The Edmonton Oilers need some work. No, they don’t need to hit the gym any harder, they don’t need more side projects to help fill the time, they need to figure out where the team is weak and address those weaknesses. And so, most fans can’t help but wonder why aging goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is starting in net so often this week, while the supposed starting goaltender rides the pine.
With the Oilers’ record falling, and the short season becoming shorter, there is no room for error. There is especially no room for lengthy suspensions due to atrocious hits. But that’s exactly what we can expect as the reaction from the league to Taylor Hall’s knee on knee hit on Cal Clutterbuck in Edmonton Thurdsay night.
A one sided rivalry, isn’t really a rivalry at all. No, we call this a situation of nemeses, at least in the case of the Edmonton Oilers and the Dallas Stars. For the Stars, it’s just a guaranteed two points.
The Edmonton Oilers are in a familiar position; a lineup decimated by injury, in the middle of a losing streak, and all the while the playoffs appear to be getting further and further away.
Missing their top line centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger and now Anton Lander the Oilers are desperately low on centermen. And while playing Ryan Smyth at center will work in the short term, it's certainly not a long term solution.
Listening to Don Cherry on CBC's coach's corner Saturday, you would think that Nail Yakupov committed sports biggest foul. But looking at the source, that reaction was to be expected. Mr. Cherry is old school and while he can be quite outspoken, he prefers his hockey players to be quiet and demure small town Canadian boys.
As we all know, Yakupov is very Russian, and he has a strong passion for the game and everything he does, including celebrating.
The NHL’s rookie of the year trophy, the Calder Memorial, has been handed out 79 times to date. Unsurprisingly the trophy has touched the hands of more forwards than any other position. The totals are 53 forwards - 25 centres, 10 left wingers and 18 right wingers, 16 goaltenders, and only 10 defencemen.
Those 79 recipients have come from 21 of the current 30 NHL teams, and yet with all of the young rookies that have played for the Oilers at one time or another, not one of the recipients has been an Oiler.
The battle of Alberta is not yet what it once was. Slowly, that's changing. No longer are these the fighting days of Dave Semenko and Tim Hunter. Instead these have been the years of a one sided battle where the outcome was known before the initial puck drop. But as I have already mentioned, slowly things are changing.
If you blinked you might have missed it, but in Tuesday night's horrific loss to the San Jose Sharks the Edmonton Oilers pulled out a play made famous by Emilio Estevez's Mighty Ducks movies. That's right, the flying V took flight. It was only briefly, and perhaps because it didn't lead to a goal, wasn't used again that game. But after photos have made their twitter rounds, we finally have video evidence.
Mitch Moroz wasn’t the name fans expected. No, many expected pretty much any name but with the second pick of the second round at the 2013 NHL entry draft. But the Oilers had their man with Nail Yakupov, they missed out on Henrik Samuelsson and didn’t intend to miss out on Mitch Moroz. You see, Tambellini was adamant that he was after character players, and filling needs with all remaining picks of the entry draft. With Moroz, the team took strength, skills and a personality that can at times be larger than life.
Only two rookies in the opening game of the 2013 Edmonton Oilers season. Two rookies, but still a plethora of youth.
Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz would see their first NHL minutes in Vancouver, looking for their first goals against elite netminder Roberto Luongo. These are the things memories are made of.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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