GDB 71: Shifting Fortunes

Gagner/Kane

It’s March 20th, a rather appropriate day for things to be the opposite of how they should be. You see, it was on this day in 1815 that Napoleon returned to Paris after being imprisoned on the Island of Elba. The country turned upside down as loyalists to the French royal family were ousted and men loyal to Bonaparte were installed. Everything seemed possible, if only for a little while – even if it was only 111 days later that Napoleon would request asylum from a British naval captain and return to exile.

The Edmonton Oilers enter the United Centre tonight fresh off an 8-1 victory over Coloardo. Sam Gagner recorded a hat-trick in that game. The penalty-kill didn’t allow a single goal against. Ales Kotalik looked effective; in short, the Oilers found themselves on the right end of a blowout for a change. With points in there last six games and eight of their last nine, the Oilers may even elect to give Dwayne Roloson a game off – after playing 26 straight games.

The Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, enter tonight’s game with four straight losses, and only one win in seven games. That stretch includes losses to the Avalanche, Hurricanes, Islanders and two to the Blue Jackets. The young team, so dominant since the hiring of Joel Quenneville only four games in, have seen themselves fall to fifth in the Western Conference.

The smart money says that the Hawks rebound. The Oilers are playing their second game in two nights, and didn’t even get into Chicago until 3 A.M. The odds against the Oilers are even longer when you consider that the Blackhawks have gone 3-0 against Edmonton this season, outscoring them 15-3 overall (including a 9-2 victory; their best offensive performance of the season). Add in a possible start for Jeff Deslauriers – who hasn’t played since February and hasn’t started since being pulled in an AHL game on January 10th – and things seem very unlikely to go the Oilers’ way.

Personally, I think the Oilers might just be ready to go on a roll. Prediction:

Oilers 4 – Blackhawks 3. Goals by Sam Gagner, Patrick O’Sullivan, Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray.