I was cruising around the internet this morning, killing time before I had to head out for the day and I came across a very interesting post to say the least.
I try to stay away from reactionary posts for those most part, instead preferring to make my own way but once in a while a blog is published that just makes you shake your head and think to yourself “did I seriously just read that?” This is definitely one of those articles. It was posted over at the Hockey Writers and written by James Tanner. Should you want to read the post it is available here. I know that is just free publicity for his post but really it is easier to just link to his post so I don’t have to recap the entire thing, only what is pertinent to our discussion.
This is the part that actually has me writing this post.
“In the upcoming season they are going to be the surprise of the NHL, be the most fun team to watch, score the most goals and win the Western Conference.”
Wow, where to begin with that. Well I guess the easiest way is to address them point by point so here goes. No, maybe, no, no. Does that answer everything good enough? Probably not, I don’t imagine that you came to read a post about another post and me not add my two cents in. Like I said the best way to handle this is point by point, so let’s dig in.
“They are going to be the surprise of the NHL”.
No, no they are not. The Oilers are looking to finally exit a rebuild that has seemed to last forever and are in very tough in the West to make huge leaps and gains as this would imply. Sure the teams in the West generally feast on their counterparts from the East unless the Oilers can make a lot of hay in the tougher Western Conference there is little chance of a massive improvement. Of course the team should be better than they were last year but that isn’t setting the bar very high. To state that a team that has been expected to finally take a step forward for how many years now is going to be the surprise of the NHL isn’t saying anything really because this organization has been such a joke for so long that with this off-season we are already the surprise of the league. If by surprise you mean we are going to do what Calgary did last season or Colorado did before them then I think that you are very sadly mistaken. This is not a playoff team, not yet anyways. Too much dead weight and too many inexperienced players in my opinion. A finish of between 9th and 11th is in the cards I presume.
“Be the most fun team to watch”.
Okay this one I can kind of see happening. The Oilers are going to be a very young, very fast team and that will make for some exciting hockey for the fans. This team has the talent in the top 9 forwards to put in six goals a game no problem when they are firing on all cylinders. Just have to hope that Talbot and the defense are up to keeping the other team to five or less. Todd McLellan has normally ran a very offensive-minded team and I doubt that will change with the guys we have up front. Definitely will be fun to watch but it will be a lot more fun if we are winning more than losing and I don’t know how much more winning we are going to be doing this season.
“Score the most goals”.
Tanner actually expects this team to go from 26th overall last season to first? That is a pretty tall order for any team let alone one that has so consistently been in the bottom half of the league in scoring. Since Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle joined the team in the 2010/11 season the best the team has done is eighteenth overall. Sure the offense regressed under Eakins but to expect the Oil to score roughly sixty more goals than last season isn’t being realistic. It’s so far from realistic that you can’t even see realistic from where you are. Yes the Oilers will be better this year, mostly due to the re-invigorated power-play. McLellan has always run a fantastic power-play unit. Even finishing seventh last season when the Sharks failed to advance to the playoffs for the first time under Todd. Really expecting any more than a thirty goal increase is like expecting the sky to fall. Just isn’t going to happen in one season.
“Win the Western Conference”.
In all reality they are probably going to be on the outside looking in come April 9th and the season finale in Vancouver. The Oilers haven’t improved even close to enough to challenge Anaheim, Chicago, and St. Louis for Western supremacy. For Edmonton to be the team at the top of the conference come April would mean that the team would need to earn 47 more points next season to equal the top team from the past year. That isn’t going to happen. Expectations need to be tempered when we talk about predictions for this team. I get that the guy likely has his McDavid glasses on and thinks that the kid will put this team on his back and take us to the promised land but that isn’t reality. One player does not make a team. I know that his addition is huge for this franchise. Bigger than huge, his addition changes everything for this team but he can’t win a cup on his own and I know we don’t have the entire supporting cast that will be here when we do finally see Lord Stanley in Edmonton again. Predicting any higher than about 10th is likely only setting oneself up for heart ache down the line. Finishing tenth is actually a pretty impressive feat in itself as it would mean meaningful hockey in February and March. That my friends is really all we can ask for in this day and age.
What do you think? Is James right or what? I don’t see it but I still want to hear from you all. Let me know in the comments, talk to me on Facebook, or get at me on Twitter, @cooke_rob, Thanks very much for reading and make sure that you stop by the Beer League Heroes T-shirt shop and pick up your very own Beer League Heroes shirts!