Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Look at me. Know whatcha see?..."


"... You see a bad mutha."
- The Boss by James Brown

That pretty much sums up Raffi Torres' 2006 playoffs for me. He's been nasty since Game 2 of the San Jose series, when he viciously knocked Milan Michalek into Neverland. Last night's Game 5 performance was a tour de force for Raffi. He creamed Aaron Ward shortly after the Pisani goal in the 1st period and then proceeded to hit anything that moved, positioning be damned. The Pronger/Torres sandwich that sent a despondent Weight to the trainer's slab early in the 3rd period was almost laughable as Torres had no business getting involved. Later in one shift in the third period, Torres obviously drew the ire of Mark Recchi. Recchi took two runs at him in that shift, Raffi saw each one of the coming and ended up laying the lick on the old man. The replays showed him looking down at Recchi with a crazed Sacamano face before turning to join the rush.

In the post game press conference, MacT addressed Raffi's play this way:
"I think I finally found a way to motivate Raffi. I won't tell you what it is, but I think we found it."
No shit. I wonder what the heck that motivation could be. Battery acid in his morning cereal? Maybe MacT has taken his family hostage? Maybe it's this?

Regardless, I tend to give Torres a lot of flack 'round these parts for a variety of reasons. (The short list? His puck support on the LW boards; horrible passing; general uselessness on the PP; an inordinate number of lucky RS goals; bad penalties and constantly taking himself out of position to make a hit.) Right now though, Torres is a very valuable weapon for these Oilers and he's cut down on his mistakes enough so that we can focus on the fact that he is a bad mutha.

13 Comments:

Blogger Steven said...

I defintely agree with you Riv... he's quickly becoming one of my favorite Oilers with his hitting. Like you I wish he would pick his spots better (its ridiculous sometimes how he ignores the puck and goes to hit the guy).

I'm not sure about his passing though... I know he's completely idiotic about it in the defensive zone (he always does that inbetween his legs thing to the centre of the ice on the break out with out looking), but in the offensive zone I've seen him feather a couple of nice passes that have resulted in goals.

The really funny thing is I constantly say the same kind of statements about Raffi as I do about Hemsky. If he could stop doing [insert stupid thing player does] he'd be a terrific player. I constantly wonder if both of these guys will eventually outgrow some of their flaws. (Albeit both are playing terrific this series).

All in all I can't really complain about Raffi though... the guy has been absolute Assassin these playoffs.

6/15/2006 2:02 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Yeah, like I told Dennis, Hemsky and Torres are this team's idiot savants. Make no mistake though, there's plenty of the latter under the surface that may one day make us forget the idiot part.

As for the passing, Raffi's thrown the puck back to the point a couple of times. I'm not sure those qualify as "feather(ing) a couple of nice passes" though. The guy struggles to move the puck, he just does.

Torres has got some problems, but most of them are upstairs (I think he's just kind of immature) so he should grow out of most of it. Make no mistake, he's been a cold blooded killer all playoffs.

6/15/2006 2:15 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Could I take this opportunity to say "make no mistake" another half dozen times?

Nevermind.

6/15/2006 2:16 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

I get a kick out of watching Torres in every G3 of a series because it's like the fans drive him ever more. That's not to say he's a homer because he's done some of his finest work on the road, that wicked shift in G2 in Det, knocking Michalek in space in G2 in SJ and now last night's G5 masterpiece in Car, but it's just he goes nuts at Rexall.

He always had that rep in junior and now he's a guy that's been invaluable in these playoffs in the intangible dept.

6/15/2006 6:28 pm  
Blogger Bling said...

It'll be interesting to see what kind of contract Raffi gets down the road. I appreciate his game and the tremendous enthusiasm he brings to the rink, but you have to wonder if he'll price himself out of E-town in the years to come.

Whole lotta flash for sure, but not alot of substance in terms of the results he gets, yet you'd have to think that the goals and the hits will pay dividends for him.

The problem that I have with Raffi is this: unlike Hemsky, his main problem seems to be hockey sense (as Rivers alluded to).

The last guy we had in Edmonton who was a sliver of hockey sense away from being a great player?

Eric Brewer.

IMO, there are some things that you just can't teach.

6/15/2006 9:02 pm  
Blogger Loxy said...

What on earth were you searching for when you came up with that toilet paper?

6/15/2006 11:06 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I was searching for "grate toilet paper." Go figure.

Actually, I think Digger12 on HF had that as an avatar, so I knew what I was looking for. Way to ask probing questions and ruin the mystery, Loxy.

6/15/2006 11:47 pm  
Anonymous jon said...

Yeah, recognized that avatar, "Matt Greene's TP" or something. I wonder if perhaps MacT mentioned that Raffi could be the first player of Peruvian or South American descent to win the Stanley Cup.

6/16/2006 12:03 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

I'm with Steven - if I could just remember the damn examples - they stand out because he is usually so terrible.

He set up a PP goal against Detroit I believe, carried the puck into the corner and fed ?? Pisani I think with a soft pass through traffic - teed it up for him really right in the slot- I think there have been a couple.

Its like Hemsky shooting - makes you take notice because its rare

6/16/2006 7:46 am  
Blogger Steven said...

Yah the funny thing is like black dog hates skunks I can barely remember any specific examples of him making nice passes. I know that he's done it before if only because I remember saying it out loud.

Either way I'll have to admit its much easier remembering his bad passes than his good ones.

6/16/2006 8:35 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

If we go on another three round playoff run in say the next couple of years then a lot of fellows are gonna price themselves out of Edm...that goes without saying.

6/16/2006 10:10 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I like Torres. I was dreading the thought of him being traded for a goalie at the deadline, I doubt that Lowe had any intention of doing it, but there were enough rumours to that effect that it gave cause for worry.

I think the thing that coloured my opinion the most was when I saw him in a Roadrunner game in Novemeber of the lockout year. Easily the best player on the ice, too good for that league. I remember Lowe commenting on him, in that year that the Oilers missed the dance (or were eliminated quickly) and KLo followed the Bulldogs long playoff run. Torres played for the team they faced in the semis that year I think (Hartford?) and Lowe traded for him the next year.

Personally I like players that are physical, aggressive and a bit unpredictable. Though Raffi doesn't look like much when he isn't playing with emotion, I think we all agree on that.

Torres is often spectacularly bad in his own zone, but it doesn't seem fair to pin too much blame on the guy when he's the first forward back so often, more than his centre when he played with Stoll, and by some distance IMO.

I still see Bling's point though. The guy really didn't put up the kind of results early on in his pro career that you would have expected. Damn few players struggle offensively like that as 20 and 21 year olds and then develop into guys who consistently pot 20 goals. Doesn't mean that it doesn't happen fo course ... just means that it's a bad bet. But for a guy who was touted as a 4th line energy guy and agitator when he came to his first Oilers camp, he has already covered the bet handily. I'm buying into the 'immature guy, slow to learn' theory, but probably just because I'm a fan. :-)

Only two goalposts this year too, the goal scoring gods were on his side a bit. Still, hella quick release and he'll shoot from anywhere. Allaire and his troupe have shown all the goalies where the pucks are most likely to go on net, and from where, and what the high percentage plays are ... and Torres doesn't oblige.

Interesting player.

6/19/2006 10:30 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I like Torres. I was dreading the thought of him being traded for a goalie at the deadline, I doubt that Lowe had any intention of doing it, but there were enough rumours to that effect that it gave cause for worry.

I think the thing that coloured my opinion the most was when I saw him in a Roadrunner game in Novemeber of the lockout year. Easily the best player on the ice, too good for that league. I remember Lowe commenting on him, in that year that the Oilers missed the dance (or were eliminated quickly) and KLo followed the Bulldogs long playoff run. Torres played for the team they faced in the semis that year I think (Hartford?) and Lowe traded for him the next year.

Personally I like players that are physical, aggressive and a bit unpredictable. Though Raffi doesn't look like much when he isn't playing with emotion, I think we all agree on that.

Torres is often spectacularly bad in his own zone, but it doesn't seem fair to pin too much blame on the guy when he's the first forward back so often, more than his centre when he played with Stoll, and by some distance IMO.

I still see Bling's point though. The guy really didn't put up the kind of results early on in his pro career that you would have expected. Damn few players struggle offensively like that as 20 and 21 year olds and then develop into guys who consistently pot 20 goals. Doesn't mean that it doesn't happen fo course ... just means that it's a bad bet. But for a guy who was touted as a 4th line energy guy and agitator when he came to his first Oilers camp, he has already covered the bet handily. I'm buying into the 'immature guy, slow to learn' theory, but probably just because I'm a fan. :-)

Only two goalposts this year too, the goal scoring gods were on his side a bit. Still, hella quick release and he'll shoot from anywhere. Allaire and his troupe have shown all the goalies where the pucks are most likely to go on net, and from where, and what the high percentage plays are ... and Torres doesn't oblige.

Interesting player.

6/19/2006 10:31 am  

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