Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Congratulations Kevin Lowe

Great team you put together. But now you're screwed. If the Oilers had done it last night you would have never had to buy yourself a drink in Edmonton again. Now you have to figure out how to make this team two goals better - with expectations that this team will go 98 and 0 next season. (See Flames, Calgary)

At Paupers on Saturday night the discussion turned to what next year's team would look like. A win last night would have given Kevin Lowe carte blanche to do, well, whatever, short of a Florida Marlins' selloff. Say Roloson wants 4 M a year. Well, thanks for the run and we'll always have fond memories of your contribution to our sixth Cup but I can't afford to tie our hands. He would have been able to do this and nobody would have blinked, imo.

There will be a lot of argument over what this run means - to me it was terrific. A lot of great memories created by a gutty underdog team that came together at the right time and almost pulled it off.

But it also hurts way more then if they had bowed out to the Sharks or Wings or even fallen short of the playoffs altogether.

The Canes deserved to win last night. But what if the Oil had gotten the first break and capitalized. What if the clearing on the second goal had succeeded? What if? What if? Maybe the Oil take the game over as the Canes sag. Didn't happen though.


What a team though. In the last five games with their backup goalie they allowed eight goals.

That's something else.

Truth be told, this series was lost in the third period of Game 1, imo. They win that game and then maybe, maybe they win Game 2. Worse case they come home with a split. Instead they blew it, it carried over to G2 and suddenly they had no margin for error.

Anyhow, back to Lowe. Now he has to figure out if he can turn this team into the Canes - a team that lost and then returned to take it all. Or will they be the Flames, falling short in the first round next year? Or will they be the Capitals? Never to be seen again.

This is going to be his challenge. Who stays? Who goes? Make no mistake, this team has to get better. They had their fair share of luck to get where they did. To return they will need luck again but they need to get the talent so that they need less luck, if that makes sense.

They need a better power play. If that means a different PP coach, a different strategy or different personnel, so be it. No goals and barely a sniff on 5 5 on 3's in the Stanley Cup Final not only doesn't cut it.

It may have cost them the Cup.

I believe they will be younger. I believe Lowe will make a trade or two to fill spots.

I believe Pisani will be back and will be on the first or second line next year based on an article I read on Saturday. (More on this later.)

I also believe that they are going to do everything they can to get Peca back. Even a month ago I would not have thought that. He probably will not return but not for lack of trying.

Rem the Gem, LeGG, Winchester, Samsonov and Tarnstrom will all be gone.

As for Spacek and Dvorak ... ?

More on this later today or tomorrow.


Yanni Znaio said...

"What a team though."

Hear, hear.

Even as a Hurricanes fan, I concur with your statement wholeheartedly.

Great series which could have easily gone Edmonton's way.

Certainly gave a lot of us some scary moments.

Cheers, and here's to next year.

Vic Ferrari said...

Ya, it was a fun ride Black Dog.

And with so many teams being so close in terms of quality ... it may be a while before we get another run like this. Some other bugger will probably get the run of sevens next year. Hell, there is no guarantee that the Oilers will even make the playoffs next season, though with decent goaltending they should be fine, they aren't as vulnerable to the injury effect as teams that rely on a couple of star players.

To my mind Lowe needs to make some changes. I mean if that DET series was played in a zillion parallel universes, with only the bounces being ever so slightly different ... then the Oilers are out in the first round 4 out of 5 times.

My point: There is still a pretty big talent gap between Edmonton and OTT and DET. And there are probably only about 10 teams in the league that the Oilers have a clear edge on.

Now probably OTT and DET will have to shed some salary and won't be quite as strong next season, I dunno to what extent though. But they're still going to be good. And the Oilers need to increase the talent level to get closer to that range. Not so much to try and catch those squads, but to try and separate themselves from the throng of other good teams and get a higher playoff seed next year.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Vic - agreed about the talent gap and the fact that Lowe has to (and will) make changes. Rutherford said after 2002 that his biggest mistake was standing pat.

I posted what my plan would be above - I've been around and seen a bunch of others already. Everyone has their ideas.

I think it starts with goaltending and getting a knockout offensive talent up front.

Once you're in the playoffs anything can happen and the Oil had some luck this season for sure but if they can get in and, having more talent, lessen their reliance on luck, then maybe they can win that sixteenth game.