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.

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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.

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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.

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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


  • Ogie Oilthorpe

    I’m still seriously concerned that management actually signing Smid to a good contract is a April Fool’s Day joke.. Seriously, I am impressed, it hurts to say that.

    GDP – 4-1 Oil

    OGDP – Brown sends a message early that taking runs at their talent is unnaceptable.

    NSOGDP: Ebs gets a hatty and tweets Taylor Hall from the dressing room after the game that he gets top bunk from now on. Hall and Ebs then get in a serious disagreement that ends up in a good ol fashioned locker box. And errant punch hits Jones in the eye and he sits out the rest of the season.

  • oliveoilers

    Unlike Oiler management, as a fan, it will always be hard to let go of Glencross.

    I’m not looking forward to watching these games down the stretch, and watching as the Oilers lose to the teams they need to beat, and win against the teams that should have kicked the crap out of them.

    I badly, badly want the team to make it into the playoffs, but I also badly, badly want them to draft a big centre will skill and edge. So just missing the playoffs would show how much the team has improved, fill a potential hole, and allow the team to dominate in the following years after a few key off season acquisitions.

    • The Real Scuba Steve

      This is said every year, Sic of the all the draft talk every season, lets do what we can and push for a playoff spot and make management do some work instead acquiring 1 or 2 players a year.

  • Bucknuck

    My goodness I feel slow. It might still be some aftereffects from Saturday. Good lord did I ever have a fun night.

    I hope the Oil take it to four straight today. After watching what they are capable of on Saturday, I feel pretty good about their chances of making the post season. I feel better after every win.

  • Clarence Oveur

    I just love how people have bitched and moaned all season that the sky is falling, yet on April 1st, I find the oilers right where I thought they would be at the begining of the season.

    If we make the playoffs – cool. If not, at least we are progressing.

    The young guy’s are looking good and perhaps we can add some better veterans in the off season. Overall, I am pleasantly pleased with the re-build so far.

  • RPG

    NSOGDP:The Oilers trade for Curtis Glencross prior to the game, he makes the walk down the hall to his new/old dressing room and suits up for the Oil. Once and for all righting the wrong.

  • Clarence Oveur

    The back-to-back games vs the Flames are the Oilers’ litmus test to determine whether they are pretenders or contenders for the playoffs. And if their Saturday night 4 – 0 shutout vs the Canucks was a sign of good performances to come or a one-off.

    The remaining three-game series vs the Ducks will determine if they actually get into the playoffs and in what order.

    In the meantime, what does Tambellini do between now and trade deadline? Dither, screw-up or surprise us all and make a few sound decisions on the roster.

  • watkinator

    I hope to hell that the Oilers lace up the s–t kickers tonight and put the boots to the flaming-out C’s. I told a kid in my class this year (in an Idaho university of all places) that this was the year Edmonton finished ahead of Calgary in the standings. That’s definitely going to happen but the exclamation point on the season, playoffs or no, is going to be beating the Flames three times in a week to finish out this season series. It sends the statement “Our rebuild is over. Have fun with yours.”

  • watkinator

    I wonder if they’d trade Glencross for Magnus straight up. Don’t get me wrong, MPS has been great lately and could still turn into that excellent power forward we’ve been looking for. But Glencross upgrades our top six instantly.

    This also helps Calgary int hat they get a blue chip / turning the corner in the right direction type of player.

  • DSF

    Chance in playoffs this morning:

    CHI – 99.999

    ANA – 99.99

    MIN – 99.2 (Who could have seen that coming?)

    LAK – 98.8

    VCR – 97.5

    SJS – 84.3

    DET – 71.8

    STL – 61.5

    EDM – 23.8

    DAL 19.9

    CLB – 15.5

    NSH – 15.0

    PHX – 10.1

    CAL – 2.4

    COL – 0.2

    It appears only the final 2 spots are up for grabs since SJS are playing their next 5 at home and have a record of 11-4 at home.

    Detroit’s next 3 games are:

    VS. COL

    @ PHX

    @ COL

    So, if they win those 3 they may be all but impossible to catch.

    It comes down to outplaying STL for the last playoff spot.

    6 of the next 7 games for the Blues are on the road where the Blues are 9-7-1.

        • DSF

          Half the team down with injury…it happens.

          Speaking of the Panthers…did you notice Huberdeau has taken over the scoring lead among rookies despite playing on a dreadful team?

          On pace for 30G 29A 59P over an 82 game season.

          Pretty impressive.

          • Panther players like Campbell, Versteeg, etc. are way too overpaid. If that’s how u want the Oilers to be run, I’m glad your not in charge. Building thru free agency is not the way to go. Case in point, the CGY Flames

          • DSF

            Yeah, they have a nice prospect pool because they’ve sucked for years. Just like the Oilers. But they’ve screwed up by picking up guys like Campbell, Upshall, Versteeg, Jovanoski, Kuba, etc. Overpaying 3rd liners is not how an NHL team should reach the cap floor. Those guys are not part of the future going forward. They instead should have given bigger contracts to guys who are their future. Guys like Matthias and Kulikov should have bigger cap hits. And the guys on their entry level deals (Huberdeau, Gudbranson, Howden, etc) should be getting paid max salaries on their ELC’s so that the team can play them with the big club and utilize their larger cap hits.

            BTW, almost all those guys I mentioned have NTC’s. Would you like the Oilers to sign Filip Kuba

          • DSF

            So, what you’re saying is the points scored by Hall, Eberle and Hopkins don’t count because they played on teams that finished 30th, 30th and 29th?

            Gotcha Sparky.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            In the context of the game they were playing sure they mattered, it isn’t like we’re down 6-0 and they scored 2 quick ones to end the game, they might have 1 or 2 points in a 4-3 loss, but the goals and points they got were important at the time.

          • BRHLBryce

            Wouldn’t that argument disparage every Oiler players stats from the last 6 years?

            So is your argument then that the Nuge, Ebs, Hall etc… are over-rated?

          • SLAM

            Pretty awesome.

            RNH definitely should have won the Calder last year then.

            On pace for 24G 45A 69P over an 82G season on a dreadful team.

            Also:

            Taylor Hall on pace for 27G 56A 82P over 82 games
            Tyler Seguin on pace for 27G 33A 60P over 82 games

            Wow this is fun!
            Jason Garrison on pace for 12G 7A 19P over 82 games
            Justin Schultz on pace for 12G 27A 39P over 82 games
            Chris Kreider on pace for 10G 5A 15P over 82 games

          • DSF

            No he shouldn’t have.

            Landeskog was a better player.

            Interesting that Landeskog, despite missing 12 games due to injury has scored 7 goals this season…Hopkins 2 goals.

            Landeskog has 12 points in 22 games while Hopkins has 19 points in 33 games.

            Looks like Landeskog was definitely the right choice.

            Justin Schultz has 0 goals and 3 points and is -7 in his last 15 games despite playing #1PP.

            Looks like the opposition has figured him out.

            Patrick Weircioch of the Senators has 1 less point, is younger and is +3

            Pretty awesome.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            Gudbranson has 0 goals and 4 assists while playing 20 minutes a game and is a nice -17.

            Schultz not getting a lot of points probably has to do with transitioning from 40 games a season to 80 games while playing against more physical men. Most college players hit a wall at the 40-50ish game mark and Schultz has played 66? games this season.

            Landy missed games with injury while RNH was playing through an injury, and we all know that Landy was supposed to be a better player in the short term because Landy was NHL ready and RNH was 160 lbs, and still 4-5 months younger.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            Doesn’t really matter, in 25 games he has 0 goals and 4 assists and is a -17. That counts as 11 games to injury btw.

            Most D-men show you what they are at 22-24. He’s 21 right now.

          • DSF

            Gudbranson has never put up big points.

            He’s a defensive defenseman…except on the Panthers this season.

            But you’re right…defensemen take a little more time.

            At Gudbranson’s age, Smid was 0G 4A 4P -15.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            Smid was a 9th overall pick, not a 3rd, and when they did draft Gudbranson they were hoping for offense with a mean streak, Shea Weber comparisons were thrown out there for him.

            He has room to turn it around, wouldn’t be the first time, esp for a D-man.

          • hunkybill

            See every post we’re you ripped MPS for time on ice.
            But huberdeau is a beast . All the injuries have given him the chance to step up. Probably the Panthers next Captian.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            Has Hubby scored 30 goals yet either? Rookies are streaky, and besides Hubby was a 3rd overall pick and is supposed to be an All-Star player(In time), while MPS was a 10th overall pick who was never drafted or projected to score 30 goals.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            I brought MPS up. Keep it straight jackass. So Huberdeau as a #1 centre is ok to score less than Sam Gagner, a draft bust, by your own declarations. I do not think so.

            Don’t you look silly with all your incorrect predictions. See Justin Schultz free agency. Sam Gagner breaking 50 pts in a season. Sam Gagner has more points than Parise and kills penalties. At 3.5 million a season.

          • Time Travelling Sean

            Huberdeau: Probably first line minutes, first PP unit, first guy to drink out of the water bottle and gets first crack at the honeys on the Miami beach.

            My point: “Dreadful team” actually helps his stats. 19 year old season too.

            Good for him, though. Putting up points may be the only thing he can look forward to in F-L-A. Beach bunnies aside.

            Now, back to our regular programming: Kill, kill, kill the Flame!

      • Spydyr

        Overhyped and Overrated I’d say. Kings had them out played them then fell asleep and beat them selves. Minnesota doesnt scare me at all. they will get bombed out of the first round. lick that one

  • hunkybill

    Trade Edmonton’s first round pick 2013 to Florida for Dmitri Kulikov. Trade Oilers 2nd round pick 2013 + ? for one of Columbus’s 3 first round picks 2013.

  • The Soup Fascist

    “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…”

    NSOGDP: No GDB is put forward by our friends from the City of Cows. No keyboards are functioning city-wide due to saltwater damage from the tears of Flamers, emotionally overcome by memories of Iggy.

  • RexLibris

    Here’s hoping the Oilers sweep this back to back by an aggregate score of 28-1. Khabibulin gets a shutout and the Oilers deal he and Abney to Toronto for Gardiner.

    It is April Fools Day, right?

  • The Soup Fascist

    REALLY hoping that the Oilers don’t take these next two (three in 13 days, actually) games lightly. Calgary still has professional hockey players on their team and the Oil are not good enough to win by just showing up.

    I would hope they come out with a fire in their belly like they did vs. the Cansucks. If they don’t – they will be in trouble.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Agreed- that crap team , like most with nothing to play
      for scares me. We must WIN these 2 games, Post the Flames record
      against the oil over the last 20 or so on the wall.
      Be motivated – whatever it takes and god damn it come
      out hard and dont give them a sniff. Because Oilers- you are good enough to do it now. Its Time for retribution Oilers.

      You may not be contenders [yet] But Calgary is very ripe for some
      butt kicking, you have to want it.

  • Rob...

    I’m pumped for tonight’s game, Oilers will crush them.

    Hey Gregor I have to give you credit for bringing up good points that no one else mentions. You are correct with Yakupov’s lack of pullaway speed. He can’t do it yet, and that isn’t a knock just a fact.

    Also does anyone know less about hockey than David Staples. He suggested the Oilers trade Hemsky, because Omark could replace him. No way that happens. Omark can’t carry Hemsky’s jock strap…

  • My gameday prediction is that we will trade two quick goals and then we will overpower them and have a 3 goal lead by the first intermission and in the 2nd period Glencross will cheapshot one of our kids and Downtown-Brown will knock his block off, he has had it coming for a long time, after the beatdown or huge hit Curtis will develop an “undisclosed upper body{heart} injury” and be neutralised for the rest of the game by Browns threat.

    Calgary will play a simple but aggressive game early on, it will still be a process breaking them down, we need to simply be as prepared as we have been the last three games, with the exception that tonight we might need to adjust on the fly because I am sure with Iggy gone their entire system has been adjusted in huge dynamic ways that will make them very vulnerable to sustained and consistant pressure, the exact thing we have been consistantly doing accurately the last 3 games.

    We give them nothing, and take everything!! The song remains the same till we lock a playoff spot.

    I have seen an unprecedented evolution with both Ralph AND the Players for some recent and unknown reason, I am just planning on watching them maintain that pressure on themselves to execute the system so consistantly. Call it whatever you want, I like what the team has cooking these days. As a fan it is starting to take the sting off of the lockout, just being in the running for 8th is enough to do that these days.

    I still think we are going to land in 6th place. If you are the Oilers and are going to win it all you are going to win it hard and long, and really nothing else will do, we are due for a ten game undefeated streak. For us to initiate a Cinderella Run we need that type of streak coming in regardless, so its full steam ahead with no added pressure, just one game at a time. We are not behind the 8-ball here we are an improved team that is competing for an NHL playoff spot, but from day one there was never any doubt in anyones mind that it would take a special group effort for this team to make the playoffs under the best of circumstances.

    Bring on the Flames, our Young wolves are young and growing and verrryyy hungry for Red Meat, and as much of it as they can sink their teeth into. We will have some Wild/Duck and some Coyote later this month to keep the pack healthy and growing. We need to feed this beast we are creating.

  • Rob...

    If DSF was capable of bringing an A-game he would have posted an April fools day post apologizing for his ridiculous behaviour and promising to go away forever. That would require some imagination and a sense of humour though.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Would really love to see the Oil re-sign Fistric to another contract! Perfect 5/6 d-man who isn’t on the ice much with the first two lines but always has everyone with their head up! Moves the puck & skates much better than people give him credit for! Exactly what we need, get him signed already!

  • Those last 5 games are scary. Hopefully all those teams will have nothing to play for by then.

    Good observation on Yak. I think he needs to work with a power skating coach over the summer. Lurches forward too much. It feels like you’re on your toes and into it, but really, you’re not able to fully drive your skating legs when you bend your back.

    • DSF

      Meh.

      4 points.

      Parise is also a great defensive forward who kills penalties and is actually leading Hall in goals 15-11.

      And, of course, the leadership provided by Parise and Suter (who leads all NHL defensemen in scoring and is a Norris candidate) has their team leading the division and solidly in a playoff position.

      Just as an aside, Minnesota’s defense has contributed 68 points.

      The Oilers D has scored 37 points.

  • Ogie Oilthorpe

    So why bring up Lander?

    This is purely speculation, but maybe the Oil are shedding a (right) winger and a pick for a D-man?

    I would think maybe for a bigger power forward, but if I’m not mistaken Hatikainen’s contract is up after this year, so is management hoping he will fill that role and are just looking for D?

    • DSF

      Coach says Lander is up for insurance and to keep the other 12 forwards honest. But, you could be right about a winger moving.

      We shall see.

      I’m loving this sh*t guys! The beer is tasting real good these days.