Why Hang Tom Dula?

Ales Hemsky is getting a lot of negative ink early this season based on what appears to be a complete inability to adjust to what the defense is showing him in every game.

To quote the great Billy Ashley, the pitchers are reading him.

No one questions the pure skill of the Oilers former wunderkind (the Oilers “next great one” seems to be getting better as time rolls by as in this decade alone we’ve had Comrie, Hemsky and Gagner) but his frustrating and stubborn inability to adjust to the game has many fans ready to throw him overboard.

“Ales Hemsky” and “turnover” are in the same sentence more often than any printed words in the English language this side of “Britney Spears” and “shaved.”

I agree he appears to be more stubborn than usual and the Horcoff line is not the reliable EV vehicle we’ve seen in the past but will argue with anyone who cares to engage me that Hemsky’s well worth being patient with again this season.

Let’s look at the numbers. First, the 5×5 numbers for last season and so far this year:

  • 07-08: 2.26
  • 08-09: 0.65

Unless Ales Hemsky is hurt there’s just no way this gap stays as it is currently providing MacT doesn’t move him to defense. Now, let’s compare the 5×4 numbers:

  • 07-08: 5.93
  • 08-09: 10.98

Here we see the other side of things, as there’s just no way to sustain this number with the man advantage.

Ales Hemsky’s boxcar numbers (7gp, 0-6-6 minus 3) are a good reflection of his contributions. He’s clearly helping offense everywhere. The question then becomes do you take action by benching, demoting, scratching or trading him?

No. The only way trading Ales Hemsky makes any sense is if the organization has decided he’s no longer the “player type” they want on their team and decide to cash him for a player more suited to the new style of play. Said player would need to be as valuable as Hemsky with a contract as attractive as 83′s. That’s a very small list and the decision on trading Hemsky belongs to the next coach, not this one.

And there is no reason to fire the coach at this time.

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41 Responses to "Why Hang Tom Dula?"

  1. HBomb says:

    Browsing the fan boards today, seems like the masses are already skewering Horcoff as well for a slow start, which I think is, in a word, stupid.

    Horcoff and Hemsky are this team’s best all-around forwards. They deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point. It’s been all of seven friggin’ games, people….

  2. Lowetide says:

    Exactly. If Horcoff and Hemsky don’t get untracked at EVs this team is pooched anyway.

  3. raventalon40 says:

    Being the last team to start the season, not having the right chemistry with the whole Penner/Nilsson/Cole situation as well as missing a real 3rd line center (Pisani is injured, as well) hasn’t really helped this team either.

    I think MacT has got to work on the a new D-combination for Souray, Visnovsky, Staios and Smid/Strudwick.

  4. Bob Arctor says:

    Is there a point in the season where you’d be receptive to benching, demoting, scratching or trading him if his poor even strength play continues?

  5. T. says:

    I missed some of the game last night – what happened to Strudwick? Was it an injury and if so, how bad? Sorry to ask here but I’ve been over all the “official” types of news and couldn’t find anything.

    gracias.

    RE: Hemmer. Does anyone think he’s still/again nursing an injury of some sort?

    This no reporting injuries thing is just stupid in my opinion.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Bob: No. I think you have to play him. It’s like having a cleanup hitter whose career average is .270 and can be counted on for 100+ rbi a season.

    Even when he’s hitting .230 you have to stay with him. Exceptions are injury and advanced age.

  7. Traktor says:

    As recent Stanley Cup winners, Detroit, Anaheim and Carolina have proven, staying fresh behind the bench clearly is beneficial in terms of results.

    A look at the Stanley Cup winning coaches over dating back to 1988-89.

    2007: Mike Babcock in 3rd year
    2006: Randy Carlyle in 2nd year
    2005: Peter Laviolette in 2nd year
    2003: John Tortorella in 3rd year
    2002: Pat Burns in 1st year
    2001: Scotty Bowman in 9th year
    2000: Bob Hartley in 3rd year
    1999: Larry Robinson in 1st year
    1998: Ken Hitchcock in 4th year
    1997: Scotty Bowman in 5th year
    1996: Scotty Bowman in 4th year
    1995: Marc Crawford in 2nd year
    1994: Jacques Lemaire in 2nd year
    1993: Mike Keenan in 1st year
    1992: Jacques Demers in 1st year
    1991: Scotty Bowman in 1st year
    1990: Bob Johnson in 1st year
    1989: John Muckler in first year
    1988: Terry Crisp in 2nd year

    Average years coaching team when Stanley Cup won: 2.5 years.

    Take away the legend Scotty Bowman and it becomes: 1.9 years!

    MacTavish is going on his 8th year.

    Looking at the past one doubts that MacTavish will ever win a cup in Edmonton, the numbers aren’t in his favor. Of course he’s the anomaly as he is the best coach in the world not to win a cup.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: Years ago Bill James did a study on managers and their effectiveness early V. late. His findings iirc reflect what you’ve stated here.

  9. Showerhead says:

    re: Hemsky, I think it's especially easy for fans to pick on him because of the nature of his mistakes. He's good with the puck to the point where the lot of us will never fully understand the mechanics of his stickhandling or the psychology of his on-ice vision… but when he's making mistakes (and it seems that last night he made them by the armload) it's because of poor decision making -> and that's something any Joe Fan can feel holier than thou about.

    I guess the point is – and I'm not sure how many of the rest of you are like this – that I'll forgive a guy 9 times out of 10 for a mistake I can attribute to shit luck (ie, the puck rolls on him or bounces too much for control) but only 1 time out of 10 if I can blame it on bad decision making. Just how I am and how I'll probably always be.

    Truth is that Hemmer will come around. A lot of people who are freaking out about him or the coach will calm down or get too excited in the opposite direction.

    And that contract will look good through each and every year.

  10. Showerhead says:

    PS: bolding the “no” in “…reason to fire the coach” is a hilarious if possibly unintentional parody.

  11. Traktor says:

    Just one of many reasons as to why MacTavish should be removed.

    To not fire MacTavish after we brought in new players, a new GM, a new owner and an arena in the works is to spend 100k renovating the your house but not replace the front door that is hanging on it’s last hinges or the shit stained toilets.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: I think you’d need to see the team miss the playoffs again this season. Seriously. The club has been on such incredible swings since the lockout that it’s impossible to predict (imo) with any certainty that a change would do any good.

    This is not a team filled with savvy veterans who know the score and what it takes to get themselves out of a funk. These are the cardiac kids, when one minute feels like death and the next feels like nirvana.

  13. knighttown says:

    I don’t think any of the stronger HF Boards posters are asking for Hemsky to be traded, in fact I don’t think I’ve even seen that sentance mentioned. What I have seen over and over is people (rightly) ignoring the nearly ppg numbers and stating that his play has been really, really bad.

    I love the guy, in fact, I just ordered a 83 “A” away jersey, however the guy has some serious chinks in the armour. He still won’t shoot and even when he does, which should catch the opposition by surprise, he seems to get it blocked, which I’m guessing points to a really slow release. I would also have to say he must be one of the more challenging wingers to play with in the entire NHL (ignoring the obvious advantages) as you know your role will be to watch him circle and try and find a soft spot to fire a one timer. Great if you’re Brett Hull or Shawn Horcoff after a successful stick finding mission in Mexico, but damn, if you’re Eric Cole who creates off the rush.

    I spend alot of time thinking about what kind of player would mesh with Hemsky as we’ve tried a few:
    Horcoff-2 way skater
    Penner-cycling power forward
    Cole- rushing power forward
    Sykora- one shot scorer
    Lupul- one shot scorer
    and most have been non-synergistic relationships. After the very rare left handed (b/c his passes almost always come after he circles the net) sharp shooter who doesn’t want the puck much(forget Ovechkin, Kovie) I now think you need a guy that can do a little of everything, especially create offense with very little time of puck possesion, maybe like a Cory Stillman, Vinny Prospal or Ray Whitney. One touch passes, quick, accurate shots and one timers, give and go’s. Robbie Nillson could be that guy and guess who else could be? Sam Gagner.

    And while I’m (not) on the topic, there is a lot of call to play Cole on that 2nd line with Cogs and Gags and I disagree whole heartedly. Ethan Moreau is the perfect linemate for Eric Cole, in fact they are mirror images of each other. Both guys wear blinders and rarely look to pass (not an insult). They see the net and take the straightest line toward it. Gags and Cogs play with more subtlety and that aint Eric’s thing. Not Penner’s thing either but that’s for another day.

    Me, I’d play Horcoff between Cole and Moreau and call it your 3rd line if it hurts Ales’ feelings.

  14. Phil says:

    The frustration with Hemsky is that he is now in his 7th professional season, and he’s making the same mistakes he made as a rookie. Trying to out dangle the entire opposition every rush, putting people offside by going east-west at the blue line, failing to recognize when to just dump it past the defender and go get it. Not to mention the blind passes to no one, and his allergy to shooting. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – “The definition of insanity is doing things over and over…”. Unless he changes his game, I just don’t see how he can take this next step expected of him.

    I also think that he’s not totally to blame for the lack of development. If you’re a coach, and you have this diamond in the rough player, who could be dynamite if he just simplified things – don’t you think 6+ years is enough time to get that message across? Either a) MacT isn’t smart enough to get this across to him (very doubtful), or b) Ales isn’t very coachable.

    On top of that, Hemsky is unique on this team, and has been since he was a rookie. Is a super skilled player supposed to learn how to ply his trade from Ethan Moreau? Jason Smith? Ryan Smyth?

  15. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Phil:
    On top of that, Hemsky is unique on this team, and has been since he was a rookie. Is a super skilled player supposed to learn how to ply his trade from Ethan Moreau? Jason Smith? Ryan Smyth?

    And Horcoff.

    He’s a thoroughbred hitched to a Clydesdale.

  16. danny says:

    I think LT has an excellent point, in that 83 is pretty predictable. He is one of just a few players that can still beat you when you know what he is going to do. Problem is he is playing in the NHL, and most defenseman have went to school on his tendencies, probably after being made look like a fool some point in the past. And they damned well know what not to do now.

    He will still beat them occasionally, but 8 times out of 10, the puck will be turned over in a precarious part of the ice.

    I think i’d just rather a guy that quietly gets the job done night in/night out these days.

  17. B.C.B. says:

    Fake MacT: Just to keep you on topic . . . Horcoff is not the problem with Hemsky. All offensive stars need two-way players (that can skate and have on ice awareness) to look after some of the defensive action on the ice. Horcoff is a great fit for Hemsky on the first line: good defensive awareness, can keep up, and ok shot with offensive up side. The LW position is the problem.

    I think Phil’s position is that there was/is no offensive vet. to bring Hemsky along. I agree if Hemsky could of learned from a star in his first couple years he’d be ahead. But many other offensive stars did not learn from vets (Hossa, Gaborik, Lafontaine and Nash all come to mind), plus the oilers where in no position to afford a star vet in those years- so it is a not starter (MacT could have changed that if he wanted to).

  18. Phil says:

    I’m not slagging Moreau or Smith or Smyth. Or Horcoff – love the guy. I’m just saying that Hemsky would’ve been miles ahead at this point if he had a teammate or coach that had similar talents, understood what it was like to play with said talents, and could point him the right direction(s). Think Yzerman to Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Sakic to Stastny (and Hejduk and Tanguay before him).

  19. Phil says:

    Jesus b.c.b, get out of my head :D In fact, I was going to name Nash as a comparable to Hemsky, in that he has the tools to dominate, and could’ve really used a mentor.

    I don’t think it’s a non-starter though. Even if they couldn’t afford an elite player – bring in a former one to coach the special teams or whatever.

  20. Coach pb9617 says:

    Horpensky needs to come back.

    Horpensky
    Kids
    Fernie and the bangers
    Kyle, Huggybear and Mr. Hankie

  21. Lowetide says:

    Nash is/was a poor comp because he was getting killed as a youngster while Hemsky has been brought along in a fashion that held out hope 83 could play against the other team’s best (with Horcoff).

    In this way, Gaborik would be a better comp (at least in spirit).

  22. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    “Horcoff is not the problem with Hemsky. All offensive stars need two-way players (that can skate and have on ice awareness) to look after some of the defensive action on the ice. Horcoff is a great fit for Hemsky on the first line: good defensive awareness, can keep up, and ok shot with offensive up side. The LW position is the problem.”

    Why focus on LW instead of C?

    In reality, he can’t keep up, his shot, despite his Brett Hull impersonation, won’t scare anyone and his offensive upside is several miles short of elite.

    Defensive awareness, sure.

    Is that enough?

  23. B.C.B. says:

    Phil:

    How man star offensive players go on to become coaches? Using Traktor’s list (of winning) coaches not one is a old offensive player. right now there is Gretzky and Granato would be the next closest. So I would say that a offensive coach is not necessary to the development of a offensive player.

    I’d go on and say that a defensive coach is better fit for an offensive player to teach them aspects of the game they have ignored while being the star on their junior team,

    Can anyone name an offensive player turned coach, whom can develop talent? and why doesn’t he have a job in the NHL?

  24. raventalon40 says:

    Perhaps we should hire Denis Savard as an assistant coach/PP specialist

  25. B.C.B. says:

    LT: I’d was using Nash as an EXAMPLE of a player whom learned some offensive game without a star offensive vet to teach them. come to think of it don’t most teams whom draft in the top five (for offensive talent) also not have offensive stars. I’d say that offensive stars have the talent entering the league and need time to get up to speed and learn the game at a higher level (including the defensive aspects).

    Fake MacT: I am focusing on the LW wing because I think we have a player whom can at least play with Hemsky at center. We have never had a player (including our beloved smyth) whom could play – skate, think, and shot – with him at LW. I think you are under valueing Horcoffs ability to get posession of the puck (through faceoffs, take aways, hardwork), his above average shooting/passing/skating abilities (which is hard to find all three in one player), and ability to think the game both defensively and offensively.

    Add a elite LW whom can score, and take some pressure of Hemsky, and that lines works better. I maintain Horcoff is not the problem, and those whom say he is are not aware of some of the worst line centers in the league (think TO, Atlanta, or NYI)

  26. mjsh says:

    I actually felt better about the Oilers and Hemsky in particular after last night than most of the previous games. He seemed to have some jump last night. He will always turn the puck over from time to time because he takes the chances to make the great play. If we want dump and chase then get some one else, if you want excitement then keep Hemmer.

  27. Phil says:

    In this way, Gaborik would be a better comp (at least in spirit). Agree, in spirit.

    b.c.b – I’d go on and say that a defensive coach is better fit for an offensive player to teach them aspects of the game they have ignored while being the star on their junior team, So you’re saying that MacT and Huddy are the ideal coaches for Hemsky? Really? I won’t argue that players need to learn how to play in their own end, but let’s not kid ourselves here – the Oilers aren’t looking to Hemsky to lead the PK.

    As far as coaches go – you’re talking head coaches. I didn’t say that. I also didn’t say that it was necessary to have an offensive coach to develop offensive talent. What I did say was that Hemsky would be a better player had he had a similarly gifted veteran teammate to learn from, or in the absence of that, a former player of that type on the coaching staff.

    Anyway, the past is the past. We can argue all night about what they shoulda woulda coulda done, but the question is this: is the Hemsky we see and have seen the Hemsky we get, or does he become a perennial all-star from here on out? I just can’t see the latter happening, not without a Dany Heatley on the other wing.

    Agree that Horcoff is NOT the problem.

  28. toqueboy says:

    i agree with mjsh, i thought that hemsky looked energized last game, with a few faults, but definitely better synergy with the kid.

    and we also have a whole new cole with him playing his native position…go figure? but he looked like a completely different player.

    i still think you put penner back up on the first line…with 1 and 3 running hard games, it’ll really open up easier minutes for the kids again. right now with no line really clicking the kids are getting stronger players than they ought to be facing.

    i don’t understand macT’s facination with turning penner into a defensive player…i’d rather we attempted to develop his offense with this much diligence.

  29. Jonathan says:

    To not fire MacTavish after we brought in new players, a new GM, a new owner and an arena in the works is to spend 100k renovating the your house but not replace the front door that is hanging on it’s last hinges or the shit stained toilets.

    I know you heard it from a lot of folks the other day, Traktor, but I can’t let that pass. Did you seriously just compare MacTavish to a stained toilet?

    I know you’ve got a hate on for the guy, but the stupidity of that statment isn’t measurable.

    And a question – which new/used crapper do you think should replace him.

  30. mc79hockey says:

    As recent Stanley Cup winners, Detroit, Anaheim and Carolina have proven, staying fresh behind the bench clearly is beneficial in terms of results.

    The sample is skewed here. NHL coaches are inordinately there on short term life spans. There aren’t a lot of long term guys to compare them with. Taking a look at the conference finalists since 05-06

    Carlyle – 1st year, MacT – 6th year
    Laviolette – 2nd year, Ruff – 9th year

    Carlyle, 2nd year, Babcock – 2nd year
    Murray – 2nd year, Ruff – 10th year

    Babcock – 3rd year, Tippett – 5th year
    Therien – 2nd year, Stevens – 1st year

    I see lots of veteran coaches in that list. Eight coaches who were in place prior to the lockout are currently with the same team. Four of them have been to the final four since then. Doesn’t sound so bad when you put it that way.

    Blaming MacT for this team’s performance is like blaming a jockey who can’t win the Kentucky Derby with a plough horse. If you want to be assigning blame to a level above the players, the Friendly Giant approach really should be used.

  31. Bruce says:

    Average years coaching team when Stanley Cup won: 2.5 years

    Traktor: Compare that to the “average years coaching team” of all coaches, and it’s not that far out of line. Long-term coaches like Ruff, Trotz and MacT are very much the exception, so each and every year the odds are against a veteran (with the same team) coach winning the Cup.

    many other offensive stars did not learn from vets (Hossa, Gaborik, Lafontaine and Nash all come to mind)

    Uhh … Pat Lafontaine joined the four-time defending champion New York Islanders after the 1984 Olympics, B.C.B. Among other mentors he had Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin. Marian Hossa came up with the Sens, with Alexei Yashin and Daniel Alfredsson. Agree on Gaborik and Nash as standalone offensive stars, although neither is particualrly comparable to Hemsky.

    Can anyone name an offensive player turned coach, whom can develop talent?

    Toe Blake.

    and why doesn’t he have a job in the NHL?

    Because he’s dead.

    PS: Among the living, Bruce Boudreau.

  32. Doogie2K says:

    I guess the point is – and I’m not sure how many of the rest of you are like this – that I’ll forgive a guy 9 times out of 10 for a mistake I can attribute to shit luck (ie, the puck rolls on him or bounces too much for control) but only 1 time out of 10 if I can blame it on bad decision making. Just how I am and how I’ll probably always be.

    Can’t disagree; problem is, most of his errors are of the decision-making variety right now, at least to my eye.

    @Bruce: Beat me to it on Lafontaine. Blake was the only example I could come up with for offensive coach, too, though if you go far enough back, you might be able to argue Art Ross. (I remember reading about Rocket Richard’s infamous one-game stint as the Nordiques’ first head coach. That seems to be closer to the norm.)

    And grammatical nitpick of the day: “whom” is the object of a verb or preposition; it doesn’t appear as the subject of the sentence, nor in a connective phrase.

  33. godot10 says:

    A star left winger is not what is needed for Hemsky and Horcoff. Hemsky needs to play with players who can play well without the puck, because Hemsky is a puck hog. Horcoff can. And Penner was getting to the point of figuring it out last year.

    I’m okay with the Nilsson experiment on left wing, but I think I would prefer Penner there.

    Gagner wouldn’t be a good fit at even strength for Hemsky, but I really want Hemsky, Gagner, and Penner as the #1 power play. Gagner will always look to plays down low on the power play, whereas that is always Hemsky’s last option. Gagner thus provides balance to the powerplay because he reads what is open better, and hesitates less.

    1st power play: Gagner, Hemsky, Penner
    2nd power play: Horcoff, Nilsson, Cole

  34. Traktor says:

    “Blaming MacT for this team’s performance is like blaming a jockey who can’t win the Kentucky Derby with a plough horse.”

    Fans of Edmonton think a coach needs a veteran lineup with world class goaltending, no injuries, no rookies, and perfect schedule and then and only then can you judge a coach on the successes he had with the team.

    MacT himself even said in his extension press conference that if it wasn’t for the cup run that he most likely wouldn’t be here right now. When you look at what MacT has done before and after the cup run it’s painfully obvious to see the aberration.

  35. Bruce says:

    Godot: I agree with every last word of that. I’ll add that Horcoff is the perfect complement for Hemsky in that he’s equally comfortable with or without the puck; last year he did a helluva job as an “interpreter” between hemsky and Penner who speak two different languages out there; when Horc went down the Hemmer/Penner duo went to shit (outside of the PP).

    Doogie: There’s been a few coaches who were offensive players, it’s just that pesky “who can develop talent” phrase that I keep tripping on. Wayne Gretzky? Signs are promising, but jury’s out. Denis Savard either wasn’t developing talent, or wasn’t doing so fast enough. Craig Hartsburg was a fine offensive blueliner who’s getting another shot in Ottawa. Bruce Boudreau was an offensive whiz in the minors, and if Mike Green is any example, he can certainly develop talent.

    In the more recent past than Toe Blake and Milt Schmidt :), Larry Robinson was largely an offensive player although arguably he was more of an “all-rounder”. Same could be said of Jacques Lemaire, Terry O’Reilly, Red Kelly … sure they could score, but they played an all-ice game so perhaps were better suited to coaching.

    All that said, playing style and coaching style are two different animals. Jacques Lemaire was a helluva lot better offensive player than Glen Sather …

  36. Bruce says:

    Fans of Edmonton think a coach needs a veteran lineup with world class goaltending, no injuries, no rookies, and perfect schedule and then and only then can you judge a coach on the successes he had with the team.

    Traktor: Gotta disagree with you on that one. Last year MacT took a team with about $15 MM in payroll on the shelf and something like 11 regular skaters who were rookies or sophomores, to within 3 points of the playoffs. Whether that meets your definition of “success”, it was a masterful coaching job.

  37. Traktor says:

    I posted this a few days ago on HF an

    I think Shawn Horcoff makes a lot of sense between Moreau and Pisani. I think Shawn Horcoff is a great hockey player but:

    1. He doesn’t make sense long-term playing with Hemsky,
    2. Horcoff is our best defensive forward,
    3. Hemsky isn’t Hossa and he shouldn’t be playing power vs power

    I don’t think Horcoff makes sense long-term playing with Hemsky because:

    1. He thinks defense first and offense 2nd,
    2. He isn’t the player that Hemsky will go to the next level with
    3. Edmonton has both Gagner and Cogliano waiting in the wings who both contain greater offensive instincts
    4.**** Horcoff would help this team more being the go to guy on the defensive side of the game; we have plenty players with top notch offensive tools but really only Brodziak and Pouliot that can play on the defensive side of the game and it’s easier to be young and produce offense than it is to be young and stop the opposition*****

    I think Horcoff is our best defensive forward and with him on a line with Pisani and Moreau they could cancel out teams best players for 20 minutes a night giving our skill players 40 minutes to light up the secondary units.

    I think Hemsky and Horcoff have wonderful chemistry but I really don’t think it makes that much sense to play them together. By putting your best defensive player on a line with your best offensive player you end up watering down Horcoff’s defensive abilities and Hemsky’s offensive abilities. The line still works but I think Horcoff and Hemsky would benefit more from having distinct roles rather than playing power vs power and trying to do both.

    Moreau Horcoff Pisani would face the tough opposition

    Penner Cogliano Cole would face the next batch of opponents

    Nilsson Gagner Hemsky would destroy softies and I think Nilsson and Gager are the line mates that Hemsky needs if he is ever going to be a 90 point guy

    The remaining players would make up an energy line.

    This is what I would do if I was in charge and in my mind it not only gives us the best chance to win games this year and makes sense moving forward into the future.

    *** Represents what I feel is the strongest point as to why Hemsky and Horc shouldn’t play together.

  38. godot10 says:

    //Nilsson Gagner Hemsky would destroy softies and I think Nilsson and Gager are the line mates that Hemsky needs if he is ever going to be a 90 point guy.//

    I don’t mean this as a criticism of Hemsky. He is what he is, and I would have him on my team. But he is a puck hog. Gagner needs to handle the puck to be effective offensively, whereas Horcoff doesn’t. Add Horcoff’s defensive awareness, and Horcoff is the much better choice to play with Hemsky at even strength. Entirely different story on the power play, where Gagner creativeness down low is far superior to Horcoff’s, and compensates for Hemsky’s unwillingness to take the puck/play to the net on the powerplay.

  39. CrazyCoach says:

    I’d love to be able to play a game with Hemsky. It boils down to a simple offensive concept: support. When Hemmer has that puck, your only job is to either drive the net like a madman, or get open. Hemmer will take care of the rest.

    While he drives me nuts from a coaching point of view with his turnovers and laisez faire attitude, he simply does things with the puck that you can’t teach. MacT just needs to let the boy play and quietly cross his fingers behind his back while holding a lucky rabbits foot.

    Please come around soon Hemmer. Your team mates need you.

  40. Dennis says:

    You don’t Have to have 10-83 playing together but I think once you split them up it means that one of them won’t be playing top six tough min.

    But, it could still work out. For instance, a 34-10-26 line could be absolutely miserable to play against but that’s putting a lot of top six eggs into one basket.

    Of course the other thing is that we need some actual defensemen on the blueline so that’s probably the biggest part of the big picture in terms of GA.

  41. Bruce says:

    By putting your best defensive player on a line with your best offensive player you end up watering down Horcoff’s defensive abilities and Hemsky’s offensive abilities.

    It’s called balance, Traktor. Horcoff is to Hemsky what Jacques Lemaire was to Guy Lafleur or Igor Larionov was to Sergei Makarov, and later (all-too-briefly in Vancouver) to Pavel Bure.

    It boils down to a simple offensive concept: support.

    Agreed, CrazyCoach, and will add Horc is a perfect “support player” more than just offensively. He can do the heavy lifting in his own end, can get Hemsky the puck when both are moving in the right direction (something at which Jarret Stoll failed abysmally with Horcoff hurt last spring), and can play in the offensive zone without needing the puck on his stick all the time. Ditto Penner on at least the last part.

    Entirely different story on the power play, where Gagner creativeness down low is far superior to Horcoff’s, and compensates for Hemsky’s unwillingness to take the puck/play to the net on the powerplay.

    Once again you and I are in complete agreement, Godot10. Much as it pains me (I have Horcoff in my keeper league pool), given his role on the first line and the first PK unit (esp. now that all PKs start with an own zone draw), I don’t mind cutting down on his PP time a little. 27-83-89 were outstanding on the PP after Horc went down last year, and this is the one part of the team (meaning the first unit, not the PP generally) that I’m not sure Horc improves with his presence.

    I see MacT is moving Gagner up to first PP unit tonight, hope Penner follows soon as I think the 27-44-71-83-89 combo has all the elements needed to be pure dynamite.

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