If you haven’t seen the movie you probably assumed it was about the great chess player Bobby Fischer. It wasn’t, it was based on the life of chess prodigy, Josh Waitzkins. Basically his teacher wanted him to be like Fischer. Waitzkins didn’t have Fishcer’s meanstreak and wins with more diplomacy. I had no clue there was sportsmanship in chess. I guess hitting the timer button to hard is unsportsmanlike. 

At times hockey is like a chess match, especially when you are a playing defence. You try to read and anticipate what the offensive players will do, and this year the Oilers have been very good in their own zone, however, they’ve only scored once in three of their five games. Usually they are attacking like pawns, with limited moves, but they will need to start incorporating some strategy similar to a Bishop, Rook or Queen if they plan on scoring.

It is very early, but only Boston and New Jersey are averaging fewer goals per game than the Oilers, but only NYI and Det are allowing fewer goals. Through five games the Oilers look more like the Minnesota Wild circa Jacques Lemaire, than  Lemaire’s high-flying playing days with the Habs.

Last year the Oilers surrendered 3.17 goals against, 28th in the league, and Renney vowed they would be better. It helps that they’ve had very good to excellent goaltending thus far, but winning draws and not being hemmed in their own zone for 45 seconds at a time hasn’t hurt either.

It’s great to see the improvement in defence, but the Oilers need to start generating more offence, especially five-on-five. They’ve only scored four goals (I don’t count the empty net) 5-on-5 in five games, worst in the league.  Only Ryan Smyth and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have scored at EV. That isn’t good enough.

The Oilers PP is currently 14th, 4 for 23, so their PP hasn’t been bad, excluding the final ten minutes in CGY. They need to start going to the dirty areas, unless they plan on relying on their PP and solid defensive play to win games.


Taylor Hall is feeling better and he’ll return alongside RNH and Jordan Eberle.The Oilers didn’t run any lines at the morning skate. Shawn Horcoff wasn’t out there, but Renney said he expects him to play. Outside of the H2E line, the rest werent’ sure who they were playing with.

I doubt Renney will start up the blender too much, so I’m guessing we’ll see the same line combinations as the Nashville game.

Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Smyth – Horcoff – Jones
Paajarvi – Belanger – Omark
Eager – Lander – Petrell

Whitney – Potter
Smid – Gilbert
Peckham – Sutton


Sam Gagner skated, but he won’t play tonight. He is likely to make his season debut on Saturday v. the Rangers. Theo Peckham will be the healthy scratch tonight.

The Wild will start Nicklas Backstrom, and his 19-2-1  record v. the Oilers. The good news for the Oilers is the two losses and OT loss came in Edmonton. He is a ridiculous 15-0 with a 1.19 GAA and .954 SV% at home against the Oilers.

The Wild are 2-2-2 so far with Guillaume Latendresse leading the offence with 1-4-5. Matt Cullen is off to a good start with three goals in six games.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: After a blood test and and IV, Hall will tally his first EV goal of the season and the Oilers will skate to away with a less-than-exciting 2-1 victory. (Usually I hope more more offense, and it never happens, so for the fans sake I’m going predict the opposite and hopefully you watch an exciting game.0

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Midway through the 2nd period many of you will announce how much you hate the boring Minnesota Wild, unfortunately you’ve said that in four of the five Oiler games thus far. So far the Oilers have contributed just as much to ennui we’ve witnessed thus far.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After a near "Derrick" disaster that almost crushed the young hockey player (Devan Dubnyk calmly steered him from harms way) who gets to stand on the blueline for the anthem, tonight’s young chap will stand in the corner until the Derrick is hoisted to the roof. Then he’ll race to the blueline, stop sharply and blow snow on the back of Whitney’s legs. Whitney will tap the young chap on the pads, and whisper to him in his Boston accent "Yourrrrr gonna get a signed Rrrrrrayan Nugent-Hopkins jerrrrrsey if I score." The kid will be rooting for Whitney all night, but when he doesn’t score the kid will cry until his dad relents and buys him the RNH jersey. He will also ask his dad why Whitney rolls his Rs. His dad like most of us won’t have a good answer.

***If you want to win Club seats to tonight’s game follow my twitter feed. Contest coming up right away.***


  • What the what?

    Tres Kronor played awesome while they were together so Renney goes and puts Belanger back in place of Lander.

    Hall’s line benched for the last part of the third.

    Barker on the 4X4 in OT.

    RNH and Belanger in the SO.

    I really like Tom Renney, but seriously?

    • OilFan

      I get the feeling that the coaching staff is trying to strip his game back down to simple hockey and then they’ll help him build it back up.

      That’s the way it works in movies anyways.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Whoa! I missed this…

      For my money this is way, way, way off. First off the hyperbole (while appreciated in a comments section) makes no sense in this case.

      The loss last night can in no way be blamed on Barker. I didn’t see any significant lapses of judgment or play from him. The significant turnovers I saw fell to the forwards. I saw him make at least two nice setup passes that failed to finish on the other end. The only thing I can fault him for is that penalty (that really didn’t look like much), which didn’t result in a goal.

      Barker’s getting a bad rap from people so allow me to defend him a bit.

      Forget his high draft position. All that is old news. He came here as guy willing to work hard to restart his career on a short, cheap salary. That shows initiative and recognition that he needs to work. So far, he’s played well. Not great. He is a bit slow, could be a bit rougher and other than in a few nice, bright spots, his first pass could be better. I’m no bright eyed fan. I see the problems. But, so far, given the team we have and the money we pay him,

      1) he’s is easily worth it and is playing well

      2) his problems can be remedied and aren’t as glaring as other players. there is huge upside to him; and if he goes sour it doesn’t matter his contract is over. this is not a Souray situation

      so, maybe he’s your goat, but give him a little respect. he is after all an Oiler. That deserves something. You make it sound like he is the second coming of Cory Cross!!

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Just when I thought MacT’s mantra was a thing of the past, his ghost haunts us on back to back games. Renney did some seriously bad coaching tonight (as pointed out in above threads). Bob Stauffer called it heading into the 3rd.

    As he put it “Horcoff has played 15+ minutes through 2 periods and RNH has played just over 8…. I guess he’s trying to hold onto the lead, rather than try to extend it… IF this backfires again on home ice, the fans will not be happy.”

    Horc’s was way overplayed…AGAIN. Belanger was their best forward, and Khabby has absolutely got to stop a shot from damn near below the goal line 100% of the time- let alone with seconds left in the game.

    Whatever happened to Renney “letting the horses run”?!?

  • Let's Rebuild

    Why did I believe, Why do I always believe

    Unfortunately I will beleive again, perhaps as soon as the weekend.

    On another note, it looks like Lander is starting to figure it out and just in time to be sent down.

  • justDOit

    Maybe I’ll just stop watching Minny games altogether. I was preparing for the game last night, and then turned on the tube to see grown men throwing balls at each other, with one man swinging at the ball with a large stick.

    But I did get to watch the Flames/Rangers game, which I guess was not quite as bad as watching Ferrari Dan tie up the game with less than a second on the clock.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    are we back to: coach not to lose instead of coaching to win?

    i do say that we should definitley keep playing Horcoff and Belanger in OT, that offensive juggernaut combination is bound to come around.

    Renney mantra plastered to the wall in his office must be read “play the past, sit the future”.

    fire him please.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Part of not playing the Kid Line might be explained by Hall’s lingering illness. He could have sent the kids out with Horcoff though and I don’t recall him running that line except on power plays, where Horcoff played the point.

    I guess Renney wanted to squeak one by… two failures in a row will hopefully prove to him this is a terrible course of action. A team like ours should run n gun and try to bury other teams early and often.

  • Zamboni Driver

    What I’m wondering is when do we have a contest to come up with a monkier that is the OPPOSITE of “ELPH”.

    (Though I suppose LP is still within preciously close reach.)

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Here’s the problem with Barker.

    He makes Cory Cross look fast. The slowest person on the ice.

    When he has the puck he’s slow moving it, forcing the forwards to reboot over and over again.

    He combines all of the bad attributes of Peckham without any of the compensating effort.

    He’s the defensive equivalent of Stortini or Jacques. Completely useless and will be out of the league by next year.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I’m guessing not too many people think highly of Canuck fans here. Why then, are we copying them with that STUPID ‘nuuuuuuuuuuuuuge’ chant?

    Also, last time I checked, you only boo players that have played for your team…let it go.

    Be better Oiler fans…

    • I just wouldnt hold up a few coaches who have helped run the team into the ground as great examples of smart hockey men who used Horc a lot.

      I think it’s fair to say that Horc gets over used, until this year It’s also been fair to say that there wasnt any other choice for the coach.

      There are different options that exist now. Horc isnt the answer for every question any longer.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    When 3 coaches are coming to the same conclusion (and factor in what Babcock said last year) I think it might be time for fans to rethink their stance on a guy.