In 1999 Shannon Tweed starred in a typical terrible made-for-TV movie called Power Play. I’m not sure why the former Playmate of the Year (1982) would star in such a lame flick, considering she’s been with Gene Simmons since 1983 and doesn’t need the money, but considering her other flops I shouldn’t be surprised. The only thing worse than the Oilers powerplay right now was the plot of Power Play;
A woman survives by coming onto wealthy single men, and taking them for everything they are worth, sometimes killing. She proceeds to her next target – another wealthy man who has a daughter whom he mistreats. She tries to marry him but he dies before they could. She does, however, make off with some of his money. He also did not include his daughter in his will. When she and her boyfriend discover what she did, they decide to go after her and get back what she thinks is hers.
Fittingly there was a combined six "shes and hers" in the final confusing sentance, which was exactly how the Oilers’ six on three (and two for a few seconds when Saku Koivu got a new stick) PP looked in Anaheim on Sunday.
The Oilers had the day off yesterday, so it was no surprise that they spent the majority of today’s morning skate working on the PP. Tom Renney pulled out the blender and came up with two new units.
Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark will be a trio with Kurtis Foster and Taylor Chorney on the backend. Foster likes the creativity of the three kids and expects them to move the puck quickly. Look for Hall to be the shooter on this unit and Omark the distributor.
Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner will play with Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry. Renney wants more pucks to the net, but he also wants them to work harder with the extra attacker. A good penalty kill is as much about hard work as it is playing the system, and lately the Oilers have been outworked when they’re on the powerplay.
Renney also hinted that a 3rd unit of Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Jones and Liam Reddox will see some time if the first two units struggle. Renney didn’t offer up an ultimatum to his players, but talking to some of the guys, you got the sense that Renney made it very clear where the land in the sand is; and if guys don’t execute the PP the way he wants he won’t hesitate to try other players.
HIGH SLOT DEFLECTION
The Ducks used a set play with Teemu Selanne sliding to the high slot for a redirection on Sunday, and it resulted in the winning goal. We’ve seen the Canucks, Red Wings and other teams use it effectively and the Wild will use it tonight. The Wild use two different formations. One where the shot comes from the point, and the other where the guy on the sidewall slaps it to the guy in the slot for the redirection.
Renney admitted it is in the Oilers’ arsenal, but they haven’t executed it properly so far this season. The Oilers are in dire need of lucky goal, or deflection off a stick or glove, so look for them to send a lot of traffic to the Wild net.
DUBNYK: THREE IN FOUR
Renney is staying true to his philosophy of playing a goalie at least three out of four games, as Devan Dubnyk will get his 3rd start in four games. Dubnyk was great v. San Jose, and struggled a bit in Los Angeles. His positioning wasn’t as crisp in LA, and he wants better rebound control tonight. Renney didn’t comment on what his game plan is moving forward with his goalies, but if Dubnyk plays well tonight you can expect Dubnyk to keep playing.
Dubnyk is 1-0 in his career v. the Wild when he allowed only one goal on 26 shots in a 4-1 win last April. The Oilers have no forwards with a history of success v. the Wild. Dustin Penner has had the most success with seven goals and 13 points in 27 games. Yikes.
Zack Stortini will draw back in for Steve MacIntyre, and Foster is in for Strudwick. Foster thought he broke his foot in LA and that’s why he sat out in Anaheim. His left foot is badly bruised, and he will play with a plastic boot protector on his left skate. If he likes how it feels, then he will try a plastic protector on his right skate. Ryan Whitney uses the lightweight plastic protectors and raved about how they protect his feet from errant pucks. Don’t be surprised to see more defencemen using them in the future. The Montreal Canadiens have made it mandatory that all their players in the minors use them.
Brownlee was bang on yesterday when he said Ryan Whitney had already had surgery. Renney confirmed that this morning, and while no timetable was given, it seems likely Whitney is done for the year.
Jordan Eberle didn’t skate today, and is said he is day-to-day. He is hoping to be ready later this week, and Nashville would seem like the earliest return date. Eberle is slated to go the All Star game, but he will only go if he passes some on-ice tests. Renney has a few speed, turns, skating and cardio tests that he performs on every injured player when they are ready to return. He performed these tests at the start of the year, and he will allow players to get back in the lineup as long as their numbers are similar to the early season tests. If Eberle can pass these tests and some physical drills in practice, he wil get the green light to go to the Carolina.
A WILD AND CRAZY GAME?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Wild is solid on special teams, sitting 10th on the PP, 20.5%, and 12th on the PK at 82.7%. The Oilers are at the opposite end sitting 29th on the PP and 30th in PK, and while Renney said special teams goes in streaks, I’m not sure tonight is the night their PP heats up so I’ll go with a snoozer 3-2 Wild win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Many season ticket holders will offer up their seats for tonight’s game. The Wild are easily the most non-descript team in the league. They have no superstars, no super sniper and no young up-and-comer that people want to see. Cal Clutterbuck and his league-leading 212 hits (he is 37 ahead of 2nd place in the NHL, and 100 hits ahead of anyone on his team, which makes me question how accurate the stats guys are) might be the most talked about Wild player, and that’s not a good thing. Midway through the 2nd period Clutterbuck will take a run at Hall and narrowly miss him. The almost-a-hit sequence will cause a stir on the ice and awake the slumbering crowd.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: I ran into Wanye earlier today and was stunned at the length of his hair. He told me that a young kid walked up to him in the parking lot recently and asked if he was Tom Gilbert. Wanye was giddy to be mistaken as an NHLer, even the long-haired Gilbert, and has vowed to keep growing his hair. During the 3rd period of tonight’s game, Wanye will post a picture of the back of his head and the back of Gilbert’s and ask you to decide which one is which. He might even make a poll question asking who has better hair.
He will do this because tonight’s game will be so utterly dreadful that he needs to do something to keep him focused on the game. When you have a five-second attention span, like Wanye does, an Oiler/Wild game is pure torture.