Friday, March 31, 2006

The Plan

Revelling in a big win over the Kings last night. Woke up this morning smiling, even though the house once again smells like dog ass - I mean the entire house. I think the big fellow may have been down on Gerrard Street having a little Indian buffet. Anyhow, I've been entertaining thoughts on next year's Oil. Getting ahead of myself I know but ...

Oil free agents include:

Samsonov
Dvorak
Pisani
Peca
Laraque
Murray
Harvey
Spacek
Tarnstrom
Ulanov
Roloson

Under Contract with @ salary or RFAs (I've factored in raises for guys like Torres - just estimates but I think its ballpark)

Smyth 3.5
Horcoff 2 (?) - I thought Horcoff had a two year deal - have no idea what he will sign for but let's say 2
Torres 1
Stoll .75
Hemsky 1
Moreau 1.1
Pouliot .8
Pronger 6.25
Smith 2
Staios 1.6
Bergeron .6
Greene .5
Markannen .9

Total 22 Million give or take

Lets start with the D - its easiest. I think they can keep Spacek for @ 2.5 - he's making 2.25 this year. Spacek has played for some bad teams and there is a glut of D on the market - I think he's a nice fit and would go to 2.75 with him. For the 7th D forget Tarnstrom and Ulanov - I am sure old Ooly is going to hang em' up. Let's pick up a solid vet who can take care of his own zone - a Weinrich type for 1.

That takes us to 25.5

Up front we need to resign Dvorak and Pisani. I think we can do both for a total of 2. Pisani for 1 for sure, maybe a little more. He may be my second favourite Oiler after Smytty. A heart and soul guy. Reward him. Dvorak takes a paycut to 1 from 1.6 - while I like him I can't see anyone paying him more then 1 for @ 10 goals a year.

We then need 5 forwards, mostly for the fourth line. Peca is gone anyhow. I like Murray as our 13th guy, he's versatile - keep him for .7. Two rooks - Jacques and Brodziak or Winchester - for 1. Another vet, someone like Kilger or MacCammond for .8.

We're at 30.

Here is where it gets iffy - I think we come in between 34-36 its a reasonable amount and leaves us wiggle room this year. If we can keep Sammy for 3 or a little more then do it - I have a feeling he's going to get a stupid offer from somewhere (leafs, islanders??) and while I like him they can't overpay for him. He's a good player, not a great one. Lets say 3.2 gets it done and keep our fingers crossed.

33.2

Goaler - no gambling this year - no taking a chance on Raycroft regaining his lost form or Kevin Weekes finally becoming a number 1 guy.

Three options

Esche - at 1 MM he is the cheapest but he also is not having a great year - having said that (and I know what I just said) I think he's a proven quality starter if a bit of a nutter

Giguere - at 4MM he is the most expensive but also the best of the lot - Burke is remaking his team and with a young keeper in the wings and Giggy up for UFA next summer this may be his best chance to get value

Roloson - while I am not totally sold on Rolly yet if he continues to get better and puts together a nice playoff performance (like winning the Cup maybe) then bring him back - he'd come in around 2MM

Total 34-36MM and some wiggle room to resign Smytty in 2007.

And if they go all the way, I mean all the way, resign every single last one of them, even Peca, damn the consequences!


Edited to reflect Horcoff's contract status - thought he had a two year deal at 1M per.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Trade Me Right Fucking Now

This is getting painful.

God, do I hate Jack Lemaire and the Minnesota Wild.

Even when it was 2-1 Oil I knew that it would not turn out well.

And I was right.

You never make it easy, do you boys?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Another two points

Back to the Score ticker last night for Oil updates and nicely done, another two points. Hard to comment on a game that I saw only a few highlights of but here goes anyhow.

- by all accounts it was a grind of a game but good on the Oil for mucking it out and getting two points - they seem to be showing some nice sticktoitiveness -

- Roloson, I think, is rounding into form - 31 shots last night and as bad as he looked in the shootout on Thursday he certainly did the job last night

- nice hands on Sammy - and looks like Smyth has decided that he will set the tone

- big week - Minnesota, LA and Calgary - and a lot of their rivals have head to heads - they could really make some hay if they carry on as they have played the last three - it would be nice to relax for say, the last week or so of the season

What do you say boys?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More like it

Great effort all round from the Oil last night - a full 60 minutes - when is the last time that we saw that. Team defence was stifling - especially in the last seven minutes of the third - and nobody but Naslund looked even remotely dangerous 5 on 5. Excellent discipline but strong physical play with Smyth setting the tone early and Moreau, Torres, Hemsky (?) following up. Compare this to Bertuzzi's penalties - two - both stupid.

Best signs - Smyth, Hemsky, Horcoff, Moreau, Pronger, Spacek, Smith - in other words their best players and/or leaders, set the tone with strong play in every facet. And Staios was a beast - what a terrific game at both ends of the rink. Pisani too.

Fourth line reated some energy and had a nice forecheck going. Peca had a nice game except had two chances to clear on their first PK and was a little lackadaisical both times. Made up for it on the nice play on Naslund in the third and an overall strong game.

Roloson looked good but man, the rebound control.

All in all a needed two points but where has this been for the last two months!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tonight is the Night

Let's hope so, anyhow.

Have a good feeling about this one - don't think the Canucks have the talent or the inclination to put the Oilers away and get another point or two now that they already have four. And the Oil have always, in their latest incarnation anyhow, played best when their backs are against the wall.

And I'll actually get to watch this game for a nice change of pace. Guinness are getting nice and cold as we speak.

In other news, Tahir Domi was shocked, shocked to find out that he was not going to play in the first game against the Habs. We'll see if he draws in tonight or if they continue to put people with talent in the lineup.

That goes for you too Wilm.

Go Oil.

Friday, March 24, 2006

break up the Chiefs!

We thought we were really really ready for this game.

Really.

JFJ better watch his back or Quinn's going to push him in front of the next train. My God, what a disaster.

Name three Leafs who are either meeting or exceeding expectations.

I saw Jeff O'Neill on the Danforth one Sunday morning when I was taking my kids for a walk. I actually thought he was a homeless guy who bore a striking resemblance to Jeff O'Neill. A couple of days later I saw them interviewing him about his place on the Danforth. Poor guy is fucked up.

Jason Allison has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt why in some cases stats mean nothing.

They should have traded Tucker while he had some value - he's starting to revert to his Sideshow Bob persona. Guy dives more then Alexander Despatie.

Wade Belak was exhibit A as to why they needed a cap. Making 1 million bucks a year to sit in the pressbox. My God he's terrible. See you in Lowell buddy.

Aki Berg makes Cory Cross look like Scott Niedermeyer. At least poor old Cross gives it his all. Aki made Mike Grier look like Ovechkin.

Andropov is slower then Berg.

Luke Richardson is slower then Andropov.

Notice a trend?

McCabe is the most overrated defenceman in the NHL and he's laughing all the way to the bank because when everyone turns down MLSE's millions this year JFJ is going to give this bum (stupid is no way to go through life son) 25 Million and 5 years.

And Sundin. Poor Mats. He's done. Everyone apologizing for his lack of production - "well, he's a two way player" - well he'd better be for that price - and where's the offence? Poor Mats.

Domi's keeping his mouth shut now. After whinging about his first benching he's taking it like a man now. Hey Tahir - you can't skate, can't score, can't check, don't hit, won't fight. Keep it down. If they remember you're around you might get the golden handshake. And please stop whining about how you turned down more money to sign elsewhere to stay in T.O. Everyone knows nobody is as dumb as "The Premier Franchise in Hockey" TM Larry Tanenbaum.

Oh yes, who has met expectations this year? Kilger. Steen. Wellwood. And they wanted to farm Wellwood out.

Nice.

Could be worse. They could be the Leafs

Well, the latest BGOTY resulted in a point, meaning one out of a possible four taken and worse for the Oil the Canucks have four of four. As always, stuck in T.O. I saw nothing but highlights and the ticker but Samsanov was flying from what I could see and if Pisani is unrestricted this year (is that right) please sign the guy now. He's got a knack for the big goal in th ebig game for sure. At least I'll be able to watch Saturday's game. Random thoughts:

- what's happened to the first line?
- man, is Roloson ever struggling - still think he's an upgrade which is even scarier to think about
- for all those Edmonton equivalents of Tony from Woodbridge - who should the Oilers have gotten?
- having said that Lowe should have made the move for a tender earlier - hindsight is 20/20 though and I have to say I for one wasn't unhappy with his handling of it so ... shows what I know
- in the first half of the year I saw poor goaltending and poor Cross and Ulanov getting strafed everytime they were on the ice but other then that I was thinking this team could contend for the Cup - get a tender and they could contend - but having added Spacek who apparently has been great, Tarnstrom, Samsanov and Roloson over the past while and the wheels have fallen off, 7 regulation wins in 30 games is the number I saw this morning
- how the hell does that happen?

Having said that, they could be the Leafs. Their performance in their own BGOTY (until Saturday) made the Oilers performance on Tuesday look like the Habs against Red Army on New Years. They were that bad. But what to expect from Dorothy's Pals - they have no heart, no brains and no courage. Sundin is done. They are old and slow. They will have plenty of money under the cap to sign all of the retreads that no one else wants this summer - nice plan JFJ - we'll sign all of the great UFA this summer with all of our money - Iginla, LeCavalier, Thornton, etc etc. Soon there will be nobody left but Allison. Again. And McCabe.

So, rejoice Oiler fans for at least the Oilers are not totally screwed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This can't be good

Why oh why do the Oil never make it easy on themselves?

Seriously, even with the crappy goaltending, this team should have been home and cooled out a long time ago. Instead we have their annual "must win each game to make the playoffs" March and April.

Out of a playoff spot this morning after what was by all accounts a disastrous performance last night. In only the BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR until Thursday they completely shit the bed.

Lack of discipline.

Getting completely creamed in the first period, falling into a hole they try to but cannot get out of.

Poor decisions always at the worse possible time.

Hallmarks of this team for quite a while not just this year.

Anyone think if Jack Lemaire was coaching this team that they'd a) play like they did last night and b) even be in this position

If this team does not make the playoffs and win a round MacT has to go - time to raise the bar a bit here boys.

Jesus.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sweet Oily Oil

Stuck here in Leaf Ville - I swear there will be no hockey coverage once these jokers disappear down the drain - I don't get to see any of the other Canadian squads fighting to actually compete in the playoffs.

So my love of the Oilers is reduced to following the Score ticker and last night I was properly rewarded with an overtime victory - le victoire de overtime.

Not out of the woods yet but they are in control of their own destiny right now, which is better then before. Roloson is doing what is expected of him as is Samsanov.

It would be nice, if for once, they actually qualified for the playoffs with a week or so to spare. I hate to say it being a good old Canadian boy and all but a sweep of those gutless wonders from Vancouver would just about do it I think. I think San Jose gets in (and knocks off Detroit or Dallas in the first round). The Oil too. In fifth or sixth for that matter. Then its up to the Avs, Canucks, Ducks and Kings to fight it out. They all play each other a ton too so ....

Who knows.

Death march of the Chiefs - Domi, Berg et al

Sweetness.

Happiness is watching these bums stumble towards oblivion. What a bunch of arseholes. Aki Berg gets beat by Mike Grier, a nice guy who will never be mistaken for Mario Lemieux or even Mario Tremblay. They should have traded him after the Olympics when people were all agog over his performance with the Finns, before he reverted to his old self.

And Tie Domi acting all hurt after he was benched last week. All offended like he could not BELIEVE that he was actually sat out for a game. Apparently he was supposed to have been sat months ago but when Quinn found out he had rented a box for family and friends for his scheduled 1000th game he did not sit him.

And that tells you all you need to know about this team. Intersting too that since Domi sat he has played his best hockey of the year. Imagine!?

The truth of the matter is that this team is going to be out of the hunt for a while yet. The teams struggling to make the playoffs along with them - Atlanta, Tampa and Montreal - all have a lot more young talent, not to mention Florida and dare we say down the road, Washington.

And this whole idea that JFJ is going to buy himself a team this summer - not going to happen. Potential free agents have been resigning with their own teams like crazy - Jokinen, Thornton, LeCavalier etc - not much left out there and watch for Jovo and Chara to reup as well, maybe Redden will be available but if you were him would you sign with the Leafs or someone who actually has a chance to win something.

Nope - it will be McCabe and Kaberle, poor old Mats and, just like this year, a bunch of hasbeens and castoffs. Watch for the Canucks to try and unload Bertuzzi on these jokers. Now there would be a match made in heaven!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A goaler

Well, I'm not so sure. I know I have him pegged as a backup in my previous post but ... Decent save % and GAA. He's an improvement, I think. Never thought Minnesota would give him to the Oil though - they're only seven points behind. Guess they figure either Roloson won't help Edmonton that much or the return outweighed the risk??

And for all of the Alberta equivalents of Tony from Woodbridge posting to the TSN message board that Lowe didn't get Joseph or Belfour, get a life. Roloson is better then either and in Belfour's case they would have had to pick up his option. No thank you!

The only guys I would have preferred were Biron who apparently is going nowhere and Luongo and that was a longshot. Raycroft and Noronen might be longterm projects but no time for that now.

Now if they could get someone to play on the second line - Parrish perhaps? Or Tucker. Oh, that's right the Leafs would never do that - they're going all the way now!!

Asses.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Goaler

So, if its to be believed that the Oilers match up with any team in the league and I believe that they do - balanced scoring including a gamebreaker offensively in Hemsky, decent special teams, excellent role players, a deep and experienced defence - and they need a goalie, then who?

The problem is that before the lockout everyone had good, if not great goaltending. Remember that goaltending was not an issue when the Oilers did not make the playoffs - it was the usual - lack of secondary scoring and lack of depth on D that did them in. The goaltending was solid if not spectacular. While there were only a handful of elite goaltenders few teams had real worries in net.

Was it the equipment changes, increased offence, rust from the layoff leading to poor performance leading to loss of confidence? Suddenly goalies with GAA around 2.00 and save % over .900 (everyone in the league) looked mortal again at the beginning of the year and while some - Kipper, Brodeur, Turco, Aebisher - bounced back from poor starts, others (and here the list is almost endless) saw their seasons (Theodore, Khabibulin) and in some cases their careers (Lalime, Thibeault, Conklin) in jeopardy.

So the Oil can't just run out and get a top notch goalie for a low end draft pick and the problem is there is not a lot out there. May as well stick with the crap you have then replace it with more crap. What's the point?

The has beens
- Curtis Joseph is the most overrated goalie ever! Nice guy. Has never ever ever won anything and the few times he actually had a chance to make something happen - Stanley Cup semis with the Leafs, World Cup, Olympics - he coughed it up.
- Eddie Belfour is not a nice guy. Unlike Joseph he has won, a lot. And he has billions of dollars with which to bribe police. But Eddie is done. All of those years saving McCabe, Kaberle, AkiBerg and the rest of the worst defensive team in history (Pat Quinn and that retarded drunk Rick Ley have some system in place, no) have destroyed him, mind, body and soul.

The Career Backups
- Kevin Weekes, Dwayne Roloson et al. There's a reason these guys are backups and always have been backups - see Markannen, Jussi. Good goalie - sure. Might he get hot for a week or two - sure. He may even win you a series. But so might the guys you have now.

The "WTF" happened to:

- Robert Esche and Andrew Raycroft - these guys are intriguing, especially Raycroft. Esche, I could take or leave before this year but Raycroft ... maybe. I think, like Theodore, they came off the lockout rusty and out of shape. They struggled, got injured and by the time they were healthy they had lost their jobs. Raycroft could be the guy but its a gamble and do you want to gamble? Of course there are no sure things available so ...

The Kipper Dream

- Toskula and Noronon - ahh to pick up a third stringer for nothing, plug him in and watch him carry you within a goal of the Cup and then become perhaps the best goalie in the League. maybe back in November but not now ...

The Dream

- probably not available but if they could pry Luongo out of Florida - it might cost them Robbie Schremp among others but oh boy - don't think so but if they could get the right deal. They might watch him walk at the end of '07 but they could pay him next year at least no problem (bye bye Peca and Laraque covers that)

The likely

- Biron for Staios or some such thing - lets hope so anyhow - just not Joseph or Belfour

We need a goaler but who?

Today the Oilers sit four points out of fourth and six points out of the division lead (in the toughest division in the NHL) and all of this without a bona fide #1 goalie.

You know what this means (if I dare say it) with a proven stopper they could actually threaten for (gulp) le Coupe Stanley.

Why not? Its wide open this year. No team, except perhaps Ottawa (and without Hasek they fall back to the pack as well) can be said to stand head and shoulders above the rest. There is nobody who you can look at and say there is no way that team loses in the first round. That rarely is the case anyhow but especially this year.

The Rangers and Carolina - can't see it really - especially now that Cole is gone.
Tampa - out of sync and goaltending issues - they barely won in '04 with Khabby and everyone firing on all cylinders - whatever happened to St.Louis
Jersey - maybe an upset in the first round but no Niedermeyer or Stevens
Montreal - maybe an upset in the first round

So that leaves Buffalo, the Flyers and Ottawa and does anyone think any of these teams is going to power through everybody?

In the West

Detroit - another first or maybe second round flame out at best - with the softest schedule in the league and a team that has failed in the playoffs early for years now - come on
Nashville - nope
Canucks - if they make it in and all hands are healthy - maybe - but after the Sedins and Anson Carter can they get anymore scoring?
LA/San Jose/Anaheim - whoever is 8th may beat the Wings but then - nada
Colorado - no longer have the horses - no Foote - no Forsberg

So we have the Flames and Dallas (who I don't know if I can take seriously or not - I really haven't seen them) and maybe maybe the Oilers.

if they get the goaltending ....

Too late now

Ahh, if only they had traded him around Christmas, when McCabe Mania was at its height and Bill Watters was proclaiming that there was no way they could keep Bryan McCabe off the Olympic team. We all know how that turned out - overmatched, useless and way out of his league. And now we once again see the McCabe we know and love. Stupid penalties. Out of position. Brutal giveaways. His one big asset, his shot, taken away by smart penalty killing.

The guy cares and he's a hard worker but so is Tie Domi. He's overpaid and if he's looking for 5 Million a year good riddance and good luck to the team dumb enough to give it to him when Chara, Jovanoski and Redden are all available.

My guess, the Leafs give it to him. Because when it comes to being stupid nobody does it like MLSE.

And watching them fall out of the playoffs (plummet really). Beautiful beautiful.

Good Weekend


Pints at the Only on Friday night. Friends over for drinks Saturday. Hockey yesterday - last game before the playoffs. Lost but we can play better so not a total wash. And to top it all of two wins for the Oilers and a big win for Spurs in the Premiership. Good week for Robbie Keane. Signed a contract extension with Spurs. Named Captain of Ireland and scored in their 3-0 win over the Swedes on Wednesday. Then two goals Sunday including one of the sweetest I have ever seen. Looks like they'll be in European competition next year and maybe even Champions league. Pretty sweet.