Sunday, February 13, 2011

Avs/Preds recap

Here we have Dater's recap of the Avs/Predators game on February 12, which the Predators won 5-3. It opens with a music reference -- a Dater favorite -- and then moves on to a very odd bit where he tries way, way too hard to combine Shaquille O'Neal and Disneyland into some sort of metaphor for the Avs' playoff chances. Rather weird, actually. Eventually, Dater does get around to talking about the game itself.

That part of the article is a fairly depressing rehash of the game, in which the Avs were outshot and outhustled significantly through the first two periods, but still managed to lead 3-2 not three minutes into the third period on a goal by Matt Duchene. However, since these are the Avs and there is no defense allowed, they gave that lead right back moments later, and then lost the game with 2:30 remaining when Winnik's weak clearing attempt was stopped at the blue line and subsequently shot through Budaj's legs.

Overall, the recap of the game is OK. Dater's full into his Debbie Downer mode, but frankly the Avs are playing like crap and there isn't a lot of good stuff to report about them. Dater really misses the mark (as he usually does), however, when he mentions Budaj. These two sentences were the only mentions the Avs' backup goalie (starting his second consecutive game due to Anderson's abscence) received:

It was a soft goal, yes, one that Budaj should have stopped.

and later, as he mentioned the few Avs players who had good games:

 The Avs got a terrific game from Kevin Porter (one goal, one assist), and Matt Hunwick is starting to look like a real player again. But overall, there just wasn't enough sustained offensive pressure, too many turnovers and no clutch goaltending.

This is a prime example of one of Dater's most glaring faults as a reporter: he allows his personal feelings towards a player or a team into his writing. Journalism -- even sports journalism -- should strive to be devoid of bias, but Dater seems to have skipped that semester of journalism school. Peter Budaj was very sharp all game long, and at one point in the third period, when the Avs had been outshot by a 3-1 ratio but still led the game, one could argue that Budaj was the only reason they were in that position at all. But Dater's active dislike of Budaj not only prevents him from mentioning his solid game, but causes him to go out of his way to say something negative about Boods.

The fourth goal was definitely one that Budaj would like to have back, because it looked like he could see it pretty much the entire way and it kind of fluttered in (possibly deflected mid-way) under his pads... but Dater will describe ANY goal that wasn't highlight-quality as "soft," as long as it's Budaj he's talking about. The goal was not soft, it just beat him. It does happen... and when Budaj was the one and only reason they had a chance to win that game in the first place, he should have at least got some recognition for it. But Dater hates Budaj, and would rather be caught dead than say something positive about him.

Budaj has had four games in a row now where he has been very, very good. He is playing better as a backup than Anderson is playing as a starter right now... but the only mention he gets in this article is blame for a "soft" goal that really wasn't, and a ludicrous claim that the Avs didn't have enough "clutch goaltending" in the game, despite the fact that without clutch goaltending they probably would have lost 8-3. 

Dater closes with a brief Forsberg update. Apparently, the notion that Forsberg is the best guy on the ice lasted about one game. Forsberg looked amazing about 15% of the time, and somewhere between "mediocre" and "pretty bad" the remainder, and to Dater's credit he takes his lips off the man's butt long enough to write that Forsberg looked tired and took a couple penalties.

Grade: D+  A failed attempt at a clever introduction leads to a boilerplate recap of the game. Would have been unmemorable if not for providing yet another example of Dater's bias against Peter Budaj. The sad thing is that there are people out there who believe that Budaj is an awful goalie because Dater says so... but by continuing to go out of his way to rag on the guy, he demonstrates that he doesn't know enough about either goaltending or reporting to be considered a reliable source on the matter.

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