February 04 2013 01:09PM
Shawn Horcoff returns to the lineup tonight, but Eric Belanger walked into Rexall Place this morning in a walking boot and he's been put on the injured list. Belanger has been infinitely better this season than he was last year, especially on the PK, and he, like Horcoff, will be missed.
It isn't great for the Oilers to have their veteran centres sitting out due to injuries, but it is another opportunity for Anton Lander to keep developing. As long as the injured list remains short the Oilers should be able to stay competitive.
The Oilers face the Canucks for the 2nd time in nine games, and after a come-from-behind win in their season opener the Oilers will try to avoid a three-game losing streak.
Edmonton wasn't very good in Colorado on Saturday, and they will need a much more energetic effort tonight.
Ryan Whitney was paired with Theo Peckham at the morning skate, and he will be take a seat in the pressbox. Whitney hasn't been great, but I think this is Ralph Krueger trying to send a message that anyone can be benched. That wasn't the case last year, and sometimes the only way a coach can get people's attention is by sitting a veteran in the pressbox. This is the first time in his career that Whitney has been a healthy scratch, and he was obviously disappointed. "I don't agree with it obviously, but I respect the decision and I will be better when I get back in," said Whitney.
I suspect this will be short-term for Whitney, who seems to be lacking confidence more than anything, because is overall game is better than Potter and Fistric. However, if you aren't playing up to your potential, Krueger is showing he won't be afraid to cut your icetime.
Krueger is also hoping that 91/57/56 can find the chemistry they had in OKC. Todd Nelson said they were his most consistent trio in both ends of the rink, and we'll see if they can bring that level of consistency to the NHL.
- Lots of teams are interested in Whitney, and after being stripped of his "A" and now a healthy scratch, I could see a trade scenario unfolding at some point. The issue is the Oilers still don't have enough quality NHL depth to make that move, unless it is for another D-man. I can see situation where Whitney gets dealt, and then plays well somewhere else, and those fans who have been begging for his benching, will then complain he got dealt. Whitney is not nearly as bad as some are portraying him. Of course he can play better, but I'd rather let him play out of it than move him when his value is likely lower than it should be.
- Belanger has an open cut on his foot so he will be out at least a week. He was put on IR so he is out at least 7 days.
- Peckham has done a few three-a-day workouts as they Oilers try to get him back in game shape. Right now Krueger has mentioned, "We have 7 D-men" on numerous occasions, so it is clear Peckham isn't in the picture right now. OKC only plays on Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks, so if the Oilers send him down for a conditioning stint, it likely won't happen until later this week. They'd rather put him through extensive conditioning here.
- It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role.
- I wonder who will be the first person to write the article saying how Yakupov can't keep scoring like this because of his ridiculous 29.4%. I will name that person the ultimate "fun sponge."
- Thomas Vanek has been in on 19 of the Sabres 27 goals. He's been incredible so far this season and I hope he keeps it up. I love offence.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: In previous years you'd expect the Oilers to lose this game, fall to .500 and extend their losing streak, but they will avoid the obvious and pick up an exciting 5-4 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gagner matches his career-high and extends his scoring streak to nine games. The Oilers PP gets back on track with two goals while the Sedins combine for five points.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After picking up an assist in the first period, Yakupov delivers a crushing hit on Maxim Lapierre. Yakupov finishes the evening with two hits. After the game he says, " I'm surprised more people aren't mentioning that I have more hits, 9, than points, 7. I wonder if "Plums"* will point that out this Saturday. I thought he loves gritty players."
*If you didn't catch the Plums reference read NSOGDP from GDB: 08 below.