Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Tough

Well, last spring's hero is on pace for his usual offensive output (~18 goals). A bit disappointing considering if he beats Ward in close late in game seven and then the Oilers pulled out that game he would have likely been the Connie Smyth winner (or a close second) but having said that there is no arguing the impact San Fernando has on this team.
He is one of those guys who does everything well. Lowetide compares him to Ross Lonsberry from the Flyers of the 70s. Other possible comps that come to mind - John Madden, Stephane Yelle, Butch Goring, Dirk Graham. Of course Graham was a little more physical, Goring produced more offence, Yelle less, but you get the point. You need these guys to win.
Seven game roadtrip and Dennis at IOF has made the point that it is the failures in divisional games (for example two recent losses to the Canucks) that have killed the Oilers - broken their season so to speak. Even if they go five and two and with the Sens, Sabres, Wild, Wings and even the suddenly hot Chiefs on the sched this is unlikely, they still may very well be out of a spot come trade deadline day.
And five and two is likely a pipedream with Stoll now on the IR with his concussion and Pisani getting concussed himself the other night. Anyone listening to Stoll's description the other day of how he was dozing off mid conversation might wonder if he is done for the season. Anyhow, with these two on the sideline along with Moreau there is a sudden dearth of players to take on the heavy lifting.
And that is a big difference between last season's squad and this one and an obvious outcome when you replace veterans with rookies and try and overcome a huge hole on the backend by loading up with alleged offence. Last season's squad could rely on Pronger, Smith, Spacek and Staios on the backend and up front, well you has Smyth, Horcoff, Peca, Pisani, Moreau, Dvorak and even Torres taking on tough minutes through the playoffs.
Heading on the road, well Pronger and Spacek are long gone and the guy who was eating up some of their minutes is still on the IR. Up front, Dvorak and Peca are long gone as well and even though Stoll managed to make the leap this season, he too is out along with Moreau and your man Fernando.
So that leaves Smyth and Horcoff and I guess Reasoner and Torres to do the heavy lifting.
Hemsky will play with Smyth and Horcoff I think and these guys are going to earn their bucks although if this all falls apart this may be the last we see of the Mullet. Sad to think that.
Reasoner and Torres will play with Thoresen I guess - the one kid who definitely knows his way around his own end of the rink. And here's hoping Pouliot gets some minutes with Sykora and Lupul. Scary thought that he is likely the defensive backbone of that line. Maybe Nedved ends up back there and Pouliot and Torres are joined by Reasoner or Thoresen. Hard to say.
But it sure could get ugly real quick. The Avs have pretty well fallen out of it - a few losses in a row for the Oilers and the playoff picture will be painted.


refer said...

You know, it hadn't struck me until I read this post, but it's entirely possible Ryan Smyth may have already played his last game in Edmonton as an Oiler. And his cousin Jason as well, I suppose.

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