Heartbreak Hotel

I’ve seen some tough times as a sports fan. Anyone who followed the Montreal Expos can quote chapter and verse about Rick Monday, Charlie Lea’s injuries, Andre Dawson’s knees and the tragedy that was Ellis Valentine.

Despite winning 5 Stanleys, the Edmonton Oilers offer their own unique headaches, and this season may be the topper. I think we’ve reached a point now where most fans would like to see the coach fired and much of the roster forced to spend the summer waterboarding.

As much as it is frustrating, there are some things we need to factor in. I write this with the complete understanding that it’ll sound apologist and like excuse-making. But if someone thought it was a good idea to make Jacqueline Bissett carry that luggage then it’s fine for me to throw in a defense of Craig MacTavish during the flood that will probably carry him to another NHL team (I’d suggest Ottawa).

  1. Competitive Balance: Some of us remember when making the playoffs (16/21 used to get in) was a certainty from the opening faceoff on opening night. I think that is still our filter, and when teams don’t make the playoffs it is viewed as a huge failure. Fact is that since the NHL went to 30 teams and the last expansionists gathered enough talent there are no easy playoff spots. Can you imagine an 8 seed in the west 25 years ago as strong as Edmonton was in 2006? Not a chance. Missing the playoffs in the NHL is now similar to missing it in the NFL: good teams do it every year.
  2. Learning is Painful: Good lord this team has given icetime to the kids. It’s not just a case of mentoring the Gagner’s and the Cogliano’s, it’s also sussing out who can play and who cannot play. Since the lockout MacTavish has given 2 rookie defensemen (Smid 1,481 and Tom Gilbert 1,820) full time jobs; he’s also given extended auditions to Danny Syvret, Mathieu Roy, Bryan Young and is doing so now for Theo Peckham (who has already played 120 minutes in the show). Up front we’ve seen Patrick Thoresen, Brad Winchester, Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Zack Stortini and Liam Reddox gain traction as well as seeing Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak become NHL regulars. That’s aside from the half hour or so devoted to Rob Schremp and 14 minutes given to Alexei Mikhnov. So it’s not just overcoming Sam Gagner’s back passes or Andrew Cogliano’s lost-in-the-headlights play in his own end, it’s suffering through nights when Brad Winchester was lost or JF Jacques was never where he was supposed to be.
  3. Balance: I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but in my lifetime I can’t recall a team that leaves the tarmac less balanced. I remember some of Whitey Herzog’s teams had three lefties in the bullpen and Buck Rodgers sometimes carried 7 in the bullpen, but starting a season with that fall 2006 defense or beginning the year with the crazy depth chart at center this season is enough to cause many a man to go postal. Certainly fans, maybe coaches too.
  4. Traction: Part of the joy in watching a cluster develop is to see how they perform under pressure. That’s why I think these playoffs are so important. They might be similar to the Boys on the Bus early on, when they snuck into the playoffs and had some success and some failure. You need to experience it so that next season the goal will be getting deeper into spring. MacT has them farther along this season than last, does that not count for something?
  5. Veteran Failure: It’s all over the roster, from Ethan’s foibles to Fernando’s injuries to Jason Strudwick’s extreme ineffectiveness. I’ve been thinking about this, and a lot of what is wrong on the blue is that the Oilers chose wrong with their end-of-the-roster veteran for D. I’m not going to be overly critical, because the Oilers under the Lowe/MacT admin have been top dead center very often in this regard, but it’s a factor.
  6. Emerging Towns: Chicago, Columbus and Vancouver have jumped ahead of the Oilers and not enough Colorado’s are going the other way.
  7. Kids In the Hall: It’s not going to get any easier, but at least the Oilers young cluster (I count Hemsky, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Peckham, Gagner, Cogliano, O’Sullivan, Pouliot, Brodziak, Nilsson, Stortini, Reddox, Deslauriers as being a cluster–remember, Hemsky is only 10 months older than Brodziak) will be better as a group next season. Are you sure this management group will choose well when selecting the next coach?

The rumor that MacT will resign if the Oilers miss the second season is strong in our town, and if true it would fit with his personality and the friendships he has in the organization. If it rolls out in that way, allow me to reserve the right to say “told you so” if the coach moves to another town and has more success than the Oilers.

He may have overstayed his welcome, but he did a lot of good in the development seasons and he had a deep run the one time they gave him the horses. I find no joy in this ending.

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82 Responses to "Heartbreak Hotel"

  1. Dennis says:

    I would prefer that Vish Throttler be shown the day with him but at some point you have to ask, just how much worse can we be?

    We miss the playoffs most season Anyway. So the difference could be picking 21st than 16th.

  2. Lowetide says:

    This team could be coached by Kelly Buchberger in the fall. Are you prepared for a few seasons of learning curve behind the bench?

  3. GorillazXL says:

    In between the time of Cogliano and Gagner there was way too much Petersen and Reddox (and I’ve like “Cliff” since he was Peterbrough Petes) I would never ever classify MacT as a good development coach, the fact he has Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson on the roster had more to do with circumstances (RE: 2007 a series of injuries in a unheardful period – November) that led to the line being put together and having no other “veteran” (skilled or unskilled, MacT like older man) to put on the ice.

    The nail in the coffin was when he said this was the most skilled team he has had to work with at the beginning of the season… Well 60+ games in and the same results.

    I would not miss MacT, maybe his sarcasm but good ridence. We should of signed Julien when he was with the BullDogs. Christ he made Rita look like gold.

    GXL

  4. Black Dog says:

    LT – well if they go with Buchberger that would bring management to the fore.

    I have no problem with what you have said and I think MacT is a good coach and a good man.

    But his decisonmaking this season has been questionable, the team has often looked unprepared, the kids are all running in place or getting worse. The special teams are a joke. And the team is playing scared in OT now – playing for the SO? Come on.

    Saying that the alternative may be worse isn’t a great argument to me, sorry. If they’re dumb enough to go with Buchberger then the rot at the top will be plain to see.

  5. GorillazXL says:

    …This team could be coached by Kelly Buchberger in the fall…
    I would sooner start cheering for the Flames then pretend I like the Oilers for another ten years. We needed Quenville when he was available at the beginning of the season. Instead we stuck it out for another season.

    I like Lowe and the skills he brought in. Even the Penner trade as bad as it seems right now, it was thinking outside of the box. I also like Tambellini, his trade deadline deals that brought the Oilers O’Sullivan and the warm body that wears #21, was an absolute steal (I just can’t believe how crapppy 21 has been playing – points wise – but then again 26 wasn’t any better and look at him now).

    GXL

  6. Coach pb9617 says:

    You forgot to mention that management saddled him with three goalies and left him a forward short, and bringing up a forward in Brule that was never going to get in a groove because he had ten games before he was sent out.

    He may have overstayed his welcome, but he did a lot of good in the development seasons and he had a deep run the one time they gave him the horses. I find no joy in this ending.

    Nor do I, but the coach would have brought about that ending of his own accord. Most of the sphere and most of the commentsphere understand the situations that the coach has had to work through. For most, it’s the decision-making that’s been going on since training camp that means we must have change.

    Player management, situational strategies:
    Playing Cole on the wrong wing for fifteen games
    Not listening to Cole when he said he’s a right winger
    Starting Pisani at the second toughs center
    Failing to try out Brodziak and Pouliot
    Running Cogliano out at the second toughs center
    Refusing to allow Pouliot to take draws for Cogliano most of the year
    Failing to unite the team’s best line for eighteen games
    Breaking up the top line at a whim or when he got pissed at Penner
    Running Reddox on the top line in Hemsky’s place
    Smid’s handling, including running him at LW
    The goalie management situation
    Blaming the season on Penner and Nilsson
    Unexplicably throwing Brodziak under the bus and bag skating him midseason
    Allowing a personal war with Penner affect the team
    The decision to player Penner and Gagner on the penalty kill rather than Pouliot and possibly Cogliano
    Insisting that Ethan Moreau is a top six forward
    Publicly punishing players for just about everything, yet allowing Moreau to lead the league in minor penalties without a word or action

    Tactical decisions
    The change to the four man penalty kill that doesn’t block shots
    The stationary power play with two options
    Getting outmatched on a regular basis with his fourth line
    Seemingly leading the league in GA in the final minute of periods/games

    Lastly, but certainly in my mind the most prevalent, failing to adapt his methods to his roster. Good coaches change their system and style to fit what they have. The beginning of the year brough word of no more “square pegs in a round hole” when it came to personnel, but the personnel to the system is a square peg in a round hole. Given the makeup of this roster, that’s not going to change. He’s got small, sort-of-skilled players, that can’t play dump and chase and grind. If he can’t adjust, he ain’t got to go home, but he got to get the hell up outta here.
    ————————————————————

    Scouting Sweden has a video profile up on Omark though it’s in Swedish.

  7. Baroque says:

    I wonder if it isn’t just a “down year” for the coach. Players can have aberrantly bad years in the midst of an otherwise solid playing career, and if the team sticks with them through that then they benefit from the rebound the next season, instead of shuffling them off and trotting out the “change of scenery” justification, and watching another team benefit from his return to form.

    Yet coaches are tossed aside much more quickly with the argument that if the players have stopped listening, the change is permanent and there is no way they can resume listening the next season if the same coach returns. I think it might be possible for a coach to take the offseason to relax a little bit and come back with a slightly different outlook and a slightly different tone, and the team certainly changes from one year to the next (even if the players are the same, they have another year of experience).

    When Mike Babcock was first hired by the Red Wings, there was some concern among some fans that he would put a rigid defensive system in place and start trapping like crazy. When asked about it, he said essentially that with the talent Detroit had, and the style they already played, he’d be stupid not to take advantage of their ability to score goals which he hadn’t had at his disposal when he coached Anaheim.

    Maybe, even if the coach comes back next year, he won’t make the same odd choices because he needs a vacation after what is simply an off year for him.

    Or I might be on crack. Hard to tell sometimes. :)

  8. Mr DeBakey says:

    This team could be coached by Kelly Buchberger in the fall.

    They wouldn’t
    Would thay?

    Fan Relations would be a large part of why MacT might look for other opportunities
    Buchberger would not help that
    Buchberger would not help that at all
    At All

    Strudwick was a great signing,
    But he’s your 7th defenseman no matter how many are injured.
    They shudda picked up someone at the deadline.

  9. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: The problem is that kids don’t develop along a line, they are never a predictable graph.

    Was MacT wrong to develop Gagner in this way? Will that benefit the Oilers down the line? What about Hemsky? Should he have spent this time using him against the soft parade?

    The 4th line late and last night’s crumbling D in OT are specific things, but coaches do and get away with this stuff all the time (even when it costs a goal).

    The difference is that the fans expectations have (rightly) increased and the roster has sputtered (as all young rosters do).

    This team is the Minnesota Twins about 1985. MacT is Billy Gardner and the Oilers want to find Tom Kelly. But odds say they’ll hire Ray Miller instead.

    Last season at this time, where were the Oilers? Where would they be if Lubo was healthy? Those questions are no longer asked.

  10. Bank Shot says:

    Sure, the Oilers could end up with a worse coach, but they could just fire him as well, and keep trying until they find one that fits the team they are trying to build.

    They don’t have a problem turning over a third or more of the team every season. Why should the coach be given a life long mandate?

    If you look at the standings, I believe that the Oilers may be the only team that employs a coach that has survived since the lockout.

    The difference between the Oilers and the teams that suceed is that the Oilers never overcome the imbalances on their roster.

    Other teams like this season’s Blackhawks excel despite not having a checking line center, or anyone on their team that shaves.
    The goods teams each year solve their imbalances inseason somehow, and the Oilers never do.

  11. Bank Shot says:

    Edit* I meant to write the Oilers may be the only team in a playoff spot with a longserving coach.

  12. Coach pb9617 says:

    This team could be coached by Kelly Buchberger in the fall.

    Could be coached by Dinnen, Blysma, or Capuano too. I mean, it’s Katz and Tambellini that are making the hockey decisions now, right? Gone is EIG and Lowe, yes?

    ————————————————————

    By the way – nice picture. I’m pretty sure that even if I know she’s a serial killer, I’m giving that hitchhiker a ride.

  13. oilerdago says:

    A good “glass is half full” for MacT argument LT. Certainly some of the problems he’s had to deal with stem from some significant roster issues he was handed by Kevin Lowe – who imo deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the way the season has unfolded.

    But he’s made some terrible moves this year – moves that are (imo) the reasons for why he need’s to move on.

    Among the most egregious:

    - Playing Pisani as a center when he has no business doing it.

    - Butchering Penner. Hey, Penner deserves some of the blame here, but I think he’s made it personal and other’s are now suffering for this (Hemsky).

    - One I’ll get criticism for is his handling of Pouliot. Pou should be the 3rd line center now and instead languishes on the 4th line as a wing. He could also be part of the answer of the pk.

    - Misplaying Smid as a wing.

    - Undeserved loyalty shown to Moreau who’s at best a 4th line forward and PK specialist.

    - Wasting Deslauriers (although again, part of this is a problem he was stuck with by Lowe).

    Coaches experiment. But too many of his decisions have backfired and if you keep MacT around you’ll have to trade a lot of parts who’ll be under-water in value this summer.

    Given that, I think they have no choice but to see the coach go (and btw, I’ve said for over 2 months that I think MacT will do the “honorable thing” and resign to save Lowe from having to fire him).

    Tough times in E-town.

  14. GorillazXL says:

    “…the team has often looked unprepared… “

    Actually, I think its almost the opposite… They are over prepared that they no longer are skilled and play such a “bend but don’t break” type of system that the skill they have is replaced by fear of screwing up. I caller on Dan Tencer show explained this the other night about the power play, and you have to agree. There are three plays in the play book: 1. right blueline shot (we have Souray and Vish) 2. Hemsky peels off the wall and passes to Horcoff who misses the one timer (he was alot better last year and the year before, but we’re sticking to this play). 3. Throw it on net and prepare to retrieve the puck.

    Some of the most effective power plays I’ve seen always has penty of movement and there’s often an invisible circle that has the point move in closer after they obtain puck control. This power play has everyone waiting against the wall or at the blue line. Not toomany goals are going to be scored from there.

    GXL

  15. Nelson88 says:

    LT. Only if I can reserve the right to say “I told you so” when the players that get shipped out have far more success under a different coach? :)

    I don’t think MacT is a bad coach but clearly it is long past his time to move on. If they move Bucky into the position I am one of the folks who will stop being an Oiler fan for a few years.

    Does Daum get a chance? He has a win and two overtime losses against 3 of the top teams in the AHL in the last week. One hell of a lot better than the Oiler results.

  16. Dennis says:

    I guess that’s the thing, right? We’re most likely pucked because it’s not like they’d give the reins to a career coach like Daum.

    Every coach is gonna do something that someone doesn’t like and the older I get the more I know that. When I’m watching any team, I either want the MGMT to do most of the things I believe they should and/or I want them to win.

    If coaches are doing what I think is right and they’re losing, I always believe things will come around:) And if they don’t, then I’m fine with changing it up. And if coaches aren’t doing what I think is right but we’re winning, then I’m happy because winning’s the thing.

    The idea of MacT stepping down makes sense because he doesn’t have to break ties with Vish Throttler in the process and to me it speaks to burnout because there are some things I’m seeing from him that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. And even though we all know the problems that befell and continue to befall the club – too young and no secondary tough min pivot – I can’t get behind a fellow who isn’t making every attempt to squeeze everything he’s got from the roster.

    I remember the day the Expos fired Runnels and brought in Alou – I know it was in May and I’d bet money it was on a Friday though that probably doesn’t jive because normally you’d drop a guy on an off-day – and I loved Felipe from day one. I always believed in him and didn’t waiver. I even put up with him batting FP Santangelo third because his OBP was high. But when he started batting Terry Jones lead-off, he started to lose me and when he let David Moraga pitch to Delgado at a time when Grahame Lloyd was healthy, I was done with him.

    Well, I never did like Ron Low but I understood he could get guys to run through walls for him. But there was a game on Wed – Oil always played Wed night at home – when Gilmour was with the Hawks and both Weight and Mats Lindgren were with the Oil. Now, I don’t ever remember Weight being a good draw-man but I believe Lindgren was. So, this was a time when you could keep throwing the puck over the glass and changing guys so less excuses than now. Anyway, Gilmour beats Weight draw after fucking draw and Low keeps trotting him out there and it was that night he lost me. That had to be 98 or 99 because by 99 Lindgren went for Salo but even if it came before we took out the Avs in ’98, I was finished with Lowe after that night.

    So, when I see MacT getting caught with the 4th line out – like what happened in Nsh and then last Tues in Mtl – I don’t remember seeing that stuff before. And when I see him doing the same things on the PK, it further steels my decision.

  17. Gord says:

    All good points LT…but I have less of an issue with where they are in the standings, but rather how we got here.

    29th in shots/game…26th in shots against per game. 18th in goals/game…23rd in goals against per game. 23rd PP, 28th PK. Our top hitter (Moreau) is 91st in the league. But hey! We’ve got the league 20th overall shot blocker!

    It’s a boring brand of hockey right now. We don’t really excel at anything except apparently fluking out victories because I can’t explain how we are still in the hunt with such brutal play.

  18. Traktor says:

    “Craig MacTavish’s self-inflicted wounds will be the story of the year.”

    - Unnamed source back in October

    MacT is and always has been the x-factor. Of course you need an unbiased view to see it but it’s always been right there in the open to see.

    Cole: 8 points in 6 games

    Kotalik + O’Sullivan: 2 points in 10 games.

    So predictable..

  19. Dennis says:

    Avery just scored for the third straight game.

  20. Iztok says:

    This team doesn’t need a goal scorer, they need a shrink.

  21. Yeti says:

    I think everyone is aware of the mitigating circumstances that have hindered this season for the coach. However, fans are equally aware that a different coach may have played their cards differently – and potentially much better – than MacT has. I’m a MacT fan, and I’d be sad to see him go, but only in a nostalgic way, not in a ‘this is going to hurt the team’ way. I imagine he will go on and be successful else where. However, a fresh approach in e-town might bare some fresh results.

    Regardless, we know this isn’t a great team at present. Even with a new coach and some new energy, they are unlikely to win games in a playoff series. The question is, what has to be done so that we are challengers in two years? This is the key question.

  22. Jonathan Willis says:

    A nice argument, Lowetide. Craig MacTavish is, IMO, a good NHL coach but his roster doesn’t seem to be one he’ll have success with.

    If this team does trade MacT for a guy like Buchberger in the summer, it’s going to be a long couple of seasons while he figures out how to run an NHL bench. Plus, I fully expect to see MacTavish have success elsewhere.

    On the other hand, if this team hands the reins over to a veteran coach (Daum’s been mentioned, but guys like Renney and Laviolette are probably better choices), I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see much of MacTavish’s development work pay instant dividends for the new guy.

  23. BenJammin says:

    Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I think there’s too much hockey sense in Tambellini to have Bucky behind the bench. With one of Bucky’s buddies out the door, I think Lowe is the only voice in the room. (Huddy arguing he wants Bucky beside him behind the bench? I don’t think so) Now who’s out there that could do a better job? That question does make me nervous, but there seems to be a problem with the team identity. MacT wears his heart on his sleeve (God love him) and there’s a flavor of player he coaches well. He’s done wonders with many less talented but coachable draft picks (Pisani, Horcoff, Brodziak, Stortini, Stoll, Reasoner) and made them into smart and valuable NHL regulars. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of future coaches coming out of MacT’s disciples at some point in the future (Pisani for one). But for some reason or another all the more recent additions to this team through drafting or trade has been for smaller, less gritty skill guys. I mean even Penner, despite his size, fits this bill. And these are not MacT players. I think we’re seeing this on the ice and I think this is the where the tension in the dressing room comes from. The kids aren’t playing “Oilers hockey”. But we’re not running Smyth, Marchant, Smith and Grier out there every night. The holdovers from that era (our captain, Staios, Roloson) are vocal but Gagner,Nilsson, Cogliano, O’Sullivan, Eberle, and Nash are not going to become those kind of players. In short, there is a disconnect between MacT’s coaching strengths and the direction the team’s moving in terms of player procurement. One or the other has to change and I believe it’s inevitable that it’s the coach.

  24. Lowetide says:

    By the way, Gagner has been on a nice run. In his last 6gp, he’s 4-3-7 +5.

  25. bookie says:

    Is it ok that I really like MacT as a development coach, but think that he is insane with his line juggling?

    All coaches do it, but not like MacT. THere is no other team where players shift positions and/or linemates durring a game as many times as this.

    Maybe MacT never needed chemistry when he played, but other players do.

    I actually think that this team would be 6-8 points better if MacT left lines together a minimum of 3 games in a row before making a change. So blend or juggle, but just do it less frequently.

  26. HBomb says:

    Speaking of the print media needing to get on things, Matheson suggests today that the Oilers should offer Roloson 1 year plus an option at 2.5 million per season because he’s “earned their respect”.

    First off, option contracts aren’t allowed anymore. Second, I’m of the belief the Oilers should not go for more than a one year deal with Roloson, especially considering that they’re stuck with cap hit if he retires after a season of a two-year deal. Third, I’m of the belief that Roloson’s starting to blip and that they should investigate going in a different direction in goal next year (beyond that, I keep hearing that Roloson’s in the MacT/Moreau/Staios camp and is part of the group I’d like to see purged out of the org this summer to force a change in leadership philosophy).

    The other interesting pointer from the article is that the Flyers might be interested in moving Simon Gagne for a cheaper puck-moving defenseman? If such a route is available, the Oilers have to investigate this. I suggested Gagne last summer, and he’s in the Frolov-group in my books. Underrated player, would fit DAMN good with Horcoff and Hemsky on a power-vs-power line.

  27. jon k says:

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    While MacT is not without blame, much of this team’s woes should be on Lowe and Tambellini. The need for a veteran pk and fo man has been apparent since camp broke and they had several months and assets to correct that.

  28. HBomb says:

    Avery with two goals today for the Rangers. Two points on this:

    1) I’m rooting for the guy to succeed – he’s an ass, but a damn good player if he keeps his “personality” in check.

    2) The Oilers could have used that sort of player for less than 2 million a season for the next three years, “issues” be damned.

  29. Jonathan Willis says:

    The other interesting pointer from the article is that the Flyers might be interested in moving Simon Gagne for a cheaper puck-moving defenseman? If such a route is available, the Oilers have to investigate this. I suggested Gagne last summer, and he’s in the Frolov-group in my books. Underrated player, would fit DAMN good with Horcoff and Hemsky on a power-vs-power line.

    From your lips to Steve Tambellini’s ear, HBomb.

    I really like Grebeshkov, but if they can sign him to a decent contract, I’d be willing to move him for Gagne. Ditto Smid.

  30. HBomb says:

    I really like Grebeshkov, but if they can sign him to a decent contract, I’d be willing to move him for Gagne. Ditto Smid.

    Those were the names I was thinking. Then clear off Penner’s salary and chase Bowumeester as a UFA. I think that there would be some additional shuffling required, but they could do both – Gagne’s contract would provide excellent value.

  31. Lowetide says:

    jonk: Exactly my point. Even in the season they went to the SCF there were holes all over hell’s half acre. IN FACT, they dealt Reasoner away and replaced him with the ghost of Rem Murray (partly because MAP got mono).

    Anyway.

  32. Scott says:

    I think that MacTavish is a better coach then he’s getting credit for and that some of the things we’re using as examples are based more on the results of the decision rather than the merit of the decision beforehand. Sure, the man has made some mistakes this year, but I don’t think that’s atypical of most coaches around the league. Anyway, looking at Coach’s points, I’ll offer a rebuttal in MacT’s defense.

    Playing Cole on the wrong wing for fifteen games / Not listening to Cole when he said he’s a right winger / Failing to unite the team’s best line for eighteen games

    Guys are successful playing a new position all of the time. Vigneault separated Burrows and Kesler and threw Kesler onto the wing with Sundin and Demitra and he’s had tremendous success there. I really doubt that Cole was adamant with the coach he didn’t want to play LW with Hemsky. This has always struck me as a bit of red herring. The coach was looking for a reliable tough minutes option which is a perfectly fine idea. He didn’t think Penner provided that last year with the top line and he didn’t have the option of giving them “second toughs” this year with Stoll and Reasoner in different cities. It’s too bad it didn’t work out, but it was certainly worth trying.

    Starting Pisani at the second toughs center / Failing to try out Brodziak and Pouliot / Running Cogliano out at the second toughs center

    The man desperately wanted to run a conventional “checking” line. Pisani has been a reliable presence in the past and it doesn’t seems perfectly reasonable to try this. Disconnect with management? Maybe, but he tried it for long enough that clearly no one asked him to stop doing it. Cogliano is not and was not playing the “second toughs” role. The player playing the second most difficult minutes at center is Brodziak by a mile, albeit in a less conventional manner (rarely taking top opposition which nearly always falls to Horc). MacTavish felt that he shouldn’t rely on Pouliot/Brodziak/Cogs/Gags based on their previous play. Maybe he was wrong, it’s hard to say, but he’s currently settled on Brodziak is in a more limited version of that role.

    Refusing to allow Pouliot to take draws for Cogliano most of the year

    If you’re hoping that Cogliano can be a full-time center in his tenure here it makes perfect sense to let Cogs take his own draws.

    Breaking up the top line at a whim or when he got pissed at Penner

    Or maybe he’s breaking up the top line when he sees Penner playing poorly or when he sees Penner not hard on the puck. Even if the numbers bear out that Penner is the best option, MacT needs him to be better than he is in order to feel like he’ll have a chance to win.

    Running Reddox on the top line in Hemsky’s place

    Admittedly strange, but I’m not sure who else I would have run out there. No Pisani at this time, correct? It would seem to me Cole would have been the best option but MacT wanted to keep him doing what he was doing (babysitting Gagner?).

    Smid’s handling, including running him at LW

    Smid hasn’t had a great season. Sure he’s probably fine in a 5-6D role but I don’t think he’s ready for top 4. The LW thing was more about sending a message to the other forwards than to Smid I’d think, though it’s possible that MacT thought Smid was overthinking the game and he gave him a couple of games at forward to loosen up and see the game in a new way. Given that it was only two games it’s hard to get too angry.

    The goalie management situation

    Has worked out fine in spite of being dealt a pretty bad hand.

    (…)

  33. Woodguy says:

    I really like Grebeshkov, but if they can sign him to a decent contract, I’d be willing to move him for Gagne. Ditto Smid.

    I’ve been a big Gagne fan for a few years now and think he would be a great fit with 10-83 PvP line. He plays the same spot in Philly and does well.

    You have to move Penner to free up the $$$ though (Gagne = 5.25M for 2 more years) though, and the optics are going to be horrible based on what you paid to get him.

    I really hope Lowe has the ability to be humble and take the loss on Penner if someone like Frolov or Gagne is available for the ever elusive Puck Moving Defenseman. (PMD)

    Along with not recognizing what the loss of Reasoner/Stoll was going to do to the PK, my biggest beef with Oiler management was the Pitkanen trade.

    An PMD who was 23 years old and an RFA is an extremely valuable asset. To get only 1 year of a power forward, for that asset was terrible.

    It turns out it was Pitkanen for two years O’Sullivan, which is miles ahead of 1 year of Cole.

    I like Cole a lot as a player, but one year of Cole is no where near enough for Pitkaken’s RFA rights.

    Not even close.

    I hope they don’t screw up that much when they go to move Grebs or Gilbert.

  34. Master Lok says:

    I’m with you LT, I still think MacT is a good man and a good coach. There would be less experimentation with the lines (i.e. Pisani at centre), if MacT has less experiments in his lineup (i.e. Reasoner). How does that NOT make sense?

    How different would this season look if MacT had Hedja instead of Strudwick, and Reasoner instead of Pouliot?

  35. hunter1909 says:

    MacTavish was awesome as coach during the 2006 playoffs. Unfortunately, that year’s effort doesn’t give him a magic baton ala Tinkerbell that magically transcends the reality more or less outlined by Coach pb9617.

    What MacTavish appears to have done is through some form of season long tantrum against the team, players, and ultimately the fans.

  36. Master Lok says:

    Compare Calgary’s lineup with Edmonton. Look at their lineup – Calgary has an identity, a hard working defensive lineup.

    Top star – Iginla vs Hemsky.
    Goalie – Kiprusoff vs. Roloson.
    Top D – Regehr and Phaneuf vs. Vishnovsky and Souray.
    Top LW – Camalleri vs Penner.
    Top C – Langkow and Jokinen vs Horcoff and Gagner.

    in every comparison, Calgary’s is better. Is Keenan THAT much better coach than Mact? I don’t think so, but he clearly has a better lineup to work with.

  37. Risto-8 says:

    LT: First time caller here. I just wanted to applaud you for the balanced perspective. I was at Saturday’s game and for the first time this season was calling for MacT’s head. The play on the ice by the Oil was just so … passive.
    But I think there are a few criticisms of MacT’s season that are hyperbolic, at best.
    I think many a coach would have tried Cole on left wing at the start of the year to establish a true and powerful first line.
    I thought the Brodziak “bag skate” story turned out to be a myth.
    Publicly humiliating the captain with a HS or tongue-lashing in the media would clearly undermine leadership, such as it is. We don’t know what MacT says to 18 behind closed doors.
    What am I saying? Hell, if I know. I just appreciate Lowetide’s efforts to challenge the back-and-forth, reinforced rhetoric that can unconsciously end up as groupthink.

  38. Bruce says:

    Calgary has an identity, a hard working defensive lineup.

    Uh, Calgary is tied with Colorado for last in the West with 214 GA.

  39. Coach pb9617 says:

    I really doubt that Cole was adamant with the coach he didn’t want to play LW with Hemsky.

    No, but he did say that he was a right wing, and he said it a number of times.

    He didn’t think Penner provided that last year with the top line

    …in itself a problem. His biases are clouding his judgement.

    The man desperately wanted to run a conventional “checking” line. Pisani has been a reliable presence in the past and it doesn’t seems perfectly reasonable to try this.

    It’s reasonable to try a RW that hasn’t played C in at least eight years at a tough minutes C? It’s not reasonable at all.

    Admittedly strange, but I’m not sure who else I would have run out there. No Pisani at this time, correct? It would seem to me Cole would have been the best option but MacT wanted to keep him doing what he was doing (babysitting Gagner?).

    Nilsson and Pouliot in extreme cases, Cogliano. These are all clearly better options than Reddox. It seems you’re being purposefully obtuse on some points just to try and counter.

    If you’re hoping that Cogliano can be a full-time center in his tenure here it makes perfect sense to let Cogs take his own draws.

    Not if you want to make the playoffs. If they want to value development over the playoffs, fine, then the organization needs to state that and not leave the team in the middle of a weird position. Besides that, they’ve now got Pouliot taking faceoffs for Gagner, who has been better than Cogliano all year.

    There comes a time, if this is a true stretch run to the playoffs and not a giant chain yanking by the organization, that you need to cut bait with Cogliano in the circle.

    In the last ten games, he’s 32W 83L for 28%. In the last four games, he’s 23% – 7W 30L.

  40. Garnet says:

    LT, I’m not sure how you’d be able to say “I told you so” if MacT has success elsewhere after missing the postseason here. Your banner declares where you thought this club would finish, and we haven’t been especially hard hit injury-wise. I have no strong feelings about the coach, but if the Oilers significantly fall short of your expectations, whom should you blame? Noting that he did well when they gave him the horses comes close to implying that he’s only average.

  41. Lord Bob says:

    Master Lok, your comment made me laugh so hard milk shot out of my nose and I’m not even drinking milk.

  42. Art Vandelay says:

    Is Keenan THAT much better a coach than Mact?

    One’s Phil Mickelson. Almost always near the top.

    The other’s Mike Weir. Or Rocco Mediate. Or somebody more or less likable who bones one off. Once.

  43. pboy says:

    I'm sure most of the people here are not just hockey fans but sports fans in general. Coaches whose teams do not make the playoffs year after year are usually relieved of their jobs regardless of how balanced a roster they were given to work with. The L.A. Clipper, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Royals, the Atlanta Thrashers are just some examples of spectacularily shitty franchises. Show me a year when the coaches of these teams have been given a "fair chance" to succeed in the last decade or so? Coaches in professional sports are hired to be fired and that's something they all know going into those jobs. Even coaches who do win regularily or even coaches who have recently won championships are fired. Hall of Fame coaches who will be identified with their teams in perpituity have been fired. A coaching job is not a god given right that can't be taken away. Professional sports are a results orientated business and if you aren't winning, you are probably on your way out the door, regardless of what you have been given to work with.

    As Dennis as said, looking at the Oiler's special teams play is enough for the head coach to lose his job at the end of the season. Disregard all of the other stuff that has happened this year, the teams performance on the PK & the PP is enough to make a change. The 27 teams in front of the Oilers all have rosters that much better suited to kill penalties? Really??

  44. Bank Shot says:

    Quite Honestly its not like the Oilers would be giving up on Lemaire, or one of the Sutters.

    Mactavish may be a good coach, but so are 25 other coaches in the NHL. He clearly isn’t a great coach so I don’t think its that difficult to find someone who could out perform Mactavish given the roster.

  45. CrazyCoach says:

    Calgary has an identity a hard working….

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what exactly quantifies as hard work?

    My washing machine works hard, but it isn’t going to make an NHL team soon.

  46. Scott says:

    He didn’t think Penner provided that last year with the top line…

    …in itself a problem. His biases are clouding his judgement.

    I’m not at all convinced that 27/10/83 were hard matching against the toughs last year. This year this was basically their only option and MacT thought that Cole had a better chance than Penner. That’s a reasonable bet. It didn’t end up being right but it was reasonable.

    Nilsson and Pouliot in extreme cases, Cogliano. These are all clearly better options than Reddox. It seems you’re being purposefully obtuse on some points just to try and counter.

    I’m not trying to be obtuse but I admit that I don’t remember where things were at with a lot of players when this decision was made. Was Nilsson struggling/injured? Had Reddox shown well to this point? Was there reason to split up Cogs’ line? If you’re more worried about the defense provided by 1LW than the offence, I can see how you would go with Reddox if he’d shown well to that point. Again, it worked out badly, but MacT didn’t stick with it for long either.

    There comes a time, if this is a true stretch run to the playoffs and not a giant chain yanking by the organization, that you need to cut bait with Cogliano in the circle.

    I think this is a long term trait for MacT. In spring 2006 he had Hemsky going PvP when he wasn’t ready for practically the entire regular season. We switched it up in the playoffs, but he’s always been a coach willing to sacrifice standings points for development. Even in the playoffs we had Matt Greene out there consistently instead of Dick Tarnstrom. I find it difficult to believe that wasn’t a decision based as much on development as performance.

    My basic premise in all of this is that Craig MacTavish is actually trying his best to get the team to perform well over the long term while at the same time having some success in the short term. That’s what he’s always done and looking at each individual move in this way helps many of them to make sense. You may disagree with that overall philosophy or with a particular decision but the narrative that he’s off his rocker making bad call after bad call is, I think, a difference in philosophy between the fan (results NOW dammit!) and the coach (hopefully results now, make sure you’re getting better for the future).

  47. mc79hockey says:

    One’s Phil Mickelson. Almost always near the top.

    Yeah, except for 1997-98, 1998-99, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04.

  48. Lord Bob says:

    My washing machine works hard, but it isn’t going to make an NHL team soon.

    If Steve Macintyre can get an NHL job, your washing machine should at least show up at training camp next year.

  49. Rod says:

    First off, I think MacTavish is a good coach. Like LT, I think he’ll go somewhere else and have success. Like LT, I think management has a shared responsibility in the on-ice product and has frequently/consistently dealt MacTavish an unbalanced lineup. All of that said, it’s time for a change behind the bench. I didn’t hold that opinion prior to this season, but he’s lost me this year. Way too many low percentage experiments combined with bizarre decisions. Coach pb9617 outlined most of them. It’s been a strange season to say the least, and MacTavish has hardly been a steady hand on the wheel.

    Of course, I’m presuming they’re smart enough to hire an experienced coach to help the team reach the next level, so NOT Bucky. A few good ones have already been mentioned in this thread. I don’t know enough about them to comment other than to say Daum would be excellent. Will Dallas dump Tippet if they miss the dance? How about Quinn? Just saying there’s a number of good choices out there, none of them named Bucky.

  50. Rod says:

    Scott said:
    Guys are successful playing a new position all of the time.

    Really? I’d guess it fails more often than it works. One area that stands a better chance than flipping a winger is a C sliding to one side (like the Canucks did in your Kesler example). Happens a lot for national teams at tournaments and such, but even with elite players it doesn’t work all the time. Flipping a winger to the other side strikes me as much more difficult. Moving a winger to C has to be even more difficult. Numerous cases this year alone with the Oilers trying to slot forwards into different positions, and they’ve largely failed.

    Anyway, just taking issue with the success happening “all the time”. Failures happen all the time too…and trying a multitude of them all at once isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

  51. Rod says:

    Master Lok said…
    There would be less experimentation with the lines (i.e. Pisani at centre), if MacT has less experiments in his lineup (i.e. Reasoner). How does that NOT make sense?

    Fair point, but IMO, it doesn’t account for the level of experimentation MacTavish tried this year. Why not try 51 (with 34 to his right) rather than the mess they went with (remember, 27 was also there, out of position).

    18-51-34
    or
    27-51-34
    makes a lot more sense than
    18-34-27

    How different would this season look if MacT had Hedja instead of Strudwick, and Reasoner instead of Pouliot?

    Ummm, MacTavish is the coach that didn’t play Hejda for half a season before realizing he had a good player. Just saying MacTavish had a hand in losing Hejda.

  52. bookie says:

    I think many of us who are not prone to extremes (LT included) are finding ourselves flip-flopping a lot this season. We don’t know if we should support or deport MacT.

    I think it is because we really don’t know if he is acting crazy because of actual factors in the room (including who is sitting in there) or if the craziness is MacT.

  53. Coach pb9617 says:

    Guys are successful playing a new position all of the time. Vigneault separated Burrows and Kesler and threw Kesler onto the wing with Sundin and Demitra and he’s had tremendous success there.

    Since we’re using anecdotes, I counter your anecdote with three of my own:

    Erik Cole could not switch wings.

    Fernando Pisani could not switch to center.

    Last year the Pens tried to switch Ryan Malone to center from win and it did not go well.

  54. Scott says:

    Anyway, just taking issue with the success happening “all the time”. Failures happen all the time too

    Yeah, I agree with this. It was poor word choice on my part. Still, it isn’t like Kesler is the only guy. Staios converted from wing to D early on in his career. Zetterberg and Datsyuk both play center and wing when they’re playing together, though I think Datsyuk is usually the center. Asking a guy to try a new position to see if it works isn’t novel to MacT is all and it does work sometimes. I just don’t see it as a huge mistake that he was trying to get an elite line going for the first ten or fifteen games. It didn’t work so he cut bait and tried other things. That seems pretty reasonable.

  55. Dennis says:

    HB: the Journal’s site is killing my browser. So, could you or someone else copy and past Matheson’s Hockey World from today?

    I assume that’s where the Gagne info came from, right?

    BTW, more help on the OOTSB today from the Blues.

    It seems the Oilers are getting way more help than in previous years.

  56. quain says:

    I just don’t see it as a huge mistake that he was trying to get an elite line going for the first ten or fifteen games.

    Let’s also make sure we’re being accurate before we kill MacT for this. It was seven games. More like six and a half, because one of those was the Vancouver game where he forgot to tie down his jersey. We went 4-3 in those games.

    Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking this was a half-season long affliction, or something that caused us to tank.

  57. Bruce says:

    BTW, more help on the OOTSB today from the Blues.

    Such “help” is a double-edged sword as long as the Blues remain a threat, which they most definitely are.

    The biggest help was that they won it in regulation, a rarity this week. St.Louis now tied with Minny, 2 points back of the Oilers. We got a game in hand on each.

  58. HBomb says:

    Dennis:

    Ok, Hockey world stuff in point form:

    - Souray defended Penner, saying that he’s still young, but he’s a good teammate with tremendous upside.

    - Theo Fleury is a ringer for some senior hockey outfit in Steinback, MB, this year’s host of the Allan Cup.

    - Speculates about Pronger being traded.

    - Says that Hitchcock would be THE candidate for the Montreal head coaching job if he could only speak French.

    - Lauds the performance of the NHL’s youngest player this year, one Zach Bogosian.

    - Uses the fact that no one is calling for Ruff’s head in Buffalo as ammo against MacT critics. Good to see your nose is still buried in Lowe’s ass, Matheson….

    - Briere will be shopped by Philly this summer, but so might Gagne.

    - Suggests (stupidly) a two year “option in the second year” deal for Roloson at 2.5 million per, which is not allowed under the CBA. Terrible journalism there.

    - The Sedins are apparently seeking 6.5 million per season each. If Vancouver doesn’t give it to them, Toronto apparently will.

    - Scott Hartnell hasn’t cut his hair in 18 months and apparently can barely get his helmet on.

    - John Stevens is the second most senior coach in the east behind Ruff, with a grand total of 2.5 seasons under his belt.

    In other words, not much interesting.

  59. Rod says:

    @Bruce:
    It’s even tighter than that. According to nhl.com, Minny and St.Loo are only 1 point back. As you mentioned, good thing it wasn’t yet another three pointer.

    So, are those upcoming head-to-head games important?

  60. Lowetide says:

    I think it’s silly for Montreal to think about an English coach. Guys like Scotty Bowman, Toe Blake and Dick Irvin didn’t help them much.

  61. Bruce says:

    Rod: Right you are, my mistake.

    We’ll get a close-up and personal look at St. Loo on Tuesday. I’m surprised by how many around here seem to be writing them off. They’ve been coming on gangbusters for weeks.

    Maybe it’s a Big enough game the Oilers will show up for 60 minutes on Tues. 65 if need be.

  62. Lowetide says:

    Writing St. Louis off? Who is doing that? In fact that entire Central division is a freaking nightmare this season.

  63. Bruce says:

    This one does count as help on the OOTSB:

    San Jose 1, Anaheim 0.

    In regulation.

    Goal scored by (get this) Travis Moen.

    :D

  64. Bruce says:

    Writing St. Louis off? Who is doing that?

    Anybody who sees a STL win on the OOTSB as “help”, for one. There’s also an ongoing discussion over at BDHS suggesting there’s no way they (or Nashville) keep it up. They might not make it, but they remind me of last year’s Oilers. Young guys emerging in the shadow of major injuries. Not an ounce of quit.

    Looking forward to seeing them on Tuesday.

  65. CrazyCoach says:

    Lord Bob,

    Hmmm, good point. I wonder if I could act as my washing machine’s agent and collect a nice fat check?

  66. Dennis says:

    Thanks, HB.

    That Flyers stuff must have been in the More Hockey World bin.

    BTW, I know the Flyers need to cut salary and I know they need D but wouldn’t they buy out Briere before moving away Gagne? I’m not sure what Snider’s finances are like but I’d think that would be the way to go before moving out Gagner.

    The whole thing with moving an affordable D, I’m not sure sure that 37 won’t wind up being better than 77. If fiscal responsbility finally comes to the NHL this summer, maybe 37 doesn’t get offered the moon and we can get him for a little less.

    Bruce: I say tonight’s result from Stl is good news because heading into tonight, Minny had 72 points and Stl had 70. So, I’d just rather Stl move into the cluster than Minny get closer to us.

    That seemed plain enough to me.

    In terms of what we’ll see in the game on Tues, old-timery would dictate we hope the Blues come out and battle and bring us into it from the opening draw. But, that won’t make a fucking difference as long as the ST continues to suck.

    The Oilers have been doing well enough at EV for awhile now.

  67. Bruce says:

    Dennis: Yeah, of course. Many of these match-ups the best we can hope for is a 60-minute game. At least we got that today.

  68. Icecastles says:

    HBomb: Regarding regret over not picking up Avery. One of the core issues on the team this year is morale and cohesiveness. One of the issues on the team on a broader level and especially over the sumer is the increasingly clear fact that Edmonton is not seen as a desirable place to play hockey. Part of that is because of the city/climate/travel schedule, part of it is the parade of unhappy players who have left here in recent years.

    Aquiring the most disliked player in the NHL is a pretty good way to make both of those issues worse. Any time you are hiring staff (and I’m speaking from experience here) one of the toughest x-factors to get a handle on is how the rest of the team is going to respond and how the new unit will function as a whole.

    Looking at numbers is important, but it is more important to remember that player stats are a function of intangibles like team cohesion and morale. You can’t pick up a player who increases the toxicity in an already fragile room and who gives free agents yet another reason to stay away or ask for insane premiums to come here.

  69. Master Lok says:

    Ummm, MacTavish is the coach that didn’t play Hejda for half a season before realizing he had a good player. Just saying MacTavish had a hand in losing Hejda.

    And perhaps MacT is also the guy who introduced Hejda into the world of NHL defensive systems, and English language. I didn’t notice there was a huge amount of fans who demanded that Hejda play at the start of the season. In fact, when the Oilers announced the Hedja was picked up for a late round pick and Prendergast announced that he could be a serviceable top 4 defensemen, a lot of bloggers and posters outright laughed and made derisive comments.

  70. Master Lok says:

    Lord Bob said…
    Master Lok, your comment made me laugh so hard milk shot out of my nose and I’m not even drinking milk.

    My duty to entertain!

  71. Dennis says:

    New lines with 19 getting a shot with 10-83 and 85 is in and 78 is out.

  72. quain says:

    MacT ruined the 12-89-78 troika that was looking great and I hate him for it.

    18 is back on the fourth line, so it is possible that MacT can be reasoned with, at least for a short practice.

  73. Schitzo says:

    so it is possible that MacT can be reasoned with, at least for a short practice.

    Unless you’re MAP, apparently

  74. Bruce says:

    Unless you’re MAP, apparently

    Or Zack Stortini. I can’t for the life of me figure out what Zack did to draw the short straw, let alone not to be the first to draw back in. In addition to being a guy who will stand up for his teammates in a manner that Liam Reddox, Marc Pouliot or Ales Kotalik will not, Zack’s been bringing the offence to the point where he ranks Third on the Oilers in EVP/60.

    Here’s the current numbers for forwards, 40+ GP:

    2.20 Hemsky
    1.85 O’Sullivan
    1.79 Stortini
    1.75 Cogliano
    1.73 Pouliot
    1.67 Penner
    1.60 Horcoff
    1.58 Moreau
    1.54 Gagner
    1.49 Brodziak
    1.27 Reddox
    1.08 Nilsson
    1.07 Kotalik

    Not bad for a guy who was at all zeroes at first report card, eh LT? :)

    Any dwindling confidence I had in MacT is melting rapidly in the harsh light of personnel decisions such as the pressboxing of Zorg and the break-up of the “New Kid Line” of 12-89-78, a unit that was really clicking.

    Meanwhile, holding up the bottom of the chart is our latest acquisition, who in five games has contributed 0-0-0 to a team which has won just one of those games. But his name is on the line-up card in pen, or so it seems.

  75. Doogie2K says:

    Says that Hitchcock would be THE candidate for the Montreal head coaching job if he could only speak French.

    Isn’t he kind of busy at the moment coaching a team that’s playing a shitton better than the Habs?

    I also think the French supremacists in Quebec can kiss my ass, but that’s another story.

  76. dawgbone says:

    Dennis… I don’t know how Philly can buy out Briere. That’s a hell of a cap hit to take for that long.

  77. Dennis says:

    It will be fun to see how much rope 21 gets. MacT went right out his way to call him a one-shot scorer and then he gave him 83 to play with so you know it’s gonna look bad if the guy ever winds up on the 4th line or in the pressbox.

    So, in the interm, he has to keep him in and that means some deserving guys will instead take the collar.

    The whole thing with 78 is just disappointing more than anything. I’d stick up for 12 if the same thing happened to him but 78′s got such an affordable contract that it’s essential guys paid like that work out for us in 2010.

    Anyway, helluva year for him. Starts out that he’s not good enough as an offensive player so he’s down on the third line; he’s also not a centre. So, he finally gets his chance on the offensive lines and he produces but it’s not enough and now he’s in the pressbox. He goes from Carbonneau comparisons to being tried at an offensive role and actually doing OK and showing some chem with 89.

    And now he’s in the pressbox.

    Anyway, MacT’s just scrambliong now. He painted his own self into a hole with the Kotalik comments and 18′s always to be considered.

    Meanwhile, there’s no new ideas or relief for the PK.

  78. Dennis says:

    BD: what’s the language again? You spread out the years remaining over an elongated period, right? And at what cap cost?

  79. jon k says:

    For buyout information, this is a fairly good source:

    http://www.nhlscap.com/cap_faq.htm#buyouts

    Roughly, for players 26 or old it’s 2/3 of the remaining total salary, spread over twice the remaining contract years.

    For players like Briere with varying remuneration per year, the cap hit will actually vary from year to year and may sometimes result in a team credit.

    For players like Penner with a consistent salary the cap hit following the buyout will remain the same.

  80. oilerdiehard says:

    Master Lok said…

    Compare Calgary’s lineup with Edmonton. Look at their lineup – Calgary has an identity, a hard working defensive lineup.

    Top star – Iginla vs Hemsky.
    Goalie – Kiprusoff vs. Roloson.
    Top D – Regehr and Phaneuf vs. Vishnovsky and Souray.
    Top LW – Camalleri vs Penner.
    Top C – Langkow and Jokinen vs Horcoff and Gagner.

    in every comparison, Calgary’s is better. Is Keenan THAT much better coach than Mact? I don’t think so, but he clearly has a better lineup to work with.

    One thing I do not get is if Calgary’s line up is so much more defensively superior and with identity. Why have they given up roughly the same amount of goals against as the Oilers?

  81. Alice says:

    How about shots against instead of goals against? Don’t know if CGY skaters are better defensively than ours, but might help to [try] to get the keeper out of the equation. Seems to be some agreement that El Kipper has been a bit off this year.

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