Oilers at Wild, G4/07-08

This is Blair MacDonald. He was a terrific hockey player, althoug his big seasons in the NHL came playing RW alongside 99 and would have to be considered inflated.

Still, MacDonald had three straight WHA Oilers seasons of 34 goals before the team arrived in the NHL and he scored 46 goals. He even played in the 1980 All-Star game (you could write a book about that game btw, with a few chapters on the two incredible legends who were in the game at the very beginning and very end of their careers, and the man who would have been in the heart of his career but at 32 had hung up his skates).

Macdonald was traded to Vancouver with the rights to Lars Gunnar Petterson for Garry Lariviere and Ken Berry, March 10, 1981.

Oilers are playing the Wild tonight, I’m really looking forward to it for several reasons. I suspect the coach is about ready to shuffle the D pairings at some point here as the chaos moments pile up for Souray and Greene. One hopes that Tarnstrom draws in or at least Gilbert and Tarnstrom take on tougher opposition.

Up front, I’m hoping Pouliot can add some offense, if he can add that dimension soon he should be fine, and am also hoping they don’t dress Gagner because of the Boogaard factor. The Horcoff looks to me like he’s ready to roll, Hemsky is moving up the Middleton family depth chart (the very talented RW group who show puck wizardry and enough results to win a major award. Lafleur is at the top of this mountain) and MacT is going to find a way to get Stoll and Torres going which may come at the expense of Nilsson. He needed that line to click because if they don’t his playing time will decrease.

Finally, Cogliano. What a joy. His first NHL season is going to be a fun one to watch and that’s for sure.

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36 Responses to "Oilers at Wild, G4/07-08"

  1. dawgbone says:

    I know Torres gets results… but he’s the most god damn frustrating player in the world to watch.

    Every pass he gives/receives is a potential for disaster.

  2. Nelson88 says:

    I’m hoping they shift Pouliot to the Torres/Stoll wing and let Nilsson play with Cogs.

    In the short audition in pre season MP played well with those two and he is closer to a Pisani type player who they excelled with last year.

    Cogs seems better able to think the game on Nilsson’s level and convert his passes. Not trying to knock Torres but clearly he doesn’t.

  3. goldenchild says:

    In the one preseason game w=I watched MP played with Stoll 5 on 5 and then killed penalties together and ended up with 2 great shorthanded chances. Its worth a shot. I agreee with sitting 89 out tonight as well. Hopefully JFJ will figure out why he is out there tonight.

  4. Marc says:

    According to the Sun:

    Andrew Cogliano has moved up to the second line between Raffi Torres and Robert Nilsson, while Jarret Stoll will centre Sam Gagner and JF Jacques.

    “They have some chemistry together,” MacTavish said of the new second line. “And Stollie plays so many minutres on the power play and the penalty kill that it’s almost too much ice to come back with him, Raffi, and Robert, who don’t traditionally kill penalties. We just want to go with what’s working, and what’s working five on five is that threesome.”

  5. NBOilerFan says:

    (2)Torres – Cogliano – Nilsson
    (4)Jacques – Stoll – Gagner

    Very interesting lines I’m quite excited to see what this 2nd line pairing can muster offensively and that 4th line also looks quite interesting.

    It will also be interesting to see how long these lines stay together as planned.

    Looking forward to the game, I think this will be a much better team assessment game then the Wings the other night.

  6. Nelson88 says:

    I like JFJ but don’t like the move to bring him up tonight.

    You can’t fight Boogard (as MacT acknowledged) so might as well play MP for more offensive upside which is your only real weapon.

    If you want a physical presence Stortini would have been a better option. He could hug (i don’t blame him) Boogard but at least survive and get him off the ice. JFJ is a thrower and hopefully is not stupid enough to get himself hurt (knocks on wood).

    The only way I see to actually beat the Wild physicaly is to dress Stortini or Flynn when he is available and then also dress JFJ, Roy (when not hurt) and the rest of the physical regulars (greene, torres, souray, moreau, etc.).

    Stortini or Flynn survives the fight with Boogard and gets him off the ice. Meanwhile the rest of the physical Oilers absolutely demolish the Wild (legally). They are a one man show physically and I’m betting even that a** hole Lemaire would get the message when his guys are getting crushed while his bully is in the penalty box.

  7. doritogrande says:

    They had better keep Gagner as far away from Boogard as possible if they want him to live to see the end of his first contract. I guess him playing means Pouliot’s the odd man out for tonight?

    I dunno LT, I’ve kinda liked the defensive pairings through the first three games. Greene’s floating in the deep-end for now, why tinker with a good thing. Gilbert, as good as he is, is still a rookie, which makes him very liable especially with the likes of Gaborik and Bouchard rushing at him. I like him much better sticking with Tarnstrom (is he healthy enough to play tonight?) on the third pairing.

  8. RiversQ says:

    nelson88: Personally, I think the Oilers already worry too much about Boogaard.

    However, if you assume this battle you describe is worth winning, then I think your example is a good approach. It could certainly be won through attrition. If we can send more bodies into the breach than they can, we should win eventually…

    What does this have to do with hockey again?

    I think you just run a little interference to slow him down on the forecheck and focus on moving the puck quickly.

    Of course, it’s all academic until you get punched in the mouth.

  9. RiversQ says:

    dawgbone said…
    I know Torres gets results… but he’s the most god damn frustrating player in the world to watch.

    Every pass he gives/receives is a potential for disaster.

    I’ve been defending Torres an awful lot lately, but I totally agree with this, db.

    Results really are king though. i don’t care how he does it as long as he outchances the other guy and doesn’t take an obscene amount of penalties (which would negatively skew the expected goals result).

  10. NBOilerFan says:

    Well it’s very obvious from all the attention that Boogard is getting (and rightfully so after the carnage he bestowed on us last season) that he knows his role and does a very good job at it.

    Perhaps Mact’s plan is to have Jacques take a mad dash and flying leap at Boogard’s knees? Then send him back down to the farm for the next 4-5 months (or enter a witness protection program so the Boogieman can’t find him)?

    Any chance that JFJ is replacing Sanderson in the game?

  11. Vic Ferrari says:

    Riversq:

    MacTavish said something pretty similar during a PC before opening night. Something along the lines of “some of the plays he makes are a little dicey, but he’s always one of our +/- leaders, and it’s because he gets the puck out of our zone quickly”.

    I’m not sure that’s true. I am sure that Raffi doesn’t cheat from the weak side in his own end, he’s always back down at the hashmarks, and he’s there with a purpose. Still, in the offensive end the play does die with him a bunch, and that’s something MacTavish has always had near the top of his scorecard for ages.

    He’s an interesting player. And if the Oilers are going to continue to going power-vs-power like the big clubs (and frankly, they have little choice), then they’ll need to shift him in there in Penner’s spot sooner than later. MacTavish can only keep so many corks under water at once.

  12. Jonathan says:

    I really don’t understand all the concern about Boogaard… sure he throws some nasty hits, but if you refuse to fight an enforcer, you negate a good protion of his value. Lord knows that Laraque couldn’t do anything with guys like Sean Avery.

  13. mattwatt says:

    Lowetide, who was the 32 year old who hung up his skates?

  14. NBOilerFan says:

    Great quote from the oilers site from MAcT about Boogard….

    “He’s been an effective player for them. There are obviously strengths and weaknesses in his game like everybody else. There are obviously weaknesses but we haven’t been able to do that,” remarked MacTavish.

    “You just play a physical game and a skill game. You’ve got to make plays at the end of the day, make him go end-to-end and you can negate the effectiveness of a player like that,” he continued.

  15. godot10 says:

    Time for JFJ to begin to steal Torres’s job. I like Jacques getting a chance to play with Stoll.

    If Torres can’t get into position and be ready for Nilsson passes, he can’t for Hemsky either. Penner seems to have an idea of where to go and position himself, so Torres would be a much worse choice to play with Hemsky than Penner.

    Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky are going to live or die playing the toughest or second toughest minutes this year.

  16. Dennis says:

    I dunno, I’m not on board the Penner train early on, but he’s obviously adding something to that line. They’re going PVP and it’s high event but they’re coming out on top in terms of chances created/allowed, or at least to my naked eye. Good point on Torres being up for the challenge in his own end, though. As far as what kind of player he is offensively, as fast and strong and physical as he is, he seems to be more of a finisher than anything else. So he needs to play with distributers and puck recovery guys so maybe teaming up with 10-83 would be a decent move.

    And then, how about a Penner-Stoll-Pouliot line? The latter two seem to have some decent chem and they get their chances off the cycle and that’s where Penner undeniably excels. So that would leave the new Reasoner line alone and a Moreau anchored 4th line with the last two spots split between Cogs-Nilsson-Gagner line that’s more about speed than anything else and Moreau can choke Nilsson. Then if you think Pisani’s coming back, you send down Gagner or you bench him and we wind up with four lines that are tough to play against.

    See how I have it all planned out?;)

    As for tonight, I can’t see JFJ in over MP and that 22-16-89 line just seems way out of left field and I’ll be interested to see just how many shifts they play together. Right off the top I think you could see us going with mostly three lines but then again MacT gave Gags two shifts the other night in a one goal game with less than 10 min left so early on he’s being very committed to the four line philosphy.

  17. namflashback says:

    Vic,

    re: Power v Power

    Penner is 3gp 1 1 2pts +1
    Hemsky is 3gp 0 3 3pts 0
    Horcoff is 3gp 1 2 3pts -1

    Naturally Horc is going to get trapped out there during faceoff situations with a variety of linemates that might lean towards being on for a GA.

    Excessively small sample size, but I’m not convinced that Penner is a weak link (yet). Yes we know his history, but perhaps the big lug is coachable?

    I haven’t “saw him (fill in the blank)” other than a few bits of each of the games — but too early to tell.

  18. Oilman says:

    Torres fizzled out pretty quick when given the opportunity to play with Hemsky and Sykora last season as I recall.

  19. CrazyCoach says:

    In regards to the 1980 All-Star game, my guess is the two legends were none other than Bobby Hull and Gordie Hull who were both playing for Hartford at the time, and the 32 year old was Ken Dryden.

  20. Bank Shot says:

    The thing that frustrates most about Torres is that he isn’t as good a player as his skill set suggests he should be. He should be Morrow, but he just isn’t there.

    Everyone keeps waiting for him to have a breakout season, but the hockey sense just never seems to be there. Maybe it’ll click one of these days, but the hope lessens a little more each season.

    Anyhoo, hopefully the Oilers are all about puck support and short passes tonight. All the giant stretch passes they’ve been doing this season are like candy for the Wild.

    Hopefully they just ignore Boogaard and capitalize when he takes a tripping/kneeing penalty. Works pretty well for the Red Wings.

  21. Dennis says:

    NFB, is that with ENGA filtered out?

    And, OM, I don’t remember it like you do in terms of 14 playing with hemsky/Skyora. I seem to remember it that Raffi had some chances but couldn’t score and macT broke out the blender especially early.

  22. Oilman says:

    The Legends were Gretzky(beginnging), Hull(end), and Orr should have been there but he’d retired the year before at age 31.

  23. Oilman says:

    Dennis – pretty much. They started the preseason together with MacT saying that Raffi was going to go from 14 to 17 minutes per night and such and he didn’t get a sniff of the net IIRC – I don’t know if that line even made it to opening night – but it was all the talk early.

  24. Vic Ferrari says:

    namflashback:

    Good points, and it’s hard to separate players from their linemates. In all of one period of viewing Penner doesn’t look right for that gig to me.

    Granted maybe I have some existing bias, having listened to Carlyle’s pressers in the playoffs ( he had a line about Getzlaf getting the first star one night … “who was selecting the stars? Ryan’s dad?” It was funny and true. I mean it’s a team of dinks coached by a dink and managed by a dink. But it’s true. That Vancouver series was captivating, because it was so freaking tedious it almost seemed intentional. Seeing Selanne play whacks against Naslund with absolutely nothing happening, seriously. (Hughson went apeshit when there was a 2on2 for crying out loud) … it was so completely joyless that it went full circle and became entertaining agains, albeit as an oddity.

    Back to point: In admittedly limited viewing as an Oiler, the play is dying with Dustin wat too much, and against players that make you pay. He’s a good player I think, and he’ll get better, but he’s not ready for that gig.

    I like Raffi for that gig because he is hard on the puck, he doesn’t fuck about in his own end, and he’s unpredictable. Sometimes you don’t know what he’s going to do next, neither does Lowetide, neither does Horcoff, neither does MacTavish, and neither do the players on the other team. And the latter are the only ones who might get hurt, so they’re probably more aware of him on the ice.

    We’ll see. The Oilers need a couple of these kids to really step up. And they need Gilbert (who looked terrific to me BTW) to Beauchemin us.

  25. Dennis says:

    I’ll see your Beauchemin and raise you a Bieksa;) but I guess we’re both saying the same thing; we need someone to come out of nowhere and be able to play top min and do it well. It would be quite a metoric rise if it’s Gilbert but of course nothing says that an offense first guy can’t make the adjustment or use that particular skillset to acheive the same results. Guys like Rafalski have been doing that for a long time. Poti’s done it for a couple of years too now

  26. namflashback says:

    dennis,

    raw stats — so I’ll assume that trio are +2-+1-EV 27-83-10 respectively.

    Vic,

    I’ve seen maybe 1 period more than you. They haven’t been dominant, and no doubt did better against the less threatening Gagne-Briere-Knuble group. They are making an impact — modest as it may be.

    On Torres tryout with Sykora-Hemsky,

    No early results last season, and they had to changeup the Smyth-Horc-Lupul line because that just sucked.

  27. Jonathan says:

    I’ve only watched the Detroit game in its entirety, and as long as Horcoff-Hemsky-Penner can keep their head above water pvp they probably ought to stay together. Penner (in limited viewing) seems to have a great sense of where to be offensively, and took a couple of beauty passes from Hemsky for good scoring chances. Plus, he’s massive which should give Hemsky a little more space for his wizardry.

  28. Black Dog says:

    Plus didn’t Penner get after someone who gave Hemsky a shot? Not his game and not the reason to put him on that line but I like that dimension. A little size never hurt.

    Looking forward to tonight – I’ve ssen nothing but highlights.

  29. goldenchild says:

    MAP is out for JFJ? has that been confirmed?

  30. Devin says:

    The problem with Torres is that his shot just stinks all of a sudden. Seriously, has he raised a puck since early 2006? Here’s a guy who used to be an opportunistic scorer, yet these days when he finds himself in the slot he appears to have a case of the yips. Nilsson’s given him a couple of beauty feeds and he just couldn’t respond.

    I never used to think Horcoff was much of a shooter but Raffi should watch tape of Horc’s goal last game over and over and over again until it sinks in that you have to snap it high, hard, and early to beat NHL goalies. I think it’s the yips for 14, seriously (his ridiculous head-fake shootout goal last year would indicate this). On a positive note, Raffi has turned up the “asshole factor” (h/t to MC was it?) big time this year.

    On Penner – one thing I liked in the DET game was where he played catch with Horc and then floated backwards to a quiet spot to receive a pass and rip a quick wrister. It was a primo scoring area and although he shot it right into Hasek’s crest it impressed me was that he got there and was visibly upset with himself when skating off — he knew where to be and what he should have done there. Lupul would’ve just shrugged/stared.

  31. IceDragoon says:

    Team 1260 is saying Gagner is out.

  32. Bruce says:

    Nice post on B.J. MacDonald, lowetide, he was a personal favourite for the few years he played in Edmonton. In the late WHA years he was the best Oiler, at least ’til Gretzky arrived, an honest two-way player who excelled at penalty-killing and got his share of goals through hard work and a quick rising wrist shot.

    The legends in that 1980 All-Star Game in Joe Louis Arena were Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, and the missing link was clearly Bobby Orr. They are still ranked by many as the top three players of all time.

    While Gretzky and Howe played on opposite teams in 1980 and had little interaction, they were linemates a year earlier in the WHA All-Star classic. It was a three-game series between the WHA All-Stars and Moscow Dynamo played in Edmonton. The marquee line was Gretzky, Howe and Howe, and they clicked for a goal (by Gretzky) 35 seconds into the first game. The threesome led the WHA stars to a three-game sweep of close games (4-2, 4-2, and 4-3). Wayne was 17, Gordie 50, and Mark at his first prime (at forward, before later becoming an outstanding NHL defenceman).

    Back to the present but sticking with Joe Louis Arena, wasn’t that a dandy First NHL Goal that Cogliano buried the other night? Beautiful play, in an arena where he has a personal history, friends and family in attendance, against an all-time great goalie. Only thing missing was the win.

  33. namflashback says:

    icedragoon, probably a good thing too.

    If Lemaire’s lines define the cadence, it would have been pretty much guaranteed that young Sam would have been out there when Boogard was. I don’t think JFJ-Stoll-Gagner would have been effective against Parrish-Koivu-Radovoivec(sp) and even in doing so, would have left Torres-Cogliano-Nillson out against Veilluex-Sheppard-Boogard. Neither so good.

    I”m assuming it would be JFJ-Stoll-MP which could be nice.

    Horcline vs Walzline
    Martyline vs Bouchard
    Cogline vs Koivu
    Stolline vs Sheppard

  34. buddy says:

    I loved Blair Macdonald (more often called BJ back in the day). I still carry the emotional scars of the day I bought an International Herald Tribune while backpacking through Europe in 1981 and saw his name in the scoring summaries, not for the Oilers but for the Vancouver Canucks. He’s usually remembered now as the butt of Slat’s joke that a fire-hydrant could score 40 goals with Gretzky, but if we forget about that Finnish guy I think BJ had the last laugh. I’m too lazy to look this up, but the only other Oiler I can recall offhand who potted 40 playing on Gretzky’s wing was Krushelnyski (1984-5?). Am I right about this, or is the other love of my youth, Pilsner Urquell, playing havoc with my memories?

  35. Rube Foster says:

    LT – Another beauty that BJ Mac.

    Bruce – Nice job on the 80 all star game debriefing and the WHA vs. Russia synopsis. I had forgotten about the WHA Rendez-vous series, I’ll have to check it out. Since we’re talking about the WHA, I will say that Team Canada 74 is one of my personal favorites. I think they could’ve won the series if not for some questionable player moves by the coaching staff.

    On the subject of JFJ, if he wants to stick around I really think he has to take one for the team and tackle Boogie – HOLD ON FRANKIE, HOLD ON!! If someone wants to do him a favor they should sit him down and youtube all those Flyer fights from the early seventies. Those Flyers were awfully quick to double up on a guy, maybe Greene and JFJ need to do a Saleski and Hound Dog on Boogie. I know this isn’t Slap Shot but the reason there is so much hype about Boogaard is that he was a one man wrecking crew last year and if we want to make the play-offs every conference game is critical. We need an answer for Minnesota and the get the quick lead strategy and keep Boogie on the bench just didn’t work at all last year.

    As for a D-partner for Souray, I agree that Green isn’t the answer. To steal LT’s schtick, I’m beginning to think that Souray comes from the Dave Manson family of defense men. Big D-men with good offesnsive instincts but not really puck movers, think Korab and Dailey. Manson had a canon but he couldn’t find the net like Souray. Manson was golden when he played with Norm MacIver. Sather made a huge mistake not signing MacIver and letting him slip away t the Sens. Manson was miscast as the puck mover the following year(s) and his game was never quite the same, neither was his larynx for that matter. I’d like to see Tarnstrom or Gilbert see if they can recapture some of that MacIver magic. I believe a pairing with a genuine puck mover would help Gorman Souray’s game enormously. Let’s let our slugger swing for the fences without having to worry about hitting for a high average.

  36. Bruce says:

    “I’m too lazy to look this up, but the only other Oiler I can recall offhand who potted 40 playing on Gretzky’s wing was Krushelnyski (1984-5?).”

    You’re right buddy, “B.J.”, Kurri and Krushelnyski were the only three Oilers who scored 40 as Gretzky’s full-time winger. Glenn Anderson played frequently on Gretzky’s wing at times, but never for a full season that I can recall; more often he played with Mark Messier on a devastating “second” line. (as in, the second best line in the league).

    The other interesting case was Craig Simpson, who began the 1987-88 season playing in Pittsburgh with Mario Lemieux, was traded to the Oilers (for Paul Coffey) where he played substantial time with Gretzky before eventually winding up alongside Messier … arguably the three greatest centres in NHL history, certainly of the past 25 years. Simpson took full advantage, scoring 56 goals plus another 13 in the playoffs, ending his dream season with the Stanley Cup.

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