Game Day Blog 37/82: Looking For Five Straight in the City of Dreams, Oilers @ Jets
Welcome back fam! Hope everyone had a great holiday with their family and/or friends, but the party’s just getting started. New Years Eve is right around the corner, 2018 is literally right behind it, and the Edmonton Oilers are about to embark on a borderline unprecedented playoff run. We have 46 games remaining (including this one) and we’re soaring out of the Christmas break and looking to extend our current four game winning streak — a winning streak that is tied for the longest current active winning streak in the league. In our way is Canada’s wonderland… a city with grass so green it makes the Arizona Cardinals’ football field look like the ground after the Rainmaker Rodeo. The beautiful, spectacular, majestically flourishing meadows of Winnipeg.
Tonight’s Opponent: Winnipeg Jets
Their Record: 20-11-6, 46 points. Lost seven of 10.
Our Record: 17-17-2, 36 points. Won seven of 10.
Last Time We Played Them: (5-2 L) Connor Hellebuyck started his first game of the year in an unfortunate sequence of events that saw us not face the human garage door, Steve Mason, who is fucking atrocious. Naturally, we jump-started Connor Hellebuyck’s career. Hellebuyck has since gone 18-4-5 this year with a 2.44 GAA and a 0.920 SV%, a record and stat line that even I hate to admit is impressive beyond belief. Mason — the man who was illogically awarded a juicy $4.1 million contract this summer — has two wins in nine starts, hasn’t won a game since November 22, and has a GAA that would nearly land himself on the Dean’s List.
What Do The Jets Have? Like the Oilers, the thing that’s been the most impressive about the Jets this season has been their ability to crush the living shit out of their division. They’re 7-3-1 against the Central and score at an alarming rate of 3.45 goals per game in those four point nights — a division that features all seven of its teams with above .500 records. Make no mistake about it, this is a different Jets team than we’ve grown accustomed to watching play in the past. I can no longer laugh at them for creating fictional star players who allegedly love playing in a barren winter hellscape filled with 98 frigid lakes and the world’s largest army of mosquitoes. They’re an actual good hockey team. Blake Wheeler, a player that Chiarelli once traded for Boris Valabik, is a consistently elite franchise forward. Jesse’s pal and budding Slytherin pledge, Patrik Laine, is on pace to score 40 goals this year. Connor Hellebuyck is practically unbeatable. Kyle Connor is going to be an absolute stud. Haven’t even mentioned the idiot, Mark Scheifele but there’s another point-per-game dominant centre. They’re balanced, they’re deep, they score, they’re impossible to shake off the puck, and now they have a goalie who doesn’t allow pucks at an alarming rate.
Anyways. They’re having their best season of all time and yet nobody possibly thinks they’re even remotely good enough to take down Nashville or St. Louis or even Chicago when it matters the most, right? This is a franchise that has existed in two cities over the span of 18 seasons and they’re still looking for their first ever playoff win. In two (!!) playoff appearances since their inaugural 1999-00 campaign, the Atlanta/Winnipeg Thrashers/Jets are exactly 0-8 in playoff games. You guys will forever stink. You’ll never win anything, just like the old Jets never won anything. Kevin Cheveldayoff has yet to make any relevant free agent acquisition. Dustin Byfuglien is the size of the Rogers Place scoreboard. And you play in a hockey arena for ants. Every time Jets fans start the wave or boo the opposing team’s best player or chant ‘True North’ during the national anthem I throw up in my mouth. This is the Winnipeg I enjoy:
That is literally the saddest thing on the planet. Nothing screams “pain” like getting swept in the playoffs and wiping your tears underneath your glasses while wearing a RIDICULOUS Budweiser goal helmet. The thing still going off despite the fact that this lady is clearly hurting and in a very serious state of emotional pain is severely savage even by my own standards. Winnipeg will forever be that cute team that makes it to the playoffs once every three or four years, only to lose to a much better team in the first round. PAIN:
What Do We Have? Cam’s going for eight (!!) straight and OH BY THE WAY our season was teedering on the line of “oh shit we’re fucked” Saturday night but, for the first time in his tortuously fucking dickheadish existence, God listened to our prayers:
McDavid will play at WPG, the one Western Conf. opponent against whom he does not have a goal; Klefbom likely to play vs CHI.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) December 27, 2017
Live look at the emotions on Saturday. First, the Oilers are moments away from winning four straight:
BUT HOLD YOUR SHIT because McDavid blocks that shot:
Then he hobbles off and needs so much help from the trainers:
And you can literally see the season ending right before our eyes:
And then we begin to refresh Twitter at the fastest speed known to mankind:
And we pray:
And pray some more:
And then it hits us:
“The x rays came back negative. His foots a little sore but he’s in good spirits and we fully expect him to play in Winnipeg.” McLellan on McDavid.
— Brenden Ullrich (@BrendenUllrich) December 24, 2017
AND THE ENTIRE CITY SIMULTANEOUSLY GOES BANANAS:
And we wonder what we were even worried about in the first place:
It was one of those moments that we will always remember exactly where we were at what we were doing when we found out McDavid didn’t lose his foot, and one that we will certainly look back at after we win the Stanley Cup in June. I, for example, was sharing the trunk of an SUV while taking pulls of gin en route to a pre drink like I was in fucking high school or something. And guess what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That’s exactly where I was meant to be at that moment. The goddamn butterfly effect.
So, as you can see, McDavid — thank Christfully — will be in the lineup tonight:
Oilers lines in WPG:
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) December 27, 2017
Oilers D in WPG:
Oilers could activate Klefbom…back down to 23 on 28th
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) December 27, 2017
The freeze ends at 12:01 ET meaning Klefbom will be activated by tomorrow, thus bringing us to nine active defensemen on the roster. We’d technically still have 23 players on the roster but carrying nine defensemen makes very little sense. Gryba could be on a little thing we call “waivers” by tomorrow considering he is probably never going to dress again.
Tony still can’t get ice time because who knows.
Iceman cometh of course. We’ll see LB in like February.
Did you know: Investors Group Field, the stadium where the Eskimos won the 2015 Grey Cup and the Edmonton Oilers won the 2016 Heritage Classic, is home to arguably the greatest sports bar in Canada, possibly the world:
That’s the Rum Hut, and that’s where Winnipeggers collectively gather as a community to discuss Matt Nichols’ fourth interception of the first half and how many more days they have to wait before the Jets get bounced in the first round. Just eyeballing here but it looks like maybe the worst concession service of all time, however, the overall design of this magical place is quite honestly hilarious and totally ironic. Imagine a blissful beach with bright blue waters and soft sand somewhere in Winnipeg? What an unreal hallucination.
Prediction: Let’s go with 5-3 Oilers, including an empty net goal. The Jets can score, that’s for damn sure. And they really beat the absolute piss out of our nuts back in October. They’ll be a huge test for the boys coming out of the break, so let’s hope that momentum we’ve built from before carries over. And hope McDavid’s generational foot is as healthy as he says it is.
Connor gets his first ever goal against the Jets. Jesse scores because it’s been a hot minute and he’s due. Nuge gets two points. Reg Sekera gets his first goal of the year. The stretch starts right now. Let’s go.