The Montreal Canadiens will face the young, and ever learning Edmonton Oilers tonight. While there have been glimpses of the bright future in Oil Country, the season has mainly been as dark as the December Edmonton skyline at quitting time. Personally I think its for the best. With young players like Hall, Eberle and co already learning the hardship of NHL life, they could surely use a year or two more of drafting early to build their franchise for long-term success. Oiler fans should take comfort in the re-build. One only has to look to Toronto to see what happens when you try to cut corners. Do what the Penguins and Capitals did – and unlike those two cities, know that at least when things went bad – you were still there with the team. The Oilers will be a deep and very good team in the future. Players like Sam Gagner, and Magnus Pjaarvi will (when ready) serviceable NHLers, and with a few more drafts to fill the coffers with prospects, I imagine it will not be too long before we’re talking about Edmonton much in the way that Colorado and St Louis are being talked about.
That said, this is not a game that the Canadiens should lose. Montreal was sparred the indignity of an extensive re-build by some Cap management, some good drafting, and some rewarding trades (hello Josh Gorges). The sort of re-build that the Canadiens have under-gone in the recent past is not the norm in today’s NHL. Thankfully the Habs have the kind of mix of veteran leadership, and youthful ability that most teams strive for - exemplified by the long post-season run last season. Beating teams like the Oilers is what needs to happen if the Habs are going to turn their great start into a great season. I’ll be watching to see if the Habs take the play to the young Oilers, or if they are suffering from an extended period of time with no games.
Lets see some skating out there! Go Habs Go!!