Clearly at this point of the season it would be better to finish 29th than 28th. The Oilers would draft higher, either 2nd, 3rd or 4th depending on the outcome of the lottery next Tuesday.
The Oilers and Canadiens are tied with 73 points, but the Oilers own the tiebreaker due to more ROW (regulation and OT wins). The Oilers play two on the road; tonight against the Kings and Saturday in Vancouver while hosting the Ducks on Thursday. Meanwhile the Habs host the Bolts on Wednesday and the Leafs on Saturday, with a road game v. Carolina sandwiched in between on Thursday.
The Habs are 14-15-10 at home, so that could give Oiler fans some hope considering the Oilers are only 14-21-4 on the road. But outside of the actual games, if you believe in karma or are a history buff, there is another reason why 29 would be better.
The best player to wear #29 has to be Ken Dryden. Not only was Dryden solid on the ice, he penned one of the best hockey books ever, The Game. Plus Habs fans would likely feel cursed and short-changed finishing 28th and comparing Kyle Chipchura to Dryden.
Of the players who wore #28, Steve Larmer would be considered the greatest. He had a solid career with 441 goals and 1,012 points, but he wasn’t as good as Dryden. Larmer, however, was a part of one of the best stories.
Last year on my show Steve Ludzik shared a story when he and Larmer were rookies with the Chicago Blackhawks. The previous year they’d played a handful of games, but they weren’t really on the team until the 1982/83 season.
They were playing a road game in Montreal so Larmer’s mother and sister came to watch them play. The next morning they came and met Larmer and Ludzik for breakfast at their hotel before they flew back to Chicago. The four of them went for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
The Hawks’ coaches happened to be eating in the same restaurant. Throughout breakfast Ludzik said they kept getting the evil eye from head coach, Orval Tessier. They didn’t know why so they kept eating and eventually said goodbye to Larmer’s mother and sister.
When they got to the airport Tessier stormed up to them outside their gate.
"You guys are going to the minors," he growled.
Larmer and Ludzik were stunned. They had no idea what they did wrong.
It turns out Tessier ran a tight ship. He didn’t like his players stepping out of line and he wanted them to act like pros all the time.
He continued his tirade.
"Not only do you two guys pick up two floozies, which you shouldn’t be doing cause you’re married, but then you parade them in front of us coaches."
Tessier went on for a few more minutes ripping both of them. Finally when he was done, Larmer looked at him and quietly said, "Coach that was my mom and sister."
Tessier stared for a second and then he simply said, "Just get on the plane." He didn’t apologize, he was old school according to Ludzik.
As Ludzik and Larmer walked onto the plane Ludzik threw out a classic line. "Hey Larms, who do you think Tessier thought I was with, your mom or your sister," he said trying to keep a straight face.
"Shut up," fumed Larmer.
Bryan Rodney, acquired for Ryan O’Marra at the deadline, has been recalled on an emergency basis. It sounds like he’s up to replace Corey Potter after that heavy hit from Bobby Ryan yesterday.
After that I’m not sure it matters much what the lineup looks like, but it is clear the Oilers have given up on Linus Omark. If Omark can’t get a shot with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky ahead of The Belanger Triangle then it is obvious the organization is ready to move on. Omark hasn’t been great, but he clearly would be a better fit with Gagner and Hemsky than Belanger.
Potting two goals will get Teemu Hartikainen three more games with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. He has many attributes that make him a good fit with those two, most notably his size, and if he can finish off a few of the sweet passes he’ll recieve from those two he could stick. One game does not guarantee that he is the answer, but it was a great start and we’ll see how he finishes the season.
After taking his fair share of criticism this year, I’ll give Cam Barker credit for standing up to Ryan Getzlaf and delivering a few good lefts last night. It won’t be enough to earn him another contract in Edmonton, at least I’d assume it won’t, but I’ll give him credit for coming back in that tilt.
The Oilers likely won’t skate this morning, but I don’t see any reason not to start Devan Dubnyk. I want to see how he handles back-to-back games. The only reason they start Nikolai Khabibulin is if they truly want to finish 29th. Khabibulin is 1-12-4 since December 26th. He’s given up 4+goals in nine of the 17 starts. In that same time span Dubnyk is 16-10-2 and he’s only surrendered 4+ goals only five times, and he won two of those games.
It is clear Dubnyk has become the starter in Edmonton, so let’s see if he can handle back-to-back sets.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings will beat the Oilers for the 2nd time in four days, because the Kings simply need the points more. 3-2 Kings.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nugent-Hopkins wants to win the rookie scoring race, and he pots his 19th and 20th goals of the season. He’ll end the night with a two-point cushion with two games remaining.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Whitney, Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones meet in the lobby for breakfast,and they will be greeted by a host from IHOP. Dustin Penner arranged for a special breakfast for the players. They won’t be able to resist the "special sauce" that Penner puts on his pancakes, so they sit down and devour a dozen each. Their over-indulgence will be obvious in the first ten minutes, when Penner blows by Horcoff and Jones for a race to the puck. Later at a faceoff we will see Penner and Whitney discussing the pancakes.
"Pens, what was in the sauce. It was unreal," asks Whitney.
"Come on Whits, what was my weakness in Edmonton?. I mixed up some maple syrup and my own special Donair sauce. It’s awesome."