Oilers/Hawks: Jarrett Comes Alive!!
Martin Havlat may be back, and if last night's any indication he doesn't plan on missing too many of his early season beats, and the Hawks under Denis Savard might be improved, points in all six games under his watch with three of those being victories, but the Oilers still have to feel good about their chances as they ready themselves for a Sunday night in Chicago.
I've been reading the Chi dailies the last couple of weeks, mostly skulking around in the hopes of finding a Seabrook or Keith to Edm rumor, and the general consensus seems to be things are much more positive under Savard than under Yawney. Guys like Salmo and Hamilton have seen their icetime and roles increased and they've responded in kind. Things are souring a little in the standings though as the Hawks have lost their last three games, albeit two of them in shootout's and last night's loss was in OT. This means the Oilers were resting last night waiting for Chicago while the Hawks were playing the first of two consecutive games. This also has to be considered an advantage for Edm.
I remember a few days ago Vic out of the blue asked me who I remembered as doing well against the Hawks and I said Stoll and Pisani. Turns out I was right about that as Stoll has five goals and six points in nine career games against Chi while Pisani's tallied five goals and nine points in 10 likewise games. And there's more folks. Lupul has seven goals and nine points in nine games and Skyora's an old school Hawks killer, totalling eight goals and 18 points in 20 career games against the Hawks. So lots of guys lick their chops when they see Chicago coming.
Boucher got the start last night as Khabby had flu symptoms but I'd guess those cleared up rather quick given the odour on the Wild's GWG tally from Mark Parrish..
Back to Stoll and I don't mind slamming the guy so I feel it's only fair to give him some praise too and it's probably quite topical to do so on the eve of him facing a team he usually succeeds against. Previous to the injuries to 83 and 94 Stoll had quietly become an ST specialist and really wasn't doing a lot with the soft min. Things changed when those guys went down and he's doing a fine job stepping up and he's picked up ES points in four of his last five games and he's done it against some good competition as well. He faced the Nasdin line in Van and then the Staal line vs the Canes and both teams he managed to contribute to the Oilers offensive attack.
I'm not sure what Savard will do tonight in terms of matching lines and who he'll send out to face the 10 and 16 lines. Vignault went hard at Stoll's line in Van and I don't know if that makes a lot of sense. Sure you're avoiding 71-10-15 but all three of those guys are capable of putting up points and two of them are not known for their tough min acumen. On the other hand Pisani's been playing tough min forever and Torres did it for a long stretch in last year's playoffs. I think I'd go after 10's line because there's a better chance you'll outscore them plus if you give them a softer matchup then those guys might really go off.
There's a look at last night's Hawks/Wild box and Savard had four of his 12 forwards play 9 min or less at ES. Of course there were a combined 15 PP's so that obviously skews the numbers but it looks like Havlat, Ruutuu and Sharp are the guys he's targeted to carry the mail. I'm not going out on a limb when I guess Martin never played many tough min on those old powerhouse Sens teams but this is clearly his team forwards wise.