Monday, March 02, 2009

The Biggest Must Win Game Ever (Until Tuesday)

I don't care what they say - March is the cruelest month. We've had a couple of thaws and February is gone and when March comes I always always think that spring is here. Man am I dumb.

Twenty six below today, with the wind mind you, but its still cold.

Fuck's sakes. So here's some Hip and a picture of the lovely Rachel McAdams to remind us of what's to come. The Hip always remind me of the summer. A few years ago, it was early May, one of the first really hot days of the year, I dropped by the Dora Keogh after work for a couple of quick pints and saw Gord Downie holding court. He'd had a few, probably out in the hot sun all afternoon. The bastard. ;)

It will be here before we know it, right? It had better be.

The late great Jim Shakey Hunt was a columnist and sportscaster here in Toronto for many years. He cohosted Primetime Sports with McCown in the early nineties and afterwards was a regular guest.

Hunt was a character, an interesting and funny guy with a million stories, the type of guy who enjoyed life. He would call bullshit when he saw or heard it and when he passed a while back it made me a little bit sad. He was the exact opposite of the "commentators" who we are stuck with today, most of them ex athletes, unwilling or unable to delve any deeper then the conventional wisdom, dull, duller and dullest.

Hunt would write a column every Tuesday for the local Sun, one of the few things worth reading in that rag, and would always start it off with "Some Tuesday morning musings on some of the things that amuse, confuse and even amaze a fellow in the wonderful world of fun and games"

So in that vein a few quick notes on a stupidly bitter cold March Monday.


The Oilers pull out a win in the latest 'Must Win Biggest Game of the Season' and get ready for another tomorrow. Badly outchanced by Wild on Jack Lemaire in the third they still got the win and a few things stood out.

Say what you will about Powder but the kid is going to have an NHL career. Likely he will be Pisani Junior and that's okay, isn't it? Two assists, including a beauty on the gamewinner, a pile of icetime and, in case you did not notice, a willingness to go hard into the hard places to go, especially the front of the net. There is a lot to like about the kid. A role player, sure, but one who can do some nice things.

Marc Pouliot has my vote as the guy most likely to go on to a productive NHL career elsewhere. He is frustrating because he had a terrific effort Saturday night and probably next week he will be in the pressbox again, likely deservedly so, but at some point the light is going to go on. Probably in Columbus, Detroit, Jersey, St. Louis or Minnesota if he can find his way to any of those places he will find a coach who can put him into a position to succeed and he will.

I like Zach Stortini.

I am going to miss Roloson when he's done although I bet he is back next year. He's a total cock, I think, but the guy is such a competitor and has given the Oilers the best goaltending they have had since the early days of Tommy Salo, what we older types like to call 'The Salo Days'. I'll never forget the run of '06 when some interviewer asked him what it was like to have success after all of these years of scrabbling (I'm paraphrasing but that was the jist). If the camera had been off Roli would have choked the guy I am sure but he just fixed him with an icy glare and began to rhyme off his accomplishments. If looks could kill buddy would have left in a basket.

Laddy Smid has officially turned the corner I think we can say. In that gong show of a third period he was one of the few Oilers who showed any poise in his own end. The kid has arrived. Watch them trade him now, the dummies.

What drives me crazy sometimes was on full display over the weekend and both times it related to Captain Stick Penalty. On Saturday night Ron MacLean mentioned Matt Fenwick and Tyler Dellow, which was very cool, and then asked Milbury and Hrudey about Ty's post about the last few minutes of the BJs game. First of all kudos to MacLean (if you read Cherry's latest collection of stories you come away with the impression that MacLean is a very very cool guy) but the reply from Hrudey was so disappointing as he defended the move, essentially because Moreau and Pisani had been working hard all game and deserved to be out there.

Last time I checked this wasn't atom hockey. Just an unbelievably blinkered, bland comment - Hrudey has been getting away from what he used to do so well, giving intelligent thoughtful answers to questions. As for Milbury well I think he has found his calling. Sometimes he is over the top but he's a smart guy, first of all, and calls them as he sees them. Saying that he loved Moreau and Pisani as players he still thought the move was not very smart seeing as the idea of the game is TO WIN and it might be a better idea to have a couple of guys who can score out there then a couple of well intentioned pluggers.

The second instance was a column by Dan Barnes. Barnes I generally like but his position on Moreau and his tendency to take ridiculous penalties was, well, about as smart as repeatedly taking stick penalties two hundred feet from your own net. If it was Brodziak, Barnes argued, then repeatedly taking penalties like Moreau would result in a quick trip to the pressbox, but because he is a veteran Moreau has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Now once again I thought the object of this whole exercise is to win and I am less amused then confused as to how Brodziak, because he is a youngster, might be punished but Moreau can escape censure for something that happens over and over and over again and does hurt the team. Its funny because on one side of this issue you have Barnes and MacTavish and Moreau and guys like Marc Crawford who spent all of Saturday night gushing about Moreau and Don Cherry and probably guys like Terry Jones and Kevin Lowe and Jason Gregor. You know - aggressive penalties are easier to kill, right.

We had a game Saturday night and I got slew footed and it just so happened that the guy who did it to me turned right around and dumped the puck into our zone. What I should have done when he skated by me was crosschecked him in the throat but I've calmed with age and so I just knocked him into the boards. Nice and aggressive. I skated over to the box and then came out thirty seconds later as they fired one into our net. Maybe my teammates felt it wasn't aggressive enough although they did feel it was warranted when we dicussed it after the game. Maybe they're just not working hard enough to kill off my penalties.

And on the other side of the coin, well, who is there? I would suspect Ron Wilson who sat Jason Blake earlier this season although he was a veteran player. And maybe Brian Burke who called out other Leaf veterans publically for mediocre play. And Robin Brownlee who remarked on it online. And then just a bunch of us pajama clad threesome having bloggers.

I just don't get what I am missing here. Taking bad penalties repeatedly is one of the things drilled out of you at an early age as a hockey player. We're not talking about the odd overexuberant elbow here. We're talking about a pattern. Oh well.

Having said all of that I'm glad that it sounds like Moreau is ok. I'm no ophthamologist although I work in the industry but getting sent home the next day is probably a good sign unless they just popped that sucker out and replaced it with a marble. Maybe they could give him the Sammy Davis Jr. look. Anyways he's probably fine and that's great news, mostly to assuage my guilt at cracking wise about it (before I knew how serious it was btw - I'm not that big of a dick). When he first went down I figured he had a fatal hemmorhage upon realizing that he hadn't taken a penalty all game.

Oh well, best wishes Ethan. Get well soon.

And finally what can be said about Dustin Penner? Does he go this summer? Well if MacT goes maybe he sticks around but getting bumped to the fourth line repeatedly makes me think that if the coach stays he's a goner and even if the coach goes he might follow him out the door as well. It certainly doesn't bode well for you when you get dropped off the top line for someone half your size and age, especially in The Biggest MUST Win Game Ever Played (Until Tuesday).

If you get a chance check out my contribution to The Score's trade deadline coverage. Its already out of date as one of the guys I figured to be a target looks to be on the move elsewhere and the Blues and Preds' sudden surge takes a couple of other guys out of the mix as well, probably. Still its fun to see the name up there in lights. ;)


HBomb said...

Pat, you managed to do the impossible - increase my respect level for you.

I was not aware that you are also a fan of "Das Hip". Believe it or not, I've seen those guys in concert no less than six times.

July 2002 - Stage 13, outdoor festival show with about 50,000 other people out in Camrose.

September 2002 - Jubilee Auditorium, theatre show (3500 seat auditorium, they're back there this fall for another three shows) - ninth row, kick-ass seats thanks to mom's "connections" as assistant facility manager of the place.

June 2004 - New City Suburbs, club show, 200 people in attendance MAX, win to get in only. I had strep throat, but it didn't matter, I think I saw God that night.

November 2004 - Rexall Place. Got backstage and met every member of the band, save Gord Downie (also in this exclusive gathering were "Gator", "Chopper", "Brew", "Steady Steve", and a quite drunk Marty Reasoner, IIRC....

October 2006 - U of C, their equivalent of the Mirer Horowitz at the U of A. 1000 or so person venue. Very cool.

January 2007 - back at Rexall place.

I must say, they've never disappointed as a live act, at least from my perspective. The tour this year will be something else - it will be "An Evening With the Hip" format, no opening act, two sets of music.

Good Muckin' Tonite said...

New Hip coming out in a couple months. First single streamed on their site.

Roli interviewer in '06 had to have been Scott Oake. Don't think I've ever heard him start an interview with a positive.

Milbury's comments Sat night were bang on. He seems to be a guy who likes players to be given specific roles like Tortorella. Moreau and Pisani shouldn't be in the role of late-in-the-game cluth goal scorer. Kudos to Ty for pointing that out. Choices like this make me start swinging my blame vote back MacT's way. The pendulum doesn't stop on either side anymore.

Do you have a library of unbelievable Rachel MacAdam pics? Nice choice as always!

Lord Bob said...

November 2004 - Rexall Place. Got backstage and met every member of the band, save Gord Downie (also in this exclusive gathering were "Gator", "Chopper", "Brew", "Steady Steve", and a quite drunk Marty Reasoner, IIRC....

I was at that show too, actually, HBomb, so I can clear up why Downie wasn't there. He was backstage and away from everyone else when Moreau pounded him into a brick wall from behind two hundred feet from the microphone.

Chopper had to do six months in remand for that little stunt, but luckily it was an aggressive penalty so it was easy time.

Black Dog said...

Beautiful LB.

I've seen them four times HBomb and I'm actually working on a post about one of those experiences now; its a biggie so hopefully will have it out in a while.

Love the Hip. Always amazing in concert. Always. What a great band.

Black Dog said...

GMT - Yeah, Nolan is another one who puts guys into specific roles that I know of.

For that matter I would think most coaches do. MacT's comment on Pouliot not finding a role really burns my ass when I think about it.

Give him a role!

Probably was Oake, you're right.

What can I say about Rachel McAdam? Hubba hubba.

Swabbubba said...

The only time I actually seen the Hip was in a bar in Kingston back in the day. I remember coming back to the base in Cold Lake saying I have seen a band that was going to be huge.
I have had tickets for other concerts just missed them. U know they ain't no Helix saw them at bar in Trenton on the way to basic training.
Ethan jeebus he got hooking for a dumbass stepping on his skate. I was figuring he was going to be a Pirate in his next career.
Has the score with Tootoo been settled?
Go Oilers.
In the spirit of giving I am all for contributing to a Barry Trotz Neck Implant.. how does the dude shoulder check?
Trade deadline deal.... I say we stand pat unless something real good comes down the pipeline

HBomb said...

Good lord, 8th row, dead center for the September 14th show at the Jubilee.

I'm looking forward to once again basking in the glow of the Glory of Gord....