"Know Your Enemy": Oilers


People that earn their keep predicting the future, fortune tellers and psychics and the like, are either delusional, or charlatans.  I had my tarot cards read once and I asked the gifted oracle: “Will I get the same cards if I come back in ten minutes?”  She had no answer.  However, in a quirky way, I have something that resembles an admiration for people who attempt to see into the unknown, and oddly guess correctly quite a bit more than they do not.  Now I have no interest in pursuing a career in the fortune telling racket.  First of all, because it is patently dishonest (or insane).  Secondly, I am not a consistently skilled predictor.  The Oilers taught me this.  

Now someone who runs his mouth as much as I do, should be used to feeling embarrassment.  This is not the case, though.  I’m more concerned with speaking my mind than politeness.  About a year ago, I was so impressed with the picks that the Oilers had collated, that I went out on a limb and predicted that the skilled rookies Hall, Eberle, and Paajarvi along with the dazzling and steady veterans Horcoff and Hemsky, would carry the Oilers into the postseason.  Of course, this did not happen.  The Oilers finished at the bottom of the barrel.  I made this prediction at a wedding party, and hoped that the members of my audience were too focused on their own libations to remember this ridiculous verbal gamble.  No such luck. I was reminded constantly during the season by friends of what the Oilers were enduring.

I laugh now even as I recall this silly prediction.  This reminded me, that as much as I believe I know about hockey, I still and always will, have much more to learn.  However! I will tweak my prediction, and continue to stand by it.  I resolutely believe that the Oilers, sooner rather than later, will not only make the postseason, but will become a powerhouse, reminiscent of the endlessly irritating Blackhawks.

Taylor Hall played his junior hockey in Windsor.  His name, even then, reached the ears of hockey fanatics in Detroit.  He has all the tools to be, I think, a Vinny Lecavalier type player.  Eberle’s coming out party, prior to suiting up for the Oilers, were the WJC’s.  A scout I know in Canada told me Eberle reminded him of Datsyuk.  I of course, did not like hearing this, being that I admire Datsyuk to the point of inking my arm with a nice, red “13″.  But the highlight reel Eberle scored last season showed that the young man has skill in great abundance. He will put it together.  Paajarvi, is a bit trickier to figure out. A scout I correspond with in Sweden, has been raving about the man named Magnus for several seasons now.  Paajarvi lit the lamp tonight against the Wild, and not in typical European fashion.  “If you want to score goals, go to the net.”  This is an old piece of hockey wisdom that everyone who played has heard, but not necessarily adopted.  Paajarvi’s goal tonight, shows that he is teachable, which is essential for players from Europe to be, if excelling on the smaller surface is something they care to do.

Hemsky is perhaps my favorite player outside of Detroit.  The man has velvet hands, and is surgical with his dismantling of of the oppositions defense.  However, Hemsky has not yet reached the elite level that a player with his abilities should.  Perhaps this growing supporting cast of skilled speedsters on the Oilers’ roster, will be just the impetus Hemmer has needed.  Now of course, Edmonton is not Detroit, and they are a Western conference team. By definition, they are our enemies.  But I feel no animus towards the Oil.  Quite the opposite. I hope they do well, not just so I can brag about being a gifted seer myself, but because I am fond of their players and their style. Despite his shaky experiences on and off the ice, Nikolai Khabibulin can never be counted out as an amazing netminder either.  Let’s hope for some exciting pond hockey between Detroit and Edmonton this season.

Ian

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Tags: Blackhawks Canada Datsyuk Detroit Eberle Edmonton Hall Hemsky Horcoff Khabibulin Oilers Paajarvi Sweden Taylor Hall Windsor Wjc's