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Tencer's Blog: Fighting Through

by Dan Tencer / Edmonton Oilers
Sam Gagner's hand injury will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the 2010-11 season. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).

So, what is it about this 42 point number? Hemsky gets to 42, gets hurt. Hall gets to 42, gets hurt. Gagner gets to 42, gets hurt. Jordan Eberle is next poised to reach the milestone...better get him some Kevlar.

In all seriousness, the Oilers have a pretty potent Starting five on Injured Reserve right now. Gagner at center with Hall and Hemsky at wing, with Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham patroling the blue line. When you think about it, that's probably close to the best unit the franchise could ice right now.

It will be tough, then, to overcome their cumulative loss to the lineup. Outgunned in the final 40 minutes despite a valiant effort in Philadelphia, and out of gas during the final 40 minutes in Washington, things don't get easier for the Oilers on this trip. A growly Red Wings team will host them tonight, losers of four straight, then off to Pittsburgh where the Penguins (sans Crosby and Malkin, mind you) have their sights fixed on a home playoff seed.

It's going to take every ounce of fortitude that the 20 men in uniform have over the last 14 games to keep this train from going off the rails. Perhaps more impressive than the display of new talent this season has been the shift in culture, eradicating the frequent nights of questionable effort that we saw as last season wore on. I don't expect to see a dramatic drop-off in effort from the players, but that's not to say that it won't be tough.

Speaking frankly, they'll be outskilled and outmanned in every game they play for the rest of the year. The results might not come, or might be few and far between. Because of the injury struggles and the sheer will that many of their opponents will exert with the light of the playoffs in the near distance, this depleted Oilers team has its work cut out for it.

I said they'd be outskilled and outmanned in these games...but outworked? That's up to them. Draw on job security, pride or the love of the doesn't matter. At this point in the season, motivation is motivation, wherever it comes from. We're about to get an excellent glimpse at exactly how big a step this franchise has taken this year, and how many pieces to the puzzle are actually in place.


On a lighter note, the social media world in Oil Country lit up yesterday with the news that Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney had joined Twitter. This made me particularly happy, given my unfortunate role in the deletion of Hall's old Twitter account. There are now 6 Oilers players active on Twitter, and here's the official list so there's no confusion!

@jonesry28 - Ryan Jones, Master of Flow, Twitter Aficionado.

@hallsy04 - Taylor Hall, number one pick, big fan of the word "beauty".

@ryanwhitney6 - Ryan Whitney, MVP before injury, inventor of longest hashtags ever.

@Jim_Vandermeer - Jim Vandermeer, rugged defenseman, grins through tweets like he does fights.

@limpanomark - Linus Omark, first YouTube, now Twitter.

@PetryJ - Jeff Petry, rookie defenseman, doesn't know how to use a washing machine.

Of course, there are also some other "must follow" accounts if you're an Oilers fan. *cough* @dantencer *cough*

@NHL_Oilers - The official account, angering media with their edge in delivering information.

@Oilers_Travels - Pictures from the road, but not the really good ones.

@EdmontonJack - Jack Michaels, radio voice, the pleasure is all his.

@GenePrincipe - Gene Principe, Sportsnet host, making it rain puns.
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