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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Cringer

Good things can happen from a well timed rush.

Bad things can happen from a badly timed rush.

David Staples talks about Arthur Farrell's book, Hockey: Canada's Royal Winter Game and he describes a type of player named the cringer, in relation to MacT throwing the team under the bus and calling out his players to perform on the upcoming roadtrip. Not that I totally disgagree with David, but I don't think this Farrell comparison is useful.

Here is the definition of a cringer according to the aforementioned book:

"Pluck is an essential to a man who aspires to perfection in the game. ... The calculating player often saves himself by avoiding unnecessary dangers, but occasion demands, at times, a fast rush through a 'bunch' of fighting players, through swinging, smashing sticks that, in noise and movements, resemble a threshing machine, a desperate jump, or a block of the puck, at the expense of a sore punishment, to score or save a single goal, and the risk must be run."

Why is this a problematic definition?

Don't get me wrong, I love the bull-in-a-China-shop type players like Ethan Moreau, Erik Cole, Rick Nash, etc. etc. and shot blockers like Smith, Greene, and Volcheckov etc. etc. So I agree and disagree, and I disagree mainly because...

Any book written about the Montreal Shamrocks is a little outdated, in my opinion. The Montreal Canadiens are celebrating their centenniel season, are they not?

Can you imagine the nightmares MacT and Huddy would have on defense if our D-core started pinching at every potentially retrievable puck? Well, we'd end up giving up a lot of shots and taking bad penalties on odd-man rushes, not like that doesn't already happen...

1. when it isn't the playoffs, the reward doesn't outweight the risk of pinching EVERY time and injuries play a big factor
2. if you rushed at every challenged puck, then you'd get more D-men injured on icing plays and on plays similar to the Brandon Sutter/Doug Weight incident where puck possession is a close race
3. does that make Wayne Gretzky a cringer?

The point is taken: there are times to be cute with the puck (you hear that Visnovsky?) and there are times to just hammer the message home with your solid play (you hear that Pouliot?).

However, if the point is taken too literally, then you get the Sheldon Souray syndrome, where every single pass to the point is a chance for #44 to blast it indescriminatly at the opposition shot-blockers. If the point is taken too literally, you get guys getting anxious on the PP when they should be setting it up, nice and calm. If the point is taken too literally, you get OT giveaways by guys trying to rush it into the O-zone before clearing the D-zone.

The results? We don't like 'em.

So, what is the problem with Farrell's defintion, after saying all that? The problem is that while it clearly defines the kind of player Farrell likes, he says "there are situations when [player] should do [such and such] to improve the team's chances" and yada yada yada. The fact is, this is an open admission that when playing hockey, it's not all about brains and it's not all about brawn. It's about BRAIWNS (it's some sort of mix between brains and brawn) and it starts with a healthy breakfast. What's his point? Farrell's point is that the player should use discretion when deciding when to make a strong push through the opposition wall.

If we were going to doll out lessons on discretion, it won't help the Oilers' players. I'm sure they're all old enough to make decisions, but if they were all helpful to the team we wouldn't have a coach at all. The coach is the mastermind of everything on and off the ice. We don't need more options on the PK - we need less. We don't need more choices on the PP - we should focus on simplifying it. We don't need more complications in the lineup - we need stability. We need to get our game plan to execute - or else we'll need to change the game plan. Options? Give me the 2 points, and I'll be happy.

From what I interpreted, Farrell wishes for more one-dimensional players - and maybe some of us feel that we don't have enough pluggers on the team. That's not the kind of players we are collecting on this team we are building in Oil Country, though we already have Penner, Cole, Pouliot, Brodziak, Pisani, Moreau, Stortini, MacIntyre...

Perhaps a clearer message to send is this: fight for the puck, or lose the game. Plain and simple. None of this hockey philosophy crap about which kind of player does what. Otherwise we're all going to start sounding like Don Cherry, and we wouldn't want that. Just plain go out there and win the game, or MacT will scratch your ass from the lineup, because he does have plenty of options. Plain and simple.

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Blogger Addicted-to-oil said...

I just want a win. I've forgotten what it feels like to win - or rather to watch the Oil win. I don't care if we play an awesome game and win, or play a shitty game, and somehow manage to win. I just want a W, 2 points, and some momentum. The NW is showing again why it's such a tough division, and it makes my beard turn red (my hair apparently turns red when I'm stressed, and not white. I think some Irish genes must have slipped in somewhere) watching Calgary, Colorado and Minnesota put up points on an almost nightly basis.

I just want to win again - although with that Nasvhille game coming up, I don't like our chances...

October 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

Blogger raventalon40 said...

Nashville is a pretty good challenge, I agree. I think it will be important for the team to score early or at least convert some of our chances (are you listening Pouliot, Nilsson?) and get some rewards from all that hard work.


October 29, 2008 at 12:15 PM


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