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:
|1||* – Chicago||CEN||34||26||5||3||55||22||116||74||+42||4-3|
|2||* – Anaheim||PAC||35||23||7||5||51||18||107||90||+17||5-3|
|3||* – Minnesota||NW||34||21||11||2||44||17||97||86||+11||4-1|
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.
|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|
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.
- 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.