Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville hasn’t been happy with his team lately, and put them through a
bag skate hard practice yesterday hoping they get the point. The defending champs are currently in 11th spot in the ultra-tight western conference, and even though they are only six points out of 4th place, Quenneville hasn’t been happy with their drive and competitive nature lately.
Look for the Hawks to come out with a strong effort tonight, while the Oilers will have Ralph Krueger behind the bench with Tom Renney at home with his family preparing for his father’s funeral later this week.
With no lineup changes, besides Renney, after the win in Nashville much of the focus today was on trade rumours and specifically what Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky thought of hearing, reading and seeing their names as possible trade candidates.
"This is the first time I’ve felt it was possible I could be moved," said Hemsky. "I’ve never thought about it before, but now I get the sense it might happen. If it does, there will be no hard feelings. I really like it here, and I’ve liked my time hear. I just try to focus on the game, and I have no idea what they (management) are thinking."
Hemsky was asked what he thought of the direction of the team moving forward.
"We have a great coaching staff, and lots of good young players. I like where they are headed and if they feel that trading me would make them better then that’s okay. I understand it is a business"
Both Hemsky and Penner stated that the Oilers and their agents have yet to discuss an extension, but he also stated he didn’t think there was a rush to do so since he has a year left. There might be no rush for Hemsky, but I wonder if between now and the deadline if Steve Tambellini has a discussion with their agents about that exact scenario.
I think he should.
Penner was much more relaxed about the trade rumours.
"It is something for my friends to read about. It is interesting, but it doesn’t really bother. I think what usually happens is the guys who get talked about the most, normally don’t get traded, at tleast in the past it seems that way."
His thoughts on being moved.
"The current housing situation has me worried a bit, I might take a hit (laughs), but otherwise I’m not worried about it."
He talked about why he’d want to stay in Edmonton.
"The culture has changed here. We have a great group of young forwards, and young players and I’d like to say we are an up-and-coming team. I think from the beginning of the year to where we are now, even though we are in 30th place, we’ve made a lot of progress. We were shown a stat where we’ve had 24 games that were either one goal games or empty netters. If we end up winning half of those, we’d be in the playoff race."
Has he had a discussion regarding his longterm plans with the Oilers?
"That’s more something for my agent, that’s why I pay him three percent. I think we will have that conversation later. We’ve touched on it a bit, but it’s something you probably don’t address during the season."
It is a touchy subject to discuss at this point, because a lot can change in one season. How much better will Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark, Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk be next season? No one really knows the answer, and that’s why it is difficult for either Hemsky or Penner to suggest what their plans would be come the summer of 2012.
BRULE BACK SKATING
Gilbert Brule was back on the ice with his teammates for the first time in three weeks this morning. Today was his 3rd straight day skating, he took a twirl with the Oil Kings earlier this week and says he is finally feeling better.
"You feel like you are out of the loop when you haven’t played a game in almost a month, it is a tough feeling to be out that long, but I’m working hard to get back and I feel good. I got the flu over the all-star break. I started to get real sick on my holiday and it’s been frustrating. I’ve been to a few doctors and done a lot of tests, blood tests and everything has come back negative in that regard so that’s good. I think next year I will get a flu shot."
Brule is hoping to be ready by the weekend, but with only two practice days ahead and Renney not here to administer his "skating/cardio" test I don’t see Brule being activated until after the weekend. The bigger question is what will the Oilers do to get him on the roster?
If they activate him, they have to send someone to the minors or have someone go on the IR. They could put Brule on a two-week conditioning stint as well, or make a trade.
FALLING STAR OR FALLING CHAMPS?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The home team has lost all three meetings between these two clubs this year. The Oilers won 7-4 and 2-1 in Chicago, while the Hawks won 5-0 at Rexall in November. On paper this good be disaster for the Oilers and their 30th ranked PK, going up against the league’s best PP. The Hawks are 3 for 11 v. the Oilers so far, and they’ll score two PP goals tonight to win 5-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: We will see a fast game tonight. The Hawks move the puck quicker than maybe any team in the league, and the Oilers have been much better lately generating chances. While the Hawks have the best PP in the league, their PK is only 26th at 78.2%. The Oilers re-designed PP will score twice, with Linus Omark potting two more points.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The rowdy sections, 300s, will awaken from their recent slumber at Rexall and be in the game early. They will be rewarded as someone in the 300s will win the 50/50 draw tonight. The unknown winner, will make the mistake of making it known he/she won and the rest of the rowdies will expect the beers to be flowing Saturday at noon v. Ottawa. Said winner will end up spending more than $5,000 in beer the next game, but he/she won’t be rattled because that will still leave over $20,000 to blow for the rest of the weekend.