NO JOKE…IT IS APRIL AND OILERS ARE IN THE MIX

One of the best April Fools Day jokes I remember was when the Edmonton Journal had a sidebar piece stating Bo Jackson was going to become a three-sport athlete and play hockey. I remember reading it and thinking, "If anyone can do it, Bo can." He was such a freakishly good athlete, but after my brother and I discussed it for about 20 minutes we realized there is no way he could be a good enough skater. Or could he?

Nowadays it is much more difficult to come up with a good prank, since numerous "fun sponges" on social media and blogs remind everyone to be aware.

The good news for Oilers fans is that you woke up today, looked at the NHL standings, and realized the Oilers are actually in the playoff hunt. No joke.

Here is a quick look at where the Oilers are at:

Western
  Western DIV GP W L OT P ROW GF GA Diff Home Away S/O
1  * – Chicago CEN 34 26 5 3 55 22 116 74 +42 12-3-1 14-2-2 4-3
2  * – Anaheim PAC 35 23 7 5 51 18 107 90 +17 13-4-0 10-3-5 5-3
3  * – Minnesota NW 34 21 11 2 44 17 97 86 +11 13-3-1 8-8-1 4-1
4  Vancouver NW 35 19 10 6 44 15 92 90 +2 10-5-3 9-5-3 4-5
5  Los Angeles PAC 35 20 12 3 43 19 103 88 +15 12-4-1 8-8-2 1-2
6  San Jose PAC 34 17 11 6 40 11 85 84 +1 11-1-4 6-10-2 6-3
7  Detroit CEN 35 17 13 5 39 15 91 92 -1 9-6-3 8-7-2 2-2
8  Columbus CEN 36 15 14 7 37 11 87 97 -10 11-4-5 4-10-2 4-4
 
9  St. Louis CEN 33 17 14 2 36 15 94 93 +1 8-7-1 9-7-1 2-1
10  Dallas PAC 34 16 15 3 35 15 94 103 -9 8-8-2 8-7-1 1-1
11  Edmonton NW 34 14 13 7 35 12 87 95 -8 7-5-4 7-8-3 2-3
12  Nashville CEN 35 14 14 7 35 12 87 96 -9 9-3-4 5-11-3 2-5
13  Phoenix PAC 35 14 15 6 34 11 94 101 -7 10-7-1 4-8-5 3-4
14  Calgary NW 33 13 16 4 30 13 93 114 -21 10-6-2 3-10-2 0-3
15  Colorado NW 34 12 18 4 28 11 84 108 -24 10-6-1 2-12-3 1-1

The Oilers have 14 games remaining, eight at home and six on the road

Only five of those games are against non-playoff teams; Calgary three times including tonight, Wednesday and next Wednesday, Phoenix and Colorado.

The Oilers need to sweep the Jarome Iginla-less, 14th place Flames this week, and if they do that they’d only have to go 7-5 in their final 12 games to reach 54 points. That isn’t unrealistic. It would be difficult for sure, but far from impossible.

OPPONENTS

Date Visitor Home
Mon, April 1st Flames  Oilers
Wed, April 3rd  Oilers  Flames
Thu, April 4th  Oilers  Canucks
Sat, April 6th  Oilers  Kings
Mon, April 8th Oilers  Ducks
Wed, April 10th Coyotes  Oilers
Sat, April 13th Flames  Oilers
Tue, April 16th Wild  Oilers
Fri, April 19th Oilers  Avalanche
Sun, April 21st Ducks  Oilers
Mon, April 22nd Ducks  Oilers
Wed, April 24th  Blackhawks  Oilers
Fri, April 26th Oilers  Wild
Sat, April 27th Canucks  Oilers

THE COMPETITION

7th place Detroit: 13 games remaining, 6 at home and 7 on the road. Five games vs. current playoff teams.

8th place Columbus: 12 games remaining, 4 at home and 8 on the road. Eight games vs. current playoff teams.

9th place St. Louis: 15 games remaining, 8 at home and 7 on the road. Nine games vs. current playoff teams.

10th place Dallas: 14 games remaining, 6 at home and 8 on the road. Thirteen games vs. current playoff teams.

12th place Nasvhille: 13 games remaining, 8 at home and 5 on the road. Ten games vs. current playoff teams.

13th place Phoenix: 13 games remaining, 6 at home and 7 on the road. Nine games vs. current playoff teams.

Detroit has the easiest schedule on paper, while Dallas has the most difficult and a very quirky schedule this week. They play Anaheim three straight times. Tonight at home and then Wednesday and Friday in Anaheim.

QUICK HITS

  • Nail Yakupov has an exceptional first three strides, but he needs to work on his top-end speed before he becomes a major threat on the rush. He doesn’t beat many D-men one-on-one with his speed, which isn’t a major surprise considering he is only a rookie. Sam Gagner has had a break out year mainly due to his increased speed and improved balance. Yakupov will need to increase his top-end speed this summer. He isn’t close to Paajarvi, Hall, Hemsky or even Eberle at this point. Todays’ game is all about speed, and I suspect the Oilers will want him to improve his during the off-season.
     
  • I’m not surprised the Oilers re-signed Smid, and I don’t think it matters that it was done today and not two weeks ago. He is signed for the next four years, and at a workable cap hit of $3.5 million.
     
  • Taylor Hall picked up his third career  regular season hat-trick on Saturday. That moves him into a tie for 9th all-time with Petr Klima and Alex Selivanov. Wayne Gretzky is first with 43, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson have 20, Mark Messier is 4th with 13, Esa Tikkanen and Ryan Smyth have 5, while Paul Coffey and Blair MacDonald have 4.
     
  • Krueger’s two-shift benching off Taylor Hall in the 3rd period vs. Columbus clearly got Hall’s attention. He was exceptional on Saturday and I’d expect that to continue tonight. Hall has 34 points in 31 games and he is 10th in the NHL in points-per-game at 1.10. *Joffrey Lupul, 1.44, is currently 2nd, but he’s only played 9 games.
     
  • Jordan Eberle has yet to score a hat-trick, and even his own father likes to juice him about it. "He knows that Hallsy and I are competitive so he just subtly text me, ‘I see Taylor got another hatty, is that 3 now?’ Eberle was quick to point out that it is a friendly competition, and in no way a negative thing, but you know that it rips him that his buddy is up 3-0 in career hat-tricks. I love that his father can give him a friendly chirp. They clearly have a close relationship.
     
  • Anton Lander was recalled yesterday, but no word if he will play tonight. I will send an update when I get to the rink.
     
  • Due to our on-going bet with flamesnation.ca they get to do the GDB today, because the Flames won the last game between them. Just another reason the Oilers better win tonight… but keeping with tradition, here are some predictions…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers keep rolling with a solid 5-1 win over the Flames. Hall stays hot with a pair of goals.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Curtis Glencross scores a goal, and most Oiler fans will rant over the Oilers not re-signing him FIVE years ago. It might be time to let that one go….

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mike Brown scores a goal, adds an assist and delivers two big hits early in the first period. He has a solid game, meanwhile Magnus Paajarvi shocks everyone and gets into his first NHL scrap, but registers no points. In keeping with recent tradition Paajarvi will be named the 3rd star and not Brown.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • The Soup Fascist

    Oilers should sign Bo. Do you think he could win faceoffs. Automatic hall of famer. The man use to play with Gretzky and Jordan every saturday morning. Would surely be a Pro-star on our team
    And I would take his hip over Whitney’s feet any day.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Lots of chatter out there about Whitney staying put. Apparently he is +5 over the last three games. A good stat. And, he HAS played better recently, but I still think they should trade him at the deadline.

    His return right now must be at a high.

    I can’t argue about Whitney’s ability to move the puck and how that is an asset for a team pushing for the playoffs. He really does have a great first pass. And, don’t get me wrong, I want to see some playoff hockey! But, with the kids picking up their game I for one think a lot of the uptick for Whitney is a bi-product of their resurgence and not necessarily of his own doing.

    I wonder if old Harold Snepsts would be a plus player over the last 3 games with the way the boys are playing.

    My take: trade him if the return is a 2nd round pick and more and hope (I, personally, think they can do it) Fistric and Peckham step right in without a problem.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Do you guys ever wonder why no credible hockey conversation ever involves randomly comparing various players irrespective of any meaningful context whatsoever?

    think about it.