Friday, November 24, 2006

Hawks/Oilers : The Battle For Christian Laflamme's Loyality

Call me crazy but I don't think Chicago would be all that great even if all of Havlat, Handzus and Bourque The Rene were in the lineup. But without them their forwards corps is a breakfast that even a dog would decline.

Here's a look at their forward lines from their last game in Calgary:

Ruutuu-Smolinksi-Vrbata
Lapointe-Holmqvist-Arhhipov
Corzzini-Sharp-Hamilton
Stewart-McDonald-Wishniewski

What is there really to get excited about when it comes to the forwards corps both present and future? Up front guys like Toews and Skille are still years away and that leaves you with suspects like Blunden and Bolland. Havlat's magic when he's healthy but do you wanna bet you'll ever get more than an average of 60GP a year from him?

The burden of proof lies with him.

This group isn't currently scoring goals because it just doesn't have the talent to do so. Which of those 12 guys are on the way up and for those who are just what does "up" mean? If everything broke right for the Hawks you'd have Havlat at a PPG, Sharp and Bourque would score 50 points apiece and Ruutuu would be in the 70's and that still wouldn't have them cracking the top 10 in the Conf.

But things look different behind the blueline and here's a look at their D pairings:

Keith-Seabrook
Aucoin-Cullimore
Kukkonen-Vandermeer

That's actually a very steady group who's potential for reknown grows even larger when you consider the age and games played for kids like Keith, Seabrook and Kukkonen. Those guys are ages 23, 21 and 25 respecively and all of them have less than 125 GP. Throw in Cam Barker's name and this blueline could be the envy of the league in a few years. Aucoin's contract isn't great but it also isn't big enough to choke Charles Wang and he's still a useful part that should serve as a great mentor for the young blueliners. If the Oilers are a team that are looking to trade hitting for pitching, and they should be BTW, then the opposite is true for the Hawks.

I certainly hope it's never at the expense of the Oilers but I'd certainly like to see this team turn it around at some point. There have to be some good Hawks fans somewhere who've put up with enough crap that it's their turn to actually enjoy an NHL season. I feel the same way towards Isles fans who've seen tonnes of ownership changes along with the rule of Milbury though I guess Chi fans would love for Wirtz to step aside at this point. And for Oilers fans it would be better if the Hawks bounced back because it would add some starch to the candyass Central bracket.

On the Oilers side I see that the local scribes have finally noticed Stoll's less than stellar ES play so if you're keeping score at home the current whipping boys are Stoll and to a lesser extent Torres but that will change if 14 goes pointless tonight. Lupul's escasped because of a decent little stretch and Horcoff and Pisani are nestled safely in the busom of Smyth and just might be getting a break because they're playing the tough minutes and the Oilers are winning.

The dailies are also doing a lot of crowing about a four game winning streak but I guess that's what the citizens want to read. Roloson has been the absolute man in the last two wins so it's not like the Oilers have been ripping the cover off anyone and they've been soundly outchanced in their last two wins, IMO. Speaking of Roloson, you might think this would be a time to try and get Jussi on track given the calibre of the opposition but if Roli took tonight off then he'd go six days without game action, ie between last Tues vs Cgy and next Tues vs the devil and his minions, and I don't think MacT would take that chance.

Tonight I would like to see Sykora and Lupul go off because I have them in my number one fantasy pool:) and it would be also nice if the offensively challenged guys like 10-34-14 popped a couple as well. A 6-4 win would suffice with Roli having his bad game, not that there's been all that many, at time when the Oilers can perhaps still succeed without his best effort. It would also please me to see Stoll pop a couple of goals and win a tonne of faceoffs and then trade dressing rooms with Seabrook after the game.

Post your game thoughts below.

11 Comments:

Blogger Black Dog said...

As a Hawks' fan until @ '99 or so (see disjointed rants elsewhere on this) I'll tell you that this team goes nowhere until Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford do.

They've killed hockey in Chicago and as someone who attended a game at the old Stadium, let me just say that that is a heartbreaker

And it seems this team is cursed now and we're talking Pete Muldoon X 10 - even when they get things right (Eric Daze, Ruutu) they get derailed by injuries. Funny how both Calder and Bell are struggling mightily though.

Anyhow, Roloson is marked as "expected to start" on the Score, fwiw. And while I'm thinking more and more that Stoll is a natural to be shown the door isn't Seabrook a RH shot? Or am I mistaken?

Anyhow, Stoll saves 2.2 that can be put towards Smytty's 5M and if you bring in a decent young Dman @ 1M then next season the payroll is 40-41, 41 if Torres gets 2M and that's a longshot right now.

11/24/2006 1:05 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

With this talk of right-handed shots, wasn't it just a few short years ago that this team was completely lacking RH shots for the PP that they had York playing back there? Or was it the other way around?

If Lupul was a lefty, man, that would open up some options....

11/24/2006 1:09 pm  
Blogger Lowetide said...

Word today Staios is out and Hejda is in.

11/24/2006 2:06 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Maybe it's just me but it seems like a slamdunk that anytime Jan Hedja scores a goal the Oilers PA guy should blast Outkast's "Hey Ya.";)

http://tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?fid=10460&hubname=

Look at the D pairings....

Sweet Sassy Molassy. Let's hope 24's ready come Tues and that game will be as much of a gongshow on the ice as it will be off of it.

11/24/2006 4:53 pm  
Blogger Chris said...

Staois is apparantly hurt in practice, so we'll be trated to a Jan Hedja siting. Hopefully, he'll make something of the opportunity that will cause MacT to bench Bergeron and play him in his stead.

I've been arguing since the summer that Stoll is the natural player to move. Sure he has a big shot and can win faceoffs, but beyond that he doesn't do anything particularly impressively. He has some good counting stats from last year from cherry ice time. He hasn't responded terribly well to the challenge of the hard minutes while he's also playing at the position where we arguably have the most depth among our prospects. If we want a centre to play cherry minutes we might as well let the Rob Shremp Gong Show roll into town. But if you want a line that can see less sheltered opposition I don't think the drop off from Stoll to your boy Pouliot would be substantial as Pouliot will probably be a better hockey player in the long term.

11/24/2006 4:58 pm  
Blogger Chris said...

I think "your boy" found its way into that post because I saw Lowetide's name when mentioning Pouliot. I'm fairly sure the only people whom are bigger Pouliot fans than he also possess the last name Pouliot.

11/24/2006 5:00 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Bit of a yawner. Boucher was terrible early and once the Oilers got up by three they started to coast. Always had the feeling that they couold have cranked it up a notch if the Hawks had gotten a couple of bounces.

Well, two points. I have to say though, it's games like this and the last one against STL that make me glad the Oilers don't play in the central.

11/24/2006 9:51 pm  
Blogger Scarlett said...

Even though the Oil have won five straight now, this team is still in trouble. Roli is carrying them.

11/24/2006 11:44 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

Yeah Stoll plus MAB for Seabrook would be fine with me - not sure if CHI would like it - and I would be OK living with the consequences for a couple of seasons with Seabrook, Smid and Greene all developing. We could always get a cheap rent a vet for the defense at the deadline to shore things up a bit.

Expect MAP up tomorrow with Marty getting rung tonight.

11/25/2006 12:55 am  
Blogger namflashback said...

despite the state of affairs with the Blackhawk franchise, it seems that they are keeping their kids and dealing off the near UFA and problem players (Bell).

I just don't see them dealing off Seabrook or Keith. Watching that game last night, D and transition up ice is certainly a strength of that Chicago team.

11/25/2006 9:30 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Roli was just in the zone in this one and the Oilers were outchanced but Boucher pretty much killed them early on. I certainly liked the look of Keith and Seabrook though.

11/26/2006 12:06 am  

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