Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Questions Questions

I'm not talking about the questions one ponders everyday, such as "Why am I wearing such huge pants?" or "Should it burn that much when I pee?"
I'm not even talking about the questions that face every team every autumn, like "What are the lines going to be this year?" or "Is this a playoff team/contender?"
I'm talking about what the Oilers are looking at as we wend our way through summer.
And there are not many. Its what LT has referred to as balance, something this team has lacked for many years. For once, there is little drama.
Will Conklin and Markannen be up to the task? Who is the first line centre? Will this finally be the year where there is no mad rush for eighth place?
No. Horcoff. No, although the end result of all of that stress in March and April was so so sweet. A beauty team.
Was that all Lowe could get for Pronger? When is he going to get some defencemen? And when is he going to sign Smytty?
We will never know. Never and again, never. What a nightmare.
Who is going to score goals? Who is going to play the tough minutes? And is this D as shitty as it looks?
Well somehow the offence turned out ok. A myriad of players played the tough minutes, with varied levels of success. And, no, thanks to the emergence of Gilbert and Grebeshkov. A pleasant year despite missing the playoffs. The sum somehow ended up being more then the parts.
What this year will bring is anybody's guess. The team looks improved to me. Three solid pairs on the back end. None that I would love to see out against Datsyuk and Zetterberg but none who scare the shit out of me when Tim Taylor is hobbling over the blueline. The kids should get better but of course they may take a collective step back. Injuries may rear their ugly head.
Fact is this team has seven legitimate NHL defencemen and Smid will be playing on the third pair with someone like Staios or Souray instead of in the top four. Two legitimate goaltenders. Nine top nine forwards, two thirds of a fourth line that committed serious scrubicide last spring.
Its a decent mix.
Questions for this season.
Who is going to be the Pisani pivot? Pouliot? Brodziak? Cogliano?
Will they keep three goalies? They are auditioning Deslauriers as the backup for next season and the years following. Does he supplant Roli right now?
Or do they keep fourteen forwards and, if so, who are numbers thirteen and fourteen?
Hardly earth shattering stuff but then again, I'm kind of tired of questions about the lack of actual NHL players on the roster that have plagued us the last two seasons. I'll take this, thank you.


doritogrande said...

- When does Ethan Moreau go down?

- When does Sheldon Souray go down?

Those are two important questions I think you missed. Ethan when on his game plays the perfect Oiler bottom-6er. Trouble is, he misses more than he plays and for a "captain", that's a serious problem. Sheldon's got the huge contract, and if he goes down again, could we take a crack at LT-IR this time? Save ourselves 5-mil.

Black Dog said...

dg - I'm just talking about general roster questions going into camp here. Past three years there were a pile. This year, very few and they are minor.

There are questions about every individual player for sure - can Garon be a true #1, can Hemsky make another leap etc.

I'm talking about general roster here.

doritogrande said...

Okay, I can respect that. But how about this one instead:

- When do injuries become a factor?

Because we all know they're going to be a factor with Herr Moreau leading the death march in Cali.

Black Dog said...

Do you think that is an issue or just coincidence?

Remember a while back it was the Habs I think who were ravaged by injuries year after year? I think about four years in a row they were a mess. Some of that was due to the players on the roster, some of it was bad luck.

Interesting to me was that the list of guys at the camp is mostly ex Oilers - Lupul, Stoll, Jason Smith, Greene - present roster guys are few and far between. Horcoff and someone else were there for a week or so. Of course Ethan is there. Schremp.

Not a whole bunch of guys.

Now your point is a valid one, obviously. A bunch of injuries and the season is derailed. Moreau and Souray, as we know, are especially prone to them. Luckily it looks like Moreau is fourth on the depth chart for LW and Lubo is there to work the PP.

I'd hope that both stay healthy but history tells us they'll likley both be on IR by Halloween.

doritogrande said...

I think it's an issue because our captain is injury prone, and our big contract anchor gets too protective of the rest of the team.

I think it's coincidence that we started having injury troubles when Chad Moreau started teaching his strategies. I think this is the year someone gets hurt during training, and Katz starts sniffing around. I think it's going to be Schremp.

Oilman said...

I don't think there's anything linking the training to the injuries...Matt Greene and Ethan Moreau both missed parts of the season with broken bones from freakish accidents. Raffi Torres had his knee taken out. Horcoff played through a shoulder injury for much of the season at a very high level which could be as much contributed to his conditioning as the injury could be, Sheldon Souray is a walking time bomb - he could throw out his shoulder with a porn movie and a box of kleenex. Stoll was pretty much injury free last year, lupul got taken out by his own teammate, Jason Smith toughed out a long playoff run. I don't know how anything chad moreau is or isn't doing could have prevented anyone from getting hurt last season. We're not talking torn biceps and pulled quads here.

Oilman said...

Do you think that is an issue or just coincidence?

Reminds me of a comedian I saw once making fun of those unexplained mysteries TC shows - his set went something like in Seattle, a woman is cooking supper for her family and burns her hand on the hot stove. At the exact same moment, her sister in Florida has her wrist arthritis flair up - coincidence......YES - that's what a coincidence is you's the definition of coincidence!

HBomb said...

Sheldon Souray is a walking time bomb - he could throw out his shoulder with a porn movie and a box of kleenex

Thank you for making me simultaneously laugh my ass off and lose my appetite. Good lord....classic.

Anonymous said...

I will admit that this version of the Oilers is definetely above last years crap. However, a lack of scoring, and marginal goaltending will bury them early, and it will be another season of sorrow.
If the Oilers somehow suck again, does Lowe finally use up all of his grace and get canned, or does he still run the ship for 09-10?

Gord said...

Imagine Etan Moreau & Sheldon Souray out for the season at Game #20...

For the 1st time (in almost forever), I am not worried at all.

We still have 6 NHL defensemen; Smid / Gilbert / Grebeshkov have another years experience under their belt...

And we have tons of bottom six forwards who should be able to handle extra minutes. Maybe not as well as Moreau but we should be more than adequate.

RiversQ said...

Black Dog said...
dg - I'm just talking about general roster questions going into camp here. Past three years there were a pile. This year, very few and they are minor.

I dunno, there are still some serious questions about roles and what kind of minutes will be played. Who's going to be the d-pair taking own zone draws? Which d-pair plays tough opp consistently? Is this a PVP year for Horcoff and Hemsky or do they shuffle the deck?

I think those are serious questions.

Black Dog said...

anon - I think he gets one more year, he has them moving in the right direction

riv - absolutely agree

I don't even know if this is a playoff team. As dg referred to there are two guys who they are relying on who will likely be gone by Halloween. There are six decent dmen but nobody you'd run out there against Datsyuk and Zetterberg by choice. What do they do with the lines?

Lots of questions - my point is only that they are trending in the proper direction. The last two summers they have had gaping holes.
This summer they remain a work in progress but at least it looks like there is progress.