Friday, November 09, 2007

Movember Is The Cruelest Month (Except For The Arrival of Gilbert Gilbert)

The Oiler player procurement department (amateur division) has done a nice job this decade. Plenty of regulars have arrived and the future looks bright indeed. There's been no home runs but some doubles and if Hemsky keeps it up, we're looking at a standup triple I think. After a start where he looked terrific with little to show for it, he has five goals in seven games and has been the most dangerous player on the ice in most games I have watched this fall. He's shooting more and he looks like he is taking the fabled "next step".
Alas, other then Hemsky, Horcoff and Torres most of the Oiler vets have been spotty and the results can be seen in the standings. Not enough vets and not a lot of production from the ones out there.
The result has been kids thrown to the wolves. Some have been on the Springfield shuttle. Some have been overmatched and badly. Some have had growing pains. Four have stood out. Gagner, who is overmatched but at barely eighteen has also had flashes of brilliance. Cogliano, who has held his own for the most part at both ends of the rink. Brodziak, who has done a pretty good job playing some tough minutes and being a primary guy on the PK.
And Gilbert.
My complaint the last couple of years is the Oilers' lack of rookies who have made any sort of impact. While San Jose (for example) has seen Vlasic, Carle, Preissing, Bernier, Michalek and Clowe and a seemingly neverending stream of kids who contributed over the past few years, the Oilers have had no such luck. Until this year. Now some of this Oiler "failure" has been by design I believe. MacT likes his vets and when you are trying to get that last playoff spot year after year you're going to go with the guys who can make the simple play rather then the kid who may show flash and dash one minute and then cough it up in the slot the next.
And some of this failure can be attributed to the lack of kids who have seized the opportunity. Well, this year Cogliano and Gagner and Brodziak passed a few guys with more experience (Pouliot, Jacques, Schremp all passed by) - they came to camp and seized the day.
And Gilbert, despite having a contract that was made for demotion did the same, forcing the team to demote Laddy Smid. And then, unlike a lot of kids who fade after a half dozen games, he has taken on more responsibility, partially because of injuries, partially because he has earned it.
Gilbert has offensive skill but he makes the safe play on the back end. When caught up ice he recovers easily. A number of times against the Avs (I remember three at least) he was caught for a moment at the offensive blueline. Each time he got back into the play easily, once breaking up a three on one. He also covered his partner, who was caught once similarly that I can recall. A few long and effortless strides (the guy has the big man's look of barely trying when he skates but he eats up the ice) and he had come back to break up the rush.
Gilbert has always played with poise and I would say the guy is a pretty confident kid. Unlike Grebeshkov who plays nervous (he looks like I did a few years back when I played in a league above my weight class), fanning on the puck, hurrying passes or not being quick enough, or Smid, who has the deer in headlights look, Gilbert always looks like he knows what he is doing.
Hey, this season I think we'll have to take our positives where we can get them. And Gilbert is about as positive as it gets. Playing tough minutes and doing this well - no better compliment can a rookie defenceman earn.
On a personal note, the stash is coming along - I would call it "tawny" in colour, surprisingly. It is noticeable and I can say this because of the looks of pity, disgust or mockery that I am now getting (and this is just at home). I am thinking this baby is going to take off - its been nine days and with three weeks left I think it may look quite Goulet like by December 1st.
Check it out at this site. Enter 60191 in the log link and take a look. It is cheesy, creepy and truly awful. I am debasing myself to raise money for prostate cancer research so if you have a few bucks to spare please donate. Don't make my wife's suffering be in vain.
Thank you. Thank you very much.


matt said...

I loved watching Pronger play. He had that long break out pass that would always come at the last second. So patient and confident. Now, while I don't mean to project Gilbert into Pronger's shoes, I enjoy watching the same long strides and that same patience and confidence with the puck. When Pronger had the puck, you didn't have to worry. It was like a warm blanket. I'm starting hope I can feel that way about Gilbert.

Lowetide said...

Great post. I think Cogliano is going to be well up the list of "most points by an Oiler rookie forward" by March too.

Black Dog said...

matt - its that poise that makes him a special player - I think that a lot of the kids, even Grebeshkov, have the physical tools - its the ability to slow the game down to your speed that separates guys

LT - agreed on Cogliano - Bob MacKenzie raved about him on draft day; he thought he was a special player - he looks like he may have been right

Its so nice to see.

uni said...

What? Nilsson doesn't even get his own sentence in that whole post? Inconceivable!

Black Dog said...

Well he was in the minors until recently ...

Having said that it looks like the light has come on and he has realized now is his time, which is great. He's been terrific for a stretch now and if he keeps it up he'll make the list a five man one.

uni said...

The only fear is that he'll fade again. MacT pegged it before, he plays gangbusters when he gets the call, then sorta drifts and fades after a few games.

Justify our love Nilsson, justify our love.

That said I'm also a big JFJ and Mikhnov it's a safe bet I'm not going to be wasting money on the lottery anytime soon.