In 1972 the fourth best-selling popular music artist in the history of recorded music, ABBA, was formed and they went on to sell 375 million records worldwide. Dancing Queen, Fernando, Money, Money, Money and Knowing Me, Knowing You all became #1 hits. Anni-Frid "Frida" Lynqstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Anderson and Agnetha Faltskog had incredible chemistry, and tonight Tom Renney will play Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark together for the first time in their hockey lives hoping they form some sort of Swedish magic.
Omark and Paajarvi have never played together before and both were looking forward to the opportunity tonight. Ryan O’Marra will be their centreman, and while he can’t speak Swedish, he is comfortable playing with Omark and said that Paajarvi’s game is much simplier so playing with him shouldn’t be that difficult. Paajarvi joked that O’Marra only needs to know one word, "Passa" which is pass in Swedish.
Two of the top three lines will have a pair of rookie wingers, and while Renney acknowledged that isn’t the ideal scenario, he came up with these combinations because the other three lines have some familiarity with each other.
Sam Gagner will stay between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, and with Hall’s game progressing rather quickly in the past month, he is barely considered a rookie anymore. Andrew Cogliano will go back to playing with Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule. Penner’s game has been pretty good lately, and the only time Brule and Cogliano seem to play well is when they are paired together with Penner. Colin Fraser will centre Zack Stortini and Ryan Jones, and Jones has produced better as a 4th liner.
Nikolai Khabibulin will start in goal, and the defence pairings will be the same as Tuesday’s loss to Toronto.
ANOTHER EX RETURNS
Another former Oiler and captain returns to Rexall tonight, and while there is a mutual respect from both sides, you sense that neither side will be filled with a warm and fuzzy feeling. In the past decade we’ve seen many former Oilers return home and they’ve been welcomed with varying degress of jeers and cheers. Doug Weight, Jason Smith, Ryan Smyth and George Laraque received the biggest cheers, and even some tears upon their return. Others like Fernando Pisani, Marty Reasoner and Jarret Stoll received healthy cheers, while Mike Comrie (before his second tour of duty) and The Human Rake (Pronger) were booed heavily.
I sense Moreau will fit right in the middle.
During the first eight years of his tenure in Edmonton he was well-respected amongst the fans. They loved his dogged work-ethic, willingness to block shots with his face and stand up for his teammates. He was great penalty-killer and 3rd line checker.
His downfall amongst the fan base started during his second season as captain. He only played 25 games his first year wearing the "C", but his 9th and 10th seasons in Edmonton didn’t not go as planned for him or the organization. The team wasn’t good on the ice, and rumblings of off-ice issues and lack of chemistry went from whispers to loud chatter.
When the Oilers waived Moreau last summer, it seemed like a marriage that had lasted a few years too long. There was some bitterness and resentment from Moreau, the Oilers and the fans.
While things ended badly with Moreau, he and his wife Ornella gave lots of time and energy in the community and for that reason I think Moreau will hear more cheers than jeers tonight. His tenure as Captain wasn’t great, but he touched many people’s lives and they won’t forget that.
The Oilers are in a rebuild and are happy with the direction of their young team, while Moreau is happy wearing an "A" in Columbus. Just like in life, some relationships don’t work out and while it is easy to focus on the bad times, Moreau won’t be doing that tonight. "I met a lot of incredible people during my ten years in Edmonton, and I had some great teammates. I’m going to focusing on that, rather than how it ended. I have no hard feelings towards the organization and it will be nice to play at Rexall again."
MASCOT AND OCTANE RIBBING
This is Boomer, the Blue Jackets second team mascot, who was unveiled in late November. On Tuesday the Oilers introduced their dance team, Octane and considering how Kevin Hickey and his readers at Deadspin reacted to Boomer, I wasn’t surprised to read some posters ripping Octane’s debut.
Hickey and his readers decided that Boomer conjured up phallic images moreso than a cannon, so it came as no shock when I read many posters critiquing the dance moves and body types of Octane. I wonder if it is the same posters who think Boomer seems too "excited" to be a mascot and then claim they wouldn’t take a second look at Octane?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: After an OT loss in Vancouver last night, and losing an hour of sleep, the Oilers should have the advantage. Of course, should and will are completely different, and the Oilers let one slip away losing 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: On his second shift of the game Moreau will speed down the left-wing, cross the Oiler blueline and fire a wrister from 60 feet out. Khabibulin will make the easy save, cover up for a whistle and Moreau will stop right in front of him.
NOT SO OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: During their one and only appearance of the night, Octane will get the crowd buzzing with a dance routine to Dynamite by Taio Cruz ( I don’t know the song, but that song was the one guessed most often in our twitter contest on Tuesday). On the ensuing faceoff, the Oilers gain possession and Omark undresses a D-man and scores his first NHL goal. After the goal, he holds his stick out, Paajarvi comes over and pulls a match out of his glove, lights the stick and it blows up. In the second period Intermission the Sportsnet panel say they have no problem with that celebration, but still thought Omark’s spinarama move was disrespectful.