Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Game Day Ramblings

The Oilers have an extra day of rest here, and the next two are in VAN ... this first game is just huge for both teams. I'm looking forward to this game a bunch, it should be a belter. :-)

The playoff odds: As calculated by mudcrutch using a sensible simulation shows the picture really well. It's updated to current.
* L.A looks to be drifting down, and with Demitra not fully fit, it's hard to like their chances.
* The Canucks have dropped a shade below the '50% chance to make the playoffs' line. And if the Oilers can take four or five points from Vancouver in this three game series ... they'll have a helluva steep hill to climb in order to make the playoffs methinks. Killer instinct boys, let's see some.

The oddsmakers are liking the Oilers here. A 60% chance of winning from The Greek, Bet On Sports and EZSportsbook. A 59% chance of winning from Bowmans. Which is a significant favourite in a hockey game between two teams so close in the standings.

Who does MacTavish march out against Naslund's line tonight? Does Moreau play? and if he doesn't does Pisani stay at centre or do they need him to shore up the wings?

Personally, I'd like to see Moreau rested, and Pisani moved to his offwing on that line, with Peca slotted in the middle on that unit. And this is one of the teams where going power vs power makes sense to my mind. Naslund line-vs-Smyth line. And give Pouliot a regular shift as the 4th line centre, so long as neither the Sedins nor Naslund are going to be the opposition. Maybe some 2nd unit PP time for the kid too.
So that's almost a guarantee that none of those things will happen :-)

They've had a couple of days to practice. I hope that time gave Samsonov a chance to get a better feel for the system and the teammates. He needs to start getting better at 5on5 methinks. And soon.

The Oilers need a good game from Roloson. No Keystone Cops routines trying to handle the puck. And no pucks that go through him.


Blogger RiversQ said...

Roloson's a major concern. There's no way around that one.

I'm really hoping to see the Oilers match the forward lines tonight. Crap, I'm almost tempted to settle for the matchups not even making sense as long as there are some. :)

I'm also hoping to see Smyth and Horcoff play a little more responsibly. I suppose I should say continue to play responsibly - they haven't given up a 5on5 goal in awhile have they? 94 hasn't given one up in five games since they got nailed for three of them against SJ. Have you noticed anything different there? Maybe that SJ game gave MacT and Smyth a shock to the system. One can only hope.

3/21/2006 3:43 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I think that if all of the lines have looked good in practice, and if Moreau is healthy, then MacTavish will probably roll them. Just a hunch mind.

If the Oiler bench gets shortened then I'm thinking that they might let the Smyth line go up against the Naslund line though. I mean Peca would probably do a better job of limiting their chances, but any line with him on it is so damn unlikely to score ... just seems a waste of all the chances that Nas/Bert will likely give up.

Mostly just because the Oilers top line looked really good against both of the top Vancouver lines last time out. Outchanced them, and had the better of the territorial play against the Sedins by my eyes, and that's not easy to do.

Pronger vs Naslund is a no brainer methinks. And the right amount of 5on5 icetime for Bergeron vs Bertuzzi is exactly zero. :-)

3/21/2006 4:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in Vancouver, I am forced to watch a ton of Canuck games to pass the time. And if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it either, but the Sedin-Carter line is playing great and has EASILY been the 'Nucks best line since the Olympic break. They've also been single-handedly keeping the Canucks PP afloat. I'd run Peca against the Sedins and the Horcoff line against Bertuzzi and Naslund who WILL give the Oilers a ton of chances.

One other thing to watch out for. I didn't watch the Detroit game, but in the Columbus win, Bertuzzi was centering Naslund and Ruutu while Morrison dropped to the third with Linden (who is basically a ghost of the old Linden this year.... terrible) or Kesler and Cooke.

It might have been because Fedorov was out and they weren't really worried about matching Todd with anyone in the C-Bus lineup, but Crawford has been trying anything to shake things up lately.


3/21/2006 5:29 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

I heard a rumor that the Canucks were going to start Noronen tonight?

Anyone hear this?

3/21/2006 5:49 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ian said:
I'd run Peca against the Sedins and the Horcoff line against Bertuzzi and Naslund who WILL give the Oilers a ton of chances.

I'd be cool with that. Would make for an entertaining game for sure.

The Bertuzzi at centre thing ... talk about thinking outside the box, yeesh! :D How did Bertuzzi look as a pivot?

3/21/2006 6:37 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Wow...I really don't know what to make of this club anymore. In the big picture I'd say we have to grab four points in the next three games or it's very tough sledding to make the playoffs. The last 10 games look good with six at home and only Det-Cgy being really tough matchups at first glance but it's hard to have much faith in this team given how they came out tonight. And how long as it been since we've really rolled?

I'm not taking anything away from Van because I was a guy who liked what Nonis did and I'll like their D when Jovo gets back. And I don't think Naslund/Bert will continue to suck all year though tonight did little to dispell that theory. And we know they were embarrassed on Sun night so teams usually come back with a great effort after a game like that...much like how Cgy rebounded from a 9-4 drubbing in Nsh only to get outshot 42-18 in Minny the next night. Of course they managed to win though;)

All that being said it was just gross the way they played all over the Oilers in the first period in their own building. After that we didn't see much from Van...Burrows scored a lucky one and they had maybe two chances to score outside of all their PP's and they went 5 straight PP without even registering a shot.

Speaking of special teams...it's as disappointed and frustrated as I've ever been when it comes to lack of discipline. There had been some warning signs like all the time we spent in the box during the two game jaunt to Minny. But tonight took the cake. And stupid penalties from guys that are wearing letters. And the icing on the cake was MacT missing an opp to make an example of someone, ie Moreau, with a third period benching. Is Ethan running this club at this point?

Isn't the idea that 96 points guarentees you a playoff spot? I don't know what the skeds are like for Ana and SJ, I've written the Kings off at this point, but that leaves the Oilers needing 17 points in 13 games. Which doesn't seem exactly daunting. But who knows which team is gonna show up?

Some positives to finish...we finally saw some chem from the 12-16-14 line..especially the two wingers. It will be interesting to see if that carries over. And a very steady game from Rolo. He was great in the first period despite the two goals and his rebound control was excellent all night.

3/21/2006 10:31 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Well said. I agree with all of that. Vancouver could have had more from their PP though, especially on the 5on3's. With that many clean shots from the point you'd think the hockey gods owed them at least one good bounce or deflection. Though maybe Burrows used up their luck with the baseball goal ;) Also, it kind of helped the Oilers PK that Salo and Jovo are hurt, esp on the 2 man advantages.

Jesus, did Pronger ever have some chances to score tonight, or get an assist of a rebound or deflection. They just weren't hitting the bullseye for him tonight. Hell they weren't even hitting the dartboard.

3/21/2006 10:57 pm  
Anonymous Julian said...

17 points in 13 games sounds easy enough, but it's more pts/game than we're currently earning, and it involves going at least 8-4-1. Which given their record over the last 13 games, doesn't inspire much confidence in me.

I'm still thinking they'll make it, but it'll be alot closer than any of us would like.

BTW, how much 5-3 PP time did Van have tonight? I didn't watch the whole game, but it seemed there were two 5-3s of both nearly two minutes, if not more.

3/22/2006 12:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vic said
The Bertuzzi at centre thing ... talk about thinking outside the box, yeesh! :D How did Bertuzzi look as a pivot?

You could tell it was totally foreign to him. Sometimes he'd get caught down low in the offensive zone and be the last man back by two zones and other times he'd be so hesitant to leave his own zone with the play, he'd be breaking out beside the defensemen.

But, Crawford has been a desperate man lately.

Have you seen two lines like the Smyth-Horcoff line and the Bertuzzi-Naslund line come off the rails quite like has happened this year??

Hemsky instead of Dvorak obviously has a negative effect on our EVGA, but there has to be way more to it than that.


3/22/2006 8:33 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Julian said...
BTW, how much 5-3 PP time did Van have tonight? I didn't watch the whole game, but it seemed there were two 5-3s of both nearly two minutes, if not more.

Two 5on3's that were both close to the full term. The Oilers dodged a bullet there. The 4on3 didn't go so well, the Canucks scored early on a bit of a fortunate deflection off of Smith's stick. In fairness to VAN, they moved the puck really well on that PP, oiler fans could surely smell something bad about to happen.

3/22/2006 4:27 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ian said ...

Hemsky instead of Dvorak obviously has a negative effect on our EVGA, but there has to be way more to it than that.

Ya this has been the topic of conversation here, as well as Lowetide's blog and a couple of other places. One day I'll get around to going way back to the start of the season, pre-Horcoff injury. And tear through the shiftchart info. Because the dynamic of the team, just the way it was being run from the bench, just went in a completely different direction. I'm pretty sure my memory is right ... but trying to prove it is just in my nature, so I'll take a kick at it when the mood strikes. And some things just defy explanation (obviously everything happens for a reason, but I can't see it).

3/22/2006 4:31 pm  

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