Considering the amount of key goals he’s scored late in games representing his country, the Oilers and their fans must be salivating thinking about what Jordan Eberle could do if the Oilers ever make the NHL playoffs. Eberle hasn’t played a playoff game for his regular team since March of 2008.
He made the playoffs his first two years in Regina of the WHL. He tallied 13 points in 11 playoff games, but since then he’s only tasted playoffs with team Canada. Four years without playoffs is wearing on him. "Watching the playoffs is a painful. I want to experience them so bad, but I will use that (not being a part of them) as motivation this summer. We need to make it next year," Eberle told me before leaving for the World Championships.
Yesterday v. Switzerland Eberle tied the game with .08 seconds remaining and then won it in a shootout. It wasn’t a playoff game, but it’s clear Eberle has a knack for scoring big goals.
I wonder how many more years until Eberle can put that knack to use for the Oilers?
- Can’t believe I didn’t know until last week that former LOST star, Evangeline Lilly, was from Fort Saskatchewan. I did my show from the Boston Pizza in Fort Sask on Thursday, and it turns out I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know. I had Tampa Bay D-man Mike Commodore on the show. (You can listen here) Commodore is a pretty funny guy and when I asked him about Lilly he sheepishly admitted he didn’t remember her. "I looked up her bio and it turns out we are the same age and went to the same elementary school, yet I’ve got nothing on her. She’s married though, so it doesn’t matter now." Turns out she just got divorced Mike, so it might not be too late.
- Could Eberle be the next Danny Briere? Briere was drafted 24th, Eberle 22nd. Both shoot right and are 5’10", and Briere is a big-time performer in the playoffs. With two goals yesterday, including the OT winner, he now has 106 points in 104 playoff games. He has 643 points in 813 regular season games, but he cranks it up in the playoffs.
- Crazy stat of the day: Briere left Buffalo after the 2007 season and since then he’s scored 36 playoff goals. Since 2007 the Sabres have scored 33. Sabres fans must miss him.
- I had Tortorella, Maclean and Hitchcock as my three finalists for coach of the year. Many were applauding Maclean because no one had the Sens making the playoffs, but no one had the Rangers winning the Eastern Conference. Maclean’s Senators went from 74 points last year to 92 this year, a +18 improvement. Tortorella improved the Rangers by +16 from 93-109, while Hitchcock led the Blues to a +22 turnaround. Tortorella likely won’t win, but suggesting he isn’t deserving is ridiculous. I’d argue that improving from 93 to 109 is harder than going from 74 to 92.
- Only eleven teams improved on their point totals in 2012 from 2011. St.L (+22), FLO (+22), NJ (+21), COL (+20), OTT (+18), NYR (+16), EDM (+12), NYI (+6), NSH (+5), WPG (+4) and CHIC (+4). Sobering stat for Oiler fans. If the Oilers matched the Blues improvement next year they’d be 8th next year. A 22-point improvement is very difficult.
- The biggest dip in points from 2011 to 2012 was: ANA (-19), TB (-19), MONT (-18), CBJ (-16), WSH (-15), CAR (-9), SJ (-9) and BUFF (-7). VAN was (-6), TOR (-5) and CGY (-4).
- Linus Omark didn’t make team Sweden. I wonder if the Oilers will get a 3rd, 4th or 5th rounder for him at the draft. Teams will take a chance on him, but they won’t give up much. And for the record, the Oilers didn’t lower his trade value by not playing him in the final six or seven games. His value wasn’t going to change in that span. As of today, he is a one-dimensional player in scout’s eyes. It will be up to him to change that perception.
- Giving up Omark for a 3rd to 5th pick isn’t a great trade, since most of those picks never pan out anyways, but if the Oilers re-sign him, he likely won’t make the 23-man roster, and they could lose him on waivers. Their best hope is to try and pry a prospect/suspect from another organization who is in the same boat (waiver eligible) as Omark. Another thing to keep in mind, he wasn’t a favourite in the dressing room. I could never find out why, but he never got rave reviews from teammates. Just something to consider.
- I wonder if Mike Gillis still believes in his ridiculous notion that only defensive teams win, and that you can’t score. Gillis essentially said that in his season-ending presser. At the time he said, "The teams that play our style are out." Well the Phoenix Coyotes have found a way to score nine goals in two games on a good Predators team. Rather than come up with lame excuses, just tell the truth next time Mike. He should have said, "We got beat by a hungrier team, and I made some brutal trades that limited our offence. David Booth and Zack Kassian didn’t replace Hodgson, Samuelsson and Sturm."
- You aren’t a fan of sports if you weren’t amazed by the LA Clippers 4th quarter comeback yesterday. They trailed by 21 at the start of the fourth, (trailed by 27 in the 3rd quarter) and came back to win 99-98 over the Memphis Grizzlies, who looked more like the Vancouver Grizzlies in the final quarter. Nick Young drained three 3-pointers in less than a minute. It was incredible. I love playoffs in any sport, and the Clippers comeback was one of the best in recent memory.
- The Oil Kings open up the WHL final v. the Portland Winterhawks at home this Thursday and Friday. It should be a hell of series. The Winterhawks are led by 2011 draft picks Ty Rattie (32nd to Blues) and Sven Bartschi (13th to Flames). Rattie has 17 goals and 29 points in 15 games, while Bartschi has 7 goals and 25 points. The Oil Kings have better a better backend and goaltending and more depth on lines one through four. It will be a great series, and I’ll take the Oil Kings in 7.
- The Oilers would be wise to stick with Devan Dubnyk rather than sign or trade an older goalie. I’d sign him to a one or two year deal and play him 55+ games next year. I think he’s ready to be a starter.
- Game of Thrones, The Killing and Modern Family are my go-to shows right now. Very different, but all good. Spartacus is great as well. Are there any other "summer" shows you’d recommend?
- Dwight King’s hit on Alex Pietrangelo wasn’t malicious, but I didn’t understand why he didn’t fight Crombeen late in game one. He knew the hit was borderline and it was on the Blues best defender. Had he just fought Crombeen there wouldn’t be any carry over tonight. If the hit had been clean he’d have no reason to fight, but it wasn’t and he should have answered the bell and then it would over. I don’t like it when guys are expected to fight after clean hits, but if you’re a 3rd or 4th liner and you cheap shot a star you should be a man and face the music.
- I’ve heard a few Oiler fans suggest that Giroux and Briere are proof you can win with small forwards. Those two have been exceptional, but they are surrounded by big, skilled bodies like Jagr, Simmonds, Hartnell, Couturier, van Riemsdyk, Schenn and Voracek. You can win with a few small, skilled forwards, but you won’t win with all small forwards. And Giroux and Briere are dominating small forwards, not middle of the road guys. Big difference.