Saturday, December 30, 2006

Oilers/Canucks - Bloggin'


Oilers/Canucks tonight. Oilers in ninth tonight, a point out of eighth, a couple of wins out of third.
It looks like the usual madcap dash for the playoffs may be starting early this season.
I picked the Flames to win the division before the season started with the Oilers challenging them if they could hang around long enough and then get some help on the back end. They've hung around but they've been sliding of late. They need help but the problem is the guys other teams will want are either the guys this team can ill afford to lose right now - Torres/Stoll or prospects like Schremp who, lets face it, is not going to be moved as this team builds towards '09.
Weird year. Other then Anaheim and San Jose, nobody really stands out in the West and, as we know, anything can happen once spring rolls around. The Oilers have been mediocre since a nice start - Roloson, Smyth and Sykora carrying the load - and lately Roloson has looked tired and the points have been harder to come by. Tonight Smid finally takes a seat and Markannen gets the start. Tomorrow the Flames. Could be a good weekend or the lads could out in the cold.
25 years since Gretzky hit 50 in his 39th game.
Not a bad player.
Smith and Staios and the Stoll line facing the Matress line. Smyth starts with Reasoner and Lupul.
Lupul gets two chances to clear the puck and fails both times. Pretty sad.
But a good backcheck his next shift.
Bergeron with a terrible giveaway. Goal. Its those types of mistakes that make people hate Marc Andre Bergeron.
Jan Hejda looks solid. Again. He always looks pretty solid.
One of the Sedins left alone and rings it off the post. The Oilers look all sort of disjointed tonight. Weird seeing the Canucks playing this close to the vest style (it may still be weird ten years from now) but they have some decent defencemen. Bieksa playing 20 minutes a game? Not a lot of offence getting generated. Everytime Hemsky gets the puck the crowd starts to buzz.
Now they start to come on. Chances for Peterson, Sykora, Pisani. Pisani, Torres and Stoll look damn good. Pisani especially is noticeable out there.
Not much on the PP. Big surprise. They have one or two decent games a month and everyone says look at the numbers - they're alright. Bleah.
Hemsky a little shaken up.
Smyth almost pots one. And Kesler chats it up with him - what a guy - talking tough to the guy with the bad hand. What a pussy.
Oilers had a good second half there. Need to keep it going in the second. Cassie interviews Stoll.
Cassie - call me!
Hrudey figured the Oilers would be at the top of the division and feels that Lowe's plan was and is a good one but he also figures they need two D. Also talks about last season's team's mental toughness and heart, even when things were terrible between the pipes, and how this year's team is missing that edge. Ethan Moreau?
Lupul saves Greene's ass. Penalty - too many men - how does that happen when you're hemmed in your own zone?
Down two now. Another great shift for the Stoll line. Pisani is flying. He looks confident. Torres too. Greene with a big hit on Naslund. Nice. Greene better watch his back - Bertuzzi might jump him next time they play the Panthers.
Another chance for Stoll coming into the play as Torres forces a turnover and sets him up in the slot. Interesting how you have the headcase, the tradebait and the 11th round pick looking like the Production Line out there. Flying.
Another whole lot of nothing on the PP. I find it hard to believe they scored three goals the other night on the PP. I really do. They look more organized and create more chances on their PK.
3-0 followed by another gong show by MAB and Greene. And another penalty. Cue the booing. I think the natives are officially about to become restless.
4-0 as Peterson fans on the clearing attempt. Looks like Markannen is going to have to suck it up and take one for the team. No chance on any of them for him. Poor Jussi.
Looks like a third straight loss at home for the Oilers and what's getting scary is that they're not even close in this one. Where's Laddy Smid? ;)
Wow, what a period. The Oilers were carrying the play and now they're done - just like that. Two PP goals against and a third one second after another expired. Phoenix beat San Jose 8-0 and Roenick had the hattrick? What the hell was in that last beer? Fiddler's Elbow. Hmmm. This must be just a strange dream. Wait, Andy Grabia is here in my living room. It is a dream.
Naw, it just seems like the world is upside down.
The Oilers look nothing like the team we fell in love with last year. Hell they don't even look like the team that charged out of the gate this fall. Lowe is on After Hours tonight. Should be interesting. I'll be in bed - have to get up with the kids early - but it will be interesting to hear what he has to say. This team is struggling right now. And we're talking badly.
Heh. Showcase is showing Blazing Saddles and its the farting scene. That's good shit. "How about some more beans, Mr. Taggart?" "I'd say you've had enough!"
Pouliot pots one. San Fernando. Goddamn!
Millen has an orgasm as Jacques gets a goalie interference penalty.
Again Stoll's line creates a chance and draws a penalty.
Nice PP. Craig Simpson screams at the ref. Thanks for coming out Simpson. Seriously.
Pouliot getting more icetime. Playing with Hemsky and Smyth. Playing four on four.
Hemsky on the PK - can't say I have seen that before.
Another PP and another doughnut.
See this is where I have an issue with those who say that statistically the PP is ok etc etc. The Canucks have three PPs in the 2nd and score on two and may as well be credited with the third. The Oilers do nothing, absolutely nothing - 0 for 5 right now - and not really generating anything to be honest. Pisani draws another penalty. How many has he drawn tonight now?
And that's that. Oh well, at least Stoll ended the agony early.
MacT tries to fix the PP by sending out everyone - Reasoner, Hejda, Staios etc. Nothing. Another goal against. That's 19 in their last three games.
Horcoff scores. Torres forces Mitchell to ring it and Hejda puts it on net.
That's 20.
Well, as time winds down - this one turns into another disaster. An Oiler goal early in the 2nd might have turned the tide but instead things fell apart pretty quickly. The PP was an absolute disgrace again, beyond terrible. The 5 on 3 mess at the end of the game indicative of the whole disaster.
Pisani was excellent and he and his linemates were dominant although they lacked finish. Smyth had a lot of try as always. Hejda was solid but he seems to be every time he plays. Um, nice to see Pouliot get his second. And, yeah, that's all. I stayed up for this?
Irk.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cogliano and Longweiner


Winding down 2006 here at work watching Canada and Germany playing at the WJC. I'm sure Lowetide will have a review of Andrew Cogliano's play later today but from what I have seen the kid looks like a keeper. Great speed, as we all have heard. Good playmaker.
Around the net he's looking a lot like Todd Marchant or maybe Shawn Horcoff? Two straight shifts at ES he and his linemates dominated.On each shift he had a chance right in front of the net. First he fired it into the goalie (in fairness the German goalie is pretty damn good-its 1-1 at this point); then he rang one off of the post.
I'd take Horcoff Jr. or Marchant with those playmaking skills though.
Just picked up his second assist.
Sounds like Maguire is getting aroused. If the kid ever rooms with Stoll they had better make sure their doors and windows are locked at all time or they might get a "Pierre Surprise".
Interesting as the Oilers slide a little (and of course they are still very much in it) - the big club needs two veteran defencemen likely. Lowetide has a list of potential chips that Lowe might use, one of these being Schremp.
As Cogliano gets stoned once again by the German keeper I'm thinking this kid is likely going nowhere, despite having Horcoff hands, at least for today. ;)
Longweiner is a German player by the way - nothing to do with Maguire.
Enjoy the last weekend of 2006, everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Obligatory Cliched Oilers' Christmas Wish List Post



Reports of my demise have been exaggerated.

Its not Oilers' fatigue but just general fatigue which has made posts a little less frequent. No slowdown at work this December and with two little ones at home there is never any slowdown there either.

But off now for a few days at least. And my best friend who gets tickets every year for a game or two through his company got a pair for February 17th here in T.O. And having turned 39 yesterday plans for this 40th year include a pilgrimage to Rexall to see the Oilers in their home rink for the first time. Things are looking up.

Anyhow, that old cliche - the sports wish list, Oilers and Oilogosphere style.

For Ryan Smyth, a contract that makes him a lifetime Oiler.

For Shawn Horcoff, some luck around the net.

For Joffrey Lupul, the same. And failing that, a clue on how to contribute when the puck is not finding the back of the net.

For Ales Hemsky, more of the same, only better.

For Petr Sykora, the brains to realize that he's got a good thing going here.

For Jason Smith, some help.

For Ethan Moreau, a speedy recovery.

For Matt Greene, steady improvement.

For Laddy Smid, some more seasoning, maybe even in the minors.

For Raffi Torres, confidence.

For Fernando Pisani, a return of that playoff magic.

For MacT, a couple of reliable Dmen.

For Gary Bettman and Craig Simpson, new careers.

For the Oilers, first place in the Northwest and one more playoff win then last year so the vets who came so close can hoist that Cup!

For Earl Sleek, hopes that this season's playoff highlight will once again be "forcing a game five". Sorry Earl, nothing personal.

For God's team, another year without a Cup, to make it an even 40.

For Lowetide, a long and successful Oilers' career for Marc Antoine Pouliot.

For the lads at CinO, some more time in their days - I think I speak for almost everyone when I say that their days of regular posting are missed.

For Vic Ferrari, a poster of Marc Andre Bergeron for his bedroom ;).

For Mudcrutch, a championship for Merv.

For Andy Grabia a box with Craig Simpson's head in it, followed by a relatively painless labour when he gives birth to Fernando Pisani's lovechild.

For Loxy, Marty Reasoner, wearing a mic. And nothing else.

For the Prez, tickets to Yaroslavl.

For Alana, Dwayne Roloson, wearing just his helmet. As we know, this will pop off when things get hot and bothered.

And for anyone I forgot and for anyone who is reading this, best wishes for a great Christmas and for a healthy and happy 2007!

Cheers.

And Goilers!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Everybody Hates Joffrey


Lowetide and Vic and Tyler have all weighed in on Joffrey Lupul in the last few days and today Dan Barnes piles on. He basically points out a lot of what has been pointed out at those aforementioned sites.

Lupul is young.

He is struggling.

Big time.

Lowetide has been his most ardent defender in the Oilogosphere. Check out the thread on Tyler's post where words like "pussy", "no balls", "no courage" etc are being thrown around. Lowetide stands up for the kid with some salient points. Its way early in his career. This is the first time he's faced these expectations. Goalscorers, in many cases, take a while to get their shit together (my own examples Guy Lafleur and Cam Neely). Its politics and optics colouring everyone's view of the kid.

Barnes points out something that is in question - Lupul's ability to handle the pressure of playing in Edmonton. Joffrey says so himself - as he has before - playing in Edmonton is nothing like playing in Anaheim.

And the pressure is there. Because he was traded for Chris Pronger. Becuase the three other youngsters on Anaheim, Penner, Perry and Getzlaf, are tearing it up. Because he was given a spot with Smyth and Horcoff to start the season and failed to produce. (He's now on the fourth line). Because he is making good coin. Because he is paid to score goals and he is not.

Now players have been in and out of the doghouse already this year. First it was the peripheral players like Winchester and Bergeron. Then Torres who was busted down to the fourth line himself. Struggling veterans like Smith and Horcoff. Guys who could do a little more, like Stoll.

The differences between Lupul and these guys. A couple. First of all, these guys were on last season's magical squad. Fernando Pisani makes 200K more then Lupul and has fewer goals but without Fernando we don't even get to Carolina. We might not even get to San Jose. Pisani, Smith, Horcoff - these guys are going to get cut a lot of slack. A lot.

Secondly, nobody can question the intangibles for these guys (Well, Winchester is figuring it out still). Horc may not be scoring but he's busting his ass and doing everything he can. You might question Bergeron's brains but you can't question his heart or toughness. And so on.

Pisani may score 18 goals again, no more, no less. But the guy kills penalties, plays the tough minutes, does whatever it takes to win. Work work work work work.

And that's Lupul's problem. He doesn't kill penalties. He doesn't know what to do in his own end. But worst of all, he looks like he doesn't care.

He does, I'm sure of that. But he hasn't figured out that if you're a goalscorer who isn't scoring and you don't do much of anything else, well you'd better be out there busting your hump and getting your nose dirty. Because if you're not even doing that, what's the use of you?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Soap Me Up Pierre, I'm Going In


Not to beat a dead horse ... actually, who am I kidding? I have a buddy who made the mistake of admitting to trying Grecian Formula a couple years back and I still email him pictures of Maurice Richard weekly.

I'll beat this Pierre Maguire thing until its nothing but a bloody smear in the grass.

Anyhow, Dennis at IOF has been on fire lately. He's always good but lately he has been the Oilogosphere's equivalent of Jarret Stoll. Hopefully Pierre Maguire isn't trying to break into Dennis' bedroom window at night to give him a "hug".

A lot of interesting stuff in the media lately. Not so much in the facts that are being reported but in the spin. Such as today's Journal article that claimed that Bergeron's play of late has made the need for a Dman a little less pronounced. Bergeron has played well, no doubt, and he is a good bottom pair Dman. Of course, the Oilers need help in their top four. Anyhow.

And Dennis, in a post about Lupul yesterday makes it clear that apparently Robin Brownlee at the Sun has joined Maguire in lurking around the Oilers' showers, each in his Edmonton Oilers' towel, Brownlee having a # 15 and Maguire #16 of course, just waiting for the boys to come in so they can wash their backs if need be. Apparently its not Joffrey's fault that he has been a big bag of suck for the most part. Its, uh, Horcoff's. Maybe we could send Joffrey to the desert to play with another noted suckass, your man Mike Comrie. Good thing you escaped the gulag, Mike. Are you enjoying Phoenix? Weather's nice, I guess. Anyhow, the spin has started and while Torres and Stoll have been carrying the mail since Smytty and Hemsky went down (not to mention Bergeron's improvement), Lupul stands out as the one guy who has done the least. Horcoff has not been great at times but at least he's doing stuff without the puck. But apparently its not his fault. But so it goes. The media cues on something (sometimes with some direction) and away they go.

After Maguire's description of Stoll (who has been terrific mind you) last week, I keep expecting to turn on my TV and see TSN bringing Maguire, buck naked and fully erect, announcing breathlessly that Jarret has been inducted into the HHOF immediately.

Monstrous!

But Maguire, Brownlee and the Journal's foibles are symptomatic of the sports media these days. Nary a word was said back in the day when Punch and Judy hitters starting cranking out 35 home runs a year and guys like Bonds and Sosa, suddenly had their hat sizes grow five times this big, sort of like the Grinch. Only the head, get it? Seriously, I'm of the same age bracket as these clowns and believe me, when you're pushing 40, you don't start getting a gigantic sized melon. You might get larger everywhere else but the noggin's not going anywhere.

As a Cubs' fan, I follow them pretty closely and the Chicago Tribune, owners of said ball team, is always an interesting read. Never ever was Sosa's suddenly burgeoning coconut mentioned. And while there is criticism of the team, its interesting to note that certain players/management are untouchable, until contracts start coming due or its time for someone to take the fall for what is now 98 years without a World Series. Then suddenly, columns begin to appear about a player's selfishness etc etc. Next thing, said player is on his way out of town.

But that's an old game and one that is played everywhere that a newpaper has ties to the local team or where columnists are chummy with said team as well.

Interesting here in Toronto where for the most part the print media is openly contemptuous of the Leafs' ownership and the higher echelons of management. Ferguson and Maurice and most of the players get a pretty even handed treatment from the print guys but ownership ... of course nearly 40 years without a Cup (although about 400 years worth of excuses) might make your inkstained wretches a little jaded.

Here its the radio and TV guys who are out and out shills. Witness Bill Watters' shameless lobbying for career underachiever and defensive liability (as well as playoff choke artist) Bryan McCabe to be included on the Canadian Olympic team last season or the elevation of the supremely untalented goonish self promoter Tahir Domi to Maple Leaf Saint and TSN panellist.

Ken Campbell noted in the Globe and Mail blog (where the Hat slyly referred to the Leafs as God's team today - heh) the other day how only in Leafland would a lowkey reunion of the 93 Leafs organized by Wendel Clark be turned into an event akin to the lads returning from Europe in 1945. Of course Richard Peddie took every possible opportunity to display the goings on in the luxury box where they were drinking and eating, setting off roars from the Leaf faithful. (Or were those screams of terror as they tried to figure out what was blocking out all of the light - oh its just Peter Zezel, all 750 pounds of him.) A sad comment on the Leafs' franchise, as Campbell noted, that a team that went all the way to the Stanley Cup semifinals!!!, is so deified.

But so goes the spin in Leafland, where winning long ago took a back seat to selling condos and merchandise. The Leafs are now a brand, like the Chicago Cubs.

And like any good brand, they know how to spin a story.

This Oilers' stuff. Small potatoes.

But don't drop that soap!

Four Words You Will Never Hear Again


Beautiful Goal Matt Greene.
Seriously, I will be 95 years old in some home pretending that I have no bladder control in an attempt to get the nurse to wipe me down and my grandson will come in and say "grampie, what is the most memorable first goal you ever saw a player score in the NHL?" and I will say "Matt Greene".
The incongruous inconguity of seeing him dart down the boards, swerve towards the net and finesse that puck into the net. What a laugh.
Another big game from Stoll and everyone is lining up behind Pierre Maguire to soap up Jarret and the man himself says "Yeah earlier in the year I was playing a little soft". Uh, buddy, keep it to yourself. Thanks for coming out and you are playing some pretty damn good hockey now but that's coming pretty close to the outskirts of Arnottville there. At least you recognize it and are doing something about it.
Reports say that Smytty may get in a game or two before Christmas and Hemsky is likely in the same boat - so can Stoll and Torres and Pisani for that matter keep their shit together when those two return - lets hope so.
And one last thing, one dandy goal is one thing. But add Horcoff's in there and the fact that the Oilers beat Wild on Jack Lemaire to move into sole possession of first and it was a fun night.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Loving Raffi (Not the Way Maguire loves Stoll though)


The "Heart of the Oilers", Joanne Ireland calls him today in the Journal.
Its stretches like these that make you so very happy while also trying your patience.
2G 4A +8 in the last five games.
11 points in the last 11 games.
Pumped big Shea Weber's melon last night.
This from a guy who was beyond invisible for, what, the first two months of the season almost.
Its funny because whenever trade talk is going on and someone mentions Torres' name someone else always pops up and says that he has no value and he's worthless etc etc. And then he goes on a tear like this and he's one of the Oilers' best players and you know rival GMs are salivating but there's no damn way you can trade him because he's producing and he's playing tough minutes and he's a physical force out there. With Smyth and Hemsky out he and Stoll and Pisani have responded and done their jobs.
And in February we'll be wondering where he's disappeared to again.
Sigh.
Anyhow, I've ranted and raved about the guy, called him a weirdo, etc etc but in the end its times like these that make me terrified to move the guy. Because when he is bad he's rotten but when he's good he's awesome. Too bad we can't bottle those good times.
If he only had a brain.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Is the Future Now?


Lowetide has his December list of the top twenty prospects for the Oilers. Its terrific stuff.
There are three graduates from the June top 20 - Matt Greene, Brad Winchester and Patrick Thoresen. Add to these players Laddy Smid, a regular since the season's beginning, and JF Jacques and Marc Antoine Pouliot, two more youngsters called into service with the injury bug biting, and you can draw a few conclusions:
- After a long dry spell it appears that the Oilers' scouts are getting it right. Now, every team's fans overrates its prospects and players (I remember "the best outfield in baseball" that the Jays had in the 80s and also the guys who were supposed to replace them - Glenallen Hill, Sil Campusano, etc - superstars and future stars each one) but the Oilers do look like they have some promising youngsters at almost every position and for every role. Will they all make it? Of course. :) Well, maybe not. But its still a step forward.
- They have some tradebait
- They have the makings of a terrific team in two or three years
- Despite a tough division, obvious shortcomings on the blueline, some lacklustre play from their "vaunted" offence and a few key injuries they are in first place with less then two weeks until Christmas
So here, with all of that in mind, is the question.
Parity is here. Other then the Ducks and les Sabres, who really scares anyone right now? The Sens have come back but still they are lacking. The Canes will be a factor but they are feeling the loss of a few pretty good players. The Sharks? Bell has been a bust. The Preds? Maybe but I say no.
Anyhow, point is that while this looked to be a rebuild year for the Oilers (though not officially) they are at this point in the secondary tier of contenders. Add a Dman to play with Smith in the top pair (heck I'd likely add two Dmen if I could) and all of a sudden they are in the first tier likely. And who would you rather have in a seven game series, Roloson or Giguere?
Hey, anything can happen. The Oilers might not even make the playoffs, although I think they're going to win the division to be honest. (Some division, huh - pretty solid) And once you are in, there are no guarantees. But in a year where after the two top teams there isn't a lot to choose from, do you give up some of that promising future for a lot of right now? I'm not talking about Brodziak or Winchester. I'm talking about a guy who might be a big part of what Lowe is building towards in two or three years - say Tom Gilbert or Schremp or Pouliot.
Keep in mind that bringing in Eric Brewer maybe increases the Oilers' chances from 10% to 15%. What if the cost drops their chances from 25% to 20% in two years?
So. Do you go after Brewer if the cost is Pouliot rather then Almtorp? Schremp rather then Stortini? Gilbert rather then Roy? And I haven't the foggiest what Brewer would cost - likely it might be one of those three plus ... or maybe it would be Mikhnov and a second.
Do you go for it or do you play it safe? Further to that do you take a step back now and build for '09 and move Jarret Stoll if you can fill in that one glaring hole and pick up a Seabrook or a Z. Michalek or another D prospect like Marc Staal? Once again, I have no idea what Stoll would bring but do you move him if you can?
Maybe if we can engineer a coup in Chicago and have Pierre Maguire replace Tallon. Christ, he'd probably ship Seabrook and Keith over just for the opportunity to have Stoll on his squad.
"Uh, Pierre, why are you in my room?"
"Bedcheck, you monster, I mean, Stoll!"
"Uh, Pierre, why are you naked?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hey Pierre, I'm a Monster!


A fun game last night.
The Canes had a little going on in the first but not too much. Their PP sure looks nothing like I remember it but with Kaberle and Stillman out, there's a lot of skill missing. Makes a big difference.
Anyhow, MacT went with similar lines as the Canucks game - Horcoff between Sykora and Lupul, Stoll between Torres and Pisani. And Reasoner is back between Thoresen and Winchester while Peterson babysits two more kids.
Horcoff against Brindamour. Stoll against Staal. Reasoner and Peterson doing some extra duty
And both the top two lines carrying the play. Surprising a little bit based on Horc's wingers and Stoll and Torres' own play for most of the season. But the Oilers are playing playoff hockey essentially. Basic simple stuff. Chip it out of the zone. Get it over the red line, dump it in and get after the D hard. Puck support. Clogging the lanes. Back hard.
Its nice to see and its about time. It was a full sixty minute effort and even when the Canes tied it I never felt the game was in doubt - it was like one of those Ducks' games last spring. Close game but you knew that barring a completely goofy bunch of bounces the Oilers were coming out on top.
Smith, Shaggy and Staios all looked solid and for that matter MAB as well. Greene did his job. Smid was Smid. He looks fine and then he's all alone deep in his zone, no pressure and he dumps it into his own corner, nice and soft like. Near disaster results. He's 20. What can you do?
Nice game for Jussi, rebounding from his last two starts. Roli has to get his rest after all, right Terry Jones?
Up front, well there was good and bad. Torres is playing like he can and Lupul looks pretty good as well although as Mudcrutch noted, the guy never goes hard on the forecheck. Must have been all of those years of "You get the puck and pass it to me so I can get the glory". Still the kid showed a little bit of heart and its not like they hid him. That line carried the play when they were on the ice . Of course it comes back to Horcoff.
As for Justin Williams, I know there's mixed feelings on what he did. Look, the kid is a damn good player but he just seems to be involved in too many of these "borderline" plays. He's not out and out dirty for sure but just too many of these sticks and knees out where they should be not. Happens too often for my liking and I know the Oilers have employed some thugs over the years, including the guy they're going to honour in February. I'd rather a guy who snarls as he breaks some Russian's face with a blatant elbow then some guy who clips someone and then says "who me?" with feigned innocence, like Darcy Tucker. Williams is nowhere near Tucker in that department either, don't get me wrong. Maybe he's just careless but I don't like it and good on Horcoff for going after him.
Oh and Pisani tipped that Smith shot for sure. Anyhow I shouldn't say it (jinx) but man, I'd love to see Fernando get on a roll. Maybe he needs to grow that big red beard again. Hopefully he gets on a streak where everything he touches goes in. Good for the Oil and good for him.
As for the kids and scrubs, it looks like Winchester might be ready to get going again. Streaky. Thoresen is just a damn good player although like Dennis at IOF I wish we'd see more of him on the PK. JFJ is still finding his way but he ran over at least one Cane. My, he is a big boy. And Peterson is just a fine and useful player. The more I see of him the more I wonder why he didn't see more icetime in the spring.
Pouliot is struggling a little bit but he also shows flashes. On the PP at least he showed some sense and handled the puck well. 5 on 5 he looked like a rookie.
They should mic Reasoner every game. He's a funny dude and I'm sure glad he's back.
As for Stoll, well he sure showed some guts blocking those shots. And now apparently #16 will be raised to the rafters along with #11, at least if Pierre Maguire has his way.
Now I didn't find Maguire as annoying as I did when I saw him on the Wings game a few weeks back but that might have been because I was blissed out over the Oilers' play and the three Gritstones I fired back watching the game. The thing that pisses me off about Maguire is he's such a bandwagon jumper. In that Wings game he hadn't a good thing to say about the Oilers (of course they had a poor game too), not one. It was Wings Wings Wings. I figured after the game he was going into the shower to soap Chelios up.
Well last night it was shoe on the other foot. The Canes didn't look great but they played alright. But other then campaigning for Brindamour's entry into the Hall of Fame (I mean it is the HHOF but come on!) he hadn't anything to say about Carolina at all. It was all Oilers all the time. And when Stoll collapsed at his feet, well that was it. Next thing you know Maguire is giving him a reacharound.
I like Stoll. I think he's done very little this year but I like him and wish him well. I wish he played the SCF like he did last night. A goal or two might have been nice. Anyhow he is a nice young player who hopefully will turn into a good allround player. Or maybe they can trade him for a good young Dman like Brent Seabrook.
After all he is the second coming of Gordie Howe, according to Pierre Maguire.
Of course next time Pierre does an Oilers game and things don't look good we won't hear a thing about Stoll or the rest of them.
And at the end of the game the camera guy shot Pierre from a low angle - the most unfortunate angle ever for Maguire, I would say. He looked like a penis with a red tie and glasses. My God. If only I could draw.
Its a lovely night. Oilers in first and playing well. Leafs coughing up another third period lead.
Joy to the World indeed!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Grit


Here's Horcoff explaining how he cured polio.
Some wag on the game thread over at Tyler's site said last night that after the game Horcoff was going to fly the plane back to Alberta. Of course someone else replied that it wasn't necessary as Roloson had the gig.
A slow start with some bad luck in a lot of cases this season but the Canucks saw a lot of Horcoff last night and they came out the worse for wear. Over eight minutes in the first period and over twenty for the game, dragging Lupul around with him on top of everything. Draws. PK. PP.
MacT is going to ride this horse until he drops, I think.
Good start to a two or three week period where this team has to stay afloat. And they will if they come out like they did last night. What peeves me off though? Lupul with a little edge, scoring a beauty goal. Torres looking mean. Stoll hitting guys. And all of them talking how they have to step it up. Uh, yeah, no shit. Maybe if you had started the season by "stepping it up" the Oilers wouldn't have half the conference nipping at their heels.
Still a little bitter. But Horc makes me smile. Look at the mug on that guy.
Wow!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Opportunities



Its funny how soon we forget why the Oilers offence was expected to be so full of "vaunt".

Six guys who scored 20 plus goals last season. Two more who had 19 and 18.

Its not like we were projecting that this team would score a lot of goals because of a couple of guys who had nice numbers in junior (Schremp and Pouliot) and a guy who had some highlight reel goals in the Russian league.

But as it was pointed out today out of all of the vaunt only three guys are on pace to score twenty plus - Smyth, Sykora and Lupul.

And Lupul has to be the quietest twenty plus scorer in history. Except for his insurance goal against the Wings way back when, has he scored a goal that means a thing this season?

And now Smyth is out. And Hemsky. And Moreau. And the D is showing the cracks we figured it would. And there will be between six to eight rookies in the lineup tonight and every night going into the foreseeable future.

You can't hide them all. Especially with Peterson, a nice player but a role player, and the trio of suck - Stoll, Torres and Lupul.

A little cranky tonight. There's 5.4 million wrapped up in these three guys and not a lot going on. Horcoff and Pisani aren't doing a whole lot either but at least they look like they've played in the NHL before. They at least can take care of their own end.

So, for Thoresen and Winchester, Pouliot and Mikhnov and big Jacques, opportunity knocks. I don't think anybody honestly thinks that any of these guys is going to carry this team anywhere. (Of course there was a guy on the TSN message board whose response to Smyth's injury was that Schremp was finally going to get his shot - a guy who can't even cut it in the AHL yet - and he would be the saviour.) But for Patrick Thoresen a chance to maybe play some tough minutes with Reasoner, or maybe with Horcoff and Pisani, or maybe just a shot to provide some offence with Sykora. For Pouliot and Winchester the same - these guys are going to get the chance to strut their stuff because there's nobody else. We're an injury or two away from Stortini and Reddox getting a regular shift. For Jacques a chance to bang some bodies and get some icetime. For Mikhnov, perhaps a chance to get out there and show that he can has some skill. This team needs it.

For Stoll, Torres, Lupul, maybe time to grow up. MacT put it pretty straight when he said that there was one guy on the team who had been willing to get dirty to get goals - now that guy is on the shelf. And for all of the worries about Moreau and Staios' contracts and the chance that Smyth might get 5 plus and for that matter that Sykora has been awol snce he lost his right hand man, let me put it this way.

I'd rather pay Moreau and Staios 4.7M then Stoll and Lupul 4.5 if this is what we get from them. At least the first two bring it every night. And Sykora may not be doing much since Hemsky went down but at least he put up some big numbers while he was healthy.

And Smyth? Well without Smyth this team is in Coyote territory. I'd say waive Stoll and give Smyth 1.7M and Sykora the rest if I had my druthers right now.

Because honestly, when Marty Reasoner is getting more done at both ends of the rink at a third of the price of Stoll and a couple of raw rookies in Thoresen and Pouliot strike me as better options to play the tough minutes then something is seriously wrong.

If this stretch kills this team it won't be on the D, as thin as it is, or the rooks, or Roloson, if he should falter. It will be on the guys who are young, who are making good dough and who should be earning it. If this December turns into a freefall then they should take the fall.

Enough is enough.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Uh oh





Funny how things go. A win last night would have given the Oilers 11 points out of 14 from this homestand, one in which a number of players finally seemed to get it going a little after slow starts.

Instead, a loss to the Blue Jackets (a different team now that Hitchcock is in charge) and, most importantly, the loss of Ryan Smyth "indefinitely", suddenly has a few people wondering if the Oilers are going to slide right out of this thing. Terry Jones at the Sun is questioning everybody, including Roloson, who apparently is no longer allowed to even have one bad game without Jones questioning his bona fides as a starter.
Remember the first time around Anaheim. Roloson had two bad games - Anaheim, Phoenix, then a good one, then another so-so, then he was ok.

Roloson is the least of this team's problems except it has become pretty clear that he has to be at the top of his game every night for them to do well.

With the cracks showing in the D nightly now (Toby Peterson?), Smyth joining Hemsky and Moreau on the sidelines and the hits these losses mean to the PP and PK, as well as the apparent fact that Sykora has joined Hemsky on the sideline, well, things don't look good. These are the things I would worry about.

Lowetide very recently opined that this team was heading for a slump and it appears that he was right on. The problem is that with the way things are this season a few bad weeks can put you in a pretty bad spot. I don't think the Oilers could slide right out of it because remember the Flames' awful start - they're back in it now. But I sure would like a March and April where every single game wasn't do or die.

We're going to see some more of the kids (Mikhnov next?) and that's the only silver lining - its not going to help them win now but it will be good to see what some of these guys can do with real minutes.
But its up to Torres, Lupul, Stoll, Sykora, Horcoff and Pisani to keep this team afloat up front.
And based on what has gone on so far, colour me skeptical.
Overstating the impact of Ryan Smyth on this team? Maybe.
But I think we may be in for a bad two weeks or so, unless this team guts it out. And I'm not sure if I see it.