I want to apologize for this column being a little late, I was too busy reading all the apologies from hockey journalists who jumped to conclusions about Alex Burrows yesterday. What? The sarcasm font doesn't work in these posts? Hmmm. Alright then. On to the issue at hand. I suppose one way to tell if the Canucks aren't gonna win a game is to watch the top pairing of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. They've been really damn good this year, but Friday night they stunk up the joint. They both seemed to not have an answer for the Blues, and hopefully that's just them collectively having a bad night and not some kind of foreshadowing.
Tonight, a chance to reboot and get back to their winning ways. How can they do it? Let's bring out the Checklist:
* Jump on them right outta the gate- Something they didn't do against St Louis, but has a better chance of being effective against the emotionally fragile Oilers (hey, those are their coach's words, not mine). Get a goal or two early, get the fans into the game and then break them down.
* Start Bachman- Though it wasn't for a long stretch, Richard Bachman was once a member of the Oilers, who have gone through as many goalies as they have coaches. Give Miller another night off and use it to ensure he stays in peak condition for the long season, and throw a bone to the guy who's away from home until Jacob Markstrom is ready to go.
* Won't someone think about the kids?- Willie has, apparently. Based on lines at yesterday's practice we will see the line of Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen tonight. That line combined for 10 points against the Oilers in a pre-season game and gave the Oilers' D fits all night. Throwing some serious offence with them will mean either the Sedins and Hansen, or the Sutter/Burrows/Vrbata line will get a favourable defensive match up. Either way, expect some goal scoring tonight.
We had a chance to pick the brain Copper & Blue's Zachary Laing about his Oilers. Here's this season's first 3 Questions:
1. Do you think maybe, just maybe expectations on Connor McDavid's first season and how it will impact the Oilers might have been a tad on the high side? Well let’s not forget that the initial projection Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli had was 20 goals, 20 assists and 40 points on the season. He later bumped it up to 60, which seems to be right around lots of other predictions.
2. A lot of the same problems that have plagued the Oilers for years now seem to be present again, despite a number of changes. What kind of patience level do you think Chiarelli has with this team before they look at trading away an asset up front to address their defensive deficiencies? That’s hard to say without having a chance to talk to him or be around the team. Looking at Chiarelli’s past, he did trade Tyler Seguin so anything is possible. The problem with trading away any of our assets up front is that we would only be creating another hole to be filled. There is nobody that is able to step into the role that Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle currently has with the team.
Eberle is out right now with a shoulder injury and the Oilers are really seeing how valuable of a player he is to the team.
3. If they can't turn things around and end up missing the playoffs again, what kind of reaction do you expect from the fans? Pitchforks and torches, but that has sadly been status quo. In my own preseason predictions, I have the Oilers finishing 10th in the West and out of the playoffs. The thing is that this whole ordeal is a process, and is very simply the last leg of the rebuild. It will take time for the Oilers to find their way.
Todd McLellan is the seventh (!!!!!) Oilers coach since the 2008-2009 season and it clearly isn’t easy on some of these guys. Imagine every year being a fresh start, with a fresh coach. Nail Yakupov for instance, is in his fourth NHL season and now on his fourth NHL coach. How does someone expect us to make improvements when the systems and philosophy’s change every year?
McLellan will be around for a while, and will be the one to take this team out of the dark ages and take them back to the glory days.
Huge thanks to Zachary and the gang over at C&B. My answers to his questions will be posted this afternoon in their game preview.
Alright, let's get you all set up for the game: Here's the morning links!
FRESH HOT LINKS
- Botch on the Kid Line being a thing
- Speaking of kids, Brock Boeser had himself a pretty good game last night
- Jared McCann's playing great, but let's not write off Jake Virtanen just yet
- Over at Canucks Corner, the start isn't enough to keep them from asking 'WTF?'
- The Oilers may not be good yet, but the Battle of Alberta's looking pretty one-sided so far
- It's just getting worse...
#Oilers Connor McDavid scores in his first game in the Battle of Alberta. Wayne Gretzky did not score in his first Battle of Alberta in 1980— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) October 18, 2015
- After a good night from the next Sidney Crosby, the last Sidney Crosby is still scoreless
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Tomorrow is the biggest election of our lifetimes. There's absolutely no excuse not to vote. None. Get out there and do this. Our future depends on it.