Road to the Stadium Series, Episode 3: Reversal of Fortune
Kings win, Sharks lose.
When this series started, these teams were heading in opposite directions. The Kings were losing and the Sharks were winning. Now both teams are heading in opposite directions of the opposite directions they were previously heading in. They're a lot like two ships passing in the night if both ships were lost and constantly retracing their steps.
Tonight's opening narration concluded with a shot of Marian Gaborik that will likely be giffed, but gifs are for chumps that know how to gif things, and I'm not a chump.
WHO WORE IT BETTER: MARIAN GABORIK OR LUCILLE BLUTH?
My money's on Gabby.
The first game featured was a Flames/Sharks affair that saw the Flames come out victorious. It is so much more fun to watch someone else's team struggle with the Flames, damn.
About 10 minutes into the episode, the Kings get their first real screen-time. Shortly after ending their extended losing period against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Kings enjoyed a meal together in Columbus. We learn that Robyn Regehr is a big fan of wine, but only drinking it, as his nose has been broken too many times to smell it. Question: does he drink it before each game because that might explain some things.
The big thing we learned from the first period of the game against Columbus - besides the fact that Columbus is bad - is that Anze Kopitar is a prince. He was mic'd up for this one, and he didn't disappoint. Our first exposure to Kopi is him sitting next to Dustin Brown and demanding the puck. That is what you want and expect out of your star players, but it is nice to see a man often criticized for his lack of assertiveness establish that he is indeed The Man.
After Kyle Clifford's first period tilt with Jared Boll, we once again go to Kopi on the bench, who is seen lifting the spirits of the 4th-line grinder. Clifford had already spent 7 minutes in the penalty box when we see this interaction, and I'm sure he appreciated Kopitar's (utterly adorable) encouragement. "If you woulda hit me with one of those, I would be out for 2 months." Anze, I love you, you never bring me down.
Los Angeles pulled out its second straight victory in Columbus. It is so much more fun to relive Kings wins, damn.
From there we head back to San Jose for Evgeni Nabokov's retirement. My most fond memory of Evgeni Nabokov is that time he let Dan Boyle score on him to win a playoff game for the Colorado Avalanche. We'll miss you, Nabby!
San Jose's second game of the episode was against the Washington Capitals, and the big question on everyone's mind was, "will the Sharks be harder?" Todd McLellan insists that the Sharks are not hard enough. He asks everyone in the Sharks room if they're hard enough, and they all agree, the Sharks need to get harder. Here's to the Sharks being harder!
McLellan says that the Sharks were hard enough, but they lost to the Capitals in overtime after some in-game misfortune. Turns out there's more work to do after you get hard.
From there, we return to Los Angeles, which means KYLE CLIFFORD'S BABY. His name is Brody! OH MAN. THIS WHOLE SHOW IS WORTH IT NOW. LOOK AT THIS SWEET CHILD WITH THIS SWEET DOG!
Look at this baby push this toy tractor!
I LOVE THIS CHILD.
After a brief interlude in which we watch irrelevant Sharks shoot arrows at a plastic deer, we get a feature on Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He really loves dogs, which is nice. Good work, Marc-Edouard. This is my favorite thing I've learned about you since I found that out your nickname is Pickles.
The next game on the docket is the Kings' Legends Night match against the Calgary Flames. I will absolutely never get tired of Jonathan Quick throwing tantrums. That is some high-quality secondhand embarrasment-based humor.
I'm sure Thx Bud will have more on Tyler Toffoli's hat trick, so I'll just leave you all with this still.
He's so happy and adorable, he could easily be confused for Kyle Clifford's son.
San Jose took on Phoenix in the final game-focus of the episode, a game in which Joe Pavelski's intermission-speech and on-ice play led the Sharks back from a 2-0 early deficit. Pavelski notched a hat trick that wasn't as cool as Tyler Toffoli's and the Sharks won for the first time in the episode.
The series has developed a much more even tone than it carried in its premiere, and I feel that this is to the great benefit of the showrunners and the fans at home. Instead of trying to force a narrative, Epix has let the games write the stories themselves. This leaves them much more time to focus on what fans all want: babies and dogs.
The series finale will air next Tuesday. Be sure to tune in so you can relive the Sharks slowly creeping out of a playoff spot!