After a real gross game on Saturday, one during which the Oilers were outscored 5-1, the boys look to bounce back tonight as the host the Arizona Coyotes (a team that just curbstomped the Flames.
The Oilers are still in a good position to make the playoffs, but their window is getting a bit smaller. They’d have to completely implode over the next 27 games to miss, but as we well know anything is possible.
On this day in 2007, the Oilers were 28-29 (including OTL/SOL) and playing not terribly, but not great. I remember, clearly, the disappointment in Oil Country because of this, especially considering the previous season had brought us unimaginable success. With the team trending down(!), they made a fairly significant trade at the deadline, and ended the season with 71 points.
This is what that season looked like:
In case you were wondering, this season the Oilers are 29-26 (OTL/SOL included).
Should be a fun night at Rogers Place.
Keys to the Game
- I don’t care what anyone said after last game – these guys are professionals, and shouldn’t be affected by a 5-day bye. (Interesting nugget: as of last night, teams coming off the bye are 3-8-1 this year.) Whatever lies they’re telling themselves about last game’s slow start, they need to stop talking about starting better and just….start better.
- Get the puck to Connor. I feel like this is becoming repetitive, but that’s all I’ve got.
- Oh! Except that some of the more experienced players need to step up and do something. Baby Nuge was out there fighting for his life last game, and I was pretty sure other people were supposed to do that.
- I’d say “ride Mike Smith’s coattails forever” but he’s not getting the start.
- Pressure the Oilers early and often and get them off their game. Some nights that’s a harder task than others, but it’s certainly not impossible.
- Force McDavid to shoot the puck – he doesn’t shoot as often as he should, and he’s not quite as good when he can’t dangle.
Players to Watch
- Connor is pretty good at hockey, and he’s fast, so watch him if you can see him.
- Cam Talbot got yanked last game, so look for him to bounce back and have a good game tonight.
- Iiro Pakarinen draws into the lineup for the first time this year, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in after so much time away from the big club.
- Max Domi is super fun to watch, PLUS he cold-cocked Ryan Kesler, so that makes him my automatic favourite.
- I like watching Oliver Ekman-Larsson play. He’d look real good in Oiler blue.
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Jordan Eberle
Milan Lucic – Leon Draisaitl – Anton Slepyshev
Drake Caggiula – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks – Mark Letestu – Iiro Pakarinen
Andrej Sekera – Matt Benning
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Jordan Oesterle – Eric Gryba
Max Domi – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Tobias Rieder – Alex Burmistrov – Jamie McGinn
Brendan Perlini – Christian Dvorak – Shane Doan
Jordan Martinook – Josh Jooris – Ryan White
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski – Michael Stone
Kevin Connauton – Connor Murphy
The sky isn’t falling, yet. The Oilers still have a pretty good chance at making the playoffs, but the stretch of games between now and the trade deadline is incredibly important. If they come out of these next 8 with 5 wins, they’ll be well on their way. If they don’t, as other teams start to make their own playoff pushes, some of these “bad starts” are going to be a lot more important than they seemed.
I want the Oil to make the playoffs. If they do, I can FINALLY change my twitter pic from the tire fire it’s been since 2013 to something, well, not a tire fire. I’m not even sure what it’ll be, but the only reason I haven’t yet is because the Oil haven’t made the playoffs in forever. They can do it, and I want them to. They just need to figure out how to get there.
(Hint: Losing 13 games in a row like they did in 2007 isn’t the way.)