Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Rifleman

Well not really. I don't ever want to belittle a playoff goal and especially when it's a guy's first NHL marker but there were guys who played a bigger role in Sat's win than Brad Winchester. To be fair though Winchester threw a couple of big hits on his first shift and he did make a nice tip on a Tarnstrom shot in the first period so it's not like he was Petr Klima flying off the bench and into our hearts that night in Boston. Before I forget though I should give some props to the guy in charge of finalizing the Oilers deadline day deal with St.Louis because young Brad was rumored to be on his way to the Show Me State for former Oilers and former playoff suckbot Dean McAmmond. But the deal didn't get done in time and Winchester had a second life with the Oil.

Today he made sure this series has a real set of legs.

But he wasn't alone.

I think there's always the temptation to break out the "this is why we got Peca" line for everytime the former Selke Winner plays a good game. For today though the numbers say he played the most minutes for a forward not named Horcoff or Smyth, he made a crafty and lightning quick move to set up the 2-2 goal and he on no less than two occasions tied up an otherwise open Wings forward when Roloson threw out a bigger rebound than Vince Vaughn. That's a Jennifer Aniston joke and I know it's lame and I love Vince Vaughn but under normal circumstances he isn't pulling tail like Aniston.

But back to the game and a little more on Peca.

He only scored 11 goals in '04 so maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he couldn't score in a whorehouse with A-Rod's plastic. I will say that he still gets his chances but it just doesn't go his way. That's the status of him in terms of closing. When it comes to setting up then 37 is starting to show a little chemistry with Pisani and it will be interesting to see how that works out. A guy like RiversQ will tell me that replacing Dvorak with Pisani won't lead to more offense but then again I have eyes so I know that RQ's wrong on this one.

You know I'm an Oilers fan living in St. John's so I don't really give two fucks about where Oilers players are from. If you're an Albertan and that bothers you well I don't really give two fucks about that either. All that being said I'm a big fan of this local product. I didn't see anything promising about him through his many visiting AHL games here and I remember that night in Anaheim when he made his debut and I wondered why he was there. But the guy is solid. Good skater, hard worker and smart as fuck. I was shocked when he let Jerk Maltby get by him on Friday night for the 2-2 goal but he bounced back today in a big way.

There are a lot of guys on the Oilers who should get better. Guys like Bergeron, Hemsky, Stoll and Torres in particular. Matt Greene too obviously but he's not all that visible this time of year. A guy like Horcoff isn't going to get a helluva lot better IMO but that's also fine with me. He played his guts out today. Not a great skater and doesn't have a shot to speak of but he just gets things done. He did make a dumb play by not getting the puck deep late in regulation when he'd gained the Wings blueline but he doesn't even have 20 playoff games on his resume and he isn't playing on a team that wins a lot past mid-April. So while he won't get that much better he will get smarter. Smyth has a lot of try right now and he's putting up some screens in front of Legace but he's gotta jam the net a couple of times and make sure he gets to the rebounds. He's lagging a little offensively as far as I'm concerned.

Bergeron's a guy who didn't have a good game and he'll probably have a seat on Monday night. MacT has the last change so he can bring in Ulanov and make sure that Igor plays primarily against the Wings fourth line. Igor at least to my eye is also a pretty good penalty killer. It seems he only makes the big gaffes when he has time to think and the PK is mostly reactionary work. This team winds up walking on eggshells if either 21-24-6-44 winds up in the box. Igor can help out in this regard and he's also dirty and won't mind throwing an elbow in the face of Zetterberg or Datsyuk.

If we're talking defense we're talking Pronger. I'm dead serious here when I say I would forever hate Pronger if Yzerman had beaten the post along with Roloson on that dash down the left wing early in the final frame. First things first and that means he shouldn't be able to take Pronger to the outside. Yzerman's just turned 68 last Saturday and he has about a half of a knee left. I would also suggest that in the future Pronger haul down a Wing in that position and take the chance the Oilers can kill the penalty. But it all ended well and I can instead focus on Pronger finishing +4, picking up another couple of points and putting the fear of God into all my fellow poolies. Quick story here. I did a draft pool on Thursday night and it was just $20 so I decided I'd take a few Oilers and if they make it to the second round then I'll have a great chance of winning. BTW I took Smyth and Hemsky as well which may explain while I'm being a bit coarse with Smyth.

I think most fans believe Sergei Samsonov to be better than he actually is and I don't think you find it out until he's on your squad. He's like that hot girl your buddy picked up at the bar and he tells you that she sucks in bed. You don't believe it so you pick her up and you're damned if he's not right. You tell the same story but you have another friend who tries to pick her up. I'm not saying Samsonov has to make an impact every night but when you look at what he can do then I think he should be better.

Ron McLean seemed awfully impressed with Hemsky but for the life of me I can't figure out why. I don't think he turned the puck over a whole bunch but he didn't make much happen either. Though I'd change my tune if that set-up with Samsonov had worked late in the third period. Ales should eventually get to the point where he's worth at least one golden scoring chance a game. He's not there yet though so we'll take what we can get.

LT says Stoll's a 3 and not a 2 and that means he doesn't think he has the offensive to score like a second line centre. Jarrett's second half stats do nothing to contradict Lain's theory. Stoll was a magnet for pucks today but he stood in there and was as hard on the puck as any forward. His bosom buddy Torres looked like a total tit late in the final frame when he tried a cutesy backwards tip about five feet from his own blueline. It was a play that illustrated how some of our kids don't understand situational precedure and it was such a stupid idea that I cursed loud enough to have actually hurt my soul. On the positive side Torres had a wicked shift in the first period when he layed Shanahan, Chelios and then went into the crowd and found Ted Lindsay and punched him in the face for good measure.

I can't wait for game three in Edmonton for a number of reasons but the main one is I don't think there's any question the Oilers will win at least one of the games. MacTavish has the matchups on his side and this means the Oilers fourth line against the Wings fourth line and it means Zetterberg won't see a whole lot of room. If Datsyuk doesn't get his legs and lungs up to speed then I think we'll be just fine. The Oilers fourth line du jour did grow on me today. I'd be shocked if MacT doesn't give Laraque a mercy start and Moreau will be in there if at all possible. As good as Winchester played I don't think he'll stay on the top line but I also don't think he'll get the gate. It looks like Rem Murray's latest Oilers career will mercifully come to an end.


Anonymous lowetide said...

Good points all, Dennis. Suspect MacT will sleep tonight with thoughts of increasing Rem's role lol, it just seems to be in his nature to follow brilliant coaching strategy with a giant turd.

Rem on the PP point?

4/23/2006 8:51 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Good post, Dennis.

I thought the Oilers really found a nice balance between pressuring the Wings D when they had the chance, and sitting back and taking away passing lanes when they were too far away to sensibly get on the old Wings D. They didn't get caught chasing too much, and didn't get caught watching too much. And they created some good forward pressure at times, showing the DET D to be pretty vulnerable under pressure I thought.

Funny, on Friday when the Oilers went up 2-1, I paused the game and took a breather. Detroit was just owning their asses and I thought "enjoy the moment, this just might be the only time they lead in this series :( "

Then today, shortly after they went down 2-1 on Zetterberg's pachinko goal ... a completely different feeling. I was thinking "these Oilers could take this series if they can find a way to win this one"

Just something else ... I was really impressed with Hemsky in this one. I was actually pretty impressed with Hemsky's grit in the first one, just the rest of his game was off. Chelios has been on him, and I know he's old enough to ride the buses for free, but he's still a mean SOB. I didn't mind Hemsky sticking him on the faceoff even though it killed an Oiler PP, though I would have preferred a spear. :) And I loved the way Hemsky went straight at him after Samsonov got levelled. Chelly's body language said it all there I think, turns out Hemsky isn't the pussy he thought he was.

One more thing ... Mark Lee drives me mental and Garrett is a likable guy, but sweet Christ, can someone tell the CBC to stop hiring goalies for colour commentary. Yeesh.

4/23/2006 9:10 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Great post Dennis. I think they run Murray out there again though. If he survived in Detroit then I think with last change MacT feels he'll do alright.

I stumped to drop LeGG for Jacques or Winchester though and I'll do the same here - put in MAP for Rem - more speed - MAP will take care of things and Dvo and Harvey will help him out. More speed, more speed, more speed.

It will be nice to get Moreau back but barring injury I think LeGG may not see the ice again this series unless Winchester completely sucks. Ideally Winchester is not playing where he is but they NEED a good fourth line to get things done so Dvo has to drop down.

Funny Vic I'm not sure about Hemsky - funny how two people can watch the same game and see something totally different, huh? I agree that he is showing some guts (nice shotblock) but he has to push his game to another level - I called him soft in my post - maybe the wrong word - he has to show more of what Pisani, Horcoff, Smyth, Smith, Pronger etc etc - he has to raise his game - the kid is good enough imo to win a game by himself - maybe its confidence.

And finally - Dennis - my God - that Samsonov comparison - that is hilarious! I like Sammy a lot but someone (Leafs) is going to give him 4M a year or more and that's way too much dough.

4/24/2006 7:05 am  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

I like the point about Torres shift ending with him going into the stands and punching Ted Lindsay in the face better myself.

As to that shift...that was awesome. He probably should have got a penalty for running Chelios in the corner-I like how Chelios was almost out of the camera shot by the time you see Torres bury him. I think that the only reason he got away with it was because Shanny punched him in the face after the previous hit without a call.

4/24/2006 10:15 am  
Anonymous Julian said...

Man, that Torres hit was incredible. I saw it coming all the way from the second level, there was some rough stuff going on just before that, and you could almost see Torres' fixated on Chelios from a zone away. I just downloaded the game and watched that shift again, and it was nothing compared to seeing it in person.

4/24/2006 12:21 pm  
Anonymous Julian said...

you know, everyone's talkign about how the ice was unusually bad in detroit, it was softer than normal and all.... do you think that the Wings might have done that intentionally to slow the game down a bit? If you accept that Edmonton is supposed to be the faster team, slowing the ice down makes sense.... except that it also makes the puck bounce alot more, which probably hurts detroit more than edmonton.

4/24/2006 12:30 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


That sounds like a cool experience, I've never been to the JLA, but it obviously has a good rep. How was the game experience? The crowd seemed fairly quiet on TV, maybe that was the way they mic'd the crowd, or maybe it's because Detroit fans not actually worried about losing the series just yet.

And since you've got the game downloaded already Julian, would you humour me and just pick a few random times out of the air ... between 0 and 60 minutes ... and then just go to that time in the game and roll forward until one team's D has the puck ... I'm hoping for a quick count of how many times DET and EDM, as the team without the puck, played passively (fell back into a zone defense) or aggressively (forechecked the Dman with the puck). Makes sense, no?

I know this is kind of boring stuff, but when Mark Lee can influence a nation to such a great extent ... it's worth investigating :-) And Either me or the missus must have the deleted the game off of PVR or else I'd churn out some random numbers and have a quick spin through myself. Just if the mood strikes you, Julian.

BTW: Let's never do this for game 1, some things are best left alone. :-)

4/25/2006 12:11 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

I think there's a really good player somwhere inside of Torres. I think he's in a good place with MacT coaching becaus he won't get the hard minutes and therefore he'll have a chance to score on lesser competition.

There were a few rumblings about his attitude with the Runners and how he basically quit in the second half on what was a bad team and it didn't surprise me. I always thought he had a huge chip on his shoulder and I didn't say this before and I don't blame anyone for not believing me but that being said I don't throw stuff out of my ass either...the point being I have a good friend from back home who's a good friend of a good friend of Raffi's. My buddy wouldn't say shit if his mouth was full of it but he says that Torres is just a tremendous arsehole. Doesn't mind the odd barfight and in face he likes starting them. So it didn't surprise me to see him turn surly on Sun even if it was for just one shift. For someone who scored 27 goals without the benefit of PP time I've never seen an Oiler more malagined..unless we're talking about Selivanov and I'd say that ruskie had more talent than Torres.

It's just that we;ve seen Torres play games where he can find the open seams and we expect him to do that on a more consistent basis. Of course we forget he's still a kid NHL wise and the biggest truth that we probably know but still haven't embraced is that he's immature.

4/25/2006 12:52 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I agree with you on Torres. I only went to one Roadrunners game last year, but Torres was flat out too good for that league in the game I saw. He was tenacious on the boards, the AHL defenders couldn't handle him, and he had a sense for where to be to get a scoring chance that you just can't teach. Just terrible on the PP though, the guy can pass the puck about as well as me :) Terrific release on his shot though, it gets off his stick in a hurry ... I'm sure we've all seen that this year though.

I remember G2K, who was a RRs season ticket holder, making a lot of comments on Raffi questioning his character, and that meshes with everything we've seen from teh guy. But he's still just a kid, and as you say he seems like a really young 24. He's going to be a very good NHLer for a long time I think. He'll score a lot of goals, and he'll get smarter.

One of those guys that youn never know what he will do next. Hell I'm not sure Raffi knows what he's going to do next. They probably want to knock the edges off of that a bit I'd think, you have to be predictable in your play to a certain extent to be effective with the 4 other guys you're on the ice with. But it's still a quality I like in a player, just do.


Like Lain said in a post on his blog a few days ago, these young guys (Hemsky, Stoll, Torres, Bergeron) ... they're going to have a big say in the Oiler's future playoff games. And that's a good thing. And they're going to have a big say in this year's as well ... and that just has to make everyone a bit nervous. Though all of these kids have been handled in such a way this year that we should expect them to be ahead of the curve in terms of their development. Let's hope that pays dividends, starting tonight. They all had much better game2s than game1s I thought.

4/25/2006 1:57 am  
Anonymous lowetide said...

Can you freaking believe Winchester? Talk about the light turning on.


4/25/2006 9:04 pm  

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