LMHF Report Webcast Link

3/22/14

Shut down for the year

Good afternoon all,

As you may have guessed from the lack of posting lately - I've shut things down for the year. I've just got to much on the go at the moment and let's be honest, even with the Oilers' newfound goaltending and some wins, there aren't a lot of great things to talk about. I'm hoping the motivation strikes to do some sort of year end (probably a web radio show version) and then go from there, but we shall see.

Thanks again to everyone for reading this year. It has been a tough grind. Here's hoping we see some good things through the final games and then don't endure another year like this for a long, long time.

3/6/14

Advisory - No report tonight

No game report tonight guys. Technical difficulties and I'm still sick. Til next time.

3/4/14

2014 LMHF Report - Game #28 Live post game

Good evening everyone. Tune in approximately 15 minutes after the game on Spreaker (search LMHF) for the live post game show. I believe the plug-in at the top of the blog should also work. Talk to you then.

2/27/14

Advisory - No Report Tonight

Good evening all,

I'm in the Ottawa airport at the moment and due to the failure of supersonic transportation to gain widespread acceptance, can't make it back in time for tonight's game. As such, there will be no report.

1/29/14

2014 LMHF Report - Webcast - Game #25

Hey guys, I forgot to post here the details on the live version of the webcast. My apologies.

Here's a link to the recorded version. We're using a website/app called Spreaker that has some really interesting features I'm still learning about. Enjoy! http://www.spreaker.com/user/6937911

1/25/14

2014 LMHF Report - Game #24

EDMONTON 3

VS.

PHOENIX 4
------------

Well the team almost salvaged one here. I'd care and think it meant more if this was the beginning of the season rather than at a point when barring "we'll never lose again", the season is over.

Fact is I want to be entertained and I want the team to win. For half the game tonight that just wasn't the case. They were terrible. LMHF#2 were strongly considering leaving for pizza and Madden. I still think we should have even after the third. It's just more painful when the game is made close and there will be excuses made.

Eakins started making them immediately in his post-game. You can't say that team made no mistakes. They gave the puck up like crazy the whole game save for five minutes. What you can say is that for a good while they shut down PHX's ability to get shots on net. That's a very good thing of course.

The D got better after Ference left...just saying. The thing about the remaining group is, although they're not that good when compared to the better teams in the league, they are both better (when playing decently) and bigger than the Oilers usually ice.

The forwards were strongest on the rush. Phoenix basically shut down the Oilers' attempts to cycle and get the puck to the net. Despite this the Oilers kept chipping it in rather than repeat the success of the Hopkins goal. Now, I guess you could argue that the PHX D got worn down but I don't really buy that. There wasn't enough hitting for that to have happened. They were giving away possession to a team that plays back rather than using the gap to generate speed and attack the net. During the times of the night when they did have chances and pressure, it was because they exploited the fact that PHX likes to hang back.

Interesting to watch PHX's PP. They consciously try not to skate with the puck.

The game was lost in the first. Much like the season was lost very early on.
---------

Bryzgalov
- Not good enough tonight at all. He settled in during the second period but this was too little too late.

Ference
- Got caught on another PP goal. Putting he and Petry out there on the PP against a competent opponent is like giving them a goal.

Petry
- Got better during the second half of the night. Had one of the ugliest shifts I've seen from him in the early second when he gave the puck away at least 3 times and headed the wrong way as well. Did have some strong defensive moments and was more physical than usual.

Marincin
- Overcame a couple first period mistakes to have a really strong game. Won a ton of corner battles and stood up at the opposition blue line. Doesn't matter who his opponent is - he played like a competent defender again and showed no signs of being tired late. The guy is a horse.

Potter
- One of his best games in a long time. Why? He used his size defensively. Sometimes he gets tentative and backs off. Tonight his gaps were very small and he slowed down the PHX players. Could have been better with the puck but the point was that he was getting to those pucks.

Schultz
- No magic offensively but he did try to push to the slot in the third when they needed the third and fourth goals. Kept waiting for an amazing pass but it never came. Made some mistakes but also made some really good defensive plays which was great to see.

Belov
- Very good when he didn't drift out of position. This happened a few times but other than that he was strong and controlled a lot of PHX forwards. He and Potter both drifted out of place on the first PHX goal...though Bryzgalov could've stopped that if he'd come out further.

Yakupov-Arcobello-Joensuu
- Kind of a weird line. They had some strong shifts but just couldn't quite convert. I like the way Joensuu goes hard to the net in games like this and he was rewarded with a couple tips. He also annoyed some of the PHX D. Yakupov had a few chances and just didn't get it done. Great opportunity on the PP in the third that went through his legs somehow. He had a shift in the second where the line was actually stuck in the D zone, but he landed two good hits and that seemed to get everyone going. Arcobello has been struggling for a while now and couldn't really get anything done this evening.

Hendricks-Gordon-Jones
- Interesting line. They can certainly grind. I'm not going to give Jones as much credit as others likely will, but at least he's fighting for a job somewhere next year. Had a couple horrible turnovers but did get in on the forecheck. Hendricks was excellent at getting into the offensive zone and causing the PHX D problems. He really drove hard for the puck and was rewarded with a goal for going to the net. Nice to see. Needs to make sure he doesn't get the extra in the scrums. I didn't like that Eakins took out Hendricks rather than Jones when Yakupov stepped up. Old reliable Mr. Gordon was excellent positionally and generally as he almost always is.

Smyth-Gagner-Perron
- Gagner continued his season of being lost in the ocean. He couldn't accomplish anything tonight. Never in the right place, never the right time, couldn't find an extra gear to pass anyone and didn't get any good shots toward the net. Not good. He needs to produce. Perron wasn't much better to be honest. Sure he scored an outstanding goal - but the rest of the night he looked disinterested. I can understand why he's frustrated at this point but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Smyth looked slow and out of place. Why was he on the PP? Were they showcasing for a trade or something?

Hall-Hopkins-Eberle
- Well, they had a very up and down night. Early, Hall and Eberle both struggled. Hall especially who couldn't find a giveaway he didn't like. Again I understand the guy is frustrated and probably just goes home to bang his head against a wall and forget, but that's no excuse to pick up the bad habit of firing the puck everywhere. They both improved as the game went on, and when playing the rush at the end were fairly good. Hopkins stayed fairly level all night and was the best of the three.
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Another home loss. Man this has been a long year and we're not even to the Olympic break. With that in mind...

No game report Sunday. I'm going to take my 11-month-old to his first Oilers game and will be concentrating on that. Distinctly possible there will be an early exit or many breaks so I'm not going to write.

Subsequent to that and for the rest of the season my plan is to test out a live webcast radio show each postgame. I've got something set up and will share the links and directions shortly. I figure this is a good time to test it out so that if it works and I'm still going regularly next year, the Report can evolve as it should. We shall see.

1/21/14

2014 LMHF Report - Game #23

EDMONTON 1

VS.

VANCOUVER 2
-------------------

AAANNNnnnndddd we're baaaaaaack!

Though for how long I'm not sure.

Even after a refreshing break, I am having a really difficult time giving a damn about this team. I'm mainly only going to games to hang out with whoever is my guest for the evening. The usual intensity with which I'm studying things on the ice is really waning. I'm not sure how to get it back and games like tonight only serve to annoy me further. If the team isn't going to care for most of the game, then how am I supposed to?

This issue hasn't been a problem in as many games as most think - but it has been increasing in frequency lately. They're showing up expecting to lose, not giving it 100% effort or focus, then realizing they can win at the end and blasting to the finish line but coming up short.

If they put that effort out there from the beginning, or even for 15 minutes, they probably win. The Canucks outside of Luongo were downright lacklustre tonight. It was clear that they were not on their 'A' game and when you get an opponent like that at home, you have to beat them. Not that that sort of thing matters at this point. I would have much rather seen them goon it up ala the Flames. At least that might accomplish something.

The Canucks visibly treat the Oilers and especially the top line like a joke out there. They use sticks and elbows etc with no fear of any pushback. Taylor Hall won't do anything at this point except get frustrated. That injury he got when he fought Dorsett has warped his brain somehow. Eberle and Hopkins aren't exactly feisty. Eakins won't send Gazdic/Hendricks/whoever after the Canucks good players, so there's nowhere to go in this conversation.

You know I'm not usually worried about this kind of hockey. I think you can skate through just about anything. The thing is, you have to be a good team and actually win. It would be more productive at this point for the Oilers to dress a rotating group of 6 goons in the bottom of their lineup with no fear of being suspended against key rivals than doing what they're doing.

Was certainly interesting to see Ben Scrivens' first game. I'm not overjoyed with him but he certainly looked strong enough in the net. He was good positionally and stayed in control of his body throughout the game. He was also active near his crease in terms of both the puck and opposition skaters. I like that we finally have a proper "paddle-down" style goalie. Didn't like the awkwardness on the first goal, but he was strong other than that. Will be nice to watch him attempt to grab his dream of being a #1. He certainly has the opportunity.

Martin Marincin was just okay tonight. The thing is, I realize that in order to make that call after that game means I've raised my standards. He played a ton of minutes and only made a few mistakes. One key one was an ugly pass out front of his own net. He did have a man wide open for a breakaway but he needs to put that pass in the air. Amazing how far he's come so quickly.

Jeff Petry actually took a slapshot tonight! I was freaking amazed. He's actually got a very good shot but takes way too long to get it away.

Justin Schultz made several bad turnovers at the opposition blue line and took weak shots. I'm not sure why he's struggled so much this year.

The thing is, with players like Schultz I'm just starting to think it is all the crap and noise surrounding the team. Who is going to be able to play their best in this mess?

Liked some of the habits that Hendricks has - he works very hard to get the puck in both his own zone and the offensive corners, then makes generally smart plays with the puck in his own zone. Time will tell if this is a repeatable sort of thing and if he'll be able to do anything offensively. Probably not.

Ryan Jones should really work on his fighting. Kevin Bieksa was, as usual, scared of anyone who can actually fight.

David Perron has checked out. He had nothing tonight aside from a couple decent shots on net. These Canucks games should be his bread and butter. He's a competitive guy. This is how you know they're out of it.

Eberle was the best of the young 3 tonight. He was at least getting opportunities. I'm not sure why he couldn't make a better effort on the break he had in the third. That was pretty much the only opportunity they had to win it.

Hall needs to get it together. I get that he's frustrated. I get that he's getting beat up out there. Sulking and throwing errant passes, then trying to win the game with 3 strong shifts isn't going to do anything about that.
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That's about all I'd say was worth it tonight. More might occur to me. I'm going to make a decision pretty quickly on whether or not I shut this down for the season and start again next year as I either need to get into it again and provide you guys what you expect or just start again fresh next year. Will figure that out quickly.

1/7/14

LMHF Report away until January 21

Good evening all, too much on the go and I'll be missing the Pittsburgh game on vacation. See you on the 21st!

1/5/14

2014 LMHF Report - Game #20

EDMONTON 5

VS.

TAMPA 3
-------------

A lot to see at the game tonight. The first thing I noticed was a ton of empty seats and the quietest start to a game I can remember since the early 90s. It was eery. I suspect it had more to do with the cold weather and early start than anything else but it was still something worth noting.

The game didn't start very well. There's another sport where launching a no-doubter into the crowd early on is a great thing - but Justin Schultz lazily dumping one into the 10th row doesn't work in a hockey game. I didn't take this a positive sign...even less so when Tampa scored to take a lead in the first.

For once the Oilers found a way to turn it around. Mostly it sprung from the efforts of Eberle, but there was also a balance to the Oilers' lineup tonight that made it possible to have offense from pretty much every line. This is a big deal. It will be tested in a big way against STL as they have a truly stellar group of defencemen.

The second period is something to worry about. A team like STL or PIT would have lit the Oilers up for 5 or 6 during that middle frame. I don't know what exactly happened but the team appeared quite sleepy. The three zone pressure that was present in the first and third dropped off a bunch and Tampa pressed. Because they were short players and also not having an amazing game, this only resulted in two goals.

Discipline and the way the referees called the game helped out tonight. When the Oilers don't go to the penalty box a bunch, and frankly when there aren't a lot of penalties called period, they seem to have a much more consistent game. The officials let some sticks and holds go at points during the game that may have been called on other nights. The linesmen did a pretty solid job on offside calls tonight. Gotta love Mike Cvik. He also tossed around J.T. Brown when it looked like he was trying to start something at the end of the second period. Hard to believe Cvik was never a player.

Generally liked the way Eakins ran the bench tonight. Increased icetime for Marincin was the proper choice. He resisted the urge to over-play the fourth line even though they were having a strong game. Still wonder about playing Justin Schultz so much, but it worked out in the end I guess.
-------------------------

Bryzgalov
- Just okay game from him tonight. Looked a little shaky on a few occasions and should have allowed at least one less goal. The thing was, he didn't pack it in and give up on the game. He stayed in and made enough saves in the third for the team to win. He'll need to be better against STL (assuming he starts - and he'd better).

Petry-Marincin
- I would say this was the key pairing tonight even though another featured more in the offensive play. Marincin bailed out Petry defensively on a number of occasions. The two in the third that I remember involved Petry making ill-advised dumps up the boards and creating a scoring chance for the Lightning. On both occasions, Marincin was in good position and used his reach to break up the chance. Aside from one shift in the second period that resulted in a goal, #85 was wonderfully steady. Simply more of the same from previous reports - good in the corners, good with the puck, very responsible. Will be very interesting to see what he can do when he fills out. As for Petry, it wasn't that he was terrible, though he does make a lot of simple mistakes. It was that next to even a rookie in Marincin, Petry's bumbling style with the puck looks third-rate. That can't be your top Dman. One little thing that I noticed that was very illustrative was this - the difference in how each of these two clears the zone when there's no play. Marincin's chip off the boards is at an angle and speed that doesn't allow many interceptions but also doesn't result in icings. Petry normally either rips it all the way down or lofts a softie that's an easy pick. It's the little things that can make a huge difference - especially when they are little fundamentals (if that term makes sense).

Ference-J. Schultz
- HEY! ANDREW FERENCE DID SOMETHING RIGHT! I'm being half-sarcastic as I'm sure you've all figured out that I don't like the way Ference plays much. His slap-pass to Hall was a really nice read and perfectly one-timed. He was actually pretty decent tonight. Didn't get beat wide and made some strong plays with his stick. After Schultz made the bonehead move I noted in the intro, he settled into a fairly steady game. In setting up the Gazdic goal, he did something that has been sorely missing from both his and the Oilers' game this year, as he fired a nice wrister through a screen while moving the play against the grain. All too often the Oilers have simply not moved and bounced that puck off the shot blocker. Not this time. Very well done. Defensively he was just okay. This pair was out for the Hedman goal, but that play came out of the forwards making a mistake and then Ference cheating too far back.

N. Schultz-Hunt
- Interesting to watch Brad Hunt live. My experience watching him tonight was pretty much the same as the preseason. You can see he's offensively somewhat capable. He made a couple good pinches and could be relied upon to move the puck. One of the things that made the Edmonton PP better tonight was that he was getting the puck to the skating forwards much earlier in the neutral zone. The thing is, if you're going to be the kind of defenceman Brad Hunt is, you have to bring some extra. I measure on the Marc-Andre Bergeron scale basically. Always have time for a guy like that on my team. Bergeron could hit, had a really strong shot and would even fight if called upon. I don't see anything extra from Hunt. If the preseason is any indication, he's also not the best OKC callup for the PP - that would be Marincin. In the defensive zone, you can see that he isn't sure of himself yet. He cheats toward his own net in a way that would be taken advantage of by top-flight teams. The good news for him is that this is something that can be corrected with a bit of positioning work. Nick Schultz was just okay. He made some mistakes but nothing glaring.

Gazdic-Arcobello-Jones
- That was probably about as good of a game as you're going to get from Luke Gazdic and he didn't even need to fight. He did what you do as an enforcer when offense happens - go to the net. Good solid screen and tip. He could also have scored in the second after creating good forechecking pressure and getting the puck in front of the net. Only a bad shooting decision kept him from his second there. He was positionally strong and kept skating all night. Jones started the game with a remarkable amount of restraint and focus compared to normal. He was not overskating his check or looking like a flailing forward. This restraint wained as the game went on, but I'd still classify this as a better game for him. Make no mistake though - the reason this line had a strong night was that if Mark Arcobello is your fourth C, you've probably got a decent fourth forward unit. On any given shift if he wasn't working the puck or leading the forecheck, he was in a strong support position to keep the line strong. Because of his effort, these guys only got stuck in the defensive zone a couple of times. Very pleased with his effort tonight.

Yakupov-Gagner-Perron
- A little bit of chaos for this unit tonight. You could see Perron getting a little frustrated trying to figure out where the freelancing Yakupov was going to be after playing with the ultimate "straight-ahead" winger in Hall. It led to #57 having one of his weaker games this season. Part of that was also because this was not a particularly emotional or chippy game, which is what Perron thrives on. Gagner was okay - which is an upgrade on recent performances. He wasn't a defensive liability and got into shooting position on a number of occasions. Both of these things have been missing from his game this year. I also liked the way he carried the puck into the offensive zone with speed. Yakupov had an interesting game. He got a couple nice shots away and played a fairly responsible game. A lot of people are going to note his backhand pass in the third with the goalie pulled - it wasn't a bad play - Perron was breaking to that spot and then just quit. Probably just a misread on #57's part. I really don't like watching Yakupov dump the puck so much. I have a feeling this is a demand of Eakins and don't like that at all. You're much stronger with him either carrying the puck or dishing and heading for a dangerous position.

Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
- Yet another strong performance from the Smyth-Hemsky pair. They are now a line with the strongest C option for them in Gordon. You don't have to worry about too much with this group on the ice. Hemsky had a strong game including an absolute ripper of a shot that went bar-down but not in. It was a great example of changing the angle on both the defender and the goaltender. Hemsky also backchecked very well. Smyth kept it simple and had a strong game. No lazy play. No energy letdown. Lots of grinding in the corners. That's what works best for him. Gordon continued what has been a really good season especially on a team this bad. His goal was a nice example of getting to the right spot and not quitting on a chance generated by Smyth and Hemsky. You're going to get those chances with those two players and he's done a more than adequate job this year. I wonder if he would have been on pace for 20 with a couple fewer injuries and a slightly better squad overall.

Hall-Hopkins-Eberle
- It's funny as I saw their game quite simply. They had Tampa's number in the first and third. They were stifled in the second but still got a few chances. The one thing that was a bit of a problem was getting stuck in their own zone. The unit was not great at moving the puck up. Hall should make the Olympic team, but likely won't. If he doesn't, I'm guessing it will be because of the lazy backhanded giveaway that has leaked into his game this year. There were a couple of examples tonight. Hopkins was the strongest player on this line. Eberle had one of the quieter two-goal games I can remember. Not saying he wasn't good - just saying he wasn't all over the place like a lot of two goal nights look.
--------------

Certainly the Oilers got a break when Bishop went down. Not sure whether it would have mattered or not. You've got to beat these Eastern teams and they did that. Good on them.

12/29/13

2014 LMHF Report - Game #19

EDMONTON 3

VS.

PHILADELPHIA 4

In a stinking shootout...
--------------------------

I haven't seen a game where the Oilers have played that badly and yet had seemingly endless chances to win against a non-joke opponent in a long time.

If they cash on the PPs in the first, they win.

If Perron scores on the breakaway (always go forehand kids), they win.

If Perron scores in the shootout, pretty sure they win.

There were others as well. Just couldn't push it over the top with that little bit of individual effort that sometimes bails out a truly bad performance. Make no mistake, I'm not saying the Oilers were good. They were far from good.

Have to go to Eakins' approach before we get to the players. Just to clarify - when I talk about Eakins and criticize his decisions, I am not saying "IT IS HIS FAULT AND IF WE JUST CHANGE EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE!", but what I am saying is that he makes a lot of mistakes that mean the team doesn't start from an optimal position to win, or adjust properly within the game. The lineup he used tonight handicapped his squad to start with - especially that he is still playing Yakupov on the 4th line, still had Lander in as well, and reverts incessantly to 4-93-14. His failure to adjust properly lay with his D. He did not trust the only pair that had a reasonable night - Belov and Marincin. Their icetime needed to be elevated in order to maximize the Oilers' chances tonight and Marincin only played 11+ while Belov got 15+. Unacceptable.

This team is so bad at home, and so bad against the sad sack East...It is truly amazing how bad they are against teams that all of their competitors are beating. Only Nashville also has a losing record against the East. Stunning.

Another stunning thing is the Oilers powerplay - specifically their complete inability to enter the zone. How do you effectively neuter a powerplay driven by skilled forwards and puck possession? Tell the D to bring the puck into the neutral zone and then tell the forwards to dump it. This "system" they are running is disgusting. They can't win the battle for the puck because the timing is completely off. Even when the puck is carried in, they are clearly all directed to stop and attempt a sideways or backward pass, despite the idiocy of trying to make a play where the defenders are concentrated. All that has to happen is for the forwards to drive deep into the zone after receiving the puck near their own blue line. This is in no way difficult.

I will say this for the Flyers - they make breakouts look easy. Theirs move at lightning speed when compared to the Oilers. The wingers carry that speed and gave the D fits trying to slow them down all night. Part of this was because the Oilers were clearly not playing a high pressure system (unlike, say the Philly PK) but still, the skill, timing and positioning involved made the Oilers look like children by comparison. Sad.

-------------------

Dubnyk
- An Oilers player shot the puck softly into the bench. Dubnyk went to catch it. It came out of his glove. I'm not joking. He can't even catch a softball.

Bryzgalov
- Very good night where he was completely left out to dry and still nearly won the game. Many impressive saves including a breakaway pokecheck followed by a sprawling dive. Lots of glove work. A great stop on a shot that hit an Oilers defenseman in front (Dubnyk is still frozen in place looking for that puck). Several stops where he made himself big and it worked out. The only disappointment of the night was the SO, where he was clearly scared of Giroux and guessed wrong on Raffl (moved his blocker under instead of up). Got plenty of applause and deserved it. Didn't come out for his star, which I respect.

Belov-Marincin
- As I said, the only pair playing decently well. Marincin made two dangerous passes up the middle that were bobbled, but was otherwise quite solid and again a strong presence in the corners. He does this better than most of the roster and has shown so over several games now. Belov broke up a bunch of plays in the neutral zone and was definitely one of the best Oilers over the final 40 when most of the team was out back taking a dump. Not the offensive presence I'd like him to be tonight but solid in the other two zones.

J. Schultz-Ference
- Playing this pair for so many minutes is likely what cost the team the game. I blame Ference in a way for all three regulation goals against. He took a stupid penalty that set up the first PP goal. On the Flyers second goal, both he and Schultz were covering nothing. Specifcally Ference because he had to block the passing lane and instead just stood around debating which forward to take in an odd-man situation. On the third Flyers goal, which I know was a 5-on-3, there was zero excuse for whatever the hell Ference was doing in front of the net. Pushups? Squats? I don't freaking know but it wasn't playing hockey and it was pathetic. The only positive things he did were two rush breakups in the third period. Eakins trusts him and he really shouldn't. Right now Corey Potter, Martin Marincin, Taylor Fedun and a number of others who are not regulars would be a much better option any time the play goes to the front of the net. Far from the positive that many thought the addition of Ference might be, unless he is relegated to #6/7 and quick, this contract is going to be a huge blunder. The defensive defenseman who can't play defense. Brilliant. Speaking of defencemen who can't play D, Justin Schultz had an "off in the wilderness" night tonight. Despite a few brilliant passes, his reads were wrong, his pinches ill-timed and his defensive coverage effectively useless...yet he gets 28+ from the coach. This is the state of the D on this team.

Petry-N. Schultz
- Well, that last pair was bad. These guys were only better in that they didn't get lit up. Petry made so many boneheaded plays I can barely count. When he wasn't icing the puck, he was putting a lazy wrister on the opposing goaltender's stick, setting up a horrid line change. He gave the puck away multiple times, got burned clean multiple times and took two penalties to boot. Lovely. Nick Schultz made a number of defensive mistakes and wasn't good with the puck either.

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Have to cut this one short guys as I have a long day ahead tomorrow. Please add what you thought of the forwards. I basically thought Yakupov was brutally mishandled, Lander needs to sit, Gazdic didn't get to do his job, the vet line was just okay, Perron was quiet but solid, Eberle had an off night, Gagner is still wandering, Hopkins was better but still not strong on the puck, Hall never quit but couldn't quite pull through and Joensuu needs to be playing fourth line minutes. The forwards weren't great, but they can't work with the guys who are keeping it out and moving it up. They have no hope.