Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oilers Depth Chart July 2013


Taylor Hall - Ryan NugentHopkins - Nail Yakupov
- This line has the makings of a dominant # 1 line heading into the future. Speed, playmaking ability, shooters. If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can channel his inner Pavel Datsyuk and develop a proper two-way game, this line could become flat out dominate and tip the scoring scales towards the side of the Oilers.

Jesse Joensuu - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
- Defacto 2nd line for now. I feel Sam Gagner is trade bait for the time being. If the Oilers feel they can't get proper value for him, I'd expect him to sign by September. Joensuu wins the 2nd line LW spot by default but I feel the Oilers are looking for an upgrade. I always wondered what kind of chemistry Gagner & Eberle wouls have together. They never got much of an extended look together. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Oilers cannot win the matchup battle with bigger centers if the Oilers top two centers are Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I feel Sam Gagner needs to be moved in order for the Oilers to get better.

Ryan Jones - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky
- 2/3rds of the 3rd line for now. I can't see Ales Hemsky being here to start the season, therefore I think Jesse Joensuu will eventually end up on this line on the right side. Happy that Ryan Jones is re-upped, lukewarm to the Boyd Gordon signing. I can't help but feel that Boyd Gordon is under the same umbrella that an Eric Belanger or Marty Reasoner were when they came to the Oilers. Flourished under another system, got paid, and then floundered under the Oilers brand. I'm willing to give Gordon the benefit of the doubt, but his lack of offense leaves very little room for error.

Magnus Paajarvi - Anton Lander - Ben Eager
- I feel Paajarvi and Lander should be joined on the hip and be groomed to become 3rd line players. Giving them 4th minutes and responsibility will allow them to grow into their 2-way games. The same offer I gave Eager last year applies again this year. Give Ben Eager a carrot by putting him players that can handle the puck, in turn, Eager needs to tally up the hits and become a demon on the forecheck. Plain and simple, if Eager doesn't hit, he doesn't play, and likely will be sent to OKC for the duration of his contract.

Ryan Smyth - Mike Brown
- Ryan Smyth is at the point of his career where he is no more than an extra forward. Giving him games off will allow him to preserve his energy quotient throughout the season. Mike Brown is pretty much Ben Eager insurance although I don't know if I like having an extra forward be so specialized.


Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
- Same top pairing as last season. Otherwise not good enough. I believe the Oilers are going to try and upgrade this spot but are going to have a dickens of a time trying to do so. Otherwise Smid & Petry will do their darnedest to not drown in the deep end.

Andrew Ference - Justin Schultz
- The Schultz & Schultz tandem really fell apart towards the end of last season. This is where, I'd think Andrew Ference, with new hefty contract in hand, should get a shot to run with the young Schultz. The Ference signing was likely my least favorite signing of the UFA day. A lot of money for a player who turned 34, has been at best a middling defender on a very good team. Can he handle an upgrade in duties? I guess we'll find out, but signings like this seem to never work out in the end. Justin Schultz couldn't handle the rigor towards the end of the season, how will he handle an 82 game season? We'll soon find out! When on his game though, Justin Schultz is a sublime puckmover and point producer on the backend.

Anton Belov - Philip Larsen
- Two newcomers being paired together on the bottom pairing. Belov is fresh from the KHL, a player I can best describe as an Anton Babchuk type. A big, rangy, mobile skater that could stand to be better defensively. Philip Larsen, a player they got in the Shawn Horcoff deal, is a smallish puckmover type. If these can help out at the offensive side while not givig up too much defensively, the Oilers will be much better off. But if these two end up heavy in the minus, it will be yet another failed experiment.

Nick Schultz - Corey Potter
- One will stay, one will go, or both could be gone. I can't see both of these players being here to start the season. When Craig MacTavish talked about players being "non-factors" he was talking about the now bought out Eric Belanger, along with these two. Just not enough here to warrant them coming back. The thing that might keep Nick Schultz here is his contract.


Devan Dubnyk
- He'll be back once again to get the bulk of the games. By the numbers, he should get another crack at the starters gig. By eye, he looks like a goaltender that should be getting lit up game after game. The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. Then again, I think Corey Crawford is nothing more than an AHL goaltender and now he is a Stanley Cup Champion, so what do I know? At any rate Dubnyk will be back to show his wares once again, with likely an undermanned defense in front of him.

Jason LaBarbera
- After 4 needless, overpaid years from Nikolai Khabibulin, the Oilers go with a more economical backup in Labarbera. Labarbera is the clear #2 in this equation. His career high is 45 games with the Kings back in '07-08. Otherwise a lot of 17 & 19 games on his career chart to signify he has been a clear backup throughout his career. He will at least be a decent option to go to if Dubnyk falters but Jebus knows how long he will be able to hold the ball for.

Wrapup - All in all it was a busy UFA day for Craig MacTavish. Don't think he did much to help the team in its playoff conquest, but if MacT delivers on his bold move, the rest of the pieces may fall into place and therefore make sense. But as of right now, its still a lineup that is very incomplete.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Edmonton Oilers Mock Draft 2013

Time for another round of being a wannabe scout and take a look at who the Edmonton Oilers might take with their draft picks. I have been doing this since 2010 and having a blast in doing so. Oilers only have 6 draft picks at this point in time, therefore the list will be shorter than it has been in years past.

1st Round - 7th Overall - Curtis Lazar C/RW Edmonton - The Oilers dip into their backyard and take the player they have been watching for the past couple of seasons. Lazar brings so much more versatility and adaptability to his game to go along with great acceleration and a quick trigger shot. I have little doubt about him fitting in with the other young Oilers. He could play on the Oilers as soon as next season if the Oilers choose to go that route. Depending on the direction the Oilers want to go with their young club under the Craig MacTavish regime, Lazar can play in any position under any type of coaching.

2nd Round - 37th Overall - John Hayden C/RW USNDP - Oilers need big wingers, this player is one of the bigger wingers in the draft. Has all the tools to be a scoring power forward. Good hands in tight around the net but also can make a play in space. Skates well for a big man and isn't afraid to use his frame. 6'3" 220 lbs at 18 years of age. Committed to Yale University for next season so its a storage pick for the Oilers but one that could have a high return at the end of his tenure. Could be a player that sneaks into the latter half of the first round. layed a lot of center on his club team but played the wing at the U18s and was fantastic. Another large U.S player Michael McCarron will need to be eyeballed with this pick if he is still available. Either player would be a solid pick here.

3rd Round - 55ish Overall - Tristan Jarry G Edmonton - I'd really like the Oilers to take a defenseman at this point but the selection is limited in this range. Oilers need to find a bluechip goaltending prospect, so why not go back to the "backyard" and take Tristan Jarry. Jarry is an A Grade goatending prospect that is a bit of a secret due to exposure. Jarry played backup to Laurent Brossoit this season but posted some of the best goaltender numbers in WHL this season. When he got a chance to be the "man" at the prospects game, he took the ball and ran with it. He was spectacular in that game. Jarry is a unique blend of being a structural goaltender with a high degree of athleticism. Another WHL goaltender Eric Comrie may or may not be available with this pick. Either would be fine choices here.

5th Round - 128th Overall - Jamal Watson RW Lethbridge - Watson is a favortie of mine. I have him ranked a lot higher than many of the other scouting servcies but I'll take him here because its likely the range he will go in. Watson is a gamebreaker in the making. Reminds me a lot of Emerson Etem at the same age. Etem grew up and emerged as a top flight power forward scoring big goals for the Anaheim Ducks this season. I feel under the right guidance, Watson could have the same kind of emergence. A player with already a lot of speed, if he can find some semblance of power to his game, he could become a handful for many years to come.

6th Round - 158th Overall - Quentin Shore C U of Denver - Shore went undrafted in 2012 after being ranked in the 80 range by many scouting publications. Craig MacTavish would be a fan of Quentin Shore because he plays a very similar game that he did back in the day. Defensive minded center with mild offensive ability. Quentin comes from a hockey family where his brother Nick and Drew have already been drafted by NHL clubs. Drew played for the Panthers this past season. Shore is currently playing for the University of Denver, just finishing up his freshman season. Nice 6'2" frame on this prospect. Tough to say where the overagers will go.

7th Round - #188 Overall - Cody Corbett D Edmonton - Once again the Oilers dipping into their backyard. Much like Quentin Shore, Corbett was overlooked in his draft year. I personally had him potentially going in the 1st round last year, so I was shocked to see he went undrafted in 2012. Not a lot of buzz about Corbett heading into this draft, so if the Oilers land him in this area of the draft, I would consider it wo be quite the find. Corbett is an all purpsoe defender that plays in a variety of situations. His biggest calling card is reliability. Decent offense and a strong defender with a hint of physicality. Once again, tough to say where the overagers will go.

Overview - The theme of this draft for me is trying to find versatile players. Ones that can complement the skill on the current club heading into the future. I went heavy on right handed shots because the Oilers are lacking in that department especially amongst their prospects. 4 of the 5 players drafted shoot right. I would have hoped to pick up more defensemen along the way but with only six draft picks, there is only so much ground to cover. More important its time to delve into looking for "character" players. Ones that won't mind not being in the spotlight while trying to help the team win.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NHL Mock Draft 2013

1. Colorado Avalanche - Seth Jones D - No brainer. Avalanche need help on the backend and Seth Jones is an "ace of spades" defender. Will be playing on their top pairing before too long. Excellent complement to the variety of young forwards they have.

2. Florida Panthers. - Alexander Barkov C - Panthers are at a crossoards in their development. I feel they should keep building down the middle and take Barkov. Having too many centers has not been an issue for any team. Barkov has similar comparisons to Evgeni Malkin. Perhaps a better two-way game and slightly less electrifying.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning - Nathan MacKinnon C - I have MacKinnon listed as a C but I feel he will play wing at the NHL, at least to start a la Tyler Seguin. MacKinnon will be a nice replacement for Martin St. Louis once he moves on, feeding Steven Stamkos for all of those deadly one timers.

4. Nashville Predators - Jonathan Drouin LW - Its been awhile since the Predators have had a dynamic forward who can make offensive plays on his own. Drouin would be a good fit here but it would take a change of philosophy for this to happen. Drouin would be the lighnting rod for the offense in short order.

5. Carolina Hurricanes - Ryan Pulock D - Hurricanes need Dmen, plain and simple. Best one on the board, in my view is Ryan Pulock. I feel he is a slight downgrade to Seth Jones, but not by much. Pulock will help the Hurricanes powerplay with his cannon shot. Some have Darnell Nurse going here, I hold Pulock in a much higher regard.

6. Calgary Flames - Sean Monahan C - Flames need centers badly. More importantly they need one that can do a variety of things. Enter Monahan. Monahan will help the Flames re-establish their two way game and strengthen their weak middle.

7. Edmonton Oilers - Curtis Lazar C - Might be a bit of a reach but exactly the type of player they need. Speedy, two-way center that could play immediately if need be. Lazar would be a great fit on the 2nd line and complement the other flighty forwards on the club. This pick would really establish team speed for the Oilers.

8. Buffalo Sabres - Elias Lindholm C - A Nicklas Backstrom type center that would complement Grigorenko and Girgensens going forward. This pick would really solidify the center position as a strength going forward for the Sabres.

9. New Jersey Devils - Rasmus Ristolainen D - Devils need to continue to stockpile the Dmen and Ristolainen is another nice piece to add to the stable. Will bring an all around game and be able to provide wherever necessary. Potential top pairing defender.

10. Dallas Stars - Hunter Shinkaruk LW - Scoring wingers has been a revolving door for the Stars over the past few seasons. Shinkaruk is a good pickup here as he will score for them for many years to come. As crafty as they get.

11. Philadelphia Flyers - Valeri Nicushkin RW -  A cut away from the usual from the Flyers. Flyers need Dmen badly but I feel there isn't one here that I feel wouldn't be a reach. Nurse is still on the board but the high end potential of a Nicushkin could pay back ten fold. A "bull off the wing" type scorer with real quick hands in tight. In a lot of ways, a Flyers type player.

12. Phoenix Coyotes - Nikita Zadorov D - Zadorov would be a perfect complement for Oliver Ekman-Larsson heading into the future. Phoenix likes their "big" players and Zadorov is exactly that, big and physical.

13. Winnipeg Jets - Max Domi RW -  Jets are in need of a better supporting cast, especially ones that can score. With Mark Scheifele on the way, its a good time to pickup Max Domi. A stout player with a nose for the net. Impressive awareness and deceptive strength on the rush.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets - Valentin Zykov RW - Columbus is setup nicely in a variety of positions but one thing they need to continue to improve on is scoring. Zykov's dynamic ability will help them in the long term. May even be the successor for Gaborik as the go-to offensive player.

15. New York Islanders - Fredrik Gauthier C - Gauthier would be an excellent complement to John Tavares in the long term as the 2nd line C. Big two way center would be a nice find for the Islanders.

16. Buffalo Sabres - Anthony Mantha LW - Time for the Sabres to potentially start look for the predecessor for Thomas Vanek. Mantha would be a good place to start. Big winger with soft hands. 50 goal player in the QMJHL this season.

17. Ottawa Senators - Alexander Wennberg RW - Senators continue the tradition of drafting two-way Swedes. Senators need to restock their centers but none available in this area without having to reach. Senators could potantially move Wennberg to center.

18. Detroit Red Wings. - Steve Santini D - Red Wings need help on the blueline ASAP and Santini is the best prospect that can help them the quickest. Duncan Keith style Dman that has an abundance of hockey sense. Red Wings are in need of offense from defense and Santini will bring that.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets - Darnell Nurse D - I have questions about Nurse's hockey sense but there is no doubt about his physical abilities. A gamble pick in my view, but if it pans out the Blue Jackets could have an excellent stead of defensemen going forward. Blue Jackets are in a great position to gamble with 3 1st round picks.

20. San Jose Sharks - Ryan Hartman LW - Sharks have lost many of their agitators over the years but Hartman also fits the new found philosophy of being able to skate. Hartman can also chip in on the offense.

21. Washington Capitals - Ian McCoshen D - Caps have lost some of the ruggedness from their backend over the years. Caps are blessed with a nice stead of offensive defensemen. McCoshen will help stabilize the physicality for the Caps.

22. Toronto Maple Laefs - Zachary Fucale G - Leafs could use another set of golatending prospects, as the last round many of them have faltered. Fucale is as "A grade" a goaltending prospect as one could find. Could play in the NHL sooner than some might expect.

23. Vancouver Canucks - Adam Erne RW - Canucks need bigger wingers and Adam Erne is a good place to keep stockpiling. Erne is a big body that isn't afraid to use it. Nice set of hands as well. Needs to stay motivated.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets - Morgan Klimchuk C - After this draft the Blue Jackets should have a very nice stead of prospects. The biggest thing now will be to add some versatility to that group. Enter Morgan Klimchuk. Klimchuk is a player that can score but he is also a forward that can play a variety of positions and situations.

25. Calgary Flames - Nicolas Petan C - If they take Monahan with their first pick, Petan would make for an intriguing 2nd pick. They would have everything they need in those two players as the top 2 pivots. Petan is pure offense with a little bit of grease to his game.

26. Boston Bruins - Josh Morrissey D - Morrissey is a nice alternative to the trees the Bruins have currently patrolling the blueline. Morrissey can do a bit of everything and is every bit as tough. Could take over the Andrew Ference spot in the future with the potential to become a lot more than that.

27. Montreal Canadians - Bo Horvat C - Canadians could use some more all around, robust players. Horavat is that player. A strong penalty killer with some scoring touch that can play anywhere in the lineup.

28. Anaheim Ducks - Madison Bowey D - Anaheim needs to continue to stockpile defensemen. Bowey would give the Ducks a real mobility option. Bowey could very well be the best skater in the draft. Bowey also has an evolving offensive game that is getting better on a game to game basis.

29. Calgary Flames - Kerby Rychal LW - Rychal is a robust forward that has back to back 40 goal seasons at the junior level. Would be the kick in the pants the Flames offense could use.

30. Chicago Black Hawks - Michael McCarron RW - Hawks could use a robust power forward and McCarron is exactly that. Bull in a china shop that has an improving offensive game.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oilers Offseason 2013

Its been awhile since I've posted on here. After the shenanigans of the past season, I grew weary of harping on the negativity of the Oilers and decided to put the blog on hold. After all, it was more of the same things that were holding the team back with no "looking for the cure" in sight. Another trade deadline came and went with no purging and the lone acquisition of Jerrod Smithson proved to be nothing more than a waste of a draft pick. Mike Brown was also acquired prior to the deadline and proved to be a very modest upgrade on Ben Eager in terms of willingness to be physical, but when it came to moving the puck north, it was nowhere near good enough.

The Oilers ended up the season in 12th. While a very few of the players took a step forward, many others took steps backwards. The Oilers are still struggling to find an identity. Young, high-flying, risk taking, is something that was similar to the '80s but seldom synonymous with winning in the 21st century. The Oilers need to take their speedy team and blend it into the modern game of station to station, grind it out, type hockey.

In this article, I will run down the player types that will be needed in order for the Oilers to become a playoff calibre team next season.

My Perceived Oilers Depth Chart:

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov
- Time to break up the "old" kid line and install a new improved version of it. Yakupov will install a more speedy robust style as opposed to Eberle's finesse style. The Oilers need to establish a more quick hitting " one pass and shoot" style. Having Hall play the role of puck transporter/playmaker and have RNH and Yakupov be more triggermen. Having RNH and Yakupov being left handed shots will allow for quick one timer options. This is a line that should define the Oilers going forward. Speed mixed in with cerebral play.

2nd line Power Foward - 2 way RH Center - Jordan Eberle
- Its time to move from Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner. Its time for this team to become more balanced and defensive conscious and this is where the changes need to be made. Two UFAs that could be used in the LW spot are Ryane Clowe and Guillaume Latendresse. Clowe had a cold season while Latendresse endured an injury plagued one. Getting one of these two at a slight discount price and hope they can recapture some old glory. The biggest thing the Oilers need out of this spot is for a LW to score some but hit a lot more. Waste of time to hope for an Iginla or a Horton. As for the C spot, unless one thinks Tyler Bozak will hit the market, the Oilers may need to draft this spot. Most are hoping for Sean Monahan to fall at the 7th spot. While on the surface he is the ideal player in terms of style, the only issue is that he shoots left. The Oilers desperately need more RH shooting forwards especially with me having Gagner and Hemsky departing. Even though it may be a perceived reach, Curtis Lazar might be a better short and long term fit on this club, as well as give the Oilers more flexability to slot Lazar into different positions and situations. I feel Lazar could play on the Oilers as soon as next season. His physical and mental abilities are well above average for his age.

Ryan Jones - Shawn Horcoff - Grinding 3rd line RH winger
- I feel the Oilers need to re-up Ryan Jones, even if I'm in the minority. Jones may not want to come back, but the Oilers should look to re-sign him, otherwise they will be looking for two 3rd line wingers. Ryan Jones suffered through an injury plagued off year, but if he was willing to re-sign a one year deal around the same money, I'd welcome him back. The Oilers need his willingness to battle for pucks. More importantly, they need him hungry. As for the RW, the Oilers need another Ryan Jones type. Puck battling winger that can PK and chip in on the offense. Colby Armstrong would be the first target, Brandon Yip would be the backup plan. I can't see a situation where Shawn Horcoff gets bought out even though he is grossly overpaid. Trying to find a suitable replacement at this time would be a impossible task. Trying to find one center is tough enough, trying to find two, forget about it. Unless you think Eric Belanger can be an upgrade, which I don't, Horcoff will be back another season.

Magnus Paajarvi - Anton Lander - Ben Eager
- Time to start developing Paajarvi and Lander as a tandem. The Oilers would have been better off playing Lander full time with the big club this season. A broken foot kept that from happening although I'm not sure that would have happened anyway. Having Belanger rent out Lander's spot is a complete waste of time. Let Lander learn on the job in a 4th line role. This is a line that I would have liked to see more of last season but rarely were all three on the club at the same time. I know Eager has grown sour on the Oilers but I still feel he is a better option than Mike Brown, especially from an offensive standpoint. Eager is a player that is looking to become more than a "goon". I feel the tradeoff is give him two offensive player to play with, in turn, he give the Oilers hits. If he doesn't deliver the hits, than I feel his time would then be truely done as an Oiler, if it isn't already. This should be a ten minute a game line. In the long run it will keep everyone fresh.

Extras: Ryan Smyth - Teemu Hartikainen
- This is the best I can think of for Ryan Smyth. Not enough energy thes days to contribute every game but his experience will come in handy especially if the Oilers can ever find themselves a playoff game. Teemu Hartikainen still needs to learn the finer points of the game. But with him at the end of his ELC, it likely means his next deal will be a one-way deal, meaning he will stick with the Oilers next season.

Sergei Gonchar - Shea Weber
- This is best case scenario in my view. I know some are clamouring for Mark Streit, but I don't think the value will be there. He will be looking for a long term deal with big money, and I don't think the numbers will be there to justify the deal. In turn, I'd be trying to milk a one year deal out of Gonchar to get him to play one final season. Gonchar may very well stay in Ottawa, but the options are limited. On the other side, I have Shea Weber. Now Weber, isn't a UFA, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the Nashville Predators will hold an auction for. If Weber hits the trade market, its the one player the Oilers need to go "all in" on. I'm talking everyone outside of Taylor Hall, should be made available to acquire him. Bidding will be high, so the Oilers will have to part with some of the Fab 4 to acquire him. I'm talking a Nuge, Gagner, and Petry type deal. As long as Nashville doesn't ask for Hall, I'd do whatever I could to acquire Weber. Without these two pieces the Oilers will likely be out of the playoffs again next season, because their defense will still be too weak.

Ladislav Smid - Justin Schultz
- Time for Smid to take on veteran role and become a reliable go-to defender now that he is being paid like one. He's been OK over the past few seasons, but always leaves me wanting more. Because of his lack of offense, his defense needs to be air tight, and that hasn't always been the case. Justin Schultz had a modest first season. As expected he thrived offensively and struggled defensively. The grind of the NHL game eventually wore the young Schultz down. It will be up to him to make offseason adjustments to become better prepared for the marathon that is the NHL season. This pairing will either solidify Smid as a rock solid defender or expose him as an overpaid defender.

Mark Fistric - Jeff Petry
- I'd bring back Fistric. Oilers need physicality on the backend even though Fistric is a high risk/high reward type style. His hits can be spectacular but when he misses the opponent usually has a clear path to the net. I prefer Fistric over Nick Schultz. Nick Schultz is a no frills defender that isn't particularly good at anything other than getting in the way. Not physical, not offensive, debatable defensive player. Nick being -13 and Justin being -19 showed me the pairing didn't work that well even if there were others that were trying to convince us that it was a solid pairing. Time to cut the cord. The Oilers would be in good shape if Petry played on the third pair. He can continue to learn the offensive side of the game while playing against lesser opposition defensively. If injuries arise Petry can move up the batting order if need be, which is never a bad thing to have.

Extra: Nick Schultz
Nick Schultz wins the extra spot. I'm pretty indifferent about the whole thing but since he is under contract for one more season, might as well. Corey Potter could also fit into this spot if need be. Schultz's contract will likely make him immovable but I don't feel comfortable having him in the lineup as an every game player.

Devan Dubnyk - Cristopher Nilstorp
- Devan Dubnyk will likely get the bulk of the games but needs to continue to be pushed. Enter Nilstorp. Nilstorp is a prototypical Eurpoean goaltender with a blend of size and athleticism. Had a cup of coffee with the Dallas Stars but played well for the AHL affiliate. He's the type of goaltender that could be a talent meets opportunity type scenario. The Oilers could use an AHL goaltender as well as I'm not sure Yann Danis will be back. Enter a Henrik Karlsson or a Chad Johnson type.

Gone: Sam Gagner, Eric Belanger, Ales Hemsky, Mike Brown, Lennert Petrell, Darcy Hordichuk, Corey Potter, Ryan Whitney.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Post Game: Game #20 Blues 4 Oilers 2

EDM Hall 4 (Eberle, J.Schultz) 17:30
EDM Whitney 1 (Smyth, Yakupov) 17:53

STL Schwartz 2 (Oshie, Backes) 3:38
STL Shattenkirk 2 (Sobotka, Stewart) 10:30 PP

STL Sobotka 2 (Cracknell, Porter) 4:28
STL Backes 3 (Oshie, Schwartz) 14:37

Devan Dubnyk 26/30

St. Louis
Jaroslav Halak 15/17

Game Notes:
- Oilers started out like gangbusters in this one. It was 2-0 after one, but slowly got pushed out of this game, Taylor Hall got injured and did not come back. That was all she wrote from there. 17 shots is not anywhere near good enough to win on most nights and it was not good enough this night. It's a carbon copy of a lot of nights the Oilers have had in the past, so really nothing new to see here and its onto the next game for the Oilers. The Oilers compete level was solid through most of the night. Mental fatigue caught up to them as a couple of ugly plays in the third period did them in and the Blues coasted to a 4-2 win. It's a game where some more bigger bodies who can make an offensive play would have helped this club. The Oilers could get the puck into the Blues zone but then could not make a play when they got to the shooting areas because of being pushed around when they got there. So, the Oilers are now a modest 1-1-1 on this nine game road trip with six games left to go. If Taylor Hall is forced to misss significant time, that could be a big time blow to the club. I'm really trying to take a wait and see approach with this club, but I'm still seeing the same things that plagued this team in the past.

Player Of The Game:
Ryan Whitney D - I might be in the minority but I liked the way Whitney played tonight. Jumped in the rush and scored a goal, played a pretty clean game in the defensive zone, moved the puck well, all in 18+ minutes of action. To expect much more than this from Whitney would be absurd. It was a nice bounce back game from Whitney after having a long stint in pressbox but injuries to Potter and Fistric forced him back into the lineup. Solid game from Whitney and he might have bought himself more games with this effort tonight.

Goat Of The Game:
Devan Dubnyk G - Didn't like the way the 3rd goal went in. It smelled of pure fromage and it was goal that was born from mental fatigue. It ultimately was the game winning goal. Dubnyk has played well for the most part this season, every goaltender will let goals in like, every goaltender has bouts of mental fatigue. The key for a goaltender is to shake it off and concentrate on making the next save. Dubnyk will get a chance at redemption on Sunday against Minnesota. The Oilers need him to have a solid bounce game, because they need him to play at a high level.

Next Game - Sunday March 3, 2013 vs. Wild @ Minnesota on Sportsnet West 8 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #20 Oilers vs. Blues

The game will be coming at us fast and furious now. Before we know it, it will be the half way point of this shortened season. The Oilers coming off a convincing 5-1 win against the Stars last night. That statement game they were looking for that eluded them in Chicago on Monday night, showed up last night. This is game 3 of the nine game road trip. A road trip filled with potential playoff clubs jockeying for position. The Oilers can't afford to take many nights off on this road trip. Anything less than .500 on this road trip and they are likely cooked for the season. They are off to a good start by getting three of four points so far. The Blues will pose a different challenge for the Oilers than the Stars did. The Blues still have the big bodies but have the younger legs and more rounded defense group. The Blues are smarting from a 3-0 loss to the Black Hawks last night, so the Oilers should get an angry Blues club tonight.

Forwards Blues
-  Blues are deeper and a better blend at this stage of the game. Oilers are starting to get a little production from the bottom end of the order which is a good sign.
Defense Blues
- Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk are two of the best young Dmen in the NHL. The Oilers defense is playing well in its own rights.
Goaltending Oilers
- Halak and Elliot have been inconistent for the Blues. Devan Dubnyk played well last night but has to deal with a back to back situation.
Special Teams Oilers
- Edmonton's PK and PP are 4th and 6th respectively. Blues PK and PP are 21st and 2nd. Oilers special teams have been keeping them in games.
Coaching Blues
- Ken Hitchcock is a tough matchup for any coach but he is still trying to find the pulse of his own club. Ralph Krueger is doing the most he can with his club.
Intangibles Blues
- Both teams are playing in the 2nd half of a back to back. Difference is Blues play both games at home while the Oilers fly in from Dallas.







Game Time - 8 PM MT @ St. Louis on Sportsnet West.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Post Game: Game #19 Oilers 5 Stars 1

EDM Gagner 6 (Petry, Hemsky) 1:13
EDM J.Schultz 3 (Eberle, Hall) 13:52

EDM Petry 2 (Hemsky, Petrell) 19:46

EDM Hemsky 8 (Eberle, J.Schultz) 0:50 PP
EDM Eager 1 (Petrell) 11:37
DAL Jagr 6 (Goligoski, Roussel) 14:05

Devan Dubnyk 33/34

Kari Lehtonen 33/38

Game Notes:
- The Oilers exercised all kinds of demons in this game. The Oilers scored 1:13 into this one and just kept the pressure coming all game. It was one of the rare games where the Oilers had a higher compete level than their opponent, winning board battles all over the ice and filtering puck towards the Dallas net. The Oilers put so much pressure on the Stars that the Stars resorted to cheap shots the end of the game, but the Oilers kept focused and kept playing, It was a game where they truly frusterated the Stars. On the right side of the puck all night and kept the puck away from the Stars for good stretches. The Stars had penalty trouble all night and tht played right into the hands of the Oilers. It's difficult to say what the Oilers can take out of this game structurally as the Stars were pretty lethargic for most of the game. Oilers got some puck luck in this one, but also executed plays that turned into goals. Impressive win for the Oilers and one they can build on. Tough back to back as the Oilers take on the Blues tomorrow night. So the Oilers need to continue to ride this wave.

Player Of The Game:
Jeff Petry D - I could put slamost anybody here and not be wrong, A number of players were playing at a high level tonight. I'm going with Jeff Petry for a 2nd game in a row. He played far more mistake free game tonight than he did on Monday night. His statline is some kind of impressive. A goal, an assist, +2, 4 shots, 5 blocked shots, 4 hits, 23+ minutes. He and Justin Schultz were the only Oilers to play over 20 minutes which is the way it should be with this club. Oilers were down to four defensemen for a portion of the game as Corey Potter and Ladislav Smid both left the game, but Smid did return. Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk, Mark Fistric, Justin Schultz all deserve kudos for a strong game.

Goat Of The Game:
Corey Potter D - A cheap GOTG as like I said above, everyone on the Oilers had a role in this win tonight. But Corey Potter gets the horns tonight for only playing 6 minutes in the game and then leaving with a possible concussion. Kind of heartless of me to give a concussed player a GOTG, but for the purpose of this exercise Potter gets the nod for the night. It speaks more to the team effort the Oilers gave tonight in cruising to victory over the Stars.

Next Game - Friday March 1, 2013 vs. Blues @ St. Louis on Sportsnet West 8 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #19 Oilers vs. Stars

The Oilers get back at it after two days off as they face an old nemesis in the Dallas Stars, in a barn they have little success in over the last 15 years. The Oilers are fresh off a bittersweet 3-2 loss to the Chicago Black Hawks, keeping the Hawks pointless streak alive. On one hand the Oilers hung with the best team in the NHL right now. On the other hand, it was a missed opportunity to have a statement game for this young team.The Oilers will have a different look tonight. Taylor Hall's two game suspension is done and he will be back in the lineup tonight. Nikolai Khabibulin finds himself back on the Injured Reserve with a groin strain meaning Devan Dubnyk will go back to getting the bulk fo the games on this road trip. The Oilers currently sit tied for 12th in the Western Conference with the Calgary Flames, only 3 point out of a playoff spot. The Oilers are getting caught in the "zero sum" game like they have in years past, where they grind out a point here and there but start slipping in the standings because the consistent wins are elusive. While some fans are wanting playoffs something fierce, I'm personally hoping for the opportunity of acquiring Seth Jones through the draft even if it means they have to be the worst team in the league one more time. Ultimately Steve Tambellini will dictate where the Oilers will finish by his moves or lack thereof. The Oilers need this game even if its a game they don't matchup well in.

Forwards Stars
- Stars just have a better blend of fowards at this moment. Oilers have much better potential but a lot of that potential isn't realized yet.
Defense Oilers
- Stars have a mismatched group on D while the Oilers D have been solid this season even though they have been under siege a fair time.
Goaltending Stars
- Kari Lehtonen comes off the IR in time to face the Oilers. Lehtonen has had the Oilers number in the past. Dubnyk will go for the Oilers.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers scored shorthanded and on the powerplay on Monday but once again failed to score 5v5. Special Teams has been the lifeline for the Oilers.
Coaching Stars
- Glen Guletzen is getting a little more of his group although Ralph Krueger is squeezing as much as he can out of his bloodstone. Krueger really needs to adapt better especially with his top 6.
Intangibles Oilers
- 3rd game in 4 nights for the Stars. If the Oilers have their skating legs, they could give the older Stars some issues.







Game Time - 6:30 PM MT on Sportsnet West.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Post Game: Game #18 Black Hawks 3 Oilers 2 (OT)

EDM Petry 1 (Petrell) 4:28 SH
CHI Kane 10 (Kruger, Leddy) 5:30 PP

EDM Yakupov 6 (Gagner, J.Schultz) 14:17 PP

CHI Stahlberg 5 (Rozsival) 2:24

CHI Hossa 9 (Sharp, Rozsival) 1:44

Nikolai Khabibulin 31/34

Ray Emery 17/19

Game Notes:
- Another good news, bad news affair in Chicago tonight. Good news, they fought a point out of Chicago. Bad news, leaving all these points on the table will eventually haunt the Oilers. Hard to make up any ground by doing it one point at a time, but at least statistically its a decent start to the trip. At least they didn't bury themselves in the first game of the trip. Hard to make anything out of this game. It's been pretty much the staus quo of the season. The Oilers special teams kept them afloat but 5v5 they were outmatched. Nikolai Khabibulin was, by far, the busier of the two goaltenders. Ray Emery was pretty shaky in the Hawks net but the Oilers couldn't sustain any pressure to see if he would crack.  The kids are looking overmatched these days, specifically Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, like they know if there is a physical battle upcoming that they just get out of the way. The Oilers need a fine tooth scalpel and start cutting some pieces so they can add others that make sense. Problem is the entire NHL knows this and trying to acquire these pieces is going to be a tough bit of business. The Oilers might have to steal a piece of the playbook from Vancouver GM Mike Gills and trade a highly skilled player in Cody Hodgson for a meat and potatoes type scorer in Zack Kassian. Its the type of deal the Oilers might have to look at doing. All in all, the point is nice to achieve but their is very little that I can take out of this game and say the Oilers are going the right way.

Player Of The Game:
- Jeff Petry D - Since I don't give the GOTG to a defenseman often, I figure its a good time to hand out one here since the offense was subpar and Khabibulin played well but gave up 3. Petry tallied the opening goal on a shorthanded effort following up a nice pickoff and rush by Lennert Petrell. Petry had a team high 7 hits on this night to go along with 3 blocked shots. The pair of Petry and Smid were among the more reliable pairings tonight. Did a decent job of keeping the high scorers of the Hawks at bay for the most part. Good to see Petry pot a goal tonight, but have been disappointed in his lack of offense to this point. Petry has been solid defensively for the most part this season but has had some rough patches there as well. The goal represented his first point of the season.

Goat Of The Game:
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C - The Nuge has been finding himself far too ofetn this season. All of it isn't on him though. Ralph Krueger has been playing him way too much this season and those hard minutes are starting to eat at the production of the sophomore. He lead the team in minutes played over 24 minutes, ended up 58% on the dot, but just doesn't seem to be as hard on the puck and is constantly getting beat up and down the ice. I know the Oilers aren't very deep down the middle, but some of these minutes need to be absorbed by Belanger and Vandevelde more so the Nuge can focus a bit more on offense. Going head to head against the Jonathan Toews of the world is no easy task especially for a slender 19 year old. Ralph Krueger does not have a lot of wiggle for success with this club. If he does not coach them perfectly, they will plummet in the standings.

Next Game - Thursday February 28, 2013 vs. Stars @ Dallas on Sportsnet West 6:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #18 Oilers vs. Black Hawks

The Oilers will be latest team to try and crack the undefeated streak the Black Hawks have going which stands at 18 games. The Black Hawks are currently 15-0-3 to start the season and are out of the gate like gangbusters. The Oilers, on the other hand, are taking solace in the small victories as they held off the Coyotes on Saturday afternoon to take a 3-2 shootout win. The Oilers currently sit with a 7-7-3 record, good enough for 12th in the conference. The NHL is setup in that when wins pileup the move up the standings is incremental, but when the losses pile up, its a freefall. The Oilers have been buying time with a win one, lose one, philosophy, which on paper is OK but in the standings, where it matters, has the Oilers on the outside looking in. The Oilers will have to try to find a way to make up ground as they start a nine game road trip. By the time the roadtrip is over, we could very well be talking about who the Oilers should be using on their first round pick for the upcoming NHL Draft. Taylor Hall will sit out his 2nd game of his two game suspensions. The Oilers survived the first game without him as they overcame a 2-0 defecit to get to a shootout and win it. The Black Hawks will serve a different challenge as they are offensively gifted and have been playing solid defense to start the season. Are the Oilers good enough to overcome their deficiencies and grab a playoff spot? I have my doubts, but as a team they continue to grow. A lot of this will depend on whether management want to fast forward the building process by finding well rounded, experienced players at the cost of some high profiled youth. I have a feeling this year is more about building and nuturing moreso than it is about playoffs.

Forwards Black Hawks
- Any team that boasts Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa will win this category more often than not. Oilers are without Taylor Hall for the 2nd game in a row.
Defense Black Hawks
- Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been playing at a high level. Both sets defenses have been stingy this season. The Hawks a little moreso.
Goaltending Black Hawks
- It doesn't seem to matter who is in net. Crawford or Emery, the Hawks are getting great goaltending. Only Boston has given up less. Oilers goaltending has kept them in games this season.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Oilers are 4th on the PK and 7th on PK which means they must be subpar 5v5 to have a middling record. Black Hawks are no slouches in the special teams departments either.
Coaching Black Hawks
- Joel Quennville has the Hawks playing well all over the ice. Ralph Krueger is still trying to figure out what his line combos are going to be.
Intangibles Black Hawks
- This game is the 2nd half of a back to back for the Black Hawks while the Oilers start a nine game road trip. Black Hawks are still trying to keep their streak alive.




Black Hawks:



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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Post Game: Game #17 Oilers 3 Coyotes 2 (SO)

PHX Chipchura 2 (Johnson, Bissonnette) 5:23

PHX Lombardi 1 (Boedker, Korpikoski) 9:42 PP
EDM Eberle 6 (Yakupov, Gagner) 16:22

EDM Hartikainen 1 (Smyth, J.Schultz) 8:04 PP

No Scoring

Mikkel Boedker Miss
David Rundblad Miss

Sam Gagner Goal
Jordan Eberle Goal

Mike Smith 41/43

Nikolai Khabibulin 34/36

Game Notes:
- It amazing how much difference a goal makes in the game of hockey. The Oilers have been having issues getting that dreaded 2nd goal of the game, hence leaving a lot of points on the table. This time, Teemu Hartikainen got that elusive 2nd goal which forced overtime where enabled the Oilers to win in a shootout. That was a much needed comeback win for the Oilers. The Oilers peppered Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith with 43 shots, he was up to the task a lot of the night, but the volume of shots wore down the Coyotes much like it did to the Avalanche last Saturday night. The Oilers survived their first game without Taylor Hall as Phoenix went into a defensive shell pretty early in this game. But that shell turned into prevent defense and once the Oilers tied the game, they had the leverage. Now the Oilers head out on a 9 game road trip all over the midwest. To give you an idea how long this road trip is, they play in Chicago in games #1 and #8 on the road trip. So the Oilers survived for today and live to fight another day. The Oilers are a constant work in progress but there is small signs of growth in many of the players. The Oilers didn't give up on the game and were rewarded for it.

Player Of The Game:
- Jordan Eberle RW - Eberle has found himself in the GOTG a couple of times recently, its good to see him back on this side of the ledger. Scored the much needed opening goal near the end of the 2nd period and tallied the clinching shootout goal on a deft move. Had 4 shots and was +1 on the afternoon. Good to see Eberle havse some puck luck this afternoon as the well was getting pretty dry in terms of scoring chances coming from him. Sam Gagner get an honorable mention for having a solid game himself. Gagner had 6 shots on goal and went back to his sly signature move on the shootout.

Goat Of The Game:
- Nick Schultz D - Nick Schultz took a double minor high sticking penalty that ended up in Phoenix tallying their 2nd goal of the game. The timing of the penalty was a tough one as the Oilers were already down 1-0 and under siege for most of the game up to that point. The Oilers only gave up on that penalty and allowed the Oielrs to starting chiselling away at the defecit. Nick Schultz was trying to absorb a hit he was receiving from David Moss but ended up slapping him in the nose with his stick. A careless penalty but one I can understand as Schultz was merely trying to protect himself.

Next Game - Monday February 25, 2013 vs. Black Hawks @ Chicago on Sportsnet West 6:30 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #17 Coyotes vs. Oilers

It's starting to get into the dog days of the season for the Oilers and there are a lot of nervous fans in and around Edmonton. The Oilers enter the final game of the homestand, 1-3 thus far, staring down a 9 game road trip. Needless to say it could be lights out for the Oilers season unless they can buy some time and win a few games. Things are getting ugly in Oilerville, but we are all accustomed to this, amirite? Taylor Hall starts serving his 2 game suspension after trying to take Cal Clutterbuck's knee off. I feel the suspension is justified, but at the same time I like the way Hall wasn't going to take another loss lying down. Sure, it was dirty and a bit cheap, but that's hockey and the Oilers need to become a team that sends messages from time to time instead of just receiving them. I liked the fact that Hall showed some fire and some pulse in an otherwise tepid loss to the Wild. There are a few more players that could stand to show a pulse because right now, the Oilers have become too individual and far too easy to play against. Successful teams are built from the sum of the parts, not through individual skill. The Oilers management group needs to identify this by starting to cull out the wheat from the chaff and start moving forward. I don't know how anyone could think that bringing in a couple of rookies and turfing a coach would make a significant difference. Sure some players are playing better this year but some players are also struggling. It doesn't have anything to do with the individual players, it has to do with the mix of the players and the player chemistry. If Oilers management doesn't deal with player chemistry then the Oilers will continue to toil at the bottom of the standings. Ryan Jones should see his first action of the season in this one.

Forwards Coyotes
- Without Taylor Hall for the Oilers, the Oilers could have a tough time generating shots. We know the Coyotes will be in lockdown mode early and often.
Defense Coyotes
- Coyotes have an excellent blend of defenders. Oliver Ekman-Larsson looks like a stud in the making. Keith Yandle is always good for some offense on the backend.
Goaltending Coyotes
- Mike Smith has been solid since his stint on the IR. Not sure who is getting the start for the Oilers, I assume Dubnyk will get another shot to right things.
Special Teams Oilers
- The Oilers special teams are the only hope the Oilers have in this game. They can still move the puck well even without Taylor Hall in the lineup.
Coaching Coyotes
- Dave Tippett has to be licking his chops looking at an Oilers lineup without Taylor Hall. Ralph Krueger has to be wondering where it all went wrong.
Intangibles Coyotes
- Coyotes have to be ridiculously well rested having not played since Monday. Oilers are at the tail end of a homestand.

Oilers: (my version)






Game Time - 1:30 PM MT @ Rexall Place on Sportsnet West.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Post Game: Game #16 Wild 3 Oilers 1

No Scoring

EDM Smyth 2 (Belanger, Eager) 12:26
MIN Cullen 2 (Suter) 15:01

MIN Setoguchi 3 2:20
MIN Cullen 3 (Clutterbuck, Gilbert) 13:59

Niklas Backstrom 27/28

Devan Dubnyk 25/28

Game Notes:
- The Oilers lose their 3 game on this 5 game homestand with one game left to go. The Wild took a page out of the Kings playbook and outwaited the Oilers, struck twice in the third period and that was all she wrote. For as many talented players the Oilers have, they sure play an uninteresting style of hockey. Might be the opponent, it might be them, its hard to say for sure. One thing is for certain, the way the Oilers are building their club clearly isn't working. In a conference where teams constantly clog the middle of the ice with big bodies, the Oilers are swimming upstream, constantly going against the grain, met with subpar results. Sure the Oilers have their moments where they shine, like any team does, but what the Oilers don't have is sustainability. Patching together multiple wins has been an epic chore for the Oilers over the past few seasons, and the big reason being is there is a team like the Kings, Wild, Stars, Coyotes always lurking on the schedule, looking at the Oilers as easy prey. More often than not, they are.  So now the Oilers sit with a 6-7-3 record, good enough for 13th in the conference. We've seen this movie before. Much like the Kings, the Wild  brought their "B" game and it was good enough for tonight.

Player Of The Game:
Ryan Smyth LW - Smyth scored the lone Oilers goal of the night and his line with Belanger and Eager was the best Oilers line of the night. Eager was smashing players and Belanger was his usual responsible self. This was the first game of the season where Ryan Smyth looked like his old self tonight. Going to the net with authority and creating havoc when he got there.  This line played like an effective third line tonight. It's too bad for the Oilers that the top 2 lines had nothing going on tonight.

Goat Of The Game:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C - The Nuge is struggling all over the ice during the homestand. Struggling offensively, losing battles defensively, seems to be caught in between in his transition game. This is life of a 1st line center in the NHL. If you want to become an elite 1st line center in the NHL, you need to win the matchup with the other teams 1st line center. The Nuge is the player that has the most impact on the game because he has the most ice to cover. So, when he's not going, the team is not going to fly so well, as shown by the offense of the Oilers. One might say its tough to put this kind of pressure on such a young player, but that is life of a 1st line center in the NHL. He's an undeniable talent that is learning on the job.

Pre-Game: Game #16 Wild vs. Oilers

The Oilers fresh off another learning experience versus the Kings, get the opportunity to face another team that enjoys a fine taffy pull in the Minnesota Wild. The Oilers stayed patient in the Kings which is a positive sign. Problem was they put themselves to sleep in the process and ultimately stopped getting scoring opportunities. One thing the Oilers have been good at is staying in the games and being opportunistic in crunch time. Last game, the Kings did to the Oilers what they have done to a few teams this season, pull wins out late in games. The Oilers are a work in progress continuing to learn hockey lessons along the way. Ultimately this team will need the fine tooth scalpel and add some strength to the top 6, two-way ability to the bottom six and continue to find reliable defenders. The turnover will continue as the Oilers need to strengthen the center and defense positions. Could use some power forward wingers as well. As much as Oilers fans and hockey pundits enjoy the entertainment value of this team, it isn't built to win over the long haul, at least not yet. The Wild sit one point above the Oilers in 10th place in the standings while the Oilers are 11th. The Wild are a new look team with high price free agent addition in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. But like teams of the Wild past, they have issues scoring goals, dead last in the conference in goals for. Another test for the Oilers versus a team that can lock things down. The key for the Oilers is sticking with the gameplan and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. Teams like the Wild and the Kings prey on turnovers.

Forwards Wild
- The addition of Parise gives the club a whole different dimension it didn't have before. The Wild are having issues breaking old habits. The Oilers are having issues with consistency.
Defense Oilers
- The Oilers defense has played well for most of the year, they have cut the goals against way down. The Wild defense is formidable but not very deep.
Goaltending Wild
- Niklas Backstrom has been a thorn in the side of the Oilers for many years. Devan Dubnyk will likely get the start for the Oilers. Need to see a bounce back game from him.
Special Teams Oilers
- Edmonton's powerplay sits 6th and the penalty kill sits 4th in the league. Minnesota's PP is 22nd and the PK is 9th. Special Teams for the Oilers has been keeping them in games.
Coaching Wild
- Its pretty much a wash as both clubs have battled inconsistency and have struggled to score goals.
Intangibles Oilers
- The Oilers in game 4 of a 5 game homestand with the games nicely spread apart, so fatigue should not be an issue.

Oilers: (my version)






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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Post Game: Game #15 Kings 3 Oilers 1

No Scoring

LA Fraser 1 (Lewis, Nolan) 4:44
EDM Gagner 5 (Hall, J.Schultz) 16:50 PP

LA Carter 7 (Lewis) 19:10
LA Stoll 3 (King, Doughty) 19:38 EN

Los Angeles
Jonathan Quick 23/24

Nikolai Khabibulin 35/37

Game Notes:
- The more things change, the more they stay the same. Tough loss to take. When it looked as if overtime was about to happen and then a floater with a deft tip beats you, that's just a tough one to take, especially when every point is crucial. Last minute goal by Jeff Carter snuffed out any opportunity to take anything positive out of this game. The Oilers got strong goaltending from Khabibulin throughout the game, but that last goal stunk all kinds of bad. It was a goal given up due to fatigue. Khabibulin couldn't close the five hole fast enough and Eberle didn't have enough mustard to clamp down on Carter's stick. The Kings got stronger as the game wore. Eventually the volume of shots got to Khabibulin and he gave up the winner at the absolute worst time. The Oilers defensive game held up strong for most of the game, but the Kings started using their muscle and it neutralized the Oilers speed. The Oilers scoring chances steadily declined throughout the game. As much as any fan wants to cheer their face off for this Oilers team, one can see that the Oilers are still having issues with experience and muscle. The Kings did not play very well on this night, their execution was horrid but still managed to dominate the play, outshooting the Oilers 38-24. The Kings did enough to win on this night. The Kings team structure allows them to hang around games.

Player Of The Game:
Sam Gagner C - Sam Gagner is the most improved player of the Oilers this season. Scored the lone goal on this night and is constantly around the play. Gagner is finishing his checks, staying in the play and executing plays. He is shooting a lot more which has led to his success. I had mentioned before the season started that if Gagner wanted success, he was going to have to shoot more especially riding shotgun with Ales Hemsky. Gagner has taken that to heart and came into the game 4th on the club in shots on goal. I still don't think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner can co-exist as the first and second line centers of a contending hockey club. But Sam Gagner has legitmately labelled himself as a legitimate 2nd line NHL center.

Goat Of The Game:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C - The Kings are the type of team that the Nuge is going to struggle against. Kings have 3 strong centers they roll through and he had issues with all of them. His line was on the ice for all 3 goals against and ended the night -3. Nuge was able to make some plays offensively tonight but the net execution just wasn't there tonight. Got battered around a bit tonight, took a stiff hit from Dustin Brown that helped the Kings turn the tables in the 3rd period. Teams with bigger, more experienced centers are going to be tough matchups for the Oilers. The Oilers are going to have to delicately balance trying to get the most out of the Nuge while trying to maintain his health.  The Nuge has taken on a lot of heavy minutes early on this season, it will be interesting to see how the wear and tear affect him towards the end of the year.

Pre-Game: Game #15 Kings vs. Oilers

Oilers have shown a flair for the dramatic this season that has entired the fans thoroughly. As entertaining the Oilers have been, the Oilers are sitting with a 6-5-3 record, good enough for 11th in the conference. So, as entertaining as they have been, there is still a lot of work to do in terms of achieving consistency. Tonight, the Oilers get to face one of those stingy defenses they despise in the Kings. If the Oilers truly want to make it to next level and achieve playoffs, they need to start beating these heavily defensive minded teams. The Oilers managed an offensive outburst against the Avalanche on Saturday, a good a time as any to show it while the whole country is watching. The key to success is goals for the Oilers, without goals the Oilers aren't winning anything. More importantly, its about balance, the Oilers are geting timely goals from the bottom of the lineup when they win, but nothing when they lose. The bottom of the lineup creating goals is the difference between winning and losing. Devan Dubnyk had a tough game on Saturday night, it will be important for him to have a bounce back game. The Oilers may have found an identity when they faced the Avalanche and fired a team record 56 shots at the Colorado goal. Shots on goal is what will alow the Oilers to maintain possession and ultimately wear down their opponent. Since the Oilers are light in the hitting department, shots are the thing that will allow the Oilers to win the attrition game. Even though the Stanley Cup champion Kings are off to a slow start this season, they will be a stiff test for the Oilers. The Oilers beat the Kings 2-1 in overtime earlier this season in the infamous Nail Yakupov goal celebration game. Sam Gagner tallied the winner in that game.

Forwards Kings
- Neither team is scoring much consistently but the Kings have the type of forwards that have given the Oilers fits in the past.
Defense Kings
- Drew Doughty is playing much better recently after getting off to a horrendous start. The Oilers are slowly to show weakness on defense over the past couple of games.
Goaltending Kings
- Jonathan Quick has been stingy this year minus a couple of back breaking goals that resulted in losses. Devan Dubnyk coming off of a tough start.
Special Team Oilers
- Kings special teams are in the bottom half of the league while the Oilers are in the top 10 in both categories.
Coaching Kings
- Can't really argue with Darryl Sutter and his Stanley Cup ring, at least not yet.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers have home ice advantage and haven't played since Saturday, so they should be ready to go, in theory.







Game Time - 8 PM MT @ Rexall Place on TSN.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Post Game: Game #14 Oilers 6 Avalanche 4

COL McLeod 2 (Hejduk, Mitchell) 1:22
COL Duchene 5 (McGinn, Barrie) 18:22
COL McGinn 2 (Duchene, Barrie) 19:11
EDM Hemsky 6 (Gagner, Hall) 19:56 PP

2ND PERIODCOL Mitchell 5 (McGinn, Duchene) 6:24 PP
EDM Nugent-Hopkins 1 (Hall, Eberle) 15:59
EDM Hemsky 7 (Smyth) 16:58 PP

EDM Eberle 4 (Gagner, Yakupov) 8:58 PP
EDM Paajarvi 2 (Smyth, Belanger) 18:26
EDM Eberle 5 (Hall, Nugent-Hopkins) 18:51 EN

Semyon Varlamov 50/55

Devan Dubnyk 9/12
Nikolai Khabibulin 16/17

Game Notes:
- A wild one on a Saturday night, it doesn't get much better than that. For the first time the Oilers found a way to impose their will against a club and take a victory. It took awhile for the Oilers to fully find their stride in this one. They were down 3-1 after one period, 4-2 half way through the 2nd period but the Oilers kept up their tempo. The Oilers new found philosophy of fire shots by volume paid off tonight as it was ultimately the undoing of the Avalanche. Oilers wore out the Avalanche by the end of the game as the Oilers kept Semyon Varlamov busy by firing a team record 56 shots towards his goal. It wae nice to see the results behind the volume of shots. 56 shots without the "W" just wouldn't have felt the same. Not only did the Oilers win this game but they might have created the foundation of an identity in this game. The Oilers will be about speed and offensive pressure but the key will be to establish the balance within the lineup. As much as this was a fun win, this was a win against a lowly Avalanche club, but one the Oilers needed to have. The key going forward is to establish this type of game against experienced/stronger clubs.

Player Of The Game:
Ales Hemsky RW - Hemsky once again was a big time offensive catalyst for the Oilers on this night. Big thing about his game tonight, was he pulled the Oilers out of the gutter when they needed it the most. Hemsky has been one of the more consistent performers for the Oilers, in a season filled with inconsistency thus far. Two goals, countless other opportunities. The Oilers lines were coming in waves tonight, and they were getting stronger and stronger as the game went on. Kudos to Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle for finding their games and contributing heavily towards the offense.

Goat Of The Game:
Devan Dubnyk G - Tough night for Dubnyk, gave up 3 in the first period and didn't get a chance to see the second period. Dubnyk had issues with pucks squeaking between his legs tonight, a sign that he really wasn't sharp. These things will happen from time to time on goaltenders, but the key is to keep it to a minimum. Dubnyk has to erase this game from memory and move on to the next one. He was a lot like the rest of the club, dealing with a lot of rust during the three day break.

Next Game - Tuesday February 19, 2013 vs. Kings @ Rexall Place on TSN 8 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #14 Avalanche vs. Oilers

Nothing like a three day break from the Oilers to take your mind off of things. Almost an out of sight, out of mind, type scenario. Welp, the Oilers get back at it tonight against the Avalanche. The Oilers currently sit with a 5-5-3 record, good enough for 11th place in the Western Conference. Only Colorado and Los Angeles have scored less goals than the Oilers in the Western Conference. The Oilers are having a tough time mustering goals. The talent is there, the chemistry and mix of players is not. The Oilers will pull out the blender on the lines in this game and give it a mini-spin. Ralph has a lot of options but the problem lies in that many players are the same pieces, something that has plagued Tom Renney, Pat Quinn and Craig MacTavish before him. The organizaton has been poorly run for quite some time now with no end in sight. The Oilers have a penchant for wild mood swings in philosophy never bringing all the parts to the middle, what you get is a team that is good at something but sorely lacking in many other areas. All the media pundits want this team to succeed something bad, because they represent a "new order" of exciting hockey that everyone wants to see, but the longer it doesn't succeed, the more it will be viewed as a shame. The Oilers are building pieces, but not quite yet at the part of building a team. The more the team building is put off the longer it will take for the Oilers to see playoffs. Getting back to the game, this is a game the Oilers have to have. Losing this game would be crippling in so many ways.

Forwards Oilers
- The Oilers have more high end talent on paper, its a matter of building lines to get the most out of every piece. Avalanche are dealing with an injury to Landeskog and a Ryan O'Reilly holdout.
Defense Oilers
- Justin Schultz has more points (7) than the entire defensive corps of the Avalanche playing tonight (6).
Goaltending Oilers
- Devan Dubnyk needs a strong bounce back game. Avalanche goaltending has been lukewarm at best.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers powerplay has slipped to 8th, but its a far cry from the 30th powerplay for the Avalanche.
Coaching Avalanche
- Joe Sacco has settled his team down after a slow start. Interested to see Ralph Krueger's adjustments and if they will matter.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers has three days to prepare for this game as Colorado played in Minnesota on Thursday night.







Game Time - 8 PM MT @ Rexall Place on CBC

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Post Game: Game #13 Stars 4 Oilers 1

EDM Hall 3 (Eberle) 12:59

DAL Dillon 2 (Robidas, Roy) 4:23

DAL Nystrom 1 (Fiddler) 0:44
DAL Jagr 4 (Daley, Benn) 15:25
DAL Garbutt 2 (Fiddler) 17:17

Kari Lehtonen 35/36

Devan Dubnyk 25/29

Game Notes:
- What goes around comes around in the game of hockey. As much as they didn't deserve the win in Columbus, they desreved a better fate in this one. Two unlucky goals from Dallas had the Oilers playing catch up in the 3rd period but they could not overcome the defecit. The Oilers fired 36 shots towards Dallas goal and had only one goal to show for it. It goes like that sometimes, but its something they have to continue to do. Shooting needs to be engraved in each of their brains. Many positives can be taken out of this game, moreso than the Columbus game in where they won. The only things lacking in this game were execution around the net and patience to stay with the game when the score was 2-1. The Oilers just could not follow up a great play with another great play. And then impatience set in for the Oilers. Turnovers led to the undoing as the Stars tallied their final two goals. There isn't much solace the Oilers can take out of this game other than they worked hard and got their opportunities, but Lehtonen played well in goal for Dallas and Dallas got some puck luck that resulted in the first two Dallas goals. The Oilers need to forget this game but remember to keep piling up the shot totals. They will get their fair share of puck luck from it if they continue with that theme.

Player Of The Game:
Taylor Hall LW - Hall was the poster child for shooting more. He replied with 9 shots on goal and the lone Oilers tally, a goal where he just shot the puck on the fly and it fooled Lehtonen. Hall was using his speed all night, cutting in off the edges and taking multiple shots. Hall is the player that will get the most amount of shots on the Oilers because he can create his own shot. Once Hall learns to become more selfish with his shot, he can start to branch out from there and start using his teammates once defenders start getting sucked in towards him.

Goat Of The Game:
Nail Yakupov LW -  Yakupov actually had a strong game like many of the Oilers did tonight, but it was his neutral zone turnover that led to the 3rd Stars goal and pretty much put the game on ice. It's this type of play that the Oilers need to negate and become more willfully strong. The Oilers have to get in their minds that they will score the next goal as long as they play like they should. Once they start to become freelance out there and start to play individually, thats when things start to back fire. Players with the puck need to protect it and players without the puck need to do a better job of being an outlet. If you are doing neither, then you might as well get off the ice.

Next Game - Saturday February 16. 2013 vs. Avalanche @ Rexall Place on CBC 8 PM MT.

Pre-Game: Game #13 Stars vs. Oilers

The Oilers are back at it again tonight against the Stars. The games are coming fast and furious in this shortened season. Its a big game for both squads because if this game ends in regulation, one team will be inside the playoff bracket while the other team will be on the outside. The Oilers looked disjointed all weekend. They managed to steal a win in Columbus while losing in Detroit. The Oilers looked anywhere from supbar to downright awful in the two games. One thing that wasn't awful was the goaltending. The Oilers only gave up 3 goals but surrendered 70 shots over the weekend. The goaltending was very sharp and it needed to be in order for the Oilers to stay in the games over the weekend. The Oilers need to find their game quickly, they cannot allow the losses to pileup and talk playoffs at the same time. They need to find a way to stay afloat and to find the right combination of players that will allow them to find some offense. The Oilers finally scored 3 goals for the first time in a awhile, though it was aided by an empty net goal. The Oilers dropped a 3-2 overtime decision against these same Stars last Wednesday night. We know the Oilers can hang with them, its just a matter of finding that extra gear in order to put them away. The loser point has been saving the Oilers early on this season, its time to start turning some of those games into wins. Preparation and proper mindset is key for the Oilers. With a quarter if the season already in the books, the Oilers need to be flying from the start of the game.

Forwards Stars
- I just can't give this to the Oilers right now even though they have more skill on paper. The lines are a mess and the Oilers continue to have issues at center.
Defense Oilers
- The Oilers defense has played well even though the shots are piling up. The shots against speak more to the forwards lack of maintaining pressure in offensive zone. Stars defense can be pressured.
Goaltending Oilers
- Kari Lehtonen has played well for the Stars this season but as of now, Devan Dubnyk could be a Vezina candidate if the Oilers manage to sneak in the playoffs.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers special teams are still very good statistically even though the powerplay has gone stone cold. Oilers are 6th on the PP and 5th on the PK. Stars are 17th on the PP and 9th on the PK.
Coaching Stars
- Ralph Krueger is slowly losing the grip of his team. Needs to figure out line combos quickly while working with a depleted lineup. Glen Gulutzen is very much in the same boat as Krueger.
Intangibles Oilers
- Oilers start a five game homestand tonight which could be a blessing or a curse. Oilers need a win tonight.







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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Post Game: Game #12 Oilers 3 Blue Jackets 1

EDM Hemsky 5 (Hall) 13:58

No Scoring

CLB Umberger 1 (Tyutin, Dubinsky) 9:43
EDM Paajarvi 1 (Gagner, Smid) 16:50 SH
EDM Gagner 4 (Nugent-Hopkins) 19:47 EN

Devan Dubnyk 39/40

Sergei Bobrovsky 11/13

Game Notes:
- What can be said that has not been said before? The only positives that can be taken from this one is the Oilers got the win and Devan Dubnyk was unbelievable. Throw in Magnus Paajarvi actually making a positive play with the puck and the Oilers walk away with two points. The Oilers fought the grain of hockey history the entire game two pull out a win. Dominated in their own zone, poor power play, poorly timed penalties, all things that should have bit the Oilers right sqaure in the backside if they were playing a better. Thankfully they were not and a win is a win. The Oilers are in no position to grade wins, so they should run to the airport with two points in hand and start focusing on things that could use some polish because there is a lot of work to be done with this Oilers club. The Oilers face the Dallas Stars once again on Tuesday, they better be a lot more prepared heading into that game. Thanks to the empty net goal the Oilers finally broke the 3 goal barrier for the first time since they scored 4 against the Avalanche two weeks ago.

Player Of The Game:
Devan Dubnyk G - I'm kind of tired putting goalies in this spot, but this was likely the best goaltending performance of the year anywhere in the NHL. As the Oilers were starting to fade from playing back to back games, Dubnyk's workload kept increasing as the game wore on. The chances were getting better and the Oilers were offering less on less resistance. Devan Dubnyk solidiified himself as the undeniable starting goaltender for the Oilers now and going forward. The only question left is what is the ceiling on Dubnyk's game? Spot starting Khabibulin will be important but giving Dubnyk the bulk of the games shouldn't even in question now.

Goat Of The Game:
Ryan Smyth C - Was not a good weekend for Ryan Smyth. After taking a questionable misconduct penalty yesterday, he took the hat trick of penalties in this game, forcing a fatigued Oilers club to kill off needless penalties. Ryan Smyth looks like a player that is winding down his career, trying to help out wherever he can, but the Oilers cannot afford the goofy penalties he has taken this weekend. Ryan Smyth has been making positive contributions on the penalty kill while battling the 5v5 action to a stalemate. The less he is in the spotlight, the better off the Oilers will be.

Pre-Game: Game #12 Oilers vs. Blue Jackets

The Oilers head into Columbus limping badly. Losers of 5 of five in a row (but 3 loser points!) has this team wondering how its going to find any semblance of offense. Oilers have gone 6 straight games without scoring more than two goals. That streak has to end today against fellow cellar dwellers in the Blue Jackets. Time for the Oilers to get their scoring hats on and its time to break this streak. The Oilers hold their fortune in their own hands for now, but they need to start picking up some wins tout de suite, otherwise we could be counting this team out by mid-March. The Oilers tried some new line combinations with little result. The Oilers mix is not condusive to creating chances. Too many slick perimeter wingers, not enough battle, center depth is weak, its very difficult to win in the NHL with just pure skill and very little battle level. The NHL isn't shinny and until every player gets its nose dirty, expect more of the same. At the same time, if you have the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins throwing their bodies around, injuries might ensue, so its a difficult balance. I've believed the entire time through the lean years and all the high draft picks that this team was being constructed in a matter that was going to take time as this team was acquiring high end talent. At some point a shrewd GM is going to have to take a fine tooth scalpel and cut the pieces that need to be cut. The time for talent acquiring and position be damned is over. The time for building a team should be starting now.

Forwards Oilers
- The kids are stone cold right now but I still give them a leg up on the Blue Jackets forwards. Both teams are breaking in new forwards this season.
Defense Oilers
- The defense has not been the problem for the Oilers minus a few mental breakdowns. The Oilers can expose the Blue Jackets defense if they are willing.
Goaltending Oilers
- Oilers should be going back to Devan Dubnyk in this one after a strong start from Khabibulin. Not a fan of either Bobrovsky or Mason.
Special Teams Oilers
- Oilers lost a special teams battle they should have won against the Red Wings yesterday. Columbus PP and PK are 25th and 10th respectively.
Coaching Oilers
- Really a coin flip between Krueger and Todd Richards. I like the way Krueger has coached up the defensive scheme but his ability to put together lines for offense is abysmal.
Intangibles Blue Jackets
- Once again the Oilers dominate the board, but here is where they might lose. Back to back games. Fatigue, lethargy and apathy are the only things that might do in the Oilers in this one.

Oilers: (my version)



Blue Jackets:



Game Time - 4 PM MT @ Columbus on Sportsnet West.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Post Game: Game #11 Red Wings 2 Oilers 1

No Scoring

DET Datsyuk 4 (Brunner, Zetterberg) 8:33 PP
EDM J.Schultz 4 (Eberle, Hartikainen) 17:55 PP

DET Kronwall 1 (Datsyuk, Zetterberg) 6:08 PP

Nikolai Khabibulin 28/30

Jimmy Howard 23/24

Game Notes:
- The Oilers played hard but came up short once again. Seems to be the theme of the run the Oilers have been on lately. The good news is the Oilers seem to never be out of a game, at least on paper. The bad news is they seem to make a 2-1 lead seem insurmountable like they did this afternoon. The Oilers were a little too passive in this one and that plays right into the hands of the Red Wings. The Oilers also lost the special teams battle, something they needed to win to have a chance in this game. They managed to battle the 5v5 to a stalemate which is a positive for the Oilers who have been getting buried in that department. The Oilers are accustomed to being totally outclassed in Joe Louis Arena over the years but the Oilers hung around this game which is a small victory. But a loss is a loss and the Oilers head into Columbus needing a win tomorrow afternoon. As expected the line shuffling 5v5 didn't produce any results. The Oilers will likely stick with it heading into Columbus tomorrow.

Player Of The Game:
- Nikolai Khabibulin G - For a guy who hasn't played a game in over ten months, he looked sharp this afternoon. Literally no rust and was quick to react going side to side, making several big saves to keep the Oilers in this one. I'd continue to be cautious with Khabibulin, but it was nice to know that Khabibulin was able to tend twine against a formidable foe and not look like a train wreck. I guess you could say expectations were low, but he passed the first test of the season. It's also nice to know that the Oilers don't have to play the heck out of Dubnyk this year. Dubnyk will need some breaks at points this season.

Goat Of The Game:
- Ryan Smyth C - Ryan Smyth lost his marbles out their in the 2nd period on a ticky tack offside call that ended up in him getting a 10 minute misconduct. On a team that is ravaged by injury to most of its vets, it was important that Smyth take a regular shift. Ryan Smyth's goal totals may never be there again, but the Oilers need his reliability on the ice more than ever. I hope it was a gesture to try and wake up his hockey club that slept walked through the first half of the game. If not, it was a pretty selfish play on his part.

Next Game - Sunday February 10, 2013 vs. Blue Jackets @ Columbus 4 PM MT on Sportnet West.

Pre-Game: Game #11 Oilers vs. Red Wings

The Oilers are currently mired in a good news, bad news type situation heading into game 11. Good news, the Oilers are 4-3-3 currently sitting in 9th place which is a far cry from where they have been over the last few seasons. Bad news, the Oilers have hit the skids losing the last 4 games. Good news, the Oilers got the "loser point" in three of those games to stay afloat. Bad news, the Oilers center situation is in dire straits forcing the Oilers to recall Chris Vandevelde and forced to move Ryan Smyth to the center position. Good news, Ralph Krueger mixed up the line combos which was something that just needed to be done. Bad news, the new line combos are even more messed up than they were before. Good news, the Oilers get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins back into the fold for this game. Bad news, the Oilers have failed to score more than 2 goals in 5 straight games. The goals have dried up and the kid line wasn't pissing a drop. With the bottom end of the Oilers lineup giving very little offensively, too much of the offensive burden is falling to the 2nd line. The Oilers face an old nemesis in the Red Wings in a place they seldom win. It's not a Red Wings team that the Oilers are accustomed to facing as this Red Wings club is subpar on defense with the recent losses the club has endured. If the Oilers attack with speed and are able execute, they have a chance, but their inexperience also has the ability to bite them in the backside in this game. This could be a turning point game. If the Oilers get blown out and can take nothing from this game, the hangover could last going into the Columbus game on Sunday, but if the Oilers find a way to take something out of the game, it could used as momentum in facing the Blue Jackets. Its a swing weekend for the Oilers and we'll likely get a better feel for where this club is headed after this weekend.

Forwards Red Wings
-  For no reason other than experience at the top end of their lineup. The Oilers young kids have gone cold and the center play is band-aided together.
Defense Oilers
- The Oilers defense has played well as a whole for the most part. The defense errors are magnified by the lack of goals for.
Goaltending Oilers
- Devan Dubnyk has played well for the Oilers although its starting to show that the volume of shots is starting to affect him. Not a big fan of Jimmy Howard who goes flaky at the worst of times.
Special Teams Oilers
Red Wings special teams have really hit the skids without Niklas Lidstrom. 26th on the PP and 29th on the PK. Oilers are sitting 4th on the PP and 7th on the PK.
Coaching Oilers
- Mike Babcock has shown to be great with adjustments as shown by following up a 4-1 loss to Calgary with a 5-1 win vs. St. Louis. Ralph Krueger is still trying to find his way with a depleted lineup.
Intangibles Red Wings
- Oilers have shown to be slow out of the gate in afternoon games, a sign of inexperience. Red Wings have a lot more experience in afternoon primetime games in the U.S.




Red Wings:



Game Time - 12 PM MT @ Detroit on CBC.