Boyd Gordon is a monster story for the Oilers this season, but players of his type don’t get the ink—unless your team is in game’s that matter. The man is having a terrific season as a two-way checking center, miles from the madding pennant race.
VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER, OILER FORWARDS
Gordon’s zone starts are so severe the graph can barely contain him, and he plays tough opposition night in and out. As a shutdown center, I don’t think the Oilers can ask any more of him. While I’m at it, interesting to see how the coach is using Mr. Hendricks early and notice Eakins making every effort to get his elite youngsters good zone starts (I don’t known there’s much he can do about the tough opps, those boys are going to have to deal with that until about 2030). And look at old man Smyth!
VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER, OILER BLUE
Jeff Petry plays the toughs, and he plus new mate Marincin get the zone start hell (Marincin’s toughness minutes will move up, too). Ference gets a tough road too, Larsen was playing tougher minutes with a zone push before being lost at sea. We’ll know the coach is happy when there are four bubbles like Marincin’s in the range of Petry’s balloon.
Men, I could talk about the California/Oakland Seals all day, but one story you’ve no doubt heard is the one where Sam Pollock (spits) dealt Ernie Hicke for a first round pick and ended up with Guy Lafleur. True—well, almost. The actual trade:
And of course the picks added in. So, the actual deal (this won’t be found anywhere btw) is Dennis Hextall, Ernie Hicke and #10 overall (Chris Oddleifson) to Montreal for Francois Lacombe and #1 overall (Guy Lafleur). Why did Frank Selke Jr and Bill Torrey make the deal? Well, in 1970 spring the Seals were the playoff team and the Habs were not (seriously) but attendance was crappy. Also, the original 6 teams were hoarding all the good players, to the point where the 1969-70 Habs AHL team was probably better than the Seals. That team was so good Ernie Hicke (who would score 22 goals as an NHL rookie) had been sent to the WHL for his season.
Oakland acquired three players (Hextall, who would have a long run as a rough, tough center; Hicke, who had an uneven tour as a scorer; and Oddleifson who would eventually find his way to the Canucks during a journeyman career) for Lacombe and the pick, but poor old Ernie Hicke is the punch line because NHL history was written out of Montreal in those days.
Eric Tulsky is the real deal, and writes a brilliant article here. Wonderful logic, and I do wonder if Parkatti’s working on something that will move the conversation forward. Seems to me his approach to “shot quality”, while painstaking, may unwrap some very important information that can be set beside shot differential and shed light on the game.
Nuge makes a list! I think he’s going to emerge as one of the truly sensational centers in the NHL, a player with a complete skill set and an ability to change a game in a variety of ways.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
The verbal surrounding the Leafs these days is incredible. Darren Dreger was on TSN Toronto this morning talking about Dave Nonis refusing to trade Nazem Kadri unless a center comes back, and Bozak’s emerging as a 1C. Toronto the Grate is walking tall these days, and lowly Edmonton can’t buy a thrill—and yet the shot differential in each town is similar.
These Oilers have paid a terrible price for bad goaltending and a pitiful power play. If they can straighten those two things out, maybe 25-30 wins is possible (meaning a very strong end to the year).
I don’t think the Lafleur’s are going to lay down tonight, though. Sam Pollock’s voodoo left town long ago.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy day, electric show! Beginning at 10 this morning on TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Dennis King, legendary Oiler observer. We’ll talk about Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish.
- Nathan Dempsey, former NHL player. Our ‘ask the coach’ feature will focus on off-ice training.
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. We’ll talk Boyd Gordon and the Oil, plus Greg Chase and Mitchell Moroz.
- Andrew Bucholtz, 55 yard line. The Eskimos named their coaching staff, CFL free agency is just ahead and we’ll talk Super Bowl.
10-1260 via text, or @Lowetide_ on twitter. See you on the radio!