No, the game is not featuring Lenny Kravitz.
But he's stuck in my head.
Are you gonna go my way?
Injury bug? It hasn't.
The advancement of Dubnyk? It hasn't.
Khabibulin and consistency? Hasn't.
February? Totally has.
The Maple Leafs are coming off of two straight shut-out victories against high octane offenses - they shut out the best forward in the league (Evgeni "Who-needs-Crosby" Malkin) and then shut out the slickest passing defender this year (Erik Karlsson).
Whenever you can do that away from home, you're in good shape.
Even better - Optimus Reim has finally got back into shape, coasting Toronto to those back to back shutouts. It's nice to see him back - Toronto might be off the market for a goalie if he plays like this. They are still looking for that number one centre. Jeff Carter, anyone?
Hah. Hah. Hah.
As a big driving-finger to the league, the Oilers have proceeded to defy all expectations of "rolling-over-and-letting-the-playoff-race-be-interesting" by getting 9 out of a possible 10 points in their past 5, including wins against Colorado, San Jose, Detroit and a hillarious win against Chicago.
To be quite honest, they look like a cup contender - any team that beats Detroit looks like that. They simply lost too many men and thus games in November, December and January to make a difference. But you never know... 33-0-0 is still in reach...
The way Wayne Gagner is playing, they might have a shot at meaningful games in March.
What did they feed Gagner?
Likely 6 of those pucks. Every morning.
Here's the thing:It's not entirely unexpected.
Before you say "whaaaaaat" and accuse me of the lottery ticket formula syndrome, hear me out.
No, I didn't expect Gagner to have 8 points all in one night. If I did, I would quit blogging and probably become a professional fortune teller.
He's returning from an injury. He had incredible linemates, and Hall's unreal CorsiRel stat (22.4 = superhuman) and Eberle's knack of scoring goals was going to catch up with him sometime.
His own CorsiRel stat is third best on the team, better than Eberle and His Highness Nugester.
Offence was going to start. No plebian, however, could have predicted that.
That being said, the next player I see having a big night? Ales Trade-Me Hemsky, who sits second on the CorsiRel docket. I believe in him, but moreover, I believe in Hall's ability to make anybody look good.
Logically, you'd think that they wouldn't separate Hall-Gagner-Eberle, but even Renney knows RNH needs linemates that can shoot. This is what you'll likely see...
The Oilers are probably shopping either Peckham or Sutton. Whoever they're shopping, he's in. You give him time to shine, then they'll trade you. 8 d-men is great for depth and all, but I just don't see this team carrying three people as baggage (Hordichuk, Potter, Peckham). You never know though...
And that's right. No injuries to report. For the fist time this season. WOOOOOOOO.
Gilbert draws back, most likely. That's a decent top four, lads and ladies.
Glorious Prediction - Optimus Reim meets MeGagnerTron. And, unlike the comics, guess who destroys who? Gagner gets another multipoint night, but it's Hemsky who dazzles with a 4 point night. Oilers take this one in GLORY 6-1. Kessel scores on Dubnyk.
Realistic Prediction - Understanding Dubnyk's "one-bad-goal" policy and the potency of these Maple Leafs, I see another high-flying, exciting game. I'm loving these Oilers, but against a tough, hard-hitting, Phaneuf-featuring defence? I don't like their chances... until overtime. Oilers pull this one through, a crazy 5-4 win, with the final goal scored by *legasp*
Eric Belanger Taylor Hall.
ELPH Prediction - These Oilers are way too much fun to watch... against sub-par goaltending. Let's face it - would the Oilers have burst for 3 goals against Jimmy Howard? Maybe one. Corey Crawford has anti-Nicklas Backstrom disorder against the Oilers, he always seems to suck. Against Luongo? We actually lost. Oilers can't handle a decent goalie, but they do end Reimer's shutout bid. Oilers 2-5 Leafs