GDB 2.0: END THE INSANITY

 

For the past 57 months, every time the Oilers play a regular season game in Minnesota you’ve witnessed many more Wild celebrations than Oiler ones. The Oilers are 0-14-2 in their last 16 games in Minnesota and they’ve been outscored 58-21 in those games. 

There are a few different theories as to why the Oilers can’t win at the Excel Energy Centre.

Some think it’s because their last win came on Robin Brownlee’s last road trip as a beat writer. Brownlee’s last road game writing for the Sun was also the last time the Oilers won in Minny, Jan 16th, 2007. I know Rueben is into black magic, but he swears he didn’t put the "Bronte" curse on the Oilers while vacating the Excel Energy Centre.

It might be the "Winchester Curse." Brad Winchester’s parents drove up from Wisconsin to watch their son play that night, but after taking warmup Craig MacTavish elected not to dress him. Needless to say the Winchester’s weren’t very happy. Brad didn’t re-sign in the off-season, and I wonder if he cursed the dressing room while watching the game in his suit?

***Emailer Russ pointed out that M.A Bergeron scored the last game winner in Minnesota that January evening in 2007, and today he turns 31. Maybe some strange Bergeron Karma will occur.***

The Oilers visited Minnesota three more times that yer, after the Winchester benching, and they got spanked 4-1, 3-0 and 3-0. They have never recovered, and I wonder if Tom Renney will take a page out of one of the greatest sports movie scenes ever, and "cut off the head of a live roster," to remove the curse hanging over Oilers organization in Minnesota.

 

"We’re dealing with a lot of shit," is one of the best lines in Bull Durham – One of the greatest sports movies of all time.

Funny thing is I have a rooster at the farm right now, Cocky, who is a tad too aggressive for my Mom’s liking, and he’s destined to get the "chop" before winter. I should have asked Renney if he needed a live rooster, because I’m sure the resident hunter on the team, Ryan Jones, would have been willing to help complete the deed.

Speaking of Jones and curses, I wonder if the Oilers will be cursed after I noticed one of the worst photo-shopped pictures in history. Across from Rexall Place on Wayne Gretzky Drive, where the Molson Canadian five Stanley Cup rings billboard used to be, is a brand new Sportsnet Billboard.

It has Sportsnet’s new colour schemes and a picture of Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff, Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth/Jones.

This is the photo they have of "Smyth", Sure it is face, but that is clearly Jones’ gloves, stick, body and most importantly, his hair. How did they think people wouldn’t notice that wasn’t Smyth’s real hair?

Are you kidding me?

Smyth’s hair has been his calling card for years in Edmonton, and everyone knows it is sandy-blonde-light brown,not dark brown, or almost black like Jones’.

I’m all for photoshopping, but they should have asked the Nation to help them out. This is they type of photoshop Nation readers/posters produce.

That is some good photoshopping.

LINE UP

Renney wasn’t happy with Linus Omark’s performance in game one, and #23 will be watching from the pressbox tonight. Lennart Petrell will take his place and play in his first NHL game, and Nikolai Khabibulin gets the start between the pipes.

Hemsky/Nugent-Hopkins/Hall
Smyth/Belanger/Eberle
Paajarvi/Horcoff/Jones
Petrell/Lander/Hordichuk

Sutton/Gilbert
Smid/Peckham
Barker/Petry

Khabibulin

Dressing Khabibulin tonight, and I’m guessing Dubnyk at home v. Vancouver on Saturday, gives you the impression that Dubnyk is the #1 goalie for now. Renney hasn’t addressed who is his starter, and likely won’t for a bit, but right now Dubnyk is slightly ahead.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will remain undefeated and win 5-3. Considering they’ve scored 13 goals in their last nine games in Minnesota that prediction seems completely asinine, but if Sportsnet thinks Edmontonians wouldn’t know the difference between Smyth and Jones’ hair, then I’ll stick with the lunacy and go with Eberle leading the way with a pair of goals. 

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: We will see the Taylor Fedun replay at least twice during the broadcast, especially after a close chase for the puckon an icing play. I’m sure Fedun’s family would prefer not to see it again, and I’m with them.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In his season-opening debut, Gene Principe will show up with a rubber chicken. Instead of cutting of the head, because Gene is way to classy for that and it’s a family show, he will suggest the Oilers are hoping to get some rubber bounces to go their way as he tosses the chicken and picks up a puck. Book it. 

      • stevezie

        Amen. Maybe Gagner isn’t as disposable as some thought; even Omark might have helped. There were a lot of forwards who didn’t look bad, but not many who seemed dangerous. Haven’t noticed pre-shootout Eberle as much as I was hoping.

    • neojanus

      Yeah it seems to be the theme in pro sports right now. I’ve watched a bunch of hockey and football games and playing defence seems to be a lost art form this fall.

      For the most part though the defence wasn’t terrible, especially considering the fact that it’s a fairly inexperienced group. Although on the Cullen goal Gilbert looked really lost and over-committed to the pass.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        In a 3 on 1 situation the defenceman plays the pass and the tender plays the shot. Gilbert played it properly and the shot was a bullet that Habby didn’t have much chance on. Blame any or all of the other 4 Oilers on the ice. Blaming Gilbert on that one is absolutely ridiculous.

  • SiD

    I raise this question if Omark got benched do to getting cute with the puck in the shootout and missing (if that was the reason) wouldn’t Hall be made an example of for the same reason. Your going against a weak shootout goalie and your a shooter why not follow the likes of Eberle and shoot?

  • stevezie

    I don’t think that’s why Omark was benched. I don’t think he’s in the doghouse, he just wasn’t that great in game one and someone had to sit. If Hemsky hadn’t left early we might not have missed him as much.

  • stevezie

    Small sample size but so far:

    Forwards – 2 goals in 2 games – below expectations.

    Defence – 69 shots allowed in two – meets expectations (i.e. defense in not NHL cailber).

    Goalies – Stopped 67 of 69 shots – above expectations.

    • John Chambers

      Small sample size but 3 pts in two games means we’re on pace to finish the season with 123 points.

      Haven’t hoisted a President’s trophy in a while. Should be nice. Weird though that our top scorer will only have 12 goals and 26 points.

  • SiD

    khabby did play well tonight. for that i must give him credit.

    question the 3rd period coaching. RNH stapled to the bench and only one shift in OT? sure he wasn’t great and maybe there is more to the reason but come on, we need offense. please.

  • Shaun Doe

    Sore shoulder for Hemsky? I thought that this was supposed to be a non issue this season. Apparently not. I guess if were going to be 30th again this season the injuries needs to pile up early. Next up Horcoff. All it means is opportunities for guys like Omark and Lander and RNH. Frustrating. 2 goals in 2 games???

  • AussieOil

    Is it just me, or did Hall have a bad game? I felt like he just tried to take everyone one on one, and had serious tunnel vision. Maybe just wants to score early in the season, but needs to be better.

    • neojanus

      Nope wasnt just you Aussie, Hall did try to do to much. He needs to Utilize the Nuge more once he understands that they will be a deadly combo. Speaking of the Nuge WOW! How many take aways did he force? Only two games in and Im sold on the kid. He doesnt look out of place one single bit.

  • neojanus

    This loss is entirely based upon lack of intensity in the neutral zone and piss poor passing again.

    The keys to the Wild game are not a mystery. Every game they clog up on the Oilers and the Oilers (like a bunch of idiotic ballet dancers) try to dance around them in perfect unison.

    Minnesota has little to no success against teams driven to keep skating like bats-out-of-hell. Generate some speed, force the stagnant neutral zone to clutch, draw a penalty. Even with a freaking awful power play, it keeps the puck in the offensive zone.

    The Oilers just look completely devoid of chemistry. I mentioned terrible passing after game one and the ice was given the goat… but the truth is, the Oilers passing game looks less than AHL cohesive.

    When passes are a mosaic of too soft, too hard, misdirected and angled poorly, the whole play is killed.

    I think Renney needs to calm down with the line juggling for now, even if it costs us a game or two at the beginning of the season. Let the chemistry develop between at least two stable lines.

    These are very talented players, but they look like they are on the wrong page so far.

    Some great stuff from Sutton. Barker looks good in the fact that you don’t notice him make many mistakes. Petry was a little less solid than game one.

    I also like the look of Jones so far. He has had a few terrific chances and is the one Oiler that has looked somewhat dangerous both games so far. He’ll start scoring if he continues his road.

  • geoilersgist

    I agree with you Aussie, Hall appeared to have his own agenda last night. He looked like he was trying to do it all himself. As much as I hate to say it I have to give props to Khabby for at least keeping the game close.

  • Im not sure I understand the entire infatuation with the “forsberg” move. Rarely successful and regularly an epic fail.

    Hall wasnt good in the entire game but he wasnt alone. Pretty lethargic and disjointed effort over all.

    Vancouver will eat em up on saturday if they bring a similar game.

  • neojanus

    Out coached in third period – discusting only one shot in a period we should excel in . No answer or adjustment(s) from Oilers coach in the third period to the trap . We looked and played like last two seasons disasters in last period and coaching had no respose or adjustment to it . This problem is far beyond just our players . We can’t continue to not being competitive when opposition throws the trap at us !

  • John Chambers

    15 pretty decent minutes and then a descent into utter shambles after Hemsky leaves. Goals for and against is a classic good news/ bad news situation but I think the goals for is the norm and the goals against an aberration. And I thought Horcoff was scary bad. He can’t skate – (lost more than a step, which isn’t coming back), but it was his rookie decisions with the puck that had me throwing pillows at the TV. And his shootout attempt was less than pathetic – if he gets 20 points this year I’ll be surprised. And for 5 million plus? Ouch!

  • John Chambers

    Just caught the 3rd period and OT last night. I was impressed with RNH play in his own end. He’s playing like a guy who’d rather make a couple million $ versus ZERO if he gets sent back to WHL. Hopefully he looks this good in game 10.

    Hemsky – Game 2 and he’s hurt? Not a good sign.
    Hall – WTF was up with that move in the shootout?
    Renney – Why Horcoff as the 4th shooter? Why? When he skated out to take the shot did anyone think he was going to score? Didn’t think so.

    Habby – looked great
    3rd period – 1 shot? oh no, here we go again

          • stevezie

            Just curious if you really meant that he “saved” Horcoff in case it got to the pressure filled 4th spot?

            If Hall or Lander score, Horcoff becomes irrelevant (ie. not important).

            If he truly thought that Horcoff was the guy to handle the pressure, he would have put him in the top 3 to begin with…don’t you think?

          • stevezie

            umm i think we agree?

            nope don’t think he saved Horcoff at all.

            i think the case made for Horcoff’s so% being so great is weak due to the fact the Renney did not use him in the 1,2,3 slot.

            i think when Renney feels the pressure he leans on his vets much more. to be clear i am talking about more than the SO here. the 3rd period showed that in my eyes. less RNH more Horcoff. i don’t get it?

          • neojanus

            I actually think we disagree… maybe… not sure… possibly?

            I think Renney thought Eberle, Lander and Hall were his best options.

            Once they weren’t able to get the job done, he went to his next best option (in his mind).

            I don’t really see it as Renney relying on Horcoff at all. If he believed Horcoff was his safety net – he would have had him in the top 3.

          • stevezie

            I’d agree with this but with a bit of a twist.

            I don’t think they really plan their shooters after the first three. With Hemsky, Omark, Gagner unavailable, your three remaining best options are probably Horcoff, RNH, and Paajarvi in some order (Smytty is a guaranteed slapshot to the pads, but probably next after those guys).

            If you have to pick spur of the moment which of those three to send out to “either score or lose us the game” do you hang that on your 18-year old rookie yet? Renney knows a negative result wouldn’t impact Horcoff.

  • John Chambers

    For all the juggling Renney does he’d make a hell of a circus performer.

    @dougtheslug – what you didn’t hear the outcry about Horc’s stats in shootouts? you know he was 9 for 18 (50%) in previous attempts and in his last 10 in the top 4% of the league….jeez.

    if he is that good why did he shoot FOURTH?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Looks as though Peckham turned his game up an notch like he did at the start of last season.

    Hopkins has an amazing stick, he always seems to have it in the optimal positioning.

    Good on Khabibulin.

  • stevezie

    Horcoff was in the shootout because he is good at the shootout. Stats don’t paint the whole picture of a hockey player because a lot happens in a game that stats don’t cover. Shootouts, however, well you either score or you don’t, that’s all that happens. Horcoff scores much more often than most people, so he is good at the shootout. I really, really don’t see the debate.

  • stevezie

    I wasn’t questioning why he was in the shootout, I was commenting on his overall play, the shootout attempt being symptomatic of his rapidly declining skills. He appeared behind the play all night, and that giveaway in front of his own net late in the third – well, you get drilled not to do that from novice on up – what was he thinking? I’m thinking the game has passed him by – is there a more ineffective captain in the NHL?

  • stevezie

    Soooooo, Hemsky, Gagner, Whitney hurt. Close to how our 30th place finish last year. Oh, Horcoff is yet to get hurt.

    Who is slated number 1 in next year’s draft?