According to sportsclubstats.com the Oilers have an 8% chance of making the playoffs. Before the St. Louis game it was 4%, so the good news for Oilers fans is that your chances of watching a playoff game at Rexall Place has improved in the last 48 hours. However, the site gives the Blue Jackets a 10% chance, even though the Jackets suck on the road (3-9-2) and play 10 of their remaining 15 games on the road. So use the % at your own discretion.
Either way, both teams are longshots to make the playoffs, but if the Oilers want to keep their faint hopes alive they must beat the Blue Jackets; one of the four teams between them and 8th place.
If there was ever a night you’d expect the Oilers to win it would be tonight. The Oilers are 17-4-1 at home vs. Columbus. and they’ve won the last four by a combined 19-8. The Blue Jackets didn’t have Sergei Bobrovsky in the pipes the past two seasons, and right now he’s the hottest goalie in the league.
Bobrovsky os 8-1-3 in his last 12 games. During this stretch he has 4 shutouts and he’s only allowed 14 goals on 350 shots for a stellar .960 SV%. He blanked the Canucks on Tuesday, but lost in the SO.
The Jackets don’t have a lot of skill, but they work incredibly hard and they allow lots of shots from the outside. The Oilers aren’t great at going to the net for rebounds, so they have to avoid getting sucked into Columbus’ game plan of allowing shots from the outside. The Oilers need to attack the defenders and take pucks to the net.
No changes after the 3-0 shutout in St. Louis, which isn’t a surprise. Ralph Krueger said the Oilers will evaluate after tonight’s game if they will recall anyone, likely Anton Lander, from OKC. Smyth is more effective as a winger in my view.
- With Jarome Iginla landing in Pittsburgh, not Boston like it was reported last night, you wonder if the Oilers/Bruins trade talks will continue. Two sources told me that nothing was imminent, but that some minor "tire-kicking" had gone on between the Oilers and Bruins. Ryan Whitney’s name was involved, and then Boston reporter Joe Haggerty tweeted that he heard a forward was also involved. He mentioned Ales Hemsky in one tweet and then Magnus Paajarvi in another. A source from Edmonton suggested there has been no talk regarding a forward.
- If Hemsky or Paajarvi is involved the Oilers would have to get a roster player in return. I don’t see any scenario that has either of those two moving without the Oilers getting someone with NHL experience in return. The Oilers are aware they need to change the dynamics in their top-six, but they won’t rush into any deal.
- Here is what the Flames received from Pittsburgh for Jarome Iginla. The Penguins 1st rounder in 2013 & two college kids, Ben Hanowski (3rd round, 2009) and Ken Agostino (5th round, 2010). Agostino has 96 points in 97 games over three years at Yale University. Hanowski has played 4 years at St. Cloud State, and in his final two years he tallied 39 goals and 72 points in 73 games.
- The one thing that surprises me the most in this deal is that there were no conditional picks involved. If Iginla re-signs in Pittsburgh, maybe another pick or if the Pens win the Cup, similar to what the Oilers got in the Pronger deal.
- I see many suggesting Iginla will re-sign in Calgary. I don’t see that happening. He’ll get a taste of playoff hockey and success, and I seriously doubt he’d want to return to Calgary as part of their rebuild.
- Solid work by Ray Shero for being able to acquire Iginla and Brendan Morrow without giving up Scott Harrington or Olli Maatta. The Penguins didn’t give up any of their top-five prospects in those two deals.
- As you get set for a long weekend, ask yourself if you know someone like this… Hilarious. When the girl asks the guy to go outside, his reaction is the best.
- "This is an unbelievable four-point game. If we want to remain in the playoff hunt, we need a win," Ralph Krueger said this morning. Even when a scenario like tonight is obvious to everyone coaches rarely say it publicly. Krueger also stated the Blue Jackets have been the hardest working team in the west conference the last month and the Oilers need to match that work ethic if they hope to win. We’ll see if the player’s understanding of the situation is as clear as their coach.
- The Penguins have $53.6 million committed to16 players for next season. Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Doug Murray will all be UFAs at the end of the season, along with Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Pacal Dupuis. If they re-sign Iginla for $5 million they would only have $5 million to sign 6 players. Which isn’t great, but not impossible. Then they’d have to hope the Cap goes up for 2013/2014 when Malkin will get a slight raise on his $8.7 cap hit and Kris Letang will need a bump on his $3.5 cap number.
- This morning in the dressing room Jim Matheson and I were discussing the cap situation of the Penguins, when two Oilers players mentioned that Iginla should sign here if Pittsburgh can’t afford him. "Get it started," they said with a slight laugh, but both were serious. I doubt it would happen, but wow that would sure ignite some fire into the Battle of Alberta.
- Do you want some of the stylish Nation gear? The Nation on-line store has opened and you can get one of the limited editions hoodies here. Wanye isn’t very organized so he only orders a few at a time. If you want one before they sell out click here. As always portion of proceeds go to charity.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers continue their home dominance over the Blue Jackets with a 3-1 victory and leap frog the Blue Jackets into 11th place.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ales Hemsky ends his 12-game goal scoring drought in the first period. Hemsky has 13 goals vs. the Blue Jackets (most against an opposing team) and he pots his 14th on a nice pass cross-ice feed from Sam Gagner.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Late in the 2nd period Ryan Whitney leaves the bench and heads to the dressing room. No replay can show him suffering any sort of injury, so during the intermission twitter erupts in speculation that he has been traded. Even the panel on Sportsnet suggests this is very likely. Two minutes into the 3rd period Whitney is back on the ice, and the speculation appears to be false. After the game Whitney explains that the strap on his jock broke. "I’m single it’s too risky to play with no can. I have to protect my boys," he says. As I’m walking away he adds, "Make sure everyone knows I didn’t veto any trades," he says with a laugh.