GDB 7.0 BATTLE OF ALBERTA (AGAIN)

 

It started with Pat Price, then Mike Forbes, Don Nachbaur, Todd Strueby, Tom Gorrence, Mike Krushelnyski, Ken Hammond, Craig Redmond, Peter Eriksson, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Max Middendorf, Shaun Van Allen, David Haas, David Shaw, Dan Currie, Shjon Podein, Todd Marchant, Mikko Luoma, Brad Winchester, Erik Cole and now Kurtis Foster have all doned the #26 jersey.

But it is a different 26 that is haunting the Oilers tonight.

WHAT #26?

Hall of Famer, Jim Matheson, tweeted yesterday that the Oilers haven’t won a road game in regulation since Dec 11th, 2009 in St. Louis. Since then they have won two games in a shootout, lost 23 in regulation and one in a shootout. That is an ugly stretch, but shows that this group hasn’t been competitive or energetic enough to win on the road.

The Oilers will have a few changes when they take on the surging Calgary Flames for the third time in their first seven games. You would think the Oilers will be fired up to play the Flaming C, considering it will be their third meeting in 18 days and they are on a four-game losing streak, but their lack of energy and determination since opening-night is alarming. So far the Oilers haven’t shown the ability to compete away from Rexall Place. The Oilers aren’t the biggest team, but they need to at least throw the odd body check.

We’ll see if that changes tonight and how the new pairings on the blueline line up.

Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney will be re-united, Kurtis Foster will play with Theo Peckham and Ladislav Smid and Jason Strudwick will play together. Jim Vandermeer has struggled and will take a seat in the pressbox. I think the Oilers really missed Peckham’s abrasive style v. the Sharks so he should add some grit to the lineup. His left hand is still a bit tender, but if called upon he said he’d have no problem dropping the flippers, but I don’t see him doing it unless it is really necessary.

Colin Fraser will be a game time decision. If he can’t play look for Ryan Jones to move up on the 3rd line and either Andrew Cogliano or Gilbert Brule will start as the 4th line centre. I would guess that if Renney shortens his bench that Cogliano and Brule would team up with Taylor Hall. Steve MacIntyre will play tonight, so if Fraser draws in look for Zack Stortini or Jones to take a seat alongside Vandermeer.

PAGING DUSTIN PENNER

Despite having three goals in six games, Dustin Penner has looked more like he did in his first two seasons as an Oiler than the 30-30 season he has last year. Maybe only playing two games a week has hurt the big guy from getting into a groove, but he has to be a leader on this team.

Last year he proved that he can be a dominating presence, but we’ve yet to see that game emerge this season. Penner has to start moving his feet more, fend off defenders with his body and drive to the net. The good news is with three goals so far he shouldn’t be lacking in confidence, and if he can get back to the player he was last year the Oilers might end their 26-game-road-regulation-drought.

BOURQUE V. THE OILERS

Rene Bourque has six goals in his past four games, while the entire Oiler team has only potted eight during their four-game losing streak. Bourque is red-hot, and considering he’s tallied the six goals after suffering a concussion the Oilers need to be award of him tonight.

Bourque had six goals, including a hat-trick on Dec 28th, in six games v. the Oilers last year. He has become the new Oiler killer in Calgary and I’ll be curious to see which line or D pairing Renney tries to put on the ice against Bourque tonight.

Do you think Renney/Ralph Krueger would play Whitney/Gilbert v. Bourque’s line and not Iginla’s?

Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Brendan Morrison
Craig Conroy-Stefan Meyer-Tim Jackman

The way Bourque is playing you might see it. Smid and Peckham are more physical D-men, and sometimes if you get in Iginla’s face he gets more concerned about playing physical than scoring. 

I’m curious what route the coaching staff will take.

  • The Oilers as a team/unit have licked testicles since that first game against Flames.

    Penner has 3 goals so far, and a weak game against the Sharks.

    Now here is my problem. He had one weak and a game misconduct. On the strenght of that, let’s critisize him and ask more from him.

    I can’t say nothing about Horcoff skill and effort because it is defended by numbers he still somehow manages to put up. Penner has numbers too, so lets leave him alone as well and let him do what he can on the team he is surrounded with.

    It seems a little hypocritical to ask one player to give more effort even thou he puts up points and on the same note be happy with players points just on strenght of his effort.

    • D-Man

      I think a lot the Penner-haters (he’s my goat too) isn’t slagging him for a lack of point production but for not fully utilizing the physical tools he has… Personally, I’d rather see him score twenty goals/season with five scraps and in the top five on teams hits than see him score 30 again with him nowhere to be found when one of the kids gets smoked..

      Penner has shown that he does have that ability to play with a bit more of a mean streak; I think the Oil would benefit if he showed it a bit more…

      • Horcsky

        I posted this recently, but it applies well to your comments on Penner.

        Not every player on your team has to be playing nasty and getting in the other team’s face all the time. Penner is our top goal scorer from last year, and may well be again this year. I ask you, how many other top scorers in the league have to play physical and with a mean edge all the time? To demand that Penner skate, hit, protect his linemates, and score all at once just because he has size, is to demand the kind of complete player that comes along once in an era

        And you would rather have a tough 20 goal scorer than an offense only 30 goal scorer? Not sure I would agree with you there. Not every player has a to be complete in all areas. There are 10 other forwards and 6 d-men that could respond when Taylor gets smoked.

        • If you posted this recently, then you were wrong then, too.

          Just looking at the top 30 scorers among forwards last season — the cut-off is 70 points, which means Penner is nowhere near the top 30 with 63 points — 18 of those 30 players has more PIMS than Penner’s 38.

          Henrik Sedin, one of The Sisters, had 48. Alex Ovechkin had 89. Dany Heatley had 54. Mikko Koivu had 50. etc etc.

          Nobody is suggesting Penner becomes the resident goon. He doesn’t need to drop the gloves 20 times a year to impose his will physically. A mean edge all the time? How about just once in awhile?

          Penner is six-foot-four and 230 pounds, and he’s not such an elite scorer that asking him to knock someone on their ass more often than he does is a big imposition.

          • Horcsky

            Interesting statistics, although I wonder how many of those PM’s were truly tough-guy PM’s and how many were tripping or hooking calls. If you go straight by PM’s, then Ilya Kovalchuk at 53 PM’s is tougher than Penner, even though Kovalchuk was only credited with 30 hits, to Penner’s 55 hits. It’s just one example, but I wouldn’t say Kovalchuk is markedly tougher than Penner, when you look at hits and penalty minutes, or overall (sawhimgood) game.

            Now Penner is 21st out of the top 30 goal scorers (not point getters) as per nhl.com EDIT: from the 2009-2010 season in hits, which suggests he’s a little below average for a top goal scorer, but not much.

            When you look at the stats, I think you are right Brownlee, Penner probably could stand to play a little bit tougher with a few more hits and a couple penalties, but that’s not what I was arguing against. I was just saying I don’t think he has to be the world’s most complete player in order to be of value to his team. His goal scoring is his best asset to the Oilers, and lets hope he continues that.

        • D-Man

          The problem is the other 10 forwards (less our 4th line) aren’t big enough to do anything… That is what’s frustrating about Penner – he has the physical tools to do this… Does he need to be “mean”?? No – but he does need to use his size a bit more, which is what we haven’t seen yet in these first six games…

          And yes – I’d rather have that 20 goal scorer, because he’d open up the ice for the remainder of our skilled guys… Overall, that alone would mean more goals than the 10 we’d be missing…

          • Ryan14

            We haven’t seen it in 3 years and 6 games, minus that one game where he stiff armed Regher.

            Penner is not a physical player. That’s that. To crticize him because he doesn’t play the style you want him to play is a ridiculous statement.

            If you want a big tough forward who puts up 20 goals, then get a Lucic, not a Penner.

          • D-Man

            You’re right – he’s not a physical player… Unfortunately, as one of the leaders on this group – he needs to be… Considering the contract and his desire to step up and take more of a leadership role – he has to do more… You can’t have one without the other…

            I’m not saying he needs to become a fighter or a Clutterbuck type hitter – he just needs to shown a bit more intensity physically… If he does that by knocking a couple more bodies around – that alone should open the ice for our rookies and smaller guys…

            To say that he’s not capable of that is bs… He’s shown that he can if he chooses to last year… Correct me if I’m wrong, but he did get into two to three fights last year, right??

          • Ryan14

            As did Gagner and Cogliano

            Penner is a better leader on this team putting up 30+ goals and impacting the game the way he does, not putting up 20 goals and getting in fights/taking penalties cough*Moreau*cough.

            There is no doubt about his capability. However, its hard to argue where Penner is most effective. And its not sitting in the box, or fighting.

            Penner is a top line player. He does no good fighting players who hit Hall or Eberle. That is why we have Peckham, Macyntire, Stortini, Jones and Vandermeer. 5 minutes of Penner in the box is 5 less minutes where the other team faces one of the oilers best forwards, and where Hall or MP ends up facing qualcomp that they are not ready to face.

            I.e. the Marleau hit on Eberle. Marleau hasn’t had a major penalty since 07-08. for arguments sake, we will say that is a fighting major. Penner goes after Marleau for the hit. As a result, he risks getting an instigator penalty, which equals 17 minutes of no Penner on the ice, and a PP for SJ. So as a result, the Oilers lose their top scorer from last year for a period, end up on the PK, and now have to put MP or Hall against tougher competition. Its not really worth it.

          • Rogue

            No one says he has to fight. Everyone knows how strong he is and what a threat he could be. All he has to do is ONCE in awhile rub someone into the boards or jam a glove into a chest and say back off. Horc, Hemmer, Cogs and Brule throw what little weight they have around, JTDC, more than Dorthy Penner. One of our bigger players and yet everybody else out hits him? Our biggest forward in our top 9 and he gets pushed around? Goal scoring is important, but having your team pushed around all night is worse. Sometimes you need to do what is best for the team, not yourself.

            I thought Penner could be a part of this team for years to come, but now it seems he is no different than a lot of our other forwards, TOO small. If he continues to play with absolutely no grit, this will be his last contract here. He will be one of the small guys to go.

          • Horcsky

            It’s true that when you look at the top nine, i don’t think that there’s anyone over 210 outside of Penner. However, I think that him using his size to gain position/protect the puck to score goals is more valuable than him being physical.

            In terms of our D though, as the pairings stand now, there should be at least one D-man on the ice at all times who has enough size and willingness to stand up for a teammate. Also, responses don’t always have to be immediate. We all have seen Brule make some questionable hits, and he can certainly go out there next shift and either get his stick or elbows up on a hit. That sends a message to the other team just as well as an immediate fight. Not that it has to be Brule, but there’s an example of a guy without size who can have that impact on a game.

            I’d say that a 30 goal man opens up the ice way more by gaining the attention of defenders who are keying on him than a guy who is out there banging bodies, but that’s a tough one to prove. Besides, you need to outscore the other team to win the game. Just ask Detroit or Chicago. Not usually thought of as tough teams, but they’ll take hits and beat you on the powerplay and the scoreboard.

          • D-Man

            You can’t compare Edmonton to Chicago or Detroit as we simply don’t have that level of talent yet… You’re right about the fact that we do have some physical defense who should help – but that still doesn’t give Penner an out in my mind..

            He doesn’t have the attitude – I get that, but that’s why in my eyes (and others like Brownlee) he’s somewhat disappointing… All he needs to do is throw a guy around once like he did last year or stiff arm Regehr again tonight… Actions like that remind our opponents to not take liberties on the small guys (like Hemsky and Gagner) on his line…

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      “It seems a little hypocritical to ask one player to give more effort even thou he puts up points and on the same note be happy with players points just on strenght of his effort.”

      Actually it isn’t the least bit hypocritical.

  • Dan the Man

    I didn’t understand why Gilbert and Whitney were split up to begin with.

    They looked very good together last year so lets hope they pick up where they left off last year.

    Foster and Peckham should be fine.

    Strudwick and Smid….well I have concerns about any pairing that includes Strudwick.

  • Ender

    Question for anyone that can help:

    Has anyone seen a good satire/spoof logo for the Flames? Maybe a big blue C covered in icicles or something? I mean, that 3rd jersey horse monstrosity is hideous enough to be a joke, but I mean other than that . . .

  • Can anybody solve a mystery for me?…I live in Lethbridge and am a Telus digital cable subscriber. The game tonite is supposed to be on Sportsnet West (Telus channels 111 or 665) but as I scroll through all of the various Sportsnet channels, both regular and high def, I cannot for the life of me see the BOA in the programming lineup for tonite? I see the Oilers website indicates that the game is only available on the radio yet the Flames website list Sportsnet West as carrying the game?!?

    What am I missing here?

    Any direction would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

  • Ender

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Do you think Renney/Ralph Krueger would play Whitney/Gilbert v. Bourque’s line and not Iginla’s?

    We don’t need Whitney/Gilbert to slow Bourque down. Rollie Pollie Olli will do a great job of that all by himself.

  • Milli

    I would much prefer a result like the first meeting as oppossed to the second!!!

    It sure does seem like a few guys are having trouble getting going this year (Penner and Cogs). Any thinking we may see some lines juggled?

    Is Khabby starting? Well, that’s probably a silly question.

  • Tracie

    the great thing about Cgy: Gagner, Eberle, and Paajarvi have all scored their first NHL goals vs CGY…I think i see a goal in Hall’s future tonight!!!

    I would love to see a win, but I’ll be happy with a bit more passion on the ice, more face off wins and a good fight or two!

    GO OILERS!!!!

  • Oldebuffalo

    This game is likely going to be a heart breaker for Oiler’s fans who think their ‘young guns’ are going to lead them out of hockey purgatory.

    Sorry OIL fans, it ain’t gonna happen this year!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Ugh, we really need to have that third goalie sent down and bring up another option for this team up front.

    I agree with having a guy like Reddox ready to play, although I guess I can live with both Storts and Mac dressed tonight.

    Gregor
    With the play of Vandermeer, any chance they look at brining someone up and sending him down? Or even trying to acquire someone else? If neither Struds or Vandy step it up, our third pairing is going to be hurting us.