I remember the last time the Edmonton Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, Jan. 16, 2007, for two reasons — some things just stick in your mind.
It’s been 16 games since the Oilers beat the Wild in the Land of 1,000 Lakes, winning 2-1 on goals by Joffrey Lupul and Marc-Andre Bergeron in front of a 28-save performance by Dwayne Roloson.
First, that win is the last road game I covered as the beat man for the newspaper I worked for here in town. Had I known I’d be notified shortly after I didn’t fit into the plans any more, I might have swiped a towel or two from the grand, old St. Paul Hotel as mementos.
Second, I’ll never forget how coach Craig MacTavish made the decision to make Brad Winchester a healthy scratch for the game, despite knowing Winchester’s parents had travelled from Wisconsin to see the game.
It was apparent then that Winchester, crushed as you’d expect by MacTavish’s decision, didn’t fit into the plans either. Winny outlasted me, hanging around until he was cut loose at the end of the 2006-07 season. Doubt he thought to pinch any towels, either.
Of course, neither event has any bearing on what’ll unfold when the Oilers face the Wild Thursday — there aren’t many guys left from either team — but the events of that day do serve as a personal reminder how much time, coming up on five years, has passed.
I’m not calling the shot for the Oilers to end the streak, but it stands to reason the breaks are bound to change at some point after all this time. At least, I’d like to think they will.
I’LL TAKE THE UNDER
Jason Gregor was taking friendly over/under wagers on his radio show on TEAM 1260 today for a return by defensemen Ryan Whitney from surgery on his right ankle and was pitching Oct. 27 as the cut-off date. I’ll take the under.
My understanding — call it an educated guess if you’d like — is that, barring any setbacks, Whitney and the Oilers have targeted next Tuesday’s game against the Flames in Calgary as a return date.
If Whitney, who is skating in Edmonton, hits the date, he’ll have missed the first four games of the season — Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Vancouver (Saturday) and Nashville (Monday).
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.