Tom Renney did not come out and say that he is playing with the idea of having rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins take a seat in the press box when the Oilers take on the New York Rangers Saturday night but according to 630 Ched's Dan Tencer, he hinted that they may need to look at the team without him in the lineup. He also went on to say that his players are "pissed off" with losing their last two games...do you think they will be overly thrilled with their coach, if he decides to sit the teams top goal scorer and points leader?
Wherever you sit on the fence when it comes to how important a player like Shawn Horcoff is to the Edmonton Oilers, I think it is safe to say, all parties would be in agreement that he has been asked to play far too many minutes for far too long. Heck, part of the reason for bringing in a player like Eric Belanger was to help the captain carry the load when it came to playing those "tough minutes". To this point, Belanger has fit the bill perfectly and has been used as expected but something strange is starting to occur...Horcoff is playing even more!!!
The Edmonton Oilers have now lost eight consecutive games to the Minnesota Wild, losing Thursday night by the identical score of 2-1, via the shootout, that they did exactly one week ago in Minnesota. The Oilers led for much of the game by a score of 1-0 but Wild forward Dany Heatley found a way to tuck a puck past Nikolai Khahbibulin, with under two seconds to play, to even the score and send the game to overtime. Edmonton now sets with a record of 0-2-2 against their Northwest Division rivals.
With the imminent return of Sam Gagner to the Edmonton Oilers lineup, the question becomes where does he fit? With the club having scored ten goals through the first five games, they could definitely use the 22 year old. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has taken a stranglehold of the top line centre spot so Gagner will have to come in and, to an extent, re-establish himself as a threat upfront. That being said, with RNH playing as well as he has, the former sixth overall selection will have less pressure to produce points which allows him to find his game.
While most people were in favour of binging Eric Belanger on board, I sensed the majority were ultimately looking for him to come in and replace Shawn Horcoff as the go to guy in crucial situations on the penalty kill and taking the big defensive zone draws. My expectaions for the former Minnesota Wild, had him coming in and helping Horcoff out in those tough situations but not taking over as the main guy. By lightening the load on much maligned veteran, I was thinking that both players could end up having productive years in roles that they would both be better suited for. Granted, it has only been five games but Eric Belanger sure looks like the player that the Edmonton Oilers have desperately need for sometime.
A badly undermanned Edmonton Oilers squad gave up two third period goals, in under 90 seconds, which allowed their provincial rivals to take round one of the Battle of Alberta by a score of 2-1. Tom Gilbert opened the scoring on the power play, with his first of the season, before the game was seven minutes old. It was a lead that the Oilers held until Jay Bouwmeester tied it up with under six minutes to play.
It was Ryan Smyth bobble-head night at Rexall Place and the fan favourite did not disappoint, sending every one home happy. The veteran forward scored the winning goal in a 3-1 Oilers victory over the visiting Nashville Predators. Edmonton scored three goals in third to earn the come from behind win. Shawn Horcoff lead the way on the score sheet, with three helpers and was his usual stellar self in the defensive zone.
It is one thing for Teemu Hartikainen to be sent down at the end of training camp when the big club is filled with healthy bodies under contract. It is something completely different, for the Edmonton Oilers to not place a call to Oklahoma City, for the rugged winger when they have bodies dropping like flies. Whispers were starting yesterday that they may dress seven D men against Nashville...Seriously? What on earth would possess them to even consider such a thing, when a viable replacement is one quick call away!!!
The Vancouver Canucks skated into Rexall Place Saturday night and earned a come from behind 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, despite a hat-trick from rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Defenceman Sami Salo lead the way for the visitors with a three point night, by opening the scoring in the first and potting the winner in third period.