Oilers at Wild, G39/07-08

This is Craig Harsburg. He was an excellent defenseman for the Minnesota North Stars when they had a very, very good team in the 1980s. Among the teams that didn’t win the Stanley during that decade, I’d rank them right up there as one of the best (behind the Bruins, Flyers and maybe one or two others).

Hartsburg is on TV these days as coach of Team Canada at the World Juniors. He seems to have settled on his goalie (Bernier) and his shutdown D pairing (Schenn and that kid LA took 4th overall at the draft) and from what I’ve seen should have enough offense from the 2 1990 boys to win the day.

They’re running the hell out of a Chevrolet commercial on the TSN coverage of the WJC. A mom talks about being proud of her son for giving the puck to the opposition team during a game. The kid says “that’s okay mom, it was his turn. I’ll get another turn.”

You probably know where this is heading, so I’ll just say here’s hoping it’s our turn in the Land of 10,000 lakes.

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32 Responses to "Oilers at Wild, G39/07-08"

  1. Dennis says:

    Besides the return of 18, tonight marks the time when Cogs finally gets the push. Sure, it’s not like he’s playing with 10-83 but he is playing with two guys who’ll make sure his GA goes down and he’s playing with two fellows who are going to do the boardwork for him and allow him to be the playmaker or scorer on that line. And he’s looked good on the PP when the advantage allows him time and space and while 18-34 won’t give him That much room, they’ll give him more clearance than he has at any other point in this season.

    We’ve mentioned this before but because the guy doesn’t pout and works hard all the time, he’s sorta been punished for that by being asked to toil with the footsoldiers. Horc did the same thing too and it turned out fine for him.

    Without looking at what GD would say about qual of linemates, those who watch every game know that 12-89 have played a lot of games with guys who can actually play while Cogs hasn’t. Now it’s his time to get a little bit;) of an upgrade and if Hemsky can only get back, we’ll have two lines we can count on plus 19-16 and someone trying to round out that troika.

    I would get into the rest of the lines but it’s depressing because there’s only so many guys you can hide and with Stoll having retired and Torres most likely being out for the year, there are still limits to what we can do even when 83 gets back.

  2. Dennis says:

    Here’s what we know from Ireland’s latest wire and from MacT’s scrum available on the official site:

    27-10-89
    19-16-51
    18-13-34
    12-28- 8 or 46

    On the D, 37 out and 23 in. And Roli gets the start.

  3. Dennis says:

    Doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in this one. It could be a number of things:

    - it’s the last sat night of the holidays so there should be a few things on the go

    - it won’t be bcast locally and is only available through CI.

    Considering I’ll be perhaps one of the few who can watch this, I’ll get a start on the in-game commentary:

    Fuck, I can’t believe Smid forgot which side of the ice he was supposed to be on!!

  4. doritogrande says:

    Oh Captain, my Captain!

    Moreau gets an assist on Cogliano’s slump-buster!

  5. Dennis says:

    Some things from the first period:

    - Too many chances given up to the Wild. Lots of hacking and whacking down low by Minny. Roli had a strong period but on the save that you’ll see time and time again, he only had to dive back because he was so far out of position in the first place.

    - Gagner blocked a shot and he dove to break up a play just in case the situation called for it, hard to explain, but he’s the weak link on the top line. He just can’t hang right now and is doing far more harm than good.

    - Speaking of the reverse, I didn’t see the Jersey game and I’m only halfway through the Hawks game but I think Pisani’s going through a bit of a lull here. He took two penalties in the first period and he’s fighting it a bit. That being said, remember how nice it was when he first came back and he was doing all those little things and we’d almost forgotten how it was to have a team to cheer for that DIDN’T play like 15 year olds?

    - Well, that leads us to Moreau. He had a scoring chance early on from the deep slot but I swear that just before his assist, I was thinking he was playing tenatively and that’s to be expected. Just as that thought materialized, he took the left just to the left of centre in the O zone and drove down the right wing before dipping his shoulder to shield the puck and then sending it across and off Cogs’ skate for the two goal cushion. Later on, he made that play where he drove down the wing and then cut inside and took it straight to the net. Chaos ensued and we had a scoring chance.

    - There was one beauty of a shift from 19-16-51 where the Wild couldn’t get posession of the puck.

    - The 10 line drew the Oilers PP and then it went to the TV timeout. So this would allow those guys to take a spell and be ready to start the man advantage, right? Well, no, because the Oilers forward trio to start the PP was 19-34 and someone I forget. In any case, it wasn’t good.

    - Speaking of MacT, hard to believe that you can’t find a better option than Stortini. There’s just such a chance of bad things happening when he’s on the ice, it’s remarkable. MacT said today that in reference to a callup with Hemsky hurting, there was no one in the AHL that he thought could help us. I was watching 46 and wondering if we’ll ever see Pouliot again.

    - It’s amazing the ground that 25 covered to turn that first goal play into a two on one.

    - Very nice work by the 5-23 tandem. Smid pulled a Niinimaa flip that took some pressure off and him and Tarnstrom had a very easy chemistry. We all remember that the first time Gilbert began to show signs, it was while being parterned with 23.

  6. pboy says:

    Watching Strachan get put in his place on the Hotstove was priceless.

  7. Doogie says:

    So, get this. I’m in Mirtle’s Division I league (for all the guys who didn’t qualify for the main blogger tournament). And I’m having a shit week, and I see that Pitkanen has done nothing with his season so far and he’s been hurt almost two weeks and he’s still not on the damned IR. So I think, “fuck it, it’s not a keeper league,” and drop him for some bastard I can’t even remember now.

    Worst move in my Fantasy Hockey career? Ohhhhh yeah.

    Also, is that Jarret Stoll with a shortie I see? Hot friggin’ damn. Is this game as good for the Oilers as the scoresheet says?

  8. nameht says:

    I sure hope Pitkanen is ok

  9. Dennis says:

    Second period:

    - Oilers owned that period in terms of chances for/against so the two goal lead’s deserved. I had the chances at 3-0 Before 34 scored the 3-1 goal.

    - Finally a switch of luck for 16 on the SHG. Backstrom had been a dummy handling the puck previously so it’s no surprise that he messed up again. Stoll had pretty much a wide open net in the first period but then had his stick lifted and there are times when I think his ’08 season will resemble Horc’s 07 which means the dam won’t break and the luck won’t turn and he’s just gonna have to ride it out.

    - He has a goal and an assist but I’ve never seen 34 fuck up so many times in his own end. He’s far from money when it comes to chipping out pucks and he’s making some odd passes as well.

    - A very good game defending wise from Souray. I think I’m starting to see some of his tendanices as a dman and one is how he’ll always try and use one hand on the stick and shovel the puck away from danger. He’ll battle and then try and shovel. It’s an interesting approach and it’s working for tonight at least;)

    - Smid was having a really good game until he let Roloston get behind him and to the crease. And by really good, I mean quiet in his own zone. Of course there was no offensive component but outside of Lain Babcock, no one expects that from Ladislav;)

    - Demitra’s no goon but that was a dumb play on Pitkanen and 25 has an injury history and the Oiler’s IR sheet since Oct of ’07 has been longer than John Holmes dick so if JP looks to have suffered a serious injury, a scrub like 28 or 46 should take it out on Gaborik.

  10. Andy Grabia says:

    MacT said today that in reference to a callup with Hemsky hurting, there was no one in the AHL that he thought could help us. I was watching 46 and wondering if we’ll ever see Pouliot again.

    Unbelievable. Jacques has had 53 games in the show, with zero points. Stortini has had 52, and has three points. How can there not be any better options? I’d be at least as good an option at this point. I could be a rover in my own end, even when we had the puck in the offensive zone., and score as many points. How long will we keep giving MacT the benefit of the doubt on this? Lemme guess: he doesn’t have enough NHL players. Sure. We get that. Doesn’t mean he has to play the worst of the worst.

  11. Andy Grabia says:

    Demitra’s no goon but that was a dumb play on Pitkanen and 25 has an injury history and the Oiler’s IR sheet since Oct of ’07 has been longer than John Holmes dick so if JP looks to have suffered a serious injury, a scrub like 28 or 46 should take it out on Gaborik.

    What happened?

  12. Andy Grabia says:

    Three special teams goals? Man, the one night I choose to not go to a bar and dole out some cash…

    How bout those Giants? Dennis, you watching? I can’t stand the Patriots. I’m dying to see those dirty, whiny douchebags lose.

  13. Andy Grabia says:

    Whew. Looks like I avoided a heart attack tonight. What a colossal choke job.

  14. Dennis says:

    The only thing surprising about this result is that the Oilers managed to get a point. As soon as the Wild made it 4-2 late in the second and Pitkanen was hurt and we were going to have to roll with 5 D, you knew the Oilers would be lucky to even grab a point.

    25′s one of our top two D so once he was out, the other guys would be asked to play more min and some fellows couldn’t handle it. And there was a painfully long time in the third when the only time the puck was in the Wild end it was because it was about to be icing.

    Smid was -2 and failed to cover a guy and Tarnstrom lost his man on a goal as well. On the tying goal, Burns blew past Brodizak and Smid didn’t react enough and that marker had been coming for a long time.

    But the fact those two guys were on the ice for the tying goal, well that says a lot. Now MacT was sorta stuck tonight because 25 was out but even with other options, he’s sorta lost me this year. Tonight for instance, why stick with 89 with 10-27 instead of say putting a lower event guy like 28 in his stead?

    Lowe’s fucked MacT with this roster but I think Mactavish could be making more of it.

    This is a bloody hard loss to take though. If you can’t win with four goals, there’s not a lot of hope for you.

  15. HBomb says:

    Watching Strachan get put in his place on the Hotstove was priceless.

    Care to expand?

    As for the game….first off, fuck Shaw Cable for telling me they didn’t lift the NHL Centre Ice blackout. Everyone I know with ExpressVu got the game…..

    And the guy might be good at tactics and shit, but I am 100% in favor of a coaching change right now.

  16. Andy Grabia says:

    What’s the status with Pitkanen?

  17. Bank Shot says:

    Hey.

    What’s with the neutral zone trap that consists of one forward at center ice and the other two back on the Oilers’ blueline? Its an exercise in futility if the opposing team is given the redline uncontested.

    I don’t know what it is, but this team just stops competing when it has the lead. I think that is something that can’t be entirely blamed on the rookies.

    The last Minnesota goal in regulation was a pretty good example. The Oilers couldn’t back off fast enough from the player with the puck.

    It’s frustrating knowing there won’t be any changes when there is clear disfunction.

  18. Lowetide says:

    Minnesota’s roster reeks of balance. Some young stars, some older fellows, and many in the heart of their careers.

  19. PunjabiOil says:

    First off, Dennis – thanks for your well thought out posts.

    I mean, reading HF GDT and the PGT – looks like the site has been taken over by a bunch of melodrmatic high school drama queens, similar to what you see on the official Oilers website forum.

    I can understand why many shifted over to the’sphere. I don’t think I’m going to post there much anymore, if at all.

    As for the Oilers, as soon as it was 4-2, I knew the Wild were coming back. A late 2nd period goal against is always a killer.

    I’ve been a tweener RE: MacT. Sometimes you listen to him talk – he makes too much damn sense. Other times, you wonder what the hell he’s thinking. Of course the bigger problem is the guy above him, but MacTavish has been under achieving. It’s hard to argue otherwise.

    You wonder if Kevin Lowe will swallow his pride and fire MacT? Will the EIG/Katz buy out the 2 and a half years remaining on his contract? You see teams like Dallas, Atlanta, and St. Louis turn the ship around after firings – I don’t have the answers, but perhaps it’s time for the Oilers to clean the house. Including all assistants. No promoting Kelly Buchberger either, dammit.

    Bobby Smid is still clueless in his own end as he was last year. Little to none in the ways of progression. There are games where you think he’s turned the corner, until you realize there are many turns along the path.

    Then there’s a fucking terrible luck factor. Lupul comes here unmotivated, and decides to clean up his act in Philadelphia. He had a goal and 2 assists today.

    These have been 2 terrible hockey seasons for the Oilers. Clinching the 8th seed in the 81st game of the season wasn’t ideal, but hey, it sure as hell beats the garbage we’re seeing now.

  20. Bank Shot says:

    Clearly Lowe lacks the skills to plan a bachelor party let alone a hockey club, but the Oilers are basically on pace to disgrace themselves by matching the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators in regulation time prowess.

    The Oilers problems are bigger then the makeup of the roster.

  21. Bruce says:

    Well that’s four games in a row that Oilers have blown a lead, this time, discouragingly, a three-goal lead. How much is enough? Scores after the second periods of those games have been 1-0, 2-2, 1-1, and 4-2, and final scores have been 1-3, 2-3, 1-2, and 4-5 (OT), thanks to a combined score of 8-0 against in the third periods and overtime. A potential 6 standings points shrivels to 1. Will these guys ever learn how to finish a goddamn game?

    Didn’t see Staios’ penalty in OT, I hope it was a good call. On that subject, it seems that it’s only two minutes for injuring a key Oiler with a blatant cheap shot (Lapointe, Demitra), so maybe we need to start getting our two minutes “worth” as well. After two seasons of seeing our would-be stars get the holy crap kicked out of them without so much as a powerplay goal in response, I think it’s time for a change in approach. This bullshit has got to stop.

  22. Dennis says:

    Bank Shot: I think the problems pretty much begin and end with the roster.

    I threw out the instances where I think MacT fucked or fucks up and one of these days someone’s going to have to investigate why Smid isn’t getting any better but the first thing someone should do is try and determine why Lowe believed in Smid in the first place.

    Along with why he thought Smyth was dispensable.

    There are a few things we can blame on injuries but there are other things we can’t. You can’t trade Pronger and Smyth for magic beans and expect to come out on top. Why people can’t get that through their skulls, I really don’t know.

    Even with Hemsky coming back in another game or two and even if Torres somehow finds his way back, there are still gonna be a few guys we have to hide and there’s only so many ways to hide them.

    And why the Oilers choose to let guys like Nilsson and Gagner cost them games in a year where they’ve surrendered their first round pick, well if someone can explain that, I’d love to hear it.

  23. dwillms says:

    And why the Oilers choose to let guys like Nilsson and Gagner cost them games in a year where they’ve surrendered their first round pick, well if someone can explain that, I’d love to hear it.

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t get behind the logic of winning to screw the Ducks. The pick(s) are gone.

    Why sacrifice development of our own players for little or no benefit to our own team?

  24. Andy Grabia says:

    I think the problems pretty much begin and end with the roster.

    Huh? You said that, and then went on to complain about Lowe for half the comment.

  25. Dennis says:

    Well, AG, that stands to reason because it is His roster, no?

  26. Bank Shot says:

    Bank Shot: I think the problems pretty much begin and end with the roster.

    The Coyotes have what I think is an inferior roster with 5 rookie forwards having played significant amounts of games and they are in a better position then the Oilers.

    Chicago has four rookie forwards, a rookie defenceman, and another defenceman with similiar games played to Smid. Their veterans are a motley collection of cast off one way travesties such as Lang, Perrault, Samsonov, Sopel and Zyuzin. They are games over .500.

    I mean can you look up and down the Oilers roster and find any veterans that are overacheiving this season?

    Horcoff is doing the most anyone could have expected from him. Everyone single other veteran is underperforming reasonable expectations coming into the season.

    Hell, even guys like Pitkanen and Sanderson who came from the worst team in the league last season are on pace to have their worst statistical seasons, well…ever basically.

    Nobody is saying this was a good roster to begin with, but to me their performance has been worse to date, then the sum of their parts suggests it should be.

  27. RiversQ says:

    Nobody is saying this was a good roster to begin with, but to me their performance has been worse to date, then the sum of their parts suggests it should be.

    I think Hemsky can be added to the list of players that is performing as expected. He’s lacked a little puck luck IMO, and otherwise would have the production.

    Penner’s first 15 games were crap, but he’s now providing what he’s got.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s as easy as you’ve outlined here. The roster, as constructed, is filled with too many young players. Those young players are put in roles they aren’t ready for, and in many cases, so are the veterans.

    For example, Reasoner is probably better suited to the 4th line at this point (although he had a hell of a game against the Ducks and sounds like he was strong in Minny as well), but the Oilers are running him out there as a top 9 forward at the least. Staios is a good 3/4 dman, but carrying Smid around is just too much for him. At best, Souray is a 2nd or 3rd pairing player and he’s playing 25+ minutes per game.

    I could keep going, but I don’t see the point. This is a poorly constructed roster and while I don’t think MacT is getting max value out of this roster, I also don’t think max value is any better than 12th in the conference.

  28. pboy says:

    Watching Strachan get put in his place on the Hotstove was priceless.

    Care to expand?

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/player/?maven_playerId=hockeynightincanada&maven_referralPlaylistId=474a526d503a2fe3d89adfa5eb4a0fa4cceb90fc&maven_referralObject=617080454

    I think it’s about 7:00 minutes in or so. It was just funny to watch Rick Westhead say he doesn’t care about Strachan’s garbage, amde-up trade rumours.

  29. Bank Shot says:

    Personally, I don’t think it’s as easy as you’ve outlined here. The roster, as constructed, is filled with too many young players. Those young players are put in roles they aren’t ready for, and in many cases, so are the veterans.

    Yea, but teams like Phoenix and Chicago face those same difficulties.

    We all knew this would be a bad Oilers team during the offseason, and that they would surely miss the playoffs.

    Perhaps its time to give the Lowe thing a rest for 5-10 games as its been rehashed to death, and discuss why the Oilers are making the worst of a bad situation instead of the other way around.

  30. Dennis says:

    In terms of Chicago, let’s remember that all rookies aren’t created equally and while 89/13 look to be good players going forward, in ’08 they aren’t Kane and Towes.

    So, while MacT has better rookies to work with then he has in the past, it’s not like he has Crosby and Malkin to skipper.

    And when it comes to the D, Pitkanen looks fine by my measures and Gilbert’s been a revelation but Smid has been killing Staios for over a year now and Souray’s -4 in 14 games which is about right, I believe.

    In goal, Roli’s probably done.

  31. Bruce says:

    Yea, but teams like Phoenix and Chicago face those same difficulties.

    Yup, and all three are on the outside looking in (9.CHI, 13.EDM, 14.PHX). Chicago has a little better record, in large part cuz their two rookies are playing better than ours; the emergence of Patrick Sharp (7 SHG!, 2 SHA, +15) who’s the Hawks’ answer to Horcoff as an underrated contributor; the continued growth of Duncan Keith who’s about two years ahead of Gilbert on the experience curve; the return to Stanley Cup form of Nikoloai Khabibulin, whose consistently solid play is keeping Hawks in at least as many games as Garon has done; and a resurgent season from Robert Lang, a veteran scorer the likes of whom does not seem to appear on the present Oilers roster. (ATTENTION! K-Lowe: it ain’t Geoff Sanderson)

    The Hawks are (at long last) an interesting team that presents Denis Savard with some real challenges. Bankshot, you didn’t mention the most expensive of the Hawks’ “cast off one way transvestites” (I think that’s what you wrote), Martin “Kick Me” Havlat, who injured his shoulder in Game One, came back two months later scoring a sensational goal in the first minute of his return game just to tantalize those of us unfortunate enough to have the bugger in a keeper league, played 10 games and pulled his groin bad enough to miss time for the seventh consecutive season. Over the years he’s been diagnosed with everything except hypochondria. At least with the emergence of Kane and Able, Savard doesn’t have to build his offence around this guy, who costs even more than Sheldon Souray. Then there’s perennial project Tuomo “Tumour” Ruutu, who makes Ales Hemsky look like the picture of health in comparison.

    That said, Savard hasn’t had to deal with such a depth of injuries to both the defence corps and the wingers, the latter almost all veterans (Moreau, Pisani, Torres, Hemsky) that has taxed MacT’s powers of persuasion. Even the best teams in the league can’t afford to lose 2 to 4 of their best at any one position, let alone two, without feeling it. And — this just in — the Oilers aren’t one of the best teams in the league.

  32. Dennis says:

    Yes, I doubt that this team’s better than 10th in the Conf even when at ultimate health, so while I’m far from absolving Lowe, there is something to said for having some many GP missed from vets who play tough min, ie first 18-34 and now 14.

    Not to mention the fact that your best dman missed a bunch of games as well. And so did the guy you overpaid to help your PP. And, oh yeah, they missed games at the same time.

    So, while I do have some problems with the way MacT’s ran his bench, there aren’t a lot of other options either.

    As soon as the Oilers decided that a guy like Mike Johnson wasn’t worth their time, then the youth movement was on. So, look at what we’re icing and it’s hard to come up with three lines to trust and it’s impossible to find four.

    BTW, for some reason, I can’t get the audio from the official site for MacT’s Sunday podcast. It should be an interesting one today. YOu’ve got topics like:

    - How far away is 83?
    - How bad does it look for 25?
    - Torres was supposed to skate today or tomorrow with his brace on so is there any chance he’ll be back?

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