Nikolai Khabibulin has an injured eye after taking an ice chip in the eye earlier this week. He played on Tuesday, but the "injury" flared up when they returned home and now he has a bit of bleeding in the eye. He was told to take some time off, so Martin Gerber has been recalled on an emergency basis, but there is no reason he should see the ice.
Now is the time the Oilers should hand the reins to Dubnyk, and let him skate with them.
Dubnyk should have been playing more games during the previous two months considering his numbers are significantly better than Khabibulin’s.
Dubnyk has faced an average of 32 shots a game in his 22 games while Khabibulin has faced just over 31 shots per game in his 37. Dubnyk has a 2.78 GAA and .914 SV%, while Khabibulin has a 3.33 GAA and .893 SV%. The numbers clearly favour Dubnyk, and considering he has eight wins to Khabibulin’s ten, in 15 less games, it is obvious he gives the Oilers just as good a chance, if not better, to win.
Whether Khabibulin is out two games or two weeks, the Oilers should give Dubnyk a run of four or five straight starts. They can find out how he handles being a starter, how he prepares himself knowing he will play and ideally if he can handle it. I know a five game stretch isn’t long enough to be certain, but considering how many opportunties the young forwards and D-men have been given this season, why not afford Dubnyk the same luxury?
You can’t say the Dubnyk has only faced lesser lights this season either. He’s played PHX three times, LA, SJ, NSH, ANA and COL twice, and he’s lined up against VAN, ST.L, CBJ, ATL, NYI, MTL and NJ once. With Khabibulin possibly going on the EYE R (I’ll use it before Gene), the Oilers need to SEE what they have in Dubnyk. (God this is too easy…Geno’s head might explode before game time.)
- Tom Renney said Gilbert Brule is a game time decision. I’m not sure why he is so hesitatnt to insert 67 into the lineup, but it looks like he might play tonight. Steve MacIntyre and Linus Omark are definitely out as they spent 45 minutes after practice doing skating drills. Colin Fraser has a sore shoulder after getting crushed by Ryan Wilson, and the 4th line will consist of Jacques and two of either Brule, Fraser or Reddox.
- The Oilers got a break from the schedule maker this weekend, as both the Blues and Bruins will play in Vancouver the night before facing the Oilers. We’ll see if the Oilers can take advantage of some fatigued teams.
WHO IS THE MVP
The Oilers enter the final quarter of the season tonight, and excluding the riveting race for 30th with the Senators, the best battle will come from within the room to see who emerges as team MVP. They haven’t announced the Zane Feldman award for most valuable player since 2008, but here on the NATION we will hand out the awards in April.
MVP– With Ryan Whitney injured it is a two-horse race between Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall. Hemsky has 41 points to Hall’s 40. If both stay healthy it should be very interesting to see how they fare in the final 20 games. Hall will need to outscore Hemsky to have a reaIistic chance.
BEST D-MAN: Whitney would have won this easily had he stayed healthy, and he’ll probably finish second in voting behind Theo Peckham. Peckham has been steady, but not spectacular. No offence to Teddy Peckman, but him winning the award re-affirms how much work they have to do on the backend.
BEST ROOKIE: I know Jordan Eberle has a slightly higher points per game, 0.68, than Hall’s 0.65, but Hall is the clear winner barring a massive collapse down the stretch. He controls the game more than Eberle, and while these two have great chemistry together I see Hall as the Gretzky and Eberle as the Kurri of these two. ***I’m not suggesting Hall is even close to Gretz, or Eberle to Kurri, but I think the analogy fits.***
UNSUNG HERO: With very little PP time he still is 3rd on the team in goals. Ryan Jones is the obvious choice.
TOP DEFENSIVE FORWARD: On a team that gives up as many goals as the Oilers do it is hard to pick a deserving candidate. I’d lean towards Shawn Horcoff. He plays against most team’s top lines, and he’s still a plus player. He really protected and educated Hall and Eberle early in the season, and the kids have raved about how much Horcoff has helped their game.
MOST POPULAR PLAYER: That would be up to you, but based on how many guys have to wear sweat pants during games now, I’d suggest it might be Hall.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will continue their hot streak at home and down the tired Blues, 4-2. Taylor Hall will take over the team lead in goals, and Ryan Jones will bury another greasy goal.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Our good buddy, Gene Principe, will have a sleepless afternoon trying to figure out which Pun to use regarding Khabibulin’s eye injury. I wonder if he will wear a patch over one eye? Maybe he’ll pull a monocle out of his pocket…Oh the possibilities are endless.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Martin Gerber will arrive in time for the game, but his luggage won’t. He will take warm up wearing Khabibulin’s over-sized equipment. He won’t be able to move very well, and the Oilers will pump lots of rubber past him. This rare pre-game scoring outburst will give the Oiler forwards some confidence and they will bury three goals in the first period. The rare good start will lead to Renney telling his backup that in the future they should allow lots of goals in warm up.
After the game Geno will remark that Renney has a keen EYE for the small details of the game…