Note to the Vancouver Canucks: Be Ready.
Oilers fan woke up this April morning and found their team in a Playoff spot for the first time since that fateful Spring of 2006. I cannot stress right now what this is like for someone who has suffered these long years without even a Playoff drive. Even if the hockey gods dash our Playoff hopes to smithereens it will have been a breath of fresh air even to DREAM of the Playoffs. Lord help the people in charge of cleaning the streets if they actually make the post season.
The Oilers are on a 5 game winning streak in which they have outscored the opposition 25-7. The wins have been convincing, the offense has been unstoppable. In fact they only scored fewer than 4 goals in one of those games. Of course one cannot talk about Oiler Offense without mentioning the ridiculous point scoring tear that Taylor Hall has been on: 14 points in 5 games. Hall is now in 7th place for League Scoring and has played in fewer games than every person ahead of him on that scoring list.
Eberle and RNH are also looking like the players we as fans expected again. No doubt they are benefitting from Hall going Supernova, but the Nuge is finally getting some puck luck and Eberle’s finger has fully healed. Everything is going right for the big line right now and thats exactly what the Oilers need if they want to make the playoffs.
The Fact is there are 3 teams directly below the Oilers in the standings and all 3 are capable of playing well enough to knock the Oilers out. Even though they have won 5 in a row the Oilers are still only in the Playoffs by a single point. Now a regulation win against the Canucks would put them only 3 back of the Division lead, but let’s not fly too close to the Sun.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) Remember that nothing has been Accomplished yet
The Oilers havent proven anything to the NHL except that they are no longer basement dwellers. They havent secured a Playoff spot, they simply occupy one today. Tonight is the 2nd half of back to back games in opposition arenas that have historically been slaughterhouses for the Oilers. They cannot afford to rest on their laurels or they will be passed by. The team is still so young that a complete effort is not a given for them.
2) Tambi Hat Trick
I wont take credit for the term the “Tambi Hat Trick” but if it happens in a game the odds of an Oilers win will be astronomically high. A Tambi Hat Trick is when all three 1st Overall picks (Hall, RNH, Yakupov) score in a game. Last night it happened. Obviously it wont every night, but the Tambi Hat Trick represents a team playing to potential. The Oilers have more high end potential than most teams have ever had in the Post Dynasty Era of the NHL. It just doesnt happen that a club has this much possible firepower, but to date it never showed up in one game at the same time. As these kids get older, it will. And when it does it will scare the living hell out of opposing teams.
3) Strong Power Play
The Oilers will not punish teams physically when liberties are taken with their Stars. They simply dont have the roster to do it. They have some reactionary players like Smid and Brown (More so Brown) but they dont have bruising top 6 players. Unlike a few MSM types, I’m perfectly fine with that. The Oilers have the luxury, now, of being able to punish the other team on their Power Play. And for a team that needs to find ways to keep the winning streak alive, I’ll take the extra goals thank you very much.
Puck drops at 8:38 PM Mountain Time on Sportsnet. Game On!