Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reasons For Optimism

I don't know if anyone else around here is feeling the shift towards the positive, but I am personally gravitating in that direction with momentum. So some reasons for optimism:

1. The Oilers are a good home team, the chips may not have fallen their way at home this year, but they play better at Rexall. (As has been said by Moreau a couple of times this year, and he's dead right IMO. Dude is going to be a helluva coach one day, he is the personality photo negative of Niinimaa that way)

2. If you care about the 'how much' and not just the 'how' ... then you should be encouraged by the fact that the Oilers directed about the same number of shots at net as S.J at even strength last game. 36 to 37. Granted 2 or 3 of those probably came with Roloson on the bench in the dying moments. But compared to game 1 of this series ... and the vast majority of the periods in the last series ... that's a vast improvement, they're getting back to their game.

3. There is a confidence coming from the Oiler's leaders. And even a hint of "Jesus, stop worrying, nancyboy" in the voices of the unflappable Pronger and Moreau when they address the media. I love that.

4. Roloson has been stellar. When your goalie is that good in the playoffs; sooner or later you start winning games.

5. Some of the young defenders on San Jose (who have impressed so far I think) are going to be moving the puck a little bit quicker this game, faster ice and a few of them took belting hits last game ... they'll often be making their decisions in 1.00 igniseconds or less. Tis human nature.

6. The Oilers didn't win enough battles last game, but it probably wasn't for a lack of effort. Sometimes that's just the way it rolls, you can't win 'em all, and sometimes everyone has games where they just don't seem to get the breaks to win many. I'm sure we've all had plenty of games like that no matter where/when we played. And in this regard, the long term track record is a helluva lot more important than the way the last game shook out.

7. The crowd is going to be inspired, I can sense it.

8. Wilson is into a lot of obscure shit, one of those things is shift patterns and possession. If MacTavish can March out Horcoff against Thornton, that brings Hannan onto the ice (pretty clear matchup with Hannan v Horcoff by Wilson in San Jose, no reason for him to change opinions today). Winchester is a weak link, but I still think that line can play evens or better against Thornton. And if they can drive him into long shifts that end with the Oilers in possession ... it will be a good night for Oiler fans unless the refs or hockey gods fuck with us.


Feel free to add more. :-)


Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Hey Vic, have you been drinking the koolaid?

You know my feelings about these guys so no surprise when I say we win tonight and game 4 decides whether its best of 3 or not.

My reasoning:

1/ Emotion and desperation. The Oil will have it, the Sharks less so, just due to the situation. The Oilers have to win. The Sharks do not. And that does matter.

2/ Change in game plan. I don't know what MacT will do but I would bet there will be changes in personnel/lines as well as approach and I think these will pay off.

3/ Home ice - matchups and the crowd are on the Oilers' side. I also think we may see a little shrinkage from the Sharks - they have too many young players for at least a few to freeze up in the face of the pressure and the noise

The Oil are not going easily but the way I see this series - the Sharks have played two really terrific games. They are a very good team, they skate, they have great puck support and they are big. The last two games I believe they played at an optimum level. Combine that with home ice advantage and its a perfect storm for the Oilers.

The Oil have to bust their humps tonight and try and get that door open a crack.

Then see if they can kick it in.

5/10/2006 11:39 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Well, Vic I'm pretty much always on board with the optimistic stuff. Mostly because it keeps me sane. (Or somewhat sane - the night after Game 2 I dreamt about MacT shoving me over the boards to get embarrassed on Rexall ice in a playoff game with no crowd - I'm obviously too emotionally invested in this team)

1. Hmm, I'm not totally sure I buy that. Dennis seems to think the Oilers stink at home and I'm not sure whether that's just because they've had their true stinkers there, or if they've actually been bad.

2. That is a good sign. I was looking at that Corsi thing on a routine basis after you posted it somewhere. I like the metric in general, and I think it jives with Game 2 overall - even OLN had them tied in scoring chances after about 45 minutes. I think the chances went in favour of San Jose after that though.

3. I haven't read today's papers. They should be confident though. As a team they've played pretty poorly IMO and they've only lost a couple of one goal decisions.

4. Game 1 would have been 6-0 at least with circa Nov 2005 Oilers goaltending.

5. I think Scott Hannan and McLaren can get it done, but Carle is about as Greene as any playoff dman I've seen. Ehrhoff and Preissing are there for the taking as well.

6. The forwards lost way too many battles Vic. I'm not clear on the reasons - it might be that they're thinking too much because of the hybrid system. On the other hand, there's no way Raffi Torres and Moreau are thinking too much.

7. That's a given.

8. I think MacT will likely tweak his lines and definitely get the blender going in this game. I expect Winchester to be spelled for significant stretches of this game unless they jump out to a 3 goal lead.

I'll add...

9. Special teams still seem better to me. The Sharks' PK is not very good at all (I definitely disagree with mudcrutch on this one) and actually reminds me of the Oilers' 03/04 PK - getting setup in the zone isn't easy, but once you're there you will get some golden chances. The Oilers need to push things with them a little more.

The Sharks' PP vs. the Oilers' PK has looked like a good matchup as well. The Oilers constantly keep their sticks in the lanes and breakup the Sharks' puck movement. The only thing I don't like is that they're a little on the passive side before the puck gets in the zone. Also, like I said before there's no way they score another PPG like Thornton's GW from Game 2 and that's been far and away their best PP chance IMO.

5/10/2006 11:42 am  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

1. I have a hard time believing that any team really is worse at home than they are on the road. Period. So I'm willing to buy this, the 7-1 asskicking to Colorado notwithstanding.

2. Yeah, I don't know. Still looked like tough sledding against the Sharks coming out. The Sharks were definitely trapping at some points-I'm surprised I haven't heard more mention of that.

3. I've got my doubts about Pronger and Moreau for mostly contractual reasons (although the Moreau rollback made his price much easier to swallow). I do like the calm sense that they exude though. So agreed.

4. I think Toskala has looked sketchy too. Like he's ripe to get bombed if some shots get directed at him.

5. Not all that impressed with the SJ defence yet. Like RiversQ, I've thought that the Oil forwards are playing like they're trying to help them out.

6. Yes. Absolutely.

7. It's gonna be wild. Just wild.

8. Sure, I'm amenable to that proposition.

The special teams, something that Riv brought up. We'll see how it shakes down tonight-like I said, I wish I had a Tivo because I would have liked to look more closely at it. I'm willing to be wrong here.

5/10/2006 1:46 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

mudcrutch79 said...
2. Yeah, I don't know. Still looked like tough sledding against the Sharks coming out. The Sharks were definitely trapping at some points-I'm surprised I haven't heard more mention of that.

Come on mudcrutch79 where have you been? Don't you read Terry Jones? You know as well as I do that the Oilers have been beaten by Oiler Hockey.

Jones is totally on point, so I can only assume that the Sun rented a forklift and loaded him into a C-130 to send him to San Jose to cover these games in person.

5/10/2006 2:00 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

one thing that might help vic to feel optimistic is that tonight marks the first night (I believe) that EDM has been favored by the oddsmakers to win a game in the postseason.

5/10/2006 2:25 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Ya, I would have pegged them at -140 as well, good to see (slightly over 50/50 to win) but it's still nice to see it confirmed by the smart cats. -135 would have seemed more likely, maybe -130. And while that is only a difference in 'chances of winning' of a percent or two ... this is a game of fine brushstrokes and it's still encouraging.

I like that the series lines seem to indicate that most bookies will make more money if the Oilers win, just going by the cheating against the game lines.

Go to your local bookie now ... and the Oilers are about the same odds as they were against DET at this point, and they were 1-1 in that series.

It's a big hill to climb for sure, but the Oilers have already climbed a bigger hill this spring.

BTW: You're probably not old enough, but I remember the '86 Flames-Oilers series (I lined up all night to get tix one night in CGY, turn around after a dozen drinks and I had gone from 30th in line to 120th ... a lot of bad feeling came through, crowd momentum, Hitler youth rally shit ... bad stuff if you had any distinguishing features ahead (red hair, ethnic minority, tattos, beard, etc.). God I love that stuff.

Anyhow, Bob Johnson forever analogized that series from a Flames pov as 'climbing a mountain'. And Sather rationalized the loss with 'they were hungrier'.

Both hit the nail on the head.

5/10/2006 2:54 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

EDIT: to add ... -110 would represent evens at home with a small hold, -135 all square but home ice. -140 is cheating to the home side.

And RiversQ: The first post I ever put up here was on home ice advantage and the flip of a coin. I wrote here largely because I didn't want to have to filter through the stupidity if I had posted it on a fan board. But mostly it was directed at Matts, who should be too smart for that nonsense.

Then, before I had even figured out how to make it look right I had four hits ... one I don't remember, two were from Germany (I thought that maybe vhockey was a scat porn keyword, seriously) and the Lowetide with a comment. And Lowetide fired one of these blog things up the same day and since then it's rolled. I'm pretty sure I was the first 7 out of 10 hits on his blog too. :-)

It's been a hoot.

5/10/2006 3:12 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

I believe in scoring chances but honestly the Oilers have laid some dandy eggs at home this year. While some of them might've looked like eggs but probably weren't...the 4-2 home loss to the Blues comes to mind, I still like the team more on the road.

That being said the home deal gives us the last change so that's a good thing.

BTW...I didn't see the OLN cast but I had scoring chances at 8-6 SJ after 2 and then 15-10 after the third. Of course it's all subjective but I'm a hard marker on both sides.

BTW Vic...just for making that Matts comment;) I'm just about finished a detailed review of G2 and no I can't post it so keep checking your inbox:D

5/10/2006 3:33 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Vic Ferrari said...
And RiversQ: The first post I ever put up here was on home ice advantage and the flip of a coin. I wrote here largely because I didn't want to have to filter through the stupidity if I had posted it on a fan board. But mostly it was directed at Matts, who should be too smart for that nonsense.

I know, I know. I couldn't help trying to stir the pot though. ;)

I hope the sarcasm was obvious in my TJ post. I couldn't tell from my 2nd reading, if the fat jokes did the trick or not.

5/10/2006 3:52 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

It prompted me to read his column, which is leading directly to a post.

5/10/2006 3:52 pm  
Blogger Steven said...

Well its pretty much do or die time now isn't it? ;)

1. Not sure if I can agree with this considering how much talk we always hear about how the Oilers are a "good" road team. None the less there should be no reason we don't have energy considering how our building should be rocking. No excuse if we don't have any effort tonight.

2. Encouraging thing to hear although I wish we could have possession in their zone like SJ seems to have in ours. Does anyone know the stat for that by chance? Offense time of attack or something or the other?

3. Well the thing is I should really expect nothing less from them. If you think about the results from the last two games where almost everyone can agree they've been outplayed, both games we were only down 1 goal and just couldn't get enough chances to get another. In the end its not like we were getting blown out.

4. Agreed. Roloson's been great.

5. I've really been impressed with how quickly they move the damn puck. Hardly make too many mistakes as well. I hope they start making them but I know they look nothing like some of Detroit's D (especially Lilja). I remember yelling at every Oiler to go after Lilja since he looked like he wanted nothing to do with the puck when an Oiler was bearing down on him. Hopefully they can start getting those SJ D second guessing themselves as well. I do agree that we haven't put any real pressure on them though.

6. I really wonder if its because of the lack of size on this team sometimes. I know we're not a really small team but we're not a really big team either. After watching those hulking monsters on the SJ front cycle, its got me questioning the Oilers size a bit.

7. Defintely. Although no one to really boo... I guess we'll hear some Veeesssssaaaa a bunch,

8. The real question to me is does MacT switch the lines up? I know he's got last change now but something's got to give. I remember watching game 2 and my buddy was just reaming MacT out for having Laraque on the first line, but I was thinking to myself there was no other choice since
D-vo got hurt. My guess would be he was hoping Laraque would get the puck down low and cycle it to keep some possession in the SJ zone. Anyhow hopefully Laraque scores tonight and does one of his jump into the boards celebrations... would really fire the crowd up even more.

Ah well... my prediction? Oilers
2-1 in OT with Laraque with the 1st goal and Smytty with it in OT.

5/10/2006 4:35 pm  
Anonymous huffpuff said...

8. Sorry if it's posted before, but where can one learn more about the obscure shit that Wilson is into?


5/10/2006 7:22 pm  

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