Pittsburgh Penguins Pregame: The Epicenter of Suck

Illustration by Ian Oland

Heeeeeere’s Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys fame. Tweet his face.

The Pre-Game: I think it was Benjamin Disraeli who said “Sometimes cities just suck.” Or maybe it was Don Rickles. We’re getting our historical figures mixed up.

Look, there’s nothing that stinks about San Diego, the actual place. It’s lovely. Or Phoenix, for that matter, if it weren’t for all the whack-a-doodles. Vancouver: now there’s a dandy city for you! If you can just get over all the residents piously reminding you just precisely how dandy it is.

On the other end, there are places like Mogadishu, a city that, I can comfortably assure you, sucks. Or vacation paradise Pripyat!  – home to the entombed Chernobyl perpetual light bulb. Pyongyang. Philadelphia.

Then we come to the middle ground: decent places inhabited by truly awful organizations. Pittsburgh comes to mind. Hoorah, it’s beautiful and their food isn’t too toxic and the local rumor is that there’s even a museum or something. But it’s also home to the rat burrow of unctuous fink Richard Mellon Scaife and his poisonous heirs, and the ‘Terrible Towel’, which we rank as only just below Scaife as scabes-inducing. The Pittsburgh Penguins… and Dan Bylsma. Think about that for a moment: both the Penguins AND Bylsma (and his douche-hat) compressed into one geographic point. That single distinction alone  is enough to push Pittsburgh to new title holder: Epicenter of Suck.

Continue Reading

St. Louis Blues Pregame: East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

Jamie Sabau

David Backes. (Photo credit: Jamie Sabau)

Doug Johnson of the PuckBuddys writes. Follow @PuckBuddys on Twitter.

The Unhappy and Unfunny Edition

The Pre-Game Practice

So. Anything happen over your holiday weekend?

Oof. Coach Juggles was jiggled out of the Caps hierarchy sometime late last week, so go the reports. But those who wielded the ax only announced it Monday morning. As if on Sunday we didn’t suspect our Regent would be decapitated; or that on Monday, after the quartering, they would all just expect us to blandly melt back into the blah-blah of our desperate little lives.

There’s been plenty of blah online in the last 36 hours, and in general on the Caps bench this season. Fine. But do not number us, your humble PuckBuddys, as among those celebrating the call for Boudreau’s head.

It is the right of every sovereign to decapitate those they wish…or at least was, in Elizabeth’s days. But who are we kidding? Today, it’s the unquestioned right of every sovereign owner of an NHL franchise – your Majesty – to chop off the head of any servant they see fit. Assuming they can buy out their contract.

Continue Reading

Edit by Ian Oland

Photo edit: Ian Oland

Doug Johnson is one of the Puck Buddys. You already follow them on Twitter, right?

The Pre Game:  We’re thankful for Puck Buddy Bunny and Dave E filling in for us on the pregamer for the Winnipeg Jets game a few days back. So, too, were RMNB readers, if the comments are to be believed (and really, has the Internet ever lied?) “I retract any critical statements I’ve made of Doug Johnson in the past,” commented one ‘CDizz.’ To which we say: ha ha! We’re betting you will soon be retracting that retraction, Mr. Dizz. We now return you to your regular, disappointing pregames.

It must be said, however that these last few games have been anything but disappointing for Caps fans. Sure, Wednesday’s result was closer than we like (in part due to a genuinely crummy officiating call against Mike Knuble’s third-period goal that made us throw things at the television) and we’re still only talking a ‘streak’ of two games. We always considered, and still do, any talk of streaks in either direction premature. A streak implies consistent success or failure of the team to execute; this past week or so proves that Coach Boudreau’s squad is not consistent, playing like jellyfish one game and superheros the next. Still, Sasha, Nicky, and Chimera were a gravy-boat of goodness against the Jets, as was the team overall, and we have reason to believe that may continue. Or hope. Reason to hope, maybe. To believe. Moving on…

Continue Reading

Winnipeg Jets Pregame: Cleared for Takeoff!

Eric Fehr, Mark Stuart, Nik Antropov, and Andrew Ladd (Photo credit: John Woods)

Eric Fehr, Mark Stuart, Nik Antropov, and Andrew Ladd (Photo credit: John Woods)

Puck Buddys. @PuckBuddys.

The Pre Game: OK, who among us is not looking forward to smearing turkey gravy over fresh rolls with sage stuffing and a slab of dark meat on top with tart cranberry sauce dripping from the side? Maybe everyone who also has to travel home for the annual ‘Parental Maintenance’ festival. Or those who just aren’t in a position to lay a feast on their table.

Don’t ever dare quote us as saying this, but this is a great time of year to be nice to people. Even those you don’t know. Not just Thanksgiving Day, but the coming months of cold, and dark, and at times hunger. Be nice, people.

We don’t handle “being nice” well, at least publicly, so this Thanksgiving preview we’ve handed over to two honest, sweet-natured souls from the Upper Midwest. (*whisper God’sCountry whisper*) “Puck Buddy Bunny” and “Dave E” write for PuckBuddys, and occasionally hoist a drink to the great hockey teams of the midwest, such as the Fightin’ Souix, the Duluth Bulldogs, or (when they must) the Wings.

Either of them have more hockey knowledge at a hat drop than both PuckBuddys on a sober night, and they’ve offered their thoughts on our second tangle with the Winnipeg Jets. We advise you sit up straight, pay attention, then go back to fiddling with your bird.

Continue Reading

Phoenix Coyotes Pregame: Howl!

The Pre-Game: Oh Lordy, we hate being wrong. Especially if it involves Canada. What happened Saturday was nothing short of a national pantsing of the Caps on the equivalent of Canada’s national holiday (that admittedly comes once a week, and with lots of beer). We suspected it would be a high-scoring affair, but completely misread in which direction. Blah blah they were disconnected blither blather they weren’t moving their feet twiddle twaddle they weren’t chasing the pucks and so forth. Not my job to pick over Saturday night’s turkey carcass; others have done that far better. Let others pile on our Mustardy Coach. We’re looking forward to what’s being cooked up tonight.

Continue Reading

Toronto Maple Leafs Pregame: Make Believe!

Paul Hunter/Toronto Star

The Pre-Game: Oh Lordy, we hate being right. Especially if it involves Canada. Not as in: their single-payer health care system is far more efficient than our insurance company-laden poop pie. More like: there’s no more dangerous team than an underestimated one with shelves of talent and an insane fan base. (Either way, it’s a poop pie, frankly.)

So here we are, game 3 of 3 of the road trip, landing us square in Squaresville: Toronto. (Wagging finger in old maid mode:) We warned you about those teams! We cautioned against squads whose numbers didn’t quite look right, yet had piles of skill ready to dump on the ice! What, you didn’t listen? You think you know better? Are you listening to me?

Uh, no, chances are, you’re not. At least not based on the last few Caps’ book in Vegas. We think that changes Saturday.

Continue Reading

Atlanta Thrashers Pregame: Wait, What? Winnipeg Who?

Photo credit: Jonathan Kozub

Puck Buddy Doug Johnson writes for RMNB. Follow @PuckBuddys unless you’re Sean Avery.

The Pre Game: I’m going to let you in on a secret. We people of the prairie have known it for decades, but as a group we tend to be Scandinavian, and so tight-lipped. We only pass it down– whispered– when there’s no other choice; as on those nights the wind shakes the windows and hope seems to extinguish in the pit of a cold, dead emptiness. And here it is: there is no darker, stranger place on this Earth than Winnipeg. It’s Canada’s sooty heart of darkness… and now, thanks to the NHL, we have to spend a night there.

You can spend a lifetime overnight in Winnipeg.

The Puck Drop

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s Canada! How scary can that be?” Here’s how creepy: David Lynch won’t even go there. That’s how creepy Winnipeg is. Built at the base of a floodplain that sinks in summer and concentrates the winds into an arctic vortex each winter, Winnipeg is a place that sensible cultures would just abandon. Admit their mistake, move on, and leave it to future anthropologists to try and make sense of the debris: curling, BTO, and Guy Maddin.

Sure, some have escaped. Cody Eakin and Eric the Fehr among the more adorables. But let me ask you this: do you know anyone who’s been to Winnipeg? Didn’t they come back…changed?

Continue Reading

Photo credit: John Russell

Doug Johnson of Puck Buddys sells his sword to Russian Machine. @PuckBuddys wants your tweet.

The Pre Game: “And here’s my theory of punctuation. At the end of every sentence there should be a tiny clock that shows you how long it took you to write that sentence.” – Laurie Anderson.

Watching Capitals games is becoming an existential exercise, based on the obscene, neutered device we call the clock. As in: Caps score first by the clock: we lose. Caps trail in the second by the clock: we win. Watch the game, watch the clock; we score first, we lose last.

Call me crazy. Call me late for dinner, but consarnit, the Caps are just not behaving by the clock. Headline from Saturday: Caps Lose, Broadside of Barn Safe! What went wrong? Coach Juggles’ shoot-out changes? The Caps total lacking D?  #BadSasha? #EvilSasha? #HailSatanSasha?

Here’s the thing: Caps, every time you take a lead and blow it, you smoke a tiny bit of our time. Think about that: every game you go forward at the first, only to surrender… you surrender a few minutes of our lives.  The clock is ticking. What will you do with it?

Continue Reading

New Jersey Devils: a Week from Hell, a Team from Jersey

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Editor’s Note: Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for RMNB. There’s this new thing called Twitter; look into it.

The Pre Game: Some weeks…  they exist to test our mettle. Or remind us of what’s truly important. This has been one of those weeks.

Joe Frazier

First came news of the passing of Smokin’ Joe Frazier. A brawler of the first order and a retired sports ambassador of highest rank, we were jolted first thing Monday to learn of his death at just 67. “Respect and admiration,” is how Muhammad Ali remembers him. We join our fellow Michigander in his descant.

We just wish it were with that kind of dignity and accolade that Joe Paterno could’ve retired, but this week wouldn’t have it. Sucked into the vortex of a repugnant scandal swirling around him or partly of his making (everyone else is judging so we leave it up to you), JoePa has coached his last Big Ten game, just one week after achieving what must have been a long-held goal – most wins of any Division I coach, ever. He has coached at Penn State as long as I’ve drawn breath. The alleged horrors of Coach Sandusky and the criminal process will stand on their own. The lingering acrid smell of individuals with their eye on something other than the children’s and players’ well-being hangs foul over Happy Valley.

Continue Reading

Editor’s note:  Puck Buddys. @PuckBuddys. Read.

The Pre Game: So my doctor says I need to relax more. He suggests writing: it’s solitary, quiet, and engages the “more refined aspects” of our minds, he says. Which is funny, considering that the more I think about Long Island, the harder I find it is to type with clenched fists.

The Puck Drop: It’s difficult to know what to say about the 516 that is refined. Or funny. A better word is sad. It’s a place where ‘ugg’ boots aren’t a brand so much as a reaction to the Designer Shoe Outlet knock-off sleds that women strap on to their feet. A place where professional people dress like it’s Halloween every day. Like I said, sad, really. That such an idyllic spot could be inhabited by so many groaners perhaps argues that God indeed really did die, or at least go on extended vacation, thus leaving Creation in the hands of people who consider Billy Joel relevant. But enough theology.

As far as the Islanders, they haven’t been a role model for decades. Save, maybe, for people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome for good reason. Heck, just insert any “X” into the X > Tebow meme, and replace Tebow with the Islanders, and you get the idea. “Godfathers Pizza > Islanders.” Gold.

Continue Reading