GDB 63.0: HAPPY TRAILS...

Jason Gregor
March 04 2014 04:07PM

Ales+Hemsky+Edmonton+Oilers+v+Phoenix+Coyotes+vZtV6nD2jdIl

Tonight will be Ales Hemsky's final game as an Edmonton Oiler. He will be traded before tomorrow's 1.p.m deadline. Hemsky played his first game as an Oilers on October 10th, 2002 against Philadelphia. He didn't score his first goal until his 26th game, January 4th, 2003 vs. Montreal, but during the past 11 hockey seasons his skill ranged from breathtaking to frustrating to dazzling and gutsy.

Hemsky made the playoffs as a rookie, but I'm sure he never dreamt that he would only play in the playoffs once during the subsequent 10 seasons. I can understand why Hemsky wants a new challenge in a new city, with new teammates and new fans. One post-season appearance in ten years would deflate anyone, and I fully expect Hemsky to play well on his new team.

I've always been a fan of Hemsky, but I also felt he could have been an even better player. The best players in the world work diligently to improve their game, and Hemsky rarely spent extra time in practice working on his shot or one-timer. I will always wonder how productive he could have been had he worked as hard as Ryan Smyth, or superstars like Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and others.

Hemsky's combination of speed and fearlessness made him extremely exciting to watch. He never shied away from guys like Robyn Regehr, and all that punishment led to some extended stays on the IR. I never understood why people suggested he was soft. Hemsky went to the tough areas all the time, despite his smallish frame. Like most, I would have liked to see him shoot more, but that wasn't his game and it never will be.

I hope he plays well on his new team, and I'm sure he will get a big boost walking into his new team knowing he has a shot at the playoffs. Getting traded to a contender energizes every player.

Tonight could also be Ryan Smyth's final game of the season as an Oiler. I don't say final game ever, because I believe there is a chance the Oilers re-sign him this summer. Like Hemsky, Smyth has been to the Cup finals once in his career, and I know Smyth will sacrifice being away from his wife and four kids during the next few months for a shot at the Cup.

Here are some teams I feel Smyth could help down the stretch.

Smyth and Hemsky had very different styles, but when they played together they had excellent chemistry. I hope they find that on their new teams.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Yakupov
Hemsky-Gagner-Eberle
Hendricks-Gordon-Perron
Gazdic-Smyth-Jones

N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Fraser-Ference

Scrivens

Now that Scrivens has signed, I'd like to see the Oilers start him in 14 of their final 20 games. I see no reason in splitting the net. Ilya Bryzgalov has played well since Scrivens arrived, but Scrivens has a better chance of being a starter in the future, so why not give him more games now and see how he reacts.

Marincin is coming off his worst game of the year. Prior to Saturday's game vs. the Flames, the 2010 2nd round pick had played very well. Many players have off nights, but how they play the next game is what matters. Hopefully he brushes it off and plays like he had prior to Saturday. Eakins told me he plans to play him the same amount of minutes and in the same situations, but he also stated, "If Marty wants to play 20 minutes a night and in key situations he knows he can't make a play like he did on Saturday. He will learn from it," said the coach.

Marincin has been a pleasant surprise and I think he will respond with a solid game.

Due to the Bryzgalov trade the Oilers will dress U of A Golden Bears goalie Kurtis Mucha as the back up. 

QUICK HITS...

  • I spoke with Nick Schultz yesterday and he believes he will be moved. I feel Hemsky and Schultz are locks to be moved, while Smyth is about 75-25. If all three of them are dealt the Oilers will call up some players from OKC.

    Arcobello has 19 points in 9 games, and he'd be the obvious choice to replace Smyth at centre. I also think you will see Anton Lander (44 points in 40 games) and Oscar Klefbom at some point. You might not see all of them right away because the OKC Barons are in a playoff race.

    OKC is currently in 9th place, 3 points out of 8th and 5 out of 7th. The organization desperately wants their young players to get a taste of the postseason, so I doubt we will see a mass recall after the trade deadline.

  • I've said for the past two months that Pittsburgh could use Hemsky. They need a bit more speed in their top-six, and they haven't found a replacement for Pascal Dupuis. The Penguins don't have a 2014 2nd round pick, but I still think a deal can be had. Next year's draft is deeper, so the Oilers might be better off getting a pick from 2015.

  • The Detroit Red Wings are playing six left-shot D-men and some in Edmonton have speculated that Corey Potter could go there because he shoots right and has a connection with Tom Renney. Florida has two right shot D-men in Mike Weaver (just traded to Montreal) and Tom Gilbert. I'm sure they'd look at the Islanders' Matt Carkner before Potter. I'm sorry, but I don't see why a team would add a D-man who isn't a regular on the 29th place team. Potter was put on waivers today, so if the Wings are interested they can pick him up for nothing. I don't see it.

  • Anton Belov is out a few weeks with a torn oblique muscle, and Philip Larsen was put on waivers yesterday leaving the Oilers with six defencemen. When Nick Schultz gets moved we could see Taylor Fedun recalled. He shoots right so they could put him on the 3rd pair and put Ference back with J.Schultz.

    TONIGHT...

    leven-rambin-premiere-the-hunger-games-04

    GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will be hungry (Leven Rambin reference) for a victory after Saturday's brutal effort. The Senators, however, are in a fight for the playoffs and they need the points. Ottawa wins 4-3 in OT.

    OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nugent-Hopkins picks up two points. He had two goals and as assist in the Oilers 3-1 win over the Senators.

    NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores his first career goal vs. the Senators leaving Washington and Edmonton as the only teams he has never scored against. 

    RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

    Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
    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
    Avatar
    #101 Tuningout.
    March 04 2014, 10:24PM
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    Oilerfan wrote:

    Remind what place the Oilers are in (again)? Numnutz Oiler fans.

    Trade deadline day. The Oilers are top of the class mofo !

    Seriously though ? Vancouver troll ? Must be crazy drunk !!

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    #102 SRELIOFAN
    March 04 2014, 10:28PM
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    I'm gonna miss you Hemsky. Way to go out with a bang!

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    #103 Tuningout
    March 04 2014, 10:31PM
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    Sevenseven wrote:

    Okay thanks. Just thought penner and hemsky were in the same ballpark. Penner was having a fairly good year points wise anyways.

    Penner is a fine player. For the third line. Hemsky can be a 1-2 line RW.

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    #104 Tuningout
    March 04 2014, 10:38PM
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    Oilers win. The only game they really need to win this year. Hemsky was a stud. Schultz was fine.

    Vancouver loses 1-0.

    I'm out. Thank you gentlemen. Have a great night.

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    #105 Max
    March 04 2014, 10:51PM
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    Sonny and Cher - "baby don't go, baby, baby please don't go". Ales, you and Smytty have always been my favourites. We have NO-ONE to replace either of you. "Oh wont you stay - just a little bit longer" - corny songs but the sentiment is real. Stay, be with us for a few more years. You were never ever appreciated the way you should have been. Tonight's game was a joy to watch. BABY BABY PLEASE DON'T GO.

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    #106 nuge2nail
    March 04 2014, 10:58PM
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    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Hemsky was one of the only reasons to watch Oiler games for half a decade.

    He was at his best playing on the top power play setting up one timers for guys like Souray.

    Will miss him, thanks for the memories and we wish you all the best...

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    #107 Randaman
    March 04 2014, 11:00PM
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    Max wrote:

    Sonny and Cher - "baby don't go, baby, baby please don't go". Ales, you and Smytty have always been my favourites. We have NO-ONE to replace either of you. "Oh wont you stay - just a little bit longer" - corny songs but the sentiment is real. Stay, be with us for a few more years. You were never ever appreciated the way you should have been. Tonight's game was a joy to watch. BABY BABY PLEASE DON'T GO.

    I love Smyth & Hemsky too but come on people, sentiment doesn't win cups or get you in the play-offs. Reality check time!! One good game and all of a sudden everybody thinks it is 2006 again. Take the draft picks and move on. Trade the picks with Gagner & or Eberle at the draft after we draft Ekblad, Bennett or Draisaiti for that stud defence and or centre and let's try to make the top 20 next year at least. I'm tired of this year after year!

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    #108 **
    March 04 2014, 11:36PM
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    First game I attended this season (couldn't turn down a free ticket). Entertaining, albeit sloppy. Great to see Vintage Hemsky in action. Fraser looks like he is afraid of the puck every time it touches his stick. Hendricks is a beast. Scrivens had some bad moments, but the d men were aware enough to bail him out when the puck was behind him. He is game, he is always tracking the puck, I liked a lot how he moves on the crease.

    Gordon is just a beast on the faceoff circle. The play dies with Gagner, he had a wide open net and shot up up high. Smitty's legs betray him more often than not. Maybe he should call it quits. The D actually looked ok on this one.

    The Oilers have a lot of trouble in decision making in the neutral zone. A lot of times they gave passes to no one, or worse, to a senator, right in the middle of the ice without even looking. That has to be on the coach, they look like they have no clear plan of action there.

    Overall a fun game. If this is Hemsky's last game in an Oilers uniform, I'm glad I saw it in the flesh.

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    #109 **
    March 05 2014, 12:07AM
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    Brace yourselves, stupefied Vancouver fans are coming. Don't believe me? see the comment below mine)

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    #110 Oilerfan
    March 05 2014, 12:23AM
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    30th, 30, 29, 23, 29. Yup. The tradition continues in Icemonton. Your floatie Czech has one good game and it sets y'all a fappin' like he's the next Jaromir Jagr. Enjoy the 2nd pick you'll be getting for him Wednesday morning.

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    #111 Reg Dunlop
    March 05 2014, 12:49AM
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    Oilerfan wrote:

    30th, 30, 29, 23, 29. Yup. The tradition continues in Icemonton. Your floatie Czech has one good game and it sets y'all a fappin' like he's the next Jaromir Jagr. Enjoy the 2nd pick you'll be getting for him Wednesday morning.

    We will enjoy the pick, thank you. And you be sure to enjoy the decline of the Sedins and Bieksa, the inevitable release of Gillis, the inevitable melt-down of Tortorella, the embarrassment of missing the playoffs for the next decade and cheering for Vancouver-the city of junkies and endless rain.

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    #112 Anton
    March 05 2014, 01:57AM
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    Reg Dunlop wrote:

    We will enjoy the pick, thank you. And you be sure to enjoy the decline of the Sedins and Bieksa, the inevitable release of Gillis, the inevitable melt-down of Tortorella, the embarrassment of missing the playoffs for the next decade and cheering for Vancouver-the city of junkies and endless rain.

    Hey, I actually like the city though. Hate the team and their fans, but at least the city is warm.

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    #113 john
    March 05 2014, 04:09AM
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    So Luongo traded to Florida, Tim Thomas is also there. They will be team mates, Luongo brought his bicycle air pump, he's hoping Thomas to pump his tires. Both will revive the Panthers, cup run soon haha.

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    #114 john
    March 05 2014, 04:11AM
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    Love to see Ryan Smyth win a cup this year, he deserves it. Captain Canada with cup ring to go with Olympic gold in 2002 and World Championship also.

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    #115 Hockey Problems
    March 05 2014, 06:50AM
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    Oilerfan wrote:

    Remind what place the Oilers are in (again)? Numnutz Oiler fans.

    I'll remind you of something.

    On Sunday I watched 54,000 Canucks fans celebrate the LOSING team in the 94 Stanley Cup playoffs. Now that is SAD. We might suck at this time in history but your Canucks and it's loser fans know nothing about winning anything important. Until you have anything other than SCF losses, GTFoH. On another note, the Canucks should not have been allowed to call their game the "Heritage Classic". They've got no heritage. I'll let them in on a little known secret (except in YVR), if your stadium has a closed retractable roof it is an indoor game.

    One more thing ... I like Bobby Lou a lot better today than I did yesterday.

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