GDB 32.0: SINGING THE BLUES

The frustration is mounting in Oilersnation. The Oilers have won 8 of their past 26 games and once again they find themselves closer to the basement than a spot in the playoffs.

For the first 40 minutes last night the Oilers didn’t play with the smarts, energy or passion you’d expect for a team fighting to stay in the playoffs. They were good in the 3rd period, but this team isn’t good enough to play one solid period and win. 

The bigger question is what is ailing the Oilers?

The harsh reality is there is no quick fix for the Oilers. One or two moves won’t suddenly make this team a contender. They need to upgrade their blueline, they need to mix in some size in their top-nine and they need to find more players who will go to the net regularly. They could improve their 4th line, but that isn’t the main concern.

Do the Oilers have the right mix of players to win moving forward? It seems everyone wants to ship out veterans or fringe players, and I see why, but when you get rid of them do you believe the core group has the right combination of skill sets to win?

Some will say it is too early to tell. I’d agree it is too early to know how productive the young kids will be in the future, but is it too early to tell what style of game they’ll play?

Can they alter their games to the point they go to the net regularly, or become better puck retrievers, or win more one-on-one battles?

I think the Oilers have a lot of good young players, but I’m not sure that collectively they possess the right mixture of skills to win regularly in the NHL. I assume they will put in the necessary work during the off-seasons to get stronger and quicker and improve any deficiencies in their game, but will that be enough?

I just don’t see how the Oilers can develop all their young, skilled forwards at the same time and expect to win. Can six skilled forwards between the ages of 19-23 , none of whom are over 200 pounds or possess a consistent physical element in their game, simultaneously develop the skills, work ethic and gamesmanship that lead to winning ?

I’m not sure anyone knows for sure, but when I look at the history of the game, it seems very unlikely that could happen.

Tonight is another good test to see how the Oilers match up vs. a veteran team filled with numerous strong, heavy players. On Saturday, David Backes, Patrick Bergland and Chris Stewart were too big and strong for the Oilers. Tonight we’ll see if they can alter their game and force the Blues to match their speed. The Oilers can’t match the size and strength of the Blues, so they’ll need to try and quicken the pace. If that doesn’t happen, this could be another agonizing evening for the Oilers and their fans.

LINE UP

Eric Belanger aggravated his groin injury after only eight shifts, and he’s headed back to the IR, however the Oilers will make the mistake of moving Ryan Smyth back to centre. He’s more effective as a winger, there is no point moving him to centre. They should have called up Chris Vande Velde or Anton Lander.

Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins played pretty well last night. Taylor Hall continues to be their most dangerous forward and while the 4/93/14 trio was great together in the 3rd period they ultimately didn’t produce anything. I’d keep the triple-H line together, play Eberle with RNH and slide Gagner back with Yakupov and Paajarvi.

I think Theo Peckham has gotten the message. He screwed up in December and January, by not staying in game shape, and he admits as much, but he played decent the games he dressed and after last night’s struggles for the 3rd pair I’d dress Peckham tonight. However, it looks like Whitney will draw in for Fistric.

The Oilers aren’t mathematically out of the playoff race, but their chances of making it are extremely low. It is inevitable they will move Whitney, so they will showcase him for the next four games, unless he gets moved earlier.

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Jones/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Paajarvi/Gagner/Yakupov
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

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

Khabibulin

QUICK HITS

  • I watched the replay numerous times and I still don’t understand what Fistric was doing on the Mueller goal. I also am perplexed as to why Potter elected to go that far to his left. Fistric’s lapse in judgement was the worst, but Potter’s wasn’t good either. Maybe lack of communication from rarely playing together was a factor, but it is hard to excuse that type of play.
     
  • Bad timing for Belanger to get injured. If he isn’t healthy by next week, it is unlikely they can move him. A source told me they would have certainly moved him, but if his groin doesnt’ heal then a deal is unlikely.
     
  • Alex Semin gets $35 million over five years. Did Jim Rutherford honestly believe someone would have paid him that on the open market?
     
  • Currently there are only two potential free agent D-men younger than Ladislav Smid, and one of them is Mark Fistric. Here is the complete list of the potential free agent D-men. If the Oilers don’t re-sign him do any of these names excite you as possible replacements for him? I don’t see many, if any, who play the same role as Smid and would be an upgrade moving forward. It would be foolish to not re-sign Smid.

 

  Team  Age  Cap Hit 
Aucoin, Adrian  CLB  39 $2,250,000
Gonchar, Sergei OTT  38 $5,500,000
Hamrlik, Roman  NYR  38 $3,500,000
Sutton, Andy EDM  38 $1,750,000
Visnovsky, Lubomir  NYI  36 $5,600,000
Zidlicky, Marek NJD  36 $4,000,000
Poti, Tom  WAS  36 $2,875,000
Streit, Mark NYI  35 $4,100,000
Lydman, Toni ANA  35 $3,000,000
Corvo, Joe CAR  35 $2,000,000
Wade Redden STL  35 $1,000,000
Scuderi, Rob  LAK  34 $3,400,000
Ference, Andrew  BOS  34 $2,250,000
Rozsival, Michal CHI  34 $2,000,000
Hannan, Scott  NAS  34 $1,000,000
Murray, Douglas  PIT  33 $2,500,000
Hainsey, Ron WIN  32 $4,500,000
Regehr, Robyn  BUF  32 $4,020,000
Leopold, Jordan  BUF  32 $3,000,000
Walker, Matt PHI  32 $1,700,000
Bergeron, Marc-Andre  TBL  32 $1,000,000
Alberts, Andrew  VAN  31 $1,225,000
Whitney, Ryan  EDM  30 $4,000,000
White, Ian  DET  28 $2,875,000
Babchuk, Anton  CGY  28 $2,500,000
Pardy, Adam  BUF  28 $2,000,000
O’Byrne, Ryan COL  28 $1,800,000
Lundin, Mike  OTT  28 $1,150,000
Smid, Ladislav EDM  27 $2,250,000
Clitsome, Grant WIN  27 $1,250,000
Fistric, Mark EDM  26 $1,475,000
  •  I’m curious which teams Doug Maclean thinks would offer up a 2nd rounder for Nikolai Khabibulin? Do you see a fit for him?
     
  • Would you re-sign Khabibulin to a one-year deal at $1.2 million to be the back up next year? His injury history is the major concern, and I wonder if the Oilers would want a veteran or a younger, unproven goalie to push Dubnyk.

TONIGHT….

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Blues are healthy and they are too big, strong and experienced for the Oilers. The Oilers lose 3-1.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Chris Stewart, Alex Steen and David Backes have their way with the Oilers all night. The Oilers aren’t big enough, strong enough or skilled enough to handle them.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Some of the most dedicated and diehard Oiler fans will walk away from the TV tonight. Guys like Racki, Humantorch, Vetinari, Geoilersgist, Newj, Bucknuck, Crusty Grit, Archaeologuy, Ducey, Smokey, A-Mc, Phixieus666 and many more Nation loyalists will switch the channel. They’ll end up in the fetal position questioning their sanity and wondering why they are more loyal to the Oilers than they were to any of the first few girlfriends.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Phixieus666

    There is always next year, with another high draft pick, we can can have expectations of a better year again. When the expectations meet reality we will be going through the same articles for years gone by. Nothing will ever change it will be deja vu all over again.

  • Ducey

    Some of the most dedicated and diehard Oiler fans will walk away from the TV tonight. Guys like Racki, Humantorch, Vetinari, Geoilersgist, Newj, Bucknuck, Crusty Grit, Archaeologuy, Ducey, Smokey, A-Mc, Phixieus666 and many more Nation loyalists will switch the channel. They’ll end up in the fetal position questioning their sanity and wondering why they are more loyal to the Oilers than they were to any of the first few girlfriends.

    I will be watching. I wasn’t expecting them to make the playoffs this year. I take solace in the draft and next year.

    Loyalty to team thru thick and thin is a sign of character.

    And you can always get another girlfriend 🙂

  • northof51

    Snag Justi, call up Harti and Toni, unleash your all Fin fourth line along with Hall-Nuge-Ebs, Parvo-Gags-Yak, Smitty-Comrade-Hemsky . Better than same old, same old….

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Why would any team give up a second rounder for khabby? I don’t even think teams would want him if the Oilers waived him. If your starter gets injured, he’s not the answer to back stopping your team to a cup.

  • It would be easier to take if the effort was there. They apear lost for large parts of the game and then disapointed when their ” supperior” skill for 20 minutes a game doesn’t win it. At some point these kids will have to get their noses dirty.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    That Fistric/Potter play was horrible.

    So they want to showcase Whitney, but sit him last night? Seems like last night against the Preds would’ve been a better game to showcase him.

    I agree on Semin, even if you really like the guy how do you commit so much after 30 games? Did Semin light up the Canes when he played for WSH? Because there was no reason to give him 5 years at 7mil.