If you haven’t seen the movie you probably assumed it was about the great chess player Bobby Fischer. It wasn’t, it was based on the life of chess prodigy, Josh Waitzkins. Basically his teacher wanted him to be like Fischer. Waitzkins didn’t have Fishcer’s meanstreak and wins with more diplomacy. I had no clue there was sportsmanship in chess. I guess hitting the timer button to hard is unsportsmanlike.
At times hockey is like a chess match, especially when you are a playing defence. You try to read and anticipate what the offensive players will do, and this year the Oilers have been very good in their own zone, however, they’ve only scored once in three of their five games. Usually they are attacking like pawns, with limited moves, but they will need to start incorporating some strategy similar to a Bishop, Rook or Queen if they plan on scoring.
It is very early, but only Boston and New Jersey are averaging fewer goals per game than the Oilers, but only NYI and Det are allowing fewer goals. Through five games the Oilers look more like the Minnesota Wild circa Jacques Lemaire, than Lemaire’s high-flying playing days with the Habs.
Last year the Oilers surrendered 3.17 goals against, 28th in the league, and Renney vowed they would be better. It helps that they’ve had very good to excellent goaltending thus far, but winning draws and not being hemmed in their own zone for 45 seconds at a time hasn’t hurt either.
It’s great to see the improvement in defence, but the Oilers need to start generating more offence, especially five-on-five. They’ve only scored four goals (I don’t count the empty net) 5-on-5 in five games, worst in the league. Only Ryan Smyth and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have scored at EV. That isn’t good enough.
The Oilers PP is currently 14th, 4 for 23, so their PP hasn’t been bad, excluding the final ten minutes in CGY. They need to start going to the dirty areas, unless they plan on relying on their PP and solid defensive play to win games.
Taylor Hall is feeling better and he’ll return alongside RNH and Jordan Eberle.The Oilers didn’t run any lines at the morning skate. Shawn Horcoff wasn’t out there, but Renney said he expects him to play. Outside of the H2E line, the rest werent’ sure who they were playing with.
I doubt Renney will start up the blender too much, so I’m guessing we’ll see the same line combinations as the Nashville game.
Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Smyth – Horcoff – Jones
Paajarvi – Belanger – Omark
Eager – Lander – Petrell
Whitney – Potter
Smid – Gilbert
Peckham – Sutton
Sam Gagner skated, but he won’t play tonight. He is likely to make his season debut on Saturday v. the Rangers. Theo Peckham will be the healthy scratch tonight.
The Wild will start Nicklas Backstrom, and his 19-2-1 record v. the Oilers. The good news for the Oilers is the two losses and OT loss came in Edmonton. He is a ridiculous 15-0 with a 1.19 GAA and .954 SV% at home against the Oilers.
The Wild are 2-2-2 so far with Guillaume Latendresse leading the offence with 1-4-5. Matt Cullen is off to a good start with three goals in six games.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: After a blood test and and IV, Hall will tally his first EV goal of the season and the Oilers will skate to away with a less-than-exciting 2-1 victory. (Usually I hope more more offense, and it never happens, so for the fans sake I’m going predict the opposite and hopefully you watch an exciting game.0
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Midway through the 2nd period many of you will announce how much you hate the boring Minnesota Wild, unfortunately you’ve said that in four of the five Oiler games thus far. So far the Oilers have contributed just as much to ennui we’ve witnessed thus far.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After a near "Derrick" disaster that almost crushed the young hockey player (Devan Dubnyk calmly steered him from harms way) who gets to stand on the blueline for the anthem, tonight’s young chap will stand in the corner until the Derrick is hoisted to the roof. Then he’ll race to the blueline, stop sharply and blow snow on the back of Whitney’s legs. Whitney will tap the young chap on the pads, and whisper to him in his Boston accent "Yourrrrr gonna get a signed Rrrrrrayan Nugent-Hopkins jerrrrrsey if I score." The kid will be rooting for Whitney all night, but when he doesn’t score the kid will cry until his dad relents and buys him the RNH jersey. He will also ask his dad why Whitney rolls his Rs. His dad like most of us won’t have a good answer.
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