GDB MINUS 1: Emotional faceoffs

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And so the preseason that saw the return of Mike Comrie, the continued fall of Rob Schremp and the dehydration of Nikolai Khabibulin draws to a close with tonight’s tilt against the Canucks. And about time if you ask us – although an uninspired preseason could lead to a brick of a start to the regular season too.

We have had the honour of observing a great many of these preseason games and like many in the Nation we are starting to shake our head at the preseason version of these Edmonton Oilers of ours. To say that the Oilers have been, well unemotional at best, is an understatement.

Anyone catch the game against the Flames? Good gravy was that a stink bomb. And the most recent outing against the Bolts? It probably left many in the City of Winnipeg thankful they haven’t had to pay that kind of money to watch that bad of an end to a game since the Jets left.

Yes, it’s a nerve racking time to be a fan of the 2009-2010 Edmonton Oilers. We traditionally use this preseason hockey to irrationally seize upon heroes, goats or anything in between to carry us through the long winter. And with the exception of Comrie’s four point night and the continued emergence of young Eberle, there hasn’t been much for us to get wound up about.

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Hopefully the Mighty Oil can start to show some life in this final preseason game tonight. We would be even more concerned if it weren’t for the presence of Coaching Newbies Pat Quinn and Tom Renney though. They seem to be watching things from the bench, arms crossed in thinkery and building some sort of plan. One must imagine that they have come to the following conclusions:

Fact: Sheldon Souray can wire the puck. This probably took about eleven seconds for the Coaching Staff to figure out, if they didn’t already know it to begin with. Mr Sexy hasn’t lost a step nor a MPH over the offseason and should be counted on to have another excellent campaign.

Fact: Jordan Eberle will eventually be a dandy. Even if the kid is eventually sent back down to Junior, Jordan Eberle has stamped his mark on the hearts of many an Oiler fan in the past couple of weeks. It may not be today, but at some point in the near future he is going to take to the ice for his rookie campaign as an Oiler and will give us many a thrill in the process.

Fact: Khabibulin is old and old things tend to try out quickly. So what exactly happened the other night against the Flames to our new ‘tender? (whispers in ear) He got dehydrated? Doesn’t that only happen to long distance Kenyan runners on mile 367 of a marathon? It happened in preseason hockey? How many years have we signed him for?

(insert awkward pause here)

Fact: The Oilers in their current state absolutely blow at faceoffs. This is really starting to get out of control. We watched the game against the Lightning with a buddy who doesn’t really follow hockey all too much. We consider him a work in progress and often sit him in front of a TV and ply him with alcahol and explain all of the tiny details about the Oilers that he could never figure out on his own. At some point during the third period he leaned over and said “boy, the Oilers sure aren’t good at winning those puck drops are they?”

When a European-Canadian of dubious lineage, who doesn’t even follow the game can spot this glaring hole – things are getting dire indeed.

Fact: The only thing lower than the faceoff % of these here Oilers is their emot-o-meter as seen is the graph below charting the performance of the Oilers in the preseason:

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Job Numero Uno Tonight: EMOTION

Alrighty Oilers. Listen up and listen good. It seems that the entire corps of Centremen have somehow made it into the NHL without passing Faceoffs 101 in Minor Hockey. We will leave this glaring and horrifying hole aside for the moment in the hope that you are merely saving all your faceoff wins for the regular season.

There are few other valid excuses for your absolutely abysmal performance in the circle of late. But there are even fewer reasons we can think of that would justify the cyborgian lack of emotion you have been displaying thus far. We have seen long term coma patients that have more jump to them than you.

Despite our better judgement we will be in RX1 again this evening, crushing $8 hockey beers and trying to pretend that things are going to be OK. Maybe do your increasingly nervous fans a favour and show a little jump on the eve of the regular season will you? Geez.

Lineups

Here are your lineups for tonight’s game, courtesy of the Oilers website. Try and guess which team is which!

Khabibulin gets the start, Pisani, Moreau and Pouliot remain injured.

5 Ladislav Smid D
10 Shawn Horcoff C
13 Andrew Cogliano LW
19 Patrick O’Sullivan RW
22 J-F Jacques LW
24 Steve Staios D
27 Dustin Penner LW
33 Steve MacIntyre RW
35 Nikolai Khabibulin G
38 Jeff Deslauriers G
43 Jason Strudwick D
44 Sheldon Souray D
46 Zack Stortini RW
67 Gilbert Brule C
71 Lubomir Visnovsky D
77 Tom Gilbert D
83 Ales Hemsky RW
85 Liam Reddox LW
89 Sam Gagner C
91 Mike Comrie C

And here is your other lineup, starting with Cory Schneider in net. A suckier bunch of sucks hath not existed if you ask us:

3 Kevin Bieksa D
5 Christian Ehrhoff D
6 Sami Salo D
8 Willie Mitchell D
14 Alex Burrows RW
18 Steve Bernier RW
21 Mason Raymond LW
22 Daniel Sedin LW
24 Darcy Hordichuk LW
29 Aaron Rome D
30 Andrew Raycroft G
33 Henrik Sedin C
35 Cory Schneider G
37 Rick Rypien C
39 Cody Hodgson C
42 Kyle Wellwood C
55 Shane O’Brien D
56 Matt Pope RW
65 Sergei Shirokov
73 Tanner Glass RW

Final note

Did anyone notice the Canucks have a player named Tanner Glass? Is that a terrible name or what?

Prediction: Oilers 4 Canucks 2.