Sam Gagner Slowly Moving Up the Charts?

If the morning skate for the Edmonton Oilers tell us anything, Pat Quinn and coaching co. are seeing promise and the response they expected when they placed Sam Gagner on the 4th line to start the season. Gagner is slated, according to Saturdays practice, to play 2nd line between Patrick O'Sullivan and Ryan Stone.

For most fans, Gagner was a surprise placement on that 4th line and before Quinn, the Oilers were fearful to sit or demote Gagner due to age and concerns over how he might responsd to the open criticism at such an early stage of his NHL career. Quinn has proven so far, it doesn't matter who you are. If you have a poor start, or don't deserve to be on that line, you won't be.

Gagner in his past two seasons, was a traditionally slow starter. Last season, it took some 16 games before he scored a goal. So far, with 4th line minutes (that's not saying much considering how Quinn rolls his lines) Gagner has two goals. Sam Gagner has done the opposite of what those who thought he might crumble under hte pressure, and exceled showing he thinks he's the forward the Oilers need.

He'll need to successfully keep up that pace as tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, there figures to be plenty of competitive action. The Canadiens got sqaushed 7-1 by a Vancouver squad looking to win it's first game of the year. The Oilers, meanwhile, lost another one-goal heartbreaker to the Flames, showing how successful Edmonton can be in blowing a lead late in the game.

O'Sullivan, Stone and Gagner could be interesting. Then again, Quinn changed the lines in Thursdays morning skate before the Flames game and opened the actual game with the same linemates he's had to start the season. I guess for the Oilers coaches, practice is one thing... games are another.

1 comments:

I don't think it matters where Gagner plays right now. The kid is on fire and he's playing his game no matter where Quinn & Co. put him. He will cool off, but I don't think it will be anytime soon.

October 10, 2009 at 3:00 PM comment-delete

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