Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 49: The Beat Goes On

Fistric: Shhh, lets use our library voice to resolve our difficulties.
On the right here is Mark "Meathead" Fistric. Our fates were forever interwoven when my ball hockey team, The Snipes, faced off against the Mark Fistric led Dirty Danglers, in a summer league division 8 ball hockey game. I vaguely recognized him even before the ball had dropped, being someone who had some kind of murky mnemonic facial recall combined with a deep passion for hockey. For whatever reason, an NHL hockey player had decided to drop into our ball hockey league and as you can see by the 8-0 scoreline, we got our asses handed to us.

I especially remember one play against Fistric, when I was the lone defender back on a one on one. First off, let me tell you, he's listed at 6'2, 232 pounds of pure meathead, and for a big guy he moves very fast on his feet. Even though he was the largest guy on either team, he was likely one of the three fastest players on either side (we did have a couple of midget, sonic-the-hedgehog types on our bench). The combination of his speed and power made him something of a freight train by Div 8 standards.

He picked up a loose ball around the blue line and powered into our zone on his backhand, driving me backwards towards my own goalie. I think both teams were changing, so it was a strangely calm moment: the players on both sides were situation-stunned by the knowledge that no matter how fast they moved, whatever happened on the one on one they could not affect. It was man on man, one on one, two players on a stage - bright lights, big crowd.

It was John, the 5'11, 205 pound software developer versus Mark "Motherfucking" Fistric, part ballistic missile, part steel-bound wagon filled with the entrails and limbs of hockey players he had dismembered during his tough-as-nails warpath to the NHL. Part of my mental makeup is a healthy dose of competitive fire, so shit like that really doesn't intimidate me. I'm the kind of guy that really revels in being put out of my depth so that I can see where I match up. Like a small buck, I want to lock horns with the big buck to see where I am in the overall hierarchy of... bucks.

So there he was, this professional hockey player, cutting in on his backhand, goggles down as he prepared to stick-handle around me. I planted both my feet, and while saying a prayer (I'm not religious) I delivered the most thunderous, Earth-rattling shoulder check of my entire life directly to the center of his muscled mass.

I laid out Mark Fistric; laid him out on his ass, a meaty thump of bone on sternum. It was like a huge gong rung in a deep place, signalling a period of mourning.  I was one with god; an exalted warrior, a destroyer, a clenched fist of victory.

And then I woke up in front of the gates of heaven, God looking down on me:
God: Welcome to heaven, my son.
Me: God... How did I die?
God: You attempted to body check Mark Fistric on a one on one during a division 8 ball hockey game. You died four times before you hit the ground.

Back in the real world, Fistric had scored, the goalie was his ass, and I was slumped over, half in the goal. I think I apologized to my goalie for getting owned on the one-on-one.

So, No, I really didn't lay out Fistric. It would have been cool, that's for sure; what actually happened is he used his huge fucking zepplin mass to push me almost on top of my goalie, and the with me draped all over him, Fistric executed a spin-o-rama in the crease (essentially walking through me) and used his reach to hook the ball around the goalies outstretched right leg. Normally guys that big in ball hockey can't execute 360's on the move with a defender draped on their back.

Before the game was over both teams had amassed 160 penalty minutes, Including nine 10 minute misconducts. We got shelled 8-0, but we didn't go down without a fight. At one point one of our guys challenged Fistric to a fight. Fistric replied with something like (and I'm paraphrasing): "Sure, I'll fight you. But I do this for a living, and I'm going to put you in the hospital."

Ah, good old Canada. They only place where you can get death threats from a professional hockey player in the middle of your division 8 ball hockey game.

There was another game played that features about the same amount of bad blood, that of the Oilers versus Dallas. It was a familiar script as The Snipes game, a lot of fisticuffs and the better team winning. In reality, the Oilers out- shot and chanced the Stars (again) only to be sunk by a couple of grade A scoring chances against, and a floppy dildo for a goalie in net.

What more can you say about Khabibulin? He no longer makes the necessary save any more. The first goal was wired and off the post, but it was clearly inside the goalie silhouette of a goalie on his angles and challenging. It's one of those goals that you just KNOW Dubnyk is going to get by the simple fact that he's got like half a foot on the Having-Bourbon Wall. Even the dumbest sack of plywood can take a look at the surface numbers of the two Edmonton goalies and see that continuously running Khabibulin out is not going to be a viable strategy any more unless he finds his game in a big way.

In all fairness, 18 goals of run support in Khabi's last 11 starts isn't going to help very much either, which brings us to the latest wrinkle in the massive stable of problems that is the Edmonton Oilers: We Can't Score. I capitalized it because it has really permeated all aspects of the Oilers game. The raw numbers say we are the 26th best offensive team in the league, and with 45 goals in our last 20 games (2.25/game), we simply cannot get the rubbercake into the scorebasket enough. Of double digit goal scorers, we have two with 11 (Jones, Gagner), and two with 16 (Penner, Hall). That's 49 games in, and for a team that was supposed to be able to at least score, you really need to look no further then the total team offence, and I mean the lack of, to figure out why we are 28th in the league.

Ladislav Smid - I liked his game tonight. He was feisty, and he played the second most minutes at close to 24, and finished even. If he is in your bottom 2, you are probably in a good place defensively, as he really doesn't give up too much except against elite opponents. Here's hoping that we can find enough defensive depth so that he can go up against second and third line units and play his (still emerging) shutdown role.

Taylor Hall - Had some decent touches, and I loved the iso by Ferraro that showed T. Hall shortening up the grip on his stick to take the puck in stride. I can't have been the only Oiler fan to be giggling like a schoolgirl when he did that, right? Right? He had a helper in 18 and a third, and he still shows a little flash of brilliance every game.

Dustin Penner - I did not like his game. Actually let me expand, I have not liked his games recently. D-train is in the junction right now, and a lazy Penner is a Penner without the puck, swinging his stick around haphazardly, and not skating. He looks about as interested as Lohan in a treatment facility, and since no one has unlocked the arcane voodoo magic require to Defunk the D-train, could be a long trip back to the 32 goal form that gave me partial bing-bang in the pants. Yea, he got a goal, but he's always going to get those crappy big-body-in-front rebound goals. We need more then that from the big conversationalist.

Shawn Horcoff - Still did not play any real SH time. What is up with that? He used to be one of our most reliable SH guys, I can't imagine a guy like Fraser is really more useful on the PK (he had 1:18 to Horcoff's 0:03 SH). I think the adjustment period needs to be over with now, we need Horcoff back at Captain Corsi form if we are going to have any chance to avoid the Oiler record for futility in a season (60 points, '92-93).

Nikolai Khabibulin - He went 18-21 (.857), and for his minimal amount of action (he was great on the 2 minute 5 on 3, however), he simply let in the kind of goal the Oilers cannot afford. I don't know how many ways I can say it: It's Dubnyk's time management. I know it was back to back, but unless we see Dubnyk back in the net next game, we will have confirmation that Renney has been getting into the extreme sport of recreational glue sniffing.

Tom Renney - Is managing Foster better now. He's getting distinctly third pairing minutes and honestly looks way better for it. I'm not actually sure if he's the one in charge of their actual ice, but regardless, I'm getting quite happy with the way they are cutting up the defender cake-of-time. The right minutes are going to the right (available) Dmen for the right situations. The offence side, well I'm still not happy to see Mr. Johnny Cacque out there.


You can't really be mad with the Oilers tonight. They once again have shown that Dallas really is not going to do jack f'ing all in the X-offs and have also shown that their defensive game is a far superior version than the one displayed at seasons beginning. I keep saying it because it's true: they simply have been playing better defensively. Perhaps it also corresponds with more Dubnyk starts, but regardless, if they ever got that scoring sorted out... Maybe I would hear less crying from German HFBoards posters ;)

P.S. You know where I am Fistric, rematch any time. We'll see who needs the Hospital!

P.P.S. Yea, that would be me needing the hospital.


Post a Comment