Every game from this point onward is huge. The Edmonton Oilers are trending upwards now, and that is perfect timing for them (well, I guess perfect timing is the start of the season, as long as you continue the trend..). The Oilers are 3-0-1 in their last 4, after getting smoked by the Predators. They had their revenge with a narrow 3-2 win in a rematch the last game. The Sharks, on the other hand, appear to be trending downward. They’ve only won one of their last 7 (with two OTL in that frame). This is an opportunity the Oilers have to seize. They’ve historically been the team that other teams look forward too when they are slumping. The Oilers have always been slump busters. That has to change. The sharks have 1 regulation win and 1 shootout win versus the Oilers this season so far. A win tonight will put the Oilers on equal ground as far as points, but no matter what the outcome, the Oilers have already lost out on a potential tie breaker of record between the two clubs. Every point from here on out is going to count, as the Oilers are going to be in a dog fight all the way. Most of the teams are on the upswing, with very few teams faltering like the Sharks.
There’s been some trade/contract talk lately. Much of it revolves around whether or not we should trade Ryan Whitney. I’m still saying yes to that, if the return is good. Ryan Whitney is hot right now, and his value will never be higher. I believe that it isn’t our blue that is the straw that stirs the drink on our powerplay, even though it does help. Can we make due with Potter there? Doubtful.. but why not Jeff Petry?? This is a guy with a decent offensive skillset, but for whatever reason he’s being heavily relied on defensively (albeit he does well in that regard). Perhaps you could reduce his PK time and increase his PP time to make up for the loss of Whitney. Right now, Petry is our most used PKer. That is great and speaks highly of Krueger’s trust in him, but I think you should be able to dial back those minutes in favor of Marc Fistric or Nick Schultz, and then feed Petry more PP ice time. Just my 2 cents. On the flip side though, there is a very good argument that we need to keep Whitney around for a playoff push. I will just remind people how difficult it was to watch Ryan Whitney here the last couple of years. He could revert to that. Just saying… if we can get something good for him, do it. If not, well, no loss for us.
Awesome article up on the Edmonton Sun here. Basically it talks about the Oilers finding their new formula for success and how they think they can stick to it and win games. Talk is cheap, but I think they can do it. Drinking game tip: Take 1 shot for every time the word “identity” is used in the article (that’s 14 shots).
UPDATE: Nuge is out. That presumably should mean that Hartikainen is in now. As far as who slots in at center, it’s anyone’s guess. It could be Petrell, who has played some C. It could be Hall, who we would love to make a C long term. It could be Mike Brown because according to Bob Stauffer he’s played some C (Mike Brown would beg to differ, however).. just kidding on that one. It should be either Hall or Petrell. I would guess Hall moves over, Horcoff drops to play with Jones/Eberle and Hartikainen gets the glorious opportunity to play with Hall and Hemsky.
OILERS LINES (Randomly generated…)
Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky
Jones – Smyth – Eberle
Paajarvi – Gagner – Yakupov
Brown – Petrell – Hartikainen
Smid – Petry
Whitney – J.Schultz
N. Schultz – Fistric