Devan Dubnyk, Daymond Langkow

Reality check? Coyotes end Oilers’ winning streak

The red-hot Edmonton Oilers dropped a 4-2 loss to the almost-as-hot Phoenix Coyotes tonight. So is this a reality check for the upstart Oil? Let’s take a look at some reasons why it might or might not be the case.

Their goaltending was human: Devan Dubnyk allowed three goals on 29 shots while registering a .897 save percentage on Saturday.

It was the wrong human: Sure, Dubnyk was the frontrunner to be the starter going into the 2011-12 season, but Nikolai Khabibulin has been the star so far (and certainly has more skins on the wall). One could argue that the Oilers shouldn’t worry until “The Bulin Wall” starts to show some cracks.

Offensive struggles come into focus: OK, it’s hard to beat up on a team for its limited offense when they haven’t been forced to fill up the net. Still, the Oilers need to improve on their average of 26 shots per game as their magic begins to wear off.

The kids are still more than alright: On the bright side, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to be a favorite for the Calder Trophy. He scored his sixth goal of the season with assists from fellow youngster Jordan Eberle and relative old man Ryan Smyth.


So what’s the takeaway from that quick exercise? My feeling is that the Oilers cannot expect their goaltending to maintain its unreal start, even if Khabibulin’s return to the NHL’s elite isn’t a mirage. That means Edmonton will need more offense from depth spots, especially if Nugent-Hopkins and other inexperienced players hit a wall.

The fact that their defense is seemingly competent – maybe even very good – is mind blowing, but the simplest numbers hint that their transformation has a chance to continue. If that holds true all season long, then Tom Renney deserves to be at least a finalist for the Jack Adams.

Long story short, it’s not time for Oilers fans to be too concerned, but they might want to put any over-the-top braggadocio on “pause” too.

Another Sabre hurt: Gionta (lower body) day-to-day

Leave a comment

On the eve of their season opener, the Buffalo Sabres got another bit of bad health news.

Captain Brian Gionta missed practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, per head coach Dan Bylsma. The ailment puts the 36-year-old’s availability for Thursday’s game against Ottawa in jeopardy.

The ailment also puts Gionta alongside a slew of hurting Sabres. Defensemen Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges were on the injured list when Buffalo’ roster was released this morning, along with rookie Brendan Guhle and veteran Cody McCormick.

There is a bright light for Buffalo, however.

Gorges skated on Wednesday and could possibly dress tomorrow, per Bylsma. If he does play, it’ll likely be on a pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen.

Blues put Berglund on LTIR, use savings to sign Gomez

Scotte Gomez
AP Photo
Leave a comment

As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.

The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.

Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.

He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.