The Steve Austin Line

Steve Austin was a pop culture icon in the 1970s. He was the main character on the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man, which aired for five years (1973-1978), but watching reruns in the 1980s was when I fell in love with it. Austin, played by Lee Majors, was awesome.

He was a NASA astronaut severely injured in a crash and it cost $6 million to rebuild him. His right arm, both legs and left eye were replaced with bionic implants which made his speed, strength and vision far superior to the average human.

I loved that show as a kid and eagerly watched the three made-for-TV movie spin-offs.

The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman aired in 1987. Lindsay Wagner played the role of the Bionic Woman (Jaime Summers). She had been in some of TV episodes and eventually had her own spin off show, The Bionic Woman, in the late 1970s as well.

Bionic Showdown aired in 1989 and Bionic Ever After came out in 1994. Like most sequels they weren’t as good, but Austin and Summers wed in 1994 to wrap everything up neatly.

The show intro was awesome. As a young kid in the 1980s I freaking loved it. “We have the capabilities to build the first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.”

Damn rights they did. Austin was the man and Majors played him perfectly.

THE STEVE AUSTIN LINE

Steve Austin

A few weeks ago Todd McLellan said, “If those guys, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic, can play up to their potential it would be like adding some key pieces at the trade deadline.”

At the time all three were struggling and underperforming.

I started to see glimpses from the three on February 22nd, and that’s when I first called them the Steve Austin Line. They are all $6 million dollar men, and the Oilers needed them to be better than they have been earlier this season.

It looks like they are starting to wake up.

RNH and Eberle have six points in their last seven games. Lucic has scored a goal in consecutive games and has four points. He came to the defence of RNH last night after Robert Bortuzzo crushed him with a big hit.

The SAL has proven it can produce. Eberle has scored 63+ points three times. Lucic has seasons of 62, 61 and 59 points. RNH had back-to-back 56 points seasons in 2014 and 2015. There is no reason these three shouldn’t be a productive second line.

And the best part for them and the team is they are waking up at the most important time of the season. A strong finish and a solid playoffs can override a subpar first 55 games fairly quickly.

Nugent-Hopkins was very good last night in St.Louis. Eberle has played four solid game in a row for arguably the first time this season, and Lucic is finally starting to produce like many expected he could. He’s also been more engaged physically along the wall.

Seven good games does not make a season, but the SAL is finally trending in the right direction, and their strong play started on the road.

Now the Oilers have three days before they begin an eight-game home stand. They are past the tough part of their schedule. They play 13 of their final 18 games at home, and they only play three times in the next ten days. Eleven of their final 18 games are against teams currently out of a playoff position.

If the SAL can continue to heat up down the stretch it is very realistic to think the Oilers could open up the 2017 playoffs on home ice.

They sit second in the Pacific division. Two points ahead of Anaheim and four points up on Calgary. Could we dare to dream about a possible 2-3 mathcup involving the Oilers and Flames? How awesome would that be? They haven’t met in the playoffs since 1991 when Esa Tikkanen scored in OT in game seven.

The Oilers are 10 points up on ninth place Los Angeles. If the Oilers just play .500 hockey and pick up 18 points, the Kings would need to go 14-5 in their final 19 to catch the Oilers.

The Oilers are making the playoffs, and they have a legitimate chance to host the opening round, especially if a line without Connor McDavid starts to produce regularly.

And the Steve Austin Line can be that group. Better than they were before. Better. Stronger. Faster.

Recently by Jason Gregor: 

  • GDB 64.0: Streaking in St.Louis
  • Oilers 3rd quarter report card
  • GDB 62.0: Capital Challenge
  • Talbot chasing a record and Oilers trade options
  • GDB 60.0: Battling the Bolts
  • Monday Musings: Home ice advantage