The Oilers spoke through their Media spokesperson, Bob Stauffer, telling their fans that they had absolutely no intention of trying to get better. It is safe to say that we are in the midst of the Darkest part of the season.
Stauffer’s exact quote was this:
As for the Oilers. Ugly last couple of games. Magnified by being on an extended road trip. The cavalry is NOT coming via trade. Horcoff will help when he returns but the team will have to look within to turn it around.
The Oilers have thrown the towel in on this season. As of this morning they are dead last in the Western Conference and in every position to finish at the bottom of the NHL for a 4th straight year. This despite a 2nd year in a row of claiming they want to play meaningful games late in the season. Last year it was “Meaningful Games in March”, this year they couldnt make it to March even though the season didnt start until January.
The Blackhawks just lost their first game in regulation to end their incredible streak and the Oilers are coming in like Lambs, unable to score a goal in their last 2 games. By all rights this game is destined to be a slaughter. That said, anything is possible. The Blue Jackets have managed a nice little stretch despite previously owning the 15th place in the West.
In the last game there was only the Gagner, Yak, Paajarvi line getting any kind of pressure with regularity. Outside of that trio the team was rotten. Tonight Horcoff is set to return from his broken knuckle bone. This should be a boost to the team, though how much credit for winning and losing should be given to a third line center is up for debate. He is the Team Captain and a consummate professional though. That, at least, cant hurt.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) Show Up
Two games in a row without a goal. (I had a dream last night that it was 3 because they were blanked against the Blackhawks) The Oilers lack in “Compete Level” just as much as they lack in NHL experience and legitimate Top 3 Defensemen. A lesser talented team can out work other teams to overcome the mismatch, the Oilers dont outwork anybody. The last 2 games they didnt work at all.
2) The Captain
As mentioned above, Horcoff is set to return tonight. The Oilers need a few things that he has brought in the past. A workman-like approach to the game, professionalism, experience, and faceoff wins. While I do believe faceoff wins are highly overrated, and Horcoff hasnt dominated in a long time, it will at least keep some of the Media at bay. Horcoff has been battling a bit of an issue with his grip and considering it is highly unlikely that he is 100% the question of his knuckle will feature highly if he struggles in any capacity.
If there’s one team that we know Gagner likes to perform against it’s the Blackhawks. Of course his friendly rivalry with his former London Knights teammate Patrick Kane has a lot to do with that. It was against the Blackhawks that Sam had his 8 point night, a night that wont be soon forgotten. It isnt just Gagner that plays up to the Hawks, the duo of Eberle and Hall have also enjoyed much success in their short careers against Chicago. If this team is ever to win again (something that doesnt seem obvious) then it will take production from the young Oiler Stars.
Puck drops tonight at 5:08 PM Mountain Time. The Tank is On!