Well I just don't know how I could ever have much more fun than that. We went down to Rexall Place early, and the first thing we did was visit the Oilers store and buy one of those big ole foam fingers that everybody loves, you know the kind with the raised middle finger that say "We're # 30!" on them and I just waved that thing around all night. I had to climb a whole lot of stairs and was sitting w-a-a-a-y up in the part they call the gallery, and when I stood up for the songs at the beginning the hockey players were so far down I got dizzy and nearly fell, so I was lucky that nothing happened after that to make me want to stand up again. So I just sat there and waved my big foam finger and some man behind me said "hey that thing is blocking my view!" but the woman sitting next to him just said "thank you" and everybody laughed because it was so funny!
The Oilers were all there and they played just how people wanted, which was something to do with a high draft pick or something that I didn't quite understand. But boy it was fun to watch them do it. Tonight they spent 5 minutes showing us everything they had learned during their vacation, and the man sitting next to me wearing an expensive Oiler sweater and a big frown tried to tell me it was all about positional play and puck movement and battling. But it was all just pretend. By the fifth minute the other team got hold of the puck and by the sixth minute the Oilers were two goals behind and they never got any closer after that. So we never had to worry about that draft pick at all. So then the man said what they really need is for some of the Oilers smurfs to grow a couple of those pubis things. I really like the Smurfs when they're on TV so this made me like the Oilers even more.
The man next to me was trying to see something he called the out of town scoreboard and he said look at that the Islanders beat Detroit 6 to nothing for goodness sakes and it looks like Roli got the shutout and Sugartits got two goals and he didn't look very happy about either of those things. He said what the hell else can possibly go wrong? But I thought the name Sugartits was funny so I laughed anyway.
The whole crowd got all excited when they showed the kiss cam -- gosh that's fun! -- but the funnest part was during one of the times when the Zamboni was coming out but first there was a bunch of little kids like me who came out to play. Well those little guys looked even tinier than the Oilers smurfs did from way up in the gallery, and they couldn't skate so fast but they tried to play the same way as the Oilers where everybody all crowded around the puck and when it came out the other side there would be nobody left and it would be a breakaway and there wasn't even any goalie and it was so funny because they looked just like the Oilers! I laughed and laughed! I wonder if there's a team #30 in the Tom Thumb league!
The game started again and the score got to 3 and then 4 to zero and when it got real late the Oilers thought it was safe for them to score and when they did everybody cheered. At least those people who hadn't left yet did. Then the Oilers scored again and it was 4 to 2 and the man next to me said uh-oh it looks like the young players might forget themselves and go for the Bettman point if not the dreaded W whatever all that means. So just then the Oiler who is the captain came to the rescue by taking a penalty very far away from his own goalie, and the man next to me said that is yet another Moreaunic penalty. After that the Oilers didn't get the puck again for two whole minutes and then the other team scored. So then everybody felt better about that draft pick and this time the Oilers waited until the very end and they scored to show us how good they really are and they nearly scored again in the very last second when they were still safely down by 2 and gosh that was so exciting I did stand up because it was time to go home then. But I wasn't tired at all because I had a long sleep during one of the periods and when I was just waking up the man next to me said I reminded him of the Oilers! He was a funny man because he kept saying all these jokes but he never laughed even once.
Just another stumbling, bumbling performance by the freefalling Oilers, who have now lost 10 of their last 11 at home. The "friendly confines" are clearly not friendly enough, so it's obviously time for new confines, downtown confines. That'll solve everything.
The stat sheets say the Oilers outshot the Predators 41-28 and attempted 81 shots at goal and had an EV Corsi of +26 and I don't believe a digit of it. The reality is for the fourth time in a month a team flew in to Edmonton from a game the previous night in Vancouver which always used to be a real tough schedule for the visitors, except that in the last four weeks all four of those teams walked in to Edmonton and won handily in regulation time. Nashville played their system efficiently and dispassionately, throwing six (6) hits the entire game and taking whatever their generous hosts gave them, which turned out to be more than enough to walk away with the two points. The Predators were running on fumes at the end, but their prey had already gassed the game.
The big money players and veteran Oilers who are supposed to be the leaders of the club did indeed lead the way in a manner of speaking. Sheldon Souray was -4. Lubo Visnovsky led the world with 5 giveaways. Shawn Horcoff showed his prowess in the faceoff circle by winning 10 draws and losing 20. Thecaptainethanmoreau took what may have been his single worst and most poorly-timed penalty in a season chockablock with bad and ill-timed penalties. The whole group of older guys looked like they would rather be anywhere else than Rexall Place.
Oilers' goaltending woes continued as Jeff Deslauriers managed to stop just 10 of 14 shots. JDD was beaten from outside, from a bad angle, and on yet another glove-side wraparound, before ending his night's "work" early and ignominiously with a brutal giveaway that resulted in a free goal. The game winner, as it turned out, although at 4-0 at the time it was never as exciting as all that. Devan Dubnyk did come in and play tolerably well, a rare silver lining in a big black cloud of a night.
Oilers' defensive woes continued as they incessantly left opposition snipers uncovered in the immediate vicinity of their own goal. The "top" pair of Souray and Tom Gilbert had a dreadful night, -4 and -3 respectively, including a couple of goals where both got sucked into the same area leaving Deslauriers to fend for himself. Cuz there was no way any forwards were close enough to help out.
Oilers' offensive woes continued as on their best chances nobody could hit the ocean if they were standing on the wharf. Ryan Stone displayed the hands that have netted him zero goals in 34 NHL games as he missed what appeared to be a wide-open net in the first that might have stabilized the game at 2-1. By the time J-F Jacques squeezed a feeble one through Rinne's pads midway in the third, it was far too late for a meaningful comeback. If the goal ultimately was to "make it respectable", they failed, 5-3 scoreline be damned.
I was honestly expecting this game immediately following the much publicized mini-camp to be one of the Oilers' best efforts of the season. It wasn't. I realize it's not so easy to tell from Row 44, but the game seemed almost devoid of the emotion and desperation I was anticipating. I expected legs to be churning, bodies to be flying, fists to be pumping, boards to be crashing. Instead, after a painfully short cameo of decent hockey, the Oilers looked like a Beaten team right from the first goal against.
"Only" 37 games to go.