Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Game Two Review

I started this idea off with the full intention of detailing shift for shift highlight especially dumb turnovers and the like. That lasted for the first period and then I decided I'd just highlight scoring chances and give you the matchups that lead to them. I will give you what I noted from the first period and then it will get a lot more sparse. I'll also throw in my idea of the scoring chances per period and some observations. One problem is I didn't pay close attention to the D matchups but I think right now it looks solid that 21/44 are against Joe T and 24/6 are going against Marleau.

Last note: I won't count PP scoring chances. I'll detail them for the first period of play but they won't be listed in my period tallies.

1st period: 18-37-27 start against the Thornton line. Vic showed you the last game that Stoll played the majority against Joe but given MacT's druthers it looked like he wanted Peca against Thornton. I think Wilson wanted Stoll first, Peca second and Horcoff third which makes sense when you think about it. So the first shift followed up with Horc vs Marleau. The game's first scoring chance came with the by now standard Stoll vs Goc shift and it lead to Bergeron walking in a little bit from the point. The play was whistled dead but both lines stayed on. The play moved to the Oilers end and Edm came with the Peca line on the fly. Priessing made an ill-advised pinch at the right point and that lead to the Torres scoring chance when he came down the wing on a quasi two-on-one with Pisani.

18-22-34 starts off against Thornton but both coaches quickly go to a Horc vs Marleau matchup. Smyth gets the puck in the crease and Winchester gets a couple of whacks but can't put it home. Three Oilers forwards are in deep and Michalek shows his speed by blasting by Horc just outside of the SJ blueline. That leads to a scoring chance by Marleau and eventually Priessing pops the first goal of the game for San Jose

The first post game matchup has Stoll vs Goc and I thought I'd mention this because of an atrocious play by Hemsky. Neminen had the puck in the Oilers zone but turns it over to the left of Rolo. Hemsky has enough time to gather it and shovel the disc to Bergeron who's directly to his right and is uncovered. Hemsky basically runs out of the way and Scott Thornton reclaims the puck and begins a shift of O-zone pressure for San Jose.

This is followed up by a couple of non-descript shifts. First it's 4th line vs 4th line and then Peca takes on the Thornton line. We have a TV timeout and it's the same matchup again and Thornton handles the puck on the right wall but the Oilers keep their cool and him to the outside. SJ changes on the fly and now it's Marleau against Peca and here comes a two-on-one off a terrible pinch by Spacek. It's the kind of pinch where you'd have to dive to keep the puck in and if you've gotta dive then it had better be the last minute of a game where you're trailing. This leads to another SJ scoring chance.

Off the whistle now it's Horc vs Marleau and the Sharks keep some pressure in the zone but it's eventually allieviated by a nice play from Horc. Staios carries the puck over the Oilers blueline but then fails to make the safe play of dumping it into the zone. The puck goes back to the Oilers zone but this time Edm manages to clear it and we've got another edition of Goc vs Stoll. Hemsky carries the puck into the middle of the ice and subsequently three of the Sharks and SJ dumps it in and beings to change on the fly to a Thornton vs Stoll match. Joe drives down the left wing and gets a weak shot on net. Horc comes out and wins the draw clean and the Oilers excute a nice breakout play and a nice easy dump-in to the O-zone. A clean shot from the point results in two scoring chances with the first from Horcoff and then the second from Smyth. We see a rare Peca vs Goc shift and now the Oilers keep the pressure on but Torres gets called for a pick.

Oilers get whistled again and go down two men but SJ garners just one scoring chance. Excellent work by Horcoff nearly puncuated by a goal when he bats a rebound off a Pronger shot out of the air and onto Toskola. Yes, it was a scoring chance;)

A TV timeout's followed by a Horcoff vs Goc matchup but here comes the usual when Thornton comes off the fly and eventually Josh Gorges steps off the left wing for a 20 footer. That's another scoring chance.

Another timeout and we have 14-16-37 against Thornton. Torres misses an easy pass in the N-zone and the Sharks quickly send it back and Thornton drives down the right wing and forces Pronger to take a penalty.

SJ's PP yields once scoring chance and Stoll faces off against Goc which means it's Joe on the fly again and this time he gets Murray. Nothing happens of note in either shift and then Marleau's line comes on for the first time in awhile and matches up against Horcoff. Once again it's pretty uneventful and the periods ends with Goc vs Peca.

I had the even strenght scoring chances at 5-4 for San Jose. The Sharks had two SC's on the PP and Horcoff had a SH chance for the Oilers. Of the Oilers four scoring chances two of them were created against the Goc line and two of them against Thornton's. Which means Marleau's line didn't allow anything. I had Marleau's line creating three chances and Thornton's line creating two. Regarding matching Wilson managed to keep Thornton away from Horcoff. I had them facing off just once and in that situation the Oilers created two scoring chances on that shift. It's strange because we'd consider Marleau's line to be weaker but Wilson seems fine to let Marleau go against Horcoff but he doesn't want Thornton against Horcoff.

Great start to the period by the Oilers but they lost momentum after taking some penalties and by the end of the period they were making bad decisions in the neutral zone. The Sharks were deadly at picking on those chances as well. Not in terms of scoring but in terms of throwing the puck back in the Oilers zone where obviously nothing bad will happen to San Jose.

2nd period: things will be a little less detailed but I'll still list the matchups and point out when the scoring chances were created.

Horcoff starts against Thornton and this is followed up Peca vs Marleau. Then it's back to Goc vs Stoll and someone wakes up Rissmiller and Stevenson because the Sharks throw their fourth line against the Oilers fourth line. The game has some nice flow now and we're back to Thornton vs Horcoff and the Oilers create the period's first scoring chance off a play by Smyth from behind the net. Winchester doesn't manage to home the pass though. It's back to Peca vs Marleau and Peca's line has to stay on because of a stupid icing by Jason Smith. 21 was five feet away from centre but just dumped it in. I really thought he showed a little wear and tear in this one. Wilson keeps out Marleau for the O-zone draw and that's the shift that leads to Torres tuning Michalek.

Oilers pick up some steam off that play and grab their second scoring chance when Laraque makes a nice tip. Moreau and BG were bookending Peca for that line and they went up against Goc. Greene then ices the puck heading into a TV timeout and when we come back MacT elects to keep the Stoll line fresh and thus they take on Thornton. Nothing happens on that front and the same can be said of subsequent matchups of Horc vs Marleau and Murray vs Goc. Marleau steps in for a shift as the centre on the Goc line and they square off with Peca. That new unit grabs two scoring chances off a terrible clearing attempt by Bergeron. Greene eventually ices the puck again.

So that leads to Thornton coming out to take on Peca and this leads to Greene throwing the puck over the glass. The resulting PP only manages one shot. The Oilers continue to do a spectacular job killing penalties.

A new line of 14-16-34 takes on the Sharks 4th line and nothing happens except for a TV timeout. MacT comes back with Stoll's line vs Goc's crew and a bad change leads to a two-on-one and a scoring chance for Goc. Off the whistle it's 18-22-34 against Cheechoo-Thornton and special guest start Patrick Rissmiller and the new guy takes the first of two consecutive penalties for the Sharks. Of course a two man advantage, and also hilarity, ensues and the Oilers knot the game at 1-1.

It's Peca vs Marleau off the next puck drop and Staios takes a penalty in his own zone when Pisani fails to make a 10 foot pass to clear the zone. This leads to the Sharks second goal. Horcoff takes another penalty off the next faceoff and the Sharks just about finish the period on the PP. Rolo makes a great save off Michalek.

Some noteoworthy things about the second period. The last six min were basically PP time so there's only 14 minutes of ES time to discuss. MacT changed things around and had Horcoff out there against Thornton more than half the time and thus Marleau's line was neutralized by having to face Peca. So I guess what we know is that the Smith/Pronger tandem probably have the most to do with Thornton/Chechoo's lack of even strenght success. Then again maybe Peca's a better ES matchup for Marleau because Patrick continued to work against the Spacek/Staios tandem but didn't look as good doing it with Peca squaring off against him. I had the even strenght scoring chances at 3-2 for the Oilers.

I'd imagine you're well bored by now so I'll just break down scoring chances for the third period with who was on the ice and I'll throw out the occasional sea change in line matching.

SJ scoring chances:
Marleau's line against Peca with a tip from Marleau.
Goc grabs a chance from a matchup with Murray
Rismiller does the honours for the fourth line as they get a chance against the 94-10-83 line
Two scoring chances for the Goc line against a 94-10-16 line. To be fair it had more to do with a brutal shift from the 6/24 tandem.
Marleau against the Peca line and this is the one where he hit the post. Smith made a ghastly turnover just behind his own blueline.

Edm scoring chances:

Spacek on a Peca/Marleau match
Stoll when his line grabed a match against the Sharks 4th line.
Moreau off a another Peca/Marleau match
Bergeron as the mintues wained and off a 37/Thornton showdown.

I had the scoring chances at 15-10 for SJ but keep in mind that's even strenght numbers only.

Lots of crazy things happening with the Oilers lines here in the 3rd. The 94-10 combo stayed intact but they basically saw everyone on their right wing. All of Stoll, Hemsky, Laraque, Winchester and Pisani took a turn. Nothing seemed to work really. Laraque's shifts were probably the best. Torres wound up taking a backseat as Moreau joined Peca-Pisani. Samsonov had at least four hits by my eye. If his name was Ville Neminen he'd probably have been credited with 17. On the rare occasions that Winchester saw the ice he was actually pretty effective physically. I'm still not convinced he can't be a little help on the first line. I think that line's lack of productivity has more to do with Smyth's slump more than anything.

On the SJ side Wilson continues to try and get away from the Horc match which I guess means that's what we'll see from MacT tonight. Personally I liked Peca/Marleau and Horc/Thornton as our best bet. In rethinking my whole Winchester musing I'd like to see someone else on Horc's starboard side because we've seen a little bit of scrambling from the Thornton line when they're forced to play in their own end. I haven't heard anything but I'd like to see Samsonov go up there and then we'll really go power vs power. That leaves the 18-37-34 troika to take on Marleau and Torres goes back to his old buddy Stoll along with Hemsky on the third line. I don't think there's any question though that Goc is getting the better of those guys when MacT gets to match up "3rd line vs 3rd line"

So with all those changes that would leave Winchester/Murray or Harvey/BG as the fourth line. Just take those guys and go 4th line vs 4th line on the rare occasions when Wilson lets his lesser lights play. Which will be basically zero if SJ falls behind after the first period.

Final thoughts: I thought the whole shot count for the 3rd period was overblown. Lots of shots from the outside to be sure. Roloson is playing great though and gives us a real chance to get back in this thing. Regarding whether we should switch up the D pairings or not I'd say that Smith looked to be lagging a little in the last game. Of course that tandem still got the job done which speaks to just how bloody awesome Pronger is playing right now. I can't decide which guy to play with Pronger for the next game be it Spacek or Staios. I thought they've both had their bad moments. Nothing overly poor though.

The killer in this series thus far on the offensive end is not getting the puck to the right places on the SJ defense. They've been playing great for awhile now so I guess some of their rearguards are better than I give them credit for. I still can't see Carlile or Georges or their top pairing being able to stand up to a good forecheck though. There's no secret to SJ's success though. They play the hell out of their top two lines and then the 6-10 forwards do just enough to keep you honest. In this series thus far it's been the Marleau line that's giving the Oilers fits. Not just in goals but even in scoring chances created vs scoring chances allowed. The Oilers are doing a whale of a job on the Thronton line but the Marleau line's picking up the scraps. It will be interesting to see if MacT shakes up the top two defensive pairings to try and address this a little.

To close with a basketball analogy I'd say everything's going right for SJ right now. I'd say this series is at halftime and the Sharks are shooting 60%. But the Oilers are at home now and they can do things to make the hoop look a heckuva lot smaller. Things like MacTavish holding the hammer when it comes to last change and a relatively green Sharks defense having to deal with an Oilers team buoyed by the loudest crowd in the league.


Anonymous lowetide said...

Terrific stuff here, lots to think about. I'm just watching Ottawa skating off to the gas chamber after losing game three and wondering if anyone else can hear the glee in Bob Cole's voice. Prick.

I'd give some of my own money for an Oil 2-0 lead after 20 tonight, seems as though the Gods want hockey to be quiet on the weekend.

5/10/2006 8:02 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Great post Dennis.

That's the thing, eh? Things can always be worse. Imagine being a Sens' fan - all of that talent year after year and never coming through. Ever.

That would be awful.

5/11/2006 7:37 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Outstanding post, I love this stuff. Didn't get a chance to read it until just now.

MacTavish went a little off the board in G3 though. I think we were all expecting power vs power and instead we saw a bunch of Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky vs the S.J bottom six, at least by my eye. I thought all of the Oiler's six forwards (Torres-Peca-Pisani & Moreau-Stoll-Samsonov) and four D (usual suspects) that faced Marleau and Thornton were terrific in this one. Granted the Horco v Goc thing probably pulled Hannan away from those guys (I don't notice D matchups when I'm watching, but it stands to reason).

We have a series, Dennis.

5/11/2006 11:20 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

That allignment means more responsibility for Stoll's line but Moreau's always been a good shutdown guy and I'd imagine 12 saw his share of tough matchups on the road as a B. And he came up as a plus for most of that time by the look of his stats. So those two guys plus Stoll, who's always been able to look after his own end, should make for a decent enough crew to take on Joe or Marleau's line. That leaves the old first line against the Sharks 6-10 forwards. That's a decent enough gamble IMO.

So at the end of the day probably a decent enough adjustment by MacT...because you can't go power vs power with Hemsky on any line.

And yeah we have a series for sure. There isn't a whole lot to complain about in this one. Rolo had a hard time getting into the game because he wasn't getting many shots but he managed to hang in there and was making some big stops by the time it was over. But the Oilers severly outchanced the wasn't even a close. They the 2nd period but rocked for the better part of six periods. Hard to fault that.

It was the softest time I'd ever seen Hemsky play. The guy's an absolute mess on the boards. The Marleau goal would've never happened if Ales wasn't such a pussy. I know he's only 22 but that guy's gotta get in the weight room and he's gotta get to a sports physicologist. And don't look now but the guy's a total homer when it comes to the playoffs.

He's one of the guys we're always looked to replace despite the fact he cut his salary and he's a great PKer and I get on him because he takes so many stupid penalties. But on this night I was actually geeking out and clapping for Moreau. The guy had an extra gear beyond an extra gear.

Glad some of you guys liked this, BTW. Tomorrow night's game is gonna be fun because it's my bud's bday and a whole slew of us are gonna be at his place for a BarBQ and he has a big screen so I'll be bunkering down and watching the game there, 9:30 NST time whoo!!:)

So no G4 lucidity from me until at least noon on Sat;) But I am planning on reviewing that one as well to see what MacT rolls with again. And hopefully I can get it up by Sunday afternoon and it'll be a nice lead-in to a swing G5. If the Oilers score first tomorrow night then I'll say it's offically on. But Wilson's a smart cat and he's had his first taste of the new gameplan and his young guys have had their first taste of the Rexall Rowdies. I'd suspect SJ plays a much better game tomorrow night and if Toskola continues to be this damn solid then the Oilers are in super tough.

5/11/2006 1:59 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

Agreed on Hemsky being a pussy. At the same time, he threw that shot block in the second OT that was like a Moreau or Smyth block. The Oilers need to find him a farm to work on for the summer.

5/11/2006 4:02 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Hemsky's a weird cat. He came out like a house on fire in that first period. He skated hard at the dmen, shot the puck a few times (although he wasn't credited by and finished a few checks and won a couple board battles on the forecheck. Then he fell apart in the second and was unbearably weak along the boards for pretty much the rest of the game. After all that he goes down to block a shot with reckless abandon in the 1st OT (I think?) and wins a battle down low on the GWG. I can't figure him out.

Like the rest of you I use the "Only 22" mantra, but I also remind myself that Palffy never looked like much of an outscorer to me and more than likely wasn't one back in 1994 either.

I hope he's getting somewhere, but it really does look like he's spinning his wheels right now.

5/11/2006 4:32 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Yeah there was that block which came out of WTF Land. He'll do that every now and then and sometimes he'll take a dman into the boards. So it's not like he's a total total pussy;)

One thing I did like last night was he had at least two shots from the high slot that came off the rush. That was with his old 94-10 buddies and I've seen them play together a tonne but I haven't seen that particular wrinkle before.

As Vic said before it looks like the new thing for MacT is to get out the old first line against the Goc crew and then let Peca-Stoll take on Thornton-Marleau. The Horc line should be able to make some real hay with those guys.

One final thought on much does experience count for/against him? Yes he's only 22 but he's played three full seasons in the playoffs and this is his 2nd playoff series and he's just finished his 15th NHL playoff game. And in this playoffs he's been playing some soft minutes relative to some of his teammates.

5/11/2006 5:27 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

The trouble with Hemsky is he's exactly the kind of guy who has a Ted Simmons career.

1. Team 1 suffers through all the crap and then gets rid of him at the exact point when

2. Team 2 enjoys a decade of prolonged productivity before

3. Team 3 overpays him for the last 5 seasons while sending out a disinterested chubby guy to GIDP in the first inning of every damn game.

Oilers are team 1, and COULD be team 2. But he's testing them.

I'd bet the whole darm farm on that one.

5/11/2006 5:30 pm  
Blogger Steven said...

Yeah I remember seeing that block and going what the heck is going on... couldn't believe it was Hemsky. Gosh that kid is maddening...
Anyhow, I was just thinking of back when Palffy was an Islander and I remember thinking similar things about him. Crazy skills but just didn't put it together until towards the last two years he was an islander until he was traded. (LA I think?). Here's hoping Hemsky turns into him and we don't trade him!

Here's a funny thought though... I defintely know in the previous off season's Hemsky was playing in some Roller Hockey leagues in the Czech Republic, so I'm not really sure if he's going to be guy who will bulk up in the off-season. I'd rather be hoping some light switch goes off in his head and he starts playing both ends of the ice...

5/11/2006 9:26 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

I't sad to even think about but maybe Hemsky's a guy who's gonna need a change of location before he finally begins to realize his talent.

5/12/2006 10:08 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

RQ...just popped back for a minute because you talked about OF being a gong show. And I checked out HF last night to see if anyone had any inside gear on Schremp or Mikhnov.

Talk about a bunch of dummies

5/12/2006 3:56 pm  
Anonymous huffpuff said...

Steven said...
Here's a funny thought though... I defintely know in the previous off season's Hemsky was playing in some Roller Hockey leagues in the Czech Republic, so I'm not really sure if he's going to be guy who will bulk up in the off-season. I'd rather be hoping some light switch goes off in his head and he starts playing both ends of the ice...

This is a bit of an aside but since you brought up the subject of him playing roller hockey...

I'm not sure if anyone else notices it ... while Hemsky is generally a pretty great skater, one flaw which I've noticed is his push-off from a standstill position. There seems to be a bit of "slippage" in his execution, which probably means he's not pushing fully with the inside edges of his skates. I think it might be caused by him playing too much roller hockey and getting too used to being on wheels. I dunno, maybe I'm just imagining things (or maybe he's just got weak legs?). But perhaps it's better for him to cut down on his roller hockey and just stick to ice hockey instead. If he can develop a quicker first step from standstill, maybe it'd help him better elude his checkers in situations such as coming off the boards, etc.

5/12/2006 4:35 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

On the Hemsky thing: The more I watch him in the playoffs, the more I'm convinced he's just not strong enough. At first I thought he was a chicken, but he never backed down from Chelios in the first round, and he took a lot of shit from him, lots of guys with a soft rep would have disappeared. He backs away from contact or board battles at the strangest times. I don't know what they have him listed at, but I'd say his real weight is in the 160-165 lb range.

huffpuff: Cool observation on the skating, I'm not much of a skating mechanics guy, but I'll watch for that. My simplistic idea: He should spend the summer hanging with Ethan Moreau, because whatever that guy is doing seems to work like magic, every year he seem to come back a bit faster and stronger.

5/13/2006 9:35 am  
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5/23/2006 5:55 am  

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