Joffrey Lupul: The Worst Oiler Thus Far
To whom more is given more is expected. And in Edmonton to whom more is paid more is demanded and less patience is show. But what about when you have a kid with local ties who's grandfather also happens to be one of the 789 owners? Just how much rope does that allow ? But wait just a second here. What if that guy's struggling overall and has just eight points overall, only four of them at ES points, and happens to be sitting at a whopping -7 just 18 games into the regular season? And what if this is a guy who's been getting arguably easier minutes than any other forward on the team?
It's one of the more interesting sidebars of the season to see just how long this kid struggles and just how long it takes for the fans to catch on to what has been an horrendous start.
I'm not about to get into the intelligence and/or hockey acumen of the Oilers season ticket holder or the guy who watches most of the games on TV and makes it to Rexall just four or five times a year. I never played organized hockey and I'm sure there are season ticket holders who have and who can pick out a designed player faster than Jagr can find something to complain about. But matchups are one thing I can observe and more specifically who's carrying the mail and who's back at the office sorting it. So I can say that as bad as Lupul's -7 is it would be a helluva lot worse if anyone gave him the keys to one of the vans.
There are guys that undoubtedly handle the tough mintues for the Oilers. Horcoff, Pisani, Smyth and Moreau, when healthy, are guys that have scantly seen a soft shift. You can throw Reasoner in there too on nights when the Oilers are protecting a lead and MacT will sub him in on the third line for Stoll. On the road the opposing coach is either running his best line at them in a power vs power test or he's throwing out units like the Marchant troika who won't score much but won't give you much either. I don't have to tell anyone reading this who the guys are that make or break this team at ES. Then there are guys like Hemsky, Sykora and Stoll who at one time or another have played tough minutes and swing in and out of that role. Right now on the road the opposing coaches are tearing their hair out in an effort to get their best out against the 71/83 combo. Then there are guys like Lupul and Torres who very rarely see the tough matchups and considering that A: we've already taken to skewering Torres on a daily basis and B: Lupul makes more money and sees considerably more PP time, well I've decided to decree that Joffrey Lupul is the worst player that Oilers money is buying right now. I'd also offer that he's the most wasteful in terms of what he's done with the cherry mintues he's been afforded.
The youngster started the year with 94-10 and in what was really a baptism by fire when you considered that role with the one he was asked to play in Ana. The message was he was considered one of the team's top players and was assigned a role accordingly. Of course it wasn't all sweat and toil for the Ft. Sask native because he also saw time on a talented PP that gave him a chance to pad stats that would otherwise be sullied by having to play some tough mintues. I can't say for sure when MacT broke up this line but I'd guess that the blender really came out in the middle of the Oilers loss in Phoenix and at that time Lupul moved alongside Sykora and Hemsky.
Lupul's first Horcoff and Smyth free game was vs the Caps and he sniped a goal and added an assist but both came on the PP. In the last seven games things certainly haven't gotten better despite the fact he's playing with Torres-Stoll and that line is seeing easier mintues than any unit other than Reasoner's fourth line crew. During this time former Duck has posted a less than mighty -4 and has just one goal. Combine that with the fact that his icetime's decreased thanks to MacT's shuffling of the PP units and Lupul's in real danger of getting lost in the shuffle.
Thing's couldn't get a whole lot easier right now in terms of quality of opposition faced and and as far as linemates go while it is true that Stoll's always built his points primarily on the PP the same can't be said of Torres. In any case both players are of quality and it's not like trying to put up points playing with Cam Janssen and Jordan Tootoo.
I can't speak for anyone else but my patience is wearing thin with #15. His effort isn't consistent and when a supposed goal scorer isn't piling up shots or creating scoring chances then there's not much chance he'll score. We always talk about MacT being pulled in the opposite directions of both trying to win and develop players at the same time and right now he's leaving Lupul alone when it comes to the latter but that's certainly doing nothing towards accomplishing the former.
Lupul can't win big faceoffs, he doesn't kill penalties and I'd make a guess that he can't check the other team's top line to a near standstill. If he's not scoring then he's an anchor and if he's not scoring and he's beginning to make real money then the target on his back will become clearer and clearer.