Thursday, May 18, 2017

5 THINGS THAT WILL ABSOLUTELY HAPPEN DURING THE OILERS 16-17 SEASON: HOW'D I DO?


Over at our inbred cousin site The Canafornians I made five preseason predictions before the 2016-17 season, because that's what you do when you're an unoriginal hack with barely passable writing skills. How'd I do? LET'S FIND OUT!


Prediction 1: The Oilers Will Miss The Playoffs

What I said;
The three California teams are going to be fighting for the top of the Pacific once again. Then you’ve got Arizona who is has just as good of a chance of fighting for a wild card spot as they do at finishing in the bottom 5. Calgary finally got some actual goalies (and a new coach) so they’re going to be better. Colorado has had the foundation to be good for a while, and with a new coach they should at least be much more competitive this year than they have the last two seasons. So already we’ve got 5 teams competing for those 5 spots, ON TOP OF having to fight it out with whichever poor souls wash out of the Central (Winnipeg, Minnesota and one of St. Louis, Dallas or Nashville) looking for a wildcard spot. That’s……. not great.
Thankfully I could not have whiffed on this one ANY HARDER! I was mostly right about the California teams, though clearly did not expect the Kings to shit all over themselves this year (to go along with a decent amount of injury trouble). The Sharks and the Ducks were still at the top of the division all year, but little did I know that the fucking OILERS would be the ones to take over for the Kings, battling for top spot in the division in god damn game 81. And in all reality the Oilers were the top team in the Pacific division. They finished with more wins than any other team in the division, and only the Blackhawks and the Wild had more wins in the Western conference. Fuck your pity points, the Oilers won the Pacific.

My expectations going into the season were that the Oilers would make great strides, but still fall short. I felt that if the team was still battling for a wild card spot in March, the season would be considered a massive success. A 103 point season and a game 7 loss away from meeting Nashville in the conference finals was more than the majority of Oiler fans could have imagined this season. Kind of like showing up to a Tinder date and finding out the person you were talking to was actually Chrissy Teigen/Tom Hardy. You're just happy to be on a date in the first place, but then all your dreams end up coming true (or, like, most of your dreams #OilersCouldHaveWonTheCupThisYear).

I am consistently wrong, and I've never been more happy to be THIS wrong about anything in my life. Still not really sure what I was thinking when it came to Arizona, but just a quick thanks to the Flames goalies for being terrible for half the season, and to the Colorado Avalanche for literally being the worst team the NHL has seen in decades. You are the real MVPs!


Prediction 2: Oiler Fans Will Become Frustrated With Milan Lucic 

What I said;
I mean, either that or people are going to expect him to put up 70 points just by virtue of being near Connor McDavid, and then are going to be angry when he only puts up 50, despite the fact that it’s been 5 years since he’s broken 60 points and it’s unrealistic to think that at 28 years old he’s going to have some kind of career resurgence where he becomes an ELITE offensive player, rather than just a solidly consistent top 6 producer.
Out of all the predictions I made, this one felt like the safest bet. I nailed his point total EXACTLY, he was bumped off full time duty on McDavid's flank by November, and he was a non-factor for large swaths of the season. And to put a nice little cherry on things his job was taken by Patrick Maroon, who is the same size, plays a similar style of game, had ALREADY HAD SUCCESS PLAYING WITH CONNOR MCDAVID, and costs $4.5 million a year less than the high priced free agent acquisition. I said it at the time of the signing, but why on earth did Chiarelli go out and spend massive money to fill a spot that DID NOT NEED TO BE FILLED?????????

And even the most ardent Lucic supporters voiced disappointment in his play for stretches during the year, the worst being a 20 game skid from January to the middle of February where he managed to score 1 goal and 5 points.

I still think Lucic is fine enough as a player, for the most part, but that contract is only going to get worse with time. Thankfully, though, this being Edmonton a massive portion of the fanbase will be totally cool with paying a 3rd line winger $6 million a year to rack up 35 points because HE HIIITTTTSSSSSSS! Also because something something "DRESSING ROOM CULTURE" and "KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN A CUP (one time, seven years ago)".

COULD Lucic have a better season next year and live up to that contract? It's definitely possible. Will he though? I'd put money on the same pattern of fans loving him for a few weeks while he goes on a six game point streak, then being audibly disappointed with him when he disappears for weeks at a time again and looks slow and ineffective. Only six more years left on that contract, gang!

Prediction 3: Adam Larsson Will Be Very Good But Very Unspectacular

What I said;
Adam Larsson is not going to be the player that finally pushes this team out of the ditch and into relevancy once again, BUT he will play a big part in it. People are VERY wrapped up in the idea of how much potential he has (no one loves potential more than the Oilers and their fans) and while, yes, he IS only 23, going on 24, I doubt he’s going to suddenly become the next Erik Karlsson in a year or two. Much like with Milan Lucic, I think fan’s expectations are way too high (HE JUST NEEDS TO PASS THE PUCK TO CONNOR AND HE’LL GET 45 POINTS EASILY). Realistically I think a season of 30 points, combined with consistent, solid play in his own zone is what we can expect this year. Will that be enough to satiate both fans with exceedingly high expectations AND those who feel that the trade for Larsson is arguably the worst one for one trade in NHL history? NO OF COURSE NOT BECAUSE OILER FANS ARE ALL INSANE MASOCHISTS AND WE CAN NEVER HAVE NICE THINGS! But Adam Larsson will be very good for the Oilers. Not great, but very good, and with this team that’s basically the best you can hope for at this point.
Larsson ended up finishing the season with only 19 points, but overall he had a really solid season. Like I predicted in July, Larsson was fully competent in his own zone, and was a perfectly fine compliment to Oscar Klefbom. He was the Oilers most physical player (253 hits, good for 6th overall in the league) and as a pleasant surprise they were EFFECTIVE hits, not just "finish your check for the sake of finishing your check" types that we've seen too much of over the decade of darkness.


He's a consistently competent top four defender, who still leaves a lot to be desired offensively, and still is not (and never will be) worth full value for what the Oilers paid to acquire him, but he's locked up for four more years on a very reasonable contract, and something something that's the price you have to pay. He played a part in helping get the Oilers back to the postseason, and should continue to do that for at least the length of his current contract.

Prediction 4: Connor McDavid Will Be In The Hart Trophy Conversation

What I said;
He’s got (kind of) his first pro season under his belt, he looks like he’s gotten bigger over the summer (BECOMING A MAN) and with the absence of Taylor Hall his ice time is sure to go up. As long as he’s able to stay healthy (and I’ve been assured that Milan Lucic will somehow ward off any and all injuries) he’s going to wreck opposing teams left and right, and he should easily be in the top 10, if not the top 5 of NHL scoring this year.
The Oilers are officially Connor McDavid’s team now, and they will go as he does. Will he be able to drag this lifeless corpse of a team into the playoffs? Again, I have my doubts, but if he puts up an 80+ point season and is one of the main reasons the Oilers are competitive on a consistent basis he’ll easily be in the conversation for the league’s MVP. Missing the post-season will probably put an end to any realistic chances of winning (please refer to earlier “hackneyed hockey writers” comment) but potentially watching him force himself into the conversation as one of the best players in the world is going to be super fun to watch. I CAN’T WAIT!
He won the Art Ross as the NHLs only 100 point player this season, was arguably the biggest reason the Oilers made the playoffs this year (all due respect to Cam Talbot who I would give the Oilers MVP to this season), and should win the Hart in a walk. *Pantomimes putting another one on the board*

Prediction 5: Rogers Place Will Bankrupt Us All

What I said;
The cheapest tickets you can find start at $50, beers are $11 a piece, and a god damn burger and fries will run you over $20. BUT HOLY SHIT WILL IT BE WORTH IT TO GO DESTITUTE IN THAT BEAUTIFUL NEW BUILDING! If you’ve gotten a chance to check out Rogers Place then you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t all your expectations will probably be blown away. It’s a god damn beautiful building, the sight lines in the place are incredible no matter where you’re sitting, that new scoreboard/screen is so massive that it will honestly distract me from what’s happening on the ice, and just the idea of being able to drink something other than a Canadian or a Coors Light has me scoping out the best corners to turn tricks on so I can afford more than one beer at a game.
Playoff ticket prices were more than double (and that's if you had the luxury of already paying thousands of dollars for season tickets), they charged people $80 to stand around in the already busy concourse to watch the game on TV, and people also paid cash money to sit in the arena during away games to watch the games on the biggest TV in Alberta (while still paying full price for beer and food). BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!!!*

So there we have it. Much like most of my high school report cards I finished with a solid 80%. The only thing I whiffed on was the Oilers not making the playoffs, AND BOY IS MY FACE RED (from stress still, after living and dying by every moment during the playoffs). Come back again in July, when I make even more bold predictions like "Connor McDavid will have another good season" "Leon Draisaitl will also be good" and "Matt Henderson will be arrested for throwing a shoe at Kris Russell during a stoppage in play". SEE YOU IN A FEW MONTHS!



*I feel like I'm in the minority here, but Rogers Place is only okay. It's definitely a nicer experience overall than Rexall, but for all the talk about it being some world class facility that people will supposedly go on a pilgrimage to visit, I find it to be pretty "meh". And this isn't even mentioning all the problems they had with bathrooms just during the three weeks of playoff hockey we enjoyed. Tis a fine barn, but sure 'tis no pool not worth the hype, especially a three part documentary on the building of a fucking ice hockey arena, English.

2 comments:

David S said...

Nice to see you ripping posts here again on JSBM, even if it's a slightly watered down version of the site we all loved "back in the day".

Jeanshorts said...

We've "matured*"!


*been warned by our legal team to smarten up

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