Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oilers Back On Track

Mmm, maybe not.
With an injury list still close to double digits and with three of those being top four Dmen and with tonight being the last home game of the year, well, lets just say that last night might have been the last taste of victory for the club this season.
I'm thinking top five pick, maybe top three. Lowetide has been looking at some of the possibilities.
Emailed Dan Barnes yesterday after he ripped the team following their performance on Wednesday. Basically asked him what gives. How could he rip guys for quitting when management quit back in July. He replied that he has been taking management and the coaches to task all season but that he could not let the players get away with a performance like Wednesday's.
Anyhow last night saw the return of Hemsky, Reasoner and Gilbert. Hemsky scored. Reasoner scored the shootout winner. Gilbert played nearly 24 minutes and assisted on the tying goal.
Dan Syvret played 13 minutes instead of 25 and Bryan Young played only 7.
Big difference on the back end.
Looks like they're going to see what Gilbert can do over these last couple of weeks. He'll be getting the icetime Syvret was getting.
I think, based on nothing more then my gut and what I've read and heard, that Gilbert is the best of all of the kids we've seen this season, including Smid and Greene. I've barely even seen him play so what can I say? By all accounts he has a head for the game and the reports have been glowing from everywhere.
Hope that when/if Lowe clears out that blueline logjam that Tommy is one of those who stays.
And Thoresen gets almost twenty minutes last night, ends as a plus two and picks up another assist.
One of the few bright spots this season. And the only guy who got a positive review after Wednesday's debacle.
Not much left to see here. Lupul and Sykora finally scored and Lupul's goal was one of those we were expecting all season - a big one.
I think the kid is hopeless but we all know he's going nowhere this summer.
Anyhow, I know a lot of fans have been enjoying this freefall, partially for how embarassing it has been for Kevin Lowe and the organization and partially because a top five pick is better then another one in the mid teens. I'm glad that they stopped the slide though. The guys I feel bad for are guys like Smith, Roloson and Horcoff. After coming so close last season and then being put into the position they were this season ... lets face it, these guys aren't going to carry a team to glory by themselves, although Roloson did a fair job in the fall; they're good solid pros, however, and deserve better then to be made a laughing stock.
Their GM, on the other hand ...


Halfwise said...

Gilbert looks like he has played the game before, and makes Matt Greene look clumsy. (Wait, maybe Greene IS clumsy). Gilbert knows where he is going to move the puck to before it arrives on his stick. There was a time last night when he skated down a puck that was headed past the dot to Roloson's right, and instead of robotically heading behind the net he immediately turned back ice and connected on a pass to an Oiler forward. I wondered whether any Oiler D has done such an unimaginable thing this year.
Not overly physical, great wheels, moves the puck, puts himself in good positions. He belongs.

Kyle said...

Roloson in particular, I think, has looked heroic (save the first avs game).

Katie O'D said...

Didn't catch the game, but I did see that Roli had 42 regulation saves. Damn. He should slow down at this point. I perpetually feel bad for Horc and the position he's in. I love him to death for trying so hard but it always makes me sad.
Gilbert impressed me, too. I haven't seen much of him but his goal against Ottawa reminded me of J-M Liles with the way he jumped up in the play. From what I read he's good defensively, as well. Seems like he can be wicked good for us.

Anonymous said...

It was a pretty solid effort last night. Roli was da man. He made a few game savers last night, and at least 2 highlight saves in the SO. These past 12 games or so must have been killer for Roli, if he lets in more than 2 goals its over. No wonder he fought so hard last night to keep it at 3 :)

And Gilbert looked real good. He made 2 plays last night that left me saying "wow". They weren't spectacular or anything, he just did things that our other D-men (aside from maybe Smid and Hejda) can't or don't do. Solid handling the puck, didn't make any bad pinches that I recall, he bailed out Gator on one play too. Let's just say this guy doesn't have to resort to constantly chipping the puck off the glass :)

And Lupul scoring from the slot with less than 2 minutes to go was crazy! I've been ragging on him lately cause I couldn't even remember the last time he scored from the slot (the 3 prior to last night were all deflections off the goalie/D-man from behind the net, iirc). All I can say is about damn time.

Thoresen was his usual hard-working self. If he works on his shooting I could easily see him getting 15-20 goals. He had 2 great chances from like 6 feet out last night and missed the net (once by almost 5 feet!).

And Reasoner and Hemsky were awesome! What a boost. Hemmer was flying, he didn't look rusty at all. Even threw a nice check and sent some Avs player flying.

When Reasoner came out for the SO, I was like "wtf, where's Pouliot" cause I was thinking about that nice PS he made earlier this year, but thank goodness Marty scored.

That game gave me hope for next year. I think Lowe should go after someone to play on the top line with Hemsky, a 6M guy as opposed to a 3M Sykora or a 2.5M Lupul. A true first-liner who can score. On paper I think our D is way better than the start of this season:


Only UFA is Hejda, whom I hope we re-sign. Greene really impressed me last night, I'm starting to buy into the Greene is the next Gator thing. If Gilbert keeps up his play for the rest of this year, I'd think he earns himself a nice one-way contract. And if Grebeshkov is really like Hejda but better, then I could stand to let Hejda go. Smid's getting more confidence carrying the puck, a couple times last night he carried it over the blue line and chased after it.

Sorry that was long, I'm just so happy we won. I actually want us to win tonight, and if not at least take it to OT again.


Black Dog said...

chrissyt - honestly this team needs another guy who can play top 4 and ideally would sign both Hejda and Tjarnqvist plus said player.

so: Mystery man/Smith, Hejda/Staios, Tjarnqvist/Gilbert, Grebeshkov

However, likely Tjarnqvist will not return and who knows if Hejda will or if an upgrade will be there

Oilers have a lot of young Dmen - which is good - a lot of depth - but bad - there's a logjam back there and breaking in young Dmen means losing a lot of games.

I would think Grebeshkov is in the lineup next year. If Smith, Staios, he and Hejda are four of your guys, well, you already have one kid back there.

Smid, Greene and Gilbert make four kids out of seven and that's too many. Unless its a complete rebuild. Well, its still too many.

They didn't acquire Grebeshkov to move him.

So, unless Smid is heading to the minors next season, one or two of these giys will get moved.

namflashback said...

Well, if they decide to go with a decidedly inexperienced D AGAIN, they had better load the front ranks with some serious veteran 2-way players and no more than 2 rooks up front.

Black Dog said...

That would make sense but I'm thinking we're going to see kids everywhere again.

Mr DeBakey said...

Mystery man/Smith, Hejda/Staios, Tjarnqvist/Gilbert, Grebeshkov

No Smid!
So, only two of Mystery Man, Hejda or Tjarnqvist
To go with Smith, Staois
And Gilbert, Smid, Grebeshkov

Won’t be more than two,
better not be less
Or its fight for the playoffs again

As a suggestion for Mystery Man,
how about a variation on your $$$ from Phoenix idea?
Boynton, under $3mm for 2 more seasons,
has Top D skills but hasn’t moved to that plateau

Black Dog said...

Maybe Mr. D but we'll see.

Boynton scares me - whenever I hear hasn't moved to that plateau I'm thinking - ok, uh, when?

Mr DeBakey said...

He's like Brewer

Guy whose physical tools scream
"Voici, Le Plus Grande Fromage!"

but who has turned [so far] to be just a good d-man.

Turn Mr C Huddy lose on him!

Gord said...

I do not see a lot of inexperience with the following (2007 age in brackets):

Staios (33), Smith (33), Tjarnqvist (30), Hejda (29), Gilbert (24), Grebeshkov (23) & Smid (21).

Staios, Smith, Hejda & Smid are the SH specialists. Tjarnqvist, Gilbert & Grebeshkov (23) will be the PP core.

Black Dog said...

That's presuming they sign Shaggy and Hejda.

Gord said...

Assuming Tjarnqvist is healthy, they would be crazy not to re-sign him. And I hope they did not bring Hejda over to play in the minors the 1st 1/2 of the season then watch him after becoming a "top 4" when Tjarnqvist got injured.

If they sign these two for $1.7M each (I'd try for a 3 year contract with Hejda), our seven Dmen will cost less than $11M next year.

This would give the rest of the "young uns" another year to mature & train in our system on the Oilers farm team.

To be perfectly honest, I would match Staios, Smith, Tjarnqvist, Hejda, Gilbert, Grebeshkov & Smid against any teams in the league except for Detroit & Anaheim.

And this way - we could spend the "spare cash" on a scoring forward - which we desperately need...

Although I do suspect Hejda might be a popular free agent...

Gord said...

If we can get my $11M defense - then we sign Joe Sakic on a two year contract.

His experience & PP skills will improve our offense by leaps & bounds. The reason I suggest a two year contract is so that Cogliano / Schremp / Mikhnov, etc... get to play with Sakic for a year.

Hate to show my age but it was "playing with" Gretzky that made Messier / Anderson / Kurri superstars - all it takes is one year playing with a "hockey God"...

Black Dog said...

gord - that would be wonderful but the Avs have 20M in cap space and Burnaby Joe is going nowhere