The commotion has died down somewhat and now we get a look at Mike Gillis' latest evil genius move, as David Booth makes his Canucks debut tonight in Edmonton. The AmEx line of Booth, Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins will be fun to watch, and just the thought of that 2nd line's speed when Mason Raymond returns to the lineup is exciting. But as much as the narrative for tonight is about Booth's arrival, the real story in this game is the same as it always is: How many points are the Sedins going to rack up against the Oilers? While I don't want to say I am making a comparison, their dominance against Edmonton is somewhat similar to the way Gretzky and Kurri used to pad their stats against the Canucks in the 80's. Much like Niklas Backstrom's seemingly magical hold over them, the Oilers simply have no answer for the Sedins. And that is why the return of a new addition to the Oilers lineup should have the Canucks wary tonight. Yes, noted scumbag Ben Eager is back in the Edmonton lineup, and my gut tells me he is going to try and make an impression on his teammates. Here's to it ending much like his meat-headed teammate Darcy Hordichuk's desire to make an impact did.
I kinda feel for Booth. Talk about a change in scenery, he goes from the blissful anonymity of being a professional hockey player in Miami, to being one in one of the most pressure-intensive in the NHL. He'll get a pass for a couple games from most (I am so totally expecting to see negative tweets about him in the first period unless he scores on his first shot), but make no bones about it: If he's been brought in to be an upgrade on Mikael Samuelsson he had better perform like one or he will hear it from the 'fans'.
The Oilers, while still the Oilers are an improved team from the last few seasons, and that shouldn't be a surprise. Their defensive play is much better, and they're getting some phenomenal goaltending right now (funny how those two always go hand in hand, eh?). The question I guess for them is; is it sustainable? Can Nikolai Khabibulin continue to be lights out as he has so far this season? I am pretty sure the answer is no. But, if he can at least maintain a level of consistency, and they get the same level of compete from Devan Dubnyk this year, they could at least think about making a play for an 8th position.
The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins drama continues, as the media continues to speculate if the 18 year old is here for the season, or will be sent down to junior in Red Deer. What kind of message does it send to the fans of the Oilers if they do decide to let him take one more year in the WHL? It's not like his game will develop that much more there, as he's shown he can compete at this level. If they wanted to develop him in this sense then sending him to OKC would be better for him. I think they will keep him up. If he is going to learn how to play the game at the NHL level, better to do it now, and deal with everything: the adversity, the physicality, and the media spotlight. When you consider how much the Oilers have struggled to score this season, and that RNH is the only one whose shown any consistency there, the team may need to keep him out of necessity if they wish to keep from finishing in the basement again.
Speaking of rookies under the spotlight, the Cody Hodgson saga continues as he finds himself starting on line 3 tonight thanks to the arrival of Booth. While it's still early in the season, I don't think you can say with any certainty that Silent G has been a boom or a bust. He's shown some strong play at times, yet has also seen his ass stapled to the bench for ineffectual play. Cody's got to be consistent and do what he can, for when Mason Raymond comes back for his roster spot, it 's going to be one of 3 things: He keeps his 3rd line spot, he gets bumped to the 4th line, or he gets a plane ticket to Chicago. Such is life on a team with depth. Blame AV all you want, but the whole "Vigneault's an idiot" narrative is ridiculous given his record. Much like Luongo, some Canucks fans beak off about Coach V and seem to think he had nothing to do with the team playing in a game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. And they wonder why Luongo & AV bashers get little respect in this neck of the woods.
Last Night's Leftovers
Another scary injury, another massive debate on why the NHL and the NHLPA seem to care not a squirt for player safety. Chris Pronger's eye injury last night once again drew cries from some that the NHL should make wearing visors mandatory. Yet they couldn't do that if they wanted to. It would have to meet with PA approval and then be grandfathered in. It seems like the most bizarre, and insane thing in the world, that there's a way to prevent an injury that could end a career, but players are given the choice as to whether or not they wish to take advantage of it. Have you ever had a scare like losing your vision? I have, and that's what makes this whole thing so frustrating. I was working at a fast food joint (let's just say it rhymes with Bentucky Flied Thicken) and I had a portion pack of concentrated sanitizer burst in my hands, splashing my eyes. It was excruciatingly painful, and after treatment at the hospital, I was essentially blind in both eyes, only able to determine light from dark. My eyes were bandaged for 48 hours and was told I had a 50/50 chance of having my normal vision when they removed the bandages. I didn't sleep during that period, terrified of the thought of never being able to see again. Fortunately, I suffered no permanent damage, the top layer of my eyes had been burnt by the sanitizer. The doctor told me someone spraying Lysol in your eyes from close range would do the same thing. So you can understand why players not wearing visors, and the NHL not making it mandatory bothers me, can't you?
BAND OF THE DAY- NAPALM DEATH
The godfathers of grindcore are touring Canada for the first time in ages, and tonight I will be seeing them in Victoria tonight at Club Nine One Nine and let me tell you I am fucking stoked!