During the 2010 World Cup Larissa Riquelme became famous for cheering for Paraguay, or more accurately for how she looked while cheering for Paraguay. I know I’ll never look as good as she does while cheering for a team, but I’ve found a new team to cheer for and I can’t wait to cheer and jeer them on. (More on that later).
Before we discuss what jersey I will buy and what colour I’ll paint my face, let’s look at last night’s Oiler victory.
When you score four goals in the first 12 minutes, the rest of the game is anticlimactic. The Oilers had a great start, capitalized on a rusty Roberto Luongo and did a solid job of not allowing the Canucks back in the game.
However, it is imperative to note that they beat a Canucks team with only eight NHL regulars. It was good that the Oilers displayed more tenacity, energy and assertiveness in their game, but I expected them to beat that version of the Canucks.
I don’t put too much stock into the early preseason games, because they usually show who can’t play, more than who can. The final few games, usually the last three, are a better indication of how players look. Remember when Rob Schremp would put up points early in the preseason, but then produced nothing in the final few games. Playing against last night’s Canucks was much easier than it will be playing against them in October.
- Darnell Nurse is going to be a solid NHLer, and he looked very good last night, but we need to temper expectations. There is no reason the Oilers should have him in the NHL this year, none. They aren’t a Cup contender, but they hope to be in a few years so send Nurse back to junior and let him keep developing.
- Watching Nurse illustrates how far guys like David Musil, Martin Gernat, Brandon Davidson, Taylor Fedun and Martin Marincin need to grow to get in the mix on the blueline. I think Marincin is progressing nicely, he had a solid game last night, but he just doesn’t possess the ability of Nurse. If Marincin keeps improving, Klefbom gets comfortable and Nurse continues to mature the Oilers blueline should be pretty solid in a few years.
- The Oilers got some "puck luck" last night. Eberle missed his wrap around attempt, but it ricocheted off Luongo across the line. Luongo whiffed on Perron’s goal, and Marincin had a seeing eye shot from the point. When you work hard you get breaks, and the Oilers outworked the Canucks in the first period.
- The best goal was Joensuu’s. Hunt made a great pass to Arcobello, who was stopped on the one-timer, but then he made a nice play to follow the puck in the corner and feed Joensuu, who snapped it home. Joensuu has looked good in two of his three games, but he looked great vs. weak Calgary and Vancouver teams, and not as good against a predominately NHL Jets’ lineup. The next few games will give us a better indication of how impactful he can be when he faces regular NHL players, but he’s shown well thus far.
- Brad Hunt won’t make the team, but he’s exceptional with the puck. He will help OKC, and his play making and puck moving abilities should help develop the young OKC forwards.
- Hall and Eberle were very good. I still prefer Hall on the wing, and feel he’ll play there when Nugent-Hopkins returns, but he’s been solid defensively. It is more difficult to play defence as a centre, and learning more D-zone responsibilities can only make him a better defensive winger.
- Dubnyk wasn’t tested very much, but he did have a great two-save sequence in the second period. He was strong on his angles, and he seems to have adjusted to the smaller pads. He said he’ll have to make small adjustment to cover up his five-hole, but I didn’t notice any big holes when he went down in the butterfly or in tight when the Canucks crashed the net.
- I’ve already noticed many suggesting the Oilers don’t need Ben Eager or Mike Brown, and the team would be better off to have skill guys on their fourth line. I disagree. You need some guys who can lean on the opposition, as long as they can skate. Fighting is a bonus, but the Oilers don’t need a guy who can only fight. Eakins had this to say yesterday about Eager, and the need for physical play from his team.
I like his speed. I like how fast he can explode through the middle of the ice and get in on the forecheck. We need a level of heaviness and toughness here. Toughness doesn’t mean fighting, it means we need guys to be able to get in and bang the other team’s defencemen and bang their top players, and have a real physical aspect to our game. He’s someone that can bring that, so he’s definitely going to have a chance here.
There is no secret he is in a group of five forwards where there is a real competition for a couple of spots. I know he’s up for the challenge. I know in the past he’s come in a bit heavier, sometimes those guys want to carry some extra weight because they have to tangle with extra opponents, which is odd to me.
When it comes to fighting and how big guys are, I always put it this way when a guy tells me, ‘I need that extra 10 pounds to scrap,’ I reply, ‘if the toughest guy in the league is 245 pounds, do you fear him any less if he is 235; he’s still the same toughness.’ I like that Ben is at a good weight that he can carry, and you can really see it on the ice because he is moving really well.
- None of Acton, Lander or Arcobello have stood out for me, so the 4th line centre spot is wide open. They are all very different players, but Acton and Lander better suited to play a 4th line role than Arcobello, but one of them needs to show that in the next four games.
CHEERING FOR THE DANCING QUEENS (KING??)
Outstanding photoshop by Dylan.
I’ve never watched Battle of the Blades for more than a few minutes, but this season I’ll be glued to the show because my good buddy Jason Strudwick will be competing. Struds has been practicing for the past few weeks and he is jacked to show the country his moves. Olympic medalist David Pelletier gave him some lessons a few weeks ago and when I ran into Pelletier last week at a charity event he told me Struds was pretty good. "He was better than I expected," smiled Pelletier.
I have no doubt Struds will work his ass off in practice. He played 674 games in the NHL due to his work ethic, not his natural skill, and I know he’s working hard to try and win. He is taking this competition very seriously, and his charity of choice is the Inner City Children’s Program.
I look forward to cheering, and jeering, him every Sunday night. The best part of him being on BOTB is that they won’t let him wear any sweaters. Struds has the worst collection of sweaters I’ve ever seen, and he loves them. Pelletier told me Struds showed up in a sweater for their first practice. Classic.
He’ll switch is sweaters for sequins.
I figure skated until I was 12 years old,so I have a great respect for the sport. It is much harder than it looks, and I know from experience it is very difficult to feel confident in some of the outfits they put you in. This outfit was the beginning of the end for my figure skating career.
I managed to look unreal in that outfit, and crushed the performance, despite the fact that every girl in the routine was essentially wearing the same thing. A year later, I bowed out of figure skating, unaware that skating into your late teens was an open doorway to the ladies…sigh.
Struds, I highly recommend wearing something similar. You’ll be able to express your sensitive side.
Mr. Strudwick isn’t the only former Oiler on the show. Mike Krushelnyski, Anson Carter and Scott Thornton are in, as well as Grant Marshall, Brian Savage, Vladamir Malakhov and Mathieu Dandenault.
Savage will likely look great in the October episodes, but he’ll fade after that.
Struds, I wish you the best of luck. I know you have the personality to do well and aren’t lacking in self-confidence, and I’m sure everyone in Oilersnation will be cheering you on. Now, don’t screw up.
The first episode is this Sunday night at 8 p.m. on CBC. GO TEAM STRUDWICK!!!
You can watch his introduction video here….