Hi friends. I apologize for my brief blogging hiatus. I've been rather sick in recent days. Not sure if it is Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ukraine Soup Flu...anyway, I've been out of action, and today is the first time I've been able to lift my head enough to see the keyboard on my computer.
So, I've been named the official Oilers Blogger on HockeyBuzz. The following is my acceptance speech: I'd like to thank my parents for breaking a condom some 39 years ago; I'd like to thank my cat Patches for having her kittens during the pre-season and not during the regular season, when caring for them would have been a pain; I thank my brother for having a brand-new 46" HD widescreen mind-bomb tv, and deciding to live next door to me.
I suppose I should talk hockey. Oh, wait, the following is an ADHD moment: Eklund, when he informed me that I was the Oilers blogger, wanted me to write an introduction for myself, and all I sent him was a crappy, and mostly unfunny comedy piece he didn't print for some reason. So instead, the following is an exceedingly brief synopsis of who I am:
I have never played a hockey game in my life. I have a crooked left foot, and skating kills me. I played lots of street hockey, and on the street when I was 10, I was Grant Fuhr. I had Fuhr everything in my bedroom, I wore a Fuhr mask...etc. While the Creator did not grant me functional feet, she did give me the ability to babble. You may have noticed my writing style is a tad conversational; I write like I speak. Some people, like my writing profs in university, loved my writing style because I wrote stuff people would actually read. However, "real" writers usually hate my work because it is simplistic and, let's face it, a little lame. No big words. No great descriptive sentences. It's just a bunch of mumbling.
If brains count, I have two educations, Social Work and Public Relations, and I have a career that uses a bit of both. In respect to writing here, I have likely watched more hockey than anyone I know. Even though I haven't played the game, I have studied it enough to speak with some intelligence on the subject. I also have a ridiculously good memory for stats and events.
Enough about me; let's talk Oilers. The season is two games in, and if the playoffs started today, the Oilers would miss the playoffs. However, the Oil were absolutely robbed in the game against Calgary on Saturday, as they outplayed them throughout.
I told you before the season started, and I'll repeat it again - The Oilers are a much better team than people realize, and they will be in the playoffs this year. The 3 - 0 Flames, the Canucks, and the Oilers are all very equal teams. In respect to the Flames, their D, combined with the emergence of depth on the forward lines, makes them a winner. The 'Nucks have the best goalie in the world, and solid two-way skill at all positions. And the Oilers...
Have you ever seen a team skate like the Oil have the first two games of the year? Not just skate; hit, fight, play with heart. Pat Quinn has lit a fire under the players, and most have responded. Here's a little good, bad and ugly action, Oiler style.
Pat Quinn challenged Sammy Gagner by placing him on the 4th line. Does he respond? He fights, he hits, he scores twice, and looks motivated every single shift. By the end of the season Gagner will replace Shawn Horcoff on the top line. Or what about Dustin Penner. Three points and dominant play at times. He looks like he could score 30 this year. I also would have supported him punching the CBC interviewer in the head during Saturday's game, for asking him about his weight and diet situation. Enough of that, already.
Also looking great for the Oil so far: Mike Comrie and Patrick O'Sullivan have kept their pre-season form; Andrew Cogliano is skating faster than ever; Gilbert Brule looks like he belongs in the NHL; the Oilers are ruling in the face-off circle; Ryan Stone hits everything that moves; and Laddy Smid has been solid and dependable.
Shawn Horcoff is off to a very slow start. He is great at face-offs, but he continues to look out of place as a top line center. Ales Hemsky got a point and the shootout winner against Dallas, but he continues to look sluggish as he did in the pre-season. It seems likely that his groin injury is still there. Speaking about injuries, the Oilers have a number of them early in the season. Moreau, Pisani, and Pouliot are out, and Souray was shaken up against Dallas.
The Oilers are unbelievable as a skating team, but they continue to look weak in their own zone. They get pushed off the puck and make too many bad passes. Sometimes playing simple and moving the puck is just as important as being creative.
I don't need to even explain this, do I? Poor Khabibulin. He hasn't looked very good in the Oilers net so far, but much of that could be just due to a need to become adjusted. The gaff against Calgary cost the Oilers a point, but considering the way the Oilers were playing, they should have been winning, and the forwards need to ensure they finish better so the balance of a game doesn't come down to one annoying error.
Robert Nilsson got a point in the game against Dallas, but he gives up the puck too often and too easily. Ditto Denis Grebeshkov, who seems to put the Oilers in a defensive hole too often. I am also going to award ugly points for the Oilers putting their second game this season on Pay Per View. Save those for January, please.
Next up for Edmonton is Calgary, at home again. Who makes the schedule, anyway? Weird. Watch for Steve MacIntyre to come into the line-up instead of Nilsson if Ethan Moreau is still injured. Also, it might be time to get Jeff DesLauriers into game action. It seems likely that the Comrie line will be kept together, but don't be surprised if some line juggling occurs, considering the good play of Penner, Cogliano and Gagner, and the poor play of Horcoff and Hemsky.