STOP BREAKING DOWN

Lowetide
December 03 2011 09:21AM

It's no secret that the Edmonton Oilers badly need the stability, calm feet and leadership provided by Ryan Whitney. No one should expect the all world half season provided by the big man a year ago, but solid defensive play married to PP expertise.

I've been watching with some interest to see how the coaching staff handles Whitney's return from injury. This is a team--like most NHL clubs--that lacks depth on the blue and can ill afford to have their best defenders go down with injury. How does an NHL coach bring a veteran with a significant injury history along? Answer: slowly.

After returning from his right ankle injury on October 18th, Whitney played in just 4 games before his right knee injury. Now that he's back, the coach is using him sparingly (compared to a year ago) and in specific roles. He is currently averaging about 18.5 minutes a night since coming back on November 25th, and the way he's been used is in stark contrast to last season.

WHITNEY'S MINUTES

  • AVERAGE TIME ON ICE LAST SEASON: 25:20
  • TIME ON ICE LAST NIGHT: 18:40
  • EV TIME ON ICE LAST SEASON: 18:19
  • EV TIME ON ICE LAST NIGHT: 16:37
  • PP TIME ON ICE LAST SEASON: 4:19
  • PP TIME ON ICE LAST NIGHT: 1:09
  • PK TIME ON ICE LAST SEASON: 2:42
  • PK TIME ON ICE LAST NIGHT: 0:54

So a quick glance tells us the coaching staff has nicked him a little at evens, cut his PK time in half and quartered the PP TOI. Much of that may have to do with the success of PP units, but still there's been no rushing Whitney back to the 25 minutes a night level.

Whitney began the game paired with Jeff Petry and played most with the young blue for the evening. The pairing lined up often with Belanger-Paajarvi-Jones and from what I could tell were matched against the Dorsett line often although they did see Huselius (everyone seems to have seen Huselius) quite a bit last night.

The heavy lifting (Nash line) fell to the sublime pairing of Laddy Smid and Tom Gilbert last night, allowing Whitney to feel more comfortable and find his way.

I think that's what the math is telling us this morning. Fewer minutes, a little off Broadway, finding his way and helping the kid Petry grow into his game. There will come a time when the bright lights shine on Whitney, and maybe he gets asked to do more against a Calgary team that seems to have added a second dangerous like (the Comeau trio) over the last while.

 

I'm always rambling on about adding defensemen, but if the Oilers can find a way to keep Whitney healthy they may have enough depth on defense to make it to the trade deadline. At that point, the teams dropping out might give this team the kind of strength on defense required to make a playoff run. Ryan Whitney's health will have a tremendous impact on the next 8 weeks.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Ryan Whitney's importance to the Oilers can't be understated. They simply don't have the bullets to get someone of his quality (unless Ales Hemsky goes on a run and they choose to deal him) and therefore keeping #6 upright is a very important goal for the rest of the season.

--

Nation Radio is on the air again this afternoon noon to 2 Edmonton time (Team 1260). I read questions here at Oilers Nation, from the other blog, twitter (ItsNationRadio and Lowetide_) and you can also email nationradio@theteam1260.com if you'd like. Best questions are from you.

  1. Jason Gregor host of the Jason Gregor Show each weekday afternoon on Team 1260. Jason had some interesting takes this week--especially on Ales Hemsky--and we'll talk about that plus the importance of tonight's HNIC BOA.
  2. Kent Wilson will be by to tell us the name of the basement underwear blogger that caused Jay Feaster's gaunch to get tied in such a big knot. Kent will also tell us just how good Blake Comeau is and we'll argue over tonight's game.
  3. Dean Belanger from Jets Nation. Dean will discuss the emerging Evander Kane, how the Jets are winning these games (close and not so close) and give us an overview on the state of Canada's newest NHL team.
  4. Thomas Drance from Canucks Army. I want some answers on the Bobby Luongo item, it seems crazy to trade either goalie with the billion dollar man looking wobbly. I'll ask about Burrows, Raymond, injuries and waking up from the Stanley run sleep.

I'll have a couple of other surprises, so please tune in at noon today.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
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 dawgtoy
December 03 2011, 09:33AM
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Beat them flames!

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#2 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 03 2011, 09:35AM
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Stones! awesome. You know how you can tell a Scorsese movie is going to be awesome? He leans on the stones for the soundtrack.

For the show with Gregor, I'd like to hear you guys talk through what Hemsky is expecting in a contract (if we have an idea yet), what the Oil would be looking to pay out and for how long and maybe a preliminary report on what teams might (if any) be interested in his services and what we can reasonably expect in return.

Also it would be great if you could spend some time on Smid and his two goals!

ps. is that a young Cybill Shepherd?

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#4 D
December 03 2011, 09:46AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Rom: I'm on it, Hemsky and Smid. :-)

Yes, that's Cybill Shepherd from "The Last Picture Show." Beautiful girl.

I'm sorry LT, did you write an article? I couldn't stop looking at that picture of Cybill. Wow!

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#5 Woodguy
December 03 2011, 09:50AM
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Smid's goal was a very good shot, but the screen job that Eberle did was even better.

That Eberle fellow has a pretty big brain.

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#6 The Farmer
December 03 2011, 09:51AM
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One of the nicest surprises for me this year has been sutton's play He is way better than I was anticipating. He brings some much needed size, His footspeed hasn't been exposed too bad, and his subtle little breakout plays have been very good. In fact that's the part of his game I've liked best so far.

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#8 D
December 03 2011, 09:56AM
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The Farmer wrote:

One of the nicest surprises for me this year has been sutton's play He is way better than I was anticipating. He brings some much needed size, His footspeed hasn't been exposed too bad, and his subtle little breakout plays have been very good. In fact that's the part of his game I've liked best so far.

I agree. Sutton has been a wonderful surprise, and when he went down, I felt the team missed him. Getting Potter back and having Sutton should help stabilize the defence.

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#9 spOILer
December 03 2011, 10:04AM
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They quoted the line from Smid in the Sun this morning...

Eberle finally does something and goes to the net for the screen.

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#10 VK63
December 03 2011, 10:22AM
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Link Hogthrob should reserve his comments to things on his level.

Not historical references to world altering events and underwear clad bloggers.

Paying fans speculating on a loyal warhorses future is warranted and frankly a bit of a diversion during a trying time in flamedom.

So was it domebeers or ross creek?

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#11 spOILer
December 03 2011, 10:41AM
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LT,

I'm assuming The Last Picture Show is of interest more for its soundtrack than the melodrama and sex?

Poor Cybill, she really got used in that film by its makers, but still displayed a frightening openness and commitment. She delivered the goods, but I'm sure it was costly.

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#12 FastOil
December 03 2011, 11:21AM
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LT I think Whitney will need a year or so from the surgery to get back to whatever normal will be for him now. The other foot took about that long iirc. Maybe in the new year. Good to see they seem to be taking care with him.

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#13 dougtheslug
December 03 2011, 11:23AM
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Off topic but bad news from the AHL, Teemu Hartikeinen lost for the season with serious shoulder injury. Too bad I had hopes for him off last years performance. Omark out with broken ankle, Halls shoulder what is it with these darn injuries?

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#14 spOILer
December 03 2011, 11:42AM
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Doug,

Link?

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#15 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 03 2011, 11:46AM
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spOILer wrote:

Doug,

Link?

http://www.rotoworld.com/content/playerpages/playerbreakingnews.asp?sport=NHL&id=3279&line=145949&spln=1

quick google search doesnt indicate season ending confirmed, but early indications show long term very likely

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#16 Woodguy
December 03 2011, 01:03PM
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Lowetide wrote:

WG: Did you see Smid's tweet last night? Something like "Ebs finally goes to the net and does something." Killer line. :-)

Didn't know he was on twitter.

Awesome tweet.

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#17 dougtheslug
December 03 2011, 02:36PM
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spOILer wrote:

Doug,

Link?

Was checking the stats from OKC last night and noticed he wasn't in the lineup and googled for updates. Looks bad.

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#18 justDOit
December 03 2011, 02:50PM
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@D

Yes, his puck skills have been a bonus to what we thought we were getting in Sutton - blocking out the sun and smearing attackers into the boards.

But it should be much easier to find passing lanes when you're looking over every other players head!

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#19 MAC962
December 03 2011, 03:55PM
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Beers ? Check. Ribeyes ? check. Who wants to see a repeat of the Chicago game tonight ! check. Lets Flames bash for a while. They have had their fun at our expense for the last few years.

Glencross- needs one in the beak tonight. Even though i wish he was still an OILER. We made a mistake there.

Kipperknob- you better be at your best- we are coming to set up shop in your paint, and we aint moving.

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