Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oilers Update - 11th loss and counting. 4-2 Wild.

One can almost imagine what it would be like to be a fly-on-the-wall inside the Oilers locker room.  According to the documentarians of "Oil Change", a few too many F-bombs were dropped tonight rendering their "behind-the-scenes" footage to be unairable.

As the profanity lingers in the heavens above St Paul, Minnesota those young, disheveled Oilers are just looking for one lousy win to close out the season.

11 straight losses is just too much.

“We’re not packing it in, we’re not quitting in any games and we’re not quitting in a shift,” said Renney. “As much as that seems like cosmetic surgery, it’s real. And if you’re going to redefine your team and you’re going to rebuild an organization, you better start with that first and foremost and we have that.”

What they have is a patchwork akin to that of a ripped quilt.  After tonight, the Edmonton Oilers will battle against the newly anointed league champions Vancouver Canucks, on Hockey Night In Canada this Saturday.

Here's hoping that the Oilers will have their sewing kit ready after that match, since the very fabric of this Oilers club is about to tear to shreds.

"I felt like we just gave them a couple of opportunities and they made them count,” said Oilers Andrew Cogliano. “We had a lot of opportunities and I thought our effort was there for a lot of the night, but that’s the way it goes sometimes I guess.”

Two quick goals ended the night for the Oilers. And it all happened 35 seconds apart from each  other; and to make matters worse, both goals were bank shots off of Smid and Petry.

After the two quick goals by Antti Miettenin and Marek Zidlicky, the Wild added two more from Brad Staubitz and Martin Havlat put the game out of reach late in the second.

Tom Gilbert scored his first goal in 48 games to put the Oilers on the board.  Late in the third and on the power-play, Swedish rookie Linus Omark wristed a laser to pull the team within 2, but that's all folks.

"I thought we had a really good start to the game and then they scored their first one that was off a skate and then they scored their second one that goes off a skate,” said head coach Tom Renney. “That being said, there were a couple of coverage issues that have to happen before you get a bad break at your net.

The Oilers did however win in shot department lead by Khabibulin.  The Oil posted 35 shots to the Wild's 22.  

"He stands on his head a lot when he's playing against us, and that's why he's a great goalie." said Gilbert of goaltender Niklas Backstrom.  "He's tough to beat."

And so are the Canucks.

Oilers Update - Oilers vs Wild

The Edmonton Oilers open up a 2 game road trip as they get set to play against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.

10 games without a win has completely deflated the spirits of the young Oilers; and with 6 games remaining a victory would be more than a morale booster.

"It is what it is and we have to accept that fact and take responsibility for the next contest, which is tonight, and go after the win," said Head Coach Tom Renney.

"Personally, I kind of like it.  We've got to have something to shoot for and it's a pretty good motivator tonight so let's not make it 16 and go for the W here."

Hopefully some offensive magic will happen tonight.  Perhaps, rookie and Minnesota native Chris VandeVelde and defensive stalwart, Lady Smid can each shake the onion bag.  Nevertheless, just one goal more is all they need and it doesn't matter whose stick it comes off of.

We're going to have to do a lot by committee anyway but certainly we won't have any chance if we don't go to the net."

Gilbert Brule will be back in the line-up and there is no doubt that the vet will be more than eager to run through his opponents.

"I'm happy to be back," said Brule. "I've just got to play my game tonight, bring energy, block shots, hit, take the puck hard to the net."

The Wild come into the match up with a 2-7-1 record and are officially out of play-off contention.  The club has only been able to post 3 wins for this month which has devastated their post season hopes.

"Nobody's happy where we're at, with everything that went on over the last two weeks," said Wild coach Todd Richards. "I think we'll always have that. We'll always be thinking about these two weeks and really trying to connect the dots and what happened, because we're a better team than how we've been playing."

Tom Renney has yet to announce his line-up, though Dubnyk could be the starter.

Oilers vs Wild 5pm Pacific

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oilers Update-Roy Signs With Oilers

Earlier today, Olivier Roy signed a 3 year entry level deal with the Edmonton Oilers.  The 6 foot 180 pound goaltender from Causapscal, Quebec was chosen in the 5th round (#133) in the 2009 Entry Draft. 
Roy is currently playing for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Junior league; and was also a member of the 2010/11 Canadian Junior Silver Medal squad.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oilers bow to Kings - 10th straight loss!

Former play-by-play commentator Rod Philips announced his final game tonight and unfortunately for Oilers fans; none of them were able to hear his famous roar after an Oilers goal.

Lately, around the Oilers dressing room, the word frustrating has come up more often than goals.  The Oilers have only managed to post 7 goals out of 9 games and have now lost 10 straight.  As the offensive woes continues, this team could potentially lose their remaining 6 games.  

FYI. Coming up!  Back to back games versus the Canucks after a tilt against the Wild this Thursday.

“It’s frustrating losing,” Jordan Eberle said. “You can say what you want about the effort, but the mood is definitely not good in here, nobody likes losing.”

Eberle had a glorious chance in the third to put his club up on the board.  The rookie unleashed a point blank wrister which was easily handled by Jonathan Bernier's glove. Late in the third,  Teemu Hartikainen, was unable to capitalize on his rush after his shot rang off the iron. 

Dustin Brown, however managed to beat Khabibulin twice to lift his club to a 2 nothing victory.

“You hate losing,” said rookie Magnus Paajarvi. “Enough has to be enough. It’s not fun. We have six or seven games left and we really have to make a stand, get some wins.

Goals first young grasshopper. 

Head Coach Tom Renney offered his perspective of the game.  In his mind, there is effort present amongst his troops.

"We didn’t do a great job of keeping pace in the first period. We needed to be better,” said head coach Tom Renney.

“Our guys are trying and there are ways to score, regardless of the experience on the ice or the skill level of your team, and that is about the blue paint and getting pucks there and that second and third effort." 

*Before the start of the game, the Oilers took to the ice each wearing a sweater with the #37 and Philips written on the name bar. During a lengthy ceremony, a banner inscribed with Philips and the number 3,542 was raised to the rafters.  37 represented his tenure with the club while 3,542 represented the amount of broadcasts.

Rod Philips' final curtain call

He shoots...he scoooooooooooooooooooooooores!

630 Ched and the Edmonton Oilers will bid farewell to one of hockey's best "play-by-play" commentator.

After joining the club 37 years ago, Rod Philips will announce his very last Edmonton Oilers game when the club takes to the ice versus the Los Angeles Kings. 

Mr. Philips officially retired last year, however the Oilers organization offered him to ease his way out of the press box by allowing him to announce, 10 fare-well games for the 2010/11 season.  Mr. Philips jumped on the opportunity without hesitation, and tonight, game 10 will end  "Rod's Classic's".  

“I thought it would be kind of a nice way to end my career,” he said. “It’s been fun because all the road games that I did, my wife was able to be with me. She saw some cities she’s never seen before.

"I took her to some of the greasy bars that you all know about, showed her what we did on our off nights, a couple of good restaurants. The 10 games this year have been like a holiday, kind of a fun experience. I appreciate the Oilers giving me the opportunity to do it.”

There is no denying that Mr. Philips will feel a little emotional through-out the broadcast.  Yet like all professionals, it's just a matter of being focused until the curtain falls.

“I’m going to do the game like it’s a regular game because that’s what it is,” he said. “I just want to focus on the game and do the best I can and at the end of it, there are no guarantees, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
“I hope that I’m able to remain a little bit sane and coherent. I know it’s going to be emotional.”
During his long and illustrious career, Mr. Philips was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and was awarded the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 2003.

"I’m very proud of that," says Phillips. "The Hockey Hall of Fame. It doesn’t get any better for a kid from Calmar."

Oilers vs Kings TSN or 630 Ched for audio...6:30pm Pacific time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Flames Burn Oil - Hartikainen's First NHL Goal.

The parade to the Calgary Flames' tomb, has been cancelled.

All the Oilers had to do was, hammer in a couple of nails, say some prayers and allow the grave diggers to pile on the dirt.  Instead, those damned Oilers decided to play God by resuscitating the play-off hopes of the Calgary Flames last night in Edmonton.

With the score at 4-1, it seemed as though the lowly Oilers had finally broken the 8 game losing streak. However, without a microcosm of quit in their veins, the Flames stormed back in the third to tie the game and then win it all in the shoot-out.

It was our night to give the Flames their eulogy, and then promptly laugh as they eternally rot in the depths...south of heaven.

But, what the HELL happened?

(Explitive), I don’t know what happened,” defenceman Ladislav Smid said during the post-mortem. "We just let them back in the game. There’s no excuses. It was 4-1. We should be able to manage the game. We probably should have stayed back more than we should have. It’s sad to see everyone with their heads down like this, because it was a hell of an effort.

An excellent effort indeed.  

The Oilers had the early jump and took the Flames off of their game by winning loose puck battles, utilizing physicality and scoring some timely goals.  

For the first time in recent weeks the Oilers looked VERY good. 

"This is one we really wanted. Everyone in this room wanted this one. It’s tough to swallow.” said Jordan Eberle.

In the third.

After Ryan Jones netted his 17th goal of the season, the momentum quickly shifted in favor of the Flames. 

Steve MacIntyre sat in purgatory for 2 minutes, and on the ensuing power-play Jarome Iginla put the Flames within two.  At the 6th minute mark, former Oiler, Curtis Glencross pounced on Jim Vandermeer's turn-over, and waltzed in alone to make it 4-3.  Finally, the beloved "Steady" Steve Staios rattled the twine against his old club with minute and change left in the game, to summon overtime.  When extra time solved nothing, Alex Tanguay completed the comeback with a shoot out goal.

5-4 Flames.

The loss now becomes the Oilers 9th in a row and the squad can notch another "valiant effort point" on the chalk board.  Clearly, this club has a lot to learn as the kids head back to class.  

"There is lots to fight for." said Renney.  "This is about securing your NHL opportunity and continuing to work on our identity as a team.  This is about making sure that our opponents have respect for us in terms of how hard we play.  That has to translate into winning at some point in time."

"We didn’t have the requisite intelligence that goes with it,” said Renney.  

"They gave it everything they had."

On the bright side.

Temmu Hartikainen, is becoming a fan favorite who is known for his strong puck handling abilities and one who isn't afraid to drive to the net.  The Fin muscled his way around Cory Sarich and wristed his first NHL goal past fellow country-man, Mikka Kiprousoff.

“It was nice to score against him,” Hartikainen said. “He’s a good goalie and he’s a big NHL star in Finland, everybody knows him.
“It’s good to get my first goal against him.”
"It's a great feeling, now I can tell my kids I scored a goal in the NHL, and hopefully, I’ll score a lot more,” said the 20 year-old.
Hartikainen became the 9th Oiler Rookie to post his first NHL goal for the 2010-11 season. 
Finally, Devan Dubnyk received full marks for his absolutely ridiculous, highlight reel save he made against the aging Ollie Jokinen in the first.  Dubnyk found himself out of position and managed to dive across the crease to harness in Jokinen's wrister to keep the game squared at zero.

Paajarvi earned his 12th goal of the season while Colin Fraser potted his first in 50 games.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Classic Battle of Alberta.

Tonight on Hockey Night in Canada, the country will get a chance to watch the Battle of Alberta as the Oilers will host the visiting Calgary Flames at Rexall

Between the two clubs, the Calgary Flames have few opportunities left to clench a spot in the post season.  At the moment, the Flames (84 pts) are sitting in 10th spot in the west behind the  Dallas Stars (85 pts) Anaheim Ducks (86 pts), respectively.  A win tonight could possibly launch the Flames into 8th spot, however both Dallas and Anaheim are also slated to play.  

With the West as tight as a Mason Jar, leaving Rexall tonight without 2 points will be an absolute disaster for the foes in the south.  

"We've been in a little bit of a rut in our last five or six games," said Edmontonian Jarome Iginla.  "We're not coming out and playing as confident or assertive as we need to. In the first period to give up four goals is not going to win you many games. It's unacceptable. Obviously it's a tough loss at this time of year."

For the Edmonton Oilers, they have only one task tonight: Beat the Flames. 

For the 5th straight year the Oilers are playing the role of "spoiler"; and why not snap the 8 game losing skid live on CBC?
“We’re excited about this,” said head coach Tom Renney, “It’s a huge challenge for them and I think they savour the opportunity. It’s fun to be part of the Battle of Alberta regardless of each other’s circumstances. Calgary still has an opportunity to make the playoffs and for us it’s motivation to do everything we can to prevent it."

“Hockey Night in Canada, Calgary, and we have a chance to knock them out of the playoffs,” said rookie Jordan Eberle who scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game versus the Flames. “This should be fun. I know for sure that everybody in that locker-room is pretty excited about this.”

While the frustrating feeling of losing is incurring the wrath of every Oiler in the dressing room, the Oilers just have to play their guts out and leave everything on the ice.
"It's frustrating, obviously," Eberle said. "We've got some guys out that help us with offense but collectively as a group, we should be able to put the puck in the net. I think it comes down to getting the puck to the net first off and getting second opportunities."

Then again, perhaps the team needs to just "chill" and have some fun.

“We don’t have the points to play for like Calgary does, but we also won’t be as nervous,” said the Swedish rookie Magnus Paajarvi. “Sometimes when you have so much to play for it can work for you or it can work against you. We can be more relaxed, but we still have to match their battle level.”

During the morning skate, Tom Renney used his blender and concocted yet another interesting line combination.  The most glaring change is on the 1st line where, Chris VandeVelde and Teemu Hartikainen will join Eberle; a combination which should create some much needed high energy.
"They've got a lot of energy. They've been playing well, too, and anytime you get guys like those that are willing to kind of battle with you in the corner and win puck races, it's good," Eberle said. "I think with our line anyways, we've kind of been talking to each other and it's just a matter of getting pucks to the net and trying to bang in some greasy ones."
Eberle - VandeVelde - Hartikainen
Paajarvi - Cogliano - Omark
Jones - O'Marra - Reddox
Jacques - Fraser - MacIntyre

Goaltender has yet to be announced.
"We know we've got a formidable opponent tonight and we're going to have to make sure we can play to our depth as well to have success," Renney said. "So we put some combinations together that we think will help us do that and also afford guys the opportunity to play and experience the NHL so we can have a good look at them."    

Doesn't matter who is playing where, the Oilers just need to beat the Flames.

Flames, Oilers 7pm Pacific on CBC Hockey Night In Canada

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oilers Lose to Blues

They only had 2 shots in the 3rd and12 shots on net for the entire game as the Edmonton Oilers left behind a stink akin to that of Pepe le Pew.  

4-0 Blues.

With an incredibly depleted line-up, where all of the top point producers are out with injuries, the Edmonton Oilers (er...Oklahoma Barons) could only hope and/or pray that one out of the 12 shots would bleed through, Jaroslav Halak. With goal scoring approaching an all time low for the Oilers, it seems apparent that the remaining 9 games will see the same results to what was witnessed tonight in St. Louis. 

At times, it appeared as though that defensive hockey was the strategy in order to create offense. Renney, must've looked down his roster and finally realized that his team wasn't going to run up the scoreboard.  Instead, a trap-like system was implemented, which later failed.

Perhaps, the hope was to keep the game at zero and then have Linus Omark win it in the shoot-out?

"What we wanted to do, is keep the shot total down and limit their opportunities to feel good about their game,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We did that until the start of the third period. They knew that we were here to play hockey.
“But the wheels didn’t just wobble, they fell off. We needed a couple of kills that we didn’t get and we needed to attack more and put more pucks on goal, play more hockey in their end. We had a hard time doing that eventually.”
After coming away unscathed in the first frame, the Oilers looked poised and ready to battle the physical Blues.  In fact, 3 bouts in the first, set the tone for the rest of the game.  

“We had a great first period, where everybody stepped up for each other,” said Paajarvi. “We were having a great second period, too, but then it was not a great shift by our line and I turned the puck over and Oshie was able to score the first goal.”
And that was a thing of beauty.  Oshie's short-side-shelf-tuck began the imminent onslaught to hand the Oilers their 8th straight loss. D'Agostini, Stewart and Cracknell also contributed to the win.
"Lack of shots and too many penalties," should headline the obituary of this match-up.
"We were in the game for the first two periods,” said Andrew Cogliano. “There weren’t a lot of shots either way, then we took too many penalties in the third. We gave them the momentum.
Renney eluded to the other glaring issue of the team.
“At the end of the day, our power play is really the problem,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We have to at least generate chances off that. If you can do that, then it does move into other parts of your game.

“We weren’t able to generate much.”

With the Flames on the horizon, the Oilers will have to just dig a little deeper or else ask Mr. Katz to concoct a super healing pill, which will benefit the walking wounded.

"We’re working hard, we just not working smart. With the guys we have out (of the lineup), obviously the offence isn’t going to come very easily but we still have to score. The guys who have come up (from the American Hockey League), the guys who are here have scored this year. There’s no excuse.” admitted Cogliano.

Oilers vs St Louis Tonight

The Edmonton Oilers will continue their road trip with a stop in St. Louis as they try to snap a 7 game losing skid at the Scottrade Center.  48-hours ago the Oilers lost to the Predators 3-1 in Nashville.  The current losing streak is beginning to draw the ire amongst the players as eluded by goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
"I don't think anybody in here is going to tell you it's easy. It's not. It's frustrating," said goaltender Devan Dubnyk . "It's more frustrating when we show we can go play. It doesn't matter how depleted you are, if you stick to a system, and you play it hard, which is what Tom (Renney Oilers Head Coach) and the coaches have been preaching, you have a chance. That's more than anything, what we have to do. We show we can do it then we get away from it. That's what's frustrating."
Injuries have obviously played a factor in the Oilers' lack of success; and to make matters worse it appears that defence-man Kurtis Foster may be the 8th player to be listed on the I.R.
Foster fell head first into the boards in Nashville and did not part take in the pre-game skate.  His absence, indicates that the Oilers medical staff have opted to keep the defence-man out of the line-up for pre-cautionary measures.

Aside from Foster, rookie, Jordan Eberle was found skating with his team this morning; after he received a slap shot from fellow Oiler, Jeff Petry in Nashville.  Tonight, Eberle will flank Cogliano and Jones on the first line.

Welcome Back Jacques.

JF Jacques is back with the club after being out for a few games with a foot injury and finds himself on the third line.

"It's getting a lot better. said Jacques.  "It's been a little bit over a week now and it kept improving every day, and I think it will keep improving over next couple of days as well. It's finally good to get back at it." 

With Jacques return Renney is expecting some up-tempo hockey from his forwards against the (32-32-9) Blues.

"Quite honestly, I think they've (including Colin Fraser) got to bring some energy. They need some physical play, obviously," Renney said. 

On top of physicality, Renney is also looking for that quick start which hasn't been present with the club in recent games.

"We do need a good start. If you look at our last couple games, we haven't started particularly well," Renney said. "We need a good start to make sure that, right away, we get the respect of our opponent for the right reasons. I think you'll see some juggling of the lines, some personnel moving around a little bit; we have to stay really close to the detail in terms of our game-plan, so that it doesn't matter who you're with, this is how you're playing."

Renney has decided to go with the line combination as seen below:

Jones Cogliano Eberle,
Paajarvi Reddox Omark,
Jacques Fraser Hartikainen
MacIntyre VandeVelde O'Marra 

38 year-old Khabibulin will get the start tonight despite having a miserable record of 10-28-3 for the season.  

Oilers, Blues 5pm Pacific Time Sporstnet West or

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eberle Ok. Foster So-So. Giroux assigned to AHL.

Oilers fans can breathe a sigh of relief after receiving news that rookie, Jordan Eberle should be good to go for tomorrow versus the Blues.  The former Regina Pat's forward took a nasty blast from the stick of Jeff Petry 24 hours ago and was found skating with the club this morning.

"It was obviously pretty sore; pretty swollen and bruised. Luckily it's not broken. I think the fact that we took care of it right after the game and got ice on it and pressure, and trying to get all the swelling out contributed to why I got to skate this morning."

"Yeah, it will be good for tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be even better tomorrow."

Defenseman Kurtis Foster collied with David Legwand and the fell hard into the boards last night with 30 seconds to go in the game.  Foster was down for a considerable amount of time before being helped off the ice.

"I'm feeling a lot better today. Last night I definitely didn't feel too well. I had a little bit of a sick stomach and had a little bit of a headache. I woke up today and felt pretty good so I didn't try to do anything too hard and hopefully if I feel good today, I can get some exercise tomorrow."

"I've had a couple bangs to the head but nothing too significant. Last night there for a couple seconds I didn't really know where I was. That was a little scary," Foster said.

Alex Giroux was sent back to the minors after playing 8 games with the big club.  The forward leaves the club having scored 1 goal and an assist. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Predators devour Oil - Oilers Update

It was over early.

The hockey pundits and all fans alike, probably envisioned for this result to come into fruition before the puck even hit the ice in the Music City.  

After 2 early goals in the1st, then a 3rd goal by David Legwand in the 2nd frame; the Nashville Predators went on to defeat the Oilers by a score of 3-1 at Bridgestone Arena.  

With the rest of the top end offensive core healing in the press-box; (while polishing their clubs) the Oilers remained anemic in the goal department.  

Tonight, the Edmonton Oilers suffered their 7th straight loss, and have only managed to score an unsatisfactory 7 goals within that span.  

“I’m not sure we quite believed we could do it here tonight and that’s how we started, unfortunately,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “But once we started to apply ourselves, we were able to get some ice back, get some attack going and give our opponent at least something to think about.”

"Something to think about" really means the one goal to show for their "push back" effort, when Jordan Eberle bagged his 17th to earn his 38th point of the year.  Aside from the lone lamp lighter, the Oilers could only muster a couple of glorious chances to tie the game. Except the kids kept getting burned by a hot goalie.

Predators' backstopper, Pekka Rinne was in fine "play-off" form who bested Devan Dubnyk on the shot clock, 30 to 20.  After Eberle's goal, Rinne managed to block Liam Reddox's tap in, then late in the third on an Oilers power play, Rinne's glove absolutely robbed Tom Gilbert's point blank shot.  Gilbert's squandered opportunity proved to be the last chance of the hockey game. 

"Our guys ramped it up early and were able to capitalize," said Predators' Head Coach Barry Trotz. "We got away from it a little bit in the second, but we put it back together in the third.
"We managed the game all right and we won. That is what you want to do." he continued.

"We worked, we tried and there is a huge need to believe in ourselves that we can play with anybody that we’re out there against,” said Tom Renney. “I’m not sure that we kind of had that going for us in the first period for sure. But as we started to build the game, we started to make a statement on behalf of ourselves, but naturally in the third period when you’re in the penalty box, it takes a lot away from your momentum and you’re relying too often on the same guys to kill penalties and create offence for you at the same time and that’s difficult.”

Kurtis Foster was seen being helped off the ice late in the third frame.  There is no word yet about his condition, but a follow up will be made when word is received.
The Oilers will now move on to St. Louis to face the Blues this Thursday.

#hockey #edmonton #predators #nhl

Oil in Music City - Oilers Update

The 23-39-10 Oilers will face-off tonight against the always tough Nashville Predators at Bridgstone Arena for the 4th and final time of the season.  With a respectable 38-25-10 record the Predators are looking to continue their current win streak of 3 games as they jockey for a play-off position.

The Oilers on the other hand will continue to play spoiler with only 10 games remaining in their arduous season; and hope to snap a 6 game losing skid in Music City.  Since the loss of Taylor Hall to injury, the Oilers have won 1 out of 7 games, as the club struggles to find some offense as the season dwindles.  However, Head Coach Tom Renney could only suggest for his team to just stick with the mandate of playing hard right to the end.

"We'll just work, that's all. We'll protect ourselves by playing hard within our structure and within our system of play. They're a team that continues to be very, very hungry and playing well for points."

"We want to make sure we have a solid foundation of how we play without the puck, we want to make sure we've got a backend that's solid and strong and can defend as well as advance the puck. And with the forward group, be that as it may, the big thing for us is to try and play strong within our structure," Renney continued. 

Ryan Jones who is having a career year for the Copper and Blue, could only agree with his coach.

"Obviously we want to rebound with the two losses and come out with a big win here. They've played well, they've split the season-series so far, so we're looking to come out and put in a good effort and come out with two points." 

Renney is still mum as to who he will dress against the Preds, though it has been announced that Dubnyk will make his return to the crease which is no surprize to the net-minder.  The last time the squads met, Dubnyk posted his first ever shut-out with a 4 to nothing victory. 

Perhaps, the kid can make some more magic and lay another golden goose-egg.

"It's only been one game, but I certainly can't complain. I just try to take some things that made me feel good from last time here into tonight. I've got to make sure I'm ready to make it happen."

Linus Omark and Ryan Jones continue to put numbers in the scoring department.  The Flashy Swede has goals in consecutive game, while the blue-collar Jones has two in his last four. 

"I think we have to outwork them and then limit our turnovers. They're like us: a good transitional team, and if we can get more pucks behind them so they can't turn against us, then I think we're going to give ourselves a chance to win."

Oilers vs Predators 5 pm Pacific start.

#hockey #edmonton #predators #NHL

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Avalanche Win.

At times it is better late than never, though in sports there is always a loser.  

With a late goal in the third the Oilers found themselves tied heading into overtime yet the club couldn't bury the Avalanche in the shootout; as Colorado skated to a 3-2 victory at Rexall.

"I was happy with the third period," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "I thought we were stuck in mud a little bit in the first two periods. We turned the puck over far too much and had a hard time getting some traction. But we stuck with it and were able to crank it up and take control in the third."
Kurtis Foster and company are making every effort to put up some wins.  Despite the loss last night, the Oilers tried desperately to drag their injury depleted club out of the dank, basement suite.  Clearly, losing a hard fought match during a shootout hurts more than a kick in the pants, especially after their last ditch effort.
All the guys stepped up in the third, it shows a lot to come back in the third period and tie it up,” said Foster. “We’re all professionals and we all want to win. That’s what we’re here for.
“In the first two periods the coaches and players weren’t too happy, we didn’t get the push we wanted, but in the third we did a good job of getting it deep and banging some bodies.” added Foster.
The third period belonged to the Oilers as they peppered goaltender Brain Elliott with 15 shots to their 5.  Elliott, who has been arguably the worst NHL goaltender in the NHL in recent weeks, made some timely stops to give his team a chance to win. 
"We played good down there (in Colorado) and got a couple of goals on Elliot, but he played good tongiht,” said forward Magnus Paajarvi.

We had seven out of eight points against these guys, so obviously you look to win this game,” said Paajarvi. “We know we’ve played good against them and can take points from them. We really wanted this win.”
Foster had the lone goal in the third to send the teams into OT.  After four rounds of shootouts, Ryan Stoa undressed Khabibulin with a backhander to snap their 6 game losing skid.
The Oilers will take the point, though the squad remains dead last with 56 points and 6 back behind the Avs.  Still, it is somewhat obvious that the Oilers will continue to fight for the remaining 10 games, lead by their coach.
"I think that is a noble objective and should still be," he said. "It's important that they stay with 
that. The point swing can be real deadly right now when we play these guys. It's a four-point night and they are 29th. We'll see them again. Maybe it will come down to that last game of the season and it will be one hell of a game."
*Breaking News.  Defenceman Ryan Whitney found skating with the club.  More to follow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Battle of the Basement. Oilers vs Avs

The Colorado Avalanche will visit the Edmonton Oilers to challenge for the “Battle of the Basement” tonight at Rexall Place.  With the end of the season looming for both the clubs, the teams will play for the 5th time this season.

It would be easy and somewhat unfair to declare that the Oilers have finally given up all hope with only 11 games remaining in the season.   In fact in the eyes of every player in the Oilers dressing room, the club is eager to put up a couple of W’s and (understandably) avoid a 30th overall finish.

“We're not a bunch of quitters," said defenceman Ladislav Smid. "We're not going to give up. The pick doesn't matter to us. We want to win. We don't want to finish 30th again."
And who can blame the young veteran?  While the Oilers could potentially win the 1st round pick, unfortunately, this year there is no Taylor vs Tyler.  In fact, the pro scouts are having a difficult time deciding who is going to go #1.  Moreover, why should the Oilers look to receive an 18 year-old player who will probably not make the jump to the pro-ranks in time for next season?
 Nor, why would the Oilers rush a player during this slow and arduous rebuild?
Some would argue that Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner were shuttled into the NHL a little too soon when perhaps the pair could’ve benefitted some seasoning in Junior and/or in the AHL.  Though at the time, the Oilers Brass had no other choice but to rush the “kids” in order to bring some hype into Oil Country.
Now that Hall, Omark Paajarvi, Eberle et al have one season under their belts, it is about raising the bar and being successful with what they have at their disposal.
“As far as I'm concerned we have enough young players here, enough good players here, to go forward," said 21 year-old Sam Gagner. "We went through our pains last year when we got our first pick. You want your teammates to be successful."
 For Gagner and the rest of the group, the word around the locker room right now is: pride.  
"We're not going to give up on the season," said Ryan Jones. "We have too much pride to think about finishing 30th two years in a row. That's just something that we don't want to do. “You look around and everybody says you're the last-place team in the entire league. The number doesn't hurt as much as the words, last place.”
With Colorado in the building, the Oilers can now try to snap a 5 game losing skid on HINC.  Colorado have now lost 10 games in a row for the second time this season and are 5 points above the Oilers with 60.  For the Oilers, they will be expecting a desperate team to come out hard at the gate.  Head coach, Tom Renney is also be expecting a hungry club, though he expects that his team will answer the bell.
"I'm not sure what the circumstances will be tonight that provides us the necessary momentum to go win a hockey game, but it has to start with us. It can't be anything other than that, we have to just pay attention to playing hard, getting a good start, sustaining it, and really trying to stay with a game plan that we think will give us a chance to win."
 According to Renney, Colin Fraser will sit out for tonight’s game, after taking a shot in the foot this morning. 
"We'll see how that goes. I'm going to tell you it's day-to-day and that's just me making a statement without really having any conversation with T.D.  (Forss, head athletic therapist)."
Jones - Cogliano - Eberle
Paajarvi - Reddox - Omark
Giroux - O'Marra - Hartikainen
MacIntyre - VandeVelde - Strudwick
Due to the lack of forwards, Tom Renney has decided to place Jason Strudwick on the right wing for Fraser.
“He understands the game well enough to know that whatever position is being played, he knows what to do," Renney said. "Obviously I have to make sure that we deploy our people in a way that gives us a chance to win, so we'll see how he starts off and take it from there."
The Oilers did receive some good news today when it was announced that Theo Peckham will draw in after sitting out 8 games with a concussion.
 “I definitely feel 100 percent," Peckham said. "Any time you have to sit on the couch and watch your team play and the guys kind of go into battle without you, it's tough. So I mean, definitely for me tonight, it's definitely huge for me to get back in.
Oilers vs Avs Tonight at 7 on CBC.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2 Rookies and 1 Coyote Win

The starting line-up for the  Edmonton Oilers vs the Phoenix Coyotes went something like this:





No one, at the start of the season would've guessed that Ryan O'Marra, Alex Giroux, Teemu Hartikainen and Chris VandeVelde would be penned in for tonight's match-up versus the Coyotes; let alone witness a first line consisting of Ryan Jones, Andrew Cogliano and rookie Jordan Eberle.  

Upon closer inspection the line-up simply resembled that of a pre-season game, in which the regulars take a back seat and allow the "hopefuls" to make the final cut.  With 7 soldiers healing in the infirmary, the Oilers Brass had no other choice but to make the call to the reserves in OK City.  In total, 3 Barons were re-called and promptly whisked away via the private jet of Oilers' owner Daryl Katz.  Non stop by the way.

Of the three, Teemu Hartikainen and Chris VandeVelde made their first NHL debut in Oilers threads hoping to make a stand in the big leagues.  However, it was Hartikainen who came out on top after gathering his first NHL point, during the 3-1 loss to the Desert Dogs.  The Finnish rookie played the game accompanied with some jitters, coupled with the nauseating sensation of butterflies in the ol' gut. 

"I was so nervous before the game,” he said. “I almost threw up when they scored (their third goal). "This means a lot to us,” said the 20 year-old who manage to help Magnus Paajarvi pick up his 11th goal of the season. “These are really big games for us. There is a lot of excitement and energy, everybody wants to show what they can do. I got a few hits and an assist, so it’s a good start, but I can play better.”

With the same tone of enthusiasm VandeVelde echoed Hartikainen's sentiments. 

“Being up here is huge for me,” said Vande Velde. “It’s a great opportunity to show what I have to put forward. All of us. It’s not going to be a question of work ethic or energy.

If there is one thing that the Oilers coaching staff is looking for, its effort.  Regardless of the depleted line-up and where the club currently sits in the standings, there are players in the Oilers locker room who are ecstatic to be given the opportunity to play...unlike like the whiners and complainers of last year.  

"If you had a choice would you rather not have that than walking around with all kinds of doom and gloom,” said head coach Tom Renney. “It could be a country music song in here. We’re not that. We’re good. We’re working hard to put a product on the ice that we can be proud of. We understand our situation but we’re not walking around asking people to step back from the ledge.

“They played their guts out tonight. Take any element of our game tonight and they tried. I like the way we played. I liked that we cared enough.”

At the end of the match, the Oilers out shot the 'Yotes 36-17.  Stempniak, Whitney and Vrbata had the goals for the Coyotes.  The Dogs are now 9th overall in the league with a handsome record of 38-23-11 for 87 points.