December 14 2009 11:40AM
After a weekend of hibernating, what else is there to do when Edmonton is the second coldest place in the world (someplace in Siberia was two degrees colder Saturday night)? Let’s find out what exactly is going on in Oilerville and the league.
A five-game winning streak has the Oilers back in the playoff hunt, although they are still four points out. The Oilers will need to reel off at least four more wins this month just to stay in contention.
The first place — that’s right first freaking place — Los Angeles Kings come to town tomorrow. Normally the Oilers stink up the joint after a lengthy road trip, but they’d never won five road games on one trip before, so who knows how they will play tomorrow.
I know things are slow in Oilerville, when many of you are debating whether Devan Dubnyk is a legitimate goalie. Fact is we won’t find out anytime soon because Pat Quinn will keep going with Jeff Deslauriers until Nikolai Khabibulin returns. Don’t expect that to happen until 2010, and the likely hood of Khabibulin being traded at the deadline is as likely as me coming back from Costa Rica with flowing locks. Not going to happen!
Annual board of governor meetings
The meetings will be held in Florida this week and concussions, Coyotes’ ownership and future Canadian cities will be the hot topics.
I’d be curious what Wild GM, Chuck Fletcher, has to say on concussions. The Wild have had four players out with head injuries — Andrew Ebbett, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns and Petr Sykora — so he’ll be listening closely.
The pace of the game is leading to more concussions, so they either get better helmets or have a severe crackdown on head shots. The problem with the latter is that many of the perceived head shots are legal hits under the current rule book.
Will they change the wording, or have it read that any contact that hits the head first is an automatic penalty?
Once again there is such a grey area that it would be hard for officials to call it correctly.
How often have we seen a hit in a slow-motion replay where it was questionable whether the initial contact was on the head of shoulder? If we can't decide in slow motion how do they expect the officials to get it right in real time?
It's a slippery slope, because if they take a hard stance it could lead to fewer hits overall and that won’t be good for the game.
Edge Holdings Inc is a research investment firm, and they submitted their letter of intent to purchase the Coyotes. Did they do any research that could prove that the Coyotes are a good investment? They must be purchasing them with the hope that they can relocate after a year.
This is a good strategy, and one that Mr. Balsillie should have looked at rather than trying to move the team out of Phoenix before he actually owned the team.
The Christmas roster freeze starts on Sunday, so if a team is going to make a move it has to happen before then. The Canadiens are looking to move Jaroslav Halak, but with Philly signing John Grahame there isn’t a long list of teams looking for a goalie. In fact, there are more teams trying to get rid of goalies than bring one in.
The Flyers are a mess. They are tied with the Leafs for 14th in the East, but they aren’t out of it by any stretch. They are only four points behind Montreal for 8th spot and they have three games in hand. Every team in the East is in the playoff hunt excluding the Hurricanes.
On Saturday, 15th place in the West would have been 9th in the East. Only the Oilers, 3-5-1, the Blues, 2-4-2 and the Ducks, 4-5-1 have losing records against the East.
The Avalanche beat the Flames for the 3rd straight time last night, but they are only 2-7-2 against the rest of the NW. The Flames, meanwhile are 0-3 v. the Avs, but are 5-0-1 against the rest of the division. It’s strange that the Avs can dominate the Flames but struggle against the Oilers, Canucks and Wild. The Canucks are 8-4 in the division, while the Oilers are 4-5-1.
I will update you after Oiler practice on the health of Comrie and Khabibulin.
Practice Update: 1:36pm MST
Neither Sheldon Souray nor Gilbert Brule are practicing this morning. Here's what the lines look like:
Penner — Gagner — O'Sullivan
Moreau — Potulny — Cogliano
Nilsson — Horcoff — Stone
Jacques — Pouliot — Stortini
Gilbert — Grebeshkov
Smid — Visnovsky
Brule didn't skate because he wasn't feeling well. He doesn't have an injury and they expect him to play tomorrow night. Souray is resting his back, and back's can be unpredictable. They might err on the cautious side and give him a few extra days.
Look for Horcoff to play with Stone and Nilsson tomorrow. Quinn said he liked what they did in St. Louis, which would mean that Patrick O'Sullivan would play with Jacques and Stortini. He won't mess with the top line, unless Brule gets worse, and he likes the Moreau/Potulny/Cogliano trio.
Nikolai Khabibulin had a good day two days ago, but he isn't ready to skate with the team just yet. Quinn said he was surprised it has taken this long, but they are being very cautious. Mike Comrie looks like he won't return until after Christmas.
Pouliot looked okay, but I'd guess they'd want him to get some conditioning down in Springfield before he plays here. The only way he plays is if Brule can't go, and that seems unlikely.