MacT Throws Team Under Bus

This morning, I find myself wondering more about the post game scrum than last night’s hockey game. The game featured the Oilers starting slow, then battling back and exchanging chances with a Bruin team that overall had the edge in play.

A 4th period goal for Boston left the home side with an OTL as they head out on a road trip so long and difficult one wonders if the Oilers even get to see the schedule before they laminate it (I’m not one to bitch and moan about scheduling but this thing is a bloody mess).

They were outshot 36-27 and by period the Oilers were 10-15, 5-9 and 12-10. In the OT they were 0-2 on the shot clock.

They had the usual plethora of turnovers, but certainly fewer than on Saturday and through the 3 game losing streak last week. The defense looked much better to my eye, specifically Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios. I also felt that Ladislav Smid won more battles than usual, and overall the team did a pretty good job in the corners, with their sticks in lanes and on the pokecheck (Souray looked Prongeresque in this area).

The Oilers lost this game 1-0 and certainly relied on a splendid night from Dwayne Roloson. Those who believe he’s the odd man odd are plainly wrong, and with the road trip and the mood of the coach I think it’s an open question as to when the rookie gets a start. I suspect they send him out even though it means risking waivers.

All that said, what are we to make of the MacT quotes?

  • “I was expecting a lot more. I’ve seen enough now to no longer have those expectations.”
  • “We’re trying to be too cute.”
  • “We’re not aggressive enough on the attack.”
  • “We’re not going to the tough areas to score goals. That’s basically it.”
  • “We’ve been looking a long time for easy offence. We’re not getting any.”

With that as a backdrop, I have a few questions of my own:

  • If the coach no longer has questions about effort because the team has proven they’re not worthy, doesn’t it fall to the coach to make lineup changes/send people out? The Oilers have all kinds of talent in the minors (Schremp, Trukhno, Potulny) and there’s always the trade route.
  • Pure skill plays are the bread and butter of Nilsson, Hemsky and Gagner. Cogliano also fits somewhat into this category and Visnovsky can be counted on this list as well. How many is too many?
  • Aggressiveness on the attack? If anything they’re too aggressive on the attack, not mindful enough of what they’re leaving and how quickly it’s coming back. Denis Grebeshkov spent this past week with 5 opponent skaters in his rear view with alarming regularity, how is that not aggressive? If you want crash and bang plays you need crash and bang players. Aside from Ethan Moreau, Erik Cole and perhaps Shawn Horcoff who on this roster would the coach look to? Pouliot? Brodziak? Perhaps. Perhaps those are the players being called out, although their performance looks fine to me and the results appear to be good enough to stay on the major league roster.
  • Which of the skill guys does MacT want to see battling in front of the net and along the wall? Skill players like Hemsky and Nilsson are not going to make their living in the corners and along the wall. I will argue vehemently that these two are not wallflowers but it’s also true that time and space are their friends, not push and shove.

The Oilers didn’t score last night but had all kinds of chances. I honestly believe that if they played this game over again with the same number and calibre of chances the Oilers could have scored 4. Look, shit happens. This is a team more skilled than the classic MacT team (the Stanley run) and less experienced. This is a team still getting to know each other, and still waiting for newcomers Visnovsky and Cole to get comfortable and find their game with this group.

The Oilers are 4-3-1. Last season at this time the Oilers were 4-3-1. The Oilers so far have faced a pretty strong schedule and have a tough road trip straight ahead. The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that the coach is very worried about this road trip and this is his way to light a fire under their ass.

This team is performing as you would expect. The chances are there, the pucks didn’t go in last night. They are chaos going the other way because that’s the roster makeup. If the Oilers wanted a more button down team, they needed to bring back Marty Reasoner, to add a RH veteran center and to add yet another veteran D. Perhaps too they needed to keep Curtis Glencross. But this summer wasn’t about that, it was about skill and Hossa and Visnovsky and (finally some grit) Erik Cole.

The coach’s comments last night do not jive with what we know to be true. Based on roster makeup we can expect the Oilers to give up chances at EVs every game and to create chances at EVs every game. This team needs a strong PP & PK, exceptional goaltending and for their young players to be better in spring than they are today.

All that said, why did the coach make these comments? Why did he throw his team under the bus? Why is he so pissed at a team that has played a tough schedule and is 4-3-1? He’s under pressure from ownership. That’s the new element in the equation, the one thing that wasn’t here last year and before. Ownership has expectations and there is urgency.

Otherwise, Craig MacTavish has lost this team and is grasping at straws, pissing in the wind. I don’t believe that’s the case, so the reasonable conclusion is that MacT is under the gun from ownership already. I don’t think it is wise, but it isn’t my team and my money either.

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91 Responses to "MacT Throws Team Under Bus"

  1. Matt says:

    The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that the coach is very worried about this road trip and this is his way to light a fire under their ass.

    That probably suffices, no? I don’t see that you need to make the extra leap. The fact that he’s so all over the place with his beefs is the giveaway.

    Creating 11 scoring chances for every 10 surrendered… that ratio will flip around on you on the road a lot more easily than 6-to-5. Sounds to me like he wants his skill players to be mindful of that, knowing full well that they’ll still have ample opportunity to make skilled plays.

    I think he’s just… coaching. That said, you’ve shown a pretty good ability to deconstruct the guy, so you may well be right.

  2. rickibear says:

    A 15(Nilsson) and 20(Hemsky)Goal scorer on the same line is not a first line.

  3. goldenchild says:

    I agree with the sentiment that this has more to do with creating urgency for the upcoming trip rather than bemoning the effort last night. MacT clearly felt 2 pts at home were a must because of the road that lies ahead is not going to be easy the next 10 games.

    I am not overly concerned about this teams ability to score.

  4. dubya says:

    “I was expecting a lot more. I’ve seen enough now to no longer have those expectations.”

    Wasn’t this in reference to the start of the game? The Oilers have shit the bed in pretty much every first period. They need to be called out, I think. Young or not, the effort hasn’t been there for a full 60.

  5. Doogie2K says:

    It’s extra-baffling when you consider how he came to the team’s defence the previous day, saying that they’d actually played better in the previous two losses than they had in their wins, and that it was ST and goaltending that was letting them down.

    Of course, if he was talking about another crap first, then whatever. At some point, they have to consistently start the game like they mean it, and I’ve only seen that a couple of times so far this year.

  6. kamus says:

    The PP is still the problem. This team absolutly has to score on the PP or they will have problems. With the offensive talent on the roster I don’t understand why they’re having troubles again.

  7. Dennis says:

    Whew, I thought it was just me who was disgusted by last night.

    I was absolutely rotted by all the Grade A chances the club gave up last night and if I wasn’t taping the game to count the chances afterwards, I would’ve turned it off and watched the WS or MNF.

    This MacT rant could very well be for shock-value effect but if he’s been planning it, I think he started to let it leak out after the loss in Van. He was scathing when it came to the ST and he made a point of admonishing 26 for the tie-down gaffe when normally I thought that was something that would elict no more than a comment that went something like, “that was something that was handled in-house.” The fact that macT felt comfortable and/or justified in speaking out to that extent was a bit of a tip-off, IMO.

    There will always be a thin line between love and hate and considering that MacT was practically gushing about the team’s possibilities heading into camp, it won’t be a real surprise to me if MacT’s being truthful in this latest rant.

    There’s at least a decent chance that he expected more out of his team than what they gave him last night.

    As for getting what you pay for, there aren’t enough defensemen on our blueline and I imagine a few of us have known that for a long time.

  8. St George says:

    I dunno. I don’t think I see last night’s game in as charitable a fashion as you, Lowetide. If it were not from some very strong goaltending from Roloson, the game could have been over much earlier.
    The boys were outplayed early in the first and for most of the third … from the moment the puck dropped in the third period, I knew it was only a matter of time – the Bruins had more hustle and jump, got to the puck faster, and were pressing much harder.
    I think there is something to MacT’s assessment, too. Save for Smid and the odd hit from Moreau, I don’t remember many checks being finished after the first period, there was no urgency to the Oiler’s backcheckers, and we fumbled away the puck a number of times at the Bruin’s blueline trying to fancy dangle the puck. The Oilers may have played better relative to their first few games, but they didn’t play well enough to be a playoff contender … it was vintage Lowe/MacT-era Oiler hockey – an incomplete game where you were just hoping they found a way to pull it out of the fire.
    I suspect MacT delivered the speech because he knows that he doesn’t have a whole season to produce a competitive team this year, and I am personally glad if that’s true.

  9. Bruce says:

    I’m not one to bitch and moan about scheduling but this thing is a bloody mess

    I’ve always considered a single home game (as opposed to an actual “home stand”, remember those?) to be just like an extra road game, with distractions. The Oilers are essentially on an 11-game road trip, in which they play in 11 different NHL arenas in a span of 20 days. To call that a “bloody mess” is being charitable; any description I can come up with includes the word “fucking” at least once.

    That they have started said trip 0-3-1 is a matter of grave concern, even this early in the season. That 4-0-0 cushion sure disappeared in a hell of a hurry.

  10. Traktor says:

    “I was expecting a lot more. I’ve seen enough now to no longer have those expectations.”

    Absolutely brilliant by MacTavish.

    When you’re not meeting expectations just lower them or cast them into the wind.

  11. Showerhead says:

    The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that the coach is very worried about this road trip and this is his way to light a fire under their ass.

    Exactly what I was thinking as I read the post, but LT beat me to it. Exactly what I was going to quote in the comments, but Matt beat me to it.

    Are there any situations in which being beat to the punch this consistently is a good thing? If so, I’ve got me some exploiting to do.

  12. Quain says:

    Sure, MacT’s comments are worth examining, but shouldn’t we be focusing on a much more important discussion? Just where exactly does Horcoff rank among all centers in the league?!

    MacT, why can’t you tell us that?!

  13. Coach pb9617 says:

    “We’re trying to be too cute.”

    Obviously that coach is listening to this coach.

    He’s right on this.

  14. Black Dog says:

    Trying to get their attention. This club has been inconsistent, nobody is producing offensively and while coverage in their zone has been reasonable it seems that they are giving up way too many odd man rushes.

    Too many guys don’t seem to care.

    Poor starts to games.

    Throw in a no-go fourth line with a guy who can’t play in the league (although admittedly nobody is pushing the Oilers around these days) and this three headed goaltending mess and a poor PK Saturday and a stagnating PP and I would say MacT has reason for concern and should have reason for concern.

    I like MacT a lot but overall this club has underachieved and its about to get a lot tougher. I look at clubs like St. Louis or LA and Toronto (God help me) and I see teams with less talent doing more.

    That’s not good.

  15. Dennis says:

    I honestly don’t have a big problem with what MacT said but the problem becomes how do you fix it?

    Knowing that the vast majority of the game is still play at EV, I guess we’ll start with the EVTOI last night for the D:

    5 – 14:58
    24 – 14:25
    37 – 17:58
    44 – 19:39
    71 – 20:44
    77 – 18:02

    Conclusion: Guys are shouldering workloads and taking on responsibilities that they can’t handle and people in power should’ve know that Before the season started.

    When it comes to the PK, it might be that we honestly miss some of Greene, Reasoner and Stoll enough that there’s a real difference — I’m not sure if that’s the case — or as Ty warned us, Garon’s PK SV PCT simply wasn’t sustainable and that’s why we’ve crashed back to earth. My first suggestion when it comes to fixing a PK has always been to use six forwards and constantly pressure.

    51-78-34-18-10-27 could be a set OR 26 has such a good work ethic that you could work him in there as well.

  16. dawgbone says:

    When you’re not meeting expectations just lower them or cast them into the wind.

    You’d have to be dumb or ignorant to draw that conclusion from that statement.

    And I’m afraid you’ve got both corners nailed down traktor.

  17. digger says:

    I think last night’s mini-meltdown came from a couple of sources:

    -IMO there is likely increased pressure from a new ownership entity that may not be as content to placidly sit back and watch the money roll in as the EIG. All injury excuse aside, this team has still missed the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years. If that turns into 4 of 5, MacT would almost have no choice but to walk away, assuming he’s even given the chance to do so.

    -Going 5 consecutive games without scoring a goal in the 1st period would grate on any coach. Far too many times this team’s been guilty of ‘feeling their way’ into a game, to borrow one of MacT’s recycled quotes.

    According to Terry Jones article this morning, today was supposed to be a day off for the players. Instead, a practice was scheduled.

    I can’t imagine there’s too many smiling faces out at Rexall today.

  18. Traktor says:

    “I’ve seen enough now to no longer have those expectations.”

    Clearly states that MacTavish has different expectations.

  19. Traktor says:

    Either Horcoff isn’t as good as those here feel or MacTavish isn’t getting the most out of his players. You cant have it both ways and those who continue to support both only show their unconditional bias towards all that is copper and blue.

  20. grease trap says:

    No, it’s obviously a coaching issue. If you have a team of players underperforming you have to lay that responsibility somewhere, and the top person getting paid for team performance is Craig MacTavish.

    Honestly, this isn’t a MacT team and I think as much as the Oilers are “feeling their way” into games, MacTavish is feeling his way into the season. How he handles it will be interesting to watch, but it seems to me that he’s giving out too many instructions that seem to be at odds.

    Last Spring he let the kids run, let the forwards be creative and of course we had that beauty 4th line that kept the opposing teams unsure where to put their players against which line.

    This year you just don’t have the same energy on that 4th line. It tends to get meaty, slow and easy to read.

    Opposing teams have figured out how to shut down Hemsky and the kids, and really our PP is so predictable is embarrassing.

    Old School has met New School and is floundering.

    I like MacTavish. I think he’s an intelligent guy, but I think he’s not sure how to best deploy his players. In the end, you have brilliance on the ice, but the mastermind has to be the coach.

    I just don’t think he knows how to work with all this skill. He’s used to grinding it out, working with teams that outperform because they have no other option. That SCF team was clearly a MacT team with a couple of shiny new parts but the players have changed around him and he’s trying to catch up.

    And you know, I think he will.

    I just hope it’s sooner than later.

  21. Jonathan says:

    Either Horcoff isn’t as good as those here feel or MacTavish isn’t getting the most out of his players. You cant have it both ways and those who continue to support both only show their unconditional bias towards all that is copper and blue.

    I don’t think there’s any argument that the first line has been an issue from the get go. To my mind, that stems from putting Cole on the LW, and I can see why MacTavish stuck with it as long as he did – if Cole had meshed, the Oilers would have had a top-tier power vs. power line going forward.

    At evens, I’m relatively happy with what MacTavish has been doing, with the exception that I don’t think Lubomir Visnovsky’s suited to the tough work with Sheldon Souray, although here the options aren’t good. Perhaps Smid and Souray would be the best tandem for such work.

    Where I’ve been disappointed with MacTavish is on special teams. I understand the need to turn Gagner into the best possible player ASAP, but I haven’t been crazy about him on the PK, and as for the man advantage, the misuse of Penner/Cole and to a lesser extend Visnovsky/Souray on the same unit really bothers me.

    As for singling out Horcoff, has there been a game yet where he wasn’t the best player on his line?

  22. doritogrande says:

    “If the Oilers wanted a more button down team, they needed to bring back Marty Reasoner, to add a RH veteran center and to add yet another veteran D.”

    *Paging Toby Petersen, white courtesy phone. Toby Petersen, white courtesy phone.*

  23. Dennis says:

    The way this team’s constructed it’s almost like they’re trying to win and develop at the same time and that rarely happens.

  24. knighttown says:

    The difference between this year’s 4-3-1 record and last year’s is:

    1. 2007 ended with an all-time bad stretch of hockey whereas 2008 ended with a great stretch of hockey by an unhealthy team. Expectations should be higher and they are.

    2. Not all 4-3-1 records are created equally. Anytime you lose 4 in a row there is a problem, especially when none of the teams we lost to are “Top 10″ NHL teams. On a schedule full of Minnesotas, Detroits, Calgarys and Dallas’, games against Vancouver, Chicago, Boston and Colorado are as good as you’re going to get.

    3. And finally, everyone including the coach acknowledges that we’ve been outshot and outplayed in every game this season, save for Game 1 versus Calgary which was pretty even. Over time, the team that plays the best wins, and we’re seeing that now.

  25. doritogrande says:

    “The way this team’s constructed it’s almost like they’re trying to win and develop at the same time and that rarely happens.”

    Right you are. For something like that to happen you have to:

    a) Already be an established threat
    b) Have talent worth developing
    c) Have an organizational mandate to do exactly that.

    To my eyes, the only teams who satisfy all three criteria would be Detroit and Montreal. Edmonton may have teh talent, but by no means are we established, and the new management is in “win now” territory, to the detriment of Gagner and Co.

  26. Traktor says:

    I haven’t singled out Horcoff. I thought Cole was brutal but why does it take a coach all of preseason and 6 regular season game to realize that Cole should be playing RW? He already look like twice the player.

    And I’ve already said this is a better TEAM without Hemsky on it. The entire offense in built around Hemsky and Hemsky’s game plan is “whatever”. It’s a shame that this would be a more consistent accountable team without it’s best player on it.

  27. Traktor says:

    Moreau Horcoff Pisani
    Penner Cogliano Cole
    Nilsson Gagner Hemsky

    This is what is needed for success.

    It’s easier to be young and produce offense than it is to be young and stop the opposition. This isn’t about finding Horcoff the right mates to justify his contract it’s about giving this TEAM the best chance at winning.

    We cant expect Horcoff to shut down teams best lines with Hemsky do his own thing.

    MacTavish needs to make more defined roles. Put the best checkers in a checking role and cut the hybrid crap. You need a balanced lineup not balance on every line.

  28. kinger says:

    I have one major criticism of how MacT has handled the team so far this year.

    I think he used the pre-season to try and create chemistry between players rather than find it. 26 with 83 and 10 is just one of a number of examples.

    MacT has always been a square-peg in a round hole coach, perhaps he should try and put a little more ‘Carlyle’ into his game.

  29. doritogrande says:

    Gotta disagree Traktor. If Hemsky is the guy the team is built around, as is the belief of the majority of people posting here, he’s the guy you build your lines around. Make him comfortable with the players he’s around and pick players that he’s been successful with. Then you make up the rest of your lines. You don’t give Hemsky the leftovers.

    Based on past success (last season), he has great chemistry with Horcoff and Penner. Why we ever split that up goes beyond my reasoning. We know what we’re going to get from those two, forecheck, separation of defenders from the puck, and vision to find Ales and let him do his thing. After they’ve done their job mucking, they get their asses to scoring areas, be they the faceoff dots, slots (Horcoff) or in front of the net looking for rebounds (Penner). Nilsson’s also been a good fit for Hemsky, but they play too similar a game for my liking. The real shame is Hemsky hasn’t developed any chemistry with Cogliano because he’s probably the only one that could beat Ales in a race. Those two would be great off a turnover on the counterattack but you can’t force chemistry (brutally proven already this year with the Cole experiment).

    Hemsky is still this team’s best player, and you play him with who he’s comfortable with. I was harping on him too for a good portion of preseason and the early regular season, but have come to realize that he is key to this team. I know he’s got all-world skill and believe it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out of the shell.

    And as for trading Hemsky…as has been previously mentioned the only reason we trade him is to acquire a different player type to build a team around with a similar salary. Those are in short supply. The only person I could figure trading Hemsky straight up for at this point in his contract is the newly signed Dustin Brown. No more of this “asset” crap. You trade talent for more talent, not futures.

  30. HBomb says:

    Moreau Horcoff Pisani
    Penner Cogliano Cole
    Nilsson Gagner Hemsky

    This is what is needed for success.

    It’s easier to be young and produce offense than it is to be young and stop the opposition. This isn’t about finding Horcoff the right mates to justify his contract it’s about giving this TEAM the best chance at winning.

    We cant expect Horcoff to shut down teams best lines with Hemsky do his own thing.

    MacTavish needs to make more defined roles. Put the best checkers in a checking role and cut the hybrid crap. You need a balanced lineup not balance on every line.

    Once again, playing Horcoff on a “checking” line? A waste. Sixty-to-sevent-point-per-season centers do NOT grow on trees.

    Horcoff should be on an offensive line going head to head with offensive players. Moreau doesn’t produce much offense and should be on a shutdown line at best. In other words: Horcoff has no business on a 3rd line and Moreau has no business on a 3rd line. The former is a waster of skill and the latter is a guy playing way over his head.

    Beyond that, the idea of a “shutdown” line is an antiquated concept anyways. Outside of the guys like Pahlsson or Madden at center, trying to go head to head with the other team’s best with primarily defensive players is not a commonly used tactic in the NHL today. Why? Probably because it generally doesn’t work in terms of outscoring.

    Now the combination of Pisani and Horcoff is intriguing….WHAT IF the Oilers were to deploy those two with Cole as the “2nd” line and have them take the toughs, while a Penner/Nilsson-Gagner-Hemsky combo plays the first line offensive situations and is fed somewhat sheltered minutes? That might be an unconventional but intriguing approach.

    I think the Rangers did something similar with Jagr last year and the year before, using the Shanahan-Avery line as the ones to take the tough head to head matchup at evens…..

  31. HBomb says:

    And as for trading Hemsky…as has been previously mentioned the only reason we trade him is to acquire a different player type to build a team around with a similar salary. Those are in short supply. The only person I could figure trading Hemsky straight up for at this point in his contract is the newly signed Dustin Brown. No more of this “asset” crap. You trade talent for more talent, not futures.

    I’d consider trading him straight across for an all-world like Kovalchuk if you knew you could sign Ilya to an extension.

    But I agree with what’s being said….the list of guys I’d trade Hemsky for? Exceptionally short.

  32. dawgbone says:

    “I’ve seen enough now to no longer have those expectations.”

    Clearly states that MacTavish has different expectations.

    Expectations in what?

    If it’s expectations in that he no longer thinks this team has a chance at the playoffs then you are right.

    Expectations in that he expected this group to work through the early issues they had, and it’s a completely different story.

    I don’t think MacT has lowered his expectations in terms of where he expects this team to finish. He’s never done that in his career. Even in the last 2 years when the Oilers had some struggles his expectations were high (even during the 1-18-1 slide, he made comments about how certain players weren’t giving him the performance he wanted).

    I think that he’s had enough of the way they’ve gone about playing, and that he expected them to work through these issues as a team, which is something they haven’t done.

    There is a significant difference, and it’s one I’m not suprised you and some of the others at HF completely missed.

    Not once has he determined losing to be acceptable, and that would be lowering expectations.

  33. Traktor says:

    “Once again, playing Horcoff on a “checking” line? A waste. Sixty-to-sevent-point-per-season centers do NOT grow on trees.”

    Either does 2 points.

    “.WHAT IF the Oilers were to deploy those two with Cole as the “2nd” line”

    Cole has proven that he is useless on the left side.

    “Beyond that, the idea of a “shutdown” line is an antiquated concept anyways.”

    Then why not call up Schremp and role 3 scoring lines?

  34. Traktor says:

    If MacTavish hasn’t lowered his expectations of competing for the division then clearly this team isn’t meeting expectations right now.

    Either way your it’s a nix on your boy.

  35. HBomb says:

    Cole has proven that he is useless on the left side.

    Pisani hasn’t.

    As for your “two points” comment, it’s pretty damn obvious to anyone with half a brain that playing Horcoff on one of the top two lines increases this team’s chances of success when compared with the alternative.

    If you’re rolling out Gagner-Cogliano as your top two centers, as much as I like both players, that’s not the type of 1-2 center punch that’s going to result in a tremendous amount of wins.

    Draw your own conclusions people.

  36. Traktor says:

    “Pisani hasn’t.”

    Pisani learning a 2nd new position in a month? Uh… no thanks.

    “If you’re rolling out Gagner-Cogliano as your top two centers,”

    Yet I clearly listed Horcoff on the top line with Moreau and Pisani.

    All 3 lines are getting 17+ minutes a night anyways.

    I’ll breat it down for you again.

    Moreau Horc Pisani go up against best players

    Penner Cogliano Cole go up against 2nd best players

    Nilsson Gagner and Hemsky go up against the 3rd best players

    Horc’s line should should either break even or go -1. It’s up to the other 2 lines to make up the difference against secondary and third string opposition.

  37. Traktor says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the only time this team went anywhere was when Hemksy was seperated from Horcoff? Didn’t Hemsky play with Stoll and Samsanov?

  38. HBomb says:

    Moreau Horc Pisani go up against best players

    We know what you’re suggesting Traktor. You had them listed as the 3rd line a week ago when you floated the same idea. Just because you’ve listed them first doesn’t change a thing in my mind.

    You’re talking about using these guys to “shut down” the opposition’s best. You are suggesting a 3rd line use of Horcoff.

    As for the idea of Moreau in this role, I don’t think he’s good enough to do it anymore frankly. I’d rather take my chances with Pisani on LW, a position he HAS played before, and Cole on RW, trying to outscore the opposition.

    Penner-Gagner-Hemsky (2nd toughest minutes)
    Pisani-Horcoff-Cole (toughest minutes)
    Cogliano-Pouliot-Nilsson
    Moreau-Brodziak-”Goon”

  39. Doogie2K says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the only time this team went anywhere was when Hemksy was seperated from Horcoff?

    Wasn’t that a Smyth-Horc-Pisani line, though? I mean, that’s three guys that can score against good players; who takes the 94 spot in that scenario?

    Besides, Hemsky proved perfectly capable of playing with Horc and Penner last year, during the middle stretch of the season once Penner played himself back into shape, and before Horc pulled the chute on his shoulder (late Nov-early Feb?). I don’t remember the exact splits, but Hemsky was on a 100-point pace over something like 30 games. It wasn’t insignificant, I remember that much. I don’t get why we haven’t gone for 27-10-83 redux yet, either.

  40. Bill Needle says:

    I’ve tuned out MacTavish’s post-game blatherings long ago, and so have most of his team by now too. Welcome to the death rattle.

  41. kamus says:

    What about these lines:
    Penner Horc Cole
    Nilsson Gagner Hemsky
    Moreau Cogliano Pisani
    Stortini Brodziak MAP

    Let the second line play against soft opp and see if they can outscore by a big enough margin.

  42. HBomb says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the only time this team went anywhere was when Hemksy was seperated from Horcoff? Didn’t Hemsky play with Stoll and Samsanov?

    Yes, while Smyth-Horcoff outscored Thornton’s line head-to-head, Hemsky struggled to produce with Samsonov as his winger. By the third round, Hemsky was back with Smyth and Horcoff and his play improved as the playoffs continued.

    When Hemsky was apart from 94-10 in the first round, he did basically SFA aside from his performance in game six. He started seeing some time back with Smyth and Horcoff in round two and then was a fixture there by the end of round three.

  43. HBomb says:

    kamus: I like your top six, but I’d go with Cogliano-Pouliot-Pisani as the 3rd unit and put Moreau in as the “Glencross presence” with Brodziak and Stortini/MacIntyre.

  44. Traktor says:

    hbomb: The only question about Moreau is can he sustain it and stay healthy. If he can stay healthy then he is a good option on the 3rd.. I mean 1st.. I mean shutdown line.

    If he isn’t then why is he still on the team? 2 million for energy? Yikes.

    If Pisani can play LW then I like those lines.

    doogie: I agree that 27 10 83 looked good last year which is why Square Cole getting shoved though round hole was so frustrating.

    I can’t recall the exact lineup but I thought Pisani played a lot with Torres and Peca too but I could be wrong as I remembering the heartbreak wasn’t high on my priority list. I just wanted to point out the our most successful run came with Hemsky and Horc on separate lines.

  45. Traktor says:

    “When Hemsky was apart from 94-10 in the first round, he did basically SFA aside from his performance in game six.”

    I think that’s our biggest difference. You seem more worried about individual outputs than TEAM success.

  46. Vic Ferrari says:

    Unrelated, but Cole was very good on the left side as well by my eye. And Ray Ferraro can cloud the minds of men, bless ‘im.

    To me this season it’s looked like far too few forwards have been willing to pay the price at the offensive blue line. We’re all impressed with the stick skills on a lot of these guys, and a lot of them seem to be impressed by their own press clippings.

    Thing is, if everyone on the other team knows damn well that you aren’t willing to pay the price every now and again, to drive it wide along the wall with the puck, or to dump and chase like you really want the puck back … well it makes their life pretty easy.

    Too many Oilers forwards are trying to play a bruise-free game. I was kind of wondering if the coaching staff was promoting this, I mean the Oilers did bring in a D corps that can skate up better than they can handle their own end, and it’s a small team, I thought maybe they were thinking they had an injury free team that could pass the puck around and avoid contact.

    MacTavish’s comments seem to crush that notion, thank Christ.

    If the Oilers had outchanced Boston at a 3 to 2 clip (expected, surely) or better, but lost the game at the caprice of the hockey gods … well I don’t think that MacTavish would be so pissed.

    Small players can still win puck battles, like Bob Johnson always said, most of the battle is already won if you can just get there first.

    A few of these guys need to set their balls square and play hockey. And I imagine that they will.

    And the folks who are concerned about the Oilers being outchanced are right I’m sure, but it’s not like they’ve been owned in this regard in many games.

  47. Traktor says:

    Vic: According to Mirtle, Edmonton has the 2nd biggest forwards and the 7th biggest defense.

    http://www.fromtherink.com/

  48. Vic Ferrari says:

    Yeah, but writing MacIntyre, Stortini and Penner on the lineup card … that doesn’t make Hemsky. Cogliano, Gagner or Nilsson physically bigger.

  49. HBomb says:

    Traktor: I think our biggest chance for team success is with both Horcoff and Hemsky in the top six, but on different lines. I will hold to my statement that dropping Horcoff with Moreau and Pisani (which would be playing him on the “3rd” line, semantics or not) is not a good use of said asset.

    Another option to digest:

    Penner Horcoff Cole (tough minute line all about the cycle in the opposing team’s zone….Sedin-esque, if you will)
    Nilsson-Gagner-Hemsky (a softer minute line scoring an ass-pile of points off odd man rushes.

    As for your statements about Moreau…..yeah, 2 million for energy is a lot. If Moreau keeps up his current play, he’s worth it, but given the make-up of this team, Glencross at 1.2 million might have been both a) a more reliable investment, b) a better fit (we could use a 4LW right now, while if Moreau went down, Pouliot seems to be 3rd line capable), and c) 800K a year cheaper.

    As for the 2006 playoff lines:

    Round 1 was this:

    Smyth Horcoff Winchester
    Samsonov Stoll Hemsky
    Torres Peca Pisani

    (Moreau injured)

    Round 2 evolved to this:

    Smyth Horcoff Winchester/Harvey (Hemsky got some time here too)
    Torres Stoll Samsonov
    Moreau Peca Pisani

    Round 3 was a clusterfuck, mostly because of the flu. But Hemsky was back with Smyth and Horcoff by this time (this started around game 4 of the San Jose series, although those two played with Pisani in game 5 in San Jose, while game 6 featured Todd Harvey with 94-10). The highlight for me this round was the combination of Samsonov-Peca-Pisani making waves.

    By the time they hit the finals, this was what we were seeing:

    Smyth Horcoff Hemsky
    Samsonov Stoll Dvorak (outside of a nice goal in game 4 by Samsonov, these three basically did SFA during the finals….Stoll was an especially big let-down)
    Torres Peca Pisani (fuck this line was awesome)
    Moreau Murray Laraque (I seem to remmeber BG riding the pine for someone on this line at some point, although I cannot remember for the life of me who that was….)

  50. Master Lok says:

    I’ll agree with traktor (for once) in that Horcoff does not look the offensive sidekick to Hemsky… yet. I think he needs more time to get his timing back, but one where the team isn’t depending on him to score.. like on the first line.

    Nilsson – Cogliano – Hemsky
    Penner – Horcoff – Cole
    Moreau – Pouliot – Pisani
    xxx – Brodiak – Gagner

    Put Gagner on 1st line PP for the minutes.

  51. Traktor says:

    Vic: The smallest team in the NHL won the cup last year. Like your old lady says: size doesn’t matter (it’s how you use it).

  52. Bruce says:

    Of all the bullshit that’s been flying about the Pensblog, one comment which bears a ring of truth is that the Oilers are perceived as soft.

    Last year they countered this in the second half of the season with an excellent grinding line of GlenX-Brodziak-Stortini. This year? Not so much. GlenX is gone, while both Brodz and Storts struggle to find traction with out-of-position Marc Pouliot or out-of-his-league Steve MacIntyre on the port side. The bench gets shuffled, skill players get double shifted, and we wind up with nights like last night where Stortini and MacIntyre play a combined 2:16. (Give the Oiler forwards an, ahem, “weighted” average per TOI and that “second biggest forwards in the league” will be exposed as mythology.)

    Redistributing the tough guys’ ice time to extra shifts for the snipers might be fine if the skill players actually scored once in a while. Instead you have a team out of balance, with Cole and Moreau bringing all of the Oilers front-line physical play (combined 45% of all hits by Oiler forwards), and a first line of 12-10-83 in which traditional options like shooting the puck in deep, fighting through checks, and driving to the front of the net without the puck are not on the playlist.

  53. Traktor says:

    hbomb: Those combos look good to me.

    “By the time they hit the finals, this was what we were seeing:

    Smyth Horcoff Hemsky”

    So the only series Edmonton lost was when Hemsky and Horcoff were back together full time? Interesting.

  54. Vic Ferrari says:

    HBomb:

    It was game 3 in the S.J series that Hemsky was bumped up to the Horcoff/Smyth line. They didn’t play much at all against Thornton then either, and started a lot in the right end of the rink.

    I mention this because iirc this is the one game that the NHL never published any TOI or shift chart info for, maybe because the extra OT frames messed with their scripting, I dunno. In any case, you’ll have to trust the memory of me and others, because that’s all you’ve got.

    Of course Hemsky wasn’t half the player then that he is now, and not half the player that Smyth and Horcoff were at the time.

    G4 saw a more conventional Smyth/Horcoff vs Thornton alignment, though Pronger/Smith played just as much against Joe. A vet was on the starboard side (Harvey maybe?) and Hemsky over the boards quite a bit if the puck was going the right way.

  55. CrazyCoach says:

    Bruce,

    I agree with you on the “soft” aspect. The Oilers just don’t seem to have grit of the glory years of yesteryear.

    Not that one needed much grit when Gretzky was getting 5-6 points a night, but that was then.

    Detroit wins because guys like Lidstrom will take you out cleanly. Nothing dirty, but it must be hell playing against him.

    You can be gritty with being dirty, and the Oilers don’t seem to have that right now.

  56. mc79hockey says:

    All injury excuse aside, this team has still missed the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years. If that turns into 4 of 5, MacT would almost have no choice but to walk away, assuming he’s even given the chance to do so.

    Just out of curiosity, but what’s the blame on Lowe here? I can’t say this enough but Lowe’s the GM, not MacT. Lowe’s the guy who signed Souray, not MacT. Lowe’s the guy who put these players on the ice.

    Also, a lot of you ladies (read: traktor)…I just don’t know how you’re able to function in the real world. The emotional swings you go through in a day must be amazing.

    Dennis – you made the right choice not watching the WS. The top of the sixth inning was a travesty. I figured that the umps would at least let the Phils start cleaning and dropping the grounders because there was a lake between second and third. Upside? We were able to sell our $150 face value tix for $200 today, so we make fifty bucks for standing in the rain for two hours freezing our asses off.

  57. Bruce says:

    Not that one needed much grit when Gretzky was getting 5-6 points a night, but that was then.

    Crazycoach: You’re exaggerating of course, it used to take Gretzky two nights to get 5-6 points.

    But those teams had tons of grit, the Gretzky-Kurri line always had a Brett Callighen, Jaroslav Pouzar, Mike Krushelnyski, Esa Tikkanen or even Dave Semenko riding shotgun with them. They had Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson on the second scoring line who few people took liberties with and lived to tell about it, and a bunch of grinders like Kevin McClelland, Pat Hughes, Dave Hunter, Dave Lumley, Marty McSorley, Kelly Buchberger and yes, Craig MacTavish to round out the roster.

    There used to be a sign that hung in the far corner of the Coliseum (signs used to be not only permitted but encouraged) that simply said “Skate + Hit = Win”. In all the years I’ve been watching the game that has been a pretty reliable formula for success.

  58. CrazyCoach says:

    Bruce,

    You are correct. I almost forgot about guys like Lummer and MacT. Skilled and tough.

    Pretty much ever successful team has had a nice mix of skill and grit. I remember a pre-season game early in the 75-76 season between the Flyers and Habs. Fred Shero was winning the hockey world over with his motivation theories such as sending Hound Dog Kelly and THe Hammer over the boards to staple players to the boards. The Habs countered with Gilles Lupien, Robinson, Savard, etc. It set up a great final in which Robinson destroyed Dornhofer with a hit that the rinkies at the Forum remember well.

    The myth known as the Broadstreet Bullies died that spring, and the Habs showed you could be tough and play skilled hockey.

  59. Bruce says:

    Ah yes, the 1976 Finals and the saving of the game from the forces of evil. A key turning point occurred when Pierre (Butch) Bouchard transformed Dave (the Hammer) Schultz into a nail.

    Once they had established they wouldn’t be intimidated or pushed around, the Canadiens used their superior speed and skill to blow away the B.S. Bullies in four straight.

  60. Oilmanic says:


    Quain said…
    Sure, MacT’s comments are worth examining, but shouldn’t we be focusing on a much more important discussion? Just where exactly does Horcoff rank among all centers in the league?!

    MacT, why can’t you tell us that?!

    It was a big deal around here when Horcoff got extended, why? because this team would look even worse (scary!) without him and for the last number of years the Oil have Not! found anyone better. What are his ‘pros’ – defensive-minded, decent O’ numbers (at times) playing w hemsky, therefore semi justified PvP option, can Pk, better than average on faceoffs, leadership…

    Fact: The Oil’s first line lacks serious Offensive punch. Horcoff cannot! escape ensuing criticism. He doesnt stir the drink, to use a line from the kid-line debate.


    doritogrande said…

    Based on past success (last season), he has great chemistry with Horcoff and Penner

    Perhaps the chemistry came from a ‘close-enough’ to the smyth days? where penner gets to be the primary mucker and physical balance. Horcoff works hard but is soft, softer than hemsky… when has he finished a check this year?.. (only once, vs Ana).. shit, i like the guy – but he’s not good enough to get away with that kind of effort/showing…

    Horcoff is ok and paid too much not to be on the first line.. but that is his job this year and maybe next, to shelter is replacement, right?!

    Question: Is Gagner still the man (eventually) to replace Horc on the top line, or does that position ‘have’ to be played by a bigger guy?

    If Gagner had been playing centre this year and seen his FO% increase as Cogs has, than gags would already be trying out the #1 PP, in my world.. Kids like Kane are seeing lots of responsibility early in their careers.. I wouldnt want to see Horcoffs presence stifling Gagner’s progression, but we’ll see how ugly that 5.5 for 5 gets…

    anyways, this all comes back to… what the F! do you do with an offensively challenged first line?..
    Admit its not working, drop hemmer to the 2nd for gravy? bring up cole! and see if horc and Co. can carry the pseudo PvP load..

    Anyways, Coaching…
    Why the F! is Gagner on the PK…
    (Kane as a comp, never is…)
    Similar question about Penner.. just because management got into a bind w cole they want to totally convert penner.. this Reeks of MacT taking a potential skilled player (big man mold) and converting him into a grinder.. if its to get a little more hustle in his game – ok, but im sceptical.. he really should have been getting more PP time since the beginning, imo..

    Of course this leads into the whole playing people out of position, ie. not playing them in a position of strength… is this another sign of a guy that doesnt know skill?.. I dont know hockey well enough, but it appears like the ball was dropped..

    The fourth line Blows! (could prob stem from 3 goalie problem) sMac and Storts CannoT! play at the same time.. the fourth was Brutal in the Van Game.. LTs right, glencross missed..

    And hits… one game i’ve seen these pussys hit.. vs. Calgary.. since then, its been soft n weak.. or been a moreau penalty..

    argg.. but patience will sort some of it out.. the rest is on MacTs shoulders..

  61. doritogrande says:

    I know it’s MacT who gets all the camera time, but what are the assistants doing that they’re avoiding our hatred? Seriously, Huddy is the only guy who be off the hook so far based on the work he’s done to turn Sheldon Souray back into the player we saw in Jersey. I don’t know what the hell Bill Moores is doing these days, but he sure as ain’t game-planning for success the last few games. Does Bucky have a job on this team other than to put on a suit and stand smugly beside MacT? And seriously, who the hell is running special teams?

    Do I miss the days of Simpson and Daum already?

    But as much as we can blame the coaching, we keep getting out-shot and out-chanced. That’s on the heads of the players. So in that respect, MacT has every right to call out his forwards.

  62. Doogie2K says:

    I can’t recall the exact lineup but I thought Pisani played a lot with Torres and Peca too but I could be wrong as I remembering the heartbreak wasn’t high on my priority list.

    He did for the most part, but I swear I remember him playing with 10-94 a fair bit at one point or another (when berks like Winchester weren’t being shoehorned in).

    That being said…

    So the only series Edmonton lost was when Hemsky and Horcoff were back together full time? Interesting.

    I think it’s wildly disingenuous — nay, cherry-picking — to imply that 10 – 83 = win. The factors behind the winning were, among others, 34, 35, and 44, in no particular order; note that the shit only really hit the fan once 35 went out and the whole team was thrown into disarray until Game 3. As was noted above, Hemsky rejoined the line well before the end of the run and it didn’t seem to hurt anything.

    Unrelated, but Cole was very good on the left side as well by my eye.

    He was alright, but he looked a lot better on the right side on Saturday before getting tossed. When someone makes a living of driving the net, rather than distributing the puck, I would think where he stands on the ice is more important.

    Robinson destroyed Dornhofer with a hit that the rinkies at the Forum remember well.

    Robinson dented the damn boards with that one, didn’t he? I think he also got the better of Schultz during a bench-emptier that year (maybe even that playoff).

  63. Oilmaniac says:

    Ok, Lets try this on for size…
    If breaking up Horcoff and Hemsky…

    Nilsson Horcoff Cole
    Gagner Cogliano Hemsky
    Penner MP Pisani
    Moreau Brodziak Stortini/brule pls

    Still, this team is so soft..
    who hits,
    cole, moreau, storts
    who hits a bit,
    Hemmer, penner, brods, MP, sMac

    And a side question, LT if you could,.. Is it bad to have 3 left hand shots on a Forward Line?..

  64. Bruce says:

    Is it bad to have 3 left hand shots on a Forward Line?

    No, not really. There’s certainly lots of precedent for it. All you really need that slightly unusual is a LH shooting RW. Just off the top of my head across the eras:

    Moore – Beliveau – M.Richard

    F.Mahovlich – P.Mahovlich – Cournoyer

    Lindstrom* – Messier – Anderson
    (* or Napier, or Nilsson)

    A.Stastny – P.Stastny – M.Stastny

    Krutov – Larionov – Makarov

    Mogilny – Fedorov – Bure

    Fedorov – Larionov – Kozlov

    Stevens – Francis – Jagr

    Naslund – Morrison – Bertuzzi

    Holmstrom – Datsyuk – Zetterberg

    The Tampa Bay Lightning that won the 2004 Cup had all LH shots in their top 6 (St. Louis – Lecavalier – Richards – Stillman – Modin – Fedotenko). And one of the Russian teams from the late 80s had nothing but LH shots on the entire team.

  65. Dennis says:

    LT: I guess I could say that this quote belongs here if we’re talking about square pegs and round holes but for as many times as you wrote about the Expos telling a young Cliff Floyd to hit the ball on the ground, I never really saw any quotes confirming this.

    Well, I was catching up on my MLB news today and happened to be reading a Howard Bryant (who’s a fine writer, BTW) piece on how long it took Carlos Pena to find a home.

    And, here’s the Floyd quote when talking about how Pena had an uncoachable tag attached to him:

    It happens to a lot of us,” Floyd said. “It goes unnoticed because most guys end up being OK. But sometimes you get involved in doing what coaches want you to do to stay in the league. He had to figure out on his own that it was going to take him to do this and not everyone telling him what to do.

    “I love Felipe Alou to death. He was my manager, and I love him like a second dad, but he told me I couldn’t hit in the big leagues a certain way. I don’t know how you tell a 19-year-old that. I had hit 30 home runs in Double-A, so somehow, I got it done. He wanted me to adapt myself to his plan, and I wasn’t ready for it.”

  66. Schitzo says:

    Seriously, Huddy is the only guy who be off the hook so far

    Is it just me, or is this consistently the case since the lockout? He might be the most underrated guy in the entire operation.

  67. Jonathan says:

    Off-topic, but Bryan Lerg has been returned to Springfield.

    Which begs the question: how long until Ryan O’Marra reprises his ECHL all-star role?

  68. doritogrande says:

    oilmaniac:

    Brule’s injured actually. Knee on knee hit two fridays past. He’s supposed to be cleared for duty on Halloween, but I don’t think we should take a chance on recalling someone just coming off injury.

    If we’re making a call to the farm for a F, I like Potulny.

  69. Bruce says:

    PS to the above: The use of a LH shot on RW was a very occasional thing until recent years. In my lifetime Rocket Richard, Yvan Cournoyer and Glenn Anderson were rare exceptions to the Rule of a RH-shooting RW. Cournoyer (4 times) was in fact the only LH shot to make the end-of-season first or second All-Star team at RW between 1957 and 1991, and nobody achieved that distinction for 18 consecutive seasons 1973-91. In the 16 seasons since then, however, no fewer than 19 LH shots (8 different players inc. Recchi, Mogilny, Bure, Jagr, Bertuzzi, St.Louis, Heatley, Kovalev) have made the All-Star teams at RW compared to just 13 RH shots.

    RH shooting LWs have been even more rare. Only Wayne Cashman made an All-Star team between 1955-89 (with an honourable mention to Paul Henderson). In recent years it has become much more common (Shanahan, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Vanek).

    So it would seem the theory has changed and the idea of a guy driving the net on his backhand and pulling the puck into the middle to shoot is now in vogue. Judging by the names listed above, the European influence has been significant. But as we have seen with Erik Cole, some players just seem to do better that way.

  70. Bruce says:

    [Charlie Huddy] might be the most underrated guy in the entire operation.

    Funny, I used to hear (and say) that a lot in the 80s. Charlie is a beauty.

  71. Oilmaniac says:

    Thanks Bruce,
    Even more info than I had hoped for…

    cheers,

  72. Lowetide says:

    From 70-71:

    1. Bill Hicke was a LH shooting RW.
    2. Jack Egers same.
    3. Reggie Houle same (although he could play both wings, Houle played RW for sure that season).
    5. Paul Henderson was a RH shooting LW.
    6. Billy MacMillan was LH shooter and played RW on Dave Keon’s line (with Monahan on LW).
    7. Paul Andrea was a LH shooter on RW for Oakland and then Buffalo.
    8. Danny Grant played for Minnesota and was a LH sooting RW.
    9. Bobby Rousseau often played LW despite being a RH shot.
    10. Real Lemiuex was a LH shooting RW for Los Angeles.
    11. Tommy Williams played both wings and shot RH.

  73. Schitzo says:

    Remind me to buy you a beer one day, Bruce. You old guys are full of good stories :)

  74. Bruce says:

    Eh … we’re full of something, that’s for sure.

  75. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: We should plan a spring training “former Expos fans” get together in Florida/Arizona one year. Go down there, watch some ballgames, drink some beer and golf a little.

    If it’s Arizona, I can show you two terrific courses (Troon and the TPC) right in the PHX area.

  76. Bruce says:

    LT: re 70/71, amend my conclusion above to “the theory of star forwards playing their off-wing is now in vogue”. You’re right of course that there have always been utility forwards who can play either wing (Houle was a beauty, and Williams was underrated), but snipers like Henderson and Grant were more exceptional in their day than they would be now. As for Paul Andrea and Real Lemieux, anybody who can even remember those guys let alone what they did is a better man than I. :)

  77. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: I had all of their hockey cards. :-)

  78. Coach pb9617 says:

    Off-topic, but Bryan Lerg has been returned to Springfield.

    Which begs the question: how long until Ryan O’Marra reprises his ECHL all-star role?

    That’s not begging the question. That’s asking a question.

  79. Coach pb9617 says:

    Nilsson Horcoff Cole
    Gagner Cogliano Hemsky
    Penner MP Pisani
    Moreau Brodziak Stortini/brule pls

    Too complicated. If you’re going to start changing lines, how about starting with the one that caught fire and was the Oilers best line by far prior to Horc’s injury? Go power versus power and hope that chemistry comes back.

    Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky

    Gagner – Cogliano – Cole

    Nilsson – Pouliot – Pisani

    Moreau – Brodziak – Stortini

  80. Schitzo says:

    I have to admit, I’m torn on where you stick Moreau. I mean, yeah, we all know he’s playing over his head on the third line. But he’s one of the few guys to exceed expectations so far, so it’s a little hard to stomach.

    In the short term, I’d try 18-13-26 and see if speed really does kill. Penner on the first line, and reunite the “Fernie’s Kids” line from the first few games 34 returned last season. Take Gagner off the PK and try to get Pouliot his minutes that way.

  81. Bruce says:

    Boston 1 Vancouver 0 in regulation, and all’s well. :)

  82. oilerdago says:

    One thought – there are a lot of duplicted skill sets and too many guys playing out of position – either by coaches choice or necessity.

    Is it possible that some of logjam could be solved with a trade at some point – especially if these guys can not get off the schnide?

    For me, I’m tired of seeing 78 and 34 playing out of position and 26 and…

  83. Schitzo says:

    Re: Positions

    The damnedest thing about this group is that we HAVE the players to put everyone in their natural positions. It’s not like when Pisani was out last year and we only had one natural RW on the entire team.

    I’ve never played hockey at a high level, but given the choice between new linemates or learning a new position, I’d have to think most players would rather play their normal roles and take whatever linemates come their way.

  84. Coach pb9617 says:

    OD and Schitzo,

    That’s what I tried to pay attention to with the lines above.

  85. raventalon40 says:

    Pouliot could play that role though not as effectively as Penner, Moreau or Cole would.

    Scott Nichol comes to mind in terms of tradeable 3rd line centers.

    Keep an eye out for him on Thursday night.

  86. Phil says:

    @crazycoach & bruce: This comment is a bit late, but regarding the conversation about having skill and grit… isn't that what the "coke machine" draft experiment was about? Draft all the giants you can, throw 'em against a wall, and hopefully one or two with talent will stick? And the best to come of it was good ol' Huggy…

    So, after 2003, they start drafting for talent, size be damned. It was almost as if there was a collective belief that the NEW NHL was here…size doesn't matter anymore – just speed and skill. Only to find out it does. Now what?

    Concerning MacT – I echo exactly what BDHS said. I would add Buffalo and Nashville to your list of 'doing more with less'. Both have lost a ton of talent in recent years, and both have coaches with long tenures.

  87. Dennis says:

    At some point you have to believe that a guy like 26 will pop a couple of goals. He made a great play the other night to curl out of the right corner and go through a couple of guys and then use the screen to hit the post. He’s had more than a couple of chances and he’s obviously been hitting the ball hard.

    A guy like 83 on the other hand, I can’t say I can remember more than a couple of true goal scoring chances for him.

    I think most of the pieces are here to make the playoffs but there has to be some shuffling with some lines etched or re-etched in stone and some D pairs broken up.

    One thing I’d like to come back to is I want to see 26 with his very own playmaker and I think I’d put him with 89-12. That means he’s on RW and one of those kids plays out of position but so be it.

    And then we can go 18-13-34 on the third line and keep 78-51 together and cycle in a real forward with extra TOI to round out that crew.

    That being said, 78 looks to have turned a corner in creating chances every game and I think he deserves a bump.

  88. Bruce says:

    One thing I’d like to come back to is I want to see 26 with his very own playmaker and I think I’d put him with 89-12. That means he’s on RW and one of those kids plays out of position but so be it.

    Dennis: I don’t mind this combination at all. To me one of the advantages is that nobody has to play out of position: Nilsson stays on the port side and Gagner moves to his natural position of centre. Only question is whether he’s ready to handle the down-low play in his own zone.

    And then we can go 18-13-34 on the third line and keep 78-51 together and cycle in a real forward with extra TOI to round out that crew.

    And of course on this point we don’t agree. Your line-up, as usual, is too soft. We need a “real forward” on the fourth line who will bang bodies. Obviously my preference is 46.

  89. dubya says:

    Hey, I just wanted to mention that dawgbone has started his own (excellent, IMO) blog. Thought there might be some people interested here, and he’s apparently not a self-promoter ;)

    http://afterthegreenlight.blogspot.com/

  90. Bruce says:

    Thanks, Dubya, I checked it out and it took me about 15 seconds to decide to add it to my blogroll. Then I read the fantastic article about Zack Stortini! :)

  91. smackdaddy says:

    I don’t think you could’ve used any more phrases LT. Try using some more literal meanings, instead of this vague cliche you’re used to.

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