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Doubled Down

Oilers lose 6-3 to Leafs
Controversy. Controversy is the word of the night ladies and gentleman.  Both the Oilers and the Leafs had a controversial goal, but only the Leaf’s goal stood. Depending on where you stand, the Leafs are either the most loved or the most hated team in Canada. And so, you may or may not be bother with the game’s outcome.

There were also the Oilers injuries that stole much of the spotlight. Head coach Tom Renney was struck by a puck, in the head of course, during the morning skate Monday in Toronto. While Renney would miss the game after getting stitches, Tom Gilbert would play his first game after missing 14. Now that Renney will have choices on the back end there are some obvious choices that will have to be made.

Jordan Eberle remarkably scored his second 21s goal of the season to start the game’s scoring. Eberle’s first 21 second goal was notched December 2nd against Columbus. Eberle would score the Oilers’ second goal of the game with two and a half minutes left in the first period. It can’t be said enough, this guy is good. There is no way the Oilers are trading Eberle, not this month or in the foreseeable future.

Leafs goals would come from Clarke MacArthur and Jake Gardiner. And at that point, the Oilers troubles began. But they would get far worse.

Ryan Smyth scored late in the third period, but the goal was called off. Smyth did crash the net as he scored, but contact with Leafs netminder James Riemer did not occur until after the puck crossed the line. But, calls and plays like that happen in hockey, it’s just part of the human element.

The second period saw three Leafs goals; Phil Kessel with his 28th of the year, Tyler Bozak and of course ex-Oiler Joffrey Lupul. Oilers’ defenceman Jeff Petry scored his second of the season, but it was not enough to spur an Oilers comeback. Once the Oilers were down by two goals, things really fell apart.

Coach Ralph Krueger stood in for Tom Renney and thought that his team didn’t fare too badly at all. “I thought we had a terrific start, it really felt good the way the game was going. Also the recovery after taking the two goals, but overall defencively we were weak. It was one of the weaker games of late where we had no commitment to the man and we gave way too much space and time.”

It was Lupul’s goal that the Oilers would have liked to have had called off or at least reviewed. Without Lupul’s goal the team would have only been down by one and they would have still been “in the game.”

Phil Kessel would score his second of the game in the only third period goal, into an empty net. With 29 games left in the Leafs’ season, Kessel now has 29 goals. It’s difficult to say that Kessel wasn’t a good signing with those kinds of numbers.

Mikhail Grabovski earned two assists in the first period, adding to his impressive streak. In six games, Grabovski now has 12 points.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a light collision in the third period that would take him out of the game. According to Krueger, this was simple precautionary. “It’s something we want to assess tomorrow.” Krueger spoke trying to reassure the media.  “It looks light even now, but we’ll assess it tomorrow and it was precautionary to not put him back in.”


This game was very easily one of Corey Potter’s worst. Tweets about Potter not being an NHL calibre defenceman, and that he would surely be sitting in the pressbox for Wednesday’s game flew fast and furious, but Potter did just sign a 2 year contract extension with the Oilers. So, we’ll just have to hope that Potter will be better next time.

As mentioned, Tom Gilbert played his first game after an ankle injury suffered January 2nd, and boy do the Oilers need him. It wasn’t only Potter who infuriated Oiler fans, but also recently returned Cam Barker. The Oilers do have options when it comes to who’s in and who’s out, but not quite enough that they could sit out both players.

Devan Dubnyk started his fifth game in a row, and showed signs of exhaustion; that he may not be ready for longer stretches just yet. Even if the Oilers had pulled off a victory, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see Nikolai Khabibulin get the start Wednesday night in Detroit.

Although a high flying, high energy and scoring Oilers team hosted the Red Wings Saturday night, it may very well be an extremely different team that flies into Detroit. The Oilers have not been playing as well while on the road and when they fall into a slump, they really fall into a slump. The Red Wings will also be looking for retribution; Wednesday’s game could get very interesting.

Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, | Oil Patch | Permalink



So do you think if RNH is out a few more games it precludes him from Calder consideration?

Should the coaches have to wear helmets in warm-up too?

Also, I think worrying about the play of Barker is a tad premature at this point. He has been out most of the season and it is going to take him a few games. Having Barker’s (and Whitney’s) first pass sure has helped the offence.

Posted by swin from Edmonton on 02/07/12 at 01:15 PM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

I don’t think that Nugent-Hopkins will be out of Calder consideration. He has had a very impressive season and you don’t know what could be in store for players like Adam Henrique.

The coaches aren’t usually on the ice during warm-up, but this was during the morning skate. I’m not all for bubble wrapping every play for every situation and a coach’s salary doesn’t count against a team’s cap. I’m sure that if Renney wanted to he could coach from the bench with a concussion. It’s his choice whether or not he wants to wear a helmet during team skates. I know I would want to if it was me, head injuries can be awful and ice is slippery…

Barker does get a bit of a pass in my book due to his injury, but I think that the concerns following his buy-out are legitimate. And so Barker will be under the microscope. Last night was not his best game, but on games where the Oilers lose and Barker led to at least one goal against it makes it all too easy to point fingers. There will be other games to see what Barker can do for the team.

Posted by Lisa Brown on 02/07/12 at 04:16 PM ET

swin's avatar

I was more kidding about the coaches wearing helmets, but the way the Oilers have had injuries over the past few seasons, it may not be a bad idea.

As far as Barker goes, I agree but the organization doesn’t exactly have anyone to replace him with at this time. With the exception of Whitney, and possibly Gilbert, they don’t have many NHL calibre guys who can make a decent first pass. They have some guys in the system, but they are a few years away.

He isn’t perfect, but at least he doesn’t boat anchor the young forward group.However, what he brings on one side of the table (puck movement) the Oilers don’t have much of; on the other side what he lacks (any sort of defensive awareness) the Oilers don’t need.

It is a can’t win situation.

Posted by swin on 02/07/12 at 04:25 PM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

tongue laugh I figured you were half kidding, but you never know. I agree, with the way things are going for the team, why take chances?

Bingo, you just summed up the Oilers’ blueline situation quite well. Teams tend to hang onto top, healthy defencemen with good attitudes. Barker is going to do a better job than a player like Marincin or Gernat at this point and so the Oilers need him.

Posted by Lisa Brown on 02/07/12 at 04:37 PM ET

swin's avatar

I am glad you realize I was kidding. I’m not always the brightest street light on the block, so I don’t blame you.

Posted by swin on 02/07/12 at 04:44 PM ET

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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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