If you are the Edmonton Oilers all you can do at this point is grimace and keep trying to get over the hump. After losing their fourth straight game overall last night–and tenth in eleven tries against the Dallas Stars–not to mention losing yet two more players to injury, there’s not much else they can do. Help doesn’t appear to be coming soon, and by the time it does, their season could already be lost.
Injuries to Ryan Jones, Ben Eager, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Mark Fistric, Theo Peckham and Andy Sutton had already made the Oilers so thin that they only dressed six players on defense, recalled Mark Arcobello from their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City and had to switch Ryan Smyth to the fourth line so they could have someone to play center on that line. And why the center problems? Because in addition to Belanger and Horcoff being out, it was revealed that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was being kept out of the game because of a shoulder injury.
But the nightmare continued and is putting a cloud over Edmonton’s prospects for the rest of the season. Despite the limited help he actually provides the Oilers, Darcy Hordichuk‘s injury leaves a gaping hole where the go-to tough guy should be, and the severity of Anton Lander’s foot injury is not yet known, but if he is out for any length of time this will be basically leave the Oilers with Sam Gagner and…yeah…at center. Lennart Petrell, Smyth and Teemu Hartikainen will do what they can as fill-ins, but they are way out of their league and faceoffs will continue to be a nightmare for the Oilers until some of their starters come back.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that Chris VandeVelde will get a call-up before Saturday’s matchup against the Detroit Red Wings, as he nearly made the team out of camp and is likely the best of OKC’s limited talent, but how much help will his or anyone else’s call-up really provide the Oilers with? Probably not much. With any fortune, Nugent-Hopkins will return for the Detroit game, but he has looked a bit off at times this season and you have to wonder if he’s been playing through this injury for a while now. If he has been, he should be kept out until he is healthy again and not pressured to come back too soon just to try to save this season.
Things are going from bad to worse in a hurry for the Oilers, and their albatross of a nine-game road trip hasn’t even begun yet. For the second game in a row they were outworked and outhit by the Stars. They couldn’t win faceoffs and lost in the giveaway and takeaway categories as well, so there was very little that went right for this young team.
If there is a silver lining here, it’s that they kept on fighting and somehow managed to get a point against the Stars–something they had not accomplished since the 2010-2011 season–so at least there’s that. That being said, it might be time for Oilers fans to start covering their eyes as the slaughter continues, because it’s looking like the Baby Oilers are being shoved out of the nest again and there’s no one there to help them learn how to fly.