Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Or maybe not.
There has been a lot of talk about how the Oilers' "new defensive scheme where five guys line up along the red line and dare the Wings to skate it through them but its not a trap, oh boy, we'd never play a trap, that's not Oiler hockey", is the sixth sign of the Apocalypse.
There are three groups of complainers.
Those who say that the Oilers should never play the trap. They have to play Oiler hockey and if they lose doing it well that's better then a win playing it.
Red Wing fans who complain that the games are boring.
Oiler fans who think that playing the way the Oilers normally play would actually lead to better results.
The first two, well they can take a long hard suck, as far as I am concerned. The Oilers' job is to win. Period. If they have to come out dressed up like those Ice Capades chorus lines and skate in circles faster and faster with little MAB leading the way and Rem, poor Rem trying to grab on at the end just like the little runt kid in all those old movies, well so be it. If it means a win, break out the sequins. Would I prefer it if the Oil could run and gun their way back to glory. Of course I would. But I don't see Fuhr between the pipes to stop the ensuing breakaways. And I don't see Gretz, Mess, Kurri, Anderson, Coffey et al ready to hang a converted touchdown on the Early Bird special gang either.
I sure didn't think Sunday's game was boring and when I drank my victory pint it certainly did not taste like it was poured from my local hobo's arse because we didn't send three deep on the forecheck.
However the legitimate question is whether or not its the right strategy. Would the Oil be up 2-0 or in the same position, worse case, if they played the way they played in the regular season. After all, it was good enough for a spilt then, right?
Well, my first answer to that is the same as the one that I used when I predicted the Oil would win this series. The regular season means nothing. To think the Wings would be willing to skate with us now when the stakes are higher would be naive, I think. In case people haven't noticed the Wings have played a counter game for years and if we were to open it up I think they would eat us alive. These guys know what they are doing.
A run and gun favours them personnel wise as well. We didn't outshoot them all year even playing that style. Its not like we'd be getting twice the scoring chances. And remember the Oil's struggles to put the pick in the net down the stretch. The Wings, I'm afraid, would have no such issues.
Finally the safe game minimizes one of the Oilers' biggest propensities - the big mistake. You can't eliminate mistakes - God knows we saw a few Sunday - but whether its youth, getting overexcited, trying to do too much or just making bad decisions, the Oil make their share. And to beat the Wings they have to minimize them, even if it looks ugly. I love watching MAB and Staios jump into the play or Hemsky dipsy doodle or Horcoff making his soft little passes but its all about winning.
My one complaint about the strategy is that the Wings' D aren't getting pounded enough. Schneider is hurting, Kronwall is scared and Chelios is waiting to be sent into retirement but they're not paying a big enough price. I think that MacT throws a little stiffer forecheck at them at times tonight.
I think MacT should be commended, I really do. He looked at his opponents, saw that they were beaten in the playoffs the last two times by teams that played a version of the trap, looked at his personnel and theirs and came up with a game plan. Replacing LeGG was a good move even before Winchester scored.
We'll see what adjustments the Wings make tonight.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:18 AM