-- Greetings from the Alberta capital!
Brand new Rogers Place place continues to be abuzz with activity as Edmonton Oilers fans continue to flock here to see their hockey team do something they haven't done in quite a while which is contend for the playoffs.
As people filed into this beautiful downtown arena Tuesday night to watch the Oilers battle the San Jose Sharks, the main topic of conversation was it is early January and the Oilers are playing not only games that matter, but are in a battle for first place. It's been a long time since you could say that. Too long!
The frustrating thing for Oiler fans, including this one, is you are not sure what you are going to get from this team on a nightly basis. While there is excitement about what this team is doing, there is also tremendous angst as it could be better.
Connor McDavid obviously stirs the drink and for good reason, but on nights when he has been average, the Oilers have won. Then again, they have also put up some sad efforts like the one Tuesday night against the Sharks which basically ended at the end of the first period when Brent Burns scored a softie on Cam Talbot. Speaking of McDavid, he turns 20 today. Just think about that for one moment. He could still be playing junior hockey! Seeing him play live for the first time showed me what others have said.. The kid can turn it up a gear in a heartbeat, and he has incredible ice awareness. The o-t goal to beat New Jersey was simply a thing of beauty as he set Leon Draisaitl up for the winner on a 2 on 1.
There was some talk about this team perhaps being interested in being a buyer at the trade deadline, and not a seller which is refreshing, but the name Jarome Iginla popped up. Iggy's best days are behind him and he would love to win a Stanley Cup. That isn't happening in Edmonton this season, and I am guessing he will be sent to a Stanley Cup contender before the deadline, but some suggest he would be great for McDavid and the team down the stretch. I just don't see it happening, but man would it be incredible to see Iggy skate on Saddledome ice wearing Edmonton colours. Is it safe to say Iginla will call it a career at the end of the season even if he doesn't get a Cup. Age has caught up to him, and a trip to the HHOF awaits. If he wants to play for another year, Edmonton could be a destination, but I don't see it.
As it stands now, the Oilers are a playoff team, but they have a lot of work to do. The bottom line is a decade of complete foolishness appears to be over.
-- There is no foolishness happening at the Brandt Centre. One could argue the Regina Pats made too many trades as they were a very good hockey team before dealing away several players, but one can also argue John Paddock has this team set for a WHL championship run this year and next. How refreshing is that Regina hockey fan? Yes, the team paid a price to get Josh Mahura and Jeff De Wit, but the time to strike is now and both will be in Regina uniforms next year as well. You can't complain about that because Paddock didn't sell the farm for players who will finish out the year and not be back. Mahura, Jonathan Smart and Dawson Davidson will make up for the loss of Chase Harrison, Sergei Zborovskiy and Connor Hobbs.
-- Alexandre Ovechkin has hit the 1000 point plateau. Where does that put him all-time? There is no doubt he is one of the most gifted goal-scorers the NHL has ever seen, but he hasn't done it in the playoffs. Does that matter? He hasn't even been to a Stanley Cup final. I think that has to weigh into the equation.
-- You might not find a better game this year than what Alabama and Clemson provided us with Monday night in the national championship. Yes, the game took wayyyyyyy longer than it should have, but football fans were treated to a classic that went right down to the last second. You couldn't have scripted it any better.
-- NFL playoff winners this weekend. Patriots (DUH), Chiefs, Packers and Seahawks (you know I'm taking them).
-- Is there any hotel where the towels aren't white?
-- Did the Los Angeles Chargers ask the Tampa Bay Lightning if they could use their logo?
-- I love the Jonathan Newsome signing. If Willie Jefferson, Jeff Knox Junior and Otha Foster come back as well, this Riders defense is starting to shape up nicely. Newsome is in green for a while as is Justin Cox and Ed Gainey. Getting those three and adding them to the likes of guys like Sam Eguavoen, Greg Jones and A-C Leonard starts to give you a unit that is formidable.
-- That's all I got. I gotta get back to YQR and get to work at the Cougar basketball games this weekend. Go check it out.
-- Have a great weekend....GO SEAHAWKS!