We had no money really, she worked at the bank and I at the radio station in Red Deer. We both worked overtime to afford the little extra’s, and on this day, the one I am about to tell you of, both things came into play. I did a remote from 10am-4pm on the Saturday in summer, those dollars would make my paycheque enough for us to take our first vacation. I rushed back from the remote (conveniently located at the Olds Auction Mart) and flew back to the radio station to drop off the equipment, hang the keys to the van on the wall, and start my vacation.
We had a 1976 Dodge Colt, it was white with a denim hardtop roof. We had to get gas, so hit the Mohawk (by the Tastee Freez, over by Bower Mall) on the way out of Red Deer. We had been married one year and a little bit, I took a picture of her walking out of the Mohawk with two Cokes and some cheezies. Still have that photo, still remember the promise in that moment. This is us.
When we grow attached to dreams, the really good ones, it hurts to let them go. We, Oilers Nation, had a dream, it included Taylor Hall, front and center and part of the bad times and surely part of the good days that lay ahead.
That was the promise, that was the hope. That dream is gone now, today. We are left to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. We will do so in our own time, individually. Dreams, the really good ones, die hard, as they should. This is us.
ACROSS THE RIVER TO THE JERSEY SIDE, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
- Oilers in January 2017: 1-1-0, goal differential -1
- Oilers after 40, 2015-16: 16-21-3, goal differential -24
- Oilers after 40, 2016-17: 20-13-7, goal differential +9
Game 41 a year ago saw Andrej Sekera score a beauty in overtime. That win, No. 17 on the year, would be followed during January by two more victories, five more losses, and two more ties. That kind of record this season could see the Oilers slide right out of the playoffs—meaning this game and every other one needs to bring points to Edmonton.
FACING THE OLD TEAM
- Taylor Hall: “It’s going to be weird, but to be honest, it was really nice to have a game [Friday] against a different team. I guess now I start thinking about it. I’m just trying to stay focused on helping my team and trying to get two points for us. It’s definitely going to be weird and I’m not going to downplay that. It’s going to be a super strange atmosphere for me, but the quicker I put that aside and just focus on playing hockey and focus on my contribution to the team, I think that’s the best way to go.” Source
Sometimes it works the other way, where the team plays poorly against their former mate, so I don’t think it wise to believe either team has an edge. I also believe it will be weird for Oilers fans too, because Taylor Hall as enemy is going to take some time.
Everyone but Anaheim plays tonight, Edmonton cannot be caught from behind this evening thanks to a valiant effort by the Vancouver Canucks. They broke Calgary’s heart last night, just a wildly unfair result for the red team. Edmonton must push this evening, zero points would be a harsh result.
PAC-7 LAST 10 GAMES
- Vancouver Canucks 7-2-1, 15 points
- Edmonton Oilers 6-2-2, 14 points
- San Jose Sharks 6-3-1, 13 points
- Anaheim Ducks 5-2-3, 13 points
- Calgary Flames 5-5-0, 10 points
- Los Angeles Kings 4-4-2, 10 points
- Arizona Coyotes 1-8-1, 10 points
If the Oilers stay in that cluster with Vancouver and SJS plus ANA, they will make the postseason. Too many 10 point runs over 10 games and they will find themselves slipping away. We agreed (well, actually, we didn’t agree at all) that, barring injury, Edmonton should be able to post 17 points this month, in 14 games.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM JANUARY
- On the road to:
Columbus, Boston, New Jersey, Ottawa (Expected Result: 2-1-1) (Current: 1-1-0)
- At home to: San Jose, New Jersey, Calgary, Arizona, Florida, Nashville (Expected Result: 3-1-2)
- On the road to: Calgary, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected Result: 2-1-0)
- At home to: Minnesota (Expected Result: 0-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-4-3, 17 points in 14 games
Oilers cannot win a playoff spot this month, but they can certainly lose one. These two games against the Devils and Senators could vault the team into first place by Sunday night, or put them in a hole they can’t dig out of for the entire month. Huge weekend.
OILERS FORWARDS, 5X5 YEAR OVER YEAR
- Connor McDavid is getting little air this season, teams are really clamping down on open ice around him. Still, his 5×5 number is a handsome total.
- Patrick Maroon’s big evening in Boston has vaulted him into a very nice range.
- Leon Draisaitl is off from last season, and Edmonton needs him at 2.00, but he is among the top performers on the team as we approach the halfway point of the season.
- Nugent-Hopkins isn’t that far off last season, but he had a horrible year in 2015-16. Not good, although RNH is 5-4-9 in 16 games since December 1. Not great, but better.
- Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot are in the ditch year over year, one assumes regression will catch them up in the second half. I am uncertain BP is here much longer.
Scouts here tonight:
The end https://t.co/VJV6MKLUKQ
— BSNAvalanche (@BSNAvalanche) January 7, 2017
There are all kinds of wonderful players on this Avalanche roster, including Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie (who is having a terrible year). Among UFAs who could be on the move, Jarome Iginla gets a lot of attention. He can still shoot the puck, but cannot get to places. Only five goals in the first half may not be enough for even the famous to find a new home for the playoff run. I think Rene Bourque, Dr. Evil, might be a more attractive option for Peter Chiarelli. Still owns speed, has nine goals, and is a highly aggressive player. Oilers fans would need to take a moment to come to grips with this result.
TAKE ‘EM WIDE, BUCKY!
The Bakersfield Condors outdoor game goes tonight, and last night the Oilers and Kings alumni played a riotous game from all reports. Kelly Buchberger had a hatty, Semenko scored but alas it was not enough (maybe they needed ALAS), but who cares it looks like everyone had a lot of fun.
The game goes at 7 our time tonight (at Memorial Stadium) in Bakersfield, I will update as the game rolls along. The Condors twitter is an excellent follow.
MY EXPANSION DRAFT PROTECTED LIST
- Goal: Cam Talbot
- Defense: Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson
- Center: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Mark Letestu
- Left Wing: Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon
- Right Wing: Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian
- Ineligible for Selection: G Nick Ellis, D Darnell Nurse, D Matt Benning, C Connor McDavid, R Jesse Puljujarvi, C Drake Caggiula, R Anton Slepyshev.
- Available: D Brandon Davidson, D Griffin Reinhart, R Tyler Pitlick, L Benoit Pouliot, C Jujhar Khaira.
That is my current list. What is yours?
Tonight is the first time Adam Larsson will play against his old team, not a lot of publicity out there that I have seen. Larsson leads Oilers defenders in 5×5 minutes, ranks No. 1 in terms of total minutes against elites (through 39 games, I have not updated since the road trip began) and has helped in defense of the Oilers net. No arguing the trade, I said at the time and say today it was a terrible deal. I do hope we can reach a point, down the line, when we can discuss Adam Larsson as a player who has helped the Edmonton defense in their efforts to make the playoffs. Adding Larsson has reduced the chaos a great deal, and one hopes he begins to look more comfortable with the puck on his stick as time goes by.