The Shorn Identity
It's a little over an hour from the puck dropping in Colorado so maybe by the time everyone reads this post Raffi Torres will have scored a goal or two or thrown a check or two and we all won't be worrying about him so much.
In his first 162 games with the Oilers the kid's potted 47 goals and he just turned 25 so it's not like he's on the downswing.
Or at least he shouldn't be.
I always thought of this guy as being arrogant and super confident but the early '07 season returns tell me that I'm wrong. He may still be arrogant but if you watch every Oilers game then you'd have a hard job believing that the former Isles property possesses anything resembling confidence.
Torres is a guy who's always had a pretty smooth ride with the Oilers. It's true that he's never seen that much PP time but he's really never had to carry much of the mail either. He's pretty much ridden shotgun for Stoll since he's donned the Oilers silks and if those two guys are on the same line then chances are they aren't seeing tough competition. Give him credit, though, he's always managed to make hay with his situation and after last year's playoffs I think everyone had a new appeciation of him.
No one here needs a refresher course but #14 did play on a tough mintues line with Peca-Pisani and he also doled out some momentum changing hits throughout the second season.
But that was then and this is now and currently Torres looks lost. He's being shifted from line to line and he's looked pretty much shiftless while doing so.
He started out on the soft mintues line with Sykora/Hemsky and that's an assignment that anyone would lust after. You basically throw some hits, wait for some lovely passes and when you don't get them you go to the net and try and collect the garbage. Torres saw a lot of scoring chances early on but he couldn't finish them and MacT lost his patience with that unit. Torres then wound up playing tough mintues with 10-34 and this wasn't helping out Horcoff so that unit was scuttled.
Right now Torres finhs himself back with his old cherry picking buddy Jarrett Stoll and they've been joined by Lupul who looks as comfortable in an Oilers uniform as Mike Piazza did in the garb of the Florida Marlins. And right now Torres isn't hitting anyone and he isn't getting any scoring chances and it looks really odd when a one time bully is playing timid.
Seriously, I saw Torres go into the corner in the first period of Sunday's game in St. Louis and he wouldn't have cracked one egg let alone a dozen and when's the last time he created or tried to finish a scoring chance? The last time he was noticeable was when he took that terrible penalty late in the third period in Montreal. You might rememeber the following scene where Torres looked like he wanted to take a bath with a toaster.
It might seem like overreacting but about the only thing Torres isn't doing right now is scoring on his own net. Never one to excel at chipping the puck out on his wing or making a pass to start a rush he's now taken that ineptitude to new levels. He can no longer even consistently make a five foot pass.
The kid has lost his mojo and up to this point MacTavish has stuck with him and he's done enough in the early days of his career that he enjoys the benefit of a doubt. But there are troubles on the Oilers backend and they're unlikely to fully disappear and as it stands right now this guy could be traded this guy and no one would really notice.