IS HELP COMING?

Fresh off a four game losing streak where they allowed 25 goals, the Oilers might get be putting out an SOS to Oklahoma City and recalling a defenceman. Ladislav Smid didn’t skate today, and Tom Renney couldn’t shed any light on Smid’s status, because he hasn’t spoken to him yet, but he hinted that the Oilers might be adding a D-man before Wednesday’s game v. Chicago.


The Oilers backend isn’t even treading water right now, they are in full fledged bail out mode. It is Christmas time in the defensive zone right now, with the entire team giftwrapping chance after chance to the opposition. Tom Gilbert was -11 on the road trip. You can’t sugarcoat it, he needs to be better.

Kurtis Foster is not physical, it isn’t in his DNA, but he needs to have better positioning and win more battles. Jason Strudwick and Jim Vandermeer’s foot speed has been exposed, and I’m not sure that at this stage of their careers it can get any better. Ladislav Smid is trying to do too much. He needs to simplify his game, and let the puck do the work. Theo Peckham is making mistakes, but he is a rookie, and is the only one who plays physical. The coaching staff can handle his mistakes, because his effort and battle level has been exceptional. Ryan Whitney is their best D-man, and has been fairly solid, but even he could make better decisions in his own zone.

Recalling Shawn Belle or Richard Petiot won’t solve all their problems, in fact I’m not sure it will make that big of a difference, because they are only one player and not God, but at this point it needs to happen. 

PK CHANGES

Tom Renney continues to tweak his PK, but it isn’t the system that isn’t working, it’s the personnel. The Oilers don’t have a lot of NHL penalty killers on this roster. For those who don’t know, the system they use is pretty much the same one they are using in Oklahoma. The Barons are having great success, while the Oilers are 29th. 

While Tom Renney won’t say it publicly, he’d love to have a Liam Reddox or Ryan O’Marra up here. Those two are solid penalty killers. Keep in mind though, that while they are great AHL penalty killers, they wouldn’t automatically be great in the NHL, but they have a better mindset to kill penalties than what Renney has to work with right now. The other big difference between the Barons and the Oilers, is the Barons goaltenders are near the top of the AHL talent pool, while Khabibulin hasn’t played like an upper echelon goalie thus far. You can have a great system, solid personnel, but if your goalie isn’t solid on the PK you won’t have success.

AVERY SITUATION

I’m a bit surprised by the Avery scenario in OilersNation. I understand it was frustrating to watch, but let’s look at the way it played out.

It started with a clean hit on Colin Fraser. No offence to Fraser, but Avery rubbed out Fraser, not Taylor Hall. It was a clean hit. Guys don’t need to fight just because they land a solid, clean check.

Smid comes over, and I give him credit for wanting to stand up for a teammate especially when it was 5-2, and challenges Avery. Avery originally declined the fight, and the Oilers and Renney confirmed he said, "We’ll do it next shift."

At that point, Smid could have just skated away. He stayed there and was facing Avery, when basically Avery beat Smid to the punch. It wasn’t a sucker punch. Sure, you can argue it was cheap, but Smid was facing him and Avery clearly got the jump on him.

Avery has been in a idiot in the past, but he has never been suspened for his on-ice antics. He is a mouthpiece, and far from a stand up guy, but he didn’t sucker punch Smid. Smid knew who he was dealing with, and should have been prepared for anything. Smid will be back, and I’m sure the next time he won’t ask twice when he encounters Avery. 

The Oilers are still more of a reactionary team than one that initiates things. I’m not just talking fighting, I’m talking their overall game. In the few games where the Oilers push the pace and play with some semblance of a physical presence they have dominated. The problem is they don’t seem to know how to play that way every game. 

That is just another thing that TEACHER Tom needs to instill in their game. The process is a long way from being completed, and the journey won’t be pretty some nights. 

I think fans and the organization will accept Exciting Last Place Hockey, but neither side should be satisfied with Uninspired Last Place Hockey. 

  • GSP would have been proud of Avery’s Superman punch but that’s MMA not the NHL.

    When Erik Christensen says “Avery hit him when he wasn’t looking” that’s confirmation it was a sucker punch.

    *Unless you know more than an NHL’er about the game*

    Not a coldcock/blind sided sucker punch by defination but in terms of “the code” it was a sucker punch.

    If Avery did that to #4 or Eberle there’s no doubt it’d be deemed a sucker punch so why not on Smid?

    If you can’t spot the sucker in the first 20 minutes you are the sucker.

    • Jason Gregor

      Go look at the replay…Smid knew it was coming and that is why he turned his head. Avery beat him to the punch. Doesn’t matter who he hit, he got in first punch. If you ask a guy to fight and then ask him again you need to be ready that he might eventually hit you.

  • Jason Gregor

    It was a sucker punch. Ladi still had a glove on when he got hit. Avery is scum and you can just add this to the bottom of a long disgusting list. He shouldn’t be in this league. You wouldn’t be able to hold a job anywhere else with such deplorable character and the NHL shouldn’t be an exception.

  • Jason Gregor

    The sucker punch (don’t kid yourself, that’s exactly what it was) doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Avery laughing while the trainers helped our boy off the ice.

  • DaveChamp

    I disagree when you say it wasn’t a sucker punch. Avery declined a fight and Smid started to skate away. Granted, it wasn’t like his back was turned, but it was still a cheap shot. However, when retaliating and defending a teammate, you don’t ask for a fight, you get in there and start swinging.
    Smid needs to remember one thing: when you dance with a clown, always be ready for a pie in the face.

  • Hemmertime

    Was a sucker punch. If you are holding a flat of beer in both hands and I punch you in the face from in front of you, because I was in front of you doesn’t make any less of one. Smid’s hands werent up, gloves were on, and had the impression there wasnt going to be a fight

    • Jason Gregor

      Smid needed to be ready for anything…He had nothing in his hands man. Guys get the jump on guys often in fights, in this case, Avery’s punch landed on the button and Smid went down.

      Cheap for sure…well disguised and gutless yep..But not a sucker punch in my mind.

  • Ninjai

    I agree with your assessment on the team Gregor. Our defense is way over its head and our PK is brutal based on the personnel not the system (nothing we haven’t heard before).

    If we were going to call up a D-man from OKC, who would you pick the first to be called? Lowetide suggested that Plante would probably be the best option and I would agree as he can bring a physical edge that only Peckham has shown at the Blue Line.

    As for Smid and Avery, I’ll agree that Smid shouldn’t have gone after Avery after his clean hit on Fraser (not a guy who really needs to be stuck up for) and it wasn’t a ‘suckerpunch’ with respect to Smid not seeing it coming (ie. positioned face-to-face) but if you decline and say “next shift,” you’d obviously put your guard down and wait for the whistle. It was just textbook cheap play and cowardness.

    • Jason Gregor

      I don’t think Plante is right guy at this point. Let him continue to develop for a bit more. Bringing him up here to get shell shocked with the other D-men wouldn’t be best for him in my mind.

      Problem with calling Plante up is you can’t send Vandermeer or Strudwick down in his place. You can only have a certain number of “veterans” on your AHL roster.

      They can call up Belle and replace him with 43 or 2 because all are considered veterans.

      • Ninjai

        Thanks for the reply.

        I didn’t realize that there was a limit to the number of “veterans” you can have on your AHL roster. But it makes sense since you could just stack your AHL team with “veterans”.

        This is a rebuilding year and developing the D should be a high (if not the highest) priority of the Oilers right now.

        So you would call up Belle over Petriot?

      • D-Man

        Agreed about Plante – but would Belle truly help the PK?? Or are we assuming he’d be #5/#6 on the depth chart and getting a bit of time on the PP now and again??

  • Ninjai

    Smid brought it on himself… Smid has always been a talker.. but when the refs are around he is 10 feet tall. I like Smid but he is all show and no go..

    He should have droppd the gloves and asked questions later.. and why does the team get all huffy puffy after a clean hit anyways.. We gotta see that emotion off the hop not when the game is already over.. We need to be mean and hit.. we have the tools to do it.. but for whatever reason….. we dont..

    Confused i am

    • Jason Gregor

      Coaches don’t make the plays. The players do. They just aren’t that good. They are a 30th place team, because of lack of talent, not bad coaching. Coaching can always get better, but if you don’t have good players, it is hard to win. Plain and simple.

  • Ducey

    It was a sucker punch. Smid was a sucker for counting on any semblance of honor from Avery.

    Just another lesson in the long line of lessons to be learned this year.

  • BigE91

    “That is just another thing that TEACHER Tom needs to instill in their game. The process is a long way from being completed, and the journey won’t be pretty some nights.”

    After this road trip I would like to nominate this as the understatement of the year. If this keeps up by January no one will linking this team to “exciting last place hockey”

  • Ryan14

    By definition, it wasn’t a sucker punch but Smid just wasn’t expecting to fight at that instant based on Mr.Sloppy Seconds Giver’s verbal reply. Struds and Vandermeer have got to go.

  • Ender

    If Avery is fighting Chara, then maybe he needs to get Chara off his guard and try and sneak in the first punch when Zdeno’s not expecting it.

    This was Ladislav freakin’ Smid. If you can’t just drop the gloves and fight that guy, you have no business being in the fight.

  • DK0

    I’m sad that we don’t play them again this season. I dont think you would have any trouble motivating the team to have a physical presence for that match.

    Why o why was Macintyre already out of the game 🙁 I think I would have been completely ok with losing his 6 minutes of icetime after he received a 3 game suspension for leaving the bench and pummeling Avery in a fine pile of sloppy seconds.

  • GSC

    I disagree with your no sucker punch argument, Gregor, but definitely agree that the Oilers should be the instigators more often in terms of physical play rather than being reactionary.

    IMO, that’s the biggest issue with this team in terms of the toughness argument. They don’t provoke, but rather wait until provoked. That kind of attitude will get them no where, as we’ve seen for several years now.

    Hell, I’d argue the last time the Oilers adopted an aggressive, physically engaging mentality was back in 2006. We all know what that team did…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    JG,

    So if Smid would have just dropped his gloves and smoked Avery in the face while they were talking (and Avery facing Smid) would that have been a sucker punch?

    It was ABSOLUTELY a sucker punch made even worse by Avery telling Smid to wait until the next shift.

    Avery waited until Smid looked towards the play so he could gain a cowardess advantage.

    If Avery really wanted to fairly answer Smid’s request he would have dropped his gloves at Smid’s initial calling.

    He pulled a cheapshot and anyone who has ever played that part of the game knows; that there is a “code” when it comes to dropping the gloves. Avery did not adhere to it.

    It’s that simple…

    • Jason Gregor

      There have been tonnes of fights over the years, where one guy drops gloves and gets first shot in. Most times the first shot doesn’t hit the guy on the button and they continue to fight. But if you think Avery was first guy to get a jump on a guy in a fight, just go to youtube and you’ll see he isn’t.

      Did he bait Smid a bit…Of course, but should we expect anything better from him?

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I didn’t say there weren’t others that do the same thing Avery did. Other guys hit people from behind, etc – that doesn’t make it acceptable practice.

        The fact is – it was a dishonarable act that Smid WAS NOT expecting. To me (and most others) that is considered a cheap shot, sucker punch, call it what you will.

        My intent is not to argue semantics, but rather debate whether Avery “beat Smid to the punch” as you put it.

        I can’t see how Smid would assume there would be any altercation once Avery declined (physically and verbally).

          • Jason Gregor

            I just want you to know that I never said he turned his back. I said that Avery waited until Smid looked to the play and then jumped him. By the time Smid looked back, Avery already knew what his plan was and Smid had no chacne to prepare.

            I guess we will agree to disagree. And I will leave you with this quote from TSN:

            Rangers coach John Tortorella declined to comment on the incident, but forward Erik Christensen told the New York Post that his teammate “sucker-punched” Smid.

            “It looked to me like he suckered him; I’m not going to deny it,” Christensen then told The Post. “I mean, everyone could see.”