There were some positives in last night’s game–the Nail Yakupov goal was a delight and his reaction a moment for all to remember–but for Edmonton Oilers fans the home opener felt exactly like being run over. Great expectations meet epic fail. The Wednesday morning question is: who do you blame?
I suspect that there’s plenty to go around. Devan Dubnyk’s taking his share, although aside from the Couture goal I don’t really see a lot he could do about the bullets being fired his way. He wasn’t giving up goals to 4th lines shooting from inside the blue, these were expert marksmen on the loose playing a team that was running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
I don’t know how much of this is on coach Krueger, but do wonder what the plan was for line matching. The penalties and GA made this game a farce quickly, but the early results (Thornton line began the game and had a 37-second shift against Smid-Petry and the Horcoff-Smyth-Hartikainen line) were encouraging. The second EV shift had the Thornton line out against Gagner’s group and Whitney-Potter and after that the PP goals changed the game forever. I would like to have seen how Krueger handled the Thornton line in a close game, and whether or not he would have moved Taylor Hall onto the Gagner line in order to give it a better chance as a secondary tough minutes group.
I thought Hartikainen played well on that line, don’t know that he’s showing enough in these minutes to keep the position when Ryan Jones returns. When you’re in doubt about these things, bet the veteran 10/10 times and you’ll make money.
I’d like to see new lines this morning:
- Gagner-Hall-Hemsky (tough minutes line)
- Horcoff-Smyth-Paajarvi (tough minutes line)
- RNH-Yakupov-Eberle (soft parade)
- Belanger-Hartikainen-Petrell (don’t let anything happen line)
The Gagner line has a much better chance with Hall on it and putting the three kids together all the time makes the club easier to match up against every night. I’d prefer Paajarvi on the tough minutes line because he’s a better fit, but have been impressed with Hartikainen in limited exposure this year.
The Nuge line can rock it and the 4line looks better than in days gone by.
Last night reminds us that once again the Edmonton Oilers have some balance issues. They need a more capable backup goalie at some point this season, and we’ve talked about Ben Bishop a few times before. If the Senators offered Bishop in exchange for Magnus Paajarvi, would you do it? Would you do a 2nd round pick? Martin Marincin? Would you trade Oscar Klefbom for Ben Bishop?
I think we’re going to have to agree that Ryan Whitney is not going to be able to play at the levels needed to be a guy you can count on. I suspect he’ll get a contract in the summer, because the guy is such a wonderful passer, but he’s never going to be a defensive stalwart and that means a gigantic reduction in salary.
The Oilers need to spend that money on a defenseman with a complete player’s skills, and at this point that means a trade or free agent acquisition. I think Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz belong in the complete D conversation, their wide range of skills will be a big help to the Oilers in the coming seasons.
Adding a healthy 2-way defender with the Whitney money is the right thing to do. A bad break for Whitney, its a cruel business.