Thursday, October 12, 2006

Game Thread: Sharks/Oilers

Not sure if I'll do a postgame on this one or not but I will chime in between periods and after the third and just throw in a few comments. Let's see what everyone else thinks

- Greene may be much improved in his own end, and there's no doubt he is and I was really impressed with a one on one battle where he bested Thornton, but he's offensively inept. It will be interesting to see just how much the Oilers miss the breakout passes once doled out by Pronger and Spacek.

- Smid's looking better and MAB's wearing the D goat horns early on. Twice he messed up easy breakout passes and SJ quickly turned it around.

- Oilers came out and looked like they were gonna rip the cover off SJ but the Thornton vs Stoll matchup, ie that's what MacT was going for most of the frame, bit them in the ass and it was 1-1 and then you had that BS call on Smith and the Oilers were quickly trailing.

- For the most part it's Stoll/Thornton, Marleau/Sykora/ Horc/Brown and 4th vs 4th. I counted one Thornton/Reasoner shift and one Horcoff/Goc shift. Basically MacT's trying to let the Horc line feed while he hopes the Stoll line can play Thornton to close to even. Oilers goal came with 4th lines squaring off, BTW.

- One more line matching note. Coming out of the last TV timeout MacT went PVP with Horc vs Thornton but had the MAB/Greene tandem on D. That makes no sense considering everyone was well rested.

- Lupul's gonna murder this team if he doesn't score 30 goals. He's useless in two of the three zones and he's not overly interested in working in the O zone either. And he changes the way the Oilers match lines. Usually you'd have PVP with Horc/Thornton but I'd bet MacT has them going against the Brown line because he's afraid Lupul will be exposed.

- Oilers outshot and outchanced what is likely the best team in hockey. Considering what the Canes had on D in '06 who's to say anymore what kind of a blueline corps you need to win out but you give SJ one more D to take some of the Gorges, Carle and Vlasic min and I can't see any team that's better.


Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

2nd period thoughts:

Sometimes the Oilers are stupid and tonight is one of them. Penalty after penalty and most of them ticky tack stick fouls. I'm not saying the Oilers are soft because they will block shots and they will dole out some hits but they're penalties always soft. Look at all those 2nd period infractions and there's not a roughing penalty amongst them. That just kills me.

And then you have a too many men penalty and you get a penalty for mouthing off as well. Then Horcoff and Tarnqvist combine for one of the most braindead plays you'll ever see. The Oilers are down two men and Horc rushes down the wing and instead of just throwing it on net he's gonna try and be nifty...because that idiot Tarnqvist has joined the rush. The last time I saw that was Bo Mironov one night in Colorado and it produced the same result: a 4 on 1 the other way that lead to a goal. That's just a horrible play by Edm. I can't get over that one.

So...8 periods into the season and the Oilers have been shorthanded a whopping 24 times. That's something to worry about for sure.

10/12/2006 10:00 pm  
Blogger namflashback said...

ok, redemption for many of the players --

- Strong play by Lupul throughout the third period, good in the corners, on the cycle
- Tjarnquist assist to Hemsky for the insurance goal was a pass of beauty
- Stoll, good defensive play on the powerplay breakaway
- Smyth, three goals in 2:01 -- not bad
- Moreau, Pisani (+ Reasoner) hard, hard, hard on the puck
- Roloson making great puck play decisions and all Oilers making fewer mistakes up the defensive boards

3 ES goals, 2 PP goals

- good resilience from the team

10/13/2006 12:09 am  
Anonymous dynastydays said...

Has anyone quite fingered the system the Oilers are playing during ES? Ive been whining to anyone that will listen hoping for MacT to implement the left wing lock this year, and its not far off except the 2nd forward is getting really high really often. very aggressive in a trap kinda way... is that by design or are the horses just burning calories w/o MacT's instruction? Either way, the earlier we can seperate the opposition from the puck the better, we do not have the horses to have effective down low coverage for any significant part of the game.


10/13/2006 12:44 am  
Blogger Bank Shot said...

Matt Greene is going to be a hero.

His breakout pass is very underrated. I can't recall him ever coughing up the puck or passing it on to the wrong stick.

He wins battles and makes the right decisions.

He'll be a much better defenseman then Smith in a few years.

10/13/2006 2:05 am  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

I have a strong suspicion that Dennis went to bed. He's going to regret that.

10/13/2006 5:51 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

bank shot - that's because Smith will be retired

Reminds me of the old Gordie Howe story - "How many goals do you think you'd score if you played in the NHL today with everyone being so big and strong etc etc?" and Gordie says "oh 15 to 20".

"Of course, I am 70 now"

Ba dum da.

Dennis' point on the penalties is bang on - SH 10 times and don't give me that Mick McGeogh crap - SJ was only short 4 times.

The fact that Horcoff, Moreau and Smyth seem to have their shit together (and for that matter Mr. Greene) leads me to believe that MacT or someone better start cracking the whip - Hemsky took, what, three last night?


10/13/2006 8:55 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Nice review Dennis. I put the game on the sidebar if you're interested. I agree that the handling of the Thornton line was a head scratcher, right at the start of the game with Sykora's line against him?! WTF!

By the second period on it was common sense revisited though, pretty much Horcoff or Reasoner against him the whole way though. How about Marty? For the third straight game he's played over half of his 5on5 icetime against the other team's best player (Iggy in G1 and G2, now Joe in G3). Like namflashback says that line is just so hard on the puck, a couple of shifts there where I didn't even realize Thornton was on the ice until he was shifting off, he just never had the puck.

Reminds me of a Ron Wilson interview this past summer, he was talking about puck possession, how nothing bad can happen if you have the puck deep in the other team's end. He used Ryan Smyth as an opponent who "can't hurt you if he doesn't get the puck" example. Then he mentioned that's why he doesn't mind Bernier playing against Smyth because in spite of his inexperience and defensive shortcomings, he's a strong puck possession guy. The last sentence is BS of course, Bernier has never seen much ice at all against players of Smyth's calibre, but the first bit is valid methinks.

Way, way, way too many penalties of course. I can live with Hemsky taking a few, I don't think he's played with this much of an edge before, so he's figuring out where the line is drawn right now. 5on5 this team looked pretty damn good against arguably the best team in the west. Granted Bell was out, and the Oilers were playing on home ice with a bunch of rest and prep time, and they were fortunate to get the W. Still, bodes well.

10/13/2006 9:32 am  
Blogger namflashback said...


re. 5v5 - the mazing thing is that 14-71-83 never got burned against Marleau line.

and I can't say enough about the fact that 15 was tough on the puck and making things happen (physically too). certainly not floaty tonight.

10/13/2006 9:51 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

The play died a lot with Lupul, it has all year. But he got his chance and buried it. Sort of like a young Brett Hull.

He has better tools than I realized though, he's bigger and quicker than I thought he was. If they can get the guy playing a bit more like Fernando Pisani and a bit less like Scott Young ... they could really have a player here. That's on the coaching staff and the team's veterans though, and mostly on Lupul. And it won't happen overnight.

I look up Babcock's stuff in the press every now and again, and I remember when Lupul was being sent down to the minors in ANA a couple of years ago, Babcock was talking in terms of "He has to get better, to become a more complete player. And we're NOT trading him, he'll have to change his game" or something very similar.

About the same time they interviewed Lupul and he was talking about Brett Hull the way that Tiger Woods talks about Jack Nicklaus. Sweet baby Jesus, whatever Babcock was saying it wasn't getting through. Some players play for their teammates, others play for their counting stats, and buddy reeked of the latter.

He's still just a youngster though, even more than I thought, according to he just turned 23 a couple of weeks ago. Plenty of time for him to get better yet. I'm sure he will. But even if he doesn't he'll be good trade bait. There is always a demand for forwards who can finish.

10/13/2006 10:11 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Since nobody else has, I'll offer an opinion.

Like most every team, the Oilers mix it up. Just like a "blitzing" football team doesn't blitz every down in a football game.

If there is a shift change and the other team has the puck in their own end, like when you see the other team's Dman standing behind his net, then the Oilers will settle into a 1-2-2. One forward standing 15 feet in front of the net or so to take away the pass up the middle, the other two forwards at about the faceoff dots at the blue lines, and the D well back of them. Just like every team in the league by my eyes, except when young players make bad decisions.

If the puck is going into the zone, then it depends on the read of the first forward in. If he figures it's pointless to chase, he'll hold up and the forwards behind will follow suit and it's the same formation as in the paragraph above. There is little sense in chasing Lidstrom around the net, after all.

If the first forward thinks he can pressure the D who is going for the puck, that he can rush his first pass like a linebacker on a quarterback, then he'll charge in. He's the decision maker. And the 2nd forward will follow his lead, getting in deep to support and taking away the puck carriers best passing option, usually the weak side D. And the 3rd forward should stay high in the offensive zone and read the play like a free safety.

If we had top views of the game this would be pretty clear I think. When is interactive TV coming to hockey, anyways?

Sharks play the same BTW. And there are a lot of fast, aggressive players on that squad so they pressure most of the time, just like the Oilers. Both teams have the right kind of players for that too. Flames play the same system as well of course. A bit more cautious on the cycle, no blind passes into the slot or similar, they seem happy to grind it out and wait for a mistake, and they have fewer players who can finish on that squad too. But as far as transition game goes pretty much the same as the Sharks, Canucks, Avs, Oilers, etc.

That's the way they have played for all of MacTavish's tenure IMO. Including the playoff run with the exception of the uberpassive game 1 in DET.

Somebody must have told the reporters what happened after that game, because they projected it onto the rest of the playoffs. When the Toronto media were blathering on about how the Oilers were "trapping there way to success", and bearing in mind that this was the same group of reporters who never noticed the Leafs playing a hard trap all season in HogTown ... Sweet Christ. I saw a Toronto media panel on TV this summer talking about how Quinn "never had a system!". Good Lord.

10/13/2006 10:44 am  
Blogger Steven said...

Lupul - Yah I think we can all see the kid has all the skills in the world. He can shoot, pass and is a MUCH better skater than I thought. It's simply a matter of motivating to play hard rather than float and wait for a pass to be thrown to him.
I did think he looked better last night than before. If anything I think playing with Horc and Smyth should rub off on him (but might cost us some games obviously).
I think he'll get better. I remember seeing that interview on TSN where he says something along the lines of California was an awesome place to play but that coming to Edmonton would be good for him because he needed to concentrate more on hockey.

10/13/2006 11:26 am  
Blogger namflashback said...

last word on Lupul

Most importantly, if Lupul doesn't figure it out here, I don't think he ever will. MacT is good at bringing out the dimension in a player if they are willing.

If not, he WILL be excellent trade bait as Vic suggests.

10/13/2006 11:57 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

That 3V5 play was insane. I guess Horcoff deserves some blame for that but I have a feeling he thought he was alone and was just trying to rag the puck and kill some time by turning back. Tjarnqvist's play there just made no sense whatsoever. Staios probably wanted to choke the life out of him after that.

Vic Ferrari said...
The play died a lot with Lupul, it has all year.

All year eh?

Well, I thought Lupul looked better last night too. There were a couple of scrums in front of the SJ net in the 2nd, where I was surprised to discover he was involved. He got his nose dirty looking for the puck a little bit and he actually initiated contact with his defender a couple of times as well. We'll see if he can keep that kind of competitive edge in his game consistently. At least if he can fight a little in the offensive zone as he did last night, he'll support that line's puck possession a lot more effectively. If he can, we won't be on his case nearly as much.

Vic: I recall we talked about this in the playoffs and I was pretty sure the Oilers had some specific criteria for picking their spots on the forecheck at that time and it's probably true now as well. However, I do think those criteria were a little more stringent in more than just one game against the Wings. Also in a few of the flu-ridden ones against the Ducks as well.

I guess it depends on whether you think the term "more passive" has an overly negative connotation? I personally don't care. Maybe the phrase "more disciplined" is more apt? Regardless, I think the bottom line is that the Oilers committed fewer forecheckers and did so less often for a decent chunk of the playoffs. Perhaps less so, in the SJ series and in the final vs. the Canes, but overall they played a slightly different game.

10/13/2006 12:59 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

I didn't go to bed...I watched the third period and then I went to bed:) I was most heartened in the last 40 by just how much better Lupul played. He ran over a guy and went out of his way to make another couple of hits. If we're really to have that three line balance and he's gonna play with 94-10 then he'd better get better and fast. He does know how to find the open areas though but on the other side of things he's pretty much a non factor on the PP. More about that later.

D wise...right now MAB's the weak link. He's not executing his breakout passes and we know he's gonna have trouble defending with his size and you'll put up with that but if he can't make those passes than what's his value? He'll be like a power hitting no field DH who all of a sudden is hitting .250 and is slugging just over .400. It won't be hard to get rid of him though given his contract and his counting numbers. And not everyone's MC so somewhere there's a GM convinced that MAB's a 55 point man waiting to happen if you drown him in PP time. Of course the good news on the backend is that Laddy's passing was great last night. Greene's much improved after a year so hopefully Smid's up to speed after 60 games.

Furthering the whole Vic thing on Marty's role..I didn't notice what happened in Cgy but in G1-3 Stoll was basically a ST specalist and Reasoner's picking up some of his ES min.

Overall...yes the Oilers had rest and time to prep and Bell was missing for SJ but it was still a huge win. First off the Oilers are 2-0 at home thus far and they really need to assert their dominance in their own rink. They simply weren't good enough at home last year and they should be much better this year. The fans are whipped into a frenzy and break out the Lets Go Oilers chant at the drop of a hat.

But IMO SJ is the best team in the West and it means a tonne that we came back on them while being down three goals with just half the game left to work with. It gives the Oilers confidence and it feeds the Sharks doubt furnance as well. Pretty soon it's gonna be a "here we go again thing" and that can only help us come April.

Two last notes on the PP and Lupul...right now they're getting by on the PP by talent alone. They have tonnes of skill out there but they still won't try the down low pass when they're up two men. It's basically shots from either 16 or 71..mostly the former of course. Doesn't seem to be much planning to it though.

Regarding trading Lupul..we will have to if we want to keep Smyth. So we could deal off Lupul for a young dman with say two or three years exp and who's still affordable and we could go D: Greene-Laddy-Staios-Smith-Tarnqvist and new guy. Of course maybe the Oilers are expecting Gilbert to be ready next year and maybe he is and he plays because we don't bring back Shaggy or Staios. If Shaggy benefits from playing with the Oilers like Spacek did, mind you it won't come from bloated point totals because of PP time, then he's gonna get some big offers next summer. Then it's up to the Oilers to decide just what they need. Maybe they let him walk, sign up Staios and pencil in big increases in min for Greene and Laddy. That's your top 4 plus Gilbert or Young get a push and we look for the last guy as a cheap Shaggy esque signing.

But I think another way to go would be to deal Lupul for a young guy.

LW: 94-14-18-JFJ
RW: 83-34-Schremp-Mihknov
C: 10-16-19-MAP

Of course that also leaves Thoresen kicking around and he looks like a good 4th liner. It also assumes that RS is ready in '08 but if Hemsky keeps progressing at ES then we'd be only asking RS, and AM for that matter, to play the 3rd and 4th most ES RW min respectively.

Anyway...the saved Lupul money could go to Smyth and Staios respectivley if seen fit.

10/13/2006 1:39 pm  
Anonymous dynastydays said...

Vic dont you think there was a noticeable change in the oilers system, or philosophy from last season and the playoffs. It changed from aggressive to more of a responsible approach, much of the regular season our offensive philosophy dictated and it looked like a circus a lot of the time. facing DET in rd1 forced a much more structured and reigned in system IMO. The first forward as you explained pretty much stayed the same throughout, but the 2nd forward became much more governed in his decisions. The defense and 3rd forward are having less seperation than a true 1-2-2 as well, the weakside defenseman is moving up halfway to a 1-3-1... i kind of like that except when the 2nd guy ahead gets loose and leaves the backend vulnerable. We need to put most emphasis on seperating the opposition form the puck, pre-emptive defense as such. Puck posession is what is going to make or break our success considering our D-Corps and forwards makeup. We oughta cater our decisions to creating turnovers early as possible.


10/13/2006 5:47 pm  

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