Impressions

Jean Francois Jacques has talent. He had a real nice game tonight, bothersome on the forecheck and physical down low. The light is going on, folks.

Book it.

I don’t see a way they can send Cogliano down. He’s a splendid player, does all kinds of things well: passes the puck, takes a pass, beats defensemen one on one, wins races to the puck, battles heavier than his size in the corners, forechecks like a demon, scores pretty goals and ugly goals. Scored a goal tonight in an area Joffrey Lupul doesn’t know exists. He’s an exciting player. He’s made the team from (I think) a far ways back, is small and a quality two way player. He’s Butch Goring in my books until futher notice.

I don’t know how they can send Sam Gagner down either. This kid played with pedestrian wingers for most of the night and kept doing things to get noticed. There was a play in the first period where the Flames had two forwards battling along the halfboards with Gagner and Sestito uncertain whether to join in or stay up and cover his point man. As sure as I’m sitting here, the instant he committed down low the puck squeaked out, but damned if Gagner didn’t cover off the play well enough to make it a neutral result. They’ll send him out no doubt, but maybe not until he’s played 9 games. He’s a terrific talent.

Hemsky was ridiculous. If he can play 70 games he should get 90 points playing like he is now. Penner was more involved tonight, had some nice chances and was physical. Horcoff joined that line and they had effective forechecking shifts but didn’t create as much offense as they will after getting familiar with each other.

Stortini and Brodziak had effective nights. Stortini was hard on the forecheck and physical, Brodziak played a smart game and had some offensive chances but didn’t do much with them. After the TC he’s had, there’s no more proof required.

Thoresen had his usual game, all over the ice doing smart things and in the right places. I don’t know what role he’ll play this season but this guy can do things.

Quick on the D and G:

  • Roloson: Looks ready. Stopped a lot of nice chances, controlled rebounds effectively. Dennis has a line about Roloson when he’s playing well, something like “things stick to him” and it was just that way tonight.
  • Souray-Greene: Souray had a very good night. He had some chaos but I don’t think they’re going to iron that out of his game. He played physically all night and had some excellent shifts with Tarnstrom (I believe it was Tarnstrom) on the PK. Greene I’m tired of picking on, he looks like a guy who is unfamiliar with the finer points of the game. Like the puck, for instance.
  • Pitkanen-Staios: Pitkanen played 60 minutes. Not quite, but he played a ton. Made some things happen, played well positionally and wasn’t out of position more than a couple of times. Made an errant pass or two. When Staios is on the ice I experience calm.
  • Grebeshkov-Tarnstrom: Not bad. Grebeshkov looked WAY better than TC and JMC + first exhibition game. Took a goofy penalty, but played a solid game. Tarnstrom I like, he seems to be able to restore order and has some sense of when to jailbreak.

That’s all I’ve got. Love the Oilers, am nervous about this team, but am beginning to warm to certain segments of the roster.

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32 Responses to "Impressions"

  1. oilerdiehard says:

    I have been a big Cogs booster for a while so I am giddy right about now.

    I am really happy to hear Grebs continues to play solid after a shaky start.

  2. Keegan says:

    LT,
    First off your page is the first thing I read everyday. But enough of that, what do you think the playoff chances are for this team? I am curious to hear your thoughts on what teams play into april.

  3. Moose says:

    “Love the Oilers, am nervous about this team, but am beginning to warm to certain segments of the roster.”

    Perfectly sums it up…

  4. PunjabiOil says:

    I’d keep Gagner, give him less than 40 games and let him play in the World Juniors…protect his rights for another year – that’s smart asset management.

    I’m getting pumped for the season.

  5. Black Dog says:

    MacT says they are going with 8 D to start the season.

    Based on what is happening there are going to be an awful lot of long faces. Stortini or JFJ will be going down. Pouliot too. Maybe someone else. Jeez.

    Sounds like the sum may be greater then the parts on the back end. Is that possible?

  6. Lowetide says:

    keegan: I’m encouraged by Souray and Tarnstrom (saw them good) so that means 4D who MacT might be able to count on for the most part plus a solid tc by Smid. Keeping 8 tells me Greene is on the bubble. MacT can’t afford to role that guy out there for “2 minutes, hooking” every damn shift. By any measure he has been outperformed by at least 7 other guys.

    If they keep 8D, I think that means Roy gets sent out. Gilbert has earned the spot imo.

    As for the 13F’s, my guess:

    Horcoff-Penner-Hemsky
    Stoll-Torres-Nilsson
    Reasoner-Moreau-Brodziak
    Cogliano-Sanderson-Stortini
    Thoresen

    That means Gagner back to junior and the Quebec kids to the AHL. I’m a big time Pouliot backer, but shame on him. He got no traction this camp and didn’t get any favors, but so the hell what? Cogliano started the game last night on the big line and scored when he was demoted to the scrub line. THAT’s how you do it.

    You can’t really defend Pouliot after not making this team. I listened to the Calgary game and he sounded dreadful, and watched last night’s game and Jacques is looking better and better.

    Whatever his tc problem, it may cost him his firs organization. To go into camp with what turned out to be THREE open spots on RW and lose them to Nilsson (a guy with little if any more offense than MP), Brodziak (a hard working kid from the bowels of the draft) and Stortini (the modern, younger Scott Ferguson) is shameful.

    Wasting talent is a shitty thing to do. Ask Derek Sanderson.

  7. Black Dog says:

    Good for Jacques – do you think maybe they keep him instead of Stortini? I know MacT likes Stortini and it sounds like his skating has improved (good for him) but is Jacques better served playing big minutes in the AHL or fourth line in the NHL. I might say the latter especially if he may be finally getting his present role.

    Pouliot Pouliot Pouliot. So many kids came in and showed well. Big disappointment.

    I guess the last question is whether or not they keep Gagner. I don’t think there is room for him but maybe they give him a taste?

  8. Black Dog says:

    Oops – forgot to add – not sure why they would keep eight D – having two guys sit in the PB makes no sense – unless they are going to move one real quick.

  9. Big T says:

    I’m gonna say that they have to move a guy BDHS… But I’ve said they just have to do a lot of things so tske that with a grain of salt.

    That’s a pretty decent looking forward corps actually. The first two lines are a little suspect (in that they won’t be scaring the bejebus out of anyone this season).

    Last two lines are looking great and hopfully the young guys all around can mature quickly.

    The defense may do OK as well. Lot of young guys, so you have to live with a fair amount of rookie mistakes but this may be the d-corp many thought last years group would be – in the good way.

    Horcoff and MacT seem to really appreciate all of their puck moving abilities and believe it will make a real difference on the offensive side of the game. I’m especially hopeful that Souray may actually posess some pretty good passing abilities. (I hope you’re right Louise!).

    Is this not a similar D group to the ’05/’06 ‘Canes???

    Guarded optimism I guess.

    T

  10. PDO says:

    Cogliano and Pouliot have been two my personal favourites for some time. It’s nice to see Cogliano stepping it up big time… but damn, I really expected Pouliot to take some steps forward this Summer. He had to have done something that pissed someone (everyone?) in the organization off, and he didn’t take well to it. Just a lot of things that don’t line up properly.

    I’m starting to warm up to Souray. Especially if his mistakes can be covered by Roli and Garon and he can play well on the PK. Either way though… his signing pushed someone out. Don’t know who yet… but someone has to be gone.

    Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Torres – Stoll – Nilsson
    Moreau – Reasoner – Brodziak
    Jacques – Cogliano – Thoresen
    Stortini

    Pitkanen – Staios
    Tarnstrom – Souray
    Smid – Gilbert
    Grebeshkov
    Greene

    Roli/Garon

    … maybe it’s good enough? What does Marc Pouliot and Matt Greene bring to Edmonton in a trade?

  11. Bank Shot says:

    Overall a pretty decent game by the Oilers. Looked like they took their foot off the gas a little bit after they got the 2-0 lead.

    The only reason Calgary ended up with a goal was because MacT was feeling generous and put out Simon and Sestito to kill off the penalty Calgary scored on.

    Cogliano has to be a lock at this point. He made alot of things happen included one sequence near the end of the game where he seemed to be just clowning around with the puck in the offensive zone while Calagary’s plyons…errr defenders struggled to keep up.

    Gagner is going to be a good player no doubt. I’m really excited that he seems to be in the right place to knock down opponent passes often. He’s not going to be a one-way man. At this point I wouldn’t be disappointed if he doesn’t get a 9 game look at the NHL level. You can tell he’s good, but the production required from him just doesn’t seem to be there yet.

    Kind of disappointed at how much the top line was pinned in their own end. Perhaps it had something to do with all the center swapping. Hemsky made alot happen.

    I guess I look for something different in defencemen then most people, because I thought Greene played pretty solid particulary on the PK. He doesn’t look pretty but he doesn’t give up good scoring chances often. When he does give up the rare chance he negates it with a penalty. Good stuff.

    Tarnstrom and Grebeshkov gave up at least two 2-on-1′s. I’m not sure how the coaches can justify having two guys on the roster that hand out high percentage scoring chances, and don’t score enough to offset it.

  12. Dennis says:

    From what I heard, Grebs didn’t have all that solid of a game but I’ve long learned that what Rod tells you and what really happens are two entirely different things. On the other hand, it seems like there’s a lot of calm when Tarnstrom’s out there. Maybe he’s come back as one of those positional defenders who keeps things cool by being in the right place. That’s just a wild guess though and I’ll start seeing things for myself next week, I guess. I’m confident though that the defense depends on how quickly JP grows up, how quickly Smid progresses, what Greene can round into and what Huddy can do for Souray. I think we’re more than fine in the 5-6 holes but we know that means jack when the real stuff starts.

    Forwards wise, here’s a copy and paste on Pouliot:

    _Pouliot admits to almost getting gun-shy about camp_

    “You have your ups and downs,” he said.

    “I never thought I wouldn’t make it, but your confidence is up and down.

    “Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re a very good player. And sometimes, when your confidence is up, you think you can be here and produce.”

    I dunno, the kid seems to be a headcase and he played so many good to great games down the stretch last season that I’m shocked that he hasn’t grabbed a spot in this camp. Then again, I still say he’s been playing with nobodies and though Cogs scored a goal with Thor-Brodz last night, I wonder how much he’d have shown if he was playing with these guys all the time. Are we at the point with Pouliot where we expect him to eleveate the play of fringe players? I dunno.

    Then again, maybe I expected too much from him and/or overrated him. I was one of the guys who said I wondered where his offensive potential topped out but then I’d remember the games last year when he had linemates who were real NHLers and in those instances, he looked much better. As much as I like the kid, it isn’t like he’s a Gagner who we ABOSOLUTELY need to be a Hemsky-type if we’re ever to be serious contenders again. If Cogs can pop a few goals and he looks after his own end and is coachable, then he takes MP’s spot and we’re certainly none the worse off. And looking on down the line, it’s hard to imagine that Gagner doens’t break camp with this team in sept of ’09. Hemsky was the last kid who gave the Oilers cause to wonder if he could skip another year of junior and I think that means that Gagner’s not too far away. With Souray locked in longterm and seemingly able to drive a PP, that negates some of Stoll’s value so the future down the middle is most likely Horc-Cogs-Gagner and the 4th slot shouldn’t be too hard to fill. And if the Oilers look at it in that regard, then it makes a little more sense that MP was playing wing this camp right off the bat.

    Just a couple of notes to finish:

    JFJ vs Sortini is an interesting battle. Storts is a middleweight in a heavyweight’s body so it’s not like he can really fight anyone of any timbre so does it make sense to keep him up instead of JFJ? And what does Jacques have left to prove at the AHL level anyway?

    And, don’t look now, but Garon’s getting all kinds of love and Roli can’t even get any praise after a game like last night where it sounded like he played pretty well. The NHL doesn’t allow this, and the Oilers didn’t do it with Salo even when it was permitted, so it’s not like the Oil can buy out Roli but I’d be shocked if Garon isn’t the guy out of camp next year. I don’t know how the Oilers would get rid of Roli unless he had another good to great season and the cap rose again, all of which are possible, but it just seems destined that Garon’s the next number one. Garon’s on the record as saying he had other offers and I wonder why he came here and why he took a two year offer when it made more sense for him to take a one year offer and then go back on next season’s summer market and look for a #1 job. But then again maybe he looked at the direction of the Oilers and the age of Roli and figured that a number one gig was just around the corner.

  13. Big T says:

    I like that line-up PDO. Clearly Thoreson has done enough to play rather than be in the press box.

    Jacques may have finally had a good game but who knows if he’ll turn that into a string of good games. Here’s hoping.

    The coach clearly likes what Stortini brings and so he probably deserves playing time over Jacques right now – whether that will happen is another thing.

    Pouliot… I don’t know what to think. Leaning towards him just being a slow starter and having to learn a new position this camp. Clearly his conditionaing or effort was lacking in the mind of the coach. We’ll see what he does with his [likely] demotion to Springfield. Can he use it as motivation or will he sulk… not sure.

    I don’t believe he’s pissed off anyone in the org. rather just didn’t put in the work required to show up ready. Either way, it’s a strike against a smart player who’s shown he has the tools.

    Interesting times in Oilerland

    T

  14. Bendelson says:

    I don’t think you put Cogliano at centre… not if last night’s faceoff stats are what we can expect. Great player for the 2nd line RW?

    Torres, Stoll, Cogliano

    Gagner seems to be scrappy in the face-off circle and does OK. He’s going be good though I agree after a handful of games, the World Juniors is likely the best place for him this season.

    Tradeable assets:
    Schremp, Greene, Poulliot…

    Go Oilers Go

  15. namflashback says:

    Dennis,

    Nice breakdown on the Pouliot situation. Don’t know what happened — but doesn’t really matter these days anyway. Horc is Horc, Stoll has turned into a player, Cogliano isn’t one-dimensional, Gagner will not be denied.

    If, in a couple of years it is:
    One of Horcoff/Stoll
    Gagner
    Cogliano
    Brodiak

    They have a huge number of options for that #4 slot, with Brodziak, O’Marra who have been RW in camp, but are options for C as well.

    MP had one window of opportunity close due to his bout of mono. But he had a huge opportunity last year and failed to do enough not to be denied. The team has choices now, and barring a major setback for Cogliano and Gagner, MP is much further back now.

    on Roloson:
    08-09 is a team option (IIRC). If Garon shows really well, they could go to him and one of J[DD] as backup.

  16. Black Dog says:

    Hmm, I’m pretty sure Roloson is guaranteed for next year, nfb.

    He is moveable, imo – just look at the Avs as a team that might be sniffing around for goaltending come the spring.

    I think the future is Horcoff, Cogliano and Gagner up the middle. Both Cogliano and Gagner appear to have some sense as to what to do when they do not have the puck and I would think that MacT could iron out any issues in the faceoff area.

    I think Stoll will get moved, likely next year or the year after for a Dman or a keeper if the youngsters do not progress in either area.

    Trukhno presents another interesting case – if he can progress – well there are three LWs ensconced right now – one would have to be moved. Plus if Jacques gets it together …

    Of course hope springs eternal in September and the end result of all of this will come to fruition in spring ’10. ’11, ’12 but its exciting to see that there may be hope.

  17. Dennis says:

    Ahh, I did not know that about Roli’s contract.

    Oh well, everything’s pretty clear at this point then. Garon’s being clearly bred and prepped for the starting job in ’09 and beyond.

    Because of the fact he played in the E last season, I’d pencil in DD for the next two full seasons in the A.

  18. Big T says:

    Good point Dennis and BDHS; Pat, I hate to see either of Horc or Stoll go but I’d rather keep Horc if I had to choose. Stoll seems to be good defensively but most of his offense appears to come from the PP. Of course I haven’t looked any of that up so I could be completely out to lunch.

    LT;

    This preseason and training camp certainly points to your conclusion that drafting under Lowe and Prendergrast has been at the very least average or better. A lot of time yet for these youngsters to make mistakes and/or [hopefully] improve but the early signs are good.

    T

  19. Jonathan says:

    One nice thing out of training camp- the resurgence of Marty Reasoner. I had some serious concerns about our number three centre slot, but if Reasoner is back in top form than that minimizes the damage done by Pouliot being so lacklustre. My lineup:
    Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
    Torres-Stoll-Nilsson
    Moreau-Reasoner-Brodziak
    Sanderson-Cogliano-Thoreson
    Jacques

    D as per pdo

  20. namflashback says:

    bd, thanks for the correction. Dennis, note the errata.

    I don’t know where I thought I had read that.

  21. Ribs says:

    Sending Pouliot down wouldn’t be all that bad. He’d get some valuable learning time in the A and it gives a few of ther guys a chance to show their worth.
    All things are pointing to a less than lovely season for the Oil and call-ups are going to be in style all season long.
    Pouliot will find his way back onto the roster. He’s too good a
    player not to.

    Cogs looks like a maniac out there. It sure looks like he has a lot more drive to score than his maybe not so great comp, Marchant.

    I’m still not impressed with MacT’s preparation. Looks like sunday night shinny out there so far.

  22. ClaytonMagnet says:

    I firmly believe Rollie will be gone at the deadline. You have to think he’s worth at least a good pick to a team wanting to repeat the Oiler’s ’06 run, and Garon can carry the load until one of the DDs can come through, or until we can figure out how to go back in time and get KL to trade Pronger for Luongo (dammit!).

  23. Rod says:

    punjabioil: Interesting idea with Gagner. Play some in the NHL (but not enough for it to count as a year toward UFA). Play in the Worlds too. Whether it’s that or junior will likely depend how the first 9 games shake out. I think he’s earned that much of a taste of the big show.

    Dennis: “I’ve long learned that what Rod tells you and what really happens are two entirely different things.”
    Now that’s just rude… ;-)

    namflashback: BDHS is right that Roli’s guaranteed next year. I could be mistaken (see above), but I don’t think options are allowed under the current CBA. That said, I agree that Garon is the likely starter next season, if not the trade deadline. There should be a market for Roloson. If not, oh well, Roloson has split time before.

  24. momentai says:

    I liked Cogs the other night. But in order to be a competent center, he’s going to have to win some draws. He didn’t really create much of anything with Penner/Hemsky as the top line but as soon as he dropped into Horcoff’s spot with Brodziak/Thoresen, he popped in quite the garbage goal. I think he played better with Gagner as his linemate as the game wore on.

    Horcoff was pretty much playing mop up role as MacT wanted a good look at Gagner/Cogliano at the pivot on the top line. He was stuck playing with Sestito/Almtorp for quite a bit aside from the occasional shift with Hemsky. The fancy toe drag by Hemsky that led to a penalty was created by Horcoff dodging a check at the blueline and making a good pass to Hemsky breaking in. I still think Horcoff gets top line duties and deservedly so.

    Grebeshkov looked much better than in the Panther game I watched. Although, I thought he dogged it a little when he fumbled the puck at the blueline leading to a breakaway opportunity. Maybe that’s just his top speed but I think he could have hustled and at least tried to get back quicker.

  25. IceDragoon says:

    Good stuff, Lain.

    Have you listened to the post-game yet? I love how Cogs feels more comfortable playing with depth linemates. Kid knows he’s not quite up to Hemsky yet. MacT’s reaction is fun.

    Young Samwise has played with many different linemates over the course of TC. (super series too) It’s the little things like you noticed that have been standing out for me. He has uncanny awareness and adapts to his linemates almost seamlessly. He adjusts to his opponents throughout the game too. (a series asset ;-D) At 18, he’s freakishly easy to play with. I got a little smile yesterday when MacT said that Cogliano has more speed and Gagner has more “nifty”. You can hear the smile in his voice.

    I have no qualms about this kid staying with the team OR going back to London. He won’t regress.

    btw – Lain.
    There was a hi-lite I only saw on Global last night that showed Samwise springing Cogs on a breakaway. It would have been late in the game, maybe 4×4. Do you recall the shift? If not… cool. :-) I was just thinking they could be dangerous together.

    Louise

  26. IceDragoon says:

    Wait… Momentai…

    I think he played better with Gagner as his linemate as the game wore on

    They were linemates?
    and… looked good?

    cooooool
    :-D

  27. momentai says:

    Sam and Andrew played together on the 4 on 4 nearly every other shift and they looked pretty good. I could have sworn that there was at least a 5 on 5 shift in there somewhere as well. I thought that they’d get pinned in their own zone a ton but it never happened and some of their rushes looked pretty nice especially that pass you just mentioned that sprung Cogliano.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Louise: That may have been a short period they were out there 4×4. There was maybe 30 seconds where they were buzzing, but I don’t recall that exact play.

  29. ClaytonMagnet says:

    In the game in Calgary, MacT paired Cogs with Nilsson and Torres for a few shifts in the third, and then Cogs and Nilsson for a few shifts in OT, and they had some good jump. If Cogs and Sam show chemistry too, then how about we dream in technicolor a bit…

    By next year, all three have a year of pro under their belts (or junior in Sam’s case, but like Louise said, he won’t regress). If Cogs’ weakness is faceoffs, move him to the wing (he or Nilsson will be playing an off wing, but so what). How decent would that line be? #1 line offensive potential, all three are showing good two-way potential; the only problem is size. But this is the new NHL, right? Speed should kill…size shouldn’t matter.

    Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Cogliano – Gagner – Nilsson
    Torres – Stoll – Pisani (lets hope)

    Three lines that can offer very good two-way play (granted, in verying degrees defensively). That would allow for a 4th line that could be purpose built as a shut down line. Take your pick, but something like Moreau-Reasoner-Thoreson/JFJ/Stortini/Brodziak. Or, with all the assets we don’t have room for, bring in some defensive specialists. You know, something that would resemble the McCarty-Draper-Maltby line.

    Just a thought.

  30. ClaytonMagnet says:

    PS – Is anyone even thinking of Carter anymore? Does he stand a chance of making this team?

  31. Asiaoil says:

    Damn shame Pisani is out – he’s exactly what this team needs right now – an elite ES vet on RW for Moreau and Reasoner. Hard to know what to do really – if he’s out an extended period then we need a similar player. If he’s back by New Year and can play near his usual level then ?????

    Defense is another question mark with Greene being a disappointment. I really hope we go with….

    Pitkanen Staios
    Souray Tarnstrom

    ….in the top 4. We need the vets and then it’s a dogs breakfast for the bottom pair. Smid and Grebs look best at this point – but Gilbert has also been OK. Greene has been one of the few disappointments and Roy is marginal and always will be.

    Bottom line: we need to trade some of these guys before they die on the vine. One of the young dmen has to go (Greene, Gilbert, Roy) and a small forward is another prime candidate (Schremp, Thoresen). The oilers are in a funny place – the kids are looking good but need time, not enough vets to survive any injuries, way too young at RW and at RD. But of course we are dealing with Lowe and I don’t expect anything to happen until the trade deadline unless that cat changes his spots big time.

  32. Dennis says:

    I know it would mean no Nilsson or Gagner but I’d really love to have Smyth back right now. You put two EV studs like 34 and 94 on this team, of course it deletes Penner but who’d really care about that, and Souray, though a waste of money, on the PP and we’d have a damn solid team.

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