Monday, December 08, 2008

Through The Looking Glass

When I was twenty or so a half dozen of us took a road trip down to Ohio to the Akron area to see some friends down that way. On the Friday night we went to a grimy hole in the wall and drank 2.50 pitchers of Budweiser until we were all feeling fine. We headed to our buddy's place and crashed.

The next day was the main event, so to speak, as we went to Kent State campus for a party. After a greasy road trip breakfast washed down with beer we wandered the grounds of the University, checked out the infamous scene of the shootings and were properly struck by the tragedy of that sad day, despite our general foolishness.

Sometime late in the afternoon we got down to the business at hand, which was to get as fucked up as possible. I still drink my share but back in the day I had a ridiculous capacity for alcohol despite the fact that I was mostly hair and balls, barely 125 pounds, if that. When you're young you have the boundless energy to drink and dance and fuck all night and then one day, not so much, and its disappointment for all concerned. Anyways, I was no different from a good number of my friends and we took advantage of those days to properly lay a beating on our bodies.

So the day in question we starting drinking around midafternoon. A keg down in the States was around twenty bucks so you'd go to one of these parties and it would be flowing. So this went on for a while and not much was happening or so I thought anyways and I became to get pretty agitated. I was a hyper little guy. So I was talking to some little blonde guy named Jammer or some such thing and your man lived at the house we were at so he kindly mixed me some sort of drink and I had a couple of those and they were pretty tasty but the desired effect was not forthcoming. Now I'm getting a little frantic because here I am in Ohio and I've been at it for hours now and barely a buzz to show for it and I was getting kind of cranky so the same guy and a couple of his buddies took me outside and we smoked a couple of joints and by now by all rights I should be on a gurney I have so much shit flowing in my bloodstream but still nothing is going on.

So I'm wandering from room to room bemoaning my fate when I come into a dark cavern of a room and in there is a big big man whose nickname is the entirely correct yet disappointingly unimaginative Big John. I can't remember what was going on in the room except there was music and it was dark and Big John was a friendly sort and when I lamented my relative sobriety he grinned and said that he had the cure for that and he gave me some mushrooms.

Now for me alcohol is pretty well the drug of choice. I had periods where I'd smoke a lot of dope but for the most part I'm a drinker. I've never touched powders or pills, mostly out of fear, and I've got a pretty good idea of when its time to stop, even with the drink. I certainly am not in the habit of ingesting unknown substances given to me by large men who I've just met.

But hey, it was a party and I was bored.

Well, next thing I remember (and the only thing I remember for that matter) was my heart pulsating to the music and Big John grinning maniacally at me as he played air guitar and the dark room cave like as I talked and talked and talked and talked to some girl who was quite amused, I'm sure, and also relieved to find the one twenty one year old guy at the party who was not hitting on her because for the first and only time in his life he was completely and absolutely so beyond that he had no interest in sex at all.


Saturday night I watched the game at some bar until San Jose finally broke through and Roenick put them up one and then we decided to head back to the east end and cap off our night at the Only Cafe with a couple of pints of Neustadt Scottish. A terrific night with a great longtime friend and the best bartender in the world was there and the crowd in "that Communist bar" as one of my neighbours calls it was as interesting as ever and then out into the quiet and warm snowy night and the twenty minute walk home, smiling. And I let the dog out quickly and crack open a beer and turn on the TV to see what I figured would be a 4-1 or 5-1 final, surely to God in the second game of a back to back they would have run out of gas and here's hoping they didn't get slaughtered and then the score rolled through the ticker and I was sure that all of the alcohol and chemicals from that night in Ohio twenty years ago had been lurking in my cells, waiting to spring upon me unawares and now this was it, here they came, fermenting for all that time, surging to my brain, it was my time to pay the piper.

For surely I was hallucinating when I saw that the Oilers had won.


A bizarre weekend for the Oilers who charged out to a big lead against the Kings, gave it all back and then some just as quickly in the second and then came back to tie it in the third. MacTavish's plan worked to perfection as he had Garon in the nets and the Oilers picked up the two points in the shootout.

And then the following night after a late arrival into San Jose because of an airport curfew (??? - is San Jose in some banana republic? An airport curfew?) they were completely overrun in the first period by a Sharks' team that were one point short of the maximum amount for the season at home so far. As the shot counter for the Sharks went off the charts like some sort of slot machine that had blown a circuit it looked like a blowout coming but it was the Oilers who came within seconds of making the intermission with the lead and while the Sharks picked up the lead early in the second the game began to balance out after that. Penner tied it up and then Brodziak scored his third goal of the week to win it and Edmonton snuck back home with four out of four points from the roadtrip and four victories in their last five games.

The usual angst was found in the game day thread but the fact is this club had put together four straight strong efforts and yes I will allow the second game back to back excuse in this case. The Sharks and Wings are head and shoulders above everyone right now and this San Jose club is big and fast and skilled and they run rough shod over their opponents. Remember G1 in 2006 when it looked like the Oilers were going to get blown out four straight? This club can make you look bad and while it seemed like the Oilers were boys v. men early on they hung in there and came away with two points when they could have folded their tents and come home from Cali with a split. And while they have Roli to thank for these two points this young team has made some strides recently and they suddenly are back in the mix in the northwest with a chance to make some hay before the new year.

Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner traded the Sharks chance for chance and there is little doubt that this line is serious quality. Some point to Penner's move back to the line as all that was needed to get him going but the big man has been playing with far more conviction since his benching. He is where he should be in the lineup, yes, but we're seeing the consistency now. Meanwhile Hemsky has arrived, of course, and Horcoff has shaken off his lousy start so that his numbers are starting to get closer to the PPG level and hopefully soon we will hear an end to the usual bitching about our first line centre.

The pipeline from Springfield continues to flow as Brule joined Shremp, Reddox and Sestito as guys who have come up so far this season. Schremp struggled Saturday night a little but fact is that if and Brule can show some sustain then when Nilsson and Gagner and Pisani return this team is going to have some nice depth up front. Some decisions will have to be made then but after years of having a lineup held together with chewing gum and twine, just barely at that, due to financial constraints or Lowe's machinations, its nice to be able to call up some kids who can do some good.

One sore spot - the nominal "checking line" got overrun on Saturday night and going forward this unit either has to improve or something will have to be done about it. Its great to see Brodziak coming around but these guys have to be better.

A few days off and then a nice stretch of games and a chance to rise in the standings. This next few weeks is either going to make me think I'm high (Oilers do really well) or wish that I was (they do not).


HBomb said...

18 of the next 24 at home.

Looking at the schedule:


16W-8L is NOT an unreasonable bar to be setting, methinks. That would leave them 29-19-2 after 50 games. That would HAVE to be in the top eight, and with authority, or so you'd think....

Swabbubba said...

Checking Line? What checking line that was a game of last shot wins. It was a pretty good game for the Sharks kind of odd they had all the pretty plays but they only scored on the ugliest plays.
The team is doing much better at the small things hits faceoffs trying to stop the second shot. Although against the Sharks I think we were only trying hard after the 5th shot. The Sharks are real... real good...oh well good thing they are Rollie's biatch.

Billy said...

I gotta hand it to the Oilers so far. I wrote them off a few weeks back, MacT seemed to have lost the room, goals werent comin easy and the goaltending wasnt super. Somehow they've fought through it and are right there with the other 3 teams. Colorado is done I think, but otherwise it will be a dogfight. Edmonton and Vancouver will by the 30 game mark have played approx half there road games, and that is huge down the stretch.
It looks like Hemsky, Horcoff and Penner should provide some good scoring, but after that line goalsbecome a problem again. It will be interestin to see what happens.

If I had to predict though, I would see the Oil missin the playoffs this year again. I dont think they can match Van, Cal or Minny when it comes down to consistency and longevity. To much youth and unproveness to last it out for 50 + more games. The games will get tighter and tighter and defense and veteran leadership will reign supreme, and the Oilers I think trail the pack in both categories.

amw said...

I would see the Oil missin the playoffs this year again

uh, where does this come from exactly? they are something like 1 point out of 8th, having played 18 of the first 26 on the road... and they just beat the best team in the league...

doritogrande said...

amw: Two points out of 8th, but also 4 points up on 15th in the West.

It's quite the race this year.

I haven't seen enough to call this a playoff team yet. Certainly not once Gagner gets back into the lineup and MacT puts the dude back on the powerplay.

Pat: Pass the stout.

Black Dog said...

the past ten days have been a lot better in terms of effort and actual results but they have a long way to go yet - except for Detroit and San Jose its a pretty dense pack still

hbomb is correct though - a very good run now is possible and it should put them in good position - they need to make it happen though

kanadienkyle said...

A little off topic, but why is the bar you speak of referred to as a "Communist bar"?

Black Dog said...

kyle - its full of Communists

Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Tito, Castro, Trotsky, Molotov, Breshnev, Ho Chi Minh

They're all there, the fuckers ;)

Actually its overrun by hipsters, beatniks, longhairs and people wearing cordouroy coats, not a drunken red faced stockbroker in sight.

So some neighbour called it the Communist bar. I guess he prefers stockbrokers talking about how big their BMWs are.

hunter1909 said...

I dunno the last time I saw stockbrokers it was at Canary Wharf about 2 months ago and none of them looked particularly the outdoor tickertape was reeling off the collapse of this outrageously bloated economic order.

I also wondered how many of them actually owned their own homes, as opposed to the ones who were eventually headed back to their parent's.

Vic Ferrari said...

Yeah, like HBomb says in the post below, now is the time to go on a run. The schedule sets up well, they seem to realize now that they'll have to work for results. If the PK can hold up, and the goaltending continues to be decent, it should bode well for this stretch.

VAN is doing it all with the percentages, and while the Hasek-like EVsave% probably has a good chance of staying in the same neighbourhood, the cracking 9.5% shooting% doesn't have a hope in hell of sustaining.

Minny is terrible at even strength, and it's not the %s, the underlying numbers are bad in the right measure (granted Gaborik has missed a bunch I think) ... and I doubt that they can maintain the crazy good special teams results.

CGY looks a bit strong right now, but Iginla hasn't been as dominant as past years, Kiprusoff has been poor on the whole, and we all know that Keenan will play Bertuzzi in the top six all year. So they can be caught too.

And if Sakic comes back healthy and some of their young players start finding traction ... they could easily go on a roll. And they have the cash and space to add an impact player if they can find one.

The NW is anybody's right now. And there are going to be a dozen or so teams in the Western playoff mix well into March this year, I suspect.

kanadienkyle said...

Oh man, those dirty Commies and hippies. Sounds like a place I would run into my in-laws.

Black Dog said...

Not many of those in ND I would suspect.

Maybe back to the woods types.