The 1987 sci-fi action flick, Predator, had Arnold Schwarzenegger at his bad-ass best playing Dutch, the leader of a group of commados on a mission in Central America. They were so tough, we only knew them by first name. Dutch, Blain, Mac, Dillon, Billy, Poncho and Hawkins tried to battle the ugliest, yet toughest, extra-terrestrial warrior know as The Predator. I vividly remember Mac (Bill Duke) finally losing his mind and going after the Predator only to get blown away in the bushes. He and Billy seemed fearless to me, and Dutch, well he was played by Arnie, there was no one tougher than him.
With great tough-guy actors like Jesse Venture (Blain) and Carl Weathers (Dillon) I recall thinking this Predator is one mean SOB, if he can kill all these guys. Except Dutch of course, Dutch was invincible.
When the Oilers face the Predators tonight, I don’t see anyone with Dutch-like qualities, and it looks like "Mac" isn’t even going to dress. It will be a long night.
When you are the 30th place team every game is a challenge, but certain clubs are harder to handle for the Oilers, and the Preds are one of them. Barry Trotz always has his team ready to play. They are built around two elite D-man, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, a solid netminder, Pekka Rinne, and a bunch of guys who play hard-and-in-your-face most nights.
Sergei Kostitsyn is the only forward with 30 points, Partik Hornqvist leads them in goals with 16, and despite not having one offensive star, they sit fourth in the west because they get a little offence from every line. Trotz plays four lines, and he gets some production, and lots of effort from all of them.
Eighteen different forwards are averaging over ten minutes a game. The Preds have had a fair amount of guys hurt this year, but when Trotz plugs a new guy in he gives him a chance to contribute in some form or another.
LINE UP SHUFFLE
Tom Renney will insert Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones in place of Steve MacIntyre and JF Jacques. Considering MacIntyre played a combined one minute in the past two games, dressing him doesn’t make much sense. I see no point in dressing a guy and playing him one or two shifts a game. It doesn’t accomplish anything, regardless of how big and tough he is. Dubnyk will start.
- The first PP unit should be Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Dustin Penner with Kurtis Foster and Linus Omark on the points. Omark has great vision, and rarely stands in one spot. I know that screws up the line combos, but the PP is absolutely killing this team, and Renney needs to find a combination that can score at least once in every ten chances.
- Shawn Horcoff is not a PP guy, and shouldn’t be on the first unit. It doesn’t mean he is a bad player, he just isn’t a great PP guy. End of story.
- If the Oilers ever get another 5 on 3, feel free to try and penetrate the middle of the defensive triangle. Moving the puck on the outside and trying the cross-ice pass through the crease shouldn’t be the only play in the playbook.
- Thank goodness the game isn’t on CBC tonight. I can’t stand listening to goalie commentators constantly rave over the goalies. Yes Khabibulin played very well in the first period, Kevin Weekes, but he came into the game on a 12-game losing streak. Had you said just once, "Khabibulin is playing his best game in a month and looks like determined to end his losing streak," it might have given you some credibility. You just sounded like a former goalie, praising a goalie for making stops, which is what he is SUPPOSED to do.
- Interesting debate between Don Cherry and Eric Francis on Saturday. Cherry ripped Andrew Ference for telling the media he didn’t like his teammate, Daniel Paille, hit v. the Stars. Francis applauded Ference for saying it shouldn’t be in the game. Last year when Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin said they didn’t agree with teammate Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard, how come Grapes didn’t rip those two guys?
- I’m sure the outcome in Columbus frustrated many fans, but that was one of the more entertaining games of the year. Great pace, solid goaltending and lots of chances. The Oilers do try the majority of the time, but it becomes more clear every game that Steve Tambellini has to find some guys who try, but can also add a physical element.
MONDAY NIGHT MAYHEM?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: I feel for the loyal fans who still watch the Oilers night in and night out. You deserve a win, but I don’t see it happening in Nashville. The Oilers have one win in their last eight visits to Nashville, and unfortunately I don’t see their luck changing tonight. Preds win 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have three goals in their last 72 PP chances, while the Preds have killed off 57 of 64 penalties. The Preds are 89% on the PK in their last 19 games, and the Oilers are a woeful 4.4%. The Oilers will will actually score a PP goal tonight, but they won’t be able to capitalize on another two-man advantage.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Preds have a Dance team and an Ice Girls team, which has to be the main reason why, despite rarely selling out, they have one of the loudest rinks in the league. I’ve researched the Dance team and Ice Girls, and I like the Ice Girls better. The southern drawl in Chastity’s voice is southing…
During the 2nd period when they are scrapping the ice, Chastity will hit a rut and take a spill. Theo Peckham, being the ultimate gentelman, will skate over and offer her a hand up. Her knee will be bleeding so Peckham will promptly grab the shovel and finish scrapping in front of the Oilers bench. The bench will erupt in laughter and the Oilers will tie the game on their next shift. In the first TV timeout of the 3rd with the Oilers trailing by one, Peckham will offer to shovel again, but Chastity refuses to give up her shovel for fear the Oilers will score the go-ahead goal. When the Preds score the winning goal, the big screen will show Chastity turning down Peckham, and the crowd goes nuts, proving that once again nice guys finish last.