November 15 2010 03:00PM
Fresh off a four game losing streak where they allowed 25 goals, the Oilers might get be putting out an SOS to Oklahoma City and recalling a defenceman. Ladislav Smid didn't skate today, and Tom Renney couldn't shed any light on Smid's status, because he hasn't spoken to him yet, but he hinted that the Oilers might be adding a D-man before Wednesday's game v. Chicago.
The Oilers backend isn't even treading water right now, they are in full fledged bail out mode. It is Christmas time in the defensive zone right now, with the entire team giftwrapping chance after chance to the opposition. Tom Gilbert was -11 on the road trip. You can't sugarcoat it, he needs to be better.
Kurtis Foster is not physical, it isn't in his DNA, but he needs to have better positioning and win more battles. Jason Strudwick and Jim Vandermeer's foot speed has been exposed, and I'm not sure that at this stage of their careers it can get any better. Ladislav Smid is trying to do too much. He needs to simplify his game, and let the puck do the work. Theo Peckham is making mistakes, but he is a rookie, and is the only one who plays physical. The coaching staff can handle his mistakes, because his effort and battle level has been exceptional. Ryan Whitney is their best D-man, and has been fairly solid, but even he could make better decisions in his own zone.
Recalling Shawn Belle or Richard Petiot won't solve all their problems, in fact I'm not sure it will make that big of a difference, because they are only one player and not God, but at this point it needs to happen.
Tom Renney continues to tweak his PK, but it isn't the system that isn't working, it's the personnel. The Oilers don't have a lot of NHL penalty killers on this roster. For those who don't know, the system they use is pretty much the same one they are using in Oklahoma. The Barons are having great success, while the Oilers are 29th.
While Tom Renney won't say it publicly, he'd love to have a Liam Reddox or Ryan O'Marra up here. Those two are solid penalty killers. Keep in mind though, that while they are great AHL penalty killers, they wouldn't automatically be great in the NHL, but they have a better mindset to kill penalties than what Renney has to work with right now. The other big difference between the Barons and the Oilers, is the Barons goaltenders are near the top of the AHL talent pool, while Khabibulin hasn't played like an upper echelon goalie thus far. You can have a great system, solid personnel, but if your goalie isn't solid on the PK you won't have success.
I'm a bit surprised by the Avery scenario in OilersNation. I understand it was frustrating to watch, but let's look at the way it played out.
It started with a clean hit on Colin Fraser. No offence to Fraser, but Avery rubbed out Fraser, not Taylor Hall. It was a clean hit. Guys don't need to fight just because they land a solid, clean check.
Smid comes over, and I give him credit for wanting to stand up for a teammate especially when it was 5-2, and challenges Avery. Avery originally declined the fight, and the Oilers and Renney confirmed he said, "We'll do it next shift."
At that point, Smid could have just skated away. He stayed there and was facing Avery, when basically Avery beat Smid to the punch. It wasn't a sucker punch. Sure, you can argue it was cheap, but Smid was facing him and Avery clearly got the jump on him.
Avery has been in a idiot in the past, but he has never been suspened for his on-ice antics. He is a mouthpiece, and far from a stand up guy, but he didn't sucker punch Smid. Smid knew who he was dealing with, and should have been prepared for anything. Smid will be back, and I'm sure the next time he won't ask twice when he encounters Avery.
The Oilers are still more of a reactionary team than one that initiates things. I'm not just talking fighting, I'm talking their overall game. In the few games where the Oilers push the pace and play with some semblance of a physical presence they have dominated. The problem is they don't seem to know how to play that way every game.
That is just another thing that TEACHER Tom needs to instill in their game. The process is a long way from being completed, and the journey won't be pretty some nights.
I think fans and the organization will accept Exciting Last Place Hockey, but neither side should be satisfied with Uninspired Last Place Hockey.