The Edmonton Oilers 12 Days of Christmas

In keeping with the festive season, I felt the need to do something "Christmasy". I attempted the mall to pick up some gifts, but got side-tracked in the local "Sports Closet" store while my son and daughter sat on Santa's lap and my daughter told Mr. Claus how she wanted a new book for Christmas. She's only two and can't read yet, but that kid loves books. (not sure where she gets it from cause the last thing I read was the front page of Star magazine and Tiger Woods latest fling.) * Special Note * mentioning Tiger Woods affairs or sex scandal is a sure fire boost for internet traffic... Tiger Woods.

So, because I won't be posting on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (that is, unless my family drives me nuts and I need to vent), I figured starting today Dec 12, 2009 would get us right down to the wire for the 12 Days of Christmas.

As an Oiler fan, I'll be posting my twelve wishes for this team to lead them into the Christmas season. Each day will consist of the items I think this team or its players need to continue to be successful as they head into the Olympic break and look to make ground in the Western Conference and a possible playoff spot. Today, we start with the 12th day.

On the 12th Day of Christmas, my Oilers gave to me...

12 more points for Dustin Penner

Dustin Penner sits at a terrific 36 points in 32 games. With 18 goals and 18 assists, he's a team leading (along with Ladislav Smid) plus/minus +13. As such, has been added to the short list of candidates for Canada's Olympic team.

With no All-Star Game this year, it's tough to really recognize Penner's achievements unless he's asked to the Olympics and I think the only way he gets there, is with at least 12 more points before Christmas.

Sure, Penner will have a small window to earn more points before the Dec 31st deadline, but if Penner can put together 48 points in 37 games, (a 2.4 ppg pace) it will be hard for Yzerman and company to ignore what he's done. Especially if of those points, six or seven are goals.

Penner would bring a fairly unique element to Team Canada beyond just his point totals. His combination of speed, and hands for a big man at power forward position would be something that attracts Penner to the Canadian group. He's willing to stand infront of the net and he's a very solid two-way forward.

At this point, Penner is a long shot. But with every game, including his four point performance against the Blues on Friday, Penner has to be gaining more and more consideration. He's doing everything he needs to oustide of knocking out another candidate that may be slipping in consideration due to poor play. Should Penner be around the 50 point mark by the deadline, he will be hard to ignore.

At this stage, there are only two players from Canada with more points -- that being Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby. Add Dany Heatley to that list and those are the only three players who have more goals to date than Penner.

So for the first of my 12 Days Of Christmas, I would like 12 more points for Penner before the 25th of December.


Post a Comment

Oilers Stand a Good Chance to Win 5 in a Row on Road Trip

The Edmonton Oilers will finish a six game road trip in St. Louis on Friday as they take on a similarly hot team who is also 6-3-1 in their last ten games.

The biggest thing the Oilers have going for them is their momentum leading into Fridays contest and the fact that this game is in St. Louis where the Blues are simply not very good.

The Blues are a bismal 5-9-2 at home while a much more respectable 8-2-3 away. The Oilers on the other hand are 6-8-2 away, which while not great sits that way because Edmonton has won four straight.

The Blues are a relatively healthy team missing only Eric Brewer and the Oilers are banged up with some obvious missing pieces, but with missing ingredients, the Oilers have figured out a way to simplify their play and it's paying off.

Add to that the likely return of Denis Grebeshkov and the Oilers have found some decent motivation to make it a clean sweep.

Where the Oilers will need to capitalize is in the first period. Thanks to St. Louis being the worst team in the NHL on the powerplay, the Oilers can afford to play a more aggressive style game and really open the game strong, taking it to the Blues and getting the lead after 20 minutes. Based on this years numbers, Edmonton is a much better team at taking home a first period lead than St. Louis is.

5 on 5 play will be critical as well as St. Louis is a terrific penalty killing team and the Oilers are still lacking, but are doing much better sitting 12th in the NHL. For Edmonton, it will be about the quantity of powerplays to gain the edge in that department.

Should the Oilers be able to pull off five straight wins, this team is a far cry from the the same group fans were calling to see blown up. There is always the possibility that the Oil are giving fans false hope and that this road record against somewhat pooroer NHL caliber teams is deceiving, especially considering the two shootout victories, but how can a real fan be upset with Edmonton winning in any way they can.


Post a Comment

Will the Real Robert Nilsson Please Stand Up?

Making trades in the NHL is all about getting the best return you possibly can for an asset going the other way. When it comes to superstars, more often than not, those trades are pretty one-sided, if for the simple reason that no team really wants to trade a superstar. More often than not, that superstar wants out, which lowers his value.

While Robert Nilsson isn't a superstar, he's got the skill and shows glimpes of the possibility, that one day he might be. What makes a superstar a superstar, is their ability to be better than effective almost every game and while Nilsson's natural gifts rival many NHL players, his consistency is always a concern.

Case in point, Nilsson, who has been terrific since his return from concussion is giving Oiler fans hope that his lazy, inconsistent, sloppy days are behind him. The problem is, his play is bound to slip if his history as an NHL player tells us anything.

So knowing what we know about Robert Nilsson, when would be the time to trade him, if as a GM you'd want to trade him at all?

It's no secret that the Oilers are on a constant lookout for ways to free up cap space, trim contracts and pick up future pieces that can help their team. Robert Nilsson is one of those names linked to all sorts of rumors and speculation.

When Nilsson plays his "we can't believe he got paid $2 million a season for this crap" type game, his value is virtually nill and no team would touch his contract with a 10 ft pole.

But, when Nilsson puts on the type of performances he's been putting in the past 4 games, are a few different teams interested? One might logically assume so, especially if his play continues beyond just a few games.

Should the Oilers then still be willing to move Nilsson if by the 10 or 12 game mark of his return, he has 12 points and is a plus/minus + 3 or +4? I suppose that depends on who you ask.

For those that see the Oilers as a team that needs rebuilding, it's likely Nilsson isn't part of that rebuild. Moving him for a 2nd round draft pick o r a higher end prospect would be a minor miracle and done immediately.

For those that cling to the hope that the Oilers will make a playoff push this season, sans Hemsky, Nilsson has maybe the most skill at the forward position on the current Oilers roster. They'll need every inch of the offense he provides.

If you're on the fence like I am, thinking move for the right return, keep if the values not there, the question becomes when do you move him?

Do you wait for his play to slump? Thus lowering his value and any possible return other than a 5th round pick?

Or while he's hot, do you call 29 other GM's and say "look at this guys play right now. He can be a key ingredient to take you where you want to go but we need to move a contract and we'd like a decent draft pick."

Interesting question to say the least and one that I'm sure the Oilers are considering. Meanwhile, if Nilsson continues his pace, no matter what happens, the news is good if you're an Oiler fan or in Oiler management.


Post a Comment

Will Watching the Game Tonight on My PC Mean I'll Miss Gagner's Defensive Mishaps in HD?

Sam Gagner needs to go back to the 3rd and 4th line like Tiger Woods needs a second cell phone. Both Tiger and Gagner have been exposed as playing terrible defense against a barrage of offensive threats.

Sure, while the threats are quite different in their nature, both Tiger and Gagner could stand to take a step back from the picture of themselves and realize, what could I have done differently here?

For Tiger, it's simple. Either don't cheat on your smokin' hot wife, or if you're going to, get a second cell phone that your influx or fugglies can call you on without risk of your smokin' hot wife catching on.

For Gagner, take a step back and realize what Pat Quinn was trying to tell you when he started you on the 4th line this season.

I'll assume Pat Quinn was thinking Gagner is a great talent, but one dimensional. He's been given too much, too soon and he hasn't earned it. His one dimension served him well for about 50% of one season, but it's time to learn to play the harder lessons in hockey. The 4th line should teach him.

The funny thing was, it did.

Sam Gagner was great for the first few games of the season. As he worked hard, played better defense and played physical to get noticed, he also happened to find ways to put the puck in the net thanks to opportunities he created for himself and his linemates.

As time went on and as Gagner showed he should be given consideration for a higher responsibility type role with a greater upside for offensive numbers, his offense dipped and his defence vanished.

It's time to get Gagner back to a spot on the roster where he can relearn why he was given the first-line ice in the first place. His success and the Oilers ability to continue to string wins together as they face tougher competition, depend on Gagner getting it figured out quickly.

She he not and his one dimension still be missing, his defence still as brutal as it's been over the last five or so games, Gagner will be doing anything to get himself out of the Edmonton negative spotlight.

Another thing one might not want to have in common with Tiger right now.


Post a Comment

Oilers Won't Move Visnovsky, But They Might Move Souray

There is a bit of speculation that the Oilers are currently shopping Sheldon Souray and an eastern conference team has interest.

First off, considering the source of where these rumors started, I don't put much weight behind it being true. That said, if the Oilers are in talks of any kind to trade a big name, big money defenceman; it will be Sheldon Souray who gets asked to waive his no trade clause before Visnovsky goes anywhere.

Lubomir Visnovsky is now second in Oilers scoring with 22 points. He has 7 goals, a terrfic plus/minus - + 11 rating, and he's playing over 20 minutes a game. Lubomir Visnovsky has been everything the Oilers had hoped he'd be and more when they moved Stoll and Greene to obtain him from the Kings.

Last year the Oilers felt the same way, but when Visnovsky went down to injury, the Oilers didn't get to bask in the glory of a great trade, but instead saw how quickly the team took a downward spiral when he was absent from the roster.

Add to that Visnovsky leads the Oilers in shots on net and that's no small feat considering he's picky about when he releases his canon of a shot. You can tell by his 17.9% shooting percentage that he's not just raining bombs that aren't hitting the target.

Visnovsky has found a favorable d-man pairing in Ladislav Smid and while Smid has improved leaps and bounds as a defenceman, I attribute a lot of that success to being paired with Visnovsky. You can tell these two have found chemistry and the Oilers would be silly to break that up.

Meanwhile, Souray has come back from his injury and played well. He's not been the Souray that dominates and scares the opposition on the powerplay like the Souray we know, nor the Souray fans crave for, but I have a feeling that time is coming.

The problem is, the Souray everyone is waiting for, is one dimensional. The Oilers know where they need him to contribute, and teams know where they need to be to stop him. Souray doesn't come close to having the foot speed, quick thinking, offensive talents that Visnovsky does. It makes Visnovsky much harder to contain and as a result a better overall weapon.

One thing Souray seems to have that Visnovsky might not (at least not as much) is trade value. So despite Edmonton wanting both defensemen, Souray will be the one the Oilers explore in possible trades, knowing by moving him, they stand to get the most return.

If you're Sheldon Souray, what do you do if the Oilers come asking? With a no trade clause, he has a great deal of control, but he's also been outspoken in his critiscm of coaching, fans and his teammates. His comments haven't been disrespectful or mean spirited, but represent what can only be a truth as he knows it about the situation he sees himself in.

Perhaps convincing him to waive his clause if the right deal presents itself won't be as difficult as people think.


Post a Comment

More To Read