Last time these teams met, we got an introduction to SB Nation's Oilers' blog Copper & Blue thanks to site manager Derek Zona. They're certainly an interesting fanbase, as Prohockeytalk's Joe Yerdon pointed out on Twitter "Is there a team and blogosphere more diametrically opposed as the OIlers seem to be? My goodness." It's a good point. I don't think any teams' fans take them to task as often as Oilers fans do with theirs. Of course, I'm not sure there are any teams that deserve it quite like the OIlers either.
At any rate, Derek was kind enough to answer our questions today.
1. Since these teams last met, Edmonton is 4-5-2 and is coming in off three straight losses. What's been costing them points lately?
Derek Zona: All of the things. Lack of centre depth has been exposed since Shawn Horcoff broke a knuckle. The average joe hated him, because his value isn't apparent in the boxcars, but when he's in the lineup, he's taking on tough assignments and making everyone's life easier. The Oilers were a breakeven Fenwick team with Horcoff, or close to it. Without him, my back-of-the-envelope math shows them at a 44% Fenwick team. Lack of defensive depth was exposed in 2010, but that still hasn't been addressed and won't likely be addressed in my lifetime. Or, rather, it will be addressed by torpedoing forward depth. Lack of organizational depth was exposed in 2007, and that won't be addressed until Kevin Lowe is caught committing a felony on CBC.
2. Ryan Whitney's name keeps showing up in trade speculation. He's not terribly popular at C&B. Can you explain why that is and what kind of return the Oilers would be looking to get if he is moved? (as an aside, I'm kind of terrified Ken Holland pulls the trigger on this trade.)
DZ: There's no way Holland does this. Whitney is so, so bad. His ankle is shot so badly that he can't pivot and he can't turn. We've seen him go to a hopping move to try to change direction, we've seen him take huge sweeping turns with the radius of a supertanker in order to pivot. The guy is not physically able to play at the NHL level anymore. As for trade return, I'd really like to get back the 4th!!!!! round pick Steve Tambellini traded for Mike Brown, but at this point, I think a pick to be named later is a pretty good return.
3. Has that menace Taylor Hall learned his lesson after being suspended for taking out the angelic Cal Clutterbuck?
DZ: Yes. Hall has certainly learned not to hit people on their knees, thus putting them out of the lineup with a thigh injury, anymore.