7 of the next 9 Oiler games are at home and they probably need to win every one of those games to legitimately have a chance at playing games in the Playoffs.
The last game was undoubtedly a “Must Win” game, and it didnt happen. You cant really ramp it up higher than “Must Win”, but if you could then the Oilers would be right there. Effectively the season is over. All that remains is blind hope and extreme desperation. So, not much more different than any other time.
The good news for Oilers fans is that Taylor Hall is legitimately one of the NHL’s best players. He is a dominant force even in games where he isnt scoring. Like many good young players you could watch games where he was the most noticeable player on the ice, but there are also many games where these young players are a complete non-factor. The last game against Anaheim Hall was left off the score sheet but was still a dominant force on the ice. We are watching this player mature in front of our eyes and the sky is the limit it seems. The other thing to consider is that we can look forward to something similar with RNH and Yak as well.
The Oilers will apparently send Lander back down to the AHL, which goes to highlight the fact that he was pulled up after a humongous 6 point night for the Barons just to practice with the big club. He never once on this last stint played in a game. Absolutely ridiculous. What a waste of time for him and the Oilers. He needs to play and I dont care where.
Its my firm belief that “Meaningful Games in _________” is an inappropriate goal for any team to have. This is not community league softball. Just having fun isnt the point. The goal is to Win the Stanley Cup and to make money. Daryl Katz needs to ask himself why his management decided not to address clear weaknesses when doing so could have given his young team a chance at making the Playoffs. The young Oilers of the 1980’s didnt learn how to win by missing the Playoffs but only by a little. They made it to the Playoffs and got it handed to them once or twice before they took it to the next level. The Oilers have been denied the lessons that the Playoffs can teach because the management team decided in their infinite wisdom that they would let nature take its course.
Do you know what happens when nature takes its course? An average lifespan of 35, rampant disease, and high rates of infant mortality. It isnt pretty, and its avoidable.
If the Oilers miss the Playoffs by a handful of points then the men who were asleep at the wheel need to pay the price.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) 2nd Period Lull
3-13. Those were the shots in the 2nd period of a game the Oilers HAD to win. That is unacceptable on so many levels. The Oilers are so poor at generating shots that Sportsnet doesnt even have a graphic for it any more. Its too depressing. Honestly, they dont show or talk about shots unless the Oilers are, miraculously, ahead in the game. Cant happen. They cannot take periods off.
2) Avoid Doan
Theres something about Shane Doan I just hate. He’s been a good (not great) player for a very long time on a Franchise more known for its lack of ownership than accomplishments on the ice, but Doan is a cheap prick who gets the benefit of the doubt no matter how dirty he hits somebody. Not carrying the puck? Back turned? OF COURSE HE’LL HIT HIM IN THE HEAD. At this point in his career he wont be scoring the way he used to so being a dirty player is all he has left. Just avoid him.
3) The Big Easy
I actually dont care for that nickname the way Louie DeBrusk does. It would make sense if he was from New Orleans, but he isnt. He’s just easy going. Whatever. The Oilers arent capable of limiting shots, nor are they capable of outshooting teams, so its up to Dubnyk to keep them in games. No different tonight. Plain and simple: As the goaltending goes, so do the Oilers.
Puck Drops at 7:38 PM Mountain Time on Sportsnet. Game On!