We all know this can’t continue. I mean, come on. The Edmonton Oilers can’t go from 30th times two and land in the penthouse 10 games later. It isn’t possible. So, I’ve decided to frame this and will refer to it during those long winter nights when the money runs out and the engine is blown.
Opening night 10-11 gave us the goal of the year; 11-12 has been a joy ride through the early moments of a long, long race. It’s been a fast track for a fast train. Glad I got to see it.
The Oilers have a 90.7% PK, their goaltending is beyond fantasy. Their prize rookie leads all first year players in points, their heart and soul has returned a new man, their final July 1st signing has emerged as a top drawer defenseman who can play in any situation.
The coach is line matching like a madman (well he’s line matching this season) and the plan has a veteran tough line squaring off against the tough opponent while the kids rip through the soft parade. It’s working, and the key element is #94.
SOFT PARADE LINE (5×5/60)
- Jordan Eberle 2.48
- Taylor Hall 2.13
- RNH: 1.94
FACING THE TOUGHS (5×5/60)
- Ryan Smyth 2.83
- Shawn Horcoff 1.71
- Ryan Jones 1.38
The kids have an offensive zone start in the 60′s and the Smyth line is hovering around 30. Bottom line: you remember the last few years when #10 would post ghastly numbers because he was climbing Everest alone every night? Well, so far this season Ryan Smyth has been this team’s MVP, giving life to the tough minutes line and producing offense in the most difficult circumstances.
Ryan Smyth appears to have discovered the fountain of youth. MVP.
But let’s remember that this team is being outshot 255-298 in the first 10 (including 38-76 in the last two wins) and luck (good already here, bad moon rising), the Hockey Gods and more injuries are just around the corner. Drink deep, but be real.
Nation Radio is back on the air today at noon. Among the guests scheduled to appear:
- Kirk Luedeke from Redline report. Kirk and I are going to talk about the 2011 draft so far. Are there any surprises? Is RNH the best of the bunch out of the box? Do those of us who felt Sean Couturier was the 2nd or 3rd best player in the draft enjoy early bragging rights?
- Cam Moon from the Red Deer Rebels. With Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton to stay, I’ll ask Cam about the impact on the Rebels this season. Moon was vehement in the spring (BEFORE the draft) that size, bulk, speed–whatever–wouldn’t be enough to keep RNH from having an impact at the NHL level. He was right.
- Ryan Batty from Copper and Blue. Ryan always has a strong opinion and doesn’t waiver when it’s unpopular but worth defending. Such is the case this week, as Batty wrote a fine article entitled “Why Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Should Go Back to Red Deer.” I’ll ask him about that and a few other Oiler related items this afternoon.
- Danny Gray from Leafs Nation. I’ll ask him about Kessel’s fast start, why Ron Wilson hates people and we’ll discuss Phaneuf’s lack of Phaneufiness this season.