Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fear and Loathing in Rexall Place

We were just outside of section 301 when the $7 beer started to kick in...

Well, no, this wasn't quite a Hunter S. Thompson undertaking, but nevertheless, the entire coveredinoil gang was on hand, live, for the Kings/Oilers game on this fateful Friday. We were excited, we were together, we were essentially drunk by the second period. But man, did we have fun.

First of all, the inherent intangibles that come with watching the game from the cheap seats: just across the aisle from us sat four of the rowdiest, drinkiest fans in all Rexall. They were yelling through the damn warm-up, booed the US national anthem, and spent the entire first period yelling one of either "Shoot!" or "Kick his ass!" when not letting out a steady stream of "BOOOOOOO!!!" or "AGH!!!!!!!" at either Sean Avery or a close call, in that respective order. Ah, truly, we were living the high life, surronded by these Princes of Maine, Kings of New England. There was also an Oilers-towel wearing duo frequently chanting "Let's go Harvey" (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap) despite the fact Harvey was not on the ice. In fact, not once when Harvey was actually carving up the ice surface did this dynamic duo ever utter their chant; apparently, they saved all their Harvey motivation for when he was riding the pine. "This will cheer him up," they say to themselves, clutching their towels. "Let's go Har-vey!" (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap). Real Canadian heroes, those.

Oh, right, there was a game or something. Well, what can you say, other than the fact these Oilers can apparently win at will. It doesn't seem to matter how terrible our goaltending is, or how uneven the play is, in the end, we come out on top, and seemingly deserve every aspect of it. The only real way to handle a game report is with points, so here it is:

--Ty Conklin is a bad goaltender. Sure, he got the win, and was even if the first Oil goalie in three games to not get the hook, but man, his one weakness is having the puck anywhere near him. His lateral movement is atrocious (he was across in time for the first goal, but was so out of position that it was an easy shot), and he should probably be fined $25 every time he plays the puck with an opposing player in the zone, to say nothing of his inherent rebound problem. I guess he'll work as a back-up, or a reliever, or something, but I really hope we aren't honestly considering him as a number-one.

--Chris Pronger is a fantastic defenceman. His goal/assist night wasn't enough to describe how utterly flawless he is. He broke up plays, blocked shots, calmed down the powerplay, didn't make one bad, or even mediocre, play the whole night, deservedly getting the first star for his efforts. He's turned Marc-Andre Bergeron into a terrific two-way defenceman, and he plays half the game. Worth every damn penny we're paying him.

--The entire building gets excited when Ales Hemsky has the puck. He may not always make the exact right move (or "SHOOOOOOOOT!!" as the drunks across from us so eloquently put it), but he takes risks, and has the skill to be rewarded often. He even gets angry from time to time, which only makes him better. The rumour is Jaromir Jagr demanded Hemsky to be on the Czech Olympic team, and specifically on his line; I don't know if it's true, but it's certainly plausible, the way Hemsky plays.

--The officials need to put the whistle away from time to time. There were several penalties on both sides that didn't deserve to be called. Memo to the refs: it is legal to tie up someone's stick with your stick; it's not "hooking," it's called "backchecking," and you should let it go. Of course, there was also Peca's ridculous boarding call (which he's arguing, above): apparently hitting someone into the boards is boarding, regardless of the fact you took no strides and hit him shoulder-to-shoulder. But hey, we won, who cares if the endless stream of penalties slowed the game down and looked ridiculous?

--No doubt many are disappointed by the lack of a Big Georges/Sean Avery tilt, but hey, Ulanov totally punchered some poor LA punk, this after kissing him with his glove, according to Mike W. Whatever works: Ulanov has easily become a fan favourite, after four points and a fighting major. Now what does Cory Cross have to do to gain your love and trust?

--This question came to my mind during the game: Duke, why do you call the Oilers the "Coilers"? Several theories were brought forth, but I'm curious to hear you answer. I will admit, it makes absolutely no sense to me, which is why I ask. Do enlighten us.

--There's nothing more effective than yelling "Shoot!" at any random time during the game. It is solely responsible for 100% of goals, though the ratio of times one actually should shoot and the times fans yell "shoot!" is about one in 34, give or take a bit. But man, yelling "Shoot!", especially after players have shot, is like kryptonite for visiting teams, and steriods mixed with cocaine and pure love for us.

It's nice to see a game live again. Your alcoholism seems so tame compared to the fan who is near-passed-out by the middle of the second period. And that's at $7 a pop, folks.

Happy Holidays.


swabbubba said...

Hey I watched this on the tube. I was proud of the building when the chant Avery sucks for last couple minutes of the game. I cannot remeber the lst time the Oilers were in 1st in the divisionat Xmas.
Merry Xmas... and Avery does Suck

Steve said...

Not to spliut hairs, but the Oilers aren't really winning the division as long as the Canucks have a better winning percentage. Less still are they in second in the conference, since Dallas and Vancouver both have better winning percentages.

I don't want to be a wet blanket: I'm loving every minute of this (no doubt temporary) surge on the part of the Oilers, but this emphasis on points when there's a much more representative stat in winning percentage is one of my pet peeves.

Anonymous said...

Umm... Is this Duke an anti-Oiler fan by any chance? If you have ever heard someone come out of the bathroom and say, "man that was huge! I left a triple coiler in there." it might explain calling the Oilers, Coilers.

Anonymous said...

No one mentions the Stoll belly-flop face off? I thought that was brilliant, he should do that more often. For anyone who didn't see it, early in the first he *lost* a face off, the puck went behind the LA center. But Stoll being the resourceful guy he is continues with his forward momentum on his stomach and sweeps the puck back to Edmonton D with his arm. Did that count for his face off stats?

Brushback said...

Yeah, those people who yell "Shoooot!!" the entire game (or at least during every power play) are annoying. Most of the time they can't even tell that the shooting lane is blocked.

Regarding your comments on Ty Conklin-- he was doing the exact same things during his rehab stint in Hartford. I guess what I saw from him for those two games wasn't just a temporary condition.