I can’t recall the last time the Oilers played a weekday afternoon game, and for us sports junkies it is likely the 2nd best "afternoon delight" we can think of. Okay maybe there are numerous different types of the 1st "Afternoon delights," but you know what I mean.
The 2 p.m. MST start time isn’t great for most hard-working Oiler fans, but hopefully you can convince the boss to let you out early. Better yet, why don’t you tell him or her to have a late lunch, come down to the Pint Off Whyte, and watch to see if the Oilers can end their franchise-record longest losing streak v. one opponent.
For the past 58 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 0-14-3 in their last 17 games in Minnesota and they’ve been outscored 59-22 in those games.
The Oilers came close to ending the streak earlier this year, only to lose 2-1 in a shootout on October 13th. The Wild have the 2nd best home winning % in the league with a solid 8-2-1 record. The crazy part is they’ve only outscored the opposition 25-22 in those games. Six of their wins have been by a goal, and they’ve lost every game that the opposition scored three or more goals.
HOW THINGS HAV E CHANGED
The game plan seems pretty simple back then. Score at least three goals. Of course that has only happened once in during this 17-game losing streak. On Dec 29th, 2007 the Oilers built up a 4-1 lead, but they surrendered a goal late in the 2nd, two in the 3rd and then lost in OT.
The losing streak started Feb 25th, 2007 with a 4-1 loss and since then the Oilers have scored: 0, 0, 0, 2, 4, 1, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, and 1 this past October. They’ve been shutout four times, scored one or two goals six times and that magically offensive outburst in December of 2007.
It is painful reading those putrid offensive numbers, and I’m sure many of you remember the games weren’t much more exciting.
This year things are different.
The Oilers, while still struggling with consistency, are damn exciting. If they aren’t scoring goals in bunches, they are giving up lots of shots and turning the puck over more often than Wanye tweets #squee.
Since it is Positive Friday, keep in mind that none of the 17 consecutive losses came in the afternoon.
WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK IT
Most Oiler fans, and the hockey world, are shocked at how well the Oilers, especially RNH and Smyth, have played so far this year, but the first place Wild have to be just as big of a shock. The Wild were 12th in the West last year. They traded Brent Burns for Dany &#*%& Heatley and somehow they are in first place. They aren’t in first because of Heatley though.
The Wild sit 25th in the NHL in goals, but they are tied for 2nd in goals allowed at 42. They are winning with excellent goaltending. Their PP is 25th, their PK is 12th and only the Oilers and Rangers average fewer shots per game. Usually the Wild have better special teams than the Oilers, but not now. The Oilers stand 5th on the PP and 7th on the PK. The Wild even give up more shots against than the Oilers, yet they sit in first place.
The Wild have won 10 of their last 12 and 6 straight at home, so logic would say the Oilers are going to lose. I have a hunch we’ll see something illogical today.
DO YOU NOT BELIEVE?
If that didn’t pump you up Oiler fans I don’t know what will. Our friends – okay Wayne’s friends – over at JeanshortsandBaggedmilk have been working on that for over a month. And after Wanye emailed me several times over the past two weeks to "please show it," I decided for the sake of all the superstitious Oiler fans I’d show it.
I’ll admit it’s pretty sweet, although their fascination with guys’ butts was a bit concerning.
If the Oilers end the streak today, I’m sure it will have
everything nothing to do with this video, but I’ll demand they make a new one for Colorado.
Tom Renney didn’t say who would start today, but I’m betting we’ll see Khabibulin and then Dubnyk tomorrow. The only lineup change from Tuesday’s 6-1 win in Nashville will be on the blueline. Ryan Whitney will dress for the first time since October 25th. He says his ankle feels strong and he’ll be paired with Jeff Petry. If he can stay healthy for a long stretch he should help their transition game and create some odd-man rushes with quick, accurate outlet passes.
Smyth – Nugent – Eberle
Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky
Jones – Belanger – Gagner
Paajarvi – Lander – Eager
Smid – Gilbert
Whitney – Petry
Peckham – Teubert
GAME DAY PREDICTION: At least half the Nation will skip out of work early to watch the game. Many of you will stop by the Pint Off Whyte and celebrate a stunning 5-2 Oiler victory. The streak has to end sometime, so why not during an afternoon game. ***Shameless plug. We’ll be giving away Oil tickets, beer and GCs at the Pint Off Whyte during my show and the game.***
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The early start will have many of you hitting the sauce a bit earlier than usual on a Friday. As the goals start to mount, so will the empty glasses. By six o’clock random Nation readers will have been introduced to one another at various watering holes and you’ll be following each other on twitter. I suspect at least two Nation hook ups tonight.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Only a select few of you will actually watch the entire Anchorman video, but those that do will not be able to shed the final few lines from your memory. "I’m talking about enjoying a bowl of chicken soup with a Rueben and then making dirty Rueben love." I have no idea what that is, but I sure hope it has nothing to do with Brownlee AKA, Rueben Bronte.