GDB 45.0: To Tampa and beyond…

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Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is regarded as one of the great films of all-time. The premise of the movie deals with some interactions between humans and monoliths that are supposedly affecting human evolution.

It is a great flick, especially if you like Sci-Fi. The final quarter of the movie focuses on David Bowman’s (astronaut) journey “beyond the infinite.” While traveling, he gets caught in a vortex and suddenly sees older versions of himself in different situations, and then a black monolith appears in front of him. He reaches for it and is transformed into what I thought was a baby (fetus) and then we see him as a baby in a bubble orbiting earth. The movie focused on evolution, technology, extra terrestrial life and higher intelligence.

Buzz Lightyear’s tag line in Toy Story, “To Infinity and beyond” relates to Bowman’s adventure, and it got me thinking about the plight of the Oilers.

Kubrick’s film ended with what I thought was Bowman seeing how his life would end, and then in an instant he was an unborn baby starting over. Maybe I’m stretching things too much, but I wonder if this is how the Oilers organization views themselves.

2015: An Oilers Odyssey.

Daryl Katz watches the Oilers from his luxury condo or mansion and as every game passes before his eyes, each one suggests the future is not looking great. He sees himself and his players getting older, but the Stanley Cup is not within their grasp.

Does he look at this team and think they need to re-build or re-tool again? Is it time for a new direction, or a new plan? The script could write itself. The Oilers are a spacecraft that has been thrown off course and is now floating aimlessly through time.

Can they get back on track?

A lot needs to happen for that to occur, and much like space travel, there is no quick and easy route for the Oilers.

The loss vs. the Blues illustrated another fundamental flaw in the team. They are not a cohesive group. They don’t have enough players whose first instinct is to protect their teammates. Often, we see hesitation before they enter a fray that has one of their teammates outnumbered.

I’m not talking about fighting, I’m talking about being unified. Every good team is unified on the ice. Not every player is great friends off the ice, but on game day they stand up for each other.

The Oilers don’t have many physical players. No one expects them to be a rugged, mean group, however, they need to display a united front on the ice, and too often during the past five years we have seen a team that hesitates before entering scrums or frays involving their teammates.

You need talent, skill, size, tenacity, competitiveness and solid goaltending to be a good team, but great teams have a strong camaraderie within the room. They support the puck just as well as they support one another in physical encounters.

The Oilers will say they are a close-knit team, but their actions on the ice, from puck support to scrum support tells a different story.

They need to build a stronger foundation of trust in all facets of their game before we will see significant improvement.

LINEUP

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Gazdic comes out and Fraser draws back in on the 3rd line. Scrivens starts again, and he can’t allow a soft first goal like last game. This team is not good enough to overcome goals like that. He made some stellar stops to keep them in the game, but this team sags quickly after weak goals.

The Lightning are a bit banged up. They will be without their leading scorer, Tyler Johnson, and their best D-man, Viktor Hedman tonight. You can see their lineup here via Dailyfaceoff.com

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Raw Charge:

The
Tampa Bay Lightning (27-14-4) return to Amalie Arena for a three game
homestand before the 2015 All-Star break The three-game set begins
tonight with the Edmonton Oilers (10-25-9) who bested the Lightning in
Edmonton earlier this season.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers have a tendency to make a decision on a player and not waiver off of it. Scrivens has become their starter and it looks like Fasth will be traded or not re-signed in the summer. They have done this with other players as well, and I find in some cases they make their decisions too hastily.

    They either write off a player or commit too strongly for others. Players develop at different rates and if one has a solid 40 games that doesn’t guarantee he will morph into the star they want, Schultz, while others shouldn’t be written off so quickly.

    Mark Fayne told me that when he was in New Jersey he never felt comfortable with his position on the team. If he had a bad game or two he could move down the lineup. That type of uncertainty kept him on his toes, and on the Oilers I don’t feel that type of uncomfortableness occurs often enough. Part of that is due to a lack of depth, but moving forward Craig MacTavish has to ensure his organization has more depth so players know they are battling for icetime. On a team that has lost as much as the Oilers, it doesn’t bode well having too many players comfortable with their icetime or status on the depth chart.

  • Tyler Johnson has to be the least talked about productive scorer in the NHL. He is 9th in scoring, leads the Lightning with 46 points, has only played 17 minutes ES with Stamkos and they have not scored one goal while on the ice together at ES. No one can accuse him of riding on Stamkos’ coattails. Stamkos faces tougher competition most nights, but Johnson, along with linemates Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat give the Bolts two dynamic offensive lines. His absence is a huge blow for the Lightning and a lucky break for the Oilers.
  • The Oilers are 7-6-1 against the East this year, but they’ve only played four of those games on the road, going 2-2. They scored home wins over eastern playoff teams: Tampa Bay, New York Islanders, Montreal and Washington and defeated the Rangers on the road. Sadly, they are 3-19-8 vs. the western conference and unless the NHL reconfigures to conferences like the NFL that has east and west teams in the same conference, the Oilers success against the east doesn’t mean much. To make the playoffs they need to become competitive against the west.

TONIGHT…

StamkosZeus

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Tampa hasn’t lost more than two games in a row all season. They’ve lost back-to-back four times, but beat Minnesota, Carolina and Philly to avoid a three-game drought. They avoid a three-game losing streak again tonight with a close 3-2 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Stamkos has five goals in his last five games on 18 shots. He continues his hottest streak of the season with a PP goal tonight.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Reverse curse…Purcell scores vs. his former team.

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