GDB 38.0: A BATTLE OF 28 AND ONE

The 29th place Oilers host the red-hot 28th place New York Islanders this evening, and while a battle of cellar-dwellars is nothing to get excited about, there is one battle/comparison that is intriguing.

While I’m sure many of you are still sharing your ideas with office workers, co-workers, spouses, friends, blog buddies, Timmy’s drive through attendants, neighbours and fellow Nationers on what caused the juniors to surrender five goals in the third period last night, the good news is that the hockey world doesn’t have time to mourn and the games must go on.

Tonight two former members of Canada’s world junior team, and the two most recent first overall NHL pick,s will faceoff for the first time in the NHL as Taylor Hall and John Tavares headline tonight’s Basement Battle.

These two former OHL superstars have followed the same paths and have played against one another for years. Both were projected as the first pick well before hearing their name called, and both of them had some people wondering if Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene or Tyler Seguin should go first overall leading up to the draft, but in the end both of them went first.

Tavares had a solid rookie campaign with 24 goals and 54 points, while Hall is on pace for 26 goals and 48 points. Despite being only one year his junior, Hall looks up to Tavares.

“Before his draft, I thought he did a great job of handling himself and really portraying a mature individual and that is what he is. He is a good guy and did well handling all the scrutiny last year as a rookie and I`m tyring to do the same.

“He is someone I`ve played again for a long time, and I remember last year everyone thought we were best friends kind of, but we do talk once in awhile, and it is interesting to talk to him because he knows what I`m going through, just as recently, and he`s been through the same type of pressure.“

Tavares has 13 goals and 27 points in 34 games, but he is heating up lately with five goals and 13 points in his last nine games. According to former Islander Butch Goring, Tavares is playing the best of hockey of his brief career and he is really starting to dominate games. It is rare you get to see two first overall picks go head-to-head and it should be entertaining to watch these two tonight.

FOSTER TO PRESSBOX

Kurtis Foster will take a seat in the pressbox tonight along with Zack Stortini and JF Jacques. It`s no surprise Jacques is moving upstairs, and Stortini seems to be in Renney`s doghouse, but Renney is just trying to send Foster a subtle message that he needs to play better.

Renney, like he normally does, didn`t rip Foster when asked why he was taking a seat, he just said, “He won`t play tonight, and it should be a one off at the end of the day. He has some things to work on, as we all do, and we`ll work with him on those things.“ Renney didn`t want to go into detail on what those things were, but better body position and winning more one-on-one battles might be a good guess.

With Foster out the D pairings will be:

Gilbert/Peckham
Petry/Smid
Vandermeer/Strudwick

Devan Dubnyk will get his 13th start of the season tonight, and it seems like Renney is doesn’t want him to sit for too long anymore. Dubnyk has been solid with a 0.915 SV% this year, but he only has one win in regulation, and he is 1-5 in OT/SO. He needs to get a win to build his confidence I would think.

Look for Trevor Gillies and MacIntyre to dance tonight. MacIntyre is raring to go, and Gillies is an up-and-comer in the heavyweight division. We haven’t seen a good tilt at Rexall in awhile, so hopefully we get one tonight.

TIMEOUT TRAVESTY?

Much of the water cooler talk this morning was about the timing of Dave Cameron’s decision to call a timeout last night in the third period v. Russia. Many wondered why he didn’t do it right after Russia scored twice in eleven seconds. Some wondered if Cameron was too animated when he did call the timeout after the Russians tied it at three.

Hindsight and what ifs are a wonderful thing and we will never know if calling a timeout after the 2nd Russia goal would have changed anything. You can say it would have, but there is no concrete proof. Renney was asked what he thought of Cameron’s actions during the timeout.

"I don’t know what he said. You have to appreciate that those buildings are really noisy, and even in your home rink you’d like to turn the music down to five instead of keep it at ten, you have to yell for each side of your bench to hear you quite honestly. The blood vessels seem to grow, and it is an oxymoron to yell CALM DOWN, but they have to hear you.

"I’ve laughed at myself saying ‘Guys we’ve got to relax’ and I’m blowing a gasket while telling them to relax. (laughs) It’s tough, and we all know that is a tough situation. I thought Dave did a super job preparing his team and playing right to the letter of how they had to, but it is a strange game."’

It was a tough loss for our country, and one that will be talked about for years to come, but you have to give the Russians credit. They didn’t quit, and for the third straight game they came from behind to win. In the third they looked really confident, they made some great plays, and it wasn’t like they got lucky bounces. they get full marks for their comeback as painful as it was to watch.

It sucked for those kids and the country, but that’s why I love sports. It is unpredictable, exciting and devastating all at the same time.

DO YOU SEE EIGHT?

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Islanders are 7-2-1 in their last ten and they’ve beaten top teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay during this stretch. The Oilers meanwhile have lost seven straight, and with 29th place on the line the Oilers help Stu MacGregor and suffer another tough loss 4-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Dubnyk has went to OT in six of his ten starts, and that trend will continue tonight. The Oilers will fall behind early, mount a great comeback in the third that ignites Rexall, but Tavares will feed Matt Moulson for the winner in OT.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Tonight is the 5th of ten Rod’s Classics, as Mr. Phillips steps behind the mic once again in his season-long goodbye. Midway through the 2nd period Rod will regale us with a great tale of the dynasty days when the Islanders and Oilers were the top dogs. In the middle of his story, he sees a scoring chance coming, and jumps right into the play and calls an Islander goal, but then he goes right back to telling his story.

Normally listeners can’t stand it when a PBP guys rambles on about a story, but not tonight. Oiler fans will want to hear the stories, because then they can go to bed dreaming that in a few years they might actually get to watch somethings similar unfold before their eyes. The best part of the story will be when Rod finishes it off with a punch line and his infectious laugh.

In the 3rd Rod will berate the officials for an obvious missed call, and when Hall ties the game in the Rod will have one his classic goal calls that will send chills down your spine, just like he did in the dynasty days.

Enjoy listening to one of the all-time greats tonight.

  • John Chambers

    How bad are the Islanders? A long 5 on 3 against and Oiler penalty kill that features the NHL’s worst face-off man in Cogliano taking the draw, rookie Peckham and the NHL’s worst defenseman in Jason Strudwick on the ice.

    Cogliano wins two draws and the Isles get one decent chance during the whole affair.

    Probably Cogs best game of the year, not to take away from the Isles’ ineptitude.

    They deserve to be ahead of us in the lottery.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Sure looked like a hockey game that neither team wanted to win. What an opportunity for Gagner to show he belongs on one of those top two lines, looked like he didn’t care this evening.

    What up with Jason “Studwick”, what a shutdown d’man he’s become the last four weeks. He must be leading the active Oiler blueliners in +/- over the last four weeks, i think if we look back over the last 5 games the Oil won Jason has been in the lineup, and they’ve lost most if not all the games when Strudwick wasn’t in the lineup. Put that in your pipe and smoke it whiners.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I’m not exactly sure why you’ve brought Strudwick up 394 times over the last couple of days but the team is 1-5 the last 6 games he’s played.

    • Sorensenator

      “Looked like Gagner didn’t care this evening” could not be further from the truth. He struggled big time, but I was at the game and saw first hand that he cares.

      On a shift where Sam struggled to make anything happen in the offensive zone, he skated off to the bench, slammed his stick against the boards twice, sat down, and punched the bench as hard as he could about 4 times.

      Struggling? Sure. Not caring? Wrong diagnosis doc.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Perhaps Gagner realized that this was the type of game where he had the opportunity to show he was capable of being that No.2 guy, maybe thats why he was so frustrated when he got to the bench. Slamming his stick into the boards/punching the bench probably just comfirms his frustration/lack of success.

            Well said Oilganization Kip.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            What kind of non-sense are you spewing now Madjam 2.0?

            He’s already more then capable of “being that No. 2 guy”. The only question now is if he moves up to a solid #1 or not.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Solid No.1, i’d have to believe not even the Oilers themselves see that potential in Gagner, he hasn’t shown he’s capable of leading on this rebuilding hockey club for 2 years now….are you his agent OB1?

            If he’s ever the Oilers No.1 center here then we’re certainly in for another dry decade. He squandered another fine oppotunity last night to show that role belonged to him against the 29th place hockey club, he showed more emotion on the bench than he did on the ice….the kid will never be even a second line center on a competitive hockey club, i thought Reddox showed more jam when he was on the ice than Gagner did last evening. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one OB1 but don’t say i didn’t tell you so when he gets moved later this year or this coming summer.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Only in Edmonton is the 28th highest scoring center a 3rd liner.

            So because he didn’t produce vs the 29th place team he isn’t good, yet we’ll forget that he put up 2 points and was the games 2nd star against a top team just one game earlier?

            You can try to spin things anyway you want, but all that matters is whether a guy can be a contributer in a line that out scores the the opposition more often then not. All the rest (“jam” “getting knocked down” “emotion”etc etc) is just noise.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Noise that will just get increasingly louder as time goes by. You must admit, i am an equal opportunity basher, i’ve picked on Smid,Horcoff,Gagner and Stortini equally for the last couple seasons. Strudwick gets a pass, he’s just a stud on the blueline, we’re very fortunate to have a guy like him here. Happy weekend sir.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I’m never sure if you’re actually an Oiler fan or not. Do you find it awkward when Flames fans agree with you in public while you rant like a drunk about how much you hate the Oilers?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Honestly, i wouldn’t know Word, i don’t drink. Alchohol to me is a useless rented substance. There never seems to be time to put drinking before my wife and daughters… but please don’t let me stop you from allowing yourself to be seen in that precious inebriated state.

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    Somethings I just don’t understand…

    Why even bother playing Big Mac?

    Why do people spend between 100 and 200 dollars to sit in the first 5 rows of the ice, then proceed to spend half the game standing and waving at the cameras as the play passes in front of them? Sit down, you homers.

    Every time I curse Renny for puttin Strudwick out in what I think is an inopertune time, Struds make me eat crow by holding his own and playing decent defense.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Scintillating last place hockey.

    I’m surprised no one tossed a toilet seat on the ice at the end to be presented to the captain (or the Oilers’ reasonable facsimiles).

    You gotta figure the whole game Captain Rod Phillips was looking at his watch thinking, “I can’t believe I left Arizona and risked an Edmonton blizzard tomorrow for THIS….”

  • Zamboni Driver

    Oh and yes…Macintyre = completely pointless, wasted roster spot, and now couldn’t care less that he’s a good guy, tough job and good story. He’s useless.

    Even if he HAD fought the Islanders lunkhead (I’m giving the edge on looking most like a Charlestown Chief to their guy tho.)

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    We now have goal scoring wingers, all Gagner needs to do is mesh with at least 1 out of Hall/Eberle/MPS then consistantly get them the puck in high % scoring areas, and then chip in 20 – 25 himself and we’ve got ourselves a solid #1C.

    Watch the play he made on Peckhams goal against Detroit or Halls goal against Colorado (he had another similar set up that wasn’t converted). Those are high end plays that will end up in the back of the net 25% to 35% of the time. He needs to make 2-3 plays like that per game and he’s got himself 50 assists/year.

    • I have to believe even Sam himself would allow that the “#1 center” discussion is valid. My thought is that’s his aspiration, and from what I’ve seen he’s busting his nuts to try to make that happen. As it is he’s tracking on a +20 goal season and close to 60 points. If that happened, (and at at his age) we should be awfully respectful that he’s wearing our uniform.

      Sam isn’t the next coming of Ovechkin but he’s pretty damn good just the same. How about we cut him some slack.

      • Crash

        I think most of us know that Sam’s got game and we are just tired of responding to the same two or three guys that endlessly bash (incorrectly) the play of Gagner.

        Gagner I believe has way more support here than he does detractors. He is playing a solid two way game and is near the top of Oilers scoring at 21 yrs of age.

        Nothing wrong here…he’ll be a real fine player as the years go by. LOL, it’s actually awesome to see you support rather than the opposite…have you got on the Dubnyk bandwagon yet? :):)

        • Quicksilver ballet

          If you guys can endlessly bash Penner, Strudwick and Jacques, then i’ll select another Oiler to bash, we’re both doing the same thing right, throwing one of our own under the bus? It just seems that’s all we do here, biotch and complain, moan and bellyache. You guys leave Penner and Strudwick alone and i’ll leave Gagner,Horcoff and Souray alone.

          • Crash

            I don’t really spend much time bashing anyone and I’ve gone to bat for Penner on numerous occasions. I’ve said absolutely nothing about Jacques…

            I’m more on your side with regards to Penner and Souray but I don’t see the point of bashing players over and over especially when we’re talking about a very young player who is amongst the best in his draft class and continues to improve.

            I agree with you…there is way too much moaning and whining done on here…it looks like to me that the Oilers plan is to eventually put together a consistent top end team, not just put together a team that trys to fight for the last playoff spot every year. I’m on the being patient bandwagon. I can see how things are coming together, step by step. These things don’t happen overnight. Especially when you’re a team at the moment that players don’t want to come to.

            Build it from the ground up. It seems many don’t like this rebuild or worse, many like the idea of a rebuild but still want to biotch about bad games.

            Myself, I’m a season ticket holder. I’m enjoying this year much more than last. I choose to be optimistic that better days are ahead.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    You guys know by now how close accuracy and truth is to my heart….. one small oversight contained in this ON entry, it should’ve read GDB 39.0, making this evenings game No.40, maybe Gagner will show up and double his output from last evening, oh, wait.