Wow, it’s been far too long since we’ve seen real hockey. Let’s talk a bit about Edmonton before we get to tonight’s game. We see far too little of the Oilers here on the East coast, and unless you’re watching Hockey Night in Canada to catch the late game you probably don’t know much of anything about them this season. Let’s see what we can learn from Tom Gilbert’s blog:
The Oilers Christmas party was really fun but I wish I would have stayed until Rock Band. I hear it was hilarious. Then yesterday we had a holiday skate with the players and staff and their families. It was great to see everyone and their kids. Santa was there for the kids and they had pizza and chicken fingers for them to snack on. The adults had a separate buffet of turkey, ham, potatoes, carrots, etc, but I’m not ashamed to admit I chose the kids buffet. Sometimes you just have to eat pizza and chicken fingers.
We already know more from that paragraph than all of Pominville’s posts combined. So aside from Gilbert’s shoe fetish, Cogliano’s bad bowling, and Erik Staal’s giant turkey, what else is there to know about Edmonton?
Well, they’re two points behind Phoenix right now; and while a season ago that would be a problem, sixth place in the West isn’t that bad a place to be. Edmonton has benefited from a young group of players coming coming through at the right time, and a look at their stats shows a lot of new faces in Oil Country.
In fact, this year it appears the people scoring the points for Edmonton aren’t the ones getting paid as much to do so. Just kidding, it’s only Dustin Penner that’s struggling this season. Unlike with Thomas Vanek, the weight of a Kevin Lowe offer sheet seems to be too much for the young winger; who’s put up Kotalik-esque numbers thus far.
Dwayne Roloson is still the guy in Edmonton, and it wasn’t long ago he backstopped a run to the Stanley Cup Finals. A 15-9-3 record is nothing to sneeze at, and his recently traded backup has been swapped for Dany Sabourin. Sabourin has struggled this season but showed flashes of brilliance with Pittsburgh last year when Fleury was injured.
The Oilers benefit from a very active blue line, with everyone’s favorite power play cannon Sheldon Souray leading the way. Tom Gilbert is locked up long term and has 24 points, more than any Sabre defenseman. In fact, Edmonton has three defenseman (Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert) with more points than all but four Sabres on the active roster. That’s a ton of firepower, and we haven’t even talked about Hemsky and Horcoff.
Edmonton comes in hot, riding a three game winning streak and taking five out of the last six games. They are 7-3 in their last ten, making them one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Then again you can say the same about the Sabres. We’ll talk about the matchup in a bit, but for now check out that Cogliano kid.