Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nice and Straight, Like an Arrow

Got down to the ACC tonight to see the Oilers.

Had a couple of pints and a decent dinner with my best friend. He's a fair sized wig at Honda. We get out every year for a game, on them. This year beat it all - third row from the ice just to the left of the net - home end.

Pretty damn good. Right in the Platinum Club they call it. Walk down to take a leak and some guy is slicing roast beef. You can get yourself a 40 dollar sandwich.

I did not.

Before the game on the scoreboard and I am paraphrasing - "The Leafs - we have more fans then any other team in hockey" - something to that effect.

Now they might but that was just weird. Richard Peddie's fingerprints all over that one. We have more fans then any other team in hockey and also have gone longer then any team but Chicago without a Cup.

Saw the Roots guy, the one with the gigantic eyebrows but no other celebrities. A lot of Toronto establishment folk, much like European royalty - a lot of inbreds and more money then sense but that's ok, so it goes.

The opening ceremony was alright. Some of those old fellows look pretty vigourous, George Armstrong was most impressive. Bob Pulford took a break from destroying the Blackhawks (his work is pretty well done) to attend. Keon got a nice ovation but it was not what I expected. I thought there would be more to it but that's the Leafs' crowd. Allan Stanley came out with bright red hair. That was odd.

First period was pretty good. Smyth line had two straight two on ones. On the first Smyth likely should have passed to Hemsky but missed on the shot by inches. On the second Horc sent a beauty pass over and it hopped over Ales' stick. So it goes.

When you see it live as rarely as I do you forget how big the players are and how fast.

So with last change Maurice got out who he wanted out there but the Smyth line dominated all game anyhow - it was much like how Tyler described the Sabres game. They didn't have a lot of terrific chances but they were all over the Leafs at every turn. But after that well this looked like the Oilers of old, a lot of try but not a lot of talent.

And they're small - jeez the Leafs pushed them around. The Oilers didn't back down so fair play to them but man they didn't get a lot going on in the high traffic area in front.

Really noticed a lot of little things. Smith was just plain solid. Staios too, despite getting overwhelmed by Sundin on the fourth goal. Hejda as well, he just does the little things well.

A guy who impressed - Laddy Smid. He screwed up on the fourth goal with a bad pass - just left it there and the end result about thirty seconds later - a goal. But over all - the kid can skate, he has poise and he can move the puck. He had a good game.

Bergeron, meh. On the second Pohl goal he hung Nedved out to dry I thought. The better play was to get it out, to give it to a guy in front of the net with Kilger right on top of him wasn't too bright ... but that's Bergeron.

Greene - well classic Greene. He's behind the net in the second for about twenty seconds or so while everyone sets up and then I don't even know what the fuck he did but he pops it off of someone so suddenly its an odd man situation deep in the Oilers' zone. Everyone sort of said how the fuck did that happen? It was almost Steve Smith redux.

Well, its Matt Greene.

Toronto crowd is odd. The whole scene is odd. Go for a leak and there's the sushi bar. And of course just a quiet group.

Anyhow up front the Oilers are just missing too much. You have Peterson and Lupul playing with Sykora so nothing is happening there. Lupul will initiate contact but he is such a pussy. Anytime someone pushes back or initiates contact he folds. Early in the game he has the puck just inside the Oiler blueline, has to chip it three inches. And Pohl I believe it was outmuscled him and kept the puck in. For a contrast Reasoner fought off two Leafs at one point to get the puck out on the PK. And Nedved, Reasoner and Stortini bust their asses but they generate nothing. So that's two lines down.

But some hope tonight. Pouliot was terrific. Obviously there was the penalty shot and they also gave him the third goal though it looked like Smyth got it to me. In any case the kid can play. He made a number of plays at a high speed that were big time plays. And he can create something out of nothing. Early in the third on a two on two, I believe it was, he got over the blueline, stopped dead, and a a quick, accurate and hard shot that Raycroft had to make a nice save on.

Anyhow the kid looked great. Lowetide would have been proud. And Thoresen had a nice game as well. Same deal as Pouliot. Good sense, good skater, gets his nose dirty and plays at a high tempo. Had that chance in close. Looked at the sky right in front of us and let out a mighty "FUCK" - he's frustrated.

But there were a couple of differences in the game and likely why the Oilers will be on the outside and the Leafs may be in the playoffs.

The Leafs have six Dmen, of whom five can move the puck and move it well. The Oilers have, well, nobody. Staios, Smith, Smid and Hejda did ok tonight but that's ok, not good. The Leafs had five who did the job well.

The other thing - John Pohl scored two nice goals. Who? Right. When it was 1-0 it looked like the Oilers wouldn't even get the equalizer.

Thoresen and Pouliot were great, I thought, but when you have two kids showing better sense, better skill and more heart then the guys who should be picking up the slack - Torres, Sykora, Lupul - well, you're not making the playoffs.

Anyhow, if you made it this far, I'm not sure what they show on HNIC but they kept interviewing the oldtimers at the breaks. Keon, Bower and so on. Beauty moment, I'm talking classic, they're interviewing Bower and Red Kelly (the man on the right of the pic up top - eight cups I believe). So the final draw in 67, Stanley wins the faceoff back to Kelly who gets it to Pulford who gives it to Armstrong who scores the empty netter to clinch, right.

So they ask Kelly to describe it and he says " Well Stanley wins it back to me and I get it to Pully and of course he moves it real quick to Army and of course he's an Indian so he shoots it nice and straight, just like an arrow, into the net."

Beauty. Just a beauty.


Oiler Joe said...

Haha, I didn't notice the Indian comment from Kelly. I did notice that his description went a little long though... oh well what can you do? It's not like it prevented the Oil from generating any offense.

RE: Lupul
"Early in the game he has the puck just inside the Oiler blueline, has to chip it three inches. And Pohl I believe it was outmuscled him and kept the puck in."

I noticed that exact play, but it was O'neil that took him off the puck, not that it makes it any better. I hadn't ever noticed how soft Lupul plays until I saw him live tonight. Not impressed.

"When it was 1-0 it looked like the Oilers wouldn't even get the equalizer." - it really did feel like the Oil would get shut-out tonight. If it wasn't for the leafs player running into Raycroft on Staois goal or an exceptional night from MAP, it would have been an embarassing show on HNIC (if it wasn't already).

I'd agree that it was a weird crowd in TO. Not as many suits as you'd see during the week but there still were a few... aren't the markets closed on the weekend? I noticed that most of the times the fans chanted "Go Leafs Go" it was to drown out the Oiler chants. On that note, I was very impressed by the number of Oil fans at the game. Call it payback for all the times we had to put up with the thousands of Leafs' fans at Northlands.

I think I saw Harper sitting a few rows behind the Leafs bench, but besides that, I didn't spot anyone special (the last Leafs game I went to I sat behind Michael Lansburg and Brett "the hitman" Hart.

I thought the pre-game ceremony was alright... too often the teams tend to drag those out longer than they deserve.

I was very impressed with Smid and Hejda tonight. I hope we can keep those two around for a while.

Not sure if you noticed when Sykora took a high-sticking penalty in the second that Smid was giving it to him as he went to the bench... I'm looking forward to seeing Sykora hit the road. Hopefully someone is dumb enough to give us some value in return.

lowetide said...

TV showed Harper. That play by Lupul was awful, especially considering that's the Oilers patented "icing" play they rely so heavily on since they're no damn good on defense.

BDHS thoroughly enjoyed this, thanks.

Black Dog said...

oiler joe - you're right it was O'Neill which makes it worse really; Pohl is a really nice player, a hard worker with some skill, the fact that it was O'Neill, a guy whose own reputation for soft is well known, makes it even more embarassing

you're welcome LT, glad you enjoyed it

joninabox said...

Anyone else having problems leaving a comment on mudcrutch's page? Wanted to make some comments in regards to his Bergeron post. I guess it doesn't matter anymore, because it seems like Bergeron is on his way out of town. Hopefully he doesn't come back to haunt us by becoming a Visnovsky-type offenseman. :)

PPP said...

Nice write-up especially the Kelly anecdote. We didn't get to catch those on tv. And the crowd at the ACC in the lower bowl is frustrating. I have been lucky enough to be down there twice (as opposed to standing room, still $23) and everyone is old and quiet. My friends and I practically got admonished once for being too loud.

This was one of the few Oilers games I've managed to see this year so it was interesting to match up the impressions that everyone (Andy, Cosh, you, etc.)has had with the way the team played.

I would kill to have Smyth on my team and it would be a shame to have him leave the Oilers because he is as much Captain Oiler as he has become Captain Canada in Europe.

Pouliot and Thoresen were impressive as was Torres who showed restrained agression.

And the defence really can't make that first pass. I counted at least 3 times in the first period that a long outlet pass missed completely and went for icing.

Having said that, I hope the Oilers can get their game together enough to sneak into the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Great game report Pat. I wish I could see something redeeming about Smid's game, I really do. It would make me less worse about the debacle that was the Pronger trade.


Katie O'D said...

I agree- Pouliot and Thoreson have been killing themselves out there for the last few games. I missed the game but I'm glad to hear that MAP played well again and got himself a goal.
Being in love with him, I'm biased, but I've also been impressed with Smid. He's only 21 and shows promise.
Great post, thanks for filling me in!

Scarlett said...

So true, when the rest of the team can't raise their game but Thoresen and Pouliot are, you will be golfing in April.

Black Dog said...

ppp - actually although I gave Raffi a little jab in terms of his offence he did play pretty well; he was a good fit on that line and made a few nice plays - just wish he'd score here and there

katie - you could do worse - young Mr. Pouliot is a handsome strapping lad :)- I'd say he may be an Oiler for a while

Dennis - I know your feelings on Smid and his gaffe led to the fourth Leaf goal but I'll tell you the kid was alright - he moves the puck pretty well, he has a very good skater and he is pretty poised. I'm trying to think of a comp and I can't really. I think he may be top two material down the road (which is part of the problem). Hard to explain. I mean, he is twenty and there's the shit that comes with that but seeing him live, I could see a lot of good there. Time will tell I guess.

The debacle from that trade is Lupul - he contributed less then almost every other forward last night. Disaster.

Mr DeBakey said...

What the hell, I leave town for a couple of sleeps and return to find KLow has made a Trade?!!

I wonder, if I left for a week, could he make a trade for a living, breathing, ready-to-go NHLer?

Celebrating 40 years of Futility;
Nice to see my favourite Leaf, Ron Ellis, introduced first on Saturday night.
I saw a replay of the '67 final game not so long ago and it was Ellis' line that turned the game around for the Leafs [Sawchuck had been keeping them in it].

Bergeron played for the Isles today.
Teamed up with some guy named Poti, he played 19:31, was +2, with 2 assists.
God, I miss him.

Anonymous said...

I was at an Oldtimers game in Fort Mac once and Red Kelly was doing live play by of the old timers (I think Jimmy Mann....but I'm not sure), picks up the puck lacrosse style, goes end to end and scores....Kelly says Mann is so good at lacrosse because he's a member of the FBI....full blooded indian!.....He's lucky he got out of the arena alive....FBI is ussually used in a MUCH more derogatory sense than he used it....especially in Fort Mac.