Let's accept a fact right now, that it's early and very early for that matter. The NHL season only started on October 8th; we're less than two weeks into the season.
In northern Alberta, early be damned, sirens are going off. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! The Edmonton Oilers have played five games this season and are winless, going 0-4-1 for the worst start in franchise history. The team has been outscored 25-11 in those five games.
There's undoubtedly frustration among the players in the Oilers dressing room regarding play and results, I don't doubt it. What I do doubt, what I do ponder, is if those higher up in the Oilers organization have the notion that things need to change - the attitude, the culture - throughout the franchise in order to regain control of a derelict ship that's been adrift at sea since 2006. The fact the Oilers seem to do the same thing over and over again - finish low in the NHL and gain a draft lottery pick, sign free agents, change the head coach when a scapegoat is needed and then do it all over again - has certainly gotten to the fans to one degree or another, who are throwing jerseys on the ice out of frustration.
It's early, though. One little change could restart the season in a moment for Edmonton. Want proof, Oilers fans, look at what the Philadelphia Flyers did last season: the worst start in franchise history and they still made the playoffs. It can happen.
In a way, though, I feel like I'm giving false hope. I don't have confidence in Kevin Lowe or Craig MacTavish, and Lowe is the guy who has stocked the franchise in so many ways while things haven't improved much despite a roster inundated with high draft picks (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle among them) and high expectations.
Two things that everyone wasting their time reading this should be aware of:
1 - Nothing improved for theOilers.
2 - ...except the Oilers got Win #1 of 2014-15 against Tampa Bay.
What should you take from this is that you shouldn't walk into the Amalie tonight, or turn on the game, with the idea that it'll be a cakewalk... At least until it proves to be a cakewalk. Not before. If you're expecting hat tricks all around by the Lightning... Well, I sure hope you have some intuition and not some media-driven, results-driven conclusion that Edmonton has no shot. Edmonton took that idea and shoved that up the Bolts derriere in October.
And Lightning fans saw this last month at the Amalie too; Columbus beating the Lightning and Jon Cooper speaking the truth: standings don't mean S-with-a-T.
Both teams bring their "A" game netminders, though the results are subjective and the stats prove it: Ben Scrivens (8-15-7, 3.05 GAA and a .896 save percentage) starts for the Oilers while Ben Bishop (21-7-2, 2.41 GAA and a .909 save percentage) starts for Tampa Bay.
I'll just say it again - neither fan base should lock in on what to expect. That includes the Oilers fans coming in thinking back to October with tons of confidence... You may have expectations of a repeat dashed.
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