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 reality of the playoff possibility for the Oilers sunk in for me about 2 weeks ago. But last night, as it became official, joy and relief swept through my body. I have been defending Chiarelli and his moves since the beginning. The moves I liked, the moves I didn’t like, the moves I understood and the moves I didn’t understand. And now, here we are.
Since the transition to the Bob Nicholson era, things have been heading in the right direction. The hiring of an experienced GM coupled with an experienced head coach was a signal that the Oilers were going to do things the right way. A statement by the new CEO that everything hockey would report to him. McTavish and Lowe are still in the wings and while at times their fingerprints are visible on some of the moves that are made, the reigns have clearly been turned over.
Halfway through last season I wrote a blog about changing the culture of the team and it looks as though Chiarelli and McLellan have done that through trades, expectations and most of all – winning. We don’t need to re-hash the trades and the moves. There were some winners and there were some losers. But, they all came together to make the recipe that is a team going to the playoffs. Some difficult decisions were made and there was some blood shed, but here we are, on the way to the 2nd season.
Since coming off a bad weekend 8 games ago, the Oilers have really stepped on the gas. After dropping that 4-1 to Montreal, they Oilers have posted an impressive 7-1 record, including 3 games where they scored 7. We haven’t seen a stretch like this since 39 was patrolling the middle. It is perfect timing and the Oilers are picking up steam at the right time. With two games left against San Jose and one against Anaheim, their fate rests solely in the hands of the Oilers. The remaining 3 games are against bottom feeders LA and Vancouver and should be winnable games. Even if they finish 0.500 – they will still have finished the season with an impressive 10-4 record. Calgary has a similar finish to the season as does Anaheim and San Jose. So, it will come down to the interdivision games that make up the next week and a half. Trying to predict who will finish where is a difficult task and no matter how it shakes out, it will be a difficult road.
Hot Talbot, the League’s top scorer and 4 lines that are all chipping in…anything is possible. In 2006 I had one mantra that I said over and over in the dying days of the season and the first couple of playoff games – Believe! Believe in this team until they give you a reason not to.
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.
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.
1. Whether you want to hear it or not… the Edmonton Oilers season is over already yet again. As of this morning the team sits fifth in the Pacific division, 6 points back of the wild card and 25th in the N.H.L. Elliotte Friedman has a stat that say just 3 of 32 N.H.L. teams at least 4 points out of a playoff spot on November 1st recovered enough to make the playoff between the 05/06 and 11/12 seasons. It’s over and its still October. I hate to be so negative but it’s the truth.
Who is Anders Nilsson? I mean, I know who he is. I know what he has done, or rather, not done in Oilers camp. By not allowing a goal yet in this preseason, he is forcing the issue of who will backup Cam Talbot this season. I know that he was acquired and then signed to a 1-way contract. But, how much more do I need to know?