Throughout the Taylor v. Tyler debate last year, there wasn’t much mention of Jeff Skinner, but as we got closer to the 2010 draft we started to hear more about the offensive upside of the former Kitchener Ranger. The Hurricanes took him with the 7th pick and so far he has looked like an exceptional choice. Tonight we will see four of the top-eight rookie scorers in the NHL, and Skinner leads them all with five goals and 12 points.
We shouldn’t be stunned by Skinner’s early season totals. He had 50 goals and 90 points in Kitchener last year, and a ridiculous 20 goals and 33 points in only 20 playoff games. He is a natural scorer, and you can’t say he is riding Eric Staal’s coattails, since he has 12 points to Staal’s eleven.
Eberle sits 2nd in rookies points with eight, while Hall and Paajarvi are tied for 6th with six each. Nine of Skinner’s 12 points have comes five-on-five, so the kid has proven he isn’t just a PP wonder. It was too early to say he will be the steal of the draft, but he is getting rave reviews in Carolina and it will be nice to see how he stacks up to the Oilers three rookies.
Shawn Horcoff won’t play tonight, so Tom Renney had to shuffle his lines. Gilbert Brule will move to the middle with Ryan Jones and Magnus Paajarvi. Sam Gagner will centre Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky while Andrew Cogliano will skate with Dustin Penner and Jordan Eberle. Steve MacIntyre returns beside Colin Fraser and Zack Stortini.
Bob Stauffer told me it looks like Jim Vandermeer is out and Theo Peckham is back in after battling the flu.
The silver lining in the Horcoff injury will be the increased icetime for Cogliano. I think it is clear he isn’t in the longterm plans of the Oilers, so the best scenario is for him to flourish and increase his trade value. Cogliano has never been given a serious look as a top-six forward, excluding the final 20 games in his rookie season when he formed the second coming of the Kid Line with Gagner and Robert Nilsson. In those final 20 games he had nine goals and 17 points playing top-six minutes and getting PP time.
Horcoff won’t be out for 20 games, so the reality is Cogliano will need to produce quickly if he wants to keep getting some PP time upon Horcoff’s return. He will get more PK time tonight as well with the captain in the pressbox.
GOOD EXES AND BAD EXES
Hockey is just like life sometimes. We all have good exes and unfortunately there is normally one, if not more, bad or psycho Ex.
Players like Fernando Pisani, Marty Reasoner, Kyle Brodziak and even Raffi Torres would be considered good ones. Fans appreciated the work ethic of the first three, and Torres will mostly be remembered for his stellar play in the 2006 Cup run; specifically his devastating hit on Milan Michalek that changed the San Jose series.
I’m confident in saying that Patrick O’Sullivan (POS), Erik Cole and Joni Pitkanen aren’t held in the same regard as the previous four. Sergei Samsonov was only here for a short time, and he played decent in the playoffs so he’s probably not in the bad category, just in the "it was okay while it lasted, but we never got to know each other very well, he was more of a fling."
Pitkanen never fit in Edmonton, and when Cole replaced him in a trade he didn’t come close to contributing anything. Then in a three-way deal he was shipped out and POS replaced him. POS represented everything that most
Oiler fans, hockey fans despise.
He was soft, didn’t care, couldn’t score, didn’t hit, didn’t check and was easily the moodiest player I’ve ever encountered in a dressing room. He was so bad that when the Oilers shipped him out for an over-priced Jim Vandermeer there was jubilation in the streets. Sure Vandermeer’s best days are behind him, but at least he will compete and protect the young kids, plus he made $600,000 less than POS.
So far this season, former Oilers have feasted on their old team. Loyal Nation contributor Ender came up with this tidbit yesterday.
"I think you’re right. It’s also interesting to note that the ex-Oilers that have lit us up this season are averaging 0.25 goals per game. Against teams that aren’t the Oilers, they are pluggers that average 0.15 goals per game between them. Against the Oilers, that group becomes premier forwards that score at an average rate of 0.83 goals per game. We really are the high point on their schedule. May the hockey gods be merciful."
I’m not a really into curses and voodoo crap, but had POS scored a goal tonight, I might have changed my tune. He hasn’t played more than eight minutes in a game this year, and he will sit out again tonight so thankfully I won’t have to worry about that replica doll Wanye made of me actually causing me any harm. But Cole, Samsonov and Pitkanen are in so we’ll see if the bad Exes produce as well as the good ones.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are 2-3-2 all-time in Carolina and they will drop to 2-3-3 with a 4-3 OT loss tonight.
OBVIOUS GAME PREDICTION: Jeff Skinner and Taylor Hall will each score a goal, and the comparisons of Hall v. Skinner will begin and last for the next ten years. Hall will set up Sam Gagner for an open net, and unlike the previous two times this season, Gagner will fire it home.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME PREDICTION: After finding out that Angela James is Theo Peckham’s sister, Gene Principe will uncover a framed Marc-Andre Bergeron picture in the bowels of RBC centre. The picture of him, Andrew Ladd and Dwayne Roloson is covered in lipstick kisses. Gene does his best CSI interpretation and reveals the kiss marks are from all 23 gusy of the Canes Cup winning team.
When he shows the picture, one of Ender, The Scientist, Rindog, Woodguy, Banger, Rubbertrout, Wanye, Wanye’s Bastard Child, Madjam, T. Dakin, Crash, Bookie will instantly start crying, and cry so hard they will pass out. Just fess up after the game please.