Wednesday, October 18, 2006

nucks/Oilers Overview: Two Goals Oilers? TWO GOALS?

Just an explanation on the caps and the quote in general. It comes from an old "Three's Company" ep where Jack goes to Dean Travers office to look for an advance on his student load because Roper's putting the heat on for the rent. So Jack's explaining to Travers about his living conditions and mentions he's living with a girl and this gets Travers all excited. Jack keeps going and mentions the second female roommate and the Dean's curiousity and libido simultainously boil over and he shouts, "TWO GIRLS TRIPPER?? TWO GIRLS!!??

Well that's sorta how I felt about the Oilers only scoring two goals in Tuesday night's 2-1 win over the visting Vancouver Wild.

Unless you missed it a win's no longer a win in Edmonton and I don't mind that one bit. You go to the Finals the previous year, you return a netminder who's been damn solid early on and you compile a forwards corps made up of guys who are established and you add some kids who should only get better and it's only reasonable that just making the playoffs is no longer acceptable.

Anytime you're at home and you only score two goals it's not cool. Anytime you're at home and you only score two goals against a team with their backup in net and with Kevin Bieska and Rory Fitzpatrick playing over 32 min combined and it's really not cool. Throw in an 0/8 performance on the PP and you're liable to be flipping over to catch snippets of the Stars/Sharks game.

A win's a win at the end of the day of course, no matter what Dan Barnes or Terry Jones say, but there are trouble spots for the Oilers and this game illustrated some of those.

Despite Andy G's rantings and ravings;) the PP isn't dead and it will strike again. It's currently on an 0/14 slide and given the talent we can ice this means that someone's about to pay and pay dearly. I hope that someone is Detriot on Sat night because the next game following is a home affair with the Yotes and scoring on the PP against them doesn't really count. Or at least it shouldn't. Some things did bother me last night though regarding the PP and they are as follows.

- How can Bergeron see more time than anyone else when it has been proven that the man is PP kryptonite? Another thing that hasn't been publicized by the league yet is that for the Oilers they're only allowed to try and score on the first 1:30 of a PP. How else to explain how MacT makes sure to have two dmen out in the last 30 seconds of an advantage? The last time the league and the Oilers pulled something this underhanded was the old "Tommy Salo is never allowed to stop a tipped shot" decree. Of course the bottom line is that no matter how much I want him to go with a five man forward unit MacT's absolutely not going to unless it's a two man advantage or we're trailing late in the game. He'll use any excuse to go back to the "unlikely to score" two dmen security blanket.

- Adding to the frustration is how they won't run a slot play for Lupul. By and the large the Oilers are still trying to figure out how to play with this kid so this omission doesn't stand alone. Then again it doesn't surprise me that they won't run a slot play for a kid considering they didn't even do that when they had Bill Guerin. Of course as soon as Dollar B began plying his trade for the B's where did you think he started hanging out? You guessed it. Lupul does have more try than I imagined though so I think he'll be just fine in the coming days, weeks and months.

That was a lot of griping for a guy who was busting Grabia's balls for talking about the PP wasn't it? Well they were 0/8 but in my defense I am ultimately a proponent of the bottom line and I was getting ready to rip the PP after the 4-3 win in Col only to discover the unit was running at 25% after four games. I'll take that no matter how it transpires.

Not that I'll throw back any goals but nice to see the markers coming off the respective sticks of Moreau and Thoresen. I saw Barnes cutting up the 18-16-34 line today in the Journal and that's deserved. The bookends on that line are now being paid a combined 4.5 mill and if they're not scoring and they're also showing up below the needle on the plus/minus side than we've got a huge problem in terms of how salary's being allocated and especially in light of the upcoming UFA status of 94 but we'll save that for another day. What Barnes didn't care/fail/doesn't know enough to mention was that early on MacT's using his home ice last line change to match these guys against the other team's top lines and thus allowing the 10 and 71 units to feed on the oppositions lesser lights. If that hunch is correct then we're in for a heckuva year but if it doesn't then it totally changes the preception of Oilers depth and then there's a trickle down to who plays whom and just how successful we're likely to be at even strenght. So it was nice to see the boys do their job last night and in the process accumulate a collective plus.

Thoresen's inclusion into this league makes for a good story and 28's early play indicates he'll make for a good addition to what should be a very good team. There is just something about this guy. He'll try and take the puck to the net, he works like a dog and he always seems to be around the puck. If this were baseball I'd say he's a guy who starts out hitting 8th but he's hitting no worse than 6th by the time June comes. But in hockey terms we'll often times judge a guy by his ES TOI and we've already seen how MacT will give some of 16's ES shifts to 19 and when things shook out last night Thoresen had managed to crack the top nine. If the Oilers were to deal off say Torres or Lupul for a dman then 28's a kid who'd look to have little problem jumping into the top 9. LT said early during camp that this was the luck the old Oilers would have, ie you'd have a good team heading into camp and all of a sudden another useful guy would emerge from nowhere. BTW..LT used Jaroslav Pouzar as the comp. The more depth accured allows for the better chance of a trade and with all of Greene-Smid-Bergeron requiring training wheels it's just a matter of time before a new defenseman hits town. If Thoresen is the real deal, and he should be unless he loses his work ethic, then we have a lot more bait to dangle.

Speaking of Torres and Pisani it's troubling that not only are they not scoring but they aren't even getting scoring chances. For all we thought that 14 had learned from last year's long playoff run the early returns say that he's still a streak scorer.

The best thing about last night's game is that it's over with and we don't have to waste anymore of our time watching it. About the only things I glossed over in this overview was Smith having another awesome game and he really looks to be warming to the role of playing on the #1 dman pairing. Smith of course did have a full on dress rehearsal for the #1 dman pairing during last year's playoff run when he partnered with Pronger.

Jussi Markkanen had an excellent game as well and outside of the gaffe to Cooke behind the net he was very solid. His positioning and rebound control were stellar all night.

Numbers:

- 16:04 ESTOI for Jason Smith. Shaggy logs the most min overall but it's pumped up by PP time. Right now 21's the main man in terms of ES and SH.

- 21:52 TOI for MAB with a dusgusting 10:27 racked up on the PP.

- 9:30 TOI for Torres and just 7:52 ES which bested only Winchester.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anytime you're at home and you only score two goals against a team with their backup in net and with Kevin Bieska and Rory Fitzpatrick playing over 32 min combined and it's really not cool.

That's what happens when you overstate the value of your players and understate the value of the opposing team's players.

Let's not forget either that the two goals the Oilers did manage to score were two very weak goals, and would definitely not have been scored against Luongo.

10/18/2006 3:05 pm  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Unless you missed it a win's no longer a win in Edmonton and I don't mind that one bit.

I'll assume that I'm carrying the weight on the "cynical Oilers fan" angle right now, which is fine, but misleading. I'm happy with the win. Love it. But I'm worried about the bad habits that will cost them wins in the long-term if they don't solve them. It's not a matter of expecting them to win every night, it's a matter of expecting them to give their best every might.

As for the Powerplay, I expect it to stay at this level, until they make adjustments. RiversQ can say my sample size is too small and selective, but over the past 25 games I have seen very little adjustment made on the PP. That is a worrisome trend that will only lead to future failure.

10/18/2006 3:05 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

Gotta love when the Anon's come out to critcize.

Especailly when they're Dy fans.

Watching Steve Staios play ANY amount of PP time is just absoultely disguting. It pains me. It's just not right.

That said, the PP needs to change a few things. Specifically, please god we need to start stacking some units. Secondly, we need to have more than one look, and thirdly, why can't we go for anyhting beisdes the point shot? Work it down low!

Ugly game, but it's nice to win games that we're playing bad. As long as the boys don't let it go to their heads and get their work ethic up (and really, on a MacT team with guys like Smith, Moreau and Staios.. should this be a worry?) we're going to be an elite team.

- PDO

10/18/2006 4:54 pm  
Blogger namflashback said...

Well, i think between benching Horc in Vancouver, and trimming Torres and Sykoras icetime in the back half on Tuesday night-- MacT is returning to 03-04 form, which I think will be good for whipping this crew into shape.

OTOH, 18-16(sub19)-34 did MUCH better against Sedinaslund last night. That was good to see even if 34 didn't register on the sheet.

Sadly 94-10-15 did sweet fuck all with their opportunity.

I consider that a start to the process.

These guys should be burning fat old teams like Buffalo did to Philly last night.

10/18/2006 9:23 pm  
Blogger sacamano said...

[The PP is] currently on an 0/14 slide and given the talent we can ice this means that someone's about to pay and pay dearly. I hope that someone is Detriot on Sat night . . .

Not me. I hope it is Craig Simpson. At some point the incest blinders have to come off.

10/19/2006 3:52 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Good post Dennis.

I'd like to see Pisani get a couple of games off to rest that knee - remember how he disappeared for G2-G4 of the finals after he was hurt - I recognize that obviously he can play through it but I would bet that is part of the problem.

Biggest thing about Thoresen's ability to play more minutes is that it will light a fire under guys. In the past if you weren't doing your job you could get away with it to a point - even last year - if Torres wasn't producing who was going to take his icetime? LeGG?

Now with young Patrick and some others coming down the pipe you had better produce more then, well, nothing in six games or very soon you may be in the PB.

10/19/2006 8:26 am  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Not me. I hope it is Craig Simpson. At some point the incest blinders have to come off.

Thank God. I always knew you were a genius, Sac.

10/19/2006 8:28 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

andy grabia said...
As for the Powerplay, I expect it to stay at this level, until they make adjustments. RiversQ can say my sample size is too small and selective, but over the past 25 games I have seen very little adjustment made on the PP. That is a worrisome trend that will only lead to future failure.


Very little adjustment? That's absolutely false. This PP is demonstrably different from the one in the playoffs that's for sure. They don't have the same personnel and they are not using the same set pieces. Completely different animals.

I'm not ready to say whether or not they're a better PP unit now but they're certainly a different one.

I'm not sure what people expect from the coaching staff here.

Personally, I expect two things: A) They play their best four or five PP producers for 1:30 of a 2min penalty. That's Hemsky, Smyth, Sykora, Stoll and probably Horcoff based on their track records. An argument could be made for Horcoff's replacement to be Lupul or split time between MAB (shudder) and Tjarnqvist.

B) They're organized enough to take the offensive zone and regain and retain puck possession.

This is vastly more important than PP shots/60 min IMO, in fact I'm pretty sure it determines how many shots your PP unit manages to generate. It's pretty much impossible to prove, but I bet that LA Kings PP unit from last year that MC79 mentioned had a crappy shots rate because they couldn't take the zone consistently. (Aside: I'll disagree with pretty much anyone who thinks the Oilers do a poor job of taking the zone and moving the puck.)

That's it. That's all I want. The players will do the rest and if you've got a good group, and the Oilers do, then the results will be there. In fact I think if you expect more from the coaches or if they do more, it's actually counterproductive. Offense is about creativity and the coaches that micromanage the PP and take that away from their players generally have pretty crappy PP units. Ask Hitchcock, just about any NJD coach over the past decade, and probably a few others that escape me right now. I think Vic mentioned that Nielson discovered this PP coaching relationship.

One last thing: This current Oilers PP has benefitted from just 1 PPP in 34 PP min from Ales Hemsky. There's no way that continues. He was clearly the man on last year's PP. I'm basing this on the fact that he was either first or second on the team in PPP/hr, PPGF/hr and %PPP/PPGF in the regular season. He also posted a more than respectable 5.6 PPP/hr in the playoffs which also led Oiler players with significant PP ATOI.

10/19/2006 10:13 am  
Anonymous dynastydays said...

A trend I have been disgruntled with thus far is Hemmer playing the right half boards during the powerplay. I havent quite figured out why this is happening, as he opens up so much more and is so much more effective when hes on the left side. His threat of walking into the middle and easier passing lanes really keep the D honest and somewhat flat footed.

Its only 6 games in, edmontons struggle to gain the zone consistently has been a bigger reason than anything, but I see Hemmer not playing significant minutes on the left halfboards thus far as a major detriment to their potential on the powerplay.

dd

10/19/2006 1:13 pm  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

The players will do the rest and if you've got a good group, and the Oilers do, then the results will be there.

Classic numbers guy argument: just wait, it'll work itself out. Forget that that's beside the point, and that what we are complaining about is how it is doing right now.

10/19/2006 2:29 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Andy Grabia said...
Classic numbers guy argument: just wait, it'll work itself out.

I'm certainly not ashamed of that. That's how sports work.

Forget that that's beside the point, and that what we are complaining about is how it is doing right now.

Who's "we?"

I'm not complaining. MC79 isn't complaining much. Dennis isn't even complaining much.

It also seems like you didn't really read what I was saying there either. You managed to pick out one of the sections in my diatribe that didn't necessarily have much to do with the Oilers' current situation. I'm not certain that the Oilers are avoiding micromanagement of the PP. It's entirely likely that they still spend time drawing up plays to get Spacek a one-timer even though he plays in Buffalo.

10/19/2006 4:51 pm  
Anonymous Epinonymous said...

Where's TraktorBoy?

10/20/2006 12:33 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Andy, two questions (they're numbered!):

1. Is the thrust of your whole argument that "Simpson sucks!" or that "this team really needs Robbie Schremp, baby!"? Honest question, I expect an honest answer.

2. Brad Gilbert says that when he stole your laptop you were asleep in your basement. He says that it looked like you were cleaning your handguns and organizing your old hockeycards by prettiness when you must have passed out. He also says that Warren Zevon was blaring on the stereo ... that's when he lost me, had he said Depeche Mode I'd have bought in.

Anyhoo; please confirm or deny.

10/21/2006 12:05 am  
Blogger kinger said...

Hey Dennis,

I've recently started my own oiler blog and was wondering if IOF could link my site: http://always-on-the-road.blogspot.com/ .


Thanks

10/22/2006 9:46 pm  

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