This is the theme song for a 60’s TV show called The Baron starring someone or other called Steve Forrest. I thought it was relevant given that Oilers fans will be treated to a different Baron Show for the remainder of the season – the Oklahoma City Barons, dressed up in Oilers silks.
Tonight’s Oiler lineup will consist of seven players who weren’t on the opening-day 23-man roster. Chris Vande Velde and Teemu Hartikainen will make their NHL debuts, while Ryan O’Marra, Alex Giroux, Liam Reddox, Jeff Petry and Linus Omark also weren’t here on October 7th.
Tom Renney must have been shaking his head in amazement when he sat down to figure out his lines for tonight. Here are the lines, and keep in mind I don’t see anything that resembles a bonafide first or second line, they are just listed in order.
Ryan Jones/Andrew Cogliano/Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi/Colin Fraser/Linus Omark
Alex Giroux/Ryan O’Marra/Liam Reddox
Steve MacIntyre/Chris Vande Velde/Teemu Hartikainen
Ladislav Smid/Tom Gilbert
Jeff Petry/Jim Vandermeer
Jason Strudwick/Kurtis Foster
The Oilers don’t have a forward who has scored 20 goals in a season, and in fact, only Cogliano has more than three full years of NHL experience. They will need to give their best possible effort just to stay competitive tonight.
O’Marra looks like he just climbed out a dumpster. He is rocking the long, shaggy locks, with a scraggily beard and he has two dark shiners.
"I finished my check pretty hard on Grand Rapids’ D-man Doug Janik on Saturday. His stick went flying, and it probably looked and sounded worse than it was, but he was okay and he got right up. As I was skating back up the ice on the backcheck, Straub (Brandon) a pretty tough guy, big guy, came out of my peripheral, so I turned and dropped my gloves as fast as I could. It wasn’t fast enough and I instictively grabbed for his right, but it turns out he is a lefty. Note to self — Straub throws pretty hard," laughed O’Marra.
FLYING TO WINNIPEG
For the past few years we’ve heard that Phoenix or some other NHL team was going to relocate to Winnipeg, but no team has been as close as the Coyotes are right now. In a last ditch effort to save the Coyotes, the city of Glendale and Gary Bettman, have tried to convince fans/residents/companies to purchase bonds, which would essentially help "subsidize" prospective owner, Matthew Hulsizer.
The Goldwater Institute – a local government watchdog – has threatened to sue the city if they enter into this type of deal. Most citizens don’t want to risk buying the bonds if a potential lawsuit is part of the package, and if Glendale can’t sell the bonds the Coyotes will leave.
That makes tonight’s game even more unique, because it could be the final time you see a Coyotes’ jersey on the ice at Rexall place.
The Coyotes aren’t the most exciting team to watch, but they do have one of the most underrated D-men in the league, Keith Yandle. Yandle and Lubomir Visnovsky lead the league in scoring amongst blueliners with 57 points, and both average 24:24 of icetime per game.
Yandle is in his third full season, and his offensive numbers have improved every year. He’s gone from 30 to 41 and now up to 57 in a short three years. He skates very well, is a very good passer and he is starting to shoot the puck more often. His head coach, Dave Tippett, feels he will be a regular Norris trophy candidate for the next many years.
If the NHL finally wakes up and moves the Dogs back to Winnipeg, Yandle will become an instant fan favourite. I’m sure some Jets’s fans will compare him to former blueliner, Phil Housley. Both are Americans, but Yandle is much better defensively than Housley ever was.
The Coyotes enter tonight’s tilt in a battle with LA and San Jose for first place in the Pacific division and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Sharks sit in 3rd in the West with 88 points, while the Kings and Coyotes each have 85. The Coyotes are only four points up on 9th place Calgary, so they should be licking their chops when the scan the Oiler’s lineup this afternoon.
LUCK OF THE IRISH
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Rexall will be rocking tonight, not because the game is exciting, but because most of the crowd will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. If the usual Rexall "Heroin" beer have green added to them, it will be an even more festive crowd. They will be loud all night long despite only seeing two home goals in a 4-2 Oiler loss.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan O’Marra and Liam Reddox will score the goals because O’Marra is Irish and Reddox is a Ginger. Most Irish are depicted as Gingers, so the Red Ox will bury his first of the season. It will be a deflection off of his arse — proving there is such a thing as the Luck of the Irish.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The last time the Coyotes were in town, twitter sensation, BizNasty (Paul Bissonnette) lost his phone while shopping. A few Edmontonians tweeted they had found his
blackbook phone, but he never got it back. Bissonette was stilled irked about it this morning, and he’ll score his 5th career goal in the 2nd period. After the game he’ll tweet, "Hey Munsons, did you see those sweet hands tonight? If you don’t want me to light it up next time I’m here, return my phone. BOOM".