If you are firmly behind the rebuild, I’m sure you did a fist pump when you woke up this morning, looked at the standings, and realized the Oilers are officially in 30th place. Exciting Last Place Hockey has been Wanye’s mantra all season long, and at least for a day it is legit. The New Jersey Devils picked up 12 more points than the Oilers in the past ten games, and are on their way up the standings, while the Oilers have fans thinking of "slogans" for the final 32 games.
"We’ll go through hell to get A.L."
"Ride the powerplay all the way to Couturier."
"I’ll chug preparation H to pick R.N.H."
"Play Khabby and we’ll draft Gabby."
**If you use any of these groaners, the NATION and I want credit.**
Tonight the Oilers take on the struggling St. Louis Blues. The Blues have lost three straight and appear headed to missing the playoffs for the 5th time in the six post-lockout seasons. The Blues are an organization, that so far, hasn’t been able to rebuild quickly through the draft.
They’ve had nine first round picks in the last five years. Technically it is eight, since they drafted David Rundblad 17th in 2009, and then traded him to Ottawa for the 16th pick in 2010 where they took Vladimir Tarasenko. Here is the list of players the Blues have selected in the first round in that span:
Erik Johnson, 1st overall
Patrick Berglund, 25th
Lars Eller, 13th (Traded him to Montreal for Jaroslav Halak)
Ian Cole, 18th
David Perron, 25th
Alex Pietrangelo, 4th
David Rundblad, 17th
Jaden Schwartz, 14th
Vladimir Tarasenko, 16th
Johnson is starting to come into his own, but when you look at the guys taken after him, Jordan Staal, Jonathon Toews and Nicklas Backstrom you wonder if the Oilers will take Larsson in June or look at a forward. Berglund had a very good rookie season with 21 goals and 47 points, but he’s been inconsistent since. Perron had two consistent seasons, but got hurt early this year and they’ve really missed him. Pietrangelo is playing better, but he is a few years away from becoming an impact player.
You need patience in a rebuild, but you also need to make smart picks and choose players with different intangibles.
I understand the need to be patient in Edmonton, but at some point the Oilers need to start seeing some progress, and I’m not sure we are seeing much. Outside of the obvious lack of elite talent, I question the toughness and overall competitive level of this team moving forward. Another top-three pick will fill the talent void, but Steve Tambellini has to take a serious look at ensuring he gets players in Edmonton who are willing to compete as hard as the opposition on a nightly basis.
PENNER OUT, DUBNYK AND EBERLE IN
Dustin Penner didn’t skate this morning and is likely out with the flu. Renney had three new lines on the ice today due to Penner’s illness and Jordan Eberle’s return.
It will interesting to see if Eberle can keep up to the speedy Hall and Cogliano, and expect Steve MacIntyre to do everything possible to find a dance partner tonight.
Devan Dubnyk will start tonight, and if he plays well I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t play him tomorrow in Columbus. It seems clear the Oilers want Nikolai Khabibulin to find his game, and considering his last win came against the Blue Jackets, we’ll probably see him try to avoid his 13th straight loss tomorrow night regardless of how Dubnyk plays.
I am still perplexed in how Renney and his staff have used Dubnyk, and I don’t want to read like a broken record, but I just don’t understand why they don’t let the 14th pick in 2004 play three or four in a row? Why wait until the final ten games of the season? What harm will it do to play Dubnyk four out five games? I’d play him tonight and tomorrow just to see how he handles back-to-back situations.
We can all use some beauty in our lives, so say hello to Tanya Robinson, Marina Marossini and Adriana Lima. Robinson is an English model and is currently dating footballer Steven Taylor from Newcastle United. Marossini is a Crotian beauty who was discovered while in College and is now a top model. Lima is a Brazilian bombshell and was recently married to Serbian basketball player, Marko Jaric. In my books she is one of the most stunning women on the planet.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have to win the odd game and tonight with Dubnyk between the pipes they will get the victory. The Oilers have won five of their last six in St. Louis and they’ll skate away with a 4-3 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Dubnyk will play well and improve to 4-1-1 in his last six starts. Magnus Paajarvi will continue his hot streak and chip in with a goal and an assist. Eberle will win the battle of returning players and outscore Andy MacDonald.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: A few moments after the drop the puck in St. Louis an update will scroll across the screen saying that the Oilers have traded Dustin Penner. Immediately twitterverse will be going crazy with speculation on where he went. Thirty seconds later Geno will have to come on camera and apologize that there was a technical glitch and Penner is indeed sick and not traded. It turns out that Sportsnet was just getting everything ready for the Feb 28th trade deadline show and inputing all the potential player moves into the system.
For the next 24 days fans will watch Sportsnet daily hoping for a few more "glitches" to give them a leg up on trade rumours. If Penner does get traded prior to the deadline, Sportsnet might "accidently" send out updates next year and claim that they have the most accurate ticker in the business.