It’s becoming fun to be an Oilers fan again. For instance, I have a crazy busy day but it doesn’t matter. Why? Oilers play tonight! Anything could happen! Saturday night’s game was an instant classic and I expect we’ll see a few more this winter.
I used to work the 5 to 8pm shift at CKGY in Red Deer, this is back in the period where the station was downtown. I lived two minutes away but the ITV games mid-week started at 7:30pm. I’d race home to catch the end of period one, and (this was eary 1980s) it was rare to see a 0-0 game after one. The Oilers were high event both ways and since I didn’t worry about Corsi or zone entries or PDO it was all good, clean fun.
I think we can (I can) get so caught up in the minutiae of the game it is sometimes easy to miss the pure joy of watching free flowing hockey. This blog helps, the in-game conversation is rarely heavy (do people still use that word? It was a staple in the 1970′s. You’d say something mildly intelligent and some knob would drawl “heavvvvveeeeee” and everyone would laugh and miss your point. What a stupid decade) and usually insightful. Hope we get some fun goals and a win tonight and hope you join me in the GDT.
The storyline tonight will be (partly) built around Teemu Hartikainen’s ability to play. Based on what we heard yesterday, it sounds like he’ll be good to go and will line up with Gagner and Hemsky. If he can’t go, Magnus Paajarvi would apparently move up the depth chart, meaning he went from hot dog eating healthy scratch at 7pm Saturday to hero later that night and then among the top 6F’s by Tuesday. A Star Is Born?
Theo Peckham’s conditioning stint is over, he’s on his way back to Edmonton.
Terry Jones has an article up reminding us of Canada’s official hockey ambassador Don Cherry and his measured, thoughtful comments about Nail Yakupov’s celebration after scoring a very late goal to send things to overtime last time LAK were in town.
- Cherry: “You don’t do stuff like that. L.A. is going to remember this. They are going to remember this to the dying day. Don’t act like that, kids. You’ll get in trouble every time.”
DYING DAY! If only Nail had been born in Kingston. Silly Nail.
In actual news, the Oilers got a big win Saturday and would do themselves an enormous favor with a regulation win tonight.
- Krueger: “As much as we’ve never gone two games without some sort of points, we need, badly, somewhere here, to put games together. We have to be in a stronger position for the (nine game) road trip. That’s the pressure we’re putting on ourselves right now — to string some together. It’s a necessity that has to happen.”
Oilers host LAK tonight, Minnesota Thursday and then Phoenix on Saturday. The following week they are on the road to Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis and Minnesota. That’s 7 games, and based on the season results so far Edmonton might expect to gather 7 or 8 points. They’ve been pretty solid on the road, and have been surprisingly strong against Chicago recently (certainly last year). The other teams are ‘in the range’ with the Oilers in the standings (well, St. Louis is ahead by 4 points) so a .500 record (say 3-3-1) seems plausible over the next two weeks. I understand Ralph Krueger creating a scenario where there’s pressure on during the homestand but I don’t really see how it’s a fact.
They’re doing fine. Avoid a long losing streak and you’re good to go. Hang around until the deadline and then address needs.
We’re getting into the season now (pretty much one third of the way, folks!) and the 5×5/60 numbers are beginning to add up, last year’s numbers in brackets.
- Taylor Hall 2.32 (2.07) up arrow
- Sam Gagner 2.00 (1.96) up arrow
- Nail Yakupov 1.54
- Jordan Eberle 1.43 (3.08) down arrow
- Ales Hemsky 1.43 (1.57) down arrow
- Ryan Smyth 1.42 (1.93) down arrow
- Ryan Nugent Hopkins 1.24 (1.98) down arrow
- Magnus Paajarvi 0.61 (0.75) down arrow
- Eric Belanger 0.58 (0.64) down arrow
- Lennart Petrell 0.57 (0.83) down arrow
That’s what we might expect, right? Lots of numbers close to last year, Eberle’s down but we were suspicious based on his own past. Fair? I think so. The kid has a nice number based on minutes and how he’s looked at evens (all over the place)–once he settles down this team is going to win some games they shouldn’t win.
I was prepared to trumpet the Oilers PDO number as a sign of great things to come, but the Kings haven’t squeezed out a drop since they left Shawshank. It the battle of thirst, LA wins and one hopes they don’t find deliverance before tonight at midnight (“Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh”).
Ralph Krueger is saying nice things about Ben Eager. Joanne Ireland has the story in the EJ.
- Krueger: “In the Western Conference, the kind of toughness we need is the kind (Eager) is bringing us. We need players who will go through you every single time you have the puck. That’s what we’re really demanding of him and I’m pleased with the way he’s come off the injury to give us that. That’s a lot of weight coming at you at a very high speed.”
Eager has lots of hockey issues (pass/take a pass, giveaways–he gave away the puck three times in short order the other night but nhl.com says he doesn’t have any) but the coach says nice things. You know what else he does? Plays him. 7.5 minutes a night in the games he’s played in (concussion problems have kept him from playing more). I think coach Krueger has made progress with the ‘great Oilers roster myth’–the 2 minutes a night player is no longer on the roster–and I do think a team needs toughness and attitude in the lineup. Just make sure they can play the game.
I guess I just thought Eager was a better player. The article linked from Ireland also talks about a free agent signing that took a year to pay off (Belanger). Good read.