January 04 2011 11:50AM
You thought the ratings for last night's WJC semi-final with Canada and the USA was big, wait until the we see the numbers for the return of the RED OX tonight for the Oilers. When Liam Reddox was sent to OKC in favour of Ryan Jones, many questioned the decision.
As the Oilers PK sunk lower than the Miami Dolphins home record, fans were pleading for the return of Edmonton's favourite Ginger, so I can only imagine that when #85 steps onto the ice tonight the little Ox will receive a hearty applause.
I understand why many cheer for Reddox. He is undersized, isn't blessed with the a lot of natural skill, works his ass off every shift, fearlessly blocks shots and he's a ginger. The good news for Reddox is that he doesn't have to be the saviour for the PK. The Oilers are a respectable 86% on the PK in their last 13 games, so Reddox won't be asked to block every shot by himself.
But the Oilers will need to be on their toes because the Red Wings possess the 2nd best road PP in the league at a stellar 24.2%.
Tom Renney must have the same faith in Reddox, because he and Linus Omark didn't arrive in Edmonton in time for the morning skate today, but as long as their flight arrives at noon, they will both slot into the lineup.
***You might see Omark and Reddox play with Brule and keep Jones/Fraser/Jacques line together.***
I'm still struggling to understand what Renney sees in Jacques to keep playing him ahead of Zack Stortini. I've asked Renney and outside of saying Stortini's skating isn't great and is a tough scratch, Renney hasn't given much insight into what he doesn't like about his game right now.
Note 1: I wish Reddox would have been at my house this morning, when I had to change my tire at eight in the morning. I bet he wouldn't even of had to use a jack...
DAVID V. GOLIATH
Tonight's tilt v. the Red Wings is a classis David versus Goliath. The Oilers are without Ryan Whitney, Jordan Eberle and Shawn Horcoff. The Wings aren't a 100% healthy either with Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary and Patrick Eaves out, while Brad Stuart is a game time decision. Despite the injuries on both sides, the Wings are still heavy favourites.
Let's look at the stats:
Wins 24 12
Losses 10 18
PTS 53 31
G/G 3.41 2.54
GA/G 2.80 3.24
PP% 23 (5th) 15 (26th)
PK% 81.4 (17th) 73.3 (30th)
SOG/G 33.3 (2nd) 25.8 (29th)
SA/G 29.5 (12th) 33.8 (26th)
FO% 52.2 (5th) 45 (29th)
Combine those stats with a Wings' modest two-game losing streak and you know Mike Babcock will have his Wings flying tonight.
OZZIE TO THE HALL?
Chris Osgood became only the 10th goalie to win 400 career games last month, and there has been lots of debate whether he should go into the Hall when his career is over. He has played the fewest games of any of the guys in the top ten at 742. Only Martin Brodeur has a better winning %, and only Brodeur and Jacques Plante have a better GAA, than Osgood's 2.49.
He also 74 playoff wins and three Stanley Cups, two of which he was the starter. His numbers are definitely hall of fame worthy, but I wonder if the the fact he played mostly for the Wings will hurt him. Osgood did win 84 games for the Islanders and Blues over three seasons. 400 wins and two Cups as a starter should get the Alberta-born goalie in the Hall.
What do you think?
NEW YEAR, SAME CRYSTAL BALL
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite Jimmy Howard's recent struggles, he still leads the league in wins but he won't get the start tonight. The Wings will go with the 400 win man. He will get 401 tonight and the Wings will win 5-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With Nick Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and the other good Swedes on the Wings in the house, Omark and Paajarvi will play inspired hockey. Paajarvi will pot a pair playing with Hemsky and Gagner and afterwards he will talk about how cool it was to score with Lidstrom on the ice.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Lebron James stupidly referred to his team as the Heatles, because of their ability to sell out road games, and after the Wings victory and another sell out at Rexall, Lidstrom is asked who he would compare the Wings to.
"I've won three more championships than Lebron, none of my teammates have shagged my mom and Todd Bertuzzi would kick Chris Bosh's ass. Lebron is a poser and nothing more, don't try to find a comparison between the Heat and the Wings, because there ain't one boyeeee."
Immediately after these comments ESPN is running them at the top of the next hour, and suddenly Americans are interested in hockey, because unless you are in Miami you hate the Heat and Lebron.
Note 2: I know Lidstrom would never say this, but it would be FREAKIN awesome if he did.