It is minus 112 outside, or make that minus 123 with the wind chill, cars are breaking down faster than the Oilers roster, yet tonight Oiler fans can’t lose. The Oilers are currently in 27th place, tied with the Islanders and Lightning with 38 points, and they sit nine points up on the 30th place Blue Jackets.
If the Oilers win tonight, fans can celebrate a win, which hasn’t happened much in the past two months, lose and Oilers fans are one step closer to a lottery pick, and the possibility of picking first for the 3rd consecutive season.
I know that isn’t the best win-win situation, but it’ freaking freezing out, the Oilers are out of the playoff hunt in mid January, their two-best forwards aren’t playing so I couldn’t muster the energy to try and find some reason to be super excited leading up to tonight’s titanic battle between the Oilers and Blue Jackets.
I’ve spent mosf to the morning watching videos of white sand beaches and day dreaming of being on one, so pardon me if I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for puck drop at 5:07 Edmonton time.
Not much changes, because the Oilers don’t have any options.
- Devan Dubnyk will get the start as he tries to put together a string of solid performances.
- Eric Belanger is still out with a foot injury.
- Alex Plante was cleared to play, but he got sent to OKC.
- Jordan Eberle skated, but he won’t play tonight. He might go in St. Louis, but it seems likely he’ll be back for the battle of Alberta on Saturday. If he plays does he automatically get named to the AS team, since they said they only reason they didn’t name him was because he was hurt. If someone gets hurt, and he plays on Saturday I’m sure he’ll be added.
- I thought Ales Hemsky was good on Sunday, but it’s kind of sad that people are saying that was his best game of the season. I’m not saying I disagree, but Hemsky’s best games used to be three or four point nights, not an assist on an OT goal. But he needs to start somewhere, and considering he’s bad more success v. the Jackets than any other team, you should expect Hemsky to have another solid game tonight.
- Ritch Winter will join me at 4:25 MST today to talk about an article he wrote suggesting that the Oilers missed the boat not developing young D-men while watching Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins take centre stage. I don’t agree at all so it should be interesting.
- Jonathon Quick is the best goalie in the western conference right now. If the Kings can find a scoring winger before the deadline, they could make some serious noise in the playoffs.
- No chance the Kings will trade Slava Voynov for Ales Hemsky, or anyone else for that matter, so let’s stop talking about it. That kid is a hell of a talent, and I spoke with two members of the Kings management on Sunday and they both said, "NB chance," he gets moved. Lombardi has a made a few head scratching moves with the Oilers in the last 10 months, but I don’t see a third one coming.
- I really like Anton Landers’s desire and work ethic, but he needs to get a 1/2 step faster. If he can improve his skating in the off-season, he could take a big jump next year.
- Interesting to see the D-pairings lately. Jeff Petry played 27 minutes on Sunday and I suspect they are going to give him loads of icetime down the stretch. In a perfect world, they see Petry and Whitney as a pairing next year, along with Smid and Gilbert. Right now Corey Potter and Theo Peckham are playing together, because I sense they look at them as their 3rd pairing. Peckham has been more consistent the past month, and if he continues that and dedicates himself to working out hard in the off-season he could become a very reliable 3rd pairing guy.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky has a three point night, and the Oilers win 4-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The "Fail for Nail" camp will be livid watching the Oilers win and giving Columbus an 11-point lead with 37 games remaining. I’m not sure the Oilers can make up that type of deficit down the stretch.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ben Eager scores, but doesn’t fight Derek Dorsett and fans will question his willingness to play his role. There is never a dull moment in the Nation, especially when the team is struggling. I honestly can’t wait to see how the Nation will react when the Oilers are actually good. Either the comment sections will explode and set records, or it will be crickets because no one will have anything to bitch about. Don’t worry we have at least two years before we cross that bridge, so keep your keyboards humming.