SURPRISES KEEP COMING

The advice in the proverb "Never look a gift horse in the mouth", is that when given a present, be grateful for your good fortune and don’t look for more by examining it to assess its value.

Right now how many of you are wondering WTH is happening with your Oilers? A better question is how many of you aren’t in total shock?

Answer: ZERO

I understand after more than two decades of being average, below average and plain awful, many of you probably aren’t sure how to handle the Oilers’ early-season success.

 

If you weren’t around during the ’80s when the Oilers were consistently good, you might want to ask your father or mother how to deal with a winning team, because if you are 30 and under you likely haven’t experienced that feeling. Sure you might have been six or eight when they won their last Cup, but do you remember who scored the OT goal in game four of the Smythe division final over the Kings?

If you don’t you likely don’t really know what a winning team is.

Don’t fret you are likely in the majority.

Most of you experienced 2006, but that was a two month run. It was a shock, you weren’t used to success, hell even your friends, who aren’t hockey fans, got caught up in the euphoria of 2006. Winning regularly is a different phenomenon.

The last time the Oilers won more games than they lost/tied was in 1988. That’s right 22 freaking years since you’ve been able to say your team won more than they lost. In 2006 and 2008 they won 41 games to go .500, but that’s as close as they’ve come.

It is still early, but the Oilers are actually playing well. They aren’t winning by fluke. Yes they got a lucky bounce on Ryan Smyth’s goal last night, but we’ve all heard "Good to be lucky, lucky to be good." You need a bit of both, and right now the Oilers are playing well.

Did the Kings have one great scoring chance that hit the net last night? I can’t remember one.

ENJOY IT DON’T QUESTION IT

There will be lots of time to critique and question why the Oilers are losing, but right now it is hard to find many glaring weaknesses. Mostly we are watching things no one expected.

  • The Oilers special teams have been great. The PP is 10th at 19.2, and they’ve had the 7th most PP opportunities.
     
  • The PK is even better, sitting 5th at 88.2%.
     
  • They are the only team in the league surrending fewer than two goals a game. The Oilers are only allowing 1.33/game. LA and Minny are next at 2.00, so they are significantly better than anyone else at the moment.
     
  • Tom Gilbert is playing physical. He isn’t Scott Stevens, but he manhandled Dustin Penner last night and threw a heavy hit in the 3rd. He looks like a well-rounded D-man right now. Coloured me shocked.
     
  • Smyth is off to his best start ever. He had a career-high 70 points in 2001, and while it is early, he’s on pace for 75 points. Most of us were expecting him to return home and show the kids how to give a consistent, solid effort every night, but not necessarily be in the top-two in scoring. He’s looked possessed so far.
     
  • Nikolai Khabibulin is playing….I can’t even accurately describe how much different he looks this year. Fans are chanting his name at Rexall, which shows how truly ridiculous his turnaround has been.

The great debate for the next few days will be who does Tom Renney sit down when Ales Hemsky returns. Last night a few tweeps suggested the Oilers shouldn’t play him until they lose. I know the Oilers are playing great, but if Hemsky is healthy he plays on my team.

If Renney was basing his decision on merit, then one of Sam Gagner, Magnus Paajarvi or Eric Belanger would be coming out, but I’m not sure he will do that. The 4th line played very well last night, and they’ve done exactly what Renney wants from them. They rarely get scored on, bring some energy and most importantly they don’t turn the puck over.

With every passing game the decision on who to sit becomes more intriguing, and is one of the few things Oiler fans will disagree on.

WOMEN OF THE WEEK

The Oilers have won six in a row, so say hello to six eye catchers, and since the ladies of the Nation asked so politely maybe even something for them….

She was voted #6 in AskMen’s top 99 sexiest women. Cheryl Cole is an English R&B singer and a model.

I watched Underworld last week and how can anyone, guy or girl, not like Kate Beckinsale in her black outfit.

It is great to have the Jets back in the league, but we should always remember the great contribution the Thrashers made to the NHL.

The Oilers aren’t the only surprise in the Western Conference. The Dallas Stars are off to a great start, and they had over 200 ladies try out for their Ice Girls team. Congrats to those who made the cut.

Ask and you shall receive lady readers of the Nation….According to my guest male photo selector, Sarah, ladies think Miguel Iglesias is a looker.

Kelly Brook was #1 in FHM 100 Sexiest women in the World in 2005. She dipped as low as #69 in 2009, but rebounded to #7 in 2010. Just like Smyth has rebounded in Edmonton, Brook showed you she also can become a fan favourite once again. Kudos Kelly.

 

  • Roadhouse

    Jason Gregor said: If you weren’t around during the ’80s when the Oilers were consistently good, you might want to ask your father or mother how to deal with a winning team, because if you are 30 and under you likely haven’t experienced that feeling. Sure you might have been six or eight when they won their last Cup, but do you remember who scored the OT goal in game four of the Smyth division final over the Kings?

    I don’t remember who scored the goal, but I remember getting a badass white cordurouy Marks Work Warehouse Stanley Cup “V” hat in my grade 1 class … and I still rock that hat on game days.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    @Gregor

    “Did the Kings have one great scoring chance that hit the net last night? I can’t remember one.”

    Didn’t Anze hit the crossbar or a post somewhere along the way… I remember hearing the ping.

  • oilbaron

    i say we sit gagner. paajarvi has speed and gagner doesnt. belanger can win faceoffs and play on the PK and gagner cant. the fourth line is playing exactly how we want them to play, same as the 1st and 2nd lines. we should play hemsky on the 3rd line with paajarvi and belanger that way we’ll have great depth up front

    hall nuge eberle……scoring line/
    smyth horc jones….two way line/

    paajarvi belanger hemsky….offensive-utility line/

    eager lander petrell……checking line.

  • I say sit Gagner once Hemsky comes back; let him try and get Paajarvi and Belanger going offensively.
    Once the vet line starts struggling replace Jones with Hemsky.
    Gagner doesn’t necessarily deserve to sit, but that’s the good thing about depth.

    • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

      BLOCK BLOCK…waa-a-a-a-it a second here, this is ON, not the Jungle…OOPS, my bad.

      I too remember $1.49 days, but didn’t the jingle go… Dollar forty nine day, Woodwards. Dollar forty nine day, Tuesday.

      I remember the Woodwards at Southgate, and I “think” there was one at Centennial Mall* (how’s that for dating ones self?), or was that always a Woolco?

      * Centennial Mall was where Mayfield Common is now.

      • Suntory Hanzo

        There was a wood wards in Ed Centre before bought out by the Bay in the early 90s. Facing out to Winston CHurchill Park. Mom worked there when I was in Uni in the jewelry dept.

  • Romanus

    Could we see a trade sooner than later? Hemsky is and will be the Oilers biggest asset on the block come February. Still no contracy extension. Columbus is desparate and “need” to make a deal. This opportunity might not come again to put the screws to Columbus and extract players or picks who might not otherwise be on the table .

  • Dipstick

    Playing Hemsky with PRV and Gagner has two benefits. Firstly, they probably don’t want to disturb lines that are presently performing well. Secondly, Hemsky might kick start PRV and Gagner. Rotate the HS between Lander, Eager and Petrell for a few games and then HS PRV or Gagner if they can’t get their scoring touch.

    • jonnyquixote

      I think you’re bang on, except Eager stays in. He’s here for 3 years and deserves to play without the fear of being a HS – Don’t forget he missed all of TC and pre-season so he’s stiull catching up. Neither Lander nor Petrell throw that punch in the 3rd & they need that element.

      Hands up – who smiled seeing Dr. Moreau’s ill timed late penalty!!! Still hasn’t taken that out of his game…Clap Clap

  • I think the kids need a prolonged period of poor play before breaking them up. If they roll through this road trip and struggle to score, but don’t give up much, they should be kept together. Letting them learn to play the toughs and find their way to success makes sense.

    Belanger to my eye looked like the weak link on the 3rd line last night. Of the 3 he was consistently the one who didn’t have his feet moving and has trouble keeping up. Problem is you need him on the dot and pk and Horc’ better play is a direct result of him in the line up. It might come down to the good old “numbers game” where Petrell or Lander comes out, Belanger drops to the 4C, & Gagner + MPS plays with either Jones or Hemsky.

    Tough call to break up Horc/Smyth/Jones b/c they’ve been effective, but you know Hemmer buries Smyth’s feed on that 2 on 1. Credit to Jones for getting himself into all kinds of good spots, but Geez Louise he had at least 4 sweet chances last night.

    • John Chambers

      I love the out of the box thinking. It’s too bad that the team is playing so well that this type of innovation isn’t being as well received as it was, oh, late last March.

  • Chris.

    I would love to see Lander play with PRV and Hemsky. Belanger with Eager and Petrell. I realize this leaves Gagner in the press box, but to me its either him or Belanger there. Gagner is definately not 4th line material.

  • Chris.

    Michael, I don’t think the Oil are trading Ales Hemsky if they are in a playoff position. The Oil may be wowing the world of hockey, but with the significant lack of secondary scoring, they need this guy to help propels them to a playoff spot.

  • Roadhouse

    Game 4 April 24, 1990: Edmonton 6, Kings 5 (OT) Series: 0-4

    Gregor – its the Smythe division not the Smyth division. Not worries, with realignment coming I would be cool with it being called the Smyth division!

    FYI

    LOS ANGELES – Edmonton’s Joe Murphy scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 6-5 to complete a sweep in the Smythe Division finals.

    For the sixth time in eight years, the Oilers won the Smythe Division, this time thanks to Murphy’s goal at the 4:32 mark of overtime.

    Edmonton’s Esa Tikkanen scored from a difficult angle with 2:55 remaining in the third period to tie the game and force overtime.

    In the second period the Oilers held a 4-1 advantage, yet the Kings fought back to take the lead on four consecutive goals by Bob Kudelski, Luc Robitaille, Mike Krushelnyski and Mike Allison.

  • OutDoorRink

    One good play by Gagner in 6 games does not constitute turning his game around. He has been a liability on the ice 99% of the time that he’s been out there.

    Belanger, on the other hand is 8th over all in the league in face off percentage. And you’d sit Belanger before Gagner? After all of the trouble we’ve had in the dot?

    Horc-Smytty-Jonesy: Do not touch. They can check the crap out of any line in the league and chip in in the scoring department.

    No way do you sit Petrell or Landers so that we can watch Sam cough the puck up at our blue line over and over again. I’d be shopping Gagner big time right now. We have so much talent on the farm just waiting for a chance.

    Gagner and Omark would fetch us a nice defenseman and some picks.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    No trades please, unless it’s an absolute blockbuster that fetches a Weber or a Keith.

    Let this soup stew for a while. Let the flavours do their thing and see what we end up with. Let the Chef do his thing. In Renney I Trust!!

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Hey Jason, I had my heart set on another lottery pick this year to really set us up. Man are we ever going to have to suck to get there now!

    Oh yah, I haven’t kept up but are we still wanting to fire Tambo?

    Cheers.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Good problems to have. We have guys who are being HS on our farm team that would be playing on the top line of some farm teams in the AHL. At some point, something has to give but there is no rush to make a move thanks to our hot start. Let the good times roll!

  • I saw Musil tonight Vic Royals vs Van Giants. He was always 1st Pk, sometimes 2nd Pp. Very big compared to the Vic squad but didn’t run anyone, just calmly moved the puck… made 2 turnovers i saw and both were due to winger not in position. Didn’t stand out in good or bad way, always seemed to calmly move puck 2 teamate up ice and then done. **was not on ice last 2 mins when Van down 2-1.**

  • BArmstrong

    I’d sit uhhmmm… Hemsky.

    Otherwise I’m sure he’ll injure his other shoulder, on his third shift, reaching to catch a pass from Cory Potter. The Oil will have to play the remaining 50 minutes with 11 forwards and explain to Gagner (sitting in the press box) that he’s a “valued member of this franchise”.

    You’ll see:)

  • a lg dubl dubl

    It definitely is a tough call when Hemsky comes back, sitting PRV I don’t think is the answer his game is turning around, look at the last couple games where he’s driving to the net like a bull in a China shop and drawing penalties while he’s doin it, his points will come.

    Gagner- he’s still goin to give the team 50pts and he’s always been slow comin out of the gate that will probably never change.

    I think for right now u sit Lander because letting him see things from the pressbox could go a long way in his development in the NA game, even though he has impressed me the last couple games in the dzone for now he’s the player to sit for a game or 2.

  • Jerk Store

    Agree. Lander has done everything asked of him but he can be safely sent down to OKC and it won’t hurt him. He has some offence, so go down and develop that skill. Belanger is perfect for 4th line C. Very good at face offs and PK though lost in an offensive role. Put Gagner on 3rd line C. Once Hemsky / Gagner / Omark are resolved, this year or next or when inevitable injuries hit, Lander / Harty / etc will have a clearer role. I think between 23 / 89 / 83 only one will be back by next fall. I would love it to be a healthy Hemsky or a productive Gagner but little chance of both happening.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I agree that Lander’s development, which seems more or less complete, won’t be hurt by going down. But to my eyes he’s been the most NHL ready of the young Swedes. Probably this has something to do with the role he is set to play – a two-way, defensive energy thorn-in-their-side kind of guy (a young Maltby if you will)… that business with Quick on the Petrell goal was classic work on a grinder goal.

      But, he’s seems like a standup guy and I’m not worried about his ego if he goes down… whereas Omark (who seems to be taking it in stride now) has all the appearance of a sulker. not sure about MP… but I could see him sitting a few games if not going to OKC. He definitely needs something to get him going… it would be nice to see him crash the net, cause some trouble and look for a greasy one.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Omarks time has come to move on. Gagner needs a fresh start somewhere else. Peckham sweetens the deal. Get a upgrade on defense for the big club for the three and clear some space for a farm hand or two to get a look. Tuebert and Haartikinin ????