With 17 games left in the season, the Edmonton Oilers sit in last place in the NHL with 52 points and their two top players, Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall, out with injuries, as well as having traded away Dustin Penner in exchange for futures.
After reading that, you may wonder, why would anyone want to watch anymore Oilers games this season? They definitely will not being winning many games, and two of their most exciting players are gone. The loss of Hall is especially disheartening, since he was in the race for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year, but now is out for the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain.
But, believe it or not, there is still a reason to tune in to Oilers games this season. Here are the top 5 reasons.
Jordan Eberle started his career off with a bang, scoring a shorthanded beauty in the Oiler's 4-0 victory of the Calgary Flames at the beginning of the season. Since then, Eberle has been fairly consistent, with 35 points in 52 games this season. Had he not suffered an ankle injury earlier in the season, he would have 44 points in 65 games, which would tie him for second in NHL rookie scoring. In fact, Eberle was one of the Calder favourites before his injury.
Eberle is a Canadian hero for his last minute goals at the World Junior Championships, and he has shown he is something special in the NHL too and a steal of a pick for the Oilers at 22nd overall in 2008. Even with line-mate and best friend Hall out for the season, Eberle should be good for another highlight reel or two.
If Paajarvi wasn't on your watch list after the Dustin Penner trade (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/622855-dustin-penner-to-the-kings-now-it-is-magnus-paajarvis-time-to-shine for some reasons why he should have been) he should definitely be on it now. With Penner and Hall both gone, Paajarvi slides into the first line LW duty on the Oilers.
He is currently 14th in NHL rookie scoring with 25 points in 63 games, but with an increase in ice time Paajarvi should be able to do some damage. While he may not be the most prolific scorer, seeing him go down the ice at full speed and cut to the net is something of beauty and will always raise you out of your seat.
If you don't want to watch the entire game, at least make sure that if it goes to a shootout, you tune in, because chances are Linus Omark will be shooting and it will be something crazy.
We all know his classic flip shootout goal against Switzerland, and his cheeky spinorama against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he continues to impress. Against the Nashville Predators, he pulled another beauty, as it looked like he was trying the chip shot again, but he just slid it along the ice past Pekka Rinne.
Omark always has something up his sleeve, you don't want to miss it!
No, I am not going bonkers and about to predict the Oilers will be making the playoffs this season. However, the Western Conference playoff race is so tight, chances are the Oilers will be playing against a team fighting to make the post season, meaning the games will have some value and therefore should be somewhat entertaining.
Especially since no playoff team wants to lose to the Oilers. How embarrassing would that be?
The Edmonton Oilers may be out of the playoff race, but they are still in the thick of another one: the race for first overall. The Oilers have to compete with the likes of the Ottawa Senators (who may have made a fatal mistake in acquiring Craig Anderson from the Avalanche), the New York Islanders, and the Florida Panthers.
Currently, the Oilers are only one point down (or maybe up is more appropriate here) from the Ottawa Senators, while the Islanders and Panthers are a little further ahead (or behind), making it a two horse race that could come down to the final game of the season.
It doesn't get more thrilling than that.