Try as he might, Ryan O’Reilly could not get his ass out of Colorado, but hey, at least he’ll make more than Hall and Eberle next year.
The Oilers head into Colorado tonight after winning the most unlikely game of their massive Road trip. The trick will be not to get too high after doing what no team has yet done in Chicago, beat the Blackhawks in Regulation. It, I think, wont be too hard to stay focussed as the Oilers didnt coast to victory so much as they barely held on to it.
That game was straight out of 1987. Some would call it River Hockey. No matter what you call it, it was entertaining from a Fan perspective. 4 goaltenders, 11 goals, physical play, it had it all! I have a feeling, though, that Krueger will calm his team down for the affair in Denver.
The Avalanche are looking for their first 3 game winning streak of the year at the Oilers’ expense. Being that this is the tail end of a Marathon trip the thin air of the Mile High city wont be helping the Oilers any at all. Only a point separates the two teams but there is much more positivity coming from Denver than there is from Edmonton. The Avs have just added Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly to their depleted lineup and are expecting better results. Of course the Oilers also recently added Hartikainen and Horcoff back into their Lineup, but those two arent the Headliners that the Avalanche Duo represents.
The NHL Trade Deadline is only a few weeks away and the Speculation Shit Show wouldnt be complete if it didnt include Sam Gagner talk. Sure, Gagner is 23, experienced, fiestyand the team’s leading scorer, but we just might be able to get a Zack Kassian type! Ooooh. Big guy that can skate?! Of course I’ll trade my point per game Centerman for some oafish brute who (like Kassian) only has 8 points! Also, is that Bridge for sale? Can I still get in on Bre-X stock? I hear those guys are about to hit the motherlode. Can you tell me where I can by HD DVD’s?
Christ. If Tambellini trades for another winger when the team is STARVING for Defensemen then I will probably start drinking in the mornings. If it isnt getting rid of Gagner for some mythical Unicorn of a hockey player that can only be created in EA’s NHL 13 then its trading Hemsky for Peanuts. The speculation last night was Hemsky for Drew Stafford because someone in the Organization has a major hard on for Oiler connections (Drew’s Uncle was Oilers Equipment Guru Barrie Stafford) and Big Underwhelming Wingers. I dont want to hear another word about Drew Stafford unless he’s signed as a free agent at some point. He’s not a bad player, but his good years are still just on par with Hemsky’s bad ones. He has 2 goals and is neither a Centerman, Defenseman, or an Upgrade in Net.
No. NONONONONONONONONONONO. No.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) Pull Your Shit Together
The last 2/3 of the Blackhawks game was a mess. Things got scrambly and the Oilers blew a 4 goal lead to the point where Chicago was within one for most of the 3rd. The Blackhawks are the Class of the NHL so if any team could come back from 4 down it’s them. The Avalanche arent the Blackhawks and the Oilers will be breathing hard without getting much oxygen in Denver. River Hockey is nice, but the Oilers dont have the horses on the backend to make up for defensive miscues that happen when you play that way.
2) The Captain’s Influence
The Narrative put forward by the Oilerminati is that Horcoff is the difference between a 5-2-1 record and one that only has 4 wins in 17 games. Surely the Oilers PP looked better with Horcoff on it than it did without him, but if Horcoff really is the linch pin to the Oilers’ success then the team is in serious trouble. I’d like to believe that Horcoff brings a fair amount to the table and the Oilers are better with him on the ice instead of in the pressbox, but to pin that kind of a record on his presence alone is complete and utter BS. The Oilers are still a bottom of the NHL team with Horcoff in the game. He scratches an itch that the Oilers allowed to go unchecked while he was hurt but they still have a questionable defense and a first year starter that hasnt proven he can be the longterm answer in Net. Still, whatever positive impact Horcoff brings is going to have to be felt game in and game out if the Oil want to climb the mountain that is the Western Conference Standings.
3) O’Reilly and Duchene
O’Reilly has 4 points in 5 games since his return and Duchene is having a whale of a season with 26 points in 23 games. The former 3rd Overall Pick is absolutely dynamic this year in a way that people had been expecting since his Rookie year. Sure, he got that gimme goal that should have been Offside but that’s still just 1 goal. The Oilers need to find a way to contain Colorado’s most electrifying player, and then do the same to Parenteau, O’Reilly, and Landeskog. The Avs live and die with that group the same way the Oilers do with their young stars. Whichever group of young 20 somethings comes out playing the best is probably going to take this game.
Puck drops tonight at 7:08 PM Mountain time on Sportsnet. Game On!