The Oilers have taken a beating on this trip, and today they are a like a boxer, leaning back on the ropes trying to buy some time to avoid taking another blow that would KO them. The Oilers have lost five of six, they’ve given up 24 goals, they’ve been outshot 168-194 and they’ve lost two of their most consistent players in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tom Gilbert in the first six games of this trip.
It would be easy to mail one in this afternoon in Dallas, and return to Rexall 1-6, but this year’s team hasn’t shown much quit, and I expect them to give a decent effort today.
On November 1st the Stars and Oilers were tied for first in the western conference, but since then the Oilers are 9-19-1 and sitting in 13th spot while the Stars have been around .500 at 14-13-1, dropping them to 10th in the west. The Oilers lost 4-1 in Dallas on November 21st, mainly because they didn’t do anything offensively registering a paltry 18 shots.
The Stars surrender more shot per game than the Oilers, 31.9 to 31.0, so there is no reason they can’t fire close to 30 or more on back up Richard Bachman this afternoon.
- Jordan Eberle has already matched his point total, 43, from last year and he likely pass that today. I can’t see how he doesn’t make the all-star team later this month.
- Sheldon Souray hasn’t scored since November 4th, but he’s still +9 with the Stars. He won’t play today, and he hasn’t skated since hurting his foot on December 23rd. He’s still the Stars leading scorer amongst D-men, 16, but the Oiler PKers are happy they won’t face his blistering shot today.
- Taylor Hall has been great on this road trip. He’s tallied four goals and six points, he’s hit four posts and has 25 shots in the six games. If Oiler fans could only pick one, I wonder who is their favourite player between Hall, Eberle and RNH? *Wanye don’t bother answering, I know your answer.*
- Sam Gagner has looked much better as well. He has 17 points in his last 20 games, but recently he’s started to shoot the puck much better. If he and Hall can build some chemistry the Oilers might have two dangerous duos down the stretch once Nugent-Hopkins returns beside Eberle.
- Many fans, bloggers and media scoffed at Joe Nieuwendyk when he signed Michael Ryder to a two-year deal worth $3.5 mill/year, but Ryder leads the Stars with 17 goals in 39 games. He will easily score 25 and he could reach 30 for the first time since 2007. He’s been a great signing for them.
- Once again the fans are the biggest losers when it comes to the NHL and NHLPA not agreeing to realignment. The PA’s beef that some teams (mainly Eastern teams) will have to travel more is a disgrace. Every player in the western conference should be livid about this, but many of them are sheep and will just go with the flow.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: That picture guarantees I won’t be the dumbest one in this article as I’m going to strangely pick the Oilers to win. They played fairly well in Buffalo and St. Louis, so they are due for a break. Eberle pots 1-1 as the Oilers win 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Numerous fans will miss the start, and likely most of the game, not knowing it’s a noon start. And after the Oilers win they’ll be even more annoyed because Oiler victories don’t happen that often. Not knowing what time your team plays is a FAN FAIL.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Anton Lander will be so amped up after his country won their first WJC gold medal in 31 years, that he’ll score his first NHL road goal and end his 19-game goalless drought. Even though he would have been better served playing in the AHL for the past month, this one goal will have some of you claiming he "just needs a chance, and he should play more than Horcoff."