We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot deliver in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.
It is fitting the Oilers are in Wrangler Jeans and Belt Buckle territory tonight as they faceoff against the Nashville Predators. Edmonton has ten players who have never experienced an NHL playoff race where the Oilers are a legit contender, and many Nation readers are also experiencing it for the first time.
Cinch your helmet, tighten your skates, and don’t have anything close to your hands that you can throw because your emotions are in for one hell of a ride.
We are in February. Teams have around 30 games remaining and you are officially entering a playoff race.
Even though every game is worth the same amount of points in October as today, the reality is that time is now a factor. There are fewer games to make up ground. Coaches, managers, players and fans watch the out of town scoreboard more regularly and you watch the standings with a little more angst than you did in November.
A two or three game losing streak creates more concern. A winning streak of the same length produces relief. Since the All Star break Los Angeles has won twice, San Jose, Anaheim and Calgary have won once, while the Oilers lost to Minnesota. It was only one game. The Oilers are 7-1-1 in their past nine, but one loss has created some tension among Oilersnation.
It is normal, and you should enjoy it.
You are in for a wild ride of emotions. You’ll likely start reading the Nation more frequently. You’ll watch more NHL highlights, and you’ll likely listen to TSN 1260 sports radio more often because everything is magnified. This is why you invest your time as a fan. You want to be involved when the games matter, and unfortunately Oilersnation hasn’t been able to feel these emotions in a long time.
The players are in the same position in this regard. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have suffered the most, and both of them are loving looking at the standings and seeing where they are. “You don’t get too far ahead of yourself, because we still have 30 games to play, but of course I’m excited,” said Eberle. “It is so fun coming to the rink. The energy in the room is great. It is infectious, and you can feel it around the city,” continued Eberle.
I’m sure in Chicago, San Jose, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Washington and other NHL markets where the team has been a playoff regular for years the excitement is rather low, but Edmonton and the Oilers are in a much different situation.
The players and coaches know they haven’t accomplished anything yet, but for those who have been here for two or more seasons, it is obvious the doom and gloom is no longer constantly hovering over the rink and city.
The players need to stay composed, but OIlersnation will be a different story. No player has been around for ten seasons of losing. You have.
Get some rest, drink lots of water, buy some throat lozenges. Let the pandemonium begin.
Cam Talbot returns to the net after the mercy pull versus Minnesota.
Roman Josi is still sidelined with a concussion.
- Since December 1st the Oilers only have six regulation losses. They are 16-6-6. Picking up points, even the lame Bettman loser point, is crucial to remain 11 points ahead of the playoff cut line.
- Edmonton is 15-7-5 on the road. That gives them the second most road wins in the NHL and the second most road points, 35, trailing Minnesota (16 and 37), in both categories. They do, however, lead the NHL in road goals with 88 in 27 games.
- Leon Draisaitl has scored 13 of his 20 goals on the road, while Patrick Maroon and Connor McDavid have 11 road goals. Maroon wasn’t moving his feet versus Minnesota on Tuesday, and got shuffled down the lineup, while McDavid had arguably his quietest game of the season. I expect both of them to rebound with a strong performance tonight.
- The Oilers are +16 (88-72) in GF/GA ratio on the road, while the Predators are +15 at home (71-56).
- I think we can agree 95 points would ensure a playoff berth for the Oilers. They need to accumulate 31 points over their final 30 games. They could go 14-13-3 or 13-12-5. They’ve put themselves in a position where they don’t even need to play .500 to make the playoffs.
- If they reach 95 points, then St. Louis, currently in ninth place in the west, would need 42 points in 32 games to tie them. Tenth place Vancouver must gain 43 points in 32 games, 11th place Dallas needs 43 points in 31 games while 12th place Winnipeg would need 43 points in 29 games.
- Edmonton has only went two games without a point once since December 1st, when they lost in Ottawa and then at home to San Jose. They’ve been able to avoid lengthy pointless streaks. They need a much better effort tonight than they had versus Minnesota, and so far this season they’ve shown they can rebound after a bad performance.
- Kris Russell and Andrej Sekera had their worst game as a duo on Tuesday. Russell was livid with his play after the game. “It was embarrassing, especially on my part. No excuses, I wasn’t good enough. They are a good team, but I just wasn’t ready. I got out skated, out battled,” said Russell. He gave an honest assessment of his play. He had a bad night. And while the Russell haters were waiting for him to fail, most sane observers recognize Russell has been a solid addition to the team. His contributions combined with his $3 million cap hit equate to a solid player in my eyes.
- His post-game assessment did generate a lot of response on twitter and texts to my show. It made me ponder. When a player plays poorly you expect him to say it, but how come when they play great we get offended or angry if they say it? Compare this quote to the one above.
“It was awesome, especially on my part. No lie, I was great. They are a good team, but I was ready tonight. I out skated them and out battled them.”
Many would call him arrogant. Why is it we want honesty after a loss, but not after a win? Personally, I would love to hear a player say the above quote. It wouldn’t be conceited, not if it was true. We will never hear it in hockey, but it would refreshing.
- After starting the season 8-1-1 at home, the Predators are only 5-3-5 since. The Oilers were 8-5-4 on the road in their first 17 games, but they are 7-2-1 in their last ten.
- Head over to Please go to hockeyhelpskids.com to vote Team NUUUUUUUUUGE to help win $25,000 for our friends at Sport Central. Vote daily & vote often.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From On The Forecheck
The Oilers roll into Nashville sitting in 3rd place in the Pacific Division. They’ve been on a nice roll recently, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and outscoring their opponents 34 to 24 in that span. One of their only losses in that stretch came in a shootout against the Predators on January 20th.
The offense, led by Connor McDavid, is a strength for the Oilers this year. They are 8th in the league in scoring at 2.90 goals per game. The aforementioned McDavid leads the entire dang league with 59 points, including 17 goals. It was only two years ago that we were waiting to see who would get the #1 overall pick in the 2015 draft and, therefore, McDavid. Since then, the Oilers got that pick, drafted McDavid, sent former top picks Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov packing, and now sit right in the thick of things in the Pacific Division. McDavid is a huge reason why.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton is 11-2-3 on the road against the west this season, and they are 8-0-3 in their last eleven road games against western conference foes. They continue their point streak tonight with a 4-3 OT win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Both teams have allowed the first goal 29 times, eighth most in the NHL. We see a goal in the first five minutes of the game.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After Essential Oils (Pouliot) missed a great chance in the first minute on Tuesday I knew the NSOGDP wasn’t happening. **When he does eventually score #EssentialOils should trend on Twitter.**
However, being in Nashville and hearing all the country music will inspire Kris Russell. He loves country, especially old school country. Russell scores his first goal of the season tonight. He hasn’t scored a home goal since February 4th, 2015. His last seven goals have come on the road, and two of them came in Smashville. Sadly his post-game comments will be much more subdued than Tuesday’s.
Recently by Jason Gregor: