The past couple nights we've gotten a pretty good feel for what it feels like to live in Edmonton. Sub-zero temps and tons of snow. Tonight, the Hawks get to feel it for real. It's to the Northland Coliseum or Rexhall Place or Arena for a truly mediocre hockey team or whatever they call it. It's been not the happiest place for the Hawks over recent years. They got beat their both trips last season, and neither effort was too memorable.
But this year's first game between the two was, as the Hawks pimp-slapped a previously unbeaten Oiler team up and down the United Center ice. Ice. That's something worth talking about tonight. Edmonton's surface is always far and away the best in the league. The Hawks should love this, as their up-tempo, slick passing style should thrive. Which is exactly the way the Oilers play. Every Hawks-Oilers game should be 6-5, if both teams show up. Should be entertaining enough to keep you out of the current storm, with a beer in hand.
The Oilers were a chic pick to surprise people in the West. They haven't, and it really shouldn't be much of a shock. Edmonton was the beneficiary of 15 SO wins last season, disguising what is a thoroughly mediocre team. They're fun, and likeable, and that's part of it. But they're in the middle of the pack in almost every category you can think of. Craig McTavish (the only NHL coach who has a sex term named after him, and he should be quite proud) is edging closer to the Unemployment Line, and Oiler fans have turned their anger to Dustin Penner as well. At his salary, he's assuredly a disappointment, but according to Behind the Net he would be Edmonton's best player, and by almost a goal a game. He's the kind of player who should give the Hawks smallish d-men nightmares, as he's big and strong. But generally, he's more worried about the post-game spread. Let's hope that's the case tonight.
With the Oilers in Vancouver tomorrow night, the Hawks get a look at Mathieu Garon, and he's been pretty good lately, with a SV% of .923 in his last four outings, as well as only letting in two goals a game. But in reality, the Hawks are getting the weak sister at the time, as Dwayne Roloson has been unconcious in net recently, stealing one in San Jose and shutting out the Canucks Khabby will go for the Hawks.
The Oilers have a ton of defensemen who must have been shown Paul Coffey videos upon arrival in Edmonton, as they're not shy about going forward, but are more clueless in their own zone than W. is in an Arab nation. Wiz makes his return to the ice, and we couldn't be happier. It's hard not to love the guy, from his death metal leanings to his old school style of play. Expect him to find a dance partner at some point tonight. And best of all, he's put Sopel in the pressbox. God bless you, James Wisniewski.
Don't forget to get your SPG picks in. Let's go Hawks.