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.
This may not be what any Oiler fan wants to hear but…I think this offseason tinkering is done.
Can the Oilers beat the Sharks tonight? A quick poll of a few friends would say no. The Sharks are coming off an overtime win last night down Highway 2 against the lowly Flames. The Flames outshot the Sharks 48-23 last night and Martin Jones stole the game enough to get it into OT for Pavelski to end it for the Sharks. Tonight, the Sharks will likely start James Reimer. In his past 4 starts, he has posted the following save % numbers:
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?
Connor McDavid made his return to the Oilers’ lineup last night and he did not disappoint. He scored the nicest goal that I have ever seen live tonight when he fought off two defenders with the puck seemingly on a string, then pantsed the goaltender before tucking it home. He drove the play all game and every time he touched the puck he was a danger to score or create something incredible. He played on a line with Eberle and Pouliot and while they both had decent games on the scoresheet, I wasn’t overly impressed by either of his wingers. I am of the firm belief that you can take any two capable NHL players that can get the puck off the wall and make a tape-to-tape pass and they will fit in just fine with 97.
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.
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.