The most ear-popping track in The Smiths wonderful catalog will always be “How Soon Is Now”. The single has been dubbed the “Stairway To Heaven” of the 80’s, and perhaps that’s a bit overzealous. Regardless, this will always be considered one of the greatest singles of the 80’s as the band laid down a foundation for alternative rock of the future.
Although it was presented as a b-side, “How Soon Is Now” is haunting, lyrically simple, and altogether a great representation of the band from Manchester. Politically charged at times and never free of some kind of criticism, the combo of Marr and Morrissey hit their stride beautifully in this triumphant soundscape.
The lyrics were simple yet very personal. “I am human, and I need to be loved.” True. “Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar”. Been there. “I go about things in the wrong way.” Who hasn’t. And thus it’s a song about awkwardly falling in love (a theme that works mightily as we get closer to Valentine’s Day).
Doing things wrong. Being shy. The need for love. All beg the question, “How Soon Is Now”? Perhaps a confusing question, but one that I’d ask any struggling hockey team to pose upon themselves. Doing things right. Being proactive. The need for wins. I’ll bite, “How Soon Is Now”? Not soon enough.
A double dose of the Charlotte Checkers is in order this Thursday and Friday in Oklahoma City. Following the All-Star Break, which seemed lengthy this season, the Barons have a rather slow schedule. And this is a good thing. They’ll play only Friday/Saturday games for the next three weeks following the Thursday/Friday tilts with Charlotte. The team needs the time not only to center itself, but to get solid practice hours in. There’s enough time in between weekend games that a trip back to OKC after hitting the road will occur weekly. Sleeping in your own bed, practicing at your own rink, eating your own food – this is where the Barons start to get better. Where they work hard on the penalty kill, where the goaltenders steady themselves, where newcomers gel, and where things start to look good again. I for one, welcome the month of February with a warm embrace.
The post-lockout Checkers are a very different team than the one who started the season in Charlotte. Gone are goaltender Dan Ellis (who with two appearances so far, is one of the top goalies in the NHL), Defensemen Justin Faulk and Bobby Sanguinetti, and Forwards Zac Dalpe and Drayson Bowman. Zach Boychuk
will hopefully clear waivers and be returned to the Checkers at noon today(editors note: he was claimed by the Penguins), and after starting the season with the Hurricanes, and rookie Jeremy Welsh is back with the Checkers.
Additions to the Checkers lineup include goaltender John Muse, who has won both of his starts this season. Forward Luke Pither was acquired in a trade, and in six games played, has nine points (4g, 5a). Bobby Raymond was signed to an AHL contract, and David Rutherford has been consistent on the third line.
Despite losing their top performers to the NHL, the Checkers have been strong, and boast a record of 6-3 since NHL training camps started. Zach Boychuk still leads the team in points, but Chris Terry is close behind and could re-take the lead, a position Terry is accustomed to after being the points leader in each of his previous two seasons with the Checkers.
Overall, I think the Checkers are in a good place as long as they can keep the effort level up. After splitting time with Dan Ellis for the first half of the season, Justin Peters has started seven of the past nine games, but backup John Muse will need to continue to play well when called upon. The first half of the season was especially brutal as far as the road schedule is concerned for Charlotte, and after playing six 3-in-3 weekends, they only have one more in mid-April. The Checkers are a team that plays well in adversity though, so an easier schedule could in fact hurt them, but only time will tell!
Anyway you slice it, this is a good team. Even with the loss of Boychuk, they skate well, defend well, and are a well-rounded group. Thus they are dangerous.
For Oklahoma City, the big headline is goaltending. Yann Danis cleared waivers yesterday, but is yet to report to practice. That means we likely see Niko Hovinen and Olivier Roy as the tandem at least on Thursday night. I’d bank on a Hovinen start for two reasons. First, who knows how long he’s here. Second, let’s see what the big fella can do.
The lines will look familiar. With Jonathan Cheechoo starting to heat up, and the Rajala-Lander-Pelss line performing even when the team stinks, there’s no reason to ice a different lineup. Kane Lafranchise has been released from his PTO which means we get more Alex Plante. Deep breath.
Philippe Cornet – Mark Arcobello – Jonathan Cheechoo
Toni Rajal – Anton Lander – Kristians Pelss
Josh Green – Ryan Martindale – Antti Tyrvainen
Dane Byers – Chris VandeVelde – Erick Lizon
Brett Clark – Taylor Fedun
Andrew Hotham – Colten Teubert
Nathan Deck – Martin Marincin