This has been another in a seemingly long strong of "not good weeks" for the Edmonton Oilers. Currently on a road trip, the Oilers have been to Vancouver and back, and are now back on the road and away from their homes and beds where healing seems to come more quickly.
Hockey players are always banged up or bruised in some way, and for the Oilers it always seems to go a little deeper than that. Ryan Whitney this week addressed the media feeling nothing but disappointment and seemingly shame. Whitney has had surgery to repair foot issues he was born with and then an unrelated surgery to repair a broken ankle. The ankle took 10 months to heal before Whitney took to the ice. However, Whitney was anxious to get back to playing, and after reading the story written by Robin Brownlee on Oilers Nation it seems that Whitney came back a little too soon. Currently, Whitney is listed as day to day.
Ales Hemsky was kept out of the lineup due to flu like symptoms on Monday night and was questionable for Thursday night's game against the Minnesota Wild. Hemsky did play, but still faces questions about his shoulder.
Alex Plante suffered a concussion after a hit by Vancouver Canuck Dale Weise, and so the Oilers called up Colten Teubert from the Oklahoma City Barons. Following Saturday's game, Teubert was re-assigned to the Barons.
Andy Sutton has completed his 8 game suspension for his hit on Carolina Hurricaine's Alexei Ponikarovsky. Sutton played his first game back on Saturday against the Islanders, and was not suspended for any hits. In fact, Sutton didn't even take a penalty.
The Oilers played the Canucks on Boxing day after a short Christmas weekend. The results were as expected but at least it was not a blow out. The Oilers lost 5-3. The team was able to travel back to Edmonton after playing the Canucks as Edmonton has several arenas suitable for team practise. Thursday, the team played their last game of the season against the Minnesota Wild, and despite the best efforts by a few key players, the team camp up short losing 4-3 to the Wild. Saturday morning was an early New Year's Eve game, 11am MST against the New York Islanders, and was potentially the Oilers best chance at a win. Sadly, that is not how things worked out. The Oilers dropped a 4-1 decision to the Islanders in a game that saw three first rounders playing against each other.
The Edmonton Oil Kings have added to their impressive win column upon their return from the Christmas break. In their first game against the Saskatoon Blades, the team took a convincing 7-2 victory. Wednesday against the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Oil Kings wouldn't walk away with both points, but a 4-3 shootout loss to the Wheat Kings shouldn't be looked up as a complete loss. Their final game of 2011 was played against the Brandon Wheat Kings, and a 7-1 victory is what the Oil Kings would take. I spoke with Oil King Kristians Pelss following the Latvia vs Switzerland game at the World Juniors following the conclusion of both games. Pelss was happy that his team was still managing to win without key players such as himself, Martin Gernat and Mark Pysyk. Of course Pelss was most concerned with the fate of his country, but it brought a smile to his face to hear that his other team had found a win when the Latvian team could not.
Meanwhile, the World Juniors preliminary round has completed with Canada finishing on top of their pool, and in Calgary Sweden beat Russia. This means that Canada will play the winner of the Monday night Russia vs Czech Republic game on Tuesday night. The only chance that Canada will play Sweden will be in the finals.
In the new year, I would like to see many things for the Oilers. Playoffs have to be at the top of my list, but for that to happen, there are a number of things that will need to happen. And so, I suggest that the following could be New Year's Resolutions of sort:
- Trade for a puck moving defenceman to feed the young players who are leading the team in scoring.
- Trade for a healthy defenceman who can help this team finish the season.
- Win more games.