Two strange things happened this past week in Oil Country. The first was Linus Omark being sent back to Oklahoma on Friday only to be called back up on Monday. With this team, and the situation the team finds itself it, that's really not all that strange after all. This time Liam Reddox joined Omark for the trip up and the pair seem comfortable playing together again. The second interesting/sad story was the injury to Jordan Eberle during the first game of the year. Eberleleft the game with an ankle injury, which was thankfully determined not to be a break or a fracture. What happened next was an odd coincidence. Not feeling well on Wednesday Eberle went to the ER and received an emergency appendectomy.
Saturday night saw the Edmonton Oilers lose in every way against the Calgary Flames in the first battle of Alberta for 2011. It was a one goal game, and the fans seemed to have started off the new year on a positive note but we still hope for a better showing for the final showdown in March. Tuesday night saw a closer loss even if there was a higher goal differential against the Detroit Red Wings. Thursday night was a battle of the NHL basement. It is still a threeway battle with New Jersey in the current lead. Thursday night's game saw the Oilers pull ahead of the Islanders, but very little separates the teams at this point. Friday night saw the Vancouver Canucks host the Oilers once again. This was the fourth set of back to back games for the Oilers this season. This outing was not the Oilers' finest allowing 6 goals through 60 minutes of play. Thankfully there are only 2 meetings between these two, a home and home series in April.
The Oilers posted a where are they now feature on Jari Kurri this week. Currently, Kurriis scouting Finnish players for the both the NHL, KHL and other leagues. Kurri has also taken over the role of the Finnish GM for the national team. Good for Kurrito be able to remain with the sport that he loved. The Finnish team has been fairly competitive in the most recent past winning the bronze medal at the 2010 Olympics and the Finnish World Juniors team coming in sixth out of ten teams.
Team Canada lost to the Russian team at the World Juniors in what Canadian fans are still calling a major disappointment. Team Canada had a 3-0 lead, but this quickly turned into a 5-3 loss. Oiler prospect Anton Lander was captain for the Swedish team that lost to the United States in the bronze medal game.
"The Oiler" was official revealed on Friday as a part of the NHL and Stan Lee Guardian project. As I wrote months ago, this project is aimed at bringing young fans to the NHL. Here are the key features of The Oiler; "Whether it’sblasting bad guys with torrents of energized oil, engulfing them in a horrendous blizzard or crushing through concrete walls, the Oiler is one devastating Guardian." I love that they actually use the term "bad guys" in all of the guardian new releases. The Oiler is the seventh guardian to be named. There was a Facebook competition between Flames and Oilers fans to see which one would be announced first. Oilersfans won 52% to 48% for the Flames. The guardians will be revealed one per day until the all start competition at the end of the month in Raleigh North Carolina.
Oil Change episode three aired on Tuesday January 4th. I really liked this episode. This one seemed to delve into the make up of the team a little more. You were able to see Steve Smithworking with the players and using his experiences to help make a connection. You also see how Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall are fairing, living on their own. Looking around their condo you see what you would expect to see from 19 and 20 year old men; some Kraft Dinner, dirty laundry and video games. You do feel sorry for the guys when they mention it being hard to grocery shop with road trip schedules. Most of us don't buy much perishable food items before going on vacation; imagine having to go on vacation every couple of weeks. It would make things interesting to say the least. You can watch the most recent episode, as well as the past ones, on the Oilers home page.
NHL news this week should start off with the 2011 Winter Classic in Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh. The weather delayed the game all day long. While the concern wasn't as much the blistering hot winter temperatures (hey, for an Albertan 12 degrees C at the beginning of January is beach weather) as the rain. The story of the game seemed to be the ridiculous bounces the puck took. Oh, and I guess the Washington Capitals winning, and the Penguins refusing to shake hands at the end. Was the Winter Classic a success? Did the NHL garner new hockey fans through their efforts? Likely not, but I for one truly appreciated the HBO special 24/7 that ran its final episode this past Wednesday.
The other story that may or may not have come out of the winter classic is whether or not Crosby suffered a concussion during the Winter Classic or during thei game Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The thing is that no one will ever really know except for Sydney Crosby himself. Fans can speculate all they like, but unless Crosby saw a doctor, or reported that he was not feeling well, there is no definitive way to tell. Besides, the damage is done and Crosby is already on the mend. My opinion of Crosby has been changing. No longer do I see him as a cry baby that made me angry just to look at. At this point I am more likely to believe that Crosby takes his health and career seriously enough that he would not have played Wednesday if he felt he had a concussion from his last game.
The New York Islanders are apparently not done making trades as this week they traded Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning for AHL defenceman Ty Wishart. Some Lightning fans are not impressed that their team now has three goaltenders. Oilers fans can likely remember what it's like to be in that position and surely do not want to be there again. Unfortunately for fans, however, we have little to no impact on what our favourite team's management chooses to do on a daily basis. Given Roloson's recent performance, it does seem as though he may be a piece of the puzzle that will positively impact the Lightning going forward and propel them into their playoff dreams and ambitions.
Here are some blogs that you may have missed:
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Oilers Nation Brownlee
How Long Should A Team Stick With Average Management? - Copper & Blue Zona
Deeper Thoughts - Black Dog Hates Skunks
Shoebox Memories: Mark Messier - Greatest Hockey Legends
Ovechkin & Crosby Are Both Hurt: Does The League Just Fold? - Houses of the Hockey Moldovanyi
World Junior Champions reportedly too drunk to fly, removed from flight. - Houses of the Hockey Lewis
The Persistence of Enforcers - Houses of the Hockey Lewis
Puck Daddy's 2011 staff predictions for the hockey year - Puck Daddy Wyshynski