Thursday, 24 November 2011

Edmonton Quarterly - Remarks

Hello readers! There comes a time, around the quarters of the season, where there are no games to post about... at all.

As opposed to calling it the first of the few signs of the apocalypse and sprinting, I'm going to take the time to analyze our team, see how its doing in respect to what we expected before the season, what we're expecting for the next few weeks of the season, and where we should end up at the end of the season.

Report cards? Go to Lowetide, he does it the best. I'll just gloss over people and their importance.

Pre-season expectations and questions
At the beginning of the pre-season, we had a few concrete ideals about our team.
Firstly, our offence was going to be rad. For gosh sakes, we have two first-round draft picks, one of whom was scoring at a Calder Trophy potential pace (Hall) before getting himself injured in a fight, the other, RNH, was supposed to be a passer with Gretzky-like vision, but St. Louis-like size.

Oh, and Eberle, who lead our team in points. Being a rookie. Also, he did stuff for Team Canada, which was pretty cool.

Mostly, Oilers fans were stoked beyond human comprehension that, most importantly, Colin Fraser was gone. And they brought back HHM* Ryan Smyth, one of the greatest Oilers of all time, no joke. However, we couldn't expect that much from a guy well past his career prime. He just wanted to finish his career here, and he sure could bring some leadership.

Secondly, our defences was going to suck. Seriously. Whitney wasn't going to start the season, we didn't pick up the all-star defenceman we requested. Instead, we picked up an experiment in Cam Barker, a titan in Andy Sutton, and some guy named Corey Potter, destined to anchor our AHL defence.

Thirdly, our goalies were going to be mediocre. That Khabibulin had just come back from rehab, now being called Rehabibulin. After 2 disastrous seasons with the Oilers, we had very very very low hopes for him. Hopefully, he'd keep the seat warm for gigantic Devan Dubnyk, who should emerge as that all-star goaltender by the last week of the season. Hopefully, he would start all 82 games.

It was that bad.

Once upon a time.

Quarterly review

The Oilers, for probably the first time since the early 80s, seem to have an ALMOST PERFECT balance of old and new.

The old men and the C on this team have proven to be the most resilient and probably one of the best veteran cores in the league. Seriously. Many teams (Columbus, Carolina) remain in awe of the ridiculous core of veterans, like Jones, Scorecoff, Belanger, Hemsky, Sutton, Gilbert and Smid, that have anchored this team.

If you don't believe in that comment, you should believe in the leaders of this league. The enigmatic Russian was supposed to suck. But clearly, he doesn't believe in age, luck, fate, snowmen, Santa Claus, Batman, and basically, anything that told him that he was supposed to.

Because he has enjoyed a rejuvenation like no other goaltender has enjoyed. Even Tim Thomas, the rejuvenation that all rejuvenators attempt to reach, had good to great seasons before his breakout season in his early 30s.

Khabibulin was the worst starting goaltender in the league. After the first quarter, there are about 26 teams that would sacrifice various goats to have him on their team. He's beat out Lou, he's beat out Kipper, he's beat out Varlmarov, and is arguably the best starting goaltender in the Northwest Conference. Hell, he's been the best goaltender in the league. If he can keep this up, for one of the first times in his career, he could be in SERIOUS Vezina contention.

Speaking of SERIOUS trophy contention...
Ryan Nugent Hopkins - Pre-eminent Calder candidate. Point-per-game pace, leading all rookies in points, goals, and assists, playing on the first line of a team that is not that shallow up front, deemed too small and proving critics wrong, and has a chantable name. Boom - shoo-in.

Speaking of point-per-game pace...
Father Smythmas - my favorite player ever - continues to amaze everyone, including himself. I would have been happy for him to score... 6 goals in the first quarter. That would give him 24 goals in total, a pretty good season for a veteran.
Instead, he's all like "I'm an OILER now" and scores 11 goals, 11 assists in the first quarter. 88 points on the season. 44 goals. That, ladies and gentlemen, is above and beyond the call of duty.

In other words, the Oilers, who seemed to be in the bottom-middle of the pack, are in SERIOUS PLAYOFF CONTENTION

Also, our defence is excellent. Which is simply unexplainable. I'm just not going to try. Even without Whitney. Even with Peckham. Corey-Power-Potter-Play

Also, Eberle's scoring at a point-per-game pace.

Season Questions
I'm not going to predict what will happen to this team - because I'll screw up the team and jinx it.
But we do have questions moving forward.

To Khabibulin - what did you sell your soul for to change your career like this? Can you keep it up?

To Smyth - how do you visit so many homes in one night as Father Smythmas? Television, you say? Can you keep it up?

To RNH - "Why you so good"? Can you be the first Oiler to win the Calder?

To the Oilers - This team has performed beyond expectations. But has this team been over-performing, over-achieving, over-expecting? Can this team pull a Colorado and slip in the eighth position?

Time will tell.

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