Friday, February 02, 2007

*puts on Oilers tinfoil hat* aka Juicy Jussi!

I admit it. I am an Oilers fan. I know I am the Habs representative here, but as supreme overlord - I call upon emergency powers and write an Oilers post (I am actually wearing an Oilers cap as I write this post). You see I have a thing for... Finnish goalies. And there's been Toskers, Kipper and "all those other guys". But Jussi Markkanen? This sounds like a job for Jordi.

If you ever paid attention to the Cup Finals you will know of the "eternally cool" Jussi. If you tuned out after your team got knocked out, all you know is "If that mask comes off ONE more time - I am going to nail it to his damn jaw!".

Jussi Markkanen is not a superstar. He is just a guy out there to do his jobs. In fact, he may be destined to a life of being the second guy. But it's the little moments where fans will go "bless his heart".

There had been a bit of a joke last season with the duo of Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen. Affectionately dubbed "Conkkanen" - they made made fans cry and cheer. Eventually the Oilers met Roloson. And sure he was a little shaky but he was suddenly a superstar, pushing away any question of who was to stand second to their sudden saviour.

And um, things went bad. You know the story, the Conklin brainfart and the sudden shoe-in of Jussi. There's a problem when you know you put in the third goalie. Jussi was scared, you could basically see his nervous nature plain and clear. But he played anyway. And not once did you suddenly see Jussi lose it and murder the hell out of Marc-Andre Bergeron.

When Jussi is cold and scared - it looks like this. In fact, it's his almost fustrating nature that makes me smile and want to rewind and go "Did you see him do that!?". When he sees the puck move to a blind spot, he makes an actual star shaped sign with his body. To call him 6 feet would be pretty generous. Even in the games now, you can almost see his discomfort in the nets. When he comes out to play the puck, something he doesn't mind doing, he doesn't try to be fancy or do a Marty Turco. I do how ever freak out still when he goes out for bizarre reasons and the Game 6 of the Cup Finals where he made a failed poke check and Greene was in the way creating an empty net situation. Seriously, I still have nightmares.

And you know the part where the goalie slides the puck under them and lies on the ice straight to freeze it? This usually happens when the goalie knows the puck's there but doesn't know where. Jussi tends to sometimes have that happen a bit. And then the fans are treated to a show of snowangels.

Fast forward a bit, look this guy took us through the finals? He deserves to at least have a couple of starts? Well recently he got a lucky break against Columbus (I call it the day Jussi made Rick Nash his bitch) and LA. And there was the Canucks game where everything fell apart. (This was where you actually got to see the angry side of Jussi. You knew he wasn't talking to the guys tonight.) Roloson now looks like a guy who's really tired having been ridden way too hard, and Jussi looks like a scared girl on her first day of school. But Jussi has proven that he can do it if you apply the pressure and at least give him a job bigger than bench warming or bottle holding. Why? Because he's done it before silly!

Rewind to the days of a lockout. Jussi decided to go to Russia. Sure that sounds good enough. Picked up by Lada Togliatti which I thought was a team just as fictional as Jokerit, he played defensive hockey to the max alongside Viktor Kozlov, Alexander "not Ovy" Semin and Dainius Zubrus. He posted 11 whole shutouts and one playoff shutout, including a jawdropingly low 1.20 GAA. He was on fire, and when he came back people were confident that he would be able to turn some heads. Unfortunately the grind was not to his liking and he floundered with his duties. He may be a solid 1-B goalie and some people have suggested that the Roli and Jussi duo may be more of a 1-A 1-B tandem, because of Roli's endurance and Jussi's... well inconsistency. However one goalie gets paid starter money (can you guess which one!?). For now, all hail Jussoloson. Or Rolkkanen.

In his spare time, Jussi idolises Jari Kurri and bleeds copper and blue (despite being a fifth pick). To play for the Oilers has always been his dream, even if he had been traded to the Rangers for a short time. He has a loving wife, children and his own SM-Liiga Hockey Team "Saipa" which he partly owns. He has the experience of playing in Tappara (which was the same club that churned out Niemenen) in 2001 where he was awarded the Urpo Ylönen trophy which is Finnish for "Crazy Ass Goalie". The trophy had already been awarded to Kipper and later on, Kari Lehtonen. At the end of this season he will be a fresh new UFA, most likely seeking to return to the Oilers. However if the worries of Smyth continue to plague the team, he may start searching a new place to call home.

By the way, Jussi does not look like Nick Carter. Unfortunately, he did not had the advantage of attending the school of parting your hair in creative and flattering ways.

By the way I found a little image of the Lada jersey and his name on the back in Russian. How kickass is that?


hockeygirl said...

Jordi and Jussi, sitting in a tree...

Jordi said...

Discussing how to spend his UFA status to his advantage :).