I wonder if the Big Guy was thinking about Oiler fans when he said this? The Oil might need some Divine Intervention if they hope to pick up their 8th home win of the season tonight. Yes, if you are season ticket holder, you have only left Rexall seven times with that winning feeling. If you aren’t a regular and somehow managed to be at Rexall for a win, consider yourself lucky.
They’ve lost seven straight at home, and during that span they are 1-for-29 on the PP and have scored a grand total of ten goals. I understand the team isn’t that talented or experienced at this point, but they need to start giving the home town crowd something to cheer about.
After two weekend efforts that produced a whopping 30 shots, the Oilers face the Dallas Stars for the fourth time in 33 days. The Oilers have lost all three, 3-2, 4-2 and 3-1, but they’ve outshot the Stars 41-20, 32-24 and 35-21 in those games. It is rare that the Oilers have lost games that they deserved to win this year, but you can make a strong case they should have won at least two of the previous three meetings.
Not only have the Stars won all three, they’ve won the physical battles as well. For one of the few times this season I thought the Oilers initiated the physical play during the last meeting. James Neal challenged Theo Peckham after he went after Brad Richards. Kris Barch went after Jim Vandermeer and Zack Stortini because of hits they delivered.
Tonight the Oilers need to play just as aggressive, in fact, they need to be even more aggressive to show their loyal fans they still care.
Steve Tambellini addressed the team yesterday and the message was to stick together. The entire organization is in this together was the gist of the rallying cry. Be proud of the logo on the front of the jersey, and show that you are proud to be in the NHL was also delivered. We’ll see how the team reacts to the GM’s message later tonight.
The Stars have only three wins in their last ten, two of them against the Oilers, and it looks like the Cinderella Stars are falling back to earth. A month ago the Stars were comfortably in a playoff spot, now they are only three points out of tenth place. While the Oilers should be angry tonight, don’t expect the Stars to take them lightly. They can’t afford to lose to the 30th place team when six teams are breathing down their neck.
Brad Richards, Adam Burish, Krys Barch and Jamie Benn are all out tonight. The Stars are reeling and they are banged up, but don’t expect them to roll over and hand the Oilers two points.
Taylor Chorney will replace Jeff Petry and play with Ladislav Smid. Steve MacIntyre, Jason Strudwick and Colin Fraser will sit out. Renney explained why Fraser will watch tonight.
"I think there are locations in our lineup, and Fraz isn’t alone in that department, that can give us more pop in their game. When I think back to Colin Fraser, I think of a guy who is abrasive, a guy who can finish checks and wants to, goes to the tough areas and can make life tough on other teams when he’s engaged that way. I want to stress that is he not alone in this department. I think there are guys of a similar status and size that need to do the same thing. Maybe this (sitting out) is the beginning of making sure guys understand what is expected of them, so at the very least our young guys know this is what the coach will deliver on if you aren’t performing properly."
Nikolai Khabibulin will start and Liam Reddox will centre Ryan Jones and JF Jacques. Horcoff is back with Hemsky and Penner, while the Sam Gagner will centre the Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi and Andrew Cogliano is between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
Gilbert Brule took Tom Renney’s skating test today and did well according to the coach. He will put Brule through a physical practice tomorrow, and then Renney expects him to be ready; possibly as early as Thursday v. Montreal. The Oilers would have to make a roster move, and right now it might be Colin Fraser. We will see.
If you are on Twitter and following Linus Omark, you should know that is not him. I asked him today if that was him and he looked at me and said, "What is Twitter."
TRADE PENNER OR HEMSKY: YOU SURE?
Every day I get loads of emails from fans with trade proposals involving Ales Hemsky and/or Dustin Penner. Some of them are reasonable, while others are clearly written with Oiler coloured glasses. If you go back to the summer of 2007, when the Oilers signed Penner to that RFA offer sheet, and ended up surrendering a 1st, 2nd and 3rd pick in 2008 many felt it was a horrible mistake. That Dustin Penner wasn’t worth three picks.
Almost four years later here is a breakdown of that trade.
CAN I GET AN EIGHT?
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are coming off their worst performance of the season, Tom Gilbert said so on my show yesterday, and the Stars have lost seven of ten. The previous three meetings have been pretty intense this year, so all the signs point to tonight being entertaining and physical. Of course I’m expecting the same, but I’ve learned that every time I expect a physical game, it doesn’t happen. So I’m going to go with reverse psychology and expect it to be as exciting as watching the Notebook by yourself. (Not that I have, I’m just saying.)
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Khabibulin wins. Who would have guessed it.