Friday, January 13, 2006

Bless this Mess

Earlier this evening, I said to a coworker, "You know, I really hope nothing goes wrong with Messier's retirement ...the last thing we'd want is this guy playing again."

[cue rimshot]

Heh. To the people who always complain that he stuck around too long: can you blame him? If he had retired in the late 90s he could have had a neater, more snuggly tied ribbon around his legendary career, but eight playoffless seasons skippering underperforming, overpaid Rangers teams tarnished his reputation a little bit. It's admirable that his love for hockey eventually surpassed his ability to be dominant in the game, and obviously the guy sincerely loved playing for New York. More than the overblown retelling of a Game 6 guarantee, it was touching to see a hockey player bawling for 30 minutes straight. Very in touch with his feelings. Very Brokeback Mountain.

Meanwhile in the real world:

NY Rangers 5 (OT)
Edmonton 4

nepotistic Oilers management take heed: legends quickly become a curse. Messier was a good one, but his (and Mike Richter's) retirement officially put 1994 to rest. This year's batch of Blueshirt nobodies, led by Jaromir Jagr, have emerged from the shadows of the big free agent era playing an aggressive checking game, with good goaltending. The funny thing was that the prognosticators were right: the Rangers looked like an awful team in preseason, but I guess Tom Renney managed to trick Jagr, Petr Sykora, Martin Rucinsky, Martin Straka, and Petr Prucha into thinking they're playing for the Czech national team. If they keep it up, especially with good goaltending, I think this team will go far into the playoffs.

Ah yes, the game (especially for those of you without PPV). Well, when a teary-eyed Messier says that in NY he learned "there's more to life than hockey," it's hard to expect the players to jump out of the gate with gusto. But things got chippy early, with a lot of hits in the game. Raffi Torres sort of lost his mind and tried to Bryan Marchment (yes, it's a verb) Darius Kasparaitis and take out his knee with a low diving check. Perhaps a wayward NY Islanders fan could let us know of any outstanding rivalry Raffi might have with Darius, although it looked like the kind of hit a younger Kasparaitis might dish out himself. Maybe Torres was just mad at having to sit through another retirement ceremony on the bench for an hour.

The Oilers looked to be in control again, but couldn't get into a cycling, goal-scoring groove. Distractions like the Torres cheapshot, some other penalties, and trainer Ken Lowe spraining his ankle on the bench seemed to keep the Oilers off their game.

In the second, the Oilers were getting caught for dumb penalties. Pronger just fell on the puck, gloving it under his body after losing his stick, Stoll lazily got caught for wrapping his hand around a Ranger, and Torres was off his game: a checking spazz with a bad sense of timing, reminiscent of the season ending game against Vancouver in 2004.

Luckily, the Rangers defence are slower than our forwards, and in a nod to the past, the Rangers' top forwards often forgot to backcheck. Hemsky lucked out and got a breakaway out of the box, Rucinsky stopped skating and Hemsky was able to do a complete-stop move on Lundqvist and bury the rebound. It seemed things were right with the world, the PP was clicking and the Oilers were on their way to outshooting their 17th straight opponent. Sadly, the Oilers decided to run out the rest of the game by taking dumb penalties, which, as you know, has a direct correlation with running around in your own zone and getting scored on. Our first line, god love 'em, were terrible in our own zone (Horcoff -3, Smyth -4) and didn't do much to help the defence on the comeback goals. Luckily, Moreau's Messier-like run up the ice, between and around two defenders, set up a Peca garbage goal that saved our team a point. In OT, we let Jagr get a good shot off a broken two-line pass and that was it. Great game, though.

GAME NOTES (aka Oil Splats)

- When Ville Nieminen saw his hero Esa Tikkanen on TV: "I can't believe he's here. He's on TV!" Tik later teased the MSG crew and told them not to say Nieminen was better looking than he was.

- The Rangers have only retired 3 guys, so they take they're time retirin' em'. The fellatious ceremony included one bigfishing chair, rods, some sort of stone eagle, and a ubiquitous sports mural painting for gifts. Later I fastforwarded past a woman singing some embarrassingly sentimental slow song. Yuck. First Gretzky's daughter sings Sarah Mclachlan at the Heritage Classic, and now this? What is wrong with these hockey players?

- Journalism Award: asking
"How do you feel?" to a man that's been crying for an hour,

- Jani Rita looked kind of good: in the 2.5 minutes that he played, he hit a post, and then he was stowed away on the bench for safekeeping

- Mark it down: Cory Cross looked good out there

- Markkanen played pretty good in my books. He wasn't as bad as the stats would make you think.

GAME RATING: 9 Adam Graveses out of 10 Mark Messierses


Colby Cosh said...

Sather's technique for tricking the Czech-born Rangers into "thinking they're playing for the Czech national team" was hardly a secret--it involves actually turning the franchise into the Czech national team. But do please drop me an e-mail when the playoffs start, because if you're betting on a bunch of homesick Eastern Europeans to keep fighting well into June, have I got a proposition for you.

mike w said...

Hey, everyone's got a pick a sleeper, since some favourite always gets knocked out in the first round anyway. But if they meet Ottawa early than all bets are off.

Taking on Atlanta or Toronto on the other hand? You never know. Having Jagr the way he's played this year helps a lot.

mudcrutch79 said...

Markkanen is a topic of discussion over at Oilfans as well. I'm just at a loss with him-the goals that go in never look that bad. For what it's worth, shots from 21 feet, like Jagr's winner, end up in the net about 10% of the time. I have no idea what the odds are when it's Jagr shooting as opposed to someone else but it seems like he just made his shot. Unfortunately, this sort of thing seems to happen to Jussi a lot (think Hartnell (?) blowing that perfect shot by him from the blue line, the Huselius double bank shot against seems like every game, there's one or two of them. Frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Of course I can't see the games, I'm just going on Rod Philips colorful vocal canvas and the stats at the eng of the game. But is Juicy really all that juicy? 5 goals and continually letting in the first shots of the game is just brutal, anyway Al Stafford wants to dress it up after the game. Time to put Mr Mojo Risin back in net. He was just 5-1 after all. Or maybe Buchberger has a cousin they want to give a shot first.


Oh yeah, Mess was suitably cringe inducing during his ceremony, these tearful farewells are getting worse and worse.

dumb guy said...

what's a "fellatious ceremony?"

Anonymous said...

Hre's the skinny: Mess will move back to St. Albert and move tirelessly to move the Traders to town, or secure an ajhl frnachise for the Saint-A. He'll give something back, unlike that punk Mike Comrie. My sources say it's so. Believe it!
--Bob "NHL insider" Prysnchovalquchuk

sacamano said...

what's a "fellatious ceremony?"

It is a spectacular phrase that made me laugh for about 20 minutes. I've been peppering my conversations with the adjective "fellatious" ever since.

mudcrutch79 said...

I've been peppering my conversations with the adjective "fellatious" ever since.

Maybe using it in a sentence will help:

I'm debating phoning my ex-girlfriend to see if she wants to watch the game with me this evening so as to enhance the chances of my evening being fellatious.