The game of hockey is woven into the fabric of Edmonton, as sure as I’m sitting here. Your parents and their parents and their parents too carved a life in the land of the ice and snow, working harder every day than I can possibly imagine. If you know your family history, then you know stories of isolation, tragedy, lost children and two damned wars. You know stories of incredible risk, great faith, and entire lives lived working fingers to the bone. We come from hearty stock, we live a life made easier by the men and women in our collective past.
In Edmonton, 90 years ago, the cityfolk cheered for their first hockey hero. He came from Cupar, just north of the Qu’Appelle valley—a spot that might be the most beautiful on the entire prairie. He became known as the Edmonton Express, and he was tough and talented and ruthless and reflected from whence he came. He lived in a time we cannot comprehend, and represents the first hockey hero this city embraced, on the way to a storied history far beyond its station. The Edmonton hockey team is providing a new generation of heroes to cheer for in the remains of the day, just like Eddie Shore in 1926. This is us, and it is beautiful.
After the 1992 playoffs, the Oilers missed their first NHL playoff spring in 1993. The club also missed in 1994, 1995 and 1996, and changed coaches most every year. By the time Edmonton made it back again, the coach was Ron Low, the goalie was Curtis Joseph, and the heart of the order contained Jason Arnott, Ryan Smyth and several former NY Rangers draft picks (Dougie Weight, Todd Marchant).
In terms of fun, this team had it all, including a wonderful Russian (Bo Mironov) and the toughest man on the planet (Mike Grier). Old timey Oilers included Kevin Lowe (back from NYC and in his final full season) and Kelly (take ’em wide!) Buchberger.
- Won opening round series 4-3 over Dallas (this was the Marchant OT series. An entire generation of Oilers fans sprouted on the night of Tuesday, April 29, 1997).
- Lost second round to Colorado 4-1.
If this year’s Oilers are about Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Oscar Klefbom and Cam Talbot, that 1997 team was about Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth, Boris Mironov and Curtis Joseph. Zack Kassian is the Todd Marchant so far, but miles of script to write this spring.
THE LINEUPS (EDMONTON OILERS)
Edmonton’s numbers against Anaheim during the regular season are here, look for that top line to be back together tonight. A key to success this series? Finding a third line that can score, and I wonder if Anton Slepyshev or Benoit Pouliot get a boost to the Letestu line (or the Desharnais line finds success).
THE LINEUPS (ANAHEIM DUCKS)
Anaheim’s lines move around a lot, but these are the latest I have seen so we’ll go with them. The pairings are listed as I remember them, injuries have impacted recent lineups but I don’t trust Randy Carlyle and I bet we see most or all of this bunch tonight. Edmonton did a fine job against these Ducks during the year, and you can see (compared to the Oilers) the third line stands out offensively. I think third lines are going to have a big impact on this series. Third lines and third pairings.
Aho, Puljujärvi ja Filppula yhdessä. Siinä lienee Suomen ykkösketju MM-kisoihin. #Leijonat
— Sasha Huttunen (@kuplassasha) April 25, 2017
Massive opportunity for Puljujarvi, getting to play with Aho and Filppula on a feature line at the WHC’s. A strong offensive finish at the tournament would bode well for a strong start this fall in Oilers training camp. I think we’ll see the giant Finn in the NHL for 82 next year.
"I feel good. I feel a lot better now and I should be able to (play in Game 1)." – Oscar Klefbom #Oilers
— Eric Friesen (@EricJFriesen) April 25, 2017
I was the third person in this house to find out Oscar Klefbom is fine, the two womenfolk mysteriously paying closer attention to this Oiler than the others (complete mystery). I’m thrilled to see Oscar doing so well, this is a wonderful result from one of the (many) down moments in previous seasons.
When the Oilers dealt Dustin Penner to the coast, I wrote an item that received the most pure acid in this blog’s history. I ended up deleting the comments (although one comedian has since posted), simply too much vitriol and personal attacks to let it stand. Looking back, I think the actual post is pretty close.
- If you’ve read this far you are entitled to my opinion. I do not feel a complete rebuild was required and would have preferred they keep Penner or deal him for more immediate help. The Oilers under owner Daryl Katz–and make no mistake this drawn out process is his vision–have decided that Edmonton fans will not see a contending team in Rexall Place. You can make up your own mind as to the reasons, but my belief is that the owner and hockey men are convinced this is the proper journey to winning the 6th Stanley.
- With that as a caveat, I’m satisfied with the return. Understanding that the organization has decided to rebuild with Taylor Hall as the “franchise” then the organization must acquire both picks and prospects in that general age group. When Hall explodes as a player, the team can cash picks and prospects in an effort to add depth to the batting order, but it isn’t going to happen this or next season.
- I remain convinced the team could have added some elements in the summer and contended for a playoff spot. The management group went another way, and acquired a bet in Teubert that may or may not come through. Teubert can be added to the list that includes Peckham, Petry, Chorney, Plante at the pro level and Marincin, Blain, Davidson and others in junior.
- This is a build around Taylor Hall. Are you up for a rebuild? Next stop: dealing Ales Hemsky and securing a new arena. After that, a contender.
CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS?
- Ryan Kesler: “People think I try to go out and frustrate my opponent. I just play my game. If that frustrates them, that’s their problem.” Source
I think the McDavid-Kesler matchup is going to be fascinating, but the Oilers should win if the referees call the game straight up. Edmonton’s PP versus Anaheim’s PK should be advantage Oil. One other thing: Because the assembled media is full of ex-goalies who got fed by previous incarnations of the Oilers, expect issue framing all series long. It is important then to have facts at our disposal, facts like McDavid outscored Kesler 3-1 and had a Corsi for 5×5 of 56.98 during the regular season against him.
On the note of negative coverage of the Oilers, I would like you to do me a favor. Remember. Remember the names of all broadcasters and media who have delighted in Edmonton’s torture over the last decade, and who will be barely able to contain glee if the upstart Oilers cannot climb this hill, this spring. There will be other springs, and it is important to know who is offering you the real information, and who has an axe to grind due to loyalty placed in Vancouver, Toronto or Calgary. Remember, and do not forgive. Eddie Shore will be disappointed in you if your forget.
STAN FREAKING WEIR!
-Photo courtesy Reg, with my thanks-
- Stan Weir threw a grenade and killed 50 people—then it exploded!
M.C. Hammer learned the hard way that Stan Weir can touch this.
Stan Weir once bowled a perfect game. With a marble.
Stan Weir puts the “laughter” in “manslaughter”.
- Stan Weir can drown a fish.
- Stan Weir has already read this.
- Stan Weir was once bitten by a cobra. After seven days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
- When Stan Weir turned 18, his parents moved out.
- Stan Weir can delete the recycling bin.
- Stan Weir can kill two stones with one bird.
- Stan Weir doesn’t sleep—he waits.
- Stan Weir once played 18 holes of golf using a 12 inch strip of rebar and a sun dried tomato. He shot a 54.
- Stan Weir doesn’t like ducks, they bring rainy weather and he thinks it is a damn stupid thing to call a hockey team. Stan doesn’t like the jerseys either, he thinks they are an insult to Eddie Shore.
- Stan Weir will bring us money and shapely, adventurous women with bad eyesight.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Stan Weir!
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. What to expect from the Oilers-Ducks, and who emerges as the hero in this one?
- Brayden Sullivan, Draft Geek Hockey, dub network and Dobber Prospects. I have been trying for years to get someone on the show who can talk WHL bantam draft, and Sullivan has his own draft guide coming out Monday! Eureka! We’ll talk about the draft (about 10 days away) and talent available.
- Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report. NFL draft just days away!
- Alex Thomas, The Oilers Rig. Oilers begin their second series in California.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk in 90 minutes!