GAME CHANGER….

It is interesting how often we see similarities between sports and life. Last night, I watched my first NHL hockey game as a father. I spent half of the game watching my son Beckett sleep, your eyes gravitate towards a newborn just to ensure he is still there, and the other half of the game I watched with a grin. Those damn Oilers did it to the fans again.

Many parents have had their patience and sanity tested by a screaming child, but then in an instant when they stop crying, look up at you with a grin, your heart melts and everything is good again. It isn’t that easy with the Oilers, and maybe a better comparison is that they are like that bad girlfriend/boyfriend that keeps sucking you back into the relationship.

Either way, last night the Oilers grabbed your attention, and despite your best efforts, once again they found a way to penetrate your inner fan.

They started off by making a statement before the game started.

I’ve been wondering when Dallas Eakins was going to use the pressbox as a motivator for someone other than his fourth line.

He banished Jeff Petry to the pressbox, and sent Anton Belov and Wil Acton to the minors. Finally, a sign that management and the coaches are tired of players making the same mistake over and over. These decisions aren’t easy, but it was long overdue. Moving forward Eakins should hold his top-nine forwards to the same level of scrutiny as Petry.

Petry plays the most minutes of anyone, 22:03, and by sitting him Eakins sent a strong message to the rest of the team; play time is over.

Petry is a good player. He isn’t ready to be a top-pairing defender, but unfortunately on this team he gets put in that role. However, he is good enough to cut down on his turnovers, and a one-game stint in the pressbox could be a very good thing for him. It is humbling, but more than anything it allows a player to recognize that he does have more time to move the puck than he thinks.

Petry won’t lose his confidence or swagger by spending one game upstairs, or at least he shouldn’t. I’d expect him to be highly motivated tomorrow night vs. the Flames. Belov, however, has been struggling mightily for weeks, and he needs some time in OKC to rediscover his game, and hopefully learn to shoot the puck. Acton hasn’t done much the past few weeks to argue that he didn’t deserve his re-assignment.

THE GAME…

The Oilers got an early break, Hall capitalized on a breakaway and then the powerplay took over with two goals in 15 seconds. Even after Colorado scored two goals to make it 3-2, the Oilers didn’t panic. David Perron, their most consistent forward this year, ripped his 12th goal of the season to restore the two goal lead. The Oilers didn’t sit back in the third; instead they showed a killer instinct and tallied four times.

The Oilers skilled players were much better than Colorado’s. Hall had four points, Jordan Eberle, Mark Arcobello, Ales Hemsky and Perron had two, while Ryan Smyth picked up three assists to give him 450 in his career.

The Oilers are a frustrating team to figure out. They soil the sheets on Tuesday vs. Phoenix, and then 48 hours later they completely dominate a good Colorado team.

The Oilers are 6-3 in their last nine games, and they need wins over Calgary and Carolina before they play six straight against some of the best teams in the league: Boston, Anaheim, Vancouver, LA, Colorado and St.Louis.

It was time for Eakins to send a message to his players that bad play and inconsistency would no longer be tolerated, and based on their response, he shouldn’t be afraid to do it again when necessary.

QUICK HITS…

  • With his three assists last night, Smyth passed Brent Sutter, John Ogrodnick and Doug Wilson and now sits 128th all-time in NHL points with 830. Not bad for a player who some said has more heart than skill. I’d say his skills are pretty good. If Smyth picks up 20 points in the final 52 games he’ll sit 120th all-time.
     
  • Arcobello should push Gagner for icetime. Competition is great, and as Gagner’s jaw continues to feel better it will interesting to watch those two compete for icetime.
     
  • You shouldn’t evaluate a draft class until five years after they were drafted. You shouldn’t expect 2nd-7th round picks to make an impact before then, and that’s why it is still too early to critique the 2010 draft class. Tyler Pitlick and Martin Marincin have played in the NHL this year, and while both need some more seasoning, their progress is not as slow as some suggest. The key will be how they continue to progress over the next two seasons.
     
  • The Oilers have scored the 8th most goals (81) in the NHL, but the problem is they’ve given up the most goals in the league, 102. They are averaging 3.4 goals against in the first 30 games. They need to get that closer to 2.4-2.6 during the next 52 games. Or at least around 2.8 to show improvement.
     
  • The Flames have the worst GAA at 3.44, so the Oilers could have another offensive outburst tomorrow.
     
  • Quick story…. I’m always arguing with Wanye that we have more female readers than he thinks; they are just usually smart enough not to post. On Wednesday my wife and I showed up at the Royal Alex ready to deliver our baby. Traci’s OBG was Heather Robinson, and not only is she a great doctor, but it turns out she is a loyal reader of Oilersnation. We had a quick chat about the Oilers, and how she loves reading the Nation. So Wanye, not only do we have female readers, we have high quality female readers.

    A huge thank you to Heather and Dr. Hoskins who delivered Beckett. Also a big thanks to Shelly, Shannon, Millie, Janelle and Devina and all the other nurses who took such great care of my wife and son. You were very patient, soothing and kind, and you calmed down a rather nervous, yet elated father. Thank you.

MONTH OF GIVING…

We have raised $17,750 in the worst week. AWESOME. Thank you to all the sponsors and bidders. We kick off week two with a unique package, built around my good friend Jason Strudwick who is guest-hosting today.

Today’s package is for the man who wants to look good….

 

 

  • A $1,000 shopping spree at Derk’s Mens Wear
  • One Derk’s Black Label Suit.
  • $300 in tailoring to help with your new wardrobe.
  • A wardrobe consultation. Derks will come to your house, go through your closet and asses what you need or what pieces need to go.

This is a great package and all the proceeds go towards the Christmas Bureau. You can bid by calling 780.444.1260. Thanks in advance.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR