After watching the Mighty Oilers beat the Pens in an impressive fashion some of us find ourselves wondering if that level of compete and compelling victory are a one time aberration or a sign of things to come. It was a grand time on Friday night, with rarely seen "hooting" "hollering" and "legitimate excitement" felt by many Oilers fans.
The team that came back in the third period was an entirely different squadron than we have seen on many a night and they need to be seen more often. And quick.
CALLING MARKET BOTTOM
The Oilers are a business and any business is subject to cycles. The Oil spectacularly peaked early on in the NHL and it seems as though Oilers fans have paid for every championship calibre game in the 80s with an equal period of terribility in the 10s. The Oil have since averaged out early market dominating performance with a trough so long you can see it from space. But this is where you have to look at the long game. You see? The Oilers aren’t so bad when you look at them on a long enough time horizon. You just need to take an average of the last 500 years!
If you look at the Oilers as a business it’s staggering to think that the Oilers have easily spent over $400 million on salaries since they last made the playoffs and haven’t seen a second of post season action for their buck. That’s an eye popping sum that Kay-Z has sent out the door and with nothing coming back in return. Brutal.
But as is the case with any stock, good money is made by calling a market bottom. That’s the time the savvy investor takes a look at the fundamentals of the business and decides if the worst is behind the company and brighter days lay ahead. Has the market changed? Has the business made significant changes? Are there new key executives involved who understand the issues they face and have a plan to turn things around?
Even the most pissed off Oilers fan will grudgingly admit the Oilers are a much better team than they were anywhere between 2007-11. And though recent changes to Coach and GM have frustratingly yet to bear fruit it is way too soon to call for the heads of Eakins and MacT. We actually like where Mac T’s head these days, having read a mile long interview with him this afternoon.
As Robin Brownlee pointed out, David Staples has a massive 4 part interview with MacT over at the Edmonton Journal that is one of the better Oilers pieces we can recall for awhile. For someone trying to gauge if the Oilers are anywhere near coming off market bottom we offer the words of the man charged with turning the business around:
"When I took over my one mandate was to turn this team over to the guys who are ultimately going to lead us out of this, and that was largely the draft choices, Taylor, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and put them in very prominent positions. No hiding them in the match-ups. Turning them loose to the toughest match ups. And at the start of this year, that didn’t go well. It went poorly. But I believe strongly failure is a great motivator. I think that those failures really helped those players try and restructure their game and the way they think the game and some of the decision making that they make during a game."
Bear in mind that the title of the article itself quotes MacT saying "I’m not arguing that were close were not" but if you read the entire interview it’s immediately clear that MacT is infinitely more on the ball than our dear Tambellini ever was and he seems to understand the issues crippling his business even if he has yet to do anything significant to address them. As an MBA grad one would hope he applies all that book learnin and starts making some moves soon.
It may not be market bottom for the Oilers yet – but a few more confidence building wins like the one against the Penguins and it may be closer than it feels most days.
And so flush with the temporary confidence that comes from beating the Penguins the Oilers face off with the Chicago Blackhawks today in Chicago. How good are the Hawks? Very. How good are the Oil? Somewhere between terrible and brutal. But the Pens are on a 7-2-1 streak in their past 10 and the Oil can pat themselves on the back for providing half of those losses.
Believe it or not the Oilers are 4-2-1 in last 7 trips to Chicago. A win tonight would be their third win in their last 4 games all against the top 9 teams in the NHL. Hmm. You never know.
The Oilers have yet to tweet their lineups but as of 2:50 PM the lines are as follows according to DailyFaceOff.com. Please shoot any updates into the comments as they are released and keep us all on top of the very latest.
The Hawks have also yet to finalize their lines as of press time but the latest combinations are presented here.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oh what the hell. The Oilers win 4-3, causing hundreds of thousands of Oilers fans petitioning the United Nations for Kevin Lowe’s resignation to stop their protest for a brief moment in celebration before resuming their cause in earnest.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jordan Eberle scores 2 goals and hundreds of new Oilers fans are born exactly 9 months from today as a result of worldwide jubilation immediately after the game.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fresh off a 2 goal game, The Nuge has a 3 point night. Although he has had one hell of a weekend he still reports to Grade 1 classes on Monday morning like every other student in his class. Full of youthful energy and wonder and delicious victory pie.