In the Box

A glass of Christmas spear

Merry Christmas from your pals at In The Box. We got you just what you wanted for Christmas—a single, solitary Oilers win before the break, making fandom seem a bit less bleak going into the new year.

It fits? Great! You won’t have to return it to the store.

Hey, by the way, are the World Juniors on yet?

Dec 19

Avalanche 4, Oilers 2

Craig Douglas: So thanks to the new CBA all teams now receive three days off for Christmas, but despite that fact, the Oilers still manage to play three games in the weeks before and after the break.

First up was a rematch with the Avalanche, exactly two weeks after destroying them 8-2 here in Edmonton. This match would follow the usual 2013–14 script a bit closer than last time’s outrageous drubbing. The Oilers came out poorly and wound up outshot 17-5 during the first period, but somehow they were ahead on the scoreboard 1-0 thanks to a big goal from Hall. They were outshot by such a wide margin because of a five-minute major for high-sticking against Sam Gagner that was all kinds of bullshit.

They managed to still be ahead by a 2-1 margin with the game just over halfway complete, but this being this season, they managed to squander the lead and keep the losing streak alive at five games. Max Talbot gave the Avs the lead for good with a shorthanded goal towards the end of the second. Talbot seems to be a bit of a specialist at doing that sort of thing as 16 of his 80 career goals have been shorthanded. He’s probably a pretty handy guy to have on your team. The Oil tried their best in the third, but couldn’t tie this one up despite outshooting Colorado 14-8 in the period. An empty net goal sealed the deal and we fucking lost again. Meh.

Brent Oliver: I don’t remember a single thing about this game. Is that wrong? Weeks on weeks of frustration and futility have dulled me into a sense of malaise towards the local boys.

Wait a second … the shorthanded goal! That was bullshit, wasn’t it? I wish we were a good team and could actually score goals out of the blue like that.

Sigh. Can I have some more eggnog?

Dec 21

Blues 6, Oilers 0

CD: I headed towards this game after work on Saturday, but I caught a lucky break when a dearth of parking around the coliseum pissed me off enough that I just said screw it and went elsewhere. I saw parts of the game on a TV without sound, so it ended up being one of those games where every time I looked at the screen what I saw was a little worse than the previous glimpse.

This game will go on the shit pile of games this year that are vying for worst effort put forth in an extremely lost season.

The 5-0 beat down by Detroit is the current favourite for most lacklustre performance, but this game against the Blues joins that one and the recent 4-0 drubbing by Vancouver, the 4-0 defeat at the hands of Toronto in October and probably some other stinkers I’ve been lucky enough to forget.

This fucking loss brought the record in over the last few seasons to a deplorable 45 wins in the last 123 home games. No wonder someone threw a jersey on the ice at the wretched conclusion to this one. I’m so glad I missed most of it. As for the shit storm of debate caused by Jersey Toss 2013, I can see it from both sides pretty well. I can absolutely see how a fan can be disgusted by the amount of time and money that has been bilked from him by a perpetually lousy team, and I can also see how the team and many other fans think that kind of protest is just not cool. Hopefully his message is received anyway, and the nonsense surrounding his actions is quickly forgotten by something like a fucking win streak or something.

BO: I watched this game. This whole, fucking game. It was on my TV for free, but I still feel I should ask the CBC for my money back.

The frustration has hit a fever pitch. Yes, Bryz was bad in this game, but I only fault him for a couple of the goals. (What a silver lining, huh?). What made this game the most frustrating game of the year for me, was not the final score of 6-0, but the fact the Oilers were in it through the first 30 minutes. Sustained pressure over and over again in the Blues end led to a ton of shots on their goal with only a few turnovers. But guess what? St. Louis capitalized on those turnovers to make it 2-0, then 3-0, then the Oilers folded like a Christmas tablecloth. No effort whatsoever went into the third period, and at this point, it feels like if any team in the NHL that scores two goals on the Oilers will get a win.

I’d have thrown a jersey too.

Dec 23

Oilers 6, Jets 2

CD: Both your columnists attended this one, although Brent was in a seat and I was up in the press box. We had some beers before departing for the arena, hopped the LRT and showed up half drunk and desperate for a win. The Oilers came out looking sober and desperate for a win, which can not be said about their appearance during many of the recent losses. Maybe having the jersey thrown on the ice had a sobering effect on the whole organization.

Anyway, they outshot the Jets 14-7 in the first frame and escaped with a 2-1 lead. Winnipeg tied it around the halfway point of the game, but after that the Oilers shut them down and cruised for the rest of the game. In the third period, the Jets had as many shots on goal as the Oilers had goals, so it was a barely Merry Christmas for the team and the fans. Things got a little rough after Yakupov scored to make it 6-2 for the home side, the altercations saw a spearing major and misconducts for almost every Winnipeg player on the ice. By then it was game over and Merry Christmas and all that good stuff. Let’s keep the fine feelings going against the fuckheads from Calgary this weekend.

BO: I went to this game with my favourite team playing my second favourite team, so I at least knew I would leave somewhat happy. As Craig mentioned, the post-work beers were a good “pre-game skate” before heading to Rexall, so we were full of hope thanks to our liquid coping mechanisms. As if Santa heard everyone’s wishes, he decided to show up early in Edmonton and gave us an effective power play, well-timed passes and a capable Gagner in our stockings. Can we keep them Santa? Can we?

As far as the bullshit kerfuffle at the end, I didn’t think too much about it as Ladd was trying to get a bit of a rise out of his team before the Xmas break and he took out his frustrations on Nail. Whatever. Hockey code and all that bullshit. Nice to see Yak trying to stir it up a bit too, and a goal never hurts.

Now the big question: was this a total fluke win, a bad night for the Jets, or a sign of better play by the Oilers for the future? You get one guess what I think, and we’ll talk about it on twitter over the next losing streak.

Back-to-back games starting tonight in Calgary, then home against the Flyers and the Coyotes on New Year’s Eve.

Surely Bryzgalov will thwart two of his former teams, no? That’ll show them for paying him all that money.

See you next week, In the Box.

inthebox@vueweekly.com

@inthebox

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