Monday, May 8, 2006

Different night, same game

San Jose 2
Edmonton 1

All things equal, the fan has about a three percent chance of seeing his team win the Stanley Cup in a given year. Of course, things are never equal (oh, the brain hemorraghe-inspired Joe Thorton trade by Mike O'Connell comes to mind), so it's not unthinkable that a fan could spend his entire life in perrenial frustration, nay, delusion in thinking his team will win every year - just ask any middle-aged Maple Leafs fan in Etobicoke. And yet we march on every season, terminally disappointed when our team fails (gasp!) to bring home a Stanley Cup or even worse, make the playoffs.

My point? Being a fan makes me feel bad. Even when a game involving the Oilers is by all objective standards a great hockey matchup,
I cannot enjoy it. Instead, I pace around the room, scream expletives, nervously finger a guitar, and more often than not you can find me in the crash position, face buried in my hands. Tonight I was two feet in front of my TV, just standing there for the entire second period. The only good game is one in which we win (about 50/50), and even at that, victory's reward is that of sated relief, a belly full of glory that only lasts until the next game. SO I ask, with rended heart: Why am I fan?

Ineffable fandom is certainly something to ponder, but it's also a completely serious zero sum game of emotions: at no point can I watch a game with any detachment, and, say, marvel at Chrisitan Erhoff's development as a top 4 defenceman. He might even be a nice guy who collects butterflies and writes Philip Larkin-inspired poems in his spare time, but at the end of the game I'll still want his head on pike. On the other hand, absent-mindedly watching Anaheim school Colorado with very little personal stake is a summer breeze. The Oilers are my terrible, masochistic weakness.

So yeah, tonight's deja vu loss was just another dose of psychic trauma, with San Jose doing everything that Detroit wasn't quite built for: dump and chase, using their freakish, 210lb plus front line size and speed to pound at the soft underbelly of our defencemen thirtysomethings, which also includes the all too tiny Marc-Andre Bergeron and an overwhelmed Matt Greene. The defence collapses pretty well though, and Roloson is still playing sharp, but without a transition game and plays off of the rush, the Oilers can't even generate enough to win games (Vesa Toskala, we hardly knew ya). Not having a front line stud doesn't help, but the only way the Oilers can turn this series around is with better skating and neutral zone positioning, which is easier said than done when chasing Joe Thornton or a swift pinching Sharks D. I think the Oilers are capable of it, and the bonus is that playing from behind hasn't bothered them all season. That and I know the Sharks have weaknesses in their own zone but again, we haven't seen much of that part of the ice, have we?

Some Oil drops, in-situ style:

All right, Sharks fans, not bad. You know who our best player is and you booed him, good, good. But why do I get the feeling the people that actually show up to games are naturalized citizens from Canada? Just a hunch.

The Oilers D is having a rough time. You want to get mad at Steve Staios for some horrendous giveaways until you realize the real reason he's sucking is that we can't play our back D for more than 6 minutes a game. Stevie played 25 minutes, tired and slapshotted at, while Greene played a mere 7. Is Ulanov such a crazy idea? At least he has a fan blog.

Well, now their can't be any doubt who Hockey Night in Canada is cheering for. Not that I care, but the entire night felt like a clinic on what the Oilers could do or were doing well. Greg Millen obviously doesn't read the papers, since the Globe has already called him on his homerism when it comes to the Oilers. That and I can't believe NBC is starting to kick the CBC's ass.

I still liked Fernando Pisani tonight (and Moreau, too). His game is more suited for this muck than a Hemsky or Samsonov, although as a whole you can't talk offence until MacT figures out what to do with the middle 50 feet of the ice.

The East teams are everyone's favourites to win the Cup, but I'd bet money on an Anaheim or San Jose's near perfect positional playoff hockey against Ottawa or Carolina at this point.

A change of scenery? Excellent idea! Joe Thornton: don't even try to leave your hotel - Oilers fans will try to gouge your eyes out with their bare hands!


Anonymous said...

> But why do I get the feeling the people that actually show up to games are naturalized citizens from Canada? Just a hunch.

An incorrect one, as it turns out. You're thinking of Florida. There are plenty of home-grown hockey fans here in California.

And we're hungry. We've never had a Cup here in California, despite one of our teams stealing some guy ("Dwayne" something, I think) from Edmonton several years ago and getting within a hair's breadth.

You've had it. You know what it feels like. So far, we can only dream and cheer our teams on.

Not that I'm rooting for Anaheim, mind you... :)

mike w said...

>An incorrect one, as it turns out.

Fair enough. Preferably, we'd still like to see at least one nude San Jose Sharks streaker if you want to get "Good Hockey Town" brownie points from Oilers fans.

>You've had it. You know what it feels like.

We'll I do, but I was kid when it happened. The most vocal of Oilers fans are 18-24, missed out on all of the Cups, and worse yet, have to hear everyone else talk about it. At least you have a fresh slate.

Also, it looks like you're doing okay without Brad Stuart, huh? What a terrible trade, you bastards. Worst in NHL history.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

mike w - your musings on being a fan - have you ever read Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby - its a must for every sports fan - you read like you are channelling him - seriously funny stuff - I read it a couple of times a year on the subway back and forth from work - he nails what it means to be a fan (his cross to bear is Arsenal in the English soccer leagues) but imagine this - being able to see every game the Oilers play - every single game - live - and how much torture that would be - read it - I guarantee you will love it

sacamano said...

Just don't watch the movie version with that repugnant whatshisface from SNL.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Fallon. They didn't really even use the book for source material as much as the English movie made in about 1997, with Colin Firth, IIRC. That movie version was average, and is still streets ahead of Fallon v. Drew Barrymore.

Robert Cleave said...

Anon. above, c'est moi.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

yep - don't bother with either movie - the only movie you could make out of this book that truly captures it would be if you had some guy sitting there reading it

its not about hockey but captures what being a fan, a true fan of any sport, is all about

one word that comes to mind is torture

Chris! said...

Funnily enough, Jimmy Fallon once called Mike "a pussy" for sipping a shot of Jagermeister Fallon bought him at a little New York bar.

sacamano said...

Is this a true story? If so, my estimation of whatshisface just went way, way up. Who sips Jagermeister?

Remember those heady days when they used to have Jager on tap at the Powerplant, and Nemo would pour people pints of the stuff? Now they just provide overpriced beer and crappy service.

James Mirtle said...

The East teams are everyone's favourites to win the Cup, but I'd bet money on an Anaheim or San Jose's near perfect positional playoff hockey against Ottawa or Carolina at this point.

Yeap. Good call.

Pleasure Motors said...

Who the hell drinks PINTS of Jagermeister? Jesus.

Also, sacamano, you knew Nemo? Word. My guy is Colin, but I got sauced vis a vis Nemo enough in first year. Uh, go Powerplant bartenders. And Oilers.

mike w said...

>Is this a true story?

Yeah, it's a true story. Although the only reason I was "sipping" (ie. two gulps) was that a)I was drunk and b) I hate Jager, which tastes like Benadyrl.

I spent more time talking to Fallon's writer-pal from Michigan who claims he played pond hockey with Gordie Howe, and that Howe actually got his elbows up on some kid.

mike w said...

Remember Dewey's in HUB mall? sigh.

sacamano said...

Remember Dewey's in HUB mall? sigh.

Now that was a terrific place. And speaking of fun bartenders, how about Tony from the HUB Dewey's. He would bring you your drinks, insult you, and take his own enormous tip out of your change. What a guy.

mudcrutch79 said...

I was in a bar in Quebec in January and bought a bottle of water ($4; fuck you bars that do this!). Rather than give me my change, the woman just put it directly into the tip jar. I was taken aback by this and inquired as to whether the tipping function had been taken away from the customer. She told me that she didn't get paid so I had to tip her. I apparently had no choice as to quantum.

Moral of the story: 90% of people who work in bars are assholes. If you work in a bar, obviously you're not but 9 out of 10 of your co-workers are.

eun said...

Actually, in case anyone cares, Quebec has multiple minimum wages, including a lower-than-standard minimum wage for workers who earn tips (ie. bar and restaurant staff). The assumption is that if you work in such an establishment, tips will make up the difference. Shitty? Yes. Reason for getting shitty service? Possibly.

Edmogirl said...

I just found this blog when I Googled the word: Dewey's.

so...markw, sacamano, and Pleasure Motors....

you all remember Dewey's ....Tony and Nemo?

wow! I may have met you guys under a table!

Come join 'Dewey's Illuminati' on Facebook.