Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Lucky



This would be a perfect story to tell if the NHL was actually deigning to hold a season. I know that that is a ridiculous expectation, especially considering that they have locked out the players twice since the Rangers won the Cup in 1994 but then again these guys couldn't organize a sandwich run without lighting themselves on fire. Incompetents. In any case here goes nothing.

So Capsule was relegated after last season and I, for one, was frustrated by the turn of events. We had been in this division for a few years and age and the loss of a few quality players (we lost three of our four best players after 2009/2010) has meant that we weren't in the mix like we once were. Even two years ago we finished middle of the table, one of those years where we were seventh of ten but three points from fourth. Last year though, well, last year was a tough one. A lot of 3-1 and 2-1 losses, which is usually how it goes with us. A lot of games where we deserved better than we got but whe you end up at the bottom of the league usually you have to admit you deserve to be there. I coached a team once that lost a lot of games like that. After a half dozen tight losses where we bemoaned the defensive breakdown or missed chance or soft goal that had cost us the game we figured we'd be right in it once our luck turned. After fifteen games of the same we came to the realization that we really just weren't that good.

And so it was with last year's Capsule club. We lost a lot of games 3-1 or 4-2 or 2-1 because for the most part our offense is of the pop gun variety and as a club we're pretty old so that we've slowed down and thus our D get beat by younger faster guys enough that we're going to give up a big play against the flow of play now and then. So we'd outplay and outshoot a club but in terms of pure scoring chances, well we'd get killed there. A half of a dozen five bell chances beat one or two and a couple dozen muffins from the outside anytime.

 What rankled for me is that we may have been bottom of the league but we were competitive. We beat most of the teams above us and we got blown out only a couple of times. So a big part of me thought (and thinks) its bullshit. If we can play with those guys then why move us down the ladder?

A bit of this is raging against the dying of the light stuff mind you. We're in the bottom division now. My first year with Capsule we were fodder and then got relegated, we had four years in the next division and I think three or four in this last one. We have nowhere else to go now unless we find a true old timers league or play shinny once a week or break up the old gang and find a club that will take on those of us who still want to play competitive hockey.

Its a discouraging thought but I will be 45 in a month and our oldest player is a year from being 50. You'd never know it, mind you. But the years are marching on and while this sounds a bit crazy I'm suddenly aware of my own mortality and so the big trip I'm planning for Jenn's 40th birthday (two years away) may get pushed up if I can get the cash together for it. Mental, eh? I'm still a young man by any measure but ... well I look around at my peers and see the grey hair (where there is hair) and I wonder ....

Anyhow we're in a new league and most likely we will be able to play here for many years. We've barely had our full team together and every game it seems we've missed a few of our top players and yet we are sitting strongly in third and have outplayed the opposition in every game. Most teams have a few guys (or more) that you can pick on and so we've had three games where we've had easy wins already, which is about three more than we had all of last season.

I've had a good start. I've played some centre, which I prefer (and am better than on the wing) and have played well in all but one game. Its a lot weaker division. I'm no star by any means but last night we played a team with one or two good defenceman and I beat one of them easily on the rush. Most teams have a few guys who are quite weak. We may be old and slowing but we can all give and take a pass and we can all skate and so one of our biggest issues has been letting teams back into games after we roll over them early.

I had a good summer season, had my chances, but for the first time in probably forever I ended up without a goal. Picked up my fair share of assists and had a solid year but not a goal. Now when you play ten games its not the end of the world but still you like to score here and there you know.

So winter season starts and second game of the year the opposing goalie, who liked to wander, came way out and managed to play it into my winger and I picked up the puck in the corner and fired it into the gaping cage. Then two games later, I scored off the rush on a nice wrist shot (if I do say so myself) and then, on my next shift, I centre it and watch as it banks off a defenceman and in.

On fire. Three goals. Four games.

Last game we were tied late and swarming the net. The puck was sitting there. My linemates were tied up, goalie was down. My normal reaction to this would be to shovel the puck into the goalie. What did I do? Perhaps buoyed by my start, perhaps realizing I had all of the time in the world (I did) I picked up the puck, took a look, took a step back to get a better look (!!) and fired it top corner.

And just then the goalie lurched up and the puck went off his head and over the net.

Seconds later I called for the puck in the slot, got the pass, on my stick and off, corner picked, shot low and hard, perfect.

Kicked out at the last second.

And last night, pouncing on a puck turned over by a stumbling Dman, by him in a flash, hard in, quick check, all of the time I needed, a look, the natural predisposition to try and shove it fivehole and then, looking at my options, seeing the spot high blocker, the shot as he goes down, hard, on target,

The clang off the post.

I'd lol except this is my life when it comes to scoring goals. Even when I'm actually doing things right, have the time, pick my spot ....

Well lets just say we're six games in and I've already seen the highs and lows of the dice. And don't even get me going on the goals against. I've been my usual quality on the other side of the puck (came back hard on a 2 on 1 last night to break it up last second in the slot) but have seen four of the last five goals against go in on my watch, no fault of my own.

Its enough to make a man drink. /drinks

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