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Oilers Still Reaching for the Stars

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.

While growing up in Edmonton, the Oilers were seemingly always playing and losing to the Dallas Stars in the playoffs. And so the Stars were just as bad as the Flames when it came to hated rivals.

But while the Oilers have managed to beat the flames now and then (106-115-19 win-loss-tie) the same just can’t be said of the Stars with a 57-88-15 all-time record. That's right, we had the chance to chalk up another loss to those totals. 

Oilers lose 4-1 to the Dallas Stars

The story on the ice had to be one of bitter disappointment for Oilers’ fans, off of the ice it was the scratching of Ryan Whitney and Ryan Smyth.

Smyth has been a crutch for his team while on the penalty kill through most of the season, but something has snapped for the grizzled NHL veteran this past weekend, and Smyth became the reason the Oilers were on the penalty kill for 18 minutes over the span of 2 games, and 22 over the past 4 games.

It’s not as though these penalties were fighting majors or roughing calls. No, these have been stick infractions that come from undisciplined or fatigued play.

While Smyth may not like to admit it, he is closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning. I am not suggesting that Smyth needs to retire this week, or even this season, but the fact of the matter is that he is going to need the occasional recovery period.

And so for Tuesday night’s game against the Stars, the Oilers could have said that they were giving Smyth a maintenance day, they could have tried to soften the blow that benching a fan favourite brings. Instead, the Oilers admitted that Smyth was just a healthy scratch.

Oilers’ head coach Ralph Krueger explained the situation saying that there had been a discussion and that both sides understood what this meant. Smyth chose not to comment.

For Ryan Whitney, he has just been the most obvious of the Oilers’ struggles on the blueline. But with 2 healthy scratches this season with the Oilers, Whitney’s position with the team is being questioned.

If Whitney was exactly what the team needed to help keep them in games, if not win them, he would be a guaranteed lock to play every game with the Oilers. Instead, it looks as though Whitney is just another player that the Oilers might be willing to move at trade deadline to improve for the long term. But moving Smyth? Not likely.

The mood in the Oilers' dressing room must be dipping by now. With just a single win the in the past 7 games, the Oilers are not having much luck against the rest of the Western Conference, and of course, there are no opportunities against the Eastern Conference, not this season.

Mercifully, the Oilers only have one more game against the Stars this season. Whether or not either Ryan will be back in the lineup is anyone's guess. For Smyth the odd game off can't hurt anything more than is pride. The occaisional night off should be a part of Smyth's reality going forward.

Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, | Oil Patch | Permalink


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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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