It’s a good news bad news kind of week as far as the Oilers are concerned with Dallas. They did the Oil a huge favour by giving away their leading scorer for the lifeless body of Erik Cole, but then they activated Lehtonen from the IR in time for tonight’s match.
Maybe Joe Nieuwendyk thinks that Cole’s career high in goals from last year (at 33 years of age and 10 more than he had even been on pace for since 2007) is going to be his new normal. Maybe Joe Nieuwendyk is huffing glue. It’s hard to tell which one is more likely.
The Stars have played 2 more games than Edmonton but they have 3 more wins on the season and are seated in 7th position for the Western Conference, the Oilers are in 13th. Not long ago when the Oil played the Stars last it was the Oilers who were seeded higher. A few days, it seems, later and now Edmonton finds itself in the basement. Losing 7 of the last 10 will do that.
Khabi tweaked his Groin in OT against Chicago and has been placed on the IR. Actually, what the Oilers said themselves via Twitter was:
Coach Krueger says Khabibulin tweaked his groin on the last penalty shot vs. PHX and then again in overtime vs. CHI
You have a 40 year old backup Goalie with a history of Groin problems. He tweaks that injury magnet of a groin that he has in a game he probably shouldnt have played against Phoenix. THEN, in a fit of madness, you decide to play him (the Backup old as balls injury prone goalie) the VERY NEXT GAME against the best team in the league only to see him placed on the IR right after because he hurt his ALREADY INJURED groin in that game.
I like Krueger so far, its too early to tell that much about him, but the way he handles his goalies is questionable at best. Dubnyk is the starter. He should be starting games against the league’s best teams. If you told me at the end of last year that something so obvious needed to be said early in 2013 I would have called you a filthy liar.
Oilers Keys to the Game
Hall is returning to the lineup tonight after serving his suspension and the lines are possibly seeing a little MacT Blender treatment. In practice yesterday the Oilers re-united the OKC trio for the top line but had Jones on a line with Gagner and Hemsky. Krueger also had Yakupov on the Right side with Smyth and Belanger. I like all three of those changes. Hall is a shot generating machine and it never hurts to add a weapon like that in the lineup. Jones knows how to go to the net for the greasy ones and has enough speed to stay on a feature line. He wont be there forever though because he’s better suited for the 3rd line and Krueger isnt afraid to mix his lines around during games. And all year I’ve been a proponent of using Yak on the right side. He carries the puck more confidently and just has more life when he’s on his “Off Wing”.
Jeff Petry was singing along to the My Little Pony theme song as he took a leisurely skate behind the net in Overtime. He ended up leaving Marian Freaking Hossa all alone in front of the net while he made himself an innocent bystander to the entire play. That kind of bone headed play in OT is unacceptable. I dont care that Petry scored a goal earlier in the game, the Oilers are expecting more from #2. That’s the kind of play you expect your 5-6 guy to make. Petry came into this season on the 1-2 pairing and has played himself out of that position. No team can succeed when the people it counts on are underperforming. Petry is underperforming. The team needs to learn from that dumbass play that it can ill afford to play soft and stupid.
Dont Mess With Texas
The Oilers have really taken that phrase to heart. Going into Dallas and getting a win seems more rare than choosing 1st Overall these days. Based on History, the Oilers are going to be in tough against the Stars. Jagr has victimized the Oilers defense and Jamie Benn is slowly but surely taking over as Dallas’ go to guy. The Oilers are owed a few goals against Lehtonen, though, as he absolutely robbed the Oil of a win in the last game he played against them. Maybe they get those goals back. Maybe Lehtonen keeps the sliding Oilers down.
Puck Drops at 6:38 PM Mountain Time on Sportsnet. Game On!