Ilya Bryzgalov has been cleared to play and should return to the lineup tonight against his first NHL team, the Anaheim Ducks. The Oilers are hoping he injects some life, enthusiasm and even some humour into a downtrodden dressing room.

The Oilers were dominated in Vancouver, and despite a solid 40 minutes against the Bruins on Thursday, the Oilers are 0-2 in their six-game stretch against elite teams. They will need to put forth a much better effort tonight, if they want to avoid being blown out by the red-hot Ducks.

The Ducks have won four straight, and are 7-1-2 in their last ten games and they’ve only allowed 22 goals in their past ten games. The Ducks finished 2nd in the west last season, and some suggested that their underlying statistics suggested that was a lucky 48-game stretch.

If you combine last year’s 48 games with their first 34 this year you see an outstanding 82-game stretch.

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The Ducks are 52-19-11 good for 115 points and they’ve outscored the opposition 248-205. The Ducks are a very good team and despite not having a true dominant #1 D-man, their blueline has been very steady even with Francois Beauchemin missing the last ten games. 

  GP  G  A  P  +/-  PIM  TOI/G
Cam Fowler 34 3 16 19 6 8 24:03:00
Francois Beauchemin 24 0 6 6 15 19 21:54
Ben Lovejoy 32 1 4 5 9 10 20:03
Hampus Lindholm 32 2 8 10 14 12 19:17
Bryan Allen 31 0 6 6 12 34 18:51
Luca Sbisa 9 0 1 1 -5 25 18:00
Sami Vatanen 26 3 4 7 0 12 17:54
Mark Fistric 13 1 1 2 -1 14 15:47
Nolan Yonkman 2 0 1 1 -1 0 14:53
Alex Grant 2 2 0 2 3 2 12:10

Fowler is playing in every situation. He plays 3:15/game on the PP and 2:47/game on the PK. Since Beauchemin went down, he’s started playing even more and he’s only 22 years old.

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Hampus Lindholm played 44 games in the AHL last year as an 18-year old, and at 19 he has stepped into the NHL and performed very well. Ben Lovejoy was acquired for a 5th round pick last February, and he’s turned out to be a steal for the Ducks.

They play a very solid game in their D-zone, and when they get the puck Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry take over. Getzlaf is 4th in NHL scoring with 16-22-38, while Perry is 6th with 21-15-36. Both of them are locks to make the Olympic team again, and their line, with Dustin Penner, is carrying the Ducks offensively.

Whoever matches up against that trio tonight is in for a tough game.

The Oilers are 1-5-1 over the past two seasons vs. the Ducks, and they’ve been outscored 21-8 in those seven games. They’ve struggled handling the Ducks’ size, especially Getzlaf and Perry, and the Oilers will be hard pressed to avoid their 7th loss in 8 games vs. Anaheim.



Ales Hemsky is out with a rib injury, from the Ryan Kesler hit in Vancouver.

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Ryan Smyth will draw in and Eakins will have to change his lines. Gagner will need to earn his way back into the top-nine I suspect, and I won’t be surprised to see Smyth back with Gordon and Perron. The Oilers need Hall, RNH and Eberle to match the intensity and determination of Perron. If they do that, this team will have a much better chance of winning more games.


Looks like I was wrong…Gagner gets promoted to 2nd line…



Eakins could switch his pairs and maybe try to match Petry and Ference vs. Getzlaf’s line, otherwise Larsen or J.Schultz could be in for some long shifts in the D zone.

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I’m assuming he starts. The Ducks are one of his former teams, and the Oilers will need a strong performance in goal to stay in this game.


  • Jason LaBarbera must feel like he won the lottery. He struggled in Edmonton, was demoted to the AHL, got recalled due to an injury and then he was dealt to the first place Chicago Blackhawks. When Corey Crawford returns from his injury, I suspect the Hawks will send Raanta back to the AHL and LaBarbera will stay as the back up. The Hawks don’t need to rush young players, and they will want Raanta to play more games in the AHL I suspect.
  • It was a smart trade by MacTavish. They free up a roster spot, plus it allows them to keep Laurent Brossoit in OKC and share time between the pipes with Richard Bachman. LaBarbera was the wrong choice in the summer, and the Oilers will need to do a better job next year when they go searching for a back up. They can’t sign the wrong guy again.
  • The Ducks special teams aren’t very good. Their PP is 19th and the PK is 21st, but the Ducks dominate teams at ES. They’ve outscored their opponents 78-55 at 5-on-5. They are 2nd in ES goals in the league.
  • The Oilers are almost the exact opposite to the Ducks at ES. The Oilers have given up the most goals 5-on-5, 78, and they’ve only scored 53. If the Oilers are going to win tonight, they likely will need at least two goals from their powerplay. 


GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers struggles against the top teams continue with a 3-1 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Dustin Penner scores and the Penner supporters say, "I told you the Oilers should have re-signed him."…The fact he is playing with two Olympians won’t be mentioned. Penner is a very smart player defensively, and the Oilers could desperately use someone with his size, skill and smarts, but there is no way he’d have the same success in Edmonton as he is having in Anaheim. Plus, I doubt he would want to return to Edmonton.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nick Schultz scores his first goal of the season. Schultz loves playing the Ducks. He has six goals in 43 career games vs. Anaheim, but he only has 21 goals in 800 games against the rest of the league. Schultz scores on a seeing shot from the point.


  • Comrade GT

    If we could put in great efforts like than consistently we could scratch and claw our way to .500. Its not the playoffs but at least it will be a good building block going into next year. As appose to these new mini rebuilds that happen every time a new coach is hired.

  • Gregor you wrote “LaBarbera was the wrong choice in the summer, and the Oilers will need to do a better job next year when they go searching for a back up. They can’t sign the wrong guy again.” Don’t you think a higher priority will be when they go looking for a no.1 goalie?

    Does anyone know if the bookies will be giving odds on the ratio of shots on goal tonight? i.e. shot by Ducks:shots by Oil. Over under of about 2 would seem about right.

    • Jason Gregor

      LaBarbera was signed as a back up in the summer. The Oilers didn’t go looking for a starter last summer, so I didn’t mention it in this scenario.

      They likely will be looking for a starter this summer, but that is a different discussion. It would be higher priority, agreed, but that still means they have to sign the proper back up. Their starter won’t play 70 games.

  • Serious Gord

    When sleeping beauty awakens, all will be well in the Oilers’ world, grass will be green all year in Edmonton vehicle plug ins a thing of the past, Flames and Nuks will be bottom feeders and the Oil will slug champers from the cup. We just have to figure out who/where sleeping beauty is and how to wake him up!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Breezy’s gonna have to stand on his head tonight. Not looking forward to watching the boys get thrown around, but Hall and Ebs could learn a thing or two from Getzlaf and Perry, let’s hope they’re paying attention.

    EDIT: Holy run on sentence, Batman.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers can’t even get their desktop wallpaper right.It says today’s game is on at four . Maybe that is why no one has heard from Lowe.He is busy f-ing up the wallpaper too.

  • Serious Gord

    We played hard but I can’t help but feel like the Ducks weren’t on their game tonight. We made plenty of mistakes that they didn’t make us pay for. Another night, another loss. At least Bryz gives me some confidence that we might win the odd game.

  • Wohin gehst du?

    Gagner Hemsky and Marincin for Subban
    Petry Eberle Jones for Tavares and pick

    Wait for Yakimov Nurse and Chase

    (Putting it out there. hopes universe responds)

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      I’ll help pile on.

      No way these trades ever come close to fruition. For Subban, the conversation would likely start at Hall + our 1st. Tavares is the new captain on the Isles, I can’t see him going for less than Eberle and probably one of Nuge or Yak, most likely Nuge.

    • vetinari

      Know you’re just floating ideas out there but flip those trades around and look at them from the other team’s perspective… why would those teams unload home grown Olympic talent for overpaid, underperforming Oilers, and burn up room on 50 man roster lists? Unless Mike Milbury is GM’ing again somewhere around the league, no team would even consider those trades.

      As for tonight’s game, if Bryzer is in net:

      Oilers 2 Ducks 3 (OT/SO)

      If Digger Dubnyk is in net:

      Oilers 1 Ducks 5

      I predict 20 minutes of “good” Oiler hockey; 20 minutes of “average” Oiler hockey; and 20 minutes of “toe drag-turn over-missed coverage–SH goal against-softie-goal-from-centre-ice” hockey.

      Maybe tonight is the night to catch up on PVR viewing?

    • Wohin gehst du?

      I’m totally for that trade………’s time to make a play for PK Subban.

      We know that the Canadiens would love to have Yaks join his pal Galchenyuk, but I suspect they would rather take Perron!

      Just putting it out there?

  • Serious Gord

    Anaheim is due to lose. Perhaps today is the day.

    5-4 oil. Bryz plays very well and the regular set will begin the “MacT is a genius for getting him” refrain.

    As for attracting a first line defense men via free agency – for get it.
    No high end player is moving to EDM while the current management is in place. Name one reason besides a ridiculous overpay why a top end player would chose to come to EDM to play the potentially best years of their career? It’s catch 22 replete with Katz playing orsen Welle’s brig gen deedle and Klowe playing bob newharts major major.

    The only route is via a trade – probably sending low cost prospects back for an over pay.

    • S cottV

      I agree with the free agent assessment. We are limited in appeal to mostly guys who grew up here and they are coming back for the wrong reasons.

      We all know that Edmonton is not the ideal place on the mind of any free agent, from the standpoint of the city itself.

      Attracting the right free agents is probably a must, if the Oilers are ever again to be Stanley Cup contenders.

      • Serious Gord

        But attracting free agents for the right reasons means the team has be consistently competitive and in the cup race mix for several years and have the kind of high class respected management similar to teams like Detroit.

        And we can’t do that or at least it will be extremely difficult if we don’t sign some of the right free agents – hence my catch 22 analogy.

        (Note to self: Great movie – must watch it again soon)

  • S cottV

    82 games is a long season, teams pace themselves and bring their A game to some games and then there is the B game. Oilers rarely see the other teams A game. Teams try not to underestimate the Oilers because they are bad team.

    Anaheim will do enough to win.

  • **

    When we were looking for a goaltender and MacT heard Labarbara’s name……….exactly what made him think this guy would help us? For that matter what made Mac T think that signing Ference would make us better?

    I know that when I heard their names, nothing about these players got me excited. It has been well documented that we need strong and large puck moving defensemen to help our little forwards out. Mac T has some sould searching to do……..he ran Penner out of town, and since we have not found any forwards with size that can do what he can do.

    I’m sure that he will be licking his chops as well as Cogs!

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Barbie played worse than he ever had when he was here. His numbers suggested a suitable backup, as Dubey’s numbers suggested he was an average starter. Guess numbers aren’t everything, eh.

  • Reg Dunlop

    How about that! Shoot the puck and sometimes it goes in. It is so odd to see a tender in the oiler net that moves, follows the play and isn’t on his knees when the opposition crosses the blueline.

  • YFC Prez

    What’s going on. They’re shooting. Getting to the net. Finishing checks. And hustling back after. Aggressive forcheck and backcheck.

    This team confuses me nightly.

    Edit : let’s see if it keeps up now that it’s tied

  • Wohin gehst du?

    We need a real top pairing defenseman. Suban would look great in Oilers silks. Habs still don’t use him as a true #1 and he’ll want, and get a lot more cash next year., The Yak and this year’s 1st may fetch us Suban.

    He’s still a restricted free agent. Maybe an offer sheet of 6×7 mill. (Then let the Habs talk trade with us.)

    • PutzStew

      So you would make the offer sheet and if by some chance Subban did sign it, Oilers would have to give up the next 4 1st for him.

      So what would you offer Montreal in trade after signing him to this offer sheet???? I’m sure montreal would be happy to take the Oilers Next 4 1sts. You might be able to offer up an Eberle or Yak to recoup one of them but If I would was them I would want the 1sts.

      Toronto overpaid the offer sheet value for Kessle to get him. ANyone wanting Subban would have to do the same.

      • Zamboni Driver

        Norris trophy winners are not like Vezina winners. There have been a lot of flash in the pan goalies. Not so for Norris winners. 4 1st Rd picks do not come with a guarantees. Suban most certainly does.

  • Reg Dunlop

    A couple of possibilities; 1)the young oil are inconsistent and tonight they are on 2)the Ducks are not really as good as their record 3)the Ducks thought that this game was a free spot on the bingo card. I say 1-20%, 2-20%, 3-100%.

    • YFC Prez

      Anyone know kassians address. I think he deserves some Christmas cards. His lack of class last game just may have been the mouse that finally sank the ship. They look like a team. Let’s see them kill this one off for Potter.

  • Rocket

    I couldn’t see who it was but an Aneheim defender lays a hit from behind on Hall who crashes into the boards and there is no call.

    Potter does the same and he gets a game. SMH

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Why are there so many people want us to trade for Ryan Miller or Shea Weber? Miller can’t win games for Buffalo so coming to Oilers will not improve anything. Weber’s Preds are out of playoff spot so he can’t help them to make playoffs, coming to Oilers will not improve our chances either. WE need a veteran coach to get the players get to the next level. I m sick of seeing other young players in other team playing so well. When we have all these 1st picks over all and underachieving. We all hear how good these young guns are but we are not producing on the ice.

    • Zamboni Driver

      Okay so just for the sake of argument.

      The coach has been changed every year for the last 23 (or something like that).

      The ‘good young guns’ have been here for lots of those years.

      Didja maybe consider the ‘good young guns’ maybe…just maybe…aren’t that good?

  • Serious Gord

    The bruins hit hard. The Canucks were surprisingly physical. Anaheim made the most of their size – tenderizing the oil for the real heavyweights – LA. How many guys – even after just three of these six games – are icing and taping damage already sustained?