Thursday, March 27, 2008
I made the point in my last post that some of what is happening with the Oilers is the result of some good luck but that it also clear that this nice finish to the season is the result of a lot of good that will be sustainable next season.
In other words things are looking up. Some of the comments that have been made around the sphere lately (and I will try and attribute these where I can - I am too lazy to go searching through thread after thread for them).
- that this team has no quit, as Dennis remarked last night - go down to a team that has a history of making the Oilers look awful; no worries, you come back and take the game to them and with a break or two you would win it; lose your best allround player, your captain, Souray, Torres; ring off a run to end the season that puts you in playoff contention with just over a week to go - that's an intangible - call it character, guts, whatever you want - but its something good
-that all of the people who saw doom for this team (myself included) did not take into account that sometimes the model breaks and your team of kids somehow beats the odds and makes an improbable improvement - Grebeshkov, Nilsson, Gagner, Cogliano, Brodziak, Stortini - whether its confidence, being put in a role that they can succeed in, renewed focus, more icetime, the right linemates - all have taken a large step forward as the season has progressed
- that guys like Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff can become stars, that Tom Gilbert, although he has struggled for a while now, can step in and play top four minutes, score 10+ goals and 30 + points and keep his head above water for the most part, that the PK can thrive despite losing key parts, that the PP can do the same - once again the idea that the model is a model and sometimes good things happen outside of it
In the space of six months a bunch of kids have established themselves as viable NHL players, survived injuries and a management team that left far too many holes in the roster for my liking, again!, and have given us a fun stretch run that nobody, not even the most cockeyed optimist, could have predicted.
And I give you the man who made some oddball decisions earlier in the year, a guy who seemed caught between winning and developing kids. The man who deserves a ton of credit. See that list of good things above? He is responsible for most of it. At the very least he can coach the kids. He has made chicken salad out of chicken shit.
Craig MacTavish and his staff had better get some respect now.
Posted by Black Dog at 1:50 PM