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A Not-So-Perfect 10

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Like this photoshopped image of Bo Derek, the starlet of the 1979 movie "10" who has apparently made a few enemies during her Bush-loving years, it wasn't pretty. The shutout was gone in 10 seconds, the starting goalie gone after 10 minutes, and any shred of dignity long gone by the time Thomas Vanek and the Buffalo Sabres posted their 10th goal on a game-ending Oiler "powerplay".

The Sportsnet guys told us it was the most goals the Oilers had given up in a home game since allowing 9 to Chicago last month. Consulting my Grade One arithmetic text, I discovered that 10 is actually more than 9. It even looks bigger, having twice as many digits, which seems, uh, significant. I suspect I wasn't the only Oiler fan who wondered when was the last time the Oil got lit up for double digits in their own barn.

Later on somebody mentioned it was just the second time in the three decades since Bo Derek enjoyed her 10 minutes of fame and the Oilers entered the NHL that they've been double-digitized on home ice. I remember the game the record was set. It occurred on February 8, 1981, a 10-4 shellacking by the Calgary Flames in the second ever meeting of the Battle of Alberta rivals here in the capital. Here are the gory details: note the 10th goal was scored even later than last night's, and the fact that Oilers actually outshot the Flames 46-22, with both Oiler goalies -- including Ed Mio, pictured above -- getting shelled. That must have been the night we started referring to Gary Edwards' 5-hole as the 10-hole.

Then there was the 10-8 loss to the Kings in Game 1 in 1982, which may have been overlooked cuz it was a playoff game. That one was a lot harder to swallow than the other two, I can tell you; the tenth goal was an empty netter for goodness sake. How can you get 8 goals and lose? Whereas last night there was no question we were going to lose after about 10 seconds.

It's axiomatic in baseball that every season before a pitch is thrown in anger you can write in 54 wins and 54 losses, and it's how you do in the other 54 that tell the tale. Last night was one of those 54 losses; the Oilers didn't merely write it in, they mailed it in. The other pitcher brought his best stuff, ours didn't, our bullpen got laid to waste while our fielders kicked the ball all over the yard. It was a Loss, but one so resoundingly well earned I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

As MacT and others have pointed out, it's how the team responds that is important. Within the game, they responded horribly, even uncompetitively, as can be seen in a hit count that went from 8 in the first period to 2 to 1. So now it's put up or shut up time, just at the right time to take on the Wild. If Oilers put up another passive effort on Friday, then I'm officially Worried.

It was also reported that last night's 8-goal defeat was The Worst home loss in franchise history. Not quite true, since the franchise extends back to the World Hockey Association whether its current stewards want to admit that Fact or not.

I remember that one too (or at least, one of them). I bought a walk-up seat one February night in 1977 to watch the delightful line of Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson and Bobby Hull absolutely tear the Oilers limb from limb, with Hedberg connecting for four goals in an 11-1 Jets throttling. Some defenceman named Perry Miller also scored four that night, a WHA record. By fluke it was the exact same night that Ian Turnbull set the NHL record for defencemen by scoring five goals for Toronto. Not that that made Oiler fans feel any better.

Then there was the time in 1978-79 where the loss wasn't quite so severe on the scoreboard, but was as bad as could be otherwise. The New England Whalers came in for one of the Rebel League's trademark two-game series, and my friend and season ticket mate bet an arch enemy of his $100 (which was real money back then) that the Oilers would score more goals in the two games. Well on Friday the Oil had their way with the visitors, with Gretzky & Co. running to an 8-2 laugher. On Saturday my friend couldn't leave well enough alone, phoned his buddy and really rubbed it in, piled it on big time. So on Sunday I get extra tickets and take my dad to the rematch, saying "you've got to see this Wayne Gretzky, he's unreal". Well wouldn't you know but the Oil got blown out 7-0. Just a brutal game, from Gretzky right through the water boy. The WHAlers called off the dogs in the third with the score 6-0, but just before the game wound to its inevitable shutout conclusion, some fourth-liner got a cheap one from a bad angle to win the total-goal series that nobody even realized was happening. Must have been 250 fans left in the building, including my dad and me and the other diehards who never leave no matter what. I looked over at my poor friend sitting a few sections away, and he was simultaneously shaking his head and holding it in his hands, in absolute despair.

Conclusion: Some blowout losses are tougher to take than others. Let's just take this one with a giggle and move on.