GDB LIV: What a difference a goalie makes!

Eight days ago tonight’s game looked like an epic battle for 30th place, but after four straight wins the Hurricanes are seven points ahead of the Oilers. Have the Canes being playing great hockey all of a sudden? Not really, but their goalie, Sherwood Park native Cam Ward sure is.

Ward has allowed five goals in the four game winning streak. The Canes have been out shot every game, but Ward has a ridiculous .962 SV% in those games. Meanwhile as a team, the Canes have a shooting percentage of 20 with 18 goals on only 91 shots. They won’t keep winning games if these numbers stay the same. Teams can have short stretches where everything they shoot goes in, or their goalie stops most shots, but eventually those bounces will cease.

I wrote on Friday that cheering for a win v. Calgary made sense because of pride, and of course we all saw that there didn’t seem to be much pride on the ice. So tonight, you watch the game knowing that a loss will tie the franchise record for the longest winless streak at 14 games.

Do you cheer for a record or as fans do you need to see your team win one game just to remind you how that feels?

Tough call!

With Sheldon Souray out until after the trade deadline, and possibly the rest of the season (would there be an reason to come back on March 15th) the Oilers attack becomes less potent by the day.

Alex Plante, 15th pick in 2007, will make his NHL debut tonight. Plante has been okay in Springfield according to the scouts and coaching staff. He’ll wear #48 tonight and be paired with Taylor Chorney.

They didn’t do any line rushes this morning, but at yesterday’s skate Marc Pouliot and J.F Jacques looked to be the extras. The top three lines were the same, while Mike Comrie and Zack Stortini skated with Andrew Cogliano. Jacques was invisible in Calgary and Pouliot hasn’t done much since returning from the injured list.

Sheldon Souray’s injury will force Tom Renney to make some changes on the backend. Visnovsky, Gilbert and Plante will play the right side while Strudwick, Chorney and Grebeshkov will play the left side. Strudwick will play with Alex Plante while Renney will put Chorney with Visnvosky and Gilbert back with Grebeshkov. This blueline corps definitely lacks a physical presence and we could see a few fire drills in their own zone tonight.

Jeff Deslauriers gets the start and is looking for his first win since December 30th.

CONSPIRACY THEORY?

I’m not a huge believer in conspiracy theories, although Mel Gibson was great as Jerry Fletcher in the 1997 flick especially when he bit part of Dr. Jonas’ nose off.

But many Oiler fans are concerned that the Count, aka Gary Bettman, will rig the lottery to ensure that the Hurricanes win it. Their basis to this theory is that fans in Edmonton and Boston don’t need the first overall pick to appease their fans, while Carolina needs help.

That’s not necessarily the case. Some wondered why the Canes drew a measly 6,896 fans with Chicago in town on Friday. The Hawks are one of the most exciting teams in the league, yet the Canes had their lowest crowd of the season. Prior to Friday’s game their lowest crowd was just over 12,000. It doesn’t make sense that with the Hawks in town and the Canes on a three-game winning streak that only 6,896 people show up.

It’s because they had six inches of snow. They actually sold 17,000 tickets and were expecting a sell out, but the weather forced many people to stay home. Even though they had 17,000 sold seats they announced the number of fans in the building. You wonder if down the stretch that will happen in Edmonton. Anyone who has been at Rexall Place knows the seats haven’t been full, and you wonder if all of those are paid seats that didn’t show up. I’d guess probably not.

I’d bet Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini will have a valid argument that they need the first overall pick more than Carolina does. Oiler fans have had four seasons without the playoffs, and the masses are pissed.

Also…

Interesting to note that Eric Staal spent lots of time at the end of practice working on his shot and joking around with his teammates. Great players put in the extra work and while some of you don’t think it is necessary for Ales Hemsky to be any better, I’d argue he does. I see too many of the elite players in the league staying late after practice or at morning skates, and that extra work definitely doesn’t hurt their game.

And it seems that TSN. ca jumped the gun on the Rangers/Flames trade. I remember back in the summer when Bob McKenzie and others on TSN were ripping the Edmonton media for jumping the gun on the Heatley story. I noticed he didn’t use the same choice of words when talking about how this deal is now on hold. We all make mistakes, and I laugh when those who have ripped on someone about a mistake or jumping the gun have the exact thing happen to them. The deal might still go through, but if it doesn’t I doubt they will be ripping their own site.

  • Mills

    @ Jason Gregor

    I have heard rumblings that the Oilers are going to increase ticket prices for next year. If so, what is the team's justification to the fan base for the increase?

    • Jeremy

      The justification lies in our owners willingness to spend to the cap on a team that regularly misses the playoffs, and thereby the playoff revenue generated. Every fan wanted an owner that would never again let a salary dictate whether or not a player was traded, or outright "sold." I laugh whenever someone on here comes up with the brilliant stratagem of burying expensive (ie Horcoff), albatross contracts in the AHL so they don't count against the cap. But those contracts still need to be paid. Katz is a bloody businessman for god's sake, did you think he amassed his pharmacy fortune by accident? Do people assume that he lost his mind 15 minutes after aquiring this team and no longer makes rational business decisions?
      So the next time somebody gripes and moans about $8 beer, or how its like $50 for the nosebleeds, just remember, those capped out salaries have to come from somewhere. If we are not making the playoffs, then prepare to pony up.

        • Jeremy

          No i didn't. The question was "I have heard rumblings that the Oilers are going to increase ticket prices for next year. If so, what is the team's justification to the fan base for the increase?"
          I gave him the justification. Clever comment with the mironov slap-shot, otherwise you kind of missed the point.

      • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

        Count your blessings. Playoffs here bring the likes of the Toronto Marlies and the Hershey Bears.

        Short of berating Neuvirth and Pogge until they cried, there wasn't much to be thankful for*.

        *the hockey was better than 09/10 Oilers hockey, but so was the Shinny tournament on the Red River on Saturday.

    • Ender

      We're not exactly playing the San Jose Sharks here; anything is possible. If you can name six players for the Carolina Hurricanes (let alone the six starters), you're doing better than most.

  • Ender

    @ Jason Gregor

    If Comrie and Cogliano are on the same line, which one is playing in the middle? Any word on whether Comrie is 100% or not?

    And wouldn't it be just like the Oilers to win tonight, finish in 29th on the season due to losing the tie-breaker to Carolina, lose the lottery, and end up picking third missing out on both Hall and Seguin? Could anyone actually say that's far-fetched this year?

    • Jason Gregor

      Comrie said he is ready. His hand was a bit sore after the fight, but he said he was ready to play in Calgary. It would be Cogliano in the middle if they play together. Comrie isn't a centreman anymore.

      @ Jason Gregor I have heard rumblings that the Oilers are going to increase ticket prices for next year. If so, what is the team's justification to the fan base for the increase?

      I haven't heard that yet. I have yet to receive my renewal rate, but if they do I'm guessing most ticket holders won't be happy.

      @Bar Qu

      Repeat after me. Hemsky is not the problem with this team. When his work ethic becomes even remotely something to be concerned about, then we should discuss it. I really don't get the digs at Hemsky, other than there is really nothing useful to discuss on this team. But some shots at the shoddy coaching decisions might make more sense (how many times have we seen Strudwick on the ice at the end of close games this year?).

      I read courtesy of Nation readers you are that much of a coward that you have to mis quote me at another site rather than have the courage to say it here. Please show me where I said Hemsky was the problem??? And anytime you want to engage in a discussion feel free to call in to my show. Lets's hear all of your insightful and great hockey knowledge. I pointed out how other teams top players work extra on their craft. It is just one other element that needs to be looked at. I've said repeatedly I wouldn't trade Hemsky, but to think he is above criticism is ridiculous. Your best players need to be your best players in most games or you won't win. What exactly has Hemsky done that makes him so valuable that he can't be questioned? But since you are such a hockey expert I'm sure you've got a great defence of his play. It isn't his fault. It's the players around him. Rightttttt..

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      I like seeing Comrie with Cogs and Stortini. Seems like that could be a pretty effective line.

      If Chorney is skating with Plante, though, I don't think it'll matter who the forwards are.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    So is Plante playing with Strudwick or Chorney?

    As for the game itself, i wanna watch it but if we lose 6-1 to the second worse team in the league I might actually cry.

    Any further word on the rumor of Exelby to Edmonton that was mentioned this morning?

    How did Souray actually hurt himself? Was it a punch or when he hit the ice after the fight?

  • Oh snap! MacKenzie just got served!

    Obviously you have to cheer for a record, even if it's a horrible record. Like cheering for Buffalo's 10th goal last year. A win against Carolina isn't very exciting anyway.

    And count me in with the conspiracy theorists on this issue. If I run a company like the NHL, I'm making sure my franchises get "franchise" players on my terms, not theirs. Hello Patrick Kane, Patrick Ewing, Sidney Crosby and many more.

    That said, it doesn't feel like Hall and Seguin are going to be world-beaters like Crosby, Ovie, Tavares… sigh…