Monday, February 25, 2013
So after a season where we top teams generally feasted on the lower ones suddenly we might see an upset or two. Maybe not but the possibility is there.
The boy started his own playoffs this weekend on a roll, something like six wins in a row, and, like Capsule, they are in a division where the difference between top and bottom is a marked one. They and one other team have run roughshod over the bottom two teams and it seemed, going into Saturday, that after a round robin, it will be these two who play for the championship in a month.
Except ... except after a couple of shifts on Saturday morning it was the good guys ;) who were hemmed in their own end and it was our goalie, who has struggled mightily for a good part of the year, who was forced to make a few big saves (at this level they are all big saves) as his mates tried to get untracked. They did just this, finally, scoring one near the end of the first and then another early in the second and it seemed like they were off to the races and then the opposition scored one and then almost added another on a wraparound. We potted another and they answered back and then with about ten minutes left two more went in for us and it looked like we were home and cooled.
But they inched back to within two and our goalie made a couple more nice saves and it wasn't until we added an empty netter at the buzzer when everybody exhaled.
And as we left the rink the other patsy was up by one already.
The good news in all of this is the boy's team is in the driver's seat, a win on this coming Saturday and they are through to the final and you could tell in their faces and the loud chatter in the room and the raised arms after the win that they were excited. And best of all the little goalie who got extra work at practice last weekend rebounded from a tough stretch with maybe his best game of the year. His grin was a mile wide and he got mobbed at game's end.
As for the boy well he's come a long way my friends, from being a cipher out there to being a solid worker bee, the type that every team can use. He was in the mix when the puck was on his wing, clearing the zone, keeping it in the other team's end, mucking it up in the corners, stopping one of their quality guys making a rush. It was his best game yet and one highlight was when he was first man back after the puck had skittered below our goalline and one of their quality little guys had picked it up and was moving to take it out front. The boy got between him and the net and they both went down and the chance was neutralized.
Except ... except after the game I was complimenting him on a game well played and he said to me
Did you see when number five had the puck and I was the only guy between him and the net and I bodychecked him?
I ... well for once I was speechless. From my vantage point (the length of the rink) he had tripped and fallen into him but when I talked to the coach he confirmed that when he had come off of the ice after that shift he had proudly told him that he had checked that guy.
And he too was speechless, the conflict being between the fact that there is no contact, therefore its wrong, the fact that its playoffs, so in a way anything goes and of course nobody was hurt, they're so little and finally the fact that the team runt, my son, the budding engineer and scientist, who sits quietly and smiles at the world going by, had laid a guy out on purpose.
A lot of talk about what the Oilers need as they get ready to hit the road, starting tonight. They're going to rue a lot of those missed chances over the past few weeks because it really comes down to that. They've had a few stinkers but this club is a better one than the garbage we've watched the last few years. The hockey gods haven't been on their side and they are still right there, the problem is they have this trip staring at them now and by the end of it the season could be done. Me, I think they muddle through and when its over they are still hanging around.
A lot of talk about what they need. They have the core guys but the team they play tonight is a perfect example of the fact that you need more than the elite picks. When they won the Cup they had Byfuglien and Versteeg and Hjamarsson and Bolland and Ladd and Brouwer and yeah you get the picture. And now those guys are all gone except for the Swede on D but the latest cohort has arrived - Stallberg and Shaw and Saad and Kruger and Frolik and Leddy. And suddenly they're the class of the league again. Maybe the Oilers have a couple of these guys (Paajarvi and Hartikainen) already and maybe they sign or trade for another couple but yeah they have a way to go.
I'll tell you what they need. A young Ryan Smyth. Imagine him playing with RNH and Eberle and Hall with Gagner and Hemsky. Or vice versa. A guy to retrieve those pucks and crash the net and bang in those rebounds. That's the guy they need.
And after that they need a young Shawn Horcoff.
So basically a time machine. They need to invent a time machine and they'll be set.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:12 PM