When you’ve only won eight home games, you try to relish them and make sure they all count. On Tuesday Rexall was rocking and rolling like it hadn’t since the home opener victory over the Calgary Flames back on October 7th. Tonight the home town faithful will be hard pressed to match the annoying chants of Canadiens’ fans.
In grade four I was put in French Immersion because my parents wanted me to learn another language. I wasn’t a huge fan of the decision then, but love the fact I can speak two languages now. Grade four to nine in big, bad Beaumont was a great time, and then I went to Ecole Secondaire J.H Picard for high school. High scholo was a blast in the city, except for the 7 a.m bus pick up at the farm and having so many damn Habs fans in school.
I’m not a "fan" of the Oilers anymore, the job forces you to lose that feeling, but I still hate the Flames and the Habs. 1986 and 1989 were easily the two worst years of my life. Nothing will ever match those years enduring the Phleghms and Habs fans rooting for their teams in the Stanley Cup finals.
One of my best buddies, Benny, was a Habs fan and when Mike McPhee scored eight seconds into OT in Calgary v. the Flames I was happy because I hated the Flames worse. But after the Habs one in 1986, listening to him rave on about how the Canadiens were the greatest organization ever until the Oilers won the Cup in 1987 was to much to handle. I barely watched the 1989 Cup final, I chose shovelling out pig pens instead, which showed how much I hated those two teams.
Even now 20 years later, my disdain for the Habs and Flames is still there.
I’m going to visit some buddies in Calgary this weekend, and they the audacity to ask if I wanted to check out the Heritage Classic Alumni game on Saturday. I’d take cleaning out a chicken coop (chicken shit is worst smell ever) or a date with Rita Neil over watching the legends of those two franchises. Tonight I will root for a Canadiens loss just so Oiler fans in the stands won’t have to endure the chants on their way out of Rexall.
OILERS NEED TO BE READY EARLY
If the Oilers allow the Habs to score first the usual cast of annoying jersey wearing, OLE OLE OLE chanting and "we have 24 Cups" shouting fans will emerge at Rexall Place.
Even Tom Renney knows his team has to get the upper hand early.
"This team always starts well, it doesn’t matter if they’re at home or on the road, so we have to make sure we take our start to them and don’t allow them to feel real good about what it is they are up to. We have to make sure we manage our shifts well, push the pace, try to play as much hockey in their own, so they can’t feel good about their game. They have a great counter-attack game, they move the puck well and they attack with numbers and speed. We have to take care of that first, so my suggestion is to take all of that to them first and make them defend us."
While the Oilers will defend the puck and their end of the rink, it is always interesting to watch Oiler fans defend their home turf.
Leafs and Habs fans are very loyal. They show up wearing their colours regularly, and I respect that, but tonight Oiler fans should ensure that the home crowd is louder. If the Oilers listen to their coach, and get off to a good start, then the fans should be able to hold down the fort.
Sacre Bleu Oiler fans get off your hands tonight.
Renney will go with the exact same lineup from Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Stars. Nikolai Khabibulin will try to win consecutive games since beating Toronto on Dec 2nd and the Blues Dec 4th.
Gilbert Brule passed Renney’s test with flying colours. The test involves skating, turning and stopping. The skater does a "test" four times, with about two to three minutes rest between tests. In Brule’s first test he finished in 45.3 seconds and his fourth one he was 46.3 seconds, so not much of a drop off at all. Renney was impressed with the results and wants to get Brule in one more contact practice before activating him. Brule says he feels fine and is itching to get back in the lineup.
SAY NO TO DRUGS, BUT YES TO POUTINE
GAME DAY PREDICTION: How awesome would it be if the concessions had Poutine tonight. Poutine and sexy women go hand-in-hand in Montreal, and if the Habs brought those to Rexall Place I might not be so anti Habs. The Oilers are emotional team, and while it was only one win, they will ride the wave to their second straight tonight, 4-1 over the Habs.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Those not going to the game will love watching the game on CBC and listening to their best crew, Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson. It will be so refreshing not hearing the colour guy glow about Carey Price and Nikolai Khabibulin every time they make a routine save.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Late in the 3rd period after the Oilers score an empty net goal to secure the win, the big screen will start playing the Na na na na, Na na na na, Hey Hey Goodbye song, that Montreal sings at home. I’ll admit that it is a great way to end an evening for the home crowd. It would be awesome if the Oilers in-house production crew fired up the crowd late in the game…