Hurricane: A severe, often destructive storm that can last a day or up to two weeks.
Caroline Hurricanes: A severe, often defensive nightmare that has lasted almost two years.
The Hurricanes have lost six straight and sit 29th in the NHL. They’ve given up the most goals, 101, and the most shots, 917, in the league and they are 0-4 under new coach Kirk Muller. The Canes surrendered the most shots last year as well, over 33/game, so Muller has his work cut out for him.
Don’t expect the Oilers to feel sorry for them, in fact you likely should expect an offensive outburst tonight.
The Oilers are 5-1-1 in games after two or more days rest so far this season, and they are well-rested and eager to get back in the playoff picture. Last year the Canes spanked the Oilers 7-1 in Carolina, and something tells me we might see a reversal of fortune tonight.
Muller is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s polite, honest, colourful and determined, but he’s got his work cut out for him in Carolina. The Canes don’t have much depth, their star player, Eric Staal, is having a brutal year, Cam Ward isn’t standing on his head every night and the Canes team defence is pathetic. Muller will have to be patient because the Canes don’t have a lot of talent to work with right now.
Ben Eager will play his first game since November 22nd, and he’ll need to use his size and speed and generate some offense and emotion if he wants to stay in the lineup. Darcy Hordichuk, who doesn’t have the talent of Eager, energized the fans and his teammates in Eager’s absence and I’m curious to see if Eager is ready to play the rugged, robust style the Oilers were expecting him to display when they signed him last July.
The Oilers spent lots of time working on their PP yesterday and Monday and you can expect to see a few new wrinkles.
Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Gagner, Horcoff and Gilbert
Hemsky, Smyth, Jones, Belanger and Whitney
Look for Eberle to play the point on the 1st unit at times. He will rotate around and if they get the PKers to move out of their lanes he will slide down the backside and take a cross-ice pass from RNH. They have two right-handed shots up high on first unit, and two left-handed shots on the 2nd unit.
They have a lefty, RNH, working the wall with the two righties and Hemsky a righty will work the opposite side with the two left-handed D-men. Look for some new plays from both units tonight.
Smyth – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Gagner – Horcoff – Hemsky
Paajarvi – Belanger – Jones
Eager – Lander – Petrell
Smid – Gilbert
Whitney – Petry
Peckham – Sutton
Despite keeping the Oilers in the game v. the Flames, Khabibulin won’t start tonight. Dubnyk played well and won v. the Blue Jackets and Renney will go back to him tonight. I like that decision.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hurricanes played last night, and even though they are 2-2-1 on the 2nd night of back-to-back games, the Oilers will send their fans home happy with a 5-3 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oiler will score three PP goals. They are 4th overall with the man advantage, but they are 1st on home ice at 25% (15 goals on 60 opportunities) while the Canes are 26th overall and 25th on the road. The Canes lead the league in SH goals, 5, so the Oilers need to play smart with the man advantage.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Belanger will end his gaudy 27-game goalless drought, but he won’t celebrate very much when he scores. He’ll try to look like he it is no big deal, but at the next whistle he’ll calmly shoot the puck over the glass to his wife. She’ll keep it and later this year when Gene Principe does an in-home feature on Belanger we’ll see the puck mounted with "first Oiler goal" written underneath it.
Yesterday we raised $2,100 for Santas Anonymous. Big thanks to Kerry for his generous bid and I hope it improves your golf game.
Today we will be auctioning off another stellar package. Oiler fans should bid on this just so a Hab fan can’t invade Rexall Place.
Pair of club seats to the Oilers/Habs courtesty of SLH Picker Services.
A limited edition 2012 WJC Jersey. Pretty sweet jersey courtesy of the Sports Closet in Sherwood Park.
Party for ten at On The Rocks, plus $200 in GCs from them. I can vouch that Dr. Wang will make it a great party for the winner bidder.
Thanks in advance.