Monday, November 07, 2011

A Humble Game Preview

Because every now and then we all need a little narrative.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are many dull Tuesdays in a season. In fact, if I may speak freely, I would say that the games of Tuesday are often the dullest games of the week. Despite the valiant efforts of our friends at Reseau des sports to pump us up for the Tuesday game, we often find ourselves nodding off a bit during the commercials, our minds wandering this way and that, to thoughts of work or household chores or whether we ought to get around to Breaking Bad one of these days, our interest scarcely stirred by our Habitants vying against some middling Sunbelt team. Saturdays, those are the nights of the big matchups, and even Thursdays, which we like to think of as the ‘pre-weekend’, get some good games. But Tuesday… Oh, my friends, Tuesday is often uninspiring. How well I know it.

But this Tuesday is different, for this Tuesday we have the privilege- nay, the honor- of watching what is certain to be a great confrontation the likes of which have not been seen in many a month. For tonight, kittens, we will see not some dull Panthers or listless Wildlings, no no no, tonight we face the single greatest threat to our beloved Habistan, a danger nascent, but nevertheless, very very real, a franchise opposed not just to our team, but our very way of life.

Five years ago, they rose within a breath of the Stanley Cup, only to be thrown back on the brink of victory by a Hurricane from the East. Defeated, they slunk back to their bleak tundra, bloodied and battered. There, they lurked in darkness at the very bottom of the League, eking out a few meager points by occasionally raiding the other vulnerable teams in their division. Occasionally a broken, terrified defensemen would be picked up fleeing south, half-mad with despair, but otherwise little was heard of them for many years, save in June when they would emerge briefly to kidnap any young men from the surrounding junior teams high-ranked and slow-witted enough to fall into their clutches. Many thought they were gone forever.

But now they have returned, bursting forth from the frigid wilderness like a swarm of flesh-flies from a fetid wound, ravaging the West with their maniacal child-army. They have clubbed Penguins, pillaged Capitals, vanquished Kings. They have taken over the standings in one quick, savage burst, silencing their doubters and mocking their detractors. Still, questions remain: Are they strong enough to achieve victory on foreign soil? Are they virtuous enough to keep the goodwill of the hockey Gods? Is it possible to go to the playoffs with a team incapable facial hair? And who, I ask you who, has the cojones to look these brutes in the eyes and make them regress?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the team so talented they have Swedes to spare, the ape-men of Alberta, the terrors of the tar sands, the franchise with the most to prove and the least to lose, our not wholly welcome guests, the EDMONTON OILERS!

On the other bench, we have an ancient royal line. For generations they ruled the NHL with speed and grace, icing roster after roster of heroes. They claimed the Cup so many times that other teams forgot even what it looked like, inscribed so many of their own names across its surface there was hardly space for anyone else. From their island metropolis, they watched other franchises sprout, flower, and die, saw the League around them expand and contract and expand again, yet never released the Cup from their hands for more than a few seasons. Dynasty after dynasty they ruled, cold, imperious, and implacable as the river around them.

Now, though, their power wanes, and their fans grow restless. The Cup, once their personal coffee mug, has not been seen in their arena for nearly two decades. They struggle valiantly, year after year, but manage only to hold their noses above .500, and slowly they begin to realize that the age of heroes is past. There will be no more dynasties. Once great and now merely sufficient, they cling proudly to their lineage and their honor, the only things remaining that hold them apart from the rest of the great mediocre mass in the middle. Between them and their former glory stand a legion of ignoble teams, shameless tankers and hoarders of picks, men who see no method to win except to lose and feed off the charity of the League. If they are to have any hope of holding sweet Stanley ever again, these usurpers must be put down, and a better way proven.

Mesdames et messieurs, I give you, the only team in the League with Stanley Cup toe rings, the lords of the Laurentians, the sultans of the St. Lawrence, the weakest generation of the greatest hockey team the world has ever known, the home team, your MONTREAL CANADIENS!

This is it: the bottom of the barrel vs. the best of the bubble, nouveau riches vs. impoverished gentry, beardless youths vs. big burly men, beauty vs. age, swine vs. pearls, yes, folks, it’s the easy way vs. the hard way, right here on our home ice, this very Tuesday night, battling it out for honor, glory, two points, and four months of bragging rights in my apartment!

It will be epic.


Clare said...

Best. Game preview. Ever!

I secretly nurse a soft spot for the Oilers, partly because I'm a Dwayne Roloson fan, and partly because they're just so earnest, like little puppy dogs. But really, someone needs to restore order to the universe. These guys can't be for real. And Khabibulin is screwing up the curve for everyone else right now. So, Go Habs!

Bruce said...

Superb stuff, E.

Matt.N said...

I too live within a mixed denomination house hold. On nights when the Habs and the Oilers play we make the kind of bets that only couples can make. I have spent many a cold winter night doing things that would make a sailor look away due because Tommy Salo couldn't stop a beach ball. Now it seems the shoe is on the other foot for a change.

Best of luck tonite to the Canadiens.

Krafty said...

Beauty of a writeup. Stuff legends are made of.

Alice said...

If the game even half lives up to its Proclamation it will be something, alright.

I think I need a cigarette!

E said...

okay, while i briefly have the attention of oilerfolk:

where do i find individual player's es shots-for/60? not team es sf/60 while dude is on the ice, but the shots dude took with his own hands. i've been bashing my head against behindthenet all day and can't seem to find it, so i must be doing something wrong.

and thanks, people. might do a post-game, if i'm sober enough and happy enough when the time comes.

E said...

Reason #257 I love the Canadiens: they can fill a bar in the city of their arch-nemeses on a tuesday night.