Friday, December 17, 2010

Playoffs or a Lottery Pick?

The Western Conference once again is tight with only six points separating eighth place from last.  Our Edmonton Oilers are sitting in last place but are in contention for a playoff spot.  Of course there are six other teams on the outside fighting to get into that eighth spot which includes the defending champions Chicago.  I'm not surprised to see Chicago in this position since they had to gut their team last year due to salary cap issues and let their goalie go and sign Turco instead. 

While sitting six points out of a playoff spot, the Oilers are also in a lottery position (5th) today.  The players are not thinking of the lottery nor the future.  They want to win.  They are competitive athletes and you want to see this passion and desire to win from them.  However, this team is not a contender.  They have major holes in their lineup (hello defense) and have to find better grinders or plugs.  But it is nice to see the team compete albeit inconstantly. 

The management put this team together not to win right now.  This is a team destined for a lottery pick but they are developing a bit quicker than anyone thought.  Hall and Eberle are leading the charge while Hemsky and Horcoff are out with injury.  Linus Omark (pictured above) got the call up when Hemsky went out and he is certainly making the most of it.  His spectacular shootout goal was all about confidence.  Not the sexiest move but to try that in his first NHL game was ballsy! 

Omark has played four games and has four points.  He got his first NHL goal last night against Columbus to go along with his two assists.  It was a very good performance.  While he is a smaller guy, he does not play like one.  He protects the puck surprisingly well and does not get pushed around too much.  He is very good on the powerplay, coming off the half board and generating chances.  I think playing in the AHL for two months was very important to his development.  He got to know the North American game, struggled early on until he found his game and built up his confidence.

I have been following Omark for several years, hoping he would finally make his way over to the Oilers and would not be a disappointment.  While it has been just four games, he is living up to expectations.  He is not just a shootout specialist.  If he continues this play, the Oilers will have to find room for him when Hemsky returns.  No way this kid goes back to the AHL.  Where does this leave other bubble players?  You do not want to shuttle him to the fourth line.  This kid needs to play in the top 9 at the minimum so players like Brule and Cogliano are now expendable. 

Hemsky is supposed to be out for one month so that takes us to the first week in January.  Who stays and who goes??  If you move Cogliano, Brule could move over to center.  Or do you waive Jacques or MacIntyre who are basically useless and move Brule to the fourth line?  There will be some decisions needed when Hemsky returns.

The Oilers have lacked depth in recent years so this is a nice problem.  So does this team have a real chance to get into the playoffs?  It's not a completely crazy notion but I suspect they will fall short.  The Oilers give up way too many shots on net and scoring chances.  Last night, they gave up 23 shots in the first period alone and came out with a 2-1 lead simply because Columbus does not have a strong goalie.  Against the Detroits or Vancouvers, I doubt that would be the case. 

So let's enjoy the ride.  This team will probably end up in the bottom ten and possibly bottom five, but they are a very fun team to watch.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oilers vs Canucks - Another Shootout Please!

The Oilers are 7-2-1 in their last ten games.  They are no longer in the last place but are sitting just outside a lottery draft pick position (6th).  With Horcoff and Hemsky out for extended periods, this team may still end up in a lottery position but damn they are making it exciting.  With Hemsky out, Linus Omark finally got the call and made the most in his first NHL game.  He had a tough start to the game, failing to clear the puck out of the zone which resulted in a goal.  His line, which included fellow callup Ryan O'Marra and recently hot Ryan Jones, were out chanced badly in the game.  However, Omark did get some powerplay time and made a nice move on the half boards, drove the net for a shot and Gilbert jumped on the rebound.  One assist in his first game would have been a decent start BUT Omark brought the sizzle when the game went into the shootout.  Mr. Youtube did it again.  After Eberle scored a beautiful goal and Hall missed, it was left to Omark to clinch and win the game.  In his first NHL game, he brought his balls with him.

Tampa Bay claimed this goal was disrespectful.  The players whined and bitched after the game.  It was embarrassing.  The shootout was added to the game for a reason; excitement!!  As Don Cherry said on coaches corner, "This is a gimmick within a gimmick."  When Don Cherry does not admonish a European player for this ballsy move, then Tampa Bay really needs to shut the hell up.  Man up.  It was not against the rules.  If you do not like it, too god damn bad.  You could have done the move.  Or maybe here is something shocking for Dan Ellis, STOP THE PUCK!

It was an exciting start for Linus Omark.  I despise the shootout.  I hate it with a passion but if we must have it in the game, I want more goals scored like this.  Rexall Place went crazy, twitter went nuts....Omark was trending not only in Canada but worldwide.  The hockey and non-hockey world was talking about this rookie kid and the goal.  This is good for the game.  Was it the most spectacular goal?  Of course not but since this was his first NHL game, you have to give the kids kudos for bringing it and having the balls to try something like that in his first NHL game and shootout attempt.

The Canucks are in town tonight.  Anyone else want another shootout?  Hell yes!  I do want Omark to play a bit better at even strength and beef up his defensive play.  The Oilers were outshot 17-1 in the third period but came out like gangbusters in the overtime so come on Oilers, a little more consistency please.  The team as a whole has been playing quite well over the last ten games with our rookies leading the way.  Our aging goalie is bringing it as well.  Dubnyk will get the start tonight which is necessary.  Let's not tire out Khabibulin too much and give the other rookie a chance to make his mark and continue his development.

Let's go Oilers.  I want another win and possibly another shootout!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Living up to the Hype!

What an amazing season opener for the Edmonton Oilers.  The Oilers laid a smackdown on the Calgary Flames, winning in decisive fashion 4-0.  Jordan Eberle had the goal of the night and will be mentioned at the end of the season as one of the best.  It was also his first NHL goal and that will be considered one of the best first NHL goals ever as well.  Oh did I mentioned it was a short-handed goal too?  Taylor Hall did not hit the scoresheet but had 4 shots on goal and some very nice chances in the game. 

I honestly can't say any Oiler had a bad game.  Hemsky was dangling and scored a slapshot goal.  Penner was using his body to create chances.  Brule scored a nice powerplay goal.  There were numerous fights by Fraser, Jones and Smacintryre!!

The Oilers had a tough second period where they gave up lots of chances and were back on their heels. However, they buckled down and came out on fire in the third period. This was a great game.

What is in store for game two??

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Preseason hoopla!

The big 3 (Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi) are in training camp right now, trying to make the team.  I believe all three will make the Oilers and start the regular season in Edmonton.  The Oilers beat the Canucks last night in the first pre-season game in which the Oilers left most of their starters at home except Horcoff and Eberle who played well together.  Tonight is the first home pre-season game and first Taylor Hall game.  The town is excited and ready to cheer for Hall and the entire team.  Myself?  I love me some Hemsky.  He is the best player on the team and he needs to rebound from shoulder surgery last year.  He is very important to the team.  Hemsky is now a veteran and needs to lead this team.

The lineup for tonight:

Hemsky - Gagner - Hall
Penner - Cogliano - Paajarvi
Reddox - Fraser- Brule
MacIntyre - Pitlick - Omark



Khabibulin will not play quite yet.  Maybe on Sunday?  They're going to have to get him in for three or four games.  He needs the work.  He hasn't played since last November.  He was convicted of extreme DUI last month and sentenced to 30 days in jail.  He is appealing his sentence and therefore is in camp and ready to play.  We don't know how long the appeal process will take or if he will play the entire season.  So the Oilers are in limbo and can only hope he can return to form and play the entire season, and if necessary, serve his jail time in the off-season.  We wait.

It's almost hockey time.  It's been a looooooooooooong five months.

As a side note, I've been asked to write a weekly blog/article for The Fourth Period on the Oilers.   I'm honored to be asked and look forward to continue writing for this blog, contributing occasionally to Oilers Jambalaya and now to The Fourth Period.  My first article went up a couple weeks ago on the Oilers off-season.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boozy Bulin is going to jail but for how long?

Nikolai Khabibulin is going to jail.  He won't be walking the red carpet, he'll be walking into a jail cell.  We will find out for how long at 4 pm today.  Nik was convicted of three charges last week (DUI over 0.08, extreme DUI and excessive speeding).  The minimum sentence is 30 days jail for extreme DUI.  I'm sure his lawyer will try to get some of that time in an alcohol treatment facilty but I'm not sure that is possible.  In any case, he will spend some time in jail and will miss the Oilers training camp at the very least.  He could miss more time since he should have problems entering Canada (DUI's are considered felonies in Canada) and may be suspended by the NHL.

I doubt the Oilers will try to void his contract since this is his first offence, he didn't hit anything or anybody and they would face one helleva fight from the players' association.

So in a few hours we'll find out his sentence and then Tambellini will be available to comment.  Will he stand by his man?  Probably.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is it October yet?

I want some hockey. Look at this poor dog, he wants some Oilers hockey too!!! So our Oilers have been quite busy in the off-season from drafting Taylor Hall first overall, signing third and fourth liners for the Oilers and bulking up their AHL team. Check out all the signings at the Oilers website here. Tambellini is not done yet as he still has several restricted free agents to sign with the two most important being Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. I'm surprised they didn't sign Gagner right away but I'm not sure which side is dragging their heels on this. I'm sure it'll get done but would prefer this sooner rather than later.

Next up is our goalie situation. Deslauriers has elected for arbitration but the Oilers rarely go this route and will likely resign him before his hearing as they did with Brule. I'm surprised JDD thinks arbitration is a good idea. Did you really have a good year? You went 16-28-4 with a save percentage of .901. Yeah sit the fuck down.

So with Deslauriers going to arbitration and Dubnyk signed, we're left with Nikolai Khabibulin or as I like to refer to him now as Boozy Bulin. After trying to worm his way out of the charge (my back hurts) and the jury trial postponed several times, Boozy is going to a judge trial at the end of August. So at least we'll know what is going on before training camp starts but what happens if he is convicted? The maximum penalty is 6 months in jail (minimum is 30 days). We are left with the unknown at this point. If convicted, when will he be sentenced? Will he have to do much time? Will he miss training camp? Can he even enter Canada? Can we void his contract? The only thing going for Boozy is this is his first offense so maybe he can wrangle a plea bargain for a lesser charge (Arizona is very tough on DUI's so that is unlikely).

I searched online and found this regarding conviction of extreme dui:

In Arizona there are specific laws and penalties for people who fall under the category of "Extreme DUI". A person is said to be an Extreme DUI if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 or higher within two hours of driving or being in actual control of a vehicle. A person convicted of Extreme DUI is convicted of a criminal misdemeanor.
However this site says Canada views misdemeanor DUI convictions as felonies so he would have to apply for a waiver or something to enter Canada but that will take time and he will likely miss part of the season. So if you don't show up for training camp, does that void your contract or something? A few months back I thought a plea bargain was likely but that probably would have happened by now, non? It's possible. We'll have to wait and see.

So while we wait for news on Boozy, July is almost over and August will be here and closer to the hockey season. I need hockey sooooooooooooooo badly.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Moose and the Kid!

I forgot to post after the hockey celebration at Commonwealth last month. Most of the gold medal winners from the men and women's Olympic hockey teams were in town (although a certain Devil, aka Pronger, did not have the balls to show up). They showed highlights from the gold medal games (did I tell you that I was in Vancouver at both games? Oh yes, I saw Canada win gold in hockey) and they chatted with some of the players too! Anyway, here are a couple pics my friend took of the Kid and the Moose.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Taylor vs Tyler

2010 NHL draft is only a few hours away and the debate still rages. Are you Team Taylor or Team Tyler? The winger or the center? The beauty or the beast?

The Oilers will pick first for the first time in their history. Yes that's what happens when you finish 30th. After moving Quinn upstairs, Renney is the man. He will coach a very different team this fall. The team has already traded for Colin Fraser (Hawks) who is the elusive third/fourth rugged centerman who can take draws and kill penalties. There will be more moves before the puck drops in October. In fact, there could be many moves made today and tomorrow. Moreau and Souray are locks to be moved (Moreau will be bought out if he can't be moved) along with scary rumors of moving Hemsky.


Hemsky is signed for two more years. You don't trade someone who is your best player, is on a cheap contract and has two years to go. Next summer is the only time you entertain this thought if he refused to sign an extension. Then trade away. Hemsky should not be traded for prospects or draft picks. It's not necessary and you don't know what you'd be getting in return.

Anyways, I'm heading to the draft party at Rexall very soon.

Taylor vs Tyler. I have no clue who is the better player or who will be. Hall seems to be better right now but Seguin may end up being better. I'm confused. Just make the pick and we'll debate this for another ten years. I hope they pick the right one!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Final

Philadelphia vs Chicago - The final has the Flyers vs the Blackhawks and this is a surprise. The Flyers clinched a playoff spot with an shootout win over the Rangers on the last day of the regular season. They've had about twenty goalies this year so they've been crazy inconsistent. I picked the Hawks at the start of the playoffs so I'm sticking with it. I think Niemi will out-play Leighton and the Hawk forwards will use their speed and take over this series. I don't think this is going to be the close and hard hitting series some are predicting. Hawks are going to control the series and not even Chris F'in Pronger can do anything to stop them.

Chicago in FIVE!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More predictions

My second round predictions were not on the mark but most predictions were not on the money. I went 1 for4. Yikes. So along with round one, I am 6-4 so far. Not bad.

Chicago vs San Jose - I hate SJ. I don't want them to win. Heatley is a punk. Sure Thornton showed up a bit in round two but you can't count on him. It's the other Joe that has saved the playoffs for them. But I like the Hawks young guns better. The biggest question mark is Niemi who has been up and down during the playoffs. Hawks win only if he plays well. He has to. I think he does. I want him to play well. Hawks in six.

Philadelphia vs Montreal - thanks Boston for CHOKING. Thanks for blowing a 3-0 games series lead. Thanks for blowing a 3-0 lead in game seven. Thanks. I now have to cheer for the Habs. I hope Philly crashes and burns. I hope Pronger actually burns. The devil is someone I cannot cheer for and Philly itself is someone I've never liked. Their history is filled with dirty players and just plain douches. Yeah Bobby Clarke. You too Ron Hextall. No way he should have won the Conn Smythe in '87. I do not believe a player from the losing team should win the Conn. Anyways, this series. Halak is channeling Roy and Dryden, and I think we're watching something really special. It'll be a tight series. Habs in seven again.

So I'm calling for a Hawks - Habs final. I think Hawks go all the way. I was picking them at the start of the playoffs so I'll keep with it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And it continues

Here are my picks for round two. I did okay in round one, went 5-3 (stupid west).

Boston vs Philadelphia: Philly lost Gagne, Lapierre, Carter and and that should do it. That is a lot of lost fire power and Boston will get Savard back for round two. Boston in five.

Pittsburgh vs Montreal: Halak played amazing in round one so can he do it again? I think the Pens are getting their game together again after a lackluster regular season. Crosby the golden child takes this team to the conference final again. Pens in six.

San Jose vs Detroit: I think San Jose chokes again. Thornton is Mr. Invisible again and they just don't have it. Detroit had a tough close first round and didn't play great until game seven. I think Detroit will take San Jose. Wings in seven.

Chicago vs Vancouver: rematch from last year, Hawks took out the Canucks last year so can they do it again? Once again, this depends on which Luongo shows up. Who shows up? I will go Hawks in seven but this is an iffy call.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Let's get ready to rumble!

Here are my quick predictions for this year's 2009-2010 NHL playoffs. The first round has started and these will be my picks.

Pittsburgh vs Ottawa - Pens in seven but Ottawa has a good chance to upset the defending champions. Pens has not looked sharp lately and their goalie has been a pile!

New Jersey vs Philadelphia - Devils in five. Philly has underachieved all year and they will continue to do so. Major issues in goal too.

Washington vs Montreal - Caps in six. Halak will have to channel Roy to even have a chance in this series. He has to steal a couple games outright and hope the defense helps him keep the Caps out of the game. I do not think this happens.

Boston vs Buffalo - Sabres in five. Boston couldn't score goals to save their lives this year and with Miller having a good year, they will continue to struggle to light it up. Boston has no chance in this series and this is the guarantee bet of first round.

San Jose vs Colorado - Sharks in five. While the Avs have game, they are too young and inexperienced to put up much of a fight against the juggernaut that is San Jose and there will be no early round exit for them.

Chicago vs Nashville - Hawks in five. Preds do not have enough of anything to really put up much of a fight in this series. Hawks will dominate even with their young and inexperienced team. They will not be going home early in these playoffs.

Detroit vs Phoenix - Wings in six. Detroit has been on fire since the Olympic break and will continue to dominate in the first round. Yotes have surprised everyone this year but there will be no upset. They may win a couple games because of their MVP Bryzgalov, but won't pull it out.

LA vs Vancouver - toughest series to call simply because we do not know which Luongo shows up. He was great in leading Canada to Olympic gold but since the break, he has been straight up horrible. Luongo has yet to lead his team to any playoff success so the pressure is on him. I'll go out on a limb and say he finds his game just enough to help his team. Canucks in seven.

Stanley Cup - Hawks. Why? I have no idea but if their goaltending holds up, this is the team to beat. SJ should choke again, Pens struggled down the stretch and Caps won't get to the next step yet because goal is an issue along with secondary scoring.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oilers go for first!!

The NHL draft lottery takes place tonight at 6 pm (Mtn) and all Oiler fans will be tuned in! The Oilers have a 25% chance of winning the lottery and a 48.2% chance of retaining the first overall position. Lottery odds for all the teams are here. The 30th place team has retained the first overall pick 3 times in the past 4 years.

After a horrible year and finishing 12 points from the 29th team, the Oilers are hoping for a lottery win. If any team deserves a lottery win, it really is this team. They had 530 man games lost to injury (I can't find a list of all team's injury count but this is very very high) and after the loss of our goalie early on, the two backups could not keep the team afloat.

Anyways, there are two very good players in this draft and they're rankings by scouts have flipped between first and second all year. TSN put up their ranking chart and has Hall sitting in first, but Sequin is listed first by Central Scouting.

I'm off to Hudson's for the Oilers draft lottery party and let's hope the Oilers finally win something this year. In any case, the Oilers will draft higher than ever before.

Also, here are my thoughts on Souray and his temper tantrum the other day. I still do not like the public thrashing he does of the Oilers, but if management did pressure him to return from injury early, clean house. But the responsibility should remain with the player....if you're not ready to return, do not. A gun was not held to your head.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Vancouver bound!

I am heading to Vancouver tomorrow morning for the last six days of the 2010 Olympics. So far, the Canadian team has been under-performing and gold medal contenders aren't even hitting the podium. And there is the loss by the Canadian men's hockey team last night to the evil empire of America which drops them into a game with Germany and then a quarter-final matchup with the Russians. Wow they have a very hard road just to get to the gold medal game. The team hasn't played horrible, and in fact carried the play last night in every position except goal. Brodeur is out and now Luongo is in. Aside from the annoying Luooooo chant, I think this is the right choice. Brodeur was not getting the job done and now it's up to the Canuck to show he can finally lead a team to a championship.

The women's hockey team has made the final against the US (no surprise) so they have a very good chance for gold. Curlers are looking good at this point as well. So there are some chances for medals (tonight our ice dancers are going for gold) but this Olympics has seen more disappointments than expected. Maybe more than the last couple Olympics combined.

In any case, I'm off to Vancouver and am hoping to see Canadian gold medals live!! Let's party Vancouver!!!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hockey and the Olympics

With the NHL on an Olympic break, this Oilers blog will now switch over to Olympic coverage with a focus on hockey of course. I will be attending the Olympics during the last six days. I have tickets to the gold medal games for the men and women in hockey. Yes I am lucky and hoping for double gold.

Hockey starts today at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The Americans beat the Swiss this afternoon 3-1 but the game most people are interested in is the Canada vs Norway game. Can the Canadian live up to the hype and pressure to bring home gold?

With a short tournament like this, it's hard to make predictions. Every single person in Canada is hoping and praying (even us atheists) for Olympic gold. The pressure on Team Canada will be the greatest they will ever experience in their life so it will not be easy. I do believe the team has enough experience and are prepared to take this the distance.

In my mind, it is Russia vs Canada but there are other teams that could play a factor. They are the Swedes, Czechs and Finns. I do not believe the Americans are a medal contender nor a dark horse. Ryan Miller will have to channel Roy, Hasek and Plante to stand a chance at a medal. After Canada and Russia, the team with the next best chance is Sweden. I'm not going into deep analysis for each team but based on the play of the top players in the NHL, this is a competition between Canada, Russia and Sweden. I think Canada is the deeper team on defense and in goal. Russia is all offense with no checking forwards or solid stay at home defense. I believe Canada can win because of that. But like we all say, a short tournament can see a goalie ride a hot streak to victory.

I predict Canada gold, Russia wins silver and Sweden beats the Finns for bronze. I have a ticket to semi-final 1 and the gold medal game. I want Canada and Russia in that game; best two teams fighting for gold will be amazing.

Go Canada.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Christmas Miracle (late)

With Carolina defeating Boston yesterday, the Oilers are now the worst team in the NHL. We're number one, we're number one! Yes, the best of the worst. So the dive for five is still on and looking very good. The Oilers are winless in 2010, having won only ONE game in their last 18 games, so the only thing left is to look to the future.

Several weeks ago, Big Sexy offered to waive his no-trade clause if necessary and just gave the Oilers a list of the teams he would consider. Rumblings also have the Oilers finally realizing how much they cocked things up and plan to blow it up! So a shopping list of players has been made and GM's across the league have been notified. Six big names are Souray, Visnovsky, Horcoff, Nilsson, Moreau and Staios.

So, are you on board with a rebuild? I certainly am but only if done properly. Some media people are saying a rebuild takes seven years but that's crap. If the new era of cap hockey, it can be done a bit quicker than that. The Oilers have some nice building blocks already in Hemsky and Gagner up front, Gilbert, Grebeshkov and Smid on the back end. Sure they all could play better but it's a good basis to start from. There are some very nice prospects in the system with Eberle, Magnus, Lander, Peckham and Nash. And let's face it, they're going to get a very high draft pick this year. So that all bodes well for the team. So, dump all your horrible contracts, get lots of young players, prospects, draft picks and rebuild properly. The fans will be there for you if you do it properly. No more going gangbusters during free agency, lose out on the top guy and then settle, ie: overpay, for a second rate player. Players will want to sign with the team once you prove you have the pieces in place to be contenders. Don't worry about free agents at this point.

Let's go Oilers. I'm still with you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dive for Five?

Who else misses Hemsky?

Oilers are sitting in 29th place, Hemsky and Khabibulin are out with injuries, pp and pk suck, backup goalie can't stop a beach ball, Souray is open to waiving his no-trade clause if asked and I have half a season worth of Oilers games to attend. I'm so excited.

Nashville is in town tonight. Yawn.

Crosby comes to town on Thursday. Awesome, at least the crowd can cheer for something. And no I won't be cheering for him. I'm still an Oilers fan and will never cheer against them. But they're making it hard to be one these days. Let's hope their mini-camp from the past weekend helps their play. I'm tired of watching mediocre hockey. Play with some emotion, some passion and for god's sake, STOP THE PUCK JDD!!!

Go Oilers!