Clinched

 Curtis, Oilers  Comments Off on Clinched
Mar 292017
 

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.stanley_cup_2015

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.

Nov 072016
 

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.9622225-connor-mcdavid-nhl-st-louis-blues-edmonton-oilers-850x560 Continue reading »

Oct 212016
 

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.

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Jun 302016
 

6hallThe Oilers got fleeced. They got their man, but they paid dearly. But, clearly that is what the market was for a minute-munching right-handed defenseman capable of handling that kind of workload. I trust that Chiarelli dangled Hall in front of the 16 GMs out East and came to the conclusion that this was the best he was going to get. Need for need, the deal makes sense. But, when I first heard it was Larsson, I was expecting Smith-Pelley, a draft pick or Sevenson to be the rest of the package. Even when the dust settled yesterday I was still expecting the Oil to get a sweetener out of it. I had heard NJ was a possible trade partner but I thought it was going to be a lesser deal. Certainly not one that involved Hall.  Continue reading »

Feb 112016
 

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.

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Feb 052016
 

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?95078701518.34

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?

What if?

Oct 282015
 

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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. Continue reading »

Aug 152015
 

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I really hope that Chiarelli takes a page out of Blue Jays’ Anthopoulos’ playbook and makes the essential needs to get the Oilers into contention by the trade deadline of the 2016-17 season. I mention the year after next because this season he is weighed down by contract anchors Teddy P and Nikki Nikitin. But, the time frame is secondary to the actual overall concept: making moves to make your club better, regardless of the cost and the potential of both roster players and prospects. Continue reading »

Jul 102015
 

8f99d6c3e880b3b77aca2533ff50782eb4b49faaThis evening, the Chicago Blackhawks traded Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million cap hit to the Dallas Stars for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. The Stars retain half of Garbutt’s salary and now the Hawks are sitting with about a 1/2 million in cap space and 14 forwards, 5 defensemen and 2 goalies signed.

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May 192015
 

2010_olyw_bob_nicholson_gold_medal_bite_640Ever since the press conference that announced Bob Nicholson as the CEO in charge of all things Oilers I have had a renewed faith. Even before that fateful lottery, I felt like the Oilers were heading in the right direction and in good hands. His confidence in that presser was unwavering. It was the attitude of a man who has no problem with being at the head of an organization. He’s the man who took the reigns of Hockey Canada in 1998 and helped sculpt the culture that lead to Olympic Gold in 2002. He’s been here before and under his short reign, he has taken all the right steps.  Continue reading »

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