Friday, December 08, 2006

Oilers/Stars: Wars Now Waged On Different Battlegrounds

We all know the Oilers are hurting but Dallas is fulling up their own MASH unit as well. Morrow and Miettinen are out for sure, Lindros is doubtful and Modano is questionable. The latter doesn't seem to skewer the Oilers, or anyone for that matter, like he once did but playing an Oilers/Stars game without him just doesn't seem right. It's just a symptom of change though and lots of things are different when the Stars and Oilers clash these days. The Stars are 19-3-2 in home games vs the Oil but Edm's won a game in Dallas in each of the last two seasons so while the worm hasn't totally turned it is doing more than just lightly stirring.

If all of above mentioned miss tonight's games than where will the Dallas offense come from? I know a quick check reveals A: it looks like a pot calling deal given that the Oil will be missing Smyth and Hemsky and B: both clubs have 78 GF with Dal having played just one additional game but, unless you're a Flames fan, most fans would look at the Oilers roster and still wager that some guys are due to break out given past performance and age. I don't know if you can say the same thing about some of the forwards the Stars are icing.

Here's a look at their lineup from their last game vs the Yotes:

Tippett leaned quite heavily on eight forwards in that one and some of those lumanaries included Stefan, Halpern and Barnes. Given that the Oilers are once again preaching the "keeping the shots to the outside" mantra and that Dallas are doing the same and Marty Turco's in the midst of a shutout streak, I think it's a good bet to take the under on a Sports Select ticket.

I think we'll see the same stuff from MacT with 10 and 16 carrying the mail, and in that order, and then the hope that the new old 19 troika grabs us some momentum and maybe even chips in a goal. MacT was a giving a little "away from the puck" praise to 15 today and him and 71 playing tough wing min is one of the most interesting sidebars happening in Oilerville today. The shelter has always been removed from 16 and so far everyone's pulling their weight.

I'm not seeing or expecting much from the 4th line because Petersen's offensive abilities have disappeared, Pouliot hasn't looked consistently great,and there's not much chance given the timbre of his linemates, and JFJ could probably run through the side of a house but if he has any puck skills whatsoever it hasn't been apparent early on.

On the backend it will be worth watching to see if Greene can follow up on a good game and if the 21/29 re-emergence continues unabated.


Blogger Black Dog said...

Hey Dennis. Read MacT's praise for Lupul today - good to see. I think if the Oilers play as they did against the Canes they should win tonight, barring the usual crazy bounces rule.

I think JFJ looks better then his first time up - at least he has some idea of where he needs to be and he's throwing his weight around. He's a big lad. But as you said - not much happening with the puck.

As for MAP I thought when he was out on the PP that he was moving the puck smartly and with confidence but that 5 on 5 he looked somewhat lost.

Takes time.

12/08/2006 11:51 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Looked at the opening lines a while ago and the bookies are with you on the over/under, a bit under 5 goals. Crazy low for the New NHL.

They have the Stars as heavy favourites though, about .6 goals. As I checked I was expecting about .3, that's a helluva difference, they're only giving the Oilers a 40% chance of winning when you'd expect them to be ringing in close to 45%.

Modano, even at this stage of his career, has that sort of impact. But a quick google search tells me he is NOT playing and HAS proposed marriage to Willa Ford. Just thought you'd wanna know. :)

12/08/2006 1:52 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

The Oilers had more SC's in that period than they've had in entire games during previous trips to Edm. The Oilers created a lot and didn't give up much at all and when Dallas did get close they had some luck, ie the puck that went off Staios but somehow managed to stay out. It's been ages since I've seen the team this physical and Stoll in particular. This is the 16 that had us raving during the Det series last spring before he'd go on to basically disappear for the rest of the run.

Some other things:

- Anyone else catch that shift early on when 5 was out with the 10 line and on two seperate occasions threw makeable passes into 10's skates and had the momentum turn around just like that? Once is bad enough but twice???

- Lupul was engaged right off the bat and 71's the lost soul on that line. 10's looking for 15 all the time and this is three games in a row now where Horc cycles down to the left of the net and drops it to 15 who'll curl out from the faceoff slot for a shot. I'm really hoping those two start to gel and then if 94 comes back and can step in we'll really be in business with a PVP line that can truly snipe

- The Oilers PP ineptitude has beaten me down to point where I no longer expect success. They only scored the 5-3 goal because the Stars forward broke his stick. 16 throwing the puck over to the side with the two Stars was laughable.

- Nice give and go with 34-78-34 and maybe 78 would be able to hang with talented guys but he's just a big body on his current line.

- Quinn keeps talking about the Oilers having the top PK so I guess he's discounting all the PK goals the Habs have? You're doing this for a living your homework.

12/08/2006 7:25 pm  
Blogger Doogie said...

I think Quinn's talking conventional PK efficiency, not PKGD. Edmonton's efficiency is 89.6% to Montreal's 89.3%. Montreal and Minnesota do have the superior goal differential, though (-10 MTL, -11 MIN, -12 EDM)

12/08/2006 8:47 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Statement: I don't believe I ever remember seeing the Oilers play a more complete game in Dallas, playoff games included.


12/08/2006 9:17 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ya Dennis, Sykora does seem a little miscast on the top line. I think he's played so many years in passive systems that he doesn't jump forward instinctively at all. Good game for Lupul though, and of course Horcoff.

I don't think this is what he signed on for either. I think he probably thought he'd be on the offensive line with Hemsky playing behind two solid two way lines. Selanne-style. Or 'in the hole' as you would say.

I thought the Torres/Stoll/Pisani line was terrific. No cherrypicking by Stoll, and they were getting into the offensive zone aggressively and winning battles. A lot like the line from the playoffs but Stoll in for Peca, and I'm starting to think that it's pretty easy to play centre between those two wingers when they're rolling like this.
I thought the top D pair had a terrific game, spoiled only by one brutal shift by them in the first. I think they played the entire 5on3 PK as well, no? And Stoll was excellent on that 5on3 PK as well.

It was far from a dominating performance, but if it's close at all in terms of chances right now you just get the feeling that the Oilers will get that extra break, or that extra save from Roloson, or just have a bit better finish on their chances. The gods are smiling on them right now.

I'm starting to find some faith in the forwards. Granted right now Stoll, Torres and Stoll are all taking two steps forward at the same time, when 2 or 3 of them are taking 1 step back at the same time this team looks a lot worse. Still, this might just be a tough team to play against come the playoffs.

12/09/2006 9:44 am  

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