Saturday, October 27, 2007
Well, I'm a glass half full type of guy, so what can I say - I can spin this positive with the best of them.
Honestly if you had told me this team would be four and six at this point I would have expected that record and that is with a completely healthy team. Its a rebuild. Its going to be bumpy.
But without Moreau or Pisani at all and with Souray only playing six games and Pitkanen out for the last two? And with Jarret Stoll doing his finest JFJ impression. And Pouliot too. And a two fer on the PP, period.
Yeah I'll take 4 and 6.
Besides the injuries and the PP there have been some other negatives. Even with Souray and Pitkanen in the lineup the D has lacked, especially in their coverage in front of the net. They are also error prone. But a lot of these guys are kids and its to be expected - growing pains. The PK has not been its usual high quality but when you take Smyth, Smith, Pisani and Moreau out of the mix its to be expected.
Essentially they have looked a lot like a young team that is not very good - they get lots of chances, carry the play, look terrific and all but then the D blows a coverage or makes a turnover and the puck ends up in the net. No goals on the PP and a poor PK and you get 4 and 6.
Throw in a few strange decisions by MacT who seems to be trying to win some games (kids get 3 minutes of icetime) but throwing others away (or trying to) in the name of development - sitting Tarnstrom in place of Grebeshkov Thursday night for example or playing Stortini in place of JFJ or Pouliot - and its made for some strange days indeed.
Now on the other hand, Roloson has been mostly very good. The D have moved the puck as advertised and the transition game is much improved. Staios and Tarnstrom have been as solid as can be and lo and behold Matt Greene is staying out of the box and making progress. The story on the D is Tom Gilbert who has looked like a player since day one. He's playing some tough minutes here and there and he has showed well. Just a smart hockey player who gets it.
Up front, Reasoner and Sanderson have teamed with another rookie, Brodziak, to form a decent line which at least keeps the other team honest. Not a lot of production but when they are on the ice the puck is generally in the opposition's end. Jacques has looked to maybe finally be getting it - taking a whack at Finger after his shot on Gagner garnered him praise from MacT.
Not much to be said about Gagner and Cogliano - soft minutes, tough minutes, who cares? That's four rookies who are playing regular shifts and doing their part and when is the last time an Oiler team could boast that?
Hemsky has really played at a high level, imo, and he is truly a guy who has been looking for bounces. I find that he has been shooting much more and that in the games I have seen he has usually been one of the top players on the ice.
Horcoff has been Horcoff - underappreciated but he's a player. He's another guy who wasn't getting a lot of bounces but after a four point night on Thursday he's at a PPG for the season. If Horc was to pop 80 plus points while playing the game he plays maybe we could end the complaining about him once and for all.
As for Penner, well its still wait and see with him. He's out of shape and adjusting but so far it has been consistency with him. Saw a nice backcheck against the Avs that shows me he's no Lupul and there have been a few games where he has shown what Lowe saw in him. Fingers crossed but I believe he will cover the bet. Maybe against soft minutes but I'll take it.
Other then the rookies the brightest spot for me and a guy who has been flying under the radar is Torres. With Raffi its all about consistency so maybe the next ten will be as bad as the first ten were good but he has become a force game in and game out. Defensively he is right there every time. He is playing with a physical edge nearly every night. His playmaking has improved and the play rarely dies with him anymore. I would say that it looks like he may have figured it out - even when he was on fire two seasons ago he never looked as good as he has now.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:41 AM