In the Box

Defeated in Texas, sequestered and net fits

What a week in Oil Country. We beat Sid the Kid and the mighty Penguins, then promptly lost (like we were supposed to) to Chicago and Dallas. Then today we traded Dubnyk, and got Schrivens and some guy we’ve never heard of. Are these good deals? It’s likely too soon to tell, but hey, that’s why we’re paid the big bucks here at In the Box.

Let the brief flurry of high expectations begin!

Jan 10

Oilers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

Brent Oliver: I parked myself in the media ring for this Friday night tilt with the Oilers against Sidney and the Pens. I expected us to lose, but hey, it’d be fun to watch a good team for once. Well slap me silly, we actually pulled this one out. Is this a case of a team turnaround, or a blind mouse stumbling on to a piece of cheese?

The Oilers hung with the Pens in the first and weren’t actually losing, which I felt was a small victory. Then the Pens remembered they were the Pens and we were pieces of shit, and went up 2-0. Shockingly, the Oilers didn’t roll over and die like so many other leads against them. They battled back, even got down again 3-2, and tied it late with a goal by my new hero, Anton Belov. A dumb penalty and OT later and it was all tits and Heineken down at Rexall Place with the good guys and fans receiving the much needed hometown handjob by the copper and blue.

No, let me rail on the pundits for second. Without naming names (… cough … TSN reporter … cough …), certain media felt that this game could be the “turning point of the Oilers season. Let me make this clear and tell everyone to pull their heads out of their asses. We won ONE game against a far better team, in overtime, on the power play, against their backup goalie that they played because we are terrible. Let the record show I expect this to be the only win for the rest of January and I wish I wasn’t feeling so confident about my prediction.

Craig Douglas: I watched this one in fits and starts, finally catching up to real time and seeing the ending live. I didn’t see all of it, but from what I did see there was a lot to like.

The whole two points part was great, but the general play of the team was almost enough to make the game seem like a turning point, even if it surely wasn’t. It was nice hearing throughout the game and seeing afterwards that we out-shot the Penguins, won more face-offs and converted half of our power plays. Devan Dubnyk looked good in net for a change, and the goal to tie it 2-2, where Schultz stole the puck and then almost everyone touched it before Hall put it in the net was a real treat. The game also featured two comebacks as the Oilers kept managing to claw back into the game, including Anton Belov’s first NHL goal that sent the game to overtime. So there are really only positive things to say about this one and that is what I’m going to do. I’m sure there will be plenty of room for negativity later on.

OK, I’ll throw in a little negativity just for yuks. This was the Oilers fourth win in their last 15 games and the Penguins third loss in their last 15 games.

Jan 12

Blackhawks 5, Oilers 3

CD: Another day, another game against a team with 10 Olympians on their roster. There’s nothing like a game against the Stanley Cup Champions to negate all of the good feelings generated by beating the Penguins 48 hours prior. So of course this happened.

It was another one of those games against a superior opponent where the Oilers manage to hang in there for maybe half the game and then the other team finds another level of play that the Oilers can’t exactly seem to reach. The turning point is obvious in this one: 11:29 of the second period. Things were going so good and so bad at the exact same time, it was actually kind of neat to see. Just as you experience the slow motion elation of watching the puck roll helplessly towards Chicago’s empty net, in the same second you realize the Oil are about to be playing five on three hockey against the Blackhawks and are therefore fucked. The game was tied for less than 30 seconds and Chicago never really looked back. The Oilers were outshot 41-21, took 10 penalty minutes to Chicago’s two, and won 39 percent of the face-offs, so maybe they were never even really in this one.

BO: Riding high off the win against the Pens, I’m sure the Oilers felt pretty confident going against the best team in the league. That confidence was really, really stupid.

Don’t let the 5-3 score fool you, besides a flukey own goal by the Hawks, this thing was a wash. At no point did the Oilers look defensively prepared to handle Chicago. We were outmatched before the game started, and it only came to be in second period after Chicago deemed that they were done letting the cute Oilers pretend they were a real team.

Hope sure is a fleeting thing.

Jan 14

Stars 5, Oilers 2

BO: Fourteen seconds. That’s how long it took for me to realize we were going to lose this game.

Fourteen seconds into the game Bryz was horribly out of position and FUCKING ERIK COLE potted one in. Remember my rant from last week about the Oilers making ex-Oilers seem less like shitbags? Pathetic.

Nothing spells relief from a six-game losing streak like a home game against the Edmonton Oilers. The Stars were licking their chops for this one and got exactly what they wanted.

Some mild positives from the game had the Oilers shooting 35 times on Lehtonen and attempting to at least try against a hungry team at home. As usual, goaltending needed to be better as well as the defence as a whole. Maybe a trade will shake things up?

CD: I woke up today thinking about how I didn’t want to write about the stupid game against Dallas, and now, thanks to some bold moves ™ by MacT, I can write about trades and goalies instead.

Quickly, though, Dallas scored on us 14 seconds into the game on their way to ending a six-game losing streak. Dallas idiot Ryan “Garbutt” Garbutt had a goal and two assists while the Oilers actually didn’t play that poorly, they just lost because that is what they do.

See below for my reaction to the trades.

Jan 15

Oilers trade Devan Dubnyk to Nashville for Matt Hendricks. Acquire G Ben Schrivens from LA

CD: It was a busy day as the Oilers made a few big moves in the middle of a road trip and in the middle of a standard losing streak.

In the morning, Devan Dubnyk was shipped off to Nashville in exchange for durable but unspectacular centre Matt Hendricks. Depending on how much ice time he is given, Hendricks could have a mild but positive impact here based on his previous seasons in the league. It’s also been reported that the Oil will pay half of Dubnyk’s salary for the remainder of the season.

By the early afternoon, news surfaced that the Oilers had replaced Dubnyk with Ben Scrivens of the Kings in exchange for a third round pick in the draft this summer. The Kings had too many goalies who were playing well, so I’m sure it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get them to give one up. These moves definitely make the Oilers a better team than they were yesterday, however they were so damn shitty yesterday, make of that what you will.

In a season as lousy as this one, any news that doesn’t involve a loss or an injury is welcome news. Whether these trades have any significant positive impact will remain to be seen, but they have rekindled everyone’s interest a little bit, so there’s that. I’m not interested enough to watch the game against the Minnesota UnWild tomorrow (as if) but I’ll be tuning in on Saturday afternoon hoping to see the two newest Oilers contribute to a fucking victory.

BO: Much like my teenage dating history, these smooth moves won’t result in much scoring.

Dubnyk was dumped to shake things up, same reason Scrivens was brought in. Is he an upgrade over Dubnyk? Over Bryz? Who the fuck knows. He played on a very good team, and Dubnyk’s numbers were likely undervalued due to him being on the Oilers, and being generally shitty in October.

The head scratcher for me is that we just traded a fourth line guy, who’s signed to a four-year contract for almost two million a year. Huh? Couldn’t we have gotten another pick and just promoted a dirt bag from OKC? Maybe Matt Hendricks is a face-off guy, who knows. He also brings his scoring touch of two total goals on the year, so he could be our #3 scorer by April.

This upcoming week sees games in Minnesota (WE BOTH REFUSE TO WATCH THAT TEAM), new coach Paul Maurice and the Jets on Saturday, and the worst people in the world on Tuesday against Vancouver.

Will Scrivens start tomorrow night? Will Hendricks make any sort of impact? Is MacTavish done with the deals? Is it almost time for the Olympics?!

At least, we’ll always have Pittsburgh.

See you next week, In the Box

@inthebox

inthebox@vueweekly.com

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