Winning games… step by step

One of Wanye’s favourite songs growing up was Step By Step by New Kids on the Block back in the ’80s and early ’90s. He especially loved the opening motorcycle scene, because the NKOTB thought it made them somehow look tougher.

Seriously, Wanye has been bugging Brownlee, Willis, bingofuel and I to come up with some sort of Nation Boy Band/Sports Band concept. At first I thought he only mentioned it because he was on one of his BL benders, but he’ll send me a random email every few weeks to see if I’ve come up with something. Thankfully for all of you I haven’t yet, nor while I anytime soon, even consider that an option. Although it would be awesome to see Brownlee, with cigar in hand tapping his toes, and spinning around to some dance music. But I don’t see it materializing.

While you try to rid yourself of the awful visual of us five in any sort of musical endeavour, let’s focus on the Oilers.

Right now the Oilers seem stuck in the “one step forward-one step backwards” mode. They get Sheldon Souray back, but lose Denis Grebeshkov. Shawn Horcoff returns and now Fernando Pisani is out because his colitis has flared up again. 

Grebeshkov has an MCL tear, and depending on the severity of it, could be lost anywhere from two to six weeks, if not longer. Pisani is harder to evaluate because there really isn’t a time table on how quickly he can recuperate from colitis.

Since his magical playoff run in 2006, Pisani has been plagued by injuries and illness and you wonder if he’ll ever be able to stay healthy. He is one of the true gentlemen in the game, and being a father of three I just hope he gets healthy enough that he can life a normal life, regardless of hockey.

It seems Horcoff suffered a slight shoulder separation and now that the pain has subsided he is ready to go. He was back on a line with Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner at practice this morning, and it looks like Pat Quinn will give this trio another chance to get going.

Sam Gagner skated with Patrick O’Sullivan and Mike Comrie. With injuries to Ryan Stone and J.F Jacques, Quinn has been forced to go away from his original plan to have a physical presence on every line, because right now he doesn’t have enough guys who can play that way.

Andrew Cogliano remained with Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini, while Robert Nilsson, Gilbert Brule and Ryan Potulny made up the fourth line. The surprise there is that Brule was on the wing.

I don’t understand what Brule has done to deserve being on the wing and on the fourth line. He should at least be playing ahead of Stortini and Moreau, but it seems that Quinn is taking a cautious approach with him.

Liam Reddox did skate with the team, and has a cut on his face and a bruised wrist, but if they need him he will go on Sunday.

JACQUES BACK ON ICE

Jacques will skate for the first time tomorrow since his back flared up. The good news is that the MRI showed no damage from his previous back surgery. Jacques thinks it might be a mix of back spasms and maybe a case of whiplash from the tilt with Andy Sutton.

If you watch the fight, Sutton cross-checked him right before the fight started, and then during the tussle, Jacques really had to extend himself to try and hit the taller Sutton.

If he feels good tomorrow and Sunday, he might be ready to go when Colorado invades Rexall on Wedneday the 18th.

NEWSFLASH: OILERS NEED TO START WINNING 

The Oilers will be at the quarter pole of the season after games in Atlanta and Columbus, and right now they are on the outside of the playoff picture. They currently sit in 11th, but with Nashville, St. Louis and Anaheim all having games in hand, the Oilers could easily find themselves in 13th or worse when they return home.

They need to string together some wins, otherwise they will be in chase mode in December, and considering how many injuries they’ve already had, I don’t know if they will be able to make up ground in January, February and March if they are still banged up.

They have scored 19 goals in their last ten games, but ten of those have come in wins over Detroit and Colorado. They only have ten EV strength goals in their past ten games, and while their PP is good, it doesn’t score at key times often enough.

Sam Gagner doesn’t have a goal in ten games, O’Sullivan has one in his last eleven, Cogliano has one in 13 games, Stortini hasn’t scored in 14 games, while Gilbert and Grebeshkov have combined to score one goal in the past 26 games.

After a quick start, the Oilers’ offence has dried up. The past two games they have finally outshot the opposition, but they only have four goals. They still don’t have enough guys who will go to the tough areas often enough. They aren’t skilled enough to score from the outside, and if Quinn can’t convince them to get their noses dirty on a nightly basis they will find themselves battling for last place rather than the past playoff spot rather quickly.

They get a rare advantage on the road when they play Atlanta on Sunday. The Thrashers played last night in New York, and host the LA Kings tonight. That means they will play three games in three and a half days, so the Oilers should get a weary opponent Sunday afternoon.

That is a game they need to win, to get some confidence, ensure a .500 road trip and to stay in the hunt for the playoffs. I don’t think this team is deep enough to make up ground in Jan, Feb or March.

  • Bob Loblaw

    I needed a laugh and that photo and video did it…although I only could watch 30 seconds of it.

    Great to hear Souray is back. Gregor don't you think he can make an impact that can get this team turned around. And when do we play the Flames next? I'd love to see if anything goes down with him and Iginla.

    • Jason Gregor

      Souray could make an impact, because at least he will shoot the puck. He is good, but it's not like he is a game-changer every game.

      If he and Horcoff both can play up to their capabilities this team will be better, but that is a big if.

      And the Oilers play the Flames on Dec 28th and then again on the 31st of Dec.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    oh was horcoff out?? i was just reading the scoring summaries and figured he was still playing!!! but yes it's all those little things he does to help this team out !!!!!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Brule needs to be playing center come Sunday. He is slowly taking more faceoffs and is at 51.8%, why play him on the wing?

    If Pisani is out for a month or two I won't be suprised to see him call it quits and get some sort of job with the organization.

    Also good interview with Ferguson yesterday, like hearing that guys like him that busted their buns just to make the NHL are still involved in the game.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    They get a rare advantage on the road when they play Atlanta on Sunday. The Thrashers played last night in New York, and host the LA Kings tonight. That means they will play three games in three and a half days, so the Oilers should get a weary opponent Sunday afternoon.

    Nothing like paying $16 to watch a tired team play an injured/ill team on a Sunday afternoon. Should be one hell of an exciting match-up.