Game 1 Reflections

June 6, 2006

I’ll admit that I was not sure who to cheer for in this series. My favorite playoff team to watch (Buffalo) was knocked out by the mighty Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals last week. As a fan of the game, I don’t really need to pull for a particular team, but it makes yelling at the television slightly more understandable/acceptable in Mrs. EOB’s eyes if I have a target. We both like Jaroslav Spacek from his time with the Jackets and I don’t like Mark Recchi, so I decided to pull for the Oilers (any team that knocks Detroit down a peg is alright in my book). Plus, every time one of the Canes players skates by on the tube, I love hearing Mrs. EOB emit her trusty, “Ooohh, I hate that guy… he’s mean.” It strikes me as funny, because she pretty much says that for anyone not wearing a CBJ sweater (I’ve taught her well). She used to think Hurricane forward Ray Whitney was cute when he played for us, but now that he’s played for Detroit and now Carolina (read: not us) he’s “F-ing Ray Whitney”. Not rational, but definitely passionate. It’s the EOB way.

Those worried about the extended layoff for the Oilers surely must’ve had crow for breakfast this morning. Edmonton had jump and played very hard all game. For that matter, both teams played pretty well going end to end and playing some very exciting hockey. Carolina (especially Mike Commodore, yikes!) was hitting hard, and it looked to be a good game from the outset. Dwayne Roloson was playing very well in net, and despite allowing the games first three goals, Cam Ward looked very strong as well. You’ll often find me yelling at announcers who say “there was nothing the goalie could do about that one,” because if I’m not mistaken it’s the goalie’s job to stop pucks. That said, I understand what they mean. I would think that Ward probably should have stopped Big Pronger’s penalty shot, but the other three (rebound near crease, deflection off own defenseman, sick deke from a skilled European forward) were nearly unstoppable. Of course, Cam did make a few unbelievable stops as the game was winding down. Glove saves from out of nowhere, it was quite amazing. I’m still not sure I’d be willing to hand the kid the keys to the national team just yet, but he’s definitely earning his pay and my respect (the latter of which I know he was waiting for).

Late in the third, when Ladd was checked into Roloson by Bergeron, the camera followed a bit to the left and the Ladd/Bergeron pileup. To the right of the screen, Roli remained crumpled on the ice. I believe my exact words were, “Oh no, series over.” I looked at Mrs. EOB, tapped my knee and said, “He’s done.” With 31 seconds left in the game, backup Ty Conklin committed a turnover to Brind’Amour who wrapped the puck into the net for the go-ahead score. Whichever backup the Oilers go with, it will take a miracle for them to win this series. It was going to be very close with Roloson in net, and now I have to believe that Carolina holds a decisive advantage. If Edmonton can continue to block shots and play smart defense as they have throughout the playoffs, they could possibly make it a series.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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