It’s a lovely April morning here in the capital city and we’ve got a rare weekend off, which has given me plenty of time to put a few thoughts together about the Edmonton Oilers and what’s to come as we wind down the season.
MIKE SMITH DOWN
Not a good sign at Oilers skate today, Mike Smith leaves in some discomfort. pic.twitter.com/1GnG6PtOI5
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) April 24, 2021
Potential horrible news alert, friends. At this morning’s practice, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug tweeted out a video of Mike Smith hobbling down the tunnel towards the dressing room in some clear discomfort. Seeing as the guy wrestled away the starter’s job since coming back from an early injury, having Smith out for any length of time would obviously be disastrous for this hockey team and I hope there’s nothing too serious going on here. This close to the playoffs, losing your starter is bad news bears and I’m not really interested in finding out how that would work. After practice, Tippett said that Smith tweaked something and that he is fine but I’m also of the opinion that coaches are never the most honest folks when it comes to disclosing player injuries. We shall see.
JESSE PULJUJARVI COUNTRY
When word broke that Jesse Puljujarvi would be coming back to Edmonton for the 2021 season, I don’t think that many of us would have necessarily expected him to be having the kind of year he has so far. I said on Oilersnation Radio before the season started that if he got to 12 goals on the year that I would be more than satisfied, and the big man has already reached that mark with 11 games still left to play. Not only is Puljujarvi scoring and playing as well as we all dreamed he would, but he also seems to be having as much fun as anyone could ever have and it’s been great to watch. I don’t know where the ceiling is for the fourth overall pick, but I cannot wait to find out.
GIVE JUJHAR KHAIRA ALL OF THE TIME OFF
I know this goes without saying but the Oilers need to be extremely cautious with Jujhar Khaira before he’s anywhere close to getting back into an NHL game again. After getting his bell rung twice in the span of a month, Khaira is at a point where further blows to the melon could cause some major damage, and I hope the Oilers give him more than enough time to recover and get back to 100% before getting anywhere close to game action. On Thursday, Gregor wrote that Khaira is “feeling good but that there is no timetable for his return” so I was admittedly shocked to see him on the ice at practice yesterday even though Dave Tippett clarified that he’s only been cleared to practice and not for contact. I know the Oilers will do the right thing here, but I hope Khaira is also on board with taking it as slow as possible even though you know damned well how much he wants to be back out there.
CONNOR McDAVID IS RIDICULOUS
We all know that Connor McDavid is the NHL’s equivalent of a Game Genie but the fact that he would be on pace for 140 points if this were an 82 game season is absolutely mindblowing. This would mark the highest total since Mario Lemieux registered 161 points in 1995-1996. Now I’m no mathemetician, but being on pace for the highest points total in
15 25 years seems like a pretty good thing. I know we often talk about how lucky we all are to watch him on a nightly basis, but this year has been especially special and I hope everyone reading this has been taking some mental notes to tell their grandkids about 20 years from now.
With 11 games left to play on the Oilers’ schedule before the playoffs roll around, we’re getting close to that special time in the season when every other game in the division matters nearly as much as the ones we’re cheering for. We find ourselves “cheering” for the Flames or Leafs or Canucks or whoever if it means their win will bring us even a fraction of a step closer to the playoffs or home ice advantage, and it’s always one of the strangest parts of any season. I love the pressure that comes at this stage of the year and I can’t wait until we all have the Oilers’ magic number memorized and updated until Clinchmas rolls around. These are the good days, friends.
1,768 games later, Patrick Marleau now owns the NHL record for the most games played in League history.
— NHL (@NHL) April 20, 2021
This past week, Patrick Marleau broke Gordie Howe’s record for NHL games played when he hit 1768 for his career. Frankly, that is an astonishing number of games played at the National Hockey League level and Marleau deserved all of the love he got for having a career that was long enough to reach such an incredible milestone. It’s weird to think about a guy playing in hockey’s top league longer than Tyler Yaremchuk has been alive but that’s where we’re at, and the fact that some people were raining on his parade while it was going on was weird to watch. For some reason, rather than just appreciating Marleau’s achievement for what it was, there was a small segment of fans and media on Twitter that tried to turn the night into a laundry list of reasons why Patrick Marleau should or shouldn’t make the Hockey Hall of Fame. I mean, couldn’t that have waited for another day? I guess I just didn’t understand why some fans and media were unable to give Marleau his props and leave it at that? Just me? Probably.
When you have the two best players on the planet, the only option is to make a t-shirt that reflects their brilliance. Shine bright, boys. Pick up the Dynamic Duo tee here.