Thursday, October 10, 2013
82 Game Schedule Better Suited For Bobby Ryan and Old-Man Bloggers
I was ready for the game. Upstairs TV, laptop, pajama pants, clear head.
The kid was tucked safely in bed, drooling. The wife was downstairs watching some kind of show I could never stand to sit through, our two cats nodding off beside her. It was a peaceful scene. Too peaceful.
I passed out.
10 minutes before a 10:30 PM puck drop and I was a goner. Missed the entire West Coast Senators-Kings game. Didn’t even get a sniff at it.
Missed Bobby Ryan’s first goal in an Ottawa uniform, missed seeing Dustin Brown, a new pick-up in my pool, score a couple goals for me. Missed what looked like one of those now patented “pesky Sens” comebacks which we’ve seen a lot of the past two seasons (this time unsuccessful). Missed what sounded like a strong game from Stephane Da Costa.
And the Western swing continues, challenging my manhood as I struggle to even make it to midnight as a relatively young 37-year old who used to stay up until 3 in the morning every night of his twenties. What ever happened to that good-looking guy?
I guess it’s all in the pacing. An 82-game schedule where every game isn’t life and death is a strange beast to get used to again. The early-season feels important, vital almost, when you’ve been deprived of the game all summer. Missing a game feels like missing a week. Snap judgements are made on the basis of one night, which is why you see superstars (like Bobby Ryan) getting thrown under the bus while adrenalin-fuelled rookies with early success are praised to death (like Sean Monohan).
Yet when the pace evens out and the veterans get into a groove, the training camp and early season heroes tend to fade and get forgotten. It’s that type of dynamic that allows a player like Da Costa to unseat future blue-chipper Mika Zibanejad on the roster, but I’m betting in two months we’ll be talking a lot more about Zibanejad than we will Da Costa.
Hey, some guys are slow starters, which can be murder in a condensed, lockout shortened season, but in a full year you can afford to have some lulls, no matter how much the hyper-driven media tells us the opposite. Just not too long.
As Ian Mendes pointed out in the Ottawa Citizen recently, Bobby Ryan is historically bad in October but has still ended up with four 30-goal seasons. Jarome Iginla was another notoriously slow starter. Look at Alex Ovechkin last year. People were ready to put this guy on a plane to the KHL or at least revoke his superstar status. He ended up winning the Hart Trophy.
Luckily for Ryan, he scored last night in Los Angeles, but you can already sense a bit of defiance in him towards some of the “slow start” talk. I don’t blame him at all for getting his back up, but he’ll quickly find out that won’t help him either. Not in this market. But Ryan’s got 79 more games to score 29 goals and prove Bryan Murray was right bringing him in here. Fans will be patient because they’ll have to be. The playoffs are a long way away and so are the dog days of January and February when even the most hardcore hockey fan occasionally mixes a movie into their routine.
Even for a blogger it’s tough to find a pace early-on with late night games and endless days in between. I usually like to get a rhythm going of 3 articles a week and see how it goes. Sometimes there’s nothing to write about when you pass out before games like an old sheepdog after a meal.
Yet it’s a bit of a luxury to know you have a full season of hockey to look forward to. So what if you miss Matt Kassian scoring a hat-trick against the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. That type of thing will happen again, right?