Friday, November 14, 2008

My Aching Back

Aging is a total trip. My folks are now in their mid seventies but you wouldn't know it, other then they are a little slower to get around and their short term memories are a little faulty.

Dad - Jenn, can I get you a beer?

Jenn - No thanks, Jack, I'm, um, seven months pregnant here, I'll pass on the beer thanks.

Dad - Oh right, ok.

Five minutes later ...

Dad - Jenn, can I get you a beer?

Jenn - Still pregnant here Jack.


Talking to Mom one day and she said that the strangest thing is that in her head she is still thirty years old. She's just trapped in this old body.

As you get older they say time seems to speed up but I don't find that at all. Our youngest is four months now. It seems like she has been with us forever. I got married just over seven years ago and since then we've moved back to Canada, bought a house, had three kids, had three different vehicles, been to Europe (for business and for pleasure) four times, lost grandparents, an uncle and an aunt and watched different friends get married, have kids, fall seriously ill, buy homes, travel the world and split up.

There's a whole lot going on. Life's like that.

They say that things seem to speed up when you have kids and of course it may seem to - after all in the space of months they learn how to read and how to swim, their vocabularies expand, they get toilet trained, go out for Halloween and have birthday parties, go back to school, begin to eat solid food and notice the dog for the first time ... a constant stream of milestones, regardless of the age. For an adult years and years may pass before they graduate with a degree or get married or buy a home. When you have a child big events happen weekly and it can seem like life rushes by.

I don't find that but a lot of people say so.

But I am getting older. We all are. The poor big fellow is eleven now. He has a grey face and he's a little heavier then he should be and he's having some issues with his hips. Getting up from the floor takes a little work and when he lays down he pretty well collapses to the floor with a thud that reverberates through our house. Some nights he will pace about for hours, just like my dad does. And like most old men he doesn't give a shit. If the kids leave leftovers on their plate and we leave the room he will rear up and finish them off, right off the table. Yelling at him doesn't frighten him - the Reaper is coming. He's got bigger things to worry about.

Thing is, times have changed. Most of my friends are in reasonably good shape. We eat better then we did a generation ago. All of us who smoked have quit. (Damn I miss having a cigarette with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine!) The drinkers among us still get out for our pints but there are few nights spent out until the wee morning. Hard to do that when the kids are up by 7am. We work out or run or play enough sports to stay fairly fit. My wife ran a half marathon after the boy was born and we have a friend who ran her first marathon this spring at the age of forty five. Sure there are a few who have put on weight or who are going grey or who are balding. I have a few sprouts of grey in my (still pretty thick) hair and my present beard is two tone - red and grey.

(I thought I was growing something exotic like a Balbo but it turns out the damn thing is just a goatee. I thought it was the mustache that made it a goatee but apparently that's just a "goatee with mustache". Damnit. Maybe a "modern Lincoln" is the ticket.)

Anyways there are many mornings where I drag myself out of bed, hobbling like an old man (especially after playing hockey), feeling the effect of three (!) pints I drank (not too bad thank God - I have a friend who gets unearthly hangovers everytime he drinks), look at the grey bearded man in the mirror and say "How the Hell did this happen?"


Which I am sure is what MacT was thinking as he watched the Leafs pump three power play goals by JDD last night. When it comes to special teams the Oilers PP is far from it.

05/06 - ranked 14th 88PPGF/5SHA

06/07 - ranked 27th 53PPGF/4SHA

07/08 - ranked 21st 57PPGF/10SHA

08/09 - ranked 15th 12PPGF/2SHA

I've said it before and will say it again - it was the Oilers PP that cost them the Cup in 2006. In the four games they lost they had one PP goal, courtesy of Hemsky's brilliant solo effort in G1. The rest of the time they stood around and passed it back to the point for the one timer, including on numerous 5 on 3s.

This year they are close to averaging a PPG a game but anyone who looks at the talent on this club knows that things should be better then that. Watch the Habs. Watch the Leafs for fucks' sakes. The players (gasp) move around. Puck movement is fluid. Its not all about setting up for the one timer from the point repeatedly. Its ridiculous and its going to hurt this team until they figure it out. My guess is its not going to get figured out and if this team makes the playoffs its going to cost them a series. Its blatantly stupid.

Anyways at least the PP is business as usual. What must make MacT's mouth gape extra wide is the sudden and complete collapse of what, for years, has been a terrific PK.

05/06 - ranked 8th 76PPGA/15SHF

06/07 - ranked 6th 59PPGA/6SHF

07/08 - ranked 5th 56PPGA/7SHF

08/09 - ranked 26th 18PPGA/2SHF

Note that this team's performance on the PK remained solid despite losing Pronger, Jason Smith, Spacek, Hejda, Peca, Ryan Smyth and Dvorak as well as guys like Horcoff, Moreau and Pisani to illness and injury for length periods of time. Didn't matter who they threw out there. It worked.

Or was it all Stoll, Marty Reasoner and Matt Greene? ;)

Now, unlike the PP, MacT has an excellent history of putting together a good PK. And they have been doing some development here, running out guys like Gagner and Penner, so that has cost them.

But a couple of weeks ago Moreau and MacT made a point of saying that things were getting better and it was just a question of some ducksnorts dropping in for hits.

Well right now the other team is hitting linedrives off the wall. Five bell chances everywhere.

They had better figure this mess out.


Kyle said...

You can't take out your top two defensive centers without there being repercussions of some kind. You just can't.

Black Dog said...

Ah, forgot about Marty. That's fixed.

Although I would say that neither is a better defensive centre then Horcoff.

Black Dog said...

Besides Kyle, look at the players they have lost each year. Pronger, Spacek, Peca, Dvorak plus Moreau Stoll and Staios to injuries and Smyth to trade in 06/07

Then Smith and Hejda gone and injuries and illness for Pisani, Moreau, Horcoff, Souray and Greene last season

I mean we're talking about the unit being decimated each year and still getting the job done.

PDO said...

Maybe just a plain lack of attention to detail?

First PP goal sees Moreau get locked in on the puck and has his stick watching for a backdoor pass that simply isn't there instead of tipping that pass into the crowd.

Second PP goal Horcoff chips the puck neatly to Brodziak... and he whiffs on the clearing attempt. 45 long seconds later, it's 2-1.

Easy mistakes to make, and guys like 51 at least have an excuse, but they have to be better...

Black Dog said...

pdo - I only saw the third - what was Brodziak's excuse?

This team just is a little too loosey goosey for my liking, easy on the puck, soft passes, weak puck support, bad pinches, sometimes a little too soft.

Failure to execute.

They're young, sure, but this team has been getting younger for three seasons now.

R-Gib said...

Yup a lot of change in roster over the last little while. Well who has been a constant force on the PK through the last three seasons? At least two solid defensive centers. When Horc went down last yr it was Stoll and Reasoner who carried... and the year before w/o Stoll it was Horc and Reasoner who moved boulders. Before that, Horc, Peca, Stoll.

Who do we have this yr? Horc is the only vet center... with Brodziak doing the rest of the work. Might be too much too soon for the guy. Does anyone know who is usually on the ice when the PK is scored on?

I think its safe to say that the Oil miss the second pk vet center, and his name isn't Jarret.

Sing it now, "...and the Reasoner is yoooooou, and the Reasoner iiis yooooou"

David S said...

Horc and Penner seem to me to be the problem right now. I was at the TO game and it was plainly obvious that Horc is NOT game sharp nor fit. Penner? I duuno what's with that guy, but he's clearly not at the top of his game yet either.

The biggest piss-off other than those damn Leaf fans in the stands, was the fact that the Leafs played like we used to - hard-nosed and never gave up. We have to play a three-period game because if we don't, the other guys will bury us nine times outta ten.

PDO said...

BDHS - That he's young, dumb, and filling too many girls up with.... you know where I'm going ;).

He didn't really have one. Horcoff chipped it out of the corner onto Brodziaks tape around the top of the circle, and he just plain whiffed on it. Oilers did clear the zone twice, but they couldn't get a change because they never got a chance to get it deep again and it was the long change in the second period.

William said...

The PK looks to me to be standing still most of the time in box formation. In years past, even though they never struck me as world beating PKers then (despite being ranked so high), at least they seemed to be more aggressive at challenging the puckholder and get into passing and shooting lanes with sticks and bodies. Something like "take away space and time". This year, they seem to just sit back and let the play come to them. Moreau especially to me looks like a pylon out there.

And I have no idea if the numbers bear it out, but they seem to be blocking fewer shots (at least successfully). Lots of passes and shots getting through to my eye.

Pisani used to be the embodiment of smart and committed efforts to get the puck out of danger. Maybe it's his playing out of position but he hasn't been great lately at making those little extra plays, and the rest of the team has been that way all year - whiffing and/or too cute on back passing and little chips. This team still strikes me as trying to be too cute most of the time. Souray, of all people, has looked pretty good at breaking up the play.

Bruce said...

I'm beginning to wonder if Fernando is playing "hurt". He is a WAY better player than he's shown lately, regardless of position.

Black Dog said...

william - agreed on the 'cute' point - david touched on it too

while this team has more talent then any Oilers team of recent vintage a little more of the old OIlers' hard skating, forechecking, give no quarter game would go a long way

too much of the Brodziak play that PDO referenced - guys blowing simple plays

Bruce - I'm inclined to think that that may be the case

andy grabia said...

All of us who smoked have quit. (Damn I miss having a cigarette with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine!)

Since I'm still a man, and haven't quit, I'll have one for you. Maybe even two, if you're lucky.

Black Dog said...

Make it Camels, and unfiltered just for the kick.

Used to love the taste of loose tobacco floating around in my mouth.

Mmm mmm good.