The Week in Stars Hockey: Discovering Godzilla, How Not To Stop Pucks
Not sure about the cowboy hat, really. Wrong sport for that.
Here are some other things I like about ice hockey.
There are approximately 11 billion shots per game (I discovered this number using a complex analysis that may or may not be flawed). There are so many shots that you need intermissions just to calm down. It's tiring watching hockey if you support a team. Your heart is in your mouth every 11 seconds.
I once spent three consecutive games, freezing to death in the stands during a London winter, waiting for my soccer team to have a shot on goal. They didn't manage one single shot on target in any of those games. That's four hours and thirty minutes of not managing to even trouble a goalkeeper, all three of whom may as well have been smoking a pipe and reading the newspaper. Of course, my team allowed many, many shots on their own goal, but after you realize your team may never have a shot on goal again these incidents become less and less exciting.
In ice hockey, however, the laws of chaos basically guarantee you at least 15 shots. There is no friction. A rink is small. Being a hockey goalkeeper, facing the 5.5 billion shots a game we previously discussed, must be a terrifying experience. First of all, there are no rules about people standing in front of you, so of course people will stand in front of you. Congratulations! You are now blind. Furthermore, by virtue of the person still standing there, someone is about to shoot a tiny piece of frozen rubber directly toward you at the speed of light. It will arrive with no warning, almost certainly in your face.
If you do by some miracle manage to catch the puck, the man who was trying to block your sight will now turn round and immediately begin hitting you with a large wooden stick. This will cause your team mates to punch him. Basically, being a hockey goalkeeper is very similar to existing in a terrifying post-apocalyptic future, where justice is dealt out with rubber and sticks, and you have been chosen to be the target of all of these things. If they ever put a version of the Hunger Games on ice, it would actually just be a straight replay of Dallas versus Anaheim.
If you can't see why this makes hockey great, then I pity you. If hockey players played soccer, all games would be abandoned within minutes. If American football was played on ice, and God willing one day it will be, the line of scrimmage would be the most beautiful thing in sporting history. Can you imagine if everyone in American football was armed with sticks? Oh my God. How do you use Kickstarter?
This week in Stars saw the arrival of Jamie Oleksiak, a young Canadian (they're all Canadian) defenseman who is fresh from starring in the re-cut Canadian version of Godzilla, where he played Godzilla.
Jamie Oleksiak advances on the Vancouver goal.
Jamie Oleksiak is so huge compared to anyone else that's ever ice skated that at any second he might cause a rupture in the Matrix as the virtual world corrects itself. If he was on NHL 94 he would be a cheat code, simply entitled "Giant Man." Opposition forwards, when about to make physical contact with him, go, "You know what? Fuck that. I do not have time for this."
His first game this season was against the Canucks, who were so comprehensively demolished that their goalie ended up doing the Arrested Development walk back to the bench, after letting in five goals off 12 shots. Much of the time it seemed as if the puck was glitching right through him, as if he were in a computer game with really bad collision detection. I enclose a video of his walk back to the bench below. Note the unseasonably warm conditions inside the American Airlines Center.
Next up, away at New Jersey, the Stars dominated but the refs failed to understand that you can't use your hand to pass the puck. Even I understand that. If such a thing were allowed, we'd all just be throwing the puck to each other. This led to the farcical situation of some guy just throwing the puck across the goal, the goal coming off its moorings, and the puck dribbling into the net, and the response of the ref behind the net? "GOAL. PERFECTLY GOOD GOAL. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. GOAL." Good job, ref.
It didn't even matter, because Jason Spezza scored the shoot-out goal to end all shoot-out goals, a move so confusing that it's basically the cup-and-ball trick, but with a puck and some ice. The Devils' goalie's response was to fall flat on his own face on the wrong side of the goal. That's how good it was.
Then the Stars lost to the Islanders. Whatever. Don't even care. 4-2-2 and we don't even know what our best lines are yet. Go Stars.