Items that might one day grow into a blog post
(It's mostly being done because I don't really want to write coherent paragraphs.)
First, my game review:
- I watched the game tonight and it was more than a little depressing. The Oilers came out in the first period and forechecked like absolute demons and had the Red Wings looking very flustered. It reminded me very much of recent Oiler playoff games. Very impressive work from Smyth, Peca, Dvorak and Horcoff but all it really yielded was a handful of minor penalties by the forecheckers deep in the zone, one of which was converted by some schmuck named MacLean.
- The Oilers just struggled in the second by my eye - they toned down the heavy forecheck but were still unable to get the puck into dangerous areas for much of the period. They lost a ton of battles along the boards all game, but in this period in particular. The Oilers routinely sent two men into the corner with one Red Wing and sure enough lost almost every battle. Even Pronger lost a fair number tonight.
- In the third they come out like gangbusters on the forecheck for the first shift, the Detroit dman makes a total blunder ( a blind prayer of a pass up the right wing) that Horcoff fails to handle while Spacek makes a bizarre pseudo-pinch near the players' bench. The end result is Draper leading a 2-on-Pronger that gets buried behind Roloson. Wonderful. The Oilers mostly struggle to generate pressure in the offensive zone with the puck for the rest of the period.
- Other random observations:
- Dvorak had a brilliant chance on that onetimer (in the 2nd I believe).
- Torres went all-out on an offensive zone faceoff that was lost by Stoll leading to a nice chance for Samsonov.
- Moreau had a brilliant chance on a cross-crease pass from Dvorak, but was tied up and drew the penalty.
- Horcoff was flying tonight and had a clearcut breakaway opportunity that he couldn't slide between Legace's pads.
- Smyth had probably the only other quality chance of the game, but Legace came across the net well and got his pad down.
- Samsonov and Hemsky were mostly ineffective. Lots of flash and dash, but no substance.
- Roloson played fine.
- The PP struggled all night generating real scoring opportunities. While the puck possession is not something I've ever seen an Oiler PP capable of, they really seem stuck on a handful of set plays - the Hemsky-to-Spacek onetimer and the Pronger point shot and neither player can hit the net consistently. It lacks imagination and looks like it might be over-coached again.
- Pouliot continues to play rather well. I'm looking forward to seeing more from him. He barely touched the ice tonight and that's probably a good idea, but when he's out there he just seems like a decent pro.
- Horcoff vs. Jokinen. I'll post about this at some point, but that is a really interesting comparison given the completely ridiculous contract that Jokinen just snagged. Before this year, Jokinen has been outperformed by Horcoff in terms of ESP/hr, PPP/hr, +/- and I imagine EV+/- as well. In addition, by looking at the 03/04 shift charts, I found that Horcoff appeared to have considerably more difficult strength of opposition. This year, even though Jokinen appears to be breaking out again they have almost identical scoring rates. So if Jokinen is worth 4yrs - $21MM, what is Horcoff going to get? Of course, Horcoff isn't a pending UFA, but I'm having trouble finding a single piece of data that suggests that Jokinen is a better player than Shawn Horcoff, so he's got some serious leverage in my opinion.
- Jaroslav Spacek probably isn't coming back. He's having a career year by every measure and he's coming off a post-lockout $2.25MM/yr contract. What hurts more is that Morris ($3.9MM/yr), Norstrom ($4.25MM/yr) and Gauthier ($2.1MM/yr) were all signed to extensions. I'm pretty convinced that Norstrom is an elite dman in this league so his number doesn't mean much. However, I'm quite certain Spacek's a better player than Gauthier and I could be convinced that he's in the same ballpark as Morris. I can't see the Oilers making a strong enough pitch to keep this guy.