So When I Say I'm An Oil Man...: Oilers at Hawks Preview/Pregame Thread/Dog Training
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN RADIO
DRAINED! DRAINED!: Copper 'N Blue
Our brief time without our savior Hossa begins tonight. Hopefully, Patrick Kane uses this time to come in from the cold (Stoli) and provide the lift that Hossa was. For those who haven't seen it, Ben Smith has been called up and he's actually a winger unlike Pirri or Brophey. Kind of. He's been playing center in Rock Vegas. But whatever. Always worth a look. According to Jahns, Smith is skating with Bolland and Pisani, which means Skille is probably returning to the 4th line with Dowell and Bickell. That is if Vik Rattlehead continues to be with Sharp and Toews as he was yesterday in practice.
Without being insulting -- I think Oilers fans are pretty grounded in where they're at -- this is a chance for the Hawks to start to fix a lot of what's ailing them, if just for a night. This is a bottom-feeding club that played last night. They are not going to show up here and clog the neutral zone. They want to go up and down. Yes, there is some talent amongst the forwards, and I think we're all looking forward to seeing Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi. But aside from Shawn Horcoff, none of these forwards could give a toss about play in their own zone. The iffy passing we've seen in the Hawks zone and heading out of it should have more space tonight. While the Oil's speed could cause some problems on the forecheck, it should be reasonably bypassed. The Hawks should be able to outwork opposing defensemen more regularly tonight.
As for the Oil, Taylor Hall and Paajarvi are now officially staying in Edmo the whole year, they won't be going back to junior. Hall scored his first goal last night to tie the game with Columbus. They have in fact have shown some heart the past two efforts, coming back from 3rd period deficits to earn a point before losing in shootouts to Calgary and Columbus. As I said, there are some exciting forwards here. Hemsky can be electric, or he can be non-existent. We've talked about the rookies, and Horcoff is off to a nice start as captain. Dustin Penner, another who has to care, can be a load in front, and has a habit of scoring against us. One would think that if you give them a lot of power plays, they could hurt you with the added space to work in. Having watched them, their power play can be pretty damaging. But it's not always so.
On the flip side, the Oilers pk absolutely blows. Tom Renney has decided to implement a system where the d-men reenact a Civil War battle during the kill, and thus they are second to last. If the Oilers can't stay out of the box, even our second unit might look dangerous. And these weren't very good d-men to begin with. And if you get past them, Drink Drink Vroom Vroom is between the pipes tonight.
Please don't make this any harder than it needs to be.