The Edmonton Oilers had a busy schedule this week, so of course it is the week that the flu finds the Oilers. Taylor Hall was questionable for Monday night and missed Tuesday night's game due to illness. Hall underwent blood work and a dose of antibiotics and was fit to play Thursday night. Coach Tom Renney has mentioned that there were other players that were battling flu symptoms and it appeared as though the team had recalled right winger Ryan Keller from Oklahoma City to fill in any openings in the roster. By game time Thursday, it became apparent that the team did not recall Keller, that enough players were fit to play. That isn't to say that it may come to a recall before too long.
Saturday night, the Oilers hosted the Vancouver Canucks. Despite the fact that the Oilers did not get the win from this game, history was made, and the national spotlight shone brightly on Edmonton and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins specifically. Nugent-Hopkins, in his third NHL game, scored his first NHL hat-trick.
On Monday night, the Oilers hosted the Nashville Predators and showed fans that they have indeed found a way to beat the team. This night was Ryan Smyth bobblehead night, and thankfully Smyth got himself a goal. Tuesday night, the Oilers headed down the QE2 and played their provincial rivals the Calgary Flames. The Oilers held a 1-0 lead through most of the game, but let it slide in the final three minutes of the third period. The Flames would take the game, 2-1 and Oilers fans would feel the crushing defeat that only a loss to Calgary can bring.
Thursday night, the Oilers once again had an early one goal lead but failed to take the two points from the game. With half a second left, Danny Heatley of the Minnesota Wild showed the people of Rexall who booed him all night, how little it affected him and scored the tying goal. Half a second, what are the chances? Saturday night the Oilers host the Rangers, and players had an optional skate on Friday. Most players elected to sit Friday out to recover and prepare for hopefully a big Saturday night win. Saturday will also be another Oilers' Community Foundation fundraiser. The Oilers ladies will be selling white Oilers scarves with a card autographed by an Oilers for $20 before the game.
Ben Eager has recovered from his pre-season concussion, an injury he sustained at the Joey Moss Cup in fact, and played his first game with the Oilers on Monday night against the Predators. Eager has wasted no time in chirping other players and standing up for his teammates.
Darcy Hordichuk has found himself out of the Oilers lineup, due to a knee tweak. Of course Hordichuk would suffer this injury Saturday night against his former team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Ryan Whitney finally returned to the Oilers lineup. Whintey has not played a game since December 28th, 2010. After a long recovery from surgery and a few bumps in the road, Whitney played his first game of the season against the Calgary Flames and hopes to play several more.
Jeff Petry was re-assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons after playing very few minutes with the Oilers. Petry is a welcome addition to the barons who have found their blueline thinned out by the injury to Princeton grad Taylor Fedun.
The Oklahoma City Barons had a winning streak last weekend, taking both of their games. The first was a 10-1 winover the Texas stars, and Sunday night a 2-0 win over the Houston Aeros. Friday night saw yet another win for the Barons, 4-1 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Edmonton Oil Kings had a 2-1 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors due to the convincing play of Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart is of course draft eligible at the end of this season, and is projected to go potentially top ten. With his older brother Max drafted by the Calgary Flames, it would be interesting should the Oilers manage to draft Griffin. Friday night was a crowd engaging and exciting 8-4 win over the Portland Winterhawks.
Speaking of the NHL entry draft, there is a proposal out there to increase the draft age to 19, and keep a clause for special situations or circumstances where in some 18 year olds can continue to be drafted.
Ryan Smyth is of course happy to be back to the city he calls home, Edmonton and continues to toss pucks to the kids after the pre-game skate and spoke with the Oilers' Tom Gazzola about his homecoming.