Aside from Devan Dubnyk‘s subpar performance in the Edmonton Oilers’ season opener loss on Tuesday Ryan Smyth has taken the role of scapegoat for the hockey club’s loyal fans. Oilers Nation has exploded on Twitter over the past couple of days crying for Smyth to be removed from the team’s top line playing along side Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky.

Everything has been spewed at Smyth from his slow foot speed inability to keep up to his linemates running out of gas in the first period to his stone cold hands (which never were his strong suit).
But as of Thursday’s practice head coach Dallas Eakins had the wily old veteran skating on the top line while choosing to mix up the middle two lines. Which begs the question how long does Smyth have before he’s removed from the top line?

During the pre-season Smyth performed well with his linemates scoring twice and adding an assist. In Tuesday’s opener though he looked like his better years were behind him and now the question is front and centre.

Eakins confirmed after the exhibition slate that Smyth was deserving of the spot on the top line stating he had performed well enough to skate with Hall and Hemsky. With the speed of the other two it’s difficult for number 94 to keep the pace when on the offensive attack something that could plague the line as a whole.