Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Ripple Effect

The ripple effect. Doug Wilson talked about it when he acquired Joe Thornton. How that when you add a player of his stature it changes the whole forward lineup, because every other player has a shift in their responsibility into a role where they can have more success. I mean Wilson could have just said "Marleau's line can play against Turgeon instead of Sakic now, woohoo!", but it wouldn't have sounded as professional.

On Sakic; does Turgeon put up those impressive points and +/- numbers if he isn't playing in Joe's shadow? Does he get all those powerplay points if Sakic isn't on the ice with him? Sensible people everywhere are surely thinking "probably not" right now. I mean Quenneville is a crafty bugger, and he isn't trying to change Pierre's game either. And when Turgeon only sees 62 minutes of EV icetime against the "Big 8" from the post below ... that's not coincidence. As a point of reference, the regular Oiler forward with the fewest minutes against the same group is Stoll at 83 minutes, and we all saw him being sheltered a lot. (Apologies for belabouring the 'big 8 players' thing, I'll stop now.)

Point being, if Sakic goes down for any length of time then one of Turgeon or Arnason is going to get outscored at an alarming rate, and even the other is going to be coming onto the ice in worse situations a lot more and COL is almost certainly going to get fewer powerplay opportunities and be able to convert fewer as well. Just my guess, but I can't see it shaking out any other way. It's the ripple effect again, just the ripples going the other way.

If Fedorov comes back this season and is able to skate the way he could in the past (a big IF I know) ... then Gallant is going to be able to play him with a couple of no-name wingers and he'll still draw the matchup with BOTH the top F and top D of the other team. So when the Jackets roll into Dallas Tippet will probably try to run both Modano/Lehtinen and Zubov at him. That won't do much for the way Sergei looks out there, but Nash, Vyborny, Zherdev or whoever is on the second line are going to start looking like world beaters.

The prolific Lowetide has another excellent post today, and it slaps us with some obvious facts that a lot of Oiler fans would rather not think about. For starters, Lowetide thinks Smid probably will play 40 or so games with the big club, mostly with a veteran, and eat up soft minutes. Which pushes up Greene and Bergeron into facing better talent. I wish that the thought of that didn't scare me shitless, but it does. Same sort of thing up front, probably even moreso. They have so many talented young forwards that are going to have trouble creating more than they surrender, and unless the opposing coach agrees to play his 4th line 20 minutes a night ... there is the potential for some ugly evenings. If this isn't a rebuild, it's something pretty damn similar. Not a Seven Year Plan or anything, but still. The Oilers have some terrific young talent up front no doubt, probably the best in the league, but they are not terrific players just yet methinks.

But meh, what can ya do. Lowe and MacTavish are catering this shindig, we're just attending it. And this year they're serving us Wow!TM potato chips. Remember those? Apparently they taste great, and half the calories ... but before you picked them off the shelf at Safeway you probably remembered the CNN story that you saw about the FDA initially wanting "may cause anal leakage" to be written on the label. I mean they better be really fucking tasty if there is that sort of risk attached to them, no? So what can we Oiler fans do? ... my advice would be to eat the chips you're served, savour the flavour and hope for the best. And for crissakes where dark pants!


Anonymous lowetide said...

Classic line at the end. Great post.

9/09/2006 12:41 pm  
Anonymous PDO said...

Great post.

So here's a question..

What's the trickle down effect when Anahiem losses Selanne or Calgary losses Iginla?

Neither of these guys are true difference makers in that they dominate anyone and everyone (like JoeT, Sakic, etc...), however the rates that (Selanne specifically) dominate the lesser competition are simply disgusting.

Honestly, it doesn't seem like it'd be that big of a loss. I mean, in Anaheim you have these kids who must be playing tough minutes, simply because Selanne is getting the softies, right? So if Selanne goes down, that means instead of playing against Torres/Reasoner/Pisani, Getzlaf is playing against Sykora/Stoll/Lupul. It seems that the negative ripple from an injury is much less.

Now I'm going all over the place - but I guess my point is is do you really want a guy like Selanne on your team? A guy who can you use to absolutely rape the other teams crappy opposition, is going to demand a huge paycheck, but ultimately doesn't give a positive ripple to the guys not on his line? Atleast if you're paying Sakic $7,000,000 you're going to see Turgeon get 60 points, right?

As for the Oilers this season..

We go as Horcoff goes. He's going to be the team MVP this year, and if he can continue to be a monster at ES (specifically what he did in the playoffs and 03-04), we're going to be a good team. This team is set to have a lethal PP and competant goaltending. The PK should be good as well. If Horcoff can be the player that I believe he can be, and that he was last year.. we're sitting pretty.

9/09/2006 3:34 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

You're with me, PDO. (First Deadspin reference on this site!)

I'm pretty wildly optimistic about this Oilers team. I saw LT's thing and grimaced but the rookies on that 93-94 team look to have been playing more important roles than ours are going to play. I have a feeling that if you could look at the minutes played, the 93-94 rookies would blow away the minutes that ours will play. I should also point out that I don't think Schremp will be playing in the NHL this year.

I don't like Greene in the top 4 (if he ends up there; I'm not so sure) any more than the next guy but we have to remember that the Oilers aren't going to be playing the Sharks, Red Wings and Hurricanes every night of the year like in our last prolonged exposure to the guy. There aren't a lot of teams with the forward depth to target lower end D, although things will no doubt be an adventure on the road.

It's going to be a fun year in a lot of ways. This is going to be fascinating team to watch from a coaching strategery standpoint because it's got a collection of players who are great at things and scary at others. Will Ethan Moreau get on the ice for an ES offensive zone faceoff all year? Will Lupul get to be on the ice for one in his own end? How many 10 second shifts will Horc have where he takes the draw and heads to the bench?

9/09/2006 3:56 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

Count into the wildly optimistic club - this time last year and all the way past mid-season I was bleating about the need for more dmen, a top 6 RW and a starting goalie after Jussi showed that he couldnt shoulder a starters load in the NHL. We now need a top pair dman.......period.

Another thing few are taking into consideration is just how much tougher our young guys are going to be after that playoff run. You cant buy that kind of experience - so Hemmer, Torres, Stoll and Greene WILL be better at ES - count on it.

Havent been this pumped since the early 80s for a new season...

9/09/2006 6:43 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Also a member of the optimists' club - big surprise there - huh?

Be some tough ones to take but a lot of great young talent - should be fun to watch.

And Vic - that's some pretty funny shit by the way.

9/10/2006 12:37 pm  
Anonymous Bank Shot said...

I'm sure we'll do alot of worrying about our defense. Fortunatly for us, pretty much every other team doesn't have the depth to cover our offensive talent spread, and the boys in blue will be causing panic moments for the other side as well.

Besides it's the Oilers. They'll do things the hard way, but they'll get it done in the end.

9/11/2006 2:58 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Well, we'll see the decisions that they make for the October 5th roster.

My sense is that they already have plenty of guys with holes in their games on the roster. Hemsky is the future, but he was a hindrance in the top line last year (in terms of winning hockey games, not hockey pools). Lupul will surely remind more people of a 22 year old Brett Hull than a 32 year old Brendan Shanahan. Smid wasn't exactly dominating in the AHL, and history shows us that he won't be ready to face high level talent successfully for years yet. Hell Matt Greene still has years to reach that level, if he ever does.

I mean you could scroll through the list and make comments like these:

Smid - He's a high end talent, he should get some NHL games to keep developing. If he plays with a solid vet like Staios and is played against the type of opposition that he can have success against ... should bode well for the future.

Hemsky - He's the future, and he's the most talented Oiler, and they've already invested a tonne in him. Playing him with the team's two best players (Smyth and Horcoff) just makes sense. He's at the stage where he has to continue to face quality opposition, he'll get burned a lot still, hopefully less and less as the year goes on, but it's an investment the Oilers should make.

Lupul - Not close to being ready to face high end talent. A natural scorer, he can have success if he plays with good veteran players who are capable of winning and keeping the puck. Guys like Pisani, Reasoner, Sykora, Moreau.

Mihknov/Pouliot/Jacques/Schremp - Put in a position to be able to have some success. i.e. Unless they bump into Joe Thornton in the corridor ... they won't get a good look at the guy all year.

Stoll/Torres - need another year of playing the softer minutes, though definitely should see some boost in responsibility ... don't want to push that boat out too far though or they'll stop scoring and might lose confidence.


The problem is, for every talented youngster that you squeeze onto the roster ... the ripples are felt through the lineup. Unless Hemsky takes a quantum leap forward with his 5on5 game (and imo he's capable and is aware, it's possible he could do just that, but I wouldn't advise betting the rent on it) can we really expect the Horcoff line to put up dominating EV+/- numbers?

For a lot of these guys, it's easy to say "just play him with good linemates against the other teams depth forwards!" ... but there's not much of that to go around.

Roloson and Markkanen had better be good all year, and Hemsky and Sykora had better be good on the PP, and Hemsky had better really take that step forward and become a smarter 5on5 player. And they'll need at least a fair share of good luck in avoiding injuries to key guys.

9/11/2006 7:31 am  
Anonymous julian said...

so.... how much are we gonna miss Dvorak then next year?

When i think of the defense, sooner or later my thoughts turn to "yeah, but wait till 07-0.... my only worry there is that we won't have any big contracts coming off the books which we're wiling to wave goodbye to that i can think of... maybe Sykora. Torres at least might be in position to demand alot more than he's making right now, as might Lupul if they only get him for one year this signing. And if you figure we'll be in the hunt for a top pairing dman in the FA season... well, I guess we worry about it when the time comes.

9/11/2006 8:59 am  
Anonymous namflashback said...

mmm. wow chip! yummy. Must go to the bathroom now, I seem to be leaking.

yup. I ate the chips. I am in the optimists skid-mark club.

9/11/2006 9:36 pm  
Anonymous Bank Shot said...

Call me a crazy optimist, but I don't see the forward core being in worse shape then it was last season.

The Oilers have enough veterans to put together 2 solid 5on5 lines. Thats all they had last year. They had the Horcoff line which could play the tougher minutes and they had the Peca line. The Stoll line was sheltered and the 4th line got slaughtered.

The difference this season should be that the weaker 5on5 lines will likely be much more effective at putting pucks in the bad guy's net.

9/12/2006 12:48 am  

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