PARTING GIFTS, PLEASE

If early indications mean anything, the leg injury sustained by Taylor Hall in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks could fall on the good side of bad as opposed to the line-up-on-the-ledge side of bad for the Edmonton Oilers as they embark on a five-game road trip.

Hall, the proverbial straw that stirs the drink in Edmonton, was lost early in the second period when he went hard to the net, was knocked off balance and slammed into the goal post, dislodging the net. Hall remained on the bench for a few moments, in obvious pain, then hobbled down the tunnel favoring his right side and didn’t return.

Coach Dallas Eakins was quick to say there was no update on Hall, who won’t accompany the Oilers to Philadelphia to begin the annual rodeo road trip, to open his post-game media availability. We do, however, have these snippets until a firmer update is provided.


ON THE ROAD

Highway

We’ll see how that optimism plays out. Hall is scheduled to have an MRI in Edmonton in the next day or so. At best, you’d think the Oilers will play without their leading scorer for some or all of a swing that takes them to Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo, New York and Nashville. At worst?

The obvious challenge facing Eakins now is to put together a reasonable facsimile of a first line without Hall, who had scored 6-4-10 before limping to the dressing room. There’s no replacing Hall’s production on the left side. In terms of pushing the attack, it will be equally difficult for Eakins to find anybody who adds the kind of net-charging pace Hall does.

Any way you spin it, this trip just got a whole lot tougher. The Oilers dropped to 4-6-1 with the loss to Vancouver. They were 3-7-1 through 11 games last season, then skidded to a 4-15-2 mark with a 1-8-1 stretch, essentially ending any hope of pushing for a playoff spot.

A more favorable schedule to open this season was supposed to give the Oilers a leg up on avoiding another disastrous start, but with just one more win than a year ago as they blow town, how much better can you reasonably expect they’ll be if Hall is lost for any length of time? After the road trip, the Oilers close-out their first 21 games against Ottawa, Phoenix, Vancouver, New Jersey and Chicago.

What they need is good news in the form of that MRI.

UPDATE: Word from the Oilers this afternoon is Hall will be lost from two to four weeks with a sprained MCL, meaning he’ll miss the entire road trip and at least the first game of the following home stand.


WHILE I’M AT IT

Batman-Chin-Rub

  • Lots of comment last night about Andrew Ference’s hit on bad guy Zack Kassian – not surprising most Oiler fans enjoyed it, given that the big lug busted Sam Gagner’s jaw during the 2013 pre-season and essentially laughed about it without retribution. That said, “It’s only Kassian” won’t stand up with NHL player safety and it seems likely Ference will be suspended for a game or two.
  • With an eye to Ference’s situation and Nikita Nikitin being put on IR, the Oilers have recalled Oscar Klefbom from the OKC Barons and he will join the team to start the trip in Philadelphia. Klefbom reports with 1-6-7 in six games with OKC. Reports are he’s been very good. Brad Hunt is on waivers.
  • For what it’s worth, I’d like to see Nail Yakupov get a shot on the top line, as he did last night when Hall went down. Yakupov played a season-high 20:25. He brings the kind of dash and ability to take it to the net with speed no other Oiler forward does.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    I want to see Yak get more ice time too, but he doesn’t seem to mesh well with Nuge and Ebs… Do you think they’re just not used to each other, and Yak needs to get to more open spots to accept passes as Eakins stated, or do Nuge and Ebs just not like passing to him? What’s your take?

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    I would like to see Yak on the 1st line but he has problems being on the left side and Ebs doesn’t seem to ever find him.
    Perron seems to be the more approperiate person to move up

    • Part of the problem, frankly, is that Yakupov can be hard for anybody to find. He’s not as straight up-and-down the wing a player as Hall is. Compounding that is a lack of familiarity and playing time together.

      Perron might be the easiest fit.

      • Rob...

        This isn’t just a Yakupov problem though. There are times our powerplay looks awesome, then others where nobody is moving around to get in a position to accept the puck. Same goes for the lack of net presence.

        I also think it’s just as much of a problem that certain players have shown a reluctance to pass to Yakupov even when they are unable to get a shot off and Yak is the best option for the pass.

        This isn’t to say Yak needs to be let off the hook. You’re right that he needs to get himself to an open spot and present a lane for the puck carrier. He also needs to pass more often when he’s being boxed in and nobody is set up to jump on a rebound were he to shoot at the net.

        • Serious Gord

          I would like to see some stability for Yak by staying on a line with Leon and whomever for 10 games or so then shuffled in and out of the powerplay as needed. Like anyone else he needs consistency from playing with the same linemates, Hall, Nuge and Ebs have it but Yak has been shuffled so much he has never had the chance to solidify his linemates. Nothing to lose, give it a try coaches.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    Hunt on waivers ? I suppose that means hes being sent down to OKC but I hope to hell someone picks him up so MacT can lose his man crush at least on this guy, now Eakins is another story. With Hall out and starting a 5 game road trip sure looks like we can pretty much turn out the lights for this year, pretty much the same script as last year. F””k another winter without any Oil hockey to watch and listening to those dummass Canucklehead commentators we seem to be stuck with in the new broadcasting world.

  • Kevwan

    I’m still confused on the Brad Hunt experiment………what aspect of his game did Eakins like?

    I’m trying very hard to see his logic in using him, while players like MM and OK are down in the minors??

    Robin do you think that Iro Parkinen will get an opportunity soon……..seems likehe deserves it.

  • ooj

    Way to go you pathetic organization. For his entire career, all we’ve seen is Hall try to put the team on his back because no one else especially the defense is capable of providing support.

    Absolutely mental decision to keep Hunt in the lineup. Start making better personnel decisions or continue to watch your star players get injured trying to do too much.

    I’m actually sick thinking about the ineptitude that has transpired recently

  • ooj

    loved the hit by ference on kassian… then the thought of him being suspended made me smile…

    now klefbom’s been recalled and Brad Hunt has been put on waivers… awesome.

    Depending on Hall’s injury, are we gonna see a call-up of the big finn Pakarinen?

  • Jayz

    Why is everyone so pleased with Ferance?? We have a paper thin D corps that’s
    getting thinner daily. It shows no intelligence or maturity.

    The worst part is that he got up from it !

    • Serious Gord

      He was praised for the hit on one of the great current day nemesises of the oil, but the vast majority of commenters on this site I think want him benched or sent down.

  • Serious Gord

    Even though Srivens was swimming with the seals most of the night, the Oilers did a good job by nullifying the Sedins in the neutral zone in the first two periods, then they decided to dump and chase in the third period. It only works if you have someone to “chase”!.

    PS.. MacT great signings this summer by signing Purcell and Pouliot. Adding size and experience to line up. Were they even on the ice last night… didn’t seem like it.

    Who is counting the “HITS” at Rexcall..? Really the only hits were by Ference , Yak and one by Jouensuu. The rest were pretty much Huggy Bears.

  • Serious Gord

    Conner Mcdavid has 42 points in 14 games so far this season, I wouldn’t mind the Oilers picking No. 1 again this year lol. I mean it’s a real man version of Crosby!

      • Serious Gord

        I trust you are being facetious – accusing bettman of the ability and personality to defraud the NHL and its fans is akin to saying 911 was an inside job.

        • Serious Gord

          I thought you were into conspiracy theories.

          Didn’t you suggest that the “old boys club” were trying to use the 30th anniversary celebrations as a way to distract fans from their losing ways the last few years.

          Or were you trying to be facetious then too??

          Either way, neither of you are funny in any way.

          • Serious Gord

            The timing was definitely interesting – it was the spring of ’84 that they won the cup not the fall. But if you Reread what I said I did not accuse them of it just hypothesized it/noted the circumstancial evidence.

  • Serious Gord

    1. So hunt goes from playing first line D to being waived. Bizarre is an understatement.

    2. Ference should get three games – clearly he was aiming for kassians head.

    3. Who replaces hall. We know klefbom is coming but not who halls replacement is? Strange.

    4. While it’s highly unlikely that the oil will go 1-8-1 they are already almost statistically certain to be out of the playoffs. As I noted on this site yesterday, since the advent of the loser point only four teams that were four points or more out of a playoff spot on nov 1 have ever made the playoffs. the oil were three out on the morning of nov 1 and they were 5 out by the end of the day.

    One caveat of course is there are only 14 teams in the west as of last season so that does work in EDM favour. That said, looking at the teams that are above, seven of them – chi, dal, Nash, stl, sj, la, Ana – look like absolute locks leaving some much better teams than the oil fighting for the last spot – min colo van (Cgy?)

    • oilerjed

      “1. So hunt goes from playing first line D to being waived. Bizarre is an understatement. ”

      Hunt was nowhere near playing first line D, Jusy be glad he is going..

      MacT tried as best he could to get Hunt playing time in which to put up some points. Would be a good way to pump his tires in hopes he’s plucked from the waiver wire. Not sure of the compensation but it would take one Dman out of the bottleneck and give back one wasted contract.

  • Serious Gord

    Gary Bet does not have the power to prevent Mcdavid from being an Oiler. The Buf and Car have that power though. And for the record, 911 was for sure an inside job, just like the Sabers and Canes are for sure the worst two teams in hockey.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Like Gord mentioned, i would also like to see Draisaitl and Yakupov get more icetime on the penalty kill. The best way to learn to play defense, could just be while the building around them is on fire. Let them learn to defend while all around is crumbling. Something needs to be done to see that Yakupov gets more icetime. I’
    m sure it would make them defensively more aware when 5v5 or even 5v4.

    Heard Serious Gord mention this last week on Stauffers show. It could actually make sense in this sometimes opposites attract world.

    I literally fist bump my radio when Gord gets on. God Bless that guy for not giving up on the Oilers already. Daily Doug is okay as well, but isn’t as well spoken as Gord. Thank you Bob Stauffer for allowing a little bit of reality in your mostly controlled programing.

  • I saw intent to injure on this play.it reminded me of when Chara put (I think Paciorrety) into the turn buckle.the player knew what he was doing,and when he needed to do it,to achieve the desired result…

    I’m not going to lie to you guys,but I don’t mind seeing the Oilers lose.i know Katz was a super fan before he was the owner,and I know he wants to win,and he wants this team ready to do so,by the time puck drops at Rodgers.so maybe just maybe if the gods gift to hockey group keep showing they know nothing about building winning hockey teams,when on an even playing field (Team Canada shouldn’t count) that Mr.Katz will finally pull the plug on them…?

    Is Mike Babcock still without an extension?that would be the same as the Hawks firing Savard and bringing in Quenville…

    • Serious Gord

      Thats sort of what I was thinking. My spouse works in the D.I. Business and we theorized either a torn one or a sprained one. The media who published anything prior to the Mri are suckers.

        • Serious Gord

          Sprains are unpredictable things. Full, symptom-free recovery can be far longer than four weeks – sometimes one never gets back to 100%. In many cases the area is permanently structurally weakened and is more easily sprained a second or third time. When the choice is between a bone break and a severe sprain the long-term better option is the fracture. That likely isn’t the case with hall – torn cartilage is a beotch.

          • Serious Gord

            Agreed the technology/protocol today is far better. If they did a crap job on you at least be assured that knee replacements are vastly improved and far cheaper (India is the new place to go) than it was even five years ago.

  • Clareman

    So where is the draft party going to be at in June? McDavid you are savior in waiting. Expect some “bold” moves by MacT. Maybe he will hire a scout, another analytics guy. Trade? Of course not, this team has too many good players, nevermind the last place showings every year.

  • Harry2

    I think at this point we really need to focus on going as low as we possibly can. Buffalo is going to be really bad and a market that really needs top tier talent to continue. Same with Carolina, any consiracy thearists would suggest that the lottery is going to be loaded to get them Mcdavid/Eichel. The Oilers really need to finish worst in the league. We wont win the lottery but then at least we can get this Eichel kid who is supposed to be something else. I think Connor McDavid might be to good for the Oilers to ruin him also so I dont think he would neccesarily be a good fit while we shoot for a 24th place finish before 2020. However Eichel on the other hand.. we could really wreck the first 6 or 7 years of his career before demanding a trade.