Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oil Notes: Hall almost ready, Eager in trouble and Schultz takes weekly honour

In the midst of an NHL Lockout and continual uncertainty surrounding the potential Downtown Arena Project, the Edmonton Oilers had all sorts of highs and lows over the past seven days. From the improved health of one Taylor Hall and the outstanding performance of rookie blueliner Justin Schults in Oklahoma City, to the opposite end of the spectrum and Ben Eager scrapping in a Toronto bar. There is no shortage of stories surrounding the Edmonton Oilers.

With Taylor Hall likely a week to ten days away form making his debut with the Barons, life for head coach Todd Nelson is about to get that much more difficult. Obviously having Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at his disposal improves his hockey club greatly but having to yo-yo guys in and out of his lineup, is far from an ideal situation. After beating the San Antonio Rampage on Friday night, Nelson made five changes to his winning lineup and promptly watched his side fall to the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday night.

All that being said, Oiler fans have to be tickled pink at the prospect of seeing Mr. Hall return to the ice, after having off-season shoulder surgery. Now the question becomes, where does he play? Do the Barons re-unite the Kid Line that carried the Oilers at times last season or does the head coach go the other route and spread the wealth throughout his first couple of lines? It's a tough call but either way, the addition of the former first overall selection, undoubtedly, makes an already impressive lineup that much stronger. 

With the Oilers future captain now in OKC, he will get his first look at standout blueliner Justin Schultz. All Schultz did in his first four games in the American Hockey League, was score four goals, go plus six and chip in with a couple of helpers to boot. Not surprisingly, the former Anaheim Ducks  second rounder was named the AHL Player of the Week.

The twenty-two year looked to be the one player that would likely benefit most, from some time in the American Hockey League, and he has done exactly that. Through four games, the Barons have scored twelve goals and Schultz has been on the ice for ten of them. He has not only made an impact on the offensive end but he has found a home playing alongside Martin Marincin, giving OKC a solid pairing at both ends of the rink. In short, no one could have asked for a better start to the highly regarded prospects pro career.

Now for the low point of the week and tough guy Ben Eager. The Oilers winger was involved in an altercation, over the weekend with his older brother, Michael, that has now left the pair facing charges of threatening bodily harm, causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon.

While I think we are safe to assume that the Eager boys did not start the fight, the fact they decided to get involved at all, is rather disappointing. If every athlete were to stoop down to the level of every moron that challenged them to a fight in bars across North America, we would be talking about this sort of stuff on a daily basis.

Now without knowing exactly what went down, the smart move would have been for Eager to simply walk away. It is something Oiler fans now he is more than capable of, as he did it with  great ease, during his his first season in Edmonton.

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