Oilers need to be tougher
Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin looks back in the net at a goal by Detroit Red Wings left winger Drew Miller during the first period Friday in Detroit. Rebecca Cook /Reuters
DETROIT - With Ryan Smyth and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring 16 of the 28 goals by Oilers forwards this year, and Edmonton shut out in Detroit Friday night, it’s no surprise Tom Renney is putting out the call for more determination around the net.
“What we need to do is get secondary scoring, and even primary scoring from some guys who should be,” said the coach. “We need other guys to go where Smytty goes. We need others to throw pucks to that area.
“We have to get a little bit tougher going to the net, stick around more, get to the blue paint, make it more of a battle there.”
It’s great that Smyth still has it, but a 35-year-old outscoring a team full of younger, faster and stronger players shouldn’t be happening.
“It’s a pleasant surprise, but that’s what he’s done in his career, that’s why he was brought here, to contribute to our offence,” said Renney. “We need to make sure that becomes symbolic of our team through other people.”
Andy Sutton returned from his five-game suspension to play Detroit, but it wasn’t a very soft landing.
The Oilers lost and he took a painful shot on the leg.
“It hit me on a nerve and I thought I broke my leg,” said Sutton, who was hobbling around in considerable pain. “Then I had no feeling in my leg. It was terrible.”
The game felt worse, even though Sutton wasn’t on the ice for any of Detroit’s three goals.
“We didn’t play a full 60 minutes the way we needed to to beat a great hockey team like Detroit,” he said. “Plain and simple.”
On the move
The Red Wings like the direction Edmonton is heading, even if they’re not quite there yet.
“You add it all together, they’ve got the makings of a real good team and the reason they’re having success is not by accident,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “They’re playing well. Obviously, the kid line with (Taylor) Hall, (Jordan) Eberle and (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins looks very, very dynamic.”
“It’s impressive how some of the young kids coming in are having such an impact around the league,” added Nick Lidstrom. “Scoring goals and getting a chance to play right off the bat.”
Ear today, gone tomorrow
Todd Bertuzzi had a brief skate this week but he’s still battling a sinus infection and won’t be back for several days yet.
“I just wanted to see how it was,” said Bertuzzi, who began having trouble after getting high sticked in the face. “I’ve had some problems with being dizzy and lightheaded. I’ve got to get the swelling down in my ears so I can get my balance back.
“It started when I got hit in Minnesota, and then I played two games and it just got worse and worse. I felt lightheaded and dizzy, not myself. Then I got a sinus infection and went and got my ears checked. Had a little swelling. I’m on some pills, trying to get the swelling down.”
Magnus Paajarvi returned to the lineup in Detroit after two games as a healthy scratch. They want more assertiveness and production from the sophomore Swede.
“Magnus has everything you want in a player, what he needs now is opportunity again based on some feedback and an opportunity to watch,” said Renney. “That’s all any player wants. If they’re struggling a little bit they just want to make sure they get the opportunity to go back out and do something about it.
“We all know what he’s good at. He’s a great skater, he can shoot the puck, he can go hard to the net. He has to use those.”