PLAY COACH: GAGNER IN, WHO SITS?

Sam Gagner will play his first game of the year tonight, so Tom Renney has to sit someone down.

Who would you sit out and why?


I’ll be at the morning skate and will update you on who is actually taking a seat in the pressbox tonight, but let’s see who thinks like Renney.

Who do you send to the pressbox?

Does Gagner play centre or wing?

Who should he play with?

I say Omark comes out and Gagner takes his spot. Maybe Lander moves to wing, but I will guess Gagner.

  • DieHard

    Oilers are playing great team defense. That includes Petrell and Lander. The 4th line looks good. Belanger plays well with the Swedes and should stay together and develop. RNH should play. I say swap Jones with Gagner.

  • Landers got to get a ticket to OKC. He is projected as a GREAT 3rd line center. Playing 10 minutes a game in the NHL or 15-17 in the AHL is way better to development at this point.

    LT wrote an article about not rushing players ala Detroit system. Why do we insist on doing that here?

    We have 6-7 players who are defensively responsible and IMO Horcoff has the exact same skill set as Lander at this point. Don’t duplicate that stuff!

    • Jason Gregor

      Lander earned it through training camp and there may be a leadership side of things off of the ice that we don’t see that is making a difference. The guy hates to lose, this team needs that.

  • DoubleJ

    I’m guessing Eager sits. Gagner will and should play center. RNH might play the wing with Eberle. Hall bumps Jones down and plays with Horcoff and Smyth.

    That’s my guess.

    RNH-Gagner-Eberle, Hall-Horcoff-Smyth, MPS-Belanger-Omark, Jones-Lander-Petrell.

    Jones scores again. Eberle breaks his slump with a beauty off a rush with Hall.

    Who knows?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I say its Lander that sits, Belanger down to the 4th and Gagner takes #20s spot on the 3rd line.

    And y for all that is holy is Boozin playing tonight?! DD is still way better positionaly and doesn’t give up half the juicy rebounds Khabby does, and the Rangers seem to be a team that thrives on rebounds IMO.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Sit Petrell, move Belanger down to center Eager and Jones.

    Have Sam center the Swedes, so someone can keep up with them offensively.

  • kawi460

    To continue my thought, the Swedes aren’t playing to expectations because they’ve been shackled to a defensive center, who primarily wants to prevent breakouts on turnovers.

    In today’s NHL, we need all three forwards active in the offensive zone to create scoring chances.

    • I agree with this. PRV/Lander/Omark has shown to be a great line whenever we’ve seen them together.

      Problem is, team defense has been a big deal this year. I’d guess this is to compensate for our weak back end. So while Tre Kronor is a logical offensive decision, the line choices are based on a defensive mindset.

      This isn’t Renney’s fault. He’s simply trying to work with the cards he’s been dealt.

  • PerryK

    I would like to see the following:

    Horcoff-Smyth-Gagner
    RNH-Hall-Eberle
    Lander-Paajarvi-Omark
    Belanger-Eager-Jones

    Whitney-Sutton (or Peckham)
    Smid-Gilbert
    Barker-Potter (poor Potter!)

    Probably won’t!:(

  • PerryK

    As per Oilers Twitter:

    #Oilers forward lines tonight vs #nyrangers: Hall-RNH-Eberle, Smyth-Horcoff-Jones, Paajarvi-Belanger-Gagner, Eager-Lander-Petrell

    Defensive pairings tonight vs #nyrangers: Whitney-Potter, Smid-Gilbert, Barker-Sutton

    • O.C.

      This is a sensible lineup for tonight – the Oilers core veterans will continue to jeopardize our place in the standings simply because they are not very good when compared to other top 6 forwards on the top 20 teams in the league..

      The kids are still too young and the vets aren’t good enough for us to contend in the way we’d like. Renney and the co-coaches walk a shaky plank trying to develop and protect the kids, give the responsible minutes to the core veterans who disappoint too often and win the games they should.

      Horcoff is a 3rd line centre who can PK, Smyth’s return will not have the upside the organization hoped for and Hemsky has diminished value as each month passes! This imho is the area that plaques the Oilers – how does the organization deal with these players over the next couple years?

  • Chris.

    I’m not Gagner’s biggest fan but on his team he is clearly a top six forward. Drop Jones back into the bottom six where he belongs and sit Petrell. Petrell is 27 years old and was signed to be depth forward…use him as one.

    Edit. Oh never mind. I should hit the refresh button after reading all the comments but before I make mine.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Wow, I am surprised at the “lack of love” for Lander and Petrell. Both of these guys have a lot to do with the early defensive success of the team. These guys aren’t going to sit. I love what Eager brings to the table, he isn’t going to sit, as long as he is healthy and playing a sane game.

    Not much respect for Jones, who is one of the few producers on the team. He isn’t going to be out of the line-up while he is producing.

    Hey, we have forward depth this year! Nice problem to have. Last year we didn’t have an NHL-caliber 4th line.

    Despite Omark’s early struggles, I would love to see the Swedes together for a game, I definitely think it would be an effective line. I don’t see Belanger having very much chemistry with them.

    Belanger with Petrell and Eager might be an interesting line, and move them to 3rd, and put the Swedes as a 4th line.

    I do like Gagner as a winger, but I am not optimistic that he is an upgrade over Omark on the Belanger line.

  • ButtermilkBiscuitsAKAoilers2k10

    I think either Lander, Omark(no hate towards him, but he needs to play on the top two lines to be effective), or Petrell should sit tonight..RNH has got to be in because even the past two games he was not a liability at all..Renney is just sitting him alot more than he needs out of paranoia of him being an 18 year old rookie costing the team a game..
    Renney needs to play the kids more..but I think he may just make a strange decision in sitting RNH tonight.

    Also, Paajarvi needs to be given more icetime. as does omark.

  • O.C.

    I bet Linus will be holding his blanket.

    edit
    Ah, see I was late – turns out it’s official –
    Wouldnt it make sense to try

    Hall-RNH-Eberle, Smyth-Horcoff-Gagner, Paajarvi-Belanger-Jones, Eager-Lander-Petrell

  • Winnie Cooper

    Maybe, since Gagner apparently worked a lot on his skating in the off season, he and Paajarvi (aka Wheels McGee) will be able to make some offensive magic happen.

    Also, FYI any improvement in team performance can be attributed, not to talent and hard work by actual Oilers, but to the lucky 1983 home jersey I got at a garage sale for $2 over the summer. Bought it from a Canucks fan who laughed when I told him this was going to be a good year.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Anyone else notice the impressive cleavage over Gagners shoulder?

    Excellent job Jason, you managed to get boobs and hockey into the same pic 🙂

  • At the end of the day what matters with any player is how many chances they create and how many chances they give up. Everything else, misleading talk about production or the virtues of being an up and down winger are just ways to talk about creating chances and giving up chances.

    Now offense actually has two components to it: creating chances and finishing chances. In terms of creating chances there is no comparison between Omark and Jones. Jones creates some chances by being in the the right spot in front of the net but creates no chances for his teammates. Omark, on the other hand, creates many, many chances for his teammates as well as creating a few chances for himself. Taking all of this together and I can’t imagine that anyone would expect that Jones creates more chances than Omark.

    Is Jones a better finisher than Omark? Maybe. His shooting percentage is certainly higher. However, that shooting percentage is dependent upon the quality work of his teammates. Jones scores garbage goals. Now there is value in this, but does it compensate for all the extra chances Omark is creating? Moreover, I am skeptical that it is a skill that can be singularly attributed to Jones.

    Add the offense up and I doubt there are many people who think that Jones is a better offensive player than Omark.

    That leaves defense. Omark isn’t anybody’s idea of a great defensive player. The problem is that Jones isn’t a good defensive player either. It’s not like he is Horcoff or Belanger, or Smyth, all of whom are very good defensive players. He’s an up and down guy who doesn’t do anything. I don’t see the value in that.

    Add it all up and I find it hard to imagine that Jones is contributing more than Omark. Thought experiment time. A team with 12 Omarks plays a team with 12 Joneses, who wins if they have the same defense and same goaltending. The Omark team would beat the Jones team 82 games in a row.

    So while I agree that Omark isn’t better than Eberle and might not be better than Gagner he’s certainly better than Jones because Jones doesn’t bring anything to the table.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Gregor,
    Do you think there is any chance both Omark and Gagner are displaced sometime in the near future with some of the young players in OKC who are cheaper and have more size and likely as much skill as either Omark or Gagner?

    My reason for suggesting that is the looming contract renewals of the top six high end kids in two years, an abundance of forwards already and the high likelihood of another group of picks this coming year.

    • Jason Gregor

      Pitlick and Hartikainen will challenge for spots next year, Hartikainen maybe later this year, and the Oilers definitely need some skill with size in the top nine…

      I don’t see Omark being a fit here, considering he isn’t playing while Hemsky is out.

      Gagner is in a unique position. He needs to show he can be a consistent, top-six forward this year or he might be moved.

      I think Lander is the guy who ultimately might push him aside.