Tuesday, February 07, 2012


I've been watching this new HBO show, Luck, and I highly recommend it. Its by the fellow who did Deadwood and as soon as I saw that I figured it would be a gooder and it has not been disappointing one bit two episodes in. Just absolutely fantastic.

If you were to go back over the years and read this blog and others on this corner of the internet you would find that luck is a recurring theme. I, and we, talk about it a lot. I talk about it when I am going on my rambles about life, how a chance occurence literally led me to where I am today, and how a sudden turn for the worse can bring it all crashing down. You can control chance to a degree. If you drive carefully and, in my case, rarely, you are less likely to end up in a bad car accident but all it takes is one patch of black ice, one moment of indecision, one 'other guy' who is drunk or reckless, to end everything in a moment.

Sorry for the dramatic example but its one that immediately springs to mind. Now go hug your kids and have sex with your significant other. ;)

I have had a strange couple of days. On Sunday morning I hit the ice with Capsule. Its been a bit of a rotten year for us. We've sunk to last place and while we are competitive it appears relegation looms. Not enough good players and our slowing down with age is taking its toll. Ironically I've had my best year in a long time. I'm fit and replacing my old beater skates with a decent pair has made a big difference, which pisses me off a bit, and with my legs going I've relied on my wits and the results have been good. I've scored a bit and set up quite a few, which is more my game anyway, and I don't leave anything when I'm out there. Overall I've been really happy with my game. Would trade some of that for some wins though.

So its late in the game and I hop over the boards for my last shift and in the ebb and flow of the game the puck ends up in the opposite corner in our end. We have a Dman and he's a fine fellow but lord he has a ten cent head and so for some reason he goes for a wander Bryan McCabe style over in that general direction and his man is all alone in the high slot. And they come out of the scrum with the puck. I'm already sliding down from the point because I see the danger and so when the puck gets to him I'm moving quickly and on top of him and he doesn't know it so when he takes a couple of more strides to get right in there I lean into him slightly and knock the puck into the corner. And as I do my right leg, the one on the inside of him, gives a bit of a wobble for a lack of a better word, in other words it kind of waves out to the right, like a slight tree in a strong breeze and my knee kind of bends gently with it.

There was no pop, no sudden shooting pain and I turned easily and continued my shift but as I headed to the bench at the whistle it suddenly began to hurt like a bastard. The game ended a minute later and I had to be helped off the ice. Couldn't put any weight on it unless I arched my foot so I was standing on my toes.

Got changed and showered and home alright and as Sunday went on it wavered from good to bad and while I could get around it was with discomfort and sometimes, pain. And yeah I was worried. Being a one legged man in a house with stairs and with three kids, not so good.

Yesterday was not too bad, I kept off of it and today it looks like I'm homefree, there's a bit of a twinge but it looks like rest will do the trick. Which is a good thing but damn it was a scary moment. Looked like, as Taylor Hall said after his scare, that I had some bad luck but it could have been much worse.


And then to top it all off I was checking in on Twitter yesterday afternoon when Oilogosphere regular 'dawgbone' tweeted that he had an extra ticket for last night's Oilers/Leafs game. On nine out of ten Mondays I would have been unable to make it due to Jenn's work but this happened to be the one and once I made the arrangements I let Derek know that I could make it and so I was very lucky and got to see a pretty entertaining game in good company.

I see a lot of Leafs' hockey and so I figured we would see a few goals - the Leafs are a decent team and with Reimer in net they can be quite good. They've ironed out their PK (I heard, I am sure, that they actually were 100% on the PK in January and despite that still 30th in the league. I may have misheard that? Anyone?) and they can score and they have depth up front and on the back end that the Oilers could only dream about and last night showed exactly that. Say what you will about Kessel and Lupul but they can play some and I might take Grabovski and Kulemin over them. So there you go.

The problem for the Oilers for years has been the fact that they only have a handful of players who can handle the other club's better players and this was on full display on Monday. It didn't help that Gilbert has just returned from injury and that Whitney is not 100% either nor did it help when Ted's injury forced Kreuger to play a fourth liner on his third line, effectively hogtying it. It also didn't help that Kreuger, on a couple of occasions, chose to run the fourth line out against either Kessel or Grabovski.

The results in those cases were as to be expected except for one shift where Lander had a decent chance against the Kessel line.

The good news? There was some. The Eberle line was excellent for the most part. Hall panicked on the Lupul goal and threw it up the middle of the ice (he is a bit of a turnover machine actually, although he will figure it out I think). Eberle, on the other hand? Fantastic. No news here but most impressive to me is his work along the boards and in the corners. He invariably comes away with the puck despite giving away size in nearly every case.

Derek and I were talking about the 10-20-28 line's offensive struggles and then of course they got one. I liked that line a lot. They had the better of the play for the most part and if they can chip in a goal here and there then the Oilers might have something. Belanger skated well and I think a lot of his struggles have been due to an injury. He looked good. Horcoff had a strong game but you could see where his confidence is when he stole the puck and got right in on Reimer on his backhand and then inexplicably dished it to the point.

The Ted line also scored one, we had the perfect view for it, the Smyth goal, but the line looked disjointed. Hemsky, I thought, had a good game and it was funny to hear the Leaf fans rave about him when so many Oiler fans want to run him out of town. Oh well. Anyhow its clear that the club lacks depth up front still. Ideally you'd run 10/94/28 as a line and then have 89 or 93 centre 83 and another quality winger but with Hemsky out the door it forces 94 and 10 to play more minutes than they can handle. I guess Omark will get his chance?

On the blue well you saw the game. Barker was as bad as he looked on the TV. Just fucking garbage and while you can't judge a player on one game good (8 points!) or bad, it was just more of what we have seen all year. Can't skate and a ten cent head. Poor Tom Gilbert, saddled with this clown. Interested to see if Sutton draws in for him, you have to think so, and if not, well, I just don't get it.

Whitney is a sublime passer, first fo all, my God. As for his mobility there were a couple of times where I thought he was in trouble but his acceleration and straight ahead speed were fine, its the tight pivots and turns that gave him trouble.

And you could see the difference between Gilbert and a lesser guy in the second when someone beat him outside, can't remember who it was, and Tom turned quickly and managed to catch the guy enough to knock the puck away just as he cut to the net. Big time play.

And Smid? A man. Wow was he ever good. Skated the puck out under pressure a number of times. Tight turns and spins behind the net and in the corner with a man on. A little hesitation move he used at least twice that I saw, opening up a lane for a nice headman pass. He's just fantastic and proof that you have to be careful of giving up on those young Dman. Keep that in mind when looking at Petry, who can skate for miles. Kid is going to be a player.

The last time I saw this club was two years ago and it was maybe the worst game I have ever seen live, wow they were bad. They've come a long way. Sadly they have a long way to go still.


Olivier said...

Aaaah, size in the corners… That reminds me of a comment made by Cammalleri (who's pretty small) about Desharnais (a midget) and himself: "This is not Basketball". His point was, when you are small, if you have strength, being closer to the ice and the puck can be an advantage.

If you guys happen to catch a Habs game (perish the tought, I know), watch Desharnais when he works behind the opposition's net and in the corners: he just crouches and close in on his guy, meaning he ends up working between the guy's knees :). Then, it's about sharp turns and stick handling.

Caught a few glimpses of the Oilers this year; that Eberle fella is out there. Kinda reminds me Claude Giroux.

Black Dog said...

Olivier - first time I have seen him live and there is no substitute, his balance and lower body strength is unbelievable. Another guy who was like that, though not the player of course, was Thoresen. And Omark is another as well.

Takes away the puck and spins off the guy like nothing. Gagner, on the other hand, not so much ...

mattwatt said...

Been to two games this year, and both times walked away saying to myself "Eff is Eberle good." His hands is what strikes me everytime, just so damn silky smooth. Feel that he will be better than Hall. Still, both are damn nice to watch.

As for RNH, I think he will be the best of the bunch. Uncanny ability to settle down the puck and make the right play, see the ice so damn well, and use his stick on the opposition like very few I have seen. Once the strength comes, and it will in a few years, watch out.

On defense, difference between Barker and the rest of the corps is drastic. In Detroit game their was one time Petry, like Gilbert in the TO game, was out of position bad on a defender but get close to the player, knocked the puck off the opposition stick and made a play. Barker in those same situations is 2 strides behind and never takes the right angle. Same play, way different results.

With Whitney, saw the same thing. Sublime in making the right play, just a bit slow still. Feel though that over time, if he continues improving, will be at least 90% of what he was. Which is a pretty good defenseman if you ask me.

As for defense, who do you role with next year. To me at least, a defense corps of:

Whitney - Smid
Petry - X
Whitney - X

Is not so bad. Gives the kids one more year to work on their chops, decent depth their (Whitney rotates between top 4 and bottom), and feel that with Oilers prospect depth a top-four can be found.

Only issue is asking Tambo to find said players. Guy is horrific when it comes to finding meaningful NHL veterans.

At that is why this team is out of the playoffs again.