Hard Nose the Highway

The Edmonton Oilers looked much better than I thought they would in their 2009-10 debut. Among the things that impressed me were Gilbert Brule, was skated well and looked like he knew what we was doing; Sam Gagner, who got in a fight and scored a big goal in the third period; Dustin Penner, who played hard all night although he didn’t seem to be in the game as much in the back half of the 60 minutes; Shawn Horcoff, who was dynamite in the faceoff circle and Patrick O’Sullivan who got his shots but was unable to score on them.

I know the goaltending will be front and center today, but for me Nikolai Khabibulin was not (and is not) the problem. The backup goaltending is another conversation altogether and one of the major stories this year (did anyone check Devan Dubnyk’s SP from last night?) as time rolls along.

The night was about positioning and the penalty kill, and we knew this was going to be an issue. It’s becoming quite clear that the Oilers have too many fancy Dan’s on the blue for coach Pat Quinn and someone is heading out of town. It could be soon. Why do I say this? Check out the EV time-on-ice totals for the blue last night:

  1. Souray 18:26
  2. Grebeshkov 18:26
  3. Gilbert 18:00
  4. Staios 17:31
  5. Visnovsky 12:32
  6. Smid 11:11

You know what’s crazier than playing Staios 5 more minutes at EVs than Lubomir Visnovsky? Paying Lubomir Visnovsky 5.6M beans to play 5 less minutes than Steve Staios. If this trend continues, Lubo is gone, baby gone.

While we’re at it, let’s run the EV time-on ice numbers for the C’s and W’s.

  1. Brule 14:42
  2. Horcoff 13:48
  3. Comrie 10:08
  4. Gagner 9:25

Gagner passed Comrie in the third period (Comrie sat a lot in the final 12 minutes) on merit and I felt Brule looked much better last night than I’d seen him play in the past. Their faceoff totals were Comrie (9/12 75%), Horcoff (14/21 67%), Brule (4/11 36%), Gagner (2/10 20%). It should be mentioned Brule was 3/5 in his own zone, Cogliano was 2/2 in his own zone, Horcoff was 2/4 and Gagner 0/2 in the same category.

  1. Jacques 13:10
  2. Stone 12:48
  3. Penner 12:03
  4. Moreau 10:17

Based on last night I think we can predict Penner will soon be on the 1line and Jacques will slide down the depth chart. JFJ certainly brings a physical element but didn’t get a lot done (to my eye) in the danger zones. Penner was far more dangerous, especially early in the game. Stone is about what we thought he’d be–a player when he can get to the parts of the ice where the game is happening–but whether that is going to happen is an open question.

  1. Cogliano 14:22
  2. Hemsky 13:14
  3. O’Sullivan 11:22
  4. Stortini 9:16

Not a lot to say, except that Hemsky didn’t seem to deserve more playing time but I think Quinn (as was the case with MacT) will eventually decide that Hemsky is a guy you’d rather send over the boards than Ryan Stone and Andrew Cogliano. O’Sullivan played a good game, ripping 6 shots on net. He does that every night good things will come.

They were more physical, skilled and determined than I thought they’d be, they were not a good PK team and the PP didn’t cash. There were some very good things about last night, and I’d suggest Gagner’s response to some pressure and Gilbert Brule’s effective play are two things we can be happy about today.

On the other hand, they lost the game and Khabibulin has to be better. Plus, they’re going to trade a puck moving defenseman.

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115 Responses to "Hard Nose the Highway"

  1. flamingpavelbure says:

    roooobbbbeerrrtt Nillssoonnn, roooobbbeerrtt nilssoonnn!.

    Is the only change i would bring to this team.

    Hemsky-Horcoff-Penner
    O'sullivan-Comrie-Nilsson
    Gagner-Brulé-Jacques
    Moreau-Someone-Stortini

    Btw, could we kick Staios and Moreau out? Again bad penalties and looking sluggish as possible.

    Nilsson on the PP should help it out.

  2. DBO says:

    Only saw the last 2 periods, but i agree on most of what you said. As for Vish. i think he is still hurt. only reason i can see to limit his ice time and protect him in his own zone. Brule is playing like he wants to stay, and this could be the end of Pouliot, pubic bone aside. Gagner did what you want every young player who is challenged to do, he stepped up and made his presence known. Something Shremp, Nilsson and others have failed to do for years. that fight probably did more in quinn's eyes then anything he did all pre season.

    So if we do move a Vishnovsky, what do we need. We've mentioned atwo way tough minutes center, but is there one out there? Or do you still shoot for a top LW, and allow Penner to play softer minutes and kill his competition?

  3. Lowetide says:

    I'd push Penner to the 1line and get a quality two-way center. LOTS of things just fall away for this team in terms of problems if they can settle down the middle and help the PK.

    I don't have a name in mind, but if you're shopping Visnovsky a good one should be available. A secondary need imo will be a veteran RW to replace Stone if Pisani is really done.

    As for Nilsson, if they do bring him in I hope they put Gagner on that line. If there's anything last night taught us it's that 89 is better with more skilled linemates than the ham-hands group.

  4. Darren says:

    The thing is… you have been saying a trade is coming for how long? I'll beleive it if it ever happens.

  5. 99thoilerfan says:

    LT,

    I agree with your comments.
    I also agree that one of our "D",
    will be moved ( for lots of reasons).

    The boys did not look too bad at all.
    I guess Quinn would say that after the game, the boys do not have to worry about a 82-0 season.

  6. PunjabiOil says:

    It's just one game – far too early to read into whether a guy coming off shoulder surgery will be traded based on TOI in game 1.

  7. Lowetide says:

    PJ Oil: Well in fairness, I did say "if this continues."

    Darrin: I've been saying it because it's so bloody obvious. Anyone who has seen the Oilers for any length of time can tell you we suck at own-zone faceoffs and it routinely puts us in a massive hole on the PK. I'd be interested in knowing how many PP goals EDM has given up within 10 seconds of an own-zone faceoff over the last two full seasons.

    It's like Groundhog day, and sooner or later Pat Quinn is going to find the guy who doesn't think own zone faceoffs are important (I'd suggest looking in Kevin Lowe's office) and kick him until he agrees it's important.

  8. Rob Gilgan says:

    They looked capable, and for the most part motivated. Take away the last giveaway, they likely would have won this game. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

  9. Dennis says:

    I didn't see much of the game – I have it on tape and I'm about to watch it – but I must say I was shocked to see the Oilers PK have a poor night.

    That was a strenght heading into this season so it's not like it was an area that the club needed to address.

  10. Darren says:

    It's not that I don't agree that they need one. Like you said, its obvious. But it has been obvious about a year now. Nothing has been done, and it isn't like players were not available. I would love a change to fix the holes. I'm just not holding my breath. Call it lack of faith in the management group.

  11. godot10 says:

    I think Penner is happier NOT playing with Hemsky. Penner's counting numbers will suffer playing with Hemsky (since Hemsky isn't a cycle player). And that is what brings on the criticism of Penner. Put the both on the #1 power play though.

    I want the Jacques experiment to be tried for awhile, because I like seeing the top defensemen on the other team softened up. Let Comrie and Jacques share the job on left wing with Horcoff and Hemsky, since Gagner looks like he is going to steal Comrie's minutes at centre on the second line pretty soon.

    Jacques/Comrie Horcoff Hemsky
    Penner Gagner O'Sullivan
    Moreau Brule Cogliano
    Stone Comrie Stortini

  12. Lowetide says:

    Darren: I'm counting on Pat Quinn reading the numbers on his birth certificate and deciding to force the issue. Either that, or he's going to spend the winter ripping the GM in a subtle way and then spend the spring stumping for the GM job.

    That's not impossible btw.

  13. Black Dog says:

    Also going to watch the game on PVR, I went out with the plan to come home and check it out after a couple of pints, ended up with a few more than a couple and instead staggered off to bed.

    Sounds like a quality start to the season despite the L and if Penner can keep it up and if Brule can keep it up then there are two sore spots resolved.

    Hard to believe that the PK was an issue, who would have seen that coming?

  14. Black Dog says:

    LT – I've been saying that about Quinn for a while, posted about it recently in fact.

    He has been up front about what this team is lacking. If this club fails again he will tell Katz 'hey look back to what I was saying in September'.

    And if it comes down to a choice between Quinn and Tambellini I think Katz chooses Quinn.

  15. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Haven't been a fan of Visnovski in his own zone without the puck all through preseason and tonight was no better.

    That 1st goal was all Visnovski.

    I love him with the puck, but he has to bring more in his own zone. No physicality, standing around watching, poor stick position.

    His shoulder must be hurting.

  16. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: At this point I'd be happy with a new GM. I thought Tambellini was a smart guy, but he's not. Clearly.

  17. Jon says:

    I have been a silent defender of Moreau for some time but it was pretty clear to me that he is redundant on this roster.

    Jaques/Stone/Stortini makes Moreau expendable.

    Penner Horc Hemmer
    O's Comrie Pisani (when healthy) Nillson when not
    Cogs Gagner Stone
    Jaques Brule Stortini

  18. Ribs says:

    Agreed with this entire entry, LT.

    The Lubo thing is nutty but I think it showed a glimpse of us being okay without him. I don't think you can say the same about Souray if he was riding pine instead.

  19. Traktor says:

    I think JFJ showed some things last night that will impress the coach more than if he had potted a couple goals. He's certainly not a liability out there.

    Horcoff might have won some draws but he lost the majority of 50/50 battles last night and didn't look like much of a threat in the offensive zone.

    Moreau should have been benched for the rest of the night after that dickhead penalty he took after Gagner sparked the team by dropping the mitts. He couldn't even stop during the opening

    Brule huh? And to think the masses wanted to exile him to make room for Blair Betts (shakes head).

  20. Woodguy says:

    3 words.

    R J Umburger

  21. SK Oiler Fan says:

    On the bright side:
    Eberle starts the season 4G, 4A in 3 games.
    Cornet starts the season 7G, 7A in 13 games.

  22. spOILer says:

    Traktor, Betts is no prize. Horc, btw had two glorious chances in the offensive zone, and battled Iginla's line to a standstill, so dunno whatcher talkin about there.

  23. Dennis says:

    The problem with hoping that that the PK will improve is you can look up and down the roster and there doesn't seem to be much of a chance of it happening with the personnel in-house.

  24. spOILer says:

    JFJ looked like he had his stone hands on last night. Might have been a bit tight starting on the first line matched against Iggy and Co.

  25. Lowetide says:

    The frustrating thing is that the Oilers had the template (05-06 Oilers) and appear to have forgotten. Peca was no hell offensively, in fact I think it was Vic who said he planned bathroom and beer runs around Peca's shifts because nothing ever happened in either direction.

    But he was effective. And I know he's said that the eastern conference is where he wants to be, but what about someone else?

    I mean, let's be honest here. This team is carrying Jason Strudwick, so no one can reasonably argue all roster spots are vital.

    A nice RH C-penalty killer who can win the draw. Other teams have them, why can't we?

  26. mjsh says:

    I too like JFJ with Horcoff and Hemsky. I do think Penner should have been put in that spot on the power play. Penner does have hands.

  27. mrzael says:

    JFJ did just fine. He created space, threw his weight around, handled defense responibilities ok, went to the net and had lots of try. I like the way he works with hemsky and Horcoff.

  28. Doogie2K says:

    At this point I'd be happy with a new GM. I thought Tambellini was a smart guy, but he's not. Clearly.

    I dunno that that's fair based on maybe a year's worth of mixed-quality moves. Certainly, if nothing happens for the rest of calendar 2009, despite the coach's public reviews of the team and the results on the ice, I think we can safely write off Tambellini for failing to get the job done, but these things don't happen instantly.

  29. mjsh says:

    The rest of my thought is that this team played with some heart, something we did not see last year. Quinn has made a difference in the room. I still think Nillson is a goner if they can find some one to take him. And I like Rowbear a lot, just don't think he can play Quinn's type of game.

  30. Traktor says:

    "A nice RH C-penalty killer who can win the draw. Other teams have them, why can't we?"

    Your asking for a PVR when you don't even own a television.

    Maybe that guy your looking for is the difference between 9th and 8th but does it really matter?

    Only loser organizations shoot for 8th place.

  31. Schitzo says:

    A nice RH C-penalty killer who can win the draw. Other teams have them, why can't we?

    Kevin Lowe is like an abusive father who drinks too much. He's the reason we can't have nice things.

  32. Bar Qu says:

    One thing we should take with a grain of salt from last night is the FO numbers. Calgary is going to be a poor FO team, making other team's forwards numbers look better, all year long. They have a decent energy line, but they are otherwise very thin up front.

    Sooo, if the FO numbers are still good after playing with some other teams, then I will be optimistic. But I still think you can add FO's to the list of unhappinesses with this team.

  33. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: The Oilers don't have time to piddle around while Quinn finds people who can kill penalties. In fact, he has even less time than normal because two of those who can (Pis and Poo) are on the IR.

    So, this isn't about being patient or anything like that, it's about 2 goals against the PK in game one.

    A game they lost by one goal. It's an issue.

  34. Traktor says:

    "Calgary is going to be a poor FO team, making other team's forwards numbers look better, all year long."

    And yet Calgary will probably win the division.

    Meanwhile in Edmonton we'll blame our lack of success on the lack of guys that can win draws.

    Sure puts things into perspective.

  35. GorillazXL says:

    I thought the game was played well by the Oilers overall. Lots of problems on the back end IMO. Vishnovsky and Grebeshkov looked like they were playing hot potatoes with the partners. Grebeshkov more so then Lubo.

    I completely disagree about JFJ. Last night was the first night in a long time that Hemsky didn't get pasted by #3 or # 28 from Cowgary. Infact Regehr was hestitant and looked like he didn't want to get knocked sensless by crazy train. I've read several post about him looking lost.. bull shit. Sorry but JFJ is not leclair and though he's the 2nd best option the Oilers have at this point (I like Penner with Comrie and Sully, spreads the skill). I think expectations for him are way too much. He may become a 20-30 goal scorer but fans think he'll score a goal a game are setting themselves up for disappointment. Keep JFJ on the first for 10 games.

    GXL

  36. Bar Qu says:

    And yet Calgary will probably win the division.

    How many special teams goals did they give up last night? That is what will win them the division.

    And on closer look last night, even though Edm outshot them last night, Calgary looked at lot more dangerous in the offensive zone overall. Or to put it another way, Edmonton looked defensively weak, despite giving up very few shots. And that is something that shows up when you're down a man.

  37. doritogrande says:

    The backup goaltending is another conversation altogether and one of the major stories this year (did anyone check Devan Dubnyk's SP from last night?) as time rolls along.

    Dubnyk stopped 31 of 33 shots for a .939 SVP. The Falcons won 5-2 last night.

    SKOilerFan: Actually, Cornet's done that in seven games. Looks a tad nicer, don't it?

  38. Traktor says:

    Lowetide: Are you positive that its the forwards and not the defensemen that are killing our PK?

    What's a forward to do when our defensemen allows David Moss to park on the edge of the crease and defect slap-passes from the point?

  39. doritogrande says:

    I completely disagree about JFJ. Last night was the first night in a long time that Hemsky didn't get pasted by #3 or # 28 from Cowgary. Infact Regehr was hestitant and looked like he didn't want to get knocked sensless by crazy train.

    I'll call bullshit.

    Regehr was playing timid all night long after what Penner did to him in the opening 3 minutes. And I don't think that can be questioned.

  40. trader says:

    LT; not a big deal but Stone was on the left side last night and POS was the RW on that line

  41. John says:

    Watched game on PVR

    Boys battled and Calgary knew they were in a battle.!

    Thought there were lots of positives. Penner, Brule, POS and Gagner answering the bell. Reason I would keep JFJ with the 1st line….Regehr absolutely HATED getting pasted every time he retrieved puck in his own end. JFJ may be our best hitter.

    Not sure that Stone skates good enough to be a good skater at Midget AAA but he gets everything else.

    I do not know what it would take to get Boyd Gordon out of Washington but Pothier and Gordon for Greneshkov? (no I do not want to trade Grebs but I do want a 52-53% faceoff man that excells at faceoffs. Pothier….good stay at home D that brings grit, toughness and Gordon would be a very good PK/faceoff man

  42. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: The forward might win a faceoff or two.

  43. hunter1909 says:

    I love the idea of Jacques on the first line. Regher likes it too, the way he fell head over heels at Jacques' feet right after he tried to check him.

    Quinn's a smart cookie: Stuck a big crazy banger on the first line, and stop worrying about poor Ales anymore.

    Does anyone else think Gagner only fought to copy Mike Comrie? You know, to impress the new Oilers daddy?

  44. Lowetide says:

    trader: Good stuff, I'll change that. I like to refer back from time to time, so it is important. Thanks.

  45. oil dude says:

    LT said:
    BDHS: At this point I'd be happy with a new GM. I thought Tambellini was a smart guy, but he's not. Clearly.

    I disagree with the not a smart guy comment. I believe that Tambo didn't trust MacT or his player evaluations. He brought in his guys to coach and will move fairly quickly on Quinn's player recommendations. Now before you say "But the holes have been obvious all summer so he should have signed Manny or Blair" remember that Tambo said they wanted to fill holes from with in (cheaper from an asset management POV) and based on MacT's evaluations they didn't have a damn clue what they had with in the org.

    Did anyone catch afterhours? Quinn said about Tambo "I'm surprised it took him this long to become a GM and the Oilers are very lucky to have him." Remember Quinn also hired Tambellini in the past.

    Thoughts on the game: We brought energy and physicality that most didn't expect, when was the last time the Oilers outshot the Flames 34-21? There will be a lot of good Corsis this year and I expect that everyone who predicted the Oil to finish out of the playoffs will be scrambling to rephrase their predictions in a few weeks.

  46. jdrevenge says:

    I hope to god they let Vish come around.

    Moreau was horrible on Phaneufs goal. It looks to me they're trying to really pressure the point man this year but he's still playing the passive box.

    I don't think he reads the game well enough to be out there but it looks like Quinn is really trying to spread out the ice time. So there arent many others to send out there if that's the case.

    Staios and Souray together are brutal. Back and forth and off the boards into the neutral zone all night.

    O'sullivan looked like a completely different player from the one that arrived here midseason last year. He was finding some serious open ice last night.

    Was Comrie benched in the third for the last ten? Was Hemmer being benched in the second?

  47. hunter1909 says:

    "everyone who predicted the Oil to finish out of the playoffs will be scrambling to rephrase their predictions in a few weeks."

    Not this scumbag. I've got them in to end up at 6th.

  48. Lowetide says:

    jd revenge: I think yes on both counts. I know Comrie sat for a lot of the third and Gagner ate his lunch, and it did seem like a long stretch in there where the Oilers didn't employ Hemsky.

    Iginla seemed to take a long stretch off in the first too, I don't know exactly what went on there.

  49. Traktor says:

    A forward can go 60% in the circle but it doesn't matter if our defense can't defend the other 40%.

    Both of the Flames PP goals were tip-ins. That's on the defense.

    Meanwhile Horcoff and company went 0/4 on the PP.

    Is it the forwards fault that our PP is horrible?

  50. Shannon says:

    LT, I understand when you say we have too many puck moving dmen, but the truth is Steady Steve is not a top 4 dman anymore. The past couple years has shown his game drop off as his minutes increase- imho. I think reality will set in with Staois and the balance in minutes will change. Likewise, I think the comment about his injury has some merit. He may not be operating at 100%. In addition, part of the Oiler drop off happened after Vish was out of the line-up.

  51. HBomb says:

    Good lord. Staios looked completely overmatched last night, and you think they're going to consider trading Visnovsky?

    The simple fact that he's on the "shutdown pairing" is the kind of thing that screams "non-playoff team" to me?

    Other thoughts:

    - Guys I was un-impressed with last night: Visnovsky (yes, I defended him above, but he didn't have his best game), Grebeshkov looked like a time bomb, Hemsky was pedestrian, and Cogliano struck me as a non-factor. Staios and Moreau were the usual overpriced garbage that could be replaced for about 1.4 million combined (or, in other words, 3.3 million less than they're getting paid right now).

    - Who was good IMO? Penner was the best Oiler. Souray and Gilbert were the best blueliners. O'Sullivan seemed to be buzzing. Stone's a role player, but he's got purpose. Gagner had a great game and my guess is that if what we saw last night continues, he'll be switching places with Cogliano in short order. Brule was very good as well.

    I agree with Lowetide's general statement here: this team has some warts, but these are not impossible-to-fix issues and if they were addressed, this team could finish 6th to 8th with hope for further improvement in subsequent seasons.

    You don't have to trade Lubomir Visnovsky to land us a Malholtra. Not even close. If that guy is going, we'd better be getting Malholtra plus Simon Gagne.

  52. HBomb says:

    Oh, and it happened in the 2nd, but I think Comrie blocked a shot at one point, and I'm pretty sure he might have been injured somehow. A buddy noticed it right when it happened, and he hardly played after that.

    I don't think that "benching" was one based on poor performance.

  53. Lowetide says:

    HBomb: And yet I do agree with Traktor in that Quinn is probably playing Staios there because he feels there's a definite need for a more traditional defender.

    I love Lubo's game, but Souray isn't going to be traded by this coach and the Oilers do have a plethora of puck movers.

    If not Lubo, who? Grebeshkov?

  54. Shannon says:

    I think Cogs was over matched physically last night. I remember twice last night. Once in the first where he panicked with an forward coming at him and turned the puck over instead of making an easy play. Another time in the 3rd he shied away from a puck pursuit as a calgary dman engaged him.

  55. Bruce says:

    A nice RH C-penalty killer who can win the draw. Other teams have them, why can't we?

    Yeah, somebody like, oh I don't know, Kyle Brodziak might be a good pick-up.

  56. Traktor says:

    "Horc, btw had two glorious chances in the offensive zone"

    And yet he only registered 1 shot. That pretty much sums up #10.

  57. RiversQ says:

    I thought the Oilers played well. They won't play many games better than that overall – sure Hemsky will be better, but a lot of the bottom sixers won't sustain that kind of effort for 82 games.

  58. hunter1909 says:

    If I ate a hamburger every time Horcoff flubbed a perfect in front of the net setup I'd weigh 265 pounds.

  59. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Thanks for the correction Dorito.

    Read one thing, typed another.

    I'll blame it on the hangover

  60. HBomb says:

    Lowetide: I'd move Grebeshkov for Danny Hamhuis, send out Staios for whatever I could get, and run out Peckham/Smid as the 3rd pairing until the deadline.

    Others: if you thought Shawn Horcoff was the problem with the Oilers last night and somehow at blame for the loss, well it's clear that "some things never change" (i.e. you haven't gotten any smarter over the offseason). That's all I'm going to say.

  61. Traktor says:

    "Yeah, somebody like, oh I don't know, Kyle Brodziak might be a good pick-up."

    Still looking for ways not to lose?

    When "sawing off" is a job well done, how much actual potential do you have for success?

    None of it matters if our top players are 50 and 60 point guys.

  62. bookie says:

    The thing is… you have been saying a trade is coming for how long? I'll beleive it if it ever happens.

    The trade is coming, and I am someone who has said the trade is not coming for the past 6 months. I believe some things have have changed:

    1. LT is right about Quinn not wanting to wait.

    2. Tambellini trusts Quinn's judgement (w/Renney) and will not assume the problems are due to coaching failure. It is my opinion that Tambi liked MacT, but thought he was not a very good coach. When Quinrenny fails on the PK, Tambi will believe that it is because of personnel, not coaching.

    3. I suspect that Tambellini has believed that a trade was needed all summer (like everyone else), but his players were all at low value. Within a few weeks some teams will notice that they desperately need a puck moving defensemen (just like the Oilers, they will now face their team weaknesses and realize that the guy from the AHL is not the solution). With higher value for the D-man and hopefully one Smurf playing well enough to trade, Quinn will get a much better return than he could during the summer. We get a solid, stay at home D-man, and a PK-faceoff specialist in return.

    4. Tambi and Quinn now have ‘seen what they got in the room’ and are comfortable making a change.

    This may not have been the most logical way to go forward (signing someone over the summer may have been better), but I think it is the approach that management has decided to take.

  63. bookie says:

    Could Lubo's low ice time have to do with his coming off an injury? Are we reading to much into this, its kinda the guys training camp.

    It would not suprise me if the training staff said "don't overdo it with Lubo"

  64. Traktor says:

    Hbomb:

    Maybe I missed it but I didn't see any posts blaming Horcoff with the loss.

    He finished -1 with 1 shot and did nothing with over 4 minutes of PP time so he didn't exactly help us win either.

  65. HBomb says:

    Traktor: yet he's the first guy targeted (ex: "Meanwhile Horcoff and company went 0/4 on the PP.") for what went wrong. Something about Big Ben and Parliament comes to mind. Not sayin', just sayin'.

    Frankly, if they play that game over last night 10 times, the Oilers probably win it 7 times based on simple luck – I think they outplayed Calgary, but the Flames got the bounces both ways (three Oiler chances at minimum where Kipper was flat out lucky that the puck didn't go in). This team has issues, but the effort was there last night, and in general, the quality veterans (Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Visnovsky, and Souray) are not guys I am worried about.

    We could use a few more of 'em though, no?

  66. Lowetide says:

    MacT the problem? Still? I would have thought that theory lost some steam based on things like the training camp decisions that were extremely similar to MacT's calls on these youngsters.

    Quinn should get the same bounce any coach gets from letting fresh air in a room, but beyond that it gets down to how many actual NHL players you have and the Oilers don't have enough of them.

  67. spOILer says:

    Traktor said…

    "Horc, btw had two glorious chances in the offensive zone"

    And yet he only registered 1 shot. That pretty much sums up #10.

    And you pretty much ignored, disregarded, and downplayed the scoring chances, which pretty much sums up you.

  68. Traktor says:

    "(ex: "Meanwhile Horcoff and company went 0/4 on the PP.") for what went wrong."

    No other forward played more PP time last night than Horcoff. Had Cogliano received all that PP time I would have said the same thing.

  69. HBomb says:

    Lowetide: good analogy for last week.

    The Oilers are like one's shoe closet. We've got 2 dozen shoes in there, and all but about four of them are reasonably high quality and nice.

    Problem is, of those 24 shoes, about 18 of them are left shoes, and about six of those left shoes are two sizes too small.

    That's the Oilers right now. The mix doesn't work.

    (NOTE: Staios and Moreau would be the old pair of reliable slippers that you've had for years, but they're chewed to shit and could be replaced for about five bucks on a trip for winners, but you can't find anyone to just take them off your hands and refuse to put them in the garbage).

    Good analogy?

  70. spOILer says:

    And Horcoff's -1 came on the Khabibulin gaffe, by the way.

  71. Lowetide says:

    Years from now, after he retires, I can imagine Horcoff being in the news for something completely random. Like theft.

    "Although the woman was robbed in broad daylight in downtown Edmonton and there are 5 citizens who have testified that Horcoff was in Michigan at the time, the judge still sentenced the former Oilers to 30 days in jail due to the vehement insistence of the victim in this case."

    He's just one of those guys. Might be the ears.

  72. HBomb says:

    Traktor: last night's percentages notwithstanding, if guys like Gagner and Cogliano a) had a better record on the dot) or b) had some history of successfully being able to produce with Hemsky, I think your wish might get granted.

    83's a sublime talent, but he's also highly difficult to learn to play with, be it at evens or on the PP. Quinn just seemed to be rolling out regular line combos for PP duty last night, so we didn't see Cogliano or Gagner get cultivated in too much. As time goes on, I think you'll see a change (one of those two taking some PP shifts with 10/83, with Horcoff playing the Smyth-role in front of the net).

    Translation: the PP needs some 'refinement', but it is only one game so far, in essence. Long term, there's actually hope that it might get better, since there's some different minds behind the bench.

  73. Bruce says:

    Still looking for ways not to lose?

    Uh, yeah.

    When "sawing off" is a job well done, how much actual potential do you have for success?

    When your special teams get outscored 0-2, how much actual potential do you have for success?

    Last night the game featured over 48 minutes of even strength, in which the Oilers outscored the Flames 3-2 even with the Conklin Moment. The remainder was split 8 minutes PP to 3:34 SH … and Oilers lost in regulation.

    Not saying Brodziak is the answer, far from it, just noting the irony of how he EXACTLY fit LT's position description. Considering his subtraction was the only significant change to the PK unit over the six long months since our sucky PK cost us a playoff berth last year, it's more than a little frustrating.

  74. Icecastles says:

    Hunter said: Does anyone else think Gagner only fought to copy Mike Comrie? You know, to impress the new Oilers daddy?

    If so, ain't nothing wrong with wanting to make the coach happy… beats tuning him out and everyone going maverick.

    Traktor said: Meanwhile Horcoff and company went 0/4 on the PP.

    Do you have your own blog, Traktor? Because it would be so easy to write: You could just repost the same article every day. :)

  75. Bruce says:

    And Horcoff's -1 came on the Khabibulin gaffe, by the way.

    If Horcoff was any good, O'Sullivan would have scored on the play and we would have won. Effin' loser.

    /sarcasm

  76. Traktor says:

    "And you pretty much ignored, disregarded, and downplayed the scoring chances, which pretty much sums up you."

    Do you watch football?

    Do you normally judge a running back by how many yards he ran for or how many times he touched the ball?

    How cares if he fumbled the ball 3 times! He had 30 carries for 23 yards!

  77. Lowetide says:

    HBomb: That's exactly right. And we're getting beaten by shoe closets that feature several pairs of brown shoes and that should never happen. But the brown shoes are comfortable and can be worn with lots of different outfits.

  78. spOILer says:

    I'm not a big fan of Horc on the 1st PP, but apparently Quinn likes him there as much as MacT did. That's confirmation that he likely belongs there.

    However all but 5 seconds of Horcoff's PP time came with JFJ on the ice.

    If Traktor keeps divorcing context from his posts, they're going to become irrelevant before the first week is out.

  79. Traktor says:

    *Who

  80. spOILer says:

    And, btw, I do watch football and I don't divorce the running back's performance from the O-Line's, or the success of the passing game, or, the play-calling by the OC.

  81. bookie says:

    MacT the problem? Still? I would have thought that theory lost some steam based on things like the training camp decisions that were extremely similar to MacT's calls on these youngsters.

    Mact PART of the problem. It doesn't have to be either/or. And, even good coaches can not align with certain team designs and/or players. Quinn may be a better fit with the strenghts and weaknesses of this team (as they are).

    And regardless of whether MacT was actually a problem, my comment refered to Tambi's perception of the problem. He fired him and then indicated that the team was unprepared to play on many nights, that he believed that they were a playoff team but that they failed to make it, and that many players did not fulfill their potential. That rings of "The coach screwed it up"

    Regardless of what all of us think, I think its pretty clear that Tambellini saw coaching as a key problem, otherwise why would he have kept the same team and replaced the coach.

    My point was that I believe that Tambellini felt that MacT had messed things up so badly that he could not even honestly evaluate the individual players until he saw them under a new coach. I could be wrong, but that's how I read it.

  82. bookie says:

    Hunter said: Does anyone else think Gagner only fought to copy Mike Comrie? You know, to impress the new Oilers daddy?

    I don't care why he does it, as long as he does it…

  83. Alice says:

    Pleasantly surprised, got to ejoy one of the not-too-many oiler games that will come to free-tv in Ontario.

    Last night's PK is a pretty small sample size, I didn't see the first one, but to describe Phaneuf banking one in 4' wide off of Smid's shoulder – someone above called that a tip-in? PK may wind up being a dog's breakfast after all, but what PK system out there will prevent a few long bombs? Most of them miss, or hit something, this one missed , and then hit something and then went in the net. BFD

    I think Gagner is just fine on the 4L – everybody colors it as a demotion, and I thought so too. But think about it: what was he doing wrong? He was feeling the pressure to get it all done himself, over-playing every posession and giving the damn puck away. So the 4L has a couple of nice things: low expectations, and simple, Simple North South, Moreau and Storts hockey. Quinn's given him a place he can play and succeed, instead of the 2L/disappointment/press-box rotation. The more he plays there and learns to trust some of the simple plays, the more confidence he's going to have in any situation. I like this a ton, and it's a long season – if the 4L can carry some minutes it'll mean there's something left in the tank come Feb/March.

    Penner with a couple of beauty passes, one for the goal setup, but later a really sweet backpass that the play fizzled, but the pass was unconscious.

  84. hunter1909 says:

    "I believe that Tambellini felt that MacT had messed things up so badly that he could not even honestly evaluate the individual players until he saw them under a new coach."

    You and about 80% of the rest of the Oilers fanbase over the age of ten.

  85. jdrevenge says:

    I want to see this team play ten games first…

    Ryan Stone IMO did not look good last night. He was totally lost. Save a few plays on the boards.

    JF seems to be the only guy thats been auditioned on the 1line that doesnt run into Hemsky down low.
    I'm hoping Penner gets sent back up there.

    Does anybody else have the feeling that Hemsky could be traded this year?

  86. Lowetide says:

    Oh for crying out loud. Any coach is going to have a hard time hiding a lot of overwhelmed kids. And the guys who had trouble with MacT also had trouble with Quinn, the exception being a completely healthy Jacques.

  87. bookie says:

    LT – In understanding the decisions of management, it doesn't matter what influence MacT had, what matters is what influence Tambellini THOUGHT MacT had.

    With regards to the actual influence, that is all going to come down to opinions with the best evidence yet to come. And that experiment will probably get screwed up when the trade comes.

    In a few weeks time, you will be argueing that the team is succeding because Tambi finally addressed the issue of balance (with the trade), others will be arguing that it is because Quinn&Renny replaced MacT. The truth will probably be some combination of the two.

    At least I hope we are debating about why the team is succeeding!

    Ok, back to work for me!!

  88. Lowetide says:

    bookie: We're getting away from the conversation. I don't give a rat's ass what we'll be discussing a month from now, the issue at hand is this "long MacT nightmare" that people have been rambling on about ad nauseum.

    As I understand it, MacT was responsible for:

    *Rob Schremp being buried
    *Stifling the offense
    *Playing the wrong people
    *Being mean
    *Too much day
    *Nights too long
    *Relying on "team toughness"
    *Favoring the Liam Reddox's of the world
    *PK

    Is that about it? I think they are all there, although the thing he should have been blamed for (PP) isn't listed above.

    Okay, so let's review Pat Quinn's first TC. Schremp on waivers, offense looks right, people are mad that they aren't playing Nilsson, he's ripped new holes for several players, day and night come right on time, team toughness is in full force and the Oilers are running with a roster full of guys whose offense wouldn't get them a job (Jacques, Stone examples). Plus the PK stinks and that's because the Oilers management hasn't addressed weakness.

    So, how did MacT ruin this team again?

  89. Icecastles says:

    In a few weeks time, you will be argueing that the team is succeding because Tambi finally addressed the issue of balance (with the trade), others will be arguing that it is because Quinn&Renny replaced MacT.

    I will be arguing it's because of Penner's 14 goals in 10 games. :)

  90. spOILer says:

    bookie said…
    LT – In understanding the decisions of management, it doesn't matter what influence MacT had, what matters is what influence Tambellini THOUGHT MacT had.

    With regards to the actual influence, that is all going to come down to opinions

    Bookie, even what you think Tambellini THOUGHT (and it seems you are transferring your opinion of MacT to Tambo), is speculative opinion. Perhaps even more so because you are guessing (however educated) at the state of someone's mind. Not saying you are wrong with that guess, I can't know either, but I'd say LT's understanding of the decisions of this management with respect to the coach, is just as valid.

    I think the coach went because he differed with management on the quality of his roster and tried to prove it by showing what outlandish choices they forced him to make, because it's easier and smarter to fire the coach than half the team, and because a point had to be made to the under-performing players.

    I don't know if I'm right in this particular case, but history tells me that teams make coaches look good or bad, and it's also pretty evident that MacT's not a dumb man.

  91. spOILer says:

    @Icecastles…

    Penner started the year with 2 goals in game one of last season and that trend petered out fast.

    But I hope you're right.

    He does look more committed to fulfilling his potential. Tossing Regehr to the ground last night is now in Oiler Mythology.

  92. bookie says:

    LT- In my mind I keep saying its Grey and you keep responding "It's not black, it's white".

    I think the team has all of the problems you mention and that Tambi should have fixed at least the easy ones. I AGREE. I also believe that many of the players on the team have some personality difficulties.

    However, I think a coach with a greater diversity of experience may well do a better job of making Lemonaide with this bunch

  93. bookie says:

    Bookie, even what you think Tambellini THOUGHT (and it seems you are transferring your opinion of MacT to Tambo), is speculative opinion. Perhaps even more so because you are guessing (however educated) at the state of someone's mind. Not saying you are wrong with that guess, I can't know either, but I'd say LT's understanding of the decisions of this management with respect to the coach, is just as valid.

    I agree that these are all my speculations and ussually preface them with 'I believe' and other phrases.

    I, however, have a hard time thinking that Tambi would believe that the coach is great and the team sucks and then proceed to fire the coach and not make any changes to the team. If you beleive that to be the case, then you must be arguing that Tambellini is not a sane human being.

  94. Icecastles says:

    Point by point:

    *Rob Schremp being buried

    No. Rob Schremp not getting a fair look. And this one is probably a bit unfair, because I think in the last couple years at least, there were few remaining Rob Schremp fans. Or at least few who thought he could compete at the NHL level. But MacT took a long time to bring him up, saying that they didn't want to waste his call-up on 4th line minutes, and that when he played with the big boys last year, it would be quality minutes and for an extended period to see how he faired. He came up, had a goal and an assist in his first two games, then a mediocre (read: mediocre, not awful) thrid game and went right back down to the minors. Given the chances he's given other young players, this smacks of pre-existing bias.

    *Stifling the offense

    Yup. And one game in to the new regime, you could probably count on one hand the number of times last year the Oilers registered that many shots on goal.

    *Playing the wrong people

    Yup. And he did. Now there is a new coach who is trying to get a bead on what he has. Quinn might also be doing weird things with the lineup, but I think his reasoning is sufficiently different that it can't be looked at in the same way. MacT should have beenWAY past trying to "figure out what he had". The decisions he was making in March with the lineup are ones that, if he was coaching to the team's strengths rather than to his own biases, would have been resolved months earlier. That's not to say that issues wouldn't exist, just that he would know what they were and what was and wasn't going to be fixed. MacT refused to change his coaching style or tactics to suit the talent that was in the room. He seemed to think it was easier to reshape every player under him into a MacT type of player. And that is a bullshit way to approach coaching.

    *Being mean

    Is this a flippant way of referring to his treatment of Penner and to a lesser extent, Robert Nilsson? Because again, regardless of what those two were or were not capable of accomplishing, you can't tell me that a good, confident and capable leader would bench guys that often, call them out that often and expect them to improve. It was ridiculous, unprofessional, and not at all smart.

    *Too much day
    *Nights too long

    I think we can agree that MacT screwed up the sunrise so bad that even the Mighty Quinn will take until next season to realign the sun's orbit.

    *Relying on "team toughness"

    And if he'd actually GOTTEN team toughness out of them, that would mean something. But he wanted it even when he didn't have the horses for that kind of game (see above point), and how much in those last two years did we actually see it? For whatever reason, he didn't have the buy-in. Same guys, and while I know it's only one game, Quinn seems to have a much better bead on how to make this work.

    *Favoring the Liam Reddox's of the world

    Yup, and that's a flaw. Management (and coaches) tend to promote managers who work in the same style that they do, and this rarely leads to a rich, diverse or adaptable team. MacT liked guys who played like he did. But the problem was, he seemed incapable of seeing any value in guys who played a different style of game (see: Dustin Penner). Quinn may well have biases of his own: I know a lot of coaches do. But with MacT, he let them govern his decision-making to a far greater degree.

    *PK

    No. I think most people blamed Lowe for creating holes and not filling them. I don't recall a lot of people putting the PK blame at Mac's feet.

  95. RiversQ says:

    Well said on that last comment LT. MacT had a point to make about this roster and it coat him his job. So far Quinn is making the same points, so what are we left wIth here?

  96. Icecastles says:

    Rivers: MacT's statement about the team was "they aren't trying hard enough so I'm going to turn them into the players I wish I had and if I don't get the buy-in, I just won't play them."

    Quinn's statement is "the team is too small and has too many holes, so I'm going to find ways to hide those holes and make this work."

    One acknowledges reality and works with it, one threw blame around and tried to deny reality. I was a MacT fan for a long time, but last year was completely unforgivable in terms of decision-making and leadership.

  97. pboy says:

    Cost him his job

    He got 8 years as a head coach in the NHL and he made the playoffs 3 times. It doesn't matter if he had a balanced line-up to work (he didn't for most of his time) with or not, it's a results oriented business and he didn't produce enough wins. Is that fair? Of course not but fair doesn't have anything to do with it. He would not have gotten 8 years out of any other organization in the NHL, he was an Oiler alumni and that bought him a ton of goodwill with the fans. He lost his job because the Oilers didn't win enough with him behind the bench, plain and simple.

  98. mc79hockey says:

    Yup. And one game in to the new regime, you could probably count on one hand the number of times last year the Oilers registered that many shots on goal.

    If you're one of those inbred Calgarians with at least 13 fingers, sure.

    Otherwise, I'm going to reserve judgment.

  99. Bling says:

    Khabibulin, career-wise, has a pretty low PP save percentage (source: Willis, I think).

    It'll be interesting to see, going forward, how many games that will cost this team.

    The count is at one already.

  100. Woodguy says:

    Not saying Brodziak is the answer, far from it, just noting the irony of how he EXACTLY fit LT's position description.

    Speaking of irony, why is no one pointing out that LT thinks that Tambo is thinking of trading Vis for a 3C/PK'er and a reliable toughish defenceman?

    If that happens what's the over/under at HF on the number of "we should have never traded Stoll/Greene for Lubo" posts?

    Renney has the defencemen standing up the incoming forwards at the blueline. Vis' damaged shoulder is going to make it pretty tough for him to do that often, which may explain his minutes last night.

  101. Icecastles says:

    If you're one of those inbred Calgarians with at least 13 fingers, sure.

    I know better than to ever debate stats with you. :) But 13 out of 82 doesn't seem epic… and they spent a LOT of games being outshot last year.

    Again though, I am fully aware that to compare the 8-year tenure of one coach with a single game performance of another coach would be absolutely foolish, so take my comments with a pint of salt. Especially considering that under MacT, they won six home openers in a row. But I blame that loss last night on the one truly obvious culprit: Chris Pronger.

  102. Icecastles says:

    And Peter Pocklington.

  103. misfit says:

    I didn't expect to get so many examples of what I've been saying all offseason in the very first game of the year.

    -The PK stinks and needs to improve. This is a personnel issue. Yes, I realise it's only one game, but was anyone really surprised we allowed a goal every other time we had someone in the box? Anyone?

    -O'Sullivan shoots a lot, but he's also a career 7.5% shooter. That's a combination that shoudl result in a lot of rebounds. If Penner is on his line, and get to the front of the net, he'll get a lot of opportunities for 2nd and 3rd chances. That's exactly what happened on his goal, and I think they should play together more.

    -Jacques isn't a 1st liner. I actually kinda like his physical presence on that line, but WTF is he doing on the powerplay?!

    Things I didn't expect:

    -Brule looked like an NHLer to me for the first time.

    -Comrie's faceoff prowess.

  104. Gord says:

    Cogliano's preseason face off percentage this year (in order):

    55% against NYI (6/11)
    46% against Vancouver (6/13)
    64% against Calgary (7/11)

    Last night…

    100% against Calgary (2/2)

    Did I mention that Cogliano won both face offs in the defensive zone against Daymond Langkow.

    The Daymond Langkow who was Calgary's #1 face off man & who had a 59% success ratio against the rest of the Oilers…

    Yes I know – small sample size…. But at what point is the coach going to see if Cogliano's results are real???

  105. Icecastles says:

    Gord: given past performance, I'd be nervous about that experiment lasting too long. Cogs has the speed to be a centreman, but his defensive game just isn't good enough and I'm still not sold on his faceoff prowess. Someone on here last week was making an observation about faceoff ability being strongly correlated with size… I'd love to see a clear stat on that one, because it seems to make sense. From a strength perspective, if not purely size.

    Faceoff ability has always been a strange mysterious alchemy to me (I'm a goalie: don't take too many faceoffs)

  106. kinger says:

    Icecastles said…

    I know better than to ever debate stats with you. :) But 13 out of 82 doesn't seem epic… and they spent a LOT of games being outshot last year.

    And they've spent one game outshooting this year.

  107. jonathanjoyce says:

    Who knew Gagner should have hung out with Zach this summer learning the finer points of dropping them with Georges Laraque?

    Overall I was fairly satisfied with last night. I've got a feeling Penner is going to be a guy I go from booing to cheering before too long. He looked pretty good most of the night.

  108. Coach pb9617 says:

    Dustin Penner, who played hard all night although he didn't seem to be in the game as much in the back half of the 60 minutes;

    Could be that his centermen kept dangling one step outside of the blueline on rushes and sending him offsides.

    I noted it every time it happened last night, but Staios…he has to go. His only "move" is off of the boards – even when he has all of the time in the world.

    Hurry back St. Fernando, the fellows need you.

  109. Coach pb9617 says:

    I'm not a big fan of Horc on the 1st PP, but apparently Quinn likes him there as much as MacT did. That's confirmation that he likely belongs there.

    Power plays are more difficult when you don't start with the puck.

  110. Coach pb9617 says:

    If you're one of those inbred Calgarians with at least 13 fingers, sure.

    There's a reason massage parlors are so crowded down there.

  111. Coach pb9617 says:

    If Penner is on his line, and get to the front of the net, he'll get a lot of opportunities for 2nd and 3rd chances. That's exactly what happened on his goal, and I think they should play together more.

    Seems like a bunch of guys need Penner on their line to be successful.

    Hm.

  112. Lowetide says:

    Coach: link?

  113. Icecastles says:

    Kinger: How many times and how much do I have to bold the text that I am fully aware that from a sample size this small, it would be foolish to make comparisons

    Read the entire post before you rebut it.

  114. spOILer says:

    bookie said…

    I, however, have a hard time thinking that Tambi would believe that the coach is great and the team sucks and then proceed to fire the coach and not make any changes to the team.

    Bookie, where did I say that? Please don't put words in my mouth.

    You're gonna get way more cred if you argue against what I actually wrote, rather than making stuff up and beating that down.

  115. kinger says:

    Icecastles said…

    How many times and how much do I have to bold the text that I am fully aware that from a sample size this small, it would be foolish to make comparisons

    Sorry if you missed the broader point.

    You're all over this thread with sweeping statements of MacT vs. Quinn. Let's take a season to see how these things suss out then make claims like:

    "Rob Schremp not getting a fair look" (and I know this is nitpicking but it was 4gp 0g 3a – and he was horrid in the game before he was sent down, mediocre in the 3rd)

    "Quinn might also be doing weird things with the lineup, but I think his reasoning is sufficiently different that it can't be looked at in the same way"

    "Same guys, and while I know it's only one game, Quinn seems to have a much better bead on how to make this work."

    "Quinn may well have biases of his own: I know a lot of coaches do. But with MacT, he let them govern his decision-making to a far greater degree."

    "One acknowledges reality and works with it, one threw blame around and tried to deny reality."

    So yea, if your arguments are "absolutely foolish" and need to be taken with a "pint of salt", why bother making them?

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