November 15, 2011
Smyth on career pace for Oilers
By Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency
His team may be floundering, but Ryan Smyth is playing some of the best hockey of his career.
The Edmonton Oilers winger leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and seven assists in 17 games this season.
He’s on pace to nearly double his output from last year as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
“I look at every game as an opportunity. It’s a blessing to play this game and I just want to go out and contribute to the hockey game as best I can,” said Smyth in full cliche mode on Tuesday. “I know I’ve been around a little while and I want to show the experience that I’ve gained over the years. It’s fun being around these young guys and the intensity and the speed that they play with on a daily basis, it pushes me, too.”
Smyth is one of the few constants on an Oilers team that has hit a rough patch, losing four of their last five games, having just completed a six-game road trip.
The club will try to snap that skid Thursday when they host the Ottawa Senators.
“Everybody goes through their ups and downs,” Smyth said. “You don’t want to drag out your downs for too long, you want to check it from shift-to-shift, period-to-period or game-to-game for that matter. But it’s about opportunity, when you get your opportunity, you have to take full advantage of it and run with it.”
The Oilers have been sliding down the standings after getting off to an improbable start where outstanding goaltending and timely goal-scoring allowed them to skate past some formidable opponents.
They were unable to repeat the feat, on the road, against three recent Stanley Cup champions.
“I see that we’re just getting a little away from our game plan,” Smyth said. “The offensive stuff will come. I thought the last little bit, we’ve played good teams and we have the potential to keep up with those teams. We believe it in our locker room and it’s just a matter of executing our game plan, sticking to it and we’ll get our end result.”
Hemsky’s mojo hunt
Ales Hemsky is looking to find his form having recently returned to the lineup.
The Oilers winger has three points in four games since suiting up with the club following a shoulder injury.
Hemsky says his shoulder, which was surgically repaired this summer, is not still fully healed and he’s still trying to get into a rhythm.
“It’s not great yet, I don’t feel that great, but the shoulder is getting better,” Hemsky said. “I think in the last couple of games, I’m feeling more comfortable. I’m getting involved in a few more battles. It’s not great yet, but there’s nothing I can do, I just have to take it from there.”
The Oilers had hoped Hemsky would have been ready to go by the start of the season, but after just one game, it was determined he needed more time to heal.
Now playing on two surgically-repaired shoulders, Hemsky admits, the possibility of getting hurt again is sometimes on his mind. “It’s not easy if you have it in your mind a little bit,” Hemsky said. “But you have to deal with it and you have to get better every game. Hopefully soon I’ll be at 100%.”
Ryan Whitney skated on Tuesday, but not with the Oilers.
While the team was practising on one sheet of ice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park, Whitney was sharing the other sheet with some local beer leaguers.
He’s expected to be out at least another 10 days with a sprained knee.
“I feel it still, it’s going to take a little longer than first expected, but that’s pretty much how it goes,” Whitney said. “I’m going to see the doctor just to see when I can actually practise with the guys, then I’ll know a little more I guess.
“I’m just out there cruising around right now, I’m not doing one-on-ones or anything. I felt really confident out there, though (with beer leaguers). I felt like I had a rocket (shot).”
Ankle injury mystery
The Oilers are not certain exactly when it happened, but they do know Cam Barker could be out for perhaps the next month.
The defenceman injured his ankle in the loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
“He looks like he’s going to be up to four weeks, it’s some type of sprain,” Renney said. “I haven’t got the results of the MRI yet, but I’ve been told that he could be out on the ice for up to four weeks.”
Barker was injured as some point in the contest, but continued to play on the ankle, making it difficult for the Oilers to pinpoint when exactly the injury took place.
“We tried to find that, we actually thought we saw it when we scored our power-play goal, but talking to him it was much before that,” Renney said. “It was before the power-play goal that he hurt it. I’m still trying to find when he did it. He was describing it to me (Monday), which was the first time I got a chance to talk to him about it since coming back.”