Monday, January 08, 2007

Edmonton/Los Angeles: Oilers visit Kings, set of Extreme Makeover?

We are still 51 days away from the NHL's trade deadline but the Oilers simply cannot afford to wait that long. Kevin Lowe hasn't admitted as much publicly and the Oilers are still within striking distance of the division lead but the team in it's current 23 man form, or 22 as of the moves today and more on that later, just don't look to have the ability to get it done and I'd bet a lot of money that the Oilers won't win a playoff round in '07 unless they have home-ice advantage for at least their first battle. So it is to that end that I expect Lowe to begin dealing sooner then later.

And by exerting some demotional muscle this morning I believe the wheels are finally in motion.

Of course we all thought that last Tuesday as well when they signed Nedved and Patrick Thoresen being the first casuality when he was sent down to the farm but it is Thoresen's callup today along with the outrighting of two Oilers rookies that appears to indicate bigger changes being afoot.

Jacques and Pouliot have been sent down to clear room for the young winger and in executing a two for one move the Oilers have not only made roster space, ie they're now carrying just 13 forwards instead of 14, they're also saving money as well. Is it in anticipation to taking on salary perhaps? We're all hoping so but it could also mean that the brass are ready to deal the likes of Jacques and Pouliot and if that's the case then the rental season should be kicking off at any time now.

The EIG hasn't exactly gone on the total cheap this year but they did raise ticket prices and before the Nedved move they were operating on a 39 mill budget which is 5 mill away from hitting the cap. No one in the media has called them out for it but I think it's a pretty shitty way of thanking the fans for years and years of supporting a somewhat second rate team. Not to mention that with more money in the coffers after a long run in the spring of '06 they no longer need to pinch their pennies. The fact of the matter is I don't know if they really needed to be miserly before last year's playoffs but guys more well versed in the NHL business side of things have long stood on the premise that the EIG's teams were more crocidile than anything else.

In any case the Oilers are allowed to spend 45 mill over an entire year and salaries pro-rate as the season expires so today the Oilers have just under 10 million to use on salaries and five million to spend when it comes to actual dollars. So if say the Leaves for some reason wanted to give away Sundin for Rob Schremp;) then we could take that on and still have room to rent an impact defenseman like the B's Brad Stuart. I'm not saying any of that is likely to happen but I am saying that if the spirit moves them the Oilers have a tonne of money left to play with.

And now with the arrival of one guy and the departures of two others they also have the room to accomodate some new players as well.

Eric Brewer is a name that keeps popping up and it's for obvious reasons like A: he played here before B: he's an impending UFA C: he plays a team that has no reason to keep him and D: he's afforable and E: he looks like a guy who can still be really effective.

The Blues are putting together a nice stretch right now and Brewer's play has risen right along with them. Over the last 10 games Brew's playing over 23 min per night and he's +3 and he shapes up as just the type of guy who could leap into our top four and make a real difference.

The Oilers are also said to be targetting Flyers dman Joni Pitkanen and that officially made hard copy yesterday as seen here.

And to follow up on that, the Ott Sun is saying the Oilers were once again scouting the Flyers yesterday afternoon when they visited the Sens:

So that's what's happening or might be happening OFF the ice and on the ice the Oilers are visting the Kings in a matchup that looks quite close on paper. Or at least it does if you look at their overall records in the past 30 games for instance. I know MC won't approve or anything;) but looking at straight up records and without considering strenght of sked or goal differential, the Oilers are 12-14-4 and the Kings are 13-14-3.

The moral of this story is that if we're talking about the lesser teams in the WC then we're looking in the mirror and usually a game in the Staples Centre could be considered a layup at worst. Right now, though, the Oilers just aren't getting any open looks and the basket looks to be about the size of a beer glass.


Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Jacques and Pouliot have been sent down to clear room for the young winger and in executing a two for one move the Oilers have not only made roster space, ie they're now carrying just 13 forwards instead of 14, they're also saving money as well. Is it in anticipation to taking on salary perhaps?

Now that is f**ing interesting.

1/08/2007 2:26 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

The size of a beer glass in Nova Scotia or at the ACC though?

That's a big difference ;).

I like what the Oilers did last game. They've been getting better and don't look now but they have points in 3 straight and I'm predicting that they go slump busters tonight.

Me and Sweatyo are on the same page here; he said 3 of the next 4, I'll take it one further and say they're winning 5 of the next 6.

Partly because they're looking better these days, and partly because Kevin Lowe has to have made a move by then ;)

1/08/2007 4:41 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

A nice threat for all of us tonight: no Smid and no Greene either.

Shaggy's back in so I'd imagine he steps in alongside 24 and other other two tandems from Fri night remain intact.

1/08/2007 5:42 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

No Smid, no Green and I don't even get to watch because I have my own game at 9?


1/08/2007 5:54 pm  
Blogger Art Vandelay said...

What's Jim Carrey doing at a basketball game with my grandmother?

1/08/2007 8:38 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

He usually takes her somewhere nice before he bangs her.

1/08/2007 9:08 pm  
Blogger Lowetide said...

Is he sitting with Dyan Cannon or Frank Cannon?

1/08/2007 9:16 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

I don't know if that's the period the offically ends 93's career as an Oiler but it probably should be.

He missed a gimme off a sweat 83 feed and then he totally lost Armstrong on a 4 on 4 and Derek had a wicked chance as a result. Later on Nedved was literally running around on the shift were Roy lost his stick and on two other occasions he just fell down for no reason.

The last time Nedved was here we worried about him at ES on the road but moreso we worried about him when we played deep teams on the road. Well, the Kings have been a .500 for most of the season but they aren't super talented yet Nedved's an absolute mess every time he's on the ice.

As for the rest of the period, well at least Roli looks close to returning to form;)

1/08/2007 9:21 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

That's two periods of hitting the ball hard as they say. The Oilers outchanced them by a factor of two in both periods by my count. Almost every 1st period shot was a legit SC, plus the post and crossbar.

Speaking of the crossbar, what's Horcoff up to now? 6 or 8? More than that? Half of those go in and we aren't worrying about the guy that much. Regardless, those are two of the better periods I've seen from him in the last month - he's got his skating legs tonight for sure.

1/08/2007 10:26 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Super period for the Oil in terms of outchancing but we're still one bad bounce away from being tied and does anyone want to place money on Edm coming out on the good end of a tie game given how fragile they are?

Hejda had one rough shift in particular but I'm finding his forte to be the one on one battles. I'm thinking that if you paired him with a puck mover like a Bergy and they were your third option then that would be a better than serviceable 3rd pairing.

BTW, 28 is like a young 34 but doesn't have any kind of a scoring touch yet. he's steady as a rock though and he's in line for a shutdown role plus PKing as the years roll on

1/08/2007 10:26 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Yup, Thoresen has looked very good. Winchester has been decent too, so maybe the fourth line has a chance to get something done.

I've been very impressed with Hejda tonight. The more he plays the more it looks like a travesty that the Oilers hung so much time on the kids with him sitting in the pressbox.

1/08/2007 10:55 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Well that 4th line put together a pretty good stretch back there in mid to late Nov so I was hoping the latest moves would spur something in that troika and it did. They started out the night high event as they traded chances but they wound up being the best Oilers line in terms of outchancing at night's end.

This is a game where you wouldn't even know 14 was on the ice. Sometimes he comes out ready to kill you and other teams he just doesn't care. And there's an old NF saying that it takes three clicks to make a clue and Raffi certainly doesn't have more than one click and that's being generous. That play there late in reg begged for some poise and he just rails it across the rink and it goes back the other way.

I know this isn't gonna happen but if you're macT and 47 is the only guy who can handle the puck from the backend then why not start going with three forwards every time?

Also, this is the third good or great game for Roli out of the last 4 so maybe we're getting something going in the cage again.

1/08/2007 11:07 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Good point about the 3 forwards. Use Stoll in particular since he's the best F/D option thanks to his PP time or maybe Horcoff or Sykora as the extra forward and go from there. Actually Pisani could probably do it too. He can do pretty much anything.

1/08/2007 11:13 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Funfact: I'm pretty sure that Hejda goal was just the sixth 4V4 goal the Oilers have participated in this year. They were involved in 17 last year, so they're not really all that common in general but this is quite a drop.

1/08/2007 11:16 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Dan Hejda scores!!!!!

Sometimes good things do happen to good people or in this case people who are putting in their work outside of the limelight sometimes get to jump in the spotlight as well.

It's cool that he marked the winner though because he had another great game tonight and has sorta came out of nowhere to play pretty much the most ES min again tonight.

BTW, it was that genius Millions who called him Dan and I was thinking I knew a Dan Hejda from somewhere in TV land and then I finally latched on to it tonight.;name;14

"Cheers" everybody;)

1/08/2007 11:24 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

If the positioning of the old school trap was considered 1-2-2, or a 0-2-3, in comparison I'd put the current Oiler system as a 3-0-2, and sometimes a tad better when they're 2-1-2. Just ridiculous how they concede the neutral zone. They're not going to win many more games playing like that with this defence. If you're depth at D is questionable and you can't trust them to make the clean transition from their own zone, wouldn't the smart move be to eliminate the necessity? Contest your own blue line, and play a transition game in the neutral zone with all that forward depth?

The forwards are so soft on the boards in either end that containing pressure or releiving it appear nearly impossible. They don't play the body, where atleast they'd eliminate one opposing player from the play. Instead they play the puck, and are soft on it, it's almost always a losing scenario.

One example was the play before the face-off that lead to the Kings goal. Stoll pinches from the neutral zone into the Kings zone with the puck on the high boards, another Oiler forward convering the other Kings defenseman on the opposite side of the ice, also INSIDE their zone. Just picture it, there are three K's forwards deep behind two Oilers, and sure enough the puck goes through Stoll to Conroy in the NZ who then has a wide open lane all the way into Oiler territory.

The same thing goes for the Avery chance where Roli lost his stick, except there were three Oiler forwards engaging the King's D high in the King's zone, essentialy creating a three on two through the uncontested neutral zone behind them.

LAte in the first, was it Willsie who nearly split the Oiler D right down the middle? That started with a delayed offside on Winchester with 28-19 standing outside the King's blueline, all three King's forwards behind them, with the puck in a zone they can't enter a couple feet away from a Kings defender. Standing!

Oh, and they're still taking way too long of shifts. What is Nedved or Lupul going to be good for after 45 seconds on the ice except to fuck things up? Who do you think is the most effective two player on the Oilers right now? Take a gander at the TOI charts on and compare his shift lengths to the other forwards and tell me there's no correlation.


Oh, and the answer should be Fernando Pisani, and congrats to Hedja, he looks solid. Except that one time when he inexplicably went behind the net.

1/09/2007 12:03 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Wow slipper, this was the best game I've seen from the Oilers in nearly a month and you've managed to rip it apart. They were still a little ragged at times, but I think you've done some (sour) cherry picking for some of this stuff. Shit, they did outchance the Kings by about double in the first two periods and you wouldn't know it from reading that.

Anyway, good point now (and earlier) about the shift lengths. Even I started barking at Smyth during one second period shift. The Oilers are definitely taking some long shifts and it doesn't make a lot of sense. As I think you mentioned earlier, none of this stuff is new and Neilson was a big believer in it. MacT doesn't seem to be taking that to heart right now.

Add that to the list of items the Oilers can fix rather easily in-house to be a much better hockey team. If this management trend continues and the coaching follows, I swear this team is on the cusp of being decent again and that's without even finding that elusive dman.

1/09/2007 12:27 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Quick hitter thoughts:

Who was it who had the goalposts-hit statistic for last year? Vic, was that you? I'd love to see Horcoff's number for this year. He's hit 3 in the last 2 games alone, and I'm sure he's hit at least one somewhere else along the way.

Jan Hejda has arrived. He keeps this up, maybe the Oilers only need one guy. But that one guy would have to be Redden, Pitkanen, Stuart or "The Vis".

Nedved is showing flashes, but is still lagging behind in the conditioning department. I'll give him 10 games, and by then, he better be solidly in the plus-category on the soft minutes line.

I think Ales Hemsky is wasted with the other two Czechs and that they should flip him and Lupul. Better yet, deal Lupul to get Pitkanen and then rent Darcy Tucker at the deadline to give the 2nd line some serious "grease".

Roloson looked REALLY good tonight. If they steal one in SJ on Wednesday, I think that would be the sign this team is going to heat up before the All Star break.

Bergeron often looks quite "inert" out there, but when he screws up, it's not a little thing, it usually causes total chaos.

Greene back in for Roy on Wednesday please. The play on the Kings goal ultimately started with 2 Kings zeroing in on 36 and forcing a turnover that started the whole sequence.

Can they please go to a five-forward alignment on the first PP unit and then only one D-man on the 2nd unit? Staios certainly shouldn't get ANY PP minutes, and Tjarnqvist and Bergeron are both unworthy of a top-unit assignment. Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky up front, Sykora-Stoll on the points. That's what I want to see. Horcoff is getting so shafted when it comes to PP minutes, it's crazy. If they wanted to do this, they should have done it last year to dampen his counting numbers and allow the Oilers to sign him cheaper. Now that they're paying him to be the 1st line center, might as well use him that way, especially considering he's been a strong PP producer in the past.

1/09/2007 12:31 am  
Blogger Bank Shot said...

Sweatyo:"Bergeron often looks quite "inert" out there, but when he screws up, it's not a little thing, it usually causes total chaos."

His episodes drive me up the wall. Sometimes you can almost see the gears smoking away in his head as he tries to figure out why the other team is rapidly receding into the distance with the puck.

Like tonight when he jumped up in the rush (which is fine), but then two players got into a puck battle in the neutral zone as MAB continued to coast up to the opposition blueline while the other team was already going the other way. He did hustle back really quickly. Just in time to see Smyth take a hooking penalty while trying to be a defenseman.

1/09/2007 2:38 am  
Blogger PDO said...

Since there isn't a better place..

Does anyone have a clue what type of minutes Perreault is playing down in Phoenix?

I didn't see the game last night, but apparently Nedved was a corpse for the third straight night? Say we dump him, can Perreault handle any sort of responsibility?

His scoring rates in Phoenix right now are 2.35 ESP/60 and 4.25 PPP/60.

Phoenix likes making moves for the sake of making moves, maybe he's a possibility? He's a +6 (IN PHOENIX) as well.. add in that he has 13 goals in 29 games, and maybe he'd be "the" guy to play with 83 and 71? Add in that he's a faceoff wizard and you don't have to feel terrible about sending them out in less than desirable positions.

He's one of those guys I've never really seen much of, but seems like a guy who would be a great guy to add at the deadline (besides, you can NEVER have too many centers).

1/09/2007 3:50 pm  
Blogger allan said...

His SP is sitting at 22.4% right now. That's crazy, and I can't see him keeping it up. Given the relatively small number of games he's played, I'd expect that to have made a very significant impact on his scoring rates and +/- so far.

Other than that, I don't really know much about Perreault as a player.

1/09/2007 4:07 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

Damn.. knew there was something else I should've checked ;).

Pitkanen is sitting tonight.

Has the "flu."

1/09/2007 4:41 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

.. and Forsberg.

C'mon. Dream a little.. ;)

1/09/2007 6:20 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Perreault has to be a waste of time. Why would the Oilers want a player that can't skate?

1/09/2007 8:31 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

Rivers I'm not trying to get all Dennis on Salo about this, but my concern lies with the trends on the ice as of late and the Oiler's tendencies. It's not an indictment of incidental lapses in judgement, like a turnover, because I'm aware that shit happens. My problem is that the Oilers keep doing the same things and expect different results.

Against LA, I thought it was more of the same when it came to quality of chances against, and that's crazy one-on-one (or one on goalie) shots from deep and center in the slot. I think the quality of LA's primary chances were greater than the Oilers, they were cleaner and were created through the NZ with more speed. In the other end the Oilers were creating more secondary chances against the Kings equally shitty defence. The thing is I think those events have a mutual relationship. LA obviously has a bit of cheat in them and that leaves their own zone vulnerable, but if the Oilers don't bury those opportunites the legs get heavy and the forwards are left deep behind the play. They leave the backdoor open, which would be fine if it occured sporadically throughout a game, whenever two teams trade chances. These days that door's being left open all night long, it's winter in Edmonton, and the cold forced all the forwards nuts to be sucked back into their abdomens which is evident whenever they lose the puck on the side boards with barely a fight, or when they bail out into the much milder temperatures of the neutral zone.

It's just my opinion of course, but considering all the gooey soft on the ice these days, I just can't see a personnel change making any difference to what ails this team. If there's a defensemean out there that can Magically turn this team around, he's going to have to be the Earvin Johnson of hockey using blind, behind the back passes that always hit the tape, because these forwards don't create lanes on their own and they certanly don't offer much in terms of support.

1/10/2007 12:12 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ya, I tend to agree slipper, at least on the general sentiment. I thought that was a fun game to watch. The Kings really do play balls out in the offensive end, but it's a Crawford team so you have to expect that.

I'm not so worried about the Oilers taking risks in the offensive end though, in fact in the long run I think that's probably the smart bet with this cast of characters. Game by game they seem to have two speeds on the forecheck though, full speed ahead and full throttle reverse. They've been trapping a shitload this season, off and on.

Personally, the cheating of the forwards in the defensive end is harder for me to forgive though. Smyth's been probably the worst for it and he's been coming up aces lately, but surely that won't last. I won't pick on the guy for mistakes he's made when he's the first forward back, those are easy to spot but that doesn't seem fair, but buddy has been cheating a bunch lately in his own end, and sooner or later that catches up with you. Reminds me of that stretch with Comrie, shortly before he hurt his thumb, he was HNIC's 1st star two Saturdays running at Christmas time (just by my rusty memory, mind) but the fucker would have been 'goat of the game' if the hockey gods had been feeling more just, cherrypicking twat. Having said all of that, Smyth's good at keeping the puck alive in the offensive end of the rink, and that's a pretty good strength to have.

1/10/2007 12:58 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

BTW: Killer pic, rivers (I assume it was you). You've outdone yourself.

And who's in charge of editting Dennis' posts so he doesn't keep punting the sidebar with the links? I nominate speeds.

I love ya Dennis, and I don't really give a rat's ass about the sidebar anyways. But just on principle: Sweet Christ, how hard is it to click the little globe with the chain links on it when you link something?

1/10/2007 1:31 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Vic Ferrari said...

And who's in charge of editting Dennis' posts so he doesn't keep punting the sidebar with the links? I nominate speeds.

I fixed the links in Dennis' post, but it turns out that wasn't the issue for the sidebar.

Actually Vic, I think the current culprit for the sidebar is your Vancouver post. ;)

I wonder if Dennis' links would still spill over if your chart wasn't there? HTML is obviously still kind of a mysterious beast to me.

As far as hockey goes, I started paying a little more attention to Smyth after somebody (pdo, slipper, someone else?) mentioned him cheating a couple of weeks ago. Anyway I'm starting to see it now. It should be mentioned that he's often first forward back and sometimes stays near the blueline as the short option on the breakout, but the latter just thinly disguises the fact that the other 75% of the time he's shot out of a cannon when the Oilers even get close to turning a puck over in their own end.

Personally, I prefer to look at results and Smyth has definitely provided those so far this year (he's still got a positive Wilson #), but this is starting to get a little worrisome. I think we can agree Smyth had a strong 03/04 at ES - the whole team did. He had a crummy year at ES last year with results to match and even the Hemsky excuse looks to be either a little misleading or not that significant. That brings us to this year, he's been dicey in his own end but has had fantastic work in the far end of the ice that has probably driven his results thus far.

I wonder though - is this a problem or some kind of decline or could it be that this is just Ryan Smyth? He cheats, but he keeps the puck down low and the net result is that he outscores. If he plays with Hemsky, they don't get the puck down low enough and he can't get away with some cheating because it turns into a drag race at the blueline. I'm not sure if the latter is really supported by the data... Thoughts?

1/10/2007 10:11 am  
Blogger PDO said...


It was you and I who originally debated the Smyth topic however I'm pretty sure that Vic mentioned it before I did.. way before, actually.

Smyth has the results right now, but right now it's interesting to think what would be going on in Oil Country right now if Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth switched puck luck. Definitely would've been a good thing for management.

Smyth is getting results, but when I look at his results I can't help but feel right now everything he touches is turning to gold. Good for the team today, bad for the team tomorrow for multiple reasons..

1) He can't keep this up. Eventually the puck will hit him in the ass and go wide instead of hitting him in the ass and going in.

2) He's doing nothing but driving his price up.

3) When the puck stops bouncing for him, he's going to start hurting the team defensively if he continues to cheat as he has.

I guess what bugs me the most about Ryan Smyth cheating - is how often does he actually do something useful on the rush anyway? He's scored on that slapshot 3 times in his career... his first NHL goal, on Andy Moog, and last year against Vancouver, and I swear to god he believes it's a good play.

1/10/2007 3:14 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Vic...I'm awaiting my apology...just on principle of course;) haha

There's no doubt that 94's cherrypicking. I'll sheepishly admit I hadn't noticed him doing this until someone pointed it out and since then I've looked for it and he's like a shot out of a gun in his own zone when we get the puck.

And I'm not so sure mgmt would want luck reversed when it comes to 10 and 94. I guess they would under the guise of being able to validate Horc's stipend but if 94 was having this luck I think it would be his ticket out of town. He'd still be looking for the big payday based on service time and loyality and if the Oilers used a slumping season as a way of driving him out then I think it would be bad for all parties.

The whole thing with Horc right now is laughable. Posts, crossbars, goals being negated by quick whistles and not to mention how many shovels and sweeps he's missed. I think he should've known how his year was gonna go just by that first game in Cgy when he swept the disc into an unoccupied net except for the fact he hit off 15's skate and bounded out of harm's way.

The guy could easily have 15 goals right now but seeing as how his shit luck's gone 42 games I wouldn't bet on it reversing anytime soon.

1/10/2007 5:55 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

D'oh! Apologies, Dennis.

Jesus, I've outdone myself now, I think I've deleted my blog handle. Could you or riversq delete my Vic Ferrari handle as a user and then send me the blog invite thing to my email?

1/11/2007 1:14 pm  

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