EPIX Road To The NHL Stadium Series Ep. 3: Hi doggy (Review)

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For the first time in the EPIX “Road to the NHL Stadium Series” we had a theme episode! Well, two themes, but hey, good on EPIX for somehow weaving in dogs and enforcers. 

We got to see into the lives of Sharks tough guy John Scott and Kings toughish who can play guy Kyle Clifford. And we also saw dogs. And quite a few of them.

From Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s pooches to Tyler Toffoli walking near the beach with his pup. It was clear that after getting to know these guys for the last few weeks EPIX did its research and was able to unearth the inner dog lover in these two men of mighty hockey skill.

There was only so much Joe Thornton frat party type stuff, Brent Burns acting weird and Darryl Sutter cursing we could take.

Interestingly, there was an extreme lack of Sutter and the Kings locker room in this episode. By lack I mean almost none. Maybe the Kings’ coach wasn’t exactly pleased with how he came across in the previous two episodes?

In the last episode EPIX made him look like an F-Bomb dropping unintelligible caricature. It was a departure from the loving father and strong-willed coach we saw in the first episode. Last episode it felt like production played too much to what we think Sutter is and not the personality of the man himself – which is the point of this series ... to get a better sense of the people in the game. Then again, you can only do so much with the material you're given. 

Either way, if Sutter has an issue with how he's portrayed, his ability to strongly communicate with players in the first episode showed the side of him we've wanted to see for years. Hopefully this doesn't last at the Feb. 21 Stadium Series game against San Jose. 

The lack of the Kings’ room? That falls under the ‘where was Mike Richards being put on waivers?’ category.  Hmm.

Anyway, without further delay, our review of EPIX “Road to the NHL Stadium Series” Episode III, Revenge of the Sith.

COORS LIGHT COLD HARD FACT

Did you notice the t-shirt Clifford wore while playing with his family (and dog)? It’s from Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a country music bar in Nashville. Want to see what hockey players do on the road? Go there the night before a Preds game.

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

THIS WEEK ON TRttNHLSS

The episode begins with an extreme hockey geek moment. Todd McLellan goes over the Sharks power play for the first several minutes. Oh yeah … no doubt some youth team will pick up what McLellan told his group. 

We then move on and finally get a Mike Ricci moment. He’s San Jose’s development coach. He was drafted ahead of Jaromir Jagr.  

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

Scenes from San Jose’s loss against the Calgary Flames are mostly dedicated to Tommy Wingels – who just came back from an injury. He’s not a big name or anything and his return isn’t super important to San Jose’s season, but he’s there. And they follow him for most of the game.

I would like for the Sharks to address their locker room wall at some point.

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

Then the Kings are in Columbus where a bunch of the boys go to a restaurant. The waiter asks what they’re in town for – as if they don’t look like hockey players. And wait … Robyn Regeher talks about his wife's quasi-aficionado status with wine. DRINK!

Before the Columbus game we get a sense of Jeff Carter’s brief time in Columbus from Carter. And then he quickly trolls the Blue Jackets’ fans by referencing his two Stanley Cups he won with the Kings. Yeeeeeaaaah Carts. 

Zip back across the country after the Kings’ win over the Blue Jackets with San Jose’s press conference for Evgeni Nabokov retirement announcement. You see the Sharks players in attendance and some with their kids. It adds to that sort of family atmosphere this team has which we mentioned in the previous review. We also get another glorious shot of Ricci.

We then get a ton of John Scott, which will be addressed in the “John Scott ‘Good Guy’ Moment” below. 

The Sharks lose to the Caps. There’s tons of cursing in the locker room, and then we go to happier environs.

Los Angeles’ equipment manager props up the team’s jerseys and starts ripping on the players. This is one of the more light-hearted segments, especially the helmet fixing spot with Matt Greene. Love those Kings throwbacks.

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

There’s tough guy moment No. 2 with Clifford and his adorable family. I do like these scenes a lot, just because of the humanizing factor. And then you see the Tootsie’s shirt, and yeah … I don’t know what to make of that.   

And to Arizona we go, where Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins go to a Cabela’s in Glendale. They also have to cross a busy street to get there. Between almost getting hit by oncoming traffic and testing a bow and arrow in Cabela’s you’d think they violated some sort of safety clause in their contracts. 

Meanwhile, the injured Vlasic plays with his dogs back home. He’s apparently too injured to play against the Coyotes, but can curl his canine easily. It's hockey. Who knows. 

EPIX takes us to the Kings' practice facility where players sip on Tim Horton’s coffee. Is there even a Tim Horton’s in Los Angeles? This must be the most Canadian thing ever in LA outside of, you know … hockey.

We find out Drew Doughty of the eight year $56 million contract lives with Trevor Lewis. Doughty just seems to like being a ‘bro’ regardless of his massive deal. Whatever, we’re cool with it. He’s a young dashing defenseman with two Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals. He can do whatever he wants.

It’s Kings’ legend’s night with former coach Barry Melrose. Then it’s Toffoli with his dog. And then comes a major moment for San Jose, which gives us insight in its dressing room.

Down to the Coyotes in between periods, Joe Pavelski delivers a speech.

“We got f$*cking nothing right now” he yells. It’s well documented that San Jose stripped Joe Thornton of his ‘C’ in the summer and currently has no captain. If there was any conjecture as to who will wear the ‘C’ next for the Sharks, that scene may have ended any questions.

JOHN SCOTT ‘GOOD GUY’ MOMENT

There is an entire segment on Scott, who he is and what he means to the Sharks. He says he likes to “joke around and keep things loose” and “I think it’s good to have a player who fights and a player who kind of protects his teammates and a player who keeps the game honest and keeps it from getting too chippy and too out of hand.”

This is old school hockey enforcer thinking 101. Instead of turning this post into an argument about enforcers and going off on a tangent, let’s just call this for what it is.

EPIX gave Scott a chance to defend himself and his place in the NHL. It was good to see, because it’s more of a chance than many give him, myself included. 

We never question Scott’s character as a person, just the functionality of his position as an enforcer who does little else on a team from an on-ice perspective. It’s a debate that goes broader than a review of a reality TV documentary episode. Instead of seeing Scott joking with everyone around the team facility , it would have been nicer to have seen him pursuing whatever passions he holds dear, outside of hockey

We know an enforcer is a de-facto comedian around teams to keep the players chill. Seeing a window into Scott the man would have done him more justice in my opinion. 

IMAGES OF THE WEEK

 1. Mike Ricci twice!

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

2. Tyler Toffoli on the beach with his pup. If I was randomly walking past him I’d have no clue he was an NHL player. Maybe an extra in the rumored "Point Break" remake.

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s family picture with his dogs. He loves dogs. A lot. 

Screen shot via EPIX
Screen shot via EPIX

MOMENT WHEN NARRATION MAKES HOCKEY FEEL SUPER SERIOUS

He says the goalies give "valiant efforts" in the Kings' game at Columbus. Makes me feel like it's knights of the round table instead of hockey. 

MISSING IN ACTION

-Darryl Sutter’s speaking parts. Something was clearly up when the head coach doesn’t talk for an entire episode.

-Kings dressing room during games. Again, something was clearly up…

-Kings GM Dean Lombardi. He’s one of hockey’s most interesting people and we’d love to see how he’s working the phones during the NHL’s trade deadline period. He’s been absent this whole series.

-Patrick Marleau. Mr. Shark again, nowhere to be found.

-How can you have an episode with dogs without Anze Kopitar’s adorable Goldendoodle.

-A Sharks captain – though after Pavelski’s speech it appears we may have an answer soon.

THREE STARS

1. Todd McLellan. You can tell he’s doing his best, even if the team continues to lose.

2. Robyn Regehr, Los Angeles Kings. Wine Spectator needs to do a feature on him.  

3. Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings. Did he really jab Columbus with his two Cups? I think he did.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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