Hockey World Blog

Edmonton Oilers First Quarter Report

HWB is reaching out to local fans bringing their thoughts and opinions about their home team to HWB readers. Here is one of them from guest writer Blaine @ The Live and Loud

Once again the Edmonton Oilers are disappointing their rabid fan base, but is it their fault?

There’s no denying the Oiler faithfuls passion for their hockey team, yet when that passion transforms into ridiculous expectations (as it often does), the team becomes plagued by unnecessary pressure to succeed. This year is no different for the young and inexperienced Oilers. While they are showing flashes of brilliance, the young Oilers are experiencing a tumultuous season thus far. However, they are learning from their mistakes and the team appears to be improving with each game. Whether or not their sub-par start will affect the Oilers’ chances at remaining in the playoff race come March still remains to be seen, yet if this team can draw even close to the 2011 post-season they will be considered a success.

Entering the 2010 -11 season many fans were expecting a rebuilding year; however, after the team crushed Alberta rival Calgary Flames on the first night many fans were planning the parade in June. With 1st quarter blowout losses to Carolina, Phoenix, and Detroit; Tom Renney’s team are quickly learning there is no such thing as a ‘night off’ in the NHL. While the kids (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi) have played well, but not great, they are learning the NHL ropes on a team with few veterans. Former Oilers such as Bill Guerin, Ryan Smyth, or even Mike Peca would be worth their weight in gold on this young team. Instead, these young kids are relying on Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemskyfor direction. No discounting these long-time Oilers, but extra veterans will be needed for these kids to blossom into full-fledged NHLers. All three kids have shown glimpses of brilliance this year and will prove the doubters wrong in due time, yet the fans of Edmonton must be patient. A word of advice:

‘Whenever the Oilers are pissing you off just think of Calgary – their situation is much worse.’

On defense, the Oilers’ core has been labelled ‘soft’ by teams this year. While Kurtis Foster and Tom Gilbert are effective offensively, they tend to be shy in the corners. Thank God for Theo Peckham! Peckham is by far Edmonton’s biggest surprise this year. Laying down crushing blows and playing with a chip on his shoulder, the tough defenseman’s future is bright in the ‘stay-at-home’ spot. Peckham provides the physical stability the Oilers’ defense lacks and should carry the brunt of many shut down duties in years to come. With Ryan Whitneystill finding his place in the lineup, the best word to describe Edmonton’s defense is not ‘soft’ but rather ‘confused.’ The Oilers have much room for improvement considering the following defensive stats:

Shots Against/Game – 34.6 (29th)

Goals Against Average – 3.35 (29th)

Penalty Kill – 70.3 % (Last)

If this trend continues past December, the Oilers will once again be looking to the NHL Entry Draft for added help. That help should come from 2011 top defensive prospect Adam Larsson. Furthermore, if the team continues their early season slide GM Steve Tambellini could be looking to deal Hemsky before the 2011 trade deadline.

Tambellini probably won’t trade Hemsky but the speedy winger could fetch a large price on the market. Whether or not the long-time Oiler favourite is in the team’s plans remains unknown, yet this newly formed Edmonton team appears ready to settle down and watch their kids develop. Following in the footsteps of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Chicago is a great path for Edmonton to follow. Early doubters of Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi should take a step back and remember when the aforementioned teams’ youngsters first broke into the NHL. Development takes time and NHL leading goal scorer Steve Stamkos can attest to that, even after a certain mullet wearing coach almost derailed his entire career. Nevertheless, the current crop of young Oilers will be given every opportunity to succeed and this writer is confident they will lead the Edmonton to another Cup.  A fresh start is what this organization needed and that’s what the city of Edmonton and its rabid fans are getting.

One more year of basement dwelling and the Edmonton faithful should be smiling again. Drafting that star defenseman which has eluded them for so many years will be worth a tiresome 2010-11 season. While getting blown out by the opposition, losing nearly every face-off draw, and having a ‘soft’ defense does not sit well with the its fans; building a team from the ground up is the correct path towards a Stanley Cup in today’s NHL. The future is still bright in Edmonton. The fans and media just need to settle down and enjoy the ride, even if it is a very bumpy one.

Team Leaders (As of 12/8/2010)

GOALS – Taylor Hall and Dustin Penner (9)

ASSISTS – Ryan Whitney (21)

PTS – Ryan Whitney (21)

+/ – – Ryan Whitney (+6)

PIM – Theo Peckham (60)

If you would like to write a guest article about your home team, please contact any member of the HWB team and we would be happy to make that possible.

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