The 2011 calendar year has not been a great one for the Oilers or their fans. The Oilers only won 28 of the 82 games they’ve played so far, so the best part of today’s early morning tilt (MST time) is that it will end a dreadful "year" of Oilers hockey. They went 28-46-8 over the past 364 days.
They started the year with a 2-1 loss at home to the Flames and it pretty much went downhill from there. The Oilers were 13-28-5 from January to April, and from October to today they’ve tallied a 15-18-3 record.
The major bright spot came on June 24th when they choose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall, and he hasn’t disappointed with an outstanding start to his NHL career, but the organization needs to make some major moves in 2012 if they hope to avoid another disappointing calendar year.
In case you are wondering, in 2010 the Oilers played 77 games and went 23-43-11, so they improved slightly in 2011, but the Oilers will need to show more progress in 2012 or they will start looking like the Islanders, Blue Jackets and Jets (Thrashers); teams that stockpiled numerous top-ten picks but never improved.
The Oilers were outscored 190-244 in 2011, and here’s who scored their goals.
FORWARDS (168 goals)
Eberle – 25
Jones – 22
Hall – 20
Smyth – 14
RNH – 13
Paajarvi – 11 (all in 46 games in Jan-Apr)
Horcoff and Penner- 10
Hemsky and Gagner – 9
Cogliano – 7
Omark – 4
Petrell and Jacques- 3
Eager and Brule – 2
Lander, Belanger, Hartikainen and Fraser – 1
D-MEN (22 goals)
Gilbert and Foster – 4
Smid and Peckham – 3
Petry and Potter – 2
Barker, Sutton, Chorney and Vandermeer – 1
Of course you have to look at games played, but it interesting to note that Jones has been almost as productive as Eberle. I suspect that gap will increase in 2012, not because Jones will falter, but because Eberle will likely be over 30.
I’m sure all of you are hoping, expecting and demanding the Oilers improve in 2012, and I believe they will not only improve, but that we’ll see some changes on and off the ice. We’ll talk more about that in the coming months.
AVOID BEING LIKE NYI
It would be hard to follow in the Islanders’ footsteps when it comes to awful jerseys, but the Oilers need to avoid following them down the path of futility. The Islanders have missed the playoffs 12 of the past 16 seasons, and they haven’t won a playoff round since 1994 and they’ve had a whopping 16 top-ten picks since 1994. Top-ten picks won’t guarantee you success if you don’t have competent management.
Ten of those picks were top-five picks, and the Islanders either squandered most of them in trades; Luongo, Torres, Brewer, Dumont, etc or didn’ t develop them. The Islanders have wasted more top picks than any team in the past 16 years, and the Oilers have to ensure they don’t follow that same path. The Islanders traded Zdeno Chara and a bevy of other players because they were impatient, and the Oilers can’t afford to do the same.
Andy Sutton will return to the lineup after an eight game suspension and Devan Dubnyk will get the start in goal. Ales Hemsky didn’t practice on Friday, but I suspect he’ll play today.
Hall – RNH – Eberle
Smyth – Horcoff – Hemsky
Gagner – Belanger – Jones
Eager – Lander – Petrell (Hordichuk maybe)
Gilbert – Smid
Potter – Petry
Peckham – Sutton|
That is my best guess at this point, but does it matter who is on the fourth line at this point?
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Islanders are 13-1-7 in their last 21 v. the NW at home, but I suspect the Oilers will end that trend with a gutsy 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The broadcast crew will mention how bad the Nassau Coliseum is and state how the Oilers clealry need a new rink.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ales Hemsky scores a goal and all of the trade Hemsky rumours stop for a day.
ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOURS IN 2012. THANKS FOR READING THE NATION AND I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR COMMENTARY IN THE NEW YEAR.