GAME DAY BITCHES!!!!! Here we go! Another day to roam around in Orange and high-five random strangers and honk my horn and drive with my car flags flapping proudly. Here we are, in the middle of April, a legit contender. Up 2-1 against the defending Champions of the West, dominating them physically, backing down from nothing, our best player doing very little in the way of offense and being led by a reclamation project and being backstopped by Glen Sather’s last favour to the Oilers.
The Oilers sit atop the Pacific division after two back-to-back road wins. They hold a 5 point lead over the second place Anaheim Ducks and are one of the only two teams with a positive goal differential. The Sharks have lost 3 in a row and after two wins in a row the Kings are tied for third in the division. The Oilers have one more road game against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. They have collected 5 points in four games and are heading in the right direction.
I made a bet last night with someone last night who is still mad about the Hall trade and critical of the Russell signing. I bet that Lucic would get more points than Hall this season. Do I really think that’s the best bet I have ever made? No, not at all. It was a total fanboy bet – you know why? Because I am a fan. I like to play pretend GM and when the Oilers had 374 glaring holes it was easy. No team is complete and the moves Chia has made, while widely polarizing, have provided a more complete team.
This may not be what any Oiler fan wants to hear but…I think this offseason tinkering is done.
You know what I liked about the Leafs last few moves? They aren’t hanging onto a losing culture. They traded away a 40 goal scorer and perennial top 20 point getter and their captain with no regrets. They moved on. The management didn’t get attached to the players and made the moves they had to make in order to put the plans in place to sign their own players and build the team the way they want it built.
What if the Oilers can put together a string of wins and points to make a serious playoff push to end out the season in the final days of Rexall Place? Why not? The Sens did it last year at the end of the season, finishing 23-4-4. They did it on the back of amazing goaltending by the Hamburgler and some good bounces and solid team play. The Oilers made a late surge in 2006 to squeak into the playoffs and it was magic. What if?
A guy can dare to dream, but there was one point of view that struck a chord with me last night while I was scrolling through the Twitterverse. What if the Edmonton Oilers change the way the game is played? What if we don’t need another defenseman? What if we are just able to keep scoring so many goals that it doesn’t matter? I know that this flies in the face of everything that the 90’s to 2000’s have taught us…but, what if? What if we are watching the team that is about to change the way the game is played? What if we don’t need to trade Eberle or RNH or anyone, for that matter? What if this is the system where spare parts like Teddy Purcell can thrive? Every generation in every sport has a team that changes the way the game has been played. What if we are watching the beginning of something special? What if we are watching the reinvention of the game?
If a team is facing Draisaitl and Hall followed by McDavid followed by RNH and Eberle…does it really matter who is playing defense? Of course the answer is yes, but…what if? What if a D corps that features Nurse, Sekera, Klefbom and my drunk uncle is good enough to get it done with those forwards? What if?
In the NFL you are supposed to play good defense and run the ball. That’s how you win. Tell that to Tom Brady and Bill Billichek, who haven’t had a consistent running game in a decade yet have won more than any other team in that time. Sometimes, the right people can make it work. What if it’s Edmonton’s time?
If I am GM Peter Chiarelli, I am preparing myself for a month of heavy scouting and working the phones the best I can. The hope of making the playoffs is fading fast and even with the return of Connor McDavid, the team’s chances look slim. February has some very winnable games – Columbus, the Sens, the Habs, the Leafs, the Devils, the Wild, the Jets… But, the hope is fading fast and unless something drastic is done to shore up the right side and Oscar Klefbom returns soon…well…it’s once again over.
The Edmonton Oilers limp into the All-star break leading the N.H.L. in man games lost to injury with 209 games(as of January 23rd). Yet again the team seems jinxed by the hockey gods and I wonder if and when it will ever end. There hasn’t been one game this season where GM Peter Chiarelli has been able to see the entire team play together. Not one and it certainly doesn’t appear that it will happen for the entire season now that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out until Mid March. Chiarelli may get a few games at the end of the season if he’s lucky. It’s almost unbelievable the bad luck this team has experienced over the last few seasons.
I have a hard time writing a whole relevant blog at the best of times and this is the part of the season that I have a hardest time with. It’s almost impossible for me to pound out a blog when the reality of the situation has set in. Maybe next year. Maybe. It’s hard to be a fan and even harder to find something of interest to put on the interwebs for the world (or 567 of you who read it) to see. Being an Oiler fan has been a drain over the past decade and as we get over 3 games in which the Oilers had six points within their grasp, it is near heart-breaking to only come away with 1 point. 1 point in a game, in which they squandered 2 points to a division rival. Keeping the faith is hard so, to stay positive I come up with dream scenarios that will solve all of the teams woes.