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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – New Year’s Resolution for the Edmonton Oilers

Happy Monday, Internet friends, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag where I’ve taken your questions about life, emailed them to our writers, and copied and pasted their answers right here on this very website. This week, we’re looking at the New Year’s resolutions, goaltending concerns, the World Juniors, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got one, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.

1) Trent asks – I’m pretty excited to have the World Juniors tournament on to scratch the itch until the NHL comes back and my question for everyone is what is the most memorable World Juniors moment that you can think of?

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Jason Gregor:

The Punch Up at Piestany in January, 1987. It was crazy, especially when someone thought turning off the lights would be a smart decision.

And the 2007 semi-final Canada/USA game…which went to a SO and Toews scored three times.

Robin Brownlee:

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Probably John Slaney’s winning goal — a slapper from the top of the circle — against the Russians in 1991 for Canada’s first-ever gold medal on home soil. Lots of other great moments over the years, but I covered this tournament and the reaction in the building was unforgettable.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’ve got a few. Obviously Jordan Eberle’s game-tying goal against Russia stands out. Also, when the World Juniors were in Edmonton back in 2012, I went to the New Year’s Eve game with my Dad. Canada won and it was a great time.

Baggedmilk:

For me, this one has to be Eberle tying the game up against Russia with a few seconds left on the clock. It was magic.

Dec 1, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat (53) checks Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) during the first period at Rogers Arena.

2) Vetinari asks – In your opinion, does no exhibition games favour veteran rosters and coaching staffs in a 56 game season or will the playing field be levelled due to the COVID protocols and the conditions players will be competing?

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Jason Gregor:

I don’t think it favours teams that much to be honest. I think teams with good special teams early will have an advantage, especially teams who don’t have many changes on their special teams units.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t see a big impact either way. Same conditions for everybody. What teams hoping to contend can’t do is dig themselves a hole early in the standings against the teams they’re head-to-head with.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think it will benefit coaches and teams that practice hard and have good training camps. I’m not sure if it’s exclusive to just veteran players.

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Baggedmilk:

I could actually see the teams with no expectations having the advantage because no one expects anything from them, especially early on.

Oct 27, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) replaces goaltender Mike Smith (41) after Smith let in 3 second period goals by the Florida Panthers at Rogers Place.

3) Jenn asks – After the way the Oilers bowed out early in the play-in round against Chicago, I feel like many fans are deeply concerned about the team’s goaltending. Do you think it’s fair to be concerned or was the summer tournament too random to lay the blame on the netminders?

Jason Gregor:

Koskinen wasn’t any worse than many D-men or forwards. It was an entire team effort. I think it will help the Oilers. They know they wasted a good opportunity and I expect them to start the season much sharper than they did in the playoffs.

Robin Brownlee:

I think some people put too much emphasis on one lousy appearance by Mike Smith because it sticks in the memory, which is understandable. That said, sure, goaltending — particularly when it comes to Smith — is a question. The Oilers can’t contend if Koskinen or Smith drop-off even a little bit. There is no margin for error in the goal crease.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think it’s fair to be concerned. I also don’t think we should be absolutely writing off either Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen before the season begins. They each had some really solid stretches through the regular season and there’s no reason why they can’t do that again.

Baggedmilk:

I’m concerned but there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. To me, the goaltending was one of the biggest gambles that Holland took this year and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out.

4) Clare asks – What is your biggest takeaway from the strange COVID Christmas experience we’ve all just lived through?

Jason Gregor:

It is never about gifts, just spending time with people you love. It is great to watch someone get excited when they open a gift, no question, but it is the time playing games, building toys or just talking that is important. I missed seeing my family and it was a nice reminder of what truly matters.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s two parts, both very much connected. First, it’s how the vast majority of people followed COVID regulations and did what’s been asked of us even though it really sucked — no family gatherings, limits to outdoor activities, social distancing and masking etc. Christmas is a time to gather with family and loved ones, but resisting that was a sacrifice that most of us made. A lot of business owners lost even more revenue because of closures and limits on customers but they complied. Most people took a lousy situation and made the best of it in the name of the greater good.

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The problem, given the nature of this pandemic, is the minority who disregarded mandatory measures. In too many cases, people packed into malls for their Christmas shopping. Likewise, those who lined up and poured into outlets on Boxing Day because getting that 75-inch TV at 50 percent off trumps the rules in their world. Then, there’s those who held or attended private gatherings because, hell, you can’t tell them what to do in their own house. Free-dumb. The problem with all this is that the minority can screw it up for the majority and I suspect that’s exactly what we’re going to see with the COVID numbers in the first 10 days of January. My takeaway is that the old saying “you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” applies here. The selfless many will suffer because of the selfish few.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Always value time with your family. Yes, there are zoom calls and all that, but not being able to see family over the holidays has been a reminder that we should never take it for granted.

Baggedmilk:

Without family and friends around, Christmas can’t ever be the same.

5) David asks – With New Year’s Eve coming up at the end of the week, what are your New Year’s resolutions for the Edmonton Oilers?

Jason Gregor:

That they are prepared when playoffs begin.

Robin Brownlee:

I’d like them to play like that play-in loss to Chicago is fresh in their minds every time they step on the ice.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

That’s a really good question. My personal resolution will be to not over-react to short sample sizes. Sometimes if a player has a bad two or three game stretch, I hold it against them for too long.

Baggedmilk:

Goaltending that makes us all feel bad for being critical.

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