OK, here’s a stupid fun fact for the day.. Ray Emery has started less than half of the games for Chicago this year. His wins alone would put the Hawks just 1 point shy of the Oilers. He has 10 wins, Oilers have 8. Oh how horrible are we?
There has been a lot of talk out there lately about all sorts of different plans to fix this team. Some of them have been OK, but many of them have been completely ludicrous. Some people are questioning the Yakupov draft decision.. OK, I get that, but do you honestly think Ryan Murray would have saved this team? Galchenyuk? Things would really be no different. He’s got some issues.. I’d say oddly his decisions WITH the puck are the more concerning ones than without. But that will be remedied in time as he adjusts to the NHL game. Some are also question The Nuge draft. That I just can’t even fathom. I’m not sure I should even address those crazies, so, moving on. Jordan Eberle.. I’ve seen his name in trade rumors. Oh lord… I honestly just don’t understand people. The young players are really the only thing going right for this team right now. It could be better for them at times, for sure, especially The Nuge (offensively). But they are doing really well, and guess what.. they’re playing all sorts of minutes and situations. They aren’t being sheltered (maybe in zone starts, a bit), and they’re looking quite good while playing top competition. So am I worried about them? Nope.
Now, our bottom six, this is a completely different story. This has always been flakey. I had hoped that the more recent additions in the past couple of years would help this team out (ex. Ben Eager and Eric Belanger), but really they aren’t to the level I’d expect. In Eric Belanger’s case, he’s been worked hard. This is a guy though that put up pretty solid boxcar stats with the Coyotes.. and the fucking Wild of all teams! You’d think he could pot a few goals here and there, but he isn’t. I think a lot of it has to do with the same thing that dragged Horcoff down.. he’s being heavily relied on for the hard minutes. Far more often than not, he starts his shifts in the defensive zone. At the same time, I don’t know if he ever had hands before, but he makes Horcoff look like Evgeni Malkin.
I’ve mentioned before too that I do not like our Nordic like as an NHL line.. yet. They haven’t been together in a while, due to injury, but right now I’d prefer them in the minors. Now Paajarvi, on the other hand, seems to have some confidence going now that he’s in the top six. I don’t mind him as a top six guy, if he finds his confidence. As a bottom six guy though, as I’ve said before, I just think he’s just like anyone else in our bottom six – buying time until the top lines our rested. That needs to be remedied. We need some guys in there that are going to contribute. Ryan Jones is really the only one in there, save for Horcoff, that I’m concerned about hanging on to.
Anyways, slight change of the bottom six tonight, as Eager is scartched. Smyth will play with Yakupov and Belanger. Jones and Brown will play on a line centered by Vande Velde.
OILERS LINES (TWEETED LINES)
Hall – Nuge – Hemsky
Paajarvi – Gagner – Eberle
Smyth – Belanger – Yakupov
Jones – Vande Velde – Brown