Oct 18, 2011, 3:14 PM EST
Ryan Whitney will make his long-anticipated return to the Oilers lineup tonight.
The Edmonton faithful have been waiting on this for almost a full calendar year. Last December, a busted ankle derailed Whitney’s promising campaign — he was averaging over 25 minutes a game and on pace for 60-plus points. The injury also exposed Edmonton’s lack of blueline depth as the likes of Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick and Taylor Chorney were forced into increased roles.
As for this year — let’s just say Whitney’s being welcomed back with open arms.
Through four games, Edmonton’s gotten virtually zero production from its back end. The only defensemen with points are Tom Gilbert (one assist) and Corey Potter (ditto). The unit’s combined for just 31 shots on goal through four games. Comparatively, San Jose D Brent Burns has 19 shots himself through four games.
That’s why Whitney’s return is such a big deal. There’s a real sense of optimism around the Oilers given how well the forwards have played and how “not terrible” the goaltending has been, so it’s quite possible the defense could be the deciding factor. If Whitney can give Edmonton
any consistent production from the blueline, the Oilers might hang around the playoff picture longer than expected.
- Cardiac Cats: Panthers win as Reimer, Leafs fade in third 12
- Report: Canes’ Jordan Staal to make season debut Monday 1
- ‘We can build on this': Devils lose with Lou Lamoriello behind the bench 7
- Video: Nyquist scores OT winner on incredible individual effort 8
- Video: Ovechkin crushes Letang, Capitals cruise by the Penguins 7
- Video: Prout, Lucic drop the gloves in highly anticipated scrap 75
- Video: NHL on NBC panel breaks down the coaching situation in New Jersey 4
- Lou Lamoriello unveils highly unorthodox coaching plan 37
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities 3
- NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins? 2