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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

On the road agin

So what do I do with myself on these academic versions of business trips?  You know, while Janet is home taking Jamie to school and doing his homework with him at night?  Mostly, work work work.  Sunday I had the afternoon to myself, and read a book manuscript for an academic press.  Answered email at night, after people from Ohio State came and took me to dinner (blackened grouper, thank you, very nice).  Yesterday I did (1) a graduate seminar in disability studies, taught by Brenda Brueggemann; (2) a lunch roundtable on the “utility” of the arts and humanities, based on an essay I published last year; and (3) a two-hour symposium with a dozen graduate students, based on a couple of things I’ve written on disability and a couple of things on the profession of literary study.  The students came with great questions.  Today I’m speaking at this conference.  I have the whole morning to myself, which means answering more email, writing a letter of recommendation, writing a draft of a short essay, replying to my students’ seminar comments, and just a bit of blogging (that would be what I’m doing right now!  with the very same pen you gave me for my birthday!).

But occasionally I do find the time to relax and do nothing useful.  Even though I had a long day yesterday beginning at 6:30 am, I got back from dinner at 9:30 determined to catch the end of the Bruins-Canadiens game 7 and the entire (what a luxury) Flames-Canucks game 7.  The Flames-Canucks series has been beyond belief fabulous, with the Flames coming back from a 4-0 deficit in game six (that’s nearly unheard of, you hockey neophytes out there, especially in these dark times when NHL offensive production has fallen to levels associated with Mini-Mite Soccer Leagues) to lose anyway in triple overtime.  Because I believe that the entire Vancouver franchise should be cosmically punished unto the seventh generation for the Todd Bertuzzi incident, I’ve been pulling for the Flames (also, they haven’t won a playoff series since 1989), but because the game began at 10:30 pm Eastern, I wasn’t sure I was going to have the stamina or the intestinal fortitude to see the whole thing.

So when the Flames’ Jarome Iginla scored his second goal of the game with just under ten minutes to play to put Calgary up 2-1, I thought justice would be done.  (Show of hands:  how many people know that Iginla scored 41 goals this year, tied for the league lead, returning to his 2001-02 form when he was the NHL’s leading scorer, and that he’s a Player of Color?  I didn’t think so.) Imagine my dismay, then, when-- in the waning seconds of the game, after the Canucks pull their goaltender for an extra skater-- Iginla backhands it into Calgary ice, just missing the net, then weirdly steps on his stick and falls, allowing the Canucks’ Markus Naslund to skate the length of the ice and take a last shot on the Flames’ net . . . whereupon the Canucks’ Matt Cooke picks up the rebound and flips the puck over Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff’s left shoulder with 5.7 seconds left.  And we go to overtime.

But I don’t.  It’s just past 1 am at this point, and I’m done.  Fearing another triple-overtime game that will end at 3 am, I roll over, turn off the light, and leave the Flames and Canucks to their own devices.

So this morning I learn that the Flames’ Martin Gelinas ended the game 85 seconds into overtime, on an assist from Iginla.  Well, them’s the breaks.  I needed the extra 16 minutes and 25 seconds of sleep anyway.  But this just goes to show you that there really is no such thing as “momentum” carrying over between periods or between games.  The Canucks should have been despondent and flummoxed in game six, losing that four-goal lead; the Flames should have been despondent and flummoxed in game seven, losing game six after coming back from the depths; and the Flames should have been completely deflated in overtime of game 7, after giving up the tying goal in the final seconds.  But the game doesn’t really depend on how the players feel, or on what sportswriters think about how the players feel.  It depends on what the players do.  Simple, no?

And as you’ll remember, I picked the Flames to begin with.  Back on April 7, in fact:  Lightning over Isles in 6; Bruins over Canadiens in 6; Devils over Flyers in 7; Senators over Maple Leafs in 7; Red Wings over Predators in 5; Blues over Sharks in 7; Flames over Canucks in 6; Avalanche over Stars in 7.

So now I confess that I didn’t really think the Blues or the Devils would do it-- those were my Wishful Thinking picks (partly because I wanted to catch the Devils in New Jersey in late May), so I consider myself right nonetheless on those two.  Lightning, Red Wings, Flames, Avalanche . . . right, right, right, and right.  With Boston and Montreal I forgot that the Bruins have played Montreal 3,744 times in the playoffs, usually with markedly superior teams, but haven’t beaten Montreal since . . . uh . . . hmm . . . since maybe Eddie Shore led them to a 3-0 sweep of the Canadiens in 1929 (this was back in the “leather puck” era).  And as for Toronto-Ottawa tonight, yes, I know Ottawa hasn’t beaten Toronto in a series since the days when the games were played outdoors by guys in handlebar mustaches and it was illegal to make a forward pass in the offensive zone.  But even though I remain fond of ex-Ranger Brian Leetch and wish him well as a Maple Leaf, I just can’t root for a team coached by Pat Quinn.  Think of a cheap-shot artist who spends half his time thugging up the ice and half the time whining about the officiating, and you’ve got Quinn Hockey.  Go Sens.

Whoops, that was way too much hockey blogging.  And checkout time is at noon!  But as my friend Laura Kipnis says, checkout times are for other people.

Posted by Michael on 04/20 at 04:36 AM
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