by Lisa McRitchie on 01/18/12 at 01:15 AM ET
Oilers lose 4-2 to Blue Jackets
Only one team could lose the mid-January edition of the Toilet Bowl, and Tuesday night that team was the Oilers. Before the game even began, the Oilers were down a skater because Taylor Hall suffered a cut on his face during warm-up. Hall would receive care at the arena, but would not play the game. Early reports are that it took 30 stitches to seal the wound, but that Hall is in good spirits.
It was Corey Potter who ended up inflicting the damage to Hall, the same player who also got tangled up with Ryan Whitney earlier this season, leaving Whitney with a knee injury. Potter has been extremely unlucky in that regard, much like Ryan Jones whose skate sliced Sam Gagner’s hand at the end of last season.
I know that this injury will prompt people to demand that helmets become mandatory during warm-ups, and I am one of them. It’s not as though I think that this injury will happen a lot, or even ever again, but there are a lot of guys, and a lot of pucks out there during warm-ups. Helmets were implemented for player safety, and concussion concerns are at an all time high. Helmets are also a part of the safety equipment in the game of hockey.
In every industry safety is a big concern because accidents in the workplace incur medical costs, lost hours and sometimes irreversible damage to employees’ wellbeing. When an NHL owner is spending $60MM in salary, he doesn’t want to see the players go down to injury no matter how the injury was incurred. Unlikely or not, injuries during warm-up are possible and it may be an injury like Taylor Hall’s to remind teams just how valuable their star players are.
Although only 3 goals were scored while Devan Dubnyk was in net, those goals came because Dubnyk did not have his best night. At the beginning of the season, I wanted to see Dubnyk playing more games, feeling that if he is to be the goaltender of the future, he needed as many starts as he could get. At this point, despite needed a better team in front of him, Dubnyk has to play better.
Two goals were scored per period, and strangely enough, only a single team would score in each period.
For the Oilers, it was rookie Anton Lander who would score his second of the season. Lander also stood up for his teammate Ladislav Smid when Smid fell to the ice following a hit. While Lander may not be the best player on the Oilers team, he is certainly filling a character role.
The Oilers second goal was from Ben Eager, who has been receiving the increased minutes he asked for earlier this season. Eager’s four shots on net led the team for the night. Of course this is due more to the state of health on the team, but still, so long as Eager is scoring and playing the role he was signed to the Oilers to play, so be it.
While the Oilers are a team of Ryans, the Jackets are a team of Dereks. And all three earned stars on the night. First star Derek Mackenzie, second star Derick Brassard and third Derek Dorsett.
For Columbus, second period goals by Ryan Johansen and a power play goal by Derick Brasshard tied the game and took the wind out of the Oilers’ sails.
Through the third period, things only got worse for the Oilers. The Jackets pulled ahead with Derek MacKenzie’s wrist shot goal a mere 32 seconds into the final frame. Things only got worse for the Oilers as Dubnyk left the net for the extra attacker in the final minutes of the game. Instead, Dubnyk’s path led straight to the puck earning the Oilers a too many men penalty. Derek Dorsett scored the power play empty net game that concluded the game, and may have been an indication of who could finish this season last. Once again.
Magnus Paajarvi continues to search for his first goal of the season and although he once again came close, Paajarvi also came up short. With injuries to Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and now Hall, there isn’t a better time for something to go Paajarvi’s way.
“That’s just the way life is,” says head coach Tom Renney on the string of injuries to the team. “There are opportunities here. There are opportunities for players to step in and play for those guys, there’s an opportunity for our team to galvanize and suck it up and go after wins none the less.
“You learn an awful lot about yourself and your team under those types of circumstances. Uncle on the learning part of it maybe, but these are the cards we’re dealt so we sit at the table and play.”
The injuries and losses are clearly weighing upon the players. Ryan Smyth who was leading the team at the beginning of the season and playing with a second youth, is now looking a little tired, something that perhaps the all star break can help remedy. After all, the team will need Smyth especially with the loss of so many players.
The Oilers will have a day for travel before facing the St. Louis Blues Thursday night. It is uncertain whether or not Hall will play. If Hall had his way he would have played Tuesday once his stitches were completed.
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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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