Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Uh oh...the Oilers are in trouble.

After blowing a three-goal lead and losing Dwayne Roloson for the rest of the series, the Oilers look to be...oh what's the expression...fucked.

Here's another expression: sometimes it's better to be lucky to be good, and the Hurricanes have certainly been lucky. After beating maybe the best goalie in the league in Martin Brodeur, they took advantage of major injuries on Montreal and Buffalo (Saku Koivu, Tim Connolly and pretty much all of the Sabres' top defensemen) to move on. But let's not go so far to say it was a fluke: I recall everyone picking Carolina as the favourites to go all the way post-trade deadline, when thy picked up Mark Recchi and Doug Weight. This is a stacked offensive team, and they've beat three straight hot goalies. I'll be proud to wear their colours, and willing to withstand the boos, rotten fruit and office equipment thrown my way at work.

As for Dwayne Roloson, well...while I don't wish injury on anyone, he might have had this coming. He's been flopping around, diving and drawing penalties pretty much all postseason. Some would call them the actions of a wily veteran. I call it cheating. Perhaps Roloson will curl up with an old favourite whilst on the shelf: Peter and the Wolf. When I saw him sprawled on the ice, I wasn't immediately convinced he was legitimately hurt, and that speaks volumes about his character.

So it appears the Oilers magical run is over. They upset two Cup favourites in Detroit and San Jose, and got by another Cinderella team in the Ducks, but it looks like the Canes will be too much, especially now that they're forced to go with Conklin or Markannen (comically dubbed Conkkanen by Oilers fans). They'll be back, though...they've got a great mix of youth and veterans, and will learn a lot from this experience as a group.

In other possibly more important news, the World Cup starts this week, and is about the only thing that can push the Stanley Cup Finals to the background...(if the Jays make the World Series, then we'll talk).

The four-year buildup is over...and while many things have changed, one has stayed the same: Brazil is the clear favourite. They are just a ridiculously talented squad, and even the most blind fan of any other team has to acknowledge the Brazilians as the team to beat.

I'd like to say Italy has a chance...but frankly it'll be difficult enough for the Azzurri to get out of the group stage...and once there, Brazil likely awaits them, unless they can edge out the Czechs for first in Group E, which again is no easy task. I have the Czechs making it all the way to the finals to face Brazil (and losing).

An unlikely (but pretty cool) scenario would have the Italians finishing first and defeating Croatia in the round of 16, setting up a match versus Ukraine, pitting myself and all my Italian friends against the one Ukrainian in our group. Needless to say, serious smack-talk and various Seinfeld references will be flung around like so many pizzas and perogies.

Realistically though, Italy is out in the first knockout stage. I'm picking Holland and Mexico to join Brazil and the Czechs in the final four. As for upsets, look out for the Ivory Coast, the strongest African team in the tournament.

"The Beautiful Game" brings the world together like no other event, even the Olympics. So enjoy the World Cup, whoever you happen to be cheering for.

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