Ty Conklin is poised to become the answer to the mind-boggling, skill-testing, gut-wrenching, cold-sweat-inducing trivia question
Who is the NHL goalie that started in the first 3 NHL outdoor games?
How does that happen exactly? But whatever the reason may be, Ty Conklin has had himself quite the interesting journeyman career and it would appear that we missed the boat on him, like I've been saying since 2001-2002 and now I bet Craig MacTavish wishes he hadn't picked Mike Morrison over him.
And yeah, there's a famous incident involving Jason Smith and Rod Brind'amour - but we won't go there.
Ales Hemsky is out for the rest of 2008 and for who knows how long for 2009.
I've heard fans say it all year:
"The Oilers are nothing without Ales Hemsky"
After a heckuva outing against the Nashville Predators, I'm extremely curious to see how the Oilers respond tonight. Hopefully, they respond how we want them to - come out and beat the lesser team in the Ottawa Senators, who are without top defenseman Filip Kuba.
If we can't beat the struggling Ottawa Senators, how will we beat our provincial rivals the Calgary Flames tomorrow night?
Dustin Penner 6 - Played a simple but solid game tonight and was willing to drive the net. He was a bit slow on puck retrieval and was beat repeatedly along the boards. He did display some finesse tonight which is a part of his game we barely get to see. Shawn Horcoff 6 - Worked hard at puck retrieval and was willing to take punishment along the boards. Almost converted on a Hemsky set up but his 10th goal of the season will have to wait for another day. Ales Hemsky 7 - Displayed some great heart by taking the big hit and coming back into the game right away without letting off the gas pedal. Was not rewarded for his hard work but was an important part of a relentless Oilers attack tonight. Robert Nilsson 6 - Similar to Hemsky, Bobby was not rewarded for his hard work tonight but his unyielding attack forced turnovers and intercepted passes. He didn't react to being benched in any comparable manner to Dustin Penner but he looks as if he should be coming around some time soon. Sam Gagner 8 - Sam fricken Gagner. Tonight, Sam Gagner really showed why he was the 6th overall pick in the 2007 NHL entry draft. It's been anywhere from a fan's worst nightmare to a slick playmaker this year. It's required a love-hate understanding so far this year. I've criticized him for being too weak on puck retrieval and on the attack. I've also berated him for his frequent turnovers at the opposition blue line. On this night, however, he worked hard on the boards, forcing turnovers, converting on his chances, and not backing down from anybody. He showed some spark tonight with both Pouliot and Cole (but moreso Cole) and it will be interesting to see what MacTavish does about that line for even strength. He also showed that he was willing to simply dump and chase when the blue line was covered and it shows that he is willing to make the safe play too. His defensive zone coverage was on par as well. I hope Sam Gagner keeps it up and proves me wrong some more. Erik Cole 8 - Boy oh boy. He keeps playing hard and leaving everything out on the ice. But tonight, the difference was he was actually rewarded for it and perhaps MacBlender has finally fund the right linemates for the Cole-train. All aboard! Ethan Moreau 6 - Stood up for his teammates without hesitation and was not afraid to enter the opposition zone with a head full of steam. He may have gave up the puck in a few vulnerable spots but otherwise was remarkably solid. Andrew Cogliano 7 - May not have been as flashy as Sam Gagner or Ales Hemsky but he gets the job done. Took the puck hard to the net and was accurate with his passes gaining the zone. Worked hard and was rewarded for it. Marc Pouliot 7 - Some guys don't get awarded offensively for their hard work. Hemsky and Nilsson, along with Pouliot, made important contributions to the team tonight and it shows in the final score, not on the statistics sheet. Pouliot adapted well despite playing on a few different lines and drove the net hard and was reliable in both the offensive and defensive zones. Solid game. Jason Strudwick 5 - Was great in the Nashville zone tying up pucks along the boards and making the Predators' D work overtime to get the puck out of the zone. Nothing special, and another day on the job. Kyle Brodziak 6 - Was tenacious and had a little extra jump that we didn't see in either Strudwick or Stortini, but nonetheless was an important part of stifling the Predators puck movement. Zach Stortini 6 - Did not let up on his forecheck and actually looked up to speed tonight as he chased down forwards and D-men in the Nashville zone. Did not do anything dangerous in his own zone and landed some timely hits. Tom Gilbert 5 - Played an intense game in the first period, and was an important part of nullifying the Predator's offense. Didn't do anything special and was caught making some dangerous passes out of the zone. Good game overall. Sheldon Souray 6 - Was a calming presence on the blue line tonight and was never caught making any bad passes or dangerous plays. Scored a goal and he allowed the Roloson's and the Gagner's to press the attack. Lubomir Visnovsky 8 - Great puck movement and cool under pressure. The Nashville forwards love to punish opposition D and he was able to move the puck unscathed. Stellar play tonight and he continues to earn his paycheque. Denis Grebeskhov 8 - Like Pouliot, he did not get awarded offensively for his work tonight but don't be fooled. He was taking hits left and right to make the play and he was never caught out of position at the wrong times. His crisp passes and well-timed rushes and pinches allowed the Oilers to maintain their momentum throughout the game. Steve Staios 5 - Made dangerous plays and blind-sighted passes that handcuffed Ladislav Smid more than a couple of itmes. However, he more than made up for it with his work on puck retrieval for the pass to Nilsson which drew the penalty that led to the Souray goal, and the pass that led to the Cogliano goal. Ladislav Smid 5 - Played a solid, defensive game tonight. Good complement to Steve Staios. Dwayne Roloson 6 - Made 28 saves and for once, he didn't have to win one for the Oilers as the whole team won it for themselves. Rebound control was great though he needs to work on choosing better times to play the puck as a few times during the game he almost forced some Oilers turnovers though the Oilers D recovered amiably.
Now all we need is someone to take care of Jordin Tootoo and wipe the smug smirk off his face. One of these days he's actually going to harm someone with his cheap shot style of hitting and he will not be the only one to pay dearly.
"If you ask any player or any goalie, the more you play, a lot easier and a lot more comfortable you feel in that situation," said Roloson
Roloson hits the point home, though he doesn't realise it.
So, have we not learned anything from the year JDD lost in the minors bouncing between farm teams? Surely by now the team has realised that Garon is not going to return to this Edmonton team in the off season. JDD is the man of the future. Play him and fix the 3 goalie situation already. Roloson is playing amiably right now but this is not his team to carry in the foreseeable future.
Look at this man. This Bobby Nilsson character. Does he deserve to be in the dog house?
I can name 3 other players who would find the ticket to the press box more deserving than Robert Nilsson:
a) Erik Cole b) Mathieu Garon * c) Sam Gagner **
* This season is pretty much a loss for Mathieu Garon. I love the guy and love his style of play but I think it's time for the Oilers to realise their handling of this valuable asset means he's not going to return in the off season. Time to maximize on return and trade him.
** He doesn't deserve a ticket to the press box. He deserves a ticket to Springfield.
P.S. All flights to the West Coast have been cancelled. Looks like I'll be in Edmonton for Christmas after all. 1st intermission, 2-0 Oilers over Coyotes as I write this.
MAP drives one of these. MacT has put him back on the 2nd line and perhaps if he stays there, this car will be a distant memory from his entry level contract days.
Why is MacT juggling Reddox and Strudwick? Did he find the "mould" that he wanted to play in during the 3-0 win against Vancouver, or has it become apparent that he was just fooling himself to think that was our "best game of the season?"
I think MacT should stick to what works and let chemistry develop elsewhere or on a per needs basis. Let's see if the revamped 1st, 2nd, or 3rd lines work. If we are looking at a 4 or 5 game losing streak a few games from now, let's go back to the Horpensky line and work elsewhere.
I'm glad to see Pouliot and Cole get a chance at a more offensive role, whereas placing Gagner and Penner on the 3rd line spreads out the offense a bit more throughout the lineup.
He made that fancy speech about not waiving his no trade clause because he didn't believe in being a rental player. Then why the dilly-dallying about where he wanted to sign and not keeping his off-season deadlines?
Sure it's hard to come to an important decision sometimes - but really Mats, Vancouver? It was obvious you weren't going to sign somewhere that was a contender otherwise you would've been in New York, San Jose, Detroit, Boston, or Montreal.
Best fit my left ass cheek.
If he really was serious about contending he wouldn't have had to consider all those offers for so long. It was convenient for him to make his decision after the meeting with Burke in Anaheim, and after Burke took the job in Toronto and made it clear in his "Sundin is not in our plans" speech.
What a load of concocted bull.
Burke obviously cleared the way for Sundin to accept the fat contract in Vancouver that has been causing him to flip flop all summer and for the balance of the season so far.
If he was serious about joining a contender, he would've followed in the footsteps of a Marian Hossa, Markus Naslund, or Brooks Orpik - signing for less to play with the team you believe in.
Mats Sundin stopped believing in the Leafs a long time ago and whether or not Vancouver makes the playoffs, one thing is clear: his career is not going to last much longer and this is his last gasp for air - his last chance to reel in some mega cash. So cut the B.S. and say you signed for the money already.
So the team and its depth is supposedly the most solid at all positions that it's been in years. Probably at the defensive and goaltending situations, though we could improve our goaltending by moving a guy. But all these questions about intensity, consistency and desire. Was it a good move letting Smyth walk and taking Nilsson, O'Marra, and Plante in return? Did we ever replace that grit and desire element that Smytty brought to this team?
The only players truly answering the bell in the intensity department: Hemsky, Penner (at times), Visnovsky, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Cogliano, Moreau, Roloson
We've seen starts and spurts from the other players but its coupled neither with offensive production or prolonged consistency, injury or otherwise.
And furthermore - don't you think its time to make this JDD's team? We have two starters playing like backups. They might as well be backups.
And damn, what happened to the bull in a china shop we were supposed to be getting in Erik Cole? He showed up for half a game against the Vancouver Canucks in October and that was it.
This is Mike Ricci. The only thing uglier than Mike Ricci, in the entire game of hockey, past, present or future, is this Oilers squad and their poor excuse for what would normally be called puck control. A perfect example was this ridiculously disgusting 9-2 loss to Chicago.
This wasn't a hockey game. This was the Oilers - a highly paid bunch of skilled players parading around on a 60 minute penalty kill with no consistency, intensity, or desire.
The Oilers came off of a 3-0 win against Vancouver, the Northwest division leaders, on Saturday night. Craig MacTavish called it the Oilers best game of the season.
I recommend he get his eyes checked.
Let's keep it in perspective here. The Vancouver Canucks very blatantly went on air and called it their worst game of the season. I think they're right. They have been handing our asses to us so far this season and they will continue to do so the next time we meet them. Roberto Luongo is still injured. Two of the goals against Curtis Sanford were somewhat flukey. The Dustin Penner goal was the result of hard work but easily could have been a routine save 99% of the time. The Robert Nilsson goal was a classic cherry pick and even he admits (TSN) that he had no idea what he was doing back there.
No offense to Bobby Nilsson, but the Canucks passed the puck right to him.
Subtracting those two flukey goals, we're sitting at a 1-0 win without Roberto Luongo in net. What's the score if he's in net? 0-0 going into a shootout?
Furthermore, if we can't outscore the Canucks by more than 1 legitimate goal with the Saviour Luongo himself out of the lineup, there's no way we will win games when we play a team with their #1 goalie in net and playing on top of their game.
We saw that tonight against Chicago.
What's the difference you ask?
Let's see here...
needless panic - sometimes the safe play is the easiest play
wayward passes: if your passes don't go to someone, they're not going anywhere except the other way as an odd-man rush into your own goddamn zone
we're chasing the puck, not playing the man
we're going where the puck is - not where the puck is going to be
the penalty kill continues to be atrocious
no intensity, no desire, no anything
we're not skating - just watching Sam Gagner and Ethan Moreau turn the puck over inside our own blue line makes me sick to my stomach
not challenging passing lanes: we're not only screening Garon and Roloson, we're also letting people pass the puck in circles around us
hitting to hit - not hitting to gain possession of the puck: if you're playing physical without using it as a means to the end (acquiring the puck) you're just wasting energy and time
we're not utilizing our team mates well: guys are chasing their own dump-ins, and their linemates are trailing badly and not providing any puck support whatsoever leading to clumping and odd-man rushes in the opposite direction
and why are guys beating us to loose pucks in our own D-zone?
Trust me. We did not beat the Canucks because we played well nor did we lose to the Blackhawks because of their stellar play. Let's be honest here. The Oilers have no puck control, no puck support, panic more often than they should, and make outlet passes to nobody. We played bad against the Blackhawks and the Canucks played worse on Saturday.
Nor is the team using common sense. MacTavish sat Penner for parts of the third and opted to play Cole on the 1st line again.
Remember? That experiment failed miserably. It's not like it's Penners fault that the Oilers suck. You can't put him back in the pressbox and expect the whole team to haul ass.
The same goes with putting Gagner back on the 2nd line. Last time I checked, people get benched for lack of performance. But no, on this Oilers team, you split up lines that play well in favour of the poster boy Gagner. We had a line which was producing - the Schremp-Cogliano-Pouliot line - remember them? Gagner couldn't keep up with the Cogliano's and Nilsson's if his life depended on it. When MacTavish started playing the kid line against tougher competition this season it became clear which component on that 3-piece line was underperforming: Sam Gagner. Cogliano and Nilsson have both seen time on other lines and performed. Gagner hasn't performed anywhere this season. Bench his ass.
But hey, if we're gonna play like this for the rest of the season, let's just trade away our pending UFAs and sit tight until Jonathan Tavares is ours. Otherwise, fire this whole defunct administration which has no clue when it's time to pull the trigger, starting with Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish.
That is, unless you want to watch more peewee crap like this for the rest of the season, because I'm sick of watching the Craig MacTavish's, Kelly Buchbergers, and Kevin Lowes get promotions for mediocrity.
P.S. I'm sorry I had to do that Oilers, but it had to be said. Fire your coach and move on. P.P.S. Ales Hemsky, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Ladislav Smid played well tonight, on a night that will go down as the worst game the Oilers played in recent history.
"It was the 125th consecutive regular season game to sell out in Edmonton."
There's a couple of players who need a little more intensity on this team:
Penner was playing very well after MacTavish called him out. He scored a goal against Vancouver, but for the most part has been a bit sluggish with the puck. Strudwick's fighting is a plus but as a forward he needs to get in on the forecheck and frustrate his opponents. Often times I see him hanging back when he should be pressing. But I also noticed this of Smid when he was playing F. A natural consequence of filling dual roles of F and D, I guess.
What happened to the Gagner of 2007? If he can't find his scoring game right now I would suggest he should do more of the little things to get back on track:
throw the body to frustrate his opponent
crash the net
score on the empty net
That last one is a bit cheesey - I know it depends on MacT putting him out there to defend a lead in the dying minutes, which probably wouldn't happen.
Gagner's no Esa Tikkanen, but just because he's not producing on the scoreboard doesn't mean he should get frustrated - he should take it out on the other team.
And good things come to those who crash the net. Rebounds. Deflections.
And perhaps, with some confidence, we can see the same Gagner who was deking out opponents last year.
Bryan Young is an underrated defensive option who is seen hammering some guy to the ice. I think Bryan Young is the kind of player we need to call up to the team. More on that later.
The Oilers won 3-0 with Vancouver in town tonight in what was a bit of an unorganized game. What counts though is the 2 points in the standings, not the way you win the game. Though the puck movement was a bit off tonight, two things were noticeably improved tonight:
a) defensive zone coverage b) intensity
With the exception of our lacklustre 5-on-3 powerplays, our intensity was consistent throughout the game with perhaps the end of the 1st period as the opposite. However, watching puck movement by defensive guys like Smid has made one thing apparent to me: if Strudwick and Staios could be considered expendable before, they pretty much don't contribute anything now. Souray can play defensively and offensively; Gilbert has held his own; Visnovsky and Grebeskhov are smooth puck movers. What does Staios bring to this team? He doesn't even lead the team in blocked shots or ice time. The warrior has been on this team a long time and is a leader in the dressing room.
But his time has come.
Bryan Young is a stay-at-home defenseman who might be described as a cross between Scott Ferguson and Colin White. If MacTavish is going to play anyone who does't contribute on the scoreboard (Staios), it might as well be someone who hits people and hits them in a devastating way. Bryan Young is well known for his open-ice hits.
As for Theo "the Sean Brown comparable" Peckham, who is either NHL ready or almost NHL ready, he too would be a useful addition to this team. But with all the offense being exhibited by the top 3, I would argue that Young is more needed at this moment.
Plus, we would save a ton of cash playing Young over Staios and Strudwick. Smid has shown he's ready in my opinion The organization gave up on Greene and if it was because they felt they had enough D depth in the system, then its time to hand Smid the reigns.
As a result of Nilsson reasserting the lock on his job against Vancouver tonight, he has proved that he is more valuable on this team than not. I don't think that Sam Gagner has done that yet, not the way that guys like Andrew Cogliano or Ladislav Smid play like NHL regulars. He still needs to show that he can do the job better than AHL callups like Schremp or Brule. The kid line experiment may not be over but the fact that the components are so replaceable means bad things for job security. At least it should in a fair world. Even poster boys like Sam Gagner should need to prove their worth once in a while.
Movement in the ranks...
Prospect, Player or Trade Bait?
Andrew Cogliano Denis Grebeskhov Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers
Liam Reddox Theo Peckham Bryan Young Steve MacIntyre
Questionable Roster Spot Zone
Ryan Potulny Carl Corazzini Sebastien Bisaillon Tim Sestito Guillaume Lefebvre
Mathieu Roy **
* Sam Gagner - he's a clever one this Samwise and he makes all sorts of smart plays, sure. But he's still a work in progress. ** Zack Stortini - there are guys who can do his job on this team. His trade value might be low, but his value to this team is lower. *** Mathieu Roy - I still think he's a great player but he is an NHL ready player who deserves a chance in another NHL city.
Note: for anyone unfamiliar with the rules of the list, listed players must have at least one game of NHL experience.
The Ottawa Sun dredges up more Ilya Kovalchuk trade rumours, which prompted an immediate and vehement denial from Thrashers GM Don Waddell. The Edmonton Journal chimed in, though, wondering if the Oilers would give up Shawn Horcoff, Tom Gilbert, Andrew Cogliano and a first-round pick to get him. <Link>
Seriously? I think that's a slight overpayment and a bit unrealistic. On a team with too many young skilled forwards and goaltenders, would you move your top centerman, one of your top 3 D-men, and your 2nd line centerman? For a team that already has problems winning faceoffs or finding guys who show up at the rink with intensity, losing guys like Horcoff and Cogliano all in one go would be a tremendous blow to this team. Losing a smart D-man like Gilbert would mean Staios would have to pick up some of the offense. The Oilers would have to give up some roster players, but giving up so many guys off your top pairing and lines would not be a feasible deal.
Ottawa Sun, you fail.
A more feasible deal (not that I would do this) would go along the lines of this:
ATL Cap room: 9 million EDM Cap room: 0.5 million Needed salary dump: 8.5
To Edmonton: LW Kovalchuk, C Reasoner, D Exelby, 3rd round pick 2009 (Tot. Salary = 7.5 + 1 + 1.5 = 10) To Atlanta: LW Penner, C/LW Nilsson, C/LW Schremp, D Gilbert, D Smid, D Grebeshkov, G Roloson, 1st round pick 2009, 2nd round pick 2009 (Tot. Salary = 4.25 + 2 + 0.65 + 4 + 1 + 1.5 + 3.5 = 16.9 or 17)
I realise this is a huge deal, but I could see the salary being moved as being very very important considering how tight Edmonton is to the cap. 17 - 10 is still just 7 million but if you consider that Gagner will not reach his bonuses, and that Peckham, Roy, MacIntyre, Jacques, Brule, Schremp, and Sestito are not earning their full dollars, you will make up for that 1.5 million discrepancy.
Atlanta needs skilled forwards to make up for their current needs, and the loss in Kovalchuk that would occur. They also need a younger D core, something Edmonton can provide since we have guys waiting in the wings. Plus, they have some extra cap room and could use a veteran guy behind Lehtonen.
Either way, a lot of salary has to move before such a deal could even be possibly made.
Both scenarios I proposed were unlikely, though the first one is more likely considering the salaries involved.
I predict that if such a move were to occur in bringing Kovalchuk to Edmonton, Tambellini would have to dump some salary elsewhere first in order to make it happen. Nilsson, Staios, Grebeskhov, and Roloson are the obvious bets.
Don't let the shots on goal fool you. This is one time when advanced stats may tell a lie. There were two equally horrible teams on the ice and the Oilers just happened to take more shots. It's quality, not quantity, they say. The San Jose Sharks learned that lesson last week and the Oilers, who benefited from this, learned their lesson tonight.
The broadcasters kept talking about how great Anderson was at holding onto rebounds. He doesn't deserve that praise. Of those 41 shots, how many did you count that the Oilers shot straight at his Panther logo? And when there were rebounds, with the exception of Brodziak missing the freebie late in the game, there was no traffic there to cash in on the chance.
Sure, the Oilers outshot them 41-16. But it's a farce to conclude that the Oilers ever controlled this game. All the shots were from the periphery and the Oilers never really did get many chances in prime scoring areas. There was the Hemsky breakaway, the Horcoff jam-it-in attempt, and Brodziak's missed opportunity. The best Oilers (offensively) on the ice were Hemsky, Cole, Reddox, and Visnovsky. Everyone else was a step behind, coughing up pucks, making bad outlet passes and trying to be too fancy at the opposition blue line. The penalty kill continues to be atrocious.
Where was the intensity?
Anyone who watched the Oilers 41 shot performance and the Sharks 43 shot performance can tell the main differences:
a) puck control b) choice of shots c) defensive zone coverage
The Oilers may have took a whackload of shots, but how many of those were ill-advised? How many of them would produce rebounds or a scrum? How many times did Florida Panthers players beat Edmonton Oilers players to the puck? It by this criteria that the Oilers, by their lack of puck control, bad choice of shots, and inexcusably bad defensive zone coverage (with the exception of Visnovsky, Smid and Staios) lost a game where they dominated the shot column.
And for a team that was supposed dominant, at least statistically, there was a dire lack of intensity shown by players who had a long layoff since their last game.
Well here's another picture perfect example of moral indignation mixed with the accuser's own double standards.
First it was the Sean Avery "sloppy seconds" episode. Now it's the accusal of a league official using profanity, with this pansy ass accusation by Ryan Miller.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't we always see guys like MacTavish and Wilson using profanity (we don't hear it, but we can work out the mouth motions and they're not saying fudge...). Heck, I even remember seeing precious Sam "the kid line" Gagner asserting his lack of innocence by a well-timed "FUCK" in front of a Sportsnet West camera.
But now with the Sean Avery incident and the league setting its double-standard on word choices, Ryan Miller has jumped the gun and accused an official of using profanity. Even worse, he characterizes the argument which involved the heated exchange of words as having led to a penalty against his team.
Miller said he joked with Ruff that the exchange with the official might have played a factor a few minutes later when the Sabres were issued a bench minor penalty for arguing an interference penalty against Thomas Vanek.
Correct me if I'm wrong. The ref swore at you, and then you got a penalty for it? That's makes absolutely no sense at all. Where does the "I did something to piss off the referee" part come into the equation? Or is Ryan Miller the do-good Mormon he wants us to believe he is. Surely he has nothing to admit to except what you would expect from Goodman Brown himself -- endless righteousness.
I feign to believe that portrayal. He is probably more self-righteous than righteous.
The problem with the league taking Sean Avery's problem into its own hands is that it will be swamped by bull shit petty concerns like this Ryan Miller incident where people take sides on issues that have no business presenting sides.
You were an asshole, the ref gave you a bench minor penalty. It's pretty simple.
If the league had let Sean Avery's problems get hammered out on the ice, then they would just have to deal with the aftermath of the natural way of dealing with things. Now guys think they're entitled to interpret the rule book and play with the league's backwards policies.
What next, suspensions for showing up at the rink in a bad mood?
This was Alex Auldwhen he was still with the Florida Panthers.
In this edition of Goalies for Poolies, we examine which of our predictions came true and which of them didn't pan out. Also, we have a look at where these goaltending trends will lead us for the holidays and into the new year.
Journeyman goaltender Alex Auld has come a long way since his Manitoba Moose days. He has played on 5 NHL teams and 2 AHL teams in the past 5 seasons. Unluckily for him, he was one of the key pieces that sent Bertuzzi to Florida and Luongo to Vancouver, ending the relative success he had in his early career on the West coast.
Luckily for him, he has rediscovered his game in Ottawa. He currently sits 2nd in the league in GAA and 7th in SV%. It's the Alex Auld Renaissance.
So much for Craig Hartsburg's whole speech about Gerber being "the guy" at the beginning of the year. If you recall, back in October I said that Alex Auld would take over the #1 spot. Martin Gerber is still getting his starts, but I think it's no longer a question who the dominant goaltender is in the locker room.
I predict for this trend to continue. I do however, expect Gerber to pick up his play down the stretch run to help Auld and the rest of the Senators make the playoffs.
When you're getting outplayed by Brent Johnson on more nights than not, you know there's a problem. And if you're Jose Theodore, Washington's No. 1 goalie coming out of camp, there is a definite problem right now.
I was wrong about the Philly goaltending situation back in October. I predicted that Biron would play horribly and be replaced by Niittymaki. As horrible as Biron has been, Niittymaki has not been any better.
Colorado & NY Islanders
We hit the nail on the head on both assessments regarding Colorado and New York. Not only did Peter Budaj play horrible, the situation in NY is embarrassing considering how many starts Joey McDonald is getting in place of the 15 year goalie wonder Rick DiPietro.
Expect these trends to continue.
We predicted this tandem to be the most solid goaltending tandem in the NHL back in October. We have not been proven wrong.
I don't know what I was thinking when I picked this goaltending duo. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
The prophecy has come true: Ty Conklin has proven to be more reliable than Chris Osgood. However, both goalies are getting their chances and Conklin has not outplayed Osgood enough to be handed the #1 job. Expect Conklin to get a lot of looks in the playoffs though, because I'm going to predict that Osgood stumbles in the 1st round.
Boy was I wrong. Tim Thomas was one of my favorites every season, but watching a few seasons of mediocrity I was convinced of his inability and switched my loyalty over to the Habs goaltending duo.
Boy was I wrong!
Tim Thomas has come and snatched the ice time away from the not-so-stellar Manny Fernandez and has held the NHL goaltending stats at his mercy with game after game of show-stopping saves. The Bruins early dominance of the league is owed in no small part to the All-Star calibre goaltending they are receiving from Tim Thomas.
This situation is still ugly and unsolved.
3 headed monster
Tampa Bay was the only team here that turned out to be correct. Great goaltending by Hiller and Gigure, coupled with the surprising ability of Craig Anderson to steal a game, has put other NHL starting tandems to shame. Particularly ours here in Edmonton. Let's deal one of the goalies already!
Predicitons for the future:
Ty Conklin will get progressively more starts.
Huet will come out on top and Khabibulin will be traded.
DesLauriers will be the #1 in Edmonton come Spring.
Vokoun will be #1 in Florida again.
Gerber will be traded to solidify Auld's position.
Will Robbie Schremp keep up his scoring pace? Will Gilbert Brule be a factor in upcoming games? Will Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson come back from injury and take their roster spots back with a vengeance?
The game in San Jose was a big win but let's be honest -- the Oilers were chasing pucks and not defending players. Back-to-back games or not, it's simple hockey not to chase the puck but to play the man. I was surprised at the poise of some of the younger players in the last game.
The Oilers always play well against the San Jose Sharks. Okay, I lied, our Edmonton goalies always play well against the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers have become really adept at killing Sharks' winning streaks. Good for Gilbert Brule who played hard enough to draw the penalty for that game-winning powerplay.
Last season, it was the Oilers who snapped a Sharks' winning streak at 11 games in a 2-1 SO victory. This year, it's the Oilers who snapped a Sharks' nine game winning streak. The common thread? Dwayne Roloson was in net. 48 saves on 49 shots plus the SO last year; 41 saves on 43 shots this season.
Now, some credit could be given to MacTavish for his 60 minute penalty kill "keep em to the outside" style but let's be honest here. If Roloson doesn't stand on his head all night -- there's no win.
Hopefully the Oilers come out of this one realising how badly we got outplayed though. Without our stellar goaltending, where would our Oilers be now? We have 3 goalies on the roster and they have all played well with a few bad games here and there. But for the most part, all 3 have looked like legitimate starters at some point. What is a team to do?
The consequence of watching a game like this has converted me from a MacBooster to the Let's Fire MacTavish camp. I am now officially convinced that we have the tools to make this a good team but the coaching staff is inept, whereas before I was waiting on Tambellini to make a move. Roloson is 39 and he's a Saint, but can he do this for the rest of the season? Even Tim Thomas probably couldn't go through 42 games of being outshot 40-something to umpteen. Surely we're not going to keep this 3-headed monster heading into the playoffs, should we qualify for them?
The reliance on goaltending on this team is amazing. How can Oilers fans make fun of the Canucks for relying on Luongo, the Flames for relying on Kiprusoff, or the Stars for relying on Turco? Their reliance on goaltending is imcomparable to ours, because our team can't even get more than 20 shots a lot of games.
To be fair, it is the San Jose Sharks we're talking about and we did outshoot Los Angeles last night and we did play back-to-back games that went to extra time. It's true. But I think it's time to realise that this team needs a new direction.
By debut we're not talking about an 18 year old girls family-run birthday party. We're talking about the 4th most talked-about Oiler pickup in the off season behind Cole, Visnovsky, and MacIntyre. We're talking about Gilbert Brule here, people.
I'd imagine MacTavish has the sense not to break up the Schremp-Cogliano-Pouliot line, since it's outperforming most of our other lines and with Pouliot looking like a real NHL player, it can't be bad for anyone.
Either Strudwick stays on LW or Gilbert Brule draws in. Brule should draws in unless Smid suffered a concussion on the Stoll hit... still, since Liam Reddox looks better on LW than he did centering a line with Strudwick and Stortini, I'd imagine Brule gets the call.
... some breakouts were sloppy as hell but great puck movement was shown by Visnovsky, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, and Ethan Moreau.
... Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff were dangerous all night.
... something dangerous happened everytime Schremp and Staios were on the ice. The difference? Schremp makes it happen in the offensive zone and Staios makes it happen in the defensive zone.
... Garon let out a lot of juicy rebounds.
... it was apparent that Brodziak was squeezing his stick a little too hard but he still managed to do all the simple things right, like get pucks deep. One notably bad giveaway in the defensive zone - but hey, mistakes happen.
... Souray played like a monster with a lasers. Except that his lasers are his slapshots and instead of coming out of his eyes like any decent laser-wielding monster, they come off the blade of his stick. Who woulda thunkit?
... Ales Hemsky showed why he is the most valuable Oiler player in at least about a decade. Yes, I must say even more than my favorite former/current Oiler, Tommy Salo.
... the Oilers couldn't kill off L.A. PPs. Work on it.
... Strudwick looked better as a forward than he did as a defenseman. He should stay there because Smid looked good.
... Marc-Antoine Pouliot looked like a good hockey player tonight. Was at all the right places to receive passes and backchecked like a demon. Might sense some movement in the "Prospect, Player, or Trade Bait" rankings if he keeps this up. Same goes for Schremp.
... Liam Reddox looked useful playing different roles. Love this hockey player.
... Dustin Penner was dominant.
... the Oilers disappeared for the second period.
... the Oilers showed that they cannot keep the lead if their lives depended on it.
... the Oilers showed what kind of depth the organization has with 4 regulars (5 if you count Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers) out with injuries large and small.
... Andrew Cogliano beat Jarret Stoll on the faceoff. There is hope after all.
... the Oilers won puck battles. Time to translate that hard work and success to the PK.
Gilbert Brule plays tomorrow against the NHL leading San Jose Sharks. Gulp. Brule has 8 goals and 4 assists so he's a shoot first kind of player. Could have a drastically different impact on this team than a Sam Gagner or a Jason Strudwick.
Also, can Schremp keep up his scoring pace of 1.5 pts/GP? So far, some people may say that Cogliano makes Schremp look a lot better than he is. I'd argue that Schremp has made Pouliot look a lot better than he is, though Mr. Chicken has put in some hard work in the last two games himself. I think having those 3 elements - speed, skill, and "rough and tumble" are giving this line success.
But is it sustainable?
Need proof of their imminent success? They're already Legends of Hockey, apparently.
Interesting little wallpaper I found on Google with an ironic twist. It's Mr. sloppy-seconds himself during his Los Angeles Kings days.
Oilers @ Kings, 8:30 PM
We need to win this game because of the 2-1 loss back in November when the team was non-existent for 60 minutes. This keeps in line with our current trend of getting games back for wins we should've won. For example, the 5-2 shallacking of Dallas earlier this week in return for the 4-3 loss in Dallas.
Hopefully, we keep up the intensity and I'll be raring for HockeyJesus the Schremp to get some points.
I'm amazed that the NHL, a league that thinks that shoulders to the heads of players that cause concussions are legal would think that sloppy seconds, something that could mean anything from sex with multiple partners to mountains of leftover pancakes, could be found offensive. The range of denotations and connotations are humongous. Sure, it's within context of his personal life. But why are we involved in his personal life anyway? Because he wants us to be - or because we choose to keep publishing his words or airing his interviews?
Whatever happened to sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me?
The truth: the NHL can't stand someone who is willing to feed their own b.s. back to them. This is why Bettman, Campbell, Daly and others are picking on this guy. Is Avery the neighbourhood bully? No. That's because Phaneuf would've kicked his ass. But now Avery gets the scorn of the media, the NHL fans, and still has to face the wrath of the Calgary Flames when he continues his career.
Robert Nilsson** Ladislav Smid Rob Schremp*** Gilbert Brule
Prime Trade Bait
Liam Reddox Theo Peckham Steve MacIntyre
Questionable Roster Spot Zone
Ryan Potulny Carl Corazzini Sebastien Bisaillon Bryan Young Tim Sestito Guillaume Lefebvre
* Sam Gagner: has the age advantage on everyone except Jordan Eberle, who is, lucky for Sam, without any NHL experience. Otherwise, Sam might've been placed the NHL prospects category because he is only slightly outplaying Marc Pouliot thus far in the NHL season...
** Robert Nilsson: It was really, really hard to find a photo of Nilsson doing something. If that's not an indicator of how invisible he is, then I don't know what is. The edge on value that Nilsson has to this team is a proven ability to backcheck and an awareness in the defensive zone. The only guy on the kid line who performs game-in and game-out is Andrew Cogliano, and Sam Gagner still has the age advantage on the other two. So Nilsson is the odd man out because Schremp's improvement, along with Penner and Moreau picking up their offensive games, has lowered his value to the organization.
*** Rob Schremp: This depends on how he performs on his call up duty. Playing at Nilsson's level will be enough to join MAP in the buffer zone. Playing above expectations will push him up to the NHL Prospect zone. The reason he doesn't replace Nilsson in the NHL Prospect category (should Nilsson be traded) is because he lacks the NHL experience that Nilsson has.
**** Mathieu Roy: is an NHL player but he no longer fits properly on the Oilers depth chart. Thus, he deserves a chance somewhere else in the NHL.
"The Dallas Stars, who were only too happy to sign him, expressed their disgust, saying they would have suspended him themselves if the NHL hadn’t seen fit to do so. A number of commentators are calling for Avery’s head, saying the NHL should use its broad moral powers to kick Avery out of the league or the Stars should invoke a morality clause to void his contract. A 10-game suspension for this nonsense is expected.
So, I ask, where was all this moral indignation when Bryan Allen two-handed Henrik Zetterberg and broke his leg a few years back? Why isn’t everyone scrambling to occupy the moral high ground when players are getting stepped on and having their heads driven into the boards?
Just so we all have this straight: John Zeiler gets three games for his boarding/check-from-behind/headshot to Adam Foote and Mike Mottau gets two games for a flying elbow at the head of Frans Nielsen. Funny how nobody ever talks about how potentially ending another player’s career is 'detrimental to the league or game of hockey.'
Then you have commentators on all-sports stations rebuking Avery as though Cuthbert was their own daughter. Please. These are the same outlets that, moments after expressing their disgust with Avery, chose to replay the tape of his comments dozens of times. If it were so offensive, why did they have to keep showing us what Avery said?"
Tomorrow:New feature on Strange Deadfellows -- Visit Strange Deadfellows tomorrow!
Prospect, Player, or Trade Bait?
Can put in big TOI
Protected from tough TOI
Mid-to-High Value / Low Return
Questionable Roster Spot Zone
Low-to-Mid Value / High Return
Prime Trade Bait
Low-to-Mid Value / Low Return
Questionable Roster Spot Zone
Low Risk Prospects
Players on the list have at least one game of NHL experience
Players on the list can have up to three seasons of NHL experience
Player age, amount of prior experience, and placement on depth chart are all factors that determine placement
Amount of comparables on team in terms of other prospects or veterans is of importance
Chemistry with team veterans is another crucial factor
The Buffer Zones
NHL Player: (High Value / High Return) - Established player with lower risk and lower profit. NHL Project: A player who is undoubtedly going to be a (1) franchise player or (2) an NHL regular but still needs a lot of work. (Mid-to-High Value / High Return) High Value / Low Return - Questionable Roster Zone: This player is not quite on the top 2 lines, but not quite in a checking role either. However, they wouldn't bring back enough to seriously consider trading them right this moment. Small Value / Low Return - Questionable Roster Zone: What role does this player have? 13th Forward? 7h Defenseman? Or below that... ? The NHL player has shown the pluck to make the big club and perhaps stick around for a while - but their role is ambiguous on the team.
Proof that readers and writers of our OilersNation have more common sense than TSN
"I have always hated Sean Avery and the fact that most, if not all of his team, and his GM hate him just as much as everyone else in the league makes me giddy. And lets be honest, the only reason he’s still in the league is because he’s good at pissing off every single person around him. Because the dude doesn’t hit, doesn’t fight, he can barely handle the puck and he’s a career third liner at best.
But I think it’s ridiculous that the league suspended him for making fun of no one in particular. Sure you know it was aimed at Shrek, but he didn’t come right out and trash him personally. If that kind of thing warrents a suspension then god forbid the league gets anywhere within hearing distance of the ice during a game, because you know that the stuff that comes out in the coarse of a game is 20 times worse. Let the players police themselves, and you won’t get Sean Avery’s running their mouths without fear of retaliation."
"Someone made a really good point on Off The Record yesterday. Basically, if he would have said it on the ice, like you said, no one would have known and it would have been taken care of by the players. But since he did say it in a media scrum and it got all this immediate attention, now Double Dion has to deal with it with his wooms, and now she is involved personally.
I still don’t agree he should have had that thick NHL rule book hurled at him by the Munchkin King in New York, but leave it to the NHL to have knee jerk reactions about everything."
"I can’t believe that they suspended Avery over this of all things. Everyone is applauding this decision but it was made at completely the wrong time IMO. Why not punish him for his racial slurs against Georges and Gauthier? things he said to Tucker? And numerous other altercations?
His comment today was harmless only meant to rile up Phaneuf and his ex. I agree it wasn’t smart to say or kind but since when do we censor people for speaking their mind when the speech is clean?….since today in the NHL i guess."
"I see what your saying, and I think if this was an isolated incident(ie:not someone like Avery who’s always running on like a soup sandwich) it would of been dismissed as being an ignorant and rude remark."
By Travis Dakin:
"What Avery said was true, plain and simple. At the end of the day, we don’t know what has been said and done in their personal lives that may have contributed to Avery saying what he said. Fact is he may have been over the line with the comments, but he was ready to back it up on the ice. I admire that. Now go back to your bible and pay for the power of christ to compel Avery of his wicked ways. Do you see that black thing on your coffee table with all the buttons? Use it to change the channel or turn the TV off. I’m sure you are capable of making your own decisions as to what you would like to watch or not. Ridiculous."
"You cheer for a game where fighting is allowed and attempts to injure players go pretty much un-punished because that’s “rough and tough hockey” and yet when a player says something to anger another player and is ready to back it up, you get your panties all bunched up in a knot because some moral code was broken? If you want to play moral police, go preach to some sunday school kids. Otherwise, let the grown men playing a game for a living be themselves. And like I said, He was ready to back it up on the ice that same night. Had he said it from across the continent with no fear of retribution, I’d say he was a pussy. But no, just a damn fine showman and funny as hell."
"When the NHL decided to suspend Sean Avery for meaningless comments he made in an interview, a big opportunity was lost to actually generate some interest and buzz about a game. The very second Sean Avery was moved from the line up for last night's game against Dion Phanenuf and the Calgary Flames all national interest in said game was gone. The casual American public needs story lines and drama to be interested. Now I wish I could sit here and state that the public should watch for the beauty of the game, and gosh darn it they should, but this is reality.
You need to know your buyers when you try to sell something. Gary Bettman and the rest of the NHL brass seem to have no idea to what the typical American audience is actually genuinely looking for. Sometimes you need to have that Reggie Dunlop ideology and make the people crazy and clamor for something.
If the league really feels the need to punish Sean Avery for those oh-so not nice, hurtful, callous comments, then slap him with a huge fine and go after his Gucci wallet, but let the conflict resolve where it needs to, right on the ice in the game of the week. Instead, Gary Bettman wants to coddle the public and keep them safe, to me it's like he's saying, "What would the public think with such crass comments coming from a hockey player!" Well, Gary I got news for you, right now Joe Public isn't thinking much of anything concerning hockey."
With all due respect to John MacKinnon and his professional career as a journalist, his article "Avery crosses line -- again" is exactly the sad, crappy reporting I was talking about in my post yesterday. This is the same cardboard cutout version splashed across sports sections across North America that attempts to dismiss Avery's call to attention as self aggrandizing while simultaneously maintaining that call to attention by publishing all his words in a shamelessly self-contradicting manner.
This sad excuse for journalism is why Sean Avery gets "the sort of media attention he seems to believe is his due" in all the newspapers and media.
Why would Avery make a point of saying something so base mere minutes after his own coach, Dave Tippett, a good man acting in good faith, defended the Dallas Stars' agitating winger, suggesting coverage of Avery's history of misbehaviour was overblown?
I'll tell you why: he just proved his point by the subsequent attention that was thrown his way. And you media yuppies all ate it up.
So get a grip on yourself John MacKinnon, I know it just makes you feel better about yourself to pick on Sean Avery because it makes you feel morally superior. If you don't think its newsworthy, don't write about it. If you're going to report the story then don't judge the subjects involved - they're giving you something to do. But by God, don't lecture about something you're making a big deal about when the lecture was about how small a deal it should be, otherwise you're the pot calling the kettle black.
For the record, I don't think the NHL is in the wrong to take action against Sean Avery. But the people who cover the story make their own responsible decisions about what they print and what they report and if they don't make a good one, they're no different than Sean Avery.
Someone wake me up because I'm about to defend Sean Avery.
I personally don't see anything wrong with Sean Avery making those comments for two reasons only:
(1) Sean Avery saying outlandish stuff isn't news anymore, so don't print it if you don't think its newsworthy. (2) Reporters often ignore or censor outlandish stuff they hear from professional athleters in order to maintain a more politically correct, washed down version of events for a report worded in "athlete-speak." They do not make that compromise in the case of "Avery-talk," however.
A prime example of what reporters usually do when faced with reporting "crass" comments or "foul-mouthed" comments is self-censorship. How often are such comments deliberately broadcasted on CBC or published in the newspaper? Next to never. Because that would be irresponsible of the journalist, right? Here's one example of a piss-poor article that is willing to compromise the "punch line" in their reporting in order to adhere to journalistic standards and not to offend anyone. Why these compromises aren't made in the case of "Avery-talk" are very clear: he's a damn quotable and the feeling in the NHL media is that you're a fool not to be the first to publish his comments. More on why he gets this special treatment later.
Of course, we have our own quotable character in Craig MacTavish, who has been punished in the past for his words and conduct on and off the ice. I'm not saying the media should censor everything and take the sizzle of out of the reporting business. But there's a certain level of responsibility the individual reporter has to identify the right and the wrong time to publish certain comments. However, it's a consistent theme with the media and the league if you're dealing with Sean Avery. Sean Avery is the pest everyone loves to hate and the NHL is doing a splendid job picking on the guy.
He's been getting the Chris Simon treatment, but is the response proportional the stimulus?
Just ask yourself - how many years have NHL guys spent their careers in front of the goaltender's crease? Dino Cicarelli? Tomas Holmstrom? Ryan Smyth? Their whole damn careers. But the NHL up and changed the rules in the rulebook over Avery's treatment of Martin Brodeur.
Boohoo. The future hall of famer and NHL golden boy can't handle a little pressure from an annoying crease crasher. Boohoo.
All I have to say to that is Martin Brodeur needs to grow a pair and pull a Ron Hextall and deal with it if his defenseman don't feel like they're up to the task. Or I guess he could let the NHL and Gary Bettman come to his rescue...
Honestly. If you think Sean Avery is annoying and you don't want his words published as a special report anymore, let it be known to the NHL-covering media that his garbage isn't newsworthy anymore. Otherwise, Avery will keep getting special treatment - both from the media and from the NHL. And that's not exactly fair to him, either.
On the plus side, he won't be around to play us on Wednesday.
MacTavish - "So, I want you to play with Brodziak and Stortini." Schremp - "But coach... you can't be serious. I'm a much better fit skill-wise and profile-wise to Robert Nilsson. Damn, even our names are the same." MacTavish - "Don't make me scratch you and play Ladislav Smid, damn it." Schremp - "What about Liam?" MacTavish - "He's playing Bobby's spot on the 2nd line."
Schremp grudgingly accepts a 4th line plugger role, and spends the rest of his Oilers days in obscurity and signs a deal with the Red Wings in the off-season.
Best Case Scenario
Rob Schremp lights the lamp and makes Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish look stupid by not recalling him earlier in favour of playing Sestito and Smid at his position.
As indicated here, I kind of figured that Schremp was going to be the first offensive guy to get a shot at coming up. This would be due to contract and seniority considerations alone. Being a good comparable to Nilsson doesn't hurt.
Plus, I think he has a more useful skillset than either Brule or Potulny right now considering the Oilers could use an offensive catalyst.
Middle of the Road Scenario
The Oilers continue to get outshot in the next game, and fall to another early deficit, and MacTavish mixes up his secondary scoring lineup and gives Rob Schremp no ice time, opting to go with Horpensky and the Usual Suspects.
No harm, no foul, but no risk taken. Rob Schremp makes no progress backwards of forwards on the depth chart.
This is probably one of his best chances to stick with the team. Hopefully he can rediscover the chemistry he had during T.C. and Joey Moss.
Here is my second ever Top 10 Prospects Chart: This is not based on any fancy scale or criteria like Guy Flaming's or Lowetide's (yet) and is just based on who I feel could come up to the Oilers and actually perform / fit into a role right away. This is mainly based on (in decreasing level of importance):
a) prior NHL experience b) success at the minor pro level (AHL, ECHL, etc.) c) Oilers' current club needs d) ability to improve (or amount of progress since draft day and/or signing) e) success at the amateur level (OHL, CHL, etc.)
New to the list: Tyler Spurgeon, Cody Wild Fresh off the list: Devan Dubnyk, Slava Trukhno
The solid play of Wild and Bisaillon, coupled with the skills and smarts of big leaguer Visnovsky, could mean that Grebeshkov is not necessarily going to be resigned. Grebs could command a good return and could be made expendable for the sake of these two skilled prospects. Also, new prospect leader Peckham has shown in the AHL that he has some offensive ability and in brief appearances in the NHL has shown what kind of solid and exciting brand of hockey he can play. I would love to see him continue to get more looks in the NHL and seriously think he's ready for full time action.
Tyler Spurgeon and Gilbert Brule continue to rise on the chart due to the inability of guys like Pouliot and Brodziak to put a lock on their NHL jobs. Brodziak faired pretty well tonight with two goals against Dallas but Pouliot is a guy who is missing in more games than an NHL player should be. In fact, Pouliot wouldn't even make this top 10 list if he were an AHL player. Pouliot has flashes of brilliance but those don't occur often enough to warrant keeping him around.
Ryan Potulny and Slava Trukhno continue to drop because of the abundance of LW players in the organization. This applies also to Dubnyk, who has dropped due to the rising worth of DesLauriers, coupled with the re-emergence of Dwayne Roloson as a legitimate starter. This, once again, also applies to Rob Schremp, who plays both C and LW, both of which are in abundance on this Oilers team.
And I still insist that Bryan Young is as solid an option as Smid and Strudwick. Only time will tell if this is true.
(The reason I didn't include Mathieu Roy and Jean-Francois Jacques is due to the fact that they haven't been entirely healthy for long enough periods for them to be considered "ready to contribute." If they had been, however, they would've pushed Bryan Young and Riley Nash off the list.)