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Stauffer Stuff: December 8

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers are 1-3-1 through the first five games in this homestand

Last night was, in a word…brutal.

In what was the Edmonton Oilers worst performance of the season the team left their hard hats at home and allowed a struggling far less talented group in the Carolina Hurricanes walk into Rexall Place and drop them 5-3.

The score flattered the Oilers who were out-chanced roughly 3-to-1 in the game and were lucky to have not lost 7-3 or 8-3.

When the Oilers started their six-game home-stand it was seen as a real opportunity to climb up the standings.

Suffice to say, with a 1-3-1 record through the first five games it has now become a major disappointment.

It’s not like the Oilers were facing a collective murderers row of NHL teams, either.

The Oilers had just beaten Nashville and Minnesota on the road, and then got four teams that were behind Edmonton in the standings; Columbus, Calgary, Carolina and Colorado to close out the home stretch.

So far the lone victory for the Oilers came against the worst team in the NHL in the Blue Jackets, and that was on a night when Columbus completely out-played Edmonton through the first two periods.

A couple of trends have been reoccurring of late.

While Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (3-3-6) and Jordan Eberle (3-3-6) have continued to produce during the first five game of the home-stand; Ryan Smyth has hit a bit of a rough patch.

Smyth has not scored in his last six games, picking up just a couple of assists despite playing over 20 minutes in four of those games.

The RNH-Eberle-Smyth line seems to have a disconnect going while cycling offensively.

I was not surprised to see Oilers Head Coach Tom Renney insert the surging Sam Gagner (1-6-7 in his last eight games) on left wing replacing Smyth for the third period of last night’s game.

By re-uniting Smyth with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, the coaches can ask far more from that trio of veterans.

Horcoff has had a very good start to the season, but Hemsky needs to be better. There is little question that Hemsky is a talented player but 11 points in 17 games is not going to cut it.

Interestingly, it was pointed out to me that the Oilers are just 6-9-2 with Hemsky in the line-up and were 7-3-1 when he was out earlier this season.

In fairness, Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk had a combined save percentage over .930 during the 10 games Hemsky missed.

Speaking of records, and furthering a point that I made last week regarding the importance of Taylor Hall, the Oilers are now just 1-4-1 with him out. As one Eastern-based Pro Scout said to me last week, the Oilers are not the same team when Hall isn’t in the line-up.

The fact is, the Oilers #1 overall pick from the 2010 NHL Draft will still likely be a no-go Friday at home against Colorado and Saturday in Calgary meaning some others are going to need to step it up.

World Junior Prospect Watch

Obviously hockey fans in Oil Country are in for a real treat when the World Juniors takes place in Edmonton and Calgary at the end of the month.

It could be a very special time for a bunch of Oilers prospects.

Four defenceman selected in the last two years of the NHL draft have a shot at making their respective countries’ teams.

Oscar Klefbom, who Edmonton selected in the 1st round, 19th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft with the pick they got from the L.A. Kings in the Dustin Penner trade has been named to team Sweden. Klefbom is in his second season playing for Farjestads in the Swedish Elite.

David Musil, who the Oilers took in the 2nd round, 31st overall in 2011 is one of 27 players named to the Czech Republic’s preliminary roster. Musil has 15 points in 31 games and is +9 playing for Team Canada Head Coach Don Hay in Vancouver (WHL).

A pair of Martin’s, have a chance to make the Slovakian team as well.

Martin Marincin, who the Oilers took in 2nd round, 46th overall in 2010  has seen his scoring numbers go down but his play away from the puck improve with the Prince George Cougars (WHL) this season. Marincin has 15 points in 26 games after putting up 56 points last season.

It appears as though the Oilers stole Martin Gernat at the 2011 draft, getting him in the fifth round. Gernat has 24 points in 28 games and is +18 in his rookie WHL season with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Bob Stauffer is the Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Host of “Oilers Now” weekdays Noon to 2:00 PM on the Oilers Radio Rights Holder 630 CHED.


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