Wednesday, September 20, 2006


A big topic this time of year, even though we all know that for one reason or another (usually injuries) the lines will get shuffled about a bunch throughout the year.

For the 05/06 season this is how the even strength icetime together shook out for the Oiler forwards. I've lumped in a bunch of temporary depth players (Kolanos, Stastny, Rita, etc) into the group called Plebs. This is only as accurate as the shiftcharts, and with a couple of those missing. Still, should give a pretty damn good idea of the spread methinks.



Blogger Steven said...

Interesting stuff. Looks like Horcoff was defintely carrying the mail when it came to even strength as expected.

While the lines did get shuffled sometimes, from the looks of it you can easily tell who played with who most of the time, if not all of the time.

For all of this MacT blender chatter it defintely wasn't really into play that much last year.

Are the distributions for 03/04 similar? I'm betting not if only because I remember there being quite a few injuries and different line combinations.

With all of the new fowards we'll be seeing this year it will defintely be interesting to see if the coaching staff sticks with similar line combinations or mixes them up quite a bit. I'm guessing they'll try a bunch of different combinations if only because they got so many new fowards this year.

9/21/2006 2:14 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Interesting to note Dvorak's numbers - between 225 and 285 with four forwards and also 133 with Horcoff.

Only Reasoner has those sort of numbers (a fairly even spread over five players) and a lot of that has to do with the nature of his job and the fact that he had a lot of guys rotating in and out of the lineup to play with him.

9/21/2006 8:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet Vic. So just looking at it a bit

- ES leaders: Horcoff, Smyth, Pisani, Stoll, Torres, Moreau, Peca, Dvorak, Plebes, Reasoner, Laraque, Harvey, Samsonov, in order. Basically a bottom half-ectomy by Lowe over the summer, particularly if you're eyeing Reasoner to get more ES minutes.

- Replaced players account for 34% of the ES minutes. The likely hard-minutes lost is probably no greater than 1,588 minutes, or 16%.

- The Plebes+Harvey+Laraque minutes (1,575, about 16% again) are going to be replaced by mostly new Plebes and rookies, probably older rookies, plus some of Lupul's minutes. Could be a wash but looks promising that it might be an upgrade.

An interesting launch point about predicting ES differential this season. Problably the main question is how the Dvorak and Peca minutes will be filled. Dvorak was more of a babysitter and Peca primarily was there to create an event-free line with Moreau, right? So who is drawing into those minutes?

Seems to me that it will be a combination of almost everyone.

I base that on the apparent shift in coaching strategy compared to what they did last year. An interesting contrast is on Horcoff's line's role. Right now they're skating Pisani with Horcof even though Pisani played astonishingly few minutes with him last season. Seems to indicate a realignment of strategy back to a top ES minute line...could we see fewer risks being taken? And with the departures the obvious assumption is that they're hoping the combination of Stoll and Reasoner can carry some harder ES minutes than last season. Then Sykora/Hemsky/Torres seem aimed to pump goals in against weaker opposition. I'm anxious to see if this works. Surely they'll draw some fairly stiff competition away from Stoll and Reasoner's lines. Torres and Hemsky are a year older and I'm interested to see Sykora's game, as I really haven't paid any attention to him. If they're not a total liability line it will really help.

So the upshot is that the answer to "who takes Dvorak and Peca's minutes from last year?" is basically "almost everyone". Lupul, perhaps, is the loophole.

Props to Vic, by the way, for so cunningly scouting Sykora for the Oilers LOL. The great bastards weren't listening to you on Whitney et. al. but maybe they pick up your defenders.


9/21/2006 9:46 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Yeah, I'm thinking pretty much the same thing. I know for those of us wondering if this was going to be a "let's grow the youngsters" year, it was a huge boost to see the Smyth-Horcoff-Pisani line reunited right from the start of camp.

The point on Sykora/Hemsky likely being given the really good opportunities to score this season (shifts against weaker opp, shifts following Horcoff, shifts after a successful PK, etc) at this point that seems pretty obvious to me. We saw a lot of that in the first three rounds of the playoffs last year with Stoll and Hemsky of course. In five of the six games vs San Jose it looked to me like MacTavish was jumping through hoops to get the Samsonov/Stoll/Hemsky trio out against the Goc line or the occasion S.J 4th line. And they just didn't deliver. Samsonov and Hemsky were the two most exciting players on that team, but they couldn't produce there, and the Oilers were very fortunate that the Horcoff line did so well against Thornton and the Peca line the same vs Marleau (esp after Michalek went down). The Oilers need to do better at capitalizing on those opportunities, because you can't count on outscoring forward units the quality of Thornton's line very often.

And ya, I got my wish on Sykora :) I hope he works out, and I think he will. Obviously the Horcoff line is the top threat and will get the attention of the other team's best players. But if Sykora does well and Hemsky continues to get better (all those minutes that Hemmer saw against quality players in the regular season last year will surely pay some dividends this year, no?) they should rack up some numbers.

Early on I'm sure that we'll see the opposing coaches run their best forwards and their best D against Horcoff. If by game 6 vs DAL at home (we'll see Horcoff v Modano for sure) we see Zubov being matched against Sykora instead of Horcoff ... then we'll know that that combo is for real. Hell even if we start seeing that any time before Christmas I'd be impressed. And if by February we see the trio of Torres/Sykora/Hemsky actually taking defensive zone draws against non-schleps, will ALL THREE on the ice, things will be looking pretty damn good for this team. (That last sentence is a frightening thought I know, but I'm an optimist by nature. :-) )

Having said that, all of this goes out the window if the key guys get hurt, and Horcoff and Smyth have both managed to get hurt early in the past two seasons.

9/21/2006 10:43 am  
Anonymous Julian said...

This stuff is great, essentially the resason i keep coming back here. Better insight than anything on TSN and HF combined.

How IS Sykora defensively anyway? Can he be counted on as a babysitter? Is he at least able to take care of himself in his own end? I know he played for two different teams last year, so analyzing his numbers might be difficult.

I barely remember him though from last season, so any recollection you guys have of him would be helpful... it sure sounds like he's playing well with Hemsky though, so if that line could make hay with the soft minutes, it' d be great to see Smyth with Horc and Pisani.

9/21/2006 1:12 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

i would lean towards Sykora being able to do the job defensively just based on his pedigree as a Devil but not sure if thats rep or fact - I would say rep because we know the Devils - tight to the vest, esp. back in the day.


Last year, Julian, I think Sykora really struggled early on but he put up pretty good numbers once he was with the Rangers, as in PPG, iirc

This is all by memory so take it for what its worth.

9/21/2006 1:59 pm  
Anonymous pdo said...

I know a Devils fan... basically, he said Sykora isn't insanely good defensively by any stretch of the imagination, but he's a good defensive player. He spent a lot of time playing with Elias, so he drew a lot of tough matchups and did well with them. Obviously Elias helped that, but the fact remains.

I'm estatic to hear that Pisani is playing with Smyth/Horc, and hope that the training wheels can come off both Hemsky AND Torres based on their playoff play.

Man, wouldn't that be something? Vic's scenario above could actually happen, assuming that Sykora learns how to take draws (apparently that's been the hardest change for him, take it for what it's worth but I'd gamble defensive positioning is a lot tougher than taking a draw ;) ).

If the training wheels come off 14 and 83 AND they can both swim, this team is set up to go a long way, as we'd have two very good lines tot hrow out against anyone and still have Moreau/Reasoner sitting around able to play and hopefully one of Stoll/Lupul beginning to take some steps.


9/21/2006 2:51 pm  
Blogger Bank Shot said...

It kind of broke down like:

Smyth-Horcoff pairing+Hemsky
Torres-Stoll pairing
Moreau-Pisani pairing

Dvorak, Peca, Reasoner bouncing around.

If Dvorak hadn't been injured he'd probably have alot more minutes with Torres/Stoll. Most of the blending seemed to be done in the bottom six as MacT didn't seem too happy with his 4th line for most of the season.

This year if the Sykora experiment sticks we'll pretty much see:
Reasoner and the kids.

I'll bet we'll see some switching between Moreau/Torres and Pisani/ Lupul depending on the situation in the game.

That's if the current combos work out. If not then the blender will come out and we'll see some surprising combinations.

9/21/2006 11:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes me ill to think of Stoll being the #2 centre in terms of tough matchups. I guess it does help if he has 18-34 riding shotgun with him though. Word from Mon's dailies had Lupul heading up with 94-10 and the 14-71-83 line staying intact. I guess MacT's gambling that the 94-10 combo's good enough at ES to carry 15 along or he's gambling that this line will have the puck so much as to capitalize on the whole "a good offense is a good defense" axiom.


9/25/2006 9:53 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

My hunch is that he's realized what he has in Lupul. Pleasure Motors mentioned something regarding Mikhnov the other day, something along the lines of him drifting to open space a lot, even when the Oilers didn't have the puck. Lupul has more than a bit of that in his game too imo. Hell, if he didn't he wouldn't score so many goals. And he wouldn't have been getting his mail delivered to Babcock's doghouse either. :)

I can see S.J cheaping out on their D, they have so many big, fast forwards that are hard on the puck ... turn it over and you don't get it back. Seems like a bit of a different mix up front on the Oilers though, granted they have a whack of guys that can finish. If they will have enough possession to create the chances that is.

Interesting year. I don't know if we've ever seen the season start with so much uncertainty before, just so many different philosophies being run out there this year on a bunch of rosters.

We'll see, not too much longer to wait.

9/25/2006 10:51 pm  

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