Thursday, November 23, 2006

First Place?

Yep, there they are. Hard to believe but of course they can thank Roli first and foremost.

And they are three points out of last in the division so ...

Still, considering the turnover of the roster, the patchwork D and the failure of nearly everyone to put the puck in the net consistently, I think the Oilers will take it.

Things to mull over:

1/ Lowe's gamble on the D is paying off so far. If they can make it to the halfway point and be where they are now he'll look like a genius. Then he can pick up reinforcements for the spring at cheaper cost and Smid and Greene will have played pretty big NHL minutes for half a season, accelerating their development. Now ideally Brad Stuart would be back there now - if so they might have a bit of a cushion - but I'll take first place with this bunch.

2/ Smid and Greene have done pretty well, considering. While they both make mistakes they do so because they are young. That is acceptable. Its the vets who you worry about when they screw up.

3/ Having said that I think MAB's days are numbered with this club. While he does ok with the minutes he is given I have to think that his lack of development will lead him to be traded. Maybe not this year, maybe not even next but I think he's going no further with the Oilers. Mental errors when you are 20 are acceptable. Getting outmuscled - there's always someone bigger so it goes. But mental errors when you are 26 - can't happen.

4/ PK is awesome. PP less so. My biggest beef is lack of consistency. I can handle a slump but this PP disappears for far too long. A goal a game is all I ask when they have 4 or 5 PP, with the odd game with 2. When they have even more they should pot at least 2. There are going to be games when it doesn't happen and thats ok but these long dry spells kill this team. A goal against Calgary in a one goal game - win. Remember all those 5 on3s in the cup final last year? G7 - o fer on the PP? Just a little consistency.

5/ Jarret Stoll scored 7 points in 4 games one week, the week they played the Capitals, the Coyotes twice and the Ducks. Why do I get the feeling that he only picks up points against weaker opposition (obviously exclude the Ducks there)? Remember the playoff disappearance last season? I think Stoll has to get on his horse or he may be prime tradebait.

6/ There's a bunch of kids pushing - it will be interesting to see if any of them get traded or if its a guy like Stoll, Lupul or Torres who gets shipped out for a young veteran Dman.

7/ I'd still bet on Smytty getting signed despite the grumbling. Its posturing on his part and he has to do it - its all part of negotiations. He also has the Oilers over a barrel. He is one of the few guys who scores regularly and can do all the "little" things (play D, kill penalties, be consistent) that guys like Lupul do not. With this team they need Smyth. Thank goodness there is a cap though - if there wasn't - hello Red Wings for 8M per.

8/Who plays with Sykora/Hemsky? Everyone has had a shot at it.

9/ Will Reasoner and the kids continue to eat the icetime of Torres, Stoll and Lupul?

10/ Will guys like Horcoff, Pisani, Lupul and Torres, who have all played better of late, really really get going anytime soon? Sure would be nice.

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