October 30 2011 11:52AM
All appears to be calm and beautiful. The Oilers are performing beyond expectations, the Eskimos are fumbling their way to playing on the road in the playoffs and it's snowing somewhere else. What could possibly go wrong?
The Edmonton Oilers have enjoyed roster consistency through the season's first 10 games. I believe that's an underrated portion of this season so far; along with Smyth's heroic efforts on the tough minutes line, the goaltenders acting like it's the dead puck era, the defense playing beyond reasonable, the relative health of the group has been solid.
Things may be about to change. There's something in the air. Andy Sutton is flying to NYC to take in Broadway's newest hit (The Shanahan Eraserhead Hearings) and the Oilers are making sure Dan Petry's boy sees the world.
Into this rational world comes the following:
Okay, well THAT happened. Jason's logic makes sense, as the Oilers have 6 healthy bodies in Edmonton at the moment. Currently, the depth chart might look like this:
- Tom Gilbert (247 all purpose minutes this season)
- Ladislav Smid (202 all purpose minutes this season)
- Cam Barker (201 all purpose minutes this season)
- Corey Potter (168 all purpose minutes this season)
- Theo Peckham (86 all purpose minutes this season)
- Jeff Petry (62 all purpose minutes this season)
Ryan Whitney (66 minutes) is injured and Andy Sutton (163 minutes) has been suspended. So, Plante gets the call and if Jason is right will step right into the lineup (I don't know that he makes it here today, so the injured player may actually play tonight).
Plante would not have been my choice for recall, but what I don't know about playing NHL defense is a lot. In looking at the Oklahoma blue, it would seem to me that the consistent pairings have placed Plante outside the top pairings with either Johan Motin or the crazy Russian Kirill Tulupov. Now, I don't watch the games and have no idea about the matching going on, but running through the box scores Bryan Helmer, Bryan Lowery, Colten Teubert and Jeff Petry all appear to play more prominent roles than Plante, Motin and Tulupov.
Here are the current stats for the OKC Blue:
- Bryan Helmer 8, 0-6-6 +3
- Colten Teubert 8, 2-1-3 +2
- Kevin Montgomery 6, 0-3-3 +3
- Kirill Tulupov 3, 0-2-2 +3
- Johan Motin 6, 0-2-2 +1
- Jeff Petry 2, 0-1-1 +1
- Ryan Lowery 7, 0-1-1 E
- Alex Plante 8, 0-1-1 E
Only three of the defenders have played all 8 games, and Plante is one of them. Having said that, and understanding that both Helmer and Montgomery are OKC players, I would have thought Colten Teubert would have been the more likely choice, and I wonder if we see him, Lowery or Tulupov pass Plante on the depth chart this season.
Plante's mobility is a problem at the NHL level, and that's a lot of slow for a team that already has Sutton and Barker among the options.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
It means the Oilers depth on the blue is razor thin, and that Teubert hasn't passed Alex Plante as a callup option. It also means that kids like Lowery and Tulupov are likely staying in the minors all year long no matter their boxcars or the number of nice things the coach says about them. Learning pro defense is a process.
WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?
When we hear rumors that Steve Tambellini is looking to add a defenseman at some point, this would be the reason. Peckham's uneven play, Whitney's injury history, Smid's tendency to impersonate Willie and Frankie adds to the pressue of the OKC blue.
The fact that Plante is the second callup option (after Petry) tells us this team needs more options.