Sunday, March 19, 2006

After The Facts

Before I began contributing to Vic's blog I was thinking just what I could do for this site and at what times and Vic suggested that maybe I could do write some pregames or postgame stuff and here's my first of the latter.

Overall I think the Oilers can be moderately pleased with their latest point. Yes it was a home game and the Oilers have gassed points at Rexall all season so you never want to let another one and a W slip away. But even though I don't hold a tonne of respect for the Wings because of the fact they've racked up their point total in the Comedy Central division they're obviously still a formidable foe. But that's not what my postgames are about. I'm not here to be another Terry Jones, even though I did eat like him today because I was super hungover, and I'll call it the way I see it and I'll add some levity along the way.

That being said any humor I attempt will pale alongside the spectacle that is Dwayne Roloson trying to play the puck. I mean sweet shag...if there was one thing Salo did right was he didn't play the puck because he knew he was terrible at it. Either Roloson has short term memory loss or he's just plain daft because time after time he's turning normal plays into scoring chances for the opposition and he still won't quit trying to be Marty, we will accept Brodeur or Turco;)

So let's start with that guy and here are some reasons why Dwayne Roloson is..wait for it..worse than garbage. He's WTG because we gave up a 1st rounder to acquire and yes the '06 draft class impresses people less than Napolean in a porno, ie the guy had a micro-penis but maybe just maybe we could've used that pick to acquire someone who isn't simply awful. He's WTG because the deadline day has passed and as Huey Lewis once crooned, along with help from The News of course, "This is it." Unless we go back to Jussi or Ty even visit John Muckler's crypt long enough to convince him to put Morrisson back on waivers..Dwayne Roloson is the guy who might lead us to the playoffs and almost assuredly will break our backs if we get there.

Note: the Muckler joke becomes way funnier when you allow yourself to come to the realization that he's been dead for the last 10 years. And if you want me to even further blow your mind I'll tell you that Muckler hates Ted Nolan because Nolan once caught Muckler eating Rob Ray's brain. Which of course explains the things that come out of Ray's mouth during the intermissions of Sabres games.

It would take awhile before the Roloson Suckfest: Volume 4 kicked into high gear and I guess our first hint that this game would be a bit off was when we found out that Mark Lee was the play-by-play guy and we had dueling hairdos in the colour department with Ron Tugnutt and Kelly Hrudey. Mark Lee is a big fan of figure skating and his mojo followed him from Torino as most of the night resembled one of those Night Of Champions deals where the male skaters really really flame it up. Which is to say that this game didn't even match the intensity of regular figure skating.

You guys can see the highlights and read the summaries elsewhere so I won't waste too much of your time on that. And I mentioned the absence of physicality because this is an area where you can best the Wings. There are some older guys who quite simply wouldn't be able to withstand a heavy forecheck and then there are guys like say Datsyuk who would go to any lenghts to avoid it. I'm sure MacTavish and Co knew this yet it was never present in the Oilers gameplan. I'd hoped that would be rectified in the intermission but it just didn't happen.

In fact there were times when the game was so painstakingly boring that I expected Tugnutt to blurt out..."Can you believe my last time is Tugnutt."" And of course that would lead to some blue musings with Lee eventually waxing nostalgic about his Olys experience and how everyone was disappointed Brian Williams was working from a studio in Toronto because "no one likes foreign poun like BDubya."

Something else shocking:) that really happened was the the sudden prolifieration of the Oilers second PP unit. I never thought it mattered much and the scoresheet won't show that either of the first two goals were scored on the PP. But to wit the first goal clocked in a mere three seconds after the Wings penalty had elapsed and the second one happened 15 seconds after but it was one of those times where the Wings never really got their bearings so it was essentially another man advantaged marker. Shawn Horcoff really stood out on the second unit and didn't seem to mind the pressure of leading this group.

So now that brings us to Roloson. The 2-2 marker by Chelios came after the Oilers squandered a chance to go up 3-1 when they frittered away a two man advantage of over 90 seconds. Especially frustrating in this sequence was Pronger missing the net from about 20 feet as the Wings PK unit closed ranks around Legace. At the other end the Oilers netminder was just rank and Chelios came out of the box and got behind a falling Pronger before nearly losing his stick and still scoring a five hole shot that held a speed capable of being measure with an egg timer.

So it's on to the third and Roloson turns a harmless "get me off the ice everyone else is changing" shot by Cleary into an open net shot for Holmstrom. You could watch that play 20 times and you'd never figure out why Dwayne kicked that shot where he did and with such velocity. It was like when the producers of Three's Company and Dallas thought Jenilee Harrison was sexy. It's nearly 20 years later and most people still don't know why it happened

At this point DR's controlling his rebounds like James Gandolfini controls his appetite.

Fernando Pisani works like a dog and we all know that and it was nice to see him rewarded and maybe it would've been nice if the refs had been inspired to punch the clock with such earnest because some of the calls tonight were out of left field. I like to think I'm impartial, at least about everything besides netminders but Salo sucked the life out of me for half a decade so deal with it, but the last few games have me wondering if MacTavish is so hated around the league as to inspire bias. The officials thought nothing of calling back to back penalties in the last three minutes of the game against the Oilers yet Samsonov's hauled down in the slot in overtime 10 feet from the net and there's a silence more deafening then the time we all saw Axl Rose make his return on the MTV Music Awards.

And could we please start making up the posters and besieging our local Governor, yes I know we live in Canada but roll with me here, for Stoll-Torres line clemency for Samsanov? At the end of the day do you think Ryan Smyth would really balk at being asked to give up his 1st line LW spot and thus move to his off-wing with numbers 14 and 16? Here's a guy that would go to Singapore to participate in a throwing a paper ball into a basket competition if Lowe told him he would be repersenting Canada. So you don't think he tolerate a move to the second line? Please, the only thing easier would be convincing Flavor Flav to smoke crack. Let's make this move and practice the new lines on Monday and try and wring some offense out of the old B in situations other than the PP or four on four.

The extra frame featured Mike Peca somehow garnering two shifts in overtime and while sane people questioned why we were trying to keep the score status quo in the overtime MacT waited until the extra frame's end before breaking out a shocker that would be akin to picking up a movie called "The Brown Bunny" and assuming it's a children's film.

*** Note if you're a Chole Sevingy fan and you haven't seen this movie then I really don't know why you get out of bed anymore. You're clearly depressed.

The shootout list is announced and Fernando Pisani is leading off followed by Samsonov and Stoll. The absences of Hemksy and Smyth brought about the biggest omissions since Martin Lawrence wasn't nominated for the Best Leading Actor in Big Momma's House. I mean the guy has to wear a fat suit and keep from jumping Nia Long and you don't think that shows range? By comparison rolling around on a mountain and kissing a guy seems weak when you consider the obvious payoff that such a foray to the sensitive side will guarentee a life supply of tang to more than just a lucky astronaut.

But it's back to the game and you're telling me you don't select Hemsky for this showdown? The guy's shooting at nearly 40% and he's more talented than anyone else at the game besides the fat guy in the denim shirt who broke out some serious moves after Pisani tied the game. And Ryan Smyth shoots because he's Ryan Smyth dammit. He's pulled out some nice moves before and this team's been involved in enough of these spectacles that we know even finding a third guy is a chore so now all of a sudden we not only go back to the drawing board but we kick it down in a fit of rage? Did anyone else forget that marathon shootout against the Jackets when Jason Chimera made Shawn Horcoff look like Sean Cronin? We don't have a whole lot of options here.

So all three Wings go to Roloson's glove and two of them beat him and Pisani and Samsonov don't get a sniff against Frodo Legace. I guess a few people went home happy but every game that passes shows Roloson to be less than what we need to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. I think he'll get us there because this team can score three goals a game and we've got some weaker competition left on our docket. Also there's the sudden developement where we can actually grab some points at home these days. Overall I believe in this team enough that I'm saying they'll win two games no matter who they face. But despite the fact that Roloson makes the odd great first save he quite simply can turn nothing into something when it comes to the other team and it looks like Lowe bought another bag of magic beans.


Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

The Horcoff PP thing is pretty amazing. I mean he is clearly the go to guy on the PP when Hemmer isn't out there. Stoll and Pisani couldn't wait to get the puck to him when they had it last night.

I know he had good PP numbers last year by River's metric, but personally I had kind of written that off as luck. Apparently wrongly, he's looking damn good out there with the man advantage ... and considering a lot of his time comes without Hemsky or Smyth, or even Pronger on the ice, hella good PP numbers this season so far as shown in a thread on Lowetide's blog.

And how about Stoll on the point on the second PP unit? And they were turning it to leave him at the top of the umbrella. Good Lord, on a MacTavish team ... who'd a thunk you'd see that in our lifetimes? :o

On the line matchups, I agree. Looked to me like MacTavish was happy to just roll the forward lines and let Babcock respond. Babcock's always been a power-vs-power kind of guy by my memory ... and he seemed to go for that even though it drove him into a four line game

(having said that, I don't know how long of a bench he's been running in MoTown this year, at some point I'll check).

I don't tend to notice the D matchups when I'm watching, but I'll run the shiftchart in a bit and see what kind of icetime Pronger saw against Zetterburg's line.

3/19/2006 9:56 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Quick Note:

Pronger with a total of 15.4 minutes of 5on5 icetime according to the shift chart. 5.4 minutes vas the Zetterburg line and 8.0 vs the Shanahan line (damn the team has some good LWs, yowza!) leaving him just a couple of minutes out there against DET's bottom six forwards.

3/19/2006 10:08 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Yeah, the crazy thing about Horcoff's offense this year is that as much as his performance has been attributed to his linemates, he fairly easily outperforms them at ES and he's managed to keep pace with Hemsky's torrid PP rates. Of course you can't ignore the fact that they're helping him a great deal, but it's hard to argue that he isn't getting a lot done on his own considering he plays more minutes and has better production rates.

What's your take on the 2nd assists argument in general, Vic? (Another blunt instrument used to beat down Horcoff's contributions this year) I don't disagree with the idea that they might be the least important part of scoring plays if you consider an entire year's worth of work. As much as it really does fly in the face of the thrust of the EV+/- argument, it probably falls in line with the concept behind the Wilson number, so I'm still really on the fence with this one. I still like the idea that many plays that lead to goals are made by players that don't even get on the scoresheet, so I tend to side with the crew that thinks 2nd assists have virtually equivalent value to a team.

3/19/2006 11:10 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ya, I'm with you. I like the second assists. And for the same reasons as you.

I remember reading an academic paper that endeavoured to predict draftee's futures at the NHL draft. They went back through recent history and used a myriad of stats (height, weight, LH or RH, position, goals, assist, +/-, PIM, ... etc) and mined the data. It was well written and honestly presented, still, kind of a nonsense really. The interesting thing for me was that they found the strongest correlation between points and future success (shocking! :-) ) for North American kids, Goals less so. And for Europeans the opposite.

Hockey is hockey. The difference there was that the European leagues typically give out far fewer second assists, and sometimes none at all. Had they been giving out 2nd assist like we do, then surely points would have been the strongest indicator of future success for the European prospects too. I mean we'll never know for sure ... but so says common sense.

Lends credence to the argument that the 2nd assist has value, a least to my mind it does. Makes sense, no?

3/19/2006 11:44 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

The Oilers PP is a weird beast to me. The type of chances they are generating now, thru Hemsky and Samsonov don't need a guy in front of the net, they need good puck movement. You don't need much of a shooter either, the chances they are creating are basically empty net goals.

I think a guy could make a case that Smyth and Spacek's skillsets don't work as well on their PP as would Horcoff and Tarnstrom's when coupled with Hemsky, Samsonov, and Pronger.

(1) It would put a center out there to win the draws.

(2) gives you the ability to run the PP off either side, not that you would, but you can if that's what's given to you

(3) Spacek doesn't pinch in as well as Tarnstrom, he's not as good a PP performer, and theoretically sitting Spacek at PP could give him more time at ES.

I'm sure there are different positive aspects I'm glossing over, but on the whole I know I'd at least like to see that unit get a couple chances, see what they can do.

After all if EDM likes the "balanced units", that would still leave them a 2nd unit of Stoll, Bergeron, Smyth, Torres, Spacek/Pisani/Dvorak.

I suppose in particular I'm thinking I'd like to see Tarnstrom in Spacek's place now with Samsonov's addition, but then again he is injured.

Speaking of injuries, anyone see that hilarious Ireland column in the journal today? She said something to the effect of ... Craig MacTavish, if he had his way, would have held Moreau out of last night's game.

And I'm just wondering what I'm supposed to take from that? It's not the head coaches call who plays?

3/20/2006 12:43 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I dunno, that first unit looks pretty darn good as it is. They create a tonne as you say. Seems to me that the weak link is Spacek. He's the beneficiary of the good puck movement on the left side, he's getting tonnes of one-timer chances with plenty of net to shoot at. Hell I think you or I would have scored a half dozen in that role by now :-)

Don't they have another LH shot out there that can one time the puck well, even if the pas isn't right in the heart of their wheelhouse?

Whacky idea alert!:
Brad Winchester has a staggering 15 PP goals in Hamilton in 37 games, wow! Only 5 PP assists. In Guy Flaming's article (link in LT's blog) Winchester is lauded for his one-timer, and his ability to get the shot off from any puck position.

He'd be a one trick pony for sure, because his other stick skills look pretty marginal to me. But that one trick might just be the perfect fit, no?

On Ireland's article: Ya, WTH is that about? :D Never heard that one before. Is she implying that MacTavish is physically afraid of Moreau? :P

3/20/2006 10:08 am  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

It sounds to me like that whole Moreau thing was a real cockup. MacT had no intention of playing him, told the media, forgot to tell Moreau, the media got to Moreau first...gong.

3/20/2006 11:06 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

As much as I love the PP right now Hemsky has totally fallen in love with that cross-ice pass to Spacek and Jaro quite simply doensn't have the finish to warrent such continous attention.

It's a nice wrinkle to break out and it's a fun play to watch but how many times do we have to watch Spacek muff it before we either replace him or pretty much scrap it alltogether? I know the first point's probably moot given that the obvious replacement in Tarnstrom, at least to our eyes, is injured.

As for your new PP unit Speeds I like it but to take 94 off the first unit might be sacrilegious;)

And yes it was odd to see Stoll having such responsibility on our PP so kudos to MacT on that one but then he goes and does stuff like giving Peca shifts in OT. What's the point there? Are we trying to keep it status quo before we lose in a shootout? There was no harm in gambling giving away the extra point to Det so why not go with a three forward-one D set and try and win it in OT?

And the whole not using 94-83 thing in the SO was nuts

3/20/2006 1:38 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

As much as I love the PP right now Hemsky has totally fallen in love with that cross-ice pass to Spacek and Jaro quite simply doensn't have the finish to warrent such continous attention.

Finally an heir to the "one-timer in the slot to Carter"'s throne!

3/20/2006 3:02 pm  
Blogger J.Money said...

Good article Dennis, but my God! You have more pop culture references then a Family Guy episode.

3/20/2006 6:05 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

mudcrutch79 said...
It sounds to me like that whole Moreau thing was a real cockup. MacT had no intention of playing him, told the media, forgot to tell Moreau, the media got to Moreau first...gong.

Thanks, that makes perfect sense.

3/20/2006 8:16 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Dennis said...
As much as I love the PP right now Hemsky has totally fallen in love with that cross-ice pass to Spacek and Jaro quite simply doensn't have the finish to warrent such continous attention.

Ya, Spacek has been getting love, and he's not a nightmare out there on the powerplay or anything. But Jesus, somebody with better finish could be racking up the goals.

... then he goes and does stuff like giving Peca shifts in OT. What's the point there? Are we trying to keep it status quo before we lose in a shootout? There was no harm in gambling giving away the extra point to Det so why not go with a three forward-one D set and try and win it in OT?

And the whole not using 94-83 thing in the SO was nuts.

Ya, that's got me beat. Madness. Hell, Quenneville routinely uses 3 forwards at 4on4 in OT. And MacTavish is trying to kill the OT with Peca? Why? Because he thinks they can beat DET in the shootout? Madness.

And the decision on the shootout personnel is bewildering.

It's a bit Jekyll and Hyde. My gut feel is that MacTavish is taking a hands off approach to the PP this season, and that's why we've seen sensibility reign there. He's still as uptight as Burns or Sutter when it comes to the other offensive times where he has command, like the OT 4on4.

3/20/2006 8:25 pm  

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