Friday, November 24, 2006
Oilers vs. Chicago
I have a great deal of sympathy for Blackhawks fans. Mostly due to the man pictured here. They put up with so much for a long time now. They don't even get to watch their team suck on TV. Wirtz is a dinosaur that would be unrivaled as a terrible owner if it weren't for the pure evil of Harold Ballard. Going into the lockout, refusal to spend money had turned the once-proud franchise into a cellar dweller.
Then it looked like things were changing. This year things were turning around. They traded for Havlat and acquired Handzus and Smolinski for some more veteran forward help. With another year of development for some of the young Dmen they had, they started strong. 7-1 preseason, 4-2 in their first 6. Then the wheels started coming off. Havlat went down and still hasn't returned, Handzus is done for the year, Rene Bourque suffered a positively Malarchukian injury and Khabibulin, finally playing like the guy they paid 7 million dollars for, hurt his finger. He's back, but the other three are still out. And the Blackhawks have slipped back down in the standings.
The Oilers, on the other hand, have won their last 4. Roli may have stole a couple of those, but, as Mudcrutch noted, that's why you spend salary cap space on a 4 million dollar goalie. Still, a more consistent effort would be nice. So would a number of the players figuring out how to make a breakout play under pressure. A victory tonight is important. Things are far too close to throw away points.
4-2 Oilers. The Blackhawks are going to be desperate to salvage something on their western Canadian road trip and come out flying. The Oilers will probably start flat tonight and get behind a goal. Roli will keep it close and the Oilers will come back, get up 3-1, get complacent and start slacking until they only have a one goal lead again, and squeek out a victory with an empty netter in a game that will be far closer than I'd like.