Oh snap Puffy! The 47 coaches, 23 management types and two psychics involved in every single decision for the mighty Oil have elected to start JDD tonight against the Preds. Nevermind that the Oilers have won only one of their last 10 games in Nashville. It’s time to roll out le JDD and cue the come up.
For the unititiated, the come up is technically defined as “on the way to mastering a skill or trade.” In reality the come up is the point in a plot line where a heretofore bit player gets his or her chance to shine in the big time. Remember that scene where Rudy finally takes the field at the end of a long career on the practice roster? That right there is the come up, even if it is a little late:
We are hardly suggesting that JDD is Dan Ruettiger. First of all they look nothing alike, and we totally think that JDD would have made the Fighting Irish in the mid 1970s if he had just put his mind to it. No, instead we are referring to one of the many instances in the life of an athlete bordering on the big time, where he has the ability to take the reins in his career.
See our friend JDD is at a bit of a crossroads. Drafted 31st overall by the Oilers in 2002, he has seen a whopping 10 games in the NHL since then. During that time he has played for eight different teams (thank you once again for that multi year complete lack of dedicated AHL squad Oilers) and though certainly not washed up at the age of 25, he isn’t exactly on the fast track to become a starter in the NHL.
But things look better than they used to
With an aging Khabibulin recently signed to a 12 year contract and knowing that he is one of the most oft-injured goalies in the NHL, our man JDD must be cautiously optimistic about his slim chances to be an NHL starter slightly improving of late. Had the Oilers gone out and signed a work horse of a starting goalie for the next 6 seasons, one would have to assume that the chances of JDD ever getting the job with the Oilers would have fallen to nearly zero.
But with the introduction of a 36 year old goalie that optimistically hopes to see 60 games per season, the door has opened for JDD to walk in and put his stamp on 20-24 games per year. With an NHL career record of (4-3-0), a GAA of 3.33 and save % of .901, there is little to suggest that JDD isn’t capable of handling these duties. But you can best believe that if he is unable to deliver the goods – and quick – Pat Quinn and Tom Renney will be looking for someone else to bring the thunder in a backup role to Monsieur Booleen.
Which brings us to tonight’s game against the Preds
You know that there is a lot of hockey left in the season for a fragile starting goalie when the coaching staff are willing to potentially burn a road game against Nashville by starting the backup goaltender against a good Predators team. The Oilers have only won once in the past ten games at the Sommet Center and will be looking to do so without the help of Super Stud defenseman Sheldon Souray on the back end.
Opinion on the Oilers is starting to point North of “this team is garbage” as evidenced by positive articles popping up in the MSM, such as the Dan Barnes article in the Edmonton Journal this morning. Dan Barnes talks about how “there is more promise in (the Oilers’) play than there are points in the standings, but the essence of these Oilers is in other, better, more surprising numbers.” Articles such as these by a rarely fooled guy like Barnes point to the start of some momentum to the Oilers, a welcome sight in a season that could have been over by the 20 game mark if they stumbled out of the gate. But as any Oilers fan who watched the Titanician season last year can attest, early promise can be snuffed out all too quickly.
Which brings us back to JDD getting the start tonight
Yep, you are the man tonight Jeff. Play well and you too can lay claim to some early season momentum. Come out and play a whale of a game, suddenly the Oilers have a lot more confidence in a Plan B if the Bulin wall is not ready to go. But have things start poorly and you can bet that a great many Oilers fans will be wringing their hands and yelling about the need for “a real backup goaltender. ” Nashville isnt exactly rolling four lines at the moment, relying on the top line of Arnott, Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan to score 5 of the 6 goals the team has potted to date. So it would seem that shutting down the first line could get our man JDD a win in his first game of the season and set the table for the first half of the year.
Good luck to you Sir.
All the very best.
Update: The game is at 6 PM not 8 PM. No matter what our scoreboard tells you. If we knew how to change it we would, but there you go.