“Don’t mess with the Devil buddy. We’re number one. We beat anyone. We’re the Devilsss..The Devilsss…”
Face painted fans are a rarity nowadays, but whenever I see one I’m in awe of their deep passion for their team. I’ve never painted my face for a game, and a part of me wonders if I missed out.
I doubt we will see any painted faces at tonight’s tilt, but Oilers fans are hoping they leave with a smile instead of a sad face.
The good news is the Oilers are playing an eastern conference team. They’ve dominated the east this year.
The Oilers are 6-2-1 vs. the east. With New Jersey in town tonight and Chicago visiting tomorrow, it seems obvious to predict an Oiler victory tonight and a loss tomorrow.
The Devils are struggling. Their best offensive player is 42 years old. Jaromir Jagr is a freak and a future Hall of Famer. He is one of the best players the league will ever see, but at 42 he shouldn’t be your leading scorer.
The Devils are not the defensive juggernaut of past decades. They are 20th in goals against (2.90/game) this year, despite having their starting goaltender play each game. Corey Schneider has started all 19 games, including going back-to-back four times. He is 2-2 on the second game of BTB.
Their offence is 24th in the NHL (2.42 goals/game) and they sit 22nd overall in the league. Their stats match their standings and this is a winnable game for the Oilers.
Hall and Pouliot switch spots. Playing with Hall will either force Draisaitl to move his feet more, or it will become clear his skating is not NHL-ready just yet. I’m not sure how the icetime will work considering Hall needs to play 19-21 minutes. In his previous seven games, Draisaitl has played more than 11:03 once. He played 12:24 last game.
I get a sense this is a final showcase for Draisaitl and if he doesn’t show well with Hall, they likely will loan him to Germany for the WJC and then let him play junior in 2015.
Marincin returns to the lineup. Eakins said he has played well with the puck, but they want more intensity and determination from him when he doesn’t have it. Nikitin is banged up, but not injured according to Eakins. “We default to veterans that they will play well. Nikky feels he can play better and we need him to,” said the head coach.
At some point the player needs to reward the coach for his loyalty.
Fasth gets his first home start as an Oiler. If he plays well, I’d consider bucking the trend and go with him tomorrow night as well.
- Todd Nelson gave some really honest evaluations of his players in OKC during this interview. I have a hunch we will see a few of them in the coming months.
- I will never understand NHL GM’s thinking. Jason Spezza will be 32 next year when his new contract kicks in. He will make $7.5 million. He is not their best centre, Seguin is, and he is not a great two-way player. He won’t produce nearly enough points to justify that contract, and he doesn’t possess enough intangibles (two-way play, desire, defensive awareness) like a Toews or other top centres to make up the difference. Pay him $6 million and put the other $1.5 towards a D-men who can help you win. Spezza is a good player, but the Stars will not get great value on that contract.
- Do fans care about the stick salute after games? Most I’ve talked to don’t, however, the Leafs timing to abandon it reeks of petty leaders. If it was so awkward for them, why not abandon it at the start of the season? Would have been a non-story, but to do it after two brutal losses shows the leaders in the room decided it was their way to give the one-finger salute to fans. The problem with that is that 99% of their fans aren’t tossing jerseys on the ice or chirping their wives on twitter. You should never let the vocal minority force your decisions. I’d be curious how that discussion went down in the dressing room.
Phaneuf: Guys after we win, we won’t salute the fans. They haven’t been nice to us lately.
Kessel: Can we salute the media with our sticks instead..right up their ass?
Phaneuf: Maybe one day Phil…but today our focus are the fans who are mean to us.
Robidas: You sure that is a wise decision? Some of them pay $750 a night to watch us. In Dallas some games we had 7500 empty seats.
Phaneuf: Zip it, Stephane…they have been tossing scarves on the ice lately. That is even more insulting than tossing a jersey. They feel we are only worth $19 commemorative scarves. In Edmonton they toss full jerseys…their team sucks, but their fans aren’t cheap.”
Lupul: I agree scarves are great accessories. I just picked up a sweet cashmere one.”
Phaneuf: CAN WE PLEASE focus. No salute tonight, okay boys?
Clarkson: (under breath) I can’t believe I signed here. We are worrying about the f-ing salute. How about we worrying about winning the game first?
Phaneuf: Sorry, I didn’t hear you Clarkie…
Clarkson: I’m just saying I plan on scoring early tonight and get the fans behind us. I think getting them loud will help us.
Phaneuf: Good to hear you want to score, but score for us not the fans. Okay boys, it is agreed: no salute tonight. Now let’s go win.
Franson (walks into room late): What did I miss boys?
**This was not a real conversation, although Franson walking in late seemed real based on him being the only guy to take a few strides towards centre after last night’s game.**
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers can only defeat the east right now. They play Chicago tomorrow…so 4-2 win tonight and 6-4 loss tomorrow.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall scores. He is on a six-game point streak, 3rd longest active streak in the NHL and he extends it to seven games.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After playing 28 seconds with only four skaters, when they should have had five, the Oilers try to even that up tonight and they play 10 seconds with six skaters on the ice before the officials notice and give them a too many men on the ice penalty.
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