GDB 14:0 HEMSKY RETURNS

Jason Gregor
November 08 2011 10:56AM

He's only played 22:51 minutes so far this year, but after missing 11 straight games Ales Hemsky returns to the lineup, and for the 2nd straight season he'll comeback in Montreal. He missed three games before returning to the lineup on December 1, 2010 and quickly tallied a goals and two assists in over 18 minutes of icetime. The Nation was excited to have him back, but after that three-point night Hemsky sat out the next ten games.

There are two things we know about Hemsky.

1. He's a world class player. He is one of the most exciting players in the game and is a difference maker when he plays.

2. He's become injury prone. In his first four post-lockout seasons he missed 37 games, but in the past two season and start of this year he's missed 106 games.

Hemsky and the Oilers are hoping his string of bad luck is over.


Despite their great start, it is clear they miss Hemsky's offence. The Oilers are 25th in GPG (goals per game) at 2.23. They've only scored 18 goals at EV which is 29th in the league. Their powerplay is saving them right now with 10 PP goals which is 8th most.

They've been winning with solid team defence and exceptional goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin. The 39-year-old continues to shock the NHL with a spakling 0.98 GAA and 0.963 SV%, but the Oilers can't expect him to maintain those numbers. They will need some offence if they plan on staying in a playoff spot.

PAAJARVI OUT

Tom Renney has decided that Magnus Paajarvi will be the first player, in what will likely be a regular rotation, to take a seat in the pressbox. The Oilers finally have 13 healthy forwards, which gives Renney some leverage when it comes to asking more from his players.

I'm sure many won't agree with Paajarvi sitting out tonight, but the obvious choices were either him or Gagner. The 4th line has played very well and done everything Renney has asked of them. I'm sure we will see one of them take a seat in the pressbox soon, but Renney needed to make a statement. Paajarvi's role is to produce offensively, not like a top-six forward just yet, but he needs to add more than one point in 13 games.

I don't think he'll be in the pressbox very long, maybe a game or two, but it didn't hurt his development last year when he spent a game up there, and I don't see this benching ruining him either. Right now Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth have earned more icetime, so when he gets back in, Paajarvi is going to have to produce 5-on-5 and earn more icetime.

I'd be surprised if 91 wasn't back on the ice in Boston or Detroit.

REUNITED

I was hoping to see Paajarvi play with Gagner and Hemsky, but Renney is going to re-unite Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth and Hemksy instead. It makes sense to put them together, but I also felt that having 83 on a different line could potentially give them three lines with an offensive threat.

Ryan Jones will move down and play with Eric Belanger and Sam Gagner, while the young guns and the 4th line remain the same.

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Smyth/Horcoff/Hemsky
Jones/Belanger/Gagner
Eager/Lander/Petrell

Jones and Gagner might switch wings.

They didn't skate any pairings this morning, but word out of Montreal is that Barker is ready and it looks like Colten Teubert will come out. I'm guessing Renney will use the following pairs because then he has a right and left shot on each pair.

Smid/Gilbert
Barker/Potter
Peckham/Petry

Khabibulin

QUICK HITS

  • The Habs are one of the least aggresive teams in the league. P.K Subban is physical, but after him they won't offer much in terms of crash and bang. I'd like to see Renney give his 4th line an early shift to see if Ben Eager can ignite some fire in the Oilers. They've been very passive with only seven first-period goals. Of course they've only given up three (best in the league), but I'd like to see them attack more early on.
     
  • I've been asked by numerous people on twitter what is the over/under on how many games Hemsky plays before he is out again. I hope it is 50, because he is one of the few players that lifts me out of my seat. I'll set the line at 16, but that's more the optimist in me.
     
  • I'll be broadcasting live from the Pint Off Whyte today. The Nation's newest writer, Jason Strudwick, will join me from 5 to 6 p.m. today, and if you come to watch the game tonight, you'll have a chance to win Club seats for the Habs return visit to Edmonton on Thursday March 8th. We'll have some other prizes as well.

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are 3-0 v. the East this year with wins over the Penguins, Rangers and Capitals and they will stay perfect after a 3-2 win tonight. The streak will end in Boston though.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky will pick up two points in his first game back, and Hall will end his four-game goalless streak.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Darcy Hordichuk will instruct Teubert and Paajarvi to pick up enough Chien Chauds for the team. Smyth will be the last guy getting on the bus and realizes there isn't one left for him. Smyth will calmly announce this dilemma and Teubert and Paajarvi will play a best of three rock -paper-scissors to see who has to run and grab one. Paajarvi tells Teubert he is going to go with rock, and Teubert doesn't believe him and gets his scissors crushed. In round two Paajarvi tells him he's going rock again, and this time Teubert gets his paper cut by Paajarvi's scissors. "Rookie," yells Paajarvi as he celebrates with a fist pump.

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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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#151 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 08:17PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

21 to 20..........OILERS! If you can believe that.

Glad we took it to them too. It didn't look that way though (biased eyes I guess).

Still an indictment of the team though... we better step it up for the bruins

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#152 A-Mc
November 08 2011, 08:18PM
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Gagner needs to sit, he isn't looking good at all IMO.

At the end of the game, Renney played Hemsky, Lander, Jones. Their first shift, the line gets a scoring chance.

Next game I'm going to keep an eye out for a Hemsky, Lander, Paajarvi line; even if it takes until the end of the game for Renney to try it out.

I'd be comfortable with that line.

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#153 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 08:20PM
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Watched a bad stream so take this with a grain of salt... but did it look to anyone else like Hemsky got a stick on that Gilbert goal?

Either way... I think we can say that was a big statement by Ales. He didn't look like he was coming off an injury 17:08min... way more than I thought! and he was out there in the last few minutes. nice.

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#154 A-Mc
November 08 2011, 08:23PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Watched a bad stream so take this with a grain of salt... but did it look to anyone else like Hemsky got a stick on that Gilbert goal?

Either way... I think we can say that was a big statement by Ales. He didn't look like he was coming off an injury 17:08min... way more than I thought! and he was out there in the last few minutes. nice.

Yes, it looks like it went off two sticks: Hemsky's first and then the Montreal Defense.

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#155 Quicksilver ballet
November 08 2011, 08:25PM
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How far can this All World goaltender we have take us.

Dangit, nhl.com still hasn't updated Khabby's stats yet.

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#156 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 08:33PM
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A-Mc wrote:

Gagner needs to sit, he isn't looking good at all IMO.

At the end of the game, Renney played Hemsky, Lander, Jones. Their first shift, the line gets a scoring chance.

Next game I'm going to keep an eye out for a Hemsky, Lander, Paajarvi line; even if it takes until the end of the game for Renney to try it out.

I'd be comfortable with that line.

Yea... The Old Oil Line looked good tonight... but that third line.... peeewww! still stinking it up...

Thing is... it is not like the third line hasn't already been changed up (some combo of: MP, Omark, Gags, Belanger, Jones... is that it?) so far none of those options have looked good. Not sure any given change will make a difference, but something has got to give.

Couple of observations.

Jones doesn't seem to lose his steam despite the line he's on... seems like a good option for the third (originally I thought he'd only work on the fourth).

MP has eaten his shorts. Omark has eaten his. It is time for Gags to do the same. He was terrible tonight. send a message Renney.

I think it's time to weigh the cost/benefits of switching Belanger and Lander.

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#157 friday the FISTeenth
November 08 2011, 08:35PM
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RNH 60% in the dot tonight. Not bad...not bad.

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#158 nofool6110
November 08 2011, 09:01PM
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I DEMAND TRE KRONOR.

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#159 The Farmer
November 08 2011, 09:15PM
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Nice win, nice win indeed. I hate to be a downer though but this is one of those classic games where a team is coming to the end of a really good stretch of games played, and they get lucky in the last one to sneak a win out before they go on a losing streak. Khabby cant keep it up forever. They need to find a way to get the kids more ice. Belanger on the point on the powerplay is ridiculous. If you want him out there to win the draw and gain posession fine, but dont put Gagner in for the draw.

Sometimes I wonder if NHL coaches want so badly to prove that they know something the fans and media dont that they do things that are totally counter productive. Sometimes the thing that is the most obvious is also the most effective.

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#160 Light, Sweet, Crude
November 08 2011, 09:17PM
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I got to go to this game, thanks to a great guy I met over on Lowetide's site, who was in montreal for the occasion. Thanks pal!

Pretty sloppy play all round. We noted that nobody's passes were really connecting and there was whiff after whiff on the shots.

Individual effort got them the lead, and a deflection kept it that way.

Hall is playing very, very badly. Not good to see. He's getting frustrated and lashing out with poor timed efforts. It almost seems like he's dragging down Nuge and Eberle because they have to get back and cover for him constantly losing the puck 10 feet past the other team's blue-line. I think he'll snap out of it because we all know the kid can play, but these last two games have been stinkers.

But, Don't worry, be Khabby, (is the phrase I coined tonight on the way out of the bell centre as a busker played that jam on his sax)

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#161 Jerk Store
November 08 2011, 09:24PM
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Last year whoever Jones played with got better. Not so much tonight. He just seems to play a complimentary style with his forecheck. Would definitely switch 57 and 20. Alternate 89 and 91 until one gets going.

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#162 Rip van Winkle
November 08 2011, 09:36PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Is J. Shannon an idiot or a terrible Homer... the Oil as the top Canadian team, the Leafs the second best?? Is he crazy....?

Look I love this run as much as the next Oil fan. But I'm not delusional. The Leafs will be lucky to make the playoffs. same with the Oil.

Listen here chap, when the season starts there are only two colors.........

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#163 French Toast Mafia
November 08 2011, 09:38PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Not sure about Eager... has a tendency to go Moreau on us... But I'm comfortable with Petrell and Lander in the late stages.

When has eager ever gone Moreau on us?

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#164 Wanyes bastard child
November 08 2011, 09:46PM
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What if, Khabby's unsustainable goal tending is sustainable?

What if, The kids find the scoring touch on the road like they have at home?

What if, Hemsky and Whitney can stay healthy?

What if, The wheels never fall off?

Could this be the year?

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#165 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 09:59PM
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French Toast Mafia wrote:

When has eager ever gone Moreau on us?

I phrased that wrong. Should read "Eager has a tendency to go Moreau... when he's on the ice I'm worried about his composure"

I didn't mean he's been a huge liability... just that I cringe a bit when he is on the ice in tense situations... He doesn't inspire confidence the way Petrell and Lander do... and he's not hitting, which is supposed to be his asset, nor is he scoring... his presence concerns me.

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#166 Forrestt
November 08 2011, 10:02PM
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Don't look now, but another Barrons Game and another point for Omark. At what point does he get his shot again?

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#167 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 10:03PM
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Rip van Winkle wrote:

Listen here chap, when the season starts there are only two colors.........

(the following is tongue in cheek as I expect your statement was)

Well... I'm firmly in the two-brained hockey fan camp.

One brain is all SQUEEEEE!!! and NOOOOO!!!! pure ID. The Oil are the greatest of all time, forever and always, period. This brain loves to huddle with other crazed fans, loves getting fed Oiler mania, loves to rock to EPIC SAX GUY and destroy all things not Oilers.

The Other brain exercises rational faculties and attempts to evaluate merit without bias. This brain hates to be fed a bunch of crap by a so-called paid career professional analyst.

These brains, for the most part, enjoy peaceful co-existence. Occasionally this needs to be reinforced by a DMZ or one side totally overwhelms the other.

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#168 Rip van Winkle
November 08 2011, 10:30PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

(the following is tongue in cheek as I expect your statement was)

Well... I'm firmly in the two-brained hockey fan camp.

One brain is all SQUEEEEE!!! and NOOOOO!!!! pure ID. The Oil are the greatest of all time, forever and always, period. This brain loves to huddle with other crazed fans, loves getting fed Oiler mania, loves to rock to EPIC SAX GUY and destroy all things not Oilers.

The Other brain exercises rational faculties and attempts to evaluate merit without bias. This brain hates to be fed a bunch of crap by a so-called paid career professional analyst.

These brains, for the most part, enjoy peaceful co-existence. Occasionally this needs to be reinforced by a DMZ or one side totally overwhelms the other.

True, my response was more tongue in cheek than logical but there is a side of my brain (not sure if it's right or left) that subscribes to the school of thought that believes in the 'once bitten twice shy' adage. however, the other side of me, the kool aid guzzling side prescribes to the 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth' saying thingy. As true as it is that the oilers have given us 'false hope' in the past, i believe restraining yourself when it comes to enjoying the oilers current success for fear of where they'll probably end up come seasons end is much like denying yourself a second chance at love because you were once heartbroken and don't want to experience that feeling again. You'll never really get the most out of the current good situation if you are always looking out for the perceived inevitable outcome. So for now, the Oilers are the best Canadian team. Even the TSN power rankings have them 4th. Who'da thunk?!!

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#169 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 10:39PM
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@Rip van Winkle

Oh, I totally get it. I loving the run... most fun I've had since 2006!!

I just don't like being pandered to. It's like when your 10 and all your friends are over and everything is awesome and then your mom comes down stairs and tries on her best kid slang... It sounds terrible.

In short: If Wanye tells me the Oil are #1 it is 100% true; If a sportsnet analyst tells me, he's trying to be "cool" and it sticks in my craw.

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#170 Rip van Winkle
November 08 2011, 10:49PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

I agree with you there, but compared to sportsnet flames commentators, oilers ones aren't so bad. Think of the statement as a balance sheet statement rather than a debt ratio analysis. As of right now, based on the standings..........

I do agree with your statement though, common sense would dictate that the Oilers and Leafs arent the top 2 Canadian teams but common sense would also dictate that what the 2 teams are doing is nonsensical.

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#171 Rip van Winkle
November 08 2011, 10:55PM
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Okay, epic sax guy tune firmly in my head, having gotten my fair share of barley, hops, and water with the occasional wheat thrown in there, I'm ready for bed. Still have to figure out which fine establishment's bar I'm gonna get my name plate stamped into for the playoff run.......Eskimo's that is......http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfi8fT9oHkQ

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#172 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 08 2011, 10:59PM
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@Rip van Winkle

I hear you on the flames analysts too (brutal)... Funny how much we agree...

I'm not letting Shannon off the hook, but happy to let it go and enjoy the run...

Now to take out Dallas and reclaim #1 in the West. Let the plotting begin.

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#173 Rip van Winkle
November 08 2011, 11:06PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Get someone to slew foot Souray and then have said person fight Souray making sure to keep hemet on coz' that automatically attracts his fists...cue DFL for Stars

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