Friday, November 30

Oil 5, Ducks 1


Boing!



When a team stinks the joint out like the Oilers did in Colorado, these are the type of bounce-back games you expect (hope) to see. It also lends some credibility to the theory that you can build momentum from one game to another. After being down 4-0 through forty putrid minutes in Denver, the Oilers decided they would show some interest, got two goals, and played a very good third period. It seemed to carryover into a good start tonight.

- Early jump led to a power play, and Hemsky finished off a give-and-go with Horcoff to make it 1-0. I think this whole shooting thing that he's discovered is here to stay.

- The Oilers got into penalty trouble in the second period, and the game turned on a long 5-on-3 for the Ducks, when Roloson made a world-class leg save on Getzlaf. The Oilers killed off four straight penalties, and scored two goals in the last minute of the period to send them on their way.

- Shawn Horcoff is making you look silly. You know who you are.

- Gilbert was strong again; great pass to spring Cogliano for his breakaway goal.

- I must say, that may have been Grebeshkov's best game as an Oiler. Smart, simple, and good positionally. It looks like they may have finally coached the "Oh my God!" out of his game. If he continues to play like he did tonight, he could be useful.

- The Ducks defence looked absolutely clueless when Pronger wasn't on the ice. If Niedermayer doesn't come back, they won't win a playoff round with that group.

- Kyle Brodziak's play has been overlooked somewhat this year, but you can tell he's gonna be a MacT favorite. He's always in the right spots, and makes the smart play. MacT already trusts him to kill penalties as a rookie, and he made several nice plays tonight, including the goal. His development reminds me of Horcoff and Stoll. He and Horc have similar skill sets, but if anything, he's probably ahead of where Horcoff was as a rookie. He's also similar to both of them in the way his skating has improved, and that has made all the difference. I remember when he first got a call-up a couple seasons ago, you could see he could think the game, but his skating held him back. Now his skating is a complete non-issue. A 7th round pick who spent three years in the AHL working his butt off; a guy like him is a good example for Robbie Schemp and Marc Pouliot.

- Geoff Sanderson (back) and Hemsky (knee contusion) both left the game early. Looked like Hemsky's was more precautionary as it was 5-1 at the time, but let's hope. Sanderson was playing some his best hockey of late, so hopefully his isn't serious either.

- Roloson was great for the fourth game running. I expect they'll split the back-to-back this weekend. I know players like to face their former teams, but I would go with Garon in Anaheim and freshen-up Rollie for Los Angeles.

- A strong effort, but the Ducks looked tired and flat after playing in Calgary last night. Expect a much tougher chore in the return tilt in Anaheim on Sunday. But those are the kind of challenges that a young team should look forward to. Another good litmus test.

Thursday, November 29

Peddie: "Ferguson Hiring a Mistake". Goes On to Say, "I'm Also a Huge Asshole"

You know that feeling when you first suspect that you might be getting sick? You can kind of feel it like in your eyes and neck, and it's Thursday and you're all, "I'm going to be sick on Friday and Saturday." And you think back to earlier in the day and remember the conversation you had with that guy you work with who was a five-time Jeopardy champion, and you were holding your lunch as you were talking to him when he told you he was really, really ill the day before and only really ill right now? Hey, me too!

Similarly, I've been getting that exact same sickly feeling about the Leafs this week. I've watched them play and I've just been getting that crap feeling in my body about everything that's been going on in the organization.
The way the septic cabal that is MLSE have treated John Ferguson Jr. is disgraceful. Whether one is a fan of Ferguson or not, you have to agree that the way they have strung him along for years now, undermining his already limited abilities, speaks of a type of ego not exclusive too, but horribly common to fuckers who have too much money and not enough ability. I'm sure Richard Peddie and Larry Tanenbaum are brilliant at business and could take a charcoal briquette between the cheeks and turn it into a diamond, but they can not run a hockey team. They almost destroyed the Toronto Raptors with their "we're rich, so we know everything" thinking. They finally wizened up and let Peter Colangelo do what they couldn't: run a basketball team. The problem here with the Leafs is, these two fuckers are Canadian, and because of that, they genuinely think that they are qualified to run a hockey team; let alone the most valuable one in the world.

Thinking we know everything about hockey is a Canadians birthright. If it weren't for that, you wouldn't be reading this blog, or anyone else's, because there'd be no opinions on it. It'd just be a report featuring a
dreadful, boring lament of stats. That's not hockey. That's baseball.

So Peddie comes out and twists the mighty Excalibur knife in Fergie's back by telling the press that hiring JFJ was a mistake. This ivory tower mea culpa is so disingenuous it makes me feel ill. Peddie is trying to swing negative public opinion away from his own ass over onto Fergie's. He's trying to mollify Leafs fans and come on as the formerly abusive husband, and that he really feels bad, and it'll never happen again. Does anyone not realize that MLSE hired Ferguson precisely because, and not in spite of, the fact that he was inexperienced? That they had ample time and opportunity to hire anyone in the world to one of the most prestigious jobs in hockey, but instead they chose to hire someone they knew they could bully, dominate and micro-manage because their collective ego's tell them that if they don't run the show, nothing will get done right! Haven't we all had asshole bosses like that?


~~~~

A couple of thoughts about the Montreal game. Carey Price's butterfly is one of the most perfect and natural I've ever seen. That sounds like a metaphor for his genitals, but it isn't. His positioning is so fluid it seems almost casual.
Once again a great Leafs/Habs game. Once again, a game the Leafs should've/could've/would've won if not for fantastic opposition goaltending and bone dry home scoring.


Met two really nice Habs fans the day of the game in a deli on Santa Monica Blvd. While waiting for our sandwiches I heard them speaking French to the girl behind the counter, and thought I heard one of them say "Quebec". Said hi to them and asked if they were Canadian. They were, and of course we fall immediately into talking about hockey; one of them wearing a sweatshirt with "Canadiens" written across the chest. We then compared the Leafs and Habs keyrings we all were sporting and talked about the game that night. No trash talking or bravado shit, it was just very cool.


Typically heroic way for Mats to score his 400th goal as a Leaf, ripping it over Price's glove with 18 seconds. Jesus, I love him.


~~~~

Leafs win easily in Atlanta tonight, partially due to a withering stare from Loser Domi and partially because the Leafs just wanted it more and didn't let the Thrashers have the puck for two periods. Slump breaking goal by Alex Steen off of great work by Wellwood drawing two defenders to him, then dropping it for Alex to kill past a good Johan Hedberg. The Thrash got a little gumption in the third, and forced Toskala to make a hilariously big save against Pascal Dupuis with 4 minutes left. Mats scores with what now has to be considered his legendary backhand shot. I didn't feel sick even once the whole game.

ROCKET TO THE BOTTOM

There is a Monty Python routine about a man with three buttocks. An old phrase about having to see a man about a horse. There is the Man With The Golden Gun, a man from Nantucket and The Old Man And The Sea. There is a Man on the Moon and a man from U.N.C.L.E. Mannix watched Chico and the Man and the Blue Man Group. The Man from La Mancha listened to The Man in Black while Man Ray played Pac Man.
What, you ask, am I talking about? Just compiling a list of people who are better in the shootout than the Toronto Maple Leafs.
At a pitiful 7 for 17 since the introduction of the format. (And a woeful 0 and 3 already this season) What bugs me most about that stat is how its used. Yes it is easy to say that a few more shoot out wins (last year) and the Leafs are in and the Isles are out. I am hoping beyond hope that this year doesn't warrant that same excuse.
The reason the Leafs didn't make the playoffs last year wasn't (just) because of an impotent shoot-out record. It was because of underachieving millionaires. Sadly we went to the dance with those same fatsos. (Save for Jason Blake (save being the key word when it comes to him.) As someone who adores said fatsos...I can only hope that they don't wait until the final game to miss the dance. Please take the first 60 minutes of the game into your hands. The key to this game and in this league is consistency not shoot out moves.


Do or die. Even Jason Blake knew it when he declared Tuesday’s game as team defining. With 60 games remaining…this is it. It begins now. With this loss in the shoot-out. And perhaps the last shot of the game, Blake…a 40 goal man (apparently) …defining his early Leafs tenure by missing.

I don’t think it’s above the realm of possibility to see this team making the play offs. It’s easy to laugh the Leafs out of the playoffs. It’s proto-Canadian to eat our own. But this team can still make it. I really believe that. There have been moments (at least 8 times this year) where playoffs are a definite.
Look at the reaction the team had when Mats scored to tie the game last night. Thats what you build from. His white shoulders....and his burning desire.

And Sundin, oh Captain my Captain. A man so white he looks like a polar bear doing cocaine in a snow storm…scores numero 400.
Quite frankly Mats legacy may be tarnished by never bringing the cup home…but I really do believe that years from now Mats will be mentioned as the best of them all. Better than Keon, Sittler, Clark, Mahovlich, Salming and Dougie. Yes, I said it: Dougie.


DOUGIE:

Wednesday, November 28

I Wish I Knew How To Quit You

Tonight had all the makings of an ass kicking. Oilers go into Denver to face a struggling Avalanche team, albeit one that's very good at home (9-2). But, I thought they had a chance to steal two points if they got good goaltending and got off to a good start. Well, a couple minutes in, Steve Staois gets on the wrong side of an Avs forward, gets beat out from behind the net, and its 1-0. 25 seconds later, everyone stands around sulking, 2-0. I've seen enough. As I write, it's just into the 2nd period.

- Shots 22-3 in favor of Colorado.

- Rollie standing on his head while his team stands around.

- Can't put two passes together, you'd think the puck was infected with the bird flu.

- Brodziak has a wide open net...he can literally skate the puck into the net....he hits the crossbar. Souvenir for the kid in row H.

- Torres watch: No points in 14...no goals in 17. Maybe someone forgot to tell him to take off his J.F. Jacques Halloween costume.

- Oilers refuse to simplify their game. No dump and chase. No hitting. Nobody can make a play.

- Lazy penalties...Sakic scores. 3-0. I'm going to watch soccer.

Tuesday, November 27

Play It Again Sam

Josh Harding.......................[X]
Jean-Sebastien Giguere..........[X]
Nikolai Khabibulin.................[X]

Monday, November 26

NOW WITH 25% LESS CARING

I can barely contain my enthusiasm at this point. Besides the fact that I am contractually obligated to provide 25% Norte content on this site (and am floating around the 21% area). The 25% I write about is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Usually that’s a good thing. I could, as they say, talk about the Leafs till the cows came home. Unfortunately at this point….I am about as inspired as a Maple Leafs power-play. That kids, is what you call, a burn.

All joking aside this is going to have to be dismantled. It’s very difficult for me to remove my heart when it comes to the Leafs…but I think the time has come to offer up the pick of the litter. The thought makes me ill. I don’t even want to say it. I am not jumping ship, nor losing faith, rather, I am looking at the problem laterally. Last year at this time, my Toronto Maple Leafs a full 7 points ahead of where they are now, fought their way to not making the playoffs. I can’t even go on. I literally cannot finish that thought.

This team is like that promise you make to quit smoking, It’s always after Monday or after the next pack. After the Holidays. Its never right now. Now is never the time. The Toronto Maple Leafs are at their last pack, in fact I think the Leafs are down to their last ciggie. This is it. Really it was after this past back to back (sadly not sexy at all.) Losing to a team like Dallas is one thing. That POS no show against the Coyotes, on Hockey Night In Canada no less…was disgraceful. Listless, uninspired, beaten. They looked like an OHL team out there.
This team has more give aways than a showcase showdown. I have never been too keen on the ‘I don’t want it, you take it’ school of passing. To paraphrase Bonnie Tyler, I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero ‘till the end of the night and he’s gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight. I'm singing at you Ian White.

You know what. Nope. I am not writing anymore. I am angry at the Toronto Maple Leafs. I have the Toronto Maple Leafs pinned against the wall, and I am right in their face and scowling, “you better win tomorrow.”
I poke the Toronto Maple Leafs in the chest.

JFJ: Soon to Be Resting in Peace

John Ferguson Plank Watch '07 is on in earnest in Toronto right now; the firing of JFJ being as inevitable as another Paul Maurice shopping spree at Hakim Optical. A head will roll for what's happened this season (and last season, and the one before that), and that head just happens to have a little too much gel on it. Since the millionaires at MLSE are all rocking the dry look, that means Ferguson.

Are any of you like me in thinking that the most relieved person after the firing will be Ferguson himself? I'm not a full blown psychiatrist, as I really only went semi-pro, but when I look at JFJ, I see someone who secretly just wants out of the misery that is GM'ing the 07/08 Toronto Maple Leafs. Fergie, seen here internalizing his rage, speaks now in talking points only. With the tight, compressed voice of a man with 90 years of history standing on his chest.

Never being fully qualified for the job, Ferguson stepped into the biggest office in hockey already with two strikes on him. With half the board never wanting him to begin with, they've never allowed for him to operate free and clear of corporate interference. All MLSE has ever done for John Ferguson Jr. is give him enough rope to hang himself.

Sunday, November 25

Moose Droppings


Sunday Musings From Oil Country



Oil 3, Hawks 2 (SO)

I once heard MacT say, "Never critique a win." He said it partially in jest, because some wins need critiquing. The Oilers were probably a bit fortunate to win another game in which they turned the puck over too much (including another one for the highlight reel from Grebeshkov), and generally lacked emotion and intensity. But, for the 6th time this year they came through in the shootout. Thoughts:

- Their lack of physical play boarders on embarrassing. Ethan Moreau and Sheldon Souray, if they ever come back, are not enough to offset the rest of this teams' unwillingness to get on the body. Just another item on the 'to-do' list for Kevin Lowe - get a banger. Other teams know the Oilers are soft and run around all night hitting our skill players, knowing there is nobody to respond on the other side. I'm not talking about an enforcer, I'm talking about guys who HIT. Zack Stortini, the limited player that he is, should be hitting the opposing teams' star player every night. What else does he bring to the table?

- Add Nikolai Khabibulin to the list of Stanley Cup winning goaltenders that Sam Gagner has murdered with that penalty shot move. It's filthy. Apparently Patrick Kane, Gagner's old London teammate, even TOLD Khabibulin exactly what he was going to do! To which MacT had a great reply:

"I would love to hear that explanation. Come in, slow down, go left, go right, go left, two head fakes, go back to the right, go left, then backhand, forehand. How do you describe that?"

-
It may sound impressive that the Oilers are 6-1 in shootouts this season, but it's actually a bit frightening. That's a pretty fine line between being 9-13-1 and 3-13-7. Yikes. I know they all count, but that's not the sign of a good hockey team. Plus, Chicago and Vancouver, the Oilers last two victims, were also decimated by injuries to key players.

- The injury bug just keeps biting the Oil. Dick Tarnstrom is now out for at least a week with a concussion, after being knocked silly in the 2nd period. But I liked the way the boys responded by...oh, wait. Allan Rourke, your chariot awaits.

- Roloson was back to his old self, at least for one night, and made several big stops late in the third and in overtime. It's important that he gets into a bit of groove over the next few weeks, as the Oilers play a lot of games between now and January 1st.

- I guess I have to give some credit where none is really due, but whatever. Dennis Grebeshkov did make a nice play to set up Hemmer's goal. Then he almost pissed the game away with that turnover in the third.

- Speaking of Hemsky, he had 7 more shots on goal last night, giving him 64 for the season. His shot (and goal) totals in his first 4 seasons were: 50 (9) - 87 (12) -178 (19) -122 (13). This year he's on a pace for 227 shots and 24 goals. He'll always be a playmaker first, but I think he finally senses that he needs to score more goals for this team to be successful.

Because Nobody Else Will

I've got to say a few words about the Leafs, because I find the them interesting, in a rubber-necking kind of way..

The 'Leafs Nation' must be plotting the final stages of the Coup d'etat after last night's ass-raping in Phoenix. Hell, if Norte was ready to cut off the little toe following the loss in Dallas, then the garden pruners should have been put to good use after the first 5 minutes last night.

The Leafs are a flawed team. Unfortunately, for JFJ and Paul Maurice, I don't think it's something that can be fixed from within. If you want to fire JFJ for constructing a flawed team, that's one thing. But there's not much he can do right now it terms of changing the mix. It's too early in the season for teams to take on salary, and he has a bunch of overpriced players that he's trying to move.

Everyone knows what the problems are. The goalies are terribly inconsistent (or just terrible), and the defense has very little poise, moxie, and leadership. You just can't spin the fact that Brian McCabe is being paid $5 million to shoot one-timers on the PP. Hell, the Oilers are doing the same thing with Souray, but at least he's injured! In theory, spending lots of money on your blueline is a good idea, it's just been spent on the wrong guys.

Should they fire JFJ? Probably. Should they fire Maurice? Probably not. I think he has the right temperament to coach in Toronto. He's a bit fiery, and you need that. But he was stupid to guarantee a playoff spot, and who knows, that may end up costing him his job. To that end, I found it pretty fucking offensive when Don Cherry went on HNIC last night and defended Paul Maurice from the big, bad media monster. Oh, what meanies! They were asking Maurice about what happened after the team got an ass kicking by the Phoenix Coyotes. They were asking "stupid questions," he said. Oh, dear. Paul Maurice, ladies and gentlemen, the first coach in sports history to be faced with "dumb questions" from reporters. If a reporter asks an intelligent question, he's ridiculed as a know-it-all. But they're 'stupid' when they say "Hey Paul, what happened out there?" or "Hey Paul, talk about why you pulled Raycroft?". Fuck off, Don.

I hear an awful lot of proud Leafs fans talking about how the Leafs are the 'flagship' franchise of the NHL. The biggest and baddest on the block. Yet, when they receive the kind of media attention which is directly proportional to the size of the fanbase and lionized importance of the franchise, they complain. Greener himself has written many a protective post on here about the negative press from the Toronto media. It's part and parcel; take the good with the bad. If Brian McCabe puts the puck in his own net, it's gonna be on the front page. As it should be. In an environment like that, the victories feel that much better, and the losses hurt that much more. That's what makes hockey in Canada so great.

Saturday, November 24

That Football is Something, Huh?

The Leafs flew all the way to Dallas, I guess to play a hockey game. Apparently they watched football the day before, having a luxury box all to themselves to watch the Cowboys. I spent a couple of minutes watching football at Moose's house on Thanksgiving. One of Moose's relatives wanted to see the score in a game between the University of Bigotry, who were battling it out with the University of Steroids. Oh Jesus Christ is football the worst shit in the world to watch!? No, wait. I'm taking the question mark off that last statement. I'm not leaving it open for debate. Football is the worst shit in the world to watch.

Now normally hanging around with Moose makes clocks run backwards, but this... To his credit, Moose was very polite in accommodating this relation by marriage, twice removed, put back, and now here to eat my turkey. We were watching the Oil game at the time, and Moose twice switched away from an Oiler man advantage to check the score for this guy. Maybe that's emblematic of how badly the Oil are playing, that watching a bunch of fatso's line-up for a grueling 2 seconds of action followed by 10 minutes of video review is more engrossing than watching Geoff Sanderson on your powerplay.

Anyway, Moose deserves a lot of props for once again having me be the center of attention at one of his dinner parties. It takes a big man to have that little thunder.
Oh, and after dinner we were joined by the one and only Washingtron! It was good to see Wash, a guy I'm sure most of you would like. You may not want to start a hockey blog with him, but I'm pretty sure you'd like him.
Wash hasn't posted here since November the 4th. Here are the two reasons, in descending order, why since that time he couldn't be bothered to write 25% of He Score, He Shoot!:

1) His girlfriend was visiting. Shocking at first, I know. We all went through it as well. Some woman wants to be with him. It's made all the weirder when you see how amazing his girlfriend is. Well, you know what they say: The hotter they are, the crazier they are.

2) He just bought "Rock Band" for the xbox 360. Perhaps the number 1 reason for Wash's shocking lack of motor skills is his absolute devotion to sitting in front of a TV trying to kill Orks and Goblins. Seriously readers, does he really have to again write typically preposterous Wash statements like he is always right! I mean, who else around here is going to learn the drum part to "Learn to Fly" by the Foo Fighters?! Is it YOU?! I don't think you've got the guts!

~~~~

Oh, right. Last nights Leafs game. I wouldn't really call it a game, so much as a UFA highlight reel for Boyd Deveraeux. A great first period with Mats looking true-to-form fantastic, but then, fuck me. It's like the worst that could have happened was going into the first intermission not having scored on that 5-3.
The Leafs came back out and just looked timid. The Wozniewski to Kaberle "You Take the Grenade!" thing was just mind blowing. Is that just a case of young players are going to make mistakes, or is there something deeper? I almost don't want that answered. Devereaux was awesome, finally seeing some truck punching hits from Bell. McCabe saved at least a goal which made up for a couple of what the fuck moments.

Tonight, it's a must win against Phoenix. A must because the Leafs haven't really won in a while, it's against the Coyotes, who you have to be able to beat. Also, it's an away game. A win which they have to pluck because being at home wins are a very bare cupboard.

Friday, November 23

Exasperation


Oilers lose; Greener eats all my food.



Last night I watched Greener walk out my door, flanked by two pack mules carrying away all my Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. It turned out to be an appropriate metaphor for the way the Oilers played. With a 4-7 home record, the Oilers have been pretty charitable hosts thus far this season, and last night was no different. A string of lazy penalties, turnovers and little or no urgency. Colorado came into their house, ate their dinner and left with 2 points. Now, Greener is poor and can't afford to feed himself, so my gesture was somewhat philanthropic. The Oilers? They're currently living under the Western Conference freeway underpass, and therefore, should be fighting for every morsel.

Listening to MacT's post-game comments, you could just hear the exasperation and disappointment in his voice. He sounded like a man who didn't know what to do next. The Oilers slipped to 8-13-1 with the loss, but a win last night would have put them just 4 points back of 2nd place in the conference. That's how ridiculous the standings are right now. That would have been a nice carrot to dangle in front of a young, inconsistent team. Instead they got another tough lesson in an important game.

Staying Afloat

The Oilers are starting to get healthy (albeit slowly), with Joni Pitkanen returning last night. His ability to skate the puck out of the defensive zone will be most welcome, as will his presence on the PP. MacT has talked a lot about trying to stay in the race until the injuries clear up, but with the inconsistency the team has shown, two wins in these last two home games against Chicago and Columbus are almost imperative. That's no easy task considering they are two of the most improved teams in the conference. Pisani and Souray look like they're next in the way of reinforcements, while Ethan Moreau is still 4-6 weeks away.

Lock It Up

Never mind Jarret Stoll, the most pressing RFA on Kevin Lowe's plate should be Tom Gilbert. He's shown this year that he's a top-4 guy with great poise and a head for the game. Meanwhile, Stoll, who most people thought could be an offer-sheet candidate, is playing himself out of a long term, big money deal, into a one year "show me" deal.

I'll Bet You Can't...

...name me 10 better all-around centers than Shawn Horcoff. I'm talking offence, defence, face-offs, penalty-killer, the whole package. The best Oiler again last night.

Quick Bits (not to be confused with TimBits)

- Roloson should get the nod tomorrow against Chicago. Garon looked to be fighting the puck last night and wasn't particularly sharp (except for the shootout) in the win against Vancouver.

- It was interesting to hear Horcoff talk about the Oilers watching film of other teams PP's to see what makes them work. WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT! If you noticed, the last two games (in which they've scored 4 PP goals) there has been much more movement away from the puck (like Gilbert's goal against Vancouver).

- Also, I like the fact that MacT has given some first unit PP time to Gagner, Cogliano and even Nilsson, but I don't need Geoff Sanderson on there.

- So much for the 'new' Raffi Torres. Now 15 games without a goal.

- Amazingly, Tom Gilbert took his first penalty of the year last night. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Wednesday, November 21

ET TU, TUUKKA?

Stunning. That’s the only word to describe it. Stunning. And not stunning in an ‘Oh My God, Jaclyn Smith was stunning in Charlie’s Angels' way but in a…It’s stunning how a season can be lost in 21 minutes way. That was the worst 21 minutes on TV since the last episode of Seinfeld. Maybe it was longer…cos it really started with another McCabe giveaway that lead to Joe Bowen saying ‘Leafs look like the running around out there’, and you know when he says that, it’s going in.

You know how the first shift after a goal is really important, than the next game after a big win, must have the same kind of impact. Another win like the win against the team from otawa and you can build from something like that. Quite frankly I still scratch my head and wonder how this team isn’t on a 6 game win streak. Starting with that game against Buffalo or maybe before that against the Pens. Regardless…that we have only 8 wins is disgraceful for so many reasons. It makes me feel curmudgeonly.

Let’s start with that game on Saturday. Easily the best game of the season. Quite frankly one of the best games I have ever seen McCabe play in a Leafs uniform. To say he was a horse is an insult to anything equestrian. And he and Kaberle back together. You want stats, I’ll give you stats: six years together, 547 combined points.
We also dominated the face-off circle. And was it just me or did Stajan and Steen kill it on the penalty kill (pun intended.) Toskala was doing puzzles sitting crossed legged in his crease most of the night. It was a great game. The kind you build momentum from. Ye as players and we as fans. But we know that its like competitive diving or figure skating maybe…you take your best score and your worst score and you throw them out. If the 3 nothing win against the otawa team was the best then which game was the worst? Thursdays loss against the lowly Bruins or yesterdays loss against the lowly Bruins. To me it was yesterdays. What makes it worse than Thursday's against Boston's or even that awful loss to Washington or that drubbing we took at the hands of the Hurricanes. Yesterdays game was the worst because we had nothing to learn from it.

I am not so sure why after only 8 wins that nothing has happened. Let me tell you that it pains me deep in my person to think of what that could mean. (Hi...I'm talking to you Moose and Washingtron....wake up its August 9th 1988. We're not at that drastic stage yet I think. After the verbal boots I saw Maurice give them a few weeks ago its not him. I think at this point its JFJ. Not that I think he has done a particularly bad job but you know how sometimes you gotta get into a fight to inspire your team. I think JFJ at this point would be the equivalent of dressing Wade Belak.
All I would ask is that we have somebody decent ready to step in. And no offense to ol'Heals but I don't think he is the answer either. I'm not holding my breath and waiting for Scotty Bowman, but someone.

Look at this point in the season, after only 8 wins. Something aint right. I don’t know how to look at the fact that only after 8 wins nothing has happened? The Ducks lose a great goalie in Bryzgalof, Atlanta fires their coach. Dallas got rid of their GM, why can’t we? One of the problems being a real fan of the glorious Toronto Maple Leafs is that we are loyal. To the core, to this team. But its time to rethink the program. I hate thinking about a future where they talk about the humiliating, demoralizing loss to the Boston Bruins late in November as the start to their eventual flushing. Quite frankly I don’t want to wait till the last game of the year to know whether or not we’re in the playoffs. I wont even mention Tuukka Rask making every screenwriter smile …nope, JFJ is the pinky toe on my left foot….if something’s got to go, it’s him.

Kill! RabbleRabble! Destroy! RabbleRabbleRabble!

There are probably people in Toronto coiling the rope and wrapping the kerosene soaked rags around the end of a tree branch in preparation of the newest in a seemingly endless list of reasons to lynch John Ferguson Jr. The latest is a 6'3, 169 pound, squinty-eyed bean pole from Finland with a name like something you'd ask for at Home Hardware.
As if JFJ doesn't have enough indignities thrown at him, the Bruins come in to the ACC and parade Tuukka Rask around not just for his first game against his former team, but his first game, EVER. That's the kind of poetic irony that the assholes who run the universe just love to F with. Right there you know not just what kind of game Rask was going to play, but what kind of game Rask had to play.

In hot seat numero 2, was the young man on the Leafs bench kind enough to get the door for everyone last night, Monsieur Anderton Raycroft. As far as I can tell, Andrew is a nice guy who seems to have a bit more going on upstairs than a lot of the pre-erect hominoids who populate the sporting scrums in locker rooms around the league. But you have to think that Andrew was squeezing his lucky so and so, kinda, sorta hoping that Rask would skate to the wrong net, fire the puck into his own goal and shit his pants all before the first kiss-cam timeout.

But he didn't. Tuukka Rask played a good, solid game for the Bruins. He had 34 pucks thrown at him and was beaten by two, which weren't exactly pretty, but still. He made a number of real game savers to boot. One against Johnny Pohl, from beautiful work from Wellwood, and a killer toe save in the final few minutes. It was one of those games where the Leafs were the better team in all areas but one: the goaltending. Similar to the game against Montreal with Carey Price last week. Rask, like Price, kept his team in it long enough for an eventual home game third period Leaf collapse to happen. Then a late pressure goal with everyone running around the Leafs end, and there you go. Two more points gifted away to a division foe. Fucking perfect.

So anyway, the point I was making is that I think it's perhaps a little premature to kill JFJ for trading Rask for Raycroft. A lot of people look good for 1 game. Moose isn't one of them, but, you know, poeple do. JFJ had to get a goalie, and he did/does have Pogge in his back pocket. That's why you stockpile assets, right? Right? What? So we traded a young Bernie Parent in the 70's, and in 96/97 we traded our pick that turned into Roberto Luongo, what the fucks it to you?
We'll see what the Bruins do the next 20 times the Leafs have to play them this season. Christ, the Leafs have trouble with Tim Thomas, and he supposedly blows.

Once again the welcome relief of a long road trip opens up, and the Leafs will certainly get a bunch of points back. The Dallas "There's Still a Team in Dallas?!" Stars on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday. So that means, I'll see you next Tuesday!

Monday, November 19

Hey Everyone, I Just Heard! Leafs 3, Senators 0!

Dateline: 2 Nights Ago. The Place: The ACC! The Event: The Best Leaf Game of the Season! And not a game too soon. Losing the last 5 home games and playing a horseshit match in Boston, in the Senators, the Leafs face a team that at best can be called ultra-dangerous, and at worst can be called a bunch of ultra shit-eating, dog-fuckers. But hey, that's just me saying that. Oh, and everyone in Canada during last season's final.

Amazingly, the Leafs actually learned from past mistakes playing the Senators, and did just what they do, which is NOT commit everyone on the forecheck leaving no one back to stem an avalanche of ugly sweaters coming down the other way. The sent one man high, clogged the middle to stem the Senator rush which has killed the Leafs time and time and time again.

Toskala played like he has to, and as much as I'm not a Raycroft downer, Toskala just does things, and gets to places that in my heart I don't think Andrew can or would do. Vesa is just smooth, even in a crisis, and it's hard to predict when or if he'll get scored on in any given situation. Raycroft, well let's just say he wants to make it interesting. NOTE TO ALL CURRENT AND FUTURE LEAF GOALERS: DO NOT MAKE IT INTERESTING!

Great to see Tlusty score. Hopefully he feels like a hockey player again, and not someone living in a fishbowl having everyone in Canada debating if he's gay or not. That's exactly what teenagers love isn't it? When everyone in the world is questioning their sexuality. Considering what a huge job he has to do, the fact he's bore the brunt of this, and comes out and scores a great, patient, smart goal (at home) speaks of this kids' guts and character. If any of you fatso's would have had a quarter of the stress he's been under the past two weeks at his age, you'd have called in sick to your part-time job at Sam the Record Man and spent the weekend cutting yourselves.

2-4 on the power play. Again, fantastic time for that to actually work again. Tucker to start, and a beautiful Sundin one-timer, smooth along the ice beating Martin Gerber. Great checking line work with Bell finding second line time later in the game, with his pressure forecheck leading directly to Tlusty's goal. How about Antropov stick handling behind the net?! He, he has hands! Beautiful, supple, Jergens in the morning and again just before bed, hands. The defense had their man every time, with the only blown coverage was Wozniewski getting caught too high, but getting bailed out by Toskala with what looked like a video game goalie blocker save. Gorgeous.

The Bruins are in Toronto, and I so very, very hope that the assholes who decide which game feed to play on Center Ice play the LeafsTV or TSN broadcast, and not the unintelligible NESN Boston call with Andy "I Think It's English" Brickley, who sounds like he's got sandwich in his mouth every time he tries to say that everything the Bruins do is good, and everything the other team does is bad.

OK Leafs, here's your homework. Very simple: Do what you did against the best team in the league, again. Watch the tapes, do the same drills, and do it all again. Love, Everyone.

SEXY, JUST READ MOOSE'S LAST POST UPDATE: You should fucking be so lucky to look like us for 1 minute, let alone 40.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does


The First Quarter Report Card


This has been a unique year for me personally. Entering the season, I had no expectations for the Oilers. I knew we were going to be a mediocre hockey team and therefore, I've been able to watch each game with a relatively low level of anxiety and keep my insane screaming at the television to a minimum. I've just wanted to see the team make strides and improve. It's the first time in my 27+ years as an Oiler fan that I've been able to say/do that.

That being said, I lost my shit on Saturday night. As I was telling Wash the other day, there are generally 6 or 7 games each year that make me never want to watch the Oilers again. Needless to say, Saturday was one of those games. In addition to doing a really good imitation of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first 40 minutes, the Oilers have become a stupid hockey team. There were several times when guys were beaten to loose pucks, not because they were slower or in bad position, but because they simply didn't know if they were supposed to go and get it. Before you start with the "fire MacT" bullshit, it's NOT coaching, it's confidence. These were simple reads that guys have made thousands of times. They wouldn't be in the NHL if they hadn't. When you're playing like shit, you forget how to play. Simple as.

But I digress - back to the bigger picture. At the 20 game mark the Oilers stand at 7-12-1, and you can't tell me that Ethan Moreau wouldn't have made the difference in a couple of those lifeless efforts. They could very easily be 10-10 or 9-11, and in the thick of the playoff race. I don't use injuries as an excuse when it comes to wins and losses, but when it comes to rationally analyzing a hockey club as a whole, it makes no sense to pass judgement using a bunch of incomplete data. This is how the Oil grade out in my eyes:

Goalers

Roloson: (C)
Hasn't found any consistency and has been fighting the puck lately. People who are calling for a trade based on Garon's play of late should look at Bryzgalov's situation. If the Ducks couldn't get a conditional pick for a guy making $1.3m ahead of UFA status, how are the Oilers gonna find a taker for a guy with another year at $3.6m? Rollie's game is about control and making the first save, it's hard to do that when Denis Grebeshkov is tossing hand grenades in your crease a few times per period. Having a 38-year-old goalie on a rebuilding team isn't ideal, but he'll likely be an Oiler until the 2009 trade deadline.

Garon: (B+) Great signing by Lowe, he's delivered what everyone hoped he would. Been spectacular of late; just needs to maintain some consistency.

Deslauriers: (A+) Has any Oiler done his job more ably and completely? Was awesome working the bench door in Vancouver.


Defencemen

Pitkanen: (B-)
Question - when you're a millionaire, shouldn't your stick rep be able to get you the proper size hockey stick? When the Oilers played the Flyers in the second game of the year, I heard the Flyers TV announcers talk about how Pitkanen plays with a stick that's waaaay too short for him because he can't find a longer one with the proper flex. I mean look at it, it's really short. Apparently it really hinders his play, and last year Flyers management was not pleased. As an Oiler he started slow, but I thought he got better just before he got hurt. Still another week or two away from returning.

Staios: (B-) His usual solid self, nothing flashy. Does seem to have lost a half-step, meaning he and his 4yr/$10.8m contract is right on schedule to become a financial liability in another year or two.

Souray: (C+) For the short time he was healthy, he seemed to master his role as the highest paid decoy in the NHL. Unfortunately his teammates kept fucking it up by constantly passing him the puck while opposing players were dry humping his leg.

Greene: (B) Seemed to turn the corner before his injury (ahem, ctrl+v). Valuable physical presence on the back-end.

Gilbert: (A) Best defender and even their best player on a few nights. Tommy Salo and a 6th rounder...Kevin Lowe sure is stupid.

Tarnstrom: (B) During the streak of games when Grebeshkov was playing 28 minutes a night, I never quite saw what MacT saw, blaming every goal against on Tarnstrom. He's been great the last week or two, stepping up physically when that's clearly not his game. Calming influence; has moved the puck well.

Smid: (B-) Still makes the odd youthful mistake (see: pass up the middle), but has been great at skating the puck out of pressure in his zone; has a bit of mean streak too.

Roy: (F)














Grebeshkov: (F) Doesn't play well with others.

Rourke and Young (C+) I like that they're not named Denis Grebeshkov.


Forwards

Torres: (B-)
I predicted he would score 25-30 this year. He's got 3. He's streaky enough that he could still do it, but on a team starved for goals, it would be nice if he got started...like tomorrow against Vancouver. He has been more consistent with his effort this year, but could still get on the body a bit more.

Penner: (C+) At 6'4", and 245 pounds, I see the size. I can see the soft hands, and, as he gets better conditioned, I can see the skating. The package is there. But every time I see him bearing down on a defender in the corner, I'm like, "Awww yeah, run 'em Dusty!!!" And then...










Of course being the 'new guy' on the team, I'm sure he was just trying to fit in with the rest of these no-hitters. Suffice to say he needs to do more.

Sanderson: (C-) Been too quiet for one of the few healthy veterans in the lineup. Decent on the penalty kill, but has provided little 5-on-5. Makes $1.5m and is a UFA next year; will have some value at the trade deadline as a depth player for a playoff team.

Moreau: (Who the fuck knows) Expected to announce his retirement next week.

Stoll: (C+) I don't think he's been bad, he just hasn't DONE much. Got a couple goals against the Wild, and seems to be rounding into form a bit. Will get the shutdown job against the Sedin's tomorrow night. Perhaps focusing on defence will simplify things and help get his offence going.

Stortini: (C) If his skating didn't look like a man wading through a pool of peanut butter, he would be just what the doctor ordered to address the lack of physical play and team toughness. Still MacT seems to like him, but I imagine that's due to lack of options.

Cogliano: (B-) Going to be a very good player once he learns how to use his speed more effectively. The skill and awareness is there. Has started to look more like a rookie of late, taking a few bad penalties and turning the puck over, but that's part of the process.

Gagner: (B) Fantastic vision and poise with the puck, he usually makes something happen when he has it. Skating is decent enough, but needs to get bigger and stronger - as most 18-year-old boys in the NHL do. He's replaced Raffi as my girlfriends favorite Oiler (she's nicknamed him "Yummy"). I must say, his signature shoot-out move is quite tasty. As bad as he makes a Conn Smythe winning goalie look in the first clip, watch the goalie and listen to the crowd in the second one. Sick.




Reasoner: (C) Hard guy to rate, he does a little bit of everything and he's a great locker room guy. UFA next year and another one who's likely to be dealt at the deadline.

Hemsky: (B+) For all the talk in the off-season about getting a guy that could throw the puck around with Ales, I'm surprised they haven't tried him with Nilsson yet (that may happen against Vancouver tomorrow night). Most of the offense still flows through him and that's not a good thing. The lack of finishers on this club has actually caused him to start shooting the puck. THAT'S how desperate we are.

Nilsson: (C+) Exceptional talent, but every time I sing his praises he lays an egg. As with most young skill guys, he has to learn to take what the defence gives him. For example: dumping the puck in on occasion. You suck Ro-bear! (That should be good for 2 goals tomorrow).

Brodziak: (B-) He's going to have a NHL career doing exactly what he's doing. Killing penalties, responsible third line play, and chipping in the odd goal. Not much to knock.


Horcoff: (A-) Don't know what more he can do. He wins faceoffs, he's good defensively, and he puts up points, yet people knock him because he's not pretty doing it. Would you say this guy isn't pretty?! At least 75% of NHL play-by-play announcers still call him HORCROFT.

Jacques: (D-) Apparently he's the greatest AHL player of all-time.

Schremp, Pouliot, and Pisani: One of these guys will play in the NHL again this year. Hint: It's the guy with Ulcerative Colitis.


Management

MacTavish: (C+) I think the guy is a really good coach, but this team - the way it's constructed - is not his cup of tea. He's been very patient and stayed positive with a young team that's been killed by injuries, and that's a credit to him. The guy is a good teacher, and thinks the game very well. The power play is ridiculous - it doesn't work because good power plays have SKILL. Why he hasn't thrown Gagner, Nilsson and Hemsky out there together is a mystery to me. Is it going to get worse? Overall, he and Lowe are hard to judge without a healthy team to assess.

Lowe: (B-) I think the team on paper has the elements to be competitive, but we haven't been able to see it on the ice yet. I actually heard him use the 'R' word today in an interview, which was nice. I think most fans knew we were rebuilding, they just wanted to hear him say it. There's a good core to build around, the difficult part is getting the high-end pieces to put the team back into the Cup hunt. It's hard to acquire those types of players when you don't have a lot of NHL-calibre players to give up in a trade, and your prospects haven't developed as expected. The Oilers do have some nice veterans that other teams will want, so when the team falls out of the race, it will be interesting to see who stays and who goes at the deadline.


Wednesday, November 14

Great. Leave it to Me to Call for Sanity. Again.

Yesterday Moose sent Norte and I an email, and using threatening language, demanded that one of us write a Bryan McCabe or Jiri Tlusty joke. So here goes:

Q: What do you get when Bryan McCabe chucks it across the middle in 3 x 3 overtime instead of passing it downlow to Sundin where a goal could possibly be scored?

A: Jiri Tlusty took some nudies.
Look, McCabe had his head down and didn't make the best decision of his life, no question. But I can count a dozen times where he's won it for the Leafs in overtime, like last spring when he sent a bomb in against the Flyers to keep the Leafs in the playoff hunt. So seriously, give him a break. He's not Steve Smith for Christs sake.

I'm not sure why Antropov was even out there in the first place. I'm a fan of his - a big one, but why him? Why not Wellwood? He only scored twice that night, and was obviously feeling it. Why not Blake who is suffering from the biggest case of Due-itis I've ever seen. Who knows, maybe Blake would have caught up to Komisarek? Who knows. As Komisarek was going in on the longest breakaway in history, I thought, "This is Raycroft's season right here". Can you imagine if he'd saved it? Love, sweet love. The complexion of his Leaf tenure could have swung right there and then. Komisarek had his head down the whole way, and because of that, Raycroft knew he was going 5 hole. Unfortunately Andrew didn't have his blade down flush on the ice, and the puck caught his stick's angle and jumped through. Raycroft was shocked it went in.

Not that I'm blaming him or anyone for the loss. Raycroft had a great game, and made some real saves on a surprising (for now) Montreal team. He's earned another start, so I think we'll see him against Boston. As for Carey Price. OK, I'm sold. The new goalie for the Los Angeles Kings will be Jan Halak. Jan, I'm sure you're a terrific guy, but please put a sign up in front of your place in Val d'Ors or wherever you live, because you are moving to beautiful Marina Del Ray. Price is really good (for now). All that needs to happen is the kid wins the Vezina, Bob Gainey gives him all the money in Canada, and he doesn't make another save for them. But until then, he is fucking good.

Jiri Tlusty. I can hear everyone in Toronto screaming from here. Why don't you all just shut up. Wow! A 19 year old kid a million miles from home did something stupid that he didn't want the world to see! Incredible! 10 minutes ago, I was running around my house playing air guitar with a tennis racket, but I was just (a tiny, tiny) bit too mature to film it and put in on Youtube. That's the only difference. And oooh, he touched tongues with another guy! Big deal! I'm sure somewhere there's a picture of Washingtron with his dick in a jar of peanut butter which his Edmonton friends should send to me, but still, Jesus Christ! Taking pictures and sending them to EVERYONE is what teenagers do. Doing dumb, ill-advised shit is what being a teenager is all about. REMEMBER?? Really, the biggest mistake he made was doing this as a hockey player in Canada, let alone Toronto. Unfortunately he's not in Tennessee where guys are shooting under performing dogs in the woods to steal the headlines from him.

The kid is a really good hockey player, and from what I hear, a good person. And HE'S OURS! He is a Toronto Maple Leaf! Let's not force him to regret the moment his name was called he pulled on the most beautiful sweater in the world, alright?

Tuesday, November 13

GDCSer

Let me start by saying that I don’t condone violence and that I am far more lover than fighter. Let me also say that, in hockey terms, I respect the shit disturber. I grew up watching Essa Tikkanen bother the shit out of people while Gretz danced around them. I understand its role and that there are just some players whose value can’t be judged solely by their stats. Arguably Darcy Tucker is or has been the same type of player. That hunk of dung Sean Avery falls into that category too. But Darcy Tucker and Sean Avery are as different as apples and onions.

I don’t know if you saw the pre-game skate. But that fuckface Avery clearly did say something to Blake. Tell him he’s ugly, that his wife has big thighs, that he takes a thousand shots but can’t find the net. Say something about what he is going through and you officially enter flushable territory. I don’t know what he said, and quite frankly, I don’t really want to know. The look on Tucker’s face and the immediacy of his actions tell me everything I need to know. (As much about what was said as Tucker himself) You say some shit to my teammate about what he is going through, when that thing he is going through is fucking leukemia, and I would have my stick at jugular slicing level too. Quite frankly every player, Leaf or otherwise, should have beaten the shit out of him.

I am a team player and would come to the defense of my teammate every time, no matter what, even if it was that stump Avery. But I would know he deserved his teeth knocked in. I dislike him so much that it softens my loathing of the team from ottawa.
As Darcy said between periods, it’ll never be over between them. Instigator rule or not, somebody, everybody kick the shit out that bitch.

Stay tuned cos in my next post, I'll tell you how I really feel.

PART TWO

Forgive me for not uploading part two after Friday’s game but sometimes shit happens that gets in the way. And yes I know it’s now Tuesday. But hey…piss off.

Urgency. That’s what I have always said I missed in Raycroft’s game. Urgency. If I had an organ I would play dun dun dun. Cue dramatic music. I wouldn’t say that he stole the game on Friday but he played ‘urgent’ (Foreigner) and won the game. When you get slotted in every third of fourth game…it behooves you to play well. A shut-out is more than we can hope for. I don’t think this is the start of a goalie controversy but another good turn in the, ‘hey, lets be a great tandem team of goalies and each win games’. Goalies are a funny lot but all they want to do is win. Raycroft showed me that he is a team guy and that when he is called on, he’ll deliver. And what a save on Paetsch with a minute to go. Blocker saves look and sound as awesome as they are.

Now of course that delivery depends on the rest of the team playing their roles too. What I saw was terrific defensive zone coverage, great line changes. And anytime I see a team blocking shots….I know something is working in the dressing room. Gritty wins are good team wins. And McCabe with his second game winning goal while playing the Sabres...sure goes far in redeeming himself in my books.

Monday, November 12

Halcyon Days




Sunday, November 11

Greener, Greener, Norte, Norte, Wash, MOOSE?!

Ooooo, but he's back! He's the man behind the mask! And he's out of control, He's back!
The man behind the mask! And he crawled out of his hole!

Now just there, was I:

  • a) Talking about Moose writing on this blog again
OR
  • b) Stealing Alice Cooper lyrics from his theme song to Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
If you circled either of those two, please pick up your purple Participant ribbon from Mrs. Skell because you're correct!

Yes, he is back, although in my Moose version of the song, it says the man who should wear a mask...like while out shopping or in a school zone. He's back with us again! Yay! A man who takes orders from a guy called Tony has decided to pleasure us once again by giving us the hairy palmed reach-around he calls his writing.

Just a note on whatever his new post will be: Whatever is funny in it, he took from me. I spent time with Moose this afternoon and made him laugh from about 3:10 till about 8:45. We talked about the blog and I used a little thing I call wit to tell him what should be in his next post. He admitted as such when we (finally) parted.

N.B.
: If you don't see at least 10-12 little stars (*) after his jokes, leading you to an elaborate footnotes section at the bottom listing me as the one and true author of the joke, please know that I will run Moose into the boards from behind at our next game, in spite of the fact that he's the #1 defenseman on the team I share with him and actually makes 10-12 huge plays for us per game giving us a chance to win every night. But still. That plagiarizing asshole's going down!

~~~~

That aside let's talk about something I actually care about. The Toronto Maple Leafs. I pay attention to the details of the game, and while some observers would pay special mind to the fact the the Leafs lose at ACC, straight up, on Saturday I had a different obsession: Steve Valiquette. Seen here as an Islander thanking someone for something I'm sure is boring that apparently changed his life, I knew there was Leaf trouble afoot when it was made ABUNDANTLY clear by the good people at HNIC that Steve Valiquette is in fact from Toronto. That was bad news because as any observant Leafs fan will tell you, judging by the fact that 96% of t players in the NHL are from the GTO if not Southern Ontario, those players LOVE to come in to our building and play their goddamn little hearts out in front of Mum, Dad, and Uncle Thomas, all of whom took the subway to get to the game.

As just one example, Toronto boy Kevin Weekes. A goalie who's had a 10 year NHL career playing for 7 NHL teams, played a game at the ACC in 2004 when he was with the Hurricanes, and stood on his head shutting us out 2-0. Kevin Weekes just isn't up for that, anywhere, at any time. Let alone there and then.

Valiquette, a guy who played literally 1 game for the Oilers in 03-04, playing 13 minutes for a 9.23 GAA and a .714 save percentage, played well enough in front of said relatives to get the Rangers to the shootout, where apparently hitting the net with a shot is important in order to score the goal in order to win the game. Who knew?

Also, was there not ONE Leaf parent or relative or pet in the stands for HNIC to interview/show on camera/do a special package on? Not one? I endured numerous in-game visits with Valiquette's parents, Brendan Shanahan's mother (who I had to sit and watch celebrate as her Toronto born kid scored), and the piece de resistance, clearly the worst parents in Canada, Sean Avery's. At Least on LeafsTV we usually get the very comforting shot of Worlds Greatest Grampa Johnny Bower smiling his sweet, benevolent smile, or at worst a shot of Doug Gilmour wearing his leather jacket.
Can I get a shot of Matt Stajan's Aunt? Can I get a shot of the guys from Colaiacovo's Trattoria? Can I get a what-what?

Finally just some in-game notes. Jiri Tlusty started on the second line last night. Fantastic for him. Considering he was playing in the Soo last year, sticking with the team this long and being tested on the second line suggests that the Leafs have made a great pick, and we have ourselves a hockey player. He's not looked out of place or been embarrased that I've seen, so, brilliant.
Pavel Kubina hurt his MCL, so that means the dinner bell is ringing for Anton Stralman. Maybe Kubina's injury isn't too bad. It's a shame because he's played by far his best hockey as a Leaf, scoring 11 points in 18 games. Lost in all the Stralman speak has been Steffan Kronwall who I don't hear about or see mention of as much since young Anton came around. Jay Harrison may get a sniff too, although I don't know why as the Leafs are playing Andy Wozniewski, and Woz is basically the same as Harrison minus the toughness.

In closing I'd like to comment on one of the coolest fucking things I've ever fucking seen: Darcy Tucker's comments between periods about POS Sean Avery. Tucker is a dividing line with me, and that line breaks down like this: Darcy Tucker is a fucking Warrior and a real teammate and if you agree with that then you are fucking brilliant and you can be a friend of mine, and if you don't, then you can go fuck yourself and move to Ottawa.
Below is the Coaches Corner piece they did on the Tucker/Avery incident with Tucker's comments at the end. Even Don Cherry, who in his video intro has his goddamn dog trying to bite the nuts off the cameraman shooting him, doesn't respect Avery. He says that Avery is what gives hockey a bad name, and he's right. Watch Tucker not put up with what's wrong in the game, and see why we are lucky to be hockey players.

Oil 4, Flames 2


Moose rallies troops with Messier-like guarantee.


What can I say, I'm a leader. I'm also a bit tired from backing-up ANOTHER win guarantee. This time in our beer league this afternoon, so this post is likely to be more boring than being Greener's accountant.

The Oil answered the bell again last night, with arguably their best effort of the year. Some execution might have been lacking, but they were full of try. Quick thoughts:

Garon: Ate the puck up all night and tossed in 3 or 4 felonies to boot. I would go back with him in Vancouver.

Horcoff: People who criticize this guy are mental. He's been a fantastic player on some good Oiler teams, but on a very mediocre team he's indispensable. Players should be measured by how many things they do to help their team win games. Horcoff does arguably more things than any player on this team. If you're expecting #1 center numbers you're missing the bigger picture.

Tarnstrom: Great stick position all night, was physical when he needed to be, and got the puck to the net for both of Horcoff's goals. Should be benched in Vancouver.

Nilsson: At the beginning of the year I said that the Ro-Bear would be one of the keys to the Oilers success this season. If you've watched the last couple games you understand why. The guy was electric last night, and when he's going the Oilers have two dangerous lines. He was a threat every time he touched the puck, scored a PP goal, set-up countless chances, and was even in good spots defensively. I honestly think he's a better passer than Hemsky. Hopefully the growing pains are over.

Grebeshkov: Holy shit. Brought his usual bag of tricks - fanned passes, defensive zone giveaways, bad pinches and sketchy decisions. But this time MacT was actually watching! I guess the trade showcase is over then? Rats, there goes Marian Hossa...

Gagner: If the only thing the kid does this year is score every Battle of Alberta, that'll do me.

Rourke: Thought he looked pretty good. Made quick decisions with the puck, sound defensively, and won a scrap with Nystrom. Looks like a serviceable 3rd pairing guy until some injuries clear up.

Lastly, I just want to go back to what I said about Pierre McGuire yesterday. A fine journalist by the name of Howard Berger, in his column today, had this to say about McGuire:

"Though Maguire knows the game inside and out -- and is the most famous hockey media personality not named Don Cherry -- he occasionally stops short of calling out NHL executives, many of whom he's befriended (or worked with) over the years."

Hmmm, interesting. I would probably substitute the word occasionally for never, but that would be splitting hairs. According to TSN's website bio:

Not one to sugarcoat anything, Pierre McGuire "tells it like it is" as the colour commentator for TSN's national NHL broadcasts.

I'm challenging McGuire to come on this blog and "tell it like it is". I guarantee he won't.

Saturday, November 10

Lazarus


I'm back and I have a lot to say.


The last time I posted I think Jason Blake still had cancer! Crazy. Nevertheless, I'm back to restore a little credibility to He Score, He Shoot. You know, the kind of journalism you just can't get from a Youtube video of someone vomiting into a toilet. Just pretend you've been in a Thorazine-induced coma for a month and this will be a great read!

I'll start with the non-Oiler items:

Mats-urbation

A while back, Greener asked me to post a little something about Mats Sundin. I assume it's because every time HE starts to write about Mats his hands gravitate away from the keyboard towards the lotion and tissue. So here is my belated tribute/congrats to Sundin on passing Darryl Sittler as the Leafs all-time leading scorer.

Sundin is a hard guy not to like, and, if he ever got traded, I would root for him. When he first arrived in Toronto he had to endure a lot of shit from the fans and the media. He was accused of being soft because he wore a visor and wasn't from Kelvington, Saskatchewan. Plus, when God created the Maple Leafs he did so under the condition that the Leafs never have a European as Captain of 'Canada's Team' (Cherry 3:16). It was especially tough following in the footsteps of Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour, great leaders who both led the Leafs to the Stanleyjackshit.

Sundin has gone about his business, conducted himself with class, played hurt, put up numbers, and has come out the other side with deserved respect. He's a future Hall of Famer, the first Euro to be drafted 1st overall, a PPG player for his career, and do you know what player not named Gretzky or Lemieux has the NHL's longest consecutive point scoring streak? That's right, Jaroslav Pouzar...okay, it's actually Sundin (30 games) but do you know what player once scored 42 goals in 43 games for Motor Ceske Budejovice? Damn right you do.

Many years ago, I was watching a Leafs game with a friend, and Sundin scored a goal. I remember his huge smile, and making a remark about how happy-go-lucky he is when he or his team scores. He just has this look on his face that says, "Hey boys! We're playing hockey for a living!" He still has that look today and I love that about him. That will always be my lasting memory of Mats Sundin. Geez, I almost went for the lotion there myself...



















Chicken Salad

Pierre Maguire is a chicken shit. Apart from just being insane, he's another in a long line of media members who won't criticize anyone for fear of "losing access". After the firing of Bob Hartley, I was watching a Thrashers game and Maguire went out of his way to acquit GM Don Waddell of any guilt in murdering Atlanta's depth chart. According to The Monster, blame lies with ownership. Yes, because I'm sure the faceless media conglomerate that owns the Thrashers told Waddell to gut his already mediocre prospect pool to get playoff warriors like Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik.

To the Oilers...


Fight Club

Shouldn't the first rule be "Learn how to fucking fight?". I'm officially against fighting in the NHL. Not for any moral reasons or concern for the games' image, but because the Oilers suck at it. First Moreau, and then Souray pops his shoulder out in a skirmish. That's roughly 100 games lost to two pretty important players. MacT can go on about being 'team tough,' but when you have an enforcer your other players don't have to do that shit. Remember the furor over Derek Boogaard's Fight Camp for kids? Maybe Kevin Lowe can get an intra-division discount and send the Oilers there next Summer. At least this way when Boogaard destroys Ales Hemsky again, we can write it off as an educational experience.

Random...

- Matt Greene was playing the best hockey of his career before he went all 'Slim Jim' on his ankle. He was one of the few sources of physical play in the lineup, which makes his loss that much tougher.

- I was anxious to see how the Oilers were going to play in Colorado on Wednesday coming off the impassioned meeting MacT held with his players in practice. I was sensing the possibility that this team might be ready to quit on him, but they answered the bell and played a strong, high energy game. That being said, they blew a third period lead and only got one point. It's easy to muster up the effort immediately after a coach challenges you, but can they sustain it? Tonight against Calgary, a team that has also lost four straight, should be a good test.

- Denis Grebeshkov had another howler against Colorado on Wednesday night. Apparently it's still Dick Tarnstrom's fault. I expect Grebs to play his usual 34 minutes tonight.

- The lack of true finishers on this team was very apparent in Colorado. The Oilers had tons of good chances to make it 4-2, but couldn't finish and ultimately got caught at 3-3.

- Ryan Smyth is a world-class cheater. The guy commits a stick infraction every single shift and rarely gets caught.

- Who's gonna shoot wide on a breakaway tonight? By my count we're at 4 for the year (Hemmer 3, Torres 1).

I guarantee a win against Calgary. If not, I promise never to post again.