As an Oiler fan, this has been one of the most exciting weeks of hockey in some time. It had it’s share of ups and downs, but the positives outweigh the negatives by a mile. In a nutshell, the young players are the positives and the veterans are the negatives. Every time Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Schultz, Yakupov, Gagner, and even Paajarvi are on the ice with the puck on their stick, good things happen. The veterans on the other hand look slow, can’t move the puck, and take dumb penalties most often because they aren’t agile enough to simply get out of the way. The captain Horcoff, Smyth, Belanger, and Whitney headline the group of under performing aged men on this squad. Lets hope this team can continue to grow and see on ice success, without the veterans holding them back never mind contributing. The jury is still out on Steve Tambellini as GM, since he has not proven to be able to surround these kids with players that can help them win. Lets hope he and this team can get it done.
Attending the season opener in Vancouver was a thrill, and it felt even better to come out with the dubya. I don’t even feel bad about accidentally on purpose spilling beer on a Canucks fan after that filthy Eberle backhander. A solid come from behind victory to start the season is called doing it right! The whole team kept with it even after falling behind, and that showed a level of maturity that is a welcome sign to Oilers fans. Our elite level skill was evident in the shootout, as the boys brought it home.
On Tuesday night, the Sharks handed it to the Oilers in the first period, yet with the resiliency of a veteran team, got back to their game and finished off strong. This writer is of the opinion that the coach had to do something between goal 1 and goal 6. A goalie who lets in 3 goals in the first 10 minutes should be pulled as either he doesn’t have it, or the team needs a shake up. As expected, our young stars were able to put some goals on the board and make things respectable. Maybe if the coach made the call earlier in the game, we would have had a chance. In the grand scheme though, coach Krueger can use that period to remind the boys to not take their talent for granted. The Oilers have got to bring it every night if they want to compete in this league, and it was a needed wake up call from a seasoned team.
Oilers Kings on Thursday night was the highlight of the week undoubtedly. A game that seemed like the refs wanted to take into their hands and decide from start to finish. Penalty after penalty, culminating with a ridiculous goal called back in the final minute. A nice sign for the Oilers, was the bounce back game from Devan Dubnyk and a strong showing from the penalty kill, together killing off several 5 on 3 power plays. The Oilers power play looked dangerous, but couldn’t bury one until it counted most in OT. With Yakupov on the second unit, this power play is going to put up a lot of goals. Why Horcoff who has a hard time moving his arms, is stationed in front on the top power play is perplexing. The story of the game was Nail Yakupov with the spectacular tying goal with 5 seconds on the clock to revive the hopes of Oiler Nation. His celebration was just awesome, as every sports talk show (even American) has a debate of the acceptability of Nail’s exuberance on the tip of their tongue. Its elite level skill, and unbridled youthful enthusiasm that sells the sport to the hardcore fan and casual observer. The young Yakupov has received criticism for his over the top celebration, but passion for the game from players instills passion for the game in fans. People forget that as much as hockey is an honoured sport where respect for your opponent is paramount, it is also a show for the people who spend hard earned entertainment dollars on the game. Nail, Oilers nation has your back!
Until next time, keep hip and have fun!