Oilers at Stars, G41 ’10-’11

I’m not a big fan of the Dallas Stars. Although I’ve always thought Mike Modano was an outstanding player (would have been a great Oiler), most of the Stars’ stars have been dinks.

Remember Derian Hatcher? How about Mike Keane? Kirk Muller? Never liked those guys. If you have to ask why, then allow me to inform you.

In 1997 spring, the Oilers won a thrilling series against Dallas. This was largely responsible for a second explosion of Oiler fandom, one which has had remarkable sustain as it survives to this day. I’ve met dozens of younger people who name the Marchant goal as the exact day they became Oiler zealots. Incredible. 5 Stanley’s, most of the fanbase doesn’t remember those and still the Edmonton Oilers are blessed with exceptional fans.

After that, Dallas and Edmonton met quite a bit over the ensuing springs and the Stars won them all. Every damn one of them. It was beyond difficult. It was noxious. I cannot cheer for the Stars this lifetime. Try me next time around, maybe I’ll be over it by then. The Edmonton Oilers lost a stunning number of NHL playoff games to the Dallas Stars by one goal. Seriously. It was draining, like a mid-week visit from that uncle and aunt who never know when to go home. I hate the Dallas Stars.

The Oilers are moving Taylor Hall to center. The young man has shown solid growth during his first NHL season and coach Renney must feel this is as good a time as any to see if #4 can play the middle (several great C’s have worn #4: Vincent Lecavalier, Jean Beliveau, Red Kelly, others). I think it makes sense in a few ways: Hall at C shifts the future and would mean one of the elusive player-types (big, skilled C who can play a complete game; complete defender who can move the puck and block out the sun; raunchy winger with skill and a machete) is already on the roster. We wait.

Taylor Chorney makes his 10-11 debut (probably) tonight, alongside someone claiming to be Kurtis Foster. If Chorney plays well (and he has in glimpses at the NHL level) there’s a chance he stays for the rest of the season. I think Petry is already at the point where he won’t be the guy to go back and Jason Strudwick is one day closer to a coaching career.

One day, when my kids are off living their lives and my wife is reading a book, I’ll write a long item on the day Edmonton released Charlie Huddy from his coaching job with the Oilers. It was a mysterious move, and I’ve suspected from the day it happened that it had more to do with retaining Kelly Buchberger than flushing a guy who helped the young blue. Huddy is now a coach with Dallas and their young D is getting the benefit of all that knowledge. I know all decisions have consequences, but it seems to me that every decision made by Oilers management since the Pronger trade bites them in the ass. I know it isn’t true, but it sure seems that way.

The top line tonight (Hall-Penner-Hemsky) will be fun to watch and I think the 2line (Gagner-Pääjärvi-Omark) should be a high event trio good and bad. There’s not a lot of rugged there, but this is about finding out who can play the game. I have no idea why the Oilers didn’t sign a Pisani, Grier, Rem Murray type for nights like this one, but I think the answer might have something to do with evaluation. That’s the watch word for the Tambellini era: evaluate. Evaluate, think, mull, jot down a few notes, think some more.

When it comes to addressing in-season needs, the Edmonton Oilers management group is constipated; have been since Lowe was in office.

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