LMHF Report Webcast Link

3/31/09

LMHF Game Report #37

I'm not even going to put the score up there.

The palpable rage I was already feeling when it was 4-1 was enough, but THIS...we don't deserve to be subjected to this.

A word on Todd Marchant...I hate the guy's guts and pretty much have for a long time, but boy did he man up after that Souray shot. Watching our disgusting joke of an offence blow a 4-on-2 and then allow a clear by a man who took 2 minutes to get up afterwards was sure a study in contrasts. What an effort by that man. Kudos. HUGE kudos.

On the other hand...we had a 4-on-3 PP with Dustin Penner on the ice. Why Ales passed to him, I'll never know, but even after he'd blown a gimme goal by not getting the puck up, he had all the time in the world and panicked like Jacques does every time he sees the disc headed his way. Sad. Too bad too because I liked what Penner did pretty much otherwise...especially his screen on the 4-3 goal...which was promptly rewarded by getting sent to serve a penalty by Captain Genius over a guy like Jacques who has no business on the ice in the third period, much less during a PK with 2 to go. Penner might if they pull the goalie. But Captain Genius proved he doesn't think before doing things...

I don't care if 18 players were screaming at him to call Selanne...(and I don't think they were because players don't do that)he has to have the brains to look up, see 2:11 on the clock and a team that has just scored twice and tell them to get back out there and get #3. Show he believes in them without any hokey crap.

Instead Captain Genius put the final nail in the coffin. There's almost no way this team's rattling off 5 straight. Not now. Maybe 2 months ago but not now. Not with a defence hampered by having poor Jason Strudwick stretched so far beyond his means. The Ducks were literally toying with him by dumping it into his corner.

Souray didn't really do much again, and played weak D. Disappointing but I can't dog him too harsh with how much he's meant this year.

Roloson reverted to mr down-too-early tonight and it cost us dearly. Oh well I guess.

What can you even say when the season's on the line and your best player wears #46???

I don't even know how to express what I think of that joke masquerading as our hockey team right now. A fair number of them put out some effort tonight, but there's no direction and no consistently executing effective plays. There's just nothing that's going to win you games when the other team even half-shows up. Anaheim relaxed for an extended period tonight...they never should have been afforded that chance.

Sure all the chance at the end was a maybe...but to have that taken away from us, and from players like Sam Gagner who's busting his butt out there...man did that hurt. Maybe I'll have more to elaborate on in terms of the game tomorrow, but my god...we just had our season finished off by an attempted illegal stick...of all the utter bs I've ever seen on a hockey rink...

I won't be there on Thursday as I'm unfortunately stuck in Calgary. A massive part of me hopes they win. An even bigger part of me hopes they're coachless. I don't like the odds on either at this point.

Dreaming...

I know that only a couple posts ago I was talking about this team turning a corner...turns out there was a brick wall around that corner...and though we still have a chance, I get much more excited about what this team COULD be next year.

This list isn't intended as what will happen, but what could happen. Some of it is very much a dream and some of it is about being stuck with a player I'd rather move...but here goes.

Forwards OUT: Penner, Pouliot, Nilsson, Reddox, Jacques, MacIntyre, Moreau

O'Sullivan(2.9)-Arnott(4.5)-Hemsky(4.1)
Cogliano(1.1)-Horcoff(6.5)-Gagner(1.6)
Laperriere(1.5)-Kopecky(2)-Pisani(2.5)
Schremp(.9)-Brodziak(1.5)-Kotalik(2)
Brule(.9)-Stortini(.7)

32.7

Defencemen OUT: Staios, Strudwick

Visnovsky(5.6)-Gilbert(4)
Souray(5.4)-Grebeshkov(3)
Smid(2)-Peckham(.6)
Random d-man (.5)

21.1

Goalies OUT: Roloson, Deslauriers

Clemmensen/Anderson (1.75)
Gustavsson (1)
Sanford (.5)

3.25

Coaching Staff - HC-Steve Ludzik A-Rob Daum A-Charlie Huddy A-Perry Pearn

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

This is a dream for many reasons, though I think you could actually accomplish it.

I like taking chances with goalies. One of those 2 goalies is gonna go for cheap and I say we need him. You also grab this Gustavsson guy from Europe and make it a competition. Get a veteran backup insurance policy for cheap too, I like Sanford.

On D, we're deep enough to play Peckham there. All 5 top 5 guys can play 20 in an evening if they have to.

At forward, the guy we need on this team is Jason Arnott. He's cheaper than Franzen would be, actually plays centre, and is consistent, strong, mean, has a great shot, is a leader. The guy is was and always has been since '93 what this team needed. He was one of our great screwups in contrast to Weight, one of our great successes.

Line 2 is fast, responsible, and can create offence. It also gets our young guys out of the damn faceoff circle.

Line 3 is a royal pain in the butt to play against. Laperriere is a guy I've always watched and admired (other than the Smid thing) during his play for other teams, Kopecky is big and is following a solid career track for a low-minute Detroit guy so we should give him a little more cash and grab him before he becomes Johan Franzen, Pisani should finally be back to form and playing for a new deal.

The fourth line might be my favorite. Schremp finally makes this team because Ludzik really likes him and gives him his shot once and for all. Brodziak gets some competent linemates. Kotalik gets to do what he best at; play responsible hockey with the occasional hit and a booming shot on passes from a guy who knows how to find him. This line would do well.

The coaching staff I'll admit to having not much insider knowledge of this particular group, but Ludzik was solid in Tampa with a really interesting team, I've always liked Daum's style, Huddy can obviously coach and develop d-men, and Pearn is a local guy who knows the game and has a lot of experience. This is a versatile group that would get things done and has the right mix of personality and skill. They're also equipped with a team that's bigger, more efficient, and strong up the middle and on D. That's recipe to win.

Omark and Eberle both have great camps but fail to make the team because we're a really good team that can afford to take some time with them. Omark can go lead the AHL in scoring and we'll fit him in soon enough.

3/29/09

LMHF Game Report #36

EDMONTON OILERS 2

VS.

MINNESOTA WILD 3
------------------------------

I really don't know what's more sad...

That we can look that bad against a team that's no good and has nothing but hobbled players playing at the moment...

The fact that all our coach can do after games like this is throw his hands in the air and "why me" us all to death...

That with the playoffs on the line we can show up and decide not to play until the last five minutes...

That even during that five minutes we're so weak at finishing that we make a goalie look like an absolute all-star even when he's beaten...

I could go on. It's just bloody pathetic. How many games at home this year do we have to waste? Where are our big efforts full of goals in the important games?

I'll say this for us; we're not going to win very many games where both Souray and Grebeshkov are bad. They were both woefully inadequate tonight. Souray had a lot of difficulties in his own zone and was sending weak breakout passes into the middle of nowhere that were getting picked off. Grebeshkov kept skating the puck into the offensive zone and then losing the puck or simply killing the play. These two guys drive the start of the play for us but they did not tonight. Gilbert wasn't really all that good either. It's odd to say that in a 3-2 game our D had a really bad game but I certainly think they did. Strudwick made what I think was his first untelegraphed pass ever, which was something to see at least. Smid was doing fine; then he gets hurt and we lose him. But no Tambellini...we don't need any extra defencemen...IDIOTS! Staios was actually servicable and nearly got us something at the end which was one of the only redeeming things that happened from the back end.

Roloson wasn't any good tonight. Normally I'd bag on the guy for it, but he's given us enough chances to win this year and we clearly weren't going to score enough anyway so its not worth the trouble. I hope everyone realizes that without Owen Nolan going braindead off a post and Steve Staios deflecting a puck away this is a 5-1 game.

Starting from the bottom up, I have no idea what the heck this line was doing out there twice in the last 8 minutes. That's not on them but the coach. Stupidity. He also played them right after a TV timeout. Stortini put in a lot of effort, was generally a pain in the butt for Minnesota and drove the net. Good on him. Brodziak was solid and should have gotten bumped up to take Cogliano's draws. Kyle was 6-1. Cogliano was 2-8. Easy choice for everyone but our coach.

I have to individually talk about Jacques. I don't care that he runs around trying to nail people. For one, Mac hits harder than him. For two, if you need to give the puck away to make hits, it's not worth them. He held the puck for more than 1 second exactly once...and he gave that away too. He kept shooting the puck to no one, or to the Wild, and not into the places where his teammates could get it. This guy has no business in the NHL. Everyone who plays in this league should at least want the puck.

Moreau-Cogliano-Pisani was an okay line. It was very nice to see Pisani actually get one, but the line wasn't really anything special. I thought they were overshifted in the end. It's great that they weren't getting scored on but that doesn't matter a lot when you're behind and time is running out. Cogliano got really frustrated with Koivu's cheating on the draws and generally not being able to score. He was giving an effort but he wasn't being smart about it. He never once got in position to stretch the neutral zone which is exactly what he needs to do against a team like Minnesota.

Penner-Gagner-O'Sullivan got ripped for goals tonight. That's too bad as these guys aren't exactly coaches favorites, or people that can take confidence hits right now. Penner was actually using his size pretty effectively in the offensive zone and it just didn't come through for him. I'm not sure why Gagner got out for the 6-on-5, he's not the guy we need out there at that time. He didn't have a great game for us, I'm not gonna hang the loss on him or anything though. Patrick was just okay, he can be better.

Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky needs to be re-united badly.

Kotalik-Horcoff-Hemsky were also okay, but just okay. You've gotta love Kotalik's shot, we haven't seen something like it for quite a while in the offensive zone, and we're figuring out where to get him the puck which results in goals. I still don't like it when he's asked to do the heavy lifting. Horcoff carried the puck in the offensive zone a lot but couldn't get anything through the middle. Minnesota blocked that from us all night. Hemsky was just okay too; but he also didn't get the puck sent to him enough to take advantage of the fact that he was stretching the Minnesota right side and ahead of the play a bunch. Not having Visnovsky around is killing him.
-------------------

And now, a word about shots...I know everyone has heard about this from me before as its a pet peeve of mine, but now I don't think the coach gets it either. In the post-gamer he said "we didn't shoot the puck". Ummm, no, you're wrong. We got over 30 shots and outshot the other team by a decent margin.

Our problem is that we take DUMB shots from the outside that have no chance of going in, and don't shoot on quick plays when we have lanes for various reasons. I don't know if our coach knows this. The amount of high-angle shots this team takes from the outside with no chance for a half-decent rebound and a great chance of the puck going out without the other team having to do anything is just stupid.

He doesn't get it either.

3/24/09

LMHF Game Report #35

EDMONTON OILERS 2

VS.

DETROIT RED WINGS 3
-------------------------------------

Are we really going to blow our top over that game? Really?

For quite a time it looked like a Detroit playoff series game from '06 to me quite frankly. A bunch of shot-generating rebounds through the first two periods made it look pretty ugly on the shot clock; but our D was also clearing pucks like madmen as opposed to Detroit's constant blocking of shots. We couldn't get a clear lane to save our souls tonight and that was the downfall of our offence.

It turned into a loss quite similar to those we used to suffer against Dallas in the playoffs. Painful, excruciating, not necessarily like we deserved it. Our goalie played well but couldn't shut the other team out. Our forwards played alright but blew too many chances. I'm really torn about what to say regarding our D. I actually thought they were quite good a lot of the night because Detroit's scoring chances were not.

We're not in this game with mere minutes to go without Roloson being really focused and playing a positionally sound game that kept us in the lead. Even though he was giving up massive rebounds he was recovering wonderfully. How exactly he then let in a long point shot the Hossa shot I really have no idea. Chalk the 3rd goal up to a momentary lapse in team focus and a bad bounce, really too bad that had to be the backbreaker. Things just sort of conspired to end this game in the Oilers not having a point.

The first Oilers goal was a great effort by Penner behind the net, good pass to Hemsky, meanwhile Penner's peeling towards to the front, Hemsky passes to Grebeshkov, Penner in position, Grebeshkov roofs it. A thing of PP beauty. They finally got their 1 shot and it was all that mattered. That's how you do is SHOOOOOOT clowns. Did you not notice how many shots Detroit blocked tonight? It's hard to get through that without patience.

I thought Penner was one of our best tonight. His effort was consistent and he played really well in the corners. His linemates had uncharacteristically weak nights in the offensive zone and that kept him from generating anything 5-on-5.

I'd forgotten how much of a punk Henrik Z is and that we get under his skin so much. He got 2 penalties and should have had 5. What a tool.

The first line is still having an issue with the puck ending up on Horcoff's stick when it is shooting time rather than Hemsky or O'Sullivan. They need to find a way to move the puck between each other rather than through Horcoff. He was good until the opposition circles tonight, but that was about it. He was also asked to lug the puck up the ice way too much tonight, which he cannot do well against a team like Detroit. Shawn is much better when he takes a pass near the blue line while moving and can re-distribute.

I thought Hemsky answered the bell quite well. You were absolutely not getting that puck off his stick tonight. He only got a point its true, but he was excellent; all over the ice including in his own end breaking up plays (along with Nilsson who put in a superlative effort in this regard). What he did to Franzen should have been enough to cross-up the play that led to Hossa's goal, but his D were cheating back too far and gave the DET forwards room to work in. This and the shot going through Roloson resulted in the goal. I don't think anyone expects Hemsky to take down Franzen, but did you see him drag Datsyuk (or was it #40?) all over the ice near the end of the game? That was an amazing display of effort and will. It's really too bad he didn't get one more scoring chance, or that the beauty move he made in the slot was fractions of a second from working.

We had our chances, poor Sam really should have potted one tonight. I think we can all recall a couple very good chances he had in the third along with Patrick O'Sullivan's chance. I really thought that he could have made that backhand into a forehand instead and scored, but we'll never know. Kotalik scoring was nice and I still like him in that role a lot. He uses his size quite well with those two.

The Pouliot-Cogliano-Pisani line was nothing to write home about; you could tell Fernando likes playing Detroit but he missed the net a couple times and wasn't able to generate anything else. I really wonder how good he'd be right now if not for the injuries and illness...poor guy. Pouliot made a lot of good little things happen.

As I mentioned, I'm really too conflicted on our D to make any profound statements here. Grebeshkov was completely unflappable in terms of positioning and playing the man 1-on-1 for so much of the night; that was the main thing I noticed. Smid had a quietly very effective game. Strudwick of all people made a really effective second period pinch that impressed the hell out of me.

Detroit goal #1

-Has anyone seen a good replay of this? I still don't understand how it went in and why Roloson makes a funny flinch move at the puck after being so excellent in terms of focus and control all night.

Detroit goal #2

- Like I said, the D were backed off when they had 2 forwards in the vicinity of the Red Wings and should have made a play. Souray especially, who needs to be within stick-lift range, is useless there. A rotten shame. Overhead replay looked like it went right through Roloson too. Again; what happened?

Detroit goal #3

- Well doesn't that suck...

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

In the end, I have to be positive, we really threw a lot of effort into this one. That team looked like it was playing playoff hockey for a lot of the game even if the execution needed to be better. We checked hard and we fought for pucks very well. I still see hope.

It stinks not to get something out of that game. I thought we'd win 1-0. My dad thought we'd go to a shoot-out and win. Others I spoke to thought the same type of thing. Just not to be I guess.

Too optimistic? I don't know. I thought a lot of guys answered the bell pretty well for us tonight. We'll find it in the final 9.

3/23/09

I see the corner...begin crossovers!

I watched most of the recent Minnesota and Colorado games, which is something I find myself doing less of since moving in with fiancee, work ramping up and other life-stuff popping up. I still don't get near the enjoyment out of it because I feel like I'm watching the game through a small tube and being deprived of so many important things.

With that said, I've noticed that we seem to be a much better team on the road this year for whatever reason. We play differently and whatever it is it seems to work out well.

This trip was different however; especially watching yesterday, even though we lost 3-0, THAT team looked so much better than the one I've watched this year at home. There was more get-up-and-go in that first period than 10 of our home games combined at times this year. We had 4 lines going, we were entering the zone with speed and making good passes, people were playing confidently; it was a joy to watch.

I started to have flashbacks frankly...I've seen our team play like that before in the not-too-distant past. I wonder if any of the rest of you started to notice that. I think we've found some confidence and maybe that's all it took.

It's true that the game was also frustrating and we needed to take advantage of our chances in the first period. Realistically we should have been up at least 3-0. O'Sullivan and Pisani should have scored at the very least. If those go in this is a different game and I'm pretty sure we win it going away. Owen Nolan can't beat us if we don't keep the game so low-scoring like that.

But it's a different team on the ice these nights. I REALLY like our top six. O'Sullivan-Horcoff-Hemsky are figuring each other out and will tear it up down the stretch; mark my works. Nilsson has come back to life and is playing excellently with Gagner and Kotalik. Sam suddenly looks like he could get 40+ points after a long and frustrating year. Kotalik knows his role on that line and does it well.

Then we have this line of Moreau-Brodziak-Penner that's got to be annoying to play against. Penner's relaxed and started just playing his game; which is good positioning, occasionally hitting people, and controlling the puck. Great to see him doing that. It's not worth 4.2, but it's helping us win and that's what matters.

I'm disappointed that Cogliano has been left out in the cold a little bit on this latest binge of good play. On one hand you're disappointed he couldn't continue his goal-scoring, but on the other, if he's in your bottom few players, you must be doing alright! Fernando needs to get going and is settling in after a few games.

The other slot in this lineup is of course up for grabs. It's probably time that Mr. Stortini gets back in even though I prefer the team without him. He's had a good offensive second half though. I'd love to see Brule again, but I think it's pretty clear that's not happening.

On the back end, which I think may be our downfall eventually, we are very simply one man short. It didn't have to be Lubomir Visnovsky, but we'd be in an amazing place if it was. We needed a veteran d-man at the deadline and I don't know why management would think we didn't. Strudwick is a giant black hole back there who's even dragging down the constantly improving play of his partner Smid. Peckham's been better in his limited action and should be playing over Jason. I know he's a good soldier and the coach likes him and all that, but he's making WAY too many mistakes and cannot skate during this desperate time of the year.

I think we could be in for an interesting spring once again. After all this BS this year, I still really think that.

3/17/09

LMHF Game Report #34

EDMONTON OILERS 2

VS.

ST. LOUIS BLUES 1
-------------------------------------------------

Getting two points was obviously the most positive thing we take from this game. We needed it in regulation and couldn't manage it due to a combination of missed chances and some fine goaltending by Mr. Mason, but at least we got it eventually. I'm sure there were moments in overtime where we thought "here we go again" pretty badly in terms of losing in overtime.

The other thing that was largely positive was our defensive effort; it was a pretty solid one aside from a couple moderate lapses.

Our offence may be another story; one of missed chances and far too many shots from the right wing deep in the zone. We took a lot of shots from there that didn't have a shot at going in. But, we did seem to get some lines going that could work if they settle in.

I really enjoyed watching Hemsky and O'Sullivan working the same shift. They are both dynamic guys who can handle the games of one and other. One problem they were having is not knowing where the other was going to be and missing each other in open spaces. Given a couple more games I think they'll be fine. They almost clicked on O'Sullivan's great chance in front of the net and also made some fine neutral zone passes. At least Ales' passing came back tonight even if he's still in his breakaway funk and nearly made a HUGE and costly mistake in overtime. He made a couple feeds to Horcoff that were absolutely sick! As we know, this is not the year for Shawn to convert on those apparently. Outside of the offensive zone he was certainly fine, but he was getting grade A chances in the offensive zone and not converting which just can't be how things go at this point in time. This group of 3 certainly goes along better than having Sam in the middle though.

I also didn't mind the Nilsson-Gagner-Kotalik line. I heard Dan Tencer saying Kotalik didn't have a good game; I disagree fairly strongly. Given the chance to play a more grinding and abrasive role with some offence thrown in, he did well. He also gets his hard slapper away off of his back foot with amazing power. That thing is going to start going in when we figure out how to position it. The shootout goal for me was a bonus on a good performance. Sam's really coming on strong. His assist was the result of good positioning and using his body well which is something he did all night. this part of Sam's game has improved markedly in the latter half of this year. Robert was good, not great but certainly good. He carried the puck quite well and his positioning was solid.

I really liked the Moreau-Brodziak-Penner line's performance tonight. Penner specifically. He was not outstanding on the PP and needs to work desperately on his play in front of the net, but he drove and drew a penalty, used his size and positioning well and made the absolute most of his icetime. He put forth a fine effort and needs to find a way to continue this. Brodziak was stong in a support role and did his job in the faceoff circle well. Moreau taking on Woywitka for touching Hemsky was inspiring. He may have taken a penalty late again, but it was a BS penalty.

This game was interesting in that it came after our discussion of what the linesmen were calling. That was the single worst linesman-call game I've seen. Bad icings, all kinds of blown off-sides (especially the Hemsky one that wound up as an intentional and could have cost a goal), it was putrid. The reffing was pretty brutal as well. That call on Nilsson was absolute bull for one.

I agree that having Cogliano with Reddox and Pisani is a waste of his game. Pisani's not doing anything at all in terms of offence right now, and Reddox, no matter how he tries is always one move too late to capitalize on his chances. This essentially means its either a Cogliano breakaway or nothing. That's unacceptable to me. I'd REALLY like to see Brule on a line like this but that's not going to happen. Cogliano made two great defensive plays in the third; one to recover a puck near the goal line and one near the blue line, that got the team out of ugly situations. He used his assets in his role very well tonight. Reddox was okay. He needs to be in and out of the lineup to keep his effectiveness up at this stage.

I feel the need to single out Denis Grebeshkov. This guy has really become a player. Slamming captain cheeseburger into the boards like he did was just icing on the cake. He makes the right play pretty much every time in the corner with puck. along with at the opposition blue line. Again tonight he got an assist making the cross-ice pass in that position. Right now he is in fact playing better than Gilbert (though I still believe Tom superior overall).I don't think you can let him go. Either for that matter. The physical element that Grebeshkov has added to his game makes him an incredibly dynamic defender capable of just about any role at any time.

I'd describe Gilbert's game as pretty mediocre. He had good moments, then he had moments like in the second where he looked, saw a Blues attacker near the blue line, and made a really nice bounce pass right to him. It didn't make any sense. It was like he went flat braindead for a minute.

Souray and Staios were solid; though Souray is really having issues generating any kind of productive rebound lately. Also, Staios did not play the Blues goal very well at all. He wasn't helped by a goalie intent on sliding to who knows where and giving away half the net, but he still could have helped prevent the goal.

Smid makes all the difference in his pairing on a decent night. He needs to learn to take plays like his wonderful little rush in the second and capitalize on them by finding a forward. It seems like everytime he does this it ends in a weak shot on net or a dump. That's okay but should be better because he has the skill.

Strudwick again struggled aside from his end-to-end rush...meaning he made it all the way down to the other end of the ice with the puck still in his possession. At least he's got that old and slow guy who used to wear #32 beat. Defensively he was bad. At one point in the second he had 2 clear passing outlets and instead took dead aim at the corner boards and bounced it straight to a Blues defender. So bad.

Roloson was good and made the key saves when we needed him too. I'm sure he got lucky on the first Blues SO attempt, but he did well on the others.

I truly hope this can begin a winning streak as we so sorely need one.

3/15/09

LMHF Game Report #33

EDMONTON OILERS 2

VS.

COLORADO AVALANCHE 3
--------------------------------------

It's funny, I finally have a night where there are no other demands on my time and I could relax and write a really long and detailed game report.

But I won't. Not analyzing those clowns that were on that ice tonight.

We probably didn't deserve a goal. Nilsson got tremendously lucky on a bad play by a Colorado defenceman and Souray got a triple-screen on a double-clutch. Aside from the first ten minutes of the first period we had nothing.

I hope everyone caught the only shift for Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky. Ales almost scored, then Horcoff got a great chance (he blew it, but still) and then Hemsky missed an open puck and Penner couldn't manage one, but at least they generated something good together. Much as I want O'Sullivan to play with Hemsky, get the Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky line back together. They're the best shot we have right now regardless of what the coach thinks of Penner. MacTavish is getting in the way of the most effective line available.

Next year I think it'll be O'Sullivan with Hemsky, but not as it was tonight. I have no idea why MacTavish chose to use Gagner as the centre there. I know he's been playing really well lately (and continued that to some extent tonight) but the answer there at the moment in Horcoff.

Good God is Strudwick looking bad on D right now...and for him to be out there so late in the game is just plain criminal. He could have cost us this thing at any time. Peckham's already a better hockey player and should be in when Smid comes back. We'll never see that though. Our coach would rather have reliable even if its worse.

The winning goal was pretty shameful. Staios was horrid all game including some of the stupidest fire-it-around-the-boards plays I've ever seen and a horrid display of passing all night. I'm not shocked at all he blew it. What the heck he was trying to do out there I have no idea. If he backs off and picks up his man the rebound likely doesn't happen and the game goes on. Sure the rebound shouldn't have happened anyway, but still. Every D-man knows not to do what he did. With that said, it was a bad rebound night for our goalie, they were everywhere.

Ever since Cogliano's become invisible, this team has been a lot worse.

Pisani still hasn't done anything. I know he's trying to work his way back in but he's got to find a way to be effective.

Did anyone get a better view of Penner's "penalty" than me? It looked like he'd drawn one with a great drive to the net from my angle. I thought he played pretty decently along with his linemates. Good play specifically by Brodziak leading to Souray's goal.

Nilsson sure got screwed tonight. He was playing fine and then suddenly didn't get to play.

Finally a forward has more icetime than Horcoff! O'Sullivan is disturbingly versatile. This guy could be big-time for us once he settles in. I hope there's a new coach to help him along, that's for sure.

Grebeshkov's defensive coverage has come a really long way, and on nights like tonight I notice that he uses his body to defend the puck in an amazingly efficient manner. We've got to find a way to keep this guy.

Management was kidding themselves or flat-lying when talking about our D being okay without getting some help. We needed another vet BEFORE Visnovsky went down, with him gone it should have been 100% automatic.

It is so hard to watch a team with so much talent (and they do have it) struggle so mightily. This is the exact opposite of the hockey I watched that '05-'06 team play. We're at the absolute minimum of where our talent can get us.

All we can really do is hope it improves...I guess.

Man is this depressing. Colorado? Atlanta? Montreal? Ottawa? REALLY?!?!?!

3/13/09

LMHF Game Report #32

EDMONTON OILERS 3

VS.

ATLANTA THRASHERS 4
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Well, that was stupid. I really think that sums up the game. Stupid. It was stupid that Atlanta was still in the game. It was stupid that their backup goalie was able to stop some great chances of ours. It was stupid that Tom Gilbert played one of his worst games in a LONG time. It was stupid to sit Penner after he stood up for our best player. It was stupid O’Sullivan didn’t get more icetime and didn’t really get to play with Hemsky. I think that about covers it.

It’s kind of sad when the first line has a really bad game like that. They just weren’t very useful. Take away the PP goal (which isn’t the same line anyway) and they were pretty ineffective. The rest of the lines worked fairly well.

The only positive I take out of this game really is that Marty beat us. He deserves it. Good on him even though it was a bad shot choice that shouldn’t have gone in.

I think I figured out what about or offensive system doesn’t work in terms of stopping the other team from exiting the zone. A bunch of the time, our high man does not engage the new puck-carrier as a normal hockey system would when the puck moves side to side. For some reason he’s instructed to back out, while the men hopelessly too far on the other side chase the man out. This is a horrible way to try to keep the other team hemmed in. It kills so many of our offensive possessions. This is something that is clearly not on the players and is causing us problems. It also goes against the most basic hockey logic.

Even though Horcoff scored from his spot on the PP, O’Sullivan needs a chance to play there. He’ll put more in.

Fix this team already. We had enough quality forwards in the lineup FINALLY tonight and they were utilized totally ineffectively.

Cogliano goes 1-for-7 on a line with another centre and a guy who tried to play centre this year and keeps getting thrown in there??? Insanity!

PLAYER REPORTS

Kotalik-Horcoff-Hemsky

They just weren’t good tonight. Hemsky started out the game pretty well, even on his first shift generating a good chance. After the start though he wasn’t that great. He made a good choice to try to score, then a good recovery and a good pass to Grebeshkov before he passed to Horcoff. Now, for the record, there were not 3 times Hemsky failed to shoot with great chances. There was won. You cannot put a puck through a human being, and that’s what he would have had to do twice. With that said, I think something’s wrong because he just isn’t the same right now. Horcoff was pretty invisible in the offensive zone and didn’t win enough faceoffs tonight. He kept getting kicked out though too which was really odd. He was being cheated against. Kotalik got a couple good chances and took a couple really good shots but wasn’t really very effective. Not a great game by these guys at all. They didn’t lose it for us by any stretch, but they could and should have won it.

O’Sullivan-Cogliano-Pisani

Poor Fernando was invisible. He also doesn’t look to O’Sullivan near as much as he should because O’Sullivan glides into open areas where he can get the puck and Pisani doesn’t get to him. He needs to look to O’Sullivan first because he’s more dangerous and in better position to take passes. Watching O’Sullivan play his first game here was an educational experience. I could appreciate his skill on TV, but you don’t get the full picture until you watch him specifically. He’s great positionally, takes on everyone when he has the puck, plays the game smart and is a plain threat to score when he gets the puck. I haven’t seen an Oiler score a goal like he did all year. He completely sold everyone on the pass to Cogliano, out-waited Hedberg and then finished very simply. That was how a goal is supposed to be scored! Play him with Hemsky. Kotalik’s had his chance. I liked that Andy smashed his stick after the loss. At least he cares. He didn’t play great in terms of creating offence tonight. The offence needs to flow through O’Sullivan and Cogliano with Pisani supporting, unfortunately right now it seems that it’s O’Sullivan having to support doesn’t work.

Nilsson-Gagner-Pouliot

They were better than I thought they were and I was quite happy to see them score that goal. We really needed it and it capitalized on a few good shifts in a row. I suppose we needed one more of those goals as it turned out. Nilsson played a really solid game and even laid a big hit on Boulton that looked like it hurt him. That was excellent. Not that he has to do it every game, but once in a while is great. Pouliot was okay and did what he needed to do I suppose. Gagner I enjoyed a fair bit tonight. He was good on the PP and 5-on-5 as well.

Moreau-Brodziak-Penner

Penner stood up for his teammate and got rewarded with a stupid set of penalties and a seat. So crappy. I’m not sure of the value of having Moreau in the lineup with that visor as he’s not intimidating anybody and lost his offensive stride long ago. Brodziak was severely undershifted.

Smid-Strudwick

These two have been holding their own but cost us the game tonight. Atlanta’s first two goals were directly Strudwick’s fault and partially Smid’s as well. You can’t prevent your goalie from going cross-crease. You can’t stand two feet from your partner in an odd man rush. You can’t get tied up with a useless man. You can’t fall into the corner because you’re a crummy skater and cost your team. Smid really turned it around and finished well, but it couldn’t save the team.

Souray-Staios

They did well enough, though Souray was taking a really long time getting his shot going tonight and wasn’t able to generate anything from it. That’s too bad. Staios played fairly well.

Gilbert-Grebeshkov

Denis had a solid game and made several elite-level plays to protect the puck in the face of tough pressure. Tom had a horrid game. He couldn’t make a pass, kept blowing his coverage and made one of the stupidest plays at the end of the game I’ve seen in a long time. What possessed him not to put his hand up (as Sam did to create a lovely goal earlier) and instead wave his stick, missing and putting himself out of position, I have no idea. He’ll rebound because he’s an excellent young defenceman, but what a crummy way to close it out.

Roloson

He’s tired. No doubt. Should have stopped Reasoner’s shot, should have stopped the point shot, should have stopped the backhand. I’ll give him the cross-ice because Strudwick screwed that up for him but he didn’t make any big saves tonight. He got out played by Hedberg. That’s kinda sad.
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The reffing stunk too. A perfect example of why the NHL is currently in a bad spot was the obvious two-armed hold on Smid being not called and the “hook” of Pisani late getting called. This is a league that thinks one hand on a stick being held by your opponent’s arm is a penalty but slowing you down using a bearhug isn’t.

STUPID.

3/5/09

Next year's Edmonton Oilers

I'm sure everyone can agree that a lot changed for this team yesterday. 2 new top 6 forwards is always a curious change and there can be no doubt that the rest of the season will be interesting to watch.

I'm still pretty sure we make the playoffs...I'm less sure we get anywhere...and though I'm quite happy with our return for Cole; he would have been excellent in those playoffs.

What's more interesting for me is next year.

I'm thinking there will be substantial movement (again) and that we'll have to wait for chemistry to form on this team yet again, but that maybe we're in a better position for next year now.

i think it's nearly a lock that the following players will be gone regardless of what else happens:

Penner
Nilsson

After that it's tough to say; though I think our obvious targets are a guy like Frolov and a guy like Harding. If Jay Bouwmeester wants to come home; it's really hard to say no. That would likely spell the end of either Gilbert or Grebeshkov, which would make me sad, but I could see it happening.

Frolov(4)-Horcoff(6.5)-Hemsky(4)
Cogliano(1)-O'Sullivan(2.9)-Kotalik(2)
Moreau(2)-Gagner(1.6)-Pisani (2.5)
Pouliot/Reddox/Brule-Brodziak-Stortini/MacIntyre (2 combined)

28.5

Visnovsky(5.6)-Bouwmeester (6)
Souray(5.4)-Gilbert(4)
Smid(2)-Peckham(.5)
Strudwick (.5)

24mil

I could see. But nothing left for a goalie really...so we'd have to find a way to likely move a guy like Moreau as well. With a PP of:

Frolov-O'Sullivan-Hemsky
Visnovsky-Souray

Cogliano-Horcoff-Gagner
Kotalik-Bouwmeester

Fun thoughts anyway. Curse you salary cap!!!

3/3/09

Deadline Eve

Well...here we are, it's every wannabe GM's favorite time of the year!

A lot of people view a team's approach to this situation as a very complicated thing...I actually think it's quite simple:

- We are very likely to make the playoffs
- Therefore; we should trim excess fat that doesn't play a part in our future to give ourselves the best possible shot at a Stanley Cup. Period.
- Also, as always, we're looking for trades to improve the team including large needs we may have in both the immediate and long term.

My Rental List

I'd be happy with any or a combination of:

Bill Guerin
Mike Comrie
Richard Park
Chris Neil
Filip Kuba
Steve Reinprecht
Dean McAmmond
Marty Reasoner
Ian Laperriere
Jordan Leopold

My Big Name List

I would push hard for:

Alex Frolov
Jay Bouwmeester
Ilya Kovalchuk
Marian Gaborik
Chris Pronger

My Get Rid of List

I'd jump for joy if we could dump:

Dustin Penner's contract, and especially to the Leafs

What do I expect us to do? I don't really know. I expect to hear a lot of excuses about whatever it is we do or don't do in the reactions to things though.

Good luck to the crew tomorrow; land us a winner!

3/1/09

LMHF Game Report #31

EDMONTON OILERS 3

VS.

MINNESOTA WILD 2
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Overall, I’m not quite sure about tonight’s game. There were a lot of things I liked:

- As a team, we had a much more full effort from top to bottom

- We blocked shots more effectively than we have in a long time

- We moved through the offensive zone much more effectively

- We played against Minnesota with confidence

- We made a line change that worked

- Roloson’s fundamentals were back and he had a spectacular night

Still, we had substantial difficulties and this team didn’t cure anything in one game:

- Even for a guy who doesn’t care about shot totals, 45 + our blocks is WAY too many allowed to be directed at our net

- Our third period effort was not the greatest, despite the fact that we did generate a few chances to get the winner

- Losing Moreau, despite his strange play of late, could be a huge problem

PLAYER REPORTS

Reddox-Horcoff-Hemsky

- Ales had a better game than in his last few, that’s for sure. Oddly enough he seemed to enjoy some chemistry once Liam Reddox joined the first line. What happened was that the first line suddenly because a cycling line in the offensive zone, and had 2 passers instead of 1 which allowed them to be effective at this. Hemsky’s goal was a great wrist shot from the right spot on an excellent read and pass from Horcoff; but more importantly an excellent pass reception by Hemsky. Reddox blocked shots, used his speed, and passed the puck very well, including a backhander to Stortini out of the corner into the clear and a great pass through the D to Gilbert who had snuck in from the point and took a great shot. Horcoff was given way too many minutes; but played very well and was effective. A little bit of stumbling in the offensive zone but otherwise good.

Pouliot-Gagner-Cole

- I wasn’t a fan of Pouliot winding up here in the least; and he played okay in this spot but certainly didn’t blow anybody away. Cole was good but really wasn’t integrated into the flow of the game very well. I hope this wasn’t the last game I’ll see him play in an Oilers uniform. Gagner was alright tonight but still looked significantly lacking in confidence in the offensive zone. He was getting to the high middle of the zone with the puck and trying to make moves, but more slowly. It’s really too bad that he couldn’t tap in the insurance goal in the third after his line game in on a rush and he was given a chance to finish. Harding did a fine job so it really wasn’t a failure in terms of a play but still disappointing.

Moreau-Cogliano-Pisani

- Cogliano didn’t play as many minutes as I think he needs to; he played alright but simply didn’t get anything specific done I suppose. His efforts in the defensive zone were pretty solid. Fernando looked much more comfortable in this game and generated some offence tonight which is what we will need from him going forward. Moreau was looking okay I suppose but certainly wasn’t having anything in the way of a special game.

Penner-Brodziak-Stortini

- Penner wasn’t playing a great game and got benched. This may be necessary but it sure isn’t a good situation for the team. Brodziak brought his usually solid effort and got more icetime which is a good thing from my perspective. He was on for Stortini’s goal and did a good job on that shift certainly. Stortini probably took one of the best shots of his life; but the goal was more than that because a lot of that play is positioning and being ready.

Souray-Staios

- This pair was okay; their offensive and defensive efforts may not have been as important as their toughness and snarly play. That made an impression on Minnesota and backed them off.

Gilbert-Grebeshkov

- Denis looked pretty good in his comeback and laid a couple really solid hits which was certainly something to see. He adds so much to our defence and I sure hope we can secure him for the coming years. Gilbert played a solid game.

Strudwick-Smid

- I loved Smid’s rush up the ice in the second period. That guy can really make people miss and came close to being rewarded with a beautiful goal. He was solid defensively as he usually is. I didn’t notice Strudwick much, which is usually a good thing.

Roloson

- Pretty fantastic. That is all.
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I have a hard time with the fact that it wasn’t obvious that we had a bad defensive effort; yet giving up that many chances/shots/pucks towards our net cannot be a good thing.

Add to this team already. And I’m not going to mind terribly if Reddox starts out with Hemsky next game. Odd I know; but we’ve got nothing right now.