Thursday, October 28, 2010

Season Predictions - Who Is Going To Win That Gold?


I wrote these up a couple of weeks ago whilst I was on jury duty, saving our fragile flower of democracy from the barbarian hordes.
Plus ... Heather Moyse!

As a general rule when it comes to this type of thing I really think its a bit of a mug's game although maybe that's me just saying that if my picks are shitty then I really didn't care too much so what. Generally I do well at this type of thing. In the playoffs I generally pick around eleven of fifteen series correctly, which is pretty decent I think, and in the regular season I usually have a pretty good handle on, if not the order of finish, then the general whereabouts of where teams place. I guess because I follow the Oilers my Western picks tend to be more accurate. Last season I got seven of the Campbell playoff teams right but only four out east. Of course it could just be luck. Maybe I should write the names on cards and toss them down the stairs, the same way as I do my annual employee reviews. Guy who goes the fewest stairs gets fired. No ambition.

I don't do any indepth analysis at all and I can't say I know enough about many of these teams, as far as I am concerned there are too many of them anyhow but that may just be the cranky old guy in me talking. Give me a sixteen to twenty team league and I'd be happy and yes Gary Bettman can kiss my arse. Worst commissioner ever. So don't ask me who plays in Atlanta because I'm liable to say Eric Vail. Other than all of the poor Blackhawks who got exiled there I haven't a clue.

Now of course injuries can derail a club's season pretty quickly but I really don't look to far into that except when its an obvious factor (note what I say about the Rangers). I've added short comments in italics afterwards - we're only a tenth of the way into the season but there have been plenty of surprises. A long long way to go but for example the Devils have gone a long way towards fucking themselves good and hard. Its early but they've dug themselves a decent hole. Too bad. ;)

Anyhow I get a kick looking at these after the fact but that's probably because I'm a bit of a schmuck.

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The Clarence Campbells

I think the West has six playoff shooins, barring injury, and then its mostly a crapshoot.

San Jose continues to be this cluster’s answer to the Ottawa Senators, outstanding regular season results undermined by failure in the playoffs. As a franchise (and as individual players) they will be defined by this unless they get over the hump. Marleau and Thornton were excellent last spring but people only forget your foibles if you win the Cup. They are in a tough division and they have a couple of question marks but I expect them to roll to first place in the conference once again. Too much talent and the two headed goaltending situation look spretty good to me.

Slow start for the Sharks, three (!) points out of the division lead. Niemi has been awful and a lot of guys are carrying around awful minuses. A big Dman would help - I wonder of Doug Wilson ever regrets not trading for Pronger.

Vancouver is the sexy preseason pick this season to go all the way and its easy to see why. Chicago dismissed the Canucks’ nemesis, amongst others, and Nik Lidstrom is another year older. Adding Malholtra gives them real strength up the middle and Hamhuis and Ballard will add to an already decent D. For them, like the Sharks, their season will be defined for most fans, for better or for worse, by their spring results but with their talent and depth (and the fact that their division is shit) I expect them to get a nice seed here and perhaps even challenge for first in the conference.

An uneven start for the Canucks with Hamhuis, Ballard, Burrows and Salo (surprise!) all injured. Again they are just three points out of the conference lead despite this. They'll roll in a bit I think.

Chicago is getting written off by everyone already, actually I have seen them referred to as a playoff bubble team at least once. I don’t think so. I think their goaltending is better (Turco’s numbers were better than Niemi’s despite playing behind a weak team). They have to replace Sopel but their top four D remain untouched. And up front Brouwer scored more goals than any of the dearly departed which makes me think he is just fine stepping into the top nine permanently. They need a couple of the kids (Morin has been very good and Skille has done well too, plus Stallberg is a guy with all of the tools) and/or Fernando Pisani to step it up (Pisani has seen time with Sharp and Kane in the preseason) and if this happens then I think they will be just fine, especially with Hossa available for the entire season. I think they surprise everyone by how well they do and I expect them to be a serious contender come the spring.

A weird start for the defending champions. Campbell is back but now it looks like Hossa may be out for a few weeks which could hurt - he and Sharp have been killer. Turco has been solid after a slow start - no surprise there. Toews has been so-so and Kane hasn't an ES goal and is a minus six. Hjarmallson has taken a beating too. A mixed bag allround. Tied for most points in the west but they have played more games than anyone else. Good news for the Hawks is that guys like Kopecky (8 points), Brouwer (6) and Stallberg (3 goals) have contributed. An iffy pick for me here, it was a tossup between them and Detroit.

Detroit had such a terrible start last season and then they poured it on. Along with the teams already mentioned I think they are a legitimate Cup contender but I think they are starting to fray around the edges a bit. The next transition will be the biggest test for Holland, whose franchise has eighteen straight seasons as a legitimate contender under their belt. Imagine! I can’t think of any franchise in any sport with that type of record, which also coincides with the arrival of Nik Lidstrom in Michigan. Lidstrom lost a bit of a step last season and probably will show his age a bit more this year, which means he is probably a top ten defenceman now, rather than just the best, period. But with he and Rafalski getting near the end and guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk not really that far from there, time is running out on this group. Maltby is done and Draper and Holmstrom are probably not too far behind. The times are changing but these guys will be in the mix at least one more time.

Wings are the best team in the conference so far and once they pick up their games in hand they will be in first overall I'd bet. Maybe a little bit surprised but not really.

The Kings are on the upswing. This is the season that they move into contender status and I would believe that they want to win a round in the playoffs at least. The problem for them is that the Sharks own the division which means that they look to be slotted for the brutality that is the four/five series in the West. Too bad for the Kings who I think are a year away yet but who will make a ton of noise this season, announcing to everyone that they have arrived. They just have such a nice club, a mix of old veterans, guys in their prime and wonderful kids. They’re close. Not just there yet.

Kings have had a terrific start at six and three and maybe they are closer than I thought. Key for them is Smyth and Justin Williams staying healthy. And they're surviving missing Doughty so far too although I would guess they'd rather not have that issue for a while.

Phoenix surprised a lot of people last season and this year I think they fall back a bit. Not much but a little. Losing Michalek is going to hurt quite a bit but I never bet against a Tippett team’s ability to be competitive. They had a lot of luck last season (esp. in shootouts) and so expect a backslide but they are for real.

A few people picked the Yotes to backslide and they have. Of course its still early and interesting to note - three Bettman points. Last year this club won a lot of shootouts. They have those three points and they are tied for seventh, three points out of first. Instead they are in fourteenth.

This is where it gets iffy and you could probably slot any one of six or seven clubs. Injuries and luck are going to play a role here as none of these clubs really stand out from the rest.

Someone has to come out of the Northwest other than the Canucks, right? Right? I guess so although I’m not sure who. I guess we’ll say Calgary even though the loss of Langkow is going to hurt. Unless they implode (which is possible) they just have too many solid players at every position to ignore. It wil be tight but they will sneak in.

A brutal start for the Flames but since then they have taken off as their long list of injuries had shortened. They have a deep roster and the gambles on Tanguay and Morrison have worked out very well so far. Jokinen? Not so much. And Bouwmeester has also underwhelmed. Still, they may be better than advertised. Six and three is a nice start.

I look at the Preds and see Arnott and Hamhuis gone and I think they can’t do this but I never bet against Barry Trotz. He always gets it done with whatever he is given and he has enough talent to lift these guys into the last spot in the playoffs.

First in the conference so far. They'll come back but a fast start can get you a playoff spot. I look at their roster and have no idea - Cal O'Reilly? Barry Trotz.

St. Louis bounces back from a year where everyone expected them to rise into the cream of the conference. Still a couple of years away but the addition of Halak is going to help a lot.

Nice start for the Blues - Halak has a .929 SV% and a GAA of 1.81

Colorado had a lot of luck last season. A lot. I love Craig Anderson but to expect these guys to get on a run like they did last fall that will propel them into the playoffs again is highly unlikely. They’re going to fall back to earth a little.

Running in place over nine games and now Anderson is out. Might be a freefall if he is gone for any length of time.

They’re not your dad’s Dallas Stars, which is great, because I hated them, those bunch of fuckers. The whole old gang is gone now, Zubov and Hatcher and Modano and Turco and Lehtinen too and these guys are just another mediocre club now. They have enough up front to push them ahead of a lot of the other turtles but not much. This might be Crawford’s last year coaching, which means we can look forward to him being back on the CBC again soon.

Reasonable start for Dallas and Brad Richards has been tremendous. I don't think it will last because I hate Dallas. No other reason.

Seriously who cares now? We’re getting to those dreary teams that are really stuck in no man’s land, neither on their way up nor even rebuilding. Just boring and crappy.

Like Anaheim. The Ducks have fallen fast and hard but they still have some serious quality up front and Jonas Hiller so they should stay out of the basement. They are thin enough that if they are hit by injuries they could really plummet though.

The Ducks were terrible their first few games but Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan have all come along and Selanne can still produce on the PP. Their resurgence coincided with Tony Lydman's return. Coincidence? How the hell should I know?

I miss Wild on Jack Lemaire. Well, not really. God what a dull club that was. But they were good. Now they’re a little more exciting, I guess, but shitty. Or maybe they’re good? Don’t think so, don’t really care.

Meh.

The BJs looked like a team on the rise a couple of years back but it seems to be coming apart at the seams a little and one wonders if Howson might be in jeopardy here. He made some smart low risk bets early in his tenure but now one looks at this roster and other than Rick Nash there’s not much going on anywhere. Of course they could finish seventh what with the mess that is the bottom of this conference but I’m thinking this is about where they end up.

Columbus has had a decent start. They don't score at all but they don't give much back either. Five (soon to be six) and three isn't too bad though.

Your Edmonton Oilers. Hey if they remain injury free they could creep up a notch or two but you cannot ignore that they have a ton of kids learning on the job, their D is really quite bad and their goaltending is likely going to be poor. That’s not a good combination at all and remember they finished way up the road in last this season past. They’re going to need a lot of breaks to go their way and a few clubs to get riddled with injuries (looks like the Islanders are getting a headstart on this) just to get out of the lottery. At this point of the rebuild its probably not a bad thing if they add another blue chip prospect.

Hey there, right on the money!

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The Prince of Waleseses

The East, like the west, has a handful of contenders, a half dozen clubs who are probably safe bets to make the playoffs and then a whole whack of clubs who will fight for those last two spots. Whereas the Oilers are alone as the dregs of the west I think there are a couple of disasters out east though, maybe three.

Washington is probably the class of the conference again, helped along by the weakness of their division. For the Caps its all about the spring this year.

Creeping up the standings after a slow start. First in the conference again I'll bet.

New Jersey is the eastern version of Detroit. Always in the mix, at least in the regular season, not so much the playoffs these days. Adding Arnott and having Kovulchuk for the entire year means they are the favourites in a vicious division.

Nobody though they would be where they are so I'm not alone. John MacLean equals Wayne Cashman? Could be. They're terrible. Same number of points as Edmonton and they've played three more games.

Les Sabres did very little this past summer, again, but they will probably win their division, again, backstopped by the best goalie in the game and likely augmented by another raft of homegrown talent. There are times you expect a bit more from these guys, especially looking at their forwards who leave you wanting a bit more at times. Maybe this season they meet expectations and if they do then this team will cruise.

Bad start for les Sabres. Myers has been terrible and it appears they miss Tallinder and Lydman. The offence is there but the D looks pretty porous so far.

Pittsburgh needs some wingers but they always need wingers. I’m thinking if Staal gets healthy and they don’t get to the conference final at least then we might see Shero go in a different direction. Of course one can also say that if the hockey gods had smiled on them last spring they probably would have made their third stright final so maybe I’ll just shut my mouth. I’ll take New Jersey and the Caps in the regular season but until proven otherwise I’ll take the Pens when it really matters.

OK but not great. Other than Crosby and Malkin they're getting no offence from their forwards.

Speaking of laying in the weeds, the Flyers really pulled that off last season, just inching into the playoffs and then somehow going nearly all the way, thanks once again to CFP. Say what you will about the guy, he is the shit definitely. As usual thir goaltending is suspect (will they ever learn? Ever?) and dumping Gagne won’t help but they are so deep up front and on the blue that I suspect they will make it to the playoffs a little easier this time around. Probably don’t want the fifth seed though.

Slow start. Not a surprise, interesting to see if they get it together soon.

The Bruins should make the second season fairly easily even without Marc Savard in the lineup. Claude Julien is a terrific coach and they have the goaltending which should be enough to win a lot of two to one games.

Bruins have only played six games but have a nice start under their belt. They are really deep up front.

Everyone is up in arms about the Sens’ goaltending but it was iffy last season and they still made some noise. Gonchar is underrated defensively and they should have enough to make the playoffs. The big concern for them in injuries, Gonchar, Alfredsson and Spezza have all missed time the past couple of years. Eric Murphy is a good coach though so I expect they will muddle through.

Poor start for the Sens. Just another team now.

I was really tempted to pick the Leafs here, I think they actually have a decent shot this season, but I am going with Tampa who have added some nice pieces to an already impressive group of forwards. If they get halfway decent goaltending and defence then I think they sneak in here.

So far so good for Tampa who are tied for first in the conference. Stamkos has been ridiculous. Simon Gagne - no goals and a minus eight. huh?

Hard to believe but yeah I think the Leafs are in the mix. Their goaltending is going to be at least decent, imo and they have a deep blue. The additions of Versteeg and Armstrong will help up front and having Kessel all season is going to be big. They probably won’t score enough goals but they will be in the conversation.

So far decent for the Leafs. They haven't the goalscoring and man is Phaneuf a dummy but they have enough to be in the playoffs in this conference I think.

Carolina had an awful lot of injuries last season but they came on strong and I think they’ll be in the hunt for this last playoff spot too. Other than that I don’t have anything to say about these fuckers.

Mediocre.

Yeah I have the Habs this low and I might drop them even lower. I don’t think Price is the guy I can already see this becoming ugly fast and the season spiralling out of control. They had a lot of luck last spring plus phenomenal goaltending and Halak was the man in the regular season too. Could be bad news here.

OK so these guys are the big surprise so far. Price has been pretty good and they are in first with nothing from Gomez or Gionta.

The Rangers barely missed the playoffs last year the dummies and they’re not going to be close this season for one reason, the chances of Gaborik being healthy for two seasons in a row are just about nil.

Nailed this one. Except they are in a playoff spot now. Won't last though I think.

The Thrashers are on the cusp of dregs territory. I look at this club and I think why bother? Seriously. Playing in a market that cares very little about them, poorly run (which of course contributes to the first issue) and a cautionary tale for those fans who think that a run of top picks guarantees you success like Chicago or Pittsburgh. The Thrashers had five top two picks (!) – none are with the club anymore. What a disaster.

Fold this franchise please. Thank you.

Dale Tallon has a chance to make his name as a great GM if he can turn the Panthers around. Another franchise like Atlanta, flashes of mediocrity interrupting poor season after poor season, the best players exiled year after year, we’ll see if he can make these guys relevant. And hopefully he has someone handling his important postage this time.

Pete De Boer is getting a lot out of these guys but they have had some bad luck and bad calls against them. Likely a long season for them.

The Islanders are another club who are a cautionary tale, especially seeing as they have been getting and discarding lottery picks for what seems like decades. Their talent pool is probably shallower than the Oilers and they already have lost Streit and Okposo to injury. They are lottery bound, probably a good bet to finish last overall. Watch for Roloson to get sent to a contender come the spring.

Great start for the Islanders all things considered. They sure do score a lot of goals. They sure do give them back. Tavares has six goals, four of those are on the PP and he has a hefty minus. Oh well. And Roloson? Lights out so far.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Marliez Girlz


I'm still here!

The other day Vic's post over at IOF basically asked what folks are watching on TV these days. I think we'll see quite a few of those this winter. I almost long for the dog days of summer when it comes to Oiler talk.

As for me Boardwalk Empire is it for me these days. Steve Buschemi? Seriously buddy is the greatest. And I've always had a thing for Kelly MacDonald since she went full frontal and gave Ewen McGregor a ride in Trainspotting. That shiny little silver dress, that Scottish lilt, that pale lovely skin ...

My momma told me if you can't say anything good then you'd better not say anything at all. So, you know, the Oilers ....

I keed. Well, not really. It was a bad week for the Oilers and they stand two and four and in a week November will here and that is when the schedule gets difficult. Seriously. Check it out. October is a beauty compared to November.

Its going to be ugly. And we knew that. And later this week I'll be up north so I will be without kids and should be able to get a couple of posts out about our fine collection of, er, well, about the Oilers. Its pretty awful. It really is. Just have to suck it up and take it although my mood would be a lot better if they had not completely fucked up the past four years, if the guys who had run the franchise into the ground weren't still in charge and if the franchise itself just seems to be so, well, douchey, with frontman Pat Laforge concerned about cheerleaders and a new arena first and foremost.

Third coach in three years who can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Players have come and gone including a whole lot of useful ones. The only ones still standing ... the ones who made the mess.

Hey Mr. Katz, losing money (and I certainly do not believe this for a minute)? Here's a clue for you for starters. Make the playoffs. And you might cut off the head of this stinking fish.

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Just wanted to add my own thoughts to Shepso's take on the game between OKC and the Marlies on Saturday evening here in Toronto.

As Tyler said afterwards - 'Its always good to meet men from the internet' - and the truth is I've had some pretty good times with the gang who I have met in these parts. I remember the first time I went out (it was a night of drinking at the Cloak and Dagger with Chris Boutet from CinO), telling my wife that I was going to meet some random internet guy out for drinks, well lets just say that my wife knows that I've always been a little bit Joe Off White, you know, have my own drummer and all that, but that was when she really started to wonder a little more.

Its always been good times. I remember the first time I met noted pervert Mike Winters how we had a few pints with Tyler and then after Tyler left, well, its all a bit fuzzy now but I woke up in an alley with a killer headache and a slightly sore butthole. It was weird too because I only had a few pints and they don't hit me like that but oh well, it was still fun, except for the painful asshole thing and the niggling suspicion that I had been had. Twice at least too by the feel of it.

Have met some fine folks on the web that's for sure and Saturday night a gang of us got together at Ricoh Coliseum to check out the Oilers' farm club against the Marlies. Joining Tyler, James Mirtle and CinO alumni Chris Boutet and Mike Winters were third member of CinO David Berry, frequent logtime commenter Jeremy (littlefury) and Stephen Sheps(o) from Bringing Back The Glory as well as girlfriends, friends and the boy, who announced to me before the game that he would be cheering for the team from his city.

At which point I stood and shouted I HAVE NO SON!!

Anyways the company was good, as was to be expected. The boy ate pizza and popcorn and cotton candy and for the most part he sat quietly with no complaints, unlike all of the adults who had to sit through what was a pretty sad game. The entertainment value, the officiating, the venue, the announcer, the players. Only the prices were major league though I expect no less from MLSE. Oh and they had Marlies Girls (Marliez Girlz) so there you go Pat Laforge. Bush fucking league.


A few impressions.

Shawn Belle has all of the physical tools and no toolbox. In the AHL he can get away with bad reads and poor decisions because he is bigger and faster and stronger than everyone else but when you make the mistakes I saw him make on Saturday night you're not going to have an NHL career.

Jeff Petry got eaten alive by Kadri one on one but other than that (other than that!) he was fine. Still a ways to go of course.

Didn't notice Motin much which is a good thing for a young defenceman. The boy's interest was piqued by the fact that he was from Sweden and he and Tyler discussed Sweden amongst other things. Dellow's admonishments to my son to find his own self a girlfriend resulted in a few instances of grabass on the streetcar home and I had to step in to protect the boy from irate boyfriends on a few occasions. Awkward!

Plante looked good, he got beat on a pinch at the end of the game when the Barons were down two, he gambled and got burned but the timing was correct, unlike, say, Dion Phaneuf's play on Saturday night against the Flyers.

And Petoit was faceless, much like so many of the players from both teams. He got clobbered in the second and the Barons, much like their big brethren, stood around and did nothing, despite the fact that it was a borderline dirty play.

Pitton was in net, too deep in it actually. Too bad the Oilers don't have another guy they could rotate with Gerber to provide reasonable AHL calibre goaltending because that might have stolen their farm club a point or two here. Pitton does not cut it.

Up front Reddox was Reddox. Scored a goal, had his motor running all night. Best player on the Barons. O'Marra centred he and Omark and the return for Ryan Smyth looked terribly slow.


Omark was absolutely fantastic from his own blue to the opposing net but the problem is he rarely ventured inside his own blue and when he did he often made a hash of it, including a terrible turnover that led to a Marlie goal. He knew he fucked up, slammed his stick down. All he need to do is chip it out. That's whats holding him back though because he has great hands, his pass to Petry on the Reddox goal was beautiful, a hard flat pass over a defender's stick, and he wins puck battles against much bigger men easily either through speed, guile or deceptive strength. Don't know how but he was coming away with the puck all night.

And he's tough. He got run hard and went down and when he did get up he went to the bench but he did not miss a shift. There was a fight at the end with Stewart taking on Aulin. I don't think Aulin was the guy who ran Omark, whoever it was got away with that too.

Saw a tooth fly out in that fight right in front of us. Always fun to see. Not sure whose it was though.

As for the rest of the Oilers' prospects and suspects well, not much to report. Vande Velde was okay, just not very noticeable. Hartkainen had a few nice moments. He wins puck battles and has nice hands and can see the ice pretty well so that's a nice combination. Kytnar was down the depth chart. Giroux didn't do a damn thing.

It was just one of those games. Flat. Dull. I played one myself yesterday afternoon. They happen.

When the final horn blew the boy turns to me and says 'I guess my team won, eh Daddy'

I repeat. Once again.

I HAVE NO SON!

We'll have to do it again although next time I plan on doing way more drinking.

Heal his pain.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Journey


Was digging through our old desk in the basement over the weekend and found a dozen envelopes of developed pictures.

My wife's father is an accomplished and prolific photographer (after our wedding he handed us eight rolls of film that he had taken through the day and evening - we had never even noticed) and my wife has the bug as well. We have albums of pictures and a hard drive with thousands of images on it but just the other day I was going through an old shoebox I have which has old pictures and ticket stubs and other stuff from my bachelor days (I have an old cabinet downstairs which is all mine - books and pint glasses and photos and old baseballs and cards from the kids and keepsakes from my travels, some sentimental stuff, some great old memories) and while I found a lot of pictures I also was missing quite a few from my slacker days. And then I got to thinking and looking at our photo albums I realized that there were two enormous gaps, one in my life from about 1993 until when I moved to the States and one in our life from when we moved back from the States to when we started having babies, with the exception of our trip to Ireland and Scotland in 2002, just prior to our first pregnancy.

And I knew that there were pictures from both times. There are a few framed around the house and in my mind's eye I could see a few of them.

But they had disappeared.

And now suddenly I had found them.

Of me. Pictures from parties in the early and mid nineties, big hair and cigarette smoke and is that a bead necklace around my neck? my wife said. Um, yep. The first wedding for one of our friends, all of us not yet thirty, skinny, no grey hairs, all of our hair, no exhaustion from the kids, roaring at the camera. The girl from Rawlins Cross in a summer dress and sandals, black and white. My best friend and I at our camp, he fishing off the dock, a friend's long gone terrier staring intently into the lake. My own just passed big fellow a tiny ball of black fur, floppy ears, white paws and tip of his tail, white seven blazed on his chest, small enough to fit in my cupped hands. Out on a boat on Charlottetown harbour with friends just around the time that I would meet the girl who would become my wife.

Of us. Pictures from Quebec City and Montreal as we drove from Charlottetown after our wedding, on our way to Toronto to get an apartment and Jenn a job so we could move back to this good country. The first of seven annual Christmas parties we hosted before, pregnant with our third, we put the kibosh on the tradition. May be time to begin again. Here we are in our apartment. Six couples. No kids. Within two years there will be four kids. Today there are thirteen. My wife sitting on the couch, glass of wine, tongue sticking out, snarling, I love this picture. Our new house, wood panelling everywhere. Layer after layer of wallpaper. My best friend's wedding. Another friend's wedding. Laughing, glasses raised high. The big fellow after his first encounter with a skunk, dripping tomato juice, forlorn in the tub, the bathroom looking like the site of a massacre, red on the walls and floors and everywhere from everytime he shakes in disgust. Hen parties with drunken nurses and cock shaped cakes. Jenn pregnant with our first. Belly swelling, her belly button ring almost a thing of the past.

And now we're caught up. The pictures sit on our hutch and every time I wander by I pick them up and laugh. Its been quite the trip.

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New lines by the looks of it for the Oilers. Paajarvi, who has been the best of the kids, will play with Horcoff and Hemsky. Eberle will get Penner and Gagner. Hall will play with Cogliano and Brule. We'll call those guys "The Lost Boys". I think that works.

Its going to be a long season and we knew this and so unlike the past four years where management wanted to have their cake while eating it too I think we all know we're going to see a lot of losses, hopefully for the longterm greater good. The kids are going to take their lumps and with the dearth of veteran quality up front and on the blue its going to be a whole lot of ugly with an uncertain payoff. Renney is rolling them and the theory is that he wants to see what kids can do what against tougher opposition. They're going to get killed. Only Smid and Gilbert have looked good by the scoring chances metric and only Penner/Gagner/Hemsky have done well up front with the Horcoff line holding its own at times.

So Renney will mix things up and we'll see if anything comes of it. He was a hard matcher when he was with the Rangers so one suspects there is a method to his madness and once he knows who is going to get gutted when Iginla or the Sedins come to town (I think he must already know for the most part really) then he will begin to use a little more strategy when it comes to sending guys over the boards. For now though we will just grin and bear it.

Our lament is the same as always. If things were patched up with Souray or if a few veterans had been added to kill penalties and handle the toughs then this club would stand a better chance on some nights but its been the modus operandi of management these past years to leave holes everywhere and so we have to hope that this time the reality is that a lottery pick is better than the few extra wins that might mean a pick around eleven or twelve.

I can live with it although I dread a few years from now when Hemsky and Penner and Gilbert are gone and one of the prize kids doesn't turn out or gets hurt badly and then another one decides he's had enough of the losing and wants out. I know everyone points to the Pens and the Blackhawks but I keep thinking Thrashers and Islanders and see myself joining Dellow and Winters in a pub forty years from now, parking our jetpacks outside, Winters in a wheelchair, Dellow with his walker (I'll be fine - clean living you know) and us bitching about how Tambo, version 25b, is high on this new first overall pick, Robert Nilsson the third.

God help us. Hopefully the journey will have more laughs and joyful occasions than that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Girl Who Gave Me Beer And Took Me Home


There's a song by Chantal Kreviazuk called Surrounded and it opens with these lines:

I was there
When you shone as bright as Bethlehem from afar
I was there
When you were young and strong and perverted
And everything that makes a young man a star
Oh, you were a star

Now I'm not one to have regrets or to worry about what has passed and what will come and I certainly am not one of those guys who rues that those days when I was young, truly young I mean, not young like I am now, are gone. They came and they went and when I was in the midst of them I made the most of them. Those were the days. When you're a young man you have to live a young man's life, so I always thought, because when the time comes when you have a baby in your arms and you are responsible for that child and all that will follow for him or her then its time to put the pursuits of a young man behind you, the drinking and smoking and fucking and all of the crazy youthful shit.

But when you're young then be the madman.

I can't remember the exact summer, it was either '89 or '90, that's all I know. It was one of a series of glorious summers. I had a job where I worked outside and made terrific money and while I worked hard we had a small crew of young guys so we had a good time. During the week I coached soccer in the evenings and I spent my weekends wandering the earth, sun burned and feet dusty, not a care in the world, drifting in whatever direction the wind pushed me.

My job was checking gas lines and meter sets for leaks and every year we had to do a sweep of the downtown grids of every city in the region. When it came to my hometown it always meant a special day because it meant getting downtown at around four in the morning to do the work before the city awoke and traffic made it impossible to do the job properly. It was always a two man job as well. Sudbury has never been a dangerous town, although its a pretty tough one, but poking around alleyways before the sun has come up probably isn't a good idea in any sizeable city.

So we had to get up at four but the deal was that when we finished we were free to go which meant a long weekend could be had. And we had it down to a science so we would finish up around eight in the morning, do our paperwork, grab breakfast, get a quick nap and then start our weekend. So of course being young and dumb that way the Thursday night before instead of hitting the hay early we hit the bars and I got nice and greased up.

There were two of us and my pal was a little bit older and he had a serious girlfriend (they ended up getting married) and as a result he didn't give a shit and so he would talk to anyone and everyone. Nothing doing for him, he just liked to feel like he was still in the game, plus it made nights like this more interesting. Going out with him was great because I was never the type to walk up to someone in a bar and strike up a conversation.

Now at this time if I recall correctly I was having some luck with the women and so as a result I was entirely myself whenever I got to talking to a girl at a bar or at a party. When it comes to women it worked like this for me back in the day. If I were going through a dry spell my overactive libido would make my life miserable. I would go out and if I saw a pretty girl I would become tongue tied and pretty well useless because I was an immature tool who could only think of one thing (other than getting loaded). And so the slump would extend and it would get worse and worse until finally one day I would file my papers for the priesthood at the local parish because why the hell not, I had already taken a vow of celibacy. And then I would go out and not give a shit and I would be relaxed and the first girl I talked to I would make her laugh and then we'd end up making out under a tree somewhere.

And then I would be mellow and so it would begin to ramp up and my luck would change and then next thing you know I'm getting laid and now I'm on top of the world and I'm relaxed as hell and I'm tearing the cover off the ball, so to speak. I mean even my outs are screaming line drives that just settle into a lucky infielder's glove.

But then I would get too cocky and I'd be full of myself and all of a sudden I'd hit a slump and then next you know I can't even get one to go in off my ass and suddenly I find myself pressing and I'm back to square one.

Seriously this was my life for a decade when it came to women.

So on this particular night, for some reason, I can't remember, I was riding the wave and so when my buddy started talking to two very attractive (and tall!) women I went right along, no problem, cool as can be and soon we were laughing and going back to a stone building in the older part of town where one had her apartment, one of these beautiful old buildings built back in the twenties with the high ceilings and big old windows. We had a couple of beers and then myself and the girl whose apartment it was, a tall cool blonde with a sexy voice and a few years on me, retired to her room where we made out for a little bit until my buddy (who had only had a couple of beers all night) came and banged on the door as it was time to go to work.

I got her number and called a few days later but she never called back which I thought was a shame but really for all my bravado I figured she was a bit out of my league and so I thought I'd just enjoy that what happened happened.

And so a week had gone by and we went to our usual Friday night haunt and it turns out (I am sure I knew this but I can't remember exactly, way too many cells have plunged off the cliff) that she was a bartender there. She sees me and she smiles and next thing I know I have a free beer and there's a round for my buddies and they are quite impressed. And all night whenever I finish my beer and turn around she's there grinning with another and at the end of the night she comes over and has one with me after last call and then another and then she calls a cab and we head back to her place and there you go.

In the morning well here we go again and then after a short while she takes a shower and tells me to take my time and just lock the door on my way out as she has to hit it.

And so I roll over and fall back asleep with a gentle breeze pushing the curtains in and the sun shining and I get up finally and make some coffee and have a shower and then I walk into town and grab a paper and walk up to the high school where a bunch of the guys are playing some soccer. I fuck around a bit but I'm no player and so I lean against a fence and read my paper and drink my coffee and feel stunned about it all until the game wraps up and we head back to Frank's to start drinking.

The best thing is that this went on for weeks, right into August when I unknowingly broke the rules, calling her at her place on a Saturday night, stumbling over, she at home having drinks with a few friends. I stayed over that night but that was the last and the next time I saw her she was polite but there were no drinks and no invites back to her lovely apartment. Summer was almost over by this time so it wasn't the end of the world but it wasn't the first time I've been led astray by the old cock and balls. Couldn't leave well enough alone, eh fellows? Had to get greedy.

Man she was a fox.

-----------------

Really there's nothing about the Oilers that equates to that story because I was twenty one or so and I had casual no strings attached sex with a beautiful woman who gave me free beer.

Um, the Oilers won five Stanley Cups in seven years? That would be it I guess.

Ok, ok, have to tie this in somehow but I'm distracted now, damnit.

;)

The Oilers have had one very good game and one so-so game. They really did not deserve that win over Florida but sometimes you get the breaks and Khabibulin, who was shaky looking (to be fair he was probably a little rusty) in game one, turned in a nice performance to earn the two points in game two.

Other than him there wasn't much to recommend about the Oilers' performance. Gilbert was really terrific and he and Smid have had a nice start. Peckham looked fine although he got caught watching on Reasoner's second goal. If he's still doing that a year from now then its a problem but right now at this moment after two games ( ;) ), he looks like a player. For what its worth. I like Theo, what can I say? He's a throwback to the little teams that could and I'm cheering for the big goof.

Up front well, um. Hmm. Ryan Jones had a good game? Eberle is one smart cookie, he certainly does not look out of place. And, um. Well that's all I've got. Some other guys were fine, they just didn't do a whole lot. Against Florida. Ugh.

Meanwhile Shawn Horcoff is just walking up to women, giving them a sly grin and ending up in the back seat of his buddy's K-Car right now. Two goals and not a shot taken on either of them. Here's hoping that this continues, buddy has had an awful run of luck this last while.

And the PK is perfect so far which is gratifying after the shitshow of the past couple of years. By the way did you know that Hemsky played more on the PK against the Flames than he did all of last season.

In total.

Crazy.

We'll see tonight how much of Sunday was Florida and how much was the Oilers. Likely the truth lies in between. I've enjoyed these first two victories thank you very much and I'm hoping to see the odd one here and there as the season progresses. I'd prefer that they are deserved but hey I'll take the lucky ones too. No need to sneer at them right now. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once and a while. Don't deny him his Saturday morning newspaper and coffee in the sun. :)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Paradise City




The boy is a geography savant. The other day my wife walked in on him and he had an atlas and a globe and he was using one as a reference to figure out a point about the other. He likes to study the atlas (or as he calls it 'the antlas' to which my eldest says 'Atlas! Atlas! Its not antlas like you always say!) on car trips and will announce random facts like 'Malawi is in Africa' and 'Slovakia is beside Hungary' to which I will nod (I know my geography) and my wife will look confused (she does not).

So for his birthday (his fifth) I took the baby out this morning on a little roadtrip downtown to get him an enormous (252 pieces) floor mat puzzle which will likely cover a good part of our basement. Friends of ours have it and one day we were over we spent an hour putting it together. The boy loved it so I'm thinking he'll be pretty happy Wednesday evening.

We're driving home along the lake and then I jog up to Queen Street, perhaps my favourite Toronto street, there's just so many different parts to it, from the trendy Queen West to the down on its heels neighbourhood around Moss Park, through old Corktown (and a favourite old hotel, the Dominion on Queen), over the river and into gentrifying Leslieville and its bistros and shiny new pubs side by pawn shops and crackhouses, its a beautiful weekend here, since late March the weather here has just been ridiculous, its been terrific, sunny and warm, and so I wanted to take my time, just meander along, look at the shiny happy people out enjoying what may be the last amazing weekend of the year (God lets hope not but you never know).

The window is down and my youngest is chattering away happily in the back and all of a sudden I hear the beginning of a familiar song and I crank it up.

Back in the day (I find myself saying this more and more these days) Guns and Roses was the shit, just a fantastic band, playing that rock and roll music, driving, thrashing, wailing beautiful rock and roll music. Just a great great band.

The thing about GNR was that they were truly rock and roll through and through. The band was fractious and musicians came and went. When it came to partying they absolutely did not fuck around and they were notorious for being unreliable as a live act, arriving late, storming off of the stage, shouting abuse at their fans, this was mostly Axl Rose, the lead singer, a brilliant talent and total fuck up.

They stormed onto the stage, held our eye and then, as is recommended for the rock and roll band, burned out before they faded away.

-----------------

The Oilers are a young hockey team and there's going to be an awful lot of bad this season but Thursday night showed us that there are going to be some fun moments as well. Lowetide asked if this was the best regular season game in recent memory - personally I'm on board for the comeback win over Columbus last season when Penner and Hemsky went on a rampage but the thing is while that was the highlight of another dreary Oiler season I would say that the season opener is a sign of things to come. We're going to see a lot of wonderful individual moments as well as more than a few quality outings by the club as a whole. Anyhow I had jury duty for a couple of days this week and here is something I wrote on Thursday morning while I was sitting around saving democracy:

The new season is upon us and what can we expect? Well this club needs a lot to go right just to be competitive. They need Horcoff, Hemsky and Khabibulin to remain healthy and produce some serious results. They need Whitney and Gilbert to step up and be a true top pairing and they need Smid and Foster to step up and become a true second pairing. They need Penner to replicate his wonderful season. They need Brule, Gagner and Cogliano to all take steps forward, probably big steps. They need three raw rookies to hold their own, somehow, in a lineup where they haven’t the veteran support to shelter them.

That is a lot of things they need to break the right way for this club just to hold their own and my guess is with this defence and goaltending this club is not going to be able to do that. When Hall and Paajarvi and Eberle make the inevitable mistakes in their own end their opponents are probably going to capitalize. A lot.

Tambellini had a reasonable summer considering this is a teardown. He got rid of a lot of deadweight and didn’t take on any stupid contracts. Its easier to break it down than to build it back up though and honestly I don’t think Tambellini has what it takes. He’s been in management for years and he still makes mistakes that are headscratchers, the latest being the three goaltender situation. Its unacceptable and really what would be best for this club is if Tambellini and Lowe were dumped sooner rather than later. Of course being in a rebuild they really do have plenty of rope and it may not be until this cluster goes nowhere that Katz may see the light. I hope I am wrong but what is about to be five years out of the playoffs, four of those basically as a cap team, has made me a little bit jaded. If I were in a car and the driver put it into the ditch for no reason other than he is an incompetent you better bet that when we get back in the car he isn’t driving.

But that is what’s happening here.

Anyhow some predictions for this season.

1/ Khabibulin will play about twenty five games, tops.

2/ Whitney and Gilbert will play top pairing minutes and they will do well. Gilbert has been playing the toughs for years for this shitshow and generally survives. They will be okay. Gilbert will still get booed because a lot of fans are stupid.

3/ Smid and Foster will struggle in their role and Smid will get hurt. (I know, I know, going out on a limb)

4/ One of Gagner, Brule and Cogliano will have a big year, probably the one who plays with Penner most. ;)

5/ Cogliano will bounce back and have a good year offensively at least.

6/ If Horcoff stays healthy he will have his best year since 2008. He will still get booed because a lot of fans are stupid.

7/ Hemsky will tear it up. A lot of fans will still think it’s a great idea to trade him.

8/ Omark will get his shot soon and he will give a lot back but will do well offensively.

9/ Vande Velde will supplant Fraser by the end of the season.

10/ Eberle will be the best allround rookie but Paajarvi will get most of the glory this year.

Bonus – they will be a lottery team. Guaranteed. The back end and the goaltending is just that bad.

---------------

Guaranteed! Haha. Anyhow I hope I am wrong. I've had folks drop by here and take shots at me for being negative, of course anyone who has been around for a while knows I am one of the most positive folks there is. Its my nature. But Oilers' management has been poor and the club has missed the playoffs for four years straight and so yeah I am skeptical. I'd love to eat crow on this, believe me.

Look, I loved the game on Thursday. I just sat here and enjoyed it. Calgary is beaten up and they may not be much of a club anyhow but I don't give a damn. A win is a win and as a fan of the Edmonton Oilers I will take any win I can get. I'm thinking there are going to be a lot of tough nights this season but there are a lot of mediocre clubs in the NHL and I'll tell you what - those three kids did not look out of place at all and that was a lovely sight.

Hall looked a little out of place in preseason but he had a nice game on Thursday. He can really wheel and he has nice offensive instincts. A perfectly fine debut. And of course what can one say about Eberle? The kid had a game to remember. Besides the goal (and the fact that it was A1 douchebag Ian White who will be in the frame when this is played for the next fifty years makes it so so sweet) what I noticed about him was that he kept up just fine, he has unbelievable hand eye, picking pucks out of the air like nothing, and his feel for the game is pretty damn good in his own end. For one game at least.

Paajarvi didn't get the highlight reel goal but he was first man back on his line all night and had that head on a swivel on the backcheck. That, for me, was a reassuring sight.

Other thoughts:

Horcoff looked terrific. One play that stuck with me - late in the third the puck ended up in the corner off of the draw and he easily beat the winger and dman to it, looking like the puckhawk of old, just a real hustle play. I really hope that the new captain has an outstanding year, for all of the flack he takes nobody works his bag off like number ten.

Both the Horcoff line and the Gagner line outchanced the Flames and really did a number on them. Quality. The Cogliano line did very little at ES and a few of those firedrill shifts in the second saw them being the ones penned in. Hopefully they will get better but it was not a great game for them, even with Brule's goal. Cogliano's work on the draw was solid though so that's a nice thing to point out.

I liked Ryan Jones but Fraser, a guy who I really want to like, didn't impress me much. I've said it and I will say it again, I can see Vande Velde taking his job before season's end.

On the back end well they did a fine job against a pretty punchless team. Gilbert was terrific. Whitney was very good. I really liked Smid's game, he was aggressive and he kept it simple. His hit on Hagman was more of what this club needs. I think the whole goon thing is overrated although MacIntyre's KO was impressive. People forget that MacIntyre was on this roster two years ago and part of last year and guys were getting run all over the place. A guy like Reghyr isn't worried about MacIntyre and Glencross was bumping Khabibulin all night. You want to hold your own physically? Have Smid and Peckham knock guys around like they did Thursday night. Have Penner knock Reghyr on his can. Have Paajarvi get right back up after getting knocked down. Have Hemsky outmuscle Iginla for a loose puck. That was more reassuring to me than the knockout punch, impressive as it was.

A guy who really had a nice game was Theo Peckham. Other than the pass that was three feet behind his man (he had too much time that time) he had a fine outing. Physical, kept it simple, short crisp passes. He's going to have his tough nights but for one game at least he showed that he might have what it takes.

I think the weak link for this club is the blue and the goaltending but for one night at least it did not prove to be the case. Khabibulin looked awfully shaky for me for a lot of the game although he looked a little more comfortable as the game wore on. Hopefully its just all of that rust. This club really needs him to stay healthy and to be a difference maker in a positive way if it wants to be competitive. If he is poor or if he gets hurt that they are well and truly fucked.

What's funny about this club is that their October schedule is all sweetness and light. Despite their flaws they can come out of this month with a quality record that could very well be legitimate. They have the injury riddled Flames twice more, the Wild twice, the BJs and the Panthers. They should come out of those games with a pretty good record I would think, that's a pretty mediocre slate. Of course they also have the Sharks and end the month with Chicago and then November looks like it might be pretty awful - Chicago twice, the Sharks again, the Wings twice, the Canucks, the Devils.

We'll not think about that though, right? One game at a time. Here's looking at what hopefully will be a nice game against what should be another lottery club, the Panthers. To quote, well, any hockey player, one game at a time. We're going to have our train wrecks this season but hopefully Thursday has shown us that there will be nights that this band will make beautiful music.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Kaptain Horcov




Comrade

I must now write you to offer salute for your achievement of today. I know it has been long time since I have sent you letter, I admit I am like little girl, I was disappointed in you and so I went into angry snit, much like, well, little girl. As you know though Communist Party is my party and I will cry if I want to.

Ah, I very much enjoy old American music. And I make good pun, no? Who says I have no sense of humour? Nobody says that because if they did I would have them shot in forest and buried in shallow grave.

Haha I am kidding again, unluckily I was born in wrong time in history which is unfortunate and frustrating for me.

It has been difficult year since our last correspondence Comrade. In city of Vancouver we did not do so well. I blame degenerate Canadians, as I must. I am knowing that Ovechkin and Malkin and all of the rest were led astray by Canadian hippy girls with their flowers in their hair and their Mary Jane and their sexual revolutionary attitudes. It was obvious when we fell short time and time again and especially in disaster of quarter final that our heads were not in game. I did blame you, I must admit, when your identity was revealed by chronic masturbator Pat McLean all of our plans went off the road, like top notch automobile Lada we were left spinning our wheels, belly up in ditch. The players were demoralized by the loss of our secret agent man and unlike in old days we could not stiffen spines by shooting one of them.

Ah I miss the old days Comrade.

And so they collapsed like Polish cavalry charging Panzers. I blame you. Well just a little. Mostly I blame decadent West for turning our once great hockey playing giants into porno watching, pudding eating, coca cola drinking fat losers. It was disaster for motherland on par with any of cheesy early eighties movies when tiny little Stallone single handedly defeated Russian divisions with single machine gun and snarling stupid face.

You tell me comrade, how is it that West has not collapsed in on itself when Sylvester Stallone is icon of cinema. I could believe Brad Pitt with his movie star good looks or Bogart with oh so cool attitude but Stallone? He is tiny little man and he grunts like pig in mud and yet we are to believe that Janine Turner who is tall and lovely is into him? Or redheaded Julianne Moore with her lovely breasts. She is true redhead comrade let em tell you. I saw Short Cuts. And even underrated Madeline Stowe who was also in Short Cuts and she too was naked!

God I miss Robert Altman.

It is unbelievable to me, this Stallone, but is another example of foolish West and how they stoop to low common denomination.

But not now Comrade. Ah! Ah? Let me be telling you that I have been drinking very good vodka since I received news that you are new captain of Edmonton hockey club. Yes just the best in celebration of excellent choice. I am giddy comrade, so much so that I have been shouting out window 'how its going?' to all comrades that are walking by. I am kidding you not.

I have to admit that I had my doubts about you comrade after your foolishness of last season, injuring yourself in arm wrestling match with enormous Penner, throwing away all of our plans like worthless rubles into the wind howling down from Urals. I thought that big contract had made you soft like typical Westerner, sitting on houseboat in Shuswap, spending sunny days drinking beer and eating sausages and cheeseburgers while puckbunnies doted on your every burp and fart as you scratched your growing hairy gut.

But I was thinking that perhaps I was wrong. I knew that even though you were saddled with enormous deadweight Jacques and aptly named POS that if you had wanted to you could have lifted them onto your shoulders and scored many goals singlehandedly even though dragging those two around the ice would have been like dragging Berlin Wall around behind you.

Ah I miss the Berlin Wall. Good times Comrade.

And so I had a thought that you might be up to something. And then I began to read about former captain Moreau on the cheezie stained blog posts and how he was Cancer which was silly because everyone knows he was Capricorn and then I said Aha! now I understand, there is leak in room, which is apropos considering state of goaltending on that club. And I know who it was comrade! You sly capitalist running dog! And then Moreau was exiled to Ohio BJs which makes me giggle because it reminds me of time at Dacha with Bulgarian prositute.

Much like Lenin arriving on sealed train from West to topple the Tsar so did you overthrow government of Oilers. Cruel and merciless you were, just like all great men in history of party. You spared no one. Doddering old coach was gone with his onions and his belts. So too were other organization men, even man who sharpens skates and rubs linament on players, all gone. A purge worthy of Stalin, just with not as much blood. Staios sent away to rot in stinking town in south of Alberta. Players who like to have sex with dogs, like Nilsson, gone. Even son of great old blogger Lowetide sent away to Tampa which is not all that great you know, as they say it is Oakland with beaches. And today the most funny of all, the Big Sexy sent to play hockey in Hershey. Ha Ha, Big Sexy, see how many beautiful women are there in town like Hershey, I think you would see similar to Russian peasants there with thick ankles and hairy backs. Enjoy that, you will be not very big sexy very soon I think. You will be fat from eating chocolate bars! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

And so comrade congratulations. Of course being captain of Oilers is like being leader of Estonia, it is really small potatoes. But they make vodka from potatoes so that is a good thing. Speaking of vodka, excuse me while I yell How its going out of my window.

I am back Comrade. You are doing motherland proud with this coup even though it will be difficult year I am afraid. Just remember that even we retreated for years before we had Germans sucked in and then we crushed them. Perhaps this will be how it goes for you. Then again maybe you will be just like Poland, swallowed up like nothing, fated for centuries of suffering. Let us hope not although I am thinking with Tambellini and Lowe still in charge that you are perhaps much like hero of great patriotic war who perishes in futile attempt to defeat overwhelming odds because of blunders of generals above you.

I mean seriously, three goaltenders? Nobody carries three goaltenders except Edmonton Oilers hockey club, three times in last six seasons now. What the hell are they thinking? Why is ADD still on roster, he looks like Khrushchev banging shoe on table. He is like gigantic insect having spasms.

Ah I miss Comrade Khrushchev banging his shoe and shouting nonsense.

I cannot wait to see you skate out on ice with K stitched onto your chest comrade. I am not sure what your end game is here. Don't get me wrong I can understand the lust for power but as I said before, Estonia. Sorry but it is the truth. Having said that I do admire a good bloodless putsch, although I prefer a bloody coup myself, and so you are to be commended. Perhaps there is hope for you yet.

Your pal,

Vladdy


Monday, October 04, 2010

An Oh Shit Moment


So we're heading out of Sudbury Saturday night at around half past six and its already getting dusky and my wife turns to me and expresses concern about hitting a moose seeing as its getting dark and all and I reassure her that there aren't really any moose south of the city, the terrain isn't really made for them, its more deer country. To which she replies, because she is a mother of three, that what happens if we hit a deer? And I tell her that in nearly twenty five years of doing the run between Toronto and Sudbury multiple times annually I have never even seen a deer.
She immediately says 'Why did you say that? I can't believe you said that!' and my response is somewhere along 'oh yes, now we're in for it, the deer have bugs in the van and know what I said and they're going to make me pay for my hubris!'

You know where this is heading, don't you? Yep, you can see it coming miles away.

We're not even an hour out, just passing French River and darkness has fallen and we've got a few hours to go. First the boy and then the baby fall asleep and only our oldest is awake in the back and we're going at a decent clip.

Less than an hour after this we're coming into Parry Sound, we're about a dozen kilometres out and its pitch black and here's a fair sized doe climbing out of the ditch right in front of us, we're talking metres away.

Now you always wonder how you'd react under pressure. You like to think that you'd be cool and you wouldn't shit yourself in panic and that you would do the right thing, right? But you have no idea what you will do when faced with a challenge which could, well, end up
very very badly.
And let me tell you one thing, time definitely slows right down. Or it did for me. I would say in about a tenth of a second I processed the following:

- there's nobody behind me
- there's nobody in the oncoming lane
- that's one big fucking animal
- I'm going about 90km an hour
- if I hit that big fucking animal we're going to be in a world of hurt
- if I swerve into oncoming traffic and that big animal is still in front of me not only am I going to hit it but whoever is coming the other way next is probably going to plow into us at 90 km an hour or faster which means we will all be dead
- so don't swerve left
- don't swerve right because there's a ditch and then its either a rock cut, forest or deep water
- do the only thing you can do, hit the brakes
And that's what I did.

And let me just give a shoutout to the fine people at Honda. Because even though I slammed on those motherfucking brakes (enough that my daughter lunged forward in her seatbelt) it was like a pillow it was so silky smooth, so smooth that there was no loss of control, no crazy swerving, so little resistance that neither of the two sleeping kids even woke up.

And so two seconds or so after we saw that deer, as it backed away itself in a panic, we hit it but brushed its shoulder oh so gently that it didn't even leave a mark on the vehicle.

Can you imagine?

Holy fuck.

Pulled over and my wife looks at me and says 'You had to fucking say it, didn't you?'
----------------------

A little less terrifying but still a learning experience all around was the announcement of the final cuts from the Oilers. The roster is as follows:

F - Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Paajarvi, Eberle, Hall, Brule, Cogliano, Gagner, Jones, Fraser, Stortini, MacIntyre, Jacques

Most likely Jacques will start the season on IR. So that is thirteen forwards.

D - Gilbert, Whitney, Smid, Foster, Strudwick, Vandermeer, Peckham

G - Khabibulin, Dubnyk, Deslauriers

So for the most part there are no surprises on this list. Omark didn't get the plum linemates that the big three did, except for one game, where he put up three points, but we could see this one coming. He'll be back, probably the first time someone in the top nine goes down. My guess is Vande Velde will be back too, he had a nice camp. Peckham didn't blow anyone away but he's a kid and so I always figured he'd get the push over Petoit and Belle. Those guys may be late bloomers but then again they may just be borderline NHLers. Peckham may only be that as well but you have to play him and find out.

And of course there is the whole MacIntyre thing. Well I don't get it. They had this guy on the roster and guys were still getting run so we'll see. I can't see the point. I prefer a guy like Vandermeer who can take a regular shift and strikes me as a bit of a vicious fucker. He's certainly more of a deterrent than MacIntyre imo. But anyhow it is what it is.

The oh shit moment for me today is that Liam Reddox has been sent out so that for the second time in three seasons (and third in six) the Oilers will actually run with a three goalie system.

This isn't about Reddox. Well it is a little bit. Look I get that he is a fourth liner at best and he's a little guy and yeah you could replace him easily, or so you would think. Except like Thoresen and Brodziak and Pisani, who the defending Stanley Cup champions think enough of to give a contract and a roster spot (reviews of old friend Fernando have been glowing), here we have another guy who doesn't do much except play the game the right way. He does the little things. He hits. He kills penalties. He blocks shots. He works his ass off. And he had probably the best camp out of any of the guys fighting for thsoe roster spots.

And they send him out. And keep three fucking goalies.

That's the thing with these clowns. You look at their work over the past year and there's a glimmer of hope and then they show that after all they are still the same hopeless bunch, the same clowns who can't decide between a couple of marginal prospects for fear of I don't know what, the same bunch of fools who misread the goalie market so badly last summer that they gave the singlemost worst contract to a goalie since the lockout, if not also in the years before that.

What are they afraid of? That Deslauriers will get claimed and make them look bad?

Well the buzz about Reddox has been very good and I would bet that he gets claimed. And I hope that he gets claimed by the Flames or the Canucks and that from this point until the day that Steve Tambellini loses his job that every time the Oilers play his new club that he shoves it right up their asses so that every time Mr. Personality or Kevin Lowe or Tom Renney gets interviewed one of the first questions asked is ' hey why did you guys keep three goalies instead of keeping two, like every other team in the league, and a useful guy like Liam Reddox.

Won't happen but man I can dare to dream.