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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kevin Armstrong? Melissa Dominelli? I don't care, fire them all

CTV has conveniently removed the article or link, but Google keeps a copy of every internet web page on their servers and you can access it through the "Cached" link. Here it is for those of you haven't read it:

Oilers disappoint fans

Updated: Wed Jan. 28 2009 17:11:38
Melissa Dominelli, ctvedmonton.ca

Many fans are still shaking theirs heads over the worst home ice loss in team history Tuesday night.
An unbelievable 10-2 loss actually had hometown fans eventually cheering for the other team.
"It was a comedy, you got people wearing Oilers' jerseys cheering for Buffalo by the end of it," said Moe Mouallem, who drove all the way from Slave Lake to check out the game. He paid nearly $200.00 for his seat at Rexall Place.
"You feel a little bit ripped off," he said.
Kevin Quinn has been doing the play-by-play for NHL games for nearly nine seasons and he told CTV News that the fans response to the loss Tuesday night was hard to miss.
"Some of the fans' frustration level had peaked," he said.
And head coach Craig MacTavish had no response for those fans Wednesday.
"I don't feel compelled to say anything," he said.
Captain Ethan Moreau offered no apology for the loss.

"We sell out every night, so no complaints as long as we continue to do that," he said.

Although for some fans, Mouallem included, it may be awhile until they pay to watch another game.
"It's a lot of money, I can do a lot with that money and feel a lot better than I did last night, that's for sure," Mouallem said.
The Oilers weren't smiling at practice Wednesday and admitted they weren't well prepared for the game.
"We just weren't prepared from the drop of the puck and that team was," Sheldon Souray told CTV News.
The Oilers fell from 6th to 8th place. They play Minnesota on Friday.

With files from Kevin Armstrong
Here's the actual quote:
"We sell out every night so no complaints, as long as we continue to do that, we know when we win they will be behind us" said Moreau.
That's a classic case of misquoting done by the media. In fact, the message was so misconstrued that its context was unrecognizable from the quote taken from Moreau by Armstrong by the time it was published or reported on by Dominelli.

But these are just the facts.

Here's the most coherent response I received in response for my "witch hunt" blog entry:
Perhaps you should get your facts correct before you declare a "witch hunt" - these were quotes taken directly from Oilers players.

Who the hell do you think you are blaming an online writer, without knowing the facts.

Bet it makes some juicy web-hits for you.

The quotes in the story weren't made up, or fudged, or lies...these were quotes from Oilers players who don't give a crap about the fans. You know it, we all know it.

All the other media in this town are so afraid of the Oilers and their threats of dropping advertising that they don't write the truth.

Sounds to me like Kevin Armstrong asked a question the team didn't like and the Oilers got all pissy.

Is this the way you get your thrills by pissing on a website writer for doing their job?

I've addressed the Moreau issue here. And I don't know if you guessed from the tone of the writing that the "witch hunt" is metaphorical for the trend shown here:

- courtesy Wanye Gretz

The facts are indisputable. We don't have to agree on how to interpret the evidence, but hey, such profound information can be overwhelming for you. But how could I understand? I'm not a foolish donkey. Amiable, but foolish donkey.

Name-calling aside, you should go back and read very carefully what I wrote before. Maybe then we'll have another discussion about who's response was truly proportional to the given evidence. Dominelli? Armstrong? I don't give a rats ass, fire them all.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Oilers down Minnesota 3-1

So tonight the Oilers stepped it up and brought their cojones to the game. The defining moment of the game was a devastating hit Steve Staios had on Stephan Villeux, causing Clutterbuck to immediately drop the gloves on a questionable instigator non-call. The first period was full of hits and for the most part the Oilers dominated offensively. Moreau and Staios definately stepped it up and brought the x-factor that was lacking in the Buffalo game.

The 2nd period was bit different, we started off okay, but for the latter half of the 2nd and the 3rd period I felt the Oilers let up on the gas pedal, allowing Minnesota to get chance after chance. If Roloson plays like he did against Buffalo, we would of lost the game. I don't know why they let up either, the physicality was working awesome and I wonder if the hit on Hemsky late in the 1st was a deterrant to the physicality.

Overall, I think the Oilers played a decent game. The goals were for the most part not the greatest, Hemskys was a lucky bounce, Moreau's was a must save for Backstrom (pulled in his last 3 in Edmonton), Visnovsky's goal was a thing of beauty though.

A couple of negatives to the game:

  • I love Horcoff and his work ethic, but tonight he was terrible. He had too many giveaways to count, all on soft passes or failed attempts at the cycle. Personally I think MacT should have him next on his call-out list.
  • Souray, really he's been quickly declining into Staios territory of defensive ability. I cringe most times he gets the puck while being pressured in the Oilers zone.
  • MacIntyre vs. Boogaard was a big let down. It was like watching 2 nukes collide only to get a small little poof. Hopefully it was just round 1, I would really like to see them get into a true fight.

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    I declare a witch hunt

    Melissa Dominelli wrote the piece of crap article that became the topic of much discussion in Oil Country. It led to Moreau-gate which now seems like an overreaction to something that was never meant the way it was portrayed.

    As a result, I declare a witch hunt.

    I don't endorse that you do any harm to Melissa Dominelli. Not at all. But by all means - join the witch hunt! Send her some angry emails. Call for her resignation. Damn, put some dog crap on her front lawn.

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    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    We lack balls

    For the first time in my in my life watching the Oilers, I've come to realize that this team has no identity. Before it was all about the grit and determination. Ryan Smyth, Ethan Moreau, Chris Pronger, etc. or superb shotblockers Marty Reasoner and Jason Smith all brought an edge to this team in 2006 and that's something Kevin Lowe/Steve Tambellini haven't replaced. Moreau has slowly declined into an abyss of collecting the paycheque. Staios is usually 5 feet behind the play to actually cause any sort of impact. I'll admit Souray started the season strong, Norris strong, but he too has declined into mediocrity.

    The most telling stat of our "softness" is the fact we're 30th in the league in hits. My understanding is that Kevin Lowe was gonna build a team in the 07 Sabres or 08 Wings mold, neither of which were very physical teams. What Klowe didn't realize is those teams were stacked with skilled from top to bottom. I don't know about you guys, but any team that has Liam Reddox playing on the first line can't be a very skilled team. I actually have no problem with Reddox, it's just MacT's improper use of him is creating a major hate for him among the fanbase.

    Anyways, we have a major surplus of offensive defensemen. We have 4 that would probably be wanted by most teams around the league. What we don't have is a D-man that says "Hey, get the **** out of my crease". Smid was good at that last year, but it seems like this year he's more focused on improving his puck skills which I'm totally fine with, he's still got a mean streak. This is where Matt Greene would of been great to have, he was great in the lockerroom and was quickly becoming a great shutdown D-man.

    So, my idea is to move one of our surplus offensive d-man, anyone of Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Visnovsky to get that 100% essential shutdown D-man. I would preferably like to move one of the larger contacts to create cap space. Some of the guys the Oilers should be looking at are Volchenkov: Ottawa's in a dive for the top 5, they desperately need a puck mover, I think they'll want youth so moving Gilbert+ could be ideal for both sides. Another guy I would like is Komisarek: upcoming UFA, Montreal has about 10 UFA's this off-season and they won't have the money to keep all of them, I could see a Grebeshkov++ for Komisarek. Andy Sutton is another guy I would like, but he's a more riskier bet, he's currently out with an ankle injury he has a definite mean streak and a rocket of a shot(, but he plays for a always rebuilding Islanders team, I would love to pry him and Dougie Weight out of there for a playoff push.

    That's it for now, Peace.

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    "We sell out every night so no complaints, as long as we continue to do that, we know when we win they will be behind us" said Moreau, speaking on the fans' response.

    1) shame on the media that misquoted him
    2) shame on Ethan Moreau, because no matter how you frame that statement, it sounds to me like he doesn't feel there is a problem to fix: sounds to me like "no matter what we do the fans will support us, so who gives a shit"


    Some Oilers Clearly Don't Give A Rats Ass

    If the 9-2 loss to Chicago and the 10-2 loss to Buffalo were not bad enough, check out the quote Moreau left in the paper today.

    Are these the words of a captain?
    "We sell out every night, so no complaints as long as we continue to do that," Moreau said.
    Damn right you sell out every night. And you're the biggest damn sell out known to man, Ethan. What do YOU do that Liam Reddox can't do as well or better?

    Are you kidding me? Moreau is tempting fate with such words. He was clearly not around for the Oilers early 90's. Moreau was my favorite player shortly after he came over from Chicago. But such an attitude and such words is clearly disrespect for the organization and the fans.

    A captain has to take responsibility for what happens on the ice, because it's his team, regardless of what happens. The captain goes down with the ship. If he feels otherwise, feed him to the sharks. Trust me, it takes a lot for me to lose respect in a favorite player and Moreau is seriously pushing it: not just for me, but for all Edmonton Oilers fans when he says such things.

    Souray, MacIntyre, Gilbert, Roloson and coach MacTavish left very appropriate comments in the media. They were respectable and professional. They took blame, accepted the loss and decided to move on. Their professionalism contented my disappointment and convinced me to tune in for the next game. But Moreau can't pretend that something as embarrassing as the worst loss in Oilers history didn't happen or doesn't matter or else you haven't learned the lesson. And to lose by such big margins in two games less than 42 days apart - that's a tough lesson not to have been learned by a bunch of professional athletes.

    It's true, we're not on the ice, we don't have a say in how things are run. But don't forget hockey is an entertainment industry and the key component is selling the sport to the fans. It's fine to say, let's forget it and win the next game, which is what pretty much every other Oiler was willing to say and do.

    But to give the fans his cold shoulder... Moreau can dislocate both of his for all I care. Trust me - the team is better off without him.


    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Oilers lose 10-2 to Sabres

    Are you serious?

    It's probably best that I don't say anything about this topic; it may be something I regret.

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    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Alex Ovechkin: God's Gift to Hockey?

    Now you might already know that I take Eklund's hockey rumours as seriously as I take rest on Sunday and waking up on Mondays, but he actually wrote a pretty good piece today:
    "Alex Ovechkin is "God's gift to Hockey." Quite Seriously.

    Remembering three All-Star games ago, in Dallas, it was all about Sid the Kid. After these last two games, all that Sid the Kid talk back then feels...Well childish. Crosby has missed two All-Star Games now, and while that really feels like no big deal, last night I went to the kids outside the Bell Centre to find out.

    I did a very informal survey of 25 kids who looked to me to be under 12. I asked them one simple question. The kind of question kids ask each other...

    "So who is better: Crosby or Ovechkin?"

    It was our own Dan Tolensky who told me that his theory was that the All-Star game was for The Sponsors and The Kids. He is dead-on with that statement. For all of the complaining that we adults do about this game and its lack of any intensity, the kids freak out over it. I was watching them in the stands over the two days. They are star struck. They love it.

    So, I figured this is Montreal Canada. Surely this is Crosby Country.

    Guess again.

    Of the 22 Canadian boys and 3 Canadian girls surveyed..

    Ovechkin 17
    Crosby 8

    Yes, among the kids at least Ovechkin is King.

    Now you could argue that kids are very much "what have you done for me lately beings" and they just saw him in the silly hat and all, but to be honest I think the adults as well may be tending this way. You tell me.

    I really do think that it Ovechkin has made the effort to really play to the room. He knows that this is fun and truly takes life the way a man who makes a bazillion dollars to have fun should take life. The biggest reaction from the crowd last night in the first two periods came after the big screen flashed up two hot blonds who stood up and danced to the music going on during the break and then cut to Ovechkin who was looking at the screen and saying "ooooh." Caught, Alex looked away and laughed embarrassed. It was a pure and real moment.

    I think that this All-Star Game in Montreal could be remembered as the All-Star game where the Russians taught us how to have some fun and take things lightly. That is an ironic statement for those of us who grew up around the Communist RED ARMY teams and were sold the Cold War concept of the "I WILL BREAK YOU" Russian.

    Frankly the current Russians in the NHL are just goofy. In a good way. They lack the pretense and truly appear to be taking it in.

    There was a really interesting juxtaposition last night. After Kovalev sat on the podium with his kid just beaming about how much fun he had and how important this weekend was to his repertoire, I saw Sidney Crosby walk by me with his entourage in his suit looking dead serious.

    Don't get me wrong. I am not dissing Sid. It wasn't his fault that he was hurt the past two years and I have watched him as a player go through walls to win. He is amazing and all...

    I just feel that Ovechkin may have taken over and may in the end, despite his accent, be the guy who leads the NHL to another level of sorts.

    What do you think?

    As for a few other Extra-Curricular game rumours. There of course will be no All-Star Game next year as we all head for the Olympics in Vancouver but in 2011 the word is that Phoenix, who lost the game due to the lockout, will host the game. (Won't need our great gloves there!) If Phoenix for some reason can't host the game it will be in Carolina or Chicago.

    Also, as first reported back in September on this site by Howard Berger, what was once called "The Canada Cup" will return after next season, just prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season. "The World Cup of Hockey," which many believe will take the place of our Olympics needs to see the best face each other, will be played in North America and Europe.

    As for NHLers at the Olympics past Vancouver. It is not dead yet. The 2014 games are in Russia and expect an all-out war as the Russians are already talking to their players in the NHL and begging them to come and play in Russia in 2014."

    - Eklund
    It's hard to argue that the All-Star game is trivial, but considering the marketing job it's doing on the kids, perhaps it's not such a bad thing after all. Now if only the NHL could figure out how to relocate their promotional dollars for their tried and true fans - the older generation. Remember this, the kids are the future but this is an aging population (check out the demographics, it's true) and they should figure out how to keep the fans they already have, rather than throwing money away in Phoenix and on the Island.

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    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Dallas Screwed by System

    This is Toby Petersen (and Dwayne Roloson). He now plays with the Dallas Stars.

    First of all: Souray with the two goals at the All Star Game... too bad he didn't get a hat trick. And yes, I spend a lot of time talking about the Dallas Stars in this post, but it does come back to the Oilers eventually.

    Second of all: TSN with the story today on Dallas' lack of a farm team. Current Dallas Star Toby Petersen was a product of that debacle just a few years back, when he was an Oiler prospect playing for the Iowa Stars. A few other notable Oilers prospects have been jostled by the inconsistency of not having the Springfield Falcons around, such as Jeff DesLauriers, Rob Schremp, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, and Bryan Young.

    Let's have a look at the top Dallas Stars prospects (according to Hockey's Future) and look at where they've played this season:

    Ivan Vishnevskiy, D - Peoria Rivermen
    James Neal, C - Manitoba Moose/Dallas Stars
    Mark Fistric, D - Manitoba Moose
    Fabian Brunnstrom, LW - Dallas Stars

    The Oilers elected to keep most of the prospects on the farm in favor of developing them further, and this had more to do with the big club's own poor performance than the elite status of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins or the Iowa Stars. Rather, it made more sense having the prospects play big, important minutes on a mid-level AHL team than small, unimportant minutes on an NHL team performing poorly.

    Has the Dallas Stars' strategy of playing their prospects on the big team rather than the farm team worked in their favor? Mind you this will not be reflected in how they are doing in the standings, but rather in player development.

    Ivan Vishnevskiy
    AHL 38 GP 3 G 9 A 12 PTS 18 PIM

    Vishnevskiy is supposed to be an offensive defensemen and his numbers are similar to Taylor Chorney and Mathieu Roy of the Springfield Falcons. They are, all 3 of them, being outperformed by Theo Peckham.

    What does that mean, that the AHL is unfriendly to offensive defensemen? Or does that mean both Vishnveskiy's partner and Mathieu Roy are incompettent as defensive defensemen?

    Mark Fistric
    NHL 11 GP 0 G 1 A 1 PTS 4 PIM
    AHL 27 GP 0 G 7 A 7 PTS 24 PIM

    Mark Fistric projects to be a Denis Gauthier type of defenseman, which is peculiar since he's only being outscored by Vishnevskiy by 5 points. This either means Fistric brings a lot more to the team than meets the eye, or Vishnevskiy brings a lot less. With a point total as low as 7 total points, I would think the second argument holds more water.

    Fabian Brunnstrom
    NHL 31 GP 10 G 4 A 14 PTS 2 PIM

    These numbers are comparable to Robert Nilsson, which is not exactly something to write home about. Nilsson and Brunnstrom are both great, skilled players on somewhat affordable contracts. Nilsson has a whole lot of heart and that, unfortunately, does not say much about Brunnstrom. Having been rushed into the NHL, I'm not sure he will take to being sent to the farm team to hone his assets - especially if the ones he needs developed are intangible.

    James Neal
    AHL 5 GP 4 G 1 A 5 PTS 2 PIM
    NHL 40 GP 13 G 6 A 19 PTS 33 PIM

    These are Kyle Brodziak numbers, but James Neal is not projected to be a Kyle Brodziak type of player. Here is his description from Hockeys' Future:
    Potential: Top-six, two-way power forward, like a somewhat slower version of Shane Doan.

    Either somebody is not doing their job or the scouts got it all wrong. With Fabian Brunnstrom struggling, Brendan Morrow injured for the long term, you'd think that James Neal would get more opportunity. Is that the player's fault - or the team's fault?

    Considering all the problems the Oilers had a few years ago before the Springfield Falcons signed on as the affiliate, I have a bit of sympathy for them in their dire situation. It would seem that the system is ruining the development of their prospects (with the exception of Fabian Brunnstrom) and if the Dallas Stars are paying attention to the Oilers from a few years back, they know the system can turn out some Petersens and it can turn out some Rob Schremps, who may be a comparable to Fabian Brunnstrom in terms of skill and consistency.

    With their team in the basement and the prospects' future in jeopardy due to farm team troubles, the Dallas Stars are in a world of hurt and the NHL should forget about failing franchises like the fanless Phoenix Coyotes and focus on saving teams like the Dallas Stars that actually have a fan base worth saving.

    That goes for the NY Islanders too.

    The question is: do teams benefit more from playing their prospects in the NHL or the AHL when the farm team situation is in question? I think the answer is obvious that being a leader on an mid-level AHL team is a lot better than plugging it out on an NHL team playing nightly forfeit matches. NHL experience is valuable, yes - but value is subjective and I question the value of an NHL start spent in the league basement.

    Good luck, Stars.

    (P.S. I have not forgotten about all the playoff series we lost to you, so with all that sympathetic B.S. behind me, I just want to say, na na na na boo boo)

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    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Souray for Hardest Shot

    Note: Sorry about that Rick Roll, but I'm trying to start a new hockey tradition called January Fools where you prank someone during the All-Star weekend. You still have the whole week ahead of you! Go prank someone!


    Let's admit it people, he's already broken the record and Chara's speed in Edmonton. I'm all for him going into Montreal and showing the NHL the business, and making the Habs regret not resigning him.

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    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Oilers Acquire Lecavalier

    Here it is: Kevin Pendergast news conference

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    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Baptism by Hemsky Volume 3

    The name says it all.

    Oilers 4 Blue Jackets 3

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    Return of Nilsson

    I love Liam Reddox and all... but right now he's not cut out for top two line duty. Obviously MacTavish did it as a bandage, and not because he thought that Reddox was ready. His hope was that Horcoff and Penner, or Gagner and Cole, could milk some offense out of him. Turns out what they needed was a Baptism by Hemsky to turn their game around. It makes much more sense to have Nilsson on the 2nd line.

    I think it's a mistake not to start Jeff DesLauriers against Columbus. Yes, it's a big game. But this would be a great chance to give Roloson a rest and give DesLauriers a big game to strut his stuff since he sucked it up and went down to Springfield for a handful of games.

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    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Baptism by Hemsky (Version 2)

    Now that's what I call a leader: Hemsky taking the hit to make the play. In this circumstance, his pass went between the two defenders and out of the zone, but how often does he miss a pass? Does it happen more than once or twice a period? Once or twice a game?

    The defensive coverage was a tad slow tonight but the offensive awareness was definitely there. I don't believe all that stuff about the Glenn Anderson night giving them a boost because the Oilers have historically played pretty poorly in those ceremonial games.

    Big game by Moreau with the HAT TRICK as well. Congratulations on the first career hat trick Mr. Moreau. Cole and Penner had a ton of chances, and Gilbert looked great.

    Expect DesLauriers to get the start in Columbus so he can get in a game before the All-Star Break, which is 6 days long for Edmonton.

    Most importantly, the Oilers are back in the playoff picture, at 8th place, and with 2 games on Vancouver. The bad news: so does Columbus and they are one point behind Edmonton. The good news: if the Oilers and Blue Jackets make the 7th and 8th western conference spots, the dreadful Canucks will take Sundin, Ohlund, and the rest of the rejects to the golf course. And that's a feeling that would be simply priceless.

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    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Back in Western Canada

    Pittsburgh got a veteran backup to Fleury, and the Oilers got Dany Sabourin, a former AHL star and current NHL castoff, an AHL level centerman in Ryan Stone, and a 4th round pick in 2011.

    Los Angeles got a 7th round pick for Jason LaBarbera, who used to be one of the better goaltenders in the AHL.

    Obviously a win-win situation for both teams in the equation.

    The other available goaltenders on the market:

    1. Curtis Sanford
    2. Martin Gerber
    3. Wade Dubielewicz (who was claimed, by the way)
    4. Jason LaBarbera (now in Vancouver)
    5. Mathieu Garon
    6. Dany Sabourin
    7. Khabibulin/Huet

    Out of these 8 goaltenders, who is the most bang-for-buck? Obviously Garon, followed by LaBarbera and Sabourin.

    I'm sick so I don't feel like writing much more.

    Dany Sabourin has now played for all the western Canadian teams. An eastern tour of duty is now inevitable.

    Farewell, Mathieu Garon.



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    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    How about them Oilers

    Erik Cole earns his hat trick - the hard way. The nose to the grindstone, blood sweat and tears way. What a heckuva player.

    Speaking of great performances, how about Brule and Brodziak, the latter of the pair was +4 on the night and I wish he would play like this more often. If Brodziak could be a defensively reliable centerman who won faceoffs, scored at a reasonable rate and chipped in the occasional offensive night such as he did against Washington, we would make the trading of Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene a no-lose situation.

    As great as I thought Rob Schremp, Ryan Potulny, and Liam Reddox looked when coming up to Edmonton from the Falcons, it pales by comparison to my new found likening to Gilbert Brule's hockey tenacity.

    He may be around for a while, fellas.

    P.S. Congratulations, Steve MacIntyre!

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    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Capital Punishment

    That's the first time I've used that headline title, but I bet it's been abused in Washington, the US Nations' Capitol, time and time again. But who better to receive it than Marc Staal or the injured Oilers?

    No, I take it back, and here's why:

    (1) The Oilers have played better in recent run and gun games, and not in defensive games - our box strat finally let up against the Sharks the other day but the Oilers woke up after the Gilbert Brule goal against the Blues. It's only a matter of time until the Oilers have their confidence back up, and with DesLauriers called up it's only a matter of time until Tambellini shakes things up.
    (2) The Capitals lost to the Habs and to the Bluejackets on the current losing streak, one a good team, one not so good. This means that this Washington team is good and probably hungry tonight, but not consistent enough to be a shoo-in for the win tonight. If the Oilers can put together wins over New Jersey and New York, then the Oilers may have something here. Mind you, we had Ales Hemsky then, but we'll see.

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    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Welcome to Springfield

    Springfield Edmonton: City of Champions

    Hey, who said having the Falcons Oilers in town was a bad thing? When the veterans aren't able to deliver every night and the sophomores are slumping, what can kickstart a team better than a fresh injection of farm team phenoms?

    Ryan Potulny looked great out there, skating around making plays and hitting people. Gilbert Brule's goal was great and Sam Gagner continues to turn his game around with the winning goal. Cogliano also looked good but was not rewarded. This turn of events does not bode well for a certain Robert Nilsson.

    It's a testament to the versatility of the players (Pouliot, DesLauriers) in the system and the scouts in that the players from the farm can fit in so seamlessly with the current team, perhaps with the exception of Liam Reddox (who looks lost beside Penner and Horcoff). Furthermore, the recovery projects named Brule and Potulny, acquired in exchange for Syvret-a guy who was the odd man out, and the oft-injured Torres, have turned out not so bad after all.

    Here's my fingers crossed that they can make a player out of Rob Schremp.


    Sunday, January 11, 2009

    What kind of team?

    What kind of team are the Oilers building? Is it a winning team? Is it a team that bases its decisions around results, hard work, and hockey sense?

    Here's a quote from Lowetide:
    I admire the Oilers commitment to continuity. These teams who change management every 5 minutes never get any kind of sustain because the deck chairs are all getting moved constantly. Credit to the Oilers, who have had the same evaluation group in place for the entire decade, the same coach since 2000, and a management team that is largely the same as it was at the turn of the century.

    This is what winning teams do, with examples being the Habs (Pollock-Bowman), the Islanders (Torrey-Arbour), the Oilers (Sather) and more recently the Red Wings (Holland, Nill, etc). The problem is that the Oilers forgot the key item in the equation: winning.

    This is especially reflective of MacTavish's comments today, in which he said Robbie Schremp was not physical enough nor strong enough to keep up with NHL forwards. Sure, Robbie Schremp hasn't shown that his skating has improved a whole bunch, though his skating has made great strides - no pun intended. It's not exactly like Strudwick skates a whole lot better himself. And you can argue Strudwick brings a whole different dimension of game to the table that makes up for his lack of skating ability. But in terms of physicality Strudwick trails both Stortini and MacIntyre and Schremp was producing at 0.75 pts/game. I don't even know what that number is in terms of every 60 minutes.

    So why all the criticism about Robbie Schremp's supposed inability to keep up at the NHL level? If he had 3 points in 4 games, and we're a team about getting results and rewarding people who produce, then this player named Schremp should be getting a promotion to the 1st line, not Liam Reddox. I love Liam Reddox and all, but right now he's built like a checking forward, not an offensive catalyst.

    Ryan Potulny, however, is deserving of the call-up. His play at the AHL level and in Springfield has been deserving of a second look. The Falcons may stink a whole bunch, but at least Potulny is leading the pack.

    But in terms of double standards, Schremp loses and Reddox wins.


    Because our Oilers administration keeps saying one thing and doing another.

    Look at the photo above - does that look like a guy who's not physical, not up-to-speed, and does it seem like someone who doesn't feel like his level of intensity is important? If you do, you're on crack. And that means MacTavish is on crack.



  • (1). Zach Stortini didn't break anything and is only out with a strained knee.

  • (2). Sheldon Souray is good to go tonight

  • (3). Hemsky and Nilsson out ... MacIntyre and Potulny in

  • There's good news and there's bad news and I guess we'll have to take it with a grain of salt. Hopefully the Oilers turn it around tonight.


    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Going Downhill Fast


    Zach Stortini, that must've hurt. I refrained from putting up an image of Stortini injuring his leg because I'm a big Zach Stortini fan and seeing what happened makes me kind of sick to my stomach.

    But in other news, Sheldon Souray is injured as well. On top of the Hemsky and Pisani injuries, and with Horcoff playing hurt (and probably Staios too), this team is going downhill and downhill fast. Not because the team doesn't want to win and it's not like the whole team isn't performing. But the team has not played as an entire unit since the Nashville game and scarcely before that.

    Stortini may not shoot out the lights, but he's the kind of guy on your team that is willing to do all the things that nobody else is willing to do. Who else is going to take out the trash?

    Don't take this the wrong way. I love MacIntyre and Strudwick. But Huggy Bear is a very character guy who actually shows up every damn shift and he's not somebody you're worried about playing against the other team's more skilled players because he's good at getting the puck out of the defensive zone as well.

    Out of lineup: Souray, Hemsky, Pisani, Stortini
    Playing hurt: Horcoff, Staios

    The Oilers better do something and do something fast.

    Somebody call Tambellini. Let's make a move. If we don't do something quick, we might as well give up on the season and pack it in for John Tavares. The Islanders already have a head-start on us. Crap.

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    Friday, January 9, 2009

    T.J. Kemp

    The Montreal Canadians acquired former Oilers prospect TJ Kemp the other day. They acquired him for a bag of pucks.

    He is probably to shore up their AHL power play or add defensive depth, despite TJ Kemp only having 10 points so far this season.

    Last season, as a member of the Springfield Falcons, TJ Kemp led the team's blueliners with 46 points and was the offensive blueliner on a Falcons team with little or no offensive weapons on the back end.

    The Oilers let him go and he was signed by Pittsburgh and assigned to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

    I'm not sure why the Oilers let him go, though. Sure, he's 5'11 and 197, but size has never been an NHL deterrent for guys like Lubomir Visnovsky and Marc-Andre Bergeron, and perhaps with Montreal's powerplay stinking with the departure of both Souray and Streit, with some hard work and good luck, he may find himself on the Habs powerplay sooner rather than later.

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    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    The Real Deal?

    What I'm wondering about Jordan Eberle is this:

    Is he going to start his NHL career as more of a Sam Gagner, a Zach Parise, or a Rob Schremp?

    It's clear that we want him to be the best he can be, but can he keep up with the strength of NHL forwards and d-men?

    My hope is that by the time he joins the team the Oilers will have acquired more scoring strength that can complement Hemsky and as a result Eberle will be protected.

    Just look at how Steve Stamkos was fed to the wolves and how Rob Schremp was broken like a horse - and realise that neither of these situations is what Oiler fans desire for their potential golden boy in Eberle.


    Monday, January 5, 2009


    Oilers win 3-2 in ugly fashion, but I guess a win is a win. Tonight the pluggers really manned up and won it for the rest of the team.

    Andrew Cogliano, the Oilers' most consistent player, got thew inning goal. Erik Cole looked so good he was double shifted for a lot of the night though he didn't get any points out of it.

    Credit the Oilers for coming from behind for the win, of course. But how in hell did we fall to a 2-0 deficit to the league's worst team? You could blame it on the "3 games in 3 nights" syndrome, as the Oilers did exert a lot of energy to take part in the skills competition.

    Hopefully the Oilers get some rest on the next two days because Sundin is in town Wednesday, and I would hate to disappoint. Let's send Sundin's indecisive ass into the next decade, Oilers!

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    Restore my Faith, Oilers!

    Here is Mr. Clutch himself, Jordan Eberle.

    At a time when I thought I had lost faith in hockey... the World Juniors and Oilers came to my rescue.

    The Canadians were trailing and with seconds remaining, Oilers draft pick Jordan Eberle tied the game. Better yet, he scored in the shootout, setting up Jonathan Tavares for the win, sending the Canadians to the Gold Medal Game. This was just one game after he'd played the role of the hero against the United States.

    And that was just the start of a great Saturday night of hockey.

    Just when I thought I had lost faith in the Oilers' ability to lock down a lead and play a full 60 minutes, they won handily against the Dallas Stars. The Oilers may have been out shot but they clearly outplayed the Dallas Stars in that game.

    Tonight the Oilers face another not-so-formidable foe in the NY Islanders and hopefully they continue playing like the team we expect them to be.

    Then maybe, just maybe, we won't be inheriting Jordan Eberle as a player that will help the team - but rather, Jordan Eberle will be inheriting a team that will help him as a player.

    Prediction: Oilers 6 Islanders 2


    The Forgotten Oiler Draft Picks

    In case you were still steaming about Riley Nash not making the loaded Team Canada squad, consider this: are there any other Oilers picks that have made the WJC roster for another country?

    Jordan Eberle may be the national hero right now but how about Milan Kytnar and Teemu Hartikainen?

    Oiler Nation better not forget about them.

    Hartikainen was tied for 6th in tournament scoring on a so-so Finnish team, which managed to outscore their opponents 20-14 during the tournament, thanks in part to a 7-1 rout of the tournament whipping boy Team Kazakhstan.

    There's no way of telling how many times Teemu was on the ice for goals against, but for the goals for column, you take out Hartikainen and his team leading 9 points and Finland is now trailing their opponents 14-11 instead. This should tell Oiler fans how much Teemu Hartikainen has improved and what to expect when he shows up for rookie camp this off season or training camp in September.

    Kytnar is the forgotten son of Oil Country, playing on the surprising Slovaks (who lost to Russia today) which feature only 4 North American players (of which Kytar is one). Kytnar is one of only 7 Slovak players not coming out of the club team Orange 20 Puchov, which seems to be the club of choice for putting out national team players for the WJC tournament.

    Certainly, Teemu Hartikainen is no Jordan Eberle, but he's not that bad and may turn out to be better than initial scouting reports may have indicated. It will great to see him at next year's Oilers vs. Golden Bears.

    Furthermore, Teemu Hartikainen and Jordan Eberle are neither of them good enough to lay claim to being major leagues sports' next Michael Jordan - because that claim belongs to 6-1, 185 lb defenseman Michal Jordan of the Czech Republic, a draft pick of Carolina in last years entry draft.

    He truly is major leagues sports' next Michael Jordan.

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    Saturday, January 3, 2009

    Oilers beat Stars 4-1; Secondary Scoring & Team Depth

    It's great that with Hemsky out we're starting to see some of the other players pick up their game to exciting new levels, like Erik Cole, Sam Gagner, Liam Reddox, Dustin Penner, and Robert Nilsson.

    But who is the most consistent Oiler outside of Hemsky? Horcoff, Visnovsky, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, and Pisani might have a chance - but I think it's clearly Andrew Cogliano.

    He may not shoot out the lights - but he's the only guy I can remember bringing his A game every damn shift, PP, PK, or even strength.

    He's a heckuva player.

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    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    Puck Control, Puck Movement, Puck Possession

    The Detroit Red Wings showed that they were men playing among boys today when they faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks. The score is a lot closer than would accurately dictate how the puck was being controlled.

    When even the skilled young guns of the up-and-coming Chicago Blackhawks powerhouse had trouble moving the puck around outside on the frozen rink, the Detroit Red Wings had no trouble carrying out their same puck possession style that works effectively both as a offensive tool and a defensive deterrent for goals.

    The athletes who play for the Detroit Red Wings are not supermen from Krypton, but they do have all the right weapons. Supermen or not, they do however, follow a game plan well.

    Do the Oilers have all the right weapons?

    The Oilers have all the right weapons:
  • great puck-moving defensemen
  • physical grinders who provide secondary scoring
  • skilled wingers
  • goaltending depth (which doubles as a curse on this team, for some reason)
  • effective scouting department

  • The jury is still out on whether Horcoff is a legitimate #1 center. The two camps, affirmative or negative, will have watched the last few games and seen the Oilers and their lack of puck movement and puck control.

    If it's not the arsenal then it has to be the game plan, for which the Oilers have unfortunately been given a defunct version.

    One of the obvious reasons is the lack of a certain #83 Ales Hemsky. But the lack of one player cannot seriously cripple a team unless the team was already too reliant on that single player in the first place.

    The difference between the Red Wings and the Oilers?

    Puck movement and puck control seem like obvious answers - but are they?

    In the off-season Lowe and MacTavish were talking about moving towards being a better puck possession and skill-first team like the Detroit Red Wings. This was apparent in the home opener when the Oilers D were jumping up on every rush, being activated again and again which led to an early season lead in the Oilers scoring stats by Grebeshkov and Souray.

    Things have trailed off since then.

    Let's look at this team without the most important puck carrying component, Ales Hemsky, who is missing from the lineup. The Oilers still move the puck and control it, nonetheless.

    But is it effective for what they want to achieve - a puck possession game?

    Sure, it's easy to say "you're just a critic in an armchair" and perhaps you're right. You could also refute that by saying "the Oilers are a young team" that panics a lot and needs more experience, which would have elements of truth in it as well.

    But the bottom line is, when the army's weapons are all there, its up to the General to use them affectively. We have so many "role-players" on this team - the Horcoff's, Souray's, Moreau's, Cole's, Pisani's, and Visnovsky's, who would be sufficient to show the young guns - the Brodziak's, Gagner's, Nilsson's, and Stortini's - how to play into their own roles better.

    If the Oilers are so gifted in the skills department, and so loaded in the leadership department, the only logical conclusion is that our team strategies are not up to snuff. This is not singularly a critique of Craig MacTavish, don't get me wrong. The quality of assistant coaches (or lack thereof) may also be important factors which are influencing everything from our 5v5 breakouts to our special teams futility.

    The difference between the Red Wings and the Oilers?

    Puck movement and puck control seem like obvious answers - and they are.

    The Oilers only seem capable of north-south breakouts and its no wonder the team had trouble finding a place for a guy like Erik Cole to play. When you watch the Red Wings play, the puck support and what guys do at the blue line to avoid going off side - all the little things - they add up.

    The Oilers' desired sum is a complete hockey team that knows how to pursue a strategy of puck possession.

    Puck movement and control are just words unless puck possession is the outcome, and the fact is the Oilers have trouble gaining neutral ice, let alone the opposition zone, on most nights.

    Are the Oilers skilled enough? Damn right they are.

    Yet we are still struggling. Who the hell knows for sure why?

    I can suggest a few things that can fix it and it rhymes with "Sire MacTavish and Lowe" and starts with an "F".

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