Category Archives: Weekend Returns

Weekend Returns: The Kings are the Guardians of the Cup once more

 

GOTG082401

HWOODRANK1Hey everyone, welcome back! It has been quite a summer for Kings fans. We witnessed the Los Angeles Kings raise Lord Stanley’s chalice once again.

On the other hand, we witnessed a rag-tag, loveable bunch of scamps save the universe in theaters this summer, thanks to the geniuses over at Marvel, as Guardians Of The Galaxy took the top spot at the box office this summer.

The Summer of Stanley II seemed a little abridged. Then again, we’re getting a full season of being referred to as the DEFENDING STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS, and not that crappy abridged season that saw the Blackhawks sneak past us.

And even though the Kings have quieted many naysayers, it still seems that there are still a few in the media who are still not convinced of the Kings’ dominance heading into this season. Not only are we the defending champions, we are damn near returning the entire freaking team to the ice on Opening Night.

As I do, I’ve compiled a list of some national sports outlets’ NHL preseason rankings and to my surprise, there were a few writers who rank the Kings far too low. Lemme show you what I mean.

ESPN.com‘s Scott Burnside’s Week 0 rating: 1.

The champs are the champs until someone tells us different. We know the Kings sometimes don’t show their colors until late in the regular season, but we still like them to challenge Anaheim atop the Pacific from the get-go.

FanSided‘s Patrick Schmidt’s Week 0 rating: 1.

The defending champions and winners of two of the last three Stanley Cups occupy the top spot in the conference and the No. 1 overall spot for the entire NHL. Los Angeles returns everyone from last year’s team with the exception of Willie Mitchell, but the re-signing of Marian Gaborik was vital toward the Kings maintaining their status as the team to beat in the West. He and Anze Kopitar were an unstoppable pair in the postseason. Jonathan Quick is as good as any goalie in the league when he’s at the top of his game. If Jonathan Quick can stay healthy all season long and Drew Doughty plays like he did in the postseason for 82 games in the regular season, the Kings will be tough to beat.

TSN‘s Scott Cullen’s Week 0 rating: 2.

They were good enough to win the Cup with virtually the same roster last season, so the group that opens this year comes with the challenge of defending the crown, but there is perhaps reason for more optimism, as having young forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli on hand right from the start could increase the Kings’ offensive production.

Sports Illustrated‘s Allan Muir’s Week 0 rating: 2.

(Ed. note: SI’s still using the old Crown logo) The Kings are best positioned to thwart the Blackhawks. Like Chicago, L.A. has had a wealth of success and roster stability. GM Dean Lombardi re-signed trade-deadline pickup Marian Gaborik in June. He and linemate Anze Kopitar will boost the Kings’ regular-season scoring, which ranked 26th last year. (It’s the one area where the team is clearly inferior to the Blackhawks.) A premier defense, led by Drew Doughty, and solid goaltending from Jonathan Quick will keep Los Angeles in the hunt for a second straight Cup.

The Bleacher Report‘s Jonathan Willis’ Week 0 rating: 1.

By the Numbers: Over 45 games with Los Angeles, including the postseason, Marian Gaborik scored 19 times, for an 82-game pace of 35 goals. That may be a touch high, as his shooting percentage over that span is a little better than his career average, but even adjusting for that, he should be capable of scoring 30 if he stays healthy. That will be a big boost for the Kings, who have struggled to score in recent years.

NHL.com‘s Corey Masisak Week 0 rating: 2.

Maybe the Kings, emboldened by their second championship in three seasons and reinforced up front by full seasons for Marian Gaborik, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter at center, finally can win a division title. Maybe not, because coach Darryl Sutter’s suffocating style of play is difficult to master for six months of the regular-season grind. Do expect an improvement for Los Angeles, because a team with all of this talent likely won’t shoot so poorly for three-quarters of a season again. Don’t be surprised if Round 3 with the Blackhawks becomes a reality in May.

USA Today‘s Week 0 rating: 3.  (Ed. note: Really? Hawks and Ducks ranked 1 and 2!)

Give GM Dean Lombardi credit for keeping the core together, particularly his seven-year deal with Marian Gaborik.

Go home, USA Today, you’re drunk.

So here’s where I put my advanced journalist math skills and figure out the official Hockeywood Power Ranking, which happens to be

1.7

I promise to have a post explaining what has happened to me personally this summer. I know that being out of the people’s minds for a while tends to cause some to forget. I’m still here and anxious to get the season started.

Weekend Returns: Feeling the Gravity of the Kings’ situation

Sandra Bullock floating in her space skivvies in Warner Brothers'

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsThe first Weekend Returns of the season is always a tough one. Not enough websites have preseason power rankings, so it’s not worth it to just do a post with just two rankings.

But also, some sites have stopped doing power rankings all together. The LA Times, The Hockey News and Sportsnet have seemingly gotten out of the Power Ranking business all together. But the cool thing is there’s plenty to fill the void. Bleacher Report,

Speaking of voids, the number one movie at the box office last weekend www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/ was the sci-fi thriller Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as two astronauts who are floating around in the void after their spaceship is destroyed. And from what I’ve heard, you really need to see it in 3-D.

I’ll tell you what, I ventured into the IMax 3-D theater one time, and that was for Avatar. And other than being subjected to some fantastic visuals but a real crappy story (floating islands with waterfalls?!?) I swore to myself I wouldn’t see another movie in that format again.

But if it means I get to see Bullock floating around in her space skivvies in three dimensions, I may make an exception. Does that make me a creeper?

Speaking of gravity, the Kings have felt the effect of going 1-2 in the first week. Those reporters who did do preseason rankings had the Kings ranked in the top 5. But based on their lackluster start, one dropped the Kings from 4th to 14th. Then again, it’s ESPN.

Enough of this, let’s get into it!

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 1 rating: 3. Last week: 3.


There’s a lot of continuity with the 2012 champs too. A healthy Willie Mitchell on defence gives the Kings virtually too much depth and newcomer Matt Frattin has a chance to play in a scoring role, though if he can’t hold a top six spot, Tyler Toffoli or Linden Vey can be summoned to fill the void.

• Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Willis’s Week 1 rating: 3. Last week: 3


The Kings have looked uncharacteristically weak in the early going, needing the shootout to beat the Wild in a game where Minnesota dominated the possession statistics, and then losing to a Winnipeg team that shouldn’t be close to them talent-wise. But two middling games aren’t enough to downgrade one of the NHL’s best teams over the last two years.

• Metro.us’s Rich Slate’s Week 1 rating: 3.


Another proven winner that captured the Cup two seasons ago and reached the Western Conference Finals last spring. They didn’t lose much and it’s tough to bet against Jonathan Quick, arguably the best goaltender in the league.

• CBSSportsline’s Brian Stubits’s Week 1 rating: 7. Last week: 6.


Good to see Jeff Carter hasn’t lost his scoring touch but still waiting for Jonathan Quick to get his score-stopping touch back.

• Fox Sports’ Week 1 rating: 8.

GOOD NEWS: The talented power play has clicked at a 30 percent conversion rate so far this season.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Jonathan Quick (3.18 GAA, .893 save percentage) has suffered another terrible start. Monday night he allowed one of the worst goals in NHL history.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Darryl Sutter must see tighter defensive play, better goaltending and stronger even-strength play ASAP.

• Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir’s Week 1 rating: 12.


Even if you can ignore Jonathan Quick’s epic goaltending gaffe on Monday night against the Rangers, there’s not much positive to say about his start to the season. He was pulled from a loss to the Jets and has allowed nine goals on just 86 shots. It hasn’t helped that his teammates only seem to find the urge to compete after they’ve fallen behind.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 1 rating: 14. Last week: 4.


Not a particularly inspiring start for the Kings as they had to come from behind to beat Minnesota in overtime in their opener and then were mauled by surprising Winnipeg in a game that saw Jonathan Quick get the hook.

• NY Post’s David Satriano’s Week 1 ranking: 17.


They are off to a slow start again, allowing 10 goals in three games, but they’re more of a May/June team, anyway.

You know the drill: we take the rankings, add ’em up and take the average and we get the official Hockeywood Power Ranking of:

8.25

Weekend Returns: The pressure is biggering and biggering on the Kings

The Lorax

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsThe Lorax is the number one movie at the box office this past weekend, much to my dismay.

I grew up on Dr. Suess, and I made sure my kids have as many of the books as I could find. I really liked the animated shows from my youth, and loved Jim Carrey as The Grinch. (Mike Myers as The Cat, notsomuch.)

But The Lorax isn’t your typical prose in trisyllabic meter. It has a much deeper meaning, and one that stuck with me after I first read (and actually understood) it. I even wrote a paper for a class in college based on the environmental message hat was not so subtly hidden.

I know that they’ve made a TV special back in the 70s, but it hasn’t caught on in the American zeitgeist like The Grinch or Cat In The Hat. That’s because the message of the book is unabashedly against big business. And being against big business can be viewed as being anti-American.

He originally wrote The Lorax to channel his frustration at the overconsumption he found in his community. The result was an enduring story that has found its way into the rotation of many parents’ good night books to their kids. In fact, in my version of The Lorax, the Once-ler has a New Yawk accent and The Lorax sounds like a tree-hugging surfer. 

So, when I heard they were making a movie and were going to keep it as close to the book as possible, I had hopes. But then I heard about the product tie-ins. The many, many product tie-ins, and my heart shrunk three sizes smaller.

The Associated Press reported there were 70 product launch tie-ins, with the most egregious being a tie-in with Mazda and their hybrid car, the CX-5. On Mazda’s official YouTube channel, the official commercial got been received very negatively. As of Monday night, there was 161 Likes and over 1,200 dislikes. Guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t appreciate the commercialization of the book.

The original story was against rampant, unchecked consumerism. And now we have The Lorax selling cars?!? No thanks. Even Stephen Colbert made fun of the amount of tie-ins the animated flick had gotten.

I don’t want it to seem I’m just parroting the opinions of the rest. But I think this comment on YouTube sums up my feelings the best:

My name is the Lorax, I speak for the trees.
Not one, not two, not any SUVs.

Shame on Universal for straying so far from the original message of Theodor Seuss Geisel. You missed the whole point. Oh well, my kids still want to see it. We won’t buy popcorn, however.

Well, the Kings may have found some swagger on the ice. How will it make their power ranking nice?

• The Hockey News’ Rory Boylen’s Week 22 rating: 13. Last week: 17.


Despite tough, hard-fought loss to Preds early in the week, Kings get
rolling with much-needed eight goals in next two games. Win over Anaheim
enormous for playoff race.

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 22 rating: 14. Last week: 13.


Coming
off back-to-back wins, in which they scored a total of eight goals,
despite being outshot 57-35. It’s the first time the Kings have scored
eight goals in back-to-back games since January 12th and 14th.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 22 rating: 15. Last week: 16.


The Kings have won three of four, including a monster win over Anaheim on Saturday, but remain outside the playoff bubble.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 22 rating: 16. Last week: 18.


A big game from Jeff Carter on Saturday night, scoring a pair of goals, his first two as a member of the Kings, in a 4-2 win over Anaheim. 

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 22 rating: 16. Last week: 19.


Newcomer Jeff Carter netted his first two goals in Saturday’s win over
Anaheim, and the goal-starved Kings have scored four in three of his
first four games. A punishing schedule awaits, beginning with a road
trip to Nashville, Columbus, Detroit and Chicago.

• Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s Week 22 rating: 19. Last week: 19.


Jonathan Bernier, making only his second start in the Kings’ last 21 games, posted his first shutout of the season with a 4-0 win at Minnesota on Tuesday. L.A. has won three of four as it vies for that final playoff spot in the West.

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 22 rating: x. Last week: 20.

Take the average and you get the Hockeywood Power Ranking of:

17.0.
(17.4 last week)

Check out Steve Colbert riffing on The Lorax and the 70 product tie-ins.

Weekend Returns: Nothing Menacing about Kings’ offense

Photobucket

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsThe top movie at the box office last weekend was the token romantic comedy for Valentine’s Day, The Vow, with $41.2 million.

more importantly, there was another movie that topped $453.6 million total. Yup, Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, a flick that was originally released back in 1999, pulled in $22.5 million. In doing so, Episode I moved from seventh to fifth overall on the all-time chart. By next weekend (when I’ll go see it in 3D), it will have passed Star Wars: Ep. 4 for fourth overall. Only Avatar, Titanic and The Dark Knight will be out of reach.

For everyone’s complaining about Ep. 1, I just ask this: if it was soooo bad, why was it ranked so high? Even if you were to adjust for ticket price inflation, it’s still in the top 20.

Yes, Phantom Menace has some issues. But it won’t ruin my movie-going experience. Especially considering I’ll fork out the cash for 3D, even though I have the DVD and a 54-inch flat screen with surround sound. Why? Because I’m a fan.

Real fans don’t abandon what they love, and from the beginning, I’m a SW fan. Which means I may rail against some of the lamer elements of Ep. I (Jar Jar, the confusing explanation of midi-chlorians, blatant racial stereotypes and seeing an old Trac-Ball racquet in Anakin’s room), I’ll still accept it. Because without Ep. 1, the table wouldn’t have been set for Ep. III (which is the strongest of all the prequels.)

The same can be said about rooting for the Kings. We can rail against the lack of scoring, the over-paying of free agents to come here and the seemingly endless jersey incarnations since 2001. (Eight different jerseys, by my count.) I’ll still root for the Kings. Why? Because I’m a fan.

Speaking of the Kings, they continue to underwhelm much like The Phantom Menace does for the hard-core Lucas haters. While expectations are high, it seems they are content to just make the playoffs again, and are heading to a first-round exit again.

Let’s take a look at the media’s ranking of this franchise this past week:

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 19 rating: 12. Last week: 13.


What could have been a truly miserable six-game road trip was salvaged
with a nice win at Dallas on Sunday. Offensive woes remain (of the top
16 teams in the NHL points-wise, L.A. ranks last with 124 goals), and
there is a good deal of speculation that Kings GM Dean Lombardi will
deal for a forward by the 27th.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 19 rating: 13. Last week: 15.

Usually, just about every team in the NHL posts a shooting percentage somewhere between eight and 10 percent, and so far this season that’s what we’re seeing across the league, with one exception: the Los Angeles Kings, entering the week with a team shooting percentage of only 6.8 percent, which is pretty unheard of.

• The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau’s Week 19 rating: 13. Last week: 15.

In their past seven losses, Kings have allowed just 14 regulation or overtime goals, but have scored only six goals in that span.

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 19 rating: 13. Last week: 13.

Former Islanders and Sabres coach Ted Nolan’s son Jordan scored his first career goal in just his second game in Los Angeles’ 4-2 victory at Dallas on Sunday. Dustin Penner has been a healthy scratch in two straight for a Kings team that returned home from a 2-3-1 road trip.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 19 rating: 14. Last week: 17.

The Kings picked up three points in two weekend games and are putting the heat on San Jose in the Pacific.

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 19 rating: 15. Last week: 15.

Injuries have taken Simon Gagne and Jarret Stoll from the lineup, so who does that leave to play the wing with Mike Richards? Well, once you factor in Dustin Penner as a healthy scratch, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan took those spots Sunday and both scored their first career NHL goals.

• Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s Week 19 rating: 19. Last week: 19.


Defeating the Stars in Dallas on Sunday allowed the Kings to salvage two wins from their six-game road swing. The Kings’ 4-2 doubling of the Stars marked the first time they scored four goals in a game all month.

Take the average and you get the Kings’ Hockeywood Power Ranking of…


14.1.

(+0.2 from last week) 

Speaking of prequels, here’s a new idea: check out this trailer for the upcoming Bourne “side-quel” called The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Ed Norton (Fight Club).

Weekend Returns: Chronicling a disappointing week for the Kings

20th Century Fox's Chronicle

Hockeywood Weekend Returns
The top movie of Super Bowl weekend was Chronicle, the film for the trailer I posted last week. And I’m not sure anyone has noticed the death knell of the found footage genre.

Chronicle is the story of three high school friends who get superpowers after discovering a meteor. The movie is shot through their eyes as they realize what they could do. It devolves into their new power corrupting them.

Thing is, Chronicle really didn’t need to use the “found footage” gimmick. They could’ve easily made this without all the bels and whistles, and it would’ve been a cool action/horror movie. Instead, it feels forced and I felt it damaged the overall experience of the flick. It sort of makes me wonder what could a real filmmaker do with this genre.

Take the other newly reborn genre of 3-D. James Cameron, one of the visionaries when it comes to making movies, jump-started 3D to make Avatar. He had the basic idea of the movie since 1994, but really spent five years working on it in earnest. Then decided to shoot it in 3D, creating million dollar cameras to do so. The result: a fantastic-looking movie that really utilized what someone could do with 3D. The story did leave a little to be desired, but I liked it.

Ever since, Hollywood has decided to take countless movies and force them to use 3D to try and capitalize on this trend, especially since they could charge almost double the amount for tickets. The result? Movies like Jackass 3D, where we get to see Bam Margera’s peeing on others in the third dimension.

This weekend, Star Wars Episode 1 will bow in theaters again, this time in 3D. George Lucas has found another way to suck even more dollars out of SW fans, adding 3D depth to an already shallow movie. That doesn’t mean I won’t go see it. I am, after all, a huge SW nerd.

Imagine if Lucas actually made a movie for 3D, not just retrofitting his old movies. Could he give Cameron a run for his money? The same could be said about the found footage genre. What if Spielberg made a found footage movie? What could that be like?

His style is all about the perspective of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I know there was some Spielberg-ian homages in J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield, so I know his style would lend itself to the genre. But his next project is a Lincoln biopic, followed by the promising Robopocalypse.

I doubt a director if his magnitude would want to tackle such low-hanging fruit like using a gimmick like found footage. Then again, if Martin Scorsese could get nominated for an Oscar utilizing a gimmick like 3D, anything is possible.

You know what else is possible? The Kings dropping in the Power Rankings, after losing two out of three games last week. How did they fare? Observe…

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 18 rating: 13. Last week: 10.

Too
bad they couldn’t take their clock-keeper on the road with them,
because they dropped two straight to start a six-game trip. OK, a bit of
a cheapie there, but the Kings need another kick in the butt. Their
inability to score goals has been one of the NHL’s more puzzling
stories. Yet, they are a still good bet to make the playoffs. We think.

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 18 rating: 13. Last week: 13.

Mike Richards is scoreless in his last eight games and with 26 points has been outscored by trade partner Wayne Simmonds, who has 31. The Kings have one goal in their 120 minutes of play since Clockgate.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 18 rating: 15. Last week: 15.

New
week, same old story. Jonathan Quick is awesome, the offense … well
… is not. By far the lowest scoring team in the league, well behind
Columbus and Minnesota. Not a good sign.

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 18 rating: 15. Last week: 12.

Goals
haven’t come easily all season for the Kings and C Mike Richards, who
was the team leader in goals when he got hurt, now has one goal in his
last 18 games.

• The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau’s Week 18 rating: 15. Last week: 12.

Kings must take advantage of four-game road trip against relatively soft opponents (Lightning, Panthers, Isles, Stars) to keep pace in post-season race

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 18 rating: 17. Last week: 11.

Just
when you want to anoint the Kings a surefire playoff team, they go
sideways, as was the case in back-to-back losses in St. Louis and
Carolina. The Kings have won two of six, and the offense continues to
shoot too many blanks.

• Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s Week 18 rating: 19. Last week: 16.

Although the Kings continue to be pretty average on the ice (as many wins as losses in their last 24 games), the people associated with the organization are up to some interesting things, whether that’s the marketing department’s “eat pancakes with Dustin Penner” promotion or their clock keeper’s last-minute alleged tomfoolery.

Take the average and you get the Kings’ Hockeywood Power Ranking of…

15.3
(-4.1 from last week)

This weekend will feature the re-re-release of Star Wars Phantom Menace in 3-D. BUt I’m more excited about the new game from LucasArts called Star Wars: The Old Republic. Check it out…

Weekend Returns: And the Chuckie goes to…

Matt's 2010 Chuckie nominees

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsRather than focus on the weekend box office, (which was won by The Grey.) I figured I’d focus on the Oscar nominees.

In no particular order: Moneyball, War Horse, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Hugo, The Descendants, The Tree of Life, The Artist and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Of these movies, I’ve seen exactly… none.

What? I got kids, man. I don’t have time to go see some black and white movie or some sad 9/11 flick. I have a hard enough time keeping up with TV shows I like, how can I expect to see Brad Pitt pine about baseball when I have to take the chillen to go see Mater become a spy.

So, rather than pretend to know anything about why the Academy decided to nominate War Horse as a Best Picture, but fail to recognize Steven Speilberg, I want to break down my top movies of 2011 and who I would give a trophy to. Let’s make it the Chuckie Trophy, tying in hockey and Hollywood. Plus, I can use my trophy Photoshop again.

The nominees are:

Fast Five: What?!? It’s my damn list. I can nominate whoever I want. To me, F5 is really Fast and the Furious Part 3. I didn’t like the ones without Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto. Even though he has an uncredited cameo at the end of Toyko Drift, it just didn’t seem in the same vein as the original. Fast Five is one of my guiltiest pleasures, so cram it if you don’t like it.

Kung Fu Panda 2: Alright, now I know I’ve lost you. I can hear you rolling your eyes over the Interwebz. Again: I have kids. hat do you expect from me? The second edition of this animated story allows the main character, which is a panda, to come to terms with his past. It might sound dumb to you, but I felt there was more heart in this movie than any of those Oscar nominated flicks.

Super 8: I actually made it a point to see this in the theaters opening week, because I was convinced it was a back story for another off my guilty pleasures, Cloverfield. (Which was directed by J.J. Abrams, who also did Star Trek.) Even though I was a little disappointed I couldn’t see a giant monster destroy Ohio, it still was a fun film.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Come on, a prequel explaining how the monkeys took over the planet just plain rocks like Fraggles. Sure it has the super-annoying James Franco in it. Two words: Simian Armageddon! Apes is everything it touts itself to be: a summer blockbuster. With monkeys.

Grown Ups: O.K., so before you start with me… Yes, I know that movie came out in 2010. Yes, I know it stars Adam Sandler. And yes, I know it wasn’t singles out for any kind of professional kudos. All I can say is 1) Again, my blog, my rules. 2) With kids I don’t always get to see movies when they bow in theaters. 3) Adam Sandler is another guilty pleasure of mine, since I could watch Happy Gilmore daily and 4) I liked the story. Being 40 years old and slowly losing touch with my old friends, this would be what I’d like to do to reconnect. You know, if we were all rich. Plus, a sequel is coming in 2013.

And my winner is… Super 8. Come on, out of those five, which one would you pick. Ultimately, out of these five, I think this movie will stand the test of time, and could very well be my kid’s generation Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although I still wish it was about Cloverfield.

What are the critics saying about the Kings? Well, let’s take a look…

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 16-17 rating: 10. Last week: 11.


They finally got a big-scoring game (four goals!) in a solid home win over the Senators on Monday. Otherwise, goals continue to come at a puzzling premium for a club you’d think would score a lot more, especially on the power play, given the talent on hand. Any team with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson at the PP points shouldn’t have the 14.7-percent success rate it did entering Monday.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 17 rating: 11. Last week: 12.


Just like the Sharks, the team they’re chasing for the Pacific Division lead, the Kings have 10 of 14 on the road in February.

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 16-17 rating: 12. Last week: 14.


One regulation win in the last six games and goal-scoring remains a concern, particularly since C Mike Richards has managed one in the last 14 games.

• The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau’s Week 17 rating: 12. Last week: 14.


The Kings have the weakest offense (111 goals) of any team currently in a
playoff position in the Western Conference, but their ability to take
games to overtime or a shootout – their 10 OT losses are second only to
the Florida Panthers’ 11 – is one of the reasons they sit in seventh
place. Another is the outstanding play of goalie Jonathan Quick (1.93
goals-against average, .934 save percentage); and another is the timely
scoring of captain Dustin Brown, who leads the team in game-winners
(five).

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 17 rating: 13. Last week: 14.


Doughty’s defense has been fine, but he is yet to replicate his dynamite second NHL season. Los Angeles could use more points from defensemen, and now that he has 45 games under his belt after missing training camp and some early-season contests, he should be in line for a better second half.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 17 rating: 15. Last week: 14.


Four goals against Ottawa last Monday night. Jonathan Quick could get used to that sort of goal support.

• Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s Week 17 rating: 16. Last week: 16.


Even with a big 4-1 win over Ottawa prior to the break, the Kings had a losing record in January. Not since October have they enjoyed a month during which they won more games than they lost.

Take the average and you get the Kings’ official Hockeywood Power Ranking of…

11.2.

Check out this new trailer for Chronicle.

Weekend Returns: Kings may have hit a Wahl in rankings

Mark Wahlberg in Contraband

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsThe top movie of the weekend was surprisingly the Mark Wahlberg action flick Contraband. It’s rare that an action movie beats a family film, especially since the one in question is a beloved Disney classic.

Disney retrofitted Beauty and the Beast into 3D, in an attempt to snag some nostalgia for the classic. But it’s $17.7 million debut was far less than their previous foray into reissuing an animated feature as 3D, The Lion King.

Back to Wahlberg. I think it’s safe to say he’s shed the Marky Mark image from back in the 90s, and he’s become quite the executive producer. From Entourage to Boardwalk Empire to In Treatment, Wahlberg knows his television drama.

He’s etched out a spot for himself in Hollywood, starring in movies like Boogie Nights, The Perfect Storm, The Italian Job and The Departed. But for every good role, he’s had bad ones like Rock Star, Max Payne and Planet of the Apes.

All his characters have one thing in common: they are all dicks. In The Departed, he played a dick cop. In The Other Guys, he played a dick cop. In The Corrupter, he played a dick cop. Hey, is there a theme there?

Honestly, the one performance I was impressed with was in The Fighter, where he played a brooding fighter. A brooding fighter with dick tendancies.

It seems Wahlberg is at a crossroads in his career. He’s trying to shed that dickish persona by taking on more comedic roles. Opposite Will Ferrell, he was anything but funny. His next movie, Ted, is Seth MacFarlane’s directorial debut and is a comedy about a man and his teddy bear. Hmmmm.

All I know is Wahlberg doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. You know who else isn’t going anywhere? That’s right, the Kings. How did they fare in this week’s media power rankings? Let’s take a look.

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 15 rating: 11. Last week: 10.


Anybody still want to second-guess the Darryl Sutter hire? How sweet it was for his Kings on Saturday night, going into Calgary and dominating the Brent Sutter-coached Flames. Of note: Jonathan Quick’s six shutouts lead the league.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 15 rating: 12. Last week: 12.


Darryl Sutter gets to see how far he has brought this team with a nice test Tuesday night at Vancouver.

• The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau’s Week 15 rating: 12. Last week: 9.


Since blowout 8-2 loss to Detroit Dec. 17, Kings have just one regulation-time loss in 14 games.

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 15 rating: 13. Last week: 18.


Darryl Sutter’s Kings have been inconsistent, trading off wins and losses over their last 10. Losses at home to Columbus and in overtime at Edmonton will be looked back at in frustration during a late-season playoff push.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 15 rating: 13. Last week: 15.


The Kings are still on the rise thanks to their play defensively, but will they be able to find enough offense?

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 15 rating: 14. Last week: 17.


Suddenly the masters of earning at least a single point, the Kings have one regulation loss in the last 14 games. They’ve lost six times total, but only once in regulation.

• Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s Week 15 rating: 16. Last week: 15.


Consistently average, the Kings have been alternating wins and losses for 10 consecutive games now. Centre Anze Kopitar (42 points) has come on strong, supplanting Mike Richards as the team’s leader in all the major offensive categories.

Take the average, and you get the Kings’ Hockeywood Power Ranking of:

13.0.

That’s up .5 from last week. Unless the team can string together some wins, I’m afraid they are destined to be stuck in the same position as Wahlberg: struggling to change their identity.

Now for something completely different. I saw this trailer for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, starring Bruce Willis, Brad Norton and Bill Murray, a trifecta of actors that I’d go see regardless of the movie.

Weekend Returns: Kings dealing with their inner demons

The Devil Inside

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsFirst, allow me to apologize for missing last week’s Weekend Returns. The beginning of 2012 has not been kind to the Murray House, as the flu has run amuck. Fortunately, my daily baths in sanitizer added with me sleeping in a bubble on the couch has kept me out of harm’s way. For now.

I wanted to blog about last week’s box office winner, which was Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I wanted to draw parallels to my new favorite animated series on FX, Archer, which is also about spies (sort of). But I figured I’d have another week to bring it up.

That’s why I was a little shocked to see Mission Impossible IV fall in the first official weekend of the new year. And to a horror movie, no doubt. If anything, I thought Girl With The Devil Tattoo would sneak in there, but it turns out another devil possessed the top spot. As in Lucifer himself.


The Devil Inside
scared up enough viewers to claim the top spot at the box office. It’s the latest in “found footage” movies that has become the norm at the cineplexes. From Blair Witch to Cloverfield to the surprisingly fun Troll Hunter, this sub-genre continues to flourish. Not only because the shaky-cam feel makes it seem real, it’s because it’s so cheap to make. Devil was made for less than $1 million, but brought in $33.7 million last weekend.

There’s even a series on Animal Planet called Lost Tapes, that attempts to document paranormal creatures like Bigfoot, chupacabras, the jersey devil, etc., cut with “found footage.” It uses unknown actors doing things that would happen to put them in the path of these beasties.

But other than horror movies, what else can you do with “found footage”? It’s not like you can base a movie on three reels of film are found in some dank basement featuring Robin Williams and Vin Diesel trying to carry on an intelligent conversation about global warming. 

No, it seems “found footage” seemed destined to be intertwined with horror movies. And here we are in January, and audiences still want to have the crap scared out of them. But documenting a possession isn’t new: Paranormal Activity has become a viable franchise, and is expected to crank out a fourth installment this year. Eli Roth also made The Last Exorcism in 2010. There’s a slew of more coming this year.

You know what else is scary? The lack of scoring the Kings’ have. Check out where the Kings fall on our media power rankings roundup:

• The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau’s Week 14 rating: 9. Last week: 11.


Kings have allowed just eight regulation/overtime goals in their past eight games, but have scored just 13 in that span.

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 14 rating: 10. Last week: 11.


They improved to 6-1-3 under new coach Darryl Sutter with Monday’s
impressive win over Washington and finally won a game in which they
didn’t have to get headstand goaltending. Even Dustin “Pancake Man”
Penner got a point. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the
fans in Calgary when Sutter is introduced Saturday night at the
Saddledome.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 14 rating: 12. Last week: 15.


Yes, the Kings have made significant strides under Darryl Sutter, but they still can’t score, as witnessed by their 1-0 loss to lowly Columbus at home Saturday. This team doesn’t make the playoffs unless the offense becomes more consistent, Sutter or no Sutter.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 14 rating: 15. Last week: 18.


I’m expecting a big second-half surge from Los Angeles. You should, too.

• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 14 rating: 17. Last week: 16.


1-for-31 on the power play in the last seven games, the Kings’ offensive woes are almost comical for a team with the talent they have on their roster.

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 14 rating: 18. Last week: 12.


The Kings have killed off 34 straight penalties while their power play has scored one goal in its past 31 chances. They’re also struggling to score five-on-five, which has led to three 1-0 games in the past two weeks.

Take the average and you get the Kings’ Power Ranking of

13.5.

Since I will not be denied promoting the upcoming season of Archer (Jan. 19 on FX), here’s one of my favorite episodes from season one.

Weekend Returns: Kings may be facing an Impossible Mission

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol chick fight

Hockeywood Weekend Returns
The number one movie at the box office was no surprise. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was the winner, beating out Sherlock Holmes 2 and Chipmunks 3.

This is the fourth installment of the MI series, and it’s hard to believe Tom Cruise keeps pumping life into this spy thriller. He’s been able to do that by bringing in new directors for each flick. The first one was directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables); MI2 was helmed by John Woo (Broken Arrow, Face/Off); the third Mission was brought together by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8 and a guilty pleasure of mine, Cloverfield.)

As you can see, each of these directors have a unique style, whether’s it’s De Palma’s cross-cutting plot, Woo’s slow-motion uses of double guns and doves or Abrams’ elaborate sets and action (and yes, his lens flares.) Each director brings a cache of knowledge to bring a new aspect to the story.

For the fourth time around, it was revealed that Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) was getting the call. The unique thing? It was Bird’s first live-action directorial gig. How did he do? Well, Bird knows action and he brings that knowledge to the movie with its’ standout sequences (Cruise on the Dubai tower, a fight in an automated parking lot and an escape from a Russian prison.) But the best part? Chick fight! Paula Patton lays the smack down on French model/actress Lea Seydoux which grabbed my attention. Whether this will become one of Bird’s trademarks remains to be seen.

One thing that also remains to be seen is whether the Kings can regain their scoring touch and find their way to the top of the Hockeywood Power Rankings. It may take an Ethan Hunt-type scheme to get there, but it’s not Impossible. (Sorry, too punny).

How did the Kings fare this past week? Their first full week with new head coach Daryl Sutter? Let’s find out:

• Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater’s Week 12 rating: 17. Last week: 22.

While some called it folly, the Kings are 2-0-1 since
Darryl Sutter began standing on the bench. None of the victories have
been particularly outstanding, but the numbers are the numbers. Sutter
seems to be getting highly talented D-man Drew Doughty to play better
again: four points, all assists, in the three games under the new bench
boss.

• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 12 rating: 20. Last week: 22.

New
coach, similar results. Despite highly competitive efforts, the Kings scored a total of three goals through Darryl Sutter’s first 130 minutes behind the bench. Los Angeles has gone 14 games without netting three goals in one game.

• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 12 rating: 22. Last week: 22.

Darryl Sutter is 1-0-1 in his brief tenure behind the Kings’ bench, but they still have gone 14 straight games without scoring more than two goals in any contest (not counting shootout goals). Arresting that streak will be the priority for Sutter as he tries to coax the underachieving Kings back into the playoff picture in the West.

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 12 rating: 24. Last week: 27.

The Kings were finally able to get Mike Richards back into the lineup, and he joined the list of players to score a goal in his first game back from a concussion this season, a list that includes Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux and David Perron.

Take the average and you get the Kings’ Power Rankings number of:

20.7.

That’s up three spots. Could this be the turnaround we’ve been waiting for? Time will tell. Speaking of time, it’s been a while since Ridley Scott has graced the silver screen with some sci-fi goodness. Here’s the trailer for Prometheus.

Weekend Returns: The Kings thrust themselves into the Shadows

Photobucket

Hockeywood Weekend ReturnsSherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows took the top spot at the box office, and while I can’t speak to how the movie is (I have no desire to see it.) I can speak to being tired of Robert Downey Jr.

I get it, RDJ is a likable cat. After being arrested repeatedly for drugs, he kept getting free passes… because he was a likable person. And because he was a phenomenal actor.

He nabbed an Academy Award nomination for his role as Charlie Chaplin before appearing regularly on the entertainment news shows in front of a judge. I’ll admit it, the dude can flat out act. At the same time, he’s become the poster child of second, third and fourteenth chances.

His rise from the ashes story has become a
sort of how-to case study for drug-addled and mentally deranged actors
to get back into the limelight. In his case, it worked out famously, because he has the chops. I’m not so sure others will fare so well.

Thing is, as great an actor he is, I’m getting tired of seeing him play the same character type: eccentric, sarcastic and egotistical, delivering hilarious lines with a stone face. It works as Tony Stark/Iron Man. But it’s kind of annoying.

Hey Downey, you want to impress me? Play something completely off the beaten path. Play someone other than yourself turned up to 11. I want to see the guy I saw in Chaplin, not the endless rehashes of Weird Science.

That said, you know what else I’d like to see? The Kings get their crap together.


• The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau’s Week 11 rating: 19. Last week: 14.


Drubbing at the hands of Red Wings the nadir of Kings’ season; can new coach Darryl Sutter stink-eye them back into contention?


• ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside’s Week 11 rating: 22. Last week: 22.


Darryl Sutter, come on down and give it your best shot at salvaging this thing.


• Fox Sports’ Jim Rosen’s Week 11 rating: 22. Last week: 22.


Darryl Sutter can’t arrive quickly enough for the sinking Kings. The one win in their last seven was against Columbus, and they’ve scored two goals or fewer for 11 straight games.


• TSN’s Scott Cullen’s Week 11 rating: 25. Last week: 22.


New coach Darryl Sutter comes into what is virtually a no-lose situation. The Kings are currently inept, having lost six of seven games, the last one an ugly 8-2 loss at Detroit, and they’re 0-for-18 on the power play in the last six games. If Sutter comes in and this talented team gets its act together, he’s a hero and if they don’t, they’re still not going to be any worse than they are already.


• Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s Week 11 rating: 26. Last week: 23.


Firing the head coach won’t bring Mike Richards back any sooner. The Kings have one victory (a narrow one, over Columbus) since Richards left the lineup. In their last 11 games and counting, they’ve scored two goals or less. And although no one seems confident that Darryl Sutter is the answer, could it get much worse?

• CBSSportsline’s Adam Gretz’s Week 11 rating: 27. Last week: 22.


Apparently the news of Darryl Sutter’s upcoming presence behind the
bench didn’t serve as much of a motivation given the Kings 8-2 loss in
Detroit on Saturday night.

Take the average, and you get the Kings’ depressing Power Ranking of…

23.5.


It’s a bitter pill to swallow, one that has this writer completely dumbfounded.

Speaking of being dumbfounded, check out this trailer for The Hobbit. Coming next December!