Waiting For An Alibi: Lowe's Excuses Becoming Thin
That title's probably a bit of a misnomer as Kevin Lowe really hasn't been making any excuses for his inactivity on the trade market. And I also wanted to tie in the post with the Thin Lizzy song of the same name;)
Lowe should be making excuses though because he's working in a hockey rabid city where even the most obedient of lemming has to see that the Oilers need help. He's also seemingly buoyed by the facts that the Oilers aren't really close to the cap, the EIG is likely swimming in cash given the long '06 playoff run and all the revenue it created plus the Edm have a multitude of prospects which are more valuable then ever in the new penny wise NHL.
Yet the silence is deafening.
Everyone knew there would be days like these without both 83 and 94 in the lineup but there also been lots of days like these even with both guys making the gameday roster and that's what's disappointing. I could go on and on about the PP but it sucked before these guys were hurt. Whomever's in charge of that unit should be tarred and feathered before even being fired.
The offense overall has been close to a total bust and some guys have been pulling their weight in the absence of 94 and 83 while some guys just keep sinking like a stone.
Shawn Horcoff's going the right way towards a terrible season. I know he's playing tough min and all but offensively he's worse than shit. He has three goals and I remember the one that bounced off 10 people vs the Yotes and then there was the goal that bounced off 17 people in Van. I can't remember the other one but needless to say the guy has less finish than Paris Hilton's headboard. No I didn't think he was Mike Bossy, and neither is Lupul for that matter:D sorry I had to have a little jab, but he's blowing chance after chance.
Lupul's now playing tough min but no one can argue that he's spent the vast majority of the season playing soft min. In fact when I think about 'the' fact he started the season up with 94-10 I believe that at the time MacT was using his last change to put 18-16-34 HTH facing the other team's top line. 18 was injured at the end of G7 and by the middle of G10 in Phx the blender had come out and the 94-10-15 line was kaput. Now he started seeing tougher opp in G26 in Van so this is a somewhat rough estimate but I've got Lupul playing no more than 15 games where he was top six in terms of tough opp. The other 15 games he was being sheltered bigtime. Yet the kid has just 6 goals at ES and is -11. Everytime I see 24 being hamstrung by 5 or everytime Lupul racks up a minus it reminds me how Burke cornholed Lowe or how Lowe bent over when he should've INSISTED on Getzlaf. The day we learned who came back for Pronger was the day this franchise began to get fucked. And the following days and weeks and months since where we haven't seen any upgrade on the backend continues to doom us towards 7th or 8th place. I keep talking about Lupul because he's an interesting case. He's super young but the Oilers have already chose to "pay" him. MacT is trying to change him and he's just spinning his wheels right now. Skyora completes the current first line and he's looking pretty lost as well. He does have a lot of capital built up from earlier in the season though when him and Smyth basically were the offense.
Back to Lupul for a second and what's his future role once everyone's healthy and 83-71 reunite? He could play with them and be sheltered but I'd hope he sticks with 94-10 though that looks less likely after games like last night. I think I know what Lupul is and I suspect so does MacT and while we're all talking about how Stoll might be the one dealt for a D I'd wager that if Lowe waits until this summer than Lupul's the one to be moved.
And for all my clamouring about how the Oilers have to start developing their kids I'm sad to report this idea looks a lot better on paper than it does on the ice. The current 22-20-79 line is approaching nightmare status during road games with opposing head coaches finding ways to get one of their top two lines against them. At that point it becomes a total gongshow and though I want to like the guy it's looking more and more like JFJ needs at least another 20 games in the AHL. At this point I really don't see any reason for him to carry a stick when he's on the ice. It's not like he's doing anything productive with it. The respective plus/minus of both him and Petersen continue to plummet by the game and a hint to who might sit as soon as both 83 and 94 return might be found in the ES TOI of last night's tilt in Nsh. MAP played nearly three min more at ES then did Petersen. There's no question that Jacques will be the first guy sitting as soon as one of the injured guys draws back in. MAP is a guy strugging to find his legs but at least he shows glimpses. He's still far behind some of his draft class brethern though and I have to admit that colours my opinion of him.
On the backend the problems of yesterday are still the problems of today. The collective +/- of 21/29 has improved but Smid's coming up -6 and really shouldn't be playing more than 10 min a night. At least he shouldn't on a team that is serious about winning the division. Greene's still cutting his teeth and because the Oilers don't trust MAB enough to elevate him into top four ES TOI, you've got a situation where two guys are being sheltered and the kid Smid is being asked to shoulder a load that's too heavy.
Of course there are positives as well. All of 14-16-34 have picked their game up lately and I didn't see this coming. 16 had been taking an absolute pounding from me and some other guys regarding his play at ES but the guy's now risen to +3 and that line is banging on all eight. Torres had one of those games last night where you wouldn't trade him for the world, ie two assists and soundly besting the much bigger Weber in a spirited bout, and Pisani is certainly overpaid but he's +6 and who among us will argue that he hasn't played tough min all season? I'm hoping this line continues to give us something after the inevitable Horcoff/Smyth reunion.
We know Lowe has the patience of Job and the excuses of 1000 20 year old's so holding one's breath while waiting for a solution isn't the best course of action. MacT publicily admitted he was hoping for .500 hockey for the time being and then a flourish once everyone was healthy. The only reason why Lowe might jump is if the Flames start winning on the road. They're currently hard charging and I doubt he'd want them to start piling up serious distance points wise. Yes the Oilers lead the division currently but their lead is a mirage.
Lowe has the chips and he has the capspace and he has a divisional rival just about to overtake him. If he doesn't jump it's probably just an admittance to this year being one of those fucked up "rebuild and develop while giving the impression of competing" years that we probably knew was upon us but didn't want to admit in the afterglow of last year's elongated second season run.
In the meantime don't ask Horcoff to handle your groceries and don't loan any money to Lupul.