Things just aren’t improving in OilersNation. There’s talk of dumping this player or that player to free up cap space, Pat Quinn cancelled the traditional team mini-vacation in favour of bag skates, and perhaps worst of all, the Oilers will be competing with the World Junior Gold Medal Final for viewers tonight. You have a choice, faithful hockey fans: watch a sure-fire exciting match up with Canada’s juniors taking on the USA… or pay $16 to see if the Oilers can down the Coyotes (because standard def is for chumps).
Is it too early for whiskey?

The good news

There is a light at the end of today’s dismal tunnel, and despite what some of you might think, it’s actually Oilers hockey. Now I’m not one to recommend you skip the World Juniors Gold Medal Match — if it’s anything like the game Canada and the US played on New Year’s Eve, it’s sure to be heart-stopping — but consider the Oilers and the Coyotes:
  • Oilers record against the ‘Yotes: 31-10-3-5 since 1996. At home, the Oilers like beating the desert dogs, with a record of 18-4-2-1.
  • If Steve Staios gets two points tonight, he’ll have racked up 200 career points.
  • The last time the Oil played the Coyotes, Deslauriers earned himself a shutout.
  • Scott Upshall is probably out for this game.

The bad news

Where there is light, however, there is darkness. Unless you’ve somehow found a way to harness the power of the sun directly to light whatever tunnel you’re talking about. But in all likelihood, you’d just burn yourself and everyone around you.
So my theory on light and darkness still stands.
Here’s why you should be worried, and maybe not spend your cash on PPV:
  • The Coyotes are shit-hot right now — currently fifth in the league, and 6-2-2 in their last ten.
  • According to the Oilers’ own game notes, Ilya Bryzgalov is in the business of eating pucks for breakfast, and spitting them back out at the opposing team’s players… generally speaking.
  • The Mighty Oil aren’t so mighty right now, with a record of 1-9-0 in their last ten.
  • At least half a dozen Oilers are still injured or sick or playing hooky.

Reality check

The question is what Oilers squad are we going to see tonight? Will it be the team that had a 5-game winning streak on the road (man, those were the days), or are these Oilers so dismayed at their own performance (and rightly so) that they’ll continue to shit the proverbial bed at RX1 tonight?
It was mentioned yesterday that the Oilers need to go at least 32-8 to have a playoff shot this season. Another question, then, is do they deliberately shit the bed now and for the end of the season? Can brass actually mandate a true, impassioned Dive For Five?
You might get your answer tonight at 7pm. Part of me still hopes the answer’s a win. An unlikely win, but a win nonetheless: 3-1 Oilers.
Oh, and Canada takes gold tonight, but it’s not going to be easy: 5-3 with an empty-netter.