A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Canes sign Viva

The Canes have made my day even better.

Although I can find no confirmation of this anywhere, my sourceThis article says that the Canes have re-signed Justin "Viva" Williams to a five-year deal at $3.5M per year. This is fantastic news. Viva had a great season, tallying 76 points (31/45) in the regular season and 18 (7/11) in the playoffs. His salary has more than tripled from this season, when he made $1.14M, and was worth twice that.

If Viva is going to take $3.5, that means Colesy will get the same, and Staalsy will probably be taking $5M.

This is starting to get a little spendy. Sure, the cap is going up next season, and it is absolutely a good idea to lock these guys down, but just about everyone deserves a big raise, and we might actually have cap issues if everyone gets what they deserve.

In my mind, something here reeks of a Oleg Tverdovsky trade. He has a huge salary that didn't quite flash out in the end.


Canes sign Hutch, CrAdams

On Friday, the Hurricanes signed multi-year contracts with two players I previously thought had limited futures with the club.

Andrew Hutchinson, who was a depth-providing player on the blue line this season, was signed to a two-year deal. The first year, he will get $450k, and the second he will get $500k. Because of injuries that forced him to miss 25 games, and a number of healthy scratch situations, Hutch played in 36 games. He did not make the lineup in any of the SCF games (or any of the playoffs for that matter) and does not meet the criterion for getting his name etched on the Cup. Nonetheless, he tallied 11 points (3/8), which was a career best. It was also good enough to win the Jes Golbez hot dog with cheese bet. Because of his offensive upside, and what certainly looks like a different blue line makeup next season, Hutch will probably see some increased playing time. I'm having a hard time piecing together the pairings, but I'm assuming that Wesley will retire. So, too, may Hedican.

The other, slightly more important news is that Craig Adams was given three years at $600K per year. Last summer, the Canes let him walk, he was picked up by the Ducks in free agency, then traded back to the Canes in October for Bruno St. Jacques. At the time, I thought the move was suspect, and I pictured CrAdams playing for Lowell. He started off there, but rejoined the big team, where the Adams family was reunited. In this post, from last October 4, I correctly predicted he would "contribute maybe 20 points if he plays on the big team." He had 21 (10/11). The other part is what I had wrong. I guessed his role would be "agitator", but even after we disposed of Jesse Boulerice (which I also correctly guessed in that post), we never really had anyone in that role. The "new" NHL sort of cancelled the need for that. Note that Edmonton doesn't have much interest in keeping "Le GG" Laraque around. There just isn't room anymore for a guy whose only value is fighting.

Anyway, Craiggers was a very important part of the team, and his chemistry with Kevyn Adams and Sharpie. Jim Rutherford has already promised to "match any offer" on LaRose, and K-Ads still has one year on his contract, so our fourth line will be intact.

Things are looking pretty decent, even with the inevitable departure of Mark Recchi and Doug Weight. As long as Matt Cullen gets signed, and we pick up a free agent or two, the forward lines will be okay.

Nic Wallin is allegedly going back to Sweden, and Glen Wesley is surely retiring. That leaves Aaron Ward as the only UFA defenseman we need to sign.

Our glaring needs at the present time are: two decent wingers, one defenseman, and one "backup" goaltender. At some point during that "backup" will become Kevin Nastiuk, but he still needs some time in Albany.

the Chris Pronger wheel of fortune

This whole Chris Pronger thing is getting more and more interesting. We all heard about his demand to be traded, and we were all stunned.

At first, the story was that his wife didn't like the city of Edmonton, and she wanted to be a little closer to her slightly crooked but filth rich father in St. Louis. While we all sort of snickered at that as being the reason, we sort of imagined that there was something else. Dressing room turmoil, we assumed. Not enough anonymity in a hockey-crazed town. Too many "Pronger is gay" rumors. Any of those. The latest rumor du jour, though, is pretty far down the list of things I imagined as reasons for wanting to get out of Dodge, and seems far less likely to be true than any of the others.

According to the rumor, Pronger impregnated an Edmonton CityTV personality. She is flatly denying it. She, or her lawyers, have asked the Oilers Message board moderators to ban any talk of the rumor. On Thursday night, on her website, the photo gallery has been disabled, and the following statement appears on the home page:

JUNE 29, 2006


I would appreciate your help in putting an end to my name being linked to this situation, as it is completely WITHOUT ANY MERIT OR FACTUAL BASIS.

Any further slander or defamation can and will result in swift legal action.

Thank you.


Maybe it's true and maybe it isn't. She sure is mad.

My next guess is that the gossip mongers had the rumor right, but the other party wrong. Maybe the CityTV personality romantically linked to Pronger was/is Kris Laudien. Or maybe Ed the Sock. I dunno. I'm just saying.

Anyway, the key thing is that "Orbs" wants out. Edmonton is shopping him with the following demands in return:
  • A quality defenseman
  • A quality forward
  • A first round draft pick in 2007

There will also be some quality defensemen on the free agent market, so that might make the trade a little more difficult. However, Ottawa managed to re-sign Wade Redden amid speculation that he would become a free agent. Although the deal isn't official yet, it's believed to be in the area of 2 years/$13M.

The other thing that might make trading "Orbs" difficult is his enormous salary. He has four years remaining on his contract (originally signed with St. Louis)and is slated to make $6.25M next season. Any suitor would have to pay that amount, plus give up two quality players, plus give up a first rounder. The Oil gave up nothing to get him in the first place last summer, so anything at all in return would be good.

Some of the talk is about the Maple Leafs. This makes sense. Prongs is a native Ontarian, and would surely be able to be a key member in the community as well as a valuable addition to the Maple Leafs. For instance, he could be a spokesperson for the TGHA. Toronto has re-signed Bryan McCabe to a five-year/$28.75M contract, and the addition of Pronger would make them super-tough on defense.

The talk is that the Leafs would package Tomas Kaberle and somebody like Alexander Steen if they were serious about getting Pronger. In February, Kaberle signed a five year extension with the Leafs, which includes an "unconditional no-trade clause" in the first three years. I'm hearing that Kaberle is furious about this trade talk, and has every right to be. I'm not really down on the way those "no-trade" clauses work, but my understanding is that only the player can waive them. Help? Anyone?

Chris! over at Covered in Oil really hates this trade rumor, and in a riotously funny rant, he insists that Kaberle would hate Edmonton. As always, I highly recommend reading COI.

It doesn't appear that the Leafs have contacted the Oil yet, but lots of people are talking about that possibility.

One interesting rumor concerning the Penguins: Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik. Allegedly, Pittsburgh is one of six teams that have officially contacted the Oil.
I imagine this will all get sorted out sometime next week. Of course, we also have the opening of the free agent market, which should be loads of fun.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

All 5 RFAs qualified, Kaberle deal in the works

On Monday afternoon, the Hurricanes tendered qualifying offers to all five of their restricted free agents. (N & O story, via the penalty killer).

Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Justin Williams, Mike Commodore, and Chad LaRose were all given qualifying sheets with a standard 10% increase. These are not, of course, contract offers. These are merely the formal avenue the club must take to assert their intention to retain the player. Any non-qualified player would become an unrestricted free agent, and could go to the highest bidder. This way, Carolina will be given the right to match or better any offer, and would be awarded compensation if they are outbid.

For example, Eric Staal's qualifying sheet is for slightly less than $1.037M. In all likelihood, he will be signed to a deal that will pay him $3.5M/year or more. Erik Cole and Justin Williams should each expect to be signed for around $2M, and Mike Commodore should see something like $1M.

Chad LaRose, whose qualifying offer is for $495k, probably won't see anything more than that. To be honest, I really like the guy, but I'm a tiny bit surprised that he was qualified.

According to the article, Jim Rutherford said the same thing about these five that he said about coach Peter Laviolette. "We will match any offer". This is a no-brainer for Staalsy and Colesy. I'm glad to hear him make that kind of commitment to the "new" guys Viva, Commy and Sharpie.

The same article suggests that defenseman Frantisek Kaberle, who scored the Cup clinching goal, will be signed today. Apparently, they're dotting all the eyes and crossing all the tees. This is good news, as I had a feeling he would be shipped off to some place like Buffalo. Especially in light of the well publicized fact that Darth Regier isn't going to make a reasonable offer to Jay McKee.

The free agent market opens on July 1.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Canes contracts for 2006-07

As expected, the Hurricanes drafted some d-men in rounds two and three of the draft and some forwards in the late rounds. Chances are, we won't see any of these guys for a few years, if ever.

In the coming weeks, Carolina will have a good deal of work to do signing their own free agents, and maybe picking up a few as well. Here's a breakdown of the players by position, with their status and my outlook on their future with the team. Any comments in red suggest I think the player won't be with Carolina next season. Any comments in blue suggest I think they won't be around long. Click on the chart to enlarge it and make it readable.

I strongly suspect that Carolina will shop Martin Gerber, hoping to get a decent backup goalie and perhaps a defenseman out of it. They'll also try to unload Tevvy.

Their needs are in the right wing department, the defenseman department and the backup goaltender department.

Re-signing the RFAs isn't as pressing a need, but getting Viva and Commy in long term contracts will be key.

Lavi officially extended

Here's the official news that I was talking about yesterday.

Peter Laviolette, Kevin McCarthy and Jeff Daniels have all been given five-year extensions. McCarthy will be promoted to the role of "associate head coach", while Jeff Daniels will remain assistant coach.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lavi signed through 2011

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Hurricanes and coach Peter Laviolette have agreed to a five year contract extension which would pay the coach $1M per season. This will put to rest rumors of going to Boston. The Islanders rumors were already dispelled, and Jim Rutherford made his intentions clear even before the Canes Stanley Cup triumph.

The 41-year old Franklin Massechusetts native has also been head coach of several US national teams including the IIHF World Championships and the Winter Olympics. As a player, he served as Captain of the 1994 US Olympic team. He coached the Providence Bruins to a Calder Cup Championship in 1999, and won the Stanley Cup coaching the Hurricanes this season. In a very tightly contested race, he fell one vote short of Buffalo's Lindy Ruff in the Jack Adams balloting this season.

The official announcement hasn't been made, but expect to see it sometime Sunday or Monday.

Penguins use 2nd pick, no trade.

So that didn't happen.

At least not yet.

Pittsburgh selected Jordan Staal with the second pick, which temporarily hushes all the talk of a Jack Johnson to Pittsburgh for J. Staal trade.

Obviously this day is far from over, and there still could be some trading in the works, but for now it looks like the rumors won't come to pass.

What if the rumors are true?

By now, we've all heard the rumor that's been floating around for a few weeks.

Carolina wants to trade the rights to Jack Johnson (who was selected with the third overall pick in the 2005 entry draft) to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the second overall pick in this year's draft.

The St. Louis Blues have the first pick, and will be taking American defenseman Erik Johnson. Erik, like the unrelated Jack, came through the US Hockey Developmental program and is a massive, hulking defenseman.

This story has lots of twists and turns, so buckle up.

Jack Johnson (who the Canes selected in 2005) and Marc Staal (brother of Eric and Jordan) have the exact same birthdate. January 13, 1987.

Jack Johnson and Sidney Crosby are longtime friends. They used to play baseball against each other, and have been very close for several years. The Staal family was (according to rumor) a little upset with the Hurricanes for selecting Jack Johnson with the third pick in last year's draft instead of Marc Staal. It was known then that those Staal boys are really close and wanted to play together. Not quite like the Sedin twins, who come only as a package deal, but close. For the record, Marc was selected with the 12th overall selection and eventually made the Rangers big roster (but received no ice time). Meanwhile, Jack Johnson repeatedly snubbed the Canes, opting to stay in Ann Arbor even after the Wolverines were eliminated from Frozen Four contention. Additionally, he has already said that he will remain in Michigan for at least one more year.

Enter Jordan Staal. Although just 17 years old, at 6'4"/215 lbs, he's bigger than Eric (6'3"/200).

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the second overall pick in this year's draft, and they like Jack Johnson. They need a huge defenseman in the system, and the Canes seem to be interested in letting him go. The Penguins will get what they want, in a defenseman more for the future than the present. Sidney Crosby will get what he wants in his longtime friend. The Penguins have a unique (and obvious) thing to offer the Canes. A Staal.

Jordan is a very good player who might need a year or less in the AHL before joining the big club. If he were to be a part of the Canes organization, Eric would most certainly expedite the kid's acclimation to the NHL game, and would help him in ways that only a brother can. The Staals would be ecstatic. Canes fans would be tickled. NHL historians would love it.

Is it going to happen? We'll find out soon enough. This is what Jim Rutherford has to say:
"Any time you have a chance to move up and draft a player like Jordan Staal you have to look into it, but honestly there isn't anything serious at this point," the GM of the Stanley Cup champions, Jim Rutherford, said Friday.

.... which sounds a lot like "We are in serious talks, and are willing to sweeten the pot by returning Marc Recchi to the Pens while paying half his salary."

So anyway. All of that probably makes no sense.

Sometime around 11:00 am, we'll know if there's any deal in the works involving Johnson and Staal.

Forgive my meandering post. It's late.

Friday, June 23, 2006

JJ Guerrero at the awards show

On Thursday night, JJ Guerrero, of the magnificent Canucks Hockey Blog spent a bit of dough to get into the NHL Awards show. By his account, and from what I could tell by seeing the footage, it wasn't the most exciting night ever. However, he got to walk right past all the trophies (at Saturday's draft, they'll be on display, but encased in glass) and got to hobnob with some hockey stars.

He's got some photos of his night, including one with Eric Staal, who (if you believe the rumors) will soon be known in Carolina as "E. Staal"¹, and one with Cam Ward.

Here's the photo of JJ with Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward. Cam looks really hungry, or something. "Dude, hurry up and take the picture... there's roast beef over there!" According to the reports that Cason heard, Cam helped himself to a lot of food at the buffet table.

¹ Actually, if the rumored trade goes down, Eric Staal would still be nicknamed "Staalsy", while Jordan Staal would be nicknamed something gay like "Jords" or "little Staalsy". He wouldn't be called "Jordan", because of some other guy named "Jordan" who played basketball in these parts.

Canes, Brind'Amour reach five-year deal. Plus Cs and As.

On Friday, Rod Brind'Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes agreed to a long-term contract which will keep the Captain in Carolina until he is 40. Brindy, who won the Frank J. Selke award for the best defensive forward, will be retained for five years at a total of $18M. He was scheduled to be up for a team/player option next season, and the Canes made sure they kept him.

This also virtually ensures that nobody else will be wearing the C until at least 2011. This season, the Hurricanes used three players in a rotating Alternate Captain role.
  • Defenseman Glen Wesley, who is 97 years old, will likely retire this summer after finally getting his name on the Cup after 17 years in the league and 4 Cup Finals.

  • Left wing Cory Stillman joined the team prior to the 2006 season, and has two years remaining on his contract. He joined an elite club by winning the Cup in consecutive seasons with different teams. He had a very good regular season, scoring 76 points (21/55) in 72 games. With 26 points (9/17) and a +12 rating in the playoffs, he was also a serious Conn Smythe candidate. He'll most likely retain the A.

  • Center Kevyn Adams has one year remaining on his contract with the Canes. He has been a fourth-line workhorse and a community favorite since joining the Canes in 2002. He was promoted to "A" prior to this season, which raised a few eyebrows, but made me quite happy.

If Wesley indeed retires, and Carolina decides to stay with the three rotating As, there's a big question about who it would be. Three very likely candidates, who are all restricted free agents:

  • Center Eric Staal, who led the team with 100 points (45/55). He was also a strong Conn Smythe candidate, leading the league with 28 playoff points (9/19). This was the final year of his rookie contract, and he will likely command $3.5M next season. Hopefully a long-term contract. And maybe a little brother. He is the future face of this franchise, and Jim Rutherford knows this. This one is a no-brainer. But is he ready to wear an A?

  • Right wing Erik Cole was a little tricky last summer, and signed a one year deal. He missed the last 22 games of the regular season and the first 23 games of the playoffs with a C-5 fracture. He scored 59 points (30/29) in 60 games, which was already the best point total of his career. Because he is 27 years old, he will be a restricted free agent, meaning no team can poach him without compensating the Hurricanes handsomely. He provided inspiration to the Canes fans with his recovery from the accident, and has always been a crowd favorite. He got $1.14M this season, and will likely see a big raise. Maybe double that. I'd like to see him in a long term contract, but there's the chance that the Canes will view his injury and susceptibility to a career ending re-injury as a liability. Who knows what'll happen there.

  • Right wing Justin "Viva" Williams. Williams is only 24, and is a rising star. His 76 points (31/45) this season were almost double his previous career best. His 18 playoff points (7/11) were very impressive as well. The "new NHL" is perfect for a speedy two-way guy like Viva. There's no reason in the world not to offer him a multi-year deal. Anyway, it would help validate my late-season purchase of his #11 sweater. I haven't worn it yet; I didn't want to mess up the mojo, so I wore the Vasicek #63 for the entire season and playoffs. He was paid $1.225M this season, and was well worth it. I expect to see a three year deal totaling $8M for him. I'm not sure that he's leadership material, so maybe he shouldn't be considered for the A afterall, but he's absolutely a guy that needs to be kept for a long time.

For the record, the League does not allow goaltenders to wear a C or A, so Cam Ward is right out.

The only defenseman I would consider to be worthy of consideration for an A would be AWard. However, he's getting up there in age, he took a beating in the playoffs, and he isn't under contract anymore. Although he's one of my favorite players, and is certainly a leadership-type guy, I just don't see him as a long-term part of this franchise. He should be re-signed on a year-by-year basis.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More photos/video of game 7

It took me a while to sort through my photos and videos of game 7, but I've got a few more that I want to share. Unfortunately, the netting sometimes confuses the focus of the digital camera, so these are slightly blurry in addition to having the netting in them. I like each of these photos at face value, but if you click on the photo, you'll get an enlargement, which you can enlarge again after that. You can explore around the picture, and I encourage you to do so. Each of them has at least one unintentionally cool thing.

The first picture is of Kevyn Adams skating around with his daughter Emerson (who is adorable, by the way) on his shoulders. Lots of the other children were out there, but K-Ads was the only one to skate around with his kid like that. To the right side, you can see the Conn Smythe being brought out, and the handshake line finishing up. In the center of the picture, you can see Craig MacTavish and Peter Laviolette talking with Ethan Moreau.

The second picture is Of Cam Ward receiving the Conn Smythe. The woman behind him in the unfortunate pants and the black "women's" WARD sweater is, I assume, his fiancée. They're getting married on July 22, and I assume that will be his day with the Cup. On the right side of the picture, there's about a million people on the ice wearing replica WESLEY sweaters. I don't know what their relation to him is. On the far end of the ice, there's a great poster being held up in the front row. "Iowa ♥ the Canes". Also, there's two people about 11 rows up in section 127-8 wearing Tre Kronor sweaters.

The third picture is of Aaron Ward with the Cup. To the right side of the picture, just above all the "NHL on NBC" guys is AWard's wife, Kelly in the white pants/black top. She's holding their son and taking a picture. I think that kid's name is Liam. On the far end of the ice, Ray "Fuckin' rights!" Whitney is having a private moment with some Commodore robe-clad individual. I guess that's his wife, but it's impossible to tell. Meanwhile, CrAdams can't wait to get his hands on the hardware. Cory Stillman has a chat with some of the restricted access press members on the other side of the rope.

The fourth picture is of Erik Cole with the Cup. It's the full-screen version of the photo in the header. I can't spot his wife Emily anywhere, but she could be the woman barely visible over Anton Babchuk's left shoulder. Poor Anton Babchuk. Babs and Hutch won't get their names on the Cup, but they got to lift it, and party with the guys. Anyway, Colesy seems to be looking right at that woman, and she looks kinda like his wife, so we'll say that's her. Just above the bowl of the Cup and behind where Matt Cullen is standing, Justin Williams is draped all over who I presume is his finacée.

As for the video. Be warned that the purpose is not to show off a "good" video. I'm using a digital still camera for one thing. The point is to show the excitement in the building. The first video shows Justin Williams empty netter late in period three. The first second of the video shows the goal, the red light, the goal horn. After that, mayhem. At that point, I was more interested in celebrating than in documenting.

The second is the period of time between the empty netter and the little skirmish that took place with :20 to play. Again, it's a real good feel for the crowd rather than good footage of the game.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rhetorical letter to Jack Johnson


How's college? Did those keggers work out for you? I hope you enjoyed drinking cheap beer through a plastic funnel. Drinking champagne from Lord Stanley's Cup is probably overrated anyway.

On a separate note, I hope you enjoy having your rights traded to Pittsburgh. Do you like motorcycles?

your pal,
Red and Black Hockey

ps --- Ann Arbor is a whore.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beard removal

If I get to do this thing 900 times in my life, I'll never be able to do it as brilliantly as did Sacamano, over at BofA. His beard-removal post and the accompanying photos will soon be the stuff of legends. Both for its elaborateness and its high level of comedy. If you didn't read his post when he de-bearded in early June, do so now. EDIT---Also, check out the great beard removal by Chris!, over at Covered in Oil, who removed his whiskers on Tuesday afternoon.

I didn't take nearly as many photos of the process, nor did I do it in any elaborate fashion whatsoever. I was in a hurry to get than damn thing off my face so women would stop telling me that they hate my beard. Now they can revert to telling me that they hate me. If, for some bizarre reason, you need to see enlargements of these photos, just click on them.

With the help of a $20 set of clippers (which worked magnificently, by the way), I was able to reduce the beard to mere stubble. Good enough for the drive home. With the help of my friends Bill and Beth, I got photographic evidence. In the first picture, I'm going after the stuff on the neck, and I've already gotten most of one side of my face. I didn't really have a plan (or a mirror) at that point. I thought about trying to match Sacamano's beard removal, going for different styles and designs along the way, but really I just wanted it off.

As you can see from the second picture, I decided to go for the ole' half-n-half. I think this will be a facial hair sensation that will take over the world. You saw it here first. Without a mirror, I had no idea how I was doing with the evenness of it, but I'm pretty pleased with how that stage of it came along.

Then, I came up with a style that's absolutely retarded. I wish, in retrospect, I had some shots of all this in profile, or some video clips of this, but I didn't plan it out very well, and like I say, I was on a freakin' mission. In the third photo, you can see that I've removed all of it except for the half-stache. Again, I have a hunch that this will be a fashion trend. Sure, laugh all you want. I have more stupid ideas where that one came from.

Finally, the end result. A (mostly) clean shaven face that I haven't seen or felt in 63 days. I'm very excited to no longer look like some terrorist or freak cult leader. Or Jake Plummer. The woman beside me in the picture is Bill's wife Beth. .

I'd like to thank my beard (RIP) for all the fun times we had together. I will always remember it.

MacTavish says it's not over yet

In this photo (Getty Images), Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish holds up ten fingers, telling nearby Carolina Hurricanes fans "We'll be back for game 10"



On Monday night, the Canes pulled off the win in convincing fashion. They won the game 3-1. Even though the final goal was into an empty net, the Canes were in the driver's seat for the duration of the game. Please enjoy this video I took from my seat in the lower level of the RBC Center as the final 11 seconds ticked off the clock and the celebration got started.

More photos/videos to come, as well as a proper post. For now, I'll quote Ray Whitney, and I'll apologize for the use of profanity here.


Hats off to Edmonton for playing a fantastic series and a tremendous playoffs. I know the Oil fans have a lot of hate for some of the Canes players, but we have nothing but respect for them.

Monday, June 19, 2006


By my count, the last time I shaved was April 17th. The day before the final regular season game. This is two months and two days ago. 63 days. Josef Vasicek wears #63. I have worn his sweater all season long. The 63s are in harmony.

Does this mean anything? I don't know. I'm just saying.

May the best team win.

Win or lost, the beard goes as soon as I can exit the RBC Center. I will be documenting the process for your pleasure.

Win or lose, don't expect a post from me until Tuesday morning.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Series tied; Game seven in Raleigh

I'm almost too mad to write, but I have to do it.

On Saturday, game six of the Stanley Cup finals looked more like that exhibition game between the Red Army and the US National team in friendly play days before the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. To say that the Oilers were the dominant team tonight would be like saying that my beard looks like crap. They're both understatements.

Even though there was no scoring in the first period, I could sense that the game was very much being controlled by the Oil. They dominated the faceoffs, dominated the shots on goal stat, and just about any other thing that the League keeps stats for was very much in favor of the home team.

Before the puck drop, they announced that Erik Cole had been cleared and would be in the lineup. I guessed that he would see just a few shifts just to get him out there. However, he ended up playing 23 shifts, with a total TOI of 18:31. In just his second shift out, he got pasted by an Oilers skater. When he bounced right up, I knew everything was going to be okay. Obviously, since we didn't even come close to scoring, he had no stats, but I thought he looked pretty good out there. In game seven, the crowd should be completely insane for him.

Fernando Pisani scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal at 1:45 or the second while Andrew Ladd was serving a penalty for too many men on the ice. Even when they showed the replay a few times, I still didn't see it. Still, it doesn't matter. That's a penalty you simply cannot take. Ales Hemsky and Jaro Spacek got the assists.

At 9:54, they got the only insurance they would need. Raffi Torres redirected a Steve Staios shot from the top of the right circle. Fernando got the second assist. It was the only even strength goal of the game.

At 3:04 of the third, that crafty Ryan Smyth put the game out of reach. With Ray Whitney off for holding, the Oilers were able to set up a good power play. Smyth weaved his way through the pee-wee league defense and shot one in from the low slot. Mike Peca and Jaro Spacek got the helpers.

Just for good measure, the Oil got a fourth goal at 13:05 of the third. Shawn Horcoff got the goal, while Radek Dvorak and Dick Tarnstrom got the assists.

I hinted at this after game 5, and now I am forced to say something about it. Edmonton found their PP groove. That scares me. Carolina had done a superb job of shutting it down all series. In game 5, they got one, plus the shortie. I correctly feared that it would be only the beginning.

There were far too many "telling" statistics in this game. The Oil won 54% of the faceoffs. Fine. They outhit Carolina 23-11, they took fewer penalties than Carolina. If the NHL still kept stats for puck possession by zone, they would have completely dominated that category too. Most telling, though, had to be the shots. After two frames, the Oil led that category 21-7.

Where I once had the utmost confidence in my team, I now have disappointment and fear. It isn't as if the Canes were beaten on a bad bounce or an iffy call by the refs. They were completely dominated from start to finish. Unless the Canes can very seriously turn things around, they will become only the second team in NHL history to blow a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals.

See you on Monday.

Oilers demolish Canes 4-0; series knotted at 3

Since it took me more than 3 minutes to post last time (despite the fact that it takes me 2 hours to get home from the game), the Oilers bloggers threw daggers this way. In the interest of not giving them that opportunity, here's the bare bones post. A proper post with full details will follow.

The Canes were horrible tonight. They were dominated in every aspect of the game. It was downright embarrassing.

This series will be decided Monday night in a single game in Raleigh. Carolina will have to do something other than else, because on Saturday, they looked like an ECHL team.

The Canes only managed to take something like two shots on goal for the entire game, and they spent a significant amount of time in the box. Of course some of the calls were questionable, but the officials had nothing to do with the fact that the Canes were embarrassingly bad.

The only thing that was positive for the Canes was that Erik Cole made a surprising return. He looked really good in his limited ice time.

Canes to be Weight-less for game 6.

The Canes and Oilers will play game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Edmonton tonight at 8:00. Again, the Oilers are on the brink of elimination and the Canes on the brink of winning their first Stanley Cup. However, the Hurricanes will have to play without one of their most important puzzle pieces -- Doug Weight. Weight was injured early in the third period on Wednesday after a couple of Edmonton skaters finished what looked like routine checks.

Weight, who scored 13 points (4/9) in 23 regular season games with the Canes, has been a key element of the Canes success in the postseason. He has accumulated 16 points (3/13) in 23 games. Two of his goals have been on the power play. It isn't his scoring, though. He is, and always has been, a playmaker. Although he won't always get assists, his passing is crisp and precise. He's usually the guy who gets a scoring play started. If the NHL gave tertiary assists, he's have a boatload of those. He's also very good at generating traffic in front of the net and creating screens, which both give the goaltender fits. That kind of thing can't be replaced.

I'm not sure what the details of his injury are. They'll only say that it's of the "upper body" variety. Some reports suggest that he left the rink with his arm in a sling on Wednesday night. Nothing has been said other than he won't be available for game 6.

In other news, Carolina blueline stalwart Aaron Ward will be in the lineup. He left the game in the first period on Wednesday, missing about half of the game. He returned late, and no details were given as to the nature of his absence. He'll be in the lineup, as will Glen Wesley, who has seen declining ice time as a result of being banged up.

With Weight out, and the defense a little banged up, there's some question as to how the lines will pan out. I'm almost inclined to say that we'll dress Oleg Tverdovsky as a seventh defenseman rather than inserting Chad Larose back into the lineup. Another option for seventh defenseman would be Anton Babchuk, who provides some offensive upside and a blisteringly hard shot. However, he's somewhat of a defensive liability. Ditto for Andrew Hutchinson.

What I'm expecting, then, is a slight change in the lines, with maybe Josef Vasicek getting increased ice time as a center. The Adams line will probably see that seventh defenseman skating with them.

I'll stick to my prediction that the first period will be the arbiter. Edmonton will come at Carolina hard, trying to exploit their attrition. Carolina will have to answer that call, accentuating their skill. We should see a very fast paced period, and my guess is that whoever wins the first period wins the game.

Puck drop is again at 8:00.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Oilers win in OT, head home down 3-2

On Wednesday night, the Oilers staved off elimination in most dramatic fashion. Fernando Pisani scored a shorthanded goal (his second goal of the night) just 3:31 into the extra session. The win prevented the Canes from winning the Cup on their home ice, gives the Oil some life, and most importantly, gives the Oil some momentum.

Pisani, who also scored just 16 seconds into the first, took advantage of a horrible turnover by Eric Staal only 31 seconds into a Canes power play deep in Carolina's zone. He broke in alone on Cam Ward and did not miss. I suppose this was some sort of cosmic payback for the Jason Smith error in game one of this series.

Initially, Chris Pronger was given credit for the first goal, but I suppose they changed it because they detected a redirection of Pronger's left point shot. I haven't reviewed the game, and this post is late enough as it is, so.... Pronger and Torres with the assists.

Eric Staal tied the game with his eighth goal of the playoffs at 5:54 while on the power play. Doug Weight and Bret Hedican got the assists.

Later, Ray Whitney would give the Canes a 2-1 lead, and lots of excitement. His goal, at 10:16 was another power play. He got a piece of an Eric Staal shot, tipping it past Markkanen. Staal with the primary assist (his 18th), and Mark Recchi with the second (his eighth).

However, this lead would be shortlived. The thing I was fearful would happen did. The Oil finally cashed in on a power play chance, and there was nothing the Canes could have done. Ales Hemsky slapped a one-timer from the left circle in at 13:25 of the first. Tanrnstrom and Staios with the assists.

With the first period winding down, and the teams on a four-on-four, I ran to the bathroom to avoid the intermission crowd. While I was gone. Michael Peca put the visitors ahead. Time of the goal was 19:42. Assists from Alex Hemsky and Chris Pronger.

At 9:56 of the second, Carolina tied it on another power play goal. Staalsy had a few whacks at a loose puck down low after a wrap-around. He finally beat Jussi, and again the emotions were running high. It was Staal's ninth goal. Added to his 18 assists, he has 27 points, tops in the league. On the goal, Ray Whitney and Cory Stillman assisted. Now Stillman's point streak is at 13 games.

No scoring for the remainder of the second, or during the third.

I had a feeling that once the first penalty of the overtime was called, that would be the game. I was partially right on that. The power play started off looking really lethargic, even lazy. They weren't able to get a play going, then the really lazy pass from Stillman to Staal. Pisani spotted the laziness, stole the puck from Staal, and beat Ward. Instantly, all the air in the building was sucked out.

Although Carolina converted three of seven power play chances, and they killed six of seven chances for the Oilers, it was a special teams gaffe that cost them that game.

I'm hoping that the loss will be a slap in the face to the Canes. It should wake them up and tell them that they can't just coast the rest of the way. This isn't quite like heading into the Champs-Élysée with a four minute lead. This is quite different.

Game 6 will be in Edmonton on Saturday night, and I'm sure the building will be more electric than it ever has been. Carolina will have to play a nearly perfect game, or they will find themselves in a very scary winner take all game. The only upside of that is that a potential game 7 would be in Raleigh.

Where I had an arrogant confidence before game 5, I now have a little bit of worry. I know that this is nowhere near over.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Canes win 2-1, lead series 3-1

In a hard-hitting game Monday night, the Canes took a well deserved win, and will head home with a chance to win the series on Wednesday night. See the previous post for my thoughts (sort of) as it happened.

Although it wasn't so in the first period, Carolina controlled most of the game. In the second period, they were completely dominant, and it was mostly due to the stellar play of Jussi Markkanen that the game was close going into the third. He earned the third star of the game. I think it's safe to say that he has far exceeded the expectations of him.

Early on, the referees indicated that they were going to allow a physical game. No ticky-tacky stuff on hard hits. It looked early like Edmonton was going to control the game with physical play, but it in the third period, it was Carolina who was dishing out the hits.

Quickly, I'll rehash my pregame "needs" for Carolina.

  • BE AGGRESSIVE Check. They were aggressive with the forecheck, with the shots, and just in a "general sort of way".
  • Continue stellar work on the PK Check. Carolina killed all five penalties, including a lengthy 5-on-3. For the series, Carolina has killed 25 of 26 penalties (96.2%).
  • Get the PP going again Check. Sort of. The power play looked good all night long, and they cashed in on one of six chances. For the series, Carolina has converted five of 26 power plays. (19.2%)
  • Wake Eric Staal out of his coma Check. Assists on both goals. We'd still like to get him back in the "goals" column, but we can't really complain at this point.

It was a hard fought win, and we'll be glad to get out of there.

Cory Stillman has been a beast. When he came to Carolina, people hailed it as a "good pickup", but everyone said the same thing. "He'll disappear in the playoffs." I don't think so. He's got 24 points (9/15), tying him with Eric Staal (7/17) for tops in the playoffs.

Carolina's defense was outstanding. Nic Wallin made some amazing plays, and the whole unit did a great job.

Wednesday night puck drop will be 8:00. I might not make it to work on Thursday.

Game four -- not quiteliveblogging

This isn't going to be liveblogging. This will be "blogging during intermissions". Alas, I am the last remaining person on Earth who doesn't own a laptop, and my computer and tv are on opposite sides of the apartment.


Sergei Samsonov got the Oilers going at 8:40 with a REALLY pretty goal. Jarrett Stoll made a stunning behind the back cross-ice pass to Radek Dvorak. He then fed Samsonov on the front porch, and there was nothing Ward could do other than watch it go by him. A perfectly executed play.

Just 29 seconds later, however, Cory Stillman knotted it up. Raffi Torres was in the box for two minutes, all by himself, feeling shame. The Canes had all the time and space in the world to rotate the puck as they wished. And they did. Stilly shoved one in from the right circle. Frantisek "I might have been the game 3 goat" Kaberle and Eric "I have been in a coma for this series" Staal got the assists. Stilly's streak is now at 12 games.

There was a lot of heavy hitting, mostly by the Oilers. Carolina will not be able to withstand that abuse, so they will have to exert some aggression themselves, or hope that the Oilers get a little too amped up and start to hit illegally.

All penalties so far have been hooking or other stick-related minor penalties. Kind of surprising with the blistering hits we've seen.

Carolina's pk has been amazing, and they got the pp going again. These are both good things.


Wow. Jussi Markkanen was awesome in the second period. Carolina wanted chaos, and they got it. They were able to sustain a ton of pressure on Edmonton, and Jussi rose to the occasion. He kept it from being a 5-1 game.

Early on, when the Canes had a couple of power plays, Jussi made a series of highlight reel saves, none bigger than the blocker save on Brind'Amour at ~4:00. At that point, it could have easily been 2-1 or even 3-1.

Carolina was dominating the period, but not finishing the chances. However, at 15:58, they finally did. Mark Recchi from below the left circle, down near the goal line. It was all started by Stillman forcing a turnover in the Oiler zone. Eric Staal made a smart and pretty pass to Rechhi, who hit his mark from a pretty sharp angle.

After that, there was a sequence of penalties that resulted in a 4-on-3 advantage for Carolina which will spill over to the third frame.

Carolina will have to maintain their level of energy, which will mean keeping Vasicek off the ice. He's lethargic at best.

I have to tip my cap to Markkanen, seriously. He's been amazing.

Back at the end of the game.


No scoring in the third. Actually, there were only a few shots in total.

There was a LOT of heavy hitting. Most of it by the Canes. There was one really heavy hit by Eric Staal. Frankly, I'm not sure that it wasn't boarding. Throughout the game, though, there was a lot of heavy hitting that might have been penalized in the regular season, or in game one of the conference quarterfinals. Not tonight. As I hinted at before,10 of the 12 penalties called (six per team) were of the holding/hooking variety.

Okay... So it's 3-1, and we'll have a chance to win on home ice. Two chances to win on home ice, if we need them.

Game four and my beard

With the puck drop for game four about an hour away, I'd like to offer a few thoughts.

Carolina will have to be a bit more aggressive with their shots and they'll have to be better on defense.

While the Canes were able to maintain some long periods of offensive pressure, they weren't able to get a lot of good shots off. Some of it has to do with their shot selection. Some of it had to do with the good defense played by the Oilers. Some of it has to do with the vanishing act from Eric Staal. Winning this game would be a huge step for the Canes, and I think it starts with being more aggressive with the forecheck, taking more shots, and generating more flow in front of the net. The Canes were successful in those endeavors in game two. Edmonton made good adjustments. Carolina will have to make an adjustment of their own to reclaim that aggressiveness.

Defensively, Carolina was good. On the penalty kill, they were awesome. No complaints there. However, all series long, they've been a little soft in their own slot. Too many times, I've seen Ryan Smyth all alone in front. Sure, he's not as much of a threat as Horcoff or Pisani, but they're leaving him alone way too much. And he will score if he's left alone too much. On Saturday, he was allowed to come to the net unimpeded for his game winner. If Frantisek Kaberle had made any attempt to stand him up, the outcome might have been different.

I know these won't be original or groundbreaking in any way, but Carolina's needs for tonight are:
  • be aggressive. B-E aggressive. B-E A-G-G R-E-SS-I-V-E
  • continue the stellar work on the pk
  • get the pp going again
  • wake Eric Staal out of his coma

I'll be looking forward to an excellent game.

More than that, though, I'll be looking forward to the conclusion of this series. My freaking beard is KILLING ME. As you can see from the picture, I look neither distinguished nor sexy. I look like a freakin terrorist, or a Boxcar Willie or some other such miscreant. In light of Ben Roethliberger's accident, I won't be including him in that lot. Seriously.... Best wishes for a speedy and healthy recovery for Ben. I can't stand the Steelers, but I don't like to see anyone hurt like that.

Anyway, my beard is getting out of control. Thankfully, it'll be gone in a week (maximum). I might get mistaken for a Hasidic Jew or a member of ZZ Top if I let it go any longer. Whenever this series ends, the beard goes immediately. I'll try to document the beard removal process. If it means bringing the clippers in my car to the game, so be it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oilers win game 3, trail series 2-1

On Saturday night, Edmonton did what they had to do. They played a well-rounded game, avoided penalty trouble, and ultimately, were better than the Canes. In a game that looked to be headed to overtime, they got a late goal that was a little less than gorgeous, but an ugly game-winning goal is still a game-winning goal.

At 2:31 of the first, Shawn Horcoff got the Oil out to a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal they'd scored since the 13:31 mark of the third period in game one. Exactly 69 minutes. Jaro Spacek fired a shot from the blue line, which appeared to go straight in. However, Horcoff had a very slight re-direction from the low slot, nudging it through Cam Ward's five hole. Ales Hemsky got the second assist. Even with the redirect, it was a shot that should have been stopped.

The remainder of the first, and the entire second period was kind of quiet. There were a handful of penalties to each team. Each side received some questionable calls, and in the end it evened out. I still don't think Macgeough should be out there. I'll admit I had a wrong preconception of him as a good ref. In game one he certainly proved otherwise. Although he wasn't horrible in game 3, he was less than "good".

About midway through the first, Justin Williams had a fantastic breakaway chance, but his attempt to go to the upper right corner of the net was foiled. Markkanen got just enough of it with his glove to prevent a goal, sending the puck over the net.

Rod Brind'Amour leveled the score at the 9:09 mark of the third. Cory Stillman worked behind the net, getting the puck to Brindy in the left circle. He attempted a shot, which was blocked by Jason Smith, but bounced right back to Brindy. He finally got a shot through, and it beat Markkanen high on the stick side. Stillman got the only assist, and extended his playoff scoring streak to 11 games.

With the period winding down, Ryan Smyth got the game winner on a somewhat controversial goal. Smyth weaved his way through a rather lax defense and went to the net. He took a shot that was initially blocked by Cam Ward, but the rebound glanced off Smyth, who was by now well inside the crease (practically inside the goal) and past Ward. Although there wasn't any significant contact with the goaltender, the argument was that Smyth interfered with the goalie's ability to defend his crease. Rule 78g:
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper's vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
After a bit of a review, the officials declared the goal to be good. Hemsky and Spacek with the assists.

Carolina can't feel too bad about that, though. Late in the second, Ethan Moreau seemed to have scored a goal. He had created a turnover deep in the Carolina zone, and took several point blank shots on Ward. Referee Mcgeough lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle. Just after the whistle, Moreau took another whack at it, sending it past Ward. Although the light went off and the horn sounded, the goal was immediately wiped off. If the puck was under Ward, it was only for a fraction of a second, and I guess that's what Mcgeough saw. No goal. It was a great break for Carolina on a really short whistle. One of many times that Mcgeough made questionable calls in this game. Also remember that in game one, he made some questionable calls, including the penalty shot play. I don't know how he saw the puck the whole time on that one, and lost the puck on this one.

All in all, Carolina wasn't terrible, but wasn't great. They had a load of scoring chances that didn't go that well. A few shots directly at Markkanen, a few bad shots, a few bad passes. Markkanen was amazing, though. The "save" on the breakaway was pretty nice, and he saw a lot of shots late in the third. On the other end, I don't think anyone can take anything away from Cam Ward either. He made some sizzling saves, and stayed very well focused in his homecoming.

All three goals were even, full-strength goals. Carolina killed off seven penalties, including 1:27 of five-on-three. Edmonton killed off five penalties. Neither team was really able to do much on their respective power play.

Although I didn't like the outcome, it really was a great game. Highly entertaining. Great goaltending on both ends. Good defense on both ends. And clean.

I watched the game at my friend Bill's house. He acquired a high-def projection system, and projected the game on his garage door. That was a lot of fun. I recommend it for everyone.

Game four will be Monday with an 8:00 puck drop. No matter what happens in that game, Carolina will still have "home ice". Edmonton, by the way, did a great job of using home ice to their advantage. They made the right "last change" line changes, ensuring that they always had the right personnel. This, frankly, is something that Carolina hasn't really used to their advantage so far.

One statistic definitely worth mentioning is that Rod Brind'Amour only won 37% of his faceoffs. Shawn Horcoff, on the other hand, was on fire. He won 61% of his, including three of his four defensive zone draws. I would expect those numbers to be closer to 50% for each guy in game 4. Something else worth noting is that Georges Laraque, after playing the role of villain in game 2, was only given 24 seconds of ice time in game 3. From the looks of the shift chart, he had two shifts of seven seconds each in the first period, and one ten-second shift in the second. Nothing in the third.

One question I have for Edmonton fans. This is a serious question. Why was Doug Weight booed so lustily by the Oiler fans every time he touched the puck? I was under the impression that he was a fan favorite when he was there and that he left without dishonoring the team. Is there something I don't know about that he did on his way out the door?

Game 4 Monday night. Have fun.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

For some Canes, a sort of homecoming.

By now, everyone has heard that some of the Hurricanes players are from the Edmonton area and grew up watching the Oil. Of course, in the case of Glen Wesley, Edmonton didn't even have a WHA team when he was born. That though, is another issue.

Wesley, 37, was born in Red Deer, Alberta, about 100 miles from Edmonton. He played one year with the Red Deer team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Cam Ward, 22, grew up in Sherwood Park, which is a suburb of Edmonton. He played midget hockey in Sherwood Park for a few years. From there, he went on to star for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, twice winning the league's goaltender of the year award.

Mike Commodore, 26, is from Fort Saskatchewan, about 25 miles from Edmonton. He played one season of junior hockey there.

All these guys grew up with the Oil. They went to games there, they probably all have fond memories of seeing Grant Fuhr, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and the like. Of course Glen Wesley played against these guys, and Cam is probably too young to remember Fuhr, but you get the point.

Doug Weight spent many years playing with the Oil, wearing the C.

The cool story about all this, though is Ray Whitney. He's 34 and also hails from Fort Saskatchewan. He probably has more ties to the Oil than some players who are currently on their roster. When he was a kid, he was the stick boy for the Oilers. His dad, Floyd Whitney, has been the practice goalie for them for about 25 years. He has two Stanley Cup rings to show for it. He's a policeman in Edmonton, and has also served as security guard for the Oilers' dressing room.

Until now.

When it became clear that the Oilers' opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals would be the Canes, that part of it had to be temporarily halted. Both Floyd Whitney and the Oilers decided it would be better if he didn't work this series, so as to avoid the "conflict of interest". This little story tells it all.

Floyd had already planned to skip this one so he could watch his son play...
I'd already made the decision that I was going to leave my duties to my backup

but they beat him to the punch. They've actually banned him from the room. They didn't simply ask him to take those days off. They banned him from the room.

Well, there went our plan. That was our undercover secret agent. It was an incredibly elaborate set-up, but it's all for naught. Now we've lost that. Although Floyd says he was kind of hurt by it, I'm sure there's no hard feelings on either side. It does make sense on both sides for him to be as out of the official picture as possible.

Speaking of being "in the picture", maybe this will give Floyd an opportunity to be like his son. Ray has made it a habit of popping his head into the camera shot of pre-game interviews, hamming it up, and staying in the shot as long as he can. He'll be somewhere in the background, or in a corner, but he was there every time. All season long on FSN, Ray managed to do some little thing to hijack the pregame interview with another player. He's had success with this in the NBC playoff games, too. I'm hoping that we'll see more of it. I think he was having some difficulty with the OLN crew, but we are officially done with them.

Anyway, during the pregame on-ice interviews with Canes players, keep your eyes peeled for Ray Whitney in the background doing something goofy. Also keep your eyes peeled for Floyd Whitney. When the Canes were having a father-son week, FSN was interviewing somebody's father, and sure enough, Floyd popped his head in the shot. Like son, like father.

In my search for a picture of Ray and Floyd together, I found the picture you see here, which accompanied this article about Floyd, who was pressed into emergency service over in Europe during the lockout. He played two minutes, made two saves, allowed zero goals. He also told of one time when he nearly had to enter a game for the Oilers a few years ago. Take the time to read the article.

There are no Oilers with any ties to the Raleigh area, unless somebody has some relatives here. If they do, nothing's been said of it. Of course Chris Pronger was a Whaler. He was traded to St. Louis for Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan (along with other players) was traded to Detroit for Keith Primeau and other players. Primeau was "traded" to Philly for Brind'Amour. So those two have a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing.

Puck drop Saturday will be 8:00 on NBC in the United States.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another msm gaffe

All season long, bloggers all over have enjoyed pointing out gaffes by the mainstream media's NHL coverage. Usually, the errors have been in the scoresheet. Sometimes they credited a player with an assist who doesn't even play for said team. Sometimes, they gave goals to players who are only in junior hockey. Sometimes, a game summary will feature several misspellings of the same player's name.

I just found one concerning the Canes on espn.com. Shawn Horcoff has been complaining about Rod Brind'Amour, saying that he cheats in the faceoff circle and that he gets "special treatment" from the linesmen.

Whatever makes you happy.

Anyway, the article features a headshot of Horcoff and the caption "Brind'Amour".


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Laraque to miss game three with league suspension.

Because he has been handed two game misconduct penalties for boarding this playoff season, Georges Laraque will be facing an automatic league suspension for game three. Why is nobody talking about this? EDIT 12:08 am. The reason nobody's talking about it is that it isn't going to happen. As Chris skillfully pointed out in the comments, they get a clean slate at the start of the finals.

By the way, if you do a google image search of "georges laraque boarding", this image comes back. It's from a game a couple of years ago. That Anaheim skater he's crushing? Matt Cullen.

According to rule 44c of the NHL rulebook:
Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts for Boarding under Rule 44 (b), in either Regular Season or Playoffs, shall be suspended automatically for the next game of his Team. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.

In game three of the Oilers' Western Conference Semifinals, Laraque was guilty of boarding Jonathan Cheechoo of the Sharks. He was given a major penalty, a game misconduct, and the gate.

In game two of the Stanley Cup Finals, Laraque was again handed a major boarding and a game misconduct.

Although I haven't seen anyone report this yet, these are the rules. The suspension is "automatic", and I presume, not subject to appeal.

So if any Canes fans are looking forward to seeing some retaliatory hits on Laraque, they'll have to wait until at least game 4. I don't think we'll see anything of the retaliatory nature. There's no point in that. In the regular season maybe, but there's too much on the line to resort to Federal League tactics.

Rules is rules. I'm not making this stuff up. Section c of rule 44 is the important part, but you can read the whole rule for yourself here.

You want animosity? You got it!

The other day, one of the guys at the brilliant Covered in Oil was lamenting the fact that there's not enough hate in this series. He jokingly tried to stir up some hate by saying a really nasty thing about Ron Francis. He didn't mean it. He just wanted us to stop being such an agreeable bunch.

Well, I think the Oilers did their part to stir up some animosity on Wednesday night. Heck, they made their own fans hate them.

I don't know whether these were coaches' orders or what, but with about 2 minutes gone in the third period, and Carolina clinging to a four goal lead, the Oilers changed abandoned their game plan. Their new goal was to commit stupid penalties and attempt to injure their opponents. It all started with a play by Ethan Moreau at 2:47 of the third. Things went steadily downhill from there. Moreau came from North Durham to suckerpunch Glen Wesley at center ice. The puck was in Wesley's skates headed into the Carolina zone, and Moreau came high and hard at his face with a closed hand. That play served absolutely no purpose, and if referee McCreary could do it all again, he would seize control of the game right then. However, he had no way of knowing that the game would spiral out of control from there.
Carolina scored on the ensuing power play, taking a 5-0 lead. At that point, the Oil gave up, and it was clear.

Just a few minutes later, Ryan Smyth high-sticked Aaron Ward. It looked really bad at first, but there was no injury, and in my mind it was completely unintentional. However, it was still a product of overly aggressive play.

At 11:14, Laraque was called for tripping Nic Wallin. I guess there wasn't much else the referee could have called, but it looked suspiciously like he was intentionally leading with the knee. Wallin avoided most of the contact, but ended up being tripped. After spending two minutes in the box, he decided that he wasn't through.

At 16:44, "GG" Laraque committed a textbook example version of a boarding major. Andrew Ladd was facing the glass, trying to play the puck. He wasn't skating fast, didn't make any sudden moves. Laraque came at him very hard and intentionally used his elbows and forearms to shove Ladd's head into the board. The fact that he never tried to plead his case, and that Craig MacT looked very calm as his player was being ejected speaks volumes. That was no "mistake". It's almost as if MacT decided the game was a lost cause, and sent GG (who has a history of goonish play in these playoffs) out there to do his worst.

Am I mad? You bet! Am I overreacting? Maybe. Am I trying too hard to demonize MacT and his players? Probably. Point is, you got what you want. Now we hate the Oilers.

I doubt very much that we'll see such garbage in game three. In fact, I think it'll be a very clean game with a much better performance by the Oilers.

flag waving 101 (remedial level course)

Odd Joe, over at oddsnark.com is having a difficult time understanding the waving of an American flag at last night's 5-0 Canes victory. There's no way to post a comment over there, and no obvious way to send them e-mail, so I have to do it this way.

He says
Speaking of fans, did anyone else spot the ‘Canes supporter waving the American flag at RBC Center last night? I don’t mean to get all high and mighty here, but maybe a reality check is in order.... There are, in fact, just eight Americans on the Hurricanes roster and the only one who can claim any kind of Southern heritage is Matt Cullen, because he’s from Virginia, Minnesota. (And just for anyone who doesn’t know, RBC — as in RBC Center — is short for Royal Bank of Canada.) In reality, this Stanley Cup finals, like most, pits Canadian against Canadian, so maybe y’all should tone down the flag-waving patriotic fan fervor.

His attempt at geographical humor (Virginia, Minnesota being a southern city) falls short. There's some issues with the state of Virginia that have a little to do with that, but really it falls short for the same reason that an attempt to call Paris, Texas a European city would fall short. It's lame.

If the reference is to the fan who sits in the first row near the penalty benches, you don't have much of a frame of reference on that if all you saw was a teevee shot of it. If you were in the arena, then you weren't paying attention. Actually, if you've been watching hockey for more than 12 minutes, you should have understood what was going on.

The American flag was waved after Doug Weight (Detroit, Michigan) scored Carolina's fourth goal. It was a tribute to Dougie that's done for every goal-scoring player. That fan carries a flag for every player's nation, and waves the appropriate flag when a goal is scored. It isn't that uncommon.

I'm surprised you didn't tell us to get a "reality check" when the Czech flag was waved for Frantisek Kaberle's goal.

I still don't get why everyone thinks it's hysterical that our arena had its naming rights purchased by a Canadian bank. The arena in Edmonton is named after a pharmaceutical company based in Boston. Vancouver plays in GM Palace, also an American company. What exactly is your point?

Maybe you should tone down your snarkiness, Joe. But then again, that's the whole point, isn't it?

Canes throttle Oilers, take 2-0 series lead

On Wednesday night, the Canes shut out the Oilers 5-0, and took a 2-0 lead in the best of seven Stanley Cup Final series. On Monday night, Edmonton was the better team for 40 minutes, but ended up losing. On Wednesday, it was a different story. Carolina dominated almost the entire game. They dominated the special teams battle, they dominated the face offs, and (although the league doesn't keep these stats anymore) they dominated the time of possession in the opposing team's zone

Of all people, Andrew Ladd got things started for the Canes at 6:21 of the first. At 20 years, he's the youngest player in this Cup Final, and he's been looking like anything but a rookie. His two-way play has been extraordinary, and he's been really close on some other scoring chances. He came in on an odd-man rush with Eric Staal and Frank Kaberle. It really amounted to a 2-on-1. He was at the top of the right circle, with Staal charging in on the left. Instead of dishing to the superstar, he went ahead and took the shot from the top of the circle. Frank Kaberle made a great play in the Carolina zone to knock the puck away from Steve Staios, then head-manned it to Staal. Staal nudged it to Laddy, who had a notion to return it to Staal, but instead let a wrister go that easily beat Jussi Markkanen. It was his second goal, and Staalsy's 15th helper of the post-season. There was no way of even imagining it at the time, but this turned out to be the game winner.

Although there was no scoring for the rest of the period, Carolina controlled. Even during the three power plays Edmonton had, Carolina warded off (pun intended) any threats.

While Raffi Torres was gone for interference, Carolina converted a power play, giving the Canes a 2-0 lead at 10:28 of the second. The Canes were doing some routine puck-rotation stuff when Frantisek Kaberle fired a shot from the slot. It hit Markkanen, then trickled through his equipment and in the goal. Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen got the helpers.

In the waning seconds of the second, and the Canes applying insane pressure on the Finn, Cory Stillman got a hard-working, hard-earned goal. Nic Wallin fired a shot from the top of the right circle, which Jussi barely stopped by sliding to the near post. Stillman got a crack at it from in close, to the goaltender's left. Stillman's stuff-in was thwarted, but he corralled the rebound and wrapped all the way to the goalie's left. With a backhander, Stillman got another crack at it. This time, he lifted the puck over Markkanen's left shoulder . The even-strength goal, at 19:57, put the Canes way out front 3-0. Wallin and Viva got the assists.

The final period was characterized by some lazy, careless play by the Oilers. They committed six penalties, most of them the result of undisciplined overly aggressive play. Carolina converted two of five power play chances in the period.

At 3:25 of the third, Doug Weight made it 4-0. He was at the front of the crease and was able to re-direct a Mark Recchi shot. The puck glanced off his right skate, his stick blade, then in the goal. There was a brief review, where they were looking for a kicking motion by Weight. The power play goal was ruled good. Recchi and Cully got the assists.

At 4:12, Mark Recchi closed out the scoring with another power play goal. Matt Cullen made a completely insane no-look pass to Kaberle at the right point. Frankie attempted a one-timer from there, and it was redirected by the Recchin' ball out front.

As the period wore on, and it became more clear that the Oilers were not going to mount a comeback, things nearly got chippy. "G.G." Laraque took three consecutive penalties, and they were all of the "dumb" variety. Even "thuggish". Laraque, who has been used sparingly as a bit of an aggressor, was called for tripping at 11:14, and was ejected from the game after being given a five minute boarding major (plus game misconduct) at 16:44. With the goon ejected, and a major penalty on the board, this gave the Canes an opportunity to pour gasoline on the fire. However, they simply used the clock as their ally, melting the remaining 3:16.

With three assists (10, 11, 12), Matt Cullen got the third star.
With a goal (3) and two assists (7, 8), Frantisek Kaberle got the second star.
With a 25-save shutout, Cam Ward earned the first star.

There were certainly doubts about Marranen, and his performance didn't help matters. Although his defense was less than spectacular, he allowed five of 26 shots to go through. To you and me, that's a save percentage of .808.

Indeed, the special teams were a huge factor tonight. Carolina converted three of ten power plays while Edmonton failed to convert any of their six power plays.

Carolina will head up to Edmonton on Saturday with a commanding two-game lead. Anything less than a sweep by the Oilers would spell doom for them. I'm guessing that the Oil will bounce back for a game three win.

Kid Rock
Carolina Panthers wide recievers Steve Smith and Ricky Proehl
ESPN's Chris Berman
Mia Hamm.

Puck drop will be at 8:00 on Saturday. I haven't reviewed the game yet. When I do, there may or may not be some commentary about Laraque.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

you know what it takes to sell real estate? it takes brass orbs of power.

On Monday, The Globe and Mail ran a little piece about Chris "Orbs of Power" Pronger and the well known fact that he's a former Whaler.

The author of the article, David Shoalts, is generally regarded as a toolbox around here, but it's actually a halfway decent article. Shoalts, who is a Leafs beat writer went all Mitch Albom on us back in January. He was witness to an RBC Center security person who didn't instantly recognize Bret Hedican's father-in-law during the morning skate, which is not open to the public. While most people have a hard time keeping their own in-laws straight, somehow Shoalts thinks that it was this man's task to instantly recognize the IN-LAWS of 20 complete strangers. The arena security is employed by the arena, not the team. Their job is to know tha arena, not the private lives of other people who work there. Anyway, Shoalts chose to take a pot shot at Carolina in general, calling the conversation that ensued between the guard and Mr Yamaguchi "REASON No. 437 THAT CAROLINA IS NOT A HOCKEY MARKET." Puh-leeese. Do you really think the hot dog vendors at MLG could pick out Darcy Tucker's in-laws from a crowd? Obviously, the guy is still bitter about 2002.

Moving on, though. Shoalts' little article focused on a line Pronger delivered when he was asked about his time with the Whale. Said Pronger:
"The biggest thing I remember is the Brass Bonanza. I can't get it out of my head."

Indeed, the song (RealAudio player required) is catchy, haunting, bordering on annoying. But it truly is fantastic. I wasn't a Whaler fan, and I can't lay claim to any sentimental value of the song, but I think it's a really neat part of my team's heritage. Even if it does have the feel of a 1970's game show, I love it. The Canes have truthfully done very little in the way of recognizing their Hartford roots. That's thanks in part to the fact that the city of Hartford to all logo trademarks. They won't give anyone permission to use them. This is why you can't buy a "vintage-style" Whalers sweater from NHL.com or any of those. Anyway, the only thing the Canes have done is to play Brass Bonanza over the PA once in a blue moon.

Gale Force Media (the jumbotron/PA people) missed a golden chance to mess Pronger up the other night. While the game was on pause before Orbs' penalty shot, they could have totally gotten in his head by playing a snippet of Brass Bonanza. Would it have made him miss the shot? Probably not. Would it have made any difference? Probably not, in all honesty. But it would have been funny.

For everything related to Brass Bonanza, visit the website devoted to the song. I've said it before, and I'll say again, there's good stuff going on over there.

Andy Grabia, over at Sports Matters, has the dilemma of his two favorite teams facing each other in the Final. Ultimately, he's more tied to the Oil than he is to the Whale. Thusly, he has actually changed his Final pick, and has changed his horse in midstream. However, he admitted that he can't stop humming Brass Bonanza in the shower.

I'm really hoping we get to hear it again inside the arena at some point in these playoffs.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Canes take game one with a bizarre finish.

On Monday night, the Hurricanes had a four-goal third period to outlast the Oilers 5-4. They have taken a 1-0 series lead, and will remain home for game two on Wednesday.

Of course I tempted fate by calling Mick McGeough a "good official" and predicting that Paul Devorski would make some questionable calls. You'll have to forgive me. Being an Eastern Conference fan, I have only seen McGeough about four times in my life. I had forgotten that he has more in common with Kerry Fraser than being lidless. They both enjoy taking the spotlight away from the players with overdramatic gesturing and showboating. They both make some lousy calls at critical moments. Today was no different.

Early in the game, it looked like Edmonton was going to dominate the game and run away with it.

While they were controlling the pace of the game and drawing penalties against the Canes, the Oilers scored first at 8:18 of the first. Fernando Pisani scored his 10th goal of the post-season. He picked up a loose puck out front and slammed it past Ward right after two Edmonton skaters cancelled Eric Staal behind the Carolina net. Raffi Torres and Jaro Spacek got the helpers.

I was surprised to see that at the end of the first, the shots were even at 8 apiece. It seemed like the Oil were totally dominating. Perhaps, though, that was because the Oil enjoyed a full two minutes of five-on-three. That segment was bookended by other power play time, so it seemed like an eternity with a man advantage. Fortunately, the Canes did a superb job of killing it all off.

The big controversy came midway through the second period. While there was a mad rush in front of the Canes net (south end of the arena during the second), the Canes Nic Wallin was penalized for smothering the puck in the crease. From behind the north goal, some 240 feet away, it looked like the puck had vanished from sight and play should have been whistled dead about three seconds prior to the penalty. However, some friends on the south end said they could see the puck the whole time. They still questioned the call, but were sure that the official never lost sight of it. Clearly, if the ref never lost sight of it, AND the Canes player covered the puck inside the crease, then the right call was made. Penalty shot. Because MacT had his fourth line out there, he thought that Chris ("former Whaler") Pronger would be his best bet for the PS. It turned out to be the right call, because Prongs abused Wardo on the shot. It was apparently the first successfully converted penalty shot in the history of the Stanley Cup Finals. The last time a PS was awarded was June 7, 1994 when Pavel Bure (then with the Nucks) came up empty against Mark Richter of the Rangers in game 4.

At 16:23, the Oil got what seemed at the time like a coffin nail. Ethan Moreau beat Ward on a long bomb shot from the right circle. The shot went through an Aaron Ward screen and glanced off Cam Ward's equipment before finding the back of the net. Defenseman Matt Green got the only assist.

Only 54 seconds later, the Canes got on the board with a very numerically appropriate goal. If you're into all that numerology crap, by the way, today's date is 06.06.06. Anyway, the goal came from Rod Brind'Amour (#17), and the time of the goal was 17:17 of the second. As the Canes came in on a semi-break, Cory Stillman beautifully set up Viva with a pass from the right circle to the left. Viva's shot was turned away, but Roli gave up a big rebound to his left. Brindy jumped on the loose puck and shoved it in from there. Although the Canes were still down 3-1, and had been outworked and outshot in that period, something about that goal screamed "momentum shift". Although it never factored into a scoring play, the period ended with an Oiler in the box, which made things seem much better than they really were.

Just 1:40 into the third frame, Ray Whitney one-timed one from the left circle past Roli to trim the lead to 3-2. Dougie Weight and Andrew Ladd got the helpers.

Indeed, the momentum had shifted. The Hurricanes got an equalizing goal on the power play at the 5:09 mark. Again it was Ray Whitney. He attempted a snap shot from the top of the right circle, which was stopped. Mark Recchi took a stab at it, but Roli made another stop. Whitters crept in on the front doorstep and beat Roli high over the left shoulder. The arena nearly erupted. Recchi had the first assist and Eric Staal, who had been held pointless two games in a row, got the secondary.

However, that was nothing compared to the euphoria of the next goal. The Oil were on a power play, and the Canes attempted a clear that should have been held in by Fernando Pisani Steve Staios on the left point. However, he slipped, the puck sailed through the neutral ice zone. Viva was able to break away with it and beat Roloson on the stick side from the high slot. The shorthanded goal, Carolina's second of the playoffs, was the fourth unanswered goal, allowing the Canes to take a 4-3 lead. Chad "Sharpie" LaRose, whose clearing attempt started the whole play, got the only assist. It was Sharpie's first career playoff point. Aaron Ward got the second assist.

At 13:31, things settled down a little when Ales Hemsky knotted the game at 4 with a power play goal. He made a dazzling move to explode through the slot and force a shot past Cam Ward as he charged in on him. It took an acrobatic move to avoid contact with Ward AND to score the goal. Somehow, he pulled it off. Jarrett Stoll and Chris Pronger got the helpers.

Just when it felt like it was going to overtime, the Oilers got a bit of a bad break. At 14:06, as the Canes were applying pressure in the Edmonton end, there was a collision that resulted in injury to star goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Andrew Ladd was streaking towards the net and was hit hard by Marc-Andre Bergeron. The hit drove Ladd into the goal, knocking the net off the pegs and Roloson to the ice. No replay was shown in the arena, but I was able to catch a glimpse of CBC's monitor. That replay (the only one I have seen) showed that it was not an incidence of goaltender interference, but one of a bad turn of events. Roloson was very slow to get up and had to be replaced by Ty Conklin, who hasn't played since the regular season. At this point, I don't know any details of the injury other than it was to Roli's knee. In the post-game presser, Craig MacT announced that Roloson would be lost for the rest of the series with an injury that is "the same thing as Radek's". This refers to a knee injury that kept Oilers right wing Radek Dvorak on the shelf for eight games earlier in this playoff season. This means that the Oil will have to start Ty Conklin or Jussi Markkanen in net. I don't know a thing about either one of these guys except that the Oilers faithful don't seem to have very much faith in them.

Carolina didn't get very many shots off against the rusty Conklin. The first shot against him yielded a huge rebound, but no second chance. I thought Carolina would make an effort to throw everything at him, but they didn't get much of a chance. Fortunately for the home team, they didn't need very many chances.

At 19:27, Brindy scored the game winner unassisted. Jason Smith made a tremendous mistake leading to it. I won't say it was like Steve Smith in game seven of the 1986 Smythe Division finals, but it was a huge mistake that cost his team the game. After Conklin went behind the net to play a puck, Smith attempted to make a pass, but barely nudged the puck a few inches to Rod Brind'Amour who was staring at a completely vacant net. He easily backhanded it in for what would prove to be the game winner.

The last :30 were furious, and Edmonton actually had some quality chances, but Cam Ward stood tall every time, holding out for the win.

With a goal (6) and an assist (10), Viva was the third star.
With two goals (7, 8), Ray Whitney was the second star.
With two goals (10, 11), including the game winner, Brindy was the first star.

Game two will be Wednesday night at 8:00.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Devorski and McGeough

Tonight's referee tandem will be Paul Devorski and Mick McGeough.

I despise Devorski. We should expect to see some questionable, even BAD calls on both ends of the ice. From what little I've seen of McGeough, he's a good official, but I've seen way too much of Devorski and his marginal calls. Hopefully it won't be that bad.

Puck drop is at 8:00. I don't think I'll have my "MY BEARD BELIEVES" sign, but I might make a new one while I'm drinking beer in the parking lot.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain. or the blonde girl.

I know I just said I wouldn't be doing this, but I feel obliged to offer this bit of advice to Oilers fans.

Please, please, for the love of Lord Stanley, ignore Raleigh News and Observer columnist Ned Barnett.

Every newspaper has one or two writers that are, to be kind, sub-par. Usually, these writers are relegated to the ranks of "local interest" columns about old ladies and kittens, or police blotter stuff. The kind of writers who would have a very difficult time writing their way out of a wet paper bag.

Every newspaper in every city has at least one of these dreck spewing clowns on their sportswriting staff. Ours is Ned Barnett. Apparently, he got his J-school degree by sending in 1000 proofs of purchase from Weetabix box tops. For a professional journalist, his writing is very bad. From a stylistic standpoint, it's a nightmare. Every article he writes is full of one-sentence paragraphs and bizarre analogies. He makes it worse because his sports knowledge is less impressive than his journalistic skills. His hockey knowledge is nonexistent.

I think the only reason he's kept around is so the rest of the fellas can have somebody to pick on, and because the editors have some elaborate drinking game they play using his submissions. If you happen to stumble upon one of Barnett's articles, or a quotation by him, please know that he's widely regarded as a tool around here. He might think he represents us, but we don't claim him.

Instead, I might recommend reading the work of Luke Decock, who is a good writer, a "tell it like it is" guy, and an Ivy League graduate.

Also, the Caniac Nation apologizes in advance to all Edmonton fans, and to all Canadians. Your beautiful anthem will be horribly disrespected by our "singer", Holly Wilver. Please understand that we don't like her, either. I'm hoping that the Canes have hired a professional singer to do the anthems since we'll be on the big stage. If not, please accept our sincerest apologies.

the fun begins tomorrow

Since there was a little down time, I decided to change it up a little around here. Nothing drastic. I just wanted to make a few slight changes to the page. I've said a million times, and I'll say again, this page is intended for use with the mozilla firefox web browser. You can still use MSIE if you want. You can still have your mother pick your clothes out for you, too, if you want. Just know that if you're using MSIE, the page won't look the way I intend it to look.

I've moved the "canes blogs" to the top of the right sidebar. Just beneath that, I've made a special section for "oilers blogs". Some of these have been in the blogroll anyway, while others are new here. There are scores of other blogs covering the Canes or the Oilers, but I can't highlight them all. For instance, Sports Matters is an excellent blog that has provided lots of insight into the Stanley Cup playoffs, and specifically the Oilers. I recommend the site, but they talk about baseball a lot, and according to recent posts, it might become a World Cup '06 blog. It's in the blogroll now, but it's not "all Oil, all the time".

I will not be issuing any threats, writing any open letters to Oilers fans, or otherwise intentionally baiting anyone into a sparring contest. That isn't my style. Sure, I might (probably will) write some things that wrinkle some feathers, and I expect to be criticized when I do.

I'm hoping for a really exciting series and lots of dialog here, and on the other blogs.

Also, look for me and mudcrutch at the CBC hockey bloggers roundtable.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Stanley Cup Finals -- the intangibles

The Stanley Cup Finals will start on Monday night. Until then, everyone will have a chance to analyze, prognosticate and make stuff up about this series. Most painfully, we will have to wait. For the city of Edmonton, they will have time to replenish their beer supplies after their highly publicized beer outages.

A lot of sites, professional and otherwise, break down their previews positionally. I won't get into depth on these, because I have a different point here. Most are in agreement that Carolina's forwards are slightly better than Edmonton's. All are in agreement that Edmonton's defense (so long as Chris(t) Pronger remains healthy) is better than Carolina's. Most say that Edmonton has better goaltending. Most say that Carolina's special teams are better. The coaches are about even.

The category that still remains is the mystical "intangible" category. I'm going to actually give the edge to the Oilers on this one. Because of spelling. In the recently concluded 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee, Finola Hackett, a 14-year old girl from Toefield, Alberta (near Edmonton) took second place. Before anyone cracks wise, she DID NOT get booted on the word "center" (centre) or "color" (colour). After 19 rounds, including a seven round knockout bout with eventual champ Katherine Close, Finola misspelled the word 'weltschmerz'

The winner of the bee is from New Jersey. Who cares?

The second place finisher is an Albertan. The significance of that? The third place finisher is a North Carolinian. 14-year old Saryn Hooks from Taylorsville, North Carolina (which isn't really anywhere near Raleigh at all) was the last speller to be eliminated in the sudden death rounds. She misspelled icteritious.

It was Hooks' third trip to the national bee. In 2005, she finished in seventh place. It was Hackett's second time, after finishing 11th in 2005.

So Albertan 14-year old girls are slightly better at spelling than 14-year old North Carolina girls. And in four or five years, they'll be better at taking their shirts off in public, too.

The "intangible" edge has to go to the Oil on this.


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