Where the Oilers sit right now in the season, it can’t be argued that Edmonton fans and the team itself have been pleasantly surprised by their top 6 contributions. Their 18 year old rookie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is 5th in league scoring with 11G, 17A , and 28 points. His linemate, sophomore Jordan Eberle is 8th with 10G, 17A, and 27 points and veteran die-hard Oiler Ryan Smyth has also had an unbelievable start with 26 points, putting him 11th in the league.
They are also getting offensive contributions from Shawn Horcoff (19 points), Taylor Hall before he was injured last Saturday (18 points) and Ryan Jones who potted his first career hat-trick last night against Columbus (14 points).
That’s where the train ends for the Oilers. The Oilers have 3 players that were supposed to help out offensively,that at this point, 26 games in, do not have a goal to speak of. These players are Sam Gagner, Eric Belanger, and Magnus Paajarvi.
To put this in perspective, lets look at Ladislav Smid. He scored for the first time in 124 games. He scored his second goal of the season less than a week later. He has 6 career goals and is putting up more this year than all 3 of the mentioned forwards combined.
Belanger has been integral from the Oilers defensively and in the face-off dot. He has the 13th best percentage in the league and leads the Oilers. Offensively though, he’s not doing much. Because of this, I routinely find myself asking why he gets as much power-play time as he does. His one-timer isn’t fast enough to play the pint and he’s cold as cold could be. The spark isn’t there. I can see his job pertaining to winning the face-off and getting off of the ice, but that’s it.
Paajarvi, like I predicted has fallen victim to the sophomore slump. He has gathered all of 2 points and has taken a seat in the press box 4 times this year. He’s starting to play better, using his speed, and his first Geno isn’t far away.
Gagner, who missed 7 games this year and the last part of last year, has 7 assists so far but nothing in the back of the net. He has had a rough start trying to get back into a groove, and has played every position a forward can play up until now. Currently, he is playing left wing with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky and will score his first goal against Calgary tonight. Book it.
As far as tonight’s game goes, the Oilers will win 4-2, Gagner will score his first of the year, and Eberle and RNH will team up for 2 more.
Hockey This Week