The Oilers take back to the Road tonight for a game against Nashville that the Oilers MUST WIN if they dont want to fall so far back from the pack that their playoff hopes become goals for next year.
The last game was so pathetic that the road might be just what the Doctor ordered*. A Shutout loss at home in a Nationally Broadcast game is about as Embarrassing as it can get for Millionaire Professional Hockey Players. Ralph Krueger’s club is playing in the only games that have mattered for this Organization in years and they are BLOWING them.
The Predators are desperate to make the playoffs this year to prove that they could survive the loss of Suter but they find themselves in 10th place. The good news for them is that they’ve put together s little string of wins and tonight will try for 3 in a row. It seems as though their team recognizes that they must win games now or miss the playoffs. It’s a crying shame the Oilers dont play with the same urgency.
The Oilers have split the two games against the Preds this season, losing once in a brutal Shutout and winning the other 3-2 at Home. We know the Oilers can beat this team, but which Oiler squad is showing up? Is it the Bright Young Talented Oilers or the Oilers who have come in 30, 30, 29 the past 3 years?
RNH is drawing back in for the game against the Preds and will Center Ryan Smyth and Nail Yakupov. This, I think, will be good news for Yakupov and if Nuge ends up playing against slightly weaker competition then maybe the 1st Overall picks in the last two drafts can get the offense going again. Matheson (Via Twitter) also reports that Krueger had a one on one conversation with Teemu Hartikainen and I assume the outcome will be a demotion to OKC.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) Smyth on the Wing
As RNH returns to the lineup Smyth gets to move back to his natural position, and Yakupov gets to play with a legitimate play making centerman. This line should benefit all three members. Nuge has been suffering a Sophomore slump something fierce, Yak has been relegated to playing with 2nd tier linemates, and poor Ryan Smyth has been playing out of position which has made him look more ineffective than he really is.
They have none. Period. Any would be an immediate improvement over what they showed the past 2 games. The fact that the Oiler faithful booed the living hell out of the club on National TV is a testament to how little they showed they cared. 4 years in the gutter, not even trying to ice a competitive team, and the Oilers dont know HOW to win. This team has a Motivational Speaker for a Coach and cant show up when they need to. This has to be different or they will be eaten alive out there.
3) Be Better, Whitney
If the Oilers wont sit Whitney down, and I doubt they do, then he better play up to potential. He is a mess in his own end. High Event Hockey is what we can expect from big number 6 but the events have been all in his own end. This is getting ridiculous. He the Oilers cant afford rookie mistakes from a high paid vet. Justin Schultz shouldnt be the stabilizing force when he’s paired with Whitney.
Puck drops at 6:08 PM Mountain time on Sportsnet. Game On!
*The Doctor also prescribed a new Top Pairing Defenseman for what its worth.