Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Post Game: Game #63 Blues 5 Oilers 2

Scoring Summary
1st Period
STL Andy McDonald 4 (T.J. Oshie, David Backes) 0:59


2nd Period
STL Scott Nichol 3 (David Perron, Kevin Shattenkirk) 2:05

STL Andy McDonald 5 (T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk) 7:34

EDM Corey Potter 4 (Darcy Hordichuk) 8:48

EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 15 (Taylor Hall, Nick Schultz) 19:12


3rd Period
STL Kevin Shattenkirk 8 (PP) (Alex Pietrangelo, Jason Arnott) 3:28

STL Chris Stewart 14 (penalty shot) 7:54

Penalty Summary
1st Period
14:48 St. Louis fighting - 5 min R. Reaves drawn by D. Hordichuk
14:48 Edmonton fighting - 5 min D. Hordichuk drawn by R. Reaves

2nd Period
3:14 Edmonton slashing - 2 min S. Gagner drawn by D. Backes
9:06 St. Louis holding - 2 min R. Reaves drawn by L. Petrell
13:24 Edmonton checking from behind - 5 min R. Smyth drawn by R. Polak served by D. Hordichuk
13:24 Edmonton game misconduct - 10 min R. Smyth served by D. Hordichuk
19:52 Edmonton unsportsmanlike conduct - 2 min B. Eager drawn by B. Jackman
19:52 St. Louis unsportsmanlike conduct - 2 min B. Jackman drawn by B. Eager

3rd Period
2:25 Edmonton slashing - 2 min C. Barker drawn by V. Sobotka
7:54 Edmonton hooking T. Hall drawn by C. Stewart
14:43 Edmonton puck over glass - 2 min C. Potter

Shots On Goal - Oilers 24 Blues 31

Game Notes:
- Ken Hitchcock totally owns the Oilers. Even when the Oilers came back to cut the lead to 3-2, Hitchcock made his adjustments and his team went on to score 2 more in the third period. Oilers issues are philosophical ones. Every time they run into a team like the Blues or the Stars or the Coyotes or the Wild or the Flames they seem totally outclassed. None of these teams are real world beaters but they just can't beat these teams because they don't have the psychological wherewithal or the muscle to do so. The kicker is the Oilers have been like this for the last 20 years. Like they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The Oilers are going to have to look at their team and figure out a way to make parts of their game become a facsimile of these teams they cannot beat with any consistancy. Devan Dubnyk gave up 3 goals in 19 shots and was pulled around half way through the 2nd period. Yann Danis came in a gave his team a boost, but ultimately was the victim of his own stout legs and gave up 2 goals that was just out of reach of his outstretched legs. I'd like to see more of Danis to end the year. I believe the Dunbyk/Khabibulin experiment should come to an end this year. The Oilers should be in the goaltending market again next year. The Oilers need better from their goaltending so they can gain confidence from it. It's been too spotty this year to make all that much of a difference.

Player of the Game:
- Corey Potter. Potter scored the opener and played a modest game tonight. Kept things fairly clean in his own area of the ice. Tied RNH with the most shots on the team with 4. Not much to say as the Oilers as a team had a lot of passengers tonight. Hall and RNH were the best chance for a goal tonight, but both ended up -2.

Goat of the Game:
- Cam Barker. Lots to choose from tonight, but Barker's bad reads all over the ice is costing the Oilers hockey games these days. Barker is a player that I had on my list of UFAs the Oilers should pursue. Consider that experiment failed, but it was nothing ventured nothing gained. Thing I don't get is why is he still playing while vets like Andy Sutton and Theo Peckham are riding pressbox. If it was up to me, Cam Barker won't get another game this year. Hemsky and Dubnyk were pretty lacklustre as well tonight. Hemsky with another game where he didn't look like he gave a damn. Why did we resign him again?

Next Game - Friday March 2, 2012 vs. Stars @ Rexall Place on TSN 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #63 Oilers vs. Blues



Trade deadline is over, 20 games left to go. To give you an idea how far the Oilers are out of the playoff run, if the playoff cut line is 95 pts, the Oilers would have to go 19-0-1 to make it. Nick Schultz will make his Oiler debute tonight. The Oilers made a dealine deal, trading Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz. It will be interesting to see what dimension Schultz will add. It will also be interesting to see how a small deal like this will effect the offense. The Oilers defense is going to take a more stationary look. Sutton, Smid and Schultz don't bring much offense, Potter is essnetially a stationary cannon on the point, Whitney has a bad wheel that doesn't allow him to be as mobile as he once was, which leaves Petry to do all the skating to make up for all 6 of them. If I was to look in my crystal ball as of today, I'm guessing the Oilers are eyeballing Matthew Dumba as a potential draft pick. The Oilers are bereft of RH shots that have the potential to play in the NHL, with the dealing of Tom Gilbert. Dumba has a cannon that will help the kids on the power play. The Oilers have stabilized the rest of the D with defensive types. It looks to be a direction the Oilers are going in. The Oilers are going to need someone to push the pace from the backend, meaning the Oilers will likely continue the experiment of Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the 1-2 centers on the team. The Blues come into this game as a legitimate to make a Stanley Cup run this year. For my money, the most improved team in the NHL. The Blues are coming off a 3-1 win in Calgary and winners of 3 in a row. The Blues will prove to be a very stiff test for the Oilers. The Oilers have all kinds of difficulties with teams that clog up the middle ice. Teams like the Wild, Coyotes, and Stars. The Blues fall in this category as well. I'd say the Flames too, but thats a team that is losing its identity as we speak.

Forwards Oilers
- The Oilers forward skill is always dangerous. Especially the young ones.
Defense Blues
- Two young Dmen in Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk really stabilize their D.
Goaltending Blues
- Halak and Elliot may be the best tandem in the NHL. Both with under 2 GAA.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers now have the power play in the NHL, Blues are 25th.
Coaching Blues
- Ken Hitchcock loves playing the Oilers.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers have won 3 of 4 and have home ice. Still will be a tough game for them.

Oilers:
Smyth-Gagner-Eberle
Hall-NugentHopkins-Hemsky
Eager-Horcoff-Jones
Hordichuk-Belanger-Petrell

Whitney-Schultz
Smid-Petry
Sutton-Potter

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Blues:
McDonald-Backes-Oshie
Perron-Berglund-Stewart
Sobotka-Arnott-Porter
Crombeen-Nichol-Reeves

Colaiacovo-Pietrangelo
Jackman-Shattenkirk
Huskins-Polak

Halak
Elliot

Game Time - 8 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Post Game: Game #62 Oilers 5 Jets 3

Scoring Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
WPG Kyle Wellwood 13 (PP) (Nik Antropov, Alex Burmistrov) 15:45

EDM Ryan Whitney 2 (PP) (Taylor Hall, Devan Dubnyk) 18:13

WPG Alex Burmistrov 13 (Dustin Byfuglien) 19:27


3rd Period
EDM Ryan Jones 14 (PP) (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ales Hemsky) 1:54

EDM Lennart Petrell 4 (Unassisted) 2:29

EDM Taylor Hall 23 (Lennart Petrell) 9:24

EDM Jordan Eberle 28 (Ryan Smyth, Ladislav Smid) 17:34

WPG Nik Antropov 9 (Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien) 18;50


Penalty Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
5:21 Winnipeg holding the stick - 2 min D. Byfuglien drawn by T. Hall
14:00 Edmonton hooking - 2 min T. Hall drawn by A. Ladd
17:51 Winnipeg roughing - 2 min E. Kane drawn by C. Potter
18:29 Edmonton unsportsmanlike conduct - 2 min T. Hall
18:29 Winnipeg roughing - 2 min B. Little drawn by T. Hall

3rd Period
0:34 Winnipeg high-sticking - 2 min B. Wheeler drawn by C. Potter
13:54 Edmonton closing hand on puck - 2 min L. Petrell
17:52 Edmonton interference - 2 min R. Jones drawn by E. Kane

Shots On Goal - Oilers 25 Jets 30

Game Notes:
Kudos to the Oilers for taking initiative and coming out in the thrid period to take this game over. Through 40 minutes, the Oilers had very little going execution wise, while Dubnyk was trading save for save with Pavelec. In the third period, the Jets got sloppy, their goaltending fell apart and the Oilers took full advantage. if the Jets have any playoff aspirations, they'll need to tighten things up something fierce. That was a terrible thrid period for them. As for the Oilers, the Oilers hung around long enough to make an impact in the third. It wasn't the greatest played game, but one thing I noticed is the Oilers defensive structure and commitment to puck battles is likely the best its been all year. Commitment to these small things will keep the Oilers in games, like it did tonight, so their offense can make a difference in crunch time. On a day where Tom Gilbert was traded to Minnesota for Nick Schultz, the Oilers did well to gut out a victory and end the day on a positive note.

Player of the Game:
- Lennert Petrell. It rare that a player that plays 6:46 in the game gets the recognition here but Petrell was the player that made the plays that were the difference in the game tonight. He was the crunch time player. He scored the go ahead 3-2 goal on a 2 on 1 sifter that Pavelec wasn't ready for and assisted on Hall's 4-2 goal. When the 4th line makes a major contribution to a game, you usually end up winning the game.

Goat of the Game:
- Jeff Petry. Had himself a real solid game except for the play that allowed the Jets to take a 2-1 lead. Got caught in the headlights, froze, and allowed Byfuglien to steal the puck from him that eventually led to a Burmistrov tap in. Now that Gilbert has moved on to Minnesota, all of those minutes will now get dumped on Petry. While I think he is ready to take on a major role, those brain cramp type plays need to be few and far between. Steadiness is the major key for a big, minute eating defenseman. The key for Petry going forward is reliability and keeping the puck moving away from your net.

Next Game - Wednesday February 29, 2012 vs. Blues @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 8 PM MT.

TDL 2012





So here we are. Trade deadline 2012 is here and this is the last opportunity for the Oilers to make a move to improve the team before the draft and the off season. I for one think that there is very little they can do now considering Hemsky has been signed and I still don't think Tambellini has the kahunas to move him now.

In any case, I will be paying attention to the deadline talk and the moves (if any) that the Oilers make and we will go over them here.

Lets see what Tambellini has up his sleeve.

For those that want to see everything that has happened today trade wise click here .

************************************************************************
approx 10:53 am 
Oilers move Tom Gilbert to Minnesota  for Nick Schultz

Well in typical Tambellini fashion this is a sideways move at best. More than likely a downgrade when you consider that the Oilers need more offense from the back end and they removed a guy that has the ability to give that offense for a guy that just can't. Gilbert wasn't offering all that much lately, so it's not out of the realm of possibility to move him, but I think this was a bad choice overall. Unless Tambellini has more up his sleeve This is not going to help the Oilers. The MSM seems to be spouting that Schultz is a "rugged, tough" defender, yet he really isn't the type to punish anyone. Neither was Gilbert but this goes to show that even when people try to find "something" to latch onto they really cant.
Gilbert Stats
Schultz Stats 


01:00
Oilers move ----------------to ------------------ for -----------------------

So the TDL has "officially" passed and there is nothing else to report. Tambellini did nothing to help this team and even though I predicted that he wouldn't I did still think that he would have made a few AHL moves. I will keep paying attention as we all know that the trade announcements usually continue for an hour or two after the deadline. So here is to hoping that there was a delay on a fax machine or two...



02:00
Oilers move ---------------- NADA!

Well this concludes the TDL for the Oilers. I don't know what to say other than that I am yet again disappointed. Steve Tabellini did nothing to actually help this team. Rather he made a "keep face" move that was at best a sideways move. Nothing special about that.

I don't know where they go from here. Sure people are saying that they can make moves at the draft and of course there is the free agency market.... (ya, we all know how well THAT works out for the Oilers)

Oh well. At least my worst predictions didn't come true. Tambellini didn't move any prospects, and he got a slightly better than 7th D. What still bothers me is that the MSM is saying that Schultz is this tough rugged guy that will help the Oilers defense in their own zone. Well I don't know how a guy with a -10 rating on a defensive team is going to help. Especially when he can't do anything offensive to help offset the +/- . But now I can see so many fans rejoicing that Gilbert, who has been a whipping boy in the past has been "upgraded" on. And how Tambi made such a "great move". I really hope not, as this will just go to show that the fans no longer understand what it takes to build a solid team, and they will simply just follow what people tell them.

I guess we will revisit this leading up to the draft.

until next time.

Pre-Game: Game #62 Oilers vs. Jets



The trade deadline is finally here and now that is here, who knows whats going to happen. Could be nothing, could be everyone. Something in the middle is more likely. As an Oiler fan and observer, it would be pretty disappointing if nothing happened. Watching the same group going forward until the end of the year would be awfully frusterating. If the Oilers braintrust decide to pin all of this on Tom Renney, they are fooling themselves. Not that Tom Renney has had a good year as bench boss, but to think the issues are strictly coaching is ignorant. The Oilers have had chemistry issues since 2006. The problem with the Oilers is a philosophical one. Watching a bunch of mighty might forwards run around like a bunch of gnats is not winning hockey, its exciting hockey, but its not winning hockey. The Oilers need a better blend of big and small, fast and positional, smart and strong. Its something the Oilers aren't that far away from, but a decision they are going to have to make is which smaller fiend becomes expendable. I thought it was Hemsky, but its become apparent that its not. So who's to go? Maybe Gagner? I dunno. Its seems if Gagner or Hemsky are dealt, the Oilers fans would be fit to be tied. Obviously, Hall, RNH and Eberle aren't going anywhere. It will be interesting to see what moves will be made if any at all. The Jets come into this game, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues. The Jets have been in a win one, lose one type streak. The Jets are currently in an 8 game homestand.

Forwards Oilers
- The Oilers have the talent, just not the dimension. The Jets have the dimension but lack depth.
Defense Jets
- Slightly better group on the Jets led by Dustin Byfuglien.
Goaltending Jets
- Ondrej Pavelec is the biggest reason why the Jets are even thinking about playoffs this year.
Special Teams Oilers
- With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back in the fold, the Oilers already formidable power play gets a bigger boost.
Coaching Jets
- Claude Noel is doing more with his group than Tom Renney and his staff has done with his.
Intangibles Jets
- Jets have been very good on home ice this year while the Oilers have not been road warriors.

Oilers:
Smyth-Gagner-Eberle
Hall-NugentHopkins-Hemsky
Eager-Horcoff-Paajarvi
Hordichuk-Belanger-Petrell

Smid-Petry
Whintey-Potter
Sutton-Barker

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Jets:
Ladd-Little-Wheeler
Kane-Burmistrov-Wellwood
Glass-Slater-Thorburn
Stapleton-Antropov-Fehr

Byfuglien-Enstrom
Hainsey-Jones
Stuart-Oduya

Pavelec
Mason

Game Time - 6:30 MT @ Winnipeg on Sportsnet West.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tambellini Doesn't Have A Clue


So the news came down yesterday that Ales Hemsky signed a new deal with the Oilers and will be a part of the club for the next two years. With a new cap hit of $5M he gets a pay raise to go along with his shiny new contract. This is all well and good for Hemsky and for the Oiler fans that can't seem to see past their favorite players but I fail to see how this was good for the team overall.

So far this year the team has played better when Hemsky was hurt. I attribute this to the fact that he doesn't have a real place on this team anymore. Then there is the idea that when Eberle, Hall, RNH etc... are looking for a new deal they are going to be crazy expensive as they can point to a 60 point guy and say "hey, I do better than he does and you paid him" or "I am more durable than he is so I am worth more".

I also don't like the deal because Tambellini had the opportunity to upgrade the team this deadline and he has now squandered the best bargaining chip he had. Sure there is talk that Khabibulin might have a market out there for him and it might be best to move him if they have the ability to, but there is NOT going to be a high return for him. The same can be said for Ryan Smyth (although the rumors are out there that they are working on a new deal as of right now) but even if he does get moved, there cannot be any expectation that there will be a return that will actually help the Oilers. If anything I see yet another AHL player that will languish in the minors for several years until he finally gets the boot and probably wont see more than a few games in the NHL and only as a call up.

A lot of people are saying how the Oilers are going to be busy at the deadline but I simply don't see the pieces that will garner a return the Oilers are looking for. Which means yet again Tambellini is going to sit back and "evaluate" the team for another year.

My prediction is that Tambellini is going to make up to 3 moves. He will move a decent prospect (Potter/MPS type player) to go along with Khabibulin and he will get a mid level pick and an AHL bound player. Then he will move a guy like Peckham for a guy that has "pedigree" but is a project because some injury occurred and said player hasn't been the same since. And lastly he will take that pick he got in the Khabibulin trade to get a defender that will appear to be decent but upon closer inspection he will be nothing more than a 7th D or AHL vet. Other than that if there are any more deals made they will be only for OKC and will have very little bearing on the Oilers themselves. I would hope that he moves Omark and gets SOMETHING decent in return, but I doubt Tambellini is done watching him and seeing if he will pan out yet. So again he will probably pass on any deal involving him too.

My worst prediction will be that on TDL with all the excitement going on, Oiler fans from all over will sing the praises about Tambellini with out even taking into account that anything he did was either a sideways step or a downgrade. Very few people will look back in the next few years and wonder why Hemsky wasn't moved when they had the opportunity and to me that's sad.

Tambellini needs to stop evaluating this club and start making moves that are going to benefit them longer term. The motto this pre-season was that they were going to play meaningful games by this point. Yet there has been NO effort on the part of the GM to help make that happen. What's worse is when I read the paper and I see Terry Jones writes this little gem and I wonder what the hell the owner is thinking. To think that Tom Renney is the problem in any manner is like wondering why you have a headache after smashing your head into a brick wall.
 Renney is working with what he has. He has a weak defense (yes better than expected but still far from great) He has so-so goaltending from night to night. And his forward lineup, although skilled is still not even close to being built properly. He has made the best use of the pieces he can, heck seeing what RNH was doing before he was hurt, and how Eberle has broken out FAR beyond anyone's expectations. Smid has taken a giant leap forward in his own play etc... it all goes to show that as a coach he is the real deal. There is no reason to think that he is the problem.

Tambellini doesn't have the grapes to do this job. He is slow on the draw and he doesn't want to piss anyone off. So rather than making the deals that need to be done to make this team better, he relies on drafting alone and signing whatever spare parts he can entice to come here. Sometimes a team has to move a piece that most people don't want to see go if they are going to take a step forward. It might hurt and it might leave a sour taste in fans mouths at the time but if there is a vision then he should be moving toward realizing it. If there is NO vision and he want's to wait until we draft a team then I think his welcome has been used up and it is time to move on. Hell, even if there IS a vision he has already proven he doesn't know how to achieve that vision so it is time to go either way.

I have been an Oiler fan for a very long time and this is about the worst I have ever felt about a GM in the history of this team. Lowe? nah, even though he seemed to be hated by all I had very little problem with him.  That guy was shrewd and he made due with the budget he was given. He had the balls to pull the trigger when needed and even if he got burned you could tell he was the type of GM the team needed. There was no indecision with him. Right now I am frustrated because the current manager is so ill equipped to do this job it's beyond sad, and even when he shows it again and again there is nobody out there pointing it out. The sheer lack of balls has me believing that the Oilers actually employ Martha Stewart in a suit.

Well, for now I guess I will wait and see. I honestly DO hope that I am proven wrong. I hope that the deal with Hemmer was a Sather move and all he did there was increase the value of the player by ensuring he wasn't going to be a rental and he moves him anyway (I have head nothing about a NMC). I hope that he finds a way to turn Khabibulin into a high pick and a decent prospect. I hope Omark is moved in a package that gets a younger goalie. I hope that there will be reason to look forward to next year and not only due to the top 1-2 pick that they will more than likely pull out this year.

But, I am getting real used to having my hopes dashed with this team. 

until next time.

Post Game: Game #61 Coyotes 3 Oilers 1

Summary
1st Period
PHO Oliver Ekman-Larsson 8 (Martin Hanzal) 5:43

PHO Ray Whitney 18 (Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal) 18:46


2nd Period
None


3rd Period
EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 14 (Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall) 8:28

PHO Shane Doan 20 (Keith Yandle, Adrian Aucoin) 17:32

Penalty Summary
1st Period
12:54 Phoenix fighting - 5 min P. Bissonnette drawn by D. Hordichuk
12:54 Edmonton fighting - 5 min D. Hordichuk drawn by P. Bissonnette
14:37 Edmonton tripping - 2 min B. Eager drawn by M. Smith

2nd Period
2:01 Phoenix hooking - 2 min C. Summers drawn by T. Hall

3rd Period
None

Shots On Goal - Oilers 22 Coyotes 20

Game Notes:
- This was a glass half full/half empty type game. Good news is the Oilers played hard, brought tons of speed and had the look of being dangerous on the rush. Bad news is the Coyotes kept them to the perimeter, the Oilers execution at the point of attack was lacking, and giving up goals at terrible times. It was a game they could have used some beef to attack the net. Mike Smith played well for Phoenix but saw every shot and was holding on to everything. I'm guessing everyone will write this game off as a one off and the Oilers will gradually and continually get better. The Oilers have, in the past and will continue to have issues with teams like the Coyotes until they can crush the will of teams like this. The Wild and the Flames before them. Teams that have issues scoring have no issues of beating teams like the Oilers because they feast on turnovers and are opportunistic. The Oilers are going to need some strength to beat teams like this, especially in the top 6 where the goals are going to come from. But who do they rid themselves of Hall? RNH? Eberle? Gagner? Hemsky? Smyth? Paajarvi has size but needs strength to match. I sit here and shrug my shoulders at the fans who want Hemsky to stay. If these are the results you want, these are the results you will get. Trade deadline day is next on Monday.

Player of the Game:
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Lots of try tonight, very little result. Every forward seemed to be a carbon copy of each other out there. Lots of dangling, dips, and dunks, but very little of putting the nose to the grindstone to create havoc. I give the nod the RNH because he did score the only goal of the game.

Goat of the Game:
- Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers team defense, I thought was pretty strong today. A pinball shot on the first goal, a slow in tight sifter on the second and a perfect rocket of a shot for the third goal. The second goal against was crippling. Ryan Whitney looked like a pylon in the play, but Ray Whitney should have never scored from that angle. Dubnyk played ok, but in a game where the guy at the other end was giving away very little, Dubnyk couldn't keep up. The Oilers as a team did a lot but created very little. Structurally their game was sound, but in the race to play mistake free hockey, they couldn't keep up.

Next Game - Monday February 27, 2012 vs. Jets @ Winnipeg on Sportsnet West.

Pre-Game: Game #61 Oilers vs. Coyotes



Final game before hockey Xmas shows up. For fans, its a blend of euphoria and pure pain, for players, its just a huge pain. It will be interesting to see what happens come Monday for the Oilers. Many players could be on the block, Ales Hemsky will remain an Oiler after signing a 2 year, 10 million dollar deal, meaning the Oiler fans will get more Ales Hemsky. Any variety of Khabibulin, Gagner, Peckham, Gilbert, Barker, Omark could also be moved but are mid to long shots. With Hemsky off the market, Monday trade deadline day could be quiet. The Oilers, as a whole, have played very well in the last two games, playing "October" hockey, the kind of hockey that got them off to a 9-3-2 start. Strong center play, scoring from the kids, sturdy goaltending, all pieces needed to win games. The biggest thing is the Oilers Phoenix comes into this game winners in a shootout 4-3 over Calgary on Thursday night, throwing more dirt on the hopes of the Flames chance of playoffs. Phoenix has playoff aspirations of its own, currently sitting in 7th place in the conference. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins should draw back into the lineup and it sounds like Magnus Paajarvi is good to go as well after taking a knee from Scott Hartnell.

Forwards Oilers
- RNH coming back into the lineup gives Oilers depth. I want to see how Gagner handles RNH back in the lineup.
Defense Coyotes
- Oilers defense coming around but the Coyotes have a couple of studs in Yandle and Ekman-Larsson leading the way.
Goaltending Coyotes
- Mike Smith has played well all year. Dubnyk has had 2 solid starts in a row.
Special Teams Oilers
- Phoenix has the worst power play in the NHL while the Oilers is 4th.
Coaching Coyotes
- Dave Tippett gets the most out of his players. I wonder how Ralph Krueger handles RNH coming back into the lineup.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers on a short homestand while the Coyotes are finishing a short Alberta road trip.

Oilers: (my version)
Smyth-Gagner-Eberle
Hall-NugentHopkins-Hemsky
Belanger-Horcoff-Petrell
Paajarvi-Lander-Eager

Whitney-Potter
Smid-Petry
Sutton-Gilbert

Dubnyk
Danis

Coyotes:
Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata
Korpikoski-Vermette-Doan
Torres-Langkow-Boedker
Bissonnette-Gordon-Pyatt

Yandle-Aucoin
EkmanLarsson-Roszival
Stone-Summers

Smith
LaBarbera

Game Time - 2 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Re-Signing of Ales Hemsky



Today the Oilers and Ales Hemsky decided to continue their relationship by re-signing a 2 yr/10 million dollar deal. It's a deal that has driven a divide into a fanbase. To both sides, Ales Hemsky represents the here and now. The Hemsky followers have claimed that this year is an aberration, the best of Ales Hemsky is still to come and you can never have too much skill even if it is small. While the detractors have said, that Hemsky is a lot to blame for this season and his uninspired play and small stature can move along. Replace his spot with a bigger body. Only time will tell which side is right. The thing I'm wondering is what Steve Tambellini will do to try and make this team better because going forward with the current team while we wait for this kids to become superstars is just dumb. Personally, I'm flabbergasted with the move. The Oilers need a little more variety in their lineup and when such moves are made is when the Oilers can start moving out of the basement. Right now the Oilers are going to have to win games through skating, skating and more skating. If teams clog up the middle and keeps things on the boards, the Oilers are going to be in trouble as the last 3 years have shown us. Ales Hemsky still feels like a placeholder in all of this, but isn't there a cheaper option to go with? If Daryl Katz doesn't value his money, why should I? Oh, thats right, he passes the buck on to the season ticket holder.

Oiler fans have to ask themselves, whats more important, winning or keeping the fan favorites around? Because both cannot happen under the current umbrella.

The Home Stretch 2011-2012 Season




The Oilers are 60 games into the season. Good time to see where the players are at on the team.

1. Taylor Hall. 22G-23A-45Pts Even. Prediction: Will lead the team in goals. Jordan Eberle will be the reason this prediction might not come true. Everytime Hall gets close Eberle pulls away. This should be an interesting race to see who ends up being the goal leader at the end of the year.
2. Jordan Eberle. 27G-33A-60Pts +6. Prediction: Will score 25+ goals. So much for that. The only question left is will he lead the team in goals this year?
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 13G-22A-35Pts -3. Prediction: Will not get more than 30 points on the Oilers. He broke that prediction before the half way point. Injury has slowed his season. Didn't register a point in the third quarter and went -3. Only played in two games in that time.
4. Ryan Smyth. 17G-22A-39Pts -3. Prediction: Will score 20+ goals. What I thought was a lock to happen is now getting a little hairy. Smyth scored only two goals in the third quarter. He has taken on a weary look after seeing too many minutes earlier in the year.
5. Sam Gagner. 14G-26A-40Pts +6. Prediction: Leads team in assists.
Gagner had a stellar third quarter, putting up 20 points in 20 games. Including 8 points against Chicago in early February. Gagner is still a longshot to catch Eberle in assists (7 behind), but there is still a chance.
6. Shawn Horcoff. 11G-19A-30Pts -19. Prediction: Will be a plus player(+/-). Tough year for Horcoff. He looks to be sacrificing some defense looking for some offense. His -19 is a long way from even. This prediction is likely a dud.
7. Magnus Paajarvi. 2G-6A-8Pts -6. Prediction: Will play 82 games. Welp, this prediction is cooked. He was a healthy scratch early in the year and now is facing the liklihood of being on the IR after Scott Hartnell took out his knee last game. Paajarvi has played better as of late.
8. Ales Hemsky. 5G-21A-26Pts -14. Prediction: Will be traded by the trade deadline. Welp, four days until trade deadline and as of now, he is still an Oiler. This one could go either way, but deep down, I still feel he will be gone by Monday.
9. Eric Belanger. 3G-9A-12Pts -13. Prediction: Will score more SH goals than PP goals. One of his three goals ended up being on the power play while he has yet to register a shorty. it will likely end up that way considering the rate Belanger scores at. Belanger has not been very good this year, offensively or defensively.
10. Ryan Jones. 13G-11A-24Pts -5. Prediction: Will score 15+ goals. As hot as he was in the second quarter he was equally as cold in the third quarter. Only registered one goal and 4 points in those games. Been a healthy scratch lately, this one is still in doubt.
11. Ben Eager. 7G-4A-11Pts -4. Prediction: Will get suspended at least once. Hasn't happened yet, but it may still be coming. Eager has ramped up the physical play over the last 25 games. His teammate Andy Sutton has been suspended twice, should saved that prediction for him.
12. Darcy Hordichuk. 0G-1A-1Pts -5. Prediction: Plays in 50+ games. This prediction is a dud. He has played in only 25 games this season. With only 22 games left, do the math. I still think he should have played more, but thats just me.
13. Linus Omark. 0G-0A-0Pts -2. Prediction: Will have the worst plus/minus on the team. The Oilers beat me to this prediction by putting him in OKC early on this year. Omark didn't have enough time to do damage to his plus/minus. Shawn Horcoff is the clubhouse leader at -19.
14. Gilbert Brule. 0G-0A-0Pts Even. Prediction: Will not end the year with the Oilers. Brule's year never got off the ground with the Oilers as he didn't make the team out of training camp. Brule was claimed off of waivers by the Phoenix Coyotes during this quarter, likely ending his time as an Oiler.
15. Anton Lander. 2G-4A-6Pts -8. Prediction: Will be in the lineup opening night. Welp, got this one right. Lander has had a modest rookie season. The coaching staff is handling him with kid gloves. With Horcoff and Belanger struggling this year, it would nice to see increased icetime for him.
16. Teemu Hartikainen. 0G-0A-0Pts -4. Prediction: Plays in 40+ games for the Oilers. This prediction is a dud. Got a 3 game look and was -4 in those games and was promptly set back to OKC. Plays hard, but was pretty ineffective in those 3 games. Hartikainen's growth has stagnated this year.
17. Curtis Hamilton. 0G-0A-0Pts Even. Prediction: Plays at least one game for the Oilers this year. I think this one will only come true if the Oilers are out of the playoff race by March. There are many ahead in the pecking order for OKC for him to get a look. He'll be in tough to get a game with the big club this year.
18. Tyler Pitlick. 0G-0A-0Pts Even. Prediction: Plays at least one game for the Oilers this year. Same as Hamilton.
19. Ryan Whitney. 1G-10A-11Pts -9. Prediction: Has the highest plus/minus on the team. I think this is another prediction that is cooked. He's played in only played in 29 game so far this season, is -9. Eberle and Gagner are the team leaders at +6.
20. Tom Gilbert. 3G-14A-17Pts -3. Prediction: Will be 2nd on the team in defenceman points. Gilbert spent a lot of the third quarter on the IR with a knee injury. Its a dogfight. Potter has 18 points while Gilbert and Petry have 17 points each. Could go anyway.
21. Ladislav Smid. 3G-6A-9Pts Even. Prediction: Will be a healthy scratch at least once this season. Smid has stabilized as an NHL Dman for the time being. He's been playing the toughs all year, lately with Petry. If he's healthy he'll play.
22. Cam Barker. 2G-0A-2Pts -2. Prediction: More than 50% of his goals will be on the PP. He has two goals and one was on the power play. Been a healthy scratch lately. May not get a chance to add to his goal totals.
23. Andy Sutton. 3G-7A-10Pts +2. Prediction: Will have more than 100 PIMS. He is a 60 PIMS right now and that includes being suspended for 13 games over two separate incidents. He only accumulated 10 PIMs over the third quarter. Has seemed to settle down his play after his suspensions.
24. Theo Peckham. 1G-2A-3Pts -1. Prediction: Will play more games than Ladislav Smid. This prediction looks to be a dud. Peckham has only played 46 games while Smid has played all 60 games. Been a healthy scratch lately and doesn't look to be in the plans for the Oilers going forward.
25. Jeff Petry. 2G-15A-17Pts -9. Prediction: Will be in the lineup opening night. Petry made opening night, but then got a stint in OKC, but now is back up with the big club. Petry's game has gorwn exponentially over the third quarter. Playing big, effective minutes.
26. Corey Potter. 3G-15A-18Pts -14. Prediction: Will play in 10+ games for the Oilers. Welp, that was easy. While leading the defense in points also has the worst (+/-) for Dmen as well. Kind of a lukewarm year for him but managed to get himself a 2 year extension from the Oilers.
27. Taylor Chorney. 0G-0A-0Pts -1. Prediction: Doesn't play in any games for the Oilers. Welp, this prediction is done. Chorney played in 5 games this year, much to the chagrin of every Oilers fan.
28. Colten Teubert. 0G-1A-1Pts -4. Prediction: Plays in 5+ games for the Oilers. He's got in 20 games this year. Has been the emergency recall guy when Dmen have gone down. He'll continue to be that guy.
29. Nikolai Khabibulin. 2.60GAA .914S%. Prediction: Plays at least one game for OKC. I doubt this is happening, although he has cooled off significantly after a piping hot start. Wonder if there is any trade value here.
30. Devan Dubnyk. 2.87GAA .909S%. Prediction: Will post under .900 Save Percentage. Dubnyk's play was a little better over the third quarter, played more games and faced a lot of rubber. Likely to stay over the Mendoza line. Still think he is a career backup at best.
31. Yann Danis. 0.00GAA .000S%. Prediction: Plays more games than Khabibulin or Dubnyk with the Oilers. This isn't happening although Yann Danis has had a real solid year for OKC, solid enough to get him an a trip to the AHL all star game. Now riding backup for Dubnyk as Khabibulin is on the IR.
32. Olivier Roy. 0.00GAA .000S%. Prediction: Doesn't play a game with the Oilers this season. Since he is playing in Stockton, I figure this one is pretty safe for the year. The Oilers would have to go through 4 goaltenders to get a look this year.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Post Game: Game #60 Oilers 2 Flyers 0

Scoring Summary
1st Period
None


2nd Period
EDM Taylor Hall 22 (PP) (Ryan Whitney, Jordan Eberle) 3:26

EDM Jordan Eberle 27 (Unassisted) 8:04


3rd Period
None


Penalty Summary
1st Period
4:37 Edmonton hooking - 2 min S. Horcoff drawn by W. Simmonds
8:23 Philadelphia fighting - 5 min J. Shelley drawn by D. Hordichuk
8:23 Edmonton fighting - 5 min D. Hordichuk drawn by J. Shelley
8:23 Edmonton roughing - 2 min D. Hordichuk drawn by J. Shelley served by M. Paajarvi

2nd Period
2:15 Philadelphia holding - 2 min P. Kubina drawn by J. Eberle
18:24 Philadelphia kneeing - 2 min S. Hartnell drawn by M. Paajarvi

3rd Period
9:21 Edmonton unsportsmanlike conduct - 2 min R. Whitney drawn by S. Hartnell
9:21 Philadelphia unsportsmanlike conduct - 2 min S. Hartnell drawn by R. Whitney
16:27 Edmonton slashing - 2 min T. Hall drawn by W. Simmonds
17:06 Philadelphia hooking K. Timonen drawn by S. Horcoff

Shots On Goal - Oilers 29 Flyers 35

Game Notes:
- Oilers did it again. Just when you want to write them and the season totally off, they come out with a strong effort for the second game in a row. The Oilers are now doing the things that made them successful in October. They are battling for each other, something you haven't seen from an Oiler team for quite sometime. The Flyers brought it physically tonight, but the Oilers took it all and gave some back and had energy to spare. There is still a lot of growing for this team still left to do, but there are some encouraging signs from tonight, that they won't back down from a fight. The Oilers got good center play from Belanger and Horcoff tonight. They are better positioned in the defensive zone to break up plays, the types of things that was helping the team win games in October. Center support is very key for this team if they are serious about winning games. Responsible play from vets + scoring from kids + strong goaltending = victories. Its a recipe the Oilers need to rely on going forward.

Player of the Game:
- Devan Dubnyk. ABC, Always Be Closing, and thats what Dubnyk did tonight. A couple of pucks squeaked through him but didn't find net. Good to be lucky, lucky to be good. The thing I liked about Dubnyk the most tonight, is he battled hard for the ice in his crease. The Flyers crashed net a lot tonight, but Dubnyk thwarted them at every turn. He looked confident and he looked like he wasn't going to be denied of a shutout. Probably his strongest game of the year.

Goat of the Game:
- Magnus Paajarvi. You know the Oilers played well when its tough to find one. Kind of a cheapy on Magnus tonight. Magnus started off like gangbusters, relentless on the puck but when the game got physical, he started to look scared, and then inevitably got in the way when Hartnell went ape. Paajarvi at best endured a charley horse from it, at worst, torn knee ligaments. We'll know more soon enough. Paajarvi needs to find a way to put on a bit more muscle mass while not losing his speed. The biggest thing is his fear of getting hit. He's going to be a player the Oilers are going to need to be in traffic so, he's going to have to get rid of that mental block.

Next Game - Saturday February 25, 2012 vs. Coyotes @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 2 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #60 Oilers vs. Flyers



It was refreshing to see the Oilers come out and piledrive the Flames on Tuesday night. A thorough beatdown of epic proportions to a team that is fighting for its playoff lives. That loss is going to leave a bad stench in the Flames for awhile. Its a game where you wonder why the Oilers can't bring that level of passion and execution more frequently. Everything was clicking for the Oilers Tuesday night. Tonight is a another game, a different game. Will the Oilers come out with confidence or wilt away in the first 5 minutes? The Oilers are a team that's still trying to find itself so whatever the score maybe is anyone's guess. The Oilers mixed up the line combos against Calgary and much to my surprise they worked. Smyth-Gagner-Eberle, is a good cycle line. Gagner-Eberle have a Sedin type qualities to their game. I have always wanted Gagner to be what Jordan Eberle has become, it looks like they can feed off of each other's vision and quick hands. Hall-Horcoff-Hemsky also played alright on Tuesday night. Hall was bringing it with his speed, Horcoff is likely keeping the seat warm for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ales Hemsky is keeping the seat warm for a power forward. It's an effective line as long as Hemsky plays well away from the puck and crashes net like he did against Calgary. Eager-Belanger-Paajarvi is a mish mash of a line that was effective against Calgary because they skated hard. As long as this line skates and gets puck to net it will be effective. I'm worried about this line in its own zone though. The Hodichuk-Lander-Petrell line is time filler and you have to hope they run into things when they are on the ice because if they don't they'll just be pylons out there. All in all, while they worked against Calgary, I don't know if they'll stand the test of time because there is no true checking line. Calgary was just terrible on Tuesday night, we all know it, we'll have to sse how it holds up if the other team is playing well. Ryan Jones has to be just beside himself. Being a healthy scratch for the first time this year and the Oilers lay the beatdown on the Flames. Could be awhile before he sees the lineup again. The Flyers come into this game winners on Tuesday night, 5-4 in overtime over the Jets. The Flyers have had an inconsistant February, on a win one, lose one type streak. The Flyers have some formidable talent, so the Oilers should have their hands full. Once again, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be a gametime decision, I'm guessing they will hold him out one more game because of the success the team had in Calgary.

Forwards Flyers
- Claude Giroux has emerged a superstar this year. Jagr and Hartnell bring up a strong supporting cast.
Defense Flyers
- Neither team has a true #1 but the Flyers set is a little deeper than the Oilers with the additions of Kubina and Grossman.
Goaltending Oilers
- Both sets of goaltending have been wildly inconsistant. At least Dubnyk has an over .900 save percentage.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Oilers are slightly better in both categories.
Coaching Flyers
- Peter Laviolette likely saw what happened in Calgary and will be scheming up something to put a stop to it.
Intangibles Oilers
- Flyers are in game 2 in their Western swing while the Oilers are back from a short trek to Calgary.

Oilers:
Smyth-Gagner-Eberle
Hall-Horcoff-Hemsky
Eager-Belanger-Paajarvi
Hordichuk-Lander-Petrell

Smid-Petry
Whitney-Potter
Sutton-Gilbert

Dubnyk
Danis

Flyers:
Hartnell-Giroux-Voracek
Briere-Read-Jagr
VanRiemsdyk-Schenn-Simmonds
Talbot-Couturier-Rinaldo

Timmonen-Coburn
Carle-Kubina
Meszaros-Grossman

Bryzgalov
Bobrovsky

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Post Game: Game #59 Oilers 6 Flames 1

Summary
1st Period
CGY Scott Hannan 2 (Paul Byron, Krystofer Kolanos) 9:12

EDM Jordan Eberle 26 (Sam Gagner, Corey Potter) 18:48


2nd Period
EDM Ales Hemsky 5 (Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff) 8:09

EDM Eric Belanger 3 (Ben Eager) 12:21

EDM Sam Gagner 14 (Jordan Eberle, Ryan Smyth) 12:51

EDM Ryan Smyth 17 (Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry) 18:56


3rd Period
EDM Taylor Hall 21 (PP) (Jordan Eberle, Ryan Whitney) 17:29



Penalty Summary
1st Period
11:35 Edmonton puck over glass - 2 min L. Smid
14:12 Calgary hooking - 2 min M. Giordano drawn by R. Smyth

2nd Period
None


3rd Period
15:37 Calgary holding - 2 min M. Giordano drawn by M. Paajarvi

Shots On Goal - Oilers 42 Flames 22

Game Notes:
Wow. Didn't see that one coming at all. Hockey is a strange game in that even when things are at their bleakest point, games like this can come around and startle you. I will say the nice thing about this years edition of the Oilers is they give us little gems like tonight that make you feel good about the direction they are going in. It's still a work in progress and the Flames looked tonight, like the Oilers have on more than a few occasion this season, but it was a convincing win nonetheless. For those thinking that all is well in Oilerville and Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner should be retiring as Oilers, hold your horses. Let's keep things in perspective here. The Oilers still have a team to build and they need to continue with that plan. Size still needs to be addressed on forward and it should be addressed, hopefully soon. As for tonight, bask in the glory. It's been a long time since the Oilers have beaten the Flames and they did this one in style. They skated rings around the Flames tonight, and its what they need to do in order to be effective. Want to give kudos tonight to the pairing of Smid and Petry. They really played the game with a lot of composure tonight and locked things down in their own end. Petry is starting to take quantum leaps in his game where his overall game is really starting to come around. Bringing some offense, making plays on D, and composure with puck are starting to evolve for him. The last thing for Petry is for him to start getting power play time over the likes of Potter and Gilbert. Petry, at the end of it all, may be the 28 minute Dman the Oilers have been looking for.

Player of the Game:
- Sam Gagner. Everytime I want to write Sam Gagner off as trade bait, he comes up with a game like tonight. Damn that little man! When Gagner gets time and space, he is starting to be able to create plays. I have said in the past, I think Gagner and Eberle could become a lesser version of the Sedins, where vision and puck control could be a strong calling card for them. I've been blasted endlessly for the Oilers picking Sean Couturier with the first overall pick last year. Couturier would have been the better fit as Gagner could still be the 1st/2nd line center and then things can unfold from there. Gagner and RNH together aren't collectively defensive enough to make it work, therefore, one of them will likely have to leave, but thats just me.

Goat of the Game:
- Darcy Hordichuk. Tough one to pick tonight, when everyone played so darn well. It was Hordichuk's guy that got the point shot through for the only Flames' goal of the game. Good to see Hordichuk's physicality back in the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch over the last several games.

Next Game - Thursday, February 23, 2012 vs. Flyers @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #59 Oilers vs. Flames



Onward we go. Its February, the Oilers mired in another losing season, playing out the string. The fans are checking out the mock drafts to see what shiny new toy that will be arriving in the summer. At some point the Oilers are going to have to stop trying to plug and play players that are 18 years old and actually do some due diligence and find some players that will help the here and now. Judging by what the Oilers have done to this point, the Oilers seem to like having speedy wingers, Two-way center, and bigger Dmen that can move the puck. All of this is fine and dandy but they need a better blend of players. A power forward that can chip in offensively would be nice. A moblie Dman would help relieve some of the forecheck pressure the D constantly face. A goaltender that can stand the pressure would also be helpful. The Oilers really aren't that far away from making a playoff run again. But some things need to change. Mindset being the biggest one. Being the lovable loser can no longer apply. The will to win has to be a lot higher. It's tough to watch a team that has already lost in its own mind before the puck hits the ice. Management needs to start throwing life preservers for its team when needed. Standing idly by does nothing for anyone. Coaching staffs need to make better decisions. If you are going to have players on your team, better damn well play them. Playing one line a ton while playing the others very little doesn't do anyone, over the long haul, a lick of good. Relegate ice time a little better to endure an 82 game schedule. It goes without saying but its been a disappointing year for the vets. Horcoff and Smyth have been overplayed and slowed right down to the point where they can't handle playing the toughs anymore. Eric Belanger hasn't proved to be anymore than a Marty Reasoner type 4th liner. A slight upgrade on what Colin Fraser gave us last year. Ryan Jones, after a good start, has slowed down over the last 20 games. The defense as a whole hasn't played with enough confidence to keep pucks out of their own net while helping out in the offensive end. It will be interesting to see how the defense plays in front of Yann Danis. I'm hopeful he'll get some starts while Nikolai Khabibulin is out for a week with a sore groin. Yann Danis, I feel, is this years Martin Gerber. A player that will play well in limited opportunity. I'm interested to see how the team plays in front of him. Calgary is coming off a 1-0 in Los Angelas on Saturday night. Calgary is on a Vancouver type streak where they have points in 8 games in a row. This years Calgary playoff push looks more legit than one's in the past. The deal acquiring Mike Cammalleri looks to put them in the running. We'll see if the Oilers bother showing up tonight. Ralph, if your reading, please keep the line combos the same, its your best chance at success short term and long term. Whoever isn't pulling their weight, welp, there won't be any more excuses for them anymore. (I'm looking at you Mr. Horcoff). Rumour has it that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may play tonight. I'm guessing Lennert Petrell comes out if he does.

Forwards Flames
- The Oilers need RNH's vision back. Cammalleri has really added to the Flames offense.
Defense Flames
- The Oilers defnese needs to find some consistancy. Getting some big saves from the goaltending would help too.
Goaltending Flames
- Kirpusoff has been one of the best in the business for quite some time.
Special Teams Oilers
- I only give the edge to the Oilers for their work over the course of the year but lately it hasn't been very good.
Coaching Flames
- Brett Sutter has his Flames going in the right direction while Ralph Krueger is still looking for his first win as head coach.
Intangibles Flames
- Home ice and a longer rest should help the Flames immensely.

Oilers:
Hall-Gagner-Eberle
Paajarvi-Lander-Eberle
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Eager-Belanger-Petrell

Whitney-Gilbert
Smid-Petry
Sutton-Barker

Danis
Dubnyk

Flames:
Tanguay-Jokinen-Iginla
Kostopolous-Cammalleri-Comeau
Bouma-Horak-Kolanos
Byron-Stajan-Jackman

Butler-Bouwmeester
Giordano-Hannan
Brodie-Sarich

Kiprusoff
Irving

Game Time - 7 PM MT @ Calgary on Sportsnet West.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Post Game: Game #58 Canucks 5 Oilers 2

Scoring Summary
1st Period
VAN Henrik Sedin 13 (Daniel Sedin, Alexandre Burrows) 0:53

VAN Sami Salo 8 (PP) (Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler) 6:34

2nd Period
EDM Shawn Horcoff 11 (Ryan Smyth, Tom Gilbert) 1:08

VAN Kevin Bieksa 7 (Dale Weise, Manny Malhotra) 15:01

VAN Chris Higgins 11 (Jannik Hansen) 16:40

EDM Magnus Paajarvi 2 (Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid) 18:23


3rd Period
VAN Daniel Sedin 26 (Alexandre Burrows) 0:33


Penalty Summary
1st Period
5:42 Edmonton cross checking - 2 min B. Eager drawn by A. Rome
6:12 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min L. Smid drawn by H. Sedin
12:19 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min A. Hemsky drawn by C. Tanev
15:13 Vancouver interference - 2 min A. Rome drawn by T. Hall

2nd Period
11:17 Edmonton high-sticking - 2 min A. Lander drawn by C. Higgins

3rd Period
9:20 Edmonton slashing - 2 min A. Sutton drawn by M. Lapierre

Shots On Goal - Oilers 28 Canucks 31

Game Notes:
- Welp, that was one wretched hockey game to watch. This game signified for the team, the fans, myself, that there really isn't any point to play out the rest of the string. Games like tonight felt so meaningless and it showed as plainly as the nose on my face that the Oilers have no desire to give the extra effort to win a hockey game. Oilers were down 53 seconds into the game and at that point the game was pretty much over. I'd like to take the time to thank Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe for assembling this team. Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger and the rest of the coaching staff more guiding these misguided band of misfits. I'd like to thank the veterans of this team, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Ryan Smyth, et al, for whatever it is that you do. But its time for a purge, a big flush if you will. The Young players are all this team has going for it right now while everyone else seems to accept this folly of a team. Teams like the Oilers that go through a long rebuild, go through many managers and coaches until the finished product is unveiled, the Oilers should be no different. Its time to take the rebuild forward. Won't be done this year, but perhaps next year we can see some tangible progress, not the small insignificant kind that lays before us now. Its time to start the purge. There is a reason why there are few Stanley Cup rings laying around the Oilers these days, its because they don't have the heart of a champion, the will to win is sorely lacking from this team. Even in meaningless games like tonight, they have to find a way to make it mean something, not go through the motions like the game didn't even exist. Vancouver brought their "C" game tonight and still won easily. The Oilers as a team and an organization, all the way up to Daryl Katz, have some soul searching to do. The game itself was a dud, heartless, gutless, a total lack of life to it. I shook my head in disbelief watching it as I couldn't believe I was wasting my time doing so. On a side note, Ralph Krueger got the lines right tonight. He had Horcoff on the checking line, Lander with Paajarvi and Hemsky and Belanger on the 4th line, alas Horcoff and Smyth let him down and the goaltending couldn't buy him a save tonight. Props to Krueger for getting the lines right tonight, I hope they keep them the same next game and find a new goaltender in the meantime.

Player of the Game:
- Magnus Paajarvi. Good to see Magnus pot another tonight on a sweet one-timer. He's a player that is starting to find and understand his game. Speed and shot is his game, with a side dish of puck transport. Paajarvi is a pretty versatile player but I think got caught up in what his role should be, I think him being a secondary Taylor Hall is what the Oilers need and what he needs to continue to do to get himself some numbers. In the offseason, he'd be wise to work on upper body strength, so on his rushes he'll be able to finish at the net a little more effectively.

Goat of the Game:
- Devan Dubnyk. Jebus, the Oilers could have used a save tonight. Every brain cramp the Oilers had ended up in the net tonight. Bad goaltending can be quite deflating for a team. Dubnyk didn't really battle to make a save in the 2nd period. By the team he realized a game was going on, the game was over. I understand coming off the bench cold is tough after Khabibulin pulled a groin, but you gotta make a save if you want your team to have a chance to win. Dubnyk is far too inconsistant to be a starter in my mind. Once the Oilers find their top pairing Dman, they should direct their attention to goaltending.

Next Game - Tuesday February 21, 2012 vs. Flames @ Calgary on Sportsnet West 7 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #58 Oilers vs. Canucks



The Oilers have dropped the first two games of the homestand, looking very disjointed in doing so. Confidence is sorely lacking, especially in the 2nd tier of players for the Oilers. The Oilers need to get back to taking care of their own business and playing their own position, instead of running around all over the ice covering for someone else. It's OK to take chances here and there, but the percentage meter needs to be running a little clearer in the Oilers' minds. The biggest thing for the Oilers is for every player to understand what they bring to the table and use it to the best of his ability. Hall and Paajarvi should be using their speed, Petry speed and shot, Horcoff and Belanger get in the way of the other team, Whitney and Gilbert puck distribution, Smid Sutton Eager Petrell physicality, Eberle a nose for the puck, Barker use you shot more but dammit breathe when you shoot so you can hit the net. Everyone has something they can bring, but they have to get in positions where they can use their talents. This is where the coaches put players in positions to succeed but once in place, its up to player to apply his skillset. After another lost season and another year of looking of silver linings, its tough to feel much of anything. The players I would imagine are feeling much the same. I think they will feel invigorated after the trade deadline with some new bodies in place, but playing games when the wins and losses don't mean much in the standings year after year has to be tough on the players and its fans. Vancouver comes into this game smoking hot, soundly beating the Leafs yesterday 6-2. The Canucks are 13-2-4 since the turn of the year. The Canucks seemed to have found their groove and looking for another long playoff run this spring.

Forwards Canucks
- The Sedins are the best duo in the league overall, have a better blend of forwards.
Defense Canucks
- The Canucks Top 4 could be as good as anyones.
Goaltending Canucks
- Likely to see Schneider tonight, but he is still better than anything the Oilers have.
Special Teams Canucks
- Canucks are 1st in PP and 6th on PK, so they even trump the Oilers there.
Coaching Canucks
- Alain Vigneault has his team believing while the Oilers have looked even worse without Tom Renney while he is out with a concussion.
Intangibles Canucks
- The Oilers seem aimless right now while the Canucks are rolling.

Oilers:
Hall-Gagner-Eberle
Paajavri-Horcoff-Hemsky
Smyth-Belanger-Jones
Eager-Lander-Petrell

Whitney-Gilbert
Smid-Petry
Sutton-Barker

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Canucks:
D.Sedin-H.Sedin-Burrows
Raymond-Kesler-Booth
Higgins-Hodgson-Hansen
Malhotra-Lapierre-Bitz

Hamhuis-Bieksa
Edler-Salo
Alberts-Rome

Schneider
Luongo

Game Time - 7 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Post Game: Game #57 Avalanche 3 Oilers 1

Scoring Summary
1st Period
COL Erik Johnson 4 (Mark Olver, Ryan O'Reilly) 19:13

2nd Period
COL Mark Olver 1 (Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog) 3:55

COL Gabriel Landeskog 14 (PP) (Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly) 9:37

EDM Ryan Jones 13 (Ben Eager, Jeff Petry) 14:41

3rd Period
None


Penalty Summary
1st Period
1:50 Edmonton hooking - 2 min S. Horcoff drawn by J. McClement
6:27 Edmonton hooking - 2 min J. Petry drawn by M. Hejduk
11:56 Colorado holding - 2 min S. O'Brien drawn by J. Eberle

2nd Period
6:19 Colorado puck over glass - 2 min K. Quincey
9:19 Edmonton tripping - 2 min B. Eager drawn by E. Johnson
10:34 Colorado holding - 2 min R. O'Byrne drawn by T. Hall
10:34 Colorado cross checking - 2 min R. O'Byrne drawn by T. Hall
15:30 Edmonton tripping - 2 min S. Gagner drawn by R. O'Byrne

3rd Period
None

Shots On Goal - Oilers 27 Avalanche 23

Game Notes:
- Who ya gonna call? SLUMPBUSTERS!! What a dog of a game. If you missed this one, believe me, you didn't miss much. Looked like both teams wanted to go out on a Friday night bender tonight. As for the Oilers, trying to execute a pass was a tall order tonight. Lots of individualistic play, play away from the puck was not very good tonight. Too much hesistation. Almost as if they were too cautious to make a play because of the Paajarvi play in overtime against the Leafs. That play looked like it was in the back of everybody's mind tonight. Nobody wanted to look like the goat tonight, so what happens is everyone becomes fearful of trying to make a play. I will say the Avalanche did a good job of clogging up the slot and not letting free rides through the neutral zone. The Oilers had a tough time getting shots through and when the shots did get through, Varlamov was there to make routine saves. Not much to say about this one, the Oilers weren't sharp with their passes, therefore couldn't find any good shooting angles. Four more games until the trade deadline.

Player of the Game:
- Ben Eager. He was the only player I spotted that was moving his legs, creating havoc. Everyone else was getting pushed over, Eager was doing the pushing over. When the Oilers signed Ben Eager, this is what they were expecting. Skating, hitting, yapping, fighting, chipping in with some goals, to go along with a some penalties. He took a tough penalty in the 2nd period that allowed Colorado to score the 3rd goal. I said at the time of the signing, if you being in Ben Eager, you better have a good PK, because thats what he is, and thats what you want him to be. To tell him to watch his penalties is like putting a muzzle on the dog. Ben Eager's play is exactly where it needs to be right now.

Goat of the Game:
- Ales Hemsky. Some of that secondary scoring the Hemskyites have been telling me about that he could provide, was certainly something the Oilers could have used tonight. Instead Hemsky responds by putting up zeroes across the boards, except for the -1 in the plus/minus column. Hemsky tried on occasion but was generally ineffective much like 90% of the team tonight. Only 4 more games 'til the trade deadline!

Next Game - Sunday February 19, 2012 vs. Canucks @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 7 PM MT.

So What Is He Really?


So what is Tambellini really? Expert analyst? Crafty manager with patience? Or maybe a chronic hoarder?

I am leaning toward hoarder. The other day there was an interview with the Oilers GM where he stated yet again that he has no intention of moving Gagner or Smyth.When it is obvious the help is needed, there has been no effort toward fixing the holes in the defense. And even though the mantra this year was to play meaningful games by now the has been not a single shed of evidence that he has tried to throw this team a life preserver in any shape way or form.

He is already worse than Lowe ever was when it came to "falling in love" with his players. Like a hoarder that can't get rid of anything even if it is junk, he can't seem to find the balance between finding real talent to develop and weeding out the guys that don't have the tools to make an impact even once they have reached their full potential. In regard to Gagner I will admit that he has made strides in parts of his game. His faceoff % has started to climb. He is playing with more of an edge and he is being rewarded lately because of it. But Smyth is at the end of his line. He has very little left to offer and really if it is a matter of having him simply in the room then maybe they can offer him a contract to be Joey Moss's assistant. (ok, not so nice to a loyal Oiler, but you get my point)

I like Smyth, I like his style and I like the fact that he EATS, SLEEPS, and BREATHES Oilers. But just being loyal doesn't win hockey games and Smyth is on the decline. He has been a great mentor for the kids but there is a point where you get diminishing returns on that. At this point he will be teaching them how to lose graciously and that is NOT a lesson that should be forced on these kids. That's not to say that he isn't pissed off when they lose. I'm not in the room so its not like I have some sort of insider info. But we are all aware of how classy Smyth is and I doubt he is teaching the kids how to get down on themselves etc... about losing. Thing is, in my opinion there needs to be someone there to light a fire under their proverbial ass's in the dressing room and then that same person has to have the ability to back it up on the ice. Smyth has been losing that quality for a while. And as much as he DOES bring to the table he still isn't the same guy he was in his prime. He may be leading by example in the way of how to never give up and how to dig deep and give everything he has. For that I am sure those kids will be grateful as their careers continue, but at some point someone has to show results when they dig deep and we just aren't seeing enough of that.

There was a small shining light during that interview. I got the impression that Hemsky might be on the move. Its about time! Hemsky has reached his full potential here and he won't suddenly light it up. The Oilers have tried everything they can to get someone to fit with him and make some magic and the conclusion has to be that he is just too hard to play with. Hemsky is the reason Hemsky isn't a top flight goal scorer/playmaker. The excuse for years was that he needed someone to play with, but this team has the most talent Hemsky has ever played with and he STILL isn't doing much.

I hope they get something decent in return for him but I'm not holding my breath. What worries me is that if Tambi cant get a big enough return he will just hold onto him. And considering there has been no contract to date, it looks like Hemsky will walk via UFA in which case the Oilers get nothing. This is yet another sign that the GM simply wants to hold onto everything he can with the hopes that one day everything will fall into place.

So far, about the only thing Tambellini has been able to do really well is build a farm team that can compete. Not a bad quality but it's hard NOT to when there is that much talent already in the system. I attribute it more to the drafting of Stu Macgregor and the coaching in the minors than I do to the GM anyway.

I guess what I'm getting at is that his shelf life is up and it might be time to clean out the garage before it's too late. i for one would prefer having a guy at the helm that understands what pieces are needed to put together a team and then is willing to use his extra pieces to trade for the ones he still needs. Rather than someone that holds onto everything he can get his hands onto in the hopes that the pieces will eventually fit.

Any car only requires one steering wheel, having three doesn't make that car better nor is it worth it to hold onto them "just in case" the other ones break.

*********************************************************
On a side note, I am glad to finally be putting a post up again. It's been far too long since I have had the chance to rant :) I look forward to putting more up soon.

Heazues

Pre-Game: Game #57 Oilers vs. Avalanche



Last game left a bitter taste in all of Oilers' fans mouths. A game they should have gotten blown out in, turned into a game they should have won but ultimately lost in overtime. Just a tough game to take all around, officiating was subpar, Oilers came out inexplicably slow, but to their credit, came back to make a game of it. Tom Renney is stuck in a tough spot. Unachieving vets playing with kids that are, while spectacular, still play the game like rookies. Shawn Horcoff has had a tough year playing the toughs while Eric Belanger is getting a shot at the toughs now, looks in over his head. 2 veteran centers that are not getting it done this year. Anton Lander is the heir apparent to that role, but is still trying to break into the NHL. Sam Gagner at the best of times will never be that guy. While they have improved the center position, its still pretty subpar, even with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the lineup. The Oilers success is based a lot on its center play. When they were playing well earlier in the year, the team was doing well, but over the last 3 months, their play has slipped, so has the team. The team defense does need to get better but while the defensemen need to get better, so do the centers. The Avalanche have the first two games of a 4 game road trip, coming off of a 3-1 loss in Vancouver. The is a winnable game for the Oilers who have been known this year as the "Slumpbusters".

Forwards Oilers
- Hall and Eberle are still clicking along while Matt Duchene is still on the IR.
Defense Oilers
- The Oilers defense is coming around as long as Cam Barker isn't in the lineup.
Goaltending Avalanche
- This is a toss up. Giguere has played well as of late. The Oilers are likely to counter with Dubnyk.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Avalanche special teams are pretty good 10th on the PP and 14 the on the PK. The Oilers are slightly better at both. 3rd on the PP and 12th PK.
Coaching Oilers
- Much like the goaltending battle, a toos up. Neither coach is long for their team.
Intangibles Oilers
- Long homestand for the Oilers while the Avalanche are in the middle of a roadtrip.

Oilers: (my version)
Hall-Gagner-Eberle
Paajarvi-Lander-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Eager-Belanger-Petrell

Whitney-Petry
Smid-Gilbert
Sutton-Peckham

Dubnyk
Khabibulin

Avalanche:
Landeskog-O'Reilly-Porter
Jones-Stastny-Hejduk
Galiardi-McClement-Winnik
McLeod-VanDerGulik-Kobasew

Quincey-Johnson
Hejda-O'Byrne
Barrie-O'Brien

Giguere
Varlamov

Game Time - 7:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post Game: Game #56 Maple Leafs 4 Oilers 3 (OT)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
TOR Joffrey Lupul 23 (Phil Kessel, Keith Aulie) 0:40

TOR Matthew Lombardi 7 (Cody Franson) 1:38

EDM Ben Eager 7 (Lennart Petrell) 2:32


2nd Period
EDM Taylor Hall 20 (Sam Gagner, Andy Sutton) 8:15


3rd Period
TOR Jake Gardiner 3 (PP) (Clarke MacArthur, Cody Franson) 6:46

EDM Jordan Eberle 25 (Assists: Ryan Whitney 8) 15:56


OT Period
TOR Tim Connolly 8 (Joffrey Lupul) 1:39

Penalty Summary
1st Period
4:49 Toronto fighting - 5 min M. Brown drawn by B. Eager
4:49 Edmonton fighting - 5 min B. Eager drawn by M. Brown
15:58 Edmonton interference with goaltender - 2 min M. Paajarvi drawn by J. Reimer

2nd Period
None


3rd Period
6:36 Edmonton puck over glass - 2 min R. Jones
10:06 Edmonton tripping - 2 min A. Sutton drawn by C. MacArthur
11:08 Toronto hooking - 2 min J. Lupul drawn by R. Whitney
17:54 Toronto hooking - 2 min D. Boyce drawn by T. Hall

OT Period
None

Shots On Goal - Oilers 32 Maple Leafs 26

Game Notes:
- Tough loss. The Oilers came out real slow, offered up 2 quick goals and played catch up all night. The Oilers battled hard after the Leafs made it 2-0. Inspired play from the 4th line really brought the energy level back to the Oilers. It was then the game turned into a chippy track meet. Lots of skating, lots of hitting, plenty of battle for the puck. As a fan, it was an entertaining game to watch. Over the past few years, I have heard the Oilers' youth being blamed for misguided losses when it was the vets mailing games in. Tonight, youth is to be heralded for the comeback, but ultimately blamed for the loss. Magnus Paajarvi was leading a 3 on 1 in OT looking for the winner. Passed it back to Whitney who attempted a one timer, but had his stick lifted by Phaneuf that led a 2 on 1 going the other way and the eventual game winner. Right there showed the lack of confidence to make a play from Paajarvi, something he has been plagued with all year. Tough play and tough luck, not much more can be said. All that being said, Paajarvi just needs to keep playing and not to forget to keep skating. His game is within his legs and he cannot forget that.

Player of the Game:
- Ben Eager. He pulled this game out of the gutter when it looked like it was going to be a long night at Rexall. A quick reply early in the first period followed up by pummelling Mike Brown in a fight, then it was game on for the Oilers. That's what a 4th line energy player is supposed to bring and he brought it.

Goat of the Game:
- Magnus Paajarvi. A tough play from a player whose game has really come around. As mentioned above he's a player that you want having the puck on a rush because you want him to use his speed to back off defenders, but when he doesn't use his speed it makes himslef and his linemates much easier to defend. Just a tough play all around, a play that ultimately lost the Oilers the game after fighting back valiantly. A tough lesson to take.

Next Game - Friday February 17, 2012 vs. Avalanche @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West 7:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #56 Oilers vs. Maple Leafs



The Oilers are back at it again tonight, after having a long layoff between games. Thay have only played one game since last Wednesday, a 4-3 overtimne win against the Ottawa Senators. Taylor Hall played the role of the hero. Less than two weeks away from trade deadline (thankfully!) and the Oilers team is about to take on a different look (thankfully!). Ales Hemsky is all but out the door, a couple of others may be on their way out as well. Two Oilers that are staying are Andy Sutton and Ryan Smyth. Ansy Sutton signed a one year extension on Monday and Ryan Smyth, as well as Steve Tambellini, have declared Smyth an Oiler for likely the rest of his career. Good to see Ryan Smyth not bail on this ship quite yet. The Oilers will still need him but just in a more reduced role. As the the season dwindle down, the Oilers need to rejig their alotted minutes to Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger and Anton Lander. Horcoff had a 2 month stretch where he was totally inept, fed too much icetime early and the results have shown. Lately his minutes have been cut back to under 20 minutes/game and the results have been better of late. One player's icetime that could stand to be upped is Anton Lander. They need to find out if Paajarvi and Lander can forge a 2nd scoring going forward or if drafting a scoring center needs to be in the cards. Playing Lander a bit more than his 10 minues a night and playing Horcoff and Belanger less will help this team go forward. The kids need reps, may as well give it to them now as the season closes. The Maple Leafs have lost 4 in a row since beating the Oilers last Monday 6-3. Good time for the Oilers to find another W here.

Forwards Maple Leafs
- The Oilers have to find a way to deal with their speed much better than they did in the last meeting.
Defense Maple Leafs
- The Leafs have one of the deeper defense corps in the NHL, led by Dion Phaneuf.
Goaltending Oilers
- The Leafs goaltending has fallen on hard times lately while the Oilers goaltending is a tough gauge.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Oilers PP is 3rd while the Leafs Pk is 29th. Inroads need to be made here. Last time they played there were no penalties in the game.
Coaching Maple Leafs
- Too many Tom Renney wtf moments this year.
Intangibles Oilers
- Leafs played in Calgary last night while the Oilers haven't played since Satutrday.

Oilers: (my version)
Hall-Gagner-Eberle
Paajarvi-Lander-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Eager-Belanger-Petrell

Whitney-Petry
Smid-Gilbert
Sutton-Potter

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Maple Leafs:
Lupul-Bozak-Kessel
MacArthur-Grabovski-Kulemin
Lombardi-Connelly-Crabb
Brown-Steckel-Boyce

Phaneuf-Aulie
Liles-Franson
Gardiner-Schenn

Reimer
Gustavsson

Game Time - 8 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Re-Signing of Andy Sutton and What Does It Mean?



Andy Sutton signed a 1 year deal worth 1.75 million (1.5 base + 250K bonus for games played) today. As a stand alone signing, its a solid signing. Sutton plays tough as nails and brings a fear element to the Oilers D that it badly needs. The money is good for a veteran Dman like himself.

Where the problem arises is the depth chart is filling up fast. It looks like this going into next year.

Whitney-Petry
Smid-Gilbert
Sutton-Potter
Peckham

The Oilers still need to make some tweaks to the top end of the lineup. Petry, at this stage would likely be better being a 5-6 Dman going into next year. It would be better for him and better for the team. If any of the top 4 Dmen get hurt, the Oilers are out and out screwed. Sutton, Potter and Peckham cannot play any higher in the lineup and ask for the team to have success. Even though the Oilers D have all the spots filled, they are still looking for a top 4 pairing Dman, preferably top 2. With Ryan Whitney injury issues, relying on him to carry the mail long term could be trouble. If the Oilers land their big fish Dman, what does it mean for Theo Peckham? I had Theo Peckham taking Andy Sutton's spot next year. Theo Peckham seems to be buried in the mire of subpar Dmen the Oilers currently have. If the Oilers are trying to develop Peckham, he needs reps. If the Oilers are trying to ship Peckham out, I think they are making a big mistake. The Oilers don't have a a good pipeline on tough Dmen coming through the ranks. Alex Plante's shelf life is about to expire. Colten Teubert while tough, isn't exactly mean, nor fill a ton of fear into people and he is a long term work in progress. Barring that, they have David Musil who is years down the pipeline. Throughout all of this, I'm hoping Theo Peckham isn't a casualty of this signing, it has the feel of the Matt Greene situation all over again. Theo Peckham needs to get back to being his nasty old self. As for Cam Barker, he will be a casualty of all of this.

Bottom line is, the Oilers still need to continue the hunt for a top tier Dman and I'm hoping Theo Peckham isn't a casualty of the Andy Sutton signing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Post-Game: Game #55 Oilers 4 Senators 3 (OT)

Scoring Summary
1st Period
OTT Daniel Alfredsson 19 (Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza) 4:36

2nd Period
EDM Magnus Paajarvi 1 (Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff) 14:05

OTT Milan Michalek 24 (Jason Spezza, Bobby Butler) 16:23

EDM Ben Eager 6 (Jeff Petry, Anton Lander) 18:52


3rd Period
EDM Shawn Horcoff 10 (Ales Hemsky, Magnus Paajarvi) 0:42

OTT Erik Karlsson 9 (Unassisted) 9:30


OT Period
EDM Taylor Hall 19 (Shawn Horcoff, Tom Gilbert) 0:17

Penalty Summary
1st Period
2:25 Edmonton tripping - 2 min T. Hall drawn by D. Alfredsson
9:08 Ottawa tripping - 2 min B. Lee drawn by T. Hall
13:21 Edmonton interference with goaltender - 2 min T. Hall drawn by C. Anderson

2nd Period
2:50 Ottawa too many men on ice - 2 min Bench served by N. Foligno

3rd Period
None

Shots On Goal - Oilers 40 Senators 42

Game Notes:
- Messy game. A coaches nightmare. Endless line rushes, turnovers galore, sloppy defensive coverage by both teams. Even though all that was going on, both teams never gave up on the game which made it a fun game to watch as a fan, but through a coaches' eye, it was pretty disturbing. The Oilers were pretty resilient today. Fought back from deficits, gave away a lead, they had to keep drudging along this game to keep themselves in it mentally. A good sign for a team that has given up on some games way too early this year. Nikolai Khabibulin got the start today and was kept busy early and often. Gave up a couple of sifters from the point but kept his team in it while those in front him were coughing up pucks left and right. The Oilers aren't in position to turn away wins. It was an encouraging sign that the Oilers battled the mental demons in this game and still came out on top.

Player of the Game:
- Shawn Horcoff. It's been awhile since he has been a POTG. Horcoff and Hall played the opposites game today. Horcoff looked confident with and without the puck while Hall was chopping it into itty bitty pieces. Horcoff finally delivered a complete game in that he contributed offensively while stabilizing things defensively. 1-2-3 +2 was his statline. A solid days work from Horcoff which has been a long time coming. His linemates Paajarvi and Hemsky also has solid games and as a line were the most dangerous line of the day. Good to see these three have solid games and its been a long time coming for them. Though Horcoff was 7 and 15 on dot today.

Goat of the Game:
- Lennert Petrell. Managed to be -2 in 9 minutes. Only he and Lander were minuses on the day. I thought almost everyone brought some element to todays' game and everyone competed hard. The 4th line needs to cut back on goals against if they want to see more consistant shifts. Petrell did lead the team with 4 hits. It's a tough GOTG to hand out to Petrell but it is what it is. Through 60 minutes Taylor Hall might have ended up here but OT winners give you pardon.

Next Game - Wednesday February 15, 2012 vs. Maple Leafs @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Pre-Game: Game #55 Oilers vs. Senators



End of a spread out 3 game road trip. The Oilers are in a string where they only one game in a week. They don't play again until Wednesday after today's afternoon tilt. The dreaded afternoon game. The Oilers are 1-2 in afternoon games this year. Beat Minnesota 5-2 but lost to the Stars and the Islanders 4-1 earlier in the year. The Oilers have made amends on home ice this year going 15-8-3, but have struggled mightily on the road going 6-20-2. Part of this is the vets struggling on the road, part of it is the Oilers are getting exposed in the matchups due to depth, part of it is the younger players trying to establish themselves against the best in the world. All in all, up to this point, the Oilers are where I thought they would be. They have improved home their home ice record, improved the special teams even though the PK has been slipping since early January, and the kids continue to grow and become a formidable force. The place where Tom Renney and his staff has gone wrong this year is relying too heavily on the vets all year, not giving enough ice time to the 4th line spattered through out the games forcing the vets to play more and mismatching the lines to the point where you could chemistry bring an issue from the outset. The thing I would do for the rest of this year is play Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger exclusively on the PK and 5v5 in checkling line roles, make Anton Lander and Magnus Paajarvi a duo and give them PP2 duties to see if they can find extended chemistry with each other. The keys to the offense needs to be handed to the kids while the vets do the heavy lifting exclusively. Having the vets try and cover everything has burned them out to the point of ineptness. Without the vets, very little can function and the losses will pile up especially on the road where they are needed to win their matchups while the kids face the tough competition. As much as I'd like to demote Ales Hemsky to the 4th line or even the pressbox, they need to continue to roll him out like the trojan horse he is, in order to sqeeze whatever trade value they can. My plea to Oiler fans everywhere, don't fret when hemsky plays better elsewhere, he's better off without us and we'll be better off without him. Don't try and force this relationship. Ottawa comes into this game winners of their last game, 4-3 versus Nashville. Prior to that, they were losers of 7 in a row. Ottawa is a fragile team but the Oilers have been known to be slumpbusters.

Forwards Senators
- This is a game where the Oilers could use the Nuge. Alfredsson and Spezza will be a handful.
Defense Senators
- Erik Karlsson has established himself as one of the best puckmoving Dmen in the NHL.
Goaltending Oilers
- Both sets of goaltenders have been flaky this year. I have a little more confidence in the Oielrs goaltending which isn't saying much.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers special teams in the top half while the Senators special teams are in the bottom half.
Coaching Senators
- Paul MacLean is a coach of the year candidate for turning around the Seantors so quickly.
Intangibles Senators
- Oilers on the road and afternoon games are a double whammy.

Oilers: (my version)
Hall-Gagner-Eberle (Sc1)
Paajarvi-Lander-Hemsky (Sc2)
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones (Chk)
Eager-Belanger-Petrell (Eng)

Whitney-Petry
Smid-Gilbert
Sutton-Potter

Khabibulin
Dubnyk

Senators:
Michalek-Spezza-Butler
Greening-Turris-Alfredsson
Daugavins-Smith-Condra
Foligno-O'Brien-Neil

Kuba-Karlsson
Cowen-Gonchar
Phillips-Lee

Anderson
Auld

Game Time - 12 PM MT @ Ottawa on CBC.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Looking Beyond The Deadline 2012



Hall-NugentHopkins-Eberle
Paajarvi-Lander-AAAAAAA
Smyth-Horcoff-Jones
Eager-Belanger-BBBBBBB
CCCCCCC DDDDDDD

Whitney-EEEEEEE
Smid-Petry
Schultz-Potter
Sutton

FFFFFFF
Dubnyk

Trade Bait - Hemsky, Gagner, Peckham, Omark, Plante, Khabibulin.

Do not retain - Barker, Petrell, Hordichuk

Another name that could potentially be in play is Ryan Smyth, all depending on his feelings to stay in Edmonton at a highly reduced price and his desires to chase the Stanley Cup. I'd like to move out one of Horcoff or Belanger and take a Grigorenko or Galchenyuk in the upcoming draft but I'm not sure running with 3 young centers will make the Oilers better anytime soon. But they are not any good right now, so changes need to be made.

Some of these holes can be filled at the deadline or in the offseason depending on the return of the trade bait nominees.

AAAAAAA - Needs to be a hulking power forward that shoots right so not to affect the power play much. Needs to bring offense at a 20 goal/year level.

1) Shane Doan (5 mil/yr)
2) David Jones (3.5 mil/yr)
3) David Moss (2.5 mil/yr)
4) Brandon Yip (1.5 mil/yr)
5) Byron Bitz (1.0 mil/yr)

Doan would be a godsend here. Physicality, secondary scoring, leadership all wrapped up into one nice package. Jones and Moss would be plan B. A little unproven but you can see something is there with those two in terms of offense. Yip and Bitz are Plan C, potential for something to be there but would be a longshot.

BBBBBBB - Fast physical demon on the forecheck, finishes hits and an all around pest. Some offense would be nice, so would the ability to PK but not essential.

1) Jordan Tootoo (1.8 mil/yr)
2) Brandon Prust (1.5 mil/yr)
3) Arron Asham (1.3 mil/yr)
4) Tom Kostopolous (900K/yr)
5) Greg Mauldin (600K/yr)

Tootoo would be ideal here, skates, hits and plays in your face. Prust and Asham would be Plan B. Kostopolous and Mauldin would be the bare minimum we need here.


CCCC + DDDD - Benchwarmer types that will push the players in the top 12. All around role players here. Brings a bit of everything to te table here.

1) Adam Burish (1.8 mil/yr)
2) Joey Crabb (1.3 mil/yr)
3) Daniel Winnik (1.1 mil/yr)
4) John Mitchell (900K/yr)
5) Mathieu Darche (800K/yr)

Burish would be an ideal 13th forward would likely play 70+ games on the Oilers, tenacious weasel type, love the way he plays. Crabb, Winnik, Mitchell and Darche are versatile types that can play up and down the lineup in a pinch. Players that have played in the pros for awhile also help.

EEEEEEE - I'd love a Shea Weber or a Tyler Myers or a Ryan Suter, even a Zach Bogosian, perhaps take a gamble on Mike Green, but I don't think those guys are coming. In the meantime the Oilers are going to need some more stop gaps until the Oilers can either groom one or find one on the trade market.

1) Dennis Wideman (4.75 mil/yr)
2) Sami Salo (3.5 mil/yr)
3) Pavel Kubina (3.5 mil/yr)
4) Joe Corvo (2.25 mil/yr)
5) Matt Gilroy (1.5 mil/yr)

Wideman is the best option at this point now that Johnny Boychuk re-signed in Boston. Salo seems to be a lifer in Vancouver. Kubina will be a tough sell to move up to Edmonton, you'll likely have to overpay for him. Corvo and Gilroy are likely bottom pairing Dmen that will force Petry and Potter up the lineup.

FFFFFFF - Goaltending will be an issue shortly once all the other pieces get addressed. Khabibulin and Dubnyk are likely backups at this stage. I'm hoping one will get moved out before the beginning of next year. I'm more hoping its Khabibulin, but it maybe Dubnyk if Khabibulin's contract is totally immovable. May even have to buyout Khabibulin's contract at years end to get him to move along.

1) Josh Harding (3.5 mil/yr)
2) Al Montoya (1 mil/yr)
3) Yann Danis (600 K/yr)

As long as he remains healthy for the rest of this year, Josh Harding will likely get a starting gig next year for some team. He'll be hotly coveted but only a few teams are looking for a starting goaltender. Al Montoya, after a very slow start to his pro career seems to be gaining traction as a NHLer. Yann Danis has had a solid year in OKC but his smaller stature should be questioned.