With only six wins in their last 20 games, the Oilers have fallen six points out of the playoffs as they face the surging Detroit Red Wings tonight. The Wings have won 15 of their last 20, and they’ve outscored their opponents 80-40 in their recent hot streak. The Oilers will need their veterans, Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky to make an appearance tonight if they hope to stay competitive against the cagey Wings.

Horcoff, Smyth and Hemsky have combined for only one goal (Hemksy) and nine assists in the last ten games. Horcoff is -7 in his last ten games, and Tom Renney clearly tried to send a message to his captain by demoting him to the 3rd line, and onto the wing, Saturday in San Jose.

The Oilers were decent in San Jose, but they have been outworked far too often in their past 20 games. Smyth and Horcoff have always been known for their work ethic more than their natural skill, and tonight Renney needs his veterans to show up against the Wings or it will be a long night. Horcoff only played 17 minutes in San Jose, the first time in 11 games he’d been under 20 minutes, and we’ll see how he responds tonight.

Smyth was playing out of his mind with 12 goals and 24 points in the first 22 games, so you expected him to slow down a bit, but he needs to contribute if the Oilers are going to stay in the race. Hemsky hasn’t looked good, but Renney revealed today that while Hemsky is healthy enough to play, he isn’t close to being 100% healthy.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I asked the head coach if he’d like to see Hemsky stay out after practice to work on his game or even just to horse around with him teammates. "He’s got a body that suggests he needs help. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what he goes in and treats, but he gets off the ice so he can be prepared tonight. He goes right to the medical room, but at the end of the day he is all in."

I’ve said for a few weeks Hemsky looks hesitant on the ice, and it is clear he isn’t healthy, so I understand why he hasn’t been skating effectively with the puck. If the Oilers are going to stay in the playoff hunt, they must be praying that Hemsky can heal to the point where he feels confident on the ice.

Ryan Whitney isn’t 100% healthy either. He told us so and Brownlee will have an indepth article on Whitney this afternoon. He still feels pain when he skates.


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Wings have incredible depth and they are getting offensive contributions from everyone. They have 15 players with 3 or more goals, and they have ten players with 5+ goals. The Wings dominate their opponents 5-on-5, outscoring them 68-41, (+27) 2nd best in league behind Boston’s +36 at 5-on-5. The Oilers have scored 53 and given up 51 goals at 5-on-5 this year. They are 7th in GA, but only 22nd in GF with five skaters.

Surprisingly the Oilers have had more success v. the Wings than they’ve had against the Wild or Flames recently. The Wings have way more talent than Calgary or Minnesota, but the Oilers seem to match up well against the Wings at home. I wonder if that’s because the Wings play more of a free wheeling, non-physical style. The Oilers are 6-5-1 at home against the Wings, since the lockout, with 39 GF and 40 GA.


It looks like the only change will be Lennart Petrell coming in for Darcy Hordichuk. Petrell might be feeling frisky facing the Wings, considering his only NHL fight came against Justin Abdelkader earlier this year. Seriously though, he is in to help the PK.

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

Smid – Gilbert
Whitney – Potter
Peckham – Petry


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


While Nugent-Hopkins is having a phenomenal rookie campaign, there is one area that he is struggling in according to Theo Peckham, X-Box 2K12.

"The first game we played I scored with 10 seconds left to win. In the 2nd game he scored with 20 seconds left and won. In game three I was crushing him 5-1 early in the third, then his connection suddenly went dead. I think he quit. We’ve played five games and I’ve won four," laughed Peckham.

Nugent-Hopkins responded with, "I’d admit if you (Peckham) were a better player, but you aren’t."

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers usually are competitive against the Wings and the games are close. That will be the case tonight, but the Oilers lose 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With all the Swedes in Detroit’s lineup I’m sure you will see a comment or two during the broadcast regarding Peter Forsberg’s comments that in 2006 the Swedes purposely lost to Slovakia to avoid meeting Canada or Russia and instead faced the Swiss. The Swedes won the Olympic Gold medal in hockey, so it was the right move, no?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Theo Peckham has 4 goals in 130 career games. One v. Phoenix earlier this year, one against the Blues and two v. the Red Wings. Peckham has two goals in five career games against Detroit, and he’ll pick up his 3rd tonight.

DAY 12


Today we continue "Helping Others" and we have another great package to help those in need around the holiday season.

  • Dinner for 6 at Vivo Ristorante on New Years eve for the early sitting. It will be a 7-course meal and includes two bottles of Le Volte, Toscana, IGT. The food and ambiance is spectacular.
  • Pair of seats for the final 5 World Junior games at Rexall, including 3 Canada games. The seats are at centre ice, row 30. Thanks to NAITSA for donating them.

To bid you can call 780.426.8326 or email [email protected]. Bidding starts at 2 p.m and ends at 5:45 MST.

Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      He’s definitely got the break-away goal down, which isn’t usually Smyth territory… but he’s definitely the heart of the team on certain shifts… guy’s amazing!

      BTW what was up with that last penalty?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Ebersqueee is a scoring machine. I think Brownlee had it right. Kid can score in just about any situation. amazing. He’s got Luc Robitaille/Brett Hull like sniping AND amazing deke moves…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Jonesy must have the best breakaway average on the club. He’s successful almost every second chance it seems. maybe Jonathan Willis can give us the goods on those stats.

    • Wanyes bastard child

      Are we watching the same game?

      Because even though they haven’t scored I’ve seen the vet line controlling the play down low and generally doing an excellent job. In fact the entire team has been doing pretty good eh.

      • Lofty

        Actual scoring chances? Havnt seen many that didn’t involve the kids on the PP or Jones on a breakaway. Wiffcof has been doing what he does and Hemsky hasnt done anything impressive. Smyth has been working hard in front but hasn’t produced any scoring opportunities.

        Give me a couple examples.

        • A-Mc

          I’m with Wanye’s Bastard Child on this one. Although the vets didnt score, I thought the drive was there and they faught well.

          No complaints from me; even regarding my goat hemsky.

          • Clarence Oveur

            However, Robin, how many times is Horcoff going to miss on a pass to him in the slot? I’m sick and frigging tired of watching him F*** up major scoring opportunities.

          • Lofty

            Fine is a relative term and I don’t know what you mean by that? I know you love to jump at people who put words in your mouth so please explain what ‘fine’ means.

            This team is relying on players under the age of 22 making 1/3 of the money vets are. The season is slipping away and the vets should be grabbing this team by the throat and leading by example. The guys with the letters on they’re jerseys are not earning the title on the ice.

            Horcoff misses so many opportunities night in and night out that reference is not a stretch.

            Props to Gregor on predicting the score.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I have to agree with Brownlee on this one. The vets were fine – which means that they were working hard and keeping Datsyuk off the scoresheet and controlling the play against that line.

            Usually with slumps, you start to play well before you start putting up points. Hemsky and Smyth are going to break out of it soon. I liked the effort I’ve seen out of both of them in the last 2 games.

            Horcoff is never going to be an offensive dynamo, and he is frustrating to watch at times. But at least he is putting in a good effort and won’t be a minus for that line.

          • Lofty

            In my opinion ‘fine’ from your leaders isn’t good enough. If your not going to put up some points, make a statement, get mad, or show some real passion when the team is spiraling you should be striped of your letters. This ho-hum we tried stuff is tiresome.

            It reminds me of the expression “Losers try their best and winners do their best (or smash the prom queen)”

          • Horcoff, Smyth and Hemsky had their moments tonight but they didn’t get anything done on the scoresheet.

            Overall, they haven’t been nearly productive enough these past seven games, of that there’s no question. On the flipside, Horcoff and Smyth were as good before these last seven games as the’ve been so-so lately.

            Letters on jerseys and the size of pay cheques don’t mean squat, except to fans. Your comment read like a sour, broad-brushed rip-job from somebody frustrated by all the losing lately, and that’s OK. But let’s call it what it is. If that’s “jumping” at people so be it. Make sense or get out of the way.

          • Lofty

            Letters on jerseys mean something to players. At least it used to from what i’ve experienced.

            I said that if it wasnt for the kids the game would have been ugly. I meant 10-15 shots for ugly.

            It seems like the fans are the only ones that are upset with the losing. Tambo still thinks they’re going to make the playoffs and Renney doesnt seem to be too upset with the state of affairs. I guess all is well with the Oilers and I shouldnt be frustrated.

            On a positive note, at least we dont have to watch POS during losing streaks like this.

        • Wanyes bastard child

          And how many points did Datsuyk get? None, that’s how many so I’d say they did a pretty good job. I’m not Wilson or Willis so I don’t count scoring chances but from what I saw the vets more than held their own, asides from a few unlucky bounces the Oilers were in this game and could have won it. I’m not unhappy with this loss, we competed, we played hard, we played good and the kids came out of it with a few points so consider the glass half full.

          Now switch Hemsky with Jones in this line-up and let the JoeShmoe line continue to shut down the big lines, give Hemsky/Gagner/Belanger a chance to see what they can do against softer opposition and let the kids have fun.

          Like Brownlee said, it looks like you are a Horcoff hater, thats fine but give credit where credit is due. Maybe the vet line didn’t score but they looked good and prevented Detroit from scoring whenever they were on the ice eh.

  • bhlazo

    I know its the Red Wings but the refs tonight were outright atrocious. I counted at least three trips and 4 holds that weren’t called…..gimme a break ffs

  • A-Mc

    Decent game. Whitney made quite a few mistakes tonight that I saw. Petry too.

    I like the effort from the forwards though. Khabi was good.

    Had that empty netter gone in my GDP and OGDP would have been spot on.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Jason nails it right on the button again tonight with the 3-2 prediction. Must be half a dozen times he’s nailed it this season.

    Maybe he should change the wording in that GDP. Prediction implies there’s an opportunity he could be wrong. It must almost be a drag to even go to the games.

  • Newj


    I’m with Lofty..important face-offs Horcoff didnt get er done.

    This team is playing below expectations. We’ve seen what they are capable of..yes they have some key injuries/suspensions on d, but there is little compete out there on many nights.

    Seems to me we have so many excuses but sooner or later changes will need to be made..hell…the Flamers now have more points than us!

    Just a rant..but..we know what they can do…thats what makes it so frustating…and the youth factor/patience/excuse is running thin.

  • Clarence Oveur

    Bust your calculators out, kids. Jonesy has 11 on the year.

    Turns out #28 isn’t so useless after all. Some of us knew that already, but there’s beside the point…

  • Slapshot

    Enough already!!! when is Katz going to start kicking some ass at Oilers head quarters? As a long suffering season ticket holder, my patience is wearing out,I am getting tired of being fed and watching a bunch of BS.It is time that they show both Tambellini and Renney the door.The Oilers organization is becoming a real joke.

  • For the most part I thought Hemsky was way more engaged in the game.

    I’m sticking to what I’ve been ranting about and thats the defense. They are awful!

    If Horcoff is on the PP to win draws, then why is he still on the PP?? He never won a draw on the PP including the last most import one.

    For the life of me, I cant figure out why Petry got PP time? Or the fact Petry and Peckham are on with our best line! they cant make a decent outlet pass.

    If the Oilers need secondary scoring, why does Renney keep a line togther that cant score?

    • Newj

      I couldnt agree more. Horcoff is on the PP to win draws…then win a few or try Belanger out there. There were lots of poor starts to our pp by losing the draw and 20 secs to regroup.

      This team loses a lot of these small but important battles at the dot or along the boards..Jones & Smyth excluded.

      Nuff said…Oil have 4 games left in 2011..home & home with the Wild & away games in Van & NYI..they will be in tough to come away with 2 wins the way they are playing. 0 & 4 to finish season and Tom is done.

  • Newj

    I guess we’re supposed to feel optimistic that they went the distance with the Red Wings? I guess we’re supposed to feel glad that they didn’t play as horrible as they have in previous games?

    Sorry, maybe I’m a bad fan, but all I see is another loss…

  • A-Mc

    What was hitney thinking on the 2cd Deroit goal?He gave the pass right to the Wings in the offensive zone. Cost the team because they had to skate 200 ft and were dead tired. Whitney seems brain dead on top of being foot sore. Peckham had a nice quite night. I wish it were this simple for him every night. Nothing stupid just simple.

  • A-Mc

    If the Oilers played after game 14 like they did last night, we certainly wouldn’t be losing as often.

    We’ve taken a sickening number of losses due to piss poor effort and general suckery. Last night was not one of those nights.

    Maybe losing even when putting forth a good effort will get the boys Emotionally engaged for Thursdays Minnesota match-up. I’ll be at Rexall for this one! I WANT A WIN.

  • Talbot17

    I wouldn’t feel as bad about this loss if it didn’t come on the heels of so many others that lacked effort or drive.

    They at least showed some fight and effort last night but when they suffer a defensive breakdown… yikes.

    Didn’t Eistein say that the definition of insanity was to try the same thing over and over again and hope for a different result? That’s how the last three years has felt… the faces have changed but the results are damn near the same– maybe we should try something different, either by way of systems play, line combinations or in coaching/management?

  • Talbot17

    Got to admit, even though a rebuild is a process, I don’t remember it being as painful in Chicago and other places. There really isnt any urgency in the locker room, i think the only player that actually has consistently preached a need to get better is Whitney – everyone else just seems like they went to school, got taught a lesson and were half into it and half zoned out. They got to be harder on these guys, I think the ‘process’ is still just that, but i dont think having it at a ‘snail-like’ crawling speed is necessarily the answer either…
    sooner or later, Tamb or Renney is gone.