Saturday, December 30, 2006

HISTORY OF "IN THE BOX" volume one

In The Box has been a staple in Edmonton's entertainment weekly paper, Vue Weekly since 1996. It's been a bit of an aberration in an arts-and-issues-based paper, but it seems to have its curious readership.
Only in this city, where the local Improv folks are using hockey as a backdrop for their long-standing improvised weekly "soap opera" Die-Nasty can hockey and the arts live in relative comfort.
Even the rock stars in town have a hockey league.

In The Box started in October of 2006 by former Vue Weekly editor Steve Sandor and John Turner. The pair wrote the column for several years as a duo.

Here's the column's inception, in the words of Steve himself.

OK, so Dave asked me to write a brief history lesson on ITB. Wow, John and I started back in 1996, when the Oilers' stars were guys named Joseph, Arnott and Weight, and that kid Smyth looked like he might have a future. Mironov, De Vries, Berehowsky and McGillis anchored the blue line.

Basically, we were at Vue and got press passes. We had to figure out a way to justify it. So, at our first game, the Sabres facing the Oilers, frantic to come up with something to print, we decided to not try and pretend we were anything but hacks. We would write as if we were astonished that someone would give us the space to print our two cents worth. We spent a lot of time griping about referees (we must have written a book about Steve Walkom, the anti-Oiler), bad uniforms, players we hated and John bugging me about my Toronto roots. Some classic early moments; calling Carolina bars and asking random patrons of they'd ever heard of the Hurricanes; and our "design a new uniform for the Canucks" contest.

Some way, some how, the Oilers actually LIKED the thing, because I was soon asked to write for the game program on a freelance basis. Later,it became a full contract as the editor of Zone. With that conflict, I had to leave ITB behind.

I stayed with the Oilers until the lockout messed up all the economics for us little people who depended on hockey; in Toronto, I still can't live without Oilers hockey. Thank whatever deity you'd like for Centre Ice. Heck, I even wrote a book about it (Shameless plug for "The Battle of Alberta," Heritage House, available through amazon, chapters/indigo or your favourite local book shop, like Audreys).

I wish the Oilers the best; the job wasn't a job at all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

999 against 99.

The Oilers win over Wayne Gretzky and his Coyote buddies was especially notable as it was the Oiler franchise's 999th win. One more win in the next nine games and the Oilers will be the third fastest franchise to mark 1000 wins, just behind Montreal and Philadelphia.

999. That's Gretzky's 99 on the jersey and 9 NHL seasons with the Oilers. Wayne always had a flair for the dramatic.

Sure is sad to see him looking like he just ate a handful of sour candies lately as he grimaces in pain behind the bench.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

SEPARATED AT BIRTH????? (and then frozen for ten or fifteen years)???

Edmonton's own Just A Game late-night host. and TSN's Monster Performer.

It's like looking into a time machine.
McGuire did coach for The Hartford Whalers - our own Mr. Gregor's favourite NHL team.
Maybe that inspired JG's hairstyle and spectacle choices.
Cheers Jason Gregor. Good luck in the Fantasy Football final against Jimmy.


After a week that saw Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Toby Petersen and Matt Greene all getting goals for the Oilers in the last three games, it's time for the nextStone Hands Report.

As of Wednesday, December 20th there are 36 NHL players who have yet to score a goal.
I am only counting players who have played 30 or more games this season.Most of the list are the usual plugging blueliners (Chelios, Numminen, Hedican, Wesley, you know...) but there are two forwards left on the list. Vancouver's Alexandre Burrows and the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg.

Detroit's Kirk Maltby was on the list but a goal Wednesday night against Columbus got him dropped off the Zero List just in time. He would have been just the third forward to play more than 30 games this season without a goal.

Some notable finds:
Tampa Bay leads with four players on the list. (Paul Ranger, Cory Sarich, Doug Janik and Nolan Pratt). The Lightning scorers are ninth overall in the league with goals for, but when you are spending the lion's share of your cap room on three forwards (St. Louis, Lecavalier and Richards) you are going to need some cheap filler.

Five teams do not have any players on the list. (Montreal, Nashville, Boston, Phoenix and St. Louis)

The only Oiler - Ladislav Smid.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Guy's odd appearance aside, it seems that they've misspelled "Right Wing"...

Old Time Hockey

I had the radio on the Team 1260 on the way to work today, and they were taking calls from listeners to hear about their "brushes with greatness". Of course, they were all of the "seeing Messier at a party" or "catching Arnott with 3 naked chicks in a hottub at one in the morning" variety. But it got me reminiscing about the time I got to bask in the glow of awesomeness of the recently-retired (the first time) Guy Lafleur. Yeah, I know, 99.7% of you probably hated the Habs, but I was born into a (somewhat) French-Canadian family. And in the 70s it was either cheer for them or the fucking Leafs. (Nobody cheered for the Canucks). I even kept cheering for them until Patrick Roy sucked the fun out of it later on.

Anyway, Guy was travelling around the country with his pal Steve Shutt and a team of All-Stars (read: career junior players and has-beens). For some strange reason, they decided to bring this show-of-shows up to Inuvik, where I was 15 and playing minor hockey (badly). I managed to get myself the job of stickboy for the visitors team, guaranteeing myself a chance to meet my boyhood idol.

The senior men's teams (all 4 of them) cobbled together their own all-star team. It was thought that Inuvik's finest might even be able to put up a decent fight. Memories of that night:

• going into the Inuvik All-Stars dressing room, where everyone was dressed very early, and pretty uptight.

• being sent to get Guy's team, who were still in the room with 5 minutes until game time. Guy was still in only his jockstrap, with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other, telling some joke in French.

• four minutes later, he's on the ice. His and Steve Shutt's warm-ups consisted of ringing pucks off the crossbar from the blue line.

• Guy smoked through the entire game, leaving the burning cigarette on the bench when he was on the ice. That soon became my actual job, watching Guy's smoke.

• I don't remember the actual score, but Guy must have scored a dozen goals. Even at half-speed, he couldn't help but make everyone else look like they were nailed to the ground. The hometown squad was pretty sheepish afterward.

What can I say? He was a decent enough guy (no pun intended. I wouldn't stoop to Young D's level), and I think he may have even tipped me ten bucks after the game. I still have the autographed program somewhere. No naked broads, no underage girls, no cocaine. But a pretty good story nonetheless.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Denver Boot

Some notes on tonight's game:
1- If you had shown me the game with the goals taken out (just the end to end play and the shots on net) I couldn't have told you which team should have or would have been the winner. At least four of the goals were ugly and could have happened to either team.

2- Hemsky seems alright - even after taking a pretty solid hit into the boards. We'll know soon what effect it had. He was pretty tentative, but still showed a few little dipsy-doodlies. His interview with Principe was pretty funny when Gene asked him if the sore shoulder would affect his shot and he said something to the effect of "I don't shoot anyway, just pass." The punchline was there somewhere but lost in his Czech accent and mumble.

3- First powerplay line for The Avs in one of the Colorado powerplays was Sakic with standout rookies Paul Stastny and Vojtek Volski (spelled wrong on purpose - save the corrections). MacT never lets his rookies take any shifts with any chance of scoring. Then again, our rookies aren't Wolski or Stastny. Pouliot did get some PP time.

4- Pouliot is the real thing. He'll find a way to stay with the Oilers if he keeps doing many things right as he has been. He leaves Toby Petersen and Laddy Smid behind as the last Oilers to go goal-less. Mikhnov and Jacques have only played a combined ten games, so we'll have to leave them off the no-goal list at least until they've hit double digits in games played individually.

5- And how about Matt Greene's first NHL goal? It was Thursday night but when I saw the replay, the teammates were pretty pumped. I'm guessing that Greene is very well-liked by his teammates. Stoll seemed happier than Greene, who was probably pretty stunned himself. That goal and the top shelf deke by Jason Smith in the playoffs in spring show that even the so-called stone hands blueliners in the NHL are still damn good hockey players.

6- How did I always assume that Ian Laperriere was not such a great, genuine person? Probably because he's pesky on the ice and has played with the LA Kings and Colorado against the Oilers. The guy seems like the real deal. He loves hockey and seems to love people and is an interesting interview. Check out his fan site. There's some neat bits in it. His mixture of grit, scoring potential and leadership would make him a great Oiler. But I suspect Colorado know what they have.

Listening to Ray Ferraro doing colour commentary reminded me of how good a player he was and what a career he had. He was one of those unsung yet well-respected players and he adds to the broadcasts.
Peter Loubardias is a very OK play-by-play guy (he calls the game without too much aplomb or phoniness and seems to do his research) and is a nice guy but he is cursed with that bubble-caught-in-his-throat voice that sounds like he's trying to eat his own neck.
Ferraro and Kevin Quinn are a better team. Loubardias...meh. Doesn't hurt the game.

Which two current Oilers were teammates of Ferraro during his much-travelled career?

First answer in the comments looks smart, wins nothing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


It's nice that the Oilers didn't need it tonight, but it would have been a good night to dress Brad Winchester rather than leaving him the odd forward out as a healthy scratch.

I noticed in tonight's scoring summaries that Brad Stuart (BOS), Brad Boyes (BOS) and Brad Richards (TB) all scored goals tonight. Upon further inspection, the trio were the only Brads that played tonight resulting in a Brad sweep.

That little bit of useless trivia aside, tonight's win against Minnesota was a goodie. It helped keep the Oilers in first place in the impossibly close Northwest Division and helped a team with little confidence gain some back.

The Oilers played like ee cummings or kd lang in the first two periods (they failed to capitalize) and like the state of Texas in the third period (they executed).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Grow the Damn Thing Back

With a beard (during the playoffs): 14 goals and 4 assists in 24 games (0.75 pts/gm)
Without a beard (as an Oiler during regular season games): 48 goals and 44 assists in 221 games (0.41 pts/gm)

I just thought of this as I was scratching my very itchy and patchy (fight and fight, fight fight fight fight, The Itchy and Patchy Show) beard that I am growing for no particular reason at all.
Fernando needs the beard to play at his best.
Grow it, Fernie.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Riddle me this

Alright, alright. Everyone knows we need a defenceman (Top 2 hopefully, a least top 3). So who's it gonna be? The longer Lowe waits, the more it resembles last year's goalie conundrum. Should he wait until teams drop out of contention? Or should he maybe overpay a bit now to make sure he gets what he wants (and needs)?

Tell me who you think the Oil should acquire, and who you'd be prepared to give up in return.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

4-1 loss to Chicago

At least the Penalty Kill stats are padded a little more.
Chicago went 0 for 10 on their powerplay.
Other than that........
The Oilers are 3-5-1 on Sundays over the past two seasons, with losses to St. Louis (three times) Chicago (twice) and Minnesota. The Sunday games that resulted in wins were all decided in extra time (two shootout wins and one overtime win).

The Oilers suck on Sunday. For me, I used to avoid planning anything important on Sundays, mainly because I was usually hung over. I will assume that is not the problem with our Oilers. They are, after all, professional athletes, not me. Or the old me, who used to go out drinking more than I should have.

There are five Sunday games left this season.

Goal #1 for Smith

In last week's victory over Carolina, Captain Jason Smith marked his first goal of the season in what was his 27th game of the season.
So far this season, there are still 45 players in the NHL who have yet to score a goal this season, counting players who have logged at least 25 games.
40 of those players are blueliners and five (Donald Brashear, Kyle Calder, Alexandre Burrows, Kirk Maltby and Eric Rasmussen) are forwards.


Means nothing really.
Just seemed interesting to me.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Game over.
2-0 Oilers.
I can now type the word "SHUTOUT".

S-Words and Roloson

While I'm unsure about how writing about goalies affects the age-old hockey superstition of "never mention the s-word while your goalie is defending an s-word" I still figure it would be interesting to bring up some interesting stats I dug up about Dwayne Roloson's s-word record.
So, to respect the fickle "hockey gods" I will not actually type the word that will remain unuttered as the Dallas/Edmonton game is on right now. Interestingly enough, Roli is playing after his 4-0 win over Vancouver (Markkanen played in the Carolina match) and Marty Turco is playing after a 2-game s-word streak. Turco's streak is over already, thanks to Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Albert Dwayne Roloson's S-Words
Facts Unmasked:

Roloson has had 20 career regular season s-word thingies.
15 of those 20 s-words came after a loss in the game preceding it.

12 of those 15 games, Roli was the starter. In three games, he was the backup goalie and replaced the starter.

Both of Roloson's games this year (4-0 against Washington, 4-0 against Vancouver) came after losses. The Washington win came after a two-game losing streak (one game Roloson started, Markkanen finished; one game Markkanen started, Roli finished) and the Vancouver win followed a three-game losing streak.
14 of Roli's clean sheets (I didn't say the word) were during a home game - 6 came on the road.

Roli has blanked Vancouver 3 times in his career.

Roli's first s-word came in his fourth career game in 1996 against Los Angeles. He was playing for the (blah)Flames at the time. That game came after Roli appeared in two straight losses to the Oilers. The second of those two games saw Roloson relieve Calgary goalie Trevor Kidd after Kidd let four goals in the net. Roloson let another six in. The final score of that game was 10-1.
Roli has blanked St. Louis 3 times.

Interesting fact: Roloson has never won a game at all in his career against Toronto (0-5-0 3.01 GAA), Buffalo (0-3-1 2.47 GAA) and New Jersey (0-6-2 2.97 GAA).

The most interesting thing about these stats is the fact that Roloson (with 15 of 20 0.00 GAA games coming after losses) is competitive enough to fight back after adversity. His best games come after disappointment. That's the mark of a player who does not let losses bring him down and finds a way to make up for that.
One of a goalie's best tools is confidence. Roli appears to have enough confidence in himself to bounce back.
Call it Rebound Control.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Colorado Avalanche Retire Ray Bourque's #77.

I couldn't believe it when I saw the Avs chose to hold a jersey retirement ceremony for end-of-career rental Ray Bourque, who helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 2000-2001.
I've always liked Ray Bourque's mixture of reliable defence, scoring contribution and leadership. Colorado were one of those pre-new-CBA teams that would always scoop up high-priced free agents (Bourque, Selanne, Kariya) when they needed them - because they could.

All this talk of retiring players and jersey ceremonies reminded me of that sham of a farce of a travesty of a snow job when they did a good thing for a great player that they really had no right to do.
They were doing nothing more than hanging off the coattails of a great and well-loved player.
The guy did play 94 regular season games (out of 1612 career NHL games - 5.8%) and 34 playoff games (out of 214 - 15.8%) with Colorado. Why not?
Hey, Avs. Guy Lafleur played 98 games with the Nords at the end of his career. He was pretty good too. Retire his number too.

Moose Head

February 27, 2007 will probably be the day that EVERYONE IN TOWN wants to go to the hockey game.

Although it was leaked earlier, the Oilers will be raising #11 to the rafters in Edmonton against the Phoenix Coyotes.

For anyone who saw the Messier jersey retirement opus, I am glad that the Oilers keep their jersey ceremonies short and sweet.
The New York event was far, far too long (it was 77 minutes long in fact.)
The damn thing had too many speeches. There were too many video clips. There were needless bits like needing to spend eight minutes explaining every gift given out to Mess. ("How about this great Captain's chair. Get it? Captain? We even added gold fishing rods.") Christopher Reeve's widow sang a song.
Then, finally, Mess got to speak.
Paul Coffey's jersey retirement was a tidy 20-ish minutes. A video. A standing ovation. A couple quick speeches. Introduce the guests. Let Coffey speak and skate a lap around the rink.
Jari Kurri's night was much the same. Grant Fuhr's retirement ceremony was also efficient.
When today's actual working players are waiting to play a real game, don't piss around.
The MSG people felt a need to explain why Messier was important, just in case the fans in the stands didn't quite understand how great a leader Messier was. The New York fans get it. American or not, they're an Original Six city and they know their ice hockey.
You don't need to drag out the '94 (shortened season) Cup Champs, sing a song or let every hockey-related American talking head explain "the meaning of the word Captain."

In Edmonton, the player is the show. Let them walk out, let the fans give a long standing ovation, show some video highlights, let the old Oilers like Wayne, Grant and Joey wave at the crowd and let Moose speak.

I promised Gretz I wouldn't cry.
Say it, Moose. It would be a great line. No worries about the royalties.

Brett Hull gets his number retired

Really not relevant to Oiler fans, other than the fact that Hull scored 72 points (39 goals - 6 game winners, 33 assists)in his career vs. Edmonton in just 52 games (since 1989, when Yahoo Sports started tracking these breakdowns.
A colourful player.
An early member of the "gets booed when he plays in Edmonton" club, mostly due to his games against Team Canada as a member of Team USA - and the fact that he seems to always score against Edmonton.

Joe Nieuwendyk retires

Or....former CALGARY FLAME, DALLAS STAR and TORONTO MAPLE LEAF Joe Nieuwendyk retires.
If he wasn't such a great player, he'd be much easier to hate wouldn't he?
Played for three of the most hated teams in this city.

58 career points (28 goals, 30 assists)in 60 career games vs. Edmonton (at least since 1989, when Yahoo Sports started tracking that - missed the first couple seasons with blech-Calgary). 5 game winners vs. Edmonton. Goal against Tommy Salo to knock the Oilers out of the 1999 playoffs.

Isn't that enough? Boo. Boo Nieuwendyk. And congatulations on a hard-working career annoying Oiler fans. Shame about your choice of teams.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


The Oilers have been a team relatively unscathed as far as injuries go, but right now they are scathed indeed.
Blame Chicago.
The Blackhawks came to Edmonton and that team has been overwhelmed with bad luck. And it looks like they left some of that bad mojo behind after visiting our city last Friday night.
Chicago lost Martin Havlat after one of the best starts of any player in the league. Rene Bourque caught a skate blade on the throat. Michal Handzus is out for the season. Nik Khabibulin missed a bunch of games and Adrian Aucoin has been ailing with a sore groin. Patrick Lalime is out for at least two more months. The coach has been fired. And the Black Hawks have missed the playoffs for six of the last seven seasons.
If any team has a dark cloud hanging over them, it's this one.

And here's the result of having the proverbial black cat cross the Oiler path:
Friday night's game against the Hawks was the first game that Steve Staios sat out in 224 games. He didn't get hurt in that game, but the Chicago Curse started with him.
Then Jussi Markkanen got hurt in the warmup and had to miss the Anaheim game and the Superskills afternoon.
Then Marc-Andre Bergeron caught the flu and played the Chicago game but was, according to Rod on the radio driving home, at "about 20%."
Then Marty Reasoner crashed into the boards in the Chicago game and missed the second and third periods. He was alright and played against Anaheim. Marty is no stranger to getting injured, though, and has been down that road before.
Then Ales Hemsky got smoked into the boards against Anaheim by Sean O'Donnell and is out for at least two to three weeks.
The Oilers' five game winning streak ended with the win against Chicago.

The only other significant injury the Oilers have suffered is the shoulder injury to Ethan Moreau.
Ethan Moreau played four seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks before being acquired by Edmonton.

Monday, November 27, 2006

So, I hear Chris Pronger was traded to Anaheim...

So all the other pundits have weighed in.
Why not add another useless opinion on this amusing centrepiece to a hockey game.
So, here's Dave's opinion on Pronger-gate.

1- Chris Pronger showed poor timing and just a bit of insensitivity by announcing through this man of all people that he wanted out. Al Strachan, who has been the print voice across Canada for the Leafs and seems to always have irritating opinions that piss off John Davidson, Eric Duhatschek and the other hockey minds that share a virtual seat by the Hockey Night In Canada Satellite Hot Stove, was his vessel.
He didn't ask for his trade in a more straightforward and accountable manner but instead chose (or allowed his agent to choose) to use a mostly unpopular, Eastern-Canadian hockey writer to leak details of the trade first and then....

2- Head off to Mexico, home of such well-loved sports legends as Ron Mexico. Leaking the trade also probably resulted in....

3- Any trade deals leaving Kevin Lowe in a weak position as far as a negotiation would go. Other GM's immediately knew that Lowe was pretty much forced to dump his superstar and the multi-year contract that came with Pronger. Lowe was probably targeted immediately by other NHL GM's as the weak sister in the negotiations. Then again, most of these guys know each other and probably were aware of Pronger's desire to be traded before we were.
Either way, instead of offering deals to other GM's, they likely came to him with deals that they engineered rather than Kevin "I will never refer to him as K-Lowe" Lowe coming to them.
This is obviously just a wild guess as I did not have Lowe's phone tapped or any inside information whatsoever.

4- Nice to see Christie Chorley introduce herself at the press conference by saying, "Christie Chorley - The Score - nice to meet you finally."
Chorley got her name dragged through the mud and back again during the early days of the Pronger trade rumours and the resulting trade itself. Then CityTV fired just about everybody. But now she's bringing Oiler news and highlights to the rest of the country on THE SCORE. One can get dragged through the mud and do OK. I worked with Christie once upon a time at a shortlived sports bar. She lived and breathed sports TV and got to do what she really wanted to. I'm glad this incident and the ugly rumours didn't slow that down.

5- I do have a personal issue with Pronger signing a five-year deal, enjoying the adulation of a GODDAMN BARBEQUE to celebrate his signing and then deciding he wants a do-over. To me, that's the only real reason I do not include Pronger among my favourite hockey players. He signed a five year deal - that's a commitment - and changed his mind.
It's a bit simplistic, but even business commitments should be walked into with some thought and intention to honour them.

6- Booing Pronger...... I'm up and down about this. The hockey posts are either somewhat moderate or juvenile.
I don't buy into the "I paid for the ticket, I have a right to boo - and swear - and throw shit onto the ice - and make up signs with tacky and offensive cheap shots" thinking. Granted, I don't pay for tickets right now, but I've never been that kind of hockey fan.
If it would be possible to motivate and organize 16,839 wildly disparate people, I'd love to see the fans cheer, have a great time and - whenever Pronger touches the puck - go absolutely silent. Church silent. Michael Richards freaking out and crowd dropping their jaws silent. Crickets chirping silent. Eerie silent. Then cheer again when he no longer has the puck.
This won't happen. It would be impossible to get an entire room to buy in to something that difficult and subtle. Too bad.
I have a feeling that the city of Edmonton will once again look really bad in front of all the curious onlookers across the hockey nation. The catcalls will be caught by the microphones and the tacky signs will be flashed over the highlight reels. We'll look like idiots and the lineup for new free agents will start in Calgary. Players will be only too excited to show up here.

7- Oiler Player Reaction. I'm not entirely sure how the Oiler players feel about the whole thing but Roli has stated that booing Pronger will have little or no effect on him or his game. Other Oilers have said very little about "44/25" either. Hockey players are usually a pretty aloof, distant bunch and keep to themselves (and our hockey media let them continue to do so in fear of losing what little access they have). But I've never heard the players admit that they agree that Pronger did a bad, bad thing. I've never heard off the record that any of the Oilers disagreed with his decision.
Pronger seemed more aloof and distant than most players. He seemed like one of those players (Lemieux?) who treated hockey like a business that suits them more than a player (Gretzky? Ryan Smyth?) who seems to love hockey more than we fans do.
Very few of the players admitted to missing Prongs much either......
I just hope that the fans don't embarass or disappoint their own players Tuesday night or more may politely ask Kevin Lowe for trades.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Not the Capparis Sidosa, but a stunt, prank or goof.
An enterprising group of website sports nerds like us have a plan to thumb their noses at the NHL.
Vote for Rory Fitzpatrick as a "write-in" for the online voting for the starting All-Star Game line-up.
For those who don't immediately recognize Fitzpatrick, he's the one on the right in the Sabres jersey. On the left is an actual caper.

Hey, with 252 career NHL games and 17 career NHL points (none this year yet, but keep trying) since his introduction to the league in 95-96 - why not?

It seems like a funny way to show that making the All Star team should not be a popularity contest. And, considering that our Oilers aren't that popular around the league's NHL cities (at least not like we like to think they are), popularity contests suck. The All-Star team should be used to promote players who earned it - or players that the NHL thinks are worth it.

It's too bad this was dreamt up by a Canucks fan and we are helping send a message by promoting the name of a hard-working journeyman (who isn't even Canadian!!) who plays for Vancouver. But he was a one-time teammate of Horcs and Fernie.

So. What the Hell? Sign up, vote for Hemsky, Smyth, Roli and Sykora while you're at it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not On Our Kill

Oiler Penalty Kill

If there's one thing working like a charm for the Oilers, it's the penalty kill.
As of today, the Oilers PK is #3 in the NHL behind Minny and Dallas.
Last year the Oilers had the eighth best PK. Two seasons ago, it was the 27th best (for comparison's sake). If there is one thing Craig MacTavish was known for in his time in the league, it was being the last player to wear a helmet - and being a reliable role player and penalty killer.

With Ethan Moreau going down, I figured the Oilers PK would take a dive after his plugging and grinding in the PK unit. He's one of the mainstays of the Oiler penalty kill and has been one of the reasons the unit worked so well last year to shut down other powerplays. Hell, Chopper even had two shorthanded goals in a game last year.
Here's some comparisons before and after Ethan.
Before the injury: The Oiler powerplay was tied for second in the league with a 91.3% efficiency (4 goals allowed out of 46 shorthanded situations).
Before and After the injury: The Oiler powerplay is now tied for third with a 90.1% rating (10 goals allowed out of 101 powerplays against).
During the injury: 89.1% efficiency - 6 goals allowed out of 55 powerplays.

More facts about the Penalty Kill.
So far 10 goals have been scored against the Oilers during a powerplay - here are the goal scorers, the games and (just for shits and giggles) the Oiler who got to watch the goal scored from the penalty box.
Game #3 (In San Jose - Oilers won)
Cheechoo scores - Jason Smith in the box
Cheechoo scores again - Torres in the box
M. Michalek - Hemsky and Sykora (5 on 3)
Game #6 (In Edmonton - Against Vancouver - Oilers won)
Naslund - Tjarnqvist
Game #8 (In Edmonton - Against Phoenix - Oilers won)
Comrie - Thoresen
Game #10 (In Phoenix - Oilers lost)
Z. Michalek - Reasoner
Nagy - Horcoff
Game #12 (In Edmonton - Against Nashville - Oilers lost)
Weber - Horcoff
Game #15 (In Detroit - Oilers lost)
Hudler - Thoresen
Game #16 (In Columbus - Oilers won)
A. Carter - Winchester

Who's On The Penalty Kill?????
So far this season, here are the Oiler leaders with Time On Ice during the Penalty Kill.
J. Smith 85:06
S. Horcoff 68:51
S. Staios 68:38
D. Tjarnqvist 67:01
F. Pisani 55:17
Interestingly, despite playing 7 games to most of the team's 19 or 20, Moreau is still ranked 11th on the team with 27:16 minutes of Shorthanded Time On Ice. At the bottom (not counting the zeroes - Mikhnov and Jacques):
J. Lupul 1:27
P. Sykora 1:15
B. Winchester 0:08
R. Torres 0:02

So that's the Oiler Penalty Kill. A few wee tidbits - no real substance.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Detroit just scored with 3 seconds left in the game tonight to tie the game up.
Where's Mick McGeough when you need him??????????
He could have found a phantom call or non-existant non-call to nullify this late tying goal.

He hates late tying goals.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My ears. My aching ears.

Just turned on NHL on TSN to watch Pittsburgh at Buffalo.
First of all, I really like those blue and yellow Buffalo jerseys. They are the nicest new kit this season. The worst? The regular Buffalo jerseys. It's been discussed to death, but yuckos muchachos.

Listening to Chris Cuthbert doing play-by-play during the game reminded me of how much I miss Cuthbert on CBC. Mark Lee has a smoother voice, Jim Hughson has a much better vocabulary and dynamics and, despite missing calls and not knowing player names, Bob Cole is like one of those gentlemen from archived games from the past (oh yeah, he IS from the past).
Cuthbert's voice itself is not the greatest tool, but he calls a game with clarity, some dynamics and keeps you interested in the game. He also lets the flow of the game take care of itself without too much fake drama or overexaggerating.

But Glenn Healy doing colour....I had to serve Mr. Healy drinks and listen to him expound for about an hour to someone at my bar during the Heritage Classic weekend. Normally I would listen in to what MAY HAVE been a fascinating hockey conversation and even chipped in my share, but just hearing his monologue caused me to lose interest.
Luckily Kelly Hrudey showed up the next day. He was much more interesting to speak to (I made him read a copy of In The Box - he pretended to enjoy it) and more accomodating to "the help."
( Was that just BRUSH WITH GREATNESS pt. 2? - Maybe)

Back to Chris Cuthbert. Mark Lee treated Oiler fans to most of the playoff games but I would have preferred Cuthbert - whose nickname is Cuss, by the way - to call the game.
Mark Lee is competent in a difficult job, but to me he is the poor man's Chris Cuthbert. Or maybe the deaf man's Chris Cuthbert?

Is nothing good enough?

Edmonton 6
St. Louis 2
November 16, 2006

Watching Thursday night's game reminded me of what I most like and most hate about cheering for the Oilers.
Win or lose, Oiler games are usually exciting. The team does not make short work of its opponent very often. They either gut it out against really good teams or they show up and are just good enough to beat the bad ones.
Or they let the bad teams beat them. St. Louis has beaten Edmonton 4 out of the last six games (three losses last year out of four; one win and one loss this year) for example.
By the time the game was 3-0 at the end of the first period, the game looked like it would be a rare blowout win for the Oil. While it is nice to sit back and watch the team win, it is certainly not as much fun.
Now, how greedy is that? The Oilers win convincingly and I left feeling a little bit unsatisfied. There was no Ales Hemsky last-minute game-winner or
late game Ales Hemsky game-winner or Ryan Smyth third period hat trick. There was no overtime. There was no shootout (although I'm still on the fence about the shootout). It was so convincing a win it was almost boring.
Considering how badly the Oilers will need to get wins this year and their seemingly awful record against bad teams that should have been good enough. And it was good.

It reminded me of a question I asked myself at some point when I was pulling my hair in the mid-90s cheering for an Oiler team that WASN'T VERY GOOD.
"Dave," I asked myself, "Would you cheer for the Oilers if they always won and you knew before the season started that they would continue to win all the time?"
Truth is, no. I grew up in the high-flying 80s. The reason most of the Canadian hockey world still hate us in Edmonton is we won alot and got pretty used to it. The playoffs weren't even completely interesting until the second or third round. It was just assumed that the Oilers would roll into the playoffs and contend for the Cup. We got pretty complacent about it.

The fun is in not knowing. That's supposed to be the attraction of sports. At least for me it is. The game starts and you don't know who will win. You know who you WANT to win but you're not really sure if they will. So it means something when your team does win a game.

There's little pleasure in a rout except for the fact that it gives a little reassurance that the team isn't that bad after all. They can score. They can kick some ass. But into the third period of Tuesday's game, I started losing interest. The Oilers were going to win.
Oh well. Detroit and Calgary arrive soon. Things will get back to normal and I'll wish I had enjoyed the win a little more.

Now, if Edmonton beats Calgary 6-2........

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hockey In The Afternoon

Oilers in St. Louis - November 12, 2006 at NOON???? MST
It's dumb. It's inconvenient. It's not hockey. A game at noon? I know it's really at 1PM in St. Louis, but hockey games should be played at night. Unless you're a kid playing minor hockey at ungodly hours in the morning, NHL hockey is a sport enjoyed at night.
It always seemed to me that the Oilers have not traditionally been very good during afternoon games.
They're not.
The Oilers are 32-45-10-1 all time (.426) in afternoon hockey games.
They're equally bad at home (8-11-3-0) as they are on the road (24-34-7-1) during those afternoon matches.
It's a silly American idea to put hockey games on in the afternoon. Baseball does it, American football does it. Hockey should not.

Anyway, let's look forward to the game.
The Oilers managed to beat one crappy team in a slump and St. Louis is another crappy team in a slump (they've lost their last three games - to Columbus and Chicago, no less). This team is waiting to be beaten. The Oilers have to beat them.
Bold Prediction:
Oilers 4 (Sykora, Petersen, Staios, Winchester?)- St. Louis 2 (Stempniak, Dvorak?)

Shameless Plug:
After the game (way after) attend a Hockey-Themed Techno Party at RATT.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brush With Greatness Pt. 1

Jackie Parker.

One of Edmonton's legends of sport passed away on November 7, 2006.

I had the honour of meeting Mr. Parker which wasn't really a difficult thing to do in Edmonton as he was known for being accessible and available to fans long after his football career was done.

I met Mr. Parker while working at this man's shortlived bar.I was determined to make Mr. Parker his eponymous drink. You will never get the chance to mix a Shirley Temple for Shirley Temple Black, you'll never meet a real Rocky Mountain BearFucker and you'll probably never meet a guy named Phil Sner.

A "Jackie Parker", by the way, is also known as a Cape Cod. Vodka and Cranberry Juice.

Enjoy a Jackie Parker this week in honour of a well-known and well-loved Edmonton sportsman.


Thank God It's Wednesday.
One of the biggest problems with writing about hockey in a weekly paper - entertainment paper, no less - is that by the time Vue hits the streets, games may have already happened.
Wednesday games effectively do not exist for "In The Box".
We send the column Tuesdays and the issue is put together on Wednesdays, printed and delivered.
That's why I'm glad the Detroit game happened on a Wednesday. The column for this week was put to bed and done by the time the Oilers embarassed themselves in Motown.
I'm sure this week's "In The Box" would have been pretty dire, negative and pissy if TB and I would have written it after tonight's game. As if it wasn't bad enough with McGeough's crap call, Pisani flubbing a potential shootout winner in Montreal and ZERO SHOTS ON GOAL in the first period against Detroit. What a week.
By the time TB and I have to submit next week's edition, hopefully the Oilers haven't added more losses to crappy Columbus, stinky St. Louis and (OK, they're alright) Colorado to this four-game losing streak.
If so, next week's column may include swearing. We can do that, being a cutting-edge alternative weekly.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Refs...Can't Play Without 'Em...Can't Kill 'Em

Enough people have weighed in on this already. I'll take the more moderate and cautious route on this one.
First, Eric Lindros executes a quite effective pick play on Dwayne Rolo, knocking his concentration off and his stick right out of his hands to clear a path for Brenden Morrow to pop a quick goal in the Oiler net. Iffy, but they got away with it.

Then, after needing two goals to tie the game up, MacT pulls Roloson for an extra attacker quite early and gets goal #1. Goal #2 is popped into the net by a tidy rebound recovery and Ales Hemsky scores another late and important goal for the Oilers. Here comes OT.
But wait! ? Panting and waving and gesticulating and rumbling down the ice from about 900 feet away is Magoo, insisting that the goal is null and void because of ............ a hand pass on the faceoff?????? Who calls that?????? He wasn't even the ref on that end of the ice.

People who know more about refereeing, please answer this question....
With a last-second important goal like that, why doesn't the linesman who was looking right down on the play and, oh, about four feet away from the play tell McGeough he was NOT RIGHT? Why doesn't the other referee, who was patrolling that end of the ice tell McGeough he was NOT CORRECT?

Mick told the press he bungled the call (gee thanks) and the replay showed it and I know refereeing is a difficult and thankless job. Split-second decisions have to be made and can't be reversed very easily or the refs lose their integrity. Standing behind a bad call (which will happen) is necessary to ensure refs can't be second-guessed or swayed by angry fans and players.

Please tell me that the call was not made in a desperate attempt to prevent more skating in OT.
In Edmonton's EDSA soccer, we often ran into refs who would not be physically fit enough to keep up with the play and would try to make calls from the middle of the field rather than follow the play, usually missing important calls. Or they would make phantom calls to slow play down and catch breathers.
I know other posters and critics have revelled in calling McGeough fat and lazy and overweight and obese and things like that, but refereeing hockey is damn hard work (I think - it looks like hard work, so naturally I haven't done it) and MM should be in good enough shape to handle it, right? He wouldn't be dreading more skating in overtime enough to create and manufacture a "hand pass on the faceoff" call in that crucial a situation would he?????

There's this guy who works for the Oilers in Group Sales.
Blair McGeough (yes, he is related - yes, he is a nice guy) may as well throw his business cards out for at least a month and make up a pseudonym.
"Hi, Potential Ticket Buyer, I'm Blair McGeough......Ouch. Stop hitting me. Put that down. Ouch. Stop it. Where are you going?"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Edmonton 4, Ovechkin Nada

A pretty decent showing by the oil on HNIC. Much better defensively then the last few games, a nice goal by Smitty (very nice, considering that in the past his shot has been referred to as a "muffin"), some good stops by Rollie and the ugliest empty net goal ever. Hanlon spent the entire game trying to fool the Oil D by sending Ovechkin out with a variety of line combinations. Uh, dude, his name's on the back of his jersey... Hell, he did everything short of put a fake mustache on the kid. (I tried to put one on the picture, but photoshop's being a bitch). Not the most exciting game, but a fine result.

All in all a good day hockey-wise: an Oil win, I spent the morning helping fix up a community outdoor rink, and played some very fun sopping-wet street hockey with the boys from Battle of Alberta and Covered in Oil. And, Oh yeah, the Flames lost...

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Twilight Zone - WOOOOOOOOOO

So, when you have a baby (OK, someone you love has a baby and you're the proud dad) you have little to no spare time to go out like you used to (oh, five nights a week or so....) but when you're home with the baby and the baby's lovely mother is at work, you've got a lot of spare time - you just can't go anywhere.

Anyway.... on one of those nights with the baby sleeping, I decided to take the entire Oiler roster (it was just before the season started) and did a little Twilight Zone experiment.
I took every player on the Oilers (whether he was drafted by the Oilers or not) and checked which NHL hopeful was drafted one pick before and one pick after that player to see what kind of team the Oilers would have if all the drafts in the league shifted up one or down one pick. You follow?
Here's an example: In 2000, Traktor Boy Mikhnov was selected by the Oilers as their 17th pick. #16 was Marcel Hossa and #18 was Brooks Orpik.
Here's the Oiler roster if the world shifted, everything went goofy, dogs and cats started living together and we got everyone picked directly before the present Oiler player with the player in brackets. Welcome to the Big Waste of Time. Obviously House was not on TV that night.
Jeff O'Neill (Smyth, 1994)
Alexandre Picard (Smid, 2002)
Marcel Hossa (Mikhnov, 2000)
Ryan Klesla (Torres, 2000)
Scottie Upshall (Lupul, 2002)
Ondrej Nemec (Stoll, 2002)
Mattias Ohlund (Moreau, 1994)
Derek Morris (Reasoner, 1996)
Sergei Bautin (Smith, 1992)
Ziggy Palffy (Staios, 1991)
Sami Kapanen (Tjarnqvist, 1995)
Dusan Salficky (Markkanen, 2001)
Joel Kwiatkowski (Pisani, 1996)
Kyle Brodziak (M. Roy)
Dan Hamhuis (Hemsky, 2001)

Jamie Storr (Smyth, 1994)
Brooks Orpik (Mikhnov, 2000)
Scott Hartnell (Torres, 2000)
Alexander Kharlamov (Moreau, 1994)
Danius Zubrus (Reasoner, 1996)
Martin Straka (Smith, 1992)
Jim Campbell (Staios, 1991)
Kyle Wellwood (Markkanen, 2001)
Andrej Podkonicky (Pisani, 1996)
Ryan Kesler (Pouliot, 2003)
Colin Fraser (Jacques, 2003)
Dimitri Nabokov (Sykora, 1995)
Chuck Kobasew (Hemsky, 2001)

That took a lot of work. Wouldn't fit into the column. Glad to pass it on. The draft really is a crapshoot once you've gotten past pick six or seven, isn't it?

Happy Fifth Birthday, Crazy Jersey

Happy Fifth Birthday.
October 27, 2001.
Oilers unveil their Todd MacFarlane-designed third jersey to the Edmonton public on October 26, 2001.
October 27, 2001 - Oilers debut the sci-fi bestsellers in a 3-2 win over the Canucks.
The Oilers are 29-16-7-5 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time in the blue garb. They've already beaten Detroit and Phoenix this season.
Interesting Fact: No matter how many times they would wear the jerseys in a season, they would always lose 4 games in regulation while wearing them.
2001-02 - 8-4-1-1
2002-03 - 5-4-4-3
2003-04 - 9-4-1-1
2005-06 - 4-4-1

The Oiler roster we see today was in its infancy with Shawn Horcoff playing his first season with the team and Steve Staios was into his first season with the Oilers. Jussi saw his first games as an Oiler after a brief trip to the NY Rangers. Ethan Moreau, Jason Smith and Ryan Smyth were already a big part of the team. The core of the squad was being developed.

At first I thought the jersey was pretty cool. And, despite not wanting to like it, I still think it was a damn sight better than some others (any Calgary jersey, third or otherwise). The stories behind the design (the skate blade, the bolts to represent Cup wins, the use of the oil drop) helped.
The pub where I worked at the time (E&C on Whyte - 2nd best place to watch hockey - sorry, Greg) actually got to be one of only a handful of spots in the city to get the new unis and we got to see them the day of the official unveiling. I got to buy one and was one of the first in the city (one of hundreds, mind you) to own one. After wearing it for a couple months, it made a Christmas gift for my brother.
Happy Birthday, Crazy, Sci-Fi Looking, Spawn-Guy Designed, Lucky Third Jersey.

Bad and Badder

oilers 2
ducks 6
and for good measure....
oilers 2
coyotes 6
Two games. Same result.
Except that Anaheim is not a bad team at all. They will do this once in a while.
Phoenix woke up. It must have been the loud bragging from the Oiler dressing room about the win last Monday that did it. They obviously forgot the night before in Disneyland.

The Bad:
Geez, I don't know....
1- Three assists for Prong; three assists for Comrie. Public Enemies #1 and #2, cuz you know people need to have their enemies.
2- Powerplay 2 for 10. Getting better at setting up, still not firing pucks in at the rate they should.
3- Laraque got a goal; Owen "haven't played in years" Nolan got a goal in Phoenix.
4- Another loss to a struggling team with an untested callup, third-to-fifth string goalie (LeNeveu in Phoenix - he didn't look too bad, though).
5- Two losses.

The Good:
1- Winchester, overlooked and mentioned in far too many trade "rumours" on web boards, is looking really fit and ready to keep his spot in the lineup. Even fought.
2- Reasoner fought?
3- Laraque got a goal. Hey, good for him. He's already half the way to the pair of goals he scored last season.
4- Gretzky gushing about Hemsky, calling him the best forward in hockey right now.
5- They're back home tomorrow. Apparently they pack their suitcases with suck.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Notes on the game

Oilers 5
Phoenix 2

Monday night started out well. First of all, it was Monday, one of the few nights I can get to an Oiler game without needing to completely rearrange the schedules of myself, the lovely Heather, the baby, The Boy and people at work.
I actually showed up early and got to "enjoy" the meal supplied to the media by the Oilers. OK. It's usually quite good. I should know better than to take cheap shots at food - this isn't the Gateway. Long story.
Then I got to lug about 30 pounds (I weighed it) of books up to the catwalk. Had to stop and pant for most of the pre-game video.
Most interesting things about the game:
1-During the home games, the Oilers invite a young kid to join the team on the blueline during the anthem. Smytty had the class to call the proud and nervous kid over to stand between himself and Horcoff and shared some words with the young player. That was just another example of why Smytty will always be loved in this city. He still is that kid. He loves hockey more than I do or just about anyone in Canada.
2- Cool of the crowd to cheer Georges. Lucky they did when they could, what with about twenty seconds (OK 6:10 - only Mike Zigomanis played less and he got injured in the second period) on the ice to do so.
3- Enough with booing Comrie. I hate to agree with Bob Stauffer - although he is right quite often and by right I mean I agree with him - but it's getting pretty old. And cheering "Comrie swallows" in the third period? Please. I know they're the cheap seats, but acting like jackasses just gives the rich twits in the gold seats more ammunition to think they are better than us.
4- Speaking of rich (not sure about the twits part, haven't met him) people, Monday's game was the first time that I noticed the winning ticket announcement for the 50-50 draw was not made until the end of the game. Were the Oilers PR peeps purposely waiting until the crowd was distracted by sirens, cheering and Three Stars to announce that Gene Zwozdesky won nearly $25 g's? It may not have been the same Tory MLA Gene Zwozdesky - it is a common name....
5- Thoresen is for real. And with three assists on his new forward line he should be playing with Hemsky and Sykora for awhile. Covered In Oil were trying to find a new nickname for Thoresen (nice move by Pleasure Motors!! with The Electric Norseman).
I wonder what nickname Raffi Torres has for Thoresen. The bad vibes in being moved from the second to the third line are probably slightly mitigated by the sweet-ass feed Thor made to Raffi for the first goal.
6- Nice dive, Cujo. He is still one of my favourite former Oilers, but that dive was stinky. Just before that play, Cujo was almost caught bobbling the puck beside the net, nearly giving up the puck. Reminded me of watching Joseph get stranded in the corners while playing with the Oil and usually losing the puck and giving a goal away. That new goalie rule (no playing the puck in the corner trapezoids) keeps the dog on a leash, though.
7- That Ugly Jacket the Oilers won't speak of may have been from Wayne's closet, judging from the beige (ish) sport jacket Wayner was wearing behind the bench on Monday. He must have pulled the elbow pads off.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Looks like Smytty ends up...

#4 All Time
Smytty's three goals in 2:01 did beat a Wayne Gretzky record (oh no, Wayne's getting erased from the Oiler record books....) but now the name Bill Mosienko has been bounced around once again since the Smytty feat.
Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds in 1952 for Chicago in the last game of the season. Both the Rangers and the Black Hawks were already out of the playoffs in a meaningless game that only saw just over 2000 fans. Rumour has it that a young Stan Fischler (the model for the shortlived sailor logo the Isles had a few years ago?) was a cub reporter at that game.
The Rangers goalie Lorne Anderson had already been shelled for 10 goals in his two previous game for the team and never played again after that in the NHL.

2nd fastest...
Jean Beliveau 44 seconds

3rd fastest...
Carl Liscombe of Detroit 1:04 1938

4th fastest...
our own mullet man also just edged out...

5th fastest..
Peter Bondra scored three goals in 2:06 while a Capital

6th fastest....
Wayne Gretzky scored three goals in 2:18 vs. St. Louis in a 9-2 rout in 1981. Gretzky also scored four goals in 7:58 in that game and five goals total.

Don Maloney of the Rangers scored three in 2:30 vs. Washington in 1981

If anyone has any more research to add to this, please do. It was tough enough finding these stats. There may be other records I've missed. I noticed no one out there had yet determined where Smytty stood overall in NHL history with his trio of quick garbage goals. Hopefully no more records pop up and Ryan Smyth remains with the fourth fastest three goals in NHL history.

Ryan's Myth

San Jose 4 - Edmonton 6

What can't this guy do? He can score ugly goals in tight little bunches. He can stop pucks with his teeth (and I'm not so sure anymore that P-Wronger didn't mean to do that). And when other players like Ricci and Jagr have strayed from the path, Smyth still proudly maintains his short-long. Maybe he does it to honour the Oiler teams of the 80's, who would look directly into the gaping maw of a three-goal deficit and laugh their jovial, boyish laughs because they knew they would come back.

Yes, it would appear that running and/or gunning is back, and I couldn't be happier. Unless Kipper gets a case of necrotizing fasciitis in his leg. Five goals in four games? Suck it, Flames.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

FYI, Calgary makes me LMAO

The first week of what looks like a crazy season-to-be is over and the Oilers managed to split a home at home series with the (blah) Calgary Flames. Game one here in Edmonchuk saw a decisive 3-1 win and game two in Cowtown ended with a razor-thin 2-1 Oiler loss. Coming up next week: San Jose, Colorado, Vancouver and Vancouver. Hey Oiler fans. This season looks like it will be steeped. (ugh)

WTF: Wayne’s Tuck Followers
Keep your eyes on Petr Sykora’s hips. No, really. It looks like he may be bringing back a little Edmonton tradition. In parts of game one and what seemed like every other shift in game two, Sykora was sporting the “Gretzky Tuck”—you know, with the right side of the hockey sweater tucked into the hockey pant. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or just a result of the huge windup he takes on big slappers, but we’ll have to check. I noticed some photos with Sykora sporting the style in both Rangers and Devils uniforms. Gretzky started the tradition at age six when his hockey jersey was far too large (to his knees) and Walter tucked it into the right side of his little pants allowing little Wayne to stickhandle and shoot. Doug Weight still does it and an obscure one-time Oiler named Mike Comrie also sported the tuck. Rod Brindamour also sucks (er, tucks). DY

BYOB: Big Year Or Bust
Of course, everybody is hoping for a good showing this season following last year’s cup run. One of those predicting such a showing is none other than CBC commentator Kelly Hrudey, the blue-headbanded one himself, who has said that the Oil will score over 300 goals this year, a feat that they haven’t accomplished since the 1989-90 season. Can the Oil average almost four goals a game? Maybe. Will they allow that many? Uh, maybe. It’s gonna be some kinda ride. TB

SOS: Stymie Opposing Swedes
Czech defenceman (and all-around mystery man to Oiler fans) Jan Hejda has yet to start a game for the Oilers but he is the seventh d-man on the depth chart. Suggestion: play him against Vancouver and Detroit as both teams sport a handful of prominent Swedes. Hejda (I’m not quite a citizen of the world so I can only guess if the Czech name and Swedish word are pronounced the same) translates in Swedish as “to check” or “to stop”. He was born to face Swedes and HEJDA them. DY

BYOB: Bring Your Own Banner
When the Oilers hung their CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP BANNER last week, it was a short, tasteful ceremony. There. Done. We came close, and this is what we got. Over to Calgary, and the raising of the DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP BANNER. Apparently, despite getting bounced in the first round, this is grounds for a ceremony rivaling the retirement of Gretzky, Messier and Ralph Klein combined. A few of the Flames even looked a tad embarassed by the whole production. TB

AWOL: A Week in Oiler Land
One win. One loss. Four goals/44 shots for. Three goals/60 shots against. Puck in the mush to Stevie Staios. Roli denies Iggy in a penalty shot. Sykora/Hemsky heating up. Joff Lupul’s/Daniel Tjarnqvist’s/Petr Sykora’s first Oiler goal. One new banner. Bring on week two. DY

TGIF: Trends Get I Fired-up (Ouch)
Of course, it's far too early in the season to really put much weight in these trends, but I find them entertaining, so suck it up, princess, here we go: the Rangers are scoring and winning; the Islanders are getting scored on and losing (there's some money well spent). Buffalo scares me. So does San Jose. Ottawa can score in buckets but has no goalie. Nashville can score in buckets but has no D. Calgary can still only win 2-1 (and is still one knee injury away from last place). More next week! Woo! TB

Friday, October 06, 2006

Game One - Done and Done

No time for a full game summary, but how about the first game of this season?
Beat the (pfft) Flames here in Edmonton, raise the Western Conference banner (yeah, yeah it wasn't the Cup Banner) and nearly shut the rivals out save a late Iginla goal.
Roloson burned Iginla with an early penalty shot stop, the defence didn't look bad at all and the team looked like a team.
Yes. Game One. Done and done.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fearless prognostications in Oil country

It’s hockey time. It’s hockey time. It’s hockey time. Alright, that’s enough. After a near-miss at game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals it’s time for the Oilers to somehow match or beat the sideshow they provided last year. The team looks just a little different, but this city’s born-again Oiler-mania should be the same. The question is: How long will it last? And have you checked out Loose Bolts yet?

Czech, Czech and Check.

I’m really looking forward to the Petr Sykora, Raffi Torres and Ales Hemsky line this year. When the Oilers signed Sykora, he immediately talked about how much he was looking forward to playing with fellow Czech Hemsky. With Torres to grit things up and bang the puck loose, the two Czechs can dance around with the puck. The disappointing thing about this line? Sykora, while he can play centre, should be on the opposite wing from Hemsky with a more natural centreman in between. Sykora also said he needs to use a heavier stick to help win faceoffs, losing a little flex in his wicked shot. Maybe Coach MacT can teach Torres how to win draws in the circle. DY

Have you seen my website?

The NHL recently updated its website ( to look more like the sites of the other major sports leagues. It's flashier, friendlier and full of the trivia and stats that make nerds like me drool. It has hot buttons for all the teams, and a pull-down menu for all the NHL's affiliate sites. But the best-slash-worst-slash-best-again section of the site would have to be the pull-down menu for NHL Player Sites. Of the roughly 800 players currently in the NHL, a whopping four players have opted to use this service supplied by the league webmasters. The most obvious inclusion would have to Sidney "The Kid" Crosby, seeing as the league wants everyone to know just how awesome he is. Slightly more confusing would be the presence of Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour and Kevin "Do I Still Have A Job?" Weekes. Are elderly back-up goalies really that big with the web-surfing public? And then there's the final member of this very exclusive club, Edmonton's own Raffi "Porn-Star Landing Strip Facial-Hair Thingy" Torres. I mean, I like Torres and all, but is this really necessary? Do I need to know his favourite colour (blue) or his boyhood idol (Wendel Clark)? Not really, I guess, but it's a ballsy move putting it up there. TB

Coincidences abound.

I just rented The Rocket the other day. See it, sports fans. Roy Dupuis nailed Maurice Richard (why not? He’s played the hockey legend three times now) and 1940s hockey looked raw and rea—we really missed out. And by we, I mean our spoiled rotten, shallow generation. Canadian actor Stephen McHattie lit up the screen with his Svengali-like caricature of legendary Habs coach Dick Irvin. McHattie’s portrayal of Irvin seemed to channel Paul Newman’s Reggie Dunlop from Slap Shot. But player-coach Reggie Dunlop was actually based on former Leafs coach John Brophy, not Dick Irvin. Here’s where it gets weird. Both Brophy and McHattie hail from Antigonish, Nova Scotia and McHattie also played Elaine’s controlling psychologist Dr Reston in Seinfeld—or, as Elaine misprounced it: “SvenJOLLY”. DY

Look ma, we’re on teh interw3b.

After blowing some sunshine their way a couple of weeks ago, the boys at the Covered in Oil blogsite were so touched they told us to “go get your own blog, losers.” So we did. Come give us a visit at As well as posting the weekly column, we’ll be talking about current events in the world of hockey, hosting a few surveys, and maybe even give some crap away, too. But try to be nice, we’re total newbs. TB

Fearless Oiler Predictions

Dave: The team will make the playoffs. Starting with game one against Calgary, at least six people in (blech) Flames jerseys will get kicked out of Rexall during each of the Battles of Alberta. One veteran Oiler will suffer a season-ending (and potentially career-ending) injury. Goals will come in buckets, but no single Oiler will be in the top 15 in scoring. At least four Oilers will be in the top 30 in scoring, though. The powerplay will strike often, but will give up too many shorthanded opportunities with forwards on the point and what’s-his-name gone. MacT will keep getting funnier in post and pre-game interviews. We’ll find out who the real fans are this season as the playoff bandwagon party becomes a regular season rollercoaster ride. DY

TB: Ok, I know that everyone in Oilerville is wondering how we’re going to do this year without old what’s-his-nuts on the blueline. Sure, Pronger played a lot of minutes, and hard ones at that. But if the Oil had gotten just four less points last season and missed the playoffs, no one would be saying boo about him leaving town. We may not be flush with Norris trophy candidates per se, but it’s not as if MacTavish is just stuffing hobos into jerseys and hoping for the best, either. If everything does start to go horribly wrong, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long for MacT to pull the trigger. We’re deep up front and in goal, and it shouldn’t take more than a month for some teams (the Leafs!) to realize that they’re just playing out the string. As for predictions—what I’m actually supposed to be doing here—watch for Lupul to shine, Smith to get meaner, Bergeron to mature and Hemsky to make goalies bleed out their eyes. TB

More Fearless Predictions From The “Experts”

“I don’t feel that they will make the playoffs. When Jason Smith and Steve Staios are our main d-men they won’t make the playoffs. And (Daniel) Tjarnqvist is on the number one pair? Tjarnqvist? They have too many question marks this year. I went to a pre-season game and the defence was mostly rookies—they were all over the place letting in goals. They looked terrible.”
Brent Oliver—local musician, promoter (Brent Oliver Presents) and President of the Green Pepper Hockey League.

“I think they’ll do good like last year. Now they have more fast players and better scorers. They’re missing Chris Pronger, though.”
“The Boy”—Kai, age 7. New hockey fan.

“Ales Hemsky will have a breakout year, scoring over 85 points and making his first all-star team. Joffrey Lupul will lead them in goals, Hemsky will lead in points and as a team they will finish in the top five in goals scored. The Battle of Alberta will be a battle for first place in the Northwest with the Flames winning by less than four points. The Oil will finish fifth or sixth and Rexall will once again be a madhouse in April and (hopefully for Oilers fans) in May as well.”
Jason Gregor hosts “Just A Game” weeknights at 9 PM on Team 1260 Edmonton Sports Radio.

“Things just wouldn’t feel right if the Oilers failed to start the season with at least one glaring, potentially team-crippling question mark—last year it was goaltending, this year it’s defence. Still, our offence looks pretty scary and Roloson is great when someone isn’t breaking his knee, so I think we’ll do all right. But a deep post-season feel pretty damn unlikely unless we pull off a trade for a veteran offensive presence on the blue line. Smith-Staios is just not going to cut it. Cautiously optimistic predictions: Oilers win all eight games against Calgary this year; Hemsky scores 40 goals.”
Chris!—Covered in Oil co-Blogger (

“I predict that the Oilers will break the Cup-loser-misses the playoffs curse and finish in eighth. No higher because I can’t see Roloson doing what he did in the playoffs over a full regular season and the numbers 4-6 d-men are real question marks. Calgary and Edmonton will play for Western Conference Championship. Belinda Stronach will date a prominent Oiler, who will then ask for a trade for personal reasons. Oh, and to the
IMPORTANT stuff ... Leafs ... finish … last ... in ... East ... win draft lottery.”
Steven Sandor—co-founder In the Box, former Oilers Zone editor, author of the Battle of Alberta (Heritage House) and current sports editor, 24 Hours in Toronto.

“With three killer lines up front, the Oilers have all the firepower they need and nothing to worry about on the attack. Awesome acquisitions in the off-season should pan out big time. Sykora and Lupul are already fitting in nicely. The big question is on the blue line. Do the Oilers have the defence they need to get to another Stanley Cup final? I say yes. Veteran D-man Jason Smith has some promising young talent to paint copper and blue. His leadership, along with a solid coaching staff, and a proven set of goalies should be enough to take us in to another strong playoff run. Bring an extra loonie to Rexall Place this year. Beer went up one dollar to $7.50 ... ouch!”
Kory Read—Sonic 102.9 news/sports guy. He won his job in a contest—and he kept it.

“What the Oilers have is confidence. The confidence that comes from just about winning the Stanley Cup. This club can score right out of the gate and fight from behind. They could be fighting for first or second place in the division. It’s going to be a great year for the Oiler fans.”
Billy Warwick—played for the New York Rangers from 1942-44, founded “Billy’s Guide” in Edmonton

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Awkward First Steps...

So here we are, going online like the boys at Covered In Oil kept telling us we should, so that all of you can bathe in the healthy glow of our radness. Basically, opening ourselves up to the online derision that I usually enjoy seeing heaped on others. This will either go well, or end in a blind rage and a cloud of carcinogenic monitor smoke. Woo!