POSTED ON JANUARY 25, 2012:
To Fight or Not to Fight?
Musings on a recent Oilers game plus winning, losing and whether a hockey fight is worth the penalty
It's not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog. Or does the saying mention size? Or maybe the lesson is size doesn't matter?
Recently, the Tulsa Oilers went head-to-head with Tim Tebow. The team won the battle but the war has yet to be decided.
Did a lopsided home loss deter fans from giving the team another look-see? Or will the grit and determination on the ice be enough to bring a majority of the fans back for seconds and thirds?
Unlike the Tebow flop against the Patriots the same night, the Oilers showed everything we've come to expect from a Bruce Ramsay-coached squad. Except the winning part, of course.
The BOK Center was packed with an announced crowd of more than 10,000 voracious hockey fans. Unlike some T-Town sporting events, the crowd was a nice mix of families, couples, friends and jersey-wearing, noise-making supporters.
Quick tangent: The Vuvuzela craze swept the nation during the World Cup in Africa. It was cute though the product overshadowed much of the games. By the end of the Cup everyone was done with the fad.
But now Vuvuzelas showing up in Tulsa at Oilers games. Hockey games should be loud, but horn-blowing should be left for the next World Cup. Better yet, bring them to the next political debate.
No other sport relies on one position as much as a hockey squad depends on its goalie. Sorry quarterbacks. Unfortunately for Ian Keserich he had an off night. It happens to the best of us.
The final soft five-hole goal he allowed was enough for "Rammer" to give him the hook.
Maybe he is wearing down. A quick scan of the Central Hockey League illuminates Keserich's predicament. He logged more games played and total minutes than all but one goalie in the CHL.
Despite the squad playing from behind all game long they never gave up. They mucked for loose pucks along the boards. Veteran players like Michel Beausoleil followed through on hard, legal checks into the boards.
Younger players like David Solway skated with reckless abandon. And that was meant as a good thing. Maybe reckless does not quite quantify his passion. When you can see determination through the looking glass you know the players can feel it on the ice.
Not every player was committed to turning the tide of the game. A scuffle in the corner of the rink resulted in a nice fight which brought the crowd to its collective feet. Go, hockey fights!
Defenseman Gio Flamminio was challenged by a larger opponent. He declined. The opponent went so far as to drop his gloves while Flamminio lowered his head.
The steady urging of an enthusiastic crowd was not enough to prompt our Oiler to fight back.
In fairness to Flamminio, the non-fight did result in a power play for the Oilers. However, when trailing by three goals and desperately needing a spark, what is more important for your team? Sticking up for your line mates or earning a two minute PP?
This is a serious question for serious hockey aficionados. As a fan, and after witnessing the disappointment of the crowd around me, we would have preferred the gloves hitting the ice and some pounding. Then again, perhaps recent concussion studies will change the way hockey is played in five or 10 years.
So a raucous crowd watched the Oilers go down in defeat. Hopefully astute fans noticed the effort despite the unkind result.
Despite the winning record, they are falling behind in the Berry Conference standings. Their hot start is fizzling.
The good news is the BOK Center continues to be a strong home ice advantage, though this means they are struggling on the road.
Pondering the Imponderable
If "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" then where does that leave "losing?" Losing must mean something. Does it mean anything? Does it also mean everything?
Maybe losing means nothing if there is a rationale outside of sports.
When Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State, the team had a built-in excuse: The tragic, untimely death of their "family" members Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna as well as the 82-year-old pilot and his wife.
Chances are the members of the team did not know these people personally. It was easier to blame the kicker anyway.
But looking back how much could the event have affected the psyche of the coaching staff and team? Instead of normal game preparation the coaches were probably reminding players about normal game preparation, which is of course not normal.
Why rehash this loss? Because the Green Bay Packers getting ousted from the playoffs after their offensive coordinator lost his son drew comparisons.
Players and coaches likely went out of their way to comfort and provide for Joe Philbin as well as they should. But how was typical game preparation affected?
We may never know how to pinpoint an answer. Then again, maybe the New York Giants were just a better football team on any given Sunday.
But can the same be said about the Iowa Cyclones?
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