GDB 8.0: NORTHWEST STRUGGLES

The Oilers are winless in four NW division games thus far, and tonight they will try to change that against the current three-time NW division champion, Vancouver Canucks. If the Oilers have any hope of making the playoffs they need to start beating teams within their division.

The Oilers have lost all four games by a goal, and they’ve given up third period leads in three of them, and they scored first in Minnesota. The Oilers haven’t been good v. their NW rivals for a few years. Last year they were 6-13-5, in 2010 they were 8-14-2, they were 8-11-1 in 2009, in 2008 they were 13-16-3, in 2007 they were 11-20-1 and in 2006 they were 15-15-2.

Until the Oilers have a winning record, or at least .500, within their division it will be tough to make the playoffs. They’ve played well for long stretches v. the NW this year, but they’ve been unable to hold on in the third.

LINE UP

For the first time this season the Oilers will go with the exact same lineup as the previous game. Khabibulin starts in goal, while Linus Omark and Theo Peckham are the healthy scratches.

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Smyth/Horcoff/Jones
Paajarvi/Belanger/Gagner
Eager/Lander/Petrell

Whitney/Potter
Smid/Gilbert
Barker/Sutton

Khabibulin

The Canucks will welcome former Panther, David Booth, to the lineup. Booth will play on the "American Express"  line (that’s what they are called in Vancouver) with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins, while the Sedins and Burrows round out their top six.

QUICK HITS

  • I wonder how long before Ryan Whitney is on the #1 PP unit. They like having a right-handed shot on the point, but you have to think they will look at putting him back there very soon. I also don’t get why they have two left-handed shots on the 2nd unit. Wouldn’t Gilbert and Whitney work better than Whitney and Barker? You might see Lander take Paajarvi’s spot for a few shifts on the 2nd PP tonight. He rotated in there with Paajarvi at practice today.
     
  • Gilbert has improved his shot and it’s because of a new grip. He worked with a shooting consultant this summer and it is obvious it is working. "It is something I was never really taught. You just want to go out there and slap the puck as hard as you can, but there are so many fundamentals about it, and this summer really helped me. I have more confidence in my shot now and I’m trying to shoot more. It was just a little bit of a grip change, and now I get more of a toe and blade snap and they has given me more velocity. It took me two weeks to remember to change my grip before shooting. Now I’m used to it, and I’m looking forward to working on it more this summer."
     
  • How many amateur coaches know how to shoot properly? Based on Gilbert’s response I’m guessing most of us don’t. I will have an interview coming up with a shooting coach in the next bit, and I’m interested to hear how the grip can improve a player’s shot.

 GAME DAY PREDICTION: We’ll see another exciting game between these two, and we’ll see more than three goals, but I don’t see the Oilers outscoring the Canucks. Oilers lose 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: If the first speakers at city hall are any indication, by the time this game is over the new rink will be responsible for all the murders in the city, violence downtown and why the sidewalks in your neighbourhood aren’t fixed. I’m all for people voicing their displeasure, but if the first speakers represent those who oppose the rink, then I’m all for it. I felt for the councillors and mayor having to sit through that. Of course I’m off to watch it first hand right now, because I like entertainment.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ladislav Smid will challenge Burrows to a tilt early in the first. This stems from last year’s comments when Burrows said he liked watching Avery drop/sucker Smid. Burrows wanted no part of Smid earlier this year, but he’ll surprise us tonight and square of with Smid. It will be an entertaining tilt with both guys throwing, but not landing, bombs. 

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Sam Gagner is still horrendous. I dont know why this is debated over and over, people need to accept the fact that he isn’t very good.

    My only other point is we need to get tougher, I cant wait for Hordichuk to get back.

    I was so wound up after the game I couldn’t sleep, I despise Edler.

  • A-Mc

    For Sharts and giggles i really want to see the Swedish berries as a package in a few games very soon. (Atleast before the coaching staff bails on Omark entirely and sends him to OKC). I Really like OMark but i can recognize that playing keep-away doesn’t win hockey games.

    Personally i think Ryan Jones fits well into the line of Smyth and Horcoff. None of the guys are very fast. None of them are Fancy, All of them have a certain toughness to them (read: not aggression, but overal they are physically solid chaps) and they all play the chip and chase with a little cherry picking. Hemsky is too fancy for that line, he moves too fast for Smyth and Horcoff. None of the kids are appropriate for the same reason: they are too fast and too fancy and not big enough. Eager wouldn’t fit because he’s a hot head and i think Horcoff and Smyth need a certain humble maturity in a partner for their line (Which i think Jones has).

    If you look at the game from the perspective of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines, Maybe Jones doesn’t fit the bill. But if you look at it from the perspective of who is on the ice with him, I THINK he fits in great.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Instead of Jones I’d really like to see Mags on the wing instead. I really like the way Horc and Smitty have been playing together and I think Mags would really mesh well with those guys. Thoughts??
    Jones is not a 2nd line guy period.

    • A-Mc

      The only thing i see wrong with that is that when Paajarvi is good he’s fast; too fast for the horcoff/smyth line. He’d be way ahead of both of them on the rush which would result in either 1. lots of offsides or 2. being all alone with no one to pass to or pickup the first rebound. You can see this happening when they put hall or eberle with horcoff or smyth. Right now Paajarvi would be a fit because he’s fairly big and he fights for pucks even if he’s down on his knees, but once he kicks it up into his normal speed of play, i think he’ll out move the line so why not start him with a line that he can grow with and Into. IMO that line is the Swedish berries tm.

      Anyway, this is just my opinion based on observation with NO facts.

      I’d love to see these lines for a while (In No particular Order):

      Eberle, Hall, Nuge

      Horc, Smyth, Jones

      Lander, MagnumPI, Omark

      Belanger, Gagner, Hemsky

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        I don’t see how you can put Hemsky on the fourth line. He’s our best scorer the last how many years (when healthy caveat in full force). What’s he going to do back there anyway?

        When he comes back Jones goes down the depth chart.

        • I think the idea would be that the Swede line is the 4th, Jo Shmo plays the toughs, and the softer minutes are divided between Gagner-Hemsky and the Kids.

          He did say that they were in no particular order.

          It does look to me like there might not be enough minutes to go around though.

        • A-Mc

          Those lines aren’t in any particular order. If the Lander, Mag, Omark line is 4th, then so be it. I’m just saying that PEOPLE WISE, those are the match-ups i would like to see.

          I haven’t put any thought into who plays which line and for how long. I’m just interested in player synergy – which i think there is potential for in the lines i listed.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            and @ ARCH

            Ok. I see that now (i.e., no particular order).

            That would really elevate Belanger.

            I imagine Renney will put the ole vets together – Horc, Smyth, Hemsky and split minutes with the Kid line depending on which line he is more comfortable with on any given night.

            In his post-game Renney seems to joke around about playing the kids a lot in the 3rd and how they were playing in the nuck end and playing to win… I think he absorbed the criticism of the wild/calgary games to such an extent that he forgot the criticism was directed at him, haha!

            after those two top lines (which barring injuries, an inane decision to send RNH down, or terrible play, I would consider a lock); it’s anyone’s guess and I imagine a lot of game day decisions and fiddling around.

  • Instead of Jones I’d really like to see Mags on the wing instead. I really like the way Horc and Smitty have been playing together and I think Mags would really mesh well with those guys. Thoughts??
    Jones is not a 2nd line guy period.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Your comparisons don’t make sense. Whitney and Eager were able to contribute after returning from injuries, in fact Whitney was off for a lot longer.

      • Whitney hasnt looked particulary good and Eager barely got into the first 2 games he played. I dont know what your definition of contributing is. They all have 0’s across the board.

        Hall was out for 15 games after the same injury. Gagner is back after 7. Many suggest it’s a 6 week recovery and Gagner is back after only 4. Lot’s of reasons not to judge these 2 games as normal outings for Gagner.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    my lines:

    RNH, Hall, Eberle

    Gagner, MPS, Omark

    Horcoff, Smytty, Lander

    Belanger, Petrell, Eager.

    Petrell and Jones switching.

    I think SG gets the best chance to prove what he can do wiht other offensively capable people. that whole line is struggling as individuals right now so maybe a test of sorts.

    • A-Mc

      I would feel sorry for Belanger. I get the feeling that he’s better than having to carry those 2 other guys. If the purpose is to kill penalties and be a tough-guy line, then yea i understand. But Belanger is a high 30 pt kind of player, and don’t you think sticking him with Petrell and Eager is only holding him back?

      Admittedly I’m not a fan of Either Petrell or Eager thus far. I feel bad that Lander is stuck with them when i think he has potential to be much more.

      When Hemsky returns, who gets bumped?

      • A-Mc

        it’s a today line-up. what happens when Hemsky gets back is up to the GM and coach to see who will play for another team very soon, AHL or NHL.

        i was not overly impressed with Petrell at the start of the season but the last 2 games if you really watch he is very effective at his role. i’m impressed.

        belanger? well someone needs to draw the short straw till moves are made. it’s him or Horcoff.

        Gagner, MPS, Omark need the chance to prove critics wrong, or we need to move on.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The play where Gagner got hurt was embarassing. He had a head start on the puck and both Canucks D caught up to him and took him down. I realize his ankle isn’t 100% but this is a common occurence even when he is healthy.

  • A-Mc

    People need to accept that Gagner hasn’t played well. I used to think Arch was the internet’s biggest douchebag but even he acknowledged it and I respect that.

    • Wax Man Riley

      “the internet’s biggest douchbag?”

      A little much, no?

      To be fair, Omark has been brutal and is probably on his way to the AHL or SEL. No douche-baggery there.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        The problem is that this is false. Omark has played five games and was bad in one of those (the Calgary game) and was benched in another (the first game) so I’m scoring that one an incomplete. The other three games he played he created chances, certainly more chances than he gave up.

        The problem is that Omark is held to an imaginary standard. All mistakes are magnified while all good things are ignored. If you believe your average oilersnation commentator you would think that the only person who ever makes a defensive mistakes is Omark.

        There is a severe bias here and it is not supported by evidence.

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

            ~What propoganda! This is all nonsense, you along with Staples has been decieved by the orginization. From Katz to Tambillini to Renney all the way down to the octane, the team is brain washing the fans and media so as they wont see just what a superstar Omark really is.~

          • A-Mc

            I read the article and i cannot honestly say that OMark stands out as being the goat of the bunch. The writer even suggests that the Swedes only good chance thus far this season is when all 3 were playing together. On their own, they are all sucking offensively; but so is most of our team with only 10 of 23 players having a point or more.

            Is a slow start really worth labeling a player as Not NHL ready? When Paajarvi scores nothing, it’s a ‘slow start’. When Omark scores nothing he sits in the press box.

            Maybe there is something behind the scenes that is happening that Renney is punishing him for. People have suggested that Omark is a whiner, maybe the coach is benching him for bad team ju-ju. *shrug*

  • A-Mc

    If Gagner is still hurt he should take the time to heal properly. He’s embarassing himself and the team with his current form. Looks like my 4 year old nephew out there.

  • A-Mc

    Mo,

    I was making a crack at the throw Sam under the bus crowd. It takes two subpar games and the linchmob is out. You missed the point. Most players take a while to return to form once they have come off injury. Using a Rennyism, there is not much to see based on his body of work after two games where he playing outta position and on the third line.

    Your looking at his performance in two games so far to make a point he not performing, and to get rid of him. ‘m saying let him get back in the swing of things before reserving judgement.

    Where is the MPS bashers, what about Lander, get the bus and throw him under the Greyhound too. And RNH can’t win a faceoff, lets back up the bus on him too.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I never said get rid of Gagner.
      Why are you comparing RNH, Lander etc to Gagner, its unfair and its poor form. Give your head a shake, RNH and Lander are the reason Gagner will not be an Oiler in the long term.

  • A-Mc

    Its really strange how fans support Gagner no matter what. Just say that he hasn’t been good and that he needs to improve and leave it at that.
    I thought Oiler fans were supposed to be some of the most educated fans out there, I guess they’re just homers.

  • Send Gagner down for a conditioning stint in OKC. Might as well have Omark keep him company there. Put them on a line together and let them have some fun and show there value.

    Bring up Hartikainen, to play the wing with Belanger and PRV. If that works out then send both Gagner and Omark down the road for a quality D-man.

    The Oil gets bigger and tougher. Sounds like a plan???

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The internets biggest Douchebag?

    Well done Archie. Can we see the rest of that top 10 list. I’ve worked too hard the last 2yrs to not make the top 5.

    The City of Champions is confirmed once again.

  • Crackenbury

    What do you need to do to become an Internet Douchebag? That’s a title worth fighting for!

    I’m going to start the long road to becoming an Internet Douchebag by agreeing that Omark belongs in the AHL. His contribution to offence on this team consists of the last half of last year where pretty much everyone else was out of the lineup and he still only managed 5 goals. Not so good for an “offensive talent”.