The Oilers are banged up, cut up and beat up, but they’ll try to shut up their critics for one night as they take on the surging St. Louis Blues. The Blues are 21-5-6 under Ken Hitchcock, while Jaroslav Halak is 9-0-3 since November 22nd. The Blues sit 4th overall in the NHL with 60 points, while the Oilers now sit in 29th with 38. On paper this looks like a huge mismatch, but the Oilers have surprisingly been very competitive against top teams this year.
The Oilers are a strange bunch. Either they play better against playoff teams, or those teams take them lightly, because of the Oilers 17 wins 13 have come against teams currently in the playoffs.
They’ve beaten the Penguins, Rangers, Capitals, Blues and Canucks once, while downing the Hawks, Kings, Predators and Avalanche twice.
However, 16 of their 28 losses (24) regulation and (4) OT/SO have come against teams out of the playoffs.
The Oilers are 13-12 v. playoff teams and 4-16 v. non playoff teams. Six of their last seven losses have come against the struggling Blue Jackets, Ducks, Stars, Islanders, Sabres and Wild.
Their next four games are against the (league standings) 4th place Blues, 5th place Canucks, 9th place Sharks and the 21st place Flames, who’ve beaten the Oilers 15 of the last 16 meetings. The next week will be tough.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Honestly, I’m not sure, but whatever it is they will need to try and emulate it leading into the all-star break if they want to win some games. Without Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney it’s a daunting task, especially tonight against the Blues.
The good news is that leading scorer, Jordan Eberle, will return to the lineup. Eberle has been out twelve days and four games, and the Oilers offence has clearly missed him. The Oilers scored 5 goals in those four games, and they desperately need his 1.04/PPG scoring touch back in the lineup. I’m assuming Eberle is playing since the Oilers didn’t recall anyone after playing in Columbus with 11 forwards and he took the optional skate in St. Louis this morning.
With Eberle returning I wonder if the NHL will add him to the all-star team? When they announced the team last week, they said the only reason he didn’t make it was because he was hurt, so if there is an injury replacement he’d have to be first on the list. Trust me, he would love to be there, and he deserves to be.
If I was making the lines I’d go with these.
Eager – Gagner – Hemsky
Smyth – Horcoff – Eberle
Paajarvi – Lander – Jones
Green – O’Marra – Hordichuk
Of course Eager isn’t a first liner, but he has five goals in his last 18 games. Only Eberle and Hall have more, so reward him for improved play. I’m sure many will say that Paajarvi should play there, but he hasn’t done anything to deserve a promotion. He’s playing better, but I’d keep him and Lander together and hope they finally produce something offensively.
Paajarvi’s had four minutes of PP time between the past two games, so he’s getting his offensive chances. He needs to go to the scoring areas (tough areas) more often if he wants to score. He is still playing too much on the perimeter, but once he gains the confidence to consistently go to the scoring areas I think he’ll be rewarded.
- Sam Gagner has 15 points (5G, 10A) in 15 career games vs STL.
- T.J. Oshie has 9 points in his last 10 games vs Edmonton (3G, 6A).
- Alex Pietrangelo has 10 points (2G, 8A) in 7 seven games.
If you missed Modern Family last night, you missed another awesome episode. This autotoned remix of Phil and Claire’s meltdown on public access TV was hilarious. How many parents could relate while watching young Lilly drop an F-bomb for the first time. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or a friend of the parents, if you are around the first time their little golden child spews out some profanity it is truly hilarious.
I’ve seen it happen, and it is rare that one of the parents doesn’t laugh, usually dad, while trying to tell their little Einstein that is a bad word.
If you aren’t watching Modern Family I highly recommend it, especially if you are a diehard Oiler fan. You need some comedic relieve in your life.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have played the top-teams tight, but the Blues are rolling and they won’t let two points slip away. Blues win 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: During a stoppage of play in the 2nd period, the cameras will pan the Blues bench and show Ken Hitchcock. They will put the Blues record under Hitch on the screen and talk about his impact. A few Oiler fans will instantly claim the Oilers should fire Renney tomorrow to get the same results in Edmonton, not realizing that a strong final 35 games will do more damage than good long term. Unfortunately, the time to win frequently was two months ago.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After ending a 23-game goalless drought in Columbus, Anton Lander will set up his linemate and close friend Magnus Paajarvi putting an end to Paajarvi’s 29-game drought. Fans need to see some signs of hope down the stretch and Lander and Paajarvi will play much better over the final eleven weeks of the season.