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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Too Little Too Late - Red Wings Hold Off Oilers in Win

This is an image from this website which sells sports merchandise. It's Bobby Orr's famous "DIVE." Kris Draper dives too, but that's because knows a thing about drawing penalties dishonestly. Bobby Orr would frown on you, Draper.

The exaggeration from Samuelsson and Draper, combined with the officiating at tonight's game whioch was plain atrocious, made for a gong-show, phantom penalty filled afair. Most of the Oilers actually played really well tonight except for M.A. Pouliot. Best Oilers tonight were Souray, Hemsky and Staios. I was at the game courtesy of Suneil Parmar of Addicted to Oil. David Staples was there, and so was Danny On, Jermine Paglicauan, and Travis Yano (alphabetically).


Suneil Parmar, David Staples, and myself all agreed right before the game that Roloson would not play well and it was Garon's turn in net. It took a while, but our prediction came true. The long-established rules of (1) don't give the same team two consecutive looks at the same goalie and (2) don't play Roloson more than 3 or 4 games in a row were not dutily followed by MacTavish. Not that we doubt Roli or anything. But common sense would indicate that Garon should've got the start.

The story of the game was that the officiating was horrendous. Phantom calls were made everywhere and calls that should've been made weren't. And don't tell me there were 7 penalties for each team - just because the numbers are even doesn't make the officiating fair. Save that for the NFL.

Here's a quick summary of the officiating B.S. tonight:

  • Stuart cross-checking on the back of someone's head NOT CALLED

  • Detroit D-man boarding on Hemsky NOT CALLED

  • Penner's "slash" on the Detroit D-man's hockey stick nowhere near his hands, gloves, or body, which resulted in Penner's stick exploding and not the opponents CALLED SLASHING

  • Draper holding the stick on Reddox CALLED HOOKING

  • Draper interfering with Moreau and holding him down away from the play CALLED ROUGHING

  • Not to mention the Oilers had bad luck tonight. Dump-ins were hitting linesmen. The puck had two bad careems off the boards - one that barely missed the Detroit net and one that ended up right on an open Hudler's stick for a goal.

    Roloson had 7 saves and despite the poor save percentage had no chance on some of the goals. Not to mention the wicked glove save he made through traffic despite being screened.

    The Oilers need to MOVE GUYS OUT FROM IN FRONT OF THE NET. Yes, I'm talking to you Strudwick. First the Samuelsson goal on Monday and now the Kopecky goals tonight.

    The Oilers have a bad habit of being too nonexistant on penalty kills. I know MacT and Huddy have the "let them pass it around the perimeter" strategy going strong on most nights, but it's simple hockey to get into passing lanes and to not let guys get set up in front of your net. Even if you let them stand there, it should just be the illusion of a passing lane.

    Watch the Detroit PK and learn.

    Another thing is that Detroit is really good at staying on-side. It's not something that involved great skill to do. After you pass it to a guy trailing the play (because you're getting forechecked in the neutral zone) skate laterally and stay behind the blue line until the puck crosses the line. The little twirl the Oilers do near the blue line actually puts us off-side more often than not.

    Ryan Smyth was good at this: he'd pass it off, skate parallel to the blue line, then turn and crash the net hard after the puck gained the zone. This way, he could keep his speed but stay on-side at the same time.

    It was a particularly good perforance from Hemsky and Souray, but they too had some bad plays during the game.

    Souray lets too many guys skate around him on icing plays and without communication to Gilbert allowed an icing call to be beat by a forechecking Detroit player. He needs to be aware of the guys coming down the wing behind him and communicate with Gilbert.

    Hemsky, during the extended powerplay late in the third, had a chance to dump it deep and make a safe play. I understand that the Oilers had come storming back and he was feeling it, I suppose. But that was a poor decision trying to dangle the puck through 3 Detroit Red Wing sweaters. He did make Niklas Lidstrom look foolish a couple of times though.

    Another thing: turnovers. The Oilers need to simplify their game. For a team that can barely get out of their own zone the last thing they need to do is make cute passes to nobody and turn it over to the Detroit Red Wings - of all teams.

    Simple rules for dumping the puck into the opposition zone not being carried out by the team:
    (1) no puck support: dump it into an empty corner where there aren't any players
    (2) with puck support: dump it into an area where your supporting man can fight for the puck and then support him back the way he supported your puck dump by getting open or trailing him along the boards

    In neither case should the puck go straight to the opposition D-man. This happened several times tonight. And when we dump and chase, there is little to no puck support. How is a cycle supposed to start up with everyone along the same half boards? We need the team to start helping their fellow teammates out.

    When the puck goes straight to the opposition D the puck comes back the other way instantly and your man gets caught chasing a puck dump that doesn't exist.

    Simple rules for dumping the puck out of the defensive zone not being carried out by the team:
    (1) do not ram it around the boards with a man pinching on the point (Reddox is particularly good at following this rule)
    (2) do not pass it up the middle in front of the net out of your zone
    (3) do not make a cute backhand pass towards the middle high slot when on the half boards

    These simple turnovers can kill any team's momentum, especially in your own zone.

    Simple rules for playing on powerplays not being carried out by the team:
    (1) cycling the puck down low works - cycling the puck when there are opposition guys along the boards doesn't
    (2) do not pass it back to the point when the D-man is getting hounded by a backchecker (Penner needs to be aware of this)
    (3) (if you're not Souray or Visnovsky) shoot the puck low so that there are more rebounds

    These are all simple things that I thought everyone who watched hockey knew. But Horcoff, Gagner and Nilsson, though they played decent games, did not execute simple plays when the opportunity presented itself. They choose to do little spins and cycle it forever until the Red Wings cleared their zone.

    The Red Wings are so fearless of the Oilers forecheck and backcheck that even Hossa tried to lay a big hit on Brodziak. They are that unconcerned about their defensive zone coverage.

    Props to the Oilers for making it close against the defending cup champs. But "too little too late" is a tune that gets old fast. It's time to start coming through on games where you need to make a statement as a team.


    Pictured above are Suneil Parmar and David Staples. I was surprised too when I found out in real life they were really Zdeno Chara and Chuck Norris, respectively. Who woulda thought.

    Keep it a secret between you and me, though.

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    Blogger Addicted-to-oil said...

    It's true. I'm actually Zdeno Chara from the Boston Bruins. The Oilers are my true favorite team, and in my downtime I love blogging about them. How about my team this year? I might not be having the greatest statistical season, but we're winning! Also, I hate Pouliot...

    November 21, 2008 at 9:08 AM


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