RANDOM THOUGHTS…UPDATE ON YAKUPOV

The day after the Oilers picked up a well-deserved victory,  the Oilers recalled Linus Omark just in case there weren’t enough things to debate in Oilersnation.

Before we get to Omark, here are thoughts from last night.

  • I thought Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had his best game in a long time. He was all around the puck, and once he works on his one-timer he might start putting up three point games. Until Taylor Hall returns, RNH is the guy who will lead the Oilers offensively.
     
  • Hemsky was also very good. He was excellent on the PP, and should have had a few assists if guys could have finished. He made a great defensive play that led to Taylor Fedun’s first NHL goal (NSOGDP). I only saw one play where Hemsky struggled playing the left side, in his own zone along the boards, but it didn’t result in a scoring chance or extended time in the zone, so it wasn’t a big deal. I know many people want to run Hemsky out of town, but he is a legitimate NHL forward.
     
  • Fedun struggled early in the first period, mainly adjusting to the speed, but he got better as the game went on and he made many smart, heady plays. Little things like faking a shot, taking a stride and getting it on net, as well as some nice outlet passes. The goal was fitting, considering what he’s gone through to get to the NHL. I see Fedun as a younger version of Nick Schultz. Not big, not a great skater, but smart with the puck and reliable. Schultz was a very steady player for the Wild, and Fedun might become that guy for the Oilers.
     
  • The best part about Fedun is that it was a positive story. Sports focuses on the negative too often, and it was nice to see Fedun score. Regardless of how long his NHL career lasts, that moment when he scored must have felt incredible. You couldn’t have written a more believable script. I know it was against Florida, but a win and a feel good story needs to be celebrated. You can’t constantly focus on the negative.
     
  • The Oilers PP looked very good last night, especially the RNH unit. They had great puck movement, and Philip Larsen filled in nicely for Justin Schultz. RNH and Eberle should have scored on the first PP, but the team did go 1-for-3, and they scored when it mattered most, in OT. The biggest difference was guys weren’t standing still as much as they had been earlier this year. They have the ability to make great passes, and if they can get the PK players moving around like they did last night, then we should start seeing more goals with the man advantage.
     
  • Arcobello finally scored, and he could have had a hat-trick. He has a good sense of how to find the soft spots in the defensive zone coverage, and now that he’s finally scored I wonder if he’ll go on a bit of a goal scoring streak. He’s had some excellent chances all season, but couldn’t finish. Scoring the game winner in OT should give him a huge boost of goal-scoring confidence.
     
  • Devan Dubnyk…He was steady, and made some great saves, but he gave up an awful third goal. Luckily the Oilers won in OT, or the Nation would be furious today. That is a shot Dubnyk has to save. No excuses. It is strange how he can look so good for every moment of the game, but then have one major lapse in focus and allow a bad goal. He has to find a way to eliminate those lapses from his game or he’s never going to be considered a reliable number one goalie.
     
  • Ben Eager is slowly getting back to not engaging in the games. While Luke Gazdic is finishing checks all over the ice, Eager is just skating around. In order for him to be effective he has to be mentally engaged. When David Perron and Taylor Hall return and bump some guys down the lineup, Eager will likely come out.
     
  • Boyd Gordon continues to have an excellent season. He set a career high with three points last night; he was 68% in the dot and solid defensively. He makes smart, simple plays all over the ice, and hopefully his younger teammates start to recognize that those small plays can be big difference makers in a game.
     
  • I liked Eakins decision to go with four forwards in OT on the game winning goal. Larsen had just come off the ice, and none of the other D-men have great offensive instincts. Hemsky and Arcobello made a subtle play to switch places, and put Arcobello in a better shooting lane and it worked. Give Eakins credit for putting the right guys on the ice.
     
  • I don’t buy into the recent trend of a player’s struggles having to due with who he is playing with. If Jeff Petry has a bad game, like he did last night, some suggest it is somehow Andrew Ference’s fault. Nail Yakupov struggles were due to his linemates, although after he played with RNH and Eberle his fortunes didn’t change. The onus is on the individual player to play well regardless of who he is playing with.

    Gordon and Arcobello have produced regardless of who they play with. Petry was very good early in the season, even though Smid struggled at times. I could understand if someone said putting Eberle or Yakupov with Gazdic and Acton could hinder their offence, but regardless of who they play with in the top-nine any player should be able to generate chances.

    Hemsky switched to the left side, for the first time in years and he didn’t struggle. I believe it is okay to hold the player accountable for his play, and not want to blame his linemates or D partner.

OMARK RETURNS…

  • I’m not sure why he’s become such a lightning rod for debate, but twitter was alive with Oilers fans commenting on Omark. Many of his supporters feel like he’s been unfairly picked on. I don’t buy that theory, but I also was a bit surprised that Anton Lander got recalled ahead of him last week. I hope Omark plays well, but he isn’t better than Eberle, Yakupov, Perron, Hemsky, Hall or even Arcobello at this point.

    He doesn’t fit long-term in Edmonton. That doesn’t make him a bad player; it just means he is in an organization that can’t use him. I suspect he’ll be highly motivated to play well, because he is showcasing himself for the other 29 teams in the NHL. If I was him, I wouldn’t re-sign in Edmonton at the end of the season either. He wants to be on a team that can use his skill.

    He’s earned this call up and I hope he plays well. OKC head coach, Todd Nelson said this about Omark, "He has matured as a player and a person this year. He is working much harder in practice and he is having more fun around the rink. He’s been very good for us."

    I hope tomorrow’s game goes into a shootout and Omark does another spin-o-rama at centre before scoring on the Lightning. I never understood why they whined about it the first time, so it would be great if he did it again. 

    No official word if Omark’s recall was due to another injury or not, but you wonder. He does give them 13 healthy forwards though, so maybe just a reward for good play.
     

  • UPDATED…. Lots of chatter than Omark will replace Yakupov in lineup. That is interesting, but it also had me thinking about another option.

    I think (don’t have CBA handy) that due to his age, 20, Yakupov is eligible to go to OKC, not just to juniors. So, would that be something the Oilers consider, for a short stint or a bit longer? It is just a thought. Many from the 2003 draft played in the minors, and maybe it is just a coincidence, but that draft class has produced the most high-end players of any draft in the last 20 years.

    Do you think the Oilers should consider letting Yakupov flourish in the AHL, if he was eligible to go down?

BUY A TICKET…

When: Friday November 22nd, be there before 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Pint Off Whyte (81ave and Calgary Trail)
Theme: Bad Christmas Sweater Party….
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Cost: $30 and in return you get free drink at the door, $20 GC from Oodle Noodle and $20 GC from the Pint.

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RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR