Saturday, December 30, 2006

Canucks/Oilers: Things Are Tough All Over

And we're back!!;)

I tried messaging with Cam today but I'd imagine he's pretty busy trying to get in all his Edmonton partying before heading back stateside to school. Had I spoken to him though, I'd imagine he'd have been able to find a pic to accompany that quote, ie it was inspired by that old SNL sketch where Jimmy Fallon played a morning radio shockjock.

LT's on the record as saying the whole mountain's falling down right now and I don't think he's far off. The offense has started to roll, 19 goals in the last 6 games even though 7 of their last 9 goals have come via special teams, but now Roloson's Sv Pct from more than the last few games resembles more of an exempliary NBA free throw shooter than it does an NHL goalie. And the defensive corps have begun to stink to the point that the Oilers are about to sit Smid tonight which speaks to the point that the Oilers are finally embracing reality instead of courting the optics of the disasterous Pronger trade.

Can things get much worse?

The awnser is yes because things are super tight in the NW Divsion and if the Oilers throw up two regulation losses tonight vs the visiting Canucks and then tomorrow night in Calgary, well we're officially looking at a freefall.

Just the other day MacT referenced the Oilers treading water and I'd say a more apt description would be the Oilers sitting alongside a pothole and gleefully watching a makeshift sailboat peruse it's murky contents.

They've been there that long.

Back on October 23rd the Oilers took their record to 6-2 by beating the visiting Yotes by a score of, well, 6-2. Since then the Oilers have gone 12-14-2 and that's a prolonged stretch of mediocrity by anyone's standards. Now the question is if they'll come out of it and if so then by who's hand. We'll refer to goals against as pitching and goals for as hitting and in baseball you'll often hear teams or fans of middling teams lamenting the ability of said squads to combine good hitting with good pitching and defense. Early on the Oilers were getting the pitching with Roloson taking the hill and inspiring confidence. On the other hand you had a whole bunch of rookies at the plate looking like they couldn't hurt curveballs combined with vets guessing wrong even when the count was in their favour.

Now we're very close to a new year turning over and all of a sudden balls are finding the gaps and finding their ways over the fence but now the fielders are dropping two hoppers and Roli's falling behind in the count to nearly every batter. There is a new hurler taking the bump tonight though as Jussi gets the start and that can only be viewed as a positive. Smid's out and Hedja's drawing back in to team with Shaggy and Winchester is out with Jacques drawing back in.

The best thing about playing in a tight division is things can change in the matter of days rather than weeks and with two regulation wins in the next 27 hours the Oilers will once again be high on the Northwest hog. But the bigger truth will be that this team has been scuffling for awhile and Rome won't be built in a day and maybe the Oilers don't have the workers in house to build it in the first place.

But we'll leave that for another time;)


Blogger Lowetide said...

Good news of Smid sitting. It's no sin for 20-year old D to sit, Larry Robinson sat and he was pretty much perfect.

Jussi playing is good I guess although Roloson needs to play tomorrow night against the Godless Flames so he better be sharp.

Always like Finns playing with the Oildrop.

12/30/2006 3:43 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Does MLB have a rule where if the shortstop dashes to the foul line while the pitcher is in his windup, and gets there before the ball is hit ... then he gets an extra strike in his next at bat? If he does then I think that the baseball comparison is apt. Otherwise I'm having trouble buying in.

The Oilers D aren't good enough, but neither are the forwards. In fact I think the problem is probably bigger up front. They're getting Selivanov'd, and we can blame it on the 2nd and 3rd basemen all we want, but if the shortstop is forever standing next to the third base coach ... then improvement in those positions isn't going to make a helluva lot of difference IMO.

Having said that, the top teams aren't the powerhouses they used to be. Hell, there would be four teams in ANA country about now in past years, and they'd be playing through injuries with key guys drifting on the perimeter, not ready to start playing seriously until sometime in mid February. Nowadays it looks like anybody can win if they can just make the show, at least much moreso. Every night is going to be a struggle, but the Oilers have a decent chance to make the playoffs as it stands. Easing in Smid and Greene a bit more slowly should help I'd think.

That's fair, no?

12/30/2006 5:46 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Yeah, the Oilers have been hideous the last while.

Roloson was pretty awful in that Colorado game, but the Oilers were giving up some golden chances as well. Since that game, I think Roloson has been mostly average but the premium scoring opps against just keep on coming. Particularly on the PK. Roloson's PK SV% had to come down at some point, but these haven't been "regressing-to-the-mean" type goals, they're just flat out shots from open men in the slot and tap-ins at the back post.

That LA game has to be Jason Smith's worst of the year - just unbelievable. If your d-crop is this thin and your top pairing fails to show up then it doesn't really matter who's in net does it?

The forwards had jack in the LA game as well. They were soft all over the ice.

One other thing. I'm a Horcoff fan, but he really needs to pick up his game. Here's a guy that was really close to being crowned the Oilers' best forward and he's playing absolutely nothing like that anywhere on the ice. The good news is that he usually responds after stretches like this. Especially after the Horcoff and MacT quotes we've seen lately too. Horcoff tends to follow up words with actions and it'd be great if he started tonight.

12/30/2006 5:51 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

As Lowetide said elsewhere, it's high time to get some damned veterans for the blueline.

The forwards are good enough with Moreau in the lineup. Withouth him, I think they need to go get a rental guy with grit who can pot a few and play more than butter minutes. Then, when Moreau gets back on April 1st, they'd be stacked for the postseason.

Yes, the team on the ice needs to step it up, but so does Lowe.

And when it comes to tonight, too bad they're going into Calgary tomorrow night and won't roll out Roli back-to-back. If memory serves me correctly, he's owned the Canucks historically. Guess we'll just have to count on Raffi Torres having his usual big game agains the Dys. A good start would be serving up a Milan Michalek special on one of the Sedin sisters, and branching out from there. Turn the asshole dial up to full-power.

Oh, and Riv, you're right that Smith and Horcoff are two obvious candidates to pick their shit up, but I don't think you can blame Gator for the fact he's the only legit top-pairing guy on the team right now. Part of the problem is that he's flat out being asked to do too much, and has been since game one this season.

As for Horcoff, the sooner they get him back with Smyth, the better, but between the success that 14/16/34 has had and the chemistry that Sykora/Hemsky have had, who the hell plays RW on that line right now? The answer is not Joffrey "minus-14" Lupul. Not if they want to use Smyth/Horcoff in power vs. power matchups. They'd get killed.

12/30/2006 5:56 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

What was Smith's quality of competition like last season with Pronger on the team? I think that maybe you're going a little light on the guy Vic. I can appreciate a guy being in tough due to compensating for a weaker defence core, but getting beat for the puck in the corner by a good player is one thing. When you get caught looking, flat footed, or you fail to clear the puck, or make pass to noone, those mistakes aren't forced. I really think it's time for Staios and Smith to become the quality number two pairing. I don't know much about this Tjarnqvist, but perhaps he has as much risk in his game as we need on the first pairing, and the Oilers should begin shopping for his solid, young defensive partner.

12/30/2006 8:58 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

edit---> that should be addressed to Sweaty

12/30/2006 8:59 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

First period thoughts, in brief:

The Canucks goal? Hang it on Bergeron. Pretty poor fundamentals on his part there. Just plain old ugly.

Steve Staios should be nowhere near an NHL powerplay. He can't hit the net with a slap-shot if his life depended on it.

The Oilers as a whole played better as the period progressed. 14/16/34 looked to create the most chances.

Nice work by JF Jacques to drop the gloves and, for the most part, beat Cowan's ass down. Next guys up on the beatings list? Those two morons Cooke and Kesler. And Staios, you aren't allowed to fight....we need you on the ice, not in the box.

Not great, but not god awful either.

12/30/2006 8:59 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Ok, forty minutes in and this has turned into a total fucking disgrace?

Can they lift Petersen for Thoresen sometime soon? And trade Bergeron outright?

Have the Oilers had a grade-A scoring opportunity yet tonight? Any time they get into prime position, the shot either gets blocked OR it's so slow it's an easy save for Luongo.

This coaching staff STILL cannot motivate. This team didn't learn fuck all from last year's playoff run, so it seems.

12/30/2006 9:46 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

End of game thought:

What the fuck was that?

All that talk about defensive responsibility, and they let that Can-sucks, a team that has been largely inept offensively, put up a six-spot against them?

20 GA in the last three home games?

A total fucking disgrace. I'm glad I can swear here, I can't express my full rage on Oilfans, trying to keep it clean.

12/30/2006 10:44 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

Went to the game. Sigh. Here's all I have to say:

- Someone want to tell this team the game starts in the first period? If they played the way they did in the third the entire game they walk away with this one.

- A defenseman who can play on the point on the PP. GET IT DONE ALREADY. Bergeron is bad and Staios makes me want to cry.

- Someone smack Stoll over the head and tell him the object of the game isn't to take as many stupid, momentum killing penalties as possible. I guess someone had to take over for Moreau.

- Anyone who sells/gives their tickets to Nuck fans should be shot. Period.


12/30/2006 11:59 pm  
Blogger Bill Needle said...

So much for the blame it on Smid strategy...

12/31/2006 2:49 am  
Blogger allan said...

I shudder to think how awful it would have been if Smid was in the lineup last night. His replacement Hejda looked better than I've seen Smid play all year. I was a bit too mad to watch for quality of opposition last night, but I was really impressed by Hejda last night. He looked good enough that they could probably leave him in, and rotate Greene and Smid out of the lineup, which would make this gong show a bit more bearable.

12/31/2006 8:12 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

First off...big ups on the pic Cam. I knew you'd make it happen!!:)

I watched this with a bunch of friends and I really didn't get to pay rapt attention for the last 40. In fact I didn't even see the last period but a team down 4-0 at home doesn't impress me when it outshoots the opp 20-9.

In any case I wasn't totally blaming this on Smid and Roli and their respective absences showed there's tonnes of players to worry about.

12/31/2006 3:21 pm  

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