I have to say I don’t like the heat Ryan Smyth has been taking lately. There has been talk out there that fans are turning on him. I don’t think it’s true. I hope it’s not anyways. Yah, he’s struggled. But a guy can struggle and we can accept it as time passing.. we don’t need to throw him to the wolves and insult him, suggesting he has no work ethic. We know Smyth is a warrior that gives it his all. It’s possible he’s lost his step, yes, but I’d say in all of this, be good fans and don’t insult the guy’s character. One former NHLer, Rhett Warrener, called him a joke in a recent newspaper article on the Calgary Sun. Well, he said he’s becoming a joke. Smytty played it cool when told that by reporters though, and just said he won’t address those comments. But I’m sure it affects a player. Maybe he should take a lesson from Warrener who retired before he lost any relevance… except in Warrener’s case it was also before he had any relevance. Anyways, I won’t harp on that comment much.
The lines are revamped again and Ryan Smyth and Ryan Whitney are back in. At forward, Teemu Hartikainen will replace Nail Yakupov on the 2nd line. This is deserved, as he’s been playing very well. It’ll be good to see him with some offensive talent. Yakupov gets the boot down to the 3rd line where he will play left wing on a line with Eric Belanger and Ryan Smyth. Don’t knock it until you see it, I guess. You never know. But really, the offensive weapons are all in the top six, save for Yakupov. He will get powerplay time though on a line with Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle, Whitney and Smyth. The first powerplay unit will be The Nuge, Hartikainen, Ales Hemsky, Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall. I have to admit, those powerplay lines excite me.
On defense, Ladi Smid will pear up with Mark Fistric. That should be a bruising pair. The Schultz “brothers” will stay together. Whitney will pair up with Jeff Petry. We’ll see how that goes.
Devan Dubnyk will get the start.
Corey Potter and Magnus Paajarvi are healthy scratches.
Edit: Lennart Petrell Was hit by a puck in warmup.. Paajarvi takes his place in the game.
OILERS LINES (PROJECTED)
Hall – Nuge – Eberle
Hartikainen – Gagner – Hemsky
Yakupov – Belanger – Smyth
Eager – Vande Velde – Paajarvi
Smid – Fistric
N. Schultz – J. Schultz
Whitney – Petry