It’s Hockey Day in Canada, as we celebrate the game many of love to play, watch and critique. Most of us have played hockey on an outdoor rink, where the sounds of the game seem so natural and simplistic. Whether it is your blades cutting into the ice, or how your stick echos when you recieve a hard pass, the thud of the puck hitting the boards on a just-missed shot or the sweet "clink" of the puck going off the post and into the net, those sounds are what make hockey great.
The energy of a Rexall Place during the playoffs or even during a ferocious comeback in the third period in January still energizes even the most pessimistic fan. Today hockey fans across the country will sit down and watch Canada’s six teams display all of our favourite attributes of the game, and it will start with a Titanic battle for 30th place and a chance to have the first overall pick in June.
In Edmonton and Ottawa hope and belief of better days are just as rampant as hearing the sweet sounds of the game.
The Oilers, despite being in 30th, should be favoured in this game.
The 29th play Sens are reeling.
Daniel Alfredsson is hurt, Mike Fisher was traded and Brian Elliott, who is supposed to start in goal, is on a 13-game losing streak. Elliott and Nikolai Khabibulin, who is also carrying a 13-game losing streak, will go head-to-head for a chance to celebrate a win for the first time in over six weeks. Two goalies riding 13-game losing streaks has to be a record, but I wasn’t able to get confirmation from the Elias Sports Bureau. (Hopefully we can get an answer later)
Shawn Horcoff has bronchitis and won’t play today. It looks like JF Jacques will take his spot on the roster, and we won’t know what the lines are until warm up, because there was no morning skate today. I really don’t think line combinations matter much at this point. If the Oilers PP can’t get going they might only win five games down the stretch. They need to find a way to score a goal or two with the man advantage if they want to win.
WHAT CAN YOU SAY?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Noon starts in Edmonton are as rare as human candy cane outfits, and most likely just as gaudy. The Oilers have had one home noon start in their history, a loss to Nashville, so they will try to even their noon record today. I expect the Oilers to win, and also say goodbye to finishing in last place. The Sens will be gutted before the end of the month, and down the stretch there is no way the Oilers can possibly match Ottawa’s futility. Oilers win 4-2 and will need some lottery luck if they want the first pick.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It won’t be a pretty game, but Taylor Hall will pot a pair of goals and Senator fans will all be clamouring, "It’s okay to be brutal, because we’ll get a chance to draft our own Taylor Hall in June."
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite the noon start, beer sales will be flowing like it is Saturday night. Most of you won’t be able to pace yourself and at around 11 p.m. this evening many bars will see a higher than usual exodus. Remember boys and girls pace yourselves. Hockey Day in Canada is a marathon and not a sprint, and for every two beers on this unofficial national holiday have a glass of water.
Best of luck to Lowetide and his debut of NATION RADIO today at noon on Edmonton Sports Radio, TEAM 1260. I’m looking forward to some great radio every Saturday at noon.