Sunday, December 2


I woke up nice and early Saturday and when I say I woke up, I mean to say that my 2 year old took his diaper off, got up on my bed and bare ass sat on my sleeping face. You want to wake up with a start? Have your two year old son tea bag you. I digress.
He and I spent the morning drinking coffee and reading about hockey (more specifically your Toronto Maple Leafs). He tried desperately to squeeze his juice box onto my keyboard as I read to him about how Steen, Stajan and Devereuax are starting to click. Both of us shaking our heads at the thought that last year, a team like the Pens got to play the bottom feeders that were the Flyers (last year) 8 times, while your Toronto Maple Leafs had to play the team from otawa 8 times.

This is the team that Greener and I have been writing about. The one capable of this kind of win. Simple, smart, and defensively conscious. A team that is not trying to catch up to its potential. A team that is just being. Playing sound hockey and just gettin ‘er done. As a team. When its do or die time then you live by your teammates and die by them.
You want to see that thinking in action? Two things from last night’s game. First off was Mark Bell living every boy’s dream and scoring his first goal as a Toronto Maple Leaf. Antropov rushed to the net to retrieve the puck. Wrap tape around that shitter…that one is going on someone’s mantel. That type of team consciousness speaks volumes.

Secondly…Jason Blake.
Anyone watching the game last night noticed Jason Blake. There was definitely extra shake to Jason Blake (Shake and Blake…and I helped.) Can you imagine how good it must be to score that goal? Blake and Wellwood, standing tall like matching salt and pepper shakers streaking in on a 2 on 0. (I can’t remember the last time I saw a 2 on 0 in the NHL)
I got a feeling, as the play unfolded, that Blake’s whole year would be decided with its finish. I wouldn’t call it storybook but everyone in the building, Sabourin included, knew that Wellwood was going to pass it to Blake. Not just because that’s the kind of player that Wellwood is (I personally feel we have the new Adam Oates on our hands) but because only Blake could pull himself from the morass. If Blake’s scoring touch is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, swathed in an RBK moisture managed jersey (size S)…then burying it last night might just be the answer everyone is looking for. I bet you his 115 shots start finding the back of the net again. And Blake and Wellwood together just makes sense to me.
Last nights game showed consistency and once the secondary scoring continues (I’m talking to you Steen, Stajan, Bell, Tucker) this team will start winning games.

I might be an eternal optimist but I get a sense that something has occurred with our team. What I mean is this. The third period of Saturday’s game. Two weeks ago…panic and confusion would have led to Harry Cole mentioning the Leafs running around in their own zone, which everyone and his dog knows is the precursor to a goal. Two weeks ago the Pens would have scored, tied the game and then won in overtime or in the shootout.

The Toronto papers will undoubtedly compare what did happen in the third to a China Syndrome like meltdown. Moose will also undoubtedly be ornery and write something mean about Greener, lamenting the days when his team was good. Washingtron will sit in a corner pretending he is invisible and rock himself to sleep singing Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time quietly to himself. The media will still talk about having to hose the team down ala Karen Silkwood. Now I know its only two games in a row and it’s far too early to book my spot on Yonge Street for next June…but this is two wins in a row. Three terrific games in a row. What it shows me is this.
That one of two things has happened; quite frankly neither is better than the other. Either our team wasn’t bothered or defeated by all that has occurred. The Bay Street pig fuckers hanging Ferguson out the window by his ankles waving him, like a white flag to the media, the fans and the league. Or they were bothered by it: .met, had a closed door meeting, and manned up. Either way…this is a team…and I think the next three games (against Nashville, New York and Boston) will show that, not with a whimper but a bang.

And speaking about Ferguson. I have a crystal ball feeling that he has something big in the works. An exclamation point that will either serve as his death knell or his crowning achievement in the face of adversity. I don’t know what that will be…but JFJ (who has gained mucho respect from me for handling himself the way he has recently) will make a splash. And lest we forget…last nights terrific win was on the backs of 3 horses that JFJ himself brought into the stable: Toskala, Blake and Bell. Notably, Toskala stopping Malone on that long breakaway. I mean 7th minute of the third period??? That would have changed the momentum on a heartbeat. Save of the Game.

Can You Hear The Drums?

Welcome back, Fernando.

When the Oilers take to the ice tonight, #34 will be with them. It's a remarkable turn of events for a man, and a team. The Oilers haven't had much luck and inspiration thus far this season, but Pisani's return is something to smile about, regardless of what happens on the ice. He went from the magical playoff run of '06 to looking like his career was over, and now here we are again.

Of course any good news the Oilers get must be offset by more injuries. Pisani's inclusion comes at the expense of Ales Hemsky and Geoff Sanderson, who didn't make the two-game trip to California after suffering minor (see: season ending) injuries in the win on Friday night. Patrick Thoresen, who is 3rd in the AHL in goals with 12, was recalled and makes his '07 debut with the big club.

While his ice-time will probably be limited in his first few games, Pisani's presence gives the Oilers another reliable veteran, as well as some secondary scoring. It will also be interesting to see how Thoresen's game has developed since we saw him last. MacT has indicated he will kill penalties and I imagine he will get slotted in somewhere on the top three lines. My guess is that Pisani takes Sanderson's spot with Brodziak and Reasoner on the 4th line in order to manage his minutes.

Unfortunately, tonight has the look of another painful lesson. Without Hemsky's offence and Sanderson's speed, the Ducks will stand up at the blueline and force the impish Oilers to dump and chase, something they haven't been willing to do this season. Plus, the Ducks are looking for a little revenge, and the Oilers have to deal with more changes to the lineup. Hang on.