Well, the good news is the Oilers player Meaningful Games in March. The Bad news is they lost those 3 games and its back to the norm around these parts.
The Oilers now find themselves 5 points and 5 teams separated from the playoffs, and St Louis isnt even one of those teams. For a brief few minutes the Oilers lead against the Predators off of a Potter point shot and tip by Hall. The 1st period ended as an OK road period of Hockey, but the Oilers came out flat in the 2nd period of a Game they couldnt afford to do that in. For a great breakdown of the Fistric blown assignment that lead to the Kostsitsyn goal check out what Jonathan Willis has up on Oilersnation.Even after coming back to make things respectable in he 3rd the damage was done.
The Oilers’ failure to compete in these last three games shouldnt faze us. The team hasnt been competitive at all in the Tambellini era, why should that change now? David Staples suggests that Oiler Management has driven this franchise in the wrong direction, that the veterans who have been brought in have all failed. Finally he puts it to a poll and 87+ percent of respondents feel the Oilers need new management.
It has become absolutely clear at this point that Whitney is done as an Oiler. Even if he plays in another game, the club doesnt think he is a player they need in order to dress the best team possible. I wouldnt say Krueger has given up on him, because obviously he still gets into games (unlike Teddy Peckman), but they dont believe in him either.
The Oilers come into the second of back to back games the losers of three in a row. As of the time I wrote this GDB the starter had yet to be announced, but I wouldnt be shocked if they went with Khabibulin just to give Dubnyk a little rest. They play again on Thursday so it wont be a long wait for Dubie to play again, if thats the route they go down.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) More Yak Please
Yakupov played 2:30 more than his season average last night, so it isnt as if this is a response to something the Oilers failed to do. It’s actually a response to something positive from last night’s game. Yakupov was able to get a few shots in on net from the right side of the Oilers PP and they were sensational. It would not be exaggeration on my part to say that the Oilers could charge money just so people could watch Yak take shots on net. Like some kind of a skills competition, I would go watch that.
2) Hemsky looking Dangerous
At the end of the day he didnt finish the job last night but Hemsky was absolutely buzzing on a few chances. The verbal a short while ago was that he had the Flu but was playing through it. It might be a bit of a stretch but I think a few games of uninspired play may have been more germ than heart for the 29 year old Czech forward. If that is past him, and last night it looked like it was, then we should expect to see more electrifying sorties from Ales. When he is on he is ON. His puck handling and skating is as sublime as it is fearless. He did it all on a couple consecutive shifts but wasnt rewarded. The Oilers need that kind of play from the few useful vets they have.
3) Belanger Out
So the Bad News is that Belanger re-injured his groin and is out, but the Good News is that Belanger re-injured his groin and is out. I jest, but there’s always a hint of truth in good humour. The fact is that Belanger is a Black Hole of offense and outside of his faceoff abilities he has no place in the lineup. I havent heard anything about a recall yet, so I imagine it might end up being Smyth who centers the 4th line and Petrell gets re-inserted.
Puck Drops at 6:08 PM Mountain Time on Sportsnet. Game On!