Monday, April 18, 2016

An Edmonton Oilers' Fan's Guide to 'Playoff Hockey' In The Patrick Division!



 A decade.

 Ten years.

 Isn't that amazing? Talk about a garbage franchise.

 Anyhow, in the spring there is a thing called 'playoff hockey' in which good hockey teams who play in the National Hockey League play for a trophy called the Stanley Cup. The fun thing about this tournament is that most of the teams are really good and don't play hockey like the Edmonton Oilers.

 I'm serious.

 The bad thing is that after watching a playoff series you realize that Edmonton has miles and miles to go before they can compete. But it has only been a decade so what's the rush right?

 Anyways as a neutral observer, WHO SHOULD YOU CHEER FOR IN THE STANLEY CUP HOCKEY TOURNAMENT TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP?

 As a lapsed Chicago fan (nice timing weiner, then again maybe it's me :( ) I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Hawks plus my old man and the boy are Chicago fans plus Marian Hossa so I always cheer for Chicago. This year even though you can't say Blues without saying lose it looks like it may be an early exit so I may have to find someone else to pull for.

Here are my criteria and methodology *drinks* !!!

1/ Ex Oiler factor. Although according to many Oiler fans and media and management itself anyone moved from the Oilers is hot garbage interestingly enough many playoff teams have players on them who were not good enough to play for the Edmonton Oilers and yet are good enough to play on teams who venture where the Edmonton Oilers have not been for a decade. It's a real head scratcher.

 For the most part I like ex Oilers because, well, mostly because like Andy Dufresne they crawled through a river of shit and survived. Look at the Oiler rosters over the past decade. Franchise is a career killer.

 So for example when Anaheim won I didn't raise a glass to CFP I was pretty happy to see Todd Marchant carry the Cup around, wait I think Grant Ledyard just fell down again.

2/ Guys who have never won and the likeability factor. This can cross over with the ex Oiler deal but it's a big one.

 Hilariously there still exists that school of thought out there that says if you have not won a Cup then you are, well, basically you are a loser. Now in the old days if you were a star player you basically won a Cup at some point. Then expansion came and it began to get harder and harder and now there are thirty teams and probably, what, half of them have a true superstar on them? Go from team to team and man there are a lot of great players who are probably not going to win the Stanley Cup. It's too hard now. And if they do well they will probably be like Pronger or Modano or Leetch or maybe Crosby and they will won one or maybe they will be like Bourque or Doug Weight and win one in the twilight of their careers. At least contribute though, don't be Denis Savard in a suit :(

 In any case seriously though go down the list - the Sedins, Thornton, Marleau, Iginla, Doan, lol just kidding he's garbage, Ovechkin, Benn, Price, Subban, Karlsson, etc etc etc. A few of these guys are going to do it, especially with the Hawks and Kings looking like (qualifier!) they are starting to wane. But there are only so many Cups to go around and has been proven even with parity there are teams that will win multiple championships. So yeah cheer for that old guy so that dummies like Glenn Healy will recognize his character and greatness.

 All kidding aside though fuck Glenn Healy and what he thinks.

 Anyhow whenever the Cup gets raised and they begin to pass it around I always get happy for the oldtimers and the characters and enjoy their reaction.

3/ The franchise. Does anyone in the town give a shit? Have they won, ever? Do they have a storied history? Have they been cursed (and by cursed I mean the only type of curse, that of bad management)? Have the fans SUFFERED?

 And let's make it clear, most fans know nothing of suffering. Oiler fans, we think we have it bad, but Edmonton was home to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, team in history just over twenty five years ago. And we were in the Final in 2006!

 No, suffering is the Cubs, the Bills, yes the Leafs, the Sabres, the Canucks. Suffering was Chicago from 1961 to 2010 when a proud franchise was laid low by probably the worst owner in hockey history. Which is saying a lot but hell Ballard was only in charge for a couple of decades.

 So yeah suffering.

BTW I have a niggling idea in my head that someone, maybe Down Goes Brown, did a post like this last year. If so, let's just say imitation is the greatest form of flattery or something like that. Sorry to steal your idea Sean, if I have, everything is jumbly now.

Here goes, we will start with the east:

Washington

ex Oiler factor - 3 - Jason Chimera was a guy who just kind of got discarded for nothing, sort of setting the stage for the decade to come. Chimera isn't a sexy guy, well maybe he is to Mrs Chimera, but he scored at a 14 goal a season pace 9 times in his career. Not bad (and talk about pulling a stat out of my ass!). Anyhow he was an Oiler for two years and it's not like they marched on Rexall when he was traded. Plus it was a long time ago. Not a biggie.

And then there is Taylor Chorney (!!!!). Chorney's claim to fame as an Oiler was 'The shift' with Jason Strudwick. Google it, ideally a version with Yakety Sax as the soundtrack. Chorney was basically Justin Schultz without the hype as a player. Except he could play a little D. Classic tweener. Happy (and surprised) that he is still in the league but wouldn't recognize him if he was eating beans in my kitchen.

players - 9 - I don't really know anyone who doesn't want to see Ovie raise that Cup. Well I know one guy and I'm not sure what his problem is. Ovie is awesome. Ovie is fun. Ovie raising the Cup would be fantastic. And I think he has a good shot at it. Other than that I'm pretty meh about the Caps. They're kind of bland. But Ovie!

franchise - 7 - The Caps have been around for over forty years and have one trip to the final, a series where they never had a shot. They were abysmal and then they were underachievers and then, well, they were there. Until Ovie came along the face of the franchise was Rod Langway right? I guess? Anyhow, boring, solid and nobody would miss them if they folded. But that's a lot of crap years so a Washington win would be pretty cool. Maybe they'd bring back Mike Marson for the banner raising!


Philadelphia

ex Oiler factor - 6 - Well first there is Sam Gagner, who the Oilers drafted sixth overall and then immediately applied their development philosophy which basically consisted of: rushing him to the NHL, paying him a ton of cash as soon as they could, made sure he was completely entitled by never punishing his repeated errors (mostly in the defensive zone) and then selling him off for pennies on the dollar and wondering what went wrong. Gagner is a cerebral guy with skill, my guess is if he was drafted by guys who knew what they were doing he would be a solid 2C with a decade more ahead of him. Instead his career is hanging by a thread.

The Flyers also employ Chris Vandevelde who has just under 200 NHL games under his belt now, hanging in there as a PK and faceoff (I guess?) guy. And AND Colin MacDonald, who is down the depth chart and probably won't see a playoff game but who has also managed to get in over 100 games. So good for them!

 And there is Nick Schultz too. I thought he was done when he was in Edmonton but like every Oiler who gets sent down the road he seemed to find his game, or what passes for his game, once he left. Funny that. Schultz was the guy they traded for because they liked the cut of his jib at the WJC or some such bullshit from a decade before. FOLKS YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP!!!

players - 5 - The Flyers have a few guys who seem likeable, like Voracek (read Joyce's book on the draft), Simmonds and Giroux, at least when he isn't playing grab ass with the Guarda. They don't really have any guy who you would LOVE to see win the Cup though. I won't get shivers if Giroux raises the Cup and then turns and says UMBY TAKE IT FOR A SKATE or whatever they call RJ Umberger.

franchise - 6 - the Flyers have the history and it's a long and storied one and they haven't won in a long time, though they've usually had good teams and have been back to the finals numerous times. And they are not really the team everyone used to hate (nobody is anymore, the NHL has vanillified everyone :( ) But while they haven't won in a while I just can't get too excited about them winning. They're often in the mix, they have tons of money and if they aren't as dumb as they were under Holmgren they will likely be back soon.

Pittsburgh

ex Oiler factor - 0 - good riddance Justin Schultz (although to be fair you can look at the Gagner development track and they did the exact same thing the dummies.) Wound is too fresh though, it hasn't even scabbed over yet

players - 4 - I like Sid, I really do. And I would like to see him and Malkin (and Phil!) go far just to shut up the people who talk about 'character and leadership' Put Sid on the Hawks instead of Toews and they win three Cups and probably they beat the Kings in 2014 too. And I love Toews. But other than Kessel the older guys have all won before and none of the younger guys interests me, which will alleviate some of Jenn's concerns I am sure.

franchise - 4 - I like the Pens and I would prefer them winning to a lot of these Johnny come latelys but they did win just seven years ago. And they won twice in the 90s. And they have had three of the greatest players of all time suit up for them in Lemieux, Jagr and Crosby. So ... no.

Rags

ex Oiler factor - 0 - they have none unless you include Sather and I do not

players - 6- Lundqvist winning would be great and I have a real soft spot for Domenic Moore. Other than that meh but those are two guys I would love to see win it all.

franchise - 5 - original six always counts for something but the Rangers won in '94 in dramatic fashion and they get docked for their spending habits at the turn of the century. I wouldn't hate them winning but I don't need to see them win again any time soon

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This methodology is kind of flawed if I give equal value to the ex Oiler thing and so I give the players and franchise ratings a double value. When I hit ex Oilers I love the player ratings will jump anyhow. So so far:

Washington - 35
Philadelphia - 28
New York - 22
Pittsburgh - 16

The funny thing is that I want Pittsburgh to beat the Rangers but if you were to ask me which one I would prefer to win the Cup I would say New York. Isn't the brain a wonderful thing? ISN'T IT!?!?!?

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