February 22 2013 12:05AM
Yes, it can get worse for the Edmonton Oilers. And it likely will after NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan reviews the video evidence of Taylor Hall burying Cal Clutterbuck late in a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Rexall Place Thursday.
Not only are the offensively challenged Oilers facing a nine-game road trip after lurching their way through a five-game homestand, they'll likely start the grueling swing without Hall, who drilled Clutterbuck and knocked him out of the game on a hit that saw Hall make first contact with his knee.
Hall didn't stick out his knee. It wasn't a textbook knee-on-knee hit, although we're quibbling about an inch or two in terms of where Hall's knee contacted Clutterbuck. As for intent, I don’t know what Hall was thinking and neither do Oilers fans who rushed to defend No. 4 on Twitter and elsewhere. Hall denied intent, and I'm not going to call him a liar.
It matters not. The bottom line is Hall made first contact with his knee and Clutterbuck was injured on the play. Hall was assessed a major for kneeing and a game misconduct. The question is not whether Hall will be suspended by Shanahan. The question is how many games he'll get.
HIT THE ROAD
My best guess is Hall will get two or three games, which will put him out for Saturday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes and, at a minimum, for the first game of the road trip, which begins in Chicago Monday. That's the last thing the Oilers, losers of two straight and now 6-7-3, need right now.
That, at least to start the trip, will force coach Ralph Krueger to shake up his forward lines, which is something many fans have been calling for as the Oilers have struggled to score. Suffice to say, doing so without his leading point-getter in the mix is not the way Krueger would like to draw it up, even with the consolation of having Ryan Jones set to return.
There's no silver lining to the discipline pending from Shanahan, although I'm guessing the Oilers will circle the wagons and vow to dig in as they prepare to face the next two or three games without Hall. They can talk that talk. We'll see soon enough if they can walk that walk.
I'm less than hopeful.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.