Saturday, June 17, 2006

There will be a Game 7...

Well, well, well...

Facing elimination in Game 5 in Raleigh, the Oilers gave a great effort and won in overtime. Tonight, they completely dominated the Hurricanes and won 4-0 in a game that could've easily finished 6-0 or 7-0 if it hadn't been for a couple of great saves by Cam Ward (one, in particular, came on a 3rd period 3-on-1 by the Oilers where he pulled out a wonderful glove save to stop a perfect tic-tac-toe play). The Oilers played one of their best defensive games since the start of the playoffs. Whenever the 'Canes had the puck in Edmonton's zone, they were getting checked hard and the Oilers constantly blocked shots (Pronger looked like he had goalie pads on tonight with the amount of shots he blocked).

But more importantly, the Oilers continued to punish the Hurricanes at every opporutnity, and it started to really pay off. For one, Carolina started to get frustrated and took dumb penalties because of it. Bret Hedican, for instance, took 3 minor penalties for roughing in the game. For another, the Hurricanes are really starting to look exhausted out there. Rod Brind'Amour was invisible tonight, as were all the other 'Canes stars (except the returning Erik Cole). The defense for Carolina, which was stiffling at the beginning of the series, has really started to show some cracks. And finally, even more importantly, the power play for the Oilers has come back in a big way. Early in the game, with Carolina pressuring the points, Hemsky, Samsonov and Ryan Smyth started to work down low. The result was Carolina bringing back their fowards lower in the slot, opening up the pointsand the higher slot, where Pisani got the first PP goal of the night. And for the rest of the night, the Oilers kept the 'Canes guessing whenever they were with a man advantage, and they were able to get 2 more goals because of it.

Now, we could be tempted to think that after the last 2 performances from both teams, the Oilers look like a sure bet to win game 7. But history tells us that next game is far from won for Edmonton. Only 5 teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Stanley Cup finals to force a game 7. The last one to win was the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 1942. The next four would go on to lose game 7. In the same vein, home teams have won 11 of 13 game 7's in the Finals. But if history is on Carolina's side, the present is definitely on Edmonton's. The way I see it, the Oilers will win if their power play continues to perform the way it did tonight. They will still be physical, and I know they will protect Markaanen like they did tonight. Those are givens. But the game will hinge on whether they can score with the man advantage. Carolina will not get blanked 2 games in a row, and their power play has killed the Oilers in Raleigh. But if Edmonton can get a couple of power play goals themselves, they will come out of there with a win. So, who wins? Well, given my record lately for predictions (see my predicting the Oilers would be out in 5, or England exploding against T & T, or Tiger winning the US Open), I will refrain from making one here. But my heart is with the Oilers.

Now, it's been a little while since I've talked music, so here are a couple of reviews for your viewing pleasure.

Lacuna Coil - Karmacode

This is the fourth release from this goth-metal/hard rock band from Italy. And boy is it a good one (Sweet LP, take notice, this is right up your alley). Lacuna Coil are often compared to highly successful Evanescence, but they differ in the fact that where Evanescence's music seems arranged in a way that definitely pleases radio DJ's, Karmacode is unapologetic in its heavyness and prog-rock leanings. The album begins in a big way with a trio of songs that fuse in and out of each other seamlessly. The opener, "Fragile", is a very heavy song that has a strong middle-eastern vibe to it. The song is also highlighted by a very catchy chorus. The next 2 songs aren't quite as strong, but "Our Truth" does feature a nice guitar riff. "Within Me", "In Visible Light" and "Without Fear" are the only slower, more ballad-y numbers here, and "Within Me" is the one that works best. "Without Fear" seems to borrow heavily from the new-wave movement, with understated vocals and spacy guitars. "You create" is a little interlude that features a strong middle-eastern, and like on the opener, it works perfectly. "Closer" has a really nice groove to it, and uou almost get the feeling that with a deeper bassline, it could be a danceable song. But the true gem of this record is the cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence". Cristina Scabbia's voice works perfectly here, and the whole band turns up the volume in a big way during the chorus, making the song somewhat epic, and a true sing-along cut.

All in all, this is a more than solid effort. It blends all the doomy-gloomy moods of goth-metal along with the ecclecticism of middle-eastern melodies against a new wave backdrop. And for the better part of the record, it works marvelously. The album has definitve highlights, but there is very little filler here as well. And that makes this a very enjoyable listen from start to finish.


AFI - Decemberunderground

As far as punk-rock/emo albums go, this is as good as it gets. Like Thursday, another band in the same vein, AFI has managed to step away from the overcrowded genre and get a voice of their own. And on Decemberunderground, that voice finally reaches maturity.

Aside from the second cut, "Kill Caustic", which is perhaps too heavy for its own good, the album has no real weak moment. The record opens with the string-infused "Prelude 12/21", a short number that almost makes you want to dance. The first single, "Miss Murder", is in the same vein as "Girl"s Not Grey", the band's biggest hit to date. It features a very groovy bassline and an extremely catchy, head-bopping chorus. "The Interview" is a slower number that recalls Blink-182's last album, with its echo-y vocals and dreamy guitars, as does "37mm". "Affliction" starts out with a fury and features fast, swirling guitars and a very upbeat tempo. The song is followed by a beautiful, instrumental interlude that just might be the most beautiful stuff on here. Another very strong number is "The Missing Frame", which has once again one the most infectuous choruses around. "Kiss And Control", "The Killing Lights" and the album closer, "Endlessly She Said", are also very good tunes.

But the real highlights here are "Summer Shudder" and "Love Like Winter". The former starts out with a great, off-beat guitar riff. AFI really know how to come up with catchy choruses, and they do it better than ever here. The latter is, in my opinion, the best song the band has ever written. While the repetitive bassline helps keep a punk vibe, the song seems to borrow heavily from the 80's arena-rock movement and winds up being as much fun, if not more, than anything Def Leppard or The Scorpions ever did.



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