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1/31/09

LMHF Game Report #24

EDMONTON OILERS 3

VS.

MINNESOTA WILD 1
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I’m not too sure whether I wanted to see this type of game or a different type after the loss to Buffalo. It was most important of course that we got the win and move on to Nashville, no one’s going to dispute that. A bigger win in terms of scoring and execution would have been preferable in my eyes; though a game that was never really in doubt and more of a “took care of business” game isn’t too crummy either I suppose.

It is always nice to come to a Friday or Saturday game for the fact that the fans seem to want to use it as a nice end to their week and release some tension while having a good time. They did that and I enjoyed the experience as usual. Aside from annoying people who are there to watch a game in silence, and famous “shoot guy” (Lubo showed you didn’t he???) it was a really enjoyable game, especially in the first. The place would have erupted into madness had we scored a few more goals. The chants “we want 10” started when we only had three; hahaha.

Oilers goal #1
- Pretty simple really; solid faceoff win to Grebeshkov who made the right read to pass to Hemsky who was moving and had space. He’s learned to use his skill to go to the net and draw defenders away from the other player then make a pass. Burns actually made a pretty good attempt on balancing the two players he was stuck with on the play, but as Hemsky tried to make his mini-saucer to Penner who was smartly creating trouble out front, Burns’ stick was in just the right spot to put the puck right through Backstrom. I’ve been there; it sucks. Nice play by all involved from the Oilers side though.

Oilers goal #2
- Cogliano with some fantastic work in his defensive zone that got the play going in the right direction and a simple but important kick-up by Pouliot to keep the play going. Cogliano then draws in the defender giving Moreau some room, makes the pass and Moreau takes a solid shot that looked deflected as it was taken and we’re up 2-0 reasonably quickly. Always very important and a solid if unspectacular goal.

Oilers goal #3
- It is kind of funny, my seat mate last evening said sometime before this goal when I mentioned Visnovsky that he hadn’t done much tonight. I think what I said was something along the lines of “wait…” and he certainly delivered. More good passing and movement by the combination of Nilsson, Cogliano and Lubo, who took the final pass and smartly didn’t shoot the puck. He drove the net, put it on down low for a rebound and tapped the puck in. Beat 4 Minnesota players in the process as well. All of them were either standing there or trying to stop him. Awesome. And regardless of stupid commentator-banter, the 3-goal-lead goal is MASSIVE. We’d won it at this point essentially as we were playing quite solidly.

Minnesota goal #1
- Weak effort by Souray to check PMB, but even with a slight screen there are no excuses for Roloson not stopping what was an incredibly weak shot directed directly at him.

What ever happened to getting a penalty for fighting with a visor btw? Clutterbuck is such a tool. Really think Steve M should’ve been looking for the bomb-hit on Schultz too. He did take a shift that was way too long though and that probably ended his night essentially. Oh well. On to the PLAYER REPORTS.
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Roloson

- I read something this morning in the sun that said Roloson was back on his game…sure in comparison to 3 goals in 8 shots with another 2 that he fluked out on he was better; but not all that much. Roloson was not good last night. He didn’t look comfortable at all and fumbled the puck around in his equipment numerous times. He never does this when he’s on. His positioning was behind the puck and he was only really good in the second. Luckily this is the only time we seemed to need him to be that good because our D was pretty solid. He almost let in the last shot of the night from Minny’s defensive zone…YIKES. I would put the current probability of goaltending problems the rest of the way costing us a couple playoff spots at MEDIUM. He’s sinking and needs to put some work in to recover. He can; as he’s shown earlier this year, but he’s got to do it soon.

Penner(sorta)/Reddox-Horcoff-Hemsky

- Before this line was effectively negated by bonehead-behind-the-bench’s full on benching of Penner, they were playing alright and generating opportunities. All played a part in the first goal. Hemsky was really solid early on and driving the offensive play. He’s got to be more careful on plays like Schultz made, though I must say I didn’t think Nick was the kind of jerk that’d throw you into the boards from behind in a dangerous spot like that. It is a shame Penner wasn’t on the ice to do something about it because I think he would have. We had no one on the ice at that stage that could’ve fought the guy even if they wanted to. Horcoff was okay, but he wasn’t making effective plays high in his offensive zone with puck last night. He also needs to get back to taking patient, solid shots in the offensive zone. His play after Hemsky set him up is a perfect example of what’s going wrong with him this year. One fake to one side; or slight shift to one side, and he scores. That was a gimme and he shot it right at the freaking goalie. He needs to be better than that. I agree Penner wasn’t having a good game in that he was lazy getting to pucks and missed a couple of offensive chances; but that was no reason to bench him effectively for the rest of this game. If you’re not going to shift up a halfway decent player to accompany these guys the rest of the way, then he needs to get back in at some point. Why does he not get benched for a couple shifts and get the chance to redeem? He wasn’t THAT bad. Being forced to watch coach’s pet…errrr…Liam Reddox (and I’m not dogging Reddox, I like the guy, but he has NO PLACE above the FOURTH LINE) play with the top unit and drag them down was just sad. Without the size on the wing and no finishing ability or positioning (he kept skating the same lanes as Horcoff) our two best forwards at the start struggled to find any groove. Reddox individually was missing his hits, muffing his chances and generally having a bad night. This didn’t make any sense. Who should have replaced Penner if MacTavish wanted someone else? Easy; Brodziak.

Nilsson-Potulny-Cole

- A giant MEH to these guys last night. As a line I just don’t think they mesh well together. Potulny looked either tired or confused compared to the last time he was here. I wonder if he’s really able to play C in the NHL. Robert was certainly better than he’s been lately, making some elite passing plays including the delay and pass to Cogliano that he really needed to convert. I liked his effort but he’s still lacking decisiveness with the puck which is one of his better traits when he’s playing a solid game. Right now there’s an extra 3 seconds of thinking time; and not in a good way. Cole was Cole, he drove the net, took good shots, PK’ed very well and contributed to the win.

Moreau-Cogliano-Pouliot

- This line confirmed tonight that with Cogliano it is something really handy. Without him they really aren’t anything special at all. Andrew adds the speed to Pouliot’s corner skills and size along with Moreau’s net driving ability and shooting potential to blend a solid line combo together. Their goal wasn’t that spectacular but they were pretty good at driving the play with speed the rest of the night. I quite enjoy watching this combo play at the moment. We just need Pouliot to go on another finishing streak. He got robbed by the post on a great shot.

MacIntyre-Brodziak

- The amount to which Kyle is getting royally screwed this season never ceases to amaze me. He’s a talented guy who brings it every night and can step up with an offensive effort but is never allowed to. He needs badly to be playing with a Brule or a Schremp. MacIntyre did his job but took one really long shift in the second where he could have hurt his team. He knows he cannot do that.

Strudwick-Staios

- I guess Strudwick does work better on this team as a forward. I don’t know why MacTavish insists on having him in the lineup as Smid is playing much better than he right now and has found his defensive game, but we just can’t get away from him. He did a whole lot of nothing special and wasn’t great defensively. His partner stepped up and set the tone with a really good (though borderline jump) hit and then immediately scrapping mister boneheadbuck himself. What a tool that loser is. Staios was really solid all night and sent the message that his team was ready for this one. He was physical most of the night and pretty solid with the puck. He needs to keep playing that kind of game to be effective; I’m just not sure he can do that every night.

Souray-Gilbert

- These two were fairly solid, though I expected a stronger effort from Souray and would have predicted a goal or two from him after the last effort. It ended up not mattering because we didn’t need it but I hope he doesn’t go into a lull. Gilbert played a solid all-around game.

Grebeshkov-Visnovsky

- Denis moved the puck VERY well all night, Lubo played like the quiet all-star he is and provided sound puck possession. Both were excellent defensively. Simple really.
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So; is everybody ready for Nashville? I say we dress the goons and win this Broadstreet style. Its about time we had a game where we showed the league that you don’t mess with us.

1/30/09

Game Preview - EDM v. MIN 01/30/09

SO tonight we take on Minnesota...one of the most well understood teams in the league.

They play the same style every single time, we know exactly what is coming, and yet we seem to have a lot of trouble with them.

The solution is rather simple in my eyes; skate through the trap. That's how you beat it. Rather than being forced into stupid passes you rely on your skill and power guys to skate right through.

Hopefully we get a flow going. Against Minnesota by the second period we often look like a team of zombies staggering through the neutral zone and back; avoiding such things would be key.

A little story for you about the ROLOSON GUYS.

This is one of me and #2's favorite stories. We had a friend who would get us seats really low in the Oilers attack twice zone some games. One year when Dwayne was still playing for Minnesota we sat in these seats and watched a preseason game where Roloson was in net.

Normally preseason games are excessively boring due to the odd mix of players and the crowd often not knowing what to think.

2 guys in that section we were sitting in however were determined to make this game more interesting. Starting at the beginning of the third period, these two (who were likely inebriated) started yelling out the "hey, Roloson..." etc lines NON-STOP. I mean that, they didn't stop the whole period except for when we scored goals. They were coming up with some of the funniest and harshest stuff I've ever heard. I swear that on one of Roloson's corner skates it looked like he was crying from some of this stuff. Utter craziness from a spectator in a preseason game and SO very funny. I won't forget that game or the ROLOSON GUYS. That's for sure.

Now of course he's our goalie and the subject of much debate. I really hope he pulls himself out of the funk he's been in the last while; because he suddenly has no competition. He got a free pass from last game due to the fact that the team got blown out rather than losing a close one after his joke of an effort on the first 8 shots. He has not looked anywhere near as focused or positionally disciplined in the net over the last few games. He needs to regain form if we have any hope at all this year.

Hemsky should rebound, he didn't get a point last game and that doesn't seem to occur much anymore.

We need to get this game into the 5+ goals total range. We're much more comfortable playing Minny in that type of a game. Hopefully we score a few of those goals too of course.

Big game, need a big divisional effort. I'm wondering about the lines a little bit though; it will be intriguing to see who's in and who's out and where/if Potulny plays and can keep up a good start. Best of luck to us!

One last thing - the D will step up big tonight I'm betting. They're a good unit and will not take last game's insult lightly. Especially Souray.

1/27/09

LMHF Game Report #23

Edmonton Oilers - MIA

VS.

BUFFALO SABRES 10
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A brief story for you all; in my last year of Midget we played our arch-rivals in a really big game that if I recall correctly was for the division lead. We’d lost narrowly to them earlier in the year. We’d lose controversially to them in the playoffs after a disallowed goal and an improperly allowed goal led to them winning the second game of a playoff series we should have swept. In this particular game though, we lost 9-2. It was embarrassing; for everyone. We were angry; everyone said so. Our coach was livid but handled it better than I’ve seen most. All of us were pissed off and embarrassed.

I was +2 with 2 assists in that game. No, I’m not joking. Our top D pair and top forward unit shut down the best line in the league and managed to score 2. It didn’t matter, the game was still embarrassing and we knew it.

Anyway, back to our game tonight.

I wager many people didn’t expect a report after such a bad effort. It has been a rather sad year so far when it comes to nights like that. Tonight’s effort however reached an even further level that essentially requires I write something for many reasons. Chief among them is that the mainstreams are either too cowardly, too dependent, or simply will not, say how bad this game really was. It WAS that bad. It WAS that embarrassing. You cannot just pass this off as another loss. I’m fully a believer in that a loss by one goal is as bad as losing by 5, but this is the second time on home ice this season that this team has allowed itself to be destroyed and embarrassed with virtually no fight-back. Tonight there was quite literally no fighting back.

Allowing a team like Buffalo to run over you like that without ONE guy on your team making an issue out of what they were doing in terms of getting their offensive players out and making the big fancy moves with the puck is sick.

I’m talking to you Stortini (and why were you in the lineup???) I’m talking to you Souray (who probably had his worst game as an Oiler) I’m talking to you Horcoff, I’m talking to you Moreau especially, I’m talking to Strudwick and everyone else on this team who sat there and took their beating like good little soldiers who enjoy being part of franchise history. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!

It started bad and it started early. I am now severely worried about what I hinted at previous to the game in that I think Roloson has lost his edge. He didn’t look focused at all during any time in this game. He was not reacting to goals the same way and has now played 3 bad games since his competition was sent to Pittsburgh. All the while with the media pumping him up saying he was playing great, comparing him to Fuhr after the Columbus game and the coaches saying he’s playing amazing. He’s not. NONE of those first 3 should have went in. There were two that went right through him and one where he moved way out of position. Putrid.

After that our suddenly shoddy D took over, allowing Buffalo to pull off virtual trick plays down low with not one slash or crosscheck placed. It was horrible. Each goal you’d see two Oilers defencemen standing there with stupid looks on their faces wondering what just happened. It was sick. Was this actually just a sick joke tonight? Was our team trying to test our wills?

You want to know what a REAL team does? One with killer instinct and a smart coaching staff to go with it? Calls a time out when they’ve already scored 4 to rest their PP unit and get back on the same page. That was impressive. They came for our hearts tonight and ripped them right out of our chests like a winner with a killer instinct would. Not that they were beating to begin with.

I do feel really bad for the guys who are winners on this team. I was really hoping Hemsky would score on his good chance in the third, then whip his stick into the glass and skate right off. He’d have gotten the loudest cheer of his career. That’s what his team deserved tonight from him. Same goes for Cole who actually busted his butt out there a fair bit.

Buffalo is one capable offensive team, make no mistake about that. But when you stand there letting them pass it around you in a triangle without moving; or let players skate past you without any effort, or don’t hit anyone in your own zone for fear of breaking a nail, you’re gonna get pasted by the Islanders!

And remember games like the Islanders when people try to tell you’ve we’ve only really had a couple stinkers at home this year. We’ve had plenty more than that. We’ve come out utterly flat and QUIT on so many home games this year it is amazing. Where is the pride? Where is the coach not ripping his individual players but maybe admitting that he’s embarrassed? That everyone is? That the effort WAS THAT BAD tonight Craig! I heard you at the presser trying to claim this team put out an effort tonight. BULL! They didn’t, you didn’t, nobody did. It WAS THAT BAD. Get that into your thick freaking skull already and CHANGE yourself and this team. What you’re doing right now is wrong.

And then Stauffer’s on the radio talking about how we just won 5 of 6. SO WHAT?!?! Sather wouldn’t have put up with that from the Oilers back in the day. San Jose got a day off cancelled this year for simply LOSING a game. We could have come in having won 15 in a row and that team should have been torn a new one by everyone including themselves tonight. As catharsis at the very least. I really wonder if half of them care after a pathetic display like that. You don’t let other teams walk all over you then come back to wipe their feet and make a drop pass 3 feet in front of your goalie for #9 on the night and still have all their teeth after the game. Buffalo is LAUGHING at us right now. Calgary is laughing at us.

Trying to tell everyone that its going to be okay and that this doesn’t really matter is pathetic and incorrect.

Does everyone here remember when we handed out beatings like this? Or at least played like we meant it at home? Some even go so far as to blame the fans for some of this for not being loud enough. There are about 3-5 guys on that hockey team who deserve any applause at this stage of the season. The rest are so inconsistent and so off the top of their games I’m amazed there hasn’t been more talk about them.

Were we turning it around? Probably.

Will we still make the playoffs? I’m saying yes.

Does that mean tonight doesn’t matter? HELL NO.

Tonight matters because teams that win the cup would rattle off an angry 7 game winning streak after a game like this and never look back. We won’t do that. We would have shown SOMETHING in that game if we were going to.

I’ve watched 2 separate games this year where this team has given up a combined 19 goals and looked so listless I thought I’d have to check for a pulse. Have we EVER done that before? EVER?!?!

Why does this happen? For a lot of reasons I think:

- Our system is entirely geared to shutting down teams that possess one line rather than taking the play to the other team
- We have a “#1” goalie who has been overachieving and a D that isn’t comfortable playing in front of him. On bad nights, things go BAD
- We have no method to pull ourselves out of bad games. No one guy to rally people. No move the coach makes to get things going. No vocal team atmosphere of anger or confidence or anything
- We’re scared to death of success, I don’t like Shawn Horcoff’s playing style but I sure like the game he talks. He knows its all about winning the cup and this team should start acting like it. How come we haven’t heard that in forever? And why not from the coaching staff or management? This team has no business where it is in the standings right now (and I mean it should be HIGHER not lower).

That game was the biggest pile of utter BS I’ve ever been forced to endure in that hockey rink.

I hope like crazy that’s the experience this team needed to get its butt in gear and realize what a dangerous team that knows it looks like. BUF is 2 defencemen from being legit cup contenders, and they know that.

Will it be? I really don't know...

Tuesday Trade prop

Well...things have changed a fair bit since I last did this for our team. I'm still a fan of going to the NYI well; but am open to other possibilities.

Such as:

LA - Frolov EDM - Nilsson, Chorney, pick.

Hear me out: He's only got one more year before he's a UFA, he'd be playing for a deal next year and we need an offensive LW. LA isn't going to contend this year or next. He's a PERFECT target and covers our butts if we don't sign Cole in terms of adding a top-six guy for next year at exactly 4 mil. If we can swing it to afford both, gravy.

DAL - Lehtinen EDM - Nilsson, pick.

Makes so much sense to me it's scary.

Game Preview - EDM v. BUF 01/27/09

Ahh Buffalo, one of my very favorite teams. #2 and I over the past few years usually at some point discuss whether we'd trade our entire team straight up for Buffalo's entire team. The answer has often been yes. That answer has also been "as long as I can keep Hemsky". They have so many fine players, especially at forward, and just keep cranking them out.

One of our faves is Mr. Vanek. Boy can that guy score goals; the day that Lowe made that offer sheet we were both borderline giddy. To get a guy who can score like that and also really likes the province (if you remember the stories you know he played some hockey in Lacombe in his younger days and apparently may or may not have cried when he didn't get to come to Edmonton after signing the offer sheet) would have been absolutely amazing. He's exactly the type of player I'd be looking for if I were the Oilers to play with Ales. He'd be leading the league in goals this year if he was playing for us; mark my words.

Buffalo also has Tim Connolly, who has had a very unlucky career after breaking in at a very early age. He may get injured a fair bit lately but he always comes back and could rattle off 8 years with no injuries at any moment. We and everyone else have had chances to take a flyer on this guy when he had little value and didn't. I always advocated it. Why? He's an excellent point-producing C who plays a balanced game. Another guy who's just great to watch play the game.

BUF isn't doing so well this year; I suspect its because their D has fallen off in recent years but can't be sure exactly as I haven't followed them too closely.

I do know however that they have a hell of a squad in NHL '09, hahaha.

What to expect from us tonight? After that break and with injury questions who knows really? I do suspect that Ales will keep cruising. He's been showing signs of turning another corner all year and has really stepped it up lately. Had he not been hurt this would have happened earlier. Watch him just outside the offensive zone; you can almost always tell a good rush from him right around the outside faceoff dot. The number of times I've called a goal from him at that particular spot is rather large; which is kind of amazing and means he's making both NHL goalies and D-men miss who know exactly what's coming. That's the mark of a star. Like a Gretzky slap shot or a Mariano Rivera cutter. The opposition knows exactly what's coming and can't do a thing about it. Hemsky's the same way.

Who's going to step up from the remaining guys tonight? I'm not sure. I'm really hoping to see Deslauriers soon and am really worried about Roloson's play possibly dropping off now that Garon is gone. It didn't look like he was very good against Columbus and I believe I called him out a little bit in the previous game as well. We need him to perform now that we've chosen our horse.

On D, our sterling squad is going to need to put forth a strong effort tonight against a balanced and deep forward unit. Watch Tom Gilbert work in the defensive zone. On nights when he's most effective he uses his body without hitting to separate the puck from the carrier; then usually skates some with it before he moves it. This is how you can tell he's on. He's not as good at it as Joni was (he's the best in the league at this, period.) but he's quite talented.

Anyway, see you after the game!

1/22/09

My favorite obscure Oilers - Part 1



I think everyone and especially hardcore fans have a group of guys that they just enjoyed or have distinct memories of for whatever reason; I'm no different. We'll cover those type of guys in this series of posts.

For my first favorite obscure Oilers player, I choose the guy in the pic there; Mr. Selivanov.

Why'd I like him as an Oiler? Because I like goal-scorers. I really like them. Even if they are constantly accused of "floating" or not being good skaters or whatever. Being able to put the puck by the best goaltenders in the world is an awesome skill to be revered and Alex had the gift. His name also ended in "ov" which makes him a hockey player in my books :)

Alex was only here for parts of two seasons, but I think he's most remembered for a night he had against the Chicago Blackhawks in November of 1999. That night he had FOUR goals and an assist to boot. I'm pretty sure this was the night he played the puck to himself around a d-man off the back of the net and walked out to score. Boy that was something. He should have been better than he was; there's no doubt of that, but he did outscore Bill Guerin that year.

He didn't play much (or well) in the playoffs and we let him go. I considered this a loss at the time; more for potential's sake in that if you could reach a player like him and untap his true potential you'd really have something. I think once these guys start shooting around the league they're pretty well done for.

Funny fact: He wore 28 his first year and 29 his second year. Odd...

Alex will always be a cool story I remember, I will be added to the team of all-obscure Oilers I will be assembling. For now, he's my #1 left winger (with rosters subject to change).

1/20/09

Missing tonight...

Sadly I won't be at the game tonight; occasionally life calls with more important things that must be taken care of. The timing's too bad because I really think we're going to play a great game tonight but oh well...

My theories on Weight especially being a viable trade option seem to be getting some play. He just makes so much sense for this team and the Islanders in general have always been such a good trading partner.

We've got to watch out for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen if he's in the lineup tonight. He's the guy who whacked Stoll and basically ended his Oilers career. I've seen him nail a couple others as well in highlights. The guy's a dangerous hitter and we need to be aware.

Here's hoping Ales has decided he's a goal-scorer now. He's always had it in him and we saw a very net-focused player last game. If he keeps that up we could see something really special over the final stretch of the season.

I think the NHL trade market is slowing opening up. You've seen a lot of much more specific talk lately and teams know that the time is coming soon to make their move one way or the other. Teams like Dallas and Ottawa will have tough decisions because they're so used to being contenders. Imagine if OTT managed to tank it enough to get themselves Tavares though...now that'd be something for them. Seeing those Spezza rumors...the guy's so talented that unless he's a total idiot I can't see why they're struggling so. They keep picking horrid coaches however; Hartsburg never should have been hired there to begin with. Maybe they found themselves a goalie though, or maybe they really did need Ray Emery, who knows.

Anyway, no Game Report tonight everyone, sorry bout that but even if I catch some of this game on TV I'd never do a report from a game I'm not at live. It simply isn't the same after all these years of watching as you do not catch some of the most important parts of the game on TV.

1/19/09

LMHF Game Report #21

EDMONTON OILERS 6

VS.

PHOENIX COYOTES 3
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I was going to start off this game report with a youtube link to a video you may all remember starring a guy named Ilya who was playing goal against us tonight…well, him in table hockey form at least. We OWN this guy. We are in his head in a bad way. Wayne needs to start someone else against us because he doesn’t have a hope. He was putrid out there tonight. If not for some efforts by PHX backcheckers that stifled some really well-put-together rushes, we do indeed get about 10 tonight because Ilya couldn’t stop a beach ball. Ilya’s should stick to being forwards.

Obviously we started off tonight with the tribute to Glenn Anderson; as always it was nice to drift back to that point in time and I thought it was pretty exceptional that they got such a good group out to celebrate. Glenn often floats under the radar; though most GWGs in Oilers history is a pretty impressive stat considering who he played with at the time. Remember what an amazing group we had at one point is just something else and we should celebrate it every chance we get. Best fourth round draft pick ever???

Despite the fact that in the end we played a good game; we started very badly I thought. The first half of the first period was stumbly and disorganized. Not shocking considering the ceremonies and everything of course but still a little alarming. The first PHX goal seemed to get US going for a change and we were sort of off to the races from there.

PHX goal #1

Not pretty. A defensive miss on Goertzen followed by a shot Roloson was way behind; then a shaky recovery with Cogliano and Grebeshkov standing there useless ; an Oilers forward misses the rebound (Pouliot) and Yandle puts it in. BLECH!

EDM goal #1

Nice play. Good read by Pouliot to go back to Cogliano who makes a nice touch pass to Gilbert who’s put himself in a great offensive spot in the slot and takes a very smart shot low which generates a rebound for Moreau who’s set up perfectly in front of the net. Very good team play and a great example of free-flow offensive zone strategy.

EDM goal #2

Penner with possibly the ugliest looking assist ever as he tips the puck back while falling over after a little bump; good that he kept it alive though. Hemsky picks it up and drives straight to the net; waits just long enough and slips it by both Michalek and Ilya. Beauty drive to the net.

EDM goal #3

HUGE goal here. Nice read by Pouliot to peel off allowing the speed rush to catch up and gets the puck to Gilbert who connects on a perfect timing play to Moreau for the goal. Props to all 3 on excellent reads and execution, especially Gilbert.

PHX goal #2

Tough break for Smid getting stripped behind the net on a bit of bad luck. He made up for this later in the game. Staios went to completely the wrong guy as he was on Carcillo’s side and instead went after the puck carrier who Brodziak was right beside. If he’d have just picked up Carcillo this doesn’t go in the net.

PHX goal #3

Two on one, Gilbert does an okay job though after a second look at it he forgot to angle his slide towards Jokinen which is a key part of trying to take away the pass from a rushing forward. Roloson could’ve blocked the pass but didn’t look like he was ready for the shot or the pass because his stick was in totally passive mode. Weak effort by Roloson.

EDM goal #4

Great work by Penner to get the puck and put it down low to Horcoff then head to the net with his head up. Horcoff made a good pass with Hemsky in great decoy position drawing the PHX defenders and Penner finishes with no mistake. Shave that nasty stache.

EDM goal #5

Great way to wrap it up. Hemsky takes a neutral zone pass, gets his bearings and drifts in then changes the angle on Ilya and puts the puck in the net. Props to Penner for driving in and giving him those valuable extra feet of space that he took full advantage of.

EDM goal #6

They tried hard for this one and Staios’ cross-ice pass finally found Moreau with enough space. He got a little lucky that the PHX player has obviously never played goal in his life but you need a little luck sometimes.

Funny to watch PHX leave before the game was over and Ilya fire his stick in the corner in frustration. Great to get that kind of confirmation we’re in his kitchen.

Player Report time….
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Hemsky

- He did what the really special players do; even though he was coming back from injury and showed some signs of rust early in the game and early in the second, he went after goals all night and got us two including the most important one of the night that put the game away. I hope he keeps up his driving to the net and getting into spots where he can hammer shots because he did that very well tonight. His one-timer in the second could certainly have gone in and he just missed in the third because of a good effort by the Phoenix D who were left out to dry but stifled good efforts on a number of occasions. He also made some good offensive zone passes that weren’t finished tonight but it turned out we didn’t need them. I bet he feels pretty iffy after this game but he seemed to take the bumps and even a whack in the mouth but keep right on going. There is not a more important player on this team and so long as the other forward lines keep their levels as high as they’d raised them while Hemsky was missing and the “top” line was useless offensively, we could win a decent number of hockey games here. If that one shot doesn’t hit a foot Ales grabs a trick in this game too.

Horcoff

- He was alright tonight. Enjoyed his slapper from the slot that handcuffed Ilya and almost went in. He also made a good play on Penner’s goal. I didn’t think he was spectacular though and will likely have to take some time remembering that he has to score again.

Penner

- So we finally see the 100MPH slapper in a game and it almost goes in. No doubt he ripped that one off the post in the second period. Get the man some room occasionally! He had an awkward but effective game and really plays off of Hemsky in a much different way than he plays with anyone else out there. It was good to see him creating opportunities for his linemates and going to the net consistently. But seriously, for the second time in the report, kill the nasty stache. That’s gross. You look like you should be flipping burgers.

Cole

- Very effective game from him. He was excellent on the PK as always and was everywhere with speed and physicality. He didn’t get the greatest shots off tonight which is the only reason he didn’t score a goal. He should have shot on the SH 2-on-1 with Moreau instead of forcing the return pass as he likely would’ve had an easy finish. Oh well. He’s become so much more valuable these last weeks as he’s gained confidence out there. Totally adds another dimension to this team.

Gagner

- Good work from him tonight including in the corners and in his own zone. He had a fairly quiet offensive evening which is fairly odd but that’s okay today. I really felt he and Cole were hampered by Reddox being on their line as he simply didn’t fit.

Reddox

- Liam finished his checks…and that was entirely it. He blew a perfect gimme chance on a drive to the net and missed a couple of setups his linemates earned for him, then spent the remainder of the evening ineffectively bumping into people. He doesn’t work on that line. This last while has been tough for me because I like Liam Reddox the player but HATE where he’s been playing and what it does to this team. Get Potulny back on this line. Liam’s done for now.

Moreau

- What can you really say? He’s been struggling a lot lately but set the tone early by busting through to the net. He could have easily had 3 goals in the first period. Nothing was going to deny the man tonight. He played off of his linemates very well and simply did what he does best. Ethan needed a rebound game quite badly as he’s been really stinking lately and I hope this game gets him turned around. We need him right now.

Cogliano

- Andrew wasn’t buzzing everywhere like in some of his uber-effective games, but was definitely integral to this win. His positioning and the space he was creating was crucial to Moreau scoring his goals and us getting the win. If not for a couple unlucky breaks Cogliano probably has one tonight as well. Good solid game from him.

Pouliot

- I thought he missed WAY too many great chances out from that were just out of reach or resulted in bad shots. He was great passing the puck in the offensive zone but didn’t convert some really cherry chances so it kind of evens out in my eyes. Elsewhere on the ice he was fine. Great night for this line.

Brodziak

- He went 12 and 2 on the dot tonight which is freaking awesome. His line did some really nice things and as usual it was led by him. He reads Brule’s speed and positioning very well and tonight was no exception.

Brule

- I really like how far his game has come in a couple short weeks. The guy really looks to have found his efficiency and positioning out there. I liked the play in the second where he pulled up and took a quick slapper in the offensive zone. He was putting himself in the right place to receive passes and get rebounds in his limited but effective icetime. I really thought that he or Brodziak would score but they didn’t get much time with 3 lines rolling along tonight.

Strudwick

- Blah game from him. Not sure we needed him tonight.

Roloson

- Shaky and not a good game. He was behind plays and fighting the puck all night. In the third on a scramble he got horribly lucky that PHX didn’t tie it up before Hemsky finished the game off. I hope this isn’t the beginning of a trend now that his competition has been shipped out for farm equipment and a draft pick.

Smid

- As I said, not the greatest play on the goal. Standing up to Dan Carcillo after being hit and doing a pretty good job of getting some shots in and not getting beat up was pretty impressive. He also made a couple good defensive plays and a great little play that probably wouldn’t get noticed to get the puck free and moving on the play that led to Staios’ pass to Hemsky for his goal. Simple little play that was a thing of beauty behind our net. The man is talented even if sometimes he screws up. He gave the puck away once or twice including an errant pass up the middle in the first, but pinched beautifully.

Grebeshkov

- Kind of an iffy game from Denis compared to his usual standard this year but he made a pinch early in the first period that was a textbook example for a defenceman caught in a catch-22 when the puck is bumbled near the blue line, taking his man and preventing a rush that could not have been prevented by him backing off the play.

Visnovsky

- Not a spectacular night by any stretch but at least he got his shots in. A couple of times he joined the rush and didn’t get passes when he should have in dangerous spots. Defensively he was alright and as always he moved the puck well.

Gilbert

- He was our best d-man tonight and watching him drift in on the offensive rushes was a thing of beauty. He created with passes and forced the PHX D all night. He was also good defensively. Great game by Tom tonight. He should have been third star rather than Penner.

Souray

- Just a good solid game. He didn’t get any great shots off and didn’t join the rush so it was quiet offensively but he played good D. I wonder how his reputation is growing around the league right now both for his play and his toughness.

Staios

- Other than the bonehead read on that goal where Smid made his mistake I thought Steve was okay. Good passing but not great D. Also liked the shots he directed at the net.
---------------------------------------------------

Beauty win and even with Ales out we seem to have survived to have a shot going into the new year. We can hope the boys stay focused and come back fresh from this break as we certainly have the opportunity to get ourselves into second for a while.

1/14/09

So...that just happened

We beat Washington 5-2? Really? Yeah even I watched it but I still don't get it.

I'm completely convinced the Oilers play a different game on the road...but it was more than that in terms of the fact that they took Washington's up-tempo game and played off it excellently. This team can move around and move the puck at that speed when it wants to...so why doesn't it usually want to I wonder?

Well, my musings about dealing Erik Cole have now passed I believe. The guy's finding his stride now and having some pucks go in for him. That's all it really takes for a guy like him I'd imagine. Great to see a guy pop a trick FOR us; even if it was rather unconventional. He's a perfect 1B RW; and I have no problem paying him the 4 mil if he wants to re-sign at that. Running Hemsky-Cole-Pisani on the top 3 lines of the right side is pretty solid no matter what situation you're in.

Where we have an issue is on the left side I suppose. I'd still entertain offers to move Mr. Penner because I think he just doesn't fit what we're going for here. If he were at 3 mil I'd keep him but he's not. He's got some intriguing numbers he's putting up so far this year for sure though. Really not sure how long Nilsson is for this team. He could be really really good or not at all. I have a feeling he'd fit in more on a team like Pittsburgh, Boston or Washington though; so maybe we move him there. Any reason to think Viktor Kozlov might be attainable? His contract runs out at the end of the year so he'd be off the books. His +/- concerns me but he was also +28 last year...

So we've got both Brule and Potulny trying to manage spots on the team for the rest of the year. I discount Reddox because as soon as Fernando's back Liam's gone. Potulny seems fairly solid positionally, has hockey smarts and shoots a lot, but consistency will be the question with him going forward; as well as if there's room anywhere for him. Brule needs to prove he's the guy we've seen the last couple games a decent percentage of the time. Not that he needs to score all the time but that he needs to bring energy and better positioning. That's been the difference; the finish comes along with that. Great to see him bring Kyle Brodziak to life though. Kyle deserves to be playing with someone who can actually help him out instead of dragging 2 tractors through the mud.

So we're coming to a stage where if certain guys play well and others get healthy we go from having too many forwards to way too many forwards. Depth is marvelous and we know Springfield could use some help, but we've also got waivers to deal with so that's a problem. You all know my opinion that Schremp should be playing up here so I won't belabor that; but lets throw out the forward list here:

Penner, Hemsky, Horcoff, Cogliano, Nilsson, Gagner, Moreau, Brodziak, Pisani, Pouliot, Brule, Potulny, Cole, Reddox, Strudwick, Stortini, MacIntyre.

That's 17 guys right there. I think Reddox is an auto to the minors so we're down to 16. The most we can carry is 14 because of the goalies and the fact that Strudwick is also the #7 d-man (though with Smid playing well I don't see him back there soon). I think we're carrying too many toughies at the bottom end. You only ever need 2 on your team max and we have 3. I don't see them letting go of any of the 3 though which is a problem. I drop Stortini and make a trade involving one of Pouliot or Nilsson at this stage; but that's me.

I think MacTavish/Lowe/Tambellini drops one of Potulny/Brule if their waiver situation isn't resolved for sure. A trade involving a forward leaving would also be likely, but for what? Any move on this team probably requires another move unless you really want to shake things up. I wouldn't mind but I think the crew running the show do mind.

So what do I think we need to make this thing go? A vet forward and a vet d-man.

I'll stick with Doug Weight as my forward. I really think he could help out and integrate back into the system well here. Be nice to end his career here too.

I propose Pouliot straight up for Weight at the deadline if we're in any kind of position to run at it.

I also propose Nilsson+ for Sergei Zubov if the Stars are still out at the deadline. Lets go grab our nemesis who's about to be a UFA.

Alternatively, if OTT is out, a package deal for Dean McAmmond, Chris Neil and Filip Kuba would be on my wish list as all are UFAs after this season and could be very handy.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are possibilities out there should we either want to drag our way back into this thing or need a final boost. A trade right now would have to be value for value and contract for contract; which is a little tougher but still possible. We do however need draft picks this year in a supposedly great draft. I'd definitely offer some of the teams at the bottom some players for their first rounders should that situation come as well.

I'm sure something will happen before long; but am having a tough time figuring out what...

1/10/09

LMHF Game Report #19

Well, I'm gonna muster up my courage and plow through this. SOMEONE in Edmonton might as well put forth some hockey effort tonight besides Erik Cole I suppose.

So much for that whole winning thing I guess...really thought maybe some positive energy would help out there but it just didn't.

Roloson let us down early, but the more I think about it I'm pretty sure SJ just coasted after the first anyway. They were playing Douglas "LMHF#1 could skate 3000 circles around me" Murray all the time for christ's sake...and he OWNED Penner a couple times. That's just sickening.

Once again; sabotage from the get-go. If I can find one hockey guy who thinks it made sense to play all 3 toughies tonight against a team that doesn't bother, I'm not sure what I'll do but it'll be hat-eating equivalent. That wasn't bad, wasn't sad, wasn't anything but STUPID. Flat out stupid. Its like he's trying to show who's the big man behind that bench. His team and us fans are suffering because of it.

I think you can see a clear divide in the ranks right now. It is evident in the body language as noted around the rink. And I don't know what's wrong with Moreau right now but it sure is something. You've got to think a bunch of different people are frustrated for a bunch of different reasons and THIS is the result of that.

Did anyone see the players gathering to plan their own play in the SJ end in the third? I didn't see what was before that but to see it away from the bench sure was interesting.

I'm not going to defend the players tonight either; but they're not usually this bad. You guys are going way-hard on Gagner; tone it down and remember he was yanked from the line that was working because our bonehead bench boss is a clown who wouldn't know hockey if it hit him in the forehead.

And we were seriously subjected to the MacIntyre-Stortini-Strudwick line? Please tell me this is a hideous nightmare I will soon wake up from. They cost us one goal and almost cost us two on stupid lazy icings alone! I have a hard time blaming them though because they NEVER should have had that opportunity!

I tried to look for positives; but we were actually falling asleep in the seats out there tonight. And then we starting having people get hurt! It was like a train wreck you were stuck on but not being hurt just subjected to all its horrors.


I don't know what's become of this team; really.

We are neither what we are or what we want to be.

We are drifting in a sea of nothing with no identity, no soul and no confidence.

We need a massive change and soon. That's the only solution anymore. This will not work itself out.

Please hope that MacTavish quits (pressured or not) and that Tambellini is able to make a couple trades to put a new stamp on this team. Its the only way. Otherwise, whether we wind up with an amazing pick or not, NOTHING will change.

Hope springs eternal; but man is it ever hard to manage sometimes with these guys.

I watched our playoff highlights today. I remember how good I felt to watch a team that good play hockey. I remembered what that was like in elemental feelings that it brought. I know what that team looks like. I know how that team acts. We must bring it back.
__________________

1/9/09

Game Preview - EDM v. SJ 01/09/09

I had a revelation this morning and think I'm finally past the whole wondering if want the team to go on a big streak or just be torn apart and start again.

I just want this team to win games. I want to be happy. I want to enjoy it at the rink again.

So I say we bring it in a serious way for the team tonight in that building and help in a ginormous miracle win over SJ.

We've got a few things going for us even though our lineup is seriously suffering.

-We're great against the Sharks
-Roloson is good against these guys
-We have a superlative weekend record this year for some reason
-We're due after 2 bad performances and occasionally tend to respond to "hard" practices

I'm still a little miffed though. MacTavish saying that Nilsson-Gagner-Cole had a "bad game" last time out is flat wrong. They were the only line producing anything out there and kept VAN in check. He needs to go back to them and hopefully his instinct in that regard will prevail.

What I'd roll out tonight with the people currently up and ready?

If Horcoff's in:

Penner-Horcoff-Cogliano
Nilsson-Gagner-Cole
Moreau-Brodziak-Pouliot
MacIntyre-Brule-Strudwick

That at least gives us "the high gear" as they'd say in Days of Thunder.

Play Brodziak if Horcoff can't take the large minutes I'm giving that top line.

Proposed breakdown tonight of forward minutes: 1-22 mins 2-22 mins 3-10 mins 4-6 mins

If Horcoff's not in:

Nilsson-Gagner-Cole
Moreau-Cogliano-Penner
Brule-Brodziak-Pouliot
MacIntyre-Reddox-Strudwick

That's not as horridly bad as I'd feared at least. We'll see what they can manage.

I'm going to be watching Erik Cole who's really emerging as a leader on this team. If he can keep his game high and get a couple along with a strong performance by Roloson, we have a chance in this game. The D will also be in tough, but I firmly believe we have an excellent defence.

I can't think of a better way to start a great weekend than a huge win against a tough opponent.

1/8/09

LMHF Game Report #18

EDMONTON OILERS 2

VS.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS 4
------------------------------------------

I apologize in advance for the fact that tonight’s report will likely be more of a rant than a report.

I must admit I’m not aware of the supposed Reddox/Brule thing. That throws a bit of a wrench into my thoughts but even IF that was true, there was ZERO reason to play the guy on the first line. That was freaking NUTS considering he hasn’t played well at all lately. You can say whatever you want but Brule has in no way been better than Schremp when he’s been up here. NONE. Not even defensively! If you’re gonna come in here and claim otherwise…well I think you’re borderline crazy.

What he did with those lines to start the game was sabotage at its finest. We had just about nothing out there and especially offensively. We were hanging around in the game somehow but not getting anything done at all. There was only one line having a half-decent game - Nilsson-Gagner-Cole.

So what does super-genius behind the bench do????

BREAKS THEM UP. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!?!

I was terrified when I saw that, and sure enough we were down 3-1 not long after. All offensive pressure we’d had (however limited) was gone and the Canucks had free reign to drive at us all night. We let up on the high zone pressure and BAM, game over.

Our goals tonight were both lucky, the Canucks goals were quite solid.

Yet, they weren’t even playing very well. We gave them this game on a silver platter. Even the vaunted Jason L in net wasn’t the greatest and certainly didn’t commit any highway robbery on us. We were just that bad.

And don’t dog Souray for the EN goal; that happens to the best of us. We didn’t deserve it tonight.

I was sitting at a different vantage point than usual tonight; on the end as opposed to along the side of the ice. It was hard for me to pick up the game for a while after being so used to one angle for so long. By the second my eyes had settled and I was following along a lot better.

In the third something really struck me that I cannot see as well from the side; our offensive setup when other teams have the puck is ATROCIOUS. There’s at least 1 completely useless man on the ice at all times. One chases the puck (in vain) and the other two stand there. Only one has a hope in hell of doing anything but he’s standing still. Those guys should be pacing their men or forechecking. End of story. Why don’t we push teams into certain situations as they break out? It makes no sense at all!

A few things of note tonight:

In the first period we saw what I’d officially term as the worst 3-on-1 ever. Strudwick let it in and was given a shooting lane but dropped to Stortini who wasn’t close to ready and the puck never got to the only qualified person on the ice. We didn’t even get a shot! The wingers on our fourth line tonight were absolutely terrible. Strudwick had at least 3 opportunities in open ice with the puck and blew them all. He also wasn’t effective physically. Stortini was running around like an idiot taking penalties and getting way too into the goalies face on plays where it made no sense. He was no better than those punk Canuck idiots tonight and that’s saying a lot. Brodziak was okay at least; but what else is new.

THANK YOU Sheldon Souray for finally getting a good clean lick on Ohlund. Someone had to punch some sense into that puke. You didn’t see much of him after that fight. I wonder how Sheldon got him to actually drop the gloves considering he’s such a pansy normally when he runs around taking liberties with skill players.

For those of you keeping track I believe just before the 7 minute mark was when MacTavish broke any chance we had in this game by dismantling his only decent line. Cole was and did play a great game. He nearly carried Horcoff (who had a bad first and second but got going a bit in the third) and Penner (who I didn’t think was very good tonight at all) but there’s only so much a guy can do. He deserved a goal and drove the net hard all night. He’s carrying and skating with much more confidence now and he is an excellent PK’er. He was using his stick and quick acceleration effective in the capacity all night including a key block in the second that could’ve really helped us out. He’s gone from scary-not-confident to a leader in a hurry. Maybe he was just finding his way. I thought Gagner did a lot to create and was finally trying some of the moves we’re used to seeing from him. Now he needs to start popping goals more regularly; I think that’s the next step. Good to see Robert rewarded for going to the net. He took some more shots tonight and was decently effective.

I’m not going to dignify Mr. Brule’s performance with more than comments of; all you do is skate around the ice doing nothing at all, and you’re not ready for the show pal, sorry. He hasn’t had anything close to a decent chance.

Tom Gilbert made a really nice stop on a 2-on-1 that could have saved the game had we managed a goal with the EN. Stopping a 2-on-1 like that in a high pressure situation after a giveaway is not easy at all. Credit to him for swinging aggressively (albeit a little late) towards the puck carrier and getting himself in that passing lane. Great job Tom. I thought he played a pretty good game.

I also really liked Smid’s instinct on his pinch when we were down 3-1 even though we almost got scored on afterwards. It was the right decision and he came close. He was kind of all over the place this game. Good carrying the puck; out of position; back in position; physical and ornery then a little lazy, I dunno what to say really.

Grebeshkov had a nice game and demonstrated that talented at the corner top of the offensive zone I was mentioning earlier.

Staios was an interesting case. I’m glad he got an assist and he distinctly prevented a close-to-sure goal with good positioning as a defender and outmuscling a Canuck in the third, but he wasn’t great out there. He was a little ornery which I’m sure helped. Souray made a good play on that puck trickling through the crease to use body position to hold his man at bay despite a precarious spot. A few of our defencemen now, and guys in the past like Jason Smith, would’ve allowed a goal there and not even put up much of a fight. Smid needs to learn that move.

Oilers goal 1 - Souray shot, rebound, good positioning by Nilsson, goal. Gagner did a good job on the entry after a solid pass from Gilbert. Whole line played a part.

Oilers goal 2 - Pretty lucky. Decent puck movement behind the net, solid pass by Horcoff, good shot by Staios moving to the middle, Cole in the right place. He also created the rush and did the work behind the net.

Vancouver goal 1 - Horcoff, Penner and Visnovsky were all doing absolutely nothing on this play. Penner has no concept of where his guy is and is doing about the stupidest thing he could be. Horcoff does some sort of weird behind the net fake and obviously isn’t talking to Lubo because he freezes and suddenly the puck’s in the net. That was sad. BUT WAIT, IT’s GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN!

Vancouver goal 2 - Strudwick with a brutal turnover and then a horridly lazy skate back into his own zone. The forwards are now out of position and useless after what should have been a good break. No one picks up the open high Vancouver player and Gilbert isn’t as aggressive on the puck carrier as he should have been.

Vancouver goal 3 - Grebeshkov loses it and is way out of position and then overreacts the wrong direction to a pass…YUCK. Why was Brule out after that last goal? He wasn’t taking anyone on this play either.

Vancouver goal 4 - MEMO to Shawn Horcoff - watch this for how a real player scores on another player when the net is empty.

I’m really glad we shut down Sundin and the Sedins at least. It was a bad night for Sweden.

Roloson was alright; I mean he’s not going to stop many of those 3 shots most nights, too bang-bang. His team hung him out to dry there.

I almost hope there’s conflict between the coaches and management right now, maybe something will finally change and we won’t keep repeating this sick story over again.

All we can hope for right now is that Ales is back in this lineup soon.

Not seeing an announcement of either Reddox or Brule headed to the minors yet makes me sad again.

UGH…that is all.

1/5/09

LMHF Game Report #17

EDMONTON OILERS 3

VS.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS 2
-----------------------------------------

I’m not sure about everyone else; but I thought that win was pretty ugly. We didn’t really deserve it; but nearly did the Islanders. We needed it badly and we got it. We played on two wounded legs, a wonky back and while in a dizzy spell essentially and went home with 2 points.

Kinda like the guy who slips on some ice at the bar, spills a drink on a girl he’d never have a chance with, gets a number anyway and stumbles out with a grin. Maybe he deserved the break, and maybe not, but he gets a chance and comes out ahead that night.

I’m wondering how hurt this team really is right now. It was quite obvious that Horcoff had no business playing tonight and was pressed into service. You’ve got to wonder if Pouliot was close to 100%. Other injuries that this team is playing with? Who knows, but with our roster situation so screwed up I wouldn’t be surprised if there were multiples. We didn’t look all there tonight.

Even though MacTavish appeared to be going with the hot hands in the Stortini-Brodziak-Strudwick, I wonder how much of that would actually be because his other lines were so beat up or tired. Cole was working his butt off out there and looked just burnt. Penner was either tired or lazy at a lot of times tonight as well. We need a recharge at the worst possible time; which has me worried about Wednesday to be honest with you.

Islanders goal #1 - Horcoff giveaway winds up in our net. This was the first example tonight of a situation where a wonky back could have affected him. He had trouble bending and controlling the puck all night and the incident got taken advantage of here. It was a nice shot by Okposo, but Grebeshkov has to play him way more aggressively. Staios is close enough to Comrie that Denis has to take a chance on that puck rather than allowing that shot.

Islanders goal #2 - A weak play by Moreau along the boards where he could have taken the man out and instead placed a weak stick led to Visnovsky misreading the play and not being able to recover. I think Roloson could have stopped this but it was certainly a collective effort. Horrid to allow a goal that late.

Oilers goal #1 - Good work along the boards by Stortini followed by a smart play to the front by a well-positioned Brodziak that ends up getting lucky and bouncing in. It was quite strange to see Strudwick’s reaction considering that the puck didn’t hit him. Had to be a tease having his goal taken away.

Oilers goal #2 - Great long distance pass by Gilbert and amazingly Stortini actually picked it up. I’m still a little surprised and figured that Stortini should have dropped a back pass to Brodziak. He was in better position and probably served as a decoy on Strudwick’s awkward first goal of the season and in over a year. We were doing it REALLY ugly at this point but were somehow tied.

Oilers goal #3 - Good solid rush by Moreau, excellent puck movement to a well-positioned Pouliot who didn’t hesitate on his shot and good job by Cogliano to follow up his pass and score the decisive marker. I’m not sure why Ethan was so disoriented on this one but at least someone put it in.

PLAYER REPORTS
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Roloson

- I didn’t think he was very good in the first and early second. He got beat by the only decent shots and gave the puck away several times. Later on he was saved by a post and almost cost us big-time on another missed dump-in late. He was better in the second and third between the pipes but was getting into the old habit of getting down early just a touch.

Smid

- Not a good game. He was shaky with the puck in both the offensive and defensive zones, should probably have had a couple penalties and gave the Islanders chances. Maybe a good pass here or there but Ladislav was not on his game tonight.

Grebeshkov

- In addition to his error on the goal, he was playing far too soft on the shot that rang the post in the third that would have tied it up. This was one of his weaker defensive efforts. He wasn’t using his skills to dictate positioning or the puck and couldn’t compensate with any physical play. I’d say he played too safe tonight.

Staios

- Didn’t love Staios’ game tonight either. His play behind the net was subpar and he drifted into an already occupied corner a couple times. Couple that with nothing offensively and its not a great night for Mr. Staios.

Gilbert

- One of the better D-men tonight as evidenced by a couple chance-stoppers and his great pass to Stortini. Could have had a better first 10 but was generally quite solid.

Souray

- Looked to me like he simplified his game tonight and focused on D. He played well in front of the net and did a simple but effective job. Stopped a nearly-clear rush in the second by using his strength to make the Islander player’s stick useless.

Visnovsky

- Made just a beauty play to take a puck away from a man who had him beat without even coming close to taking a penalty in the third. That was a simple defensive masterwork. He almost got beat a couple times later however on chances that could have cost us. He really could’ve helped out by cashing a couple offensive chances he had in the slot but didn’t manage to. That shot is deadly but it needs to hit corner!

Stortini-Brodziak-Strudwick

- I think the real reason these guys did so well was that Brodziak had a WHALE of a game. He forechecked, positioned himself perfectly, moved the puck around and played a crucial puck support role as the wingers gooned the puck around. He really made the difference tonight ahead of Strudwick and Stortini in my view. The reason those guys could go to the net and get things done or work in the corners were Brodziak passes, positioning and puck support. That’s probably the best you’re going to get out of those two so I hope everyone enjoyed it. Too bad Strudwick couldn’t cash the great chance he had in period 3. That woulda been really nice.

Moreau-Cogliano-Pouliot

- These guys were solid I suppose. I was worried about Pouliot and it certainly took him at least a period to settle in but after that he was back working the corners and getting in good spots which was really nice to see. Cogliano was doing what we’ve become accustomed to and had another very solid game. He’s such a rock right now. His drive to the net that also should have resulted in a goal was quite nice. I was surprised to see him tuck the puck and barrel like that but he did it very well and generated a great rebound which is usually the most important thing. Moreau was solid but I wonder about his health as well. He could have been better.

Nilsson-Gagner-Cole

- Very solid and slightly unlucky night. Cole was barreling all over the ice but seemed to keep coming up woozy. Looks like he took the beating to make the offensive play. He had his chances and certainly could have scored but I liked his consistent effort and really sound fundamental play tonight. Gagner should have scored as he had several conventional and unconventional chances in this game. It turned out to be okay that he didn’t; and at least he’s gaining some confidence. Robert isn’t quite there yet. He’s not taking passes with authority nor using his potent slapper in places he normally would when he’s rolling. I’d like to see him focus in on that.

Reddox-Horcoff-Penner

- I guess they ate up some minutes and didn’t get burned too badly? Horcoff kept messing up with the puck and it sure looked like he was having back issues. Penner looked out of sorts and slow. Reddox didn’t do anything really.
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Not too impressed really but also enjoyed the fact that we managed to win. You need at least 5-8 of these a year.

Game Preview - EDM v. NYI 01/05/09

Who I'm watching: All the Islanders who would be on my trade-for list. That'd be Weight, Guerin, Comrie. I want to see if they look like they've still got it as the numbers suggest. For the Oilers I'll be watching to see if Mr. Cole keeps his game high against an eastern opponent and to see if Brule has a better game (if he's even in the lineup).

NYI has the potential to stir up some real offence as they have many a talented player and inconsistent youngsters. Our challenge will be to get a couple early and make sure our D is strong. It SHOULD be a game we handle; but you just never know.

Liam Reddox will continue to torment me just for fun. I know it. It is dumb because I'm hoping for the guy to become an NHLer, but not like this...

Due: Hmmm...I'm not sure many guys are really due right now. Those who deserve it are getting it and those who don't are not.

What happened to: Richard Park. Very strange NHL career but a guy we'll have to watch as he's always seemed to like playing against the Oilers.

I really hope: Comrie scores 5...but we score 6 and win 6-5 of course.

PK: Better...but really needs to keep it up out there.

PP: We're quietly putting together a nice run. 8 out of 9 games we've scored I believe? That's not bad!

Make sure you check: Weight. Great record against the Oilers in past games and very emotional leader at times. He could fire up his team. Keep on him.

Really need this one to set the tone for the week. Get it done.

The Curious Case of Mr. Comrie

I'm a big fan of Mike Comrie.

I make no apologies for it.

I'll be wearing an Oilers #89 original third jersey tonight in honor of the guy who was my favorite player for a long time.

Many forget how much excitement this guy brought to a team that so sorely needed it at such a lean time. We'd hit it big, we'd drafted a hometown kid who had panned out big and was on his way to SMASHING WHL records. My cousin who lived in Creston at the time would watch as many live games as he possibly could back then. One time when he was in town he told me about Comrie on a PK where he basically skated the ice on his own 4 times and then rushed in and scored like it was nothing. My cousin was no dope when it came to hockey (if not for some issues he had his 6'5" frame, massive slapshot and physical play as a d-man probably would have sent him pro) and he was as excited about this guy as he'd ever been.

I suppose that's why what ended up happening made many so bitter in some ways. The hometown hero became "the rich kid" or "spoiled kid" or whatever the heck you wanted to call him at the time. People that "hadn't liked him all along" came out of the woodwork suddenly.

My perspective on the issue is a lot different than many; perhaps because I believe I know what actually happened (I trust my sources on this one) and don't think it was fair at all. The incident that I'm sure sparked the beginning of the end was a regrettable one; but what ensued after was simply not okay.

Not paying one of your best out of spite rather than hockey sense is pathetic.

Trying to keep a guy from achieving his bonuses at the expense of your team's offence is sad and wrong in sports.

Choosing a coach over a player (which is what I truly believe happened eventually) when that coach is not the second coming, is hockey-stupid. Players are worth more than coaches...period. Especially talented ones. His concerns along with others on the team at the time were completely valid and it could be argued still exist. This team hasn't been the same save for a year in another world with a roster that had almost nothing to do with previous years' teams.

This team would have been seriously different in my view if Paul Comrie had not had his career shut down so early. He still plays in a rec league that a friend of mine is in and apparently just tears it up of course. Having your older brother around could have of course made a big difference; even foregoing the fact that he was massively talented as well.

I still think that maybe one day this city will be ready to forgive and there would be a chance for the hometown hero to return once again. That truly is my hope. It'd be a great story that both he and we deserve.

So tonight I'll be cheering; I know most of you won't, but I hope at least you think about what could have been and what is still possible.

GO #89 GO!

1/4/09

LMHF Game Report #16

EDMONTON OILERS 4

VS.

DALLAS STARS 1
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I still have a problem acknowledging that the Stars are a bad team. Despite the fact that they looked completely inept against us last night I just can’t see them being so. I suppose that’s due to our intense hatred for them as a fan base or maybe that they’ve beaten us for so very long but it’d sure be nice to see that come to an end.

Last night’s game was a perfect example of my belief that shot totals tend to mean a whole lot of nothing. Dallas sure didn’t dominate us; not even close. They were not in that game really.

I can understand why they’re not doing so well as when you’re relying on Rib-er-oll and Mr. loser himself Steve Ott for offence you’re going to have problems. Why won’t anyone just paste that guy though? There was a very physical tone to the game yet no one got to Ott and that’s upsetting.

I did like the physicality as we seemed to back them off as a team quite early. The fights were particularly interesting; including the third time this year that Stortini has stood there wondering if he had to fight only to have someone else actually engaged in the process.

Oilers goal #1 - Visnovsky makes a likely underrated and otherwise forgotten play behind then net to keep the puck, move it up and then make a pass. He’s so good at this little skill that a lot of people miss in games but this play would be evidence that it can make a difference. Not only does it move the puck up but it sucks a forward out of position and can often lead to another forward thinking he can give the offensive zone another try and getting caught. Gagner controlled and distributed in the neutral zone which is of course his bread and butter. Cole used his skill to take a tough pass and whipped in with speed then unleashed one of the most confident shots I’ve seen him take all year. Bam; 1-0.

Oilers goal #2 - All Souray with a little help from Horcoff. First Sheldon won the battle in his own zone; then he did what he can do to make the biggest difference in a game offensively; got his feet moving and jumped into the rush. Things got kind of sideways and he ended up leading the rush; which isn’t the usual spot for him but Horcoff made a smart read and a solid pass to Souray knowing he could take it to the net. Sheldon held off a couple guys and put an incredibly business-like wrist-shot home. One thing I noticed last night was that the Oilers players were acting a little more subdued when they scored goals. I’m not sure why but it was certainly noticeable. Excellent goal for Souray taking advantage of both his strength and Dallas defensive ineptitude.

Oilers goal #3 - Big-time offensive Sheldon Souray again. We were on the PP and I did like the play (albeit a bit of a lucky one) that Horcoff made to get the puck to the point. Souray controlled it; skated it into his office knowing he had the time and room and wired the puck. By all rights that shot should’ve went in but I guess you can’t win em all. Credit to Penner for being in the right position at the side of the net and chipping the puck into the open cage. It’s amazing what that big shot can create for you if you’ve been able to practice reading and reacting to it as the Oilers no doubt have.

Dallas goal #1 - A pretty ugly defensive failure in my opinion. Part of this was MacTavish’s doing for inexplicably throwing out Stortini on the big line for a shift; he was not positioned correctly at all on this play. Far too low and covering no one which created confusion. If you notice the Oilers boxed in the Dallas player but absolutely no one took him. Penner was out to lunch; Souray was caught standing and Gilbert just wasn’t in position. Horcoff also didn’t get to the point man. Not our prettiest effort. Thankfully that was about it.

Oilers goal #4 - It is always nice to get a put away goal. We had a really good powerplay where we completely controlled the puck and just couldn’t get the right lane to fire it through. The shoot people were urinating all over themselves in disgust and panic; but it only takes one shot to get the job done. Cogliano was positioned perfectly; Nilsson found him and Andrew shoveled it home. Simple and effective. Props to Gagner’s play along the boards as well. They created the conditions for a goal before executing the shot rather than simply hoping one would happen. That’s how you handle outman situations.

We scored some solid goals tonight and were not fluking the puck into the net. I attribute this to good puck control and some solid offensive efforts from guys like Cole, Gagner and Souray.

PLAYER REPORTS
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Roloson

- I’d say he was really good for the first two periods and then got a little iffy in the third. Not bad by any stretch but not as good. He made the saves when we needed and would have had a hard time stopping the one that did bounce in on him. Credit to his D for allowing few good scoring chances tonight but he was there when called upon.

Visnovsky

- His play on the offensive blue line wasn’t as good as I’m used to. He seemed stuck in a bit of a rut where he couldn’t get set for a shot or set up the pass to anyone else and then would force a weaker-than-normal slapper through. He’s better than that. His passing, D coverage and play behind his net with the puck were all superb however. Just another game for Lubo. Enjoy this guy’s game; we’ll start to realize just how special he is soon enough I’m sure.

Souray

- As I said; he made some big offensive contributions out there tonight. That’s what he can do best to change a game. I’d say he was only average defensively as he wasn’t being as physical as a game like this called for and got caught standing still a few times. That’s okay however because it is not as if he was standing around making a ton of mistakes. If he hasn’t jumped into a rush in the first 10 minutes our coaching staff should be screaming at him. When he jumps effectively; we win. Simple as that this year. 12 goals is amazing stuff so far. Hope he keeps it up.

Grebeshkov

- Nice to see Denis get back in the saddle with a performance that was probably not noticed too much. He was really good in his own zone and especially in the corners keeping the puck away from the Stars and getting it moving. Watching this guy play a good defensive game based on skill rather than traditional hitting or positioning is something very intriguing to watch I must say. He was solid as always at the opposition blue line. Watch him handle the pressure at the top corner of an offensive zone next time you get a chance; often that is where he’s best. He played a role I believe on the PP right before Cogliano scored in exhibiting some excellent puck control. I love that he’s not afraid to fake the shot and pass in the offensive zone despite other factors and the pressure that even gets to guys like Souray. If it wasn’t that PP it was one in its vicinity.

Gilbert

- A solid game I suppose; nothing too exceptional. I recall him making a rather fantastic defensive play in the third but cannot remember the specifics of it any longer. Oh well.

Smid

- He was alright I suppose. Didn’t notice too much from him tonight which means he wasn’t great offensively or with his passing and wasn’t bad defensively. Nothing wrong with that.

Stortini-Brodziak-Strudwick

- I certainly prefer Strudwick’s fighting style to Zack’s. I don’t know why we need Stortini if MacTavish is going to play Strudwick where he is. Ditch the guy. He’s not drawing people into penalties anymore it seems so that reason is out. Brodziak did what he always does when he plays with these guys which is keeps them out of trouble. Any ideas on how to judge a guy like him playing on a line like that? I vote reduce the fourth line’s ice time and play someone else there giving Kyle a chance at more minutes; but oh well.

Brule

- I was pretty disappointed in Gilbert’s game; about the only good thing he did was ring a slapper off the post. He’s supposed to be a fast player and I’ve seen him play a fast game before but he was not doing that tonight; he was getting caught standing and then taking a long time to get up to speed. I think he was trying a little too hard. He also missed a golden chance for a goal on the rebound from Moreau’s drive to the net in the third. That puck was his and he let up on it. Not acceptable. He just wasn’t good enough for what I’ve seen his level at before.

Cogliano

- He suffered a little because the line he played on wasn’t the same without Pouliot’s size and corner play. Andrew did his job and was able to get that PP goal when out with Nilsson and Gagner. A solid, if unspectacular game from Andrew. It is great that he’s rounded into a very consistent player this year.

Moreau

- As I noted above; his wide drive to the net in the third should have caused a goal. It did not and that’s okay because we were winning but it is also too bad. He was okay but nothing exceptional really.

Nilsson-Gagner-Cole

- Robert really stepped up his play with this line. I loved the play in the second where he was thwarted off the rush at the side of the net but followed up and found Gagner in the slot for what should have been a goal if he had not rushed the shot and tried to force it through traffic. He was carrying speed and moving the puck well all night. Maybe it just took him a couple games to find his groove with the line; because he certainly had it last night. Nice simple assist on Cogliano’s goal. Sam’s confidence in the offensive zone has really picked back up. I really liked his quick and simple pass to Cole that led to Erik’s goal in the first. He’s carrying with confidence and distributing the puck with ease out there. Too bad he couldn’t score tonight as he had a couple of really exceptional opportunities and he certainly could have used one. Cole really stepped up in a game where we needed him. Whether it was passes off the rush, shorthanded strips of the puck leading to scoring chances (he was really good on the PK) or nice goals finally coming for him, it was great to see. With Hemsky out we need someone to step up and (thankfully) that appears to be Cole. He can use his linemates FINALLY and get some great things done for us out there in various situations.

Penner-Horcoff-Reddox

- Liam didn’t do too much; not that anything’s expected. I think he needs to re-focus on at least getting some hits in every game. He had one decent chance at the side of the net that went through Turco and out the other side but not much else. Penner’s one-punch victory was certainly an interesting change. Boy was that guy ever stumbling after that “fight”. His goal was the product of good positioning as it tends to be with him; and he was actually holding off defenders and hit a couple Stars tonight. Always good to see that from Dustin. Horcoff played a pretty solid game. He was oddly scrambled in the defensive zone but the puck seemed to be getting where it needed to go. What they do have to do however is find a way for him not to be handling the puck on the PP if Hemsky’s out. Horcoff needs to set up in his usual spot so that the other team cannot simply key on the point and wait. Dallas didn’t do this well but that approach was entirely doable.
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What’s up with Turco? He’s nothing like he used to be.

Gives the fans a reason to chant I guess; oh well!