Oilers 07-08: Sonny on the Causeway

As the Edmonton Oilers get ready for another season, there are a few things we can state with authority before liftoff. Here are mine, feel free to add anything I’ve missed.

First, Ales Hemsky. He’s been flying during pre-season, playing with the usual ridiculous skill plus some added determination. He’s still going to turn the puck over in the damndest places and at some point in his career will acquire the nickname “SHOOT” but this guy is poised to make one giant leap forward in his career. You can see it on pretty much every shift. Dustin Penner could not be luckier even if his wife was Jessica Alba. Seriously.

Second, Save Percentage and GAA. The Oilers will have a better save percentage than a year ago but will give up more goals. This is due entirely to the “chaos” lineup on the blueline and all that youth up front.

Third, several of the young guns will struggle mightily. This is one of those “HF truths” that we can predict as easily as the swallows arriving at Mission San Juan Capistrano. If we make a list of young players who are not clearly established as NHL players, let’s say Cogliano, Gagner, Pouliot, Nilsson, Brodziak, Jacques, Gilbert (who have I missed?) then the ratio is going to be well below 1/1 in terms of success. Some of these kids will get traction, others will fall by the wayside. An example: Raimo Summanen was once as highly regarded (or moreso) than Esa Tikkanen.

Fourth: Matt Greene is going to struggle. He’s in the deep end now, top 4 minutes with a guy who the organization will not throw under the bus and have 5.4M reasons to say nice things about so he’s the Fall Guy. -28 is my target, I can’t decide if I’m being mean or nice with that number.

Fifth: It’s going to be fun to watch these kids find their way. Not like it was with the 80s Oilers “Boys on the Bus” or the way it is in Pittsburgh now, more like that scene in the Godfather where Moe Green puts on his glasses to see who is coming to visit.

Folks, the 07-08 Edmonton Oilers are Sonny on the causeway.

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37 Responses to "Oilers 07-08: Sonny on the Causeway"

  1. Oilman says:

    I believe that’s Salmon of Capistrano – not swallows…..at least according to Lloyd Christmas anyway…but good read, as usual.

    Do you think these guys might have the makings of a Buffalo type team in a few years – or is that asking way too much?

  2. mc79hockey says:

    What? The salmon return to Capistrano every year? That doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

    As for Godfather analogies…I’m all for ‘em. Given Slats’ experience with dealing Gretz et al, he really should have given Lowe a warning about doing that:

    “Now listen — whoever comes to you with this Smyth trade — he’s the traitor. Don’t forget that.”

    Cut to KP approaching Lowe after the loss in Minnesota to tell him that they like the Islanders offer.

    Cut to KP about to get into a car with Semenko and McSorley, as he says to Scott Howson:

    “Scott…can you get me off the hook? For old times sake?”

    How awesome would that have been? I suppose that there’s an argument to be made that Lowe, who’s got a bit of a temper, is kind of a Sonny at the head of the family. He’s certainly no Michael and I pray to god he’s not a Fredo.

    In any event, I’ve completely lost track of what I’m talking about so I’ll stop now. I do like those Godfather analogies though.

  3. Oilman says:

    “What? The salmon return to Capistrano every year? That doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.”

    It’s a Dumb and Dumber reference….

  4. Oilman says:

    Lloyd: What the hell are we doing here, Harry? We gotta get out of this town!
    Harry: Oh yeah, and go where? Where are we gonna go?
    Lloyd: I’ll tell you where. Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.
    Harry: Oh, I don’t know, Lloyd. The French are assholes.

  5. Lowetide says:

    MC: lol. The Oilers since SCF have been purely Godfather 3 but the Abe Vigoda reference is classic.

    oilman: lol. Now that Capistrano has been mentioned more than three times I’m going to have to google INK SPOTS youtube.

  6. godot10 says:

    Who is going to be more fun to watch than the Oilers?

    Most teams have as little a chance of winning the Stanley Cup as the Oilers and will be unbearable to watch.

    Calgary is only going to be watched, because everyone is hoping for a Keenan trainwreck.

  7. Oilman says:

    LT: “When the Salmon Come back to Capistrano”….classic

  8. Jonathan says:

    1. Marty Reasoner will be relied upon more heavily than last season, and will perform far better than most are giving him credit for. Reasoner saw limited preseason play, but looked top-notch in the action he did see. We’ve also gotten the customary Chad Moreau-in the best shape of my career line, and although I don’t put that much stock in it (I mean, how many NHL’ers don’t do rigorous off-season training?), Marty looks quicker, and at minimum will play a regular fourth-line, PK role.
    2. Marc Pouliot will be better than he showed in training camp. He was a slow starter last season too, and got better as the season progressed.

  9. Nelson88 says:

    Damn you LT! Everytime it looks like the smallest bit of optimism is creeping into your blogs you go and pull a Greene at -28!! Yes, imho that is being mean :)

    Sit back. Have a Pilsner. Enjoy the hockey

  10. goldenchild says:

    The Entire team can’t be Sonny on the Causeway, there was 0 chance Sonny would get through that day, there has to be some chance that the Oilers get through no? Maybe K-Lowe is Sonny but the good news would be that we would then find our Michael who could finally make the family legit.

  11. Nelson88 says:

    The 07-08 Oilers starting line up reminds me of the Avalanche going into the 06-07 season. A “re-building year” with a couple of offensive stalwarts up front surrouned by plenty of youth and solid role players. The D was not high profile and no one was quite certain how it would mold together and perform.

    Fools game to predict if a team will gell and the development curve of young players (stastny and wolski obviously did very well) but 06-07 Avalanche is my upside case for the Oilers this year. Downside? 13th in the conference.

  12. Devin says:

    Nelson- interesting comparison. You could say the Oilers goaltending is better than COL’s last year, which makes up a little ground in other areas where we’re weaker than they were.

    We don’t have a Sakic, though.

    So while I think 9th place is possible, it would require a lot of injuries, puck luck, etc. There’s this weird optimism buzzing around the Oilers this week (even MacT is uncharacteristically optimistic) — I have a nagging feeling they will get pasted on Thursday and the knives will begin to be sharpened, though. Hope to hell I’m wrong.

  13. ClaytonMagnet says:

    I’m glad we have SJS to start off. If we win (or even just make it close), huge boost to young confidence, if we loose…well, hey, we were supposed to. No big deal. If we had Phoenix first, it would be the other way around (win-expected, loose-shit, we’re worse than Phoenix).

  14. Lord Bob says:

    Personally, I predict this is the year where we’re scraping the remains of the former pretty good hockey player known as Marty Reasoner off the steamroller by January. He looked like a corpse at times last year, although we missed it because everybody else was just as bad. But I see no real reason to believe he can improve. I don’t think it was a conditioning problem; I think he’s just slowing down.

    Yeah, the guy’s only thirty, but he plays like he’s older. And I don’t meant that in a good way. I mean that in a ‘history of injuries to every part of the body you can think of’ way.

    On a side note, I was always thinking that Pat Laforge was a dead ringer for Fredo: send Pat off to run a no-name fundraising dinner somewhere! send Pat off to pick somebody up at the airport! And if I could find a way to reconcile MacTavish and Clemenza, you better believe I’d be all over it.

  15. Mustafa Hirji says:

    Also, the Oil historically seem to do poorly against poor teams but play better against the good ones. And recently, we’ve owned SJ even though we probably didn’t deserve to for several games last season.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Lord Bob: Obviously I completely disagree on Reasoner. To quote him:
    “There were definitely days when I was thinking what the hell am I doing this for – spending two hours at the track after spending two hours at the gym – but at this point in my career, it is something I had to do to. I’m not young anymore and if I can be in the best shape I can be in, the better I’m going to play and hopefully that will lead to a longer stay here,”
    To quote MacT:
    “He is a perfect third-fourth liner when he’s playing that well because he can kill penalties, he can fill in on the power play, he’s good in the room. He’s got leadership ability, good perspective.
    “He’s important for us.”
    In the preseason, Reasoner had three assists in his first game and only played one other, where he scored the shootout winner.
    Prior to last season, Reasoner had shown that, when healthy, he’s a reliable 10-goal, 30-point man. Injuries are always going to be an issue for him, but he’s looked good so far. Furthermore, he’s one of the few intelligent, responsible, veteran options the Oilers have in the forward lines.
    The proof, of course, will be forthcoming, but I feel strongly we’ll see a bounce-back season.

  17. ClaytonMagnet says:

    I’ve heard that comment before from MacT and others; that Reasoner is one of the most intelligent hockey players in the league.

  18. Dennis says:

    Well, Sonny had his moment of glory when he kicked the fuck out of his brother-in-law so if we’ve got one scene in the son, I hope it’s winning the BOA series to the tune of 6-2 thus contributing to the Flames opening up on the road and then the Flames closing the season in short order.

  19. mc79hockey says:

    Well, Sonny had his moment of glory when he kicked the fuck out of his brother-in-law so if we’ve got one scene in the son, I hope it’s winning the BOA series to the tune of 6-2 thus contributing to the Flames opening up on the road and then the Flames closing the season in short order.

    With Smyth performing the equivalent of garrotting a guy from a backseat.

  20. doritogrande says:

    LT, I’d like to add Grebeshkov to your list of kids.

  21. Asiaoil says:

    Well here we are at the edge of a new season and the predictions are out in full force. However, the only thing I think we can predict with certainty is that almost all of these predictions will miss reality by a long shot. Just like everyone missed predicting a SCF run in 05/06 and a lottery finish in 06/07. Most folks use the recent past as their guide to the future – big mistake – and predicting injuries and the key variable team dynamics is basically impossible. I’ll simply enjoy the games and see how it goes – but right now to quote our old friend Howeson – I’m “cautiously optimistic”

  22. namflashback says:

    With Smyth performing the equivalent of garrotting a guy from a backseat.

    Which would be Smytty getting pushed into Kipper by the Dionkey and Kipper ending up with an 3rd degree MCL tear.

  23. Devin says:

    Something to state with authority: If the Oilers want to have a top-10 PP, Hemsky must play at least 6 PP minutes/game.

  24. Dennis says:

    Well, no one predicted that Cup run but there were a lot of guys who figured that considering the Oilers were outchancing their opp most every night but were getting killed in the goalie matchup, this team would be in good shape if they ever got any netminding.

    And we all remember what happened once they got netminding.

    As for predictions this year, guys like 10-14-16 being in the age where they should still be getting better and a guy like 83 has the tools to give this team a little more power. Guys like 18-19, we can’t expect any more from them than usual. A guy like Pouliot’s on the bubble and would anyone be shocked if one of Cogs or Nilsson wasn’t really a factor? Throw Gagner in there as well.

    All that being said I think we have enough offense to not have to really worry about it. I’m not overly optimist regarding Penner from what I’ve seen and read but I think he can keep up somewhat with 10-83 but that the boys can do enough to keep it going. Same with the second line though I’ll expect that if Reasoner’s healthy, Nilsson and Cogs will be battling all year for the RW spot along with 14-16.

    I just finished saying that we cna’t expect more from 18-19 but those two guys plus Brodz has a decent shot at being decent low event guys while playing top six tough min. We’re not really sure yet how MacT’s gonna run his bench at home and whether the 16 or 10 line is gonna see tough opp but I think we can be pretty sure that the 18=19=Brodz line is gonna be on e of the two units that has to carry some mail.

    On the defense, I feel confident that 24 can do top line duty and we’ll see how JP adjusts to 24 as a partner and to tough min as his duty.

    And after that it gets dicey for as much as I love having guys that can make a first pass, I wonder what Souray can do in a second line pairing and I wonder what people still see in Matt Greene.

    I know the goalie drives the PK bus, but no one’s ever felt bad about blocking shots either, and with Smith-Smyth and Pisani missing, this team misses what I remember as being three big parts of our PK. Then again I could be wrong about that and maybe our PK didn’t suffer last year even when we sucked? Might be something for somebody to look into.

    The PP has a chance to be gold and I feel really good about our netminding but some major questions remain and the biggest is who can play the tough min because right now this team looks like it’s gonna trade chances. That doesn’t jive with the old MacT mantra but that’s how it looks from here.

  25. ClaytonMagnet says:

    Well said, Asiaoil. The only true prophet is Maggie the Monkey.

  26. Tania says:

    The Oilers are going to win the Cup this year and I’ll be laughing all the way to Vegas to collect my $1,120.00 off my $20 bet and their 55/1 odds.

    You read it here first.

    Of course, by then the usd will probably only be worth $6 cdn but it’s the principle.

    As an aside, if the Avs win, I get $620.00.

    Oh yes, we’re in for an exciting ride this season.

  27. mattwatt says:

    lowetide, I just want to take this time and thank you for all the work you have done. This blog is a amazing read every day, and your insight is second to none. Thank you for all you have done.

  28. Ribs says:

    Oy, we’re in for a long one.

    Lowe’s improvements to the team look like something Red Green would come up with and it looks as if every line combination is still up in the air. Does adding Penner and a slew of offensive defensemen to the lineup help this team win hockey games? I’m not convinced.

    The lone straw that I’m holding on to for this season is the Special Teams. Adding Souray and Pitkanen makes the PP deadly. Even though Smith has made his way eastward, the PK should still be pretty good.

    High-risk, high-reward. It should be this teams motto this season. Scattering this many prospects into the lineup straight off the bat is about as risky as it gets and there doesn’t seem to be any other plan of action if they all fail. There is a need for Plan B, but it does not exist.

    As for predictions… Greene will not last 5 games on the second pairing with Souray. It’s too glaring a mistake to hide.

  29. Asiaoil says:

    Anyone else think that if we absolutely must take a chance on a young guy on the 2nd pair with Souray that it should be Gilbert instead of Greene? Gilbert’s game seems to compliment Souray so much better – and if memory serves – Greene and Tarnstrom were OK together as well 2 years ago and again seem to compliment each other style-wise.

  30. Lowetide says:

    Makes good sense, Asia. Greene had his best results last season when he was placed with MAB, so a Tarnstrom-Greene 5-6D would seem to be a good parallel.

  31. Nelson88 says:

    Asia. Agree 100%. Lets hope MacT reads this excellent blog.

  32. Vic Ferrari says:

    I don’t know enough about Gilbert’s game to be confident in this, but I think we’ll see the Tarnstrom pairing playing a lot more 5v5 minutes against Thornton’s and Marleau’s lines than the Souray/Greene Tandem will.

  33. Chris says:

    Honestly, I’d be happier with Smid in, Greene out. I don’t see what the coaching staff see in Greene, yes he’s big and strong – great. However, he doesn’t fight, and as a defensive defenseman he sucks defensively. Thus we might as well go with the better player.

  34. oilerdiehard says:

    Well, no one predicted that Cup run but there were a lot of guys who figured that considering the Oilers were outchancing their opp most every night but were getting killed in the goalie matchup, this team would be in good shape if they ever got any netminding.

    And we all remember what happened once they got netminding.

    Well who could forget only making the playoffs because the Canucks had already plugged sewer grate. Despite trying very hard the Oil did not manage to bail on making the playoffs. Thank you Canucks for falling apart so miserably or completely. Then we caught that mystical lightning in a bottle.

    Had the Canucks won a couple more games or if it was possible for that Oiler team to play any more apathetically down the stretch. People would not be looking back on that season with a such twinkle in their eye.

  35. Bank Shot says:

    Sykora finally scores a hat trick this season.

    Take it to the bank.

  36. Dennis says:

    Yeah, the Dys did suck down the stretch but if we’d had any netminding previous to Roli, we’d had enough of a lead that we all would’ve felt way more comfortable.

  37. Coluch says:

    I loved reading this a whole year later.

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