Hemsky, meet the MacBlender

Jason Gregor
October 23 2008 12:52PM

Ales Hemsky needs to play better. We can debate all we want about third line combinations, and whether or not MacIntyre or Stortini should be on the fourth line, but if Hemsky doesn’t play better this team won’t be a division winner.

We’ve all heard the line “You need your best players to be your best players,” and you might think it’s over-used, but look at most division winners. At the end of the season their best players HAVE been their best players most nights.

So far the Oilers’ best player hasn’t shown up. We saw some glimpses in the third period last night, when he danced around a few Hawks, but other than that, a Hemsky sighting has been as rare as a hot girl walking up to me in a bar and buying me a drink. Sure it happens once in awhile, but once they realize I’m not Mr Clean they magically disappear.

What’s interesting about Hemsky is that he actually has been shooting again this year. Last season he had 184 shots in 74 games for an average of 2.4/game, so far this year he has eleven shots in five games. But it’s his shot selection that has been the problem. Outside of the third period last night, he hasn’t been attacking the defence, or penetrating the zone. Almost all of his shots have come from the perimeter.

Hemsky can’t be invisible for five-game stretches. It’s true that the chemistry on the first line doesn’t seem there. Hemsky has said many times he wants to play with Horcoff, so the obvious move is shifting out Cole.

But who do you move in?

The Oilers won’t have a real practice today. The morning skate is arguably the biggest waste of time in hockey. Jim Rutherford has cancelled the Hurricanes’ morning skates, and you wonder how long before it becomes optional for most teams. So, without a real practice, does MacT make the change today?

Logic states he will keep the lines together tonight in Colorado. How ironic is it that after years of being accused of the MacBlender, he has kept his lines pretty much intact this year? I say it’s time to put the blender to use.

Toss some raw eggs, a banana, strawberries, orange juice and whey powder in and see what comes out. That sounds gross, but really it’s a great morning shake.

For me there are two options:

Penner or Nilsson. Penner worked well with the two Hs last season so that’s an easy call, but Nilsson is the most intriguing. He has the speed, skill and smarts to play with Hemsky. He is dynamic and has been one of the best forwards so far this season.

Do I think that combination plays together tonight? Not a chance, but I think the potential of Nilsson and Hemsky could be devastating. At some point this season, they should play together, and when they do, it should produce instant results.

Your best player doesn’t have to be on every night to win, but Hemsky needs to start showing up more often if the Oil hope to keep winning.

—Listen to Gregor weekdays from 3 to 6pm on the TEAM 1260 or online at www.justagame.ca

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 David Staples
October 23 2008, 12:58PM
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Wanye, great idea with the blender, but I'm going to have to steal it and improve upon it, as you clearly forgot to take the fruit out of the blenders and "gimp" or "photoshop" in the heads of Oilers players.

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#2 David Staples
October 23 2008, 01:00PM
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Here's one vote for the tried and succesful, put in Penner.

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#3 DJ Spyn Cycle
October 23 2008, 01:03PM
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time was a factor, David, given that have none. :)

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#4 Jason Gregor
October 23 2008, 01:04PM
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Theo Peckham has been recalled and there is a good chance he will play tonight. Also many are wondering how the Oilers do on PPV. I tracked down their PPV number since they started in 2002.

2002/2003---- 3-1-1-0 2003/2004---- 6-4-0-0 2005/2006---- 4-5-0-2 2006/2007---- 5-8-0-0 2007/2008---- 0-1-0-0 __________ 18-19-1-2

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#5 NoPantsTuesday
October 23 2008, 01:05PM
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Cole on the third line? I would like to see how that pans out.

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#6 baggedmilk
October 23 2008, 01:11PM
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Firstly, Gregor, the Mr. Clean reference to that horrible pens blog is hilarious. Cracked me up. I defended you by the way.

As for Hemsky I've been wondering what his deal is lately. Too many turnovers at the blue line and he generally seems disinterested. I would like to see how Nilsson would fit on that line, but I think the more obvious choice is putting Penner up there with the big line to see how he does.

Here's looking at an effort resembling a hockey game rather than the train wreck that went on last night. I feel the Oilers owe me a personal apology, but more importantly they upset Gene Principe. How long before the Italian Stallion puts on his grey sweat suit, runs up some stairs and starts punching the lions sitting outside chinatown? We can't let that happen.

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#7 BUCK75
October 23 2008, 01:17PM
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I tracked down their PPV number since they started in 2002. 2002/2003—- 3-1-1-0 2003/2004—- 6-4-0-0 2005/2006—- 4-5-0-2 2006/2007—- 5-8-0-0 2007/2008—- 0-1-0-0 __________ 18-19-1-2

Awesome, because their record in Jersey ritirement games is terrible too. Glenn Anderson night is a PPV, so might as well call it a loss now.

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#8 The Towel Boy
October 23 2008, 01:22PM
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Yeah, and I dunno how many times I've noticed Cole rushing in from the RW this year...all up in Hemmer's space.

Maybe that's what's got Hemsky in a funk...Cole's up in his grille.

I like the thought of Nilsson and Hemsky playing together...both very creative...just Nilsson seems more cocky/assertive...that's what Hemsky lacks.

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#9 Moony
October 23 2008, 01:25PM
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Jason: If Peckham is in the line up does that mean that Staios and Souray would both be out of the lineup? Also do you know why is Staios not gonna be playing tonight? My last question for you is if Mac-T would move Nielson onto the first line what would you do with lines 2 and 3? Thanks.

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#10 Chaz
October 23 2008, 01:29PM
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I think with every lack luster PPV performance a la last night, Katz should have to give us a $15 gift certificate for one of his drug stores. That way, we can medicate the horror out of our cerebellums.

PS: Fairly certain that was the first time the word 'cerebellum' showed up on ON. To honor this achievement I'm taking the rest of the day off, a la the Oil last night.

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#11 The Towel Boy
October 23 2008, 01:34PM
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Nielson

That reminds me...everyone I ever hear say his name says NEILSON...and it's spelled Nilsson...is it a Swedish pronounciation thing? ...and that's how we get Row-bert instead of Robert?

Do any of you media guys have some sort of phonetic list of names that says how names are supposed to be said? ie: Langkow pronounced lang-co.

What's the deal? Just curious.

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#12 swany
October 23 2008, 01:41PM
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Put players back where there was sucess. Penner, Horc,Hemmer second line of Nilsson, Gagner, Cole, third line of Moreau,Cogs, and Pies fourth line of MAP, Brods Zack/Mac. everyone back to there normal positions and having Cole on the second line will give Gagner and Nilsson some much needed space as well as a big physical body to do the dirty work.

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#13 Ender the Dragon
October 23 2008, 01:48PM
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Hemsky has been a force for Edmonton for a long time. No one denies that. But this is the same double-standard between goalies and skaters that we discussed last month. If a goalie looked shaky for 5 games, even if it was someone like Luongo who carried your team last season, does anyone think he'd be starting in net for game 6? Survey says no. But a skater like Hemsky gets treated with kid gloves because of last year.

Call it like you see it. MacT went on and on all through training camp about how the best players would play. If that's true, then I say he should put his money where his mouth is. Who's the real problem here; Hemsky, or Cole? Everyone has talked a ton about how good Cole looks, and we've all shaken our heads and wondered where the real Hemsky is. And the solution we're proposing here is to cut Cole's minutes on the first line? Huh?

You want Hemsky to play with Nillson? Good idea. With Cogs on the second line. Move Gagne up to play with the top unit. Let's remind the players that production is rewarded, and that failing to produce will buy you a bit more time to think about what's gone wrong as you watch from the bench.

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#14 Chaz
October 23 2008, 02:01PM
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Ender the Dragon: "Move Gagner up to play with the top unit. Let’s remind the players that production is rewarded, and that failing to produce will buy you a bit more time to think about what’s gone wrong as you watch from the bench."...

So let me get this straight; You want to move Gagner who has no points to the first line for Hemsky who has 4 as a way of reminding them that production is rewarded? Something's wrong with this argument.

Also, not dressing a 1st liner is a lot bigger of a deal than resting your number one goalie. Apples and oranges it seems to me. Just ask Jason Blake.

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#15 swany
October 23 2008, 02:02PM
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Fundamentaly your right enter the dragon, but I look at it this way Hopefully they dress Smacintyre, and double shift Hemmer give him MORE ice time and let him work his way through the tough start. He is by far our best player and to cut his ice time would hurt the team. Play him as much as possible and with who ever works.

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#16 Ender the Dragon
October 23 2008, 02:20PM
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OK, I agree with Chaz that maybe there is another player besides Gagne that deserves some minutes on the top line. And just to be clear, I never advocated sitting Hemsky, just shaving a minute or two off of his ice time for a game or three and reminding him what the second line looks like. I just have a real problem with rewarding Cole for great play by cutting his minutes.

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#17 swany
October 23 2008, 02:28PM
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Mact done with the first line. If they don't do anything tonight he WILL switch things up. from the Edmonton Journal.

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#18 Scott
October 23 2008, 02:40PM
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The top line needs a shake up, the second line needs some size and the third line has been our best at ES. So try: 12 - 10 - 83 13 - 89 - 26 18 - 34 - 27 78 - 51 - 33/46

But I'm an NHL 09 coach at best...

Oh, and get Penner back on the PP.

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#19 Jason Gregor
October 23 2008, 03:21PM
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Looks like Peckham won't play tonight. The team didn't skate today, so it is really hard to tell, but sources say it looks like Souray will play.

Towel Boy,

Yes there is a phonetic list that eventually we get a copy of. But some of them aren't 100% accurate. The best way sometimes is to ask the player directly how to pronounce his name.

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#20 Wanye Gretz
October 23 2008, 03:29PM
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My favorite part of this post was how David Staples thinks I wrote it. (see first comment)

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#21 milli
October 23 2008, 04:12PM
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I like nilly on the top line, in my opinion he has been going so far, cogs too. I still think there is far to little energy outta this team. They are missing the spark they had at the end last season. I'm hoping that tonight they will put in a full 60. And what is the deal with Staios....I heard he was going to the caps for Ovechkin.....But I heard in from Eklund!!!!

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#22 Gord
October 23 2008, 05:41PM
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They need to reward ther best players with ice time. The players who have stood out (positively) so far are Cole, Nilsson, Moreau and Penner. I say try Penner/Horcoff/Cole 1(a) Nilsson/Gagner/Hemsky 1(b) Moreau/Cogs/Pisani 3 Pouliot/Brodziak/H. Bear 4

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#23 David S
October 23 2008, 06:44PM
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Mac Blender will be turned to high if things don't start clicking pretty soon.

BTW. I've seen Gregor around town and be assured, he does OK with the ladies.

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#24 Jason Gregor
October 23 2008, 08:56PM
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Bagged Milk,

I never read that blog, but let me know where it is...I always can use a good laugh.

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#25 David Staples
October 24 2008, 11:09AM
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Wanye, you do the graphics, right? Oh, I see, it's DJ Spin Cycle who does them . . . I'm always mixing up you two.

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#26 DJ Spyn Cycle
October 24 2008, 11:32AM
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Sometimes we both do it, DS. But when the images are REALLY awesome, it's because of me!

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