Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Drive-by analysis: Those TSN playoff ads

You may have noticed these commercials that run on TSN as part of their lead-up to the network's playoff coverage. The ads feature short clips of the team followed by a short commentary by a TSN personality and the tagline: "Every team has a story".

Here are a few excerpts::

"If Price is focused and sharp, Habs are the dark horse." - Steve Kouleas

The 'dark horse' is an outdated term that I'm going to stop using and I really hope other people do. The dark horse implies success from an overlooked team or player, and if any word is used to describe Montreal, it sure isn't "overlooked".

Kouleas takes the lazy route here by providing an 'if' 'will' scenario. Montreal could go out in four with Price being focused and sharp, and, hell, there's always the outside chance that he takes a puck in the throat in practice and Alex Auld steps in and the Habs beat the Bruins off the stick of Scott Gomez, but none of those scenarios are plausible at all.

"Detroit's fountain of youth never seems to age. Can it continue this spring?" - Darren Dreger

Well, that's just stupid. How can an intangible object age, especially one that is only intangible because it doesn't age? And when did Detroit ever have a fountain of youth? Since I've been seriously watching hockey, Detroit was always the place old hockey players came to get their Stanley Cup rings before they were forced into retirement.

(Also, get it? Fountain? Spring? The metaphor is clever, but written so awkwardly. Writing advice from William Faulkner: 'Kill your darlings')

Meanwhile, how is Detroit's age a story? It's consistently hovered around 31 years old for the last few years that nhlnumbers.com will let me calculate, so it's not like being the oldest team in the NHL is anything new for the Red Wings.

"For the Penguins to fly they will need a grounded defense." - Pierre McGuire

There are two oxymoronic images in this 11-word sentence. Penguins don't fly. Hence, a penguin is grounded out of sheer physical incapability. Let us not forget that a 'grounded defense' is a term that nobody ever uses. Google "grounded defense ice hockey" and you will not find a single usage of the phrase outside of this post. I assume that means that McGuire wants the Penguins defense to hang back.

I suppose that would make sense if the Penguins had bad goaltending and terrific forwards who could carry the offense. But this isn't 2007, and the team's leading scorer among active players is Kristopher Letang.

Update I was sent this on Twitter. I guess penguins can fly, if you incorporate expensive CGI:

"Is Niemi what Thornton needs to get over the hump?" - Gino Reda

I get if you host an afternoon program, you have a steady job, one that doesn't require you to check up on which players play which position. Unless Antti Niemi moonlights as a scoring winger on the powerplay, Joe Thornton is going to need more than an overpriced replacement-level goaltender to get him over the hump.

Wait, what hump? Oh, I get it, since Thornton has never won the Stanley Cup, there must be some intangible barrier between him and not being labelled a playoff choker, and a goaltender is the one to get him over said hump.

You know who might be more of a help towards Thornton's playoff success than Antti Niemi? A skater on his team, like Dany Heatley, who, with the Sharks, went to the third round last year. If you must take a goalie, though, go with Jonathan Quick, Thornton's opponent in the first round.


I see what all these guys are doing. They're creating scenarios or "stories" since, of course, no hockey game ever rides on more than the success or failure of one intangible aspect. If the Canucks beat Chicago, then they've exorcized the demons. If Chicago beats the Canucks, then obviously the Canucks have a negative psychological response to the Blackhawks, and it can never go any other way. If Montreal wins, it's because of Price. If Montreal loses, it's because Price wasn't enough. There is no in between in lazy, drive-by analysis. Granted, the storylines need to sell to the public and need to be delievered in a quick, digestible format.

So, I will re-word each line to a similar amount of words to stay consistent while tackling the same topic as the hockey experts themselves.

Kouleas should have said: "Win or lose, the Habs confidence in Price has put them in a position to succeed."

Dreger should have said: "These veteran Wings continue to be a boon to the franchise chances as they age."

McGuire should have said: "Without their superstars, the Penguins' defense needs to avoid comically stumbling forward until they fall over."

Reda should have said: "If San Jose wins the Cup this year, next year, this space will feature a blurb about Jarome Iginla."

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