Sabres at Oilers, G 35 ’10-’11 (plus G2 WJ’s)

We’re reaching a point where predicting these kids is at least somewhat possible. If they’re quiet for a game or two, one can expect something special. If they’re in a slump, well set your PVR and prepare to die. Jordan Eberle alone is worth the price of admission. It’s like someone implanted a coach’s brain inside a 20-year old rookie’s body and the result is intelligent decisions all over the ice.

Taylor Hall makes the price for beer and pretzels a non-issue. I keep saying after almost every game “he’s faster than they gave him credit for” and the truth is if you told me he could add a foot to the slapshot he’s using or play right-handed I’d believe you.

The new kids made the older kids and veterans look slow and plodding when they arrived (this happened to the entire NHL about 1980. Howe, Hull, Phil Esposito, Jean Ratelle–an entire generation of HOF forwards retired between spring 1980 and summer 1981). Some appear to be catching up and others are going to be passed like a house on the side of the road.

It isn’t just speed. It’s speed combined with control, having a plan and then the ability to ad-lib what happens in front of you. These junior kids must be drinking different water or perhaps the drone of NHL coaching hasn’t impacted their brains yet (I don’t really believe this, MacT would have loved Eberle from the get-go, Hall too). All I know is that there’s a different feel about a rush with Hall/Eberle in it that a rush that features some of the other young forwards.

Either way, I’m thrilled to be along for the ride. I’ve enjoyed the 5 Stanley’s and the late 90′s and the guilty pleasure that was the love affair of 2006 spring, so really have no right as a fan to expect anything more than entertainment from this group.

These kids make it impossible to ignore the dream of another Stanley in our town before 2020. I’ve decided to embrace the dream. How can a reasonable person draw a different conclusion?

I think maybe Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor must have done a Robert Johnson “Crossroads” trip somewhere back there before the 2008 Entry Draft. Or maybe MBS and the Oilers scouting staff really are that good; either way, the Christmas season keeps delivering presents under the tree for the Oilers and their fans. Olivier Roy starts again for Canada today, Anton Lander had 2 assists in his first game, Toni Rajala had one for Finland and Martin Marincin was +1 and from all reports played a helluva game. Oh, and Curtis Hamilton scored a goal and played well for Canada too.

Jeff Petry may play in his first NHL game this evening. I wonder if his Dad (Dan Petry) will be there. The last time a Petry had his name in lights Dan was wrapping up a solid MLB pitching career with the BoSox, October 5 of 1991. I’ll never know the feeling of playing in an NHL game; it must be something to step onto that ice and know in your heart you’ve made it to the highest league on the planet. I suspect ol’ Dan Petry is uniquely qualified to understand what his boy will be going through, here’s hoping he gets to see it live.

Ales Hemsky may return to the lineup tonight. As much as I rave about the kids, Hemsky is bona fide. A veteran skill winger who can create magic every night, this team gets better the instant he takes a shift.

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