Flames at Oilers, G37 ’10-’11

I want to wish you the best of the new year. Here’s hoping all your dreams come true, you get what you want and what you need.

Here’s hoping the Oilers win the lottery, grab Sean Couturier and fix the blue. And the penalty-kill, plus the injury problem and the Souray thingy.

I have many friends who are Flames fans. I don’t remember a time when they’ve been quieter. If I need to talk about the weather, football, women, demon liquor, whatever, those Flames fans are available.

Not so much on the hockey. It’s a dreary time, kind of like being 20 minutes into Citizen Kane and wondering why all your friends didn’t warn you.

Still, the Flames should win the day on HNIC tonight. They are a veteran team that boasts some actual NHL players. I’ll be interested in watching them tonight in a new way: which of the Flames players would a contending team trade for at the deadline? Would Washington take a chance on Kipper? What about Regehr, does he have any in the tank? And what kind of payback could Feaster get for Iginla? I’ve never watched the Flames in that way, or at least if I have it’s long forgotten. It’ll be fun.

The Oilers 5×5/60 point production among forwards is an interesting item this season. Here’s the top 12:

  1. Hemsky 2.58
  2. Penner 2.06
  3. Jones 2.00
  4. Gagner 1.79
  5. Eberle 1.78
  6. Horcoff 1.72
  7. Hall 1.70
  8. Pääjärvi 1.51
  9. Cogliano 1.30
  10. Stortini 1.04
  11. Brule 0.80
  12. Fraser 0.67

A couple of notes: this is after G35, so the last game isn’t on the Desjardins table yet. Also, it’s a 20 game minimum. Interesting to note Hemsky and Penner are still driving the bus offensively (and that Jones is having a good season). The kids are all between 1.50-1.79/60 and you’d expect them to be a little better during the back half of the season (all things being equal).

Let’s compare that top 12 list with the one from 09-10:

  1. Hemsky 2.85
  2. Penner 2.40
  3. Brule 2.36
  4. Pouliot 2.06
  5. Potulny 1.60
  6. Gagner 1.56
  7. Stone 1.54
  8. Nilsson 1.49
  9. Comrie 1.40
  10. Cogliano 1.39
  11. Horcoff 1.37
  12. O’Sullivan 1.29

Once again 20 game minimum. Hemsky and Penner are at the top, with Brule, Pouliot and Potulny rounding out the top 5. I still think Pouliot could find his way as an NHL player, and to be honest I feel the same way about Robert Nilsson. Brule played in peaceful waters (link alert) a year ago and credit to him for delivering. This season, the wingers on the skill lines (Penner-Hemsky, Hall-Eberle) are getting the looks and Brule is dying on the vine. Sometimes it’s about the coach, or the management, but sometimes it’s about the player. I’m cheering for Brule, it would be terrific to have him pot 15-20 this season (improving trade value). But the die is cast for him: unless there’s a way to get the coach to play him at center, or they move Penner/Hemsky, the numbers don’t add up for him. If this were the Red Wings, we could talk about three lines with offense, but when you’re dragging Fraser, Jacques, MacIntyre and God knows who else around the ice there’s not going to be a happy ending.

Tom Gilbert didn’t practice yesterday afternoon with the rest of the team. The post below worried over his health for tonight’s game and damned if there isn’t something. Tom Renney suggested on the Oilers website that it was just a maintenance day to look after some nagging problems. He also suggested the team felt good enough about resting Gilbert in OT because the other blue being on a roll. The story is here. A small counter argument to Renney’s words: there’s no chance an NHL coach is going to sit a rested, healthy Gilbert and send out Strudwick in his place. No chance.

Trades are beginning to happen in the NHL. The other 29 teams have had time to evaluate their needs and are now making moves to address them. The Oilers management group doesn’t believe in that kind of thing, making huge gestures to the team and fanbase in terms of trying to improve the club. No sir. They liked this group at the beginning of the year and they like them now. Meanwhile, Colin Fraser hasn’t been doing his chores since October, Jason Strudwick scored the bizarro goal of the year (on himself) and the faceoff circle is where the Oilers go to die. The penalty kill? I don’t want to talk about it.

The Oilers have been doing this for years, certainly since Kevin Lowe arrived as GM. Begin the season out of balance, wait until it is painfully obvious where the problem lies, and then wait another month. Or more. It’s like Jigglypuff puts the management to sleep during the season. PK. FO. Veteran 2-way center (RH), veteran 2-way W (the new Pisani) and another veteran hand (who can skate) for the blue.

It looks to me like the Habs decided Max Pacioretty was ready and that agitator Maxim :Lapierre was the odd man out. It appears as though they talked to their evaluation people, identified a kid they liked and made a deal with Anaheim. It can happen during the season, the ANA-MTL trade is proof.

Maybe the phone doesn’t work.

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