Sports can be a harsh business at times. Many fans had circled tonight’s game as must-see TV with the expectation to watch Connor McDavid play Sidney Crosby for the first time.
In 1984/1985 these two franchises watched Mario Lemieux battle Wayne Gretzky for the first time. Gretzky led the league with 73-135-208 and won the Art Ross, Hart and Stanley Cup while Lemieux won the Calder with 43-57-100.
Gretzky and Lemieux met for the first time on November 6th, 1984, in Pittsburgh as the teams skated to a 3-3 tie. Gretzky scored the tying goal with four minutes remaining after Lemieux assisted on the go-ahead goal midway through the third period.
Thirty-one years later Crosby and McDavid were scheduled to meet on the exact same day, but alas hockey fans will have to wait until next season to see these two phenoms face each other in NHL action.
Despite McDavid’s absence there is still a lot of skill on the ice. The Oilers’ top two lines consist of three #1 overall picks (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov), a #3 pick (Leon Draisaitl), a #4 pick (Benoit Pouliot) and a 22nd overall selection (Jordan Eberle).
The Penguins‘ top two lines consist of Crosby (#1), Evgeni Malkin (#2), Phil Kessel (#5), David Perron (#26), four-time 22+ goal scorer Patrick Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis.
There is no lack of offensive scorers on either roster, and fans should still be excited about tonight’s game.
- “If I had a vote, he’d get mine as their MVP thus far. He has been great and they’ve only allowed 13 goals 5×5,” McLellan on Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins. The Penguins have scored 19 goals at EV. Fleury has a sparking 1.74GAA and .939sv% and he’s only allowed 19 goals in eleven games. Good news for Oilers is they won’t face him.
- The Oilers have improved their 5×5 scoring. They have 23, tied for 12th, but they are still struggling to stop EV goals. The Oilers have allowed the third most (30), and only Columbus (32) and Calgary (42) have allowed more EV goals.
- Crosby has played 193:26 at EV. He doesn’t have a goal and has only three assists. Both of his goals have come on the PP. He’s only put up 2-4-6 in 12 games thus far. His lack of offensive production is one of the biggest surprises of the season. I’m certain he will pick up a point tonight.
- The Oilers have seven + players so far. Hall leads the team at +7 followed by Draisaitl and Hendricks at +4, RNH is at +2 while Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson and Yakupov are at +1. The good news for the Oilers is that six of them are 24 and under. The skill players are improving their defensive zone coverage.\
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
They’ve added their fourth No. 1 overall draft pick since 2010 – who we noted is now injured, and they have absolutely nothing to show for it. And yet the lucky lottery ping pong balls of the NHL keep bailing them out over and over. You know the drunk guy/girl at the bar who keeps spilling their drink everywhere while their friend continuously orders them new drinks hoping they won’t do it again? Yeah, that’s the Oilers.
They rearranged front office responsibilities in an attempt to mask the suck of years past, but that was basically the equivalency of spraying Axe Body Spray in your car after your dog pukes everywhere.
Todd McLellan became the sixth Oilers head coach in the last seven seasons. That has to be some kind of record. Ice cream cones in the desert have more stability. But hey, at least he doesn’t have to worry about tanking in the playoffs anymore!
They traded a second round draft pick for Cam Talbot to be their starting goaltender this season, because going after other team’s backups has paid off so well for this franchise. Talbot was pretty good last season when he had an actual NHL-caliber defense in front of him. This season, his defense includes three traffic cones and a roll of Saran wrap, hence the .897 save percentage.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have won two of their last three home games versus the Pens. They stun the Penguins with a 4-2 victory including an empty net goal.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH scores a goal. He has three goals and six points in five career games versus Pittsburgh.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nail Yakupov is growing a moustache for Movember. Gene Principe interviews him during one of the intermissions and since Gene is also growing a stache he asks Nail about his. Yakupov looks Mean Gene in the eye and says, “You call that a moustache, this is a real moustache,” and then proceeds to use his right thumb and index finger and rub his moustache from the outside into the centre. Yak is interviewed because he scored earlier in the period.
NOMINATE YOUR HOME ICE HERO!
Celebrate the volunteer, parent, coach or organizer who keeps the game going and asks for nothing in return.
Nominate your Home Ice Hero and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
New Line Combos
- Goaltending 101: What was Talbot thinking
- McDavid injury update
- GDB 13.0: Looking to bounce back
- McDavid: Exceeding Expectations
- GDB: Home Ice Advantage: Revolving Roster
- Next 10 need to be better