Monday, June 12, 2006

The Big One, part Deux

Great article by Paul Hunter at the Toronto Star about Ryan Smyth which includes a great line from MacT that he attributed to Howie Meeker:

`Can't skate, can't hit, can't shoot, can't handle the puck, what a hockey player.'"

Al Maki at the Globe and Mail (its subscriber content only) also has quote after quote from Smyth's teammates affectionately cutting him up

Pronger: You look at his shot and he has a muffin

MacT: But at times, you can see Gary Bettman's name on the puck when he shoots it.

Moreau: Sometimes he winds up, takes a slap shot, and my five-year-old can shoot better.

Staios: Ask him how many goals he's scored from the top of the faceoff circle.He has two in his career . . . and both were deflected.

So the mood is light, which is good, but of course the Oilers are focussed on doing what they did against San Jose. They have completed the first part of that by winning game one but they have to win tonight to make this a best of three. Going back to Carolina down 3-1, not really an option.

Keys to Tonight

Power plays - Moving Tarnstrom to the first unit near the end of game 3 was a move I have been awaiting for a long time. Dennis too. The guy only ran the PP in Pittsburgh for at least a couple of years and did a good job by all accounts and purposes. He makes a nice quick pass and also is not afraid to throw it on the net. If the Oil are going to win this series they have to start getting one or two a game. No chances on a 5 on 3 (and not for the first time) is beyond unacceptable. On the other side of the coin is the Canes' PP. The Oil shut it down nicely last game. Do the Canes have to adjust? Will they? Their PP on the road has been Oiler like. At home its been a machine.

Getting to Ward - The Canes had a chance to win game three and good on them for that but Stillman admitted that the Oilers had outplayed them. Ward was the reason they were in the game, imo, just as in game one he didn't let in the backbreaker when it was 3-0. The Oilers have to keep sending pucks at the net and keep going to it hard. If they cannot get to Ward then they are not going to win this thing. He has been great. They were able to get to hot keepers in San Jose and in Anaheim and getting to Ward would mean facing a guy who was actually the Canes number one in the regular season in Gerber but they have to start somewhere.

Playing their game - As they did in Game Three - they have to play it close to the vest defensively, cut off the shooting and passing lanes, clear the front of the net, stay out of the box as much as possible, forecheck hard

As always its straight forward. They may do all of these things and still lose. But if they do what they have to I think tomorrow morning its a best of three.

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