I somewhat purposely left some time between the end of the game and my writing tonight. As I'm sure I've indicated lately, I'm left struggling for my usual inspiration to expound on the excellent performances and disappointments on the ice when there's no meaning behind them.
Watching my team and not hoping with all of my being for them to win, and to win big is hard. Watching this same spectacle against a rival is excruciating. I know where this season is heading and that in 1 year or 3 years it might result in a great victory, but that process rather than a smooth transition or a slow climbing upgrade seems this time to be one that will require a violent correction that will see the passing of some of our heroes, some lesser lights that will go on to become very good players, and some who should have been given up on long ago.
The end of this process is not the certainty that many people deem it to be. Just because we go through this pain does not mean that the injuries will heal and the glory that should have come true save for a series of unfortunate occurrences in early-mid 2006 will suddenly present itself. I am not one for changing a team this way. I believe in this new era it is completely unnecessary. But, it appears we shall go down this road together.
One thought I had, somewhat related to tonight's game and it's finish, is that we could spend this year making life hell for other teams. Stack us up with a couple more goons and spend this sad losing season beating on teams to the point where, even though they win more often than not, the just HATE to play the Edmonton Oilers. I could draw some serious satisfaction out of that.
Rene Bourque owns us it seems. #2 and I really thought we needed to take a run at him when he was with Chicago. Excellent hockey player with a great nose for the net.
Calgary wasn't particularly good tonight. Iginla played scared of Souray, but the fact that Souray didn't do anything with that makes me really think he's checked out. He can be a special player when he wants, and for long period of time, but he's not right now. Smid at least left some welts on Jerome's forehead. It's about time someone did. Glad that he took the battle to him even if it was late in the game.
I feel bad for Jeff Deslauriers. After being abused and neglected by a dysfunctional goalie development system for years, he finally gets his shot for a team that's got a shot at the #1 overall pick. He didn't play that great tonight but I highly doubt he could have made a difference. Giordano's goal was pretty putrid, and I suppose at least one of Bourque's should have been stopped. He made a couple very good choices with the puck which was good to see.
We took a lot of goofy shots. Many players were guilty. You can see in their efforts that they know the year is already over and that it pains them too. There's a level of commitment and drive and persistence that is present in guys who are in to win. None of these guys have it right now.
Dustin Penner has lost a step or two over the last few games. He's carried an awful lot of mail this season so I'm not one to criticize really, but I felt there was a lot more lumbering than thundering in his game tonight. That special little extra that he has shown was not present even for one shift. His shooting was imprecise, positioning off and skating slower than usual. I just expect better now I guess.
Gagner showed more than I've seen from him lately in that there were a few shifts where he was the direct offensive creator rather than simply a support piece. When I think of Gagner on the line with Penner and Hemsky earlier this year, I wonder where that player went. The one brimming with confidence and ready to take on the world. I wonder if he'll ever really be what he can. I think every now and a again that we should trade him. He's going to command big dough but may very well never be a dominant offensive creator. We need him to be.
Robert Nilsson has improved. I think he looked as confident as I've seen him tonight. He's never going to jump out or play that role for a good team though. He just doesn't have it in his game. That top gear that would allow him to be a top-six guy on a good team doesn't exist. We know what we have in him and it's not enough.
A guy like Horcoff, who I think almost needs a higher level of activity and intensity to get himself into it, drifts into the background on a night like tonight. I don't think I noticed him once. He really wasn't a factor. Does he know how to be a singular factor in a game?
Ryan Potulny just keeps chugging along. I do want to see how he plays on a team that's constantly in games. It's hard to tell without that, because he gets his goals like tonight and does a lot of little things right, but you wonder if he's just filling a role that some better player is supposed to be in. I can't tell anymore.
Ryan Stone just sort of did his thing. At least he's a consistently positive impact.
Stortini in a game like tonight should make it his business to cause a ruckus. He used to get people kicked out of games, now he's grown comfortable. He just didn't do anything. He needs a benching. He's too secure right now. If it's good enough for Strudwick, who played half-decently and worked quite smartly, to replace Grebeshkov for a game, then it's good enough for a forward that doesn't contribute offensively.
O'Sullivan is truly uninspired. He made some great passes and skated well, but didn't in any way dig in and compete. I believe this guy thrives in the trenches, but is not able to push his team into those trenches. It's just not in his mind. I'm not sure if we could ever get him to.
This is one of the first games I've seen where Lubomir gave the puck away a few times, didn't get it back, and didn't really create offence. Shame. At least that's entertaining.
Tom Gilbert on the other hand made a great pass and certainly looks to have it together. Maybe he can use the rest of this year to develop consistency.
Smid is probably my favorite though. Whether it was the fight with Iginla, a couple shot blocks, physical play, some excellent skating, he's become like a broken record. We sure need to sign him up for a while in that he fills a skillset we don't currently have much of.
Staios played ornery but didn't make too much happen. I enjoy it when he's not getting beat constantly though.
I have similar thoughts these days with Brule as I do Potulny. I'd love to see the effort he gives consistently on a third line as opposed to a first or second. He didn't make much happen tonight.
Poor Andrew Cogliano. What exactly he was doing scrapping I truly don't know. He needs to put a puck in the net. He did his usual routine of skating fast with the puck and then simply handing it over to Calgary.
Not that we're great at hanging onto the puck lately. Many players including some of our best made habit out of simply handing the puck over or shooting it away tonight.
Ethan Moreau I simply have no use for. I'll try and remember him for the year he was playing like our MVP.
Jacques doesn't skate well enough to hit the way he tries to. It's no wonder he gets hurt because he misses like he did tonight a few times, then simply takes a penalty. He's not an NHLer on a good team. Like much of this squad.
I don't know how this team is going to stay together playing out the string like this. Its abundantly obvious what is happening. It isn't like the run we went on with the kids in that you always got the feeling that might happen. This team is not capable of rattling off 10 wins in a row a time or two. They just aren't.