The Opossum-Palooza

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NHL Preview: Edmonton Oilers

The technical issues have returned here to my little corner of the Opossum-Palooza, and as such we are now falling way behind on the NHL previews. But rest assured that I am doing everything I can to get you the useless speculation you so desperately crave. Today, I bring you DefDude's preview of the Edmonton Oilers, the eighteenth part of our series.

What a long, strange ride it has been, eh? From the almost irrelevant position of the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, to being the small-market David to Detroit’s Goliath, to the heartbreak of a nation in losing the chance to bring hockey’s holy grail home from the midst of the desolate hockey wasteland known as the South. Finally, it was all capped off by the final rejection of the city itself by a man whose inspired performance during his single season in the city endeared him eternally to fans, or would have if not for the embittering circumstances surrounding his departure. A distaste for management, or his coach, or maybe even his teammates, would be a legitimate reason for his desiring a trade. Or possibly his OWN distaste for Edmonton MIGHT be a palatable excuse (although highly unlikely), but no, Chris Pronger had to request a trade because, as reports go, his WIFE did not like the city of Edmonton. Now when a player requests a trade because his WIFE hates you so much that she nags him to the point of jumping a championship-caliber team....well, that’s got to hurt a team’s psyche. Not to mention its chances for another magical Cup run in 2007.

With the departure of Pronger and chippy center Michael Peca, the Oilers suddenly find themselves somewhat lacking in the gritty, blue-collar attitude that led to last year’s shocking Cindarella run, and leave gaping holes in the lineup, which the Oilers are hoping to fill with young players they believe ready to make the leap to the NHL’s elite. Highly-touted but often-maligned prospect Robbie Schremp will be expected to shoulder much of the load left in Peca’s wake, while the signing of former Ranger Petr Sykora adds more firepower to an already capable offense.

But the story in Edmonton remains the departure of Pronger, one of the game’s truly elite defensemen, as capable of scoring a goal as giving an opposing star a concussion. Following him out of town was puck-moving defenseman Dick (heeheehee) Tarnstrom, who bolted for Switzerland. The combined loss of quality defenders will surely offset any projected offensive gains, and leave the aging Dwayne Roloson in a precarious situation that could overburden the creaky old netminder. While much of the core from last season’s run (Ryan Smith, the team captain named Smyth, Fernando Pisani, and Shawn Horcoff), the loss of two all-star players will almost certainly be too much for a team that struggled to even make the playoffs last season, leaving the Oil more likely for a lottery spot than a place at the spring dance.

The Oilers have an enviable network of bloggers to sate your appetite, should you need to follow their exploits. Mosey on over to All Oil... all the time!, Black Dog Hates Skunks, Covered In Oil, Girls don't love hockey, Irreverent Oilers Fans, Lowetide or Oil Time Hockey. Also, don't forget The Battle of Alberta, one of the best hockey blogs around, and for the female and non-traditional male hockey fans out there, you've also got hot oil (if you're into that sort of thing).

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At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peca was the most over-rated hockey player in the NHL. He won't be missed at all. they've got plenty of better penalty killers than him and he was of zero value offensively. Calling him an all star callibre player is ridiculous

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to put some research into that preview. Rob Schremp is starting the season in the AHL, and you made no mention of Ales Hemsky, easily the Oilers most gifted player. Also, Peca and Tarnstrom were an absolute joke last year, losing Spacek was much bigger than losing either of those two hacks.


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