The only thing worse than having to listen to Gus Johnson these days, and he’s been a real chore for years now, is having to listen to someone trying to be Gus Johnson.
While Johnson has become a self-aware phrase button, at least I can remember a time when he was fun and added to a game. Or at least a good game. John Buccigross, on the other hand, never had a prime. He was a studio guy back when ESPN had the NHL the first time, which was about the time ESPN thought it would be a good idea to let all the fuckwits they had on air to come up with their own catch phrases. Once ESPN let the NHL go away, Bucci was basically one of four people left who liked hockey. The other three were Steve Levy, Linda Cohn, and the seven minutes per week Barry Melrose is sane.
So I guess it was some reward for Bucci to be among the black sheep in Bristol to let him do play-by-play when hockey returned. Except if anyone had listened to his completely uninformed and old-guy-trying-to-sound-cool broadcasts of the Frozen Four knew this would be a hard listen.
Sadly, we were cursed with this for the Tampa Bay-Toronto series, which is probably the most anticipated and exciting series of the first round. And there was Buccigross, trying to crowbar whatever catch phrase or word he thinks is cool this week, some five seconds behind the play. Every time Buccigross says “sauce” he should be hit with an alligator. Just call the fucking game. The point isn’t to make yourself sound cool, which you definitely aren’t, but to make the game sound cool. You’re an additive, not the show. Buccigross sounds like a frat boy trying to narrate his housemates’ NHL 94 game.
The NHL being back on ESPN has done the league some good, and ESPN’s coverage hasn’t all been lazy and rote. Hell, on the first night of the playoffs there were four women on the broadcasts of the four Game 1s on Monday night. The game still looks great on ESPN.
But as far as everything else, ESPN put about as much thought into it as you do when you get that call about your car’s warranty. Mark Messier and Chris Cheilos have nothing to add at intermission other than Chelios’ spray-tan dripping off onto the set, thanks to the reflection of light of Messier’s head. And Steve Levy is chained to the desk when he should be in the booth at the arena.
It wasn’t even acceptable for the regular season, but one can’t get too worked up about a February tilt between Anaheim and Edmonton. But this is the playoffs. Let’s do our best, huh?
Speaking of hockey and more specifically, the Oilers, and also the Hurricanes, neither one of you is going to win shit if you’re wearing your third jerseys during the playoffs. That shit needs to be dropped. It’s especially egregious in the Oilers’ case, though their normal home oranges are an abomination as well considering their 80s blue classics are right there. But you can’t wear your thirds in the playoffs. You’re not trying to spice up a run-of-the-mill skate around on Valentine’s Day.
The Sharks learned this years ago, repeatedly trying to break out their black jerseys during the playoffs. It got them nothing but their dick in their hand. They switched back to wearing the traditional teal and…Boom!, their first ever appearance in the Final.
There are just certain things you don’t fuck with. Wear your damn colors. Black jerseys are boring as shit, especially when it’s not even in your color scheme. Do better.
Anyway, we can’t keep bitching at the dawn of the playoffs, so here’s Connor McDavid scorching four Kings to open the scoring for the Oilers. Though it didn’t help much, as Mike Smith Mike Smith’d late in the 3rd period to hand the Kings a late winner for a 4-3 Game 1 triumph. The best part of this goal is that McDavid isn’t at much more than cruising speed for him, which the Kings are either in need of skin grafts or are so terrified of getting anywhere near him because they’ll get scorched too:
Shame he can’t play goal.