Monday, February 12, 2007

Oilers/Bruins: Injuries to Stoll. Pisani leave faithful holding out for some new old heroes

I think it's a little silly to say, as Shawn Horcoff did on Sunday night, that the seven game roadtrip the Oilers start tomorrow will make or break their season. The cynic/realist in me could point out that even running the table on this jaunt, quite unlikely I'll avow, might not get the Oilers that much closer to slipping into the eighth place in the WC standings. It certainly wouldn't do them any harm but the breaking point of this season's playoff chances may well have come with the Oilers subpar record within their own division and the latest such losses we remember happened in the last 11 days when the Oilers dropped two games to the Canucks and in the process saw the space between the clubs take an eight point swing. If the Oilers happen to go 3-4-1 in the next 13 days it certainly won't help their playoff chances but it won't wind up being the death knell either.

I must admit that I love these EC swings by the Oilers as it conjures up the days before I had the Centre Ice package when I could usually only catch Oilers games on TSN or CBC. So whenever the Oilers went east I had the chance to catch them on the Leaves old local affiliate, CHCH, as well as on Boston's local flagship station, WSBK. This is also not to forget to mention that RDS broadcasts every game the Habs play along with every Sakic Koivu bowel moment. Of course being somewhat of an old school fan I also get a kick out of seeing the Oilers play in places like Boston, Philly and even on the Island considering it once provided victorious spoils for Peter Puck's Prodigies. Lastly, and most certainly not leastly, these games provide a brief respite for the Newfoundland Oilers fan who's prone to feeling really really stupid and foolish when he's watching Matt Greene throw the puck away for the umpteenth time at 12:30am. If that was happening at say 11pm every night then it wouldn't be such a big deal. Well that's a lie but the difference in time would allow for more sleep once the subsequent tossing and turning had been completed.

Someone else who's probably looking forward to this trip is Ladislav Smid who in finally turning 21 just 11 scant days ago is now eligible to barhop in America and if he so desires frequent those clubs where ladies remove their clothing to hiphop songs and old metal powerballads for money. But enough about the age and ineptness of the Oilers young defenseman because that's old news. Yes it's an ongoing story that's as puzzling in it's lack of rectifcation as is the saga of Jewel's teeth but it's old nonetheless. The auteur of the Oilers '07 drama has introduced a new wrinkle to hurdle and in it's wake we see MacT asking what his motivation is;)

Damn the torpedoes and the rookie defensemen and the fact that the Oilers wanted Roloson to play all 82 regular season games the ticket, as Jon Lovitz would coo, to '07 Oilers success would be it's depth at forward. It would turn out to be a lie which would suit the old SNL regular just fine. It's hard to gauge just how much a young and skittish defense has hampered the Oilers forwards group but they haven't even gone gangbusters on the PP and that's a unit that usually sees four forwards in it's employ. I wouldn't consider the group to be a glaring weakness but it hasn't been a dominating presence either and now with it's ranks have recently been thinned by the nearly concurrent concussions of first Stoll and then Pisani, the result leaves guys that had been flying under the radar now finding themselves in the sharpest of crosshairs.

It was just the other night during a conversation with Riv and Young MC that I opined how funny it was that the Oilers were expected to win without receiving basically nothing from either of Sykora or Lupul. I'd throw Torres in there as well but he's managed to stay above the plus/minus line while playing tougher mintues than either of those guys and we know that counts for something. 71 had started out this season on fire and won us all over with some early Flame dousing and even his first stretch of coldness was pockmarked with scoring chances that just weren't finding twine. Usually when that happens it's just a matter of time before the goals come again but eventually he didn't even produce scoring chances and fell into oblivion once Hemsky was removed from his line. 15 really never enjoyed any kind of a hot streak and his Oilers claim to fame thus has been a woeful +/- road record or holding the record for fewest games sucking before having local columnists defend him.

The focus will now switch back to these guys because Pisani might not have been scoring a lot of goals but he was playing big mintues and he was doing a good job in that role not to mention he was also killing penalties. Stoll has been a jack-of-all-trades with the Oilers this year being their primary right-handed faceoff man, playing the left point on the PP, killing penalties and playing some tough minutes to boot. He's not expected back until Saturday in Toronto at the earliest and I'm guessing here but I'd imagine the quickest time we could see Pisani would be next Tuesday in Ottawa. There are holes to fill in the lineup and minutes and responsbilites that need new masters and any success the Oilers have on this trip will come from great performances by the netminding and/or the forwards. It's not like I'm going to stop talking about this mind you;) but the defense just isn't gonna get any better. Smid and Greene are good for a combined six-to-eight mindblowingly stupid mistakes a night, Hejda's being asked to play over his head and Bergeron is still Bergeron. So it is to the guys up front that we look and there's only so much we can ask and expect of the Oilers current Easter line of Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky.

During Sunday night's postgame scrum Sykora referenced the idea of secondary scoring as an important cog to continued success, they have won four out of their last six you know;) and I'm glad he's warmed to that idea because he's one of the guys on that hot seat. The Oilers are missing two important pieces but somehow somewhere there should still be enough goals to go around. The obvious and absolute must win game on this trip happens in 12 days in Minnesota but before that there are stops in somewhat friendly road locales like Toronto, Columbus and tonight's tilt in Beantown. The Oilers are looking for some additional protagonists and a win in Boston shouldn't require overly heroic efforts.


Blogger RiversQ said...

Anyone terribly suprised that I couldn't find pics of Sykora or Lupul scoring for the Oilers and being really happy?

I'm not, everytime Lupul scores you can see him let out a big sigh of relief.

Anyway... Dennis, if the Oilers run the table on this trip, we wouldn't be worrying about a playoff spot. After that all they'd have to do is stay .500 in the last 19 games and Lowe would likely be buying on top of that. I would take that bet all day long. It's all moot because they aren't running the table.

2/13/2007 12:21 am  
Blogger Steven said...

Just win baby! Yah they're probably not running the table but doesn't mean I don't have hope. I know you like these Eastern starts Dennis (Newfoundlander and all), I hate them. 5:00 PM MST means I just get off work and the game is on which gives me little time to get home.

Oh I like the Jewel teeth reference, even though despite that I find her darn hot.

I think the Oilers win this one at least if only because I think Boston has more problems than us.

2/13/2007 11:50 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Interesting I was looking at the lineups and Patrice Bergeron is 18-34-52 (-21) and Brad Boyes is 9-18-27 (-20).

Talk about karma - everything Jeremy Jacobs touched turns to shit. Boyes' numbers are a cross between Marty Reasoner and MAB. And Patrice Bergeron. Jeez whatever happened to him?

Watch them score three apiece now.

2/13/2007 2:17 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

While I'll readily admit that Boyes is slumping compared to expectations, do you really think that Bergeron's numbers are disappointing? He's less than a year older than our boy Smid, second on his team in points, and carries an awful plus minus on a team whose every player is below even in that respect.

I am not sure who a good comparison would be but I bet you that a lot of the NHL's bona fide stars in their prime had stats like Bergeron's at 21.

2/13/2007 3:43 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Yes Steven, Jewel is still hot and I was reminded of that the other night when I was flipping though the channels and saw her in that movie with Skeet Ulrich and Spiderman. I never dated a girl who could sing but I always found it super sexy. I do love my chantuses:)

Oh and boo hoo about missing some of the game there buddy:) You could always tape it and then start watching it at 7:30 MST time which would still mean you'd have three hours on me. Once again, boo hoo;)

No idea about what the lines are gonna look like but I'd break up 187 line and BTW that's an ultra cool nickname for a line and I just came up with it in the shower:) Don't ask:D but for the longest time I've been looking to come up with a nickname for that line along the lines of RAM for the old Smyth-Comrie-Carter troika and MGM for the old Moreau-Grier-Marchant threesome. Here's the reason why this is a sweet name for that line:

Their three numbers add up to 187 so it sorta writes itself. It isn't PC and it wouldn't make the papers or TV but hey, we're cutting edge right:)

Anyway, enough self-congratulating on my behalf and even though it would fuck my newly minted nickname I'd still break these guys up. 83's on fire now and I thought he might be able to bring some offense out of 14-71. If you remember those guys started together but didn't have a long shelflife and I remember that Torres had a tonne of chances but couldn't bury them so at the very least they were creating opps. So I'd put them together and that would leave either 28-15-78 to play with the 94-10 combo. Scratch 15 because he had enough no impact games with those two so let's leave him be. So that leaves 28 or 78 and both might work because they can deal in the cycle game. I think I'd give 28 a shot up there and see if we can get something going with the 15-78 combo. Then again maybe put 78 up there and go 15-19-28 on the third line. Bottom line;) I'd try a 14-71-83 line and try and get some balance.

2/13/2007 3:50 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

For example, Patrice Bergeron is on pace for more points than either of Vincent Lecavalier or Brad Richards during their age 21 seasons. (Though despite this, he is also on pace to be slightly more of a minus player)

2/13/2007 3:54 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Hmm...doesn't look like the Buyck ceremony is gonna last all that long. Does anyone else realize that Sat night in TO the Leaves are gonna honour their '67 cup team?

I'd say that game will start so late that HNIC will say fuck the late game

2/13/2007 5:10 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

I'm going to that game on Saturday night. Keon will be back and that will be the big deal really but leave it to the Chiefs to draw attention to 40 years of futility.

I won't argue with you Showerhead - was up at 2:30am for the night with the boy - teething and illness not a good combo - so I'm a little cranky. I'd take Bergeron any day and Boyes for that matter - My only point was for Bergeron's hype and contract his numbers are almost Lupul like, excepting the assist total.

2/13/2007 5:52 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Can Edmonton keep this game at 5-on-5 and come back?

This is the first period of Oiler hockey I've seen since the last one in the Colorado game and I'm inspired by their improvement since then. As such, my vote is actually yes.

2/13/2007 6:01 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Almost ten minutes for Horcoff and eight plus for Smyth.

Guess MacT has little choice though.

Torres with Pouliot and Thoresen. How do they look?

2/13/2007 6:03 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Well this one's over already.

The Oilers deserved to be down by two goals after that period. The B's had about 4 great chances at ES and three of them came against the Horc line and in no small part due to the 2/47 tandem being their defense tandem. Here lately it's been popular to say the Oilers forwards aren't pulling their weight and that may well be true but just remember the first SC the B's had tonight. Horc's line's out but 47 passes it to 2 and he retreats back and passes it agian to 47 and he throws a pass that 10 absolutely can't do anything with. The Oilers young D pulls that going backwards shit all the fucking time.

Speaking of dumb defensemen, I know it's not his forte but Jason Smith is like a 10 year old with the puck. Early on he took a page from his old book where he gets to within 5 feet of centre but decides to ice the puck just for the fuck of it and then late in the period with the Oilers having been scored on twice on the PK he just throws it way across the ice and way over the glass and takes a DOG penalty. This guy is a total stupe with the puck. Always has been and always will be. And speaking of stupid defensemen, nice hooking penalty by Smid to put us down two men. That's right he shouldn't be out there anyway so fuck you Kevin Lowe and/or Cal Nichols. One last word on the D: did anyone lose two years off their life wher Ferraro said the Oilers were playing the game with a somewhat inexperienced d corps? OK one more D thought;):D Matt Greene is like a young Buchy when it comes to fighting. He's willing but he can't fight a lick.

Disgraceful start to this roadtrip considering we're already likely to get slaughtered in Buf, Ott and Det. We don't need to play like shit against the dregs of the NE division.

2/13/2007 6:05 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

Sykora gets mauled and no call when that shit was called on Smid for the first Boston goal?

I'm going to get an ulcer.

Joffrey Lupul is not a player who can afford to miss the net on a breakaway.

2/13/2007 6:44 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

"Joffrey Lupul is not a player who can afford to miss the net on a breakaway."

Isn't that the truth! Though I think I found one of Torres' neat little passes MacT is always on about...

2/13/2007 6:55 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

We need him on the PP but I wouldn't give 71 another ES shift for the rest of the night after he took that penalty. They've been calling that stuff all year and yet he takes one about 180 feet from his net. I also loved Nedved getting called for the intentional icing when everyone in North America knew what was going on. Nice job by MacT to play the corpse of Nedved on the PP as well. MacT, I'm in your camp buddy but Nedved is done and why not try Pouliot in that role? Seriously, you've got nothing to lose.

I can't believe the Oilers are gonna lose a must win game to this team. And yes Lupul is a total tit for not at least getting that on net.

2/13/2007 6:57 pm  
Blogger dynastydays said...

I really enjoyed tonights game I must say... I fired up the old Benny Hill theme song, and watched a thoroughly delightful keystone cops re-enactment.

I read earlier today that someone was induced with a feeling to 'punch babies'... I thought that was a bit harsh at the time... albeit very funny... now I completely understand, and it's really not funny at all.

2/13/2007 7:46 pm  

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