Lost in all of the love and praise for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is that the raw rookie is the only player who has scored on home ice; well he’s the only one who has been credited with a goal. This replay one this one shows Hall definitely touched the puck, (final five seconds), but was puck completely over the line. It’s debateable, but the point is the Oilers need more guys scoring.


We can debate whether Nugent-Hopkins scored that goal or not, but either way he has been in on four of the five goals. That is great for him, and thankfully it will stop the talk of sending him back to junior, but the Oilers offence has been struggling.

The H2E line looked great v. the Canucks. The three former first-rounders, RNH, Hall and Jordan Eberle love playing with each other and they’ve discovered some instant chemistry. They had seven points on Saturday and they have 10 of the team’s 15 total points; unfortunately the rest of the team hasn’t done much.

Ryan Smyth has the other goal, while Ales Hemsky and Eric Belanger each have an assist. Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark, Shawn Horcoff, Anton Lander, Ryan Jones and Lennart Petrell have combined for zero points and 19 shots in 260:36 of combined icetime. 

Six of their next eight games are at home, and if they want to be in the pack at the end of the month they will need to find some more scoring. So far Eric Belanger, even though he has an assist, hasn’t done much offensively. He’s been great in the dot, 57.1%, but he needs to generate some more chances. Omark has been almost invisible in his two games, Paajarvi is skating well, but I’d like to see a bit more urgency around the net. Horcoff works hard, and made two very subtle plays that led to PP goals v. the Canucks, but he needs to bear down when he’s in a good shooting lane.

I know it is only three games, but the Oilers can’t afford to have so many offensive passengers.


Ryan Whitney and Sam Gagner took Tom Renney’s "drop-off" test today. Renney pulls out his stopwatch and monitors their cardio, but most importantly he wants to see where they are at with their recovery time.

Prior to doing his test, Whitney was joking around and looked up at Kevin Quinn and I, only guys in stands, and did the sign of the cross and then smiled. He really wants to play.

Renney puts a pylon on the goal line directly in line with faceoff dots, and then another pylon at faceoff dot just outside near blueline. Players start at pylon outside blueline. Renney blows whistle, and players go there and back three times with stops and starts. It took them around 23 seconds.  He saves their time. Then they get an 80 second rest and go a 2nd and a 3rd time. He expects their final time to be within a half a second or so of their original time.

After the stops and starts they do three trials with figure eight turns around the two pylons instead of coming to a complete stop. They do this three times as well.

I jokingly asked Whitney if a guy could dog it a bit during the first time so it would be easier to match it in the 2nd and 3rd attempts. "I tried that," he laughed, "but Tom told me to pick it up a bit."

Whitney passed his test and his return will depend on how the Oilers play tonight. I get the sense that if the Oilers lose tonight, he’ll likely play tomorrow, but if they win or play very well, he’ll get an extra two days off and play Thursday v. Minnesota. That is just a hunch, Whitney nor Renney said that, but if they lose tonight, I think Renney will want his best D-man back as quick as possible.

Sam Gagner also took the test and passed, but he will take another test on Wednesday. A longer one that takes about 45 seconds per test. Gagner will return Thursday at the earliest, but likely not until Saturday.


The goalie rotation continues with Khabibulin starting. Only Ty Conklin has a better GAA at this point, although both of them have only played one game, but Khabibulin was solid in Minnesota. Ben Eager will make his Oiler debut, replacing the injured Darcy Hordichuk on the 4th line, while the top three will stay the same.

Renney told us that an unnamed forward is battling the flu, and if he can’t play then the Oilers will dress seven D-men. Just a guess, but it seems Petrell or Lander might be the guy battling the flu. I spoke to Hall, Eberle, Horcoff, Smyth, Jones, RNH, Eager and Belanger and none of them looked like they were under the weather. Paajarvi was very vocal on the ice joking with his teammates, so I doubt he’s sick.

If the forwards are good to go, Theo Peckham will be the odd man out on the blueline. Jeff Petry was paired with Cam Barker, with Tom Gilbert skated with Ladislav Smid and Corey Potter stayed with Andy Sutton. Peckham struggled on Saturday and Renney will let him watch from upstairs if the forwards are healthy.

If the Oilers go with seven D-men, look for Peckham or Potter to take a shift up front.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: After combining for three goals and seven points on Saturday, the H2E line continues to roll with two more goals. Eberle and Hall, on the PP, actually get some help from another line as Horcoff finds the net as well. Oilers skate past the Preds 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Rexall will be busier earlier than usual as fans flock to pick up their Ryan Smyth bobblehead. This is Smyth’s 3rd bobblehead – 2nd with the Oilers and one with the Kings. By 6:45 p.m. there will be at least ten Smyth bobblehead dolls for sale on Kijiji. Jordin Tootoo will raise the ire of the Oilers and their fans with a clean, heavy hit on one of the Oilers skilled forwards midway through the 2nd period.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After spending ten minutes at the end of practice working on his faceoffs, Nugent-Hopkins will have a breakout game in the dot and win five of 11 faceoffs. Considering he has won 7 of 38 (18.2%), winning 5 of 11 will be a massive improvement.  

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    ok… can we leave Omark aside for a while.

    is Dubnyk in net tonight? What did you think of Khabbie’s play? that first goal seemed maybe soft and he didn’t face many shots. so far he’s looked much better than during preseason.

    I imagine the grinders will go for a spin tonight. and I expect some fireworks. hope the kids can dodge trouble. is hordichuk ready to go, or will eager go again (or both?)

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Oh, that’s a brutal article.

        “A slow start is not enough to throw the Calgary Flames into a collective panic. Especially not with the Edmonton Oilers in town.”

        I mean come on!!! The Flames haven’t exactly been “red hot” for a few years either.

        Why do you need to dump on the Oil.

        That whole article reads: at least the Flames aren’t the oilers. Just think about that. From a marketing the game perspective.

        Here you have the first game of the battle of alberta, two teams at the beginning of a new season, with new talent, trying to make good. and you pitch it to your readers as “ho hum, one mediocre team vs. a terrible, forget about it team”… brutal. If I read that in the paper and wasn’t sure if i should watch the game tonight or read old tv guides, i’d probably read old tv guides. (of course, i’m not an idiot and i know that if the Oil are doing something the world stops on a pin-prick of excitement)

        Game day!! kill em all!

        • Romulus' Apotheosis


          I didn’t catch that. But he gets it right at the end of the article… wow, just wow. Sportsnet really shows its second class status sometimes.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    I think a good comparison for Omark is George Laraque. George was a beast in the corners and the boards. Rarely lost the puck battles but rarely did it result in anything either. Kinda like Omark LOL.

    Not hating on Omark yet. I’ll give him this season before I judge him on his role or if he even fits in with the team.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      And I thought the Sedin comparison was a bit off…

      this makes no sense (unless you are joking). Laraque has wooden hands and no skating dexterity. He was a lot of fun to root for and watch, but him and Omark are totally different kinds of players.

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        Of course I’m joking! I actually think it’s pretty silly to be judging players in their first years in the league by comparing them to previous players, hence the comparison to big George. There are infinite amount of factors that can change how a player develops.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          fair enough… there are so many crazy comparisons going on that it’s hard to know who is snarking.

          also, I think I saw someone else compare him to big G.

          But… then how to you propose to evaluate player performance? if you don’t use some form of comparison? players don’t exist in a vacuum.

          • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

            I don’t know how you would evaluate player’s performance properly man. As in anything that’s performance driven, comparisons to others is a necessity. I don’t have anything against the comparisons but when people use it to judge a player(pigeon hole them) who’s played less than two or even three full seasons in the league is what makes no sense to me. I say give them time then make a judgement.

  • French Toast Mafia

    If Omark doesn’t learn how to score and produce points then who cares how long he holds onto the puck in the other teams end. A certain George Laraque used to hold onto the puck in the other teams end for a shift and never get a shot on goal or produce. Omark is not going to be a good enough checking winger to match up with other teams top guys so he needs to produce regardless of his “passion or grit”.

    Maybe Omark learns to do something but if he is going to continue scoring at a 1 goal per 10 games and maybe touch the .5 points per game then it really doesn’t matter how good he looks handling the puck in the offensive zone. Nothing wrong with skilled players that work hard, they just need to produce. If he doesn’t then he has gotta go.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I love how some are trying to cling to style of play.

    It’s irrelavant how they play, both are/were here for offense. If they aren’t producing, they wont be here.

    • French Toast Mafia

      The point is that if we go with Arch and say that all else is equal between these two players – Omark’s style of play (grit, passion, strength on the puck) should translate into production. We all agree more or less there is skill in both players – its going to be the effort that sets them apart.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        “Omark’s style of play (grit, passion, strength on the puck) should translate into production.”

        But yet it hasn’t.

        “its going to be the effort that sets them apart.”

        It better hurry up and do so.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            It’s not me that’s impatient with him, it’s that I think the team will cut bait with him at the end of the year if he’s not better then an 8 goal, 40 point guy.

            I think if he wants to stay in the league he better hurry and start producing.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Nilson PPG

    NHL .47

    AHL .95

    KHL .58


    NHL .5

    AHL 1.1

    KHL .64

    Sorry gents, I’m just not seeing a big difference…. especially considering it’s been claimed that Omarks accomplished “way more”.

  • OilFarmer

    IMO doesn’t it make more sense to have a guy like omark on your team even if he is only playing a 3 min a night than to have a hordichuk or Big Mac like last year? Omark as a shootout specialist/2nd unit pp guy exclusively is better than a 2 minute a night enforcer

  • stevezie

    It’s impossible to argue that, to this young point in his career, Omark has been anything other than marginally better than Nilsson. However, OMark has some value away from the puck that Nilsson doesn’t. Omark forechecks like a demon, is strong and quick in the corners and isn’t afraid to go anywhere on the ice. He is Nilsson with the heart transplant you requested. I think that even if he never gets above .5 points per game he forechecks well enough to stick as a 4th liner/pp guy/shootout ace. Obviously he still has some things to learn about defence, and there’s no guarenteee he will learn it, but I think his effort level will buy him some time. Remember the mistake wasn’t signing Nilsson, it was signing him for that much money.

    You use Nilsson as his comparable, be we could easily be throwing around Martin St Louis, or to a lesser extent, Marc Savard as comparables. I think we’ve got to time to find out for sure, don’t we?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I don’t mind the PP/shootout specialist idea…. we’d just have to keep in mind that he’d be HIGHLY unlikely to be at .5PPG playing 4th line minutes.

      • stevezie

        Depends how good he is on the PP, and I expect he’d get more even strength time in games where we needed scoring, and less when we needed D. M. Bergeron and Mark Streit have both been played as 4th line forwards/PP masters in there career, so there is some precedent. And this is assuming that Linus can’t play top 9 minutes, which I think he can.