I don’t get the point of running photos of pretty dames with Lowetide’s pieces on a hockey website, but even if it’s just a cheap hook (it is, isn’t it?) I can’t say I mind.
Likewise, I’m not sure how good a team the Edmonton Oilers will be two or three seasons from now, but, for the first time in a very long time, the possibilities are more intriguing than they are predictable.
As has been duly noted from A to Z — to the point of hyperbole in some corners — we got a glimpse of those possibilities in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Nothing nearly conclusive, contrary to the opinions of some, but we got peek at what might be not so far down the road.
One game doesn’t mean Taylor Hall has arrived. Coming out parties for kids like him take more than 60 minutes. That said, it was fun watching Hall romp up and down his wing and take the rubber to the net with a performance that wasn’t accurately reflected on the score sheet.
Hall, still three weeks from his 19th birthday, teased us, like these pretty dame photos do, with a peek at what all the fuss has been about, with a sense of anticipation about what comes next.
Add Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle to the conversation and long-suffering Oiler fans, even we jaded wags sitting along press row, haven’t had so much potential to contemplate — or split hairs and bicker about — since bell-bottoms were in.
Sit back. Enjoy. Take it in.
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD
— Hall back to the OHL? Is anybody actually still debating the merits of this? The answer, of course, is yes. Only in Oil Country, where opinions can swing 180 degrees in seven games, yet some people believe they can predict what this team will look like in seven years.
— Left wing or centre? Centre or left wing? It’s five games into Hall’s NHL career, so, really, who gives a squirt? Why does this debate kick up again when Hall has just played his best game as a pro . . . at left wing.
— I’ve long heard that one of Tom Renney’s strengths as a coach is his ability to assess what’s working and what’s not and then come up with a Plan B. Until this season, I hadn’t seen it first-hand. I came to Edmonton in 1989 after covering the Kamloops Blazers for four years, just before Renney’s arrival. I didn’t see him much when he was in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers. I’ve seen enough since training camp began to get what people were talking about. Renney’s not just a chalkboard guy, he’s got people skills.
— I like how Renney moved Hall alongside Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule quietly and matter-of-factly without much fuss during the break between games. No Pat Quinn-like rants or quotes, just a move that, for one game, paid off.
— I also like how he stapled fourth-liners Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini and Colin Fraser to the pine after a brutal start to the game. To borrow from Quinn, Renney said they sucked the hind banana without actually saying it. While scribes like the juice Quinn used to deliver, actions are more easily understood within the dynamic of a dressing room.
AND . . .
— How good has Tom Gilbert looked without Ryan Whitney to lean on as his defence partner? I don’t recall a more underwhelming five-game stretch for Gilbert than what he’s delivered to start this season.
— What are the odds of the Oilers getting out from under their three goaltender situation by trading Nikolai Khabibulin as opposed to risking waivers on Devan Dubnyk or Jeff Deslauriers? The way another writer and I see it, better than you might think.
— Thursday’s one-off in the face-off circles by Oilers pivots aside, tell me again why Kyle Brodziak didn’t fit here as a checking centre who could kill penalties and win face-offs?
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.