Hawks at Oilers, G 17 ’10-’11

That’s Harrison Schmitt near Tracy’s Rock, Moon. Apollo 17, 1972. Most of the moon shots are kind of dorky, but this one gives us an idea about both scale and desolation. No 7-11 around the corner, no surprises. Just miles and miles of miles and miles.

The Edmonton Oilers will likely try another Apollo launch in the career of J-F Jacques this evening. Jacques is pure toolkit: big, strong, fast. Jacques has been injured a lot in his NHL career, to the point where the last time he could be called a “regular” on any team was 2006.

Last season Jacques played in very good situations and delivered well below expectations. Over the years his NHLE’s suggested Jacques should be able to help a little offensively (say 15 goals in a full season) but he didn’t deserve to stay in the lineup last season. He also played with some pretty good linemates a lot of the time and didn’t get much done. I think his career is fading because of the injuries. I can’t imagine he’ll be at speed when he plays his first NHL game, and will be astounded if the team places him on a skill line when he does draw into the lineup.

I expect it’ll happen tonight. :-)

The Central Scouting bureau released their first list of the year. THIS is the important CSB list because it gathers all the names and attempts to put them in some kind of order. The list is here and here. I haven’t had a close look at it, but the names I have read about appear to be near the top. Couturier, RNH and Larsson are all there, along with names like Landeskog, Murphy, Rattie, Musil and McNiell. The Oilers should get a quality prospect at the top of the draft no matter what happens during the next few months. Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor and his crew should rip through this list like Michael Vick through the Redskins.

Former Oiler draft pick Troy Bodie is on the move again. Anaheim placed him on waivers and Carolina picked him up. This article has the details and gives us an indication about Patrick O’Sullivan’s season (HS the last 7 games).

This article suggests Stortini may sit. We haven’t talked about it much, but Tom Renney’s handling of Stortini is about what Scotty Bowman used to do with Pierre Bouchard: extra man.

Since the end of the lockout, I think all of us can agree that the NHL has changed in a lot of ways. One of them is that defensemen get exposed even more than they did 10 years ago. Stick fouls, any kind of holding or interference and most teams promote an attack forecheck that gives little time to the defender. More often than not, the right play is to keep the puck along the boards until help and support arrive.

All of these factors mean that there are times when perfectly good defensemen end up looking awful over a period of games. The latest Oiler to experience it is Tom Gilbert. A Matty article today has him trying to toughen up his game. We’ve talked about this before, but the better plan is to support Gilbert and have him play to his strengths: positioning, puck movement, powerplay. Asking Tom Gilbert to be Jason Smith is not only asking the impossible, it’s bound to fail. He’s in a defensive slump, his decision making has been poor. Hey, this just in: defense is a difficult job. But I suspect it’s too late, the boo birds will be out tonight having found their new Horcoff. Damn shame, he’s a fine player.

There hasn’t been much news on prospect Jeremie Blain this season and here’s why.

Speaking of former Oilers who were finesse defensemen, Janne Niinimaa is still hanging in there.

As for tonight’s game, Chicago is off on a long road trip as the circus comes to the windy city. The Hawks are starting to right the ship a little and will have good reason to staple the Oilers because Edmonton has been better two times already this season.

The Oilers are young, outmanned and their veteran goalie is leaking. But J-F Jacques is back on the roster, Shawn Belle might play his first game as an Oiler as the shuffling starts. Maybe one of these guys will be Schmitt’s Troctolite 76535.

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