Thank you. To the men and women who serve our country with courage and bravery we thank you. Before any puck is dropped, before we talk about the great game, before we post the lineups we thank our military past and present.
The Edmonton Oilers are showing all the traits of young teams. Wild inconsistency–not just game to game, but period to period and shift to shift–along with repeating mistakes to the point of distraction. After the Carolina game, the tendency is to believe it’ll be a blood bath this evening (weird start time btw, 5:30 our time in Gordie’s town) based on how badly the team played.
However, the game story for the Oilers this season is a lot about the the kids not getting in their own way. If the Oilers can put a solid effort together they have a chance to win most games. Tonight will be a tough one; Detroit is 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and have some hot hands on offense (Lidstrom has 10 points in his last 10 games; Cleary 5 points in his last 3 games; Datsyuk 7 in his last 5 and Zetterberg 13 points in his last 9 games) plus the defense is extremely difficult to score on (2.62 per game).
Detroit’s Chris Osgood (groin) is injured but other than that the team is pretty much healthy. You can see the roster slowly changing at the bottom end, with names like Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Jakub Kindl working their way into the everyday lineup. Beautiful, textbook elevation of productive players. It’s like Sam Pollock left the Bible for Ken Holland.
The Oilers forward group apparently looks like this:
- Gagner centering Penner and Hemsky
- Cogliano centering Hall and Eberle
- Brule centering Pääjärvi and Jones
- Fraser and Stortini working in when they can
The Oilers will go with 7 defensemen this evening (according to reports) so they could ice a 4line that might include Smid or Strudwick. Steve MacIntyre is a healthy scratch and once again we see the downside of having an enforcer on the roster: he is not a useful took against a team like Detroit. Horcoff’s injury will be a major factor in tonight’s game, and of course the PK and PP will play their usual roles as "death" and "death warmed over" for the Oilers this evening.
I’m no Kreskin, but there WILL be a bunch of UFO’s over Vegas tonight. Or tomorrow night. Maybe Saturday. Certainly soon.
I don’t like predicting final scores at the best of times and picking against the Oilers any time goes against the grain for me. 5-0 Detroit.
NHL players are men. That is all.