It’s going to take 90-94 points, 37-40 wins, a lot of luck, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. And it all starts tonight, on a sweet October 1st with a fall chill, the promise of a new tomorrow, and a half dozen piss-cutters-in-waiting. The Edmonton Oilers are back in town.
- L1: Hall-Smyth-Hemsky (maligned line has stood the test of pre-season)
- L2: Arcobello-Perron-Eberle (Arcobello is a better bet than Colborne, but there’s a risk)
- L3: Gordon-Joensuu-Yakupov (any offense from this line at evens is golden)
- L4: Acton-Eager-Brown (if you boo Acton there’s no hope for you. Ever)
- D1: Smid-Petry (A bounceback year is likely)
- D2: Ference-J Schultz (greatness awaits)
- D3: N Schultz-Belov (he comes from the land of the ice and snow)
- G1: Dubnyk (based on pre-season rip jobs, I expect him to skate out with a blindfold)
I have the Oilers making the playoffs, and for me the reasons all run through Dallas Eakins. He’s a smart cookie, and based on what he’s said and done, Oiler fans can look forward to:
- The 1line running hot and heavy
- The 2line running hot and heavy
- The 3line running hot and heavy
- Stars playing on the PK
- Impact forwards >20 minutes
- seeing the goalie pulled sometime after the 10 minute mark of the third period when behind
- Puck retrieval at a premium
- Minute usage of the 4line
- Frank post-game answers to the camera
- Callups and send downs
- Fewer fights than you think
- Running the gifted ones ragged (why Ralph limited their time is beyond me)
- The second season
IT’S A DOG COLLAH, IT’S OFFENSIVE!!
Craig MacTavish did a lot of work on the blue this summer, replaced Horcoff with Gordon (which was a big deal, capwise) and then dealt Paajarvi to hurry the future with Perron. The new hires tonight are:
- David Perron, who lit up the pre-season with goals times goals times goals.
- Mark Arcobello, who subs in for 89 and has the best chance he’ll ever get to shine.
- Boyd Gordon, asked to bring calmness to chaos
- Jesse Joensuu, the latest hope for size and skill
- Will Acton, who is expected to do a little of everything
- Andrew Ference, the new captain and face of the team: tough as nails, better he never saw “You’ve Got Mail”
- Anton Belov, who might just be manna from heaven
I’m picking this team to make the playoffs because there’s too much good to be held back by the fiddle faddle any longer. Yes, it’s Taylor Hall but it’s also Nail Yakupov and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz and Sam Gagner and David Perron and Ales Hemsky and that’s 8 of them. I know there’s going to be bad nights, nights on the road when they can’t find the stage and sound out of time when they finally do, but there’s just too much. TOO much.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
TSN 1260, 10am, scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy from Cult of Hockey. We’ll talk roster makeup, Battle of the Blades and the playoffs.
- Neal Livingston from Tend the Farm. We’ll talk Klefbom injury and the impressive cuts from Oiler camp.
- Scott Cullen from tsn. We’ll run through the Canadian teams as the NHL season begins.
- Craig Moonen from Krush Performance. We’ll talk mlb post-season.