As the Oil continue on a lengthy road trip, the boys at In The Box try to accentuate the positives out of a one win, two loss week in Oil Country. We won! We won our seventh game of the year! Yes, it was against New Jersey’s back up, but this team will take it.
Other highlights this week include a discussion on Alex Ovechkin’s legacy, the Hartford Whalers and a stupid referee. Enjoy this week’s recap of all things Oilers, and more.
I see an “H”!
Oilers 5 Devils 1
Craig Douglas: I sure seem to be missing the rare Oilers victories this season. Well, they only have four wins in their last 14 games, so it’s not like they win every time, but they sure seem able to lose when I tune in. For this game, I caught some of the first period on the radio and most of the second period in a pub and then I was off to watch a live comedy podcast with special guest Dave “Lummer” Lumley. I guess that counts as doing something Oiler-ish. Lummer was pretty entertaining as he told the crowd some fun stories of the glory days, while the current Oilers were busy actually collecting a rare W.
The Oil actually managed to score five goals in this one, even if it was only against the backup for the Devils—some guy named Kid Kinkaid. The effort was there as they started strong (for fucking once) and basically never let up. The game had all the hallmarks of the few Oiler victories this year: two or more points each from Tay-Tay and The Leon King, with additional help from The Purse and The F-Bomb. I’m not about to look it up but I’m fairly certain that all seven (ugh, unbelievable) Oiler wins this year have had most or all of those things take place. On the whole, this game was mildly encouraging, with a good effort and good numbers all around. Perhaps most encouragingly, the Oilers didn’t start out like shit and give up a goal in the first several minutes, so that’s something to feel good about.
Brent Oliver: I, too, went to the Taggart and Torrens podcast at a live venue (are there still such things in Edmonton?) and only caught the first and second period. That being said, I was impressed with how the Oilers skated and didn’t completely collapse when the dreaded “lead” came their way. I will point out that I have no idea who plays on the Devils anymore since Marty Brodeur retired/played a few games in St Louis. They looked a bit baffled with the Oilers’ quick offence, so if we can continue to baffle teams like that, we may be able to string a couple together on the road trip.
Also, I asked Taggart and Torrens about their lack of RUSH on the Canadianity podcast. They both admitted they don’t like RUSH. I left in protest.
Capitals 1 Oilers 0
CD: Where did all the damn goals go? I neglected the middle chunk of this game but apparently I didn’t miss much, besides a multitude of saves. This game was a fairly entertaining goaltending battle, so it was good to see Nilsson manage to hang with one of the NHL’s top-tier goalies—32 saves against a team like Washington is something I’ll take anytime. When I got home I saw that the game was tied going into the third period without any scoring, so I (sighed and) decided that I would tune in to watch the inevitable 1-0 defeat. As usual I was pessimistic, and as usual I was right. One can’t fault the Oil too much in this one, though: they ran into a really good goalie who was playing amazingly well. Hell, Holtby’s crazy save on Gryba alone could be credited with the win here. When I first saw Washington’s goal it looked rather chintzy, but once I saw a few replays I realized that it was actually the result of a lot of hard work and skill. So in the end, there was nothing to be ashamed of in this loss. The Oil managed to hang with a really good team with an excellent goalie and they could have won if things had just gone a little bit differently. It will always be a loss, but there is a lot to be encouraged about with this team lately, despite the lack of points in the standings on almost every night.
BO: As Tweeted after this game: “The Oilers played their best game of the year, and we still lost. This is our fate.”
Hell of an entertaining game—back and forth chances, excellent goaltending and hanging with a team with a couple of genuinely great players. Speaking of which, it’s about time we talk about the Great 8.
Alexander Ovechkin has proven himself to be one of, if not the, greatest goal scorers of all time. He has the highest goal rate per time on ice—higher than Gretzky, higher than Lemieux and higher than the emotional favourite on the list, Mike Bossy, who I never hated for some reason. But my question is, what drives the pundits, journalists and NHL fans to think he’s a good—maybe great—player, and not in a league by himself? Is it the post-scoring antics? Or is it simply that he’s not North American? I’m not sure, but with the latter, we may be getting warm.
The Great 8 just passed Fedorov for most goals by a Russian-born player with 483, and Ovi just turned 30. It’s conceivable that if Ovechkin stays healthy—and up to this point in his career, he has—he could score more than Gretzky’s legendary 894. Improbable as that may seem, it’s certainly not impossible. If someone can do that, in this era, I’d be willing to call him one of the greatest of all time.
So, not sure if I have a conclusion as to why people don’t give the Great 8 the same respect as Sid, or even Jonathan fucking Toews, but I will and do. Mark my words: at the end of his career, Alex Ovechkin will be in the Top 10 everything.
Hurricanes 4 Oilers 1
CD: So, this game stunk! Is it possible that the Carolina Hurricanes are not as shitty as I thought/assumed they were? No, it is not possible! Of course that must mean the Oilers are shittier than I thought they were. Oh boy, that’s not good, since I kinda think I kinda knew they were kinda shitty.
How else to explain this horrid outing? Sure, Carolina now has 20 whole points and aren’t dead last in the league, but c’mon. The Oilers started well again and managed to open the scoring, but after that it was just shit. Three more power plays after their only goal and they did nothing with those opportunities. The Oil looked listless and lethargic with no real excuse for it. Plus, despite 31 shots, their only goal was their only legitimate chance. The team also lost Yakupov for the second half of the game, and quite possibly longer, because of a freak injury on his left leg. He was taken down by some clod of a linesman—yeah, I’m talking to you, fucking Matt MacPherson! Hey dude, try getting out of the way once in a while. If I watch a game and have no problem remembering the name of an official once it’s done, that can only mean that he did a shit job. This asshole had more screen time and mentions than most or all of the players that night, and that’s never good. Anyway, this game was a disaster that I really wish I could have missed more of.
BO: Don’t you like it at In The Box, when we irrationally explain our hatred for certain teams? Well, I hate the Hurricanes. No, not because they beat us for the Cup (in what feels like) a million years ago. No, it’s not because they’re in a southern state that has a tough time building ice rinks, much less hockey. Here’s the reason for my irrational hatred of the Hurricanes: it’s because they used to be the Hartford Whalers, and the Hartford Whalers had the best logo of all time. Yup. I hate the Hurricanes because of graphic design. The negative space “H”—I mean, that’s brilliant! The current Hurricanes logo is indecipherable. Is it supposed to be a “C” or something? Anyway. Long live the H and W.
Besides that hatred, this game made no friends. The Oilers were completely out of it from the start, maybe lulled into a dreamlike state due to the power of Jeff Skinner’s porn stache. Who knows? The less said about this shitbag of an NHL game, the better.
The Oilers continue to look upwards from the bottom of the standings, tied for the least amount of wins (seven?!!) in the entire league. This won’t get much better against the Wings and Penguins this weekend, but what’s that? A ray of hope on Monday against the hapless Leafs? Through a string of “loser points,” Toronto has more points than us (who doesn’t), so maybe we shouldn’t cast stones. Or, maybe that’s what this column is really, really good at.
See you next week, In The Box