EPIX's Road to the Stadium Series is the spiritual continuation of HBO's 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic. The series tracks two teams in the month that leads up to their eventual meeting in an outdoor game.
- The episode completely, 100% ignores Mike Richards even being a part of the team. He snuck into a few shots early in the episode, and then was never brought up again. HE GOT WAIVED! HE PLAYED ON THE FOURTH LINE! THIS IS A HUGE STORY! I understand that EPIX may have missed his actual waiving but there is no excuse to not talk about this at all. I can't fathom that it won't be addressed at some point, but this is one of the biggest transactions of the year, and almost certainly the most talked about storyline surrounding the Kings at this particular point in time. If there were a literal road to the Stadium Series game, it might be paved with Mike's remains.
- Los Angeles played its first game without Mike Richards against the Chicago Blackhawks. As in, a rematch of the Western Conference Final of the previous two seasons. As in, one of the best match-ups currently running in the NHL. EPIX basically treated it like just any old game. It didn't exactly get the treatment of the Kings/Bruins game at the end, which was mostly glossed over (or Sharks/Blackhawks for that matter, another awesome match-up that got shoved to the side), but it wasn't really expanded upon in a very meaningful way.
- John Scott literally didn't do anything right, and we didn't even get to see his on-ice skills. He can't do a push-up and he didn't know where James Sheppard went for his vacation during the all-star break. In fact, John Scott might be me. I am tall, I am bad at hockey, and I can't do push-ups. We're twins! His footage on the show was more entertaining than anything he has done on the ice in his hockey career. I smell a future in show business!
- It took about 7 minutes of run-time for first f-bomb, and of course it belonged to Darryl Sutter. In fact, he dropped a bunch of them in succession for no reason. I think he hammed it up. Maybe he didn't! I'm thrilled by either possibility, to be honest.
- The episode's first focus is on the January 21st meeting between the featured teams. Pictured below is a very well-rested Jonathan Quick pumped up and ready for action:
- Darryl Sutter's biggest problem with that game is that the Kings were not physical enough. They didn't get on the man. They didn't compete dammit. WHY WON'T THE KINGS COMPETE!? The Kings lost the game, so we won't dwell on it much longer, but we did get this special insight into the Kings' strategy. It doesn't look too complicated:
- I like to imagine that Darryl Sutter diagrams plays by attaching drills to etch-a-sketch nobs.
- From there, the series shifted to the All-Star game. In an interview, Drew Doughty inadvertently roasted the Sharks by saying that beating Chicago - a series they led 3-1 at one point - was their toughest feat of the playoffs. Not erasing a 3-0 deficit against San Jose. Ouch.
- Alex Ovechkin's performance at the All-Star Game draft was a show-stealer. It seemed so odd for a very rich person to clamor for a cheap, family-oriented sedan, but here Ovi was, doing just that. It emerged afterwards that Ovechkin was lobbying to win the car so he could donate it to a worthy cause. Drew Doughty had a hand in ruining this. Of course he did.
- Chris Sutter also turned in an excellent performance at the All-Star Game. Have you seen what he said to Patrick Kane? Scroll down to #2. Oh how I wish I could've have said this myself.
- How did EPIX do an entire feature on Joe Thornton fishing and not make one pointed comment about sharks eating fish? Embarrassing. Hire me.
- Joe Pavelski's putting practice is trash. He's practicing on artificial turf and making the same little putt over and over again. Get some real grass! You think the greens are gonna turn to astroturf for you at Pebble Beach? Well, think again buddy. Practice from different distances and locations! Go through your entire routine every time you roll a putt! Ugh. Shaking my head at you, Joe. I expected better golf out of a San Jose Shark.
The episode closed with more heavy-handed narration over a highlight montage of the two teams' last games before the break. The Sharks are winning. The Kings are losing. Oh no. The end.
Not without its flaws, the episode was definitely fun enough to watch that most hockey fans should tune in. It's pretty clear that both teams have some actual characters to enjoy, and those characters are new to most of you! They haven't been featured much before! That's all pretty exciting! The second episode airs on February 10th. Make time for it. Or else.