G29 Avalanche at Oilers

Based on the lines in practice yesterday, I beginning to think coach Renney misses Taylor Hall in a big way, or Sam  Gagner is being showcased. Or both

Yesterday at practice, coach Renney–who is not the hardest line matcher who ever walked a turn at Shawshank–shuffled his lines again.

  • RNH-Gagner-Eberle
  • Horcoff-Smyth-Hemsky
  • Belanger-Eager-Jones
  • Lander-Paajarvi-Hordichuk

This tells us a few things. Paajarvi’s sideburns are now completely out of control, the coach wants to add more truculence at the expense of skill and Eager is getting a push in hopes that he can score and make some noise physically.

The veteran line is back together and will no doubt face a lot of own zone starts and some of the Avs best. The RNH line is also likely to get a push in zone starts, although coach Renney doesn’t appear to like line matching lately (after working like a demon to get it earlier in the season).

And they appear to like Gagner at what I’d always felt was his weakest position–LW. Are they giving  him a push for trade or do they really feel that line could damage the soft parade.

Gagner’s 5×5/60 number has corrected in a hurry. He is now 1.61/60 and has improved plenty in one week so maybe the coach sees a chance to add a bat in the lineup. Still, Gagner is in the Hall position now and that means something has to give when the phenom returns.

Jim Matheson was speculating about Linus Omark in an article yesterday. The item is here, and this is interesting:

  • A report in a Swedish paper says Omark, who will get the cast off his broken foot Dec. 29, has talked to management from his former Swedish Lulea club team. Omark has said he doesn’t want to spend the whole season in the AHL.

So nothing concrete but Matheson is connected and if the Oilers told him “Linus is in our long term plans” he would have reported it. You know, sometimes organizations are rewarded by their scouting departments with miles and miles of talent, and sometimes they treat it like a naturally renewable resource.

The Expos used to be like that. They had so many outfielders guys like Gary Roenicke couldn’t find a job, yet ten years later they’re asking the Blue Jays if Mitch Webster can come out to play. I don’t know that Linus Omark can outscore opponents, but do know that a roster that includes Lennart Petrell, a young Anton Lander, Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk should be able to find room for Linus Omark.

How we got to this place (Omark in OKC and Paajarvi’s sideburns) tells us about the kind of team Tom Renney thinks he can win with moving forward. With that in mind, if they’re going to trade Sam Gagner–and please understand I think it’s a mistake–I’d like to suggest the Oilers ask after Zack Kassian.

If you’re going to employ big physical players, try to get ones who can play. Surely that’s the lesson of J-F Jacques.

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