GDB XVI: Home, home against the Rangers

Tonight is the only time you will see the Rangers and Oilers do battle this season, barring a miracle Stanley Cup matchup, and right now neither team is playing very well.

After winning seven straight the Rangers are 2-5-1 in their last eight and are suffering from the same “stone-itis” as the Oilers with only five goals in the last four games.

Ladislav Smid didn’t skate this morning and looks to be out tonight, so the defence pairings looks like this:

Visnovsky — Chorney
Strudwick — Staios
Gilbert — Grebeshkov

The Oilers still don’t have a pairing that resembles a shut-down pair and it will be interesting to see who Tom Renney puts out against Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal. If Smid was playing he would be the guy, but with him out Renney told me it will be by committee tonight.

Renney has been really happy with Smid this season, and that when they have given him the assignment to shut down a guy, he has welcomed it.

Up front the Oilers will role two supposed scoring lines, and then a checking line and an energy line.

Penner — Gagner — Hemsky
Comrie — O’Sullivan — Nilsson
Moreau — Cogliano — Pisani
MacIntyre — Brule — Stortini

JF Jacques is out for tonight. He is suffering from back spasms, and he will have an MRI this afternoon. They don’t think it is related to his previous back injury and the MRI is more precautionary. Mike Comrie is feeling a bit better, but he won’t know exactly how his breathing is until he gets in the game. And look for Comrie to take a few draws with O’Sullivan not overly comfortable in the dot.

The good news for the Oilers is that the Rangers aren’t a dominant team in the dot. The Rangers are 48% while the Oilers are 46% in the draw, so one of them will improve their percentage tonight.

As you hunker down, or head out to The Pint to watch PPV tonight, expect the Oilers to be more physical. The consistent message from the players is that they have to get back to being hard to play against like they were in the first nine games. The Rangers aren’t blessed with a really big or physical team, so if the Oilers skate and hit like they did early this season they should be successful.

The Oilers need to do a better job of getting shots and limiting the shots against. They can’t expect to win games when they are consistently getting out-shot by ten or more shots. It comes down to effort and a willingness to compete.

Which is the exact same problem they’ve had in previous years. This team needs to be more consistent with the small details of their game, and they need to start executing what the coaching staff wants. If they don’t they will struggle to stay in the hunt, but if the light switches on then they have the make up to be competitive.

Look for the Oilers to re-call someone after the game, just to ensure they have enough bodies on the road trip. Chris Minard would have been the guy, with nine goals in eleven games, but he has a mild concussion and is out. Ryan O’Marra has not been good of late, so expect it to be either Ryan Potulny or Liam Reddox.

Souray speaks

Sheldon Souray spoke for the first time since being injured on October 8th. He had a fairly intense bike ride yesterday and then skated. He has gone four days without any negative symptoms, but is very cautious about when he will return.

When I asked him his thoughts on the play with Iginla he said, “I respect Jarome and the way he plays. Accidents happen all the time and it is unfortunate what happened, but I’m not upset about it. It is a common play in hockey when a guy forechecks hard and you feel the pressure …The game is so fast and guys have to make decisions in a second and sometimes accidents happen.” 

Not surprising that he feels that way, since Souray is a hard-nosed player and it clearly wasn’t a cheap play. Ideally Iginla’s stick wouldn’t have been there, but the game is so fast, ultimately accidents will happen.

Souray is taking a very cautious approach, and he would like to join the team on the road, just so he could get skating with other people. He hasn’t worked out in a month, and said he hasn’t gone that long without working out in his career. Even after shoulder surgery he would start rehabbing within a week or two. So he feels he has to get back in shape and hopefully not suffer any setbacks before he even thinks about returning. Don’t expect him back for at least two weeks and probably three.

  • Ender

    Man; no Stone, no Horc, no JFJ, everyone else coming back from illness or injury; we are a dozen different kinds of soft out there tonight. If there was ever a time for Hemmer to strap this team on his back and win one by himself, tonight would be a good night to start.

    I like Reddox, but Potulny has been far better this year in Springfield. While Reddox has oft been touted as defensively responsible and capable of making the safe and intelligent play, his +/- this season so far sure doesn't tell that story. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope that Potulny gets the call ahead of Reddox.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Game Day Prediction: Since my previous predictions have resulted in a score opposite of what i predict, i am going to say that the Rangers take this one in a 3-2 SO win. Goals from Moreau (he is HOT after that last sweet goal!) and Hemsky.

    Obvious Game Day Prediction: Gaborik will get hurt.

    Not-so-obvious Game Day Prediction: Before the game Avery will make an off color joke about Phaneuf needing more than an H1N1 shot to clear up what is likely ailing him after sleeping with his sloppy seconds… then somebody on the Rangers will tell him that he is in Edmonton and all hell will break loose.

    • Librarian Mike

      Before the game Avery will make an off color joke about Phaneuf needing more than an H1N1 shot to clear up what is likely ailing him after sleeping with his sloppy seconds…

      Avery's gonna get the *clap clap* tonight…

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Well if we keep having lineups like this one, I can see us digging a very big hole. Listening to Daum yesterday he didn't seem to overly happy with what Reddox has brought this year.

    Donald vs. Steve ?
    Sean vs. Zach?

    • Jason Gregor

      I'm not sure he isn't any less of a fan than MacTavish was. Cogliano still needs to make better decisions without the puck and with the puck.

      It is clear that Gagner is held in higher regard within the organization, but I don't think Quinn has any a bias towards Cogliano in 15 games.

    • I don't think anyone's been a big fan of Cogs this year. Lots of hustle, and I like that he's been getting into it physically from time to time, but he hasn't looked like an offensive threat at all this year, especially compared to the last two.

        • I agree to an extent, but Gagner made that line click while he was there, and Cogs doesn't have that same ability. Different players, I guess. Cogliano has proven that he can put the puck in the net, but he hasn't been able to elevate his game to the next level when called upon.

          • My sentiments exactly. Cogs has been having a rough go of it so far. I hope he can pick it up a bit more. I'm excited to see Gagner back with Penner and Hemsky. I hope they'll be flying again tonight.

        • I guessing his "favourites" are people who can play well. It does seem like he's giving the younger guys a hard time, but it's a well-deserved hard time. Reminding them that there's no free ride and all.

          • I think Brule has been playing really well lately. His high draft number is probably a little deceiving and a lot of people probably feel he should be more of an offensive dynamo. But if he continues to play a 3rd line, crash and bang, sandpaper role, while still being able to chip in on the offense, he is going to be a huge asset to this team.

        • BarryS

          Given Coaches are people to, of course Quinn is beginning to have favorites. We do, why can't he. You have to admit Gagner is progressing and Cogliano seems to be spinning his wheels, all roaring of engines, grinding of gears, spinning of wheels and no movement.

          So who would you like, given your job depends on the players you inherited, the ones getting better or the ones not? Quinn is like a new GM, who has inherited coaches and players. It will take a while to get ride of the ones he doesn't like and put in the ones he likes. I expect Tambo will be more allie than opponent in this weeding out, but it takes time and they must be seen to attempt to work with what they've got. Schremp was first, Neilson and Cogliano are soon to follow.

          • It probably didn't help anything that MacT's favorites more often than not happened to be the guys that were consistently bad. It's one thing to pick favorites based on who is playing well and who goes out there and plays his bag off every shift, that's just plain and simple earning your keep. But it's a different story when you're favorites are guys that make glaring errors, yet never get taken to task for them.

  • Hey Jason,

    Why don't the Oilers waive Macintyre and call up someone who Quinn feels can play. It's painfully obvious that Quinn doesn't have much faith in Macintyre and wouldn't that 4th line winger slot be better filled by a Reddox/O'Marra type player until they get more bodies back?

    • Offthebandwagon

      Once they call up Reddox, or Potulny, but probably Reddox, MacIntyre will be put on the shelf. What I want to see is how Quinn uses Reddox; I doubt he'll get the ice time that MacT gave him, but I want to see if he's used in the same situations and afforded the same opportunities. It'll also silence some of the MacT critics if Quinn uses him to a similar degree.

    • It is nice to have Smac in the line up for games like these though as far as I'm concerned. The Rangers have Byers, Voros and Brashear taking up fourth line minutes, and those are all big, nasty guys. Why not load up with an extra shotgun going into the fight just in case things get a little hairy.
      Though I do agree with you that on most nights I'd rather have a guy with a little more skill taking up that spot just to try and lessen the odds of bleeding even more scoring opportunities than they already do.

      • Jason Gregor

        Brashear is hurt and Byers is suspended. Problem is the games rarely gets hairy nowadays, and to me MacIntyre would be more effective if he is the guy making big hits rather than just fighting other heavyweights.

      • Jason Gregor

        Brashear is hurt and Byers is suspended. Problem is the games rarely gets hairy nowadays, and to me MacIntyre would be more effective if he is the guy making big hits rather than just fighting other heavyweights.

        • Byers is suspended again? Man that guy loves getting suspended more than I love making poop jokes.

          And I agree that he'd be far more valuable if he would make more hits like the one where he crushed the soul of of Dustin Boyd last year, on a regular basis, but with Souray and Jacques out it is nice having at least one guy out there that poses a legitimate threat to the other team if they decide to take any liberties on our undersized squad.

          But with Brashear and Byers both out then someone else should take that spot. Stortini can handle Voros.