With the preseason well underway, we are one step closer to the regular season and the Edmonton Oilers quest for their first Stanley Cup since the fall of the Soviet Union.
This is a time of unbridled excitement and anticipation, and you as a fan may be wondering how to best approach a season where there are actual expectations for the team. Do you keep a levelled and reasonable head throughout the season? Do you focus on the good things that happen and ignore the bad, or vice versa? Do you buy one of the “new” royal blue jerseys or just break out your many old variations of it from your closet for the nth time? Well lucky for you, here is a primer for all your burning “I’m not sure what to do with my hands” questions.
Do: Watch the preseason games and get excited
Preseason is a fun time because as a fan there is absolutely no pressure – the games are all made up and the points don’t matter.
But for many of the players, preseason is make or break for their season, and sometimes even their career. So there can be some intensity that make the games even more fun.
So sit back and just enjoy watching NHL–ish hockey for the first time in months and soak it all in.
Don’t: Go buy the preseason hero’s jersey
Every year there is a journeyman player who comes to training camp, usually on a PTO, lights it up in the preseason. This player was once a highly touted prospect who just couldn’t seem to put it all together on his former team(s).
But all of a sudden, he’s a goal scoring machine in the preseason and seems poised to finally live up to all that potential now that he’s gotten an opportunity on a real team.
Sound familiar? Like Ty Rattie? Or Brendan “Lamborghini” Perlini? Remember how those guys ended up doing once the regular season started?
This might seem contradictory to the previous “do”, but it’s actually right in line with it: sure, get excited about this guy, as who knows, it IS possible he might actually breakout. But chances are unlikely, and if you legitimately get your hopes up, you are just setting yourself up for heartbreak. As we learned from Zendaya’s MJ, “if you expect disappointment, you can never really be disappointed.”
Do: Go to a road game
Going to the enemy’s barn for a game is usually a great time. You get to make a trip to a new city, check out a new arena, and be able to have some (hopefully) friendly chirps with a group of opposing fans. And if (ahem…WHEN) the Oil win, there’s nothing quite like starting a “Let’s Go Oilers” chant that helps you find your fellow blue and orange like a Marco Polo game for post–game revelry.
Plus it’s much more likely you’ll end up on TV, where your friends and family will then all be super jealous.
Don’t: Make said road game a trip to the Saddledome
A) You’ve likely been to Calgary before, so not really an amazing new trip.
B) It’s really not a nice arena, and sitting where you can’t see the Jumbotron, or having to line up in the staircase for your beer isn’t exactly great value for the price of the tickets.
C) It’s a safety hazard. Not because of any risk from the hometown fans, but because the building is legitimately falling apart. I also tripped on my own feet there once and it was super embarrassing and hurt my ego.
Do: Pick an Oiler for your fantasy team
The Oilers are a good team that are expected to be an offensive force this year, so for fantasy purposes you should definitely consider drafting one or two players, even outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Generally speaking, someone playing with either of them is likely to put up a point or two.
Plus, fantasy is for fun (even if you do have some money at stake), and it’s always fun to have a second reason to cheer for your favourite squad.
Don’t: Pick said Oiler* in the first few rounds
*Assuming said Oiler is not McDavid or Draisaitl
Look, I get it – you’re excited about the team and these are the players who you know the best, but don’t let your emotions/heart get in the way of picking the best team you can.
There’s some probable safe bets that warrant being picked in the middle rounds, like Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard and The Nuge.
But don’t try to be the smartest person in the room by making a reach for anyone else. If you are drafting a Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto to be in your starting lineup, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Do: Have ridiculous homer opinions and takes
Fan is short for “fanatic”, so be unabashedly homer when talking about the team. Tell your Flames fan friends that Nazem Kadri will be nothing now that he’s not on the powerhouse Avalanche. Put an obscene amount of money on an Oiler winning every single individual trophy.
Honestly, there’s almost no more entertaining sight than trolling an opposing team’s fan until they are red in the face because you vehemently argue that Brett Kulak would be unquestionable their number one d–man if he played for them.
Don’t: Put the aforementioned takes on Twitter
The internet is forever and people won’t forget. There is nothing worse than getting @-ed with a “this you?” response when you change your mind.
Hopefully the above tips will help you navigate the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of the upcoming season.
And if they don’t, well don’t @ me. I’m just some random person on the interwebs, not, as Andy Sutton would ask, an expert.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire