Be positive — it can’t get any worse than Saturday, can it? If Saturday was the low point of another frustrating, disappointing season, then theoretically tonight should be better. I understand that is setting the bar very low, but when you’re sitting in 29th place you need realistic expectations.
The Sharks might be a bit fatigued. They lost 2-1 in Calgary last night, Logan Couture is doubtful after blocking a few shots and San Jose clinched a playoff berth with the OTL loss. San Jose is 4-1 in the second game of a back-to-back when they win the first game, but they are only 1-1 after they lose the first game.
The Oilers, meanwhile, are 6-3-1 this season when they lost the previous game by four or more goals.
We could focus on the negative — they’ve had eleven losses of 4+ goals — but today is the 65th anniversary of the completion of Joseph Lake Oil Well #1 (that is some obscure New Sarepta trivia for you), so let’s focus on the positive.
The Oilers have shown they have the ability to get blown out, but they’ve also shown they can rebound with a much better effort during the next game. It won’t take much to better Saturday’s pathetic performance, and I’d also be willing to bet Ben Scrivens won’t have to face 59 shots like he did on January 29th vs. the Sharks.
Viktor Fasth hurt his neck in practice yesterday when Anton Lander collided into him. Fasth is day-to-day and former Oil Kings goalie Laurent Brossoit has been recalled. Expect Scrivens to start every game until Fasth is ready. The OKC Barons are in a must win situation tonight vs. San Antonio and they wanted Richard Bachman to start, if you are wondering why Brossoit got the call ahead of him.
- I still don’t think the Hall-Eakins water bottle situation is a big deal, but after I spoke with Hall yesterday, something good might come out of it. “Sometimes I get frustrated and that is the worst part of my game. I am working on controlling that,” Hall told me. Hall is an emotional player. He drives the play more than any other Oiler. You can tell when he’s excited and when he’s frustrated. Hall will get better at controlling his frustration, but I’d much rather have to try and tone down a player than beg him to get fired up.
- Nail Yakupov is still out with a fractured ankle. There is no reason to rush him back. He’ll want to play, but letting players come back before they are healthy enough to contribute rarely works out well.
- If Brossoit gets into a game he’ll be the 7th goalie to play. He is the 8th goalie to dress for a game. Kurtis Mucha dressed but didn’t play. Scrivens, Fasth, Dubnyk, Bryzgalov, LaBarbera and Bachman have all stood between the pipes this year.
- I’d like to see more from Tyler Pitlick. He has a glorious opportunity to show Eakins what he can do. I want players who realize the opportunity in front of them and will do anything to keep their spot in the lineup. He needs to do something to get noticed.
- I’ve liked Klefbom’s game. His biggest asset right now is that he has the strength to battle big forwards. He will only get stronger as he matures, but even now you can see he has the strength and skating ability to contribute. He has played a very simple game, similar to Marincin’s first 10 games, and I wonder if we’ll see him become more comfortable and assertive with the puck the more he plays.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Dwight Schrute should be a motivational speaker. I am taking his advice and picking the Sharks to win 3-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The 50/50 is a season-low $45,000. You know the fans are annoyed when they pot is under $50 grand.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS-GAME DAY PREDICTION: If the Oilers shock us all and win, then Ben Scrivens will add to the shock value even more. When he skates out of the tunnel after being announced as the first star he will take off his jersey and toss it to a young fan in the crowd. In his post-game interview he states, “I don’t want young kids thinking the jersey doesn’t matter. It does. Win or lose we should be proud of it.” He instantly becomes the new fan favourite.
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