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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.