GDB 09: ONE IN AND ONE OUT

Shawn Horcoff returns to the lineup tonight, but Eric Belanger walked into Rexall Place this morning in a walking boot and he’s been put on the injured list. Belanger has been infinitely better this season than he was last year, especially on the PK, and he, like Horcoff, will be missed.

It isn’t great for the Oilers to have their veteran centres sitting out due to injuries, but it is another opportunity for Anton Lander to keep developing. As long as the injured list remains short the Oilers should be able to stay competitive.
The Oilers face the Canucks for the 2nd time in nine games, and after a come-from-behind win in their season opener the Oilers will try to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Edmonton wasn’t very good in Colorado on Saturday, and they will need a much more energetic effort tonight.

Hall/RNH/Eberle
Yakupov/Gagner/Hemsky
Smyth/Horcoff/Petrell
Paajarvi/Lander/Hartikainen

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Fistric/Potter

Dubnyk

Ryan Whitney was paired with Theo Peckham at the morning skate, and he will be take a seat in the pressbox. Whitney hasn’t been great, but I think this is Ralph Krueger trying to send a message that anyone can be benched. That wasn’t the case last year, and sometimes the only way a coach can get people’s attention is by sitting a veteran in the pressbox. This is the first time in his career that Whitney has been a healthy scratch, and he was obviously disappointed. "I don’t agree with it obviously, but I respect the decision and I will be better when I get back in," said Whitney.

I suspect this will be short-term for Whitney, who seems to be lacking confidence more than anything, because is overall game is better than Potter and Fistric. However, if you aren’t playing up to your potential, Krueger is showing he won’t be afraid to cut your icetime.

Krueger is also hoping that 91/57/56 can find the chemistry they had in OKC. Todd Nelson said they were his most consistent trio in both ends of the rink, and we’ll see if they can bring that level of consistency to the NHL.

QUICK HITS

  • Lots of teams are interested in Whitney, and after being stripped of his "A" and now a healthy scratch, I could see a trade scenario unfolding at some point. The issue is the Oilers still don’t have enough quality NHL depth to make that move, unless it is for another D-man. I can see situation where Whitney gets dealt, and then plays well somewhere else, and those fans who have been begging for his benching, will then complain he got dealt. Whitney is not nearly as bad as some are portraying him. Of course he can play better, but I’d rather let him play out of it than move him when his value is likely lower than it should be.
  • Belanger has an open cut on his foot so he will be out at least a week. He was put on IR so he is out at least 7 days.
  • Peckham has done a few three-a-day workouts as they Oilers try to get him back in game shape. Right now Krueger has mentioned, "We have 7 D-men" on numerous occasions, so it is clear Peckham isn’t in the picture right now. OKC only plays on Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks, so if the Oilers send him down for a conditioning stint, it likely won’t happen until later this week. They’d rather put him through extensive conditioning here.

  • It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role.
     
  • I wonder who will be the first person to write the article saying how Yakupov can’t keep scoring like this because of his ridiculous 29.4%. I will name that person the ultimate "fun sponge."
     
  • Thomas Vanek has been in on 19 of the Sabres 27 goals. He’s been incredible so far this season and I hope he keeps it up. I love offence.

LOOKING AHEAD

 

 GAME DAY PREDICTION: In previous years you’d expect the Oilers to lose this game, fall to .500 and extend their losing streak, but they will avoid the obvious and pick up an exciting 5-4 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gagner matches his career-high and extends his scoring streak to nine games. The Oilers PP gets back on track with two goals while the Sedins combine for five points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After picking up an assist in the first period, Yakupov delivers a crushing hit on Maxim Lapierre. Yakupov finishes the evening with two hits. After the game he says, " I’m surprised more people aren’t mentioning that I have more hits, 9, than points, 7. I wonder if "Plums"* will point that out this Saturday. I thought he loves gritty players."

*If you didn’t catch the Plums reference read NSOGDP from GDB: 08 below.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

    • Phixieus666

      I think the team is going to come out with all kinds of energy after the Whitney benching. But still think it will be a loss in the shootout. Lou will stand tall this time around.

  • book¡e

    I wonder who will be the first person to write the article saying how Yakupov can’t keep scoring like this because of his ridiculous 29.4%. I will name that person the ultimate “fun sponge.”

    Let me be the first to say this is unsustainable!!! There is no way Yakupov continues to average only 2 shots per game. His shots per game average is certainly going to trend upwards to 3 or 4 shots per game and with a 30% shooting percentage, that means he is going to score more than a goal per game!!! Projected out to an 82 game season, that’s trending to break Gretzky’s 92 goal record! Awesome!!!

  • Truth

    Canucks are too veteran savy and are picking up steam.
    Oilers suffer first home game after road trip blahs
    and lay a stinker, 5-1 nucks and our biggest losing streak
    of the season picks up steam.

    F–k – i hope i am wrong. Pins and needles every game
    in this short season.

    All out effort for 60 minutes needed tonight boys..
    no shifts off. SPEED SPEED SPEED.

    GO OIL !

  • Phixieus666

    I wish we could have traded for Rupp. Sad face.

    Game prediction:

    If the oilers win, the world is great, the Nuge is sick, Hall is a beast, Dubnyk is a superstar.

    If the oilers lose, we should have drafted Seguin, Nuge is too small, Horcoff needs to go, we need a proven number one goalie. The team is too small.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    This will be another game where the win comes on the PP. Luongo has been deadly this year — surprising no one — but Vancouver still doesn’t have a second line. As good as Kassian has been, I think our second is able to eat there’s for breakfast.

    Dubnyk will again have to be stellar tonight. And the Nordic line will be considered a success in my book if they keep a positive puck possession number, are not responsible for any goals against, and draw a penalty or two.

    Drive to the net boys and lets take another one from Van tonight.

  • A-Mc

    Good call on Whitney. He’s a good player but he isn’t playing well; Krueger needed to do something to send a message.

    GDP: Oiler’s lose tonight, 5-2, but Nuge finally gets one in.

    OGDP: Hall will be skating circles around people tonight as he tries to set the tone for the rest of his team. His team will be reluctant to follow his lead.

    NSOGDP: Paajarvi-Lander-Harti will look great and will actually come in 2nd for most scoring chances as a line for the Oilers despite having lower ice time vs lines 1-2. Potentially, the 2nd goal is theirs. Dare i say Paajarvi’s?

  • Zamboni Driver

    FINALLY a veteran takes a seat. Been a LONG LONG time since a coach had the ‘nads to do that.

    This is sacrilege I know but…

    How long before 94 takes a seat in popcorn row?

  • OilClog

    Whitney seems like he’s lost more then his ankles or a step. Or maybe losing that step shows his lack in ability to read the defensive play. He can pass the puck no question, unfortunately for Whitney it doesn’t offset the brutal one on one beatings he takes. With an expiring contract you would have to figure the Oilers would need to include other assets to get anything of value in return. Could we pry a bottom six forward or a regular 3-4defenseman with a Whitney, Omark, pick combo?

    • Phixieus666

      Whitney and Omark to Detroit.

      Detroit need a D man like (the old) Whitney and the Zetterberg, Brunner, Omark line where lighting it up in the Top Swiss Leaque during the lockout (playing for EV Zug).

  • Dan the Man

    “It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role.”

    The Oilers also lost both games, could be coincidence as well but the Oilers do miss Horcoff when he’s not in the line up.

    • Truth

      Could be true.

      Or, could be that I was drinking Bud instead of Kokanee the last two games. Switched back, so we should be good.

      The Oilers played pretty good vs. the Sharks considering how hot they’ve been lately. We all know a shootout could go either way and is not indicative of who is a better team.

      The game vs. Colorado the Oilers definitely didn’t show up and Colorado did, especially Duchesne. It always seems like the Oilers forget to show up to the afternoon games.

      I think tonight’s game will be a good one. The Oilers should be motivated to play, and the Canucks won’t be happy about the results of the last game.

      Canucks win 4-2 with an empty netter.

    • Phixieus666

      He wins draws, retrieves pucks, can maintain possession, and creates traffic in front. All things that are needed on a power play that skill players generally don’t bring. No Coincidence.

    • Phixieus666

      So Whitney is out, well this should be a really good test to see where exactly he stands in the lineup and whether he is expendable or not. Not too sure if Lander is actually as slow as people think or he just cheats towards the defensive side of the game.

      I kinda felt that the team let Nail down last game. Seems to have a lot of fight in him. Loved his emotion at the end of the game. We need a ball of crazy on this team. Keep everyone on their toes.

  • Spydyr

    My goat Whitney has been the worst defensman in pretty well every game this year. He deserves the press box. If as you say there are teams interested.Trade his ass before the rest of the league figures out he is washed.Good pass nothing else.

  • Nuge&Connorvs.Sam&Sean

    One thing that I have noticed is that Hall, Nuge aand Eberle always go for pretty goals. In a lot of sorties, the play ends with them not even taking a shot on net. That is something they have to work on.

    • Phixieus666

      Thats their skill set at the age they’re at. Which makes you wonder if Krueger will be forced to seperate them at some point (adding a netfront presence to the line), or if he is going to stick to his guns through thick and thin?

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    GDP: Oil win 6-4. Goalie controversy in Van escalates.

    OGDP: Horcoff gets a hat trick. All in the PP. One off his bum, one off his shoulder and a he’ll get credit for one that Bieksa puts in his own net.

    NSOGDP: The wife and I will be on the kissing cam. I’ll give her a deep longing and loving look then turn to my beer and chug it.

  • The Hall Way

    Great Article again JG, and i don’t want to be one of those guys who points stuff out, but you repeated the first couple paragraphs, …. Sorry.
    its funny in your prediction, you mentioned the Oilers of the last few years would lose a game like this, and i have to admit it was my first thought about tonight’s game as well. Lets hope this years team is different