Former Oiler, Jason Strudwick, told me on my show yesterday that he hated the Canucks more than any other team. They are cocky, arrogant, mouthy, chippy and good. Toss in their riot-happy fans and you have a combination that ranks the Canucks #1 as the biggest rival for the Oilers and their fans.
Despising the opposition makes the game more exciting as a fan. You’re into the game more. You cheer louder for every hit, pass or goal. You find yourself yelling at the TV, or yelling at players, more often after a bad play. You probably drink more beer during a rivalry game.
Being a fan is more fun when your team plays their bitter rival, so I expect Rexall to be jumping tonight.
Not only will you be fired up to hate on the Canucks tonight, most Oiler fans will be giddy watching Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle play together. Tom Renney has elected to play the trio together again after a few decent preseason games.
The Oilers need to find some scoring, and I’m curious to see how they play together. I’m more curious to see who Renney matches them up against. You have to think he’ll play the Smyth/Horcoff/Jones line against the Sedins as much as he can. Without Ryan Kesler or Mason Raymond the Canucks 2nd line isn’t nearly as dangerous or as difficult to play against, so I’d play the kids against Hodgson’s line as much as possible.
NEW GAME NEW COMBOS
With only two goals in two games I don’t blame Renney for trying some new line combinations again tonight. He needs to find some scoring.
Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Smyth – Horcoff – Jones
Paajarvi – Belanger – Omark
Hordichuk – Lander – Petrell
Smid – Gilbert
Barker – Peckham
Sutton – Potter
Jeff Petry will watch from the pressbox tonight. He has played okay, and this move is more about getting Potter in than having to take out Petry. They would like to see him move the puck a bit quicker. Watching one game from the pressbox will allow him to see that he has more time than he thinks. I’m sure he will be back in on Monday or Tuesday.
This is a big game for Dubnyk. He played great in the season opener and the preseason, but if he wants to become the starter he needs to string together five or six consecutive solid starts. I think Dubnyk is ready to become the starter and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t play well.
Ales Hemsky won’t play, but he told Rob Tychkowski (Edmonton Sun), "Shoulder is fine, just a little sore. Labrum is fine. We have to meet with doctors, but I’m good." Good news for Hemsky is that it doesn’t sound too serious, but the bad news was that his shoulder got tweaked on a non-contact play.
ICE WOMEN OF THE WEEK
Here’s a few beauties that should make your Saturday a bit better.
I wonder if RIM will land a spokesperson like Larissa Riquelme to try and lessen the backlash they’ve taken with all their BBM problems the week. Riquelme is a famous Paraguayan actress and model. She became famous at the 2010 World Cup as a model/spokesperson for Nokia. She stored her phone in a unique place. She was also listed #93 in the top 99 hottest women at askmen.com
Ximena Navarrete was Miss Universe in 2010. She is incredibly stunning.
And the lovely and talented Malin Akerman.
And finally check out this pic of Grace, a Dallas Stars Ice Girl. This pic along with her thoughts on being an ambassador
make for a unique connection.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: After a brutal final 40 minutes in Minnesota the Oilers will come up with some jump. We will finally see some offence, but they will lose an entertaining affair 4-3. Nugent-Hopkins notches his 2nd goal of the season in the loss.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Roberto Luongo will make a routine save and Canuck fans will instantly cheer…LUUUUUU….It is ridiculous how often they chant his name for routine stops. Right after the annoying LUUUUUU Oiler fans should reply with a chant of SERRRRRRRRR….
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ladislav Smid will end his 124-game goalless drought, by wiring a shot from the high slot. Smid will erupt with a huge celebration that will include him doing his best Georges Laraque impression and jumping up against the glass. Smid will have a perma-grin on his face for the remainder of the game.