The three stars of the game get plenty of attention at the end of every hockey broadcast. The guys from the home team skate out, hear the cheers, raise their sticks, then go back in and tell some local reporter how it was really a good game and his linemates were really effective and they're just glad for the two points.
But they've always bugged me. No, not because of the silliness of some intern picking the three best players when he spent most of the second period staring down the cleavage of a woman selling room temperature Molson Canadian, but because of how limited they are. If you can pick stars one through three, surely you can pick stars four through thirty-eight as well. Forty, if the backup goaltenders get into it.
Well, you know what? I've had it with this gross injustice. So from now until the end of the season, except when drunk or otherwise incapacitated, I'll be picking the Oilers' eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth stars of every game. And at the end of the season I'll sum up the totals and the "winner" will receive the prestigious Golden Rooster award, presented to the Edmonton Oiler who most excels at sucking cock.
Last night's game against the Calgary Flames presented no shortage of candidates. While some of the Oilers were terrific, some of them were very much not. The Reverse Three Stars awards committee* gathered in our inner sanctum** to debate the merits of the many names mentioned.
Zack Stortini came up frequently. Mediocre at best and useless at worst, Stortini was popular but ultimately excluded by the fact that he played very little and didn't really hurt the team, except by his absense. Similar arguments excluded Andrew Cogliano, Mike Comrie, and their lactic thing. On a night like this, you need to be more than useless. You need to be actively harmful, and that's a high bar to set. Even Ethan Moreau, with his bad penalties and his Janne Niinimaa-esque clear to set up Calgary's third goal, was excluded because of his even-strength tally in the first period.
In the end, the committee narrowed it down to the three worst of a pretty sorry lot:
18th Star: F Sam Gagner. It kills me to say this, but he was thundering up the ice and down the ice and back up the ice and taking the puck in stride and blasting into the Flames zone and firing it directly at Miikka Kiprusoff's crest. Or Robyn Regehr's ankles. Or wide. Or towards Zack Stortini, which amounts to a variation of "wide". He was turning the puck over. He was causing more difficulties for his own defenders than the Oilers'. He was not good.
And he was so lights-out the first two games, too! It was fantastic! Even last night, he was bad but in a good way: he was going out and trying to make things happen but he didn't quite have the split-second timing you need. It was the most promising eighteenth-star performance I think we'll see for some time.
19th Star: G Nikolai Khabibulin. I... I've said enough about this Slavic douchebag. Really. Just... just take the fact that he's not in last place and leave me alone.
20th Star: F Jean-Francois Jacques. Dreadful. He's at the stage where announcers are gushing when he manages to get into the attacking zone and put on an elementary forecheck. Even standing in front of the goal on the powerplay he had a sort of uneasy stance and expression like "what the hell am I doing on an NHL powerplay?" I know he's huge and he really is a good skater, but if he's in the NHL he belongs with Stortini and Stone on some fourth line which jumps into bodychecks and elbows people in the fact and generally tries to cause carnage, not skating after Hemsky and Horcoff then turning around and skating all the way back because he accidentally dumped the puck off to a Flames defenseman again.
Did you know that Jacques is five games away from setting the NHL record for longest career by a forward with only one point? Well, yeah, if you read the Copper & Blue it's a safe bet you read Tyler's site too (and if you don't then what the hell is wrong with you?). Information doesn't seem to be available, but I bet that the guy who holds the record right now didn't get too many minutes with Cy Denneny (well, too many minutes period, considering how substitutes were used in those days).
And yeah, the method of pulling the numbers is flawed since if a guy went two hundred games without getting a point then scored a hat trick he'd show up on that list with three points. That's not the issue here. The issue is that Jean-Francois Jacques is bad at scoring on a level that is unprecedented in hockey since the dead puck era. Does nobody else see this as a problem?
For hopeless suckitude, Jean-Francois Jacques is our twentieth star of the game.
5 points: Jean-Francois Jacques
3 points: Nikolai Khabibulin
1 point: Sam Gagner
* - myself and a bottle of cheap flavoured whiskey.
** - my office.