Pleasant Valley Sunday

Lowetide
October 30 2011 11:52AM

All appears to be calm and beautiful. The Oilers are performing beyond expectations, the Eskimos are fumbling their way to playing on the road in the playoffs and it's snowing somewhere else. What could possibly go wrong? 

The Edmonton Oilers have enjoyed roster consistency through the season's first 10 games. I believe that's an underrated portion of this season so far; along with Smyth's heroic efforts on the tough minutes line, the goaltenders acting like it's the dead puck era, the defense playing beyond reasonable, the relative health of the group has been solid.

Things may be about to change. There's something in the air. Andy Sutton is flying to NYC to take in Broadway's newest hit (The Shanahan Eraserhead Hearings) and the Oilers are making sure Dan Petry's boy sees the world.

Into this rational world comes the following:

Okay, well THAT happened. Jason's logic makes sense, as the Oilers have 6 healthy bodies in Edmonton at the moment. Currently, the depth chart might look like this:

  1. Tom Gilbert (247 all purpose minutes this season)
  2. Ladislav Smid (202 all purpose minutes this season)
  3. Cam Barker (201 all purpose minutes this season)
  4. Corey Potter (168 all purpose minutes this season)
  5. Theo Peckham (86 all purpose minutes this season)
  6. Jeff Petry (62 all purpose minutes this season)

Ryan Whitney (66 minutes) is injured and Andy Sutton (163 minutes) has been suspended. So, Plante gets the call and if Jason is right will step right into the lineup (I don't know that he makes it here today, so the injured player may actually play tonight).

DEPTH

Plante would not have been my choice for recall, but what I don't know about playing NHL defense is a lot. In looking at the Oklahoma blue, it would seem to me that the consistent pairings have placed Plante outside the top pairings with either Johan Motin or the crazy Russian Kirill Tulupov. Now, I don't watch the games and have no idea about the matching going on, but running through the box scores Bryan Helmer, Bryan Lowery, Colten Teubert and Jeff Petry all appear to play more prominent roles than Plante, Motin and Tulupov.

Here are the current stats for the OKC Blue:

  1. Bryan Helmer 8, 0-6-6 +3
  2. Colten Teubert 8, 2-1-3 +2
  3. Kevin Montgomery 6, 0-3-3 +3
  4. Kirill Tulupov 3, 0-2-2 +3
  5. Johan Motin 6, 0-2-2 +1
  6. Jeff Petry 2, 0-1-1 +1
  7. Ryan Lowery 7, 0-1-1 E
  8. Alex Plante 8, 0-1-1 E

Only three of the defenders have played all 8 games, and Plante is one of them. Having said that, and understanding that both Helmer and Montgomery are OKC players, I would have thought Colten Teubert would have been the more likely choice, and I wonder if we see him, Lowery or Tulupov pass Plante on the depth chart this season.

Plante's mobility is a problem at the NHL level, and that's a lot of slow for a team that already has Sutton and Barker among the options.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

It means the Oilers depth on the blue is razor thin, and that Teubert hasn't passed Alex Plante as a callup option. It also means that kids like Lowery and Tulupov are likely staying in the minors all year long no matter their boxcars or the number of nice things the coach says about them. Learning pro defense is a process.

WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?

When we hear rumors that Steve Tambellini is looking to add a defenseman at some point, this would be the reason. Peckham's uneven play, Whitney's injury history, Smid's tendency to impersonate Willie and Frankie adds to the pressue of the OKC blue.

The fact that Plante is the second callup option (after Petry) tells us this team needs more options.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 yawto
October 30 2011, 11:55AM
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Can't wait for the fist five game winning streak in almost 2 years. Is this team for real? If not, I am reveling in the fakeness. Go Oilers!!!!

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#2 Tron
October 30 2011, 11:56AM
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Fist this. Gay boys.

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#3 Oilers Craig
October 30 2011, 12:08PM
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We need this victory tonight as we are ready to go on a long road trip... hopefully Smyth can keep the kids grounded and the Oil picks up another 2 points. Hope Khabbi starts.

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#4 justDOit
October 30 2011, 12:16PM
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Plante? I can only guess that the thinking here is that with Sutton out and Plante in, the defense's foot-speed will not decrease much, overall.

Maybe a prospective trade partner wants to see Plante in some regular action?

But who are we to judge this team's defense? I mean, we were all expecting the worst before the season started, and to say the least, that hasn't happened.

As substitutions come and go it will be a test of the team, and a good indicator of if this early success is due to player performance or coaching. Can the Oilers really be 'Borg-like', and remain unflappable when players are out?

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#5 oilbaron
October 30 2011, 12:26PM
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how about we try to trade for moore in columbus. i think howson might be desperate enough to make a move right now, omark for moore.

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#6 godot10
October 30 2011, 12:32PM
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It is a decision year for the Oilers on Plante. It is not a decision year on Teubert.

The Oilers probably want to trade Plante. They probably don't want to trade Teubert. (Pump the guy you want to trade.)

Plante is less harmed by sitting in the press box than Teubert would be.

Plante knows it is his "last" shot. He will be motivated. He knows Teubert probably gets the call next time.

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#7 Dutchscooter
October 30 2011, 12:42PM
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Some team wants to see Plante? Why? All they have to do is go to the lobby and check out the Coke machine. Mind you, the Coke machine MIGHT out manouvre him.

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#8 Wax Man Riley
October 30 2011, 12:43PM
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@Tron

Fail. On so many levels.

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#9 Dutchscooter
October 30 2011, 12:46PM
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BTW Lowetide.....The Shaggs. Awesome.

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#10 gongshow
October 30 2011, 12:50PM
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@Tron

Weak-minded fail.

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#11 Saytalk
October 30 2011, 12:51PM
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The best player in OKC isn't necessarily the one that gets called up. Some of these guys need to develop under a stable environment by playing long stretches in OKC. Playing them like a yo-yo between leagues could setback their development. Other guys are in OKC to be promoted and demoted at Renney's whim to fill in for injuries at the NHL level.

Without knowing all of the details of how the ELC rules apply, I am also assuming that management plans to call-up Teubert for only 9 NHL games this year.

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#12 DoubleJ
October 30 2011, 01:03PM
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Would this be a showcasing? I don't really get why else Plante would be getting called up.

Either way I hope Plante plays good. I believe this might be one of his last chances to impress.

I'm waiting for the Oilers to have a blow out game. I hope Magnus and Gagner get some points. I would like to see Jones get replaced by either Gagner or Magnus, I like Jones I just don't think reads the play with Horc and Smyth.

I doubt they change anything for now.

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#13 O'Reilly
October 30 2011, 02:13PM
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The way I see it.

Plante is a similar type player to Sutton. SO if Plante does get put in the line up they are not losing toughness. He may be slow but so is Sutton and if you use your big body well by using your stick and blocking shots foot speed isn't as big as an issue.

Or

The Oil's minor injury to the mystery d-man isn't too serious and they are just bringing Plante up for back up as a 7th d to sit in the press box on this 6 game road trip. They are obviously not wanting to hurt Teubert's development by sitting him in the press box and have decided that Plante really isn't going to get much better. That and it is a smart move to have that extra d just incase an injury does come up and the Oil are rushing to call someone up.

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#14 CurtisS
October 30 2011, 02:20PM
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Well I was shocked about the callup also, then thought about it.

Plante is most likely to eat popcorn for a couple weeks, why have Tuebert do that when he could be playing big minutes instead?

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#15 Harlie
October 30 2011, 02:50PM
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wow...Eraserhead!

Looks like ole Henry had the Lumley loaf goin.

http://75.101.144.70/Dave-Lumley

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#16 Snowdropper
October 30 2011, 03:33PM
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With Petry already called up, Plante appears to be the only other defenseman in OKC that has any experience with the team outside of pre-season. If he is just here as a bandaid until Sutton's suspension (however many game it may be) is over it would make some sense to bring up someone who wouldn't be as overwhelmed in the position.

All that being said, it still brings the problem of defensive depth to the forefront again.

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#17 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 31 2011, 01:55PM
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@Tron

remarkably unnecessary, uninteresting and even without entertainment value. thanks for being terrible.

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#18 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 31 2011, 02:05PM
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been too busy to stay on target with the oil lately. trying to catch up.

LT, looks like Plante's stay was short-lived:

http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=598289

I wonder if they had that in mind (call up for one game only... if he was here to replace Sutton, he'd still be here, right?). And that makes the choice interesting. Maybe they called up Plante and not Teubert et al. because they didn't want to affect the development plans of the younger NHL tracked players? i.e., coming up and going down for one game I assume is pretty jarring on a player and they don't want to do that to one of their future regulars?...

just a thought

sucks for Plante though

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