Sunday, August 13, 2006

Here they are, your Edmonton Sabres!

Maybe Earl Sleek can do some of that magic he does and mix a Sabres logo with an Oilers.

Because that's what this team is looking like more and more.

Good goaltending.

A plethora of young fast forwards (do the Oilers even have one over 30?) to come in waves, pressure on the backcheck, attack attack attack.

Now about that D.

My best guess is if anyone looked at the Sabres D before last season they would have been pretty underwhelmed. Lydman. Tallinder. Teppo. Kalinin. Campbell. McKee. A couple of unproven kids. An over the hill Finn with health issues. Who ever heard of Tallinder? McKee? Solid but won't be able to keep up.

You get the picture.

Carolina's too for that matter. Mike Commodore?

An oversimplification? Sure, a little bit.

Do I think the Oil get it done with this D. as presently constituted? Probably not but I think they are closer then we think. Bottom pair will be better then last year's. Three/four look fine.

They need someone to play 20 plus with Gator.

That's what they need. And I think they're going into camp thinking they may have the answer already. I can't see it and I know a lot of other Oiler fans feel the same way.

But if they do.

Oh baby.

Oh, Petr Sykora?


This guy is a player.


namflashback said...

I like the comments by Sykora on Team 1260 after the signing.

With the group of forwards we have, we won't have any difficulty scoring. But we need to focus on getting back and helping the defence too. It's not all offence.

If the coaching staff can get the Oilers forwards to backcheck half as well as they did in the playoffs -- the holes in the defence should be less obvious.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

nam - you're absolutely right - if you look at teams of this ilk - Sabres, Wild, Flames - so much of their game is built around speed - if the coaching staff can get the forwards to defend then the nondescript d corps will be less of a factor

one more thing to note - with all of these forwards and the youngsters chomping at the bit ice time will be at a premium and players will be pushed to keep their spots

harder to be a passenger on this club then in the past

namflashback said...

I think Buffalo's defeat of Ottawa is the one to really look at. Ottawa was not weak in any identifiable area other than goal.

They had Redden, Chara as top pair. They had 2 very strong scoring lines.

And they got outhustled by Buffalo.

Big T said...

I think that the Head Office is really looking at Hejda to be paired with Smith along with a little Tjarnqvist thrown in for good measure. They appear very high on him.

Your ice time leaders at mid-season should be;

Smith - 25min
Staios - 23min
Tjarqvist - 22min
Hejda - 20min
MAB - 16min (4 of which on the PP)
Greene - 12min
Smid - 11min

Not all bad but definatley with some "if's"


Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

T - some serious ifs

Here are 4.

If Hejda can play at this level.

If MAB can get his head straight and/or overcome his shortcomings

If Greene can become Mike Commodore.

If one of Smid, Gilbert or Syvret is ready.

If any of these come to pass then things are looking up. If two or more do then we're golden.

If none do then Lowe's moving a forward or two.

Better to have no ifs then this many but every other team is pretty well in a similar situation, if that's any comfort.

The fact that Lowe spent 3M on Petr Sykora (albeit one year only) leads me to believe that he has confidence in his coaching staff and the D he has assembled.

Hope he is right.

Earl Sleek said...

Maybe Earl Sleek can do some of that magic he does and mix a Sabres logo with an Oilers.

Aw, can't you just have mudcrutch screw with the numbers until Edmonton is better than the rest of the league?

Besides, lately my site reeks of corny offseason humor, you'd probably get something like:

Buf. Sabres + Ed. Oilers = Bed Soilers

and that ain't good for anybody.

Anonymous said...

Actually McKee for us in the same division we knew was always a gem on defense. He is a shutdown man defensively when he's on his game. Now he won't score you any points but that's not his job.

Kalinin played like a 0.5 ppg player and was a real offensive force and not bad in his own zone in 2004, good speed as well. He actually had a very disappointing season this year.

Nurminen when healthy is very good, he was captain material in Phoenix all those years for a reason. He's a good wily defenseman in the twilight but he was good in Dallas as well. Health issues yes, but he was solid, and was relatively healthy for a good stretch.

Lydman was a solid 5 or 6 D from the Calgary defense factory (Commodore anyone?). Hell Calgary just let's them go they have so many.

Tallinder is the surprise, he was always a marginal one step from the AHL imo, and I never heard of Campbell before. He did have AHL/NHL experience though.

All said, the Sabres we're nearly as bad on D as people think and say...if you saw their D play regularly you'd know that, even if you hadn't heard of them in the West.

The Oilers are a deal worse off. Besides Smith and Staios you really don't have much that's solid and known. Tjarnny I have no idea how good he actually is, and I don't know if he's got much offensive upside cause I don't see him dominating physically. Greene is just that, green behind the ears, he tries hard though...a little too hard...but I love his effort. Bergeron is amazing imo. I love the kid, I just hope he can put it all together and his speed and stick skills will help him survive a top 4 D against those big forwards. Hejda looks good in theory, but who knows. Smid is another rookie.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

anonymous - I'm going by what general consensus was on Sabres' D before last season - this team was not considered a playoff team - I have a good friend who is a Sabres' fan and he thought they would be abysmal

They proved everyone wrong, myself included, and once the playoffs came about they were definitely a favourite and for good reason. I live in T.O. and saw them thump the Leafs regularly.

My point is this - I think Smith and Staios as well as Tarnqvist are all solid NHL Dmen - the rest are all ifs - as you said - two rookies (albeit one is 28), one who is nearly a rookie (Greene) and one who has some flaws - Bergeron

I think prior to last year nobody thought highly of the Sabres D either - as you said Lydman was a 5 or 6 in Calgary - likely I would consider him top pair on the Sabres. Tallinder as you said - unknown. Numminen - absolutley a terrific player in his prime - but at, what, 39? After a year off and with his heart condition. I don't think anybody felt he would have the year he did.

That is the parallel I am drawing - the Sabres' D was peopled by question marks and unknowns before last season - a bunch of 4s, 5s and 6s in the opinion of a lot of people.

Nobody thinks that now.

The Oilers are in the same boat the Sabres were in last season.

Can all of their question marks and unknowns come through - probably not.

but maybe.

Anonymous said...

I take your point, but I still feel the Oil have more question marks on the D than the Sabres did. I hope what you're hoping happens though, and they turn at least into the Edmonton Sabres on D. Or maybe Leetch will sign and play like he's 26 again...dare to dream =)

I really need to register on here and lose the anonymous moniker.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

anon - your point is taken as well

I have been accused of blue skying before.

matt said...

Those "big ifs" aren't that big. But there's a lot of them, and the a reasonable D-corps depends on all of them being met all the time.o Getting one bigtime D-man would build some redundancy into the system. Wish we had JBo.