Lightning at Oilers, G28 ’10-’11

Our brains like to sort things into a specific order. For hockey fans that means we ask questions like “will Sid Crosby’s peak level exceed 99′s and 66′s?” when really all that matters is a sublime talent plays during our collective lifetimes.

There are all kinds of sublte shifts in the sand, changes to the order of things during each season. For instance, Theo Peckham appears to be sliding ahead of Ladislav Smid on the Oilers depth chart. No one has said “Smid’s back on the third pairing” but young Theon Peckman is slightly ahead in both EV and PK minutes per game. If this continues, we’ll all adopt that in our brains and maybe not even notice it’s happening. It’s actually very rare–like the time Brad Park went from being the second best defenseman behind Orr to immediately becoming the second best defenseman behind Potvin. Wink of an eye, but that one got noticed.

Gilbert Brule’s career is susceptible to the shifting sands; in fact, he might be skating in quicksand. Brule was a very high draft pick, brought to the show too quickly (thanks Doug McLean!) and his career has suffered for it. Brule has worked hard to find a home in the NHL, but there seems to be something missing. This season began with Andrew Cogliano in the hot seat, but Brule’s play has earned him a 4th line shot and that means reduced minutes tonight.

Linus (now pronounced that same way as the Peanuts character) Omark makes his NHL debut this evening. There are concerns about Omark as a player, specifically what he leaves (to quote MacT) when the puck is heading the other way. However, he’s going to get a chance here and as the games and days role by the differences between “major league Brule” and “minor league Omark” may fade and the two will be viewed as similar. Quicksand is no friend to Gilbert Brule.

I’ve heard and read Brule’s struggles are exclusively defense, but his 5×5/60 number is suffering this year too:

  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.74
  • 09-10 5×5 per 60m: 2.36
  • 10-11 5×5 per 60m: 0.95

That number ranks Brule 10th among forwards (there are 5 F’s right around 2.00 or above) and just ahead of Zack Stortini. Tom Renney has a doghouse, and it seems to revolve around forwards unable to deliver above the Mendoza line offensively while performing the role of Denver boot without the puck. 

Craig MacTavish wasn’t crazy after all. Who knew? Where have you gone, Toby Petersen. We await your return, Liam Reddox. And finally, we anticipate Linus Omark and the shifting sands.

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