March 31 2009 12:03PM
Tonight is do or die for the Oilers. I know they have five more games, but if they lose in regulation tonight they won't make playoffs. We all know this but let's go on record saying: a loss puts them three back of the Ducks, and possibly five back of Nashville if they beat Columbus. Five games remaining won't be enough time to make up those points.
Unfortunately a win doesn't guarantee they make the playoffs, but for their psyche they need a win tonight. The players had another closed door meeting before practice yesterday. Having another one after a loss tonight becomes redundant, and if the message didn't sink in after yesterday's session it never will.
Rather than be upset, frustrated, annoyed, pissed off or scared, Oiler fans should embrace tonight's game. It will be the most intense game you have witnessed all season. You will race home, kiss the wife, play with the kids for a few minutes but YOU know that come 7:30 you will be planted firmly on the coach, bevy in hand, chips in the bowl, leaning forward towards the TV with your hands clenched waiting for the puck to drop.
And you know you will be filled with nervous anticipation. There will be at least two dust ups tonight, four or five big hits and hopefully many goals. Rexall Place will be loud, because even though the masses are pissed and ready to hang MacT, most of you can't bring yourself not to cheer for your team in such a meaningful game. That's being an Oilers fan folks.
Games like tonight are what make sports great. All those dud games in Nov, Dec and Sunday against the Wild are a distant memory now. Tonight all you care about is seeing a win, because at least that keeps the dream alive for a few more games.
A loss tonight and the dream is over for another season. No possible drunk chicks flashing you on Whyte, no chance the wife watches the game in just an Oiler jersey and no house parties or nights out watching the playoffs with the Boys.
It is excruciatingly simple for the Oilers: Win and you stay alive. Lose and you play out the string.
Good to see it's the Ducks
The Ducks are the perfect opponent for a game of this magnitude. They play tough, physical and have loads of top-end skill. If the Oilers dont show up tonight they will not only lose, but get humiliated at home. The Ducks bring out the emotion of the Oilers. The Oilers actually play with a pulse when the Human Rake and company come to town.
More often than not this year the Oilers have looked as prepared as your drunk Uncle emceeing a family wedding. You know the guy who thinks he is funny at the family summer picnic, yet when he gets on the mic at the wedding his stories suck, his jokes are stolen from some lame website, and the program rolls as smoothly as the Best Man's toast about the groom and his past conquests.
The Oilers will be ready to play tonight. I dont know if they will win, but tonight's effort will be one of the few times this year that they are prepared. There was a playoff energy in the locker room this morning. Players smiled when asked about the intensity, and expected physical play tonight.
Last December when the Ducks came to town the Oilers played their best home game of the year even though they lost in a SO. They out shot the Ducks 53-36, they killed off seven of eight powerplays and engaged the Ducks physically at every turn. In fact, the Ducks are only 2 for 19 on the PP against the Oilers this year. I cant explain why when you look at the Ducks firepower, but the Oilers PK is actually good against them.
The Oilers won both games in Anaheim, despite being outshot in both. Expect the trend of the home team getting more shots to continue this evening.
The Oilers just wrapped up a crisp morning skate. There wasnt much standing around, passes were on the tape, they actually scored some goals in practice and to a man they looked ready. The only concern is that even in practice, it looked like Horcoff was still struggling to finish.
The most frustrating thing to watch today was Grebeshkov in a shooting drill. He scored on three consecutive slap shots, two from the high slot and another from blueline. Why he doesn't shoot during the game remains a mystery. Though he did have three shots on goal the last time the Ducks were in town, so he might actually take a shot tonight. He has a measly 53 shots on net this year.
They didnt do any line rushes, but there wont be any lineup changes, outside of Peckham drawing in for Smid.
COLOSSAL FOSSIL SETS RECORD
Tonight Dwayne Roloson will become the oldest goalie to play in 60 games in a season. The CF will start his start his 33rd consecutive game tonight, and like most games during the previous 32 he will need to be one of their top three players if the Oilers hope to stay in the playoff race.
Enjoy the afternoon planning your playoff experience tonight, hopefully for Oiler fans you get a few more opportunities to feel the anticipation and excitement this April.