Did you know the Oilers have only won consecutive home games twice this year? They won four straight in October on the 10th, 16th, 19th and 22nd, and they didn’t win two straight at home again until Feb 1st and 3rd over the Hurricanes and Flyers.
In between those two heroic streaks, they lost nine straight from November 18th to Dec 28th, before beating the Leafs on Dec 30th. Then they lost their next eight home games. They won exactly ONE home game from November 18th to Feb 1st; no wonder there was close to 3,000 empty seats on Friday night.
That really sums up how horrendous this season has been at Rexall Place. No wonder it has been quieter than a morgue lately. I sat in the crowd for parts of the game on Friday and I was able to hear too many uncomfortable discussions from the people sitting around me.
When the games are exciting people pay attention, but now it seems with little cheering going on you are subjected to hearing things you don’t want to know about. Listening to two women, who looked like a mother and daughter, discuss menstrual cycles and how to lessen cramping was unbearable, especially considering I gave up booze for Lent. Or listening to some dude try to impress his date with his hockey knowledge, which was about as in-depth as my knowledge into how to control The Red Army.
Isn’t there a handbook on stadium etiquette somewhere?
It’s annoying listening to the drunk guy swear every time he opens his mouth, but it’s just as uncomfortable for your fellow fan when they have to overhear you talk about your personal problems. It is hard enough for Oiler fans to get the energy to go to the rink, so please use your inside voice when you talk to the person beside you. And for the love of only-26-days-left-in-Lent please refrain from conversations on vagisil, menstruation, your latest conquest or why you think Taylor Chorney will be better than Lubomir Visnovsky.
HOME WINNING STREAK?
Can the Oilers grab that elusive third home winning streak, against the 38-22-3 New Jersey Devils tonight? The odds aren’t in their favour. The Oil is 2-8-5 in their last 15 home games v. the Devils and they’ve been outscored 36-51.
The Oilers haven’t beaten the Devils at home since, ironically enough, Halloween 1995 when they won 2-1. Granted the Devils have only been here six times since then, going 4-0-2, but the Oilers have had two ownership changes since they last beat the Devils in Edmonton.
Tonight’s forward group hasn’t had much success against the Devils.
Gilbert Brule, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson, Fernando Pisani, Marc Pouliot, Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini and Shawn Horcoff have never scored a goal v. New Jersey. In fact, the Devils is the only team that Horcoff has never scored on, or registered a point, in eight career games.
Dustin Penner, Patrick O’Sullivan and Ryan Potulny have one goal, while Mike Comrie has 5 in 17 career games, including three goals in four games as an Oiler. The Oilers could use Ethan Moreau tonight, but it looks like he’ll sit out his third straight game with a sore neck. Moreau has five goals and ten points in 12 games v. the Devils, good for 0.83 points per game. His career PPG is 0.32 so clearly he likes playing the Devils.
Moreau didn’t skate yesterday, and the Oilers didn’t have a morning skate today, so it’s a bit of a guess if he’ll play, but he hasn’t skated in four days so it would a surprise if he played. Look for Fernando Pisani to draw back in.
DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
What does Gilbert Brule have to do to get more ice time? On Friday he had just over 12 minutes of icetime. Only Stortini and an injured Jones played less. Brule had three shots, tied for most on the team and two hits, also most amongst forwards in those 12 minutes, yet Pat Quinn doesn’t play him more. What gives?
Between bouts with the flu bug and other ailments, Brule has put up 13 goals, 12 of them EV, second behind Penner’s team-leading 17, so I wonder why Brule doesn’t get more opportunities. The kid has one of the best shots on the team, and might be the best pure shooter they have right now.
Quinn has said he doesn’t like the rollercoaster aspect of Brule’s game. He is either really high or low, and that is fair, but how is that any different from Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson or almost every other forward on the team.
Brule’s confidence, like most young players, is fragile and Quinn will need to watch how he uses him, but the organization should play him more in the final 18 games, especially on the powerplay.
Quinn should use the final 18 games as an extended training camp. Decide what role he’d like to use Brule and other forwards in next year, and play them there down the stretch. If they see Brule as a top-six forward next year, then play him with guys who they project to be there. Why not play Brule with Penner the rest of the way and see if they can produce?
Tonight would be a good time to change up the powerplay personnel, and give Brule a shot on the man advantage.
Jordan Eberle will play in Springfield when this season wraps up March 13th with the Regina Pats, but don’t be surprised to see him make an appearance with the Oilers. The Oilers don’t want fans to look at Eberle as the saviour and have him come up here and score zero points in nine games. Look for him to play some games in the AHL, and then get called up to Edmonton.
The Oilers only have two home games in April, the 5th v. the Wild and then on the 7th v. Colorado, so I’d be shocked if Eberle doesn’t make an appearance at that point. The worst thing the Oilers could do is recall him and have him play on the road. They owe it to the home faithful to see Eberle live in person, rather than just on the road.