study Russian military history (including the unabridged history of the Red Army) and even whilst injured, coming to the rink to make sure Happy Meals kept to Russian’s exacting standards. When Russian discovered Happy Meals was picking up notoriously bad habits from an unnamed Swede, he immediately launched into a three-hour lecture on the siege of Stalingrad and promptly hit Niskanen with an imported Russian hockey stick.
Russian: I swear, if you don’t play better, I’m going to feed you to my alligator.
Happy Meals: ….
THERE, that should catch you up! So, if you didn’t know before? That’s where all those beautiful jokes come from.
For once, Luddy doesn’t look like he was dressed by the Thompson Twins, which is altogether promising and Rhadigan is slightly less Tyrannosaur looking. I just realized that Dave Tippett really is the “Stars Coach” edition of the Mr. Potato Head, just…life-like.
Razor wins the tie battle. Because I say so, and because I unabashedly *heart* Razor.
I think people forget about our hardcore Russian. And by that, I mean that if our defensive corps screwed up tonight, Russian would be on the first plane out to run drills and scream at them about Red Army troop movements while holding Iskristiy on a leash like some sort of Bond villain. He’d have a map with Risk figures and everything, and one of those nifty metal pointers.
Do you have that, Anaheim? Do you have a cranky, hermit-like Russian whose entire life is devoted to winning?
Zubov is the factor no one’s factored in there. Factor. Factor factor. (I had to throw it in three more times just to run it into the ground some more.)
19:30: Hit by Robi on Getzlaf. So this game’s starting on a positive note.
18:47: Someone hit Norstrom. He bobbles for a second, and then just recovers. Is this Swede made of Silly Putty, or what? Oh yeah, and Morrow Morrownated Earl Sleek’s favorite player. Ha. (Sorry, Earl.)
18:20: Sheesh, Grossman just hit…some Duck player. Well, get it out, Grossie, get it out.
17:16: Jeez, everyone is hitting everyone out there. It’s like bumper cars. Two quick pad saves by Turco.
16:40: HEY. Anaheim, I know you play a wickedly physical game, but let’s not push Stu Barnes down and then hit him again, just to be sure. The hell? Stu is old and in need of some spare parts, so let’s not screw up a hip or a shoulder or something.
15:00ish: Ha! I just saw Eriksson gnawing on something and thought, “That can’t be right”. I was right. It’s his mouthguard, not actual food — but then FSN completes my own little joke by showing me Lundy looking all intimidating and some such.
One of the things I love most about Marty Turco’s “away” mask is that it’s covered in what Marty says are “gargoyles”. I call shenanigans, Marty, because we all know those are alligators and you’re just trying to mollify Russian. It’s your own little tribute to the Stars’ favorite pet, Iskristiy, Marty — you don’t have to lie.
14:04: A Ducks player has finagled a puck into the corner and Dallas desperately scrambles like craaazy to get it back, leading Mo to go over there and give the Duck player the old Russian pokey-pokey trick; except Ducky McDuckerson over there has fallen over and Mo instead is just jabbing him in the guts. Repeatedly. Heh.
Shouldn’t have laughed, because when we come back from break, the Ducks are going on the power play. I’d also like to take a moment to point out that this game is featuring a serious lack of Mittens.
13:22: First Stars shot on goal of the game by — who else — Snake Eyes Hagman, who looks promptly pissed that Giguere tried to cover it up immediately. I think if ever we see homicide via Hagman (Hagicide?) it will be in the playoffs. Anaheim’s kinda running all over us right now, but Robi manages to clear the puck. Thanks, Robi!
11:12: After messing around a bit, Hagman looks like he’s about to roundhouse kick someone in the face for the puck. Take it easy, Hags.
RALPH. RAZOR. Please stop talking about Russian. WE ALL KNOW.
10:30ish: OHO, so Richards is useless, eh? He beats Niedermeyer to get to Giguere and get our SECOND shot on goal. Good job, B-Rad. Of course, once Giguere gets a glove on anything, he has to be an enormous jackass and stop play. Everytime.
10:15ish: Kunitz gets a breakaway; Marty can’t grapple with the puck; we look like the Ducks are beating us up for milk money right now.
8:35: WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ATTABOY ROBI! (See what happens when Caitlin likes you? Good things!) I have never been more proud of someone in…my entire life. Oh, Robi. You get so little credit for how awesome you are and I hope everyone stands up right now and salutes you, my French-Canadien fiend.
6:48: The Stars have a little more oomph in their game now; I’m eating Cap’n Crunch out of the box. Because I can. That’s how I roll.
5:46: This is a refreshing change! The Stars have gone from defending to pushing into the offensive zone! Repeatedly! And they’re standing up to the Ducks’ pushiness quite well. WOOO! I’d also like to point out that I’m not only rocking the Zubov shirt tonight, I’m rockin’ the Zubov jersey.
Heh, I’m watching this D&M Leasing commercial with Ralph & Razor and Ralphie just called Razor a “purse-clutcher”. GENIUS. Robi’s goal is given to Otter, who deflected it in. It’s still a goal, and I know there’s another one coming for you, Robi, honey.
3:56: Penalty on Anaheim for cross-checking Daley, and here we go on the power play. Gangsta Ribbons is out on the first PP unit, meaning Anaheim better watch out. You know Ribbons grew up in those Montreal ghettos and will not hesitate to show you what up, Anaheim. Giguere gets a stop where he has to spread-eagle and scramble to make it. I must say, I’m glad we’re not facing Breezy in this.
2:54: Ribbons, what have I told you about being fancy? Ribeiro tries to fancily keep it in play over the blueline and instead causes everyone to bobble and turn it over.
2:26: We get it back and Brad Motherfreakin’ Richards sets up Swedish Fish (Mach I) for a goal! Congratulations, Eriksson! Please see Brett Hull in the pressbox for your Arby’s sandwich! (Please, eat. The Ducks are going to break your eating disordered ass, honey.)
And this Richards fan says: HOW ABOUT THAT, Richards with the assist! Loui and Richards look like they’ve totally become BFF forever. Pretty soon, they’re going to be braiding matching friendship bracelets, just like you did at church camp, you know.
2-0, DALLAS. WOO! Boucher and Selanne start to get it in (what the hell, Teemu!) and Bertuzzi just comes up and dunks Boucher into the ice. Not cool, Bertuzzi, you scum. You shouldn’t even be playing in this league anymore, and next thing I see, Chris Pronger’s got a hold of Stu Barnes and is yanking on him. It looks like Stu is saying, “Come on, bring it!” to which I say, “Stu, Pronger can break your face, please don’t do that”.
Otter’s engaged…everyone. Selanne and Bertuzzi land in the box, and man, Mr. PotatoHeadCoach is SO not happy about it. Can we tell these two teams hate each other? We seem to be having some sort of team meeting at the penalty boxes right now. Tippett just said “Fucking joke” on the bench, and the penalties aren’t really kosher, but…the officiating’s been so bad this season, whatever. We’re on the power play. Again.
:30ish: Giguere makes…a belly save. Literally, he just curls up and takes it in the stomach. Alright then, Giggy.
:00: Dallas 2, Anaheim 0. The Stars literally have to keep this pace throughout the entire series. Ig uess we’re about to find out if they can do one more period of it.
We now take you to a (hypothetical) phone call between Happy Meals and Russian.
Russian: I saw what you did. How could you be so lax defensively! That does not help the team win!
Happy Meals: I know, I’m just so nervous… I heard you on the earpiece, you just starting jabbering away in Russian.
Russian: Have you not learned Russian yet?
Happy Meals: ::silence::
Russian: What am I supposed to do with you? That’s it! That’s it! Iskristiy, where is my laptop! I must book a flight RIGHT NOW!
Happy Meals: Look, Coach beefed up security around the locker room and the plane, man. They’re really concerned that you’re going to strain yourself.
Russian: (brief snippets of incoherent Russian) The only thing I am going to strain is my arm when I whack you with my cane!
Happy Meals: Look, I know you’re really upset about not coming on this trip —
Russian: All I want to do is support my team and support winning. I don’t know why Coach is trying to take this away from me.
Happy Meals: Hey, man, we’ll be back in Dallas before you know it.
Russian: Hold on a second. (mumbling in Russian) Iskristiy requests that you bring Pronger and Getzlaf back to Dallas.
Happy Meals: What? Why?
Russian: He says it will make up for bad defensive play and that “monster man” and “Baldy” will make for good eating.
Happy Meals: Dude, I have to go now.
Here we go….
Scary Jere! Laughing on bench! Oh Jere. Here, have a few bars of Raining Blood, just because you’re such a bad-ass. Dun dun dun, dun dun dun, dun dun dun… okay, go score, and then I’ll hum the rest.
17:28: Getzlaf just went to the box. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
16:30ish: Boo, offsides. Oh god, Nisky and Norstrom are talking. No good can come of this. Empires shall fall, droughts shall ravish lands, you know. Same old same old.
16:02: WHAT DID I JUST SAY SCARY JERE! HAVE THE REST OF SLAYER ON ME, HONEY! DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN X 1,000! Woo!
15:45ish: Schneider goes to the box. Man, Anaheim must really like that penalty box, huh? Randy Carlyle looks rage-y over on teh bench. Which makes me laugh. Really hard.
Back on the power play…
15:18: Niskanen just fumbled the puck on the point on the power play. Can you hear that in your ear, Niskanen? That’s the sound of a screaming Russian straining on a couch somewhere in Dallas. You’d better hope the alligator hurries back from the kitchen with that Stoli. And soon.
15:00ish: Ribs goes to the box for interference. What. Evs. Marchant, stop being such a whiner.
4 on 4 hockey, woo.
13:39: The Ducks have the power play advantage and while they’ve set up in our zone, the guys do a good job of keep-away and Marty makes a nice deflection with the pads. The Ducks hammer it back and Marty is half in, half out of the net, sprawled like his life depends on it to make the save. Attaboy, Marty! This is the kind of goalie we all know you are! Keep it up, honey! Keep. it. up.
12:31: Back at even strength.
8:09: Sorry for the delay, but I had to restart my computer! Boo!
7:09: Turco, get back in your net! BACK IN YOUR NET! God, you get way too happy with this whole skate around, skate around crap.
We stop play here to fix some issue with some damn glass. Whatever.
5:27: Eriksson just got destroyed pretty much; but it’s nice to know the GREATEST BLUE LINE EVER IN THE HISTORY OF HOCKEY is faring so well against Modano and Co. this evening.
Someone takes some stupid penalty, so Anaheim goes on the power play.
4:22: Oh man, Morrow just got elbowed in the face and knocked right over. These teams really hate each other.
4:00: HOLY SHIT MARTY TURCO. JESUS CHRIST. The Ducks and Stars are jammed up around the net trying to block and score defensively and Marty just rolls around, does the splits, stands on his head and does a damn pirouette to keep the puck out of the net. And then, displaying the rancor we all know and love, the players fight. Ah, the sweet days of bench clearing brawls between Dallas and Anaheim.
Ott goes to the box to keep Boucher company, because they’re both sweet, perfect angels.
Norstrom has a black eye and I feel suddenly indignant on Norstrom’s behalf. What the hell?
3:11: Some Duck just upended Mike Modano, who stands up like, “Huh?! What?”
2:00ish: Man. Boucher tried to rebound a puck past Katamari Goalie over there, and winds up as a human bowling ball instead, leading Getzlaf to start shoving and yelling with him. Whatever. Boucher didn’t intend to run your goalie, Ducks. And like you bitches have any room to complain.
2:45: We’re amazingly on the power play again, and I stop to admire Ribbons’ gangsta skates, and then holy shit – we win the faceoff. Ribbons sets off to the side, and just pops it on over, gangsta style to Brenden Morrow, who pots another one.
KEEP IT UP, GUYS!
2:17: Some Duck just slid face first into the net like five seconds after the faceoff. Heh! If it hadn’t been for a bad set of luck, Eriksson would’ve just made it 5-0, due to Giguere’s terrible positioning. And I do mean terrible.
1:00: Hagman is going ballistic out there. Every shift, the guy amazes me. Seriously. It’s like you put an ICBM on the ice.
:09: Anaheim takes a penalty, but I have to say, Brad Richards? Having a hell of a game. Am I going to take a second to say if he can keep this up, we did okay on that trade? Yup.
Oh, man, the Ducks fans are booing like crazy. YES!
Whatever, Ludwig & Rhadigan. I have something better than your stupid intermission report.
Oh, yeah. That’s right!
Still on the power play.
16:34: Lots of … skating around.
God Almighty, Pronger just hit the hell out of poor Joel Lundqvist and broke the boards. Good job, Pronger. Douche. I hate you, Pronger. And I like my favoritest Swede, so back off. Keep a weather eye out for hungry alligators.
At least Lundy’s intact and laughing with Toby Peterson. Oh, friendly Lundy.
Wow. Brad Richards looks like a cracked-out chipmunk. I like you Richards, but damn, dude.
Okay, all I heard Razor say was “People don’t know Hullie’s a junkie”…and my brain automatically filled in “for Arby’s.”
Back in action after board/glass repair from the Prongmonster.
14:55: Norstrom did something useful! He poke-checked a puck from Selanne! Wow! Way to go Matty!
13:28: The Ducks are attempting to rally back, but the Stars look pretty determined to not let that happen. Thank God.
13:01: Someone just butt-checked Robi and sent him sprawling to the ice. DO NOT APPROVE, THANKS.
11:00ish: The Ducks coach looks like he is about to cry. Woah.
10:38: A face-off in Marty’s zone and the Stars get it out; please, guys, let’s not hang Marty out to dry this evening.
9:47: The puck decides to bounce all over the place as Giguere looks around like, “Who? What? What? Where? Who?” HAHA!
9:13: Some Duck skates up with every intention of hitting Boucher and Boucher lays him out and then pushes him down to the ice, like as if to say: “Fuck you too, jerkface.” Wooo, Boucher! Merci pour toujours, Monsieur Boucher!
8:06: Good to know my worst fears have come true and Niskanen and Norstrom are out against Selanne. It’s heartening to know, at least, that Niskanen and Norstrom look like two completely different players right now.
5:44: God, I hate Chris Pronger. He just basically punched Jere Lehtinen in the face. Whatever, Frankenstein.
4:15: The Stars hack away at Giguere to try and get a goal and more pushing and shoving ensues, as Crombeen gets dragged around and puts up no fight at all about it, and merely looks like, “Will someone get this dude OFF me?”
3:24: Come on….hang on just a little bit longer, boys!
1:22: The Ducks are making an effort…but Turco makes a totally kickin’ rad save and says ‘Screw you’ to Getzi. Woo!
:51: Hagman looks like he just got released from Arkham Asylum. Seriously, dude is going bananas and a half out there.
:10: Lundy’s acquired the Halpern “lose your helmet” syndrome.
:00: GAME OVER
MAAAAAAAAAAAAARTY GOT A SHUTOUT!
SHUTOUTSHUTOUTSHUTOUT! 4th Career Playoff Shutout!