I googled "Minnesota Wild+Exciting" and very few exciting photos came up. There was one of Dany Heatley in a media scrum, which I can honestly say is never exciting, one of Cal Clutterbuck scoring, but very few action shots. Even though Mike Yeo got defensive last week when Rob T from the Sun said Wild hockey is bad for the game, the fact is no one gets excited when the Wild come to town, unless they are a family member or friend of a Wild player.
For years everyone blamed Jacques Lemaire for their boring style, but he’s long gone and the Wild are on their 2nd coach since him and still they don’t get the blood flowing. Granted they are the biggest surprise in the Western Conference, sitting in first place at 14-7-3, but I can’t recall the last time the Wild and Oilers played an exciting game at Rexall Place.
I don’t expect tonight to be any different. The Wild are winning so they won’t change their style, nor do they have many players that really excite you. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is probably their most dynamic scorer, and Clutterbuck will ignite a crowd, whether he’s at home or on the road, with a big hit, but that’s about it.
I hope I’m wrong, but I think you’ll be using your entire seat tonight, not just the edge of it. Yes, I just reversed a lame monstertruck commercial reference.
OILERS FINALLY EXCITING
To be fair the Oilers, prior to last year and this year, weren’t the poster boys for excitement, and they played some stinkers, but rarely did they bore you to death with a passive style of play. They had loads of turnovers and mistakes to make the game exciting, and they rarely just sat back.
Now with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth the Oilers are exciting again, although when Hall is out they don’t back teams off as much.
Even off the ice the Oilers are more exciting than the Wild. When I googled " Oilers+Exciting," they had numerous photos of Hall and Eberle, shots of Gretzky jerseys, Oilers hockey schools, pics of Hilary Duff (and Mike Comrie) and I unearthed this photo of two-year Octane veteran, Catriona.
No wonder Gene Principe is always in such a good mood for home games. Who knew Catriona did double duty as an Octane member and part-time camerawoman. Speaking of Octane, I haven’t noticed any complaints about them this year. Their routines are much crisper and it seems that most of the original complainers have realized they don’t negatively impact the game experience, but in fact they add a bit of flair to Rexall.
You won’t see Hall for the remaining five games of this homestand, and in yesterday’s practice Renney experimented with Sam Gagner on the left side with Horcoff and Smyth. Gagner has played RW and C, but hasn’t tried the left side. Renney didn’t let on if Paajarvi or Gagner would play there tonight.
Gagner seems to have found his game. He is beating guys one-on-one, carrying the puck with more authority and it looks like Renney might reward him with a bump into the top-six. I get promoting Gagner, but Belanger and Paajarvi haven’t had any chemistry all season, so putting them back together is a bit of a head scratcher.
Andy Sutton passed the "Tom test" and he will play, and it looks like Colten Teubert will come out.
Anton Lander is out. He has an infection in his hand. He got a cut on his hand and it got infected, and is now listed as day-to-day. Just a guess on the 2nd and 3rd lines for tonight.
Smyth – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Gagner – Horcoff – Hemsky
Paajarvi – Belanger – Jones
Hordichuk – O’Marra – Petrell
Smid – Gilbert
Whitney – Petry
Peckham – Sutton
Ryan O’Marra was recalled from OKC yesterday. I spoke with Todd Nelson prior to the announcement O’Marra was getting recalled and he gave O’Marra a strong review. "He’s been our most consistent centre all year. He’s been very good on draws, and he’s been a consistent physical presence. He’s used his size effectively, and he’s garnered more space for him and his teammates."
I don’t expect much offence from O’Marra, but I’m curious to see if he’ll bring that physical style to the NHL. Before you start questioning whether O’Marra can be effective physically, watch this Mike Tyson video.
He is proof that people can try and change. After his role in the Hangovers, it looks like Iron Mike is taking singing seriously. Brazilians love him it seems.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: While I’d love to predict a wildly exciting game I just can’t see. The Wild are playing great, even if they aren’t overly exciting. The Oilers will play better than Monday, but they’ll lose 2-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: No way Hordichuk won’t entice Brad Staubitz to drop the mitts tonight. Hordichuk is itching for a fight, he doesn’t have one yet, and after Staubitz essentially jumped on him twice in Minny last Friday, you can bet they go. If I’m Tom Renney I put Hordichuk out against Staubitz on their first shift to get some emotion in the building early.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After reading this article Dustin Nielson will be touring the catwalk the entire game looking for Catriona. The big-man has a huge crush on her, and he’ll be pacing by the cameras waiting for her to appear. Speaking of Nielson he came up with a song about Ryan Smyth… "We built this Smitty", and now I’m sure he’ll be hunkered down trying to pen one about Catriona.
December is about giving. Most of us get pretty excited watching our loved ones open up presents and, more importantly, just getting to spend some quality time with them. Not all Edmontonians are as fortunate.
From Dec 1st thru to the 21st everyday on the Jason Gregor show will be "Helping Others." I’ve been hounding sponsors for some great prizes and starting Thursday we will have a different package every day up for auction. 100% of the proceeds will go to charity. We will split up the funds between the Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous and the MS Society.
I will post the contents of each package here and on the TEAM 1260 website. We have a variety of evenings out, excellent dinner packages, jerseys, tickets to Oilers games, golf packages and some other cool prizes.
If any company would like to donate a worthwhile prize, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be donating $1,000 to kick things off. Christmas is about giving and helping others so please listen in and bid on some great packages.