Back on December 3rd I wrote that the the Oilers were ready to put ELPH in the rearview mirror, and would not finish in the bottom five. Shows how much I know, although I did state the only way they would stay in the hunt for a lottery pick would be if the injury bug hit. The injury bug bit Ales Hemsky for 13 games, Shawn Horcoff has been out since December 7th and now Ryan Whitney will be out at least a few weeks.
Most teams would struggle losing arguably their three best players, but when you are a young team the impact hits even harder.
Whitney’s ankle has been bugging him for a few weeks, but last night he really aggravated it and it sounds like he’ll be out at least two months now, according to Bob McKenzie. McKenzie tweeted that it looks like Whitney’s injury is more long term than short term. That will definitely impact the Oilers draft standings. Losing Whitney is the worst possible injury for the team on the ice, but the best injury for the scouting staff.
Welcome to the NHL, Jeff Petry. I wrote yesterday that the only way Petry would stay here for any length of time would be if he played incredibly well (he was minus three last night) or there was an injury, and with Whitney going down, Petry will get ample time to learn the NHL game.
Petry will get a lot of PP time with Whitney on the shelf, and he’ll probably get more ice time than he is ready for, but getting put in the fire for a brief period should help him longterm.
- Gilbert Brule skated today with Ryan O’Marra and Magnus Paajarvi and he’ll be activated tomorrow and dress v. Colorado.
- Linus Omark wasn’t on a line at practice today, and it looks like he will take a seat in the pressbox after another giveaway resulted in a goal. His giveaway led to Buffalo’s 2nd goal last night, and Tom Renney wasn’t pleased about it. Omark was benched in the 3rd and will take a seat on popcorn alley tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll get another chance to play, but he needs to learn to make smarter plays with the puck in the neutral and defensive zones.
- JF Jacques will also be sitting out. Last night he crushes Craig Rivet with a big hit, but when Rivet challenged him to drop the gloves Jacques skated away. How he does that when his team is trailing boggles my mind, and that might have finally sealed his fate with the organization. If he doesn’t play with an edge and show a willingness to play tough and drop the gloves now and then he has no value to the team. I guarantee you Renney was fuming after watching that sequence last night.
- Ryan O’Marra has to show more grit. He isn’t a scorer, and if he doesn’t start hitting someone or becoming great defensively I’m not sure where he fits down the road. He has a great opportunity, but he needs to grab hold of it.
- Under the caption of OBVIOUS, the Oilers don’t shoot the puck enough. Last night they looked for the cute pass way too often. Renney has harped on it a few times this year, but clearly the message isn’t getting through. I wonder if it is time for some tough love from Renney. He has been incredibly patient in a lot of areas, but 35 games in some habits aren’t being broken, and he needs to change them.
- Too bad for Martin Marincin. He was suspended for four games, which is essentially the rest of the WJC for his blatant elbow v. the USA. The kid has had a great year, and it would have been nice to watch him on the junior stage, but the more I watch him the more I like him. Right now it looks like the Riley Nash trade was a hell of a deal, and if he keeps progressing as fast as he has this season, that trade might go down as one of the key parts of the Oilers rebuild.