Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Sunday afternoon and we're playing a team from Guelph in an old arena in Parkdale. Its Exclaim hockey so music blares during stoppages and they have a P.A. announcer.
Attendance has been spotty so far this season and again we have eight skaters out. Poor greying bastards. One of our vets has three kids, just like me. Both of our families are here, they equal Capsule in numbers.
But for once the opponent looked less than imposing.
And so this was the case. Their goaltender was quite good. They had a couple of big defencemen who excelled at the last minute lunge or just getting enough of you to throw you off. And they collapsed into the slot so that it was difficult to get shit going down low.
But overall it was a breeze, a rare event for us. They scored on their first shift on a classic giveaway by one of our Dman and then it was all ours. Three goals in about three minutes and then we were on cruise for the rest of the game, a nice Sunday afternoon lazy skate. They weren't good enough to push us at all, we were too old/nice/hungover to run the score up.
Midway through the second the puck bounced past me into the neutral zone and as it trickled past the redline I charged after it, what passes for charging by me anyhow. And their Dman made that fatal athletic mistake, the hesitation. Like the centre fielder who takes a couple of steps forward only to see the ball soar over his head or the defensive back who takes too long to turn with the receiver blowing by him, the defenceman facing me stood still for a second, unsure of himself. He then compounded his mistake by stepping forward. It was too late because now I was moving and I chipped the puck past him and poured into their zone.
When I imagine myself scoring the big goal its always charging down the side and then cutting to the net hard, beating the goalie from right in close.
And here it was.
I scooped up the puck in the faceoff circle and drove the net, nobody near me, and, drawing the puck to my backhand, took the goalie with me across the crease, no thoughts, no hesitations, a flex of the stick, faking upstairs, where that came from I'll never know, waiting waiting, waiting and he's flailing, sliding, done and I softly, easily, sweetly, push the puck into the side of the net left wide open by his commitment.
And even though a nothing game and a nothing goal, the slightest fist pump, barely noticeable, for the nicest goal I will ever score, my teammates grinning as they congratulate me.
I'm good until Easter now.
Early returns on the Oilers suggest good news and bad news, as expected in most cases.
Two games in the effort and commitment has been there. A good number of goals scored from close in, a little more grit, as they say.
Goal scoring seems like it may not be a problem. Considering that Hemsky and Horcoff have done little, Souray has not scored and Visnovsky is easing his way back, seven goals over two games is decent output I would say.
Good starts for a couple of important guys for this club, Gagner and Penner. Penner driving the net on Turco is the type of play I remember about him from when he burst onto the scene in the spring of 2006. That and his demolition of Regehr give one hope. I'll believe it if he is still interested, say, at Christmas, but he has been a new player right from the beginning of camp.
A lot more physical play across the board. Stortini has shown the way, Souray's 'fight' was phenomenal and Jacques and Stone have been helpful there.
Smid has looked good. If he has turned the corner then they'll move a Dman.
O'Sullivan is an NHL player and a quality one, imo. He's a work in progress but he can play, that OT setup to Gilbert last night was a thing of beauty. He's a guy who I think can and will score in bunches, if only he would shoot a little more.
On the flip side Khabibulin hasn't looked like he's worth the money yet but he has calm feet as LT would say. If he remains healthy I think he'll hold up his end of the bargain this year and provide good goaltending. There's that optimism. Can't help myself.
The PK still stinks and Traktor brought up a nice point in a thread the other night, one has to look at the D as part of the problem here. Staios has never been much hell as a PK man and he's not getting any better.
Speaking of Staios one has to believe that he will get the Gator treatment next summer, if there is such a thing. Guy leaves it all out there and should be admired for that. Problem is I think he has left it all out there. Moreau too.
The rubadubs or scrubs or whatever you want to call them aren't hiding much, especially Jacques, who looks like a deer in the headlights. Again. And Stone is effective when he gets there, problem is he is rarely getting there. So with Pisani and Moreau and Pouliot out I'd have to think that the problem remains the same for these guys. Not enough quality up front. Not enough spots to hide guys. But we knew that already, didn't we?
Oh well, we will see after all. Its nice to have hockey again and at the very least this club will be competitive. A win is a win and when its over Dallas its that much better. A good showing against Calgary too. They are playing with heart and they are skating and after last year's dismal showing I will take that, thank you very much.
Still a million miles to go but its been a fun start.
Posted by Black Dog at 5:00 PM