Hall-Center

At his exit interview this week, Tom Renney’s speech (“A Fine Man”) had a lot vague statements. He didn’t use the word “intangibles” but came pretty damn close. What does that tell us about the new Oiler coach?

  • Renney“As part of my evolution with this team, I knew what I had planned for this year, things I thought would get us that playoff spot and show people we were on the come. That’s for the next guy to do.”

Here’s the problem with trying to find some kind of extra gear: the Oilers need actual NHL players, that’s the problem. Faced with a lack of depth on defense, and staring another lost season for Ryan Whitney in the face, the club decided to sign Cam Barker and trade for Andy Sutton. Not good enough by miles. This stuff about “evolution” is hooey, coach Renney no doubt tried all of the weapons at his command.

You can’t  soar with eagles…..

  • Renney: “I like him on the other end of the passes (as a left-winger), going hard to the net. You play him where he’s most effective, not the safest, but I wouldn’t rule anything out for this great young player. Yeah, I would try him at centre to give it a look, educate myself.”

This was part of a crazy period in the interview where Renney said he’d play Hall and the Nuge together more (Renney played Hall and the Nuge together a lot). I do think center might be the position for Taylor Hall under a new coach, especially if the club drafts Nail Yakupov.

Lots of skill in that top 6, and should the Oilers end up surprising us with a Dustin Penner type acquisition, then Smyth can move down the depth chart (although I think we should wait until someone proves they’re a better option. Giving it to Paajarvi is a bad plan).

Strange exit interview, I remain convinced Craig MacTavish was the best coach this team has had since Muckler, and worry a lot about the quality of the next man. This could go anywhere.

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48 Responses to "Hall-Center"

  1. DBO says:

    so LT if you think Hall will get a shot at centre, who slides over to LW? Unless you are advocating the crazy 3 scoring lines idea (which makes so much sense with this team it will never happen), then one of the RW (assuming they draft Yakupov) needs to move. I assume yak is best, since he is a LH RW, and makes the most sense to switch. If this happens, wow do we need Ryan Smyth and one more Penner esque LW, since giving the LW big minutes to MPS and Yak is a recipe for the lottery.

  2. Jesse says:

    I know that everyone talks about the Oilers’ issue at centre, often referring to the size of RNH and Gagner, but for me, the real lack of depth is in the 3/4 line C positions. Horcoff is a great 4th line C, and Belanger is probably a good 4th line C. It seems like the Oilers need to fill a hole at 3C. Mostly a guy like Horcoff, but someone who can handle the defensive aspect (which he does) while providing a bit more offense (which he doesn’t). Belanger seems redundant to the role of horcoff, and he even struggled defensively so even assuming Belanger regresses slightly upwards next year, there’s this weird square-peg-round-hole thing going on, where neither of the two bottom 6 Cs fit their role. If hall moves to C, fine, but then he and RNH are 1&2, and that makes Gagner either trade bait or an unsuitable 3rd line checking centre with maybe Belanger or Horcoff moving to the wing.

    I just…

    *sigh* Bit of a mess. And they certainly seem stuck with both Horcoff and Belanger for at least this season.

  3. dawgbone says:

    I think it’s insane to worry about Hall’s safety now. I mean he was getting murdered in junior and you had to assume it was going to continue in the NHL. That’s part of why they picked him in the first place, he goes balls out and that is part of what makes him effective. To all of a sudden be worried about it makes me wonder what the heck people thought would happen.

    I think Hall can play a safer game on the wing without sacrificing anything. Everyone points to the Sarich hit, but if Hall took a look first, he would have seen Sarich and instead of making a play on the puck, pull a Torres and clear the body first.

    Aside from that, I think moving Hall to C takes away a major part of his game. He’s an exceptional player from the top of the circles in his end out, and he’s very dangerous at full speed. Putting him at C just adds more opposition players between him and the net. I think anything you gain from putting him there is immediately lost by no longer having him on the wing.

  4. DBO says:

    Jesse,

    I actually think Horcoff is a perfect 3rd line centre, if he isn’t overused. He should be playing on the PP. He had ok success there, but added to his high EV minutes along qith ton of PK, he plays too much. Reduce his icetime (along with Smyth, Take Smyth off PK, move him into PP role) allows them to not be so tired, especially in the 2nd half of the year. Give the extra 2-3 minutes per game to the kids. Especially if MS makes the team, he needs to PK in order to give him minutes and use his speed and size to the teams advantage. MPS can become a great 3rd line winger who can score 20 and play both ways, something this team currently lacks.

  5. Travis Dakin says:

    I just don’t understand why so many people want to move Hall to centre. He’s a winger. If anyone is more suited in the centre role, it would be Eberle.

  6. dawgbone says:

    Jesse,

    Jesse, when you have a 44% offensive zone start and you are playing the tough matchup all the time, your offense is going to suffer. There aren’t many guys in the league who put up points in that situation.

  7. Woodguy says:

    I really hope Krueger gets it.

    I think the special teams turn around was his doing.

    I really liked the way he deployed the roster and match ups when Renney went down (after 2 games of running Renney lines/match ups)

    If the kids like him, I think he’s a very good coach who understands that you design your system around the strengths of your roster and not try to impose a system that may or may not fit the strengths of your team.

    I still love Hall at LW as he stretches the ice a ton and opens ups lots of space. If they take Yakupov, its probably not a bad idea to try it though.

    If they don’t move Yak to LW then RW is flooded with 83,14,Yak, 28.

    Yak is LH, but plays right wing (like a lot of Euro trained players, playing off wing allows better shooting angles)

    MPS played RW his whole life, but was moved to LW by Renney. He’s been playing RW for OKC in the playoffs.

    Remember when they acquired Erik Cole, then moved him from his long standing position of RW to LW?

    His goal/game were at an all time low.

    So really, if you included MPS, Boy the Oilers have a lot of Right Wingers.

  8. Justified says:

    Woodguy:
    I really hope Krueger gets it.

    I think the special teams turn around was his doing.

    I really liked the way he deployed the roster and match ups when Renney went down (after 2 games of running Renney lines/match ups)

    If the kids like him, I think he’s a very good coach who understands that you design your system around the strengths of your roster and not try to impose a system that may or may not fit the strengths of your team.

    I still love Hall at LW as he stretches the ice a ton and opens ups lots of space.If they take Yakupov, its probably not a bad idea to try it though.

    If they don’t move Yak to LW then RW is flooded with 83,14,Yak, 28.

    Yak is LH, but plays right wing (like a lot of Euro trained players, playing off wing allows better shooting angles)

    MPS played RW his whole life, but was moved to LW by Renney.He’s been playing RW for OKC in the playoffs.

    Remember when they acquired Erik Cole, then moved him from his long standing position of RW to LW?

    His goal/game were at an all time low.

    So really, if you included MPS, Boy the Oilers have a lot of Right Wingers.

    What he said. Also I’d sign Dustin Pancakes if you could guarantee that he would give a f**k, he’s a beast.

  9. speeds says:

    I have no problem accepting that, ultimately, Hall may turn out to be a better contributor on LW than at C. But, I don’t think that necessarily means they shouldn’t give him a long look at C.

  10. Woodguy says:

    Justified: What he said.Also I’d sign Dustin Pancakes if you could guarantee that he would give a f**k, he’s a beast.

    I’d much, much rather have Penner than Smyth at 2LW (assuming Hall is 1LW)

  11. regwald says:

    Tencer tweeted yesterday about an interview with Pierre McGuire that Sutter is the slam dunk coach. Only waiting for OKC to complete playoff run to make announcement.

    That to me means they are either interviewing Nelson for the job or want him as an associate or assistant coach.

    Also, I like Kreuger as well and the fact he’s done motivational speaking, etc, I believe brings a good element to a dressing room. The talk of him going back to Europe to coach keeps coming up, so I suspect he’s gone.

  12. speeds says:

    Renney said: “You play him where he’s most effective, not the safest, but I wouldn’t rule anything out for this great young player. ”

    I guess the question the Oilers need answered is where is he most effective? And I don’t mean where is he most effective for his own game, I mean where is he most effective for the team.

    If he turns into an 85 point LW, and he’d be a 75 point C, is it possible that he’d actually contribute more to the team’s success at the C position? I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s at least part of what they might want to look at.

  13. Ducey says:

    From what little we know about the coaching candidates, I too like Krueger the best. He is able to communicate well, is able to deploy some systems, and likes his teams to be physical. He is not MacT, but then in LT’s mind, no one is :)

    The noise about the Oilers playing up tempo hockey is BS. The only reason the Oilers made the finals in ’06 was that they started trapping in the playoffs. Its a different game than the Gretzky days and its about time the Oilers figured out there is almost a direct correlation between goals against and your place in the standings.

    Bring in a guy like Krueger and deploy a system like PHX, LA, NSH, WAS, NJ have. We might be surprised at the results.

  14. wordbird says:

    any chance the Oil would try to move Belanger as well?

    There are younger/cheaper UFA options out there – Gaustad, Moore come to mind.

    Summer wish list:
    Take Yak 1OV.
    Move Gagner + for an NHL dman.
    Move Belanger for a pick.
    Sign that Schultz kid.
    Sign at least one UFA centre (Gaustad/Moore)
    Bye bye Hordichuk, Barker.
    Acquire a big, rangy winger.

  15. speeds says:

    Ducey:
    The noise about the Oilers playing up tempo hockey is BS. The only reason the Oilers made the finals in ’06 was that they started trapping in the playoffs. Its a different game than the Gretzky days and its about time the Oilers figured out there is almost a direct correlation between goals against and your place in the standings.

    I haven’t looked into it, is there a significant difference between how GA correlates to your place in the standings and how GF correlates?

    Just looking at last year, CHI made the playoffs, finished 6th in the conference and were 13th in GA.

    Kind of off topic, but I didn’t realize CHI’s GA was quite that high. They only allowed 1 fewer GA than the Oilers last year.

  16. regwald says:

    wordbird,

    Stauffer tweeted that he is well known to Bergevin and he was chasing down if there was any interest from the HABs.

  17. Jesse says:

    dawgbone:
    Jesse,

    Jesse, when you have a 44% offensive zone start and you are playing the tough matchup all the time, your offense is going to suffer. There aren’t many guys in the league who put up points in that situation.

    Yeah, that’s probably true. I still think on a contending team he’d be 4th line, maybe moving up to 3rd line in the case of injury. However, on a contending team NK wouldn’t be your 1a option either so… Dare to dream I guess.

    I agree that balancing out the playing time between the Cs next season will help Horcoff, RNH, and Gagner all at the same time.

  18. bookje says:

    regwald:
    Tencer tweeted yesterday about an interview with Pierre McGuire that Sutter is the slam dunk coach. Only waiting for OKC to complete playoff run to make announcement.

    Since Tambellini has become GM, there have been a lot of press guys declare ‘done deals’ and ‘slam dunks’ only to later be proven wrong. The only time I have seen any level of accuracy is when its within about 24 hours of a decision being made public.

    I think this is because of Tambellini’s truly deliberative style (vs someone like Burke who I think always knows what he wants to do next). So, as Tambellini deliberates and discusses and investigates options, those around him assume decisions whenever he is focusing on one option. So, for example, Tambellini spends a couple of days calling people to talk about Sutter, gets his assistants to print everything ever written about Sutter, etc. Some guy mopping the floors hears ‘Sutter’ a lot and calls his buddy Tencer and says “It’s Sutter” and a tweeting we go.

    I would like Kruger, but would be ok with Sutter.

  19. commonfan14 says:

    McKenzie tweets that word is Justin Schultz has officially opted out of school, which gives the Ducks and exclusive 30-day window to sign him before he goes UFA. After that window, he can start talking to other teams, but can’t sign until July 1st.

  20. misfit says:

    I had kind of hoped drafting Nuge would kill the Hall to center talks, but they still come up. What’s the upside to putting him in the middle again? Because I really don’t understand the obsession.

  21. rich says:

    The other thing that concerns me about Tambi (v3.5′s) deliberative style is that it also tells me he really does not have any larger vision for how to put the entire puzzle together.

    Doesn’t mean that Burke’s style is effective either, but at least Burke has a vision. Our guy has a hangover that’s lasting far too long.

    This team needs to start taking shape here and still appears to be out of balance with no real clear idea for how to fix. It’s more, we could go in all these different directions and they wind up being road kill for standing in traffic too long. The v3.5 way of doing things.

  22. Kert says:

    misfit:
    I had kind of hoped drafting Nuge would kill the Hall to center talks, but they still come up.What’s the upside to putting him in the middle again?Because I really don’t understand the obsession.

    But… How else will he become Messier¿

  23. Maverick says:

    I like Hall at centre we older guys 35 and older remember how worried everyone was about.messier at centre. hall will be fine.

  24. Moose says:

    Jesse,

    Horcoff posted 13-21-34 last year. Even if you ignore the zone starts and tough comp, I’d say that’s probably exceeding the offensive output for the majority of 3rd line centers in the league. This is probably another case of him being judged by the contract. Granted he got some PP time last year (5 PP goals) , that guys like Gaustad and Moore don’t get, but if those guys came in here and posted those numbers, we’d all be thrilled. They’re nowhere near those numbers offensively.

  25. db7db7 says:

    Ok. I think I’ve pieced this thing together. I bet that it was always the plan to have Krueger eventually become head coach. The timeline was probably longer, but a job offer in Europe for Krueger probably just forced Tamby’s hand to hurry up the transition so he doesn’t lose Krueger.

  26. SK Oiler Fan says:

    wordbird:
    any chance the Oil would try to move Belanger as well?

    There are younger/cheaper UFA options out there – Gaustad, Moore come to mind.

    Summer wish list:
    Take Yak 1OV.
    Move Gagner +for an NHL dman.
    Move Belanger for a pick.
    Sign that Schultz kid.
    Sign at least one UFA centre (Gaustad/Moore)
    Bye bye Hordichuk, Barker.
    Acquire a big, rangy winger.

    That would requiore an active and astute GM which the Oilers don’t have.

    The mess at C and talk of moving Hall to C is all because ST either doesn’t know what a balanced roster looks like or is incapable of making the decisions to form a balanced roster.

    Hey, why don’t we give the man an extension!

  27. Jesse says:

    Moose,

    Wasn’t Horcoff playing more of a 2/3 line C role, with gagner on the wing much of the season and RNH, Belanger, and Lander filling out the other spots? Sure, there were injuries and demotions throughout the season, but not many 3rd line Cs get a

  28. Jesse says:

    Moose,

    Wasn’t Horcoff playing more of a 2/3 line C role, with gagner on the wing much of the season and RNH, Belanger, and Lander filling out the other spots? Sure, there were injuries and demotions throughout the season, but not many 3rd line Cs get as many PP minutes as he did. I haven’t checked, but that might contribute to those numbers.

  29. Jesse says:

    At the very least, Shawn Horcoff got more 5×4 TOI/60 than Sam Gagner did. That to me spells more responsibility than a 3rd line checking C gets, and thus his numbers as a 2/3 line C are less thrilling than you’d suggest.

    I’m not saying I hate the guy. I’m saying he’s a passable 3rd line C on the Oilers, and a very very solid 4C on a good team.

  30. Jesse says:

    I apologize for not clumping all of this together in one post. But…

    5X4 TOI/60

    Horcoff – 2.77
    Gagner – 2.40

    Gaustad – 0.10

    Moore – 0.83

    That seems like too big of a difference to gloss over; Horcoff can’t really be compared to guys like Gaustad and Moore. I wouldn’t mind if the new coach played him in similar ways to Gaustad and Moore (less TOI 5×4), but their roles weren’t all that close this past season.

    It’s weird to think how much PP time Horcoff got. (Although, not as weird as how much PP time Belanger got). I wonder if we’ll see a shift with the new coach.

  31. godot10 says:

    Woodguy:

    MPS played RW his whole life, but was moved to LW by Renney.He’s been playing RW for OKC in the playoffs.

    Paajarvi is the LW on the line with Green (or Vandevelde) and Hartikainen. He plays RW when he plays on Arcobello’s line.

  32. Traktor says:

    Horcoff’s points per 60 was 1.04

    He finished the year -23

    His PP numbers are irrelevant because he shouldn’t be on the PP anyways.

    On the PK he was the 4th best option behind players like Ryan Jones who if viewed by many as a liability.

    And even though Horcoff is a grinder with little offensive ability, and one of the bigger players on the team he doesn’t hit. Robert Nilsson outhit Horcoff when he played here. And Horcoff isn’t Datsyuk.

    Paul Gaustad just returned a 1st rounder. Edmonton would have to trade a 1st rounder just for someone to take Horcoff. These players are not comparable.

  33. bendelson says:

    godot10,

    So they have moved Teemu to the RW?

    Regardless, it seems clear that MPS can play either wing.
    And I would expect the same for Yak.

  34. godot10 says:

    bendelson:
    godot10,

    So they have moved Teemu to the RW?

    Regardless, it seems clear that MPS can play either wing.
    And I would expect the same for Yak.

    Teemu played RW with Vandevelde/Green and Paajarvi.

    Teemu played LW with Green and Keller.

    I’m skipping attending the game tonight since they were 0-2 with me at Ricoh this week.

  35. Traktor says:

    This will be the last I talk about Horcoff and Belanger until the season starts..

    I think both are terrible options. I would rather have a couple Vande Velde’s or any other scrub from free agency.

    Horcoff has made close to 30M in his career and Belanger probably close to 15-20M. I just don’t see either player going the extra mile in a foot soldier role.

    There were rumors that Horcoff and Belanger were not happy about the kids getting all the glamorous opportunities.

    Vande Velde has probably made like 500k in his career. He has much more to play for and I’m sure he would be happy to do all the dirty work and play with some passion.

    Its time to get rid of the glorified grinders with a sense of entitlement.

    WTF was Tambellini thinking giving Belanger 3 years?

  36. rickithebear says:

    Blah blah Horcoff!

    looked at the Qcomp of players:
    Broke them into 8 groups: around 52 players per.
    upper 1st
    lower 1st
    upper 2nd………..
    lower 4th.

    Each group can be broken into 6 clear zone start sets: forming a bell curve with the two pairs of lower and upper groups being around 10 players
    >60% around 3 players
    55% to 60% around 7 player
    50 to 55% around 16 players
    45% to 50% around 16 players
    40-45% around 7 players
    < 40% around 3 players

    From this you can get clear EVP/60 expectations for Q comp and Zone start.:
    Results: EVP/60
    60
    upper 1st:
    .98 — 1.35 — 1.88 — 2.24 — 2.44 — 2.50
    Lower 1st:
    1.45 — 1.55 — 1.69 — 2.27 — 2.25 — 3.1
    Upper 2nd:
    1.35 — 1.41 — 1.72 — 1.86 — 2.05 — 2.32
    Lower 2nd:
    1.14 — 1.31 — 1.71 — 1.89 — 2.11 — 2.58
    Upper 3rd
    1.01 — 1.14 — 1.31 — 1.57 — 1.87 — 2.05
    Lower 3rd:
    .65 — .96 — 1.09 — 1.57 — 1.57 — 1.40
    Upper 4th:
    N/a — .49 — 1.20 — 1.20 — 1.37 — 1.35 — N/A
    Lower 4th:
    .67 — .77 — 1.09 — 1.02 — 2.01 — 2.03

    What becomes evident is we can establish a clear production expectation for situation played. if we do this for the post lockout years. Slightly flawed. but rough range.

    Shawn horcoff was 10 of 421 forwards asked to perform in thewmost difficult situation in the league. resonable expectations for that task would be around 1.35EVP/60. however he was asked to take extensive zone draws with 4th line caliber players. likely skewing down his expected EVP/60 to 1.04. what we need is a Center who can take half the load.

    these are the Centers who have shown the ability.
    Laich
    Plekanec
    Fisher
    Brandon Sutter
    Bolland
    Couturier
    Goc
    PAHLSSON
    Legwand
    Talbot
    Brodziak
    GAUSTAD
    2.5-3M on Gaustad is were we are at!

  37. rickithebear says:

    What sucks even more;
    Hemsky: 1.57EVP/60 expected 1.86 below
    Smyth: 1.93EVP/60 expected 1.71
    RNH: 1.98EVP/60 expected 2.58 way below
    Eberle: 3.08 expected 2.58 exceeded
    Hall: 2.07 expected 2.11 normal
    Jones 1.46 expected 1.14 exceeded.
    Gagner: 1.96 expected 1.57 exceeded
    Eager 1.46 expected 1.09 exceeded
    Belanger Normal
    MP Below
    Lander Below
    Pettrell Below

    Man!

  38. Lowetide says:

    Who expected 2.58 from RNH? WHO?

  39. Traktor says:

    WTF?

  40. rickithebear says:

    LT: RNH played lower 2nd competition with a zone start of greater than 60% the players who were given that situation averaged 2.58 EVP/60. the break even point in the league given that situation.
    RNH performed at 76% of the expected average performance for a player.

    Then you have a player like Couturier who played 1st level comp in a 40.3% zone start. one of the 20 toughest situations in the league. would expect on AVG for that situation a 1.55EVP/60
    he had 1.81 17% better than the Average.

    We can look at each situation and establish ranges or valves for expected performance versus the average. The oilers choose to give RNH a soft protected role and he performed well below average. As expected for a rookie.

    Eberle killed the Same Situation.

    We argue you cannot compare because of the diffrence in situation. there are the averages for each!

    Are you above or below. See 3:16 PM post

  41. Woodguy says:

    rickithebear:
    LT:RNH played lower 2nd competition with a zone start of greater than 60% the players who were given that situation averaged 2.58 EVP/60.the break even point in the league given that situation.
    RNH performed at76% of the expected average performance for a player.

    Then you have a player like Couturierwho played 1st level comp in a 40.3% zone start.one of the 20 toughest situations in the league. would expect on AVG for that situation a 1.55EVP/60
    he had 1.81 17% better than the Average.

    We can look at each situation and establish ranges or valves for expected performance versus the average. The oilers choose to give RNH a soft protected role and he performed well below average. As expected for a rookie.

    Eberle killed the Same Situation.

    We argue you cannotcompare because of the diffrence in situation. there are the averages for each!

    Are you above or below. See 3:16 PM post

    RNH was a 18 year old 165lb rookie.

    I wouldn’t expect him to be league average at 5v5.

  42. oilswell says:

    speeds,

    Its a fair question. There are two classic answers to Misfit’s question that I am aware of. First, that Hall to center would perhaps put him in fewer vulnerable positions and thus reduce time on IR and increase expected playing lifetime. Second is that Hall is perhaps the Oilers’ best player, and his impact at centre may be much greater than at wing.

    Certainly if he can stay much more healthy at center, it is possible that alone may allow him to provide more value to the organization. Its worth a try, but to my eye he looks as if he may not have the vision and brains for it. Plus he seems like he creates a awful lot on the wing with his current style: not sure how the centre position will help that (staying high, etc.).

  43. oilswell says:

    speeds,
    I always thought it was goal differential, not goals against. Intuitively it seems easier to generate larger goal differential as the goals for increases.

  44. Magnus says:

    I don’t get the desire to move Hall to center either. Sure, we could use a second line center, but then you just create a gaping hole on left wing. And I don’t buy that Hall somehow would be safer at center than on the wing. A center skating with his head down is just as vulnerable to a hit than a winger along the boards. It sure didn’t help Sidney Crosby, or Eric Lindros, or Keith Primeau, or Marc Savard, or Pat Lafontaine.

  45. DeadmanWaking says:

    His PP numbers are irrelevant because he shouldn’t be on the PP anyways.

    No, they are not irrelevant, because his PP time ate into time and energy that could have demonstrated his worth in other statistical columns. His ability to leak slowly in any assigned capacity is a valuable commodity on a team with a surfeit of scrawny pullets where the coach is working hard not to stuff their beaks with more moths than they can chew all at once. You can’t just crank up the minutes and situations for young studs with no risk at all of pushing them into cognitive overload. Coach: Look boys, another squirming 3″ long Rose Chafer grub worm! Players: We’re still chewing all these moths. Feed it Horcoff! It’ll vanish into his giant cheek pouches, and he can chew it later. Indeed he can’t quite chew it, but it can live there until there are larger beaks to feed. (In the off-season Horcoff trains by playing trumpet for the Chip ‘n’ Dale Bebop Trio.)

    This whole meme that losing too much risks the development of young players is based on observations that losing situations where the coach responds by putting the wrong players into the wrong circumstances actually does do real damage. Renney didn’t do that. He put our best young players into situations where they could feel good about their accomplishments and progress despite all the bleeding in the W/L column. This last season was far from a maximum-strength bitter pill. They knew they could beat good teams on a good day (Eastern conference road trips not included). And they did beat good teams and even ran up the score doing it. Gagner’s eight point night must have felt like Bilbo climbing the towering oak tree in the Mirkwood forest:

    “Is there no end to this accursed forest?” said Thorin. “Somebody must climb a tree and see if he can get his head above the roof and have a look round …”

    Of course “somebody” meant Bilbo …

    In the end he poked his head above the roof of leaves and then he found spiders all right. But they were only small ones of ordinary size, and they were after the butterflies … [He] saw all round him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundreds of butterflies. I expect they were a kind of ‘purple emperor’, a butterfly that loves the tops of oak-woods, but these were not purple at all, they were a dark dark velvety black without any markings to be seen.

    Actually, the Oilers sent three saviours with young legs scampering up the trees to see the butterflies. Horcoff is left in the gloom down below mumbling through stuffed cheeks “what do you see up there?” and feeling mighty discouraged. This after Pancakes falls into the enchanted stream and starts dreaming of Turkish Delight while everyone else tugs him along to the promised land; fortunately, not long after he is pulled from his barrel asleep at Esgaroth (by a different brigade) he snaps out of it just long enough to dispatch the Ice Queen, before grabbing the corner of a plush contract and rolling over to revisit his happy dreams of Turkish Delight with the contract wrapped snugly around him like a delirious grub, expecting some tireless Horcoff to carry him like a giant wad of chewing tobacco to the next plush-contract vending machine. Horcoff’s plush contract is more like a hair shirt. Man, he thinks to himself, where did I go wrong?

    You can say that this team shouldn’t have been in Mirkwood in the first place. Or you can say that they failed to entice Beorn to tag along. “Hey, we’ll give you a 1/14 share of a giant pile of gold we don’t have yet, if we even get there after years of misery. None of us actually know how to kill a dragon, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, these are little details you work out in the heat of the moment, usually when some rube we drag along exhibits the valour the rest of us only pretend to have.”

    Beorn replies “thanks but no thanks”, before offering them some good advice: Stay on the path! Don’t go chasing free agents when your pups are teething. And then–like Hans Solo–he does show up just before the Battle of Five Armies with Voldymyr Yevgenygrinch Brutov printed across his shoulders in exceptionally stark block letters. After the carnage, he fades away with a wave of his giant paw. “Sorry guys, I’m just a rental. Have you seen the cannons and hocks on that filly who brings me my honey cakes? That giant oak bench in the main hall is bolted down for a good reason. Nearly caught me on the chin when … ah … but anyway, not that I don’t prefer blocking pucks with my ankles in distant lands, it’s been a slice.”

    Dwalin [unhappily]: So then, where’s Horcov anyway? Haven’t seen him around much lately … has anyone noticed?
    Fili and Kili look dejectedly at their pointed shoes over their woefully short beards.
    Balin: What do you mean, our dragon-fodder extraordinaire is playing out his string for the Hershey Bears? Three dumb Hobbits stacked together don’t make a decent playoff beard [Fili and Kili blush], and that’s way too many picks to invest in finger food for a worm with sharp toes.

    On the coaching front, pity about Oin and Gloin having either no chance or no success showing off their tinderbox talents. They’ll both be glad to put Mirkwood behind them if the new coach hews to the main path. It doesn’t seem like it just now, but the forest really does come to an end after the next dip.

  46. Schitzo says:

    rickithebear:
    LT:RNH played lower 2nd competition with a zone start of greater than 60% the players who were given that situation averaged 2.58 EVP/60.the break even point in the league given that situation.

    When the “average” group is made up of guys like the Sedins, Malkin, Kane, Toews, and Gaborik, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the performance may skew high.

  47. speeds says:

    oilswell:
    speeds,

    Its a fair question.There are two classic answers to Misfit’s question that I am aware of.First, that Hall to center would perhaps put him in fewer vulnerable positions and thus reduce time on IR and increase expected playing lifetime.Second is that Hall is perhaps the Oilers’ best player, and his impact at centre may be much greater than at wing.

    Certainly if he can stay much more healthy at center, it is possible that alone may allow him to provide more value to the organization.Its worth a try, but to my eye he looks as if he may not have the vision and brains for it.Plus he seems like he creates a awful lot on the wing with his current style:not sure how the centre position will help that (staying high, etc.).

    One of the things I like about Hall, going forward, is he seems like a guy that not only is going to win a lot of puck battles, but likes to be in them. If he’s playing C he’s going to be around the puck more, and if that means he’d win the puck more than someone else, that’s obviously a good thing. Is it possible that he can be less likely to score on any given offensive possession (playing C vs. LW), but that by playing C he creates enough extra possessions to make up for that?

  48. speeds says:

    oilswell:
    speeds,
    I always thought it was goal differential, not goals against.Intuitively it seems easier to generate larger goal differential as the goals for increases.

    I’d have to look for a link, but I seem to recall someone looking at this awhile ago and it looked like GD correlated better than either GF or GA on their own. I also recall the point being made that not all goal differentials are the same – It would be better to have 100 GF and 0 GA than 450 GF and 350 GA, even though both result in a GD of +100.

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