A NEW WRITER

After a brisk practice in Phoenix yesterday, the Oilers flew to Montreal for their third stop on this six-game road trip. Even though the Habs are currently in 12th spot, tomorrow night’s tilt will be tough according to the Nation’s newest contributor. 

That’s right, the Nation has added a new writer. Wanye spent so much time negotiating with him that he was too tired to write an introduction piece so I have to do it.

According to Sir Wanye our readership continues to grow at a very solid rate. He never shows us the data, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but would a guy who openly admits he loves Justin Bieber and Jordan Eberle have the potential to lie?

I don’t think so.

THE TEAM

Our readers seem to like the Nation’s mix of writers.

Brownlee, who wore skinny jeans the first time they were in fashion has been on the beat for over 25 years so he knows what is happening with the Oilers; sometimes even before they do. Lowetide, the Godfather of bloggers with a calm demeanor, soothing words and an appreciation for beautiful women.

Willis, a human calculator of statistics with a strange ability to require only two hours of sleep which allows him to continually pump out copy. Wanye, an emotionally-charged fan who cries after a loss and celebrates every win like it’s a playoff game, and he’s an aspiring artist with incredible wit. And yours truly.

Our writers combined with our readers makes the nation a great place. We all have on thing in common; a passion for hockey. We like to write and appreciate all of you who read the site and those who take the time to contribute here. It makes for a  great time waster.

A NEW ADDITION

We’ve decided to add another writer to our stable, and it is fitting that he’s our 6th regular writer. Realistically if he was our 6th and 1/2 writer it would be have been perfect. This year he will pop by with his views on life, hockey, the best pressbox food and other interesting angles.

We were going to have a sit down interview with him this week, but he didn’t want to trump Sportsnet’s return of Hazel Mae. We are certain our Q and A will be much more entertaining and insightful, so look for that in the coming weeks.

Our new writer is someone all of you are familiar with. For the past few years you’ve cheered him, yelled at him, respected him, cursed his name, and if you’ve played hockey you all wished for a moment that you could be in his skates. 

He was the 63rd pick in the 1994 draft. Three and a half years later, after only five days of his 4th training camp his GM, Mike Milbury, told him he would never be good enough to play and sent him to the minors. Four months later he was traded to Vancouver, and then he spent the next 13 years lighting up the NHL with excellent off-the-boards-and-out passes, perfectly placed dumpins, scored on every shootout attempt he tried and won over many fans with his rapid-fire punches.

He will slowly pop by the Nation at first, but once he gets comfortable you can expect to read him more frequently.

But first let’s introduce our newest Voice of the Nation in the most fitting tribute we could find. He appears at 5:58 and for an extra treat listen to John Davidson’s account of the play. Then he gets right into his take on the game tonight without a moment to spare.


Welcome to the Nation, Jason Strudwick. 

HABS AND HOTDOGS

Every veteran player who played at the old Montreal forum knew how good the Chiens Chauds, (hot dogs) were. If you, the visiting team, won the game, the healthy scratches were expected to buy enough for everyone including players, coaches, management and training staff to enjoy on the happy bus ride to the airport.

Although that tradition has fallen off somewhat since the Canadiens moved into the Bell centre; one thing that hasn’t is the tough environment for a road team to get a win.

The Canadiens haven’t gotten off to a great start, especially at home where they are 2-3-2. Don’t let those numbers fool you, winning a game at the Bell centre is tough to do. For a team trying to re-establish itself as the Oilers are this season, this game tomorrow is a good test.

Teams that win on a consistent basis show poise whether playing at home or on the road. But playing in some buildings is harder than others. Of the 29 away buildings Montreal ranks near the top for helping the home team win. It seems like with something as simple as a good hit, penalty kill or even a blocked shot the momentum of a game can change in a heartbeat, and a game that looked like a lock to win easily gets away from you.

The fans are loud and can play a big role in the outcome of a game. At times it seems like they are right on top of you. Tomorrow night the Oilers need to play a smart road game. To do this they must continue to limit their chances against. I have never played for a coach who didn’t watch this stat as closely as an old man waiting for the last number to complete his Bingo.

Coaches feel if the chances-against are low his team has stuck to the game plan he created, and likely they have made good decisions with the puck. This is very important for winning a road game.

THIS MEANS 2 THINGS

1. They must continue to stay out of the penalty box. The Oilers PK has been very solid, but the when you’re down a man those chances against can increase quickly. Although the Habs PP is only running at 14% this year, they are almost 17% at home and they have the personnel to change that quickly.

2. The Canadiens are very good at exploiting neutral and high offensive zone turnovers. Often these types of turnovers resulted in odd man rushes against. Players like Plekanec, Gionta and Pacioretty are dangerous when attacking with an odd man rush. Smyth and Horcoff must remind the team that although chipping the puck in at the blueline isn’t always the most exciting play, it does contribute to big road wins.

Les Chiens Chauds are still good at the Bell Centre, and to be honest I can’t even tell you what separates them from your normal run of the mill tube steak you can get anywhere, but if the Oilers win tomorrow the team can answer that question on the bus ride to the airport.

A FINAL NOTE FROM JASON G

Strudwick will share his views on the game and some behind the scenes stories that he encountered over the years. Go easy on him Nation although maybe you should go all Mike Milbury on him and tell him he’ll never be a good writer and then he’ll spend 13 years in the Nation proving us wrong.

You choose. I can actually hear Wanye squeeing all the way across town.