Monday, June 12, 2006

Thoughts heading into G4...

...that are based on what I've seen thus far and especially from what I saw in G3.

- Did it warm anyone else's heart to see Tarnstrom playing the full two min alongside Pronger on the Oilers 3rd period PP? And how about that save Ward made on #44 when he went side to side and got the pad down? That all happened because Horc won the draw and whipped it back to 23 who made a nice soft pass to Pronger over on the right side. Tarnstrom is a known commodity on the PP. Plays like that will be the norm and not the exception. I don't know why MacT all of a sudden made this move and don't get me wrong I'm not looking a potential gifthorse in the mouth. I thought it was something that should've and would've been done between series' when there was lots of time to draw up some plays and repitition would ensue.

- Staying on the topic of the Oilers looks to me like it's about to click. I know that's not a bold statement given it's been good throughout the whole playoffs but when you start to get chances eventually those turn into goals. Edm had between 5-7 SC's, scoring chances, on their PP in G3 so if it keeps on raining the levy's going to break.

- We knew Smyth had to score if the Oilers had a chance and we thought he eventually would. And Horc had been hitting the ball hard enough in the first two games that eventually he was gonna find a couple of gaps. So no big shock to see both guys chipping in on Sat night. If you want to know the next Oilers likely to break their goal scoring slumps then I'd say Torres, Peca and Pronger are good candidates. Yes I know Pronger scored in G1 but he started getting the puck to the net last night and the Oilers PP kettle is about to boil. Peca was back to generating SC's so I'd guess he's about ready as well. BTW, he's the Oilers #1 centre right now in terms of ES TOI which is super interesting consider that MacT has taken Horcoff away from the PK and has replaced him with Murray. I like this move because it let's us bring the Horc line right after the penalty's killed and in keeping with that them Smyth never saw any SH time in G3 either. To close this point MacT played the 10 line for two of the first three shifts in G3 and got them out against the Addams Family on the third shift of the game and Horc would go on to open the scoring.

Note: this theory does not apply to Radek Dvorak because that man has zero scoring ability.

- Vic will tell you that forwards drive the Wilson numbers metric and I'm not well enough versed on that topic to debate him. But I do know this: a far greater number of bad things happen when Matt Greene's on the ice as opposed to good. Things like him taking stupid penalties or his teammates having to take penalties because he's out of position. Let us also not forget that if it were an official stat Greene would most likely lead the league in icings created when a successful outlet pass was certainly achieveable. There's also the times when teammates have to ice the puck because Greene's on the sheet with them and things have taken a turn to Chuck Barris Ave.

- I know I'm gushing about Tarnstrom but did anyone else notice his shot block on Weight late in the 3rd? It's Weight so he's probably not gonna score;) but it was still nice to see 23 head out into the slot and shield that shot from Jussi.

- A pretty good job by Jussi I must say. A couple of really good saves and his rebound control was rather excellent. He won't make too many second saves like Rolo can and could but he's not killing us either and that should be good enough at Rexall where the game changes because of MacT's line matching.

- Which brings me to Peca's job on BA in the dot. Peca took care of him and his line finished -1 against Carolina's only consistent line at this point but they certainly matched them and most likely bettered them in SC's. Which was the story of the night as the Oilers had far more many chances to score than Carolina.

- What am I wrong about when it comes to Carolina, ie is it their defense or netminding? I think their D can be had and I don't think Ward's as good as he's being made out to be. But the kid allows a big shot of rebounds and if the Oilers aren't popping them in then maybe the Canes D does a consistent job of clearing the bounds and if that's the case then I'm wrong about them. Staying with Ward for a second...if you believe that luck and bounces matter than you'd rather be an Oilers fan than a Canes fan right now. After scoring some nice luck in G2 there was a big swing last night in favour of the Oilers. One Carolina shot went off Tarnstrom's skate and safely into Jussi's pad and another went off Smith's skate and right to Whitney in the crease and yet Jussi stopped him cold. At the other end the Smyth goal had all the charm of Mike Commodore's undershirt.

- Is Staal slumping or is he just worn out? He's not even generating chances so I'd go with the latter. If that's the case it makes it much easier to match lines unless Lavatory decides to juggle his lines to try and jumpstart Archie Andrews. Staal continuing to pretty much no-show combined with Markkanen catching some lightning in a bottle with give the Oilers a fighting chance.

- Not a great game from Pronger in his own end. Justin Williams, who's been the best player for both teams in the first three games of the season, took him wide a couple of times and I counted three times Pronger could've cleared the zone but didn't.

- I'm still not sold on Jussi so I'm not even sold on the Oilers winning G4 let alone the series. If you believe in things like scoring chances then you know the Oilers totally deserved to win G3. By that metric they also deserved to win G1 but first Rolo and then Conklin conspired to let in no less than three combined questionable goals while at the other end Cam Ward was making like Ron Tugnutt for the Nords at Boston Garden. That's to take nothing away from the Canes win because the team with the best netminding wins a tonne of games. I'm just looking at chances created and wondering how much of a difference it will make where one goalie's already stolen a couple of the gams and the other guy's shaking off rust and frost at the same time.

Some good things to build on from the Oilers G3 is that they showed a helluva lot more discipline with the Canes enjoying just five PP opps. Which means just four really when you consider that Matt Greene has to take at least one penalty a game. The PK % is gonna take a hit with Rolo on the shelf so the offense is a good defense. Edmonton also seemed to get back some of their bounces mojo and if you don't believe these things matter than just look at who leads the playoffs with most saves by the post.

The Oilers had way more of a forecheck going in G1-2 and in G3 they laid back a little and also made sure the D stayed within themselves as well. No one with argue with that approach. But if this is really going to be a series than I'd imagine Cam Ward has to have at least one bad game and the Oilers have to get their PP going. And Jussi has to be at least good which is a tall order for a guy coming in under these circumstances.


Anonymous swabbubba said...

Good Post. I think the Oilers are adjusting better to the Canes. We never played them all year.. we faced advesity of losing Rollie. Now it is on... Balls to the wall.. can we step it more yes... Can we play better yes... The Oilers can do this yes... Go Oilers

6/12/2006 6:55 am  
Anonymous lowetide said...

Why don't you just admit you love Matt Greene as a player? Wouldn't it be easier? :-)

Seriously, I think he's right where you should expect a player of his type with the same experience to be.

Overmatched much of the time, struggling with the speed of the game, out of position even when he makes a hit and taking several holding/stick infraction penalties because he's getting beaten by veteran players.

Jason Smith got traded for all that stuff when he was 23. Then he got traded again after that because Pat Quinn didn't think he could skate backwards very well (which for anyone who remembers Pat Quinn as a hockey player is kind of like the pot calling the kettle black).

I think it's fair to question whether or not Igor was a better option back at the beginning of the playoffs, or that Greene is simply too inexperienced to be getting the minutes they are currently handing him.

If you say MA Bergeron and Tarnstrom should draw in over Greene that's an argument that has merit.

But imo anyway Greene is doing just fine based on his established level (which is flat out rookie) of ability.

It's more a coaching/management call than anything the kid is doing wrong. jmo.

6/12/2006 7:21 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

Yes that's the way I see it at the end of the day as well. I don't think he should've played over Tarnstrom.

In any case I'd imagine I'll really like him one of these days just not right now;)

6/12/2006 9:24 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

I like LT's take on Greene a lot.

I've said it all along - MacT is not a big fan of Tarnstrom - who knows why - he's not a rock back there but between him and MAB or Greene I'd take him and they should have had him on the PP from Day One - he ran a power play - why get him if not to have him do that here.

I liked what he did in G3 and think he can make a difference tonight.

6/12/2006 12:32 pm  
Blogger dax said...

It's all coming together for Game 5

GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!!

6/14/2006 8:38 am  

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