Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Stamkos with three assists yesterday and Doughty with an elite play in the third today, a spin away from his man at the redline, carrying the puck into the Slovak zone and then the saucer to Turris for the insurance goal.
Penner has looked quite good lately but things had better look up in the second half. Read the comment thread here - note what Gare Joyce says about Stamkos. And while many commenters have said that the Oilers are loaded with young D so who cares about those next picks after #1, I. for one, prefer not to wonder what might have been if the Oilers had Scott Niedermeyer for the next ten years.
Lowetide has ten questions about what is next for the Oilers. With good health and some breaks this team could edge into the top twenty but if Hemsky and Torres are out for any length of time we could be seeing Burke pick a franchise a player in June. Since June 19th of 2006 the franchise has been a bit of a mess and nothing that I can see convinces me that we're going to have much to cheer for in the next eighteen months or so.
Lowe has many problems, mostly of his own making. Too few veterans and too many kids. The good thing is that it appears that many of the kids will be frontline players but that day is still a ways away. He has a pile of money tied up in Souray who is not a frontliune player, despite the musings of Jim Matheson and Sun Media. They still have a whack of cash tied up in Roli, whose contract for next year makes him pretty hard to move. The guys who might have trade value are guys that they need - either kids for the future or the few veterans that they can rely on now. Here's a start for Lowe:
1/ Sign Pitkanen and Gilbert now. They are playing tough minutes and doing well with it. He cannot let two top four defencemen slip through his fingers, especially two guys who are just kids really. Sign them and you're getting to being set on the blueline for the long run.
2/ Come July get Horcoff signed longterm. They can't allow him to walk the following summer. For once lets see a quality guy (one of the top centres in the league imo) start and finish his career as an Oiler.
3/ Unless he's looking at a quantity for quality that brings in an Ovechkin, Bouwmeester or Hossa (signed longterm btw) don't move any of these kids - Gagner, Cogliano, Chorney, Nash, Petry, Plante, Peckham, Trukhno. Crazy long list? Yes. Herein are guys who have too much potential to give away for a stopgap veteran (the guys in college, junior, Trukhno and Peckham) and the highend guys already in the NHL (Gagner/Cogliano).
4/ Don't move Greene, Brodziak, Thoresen, Smid or either of the goalies unless you're bringing in an NHL player. The first four can all play some role in the NHL now and in an organization short on guys who can do even that, moving them does not make a lot of sense. As for the goalies, with Roli done by the end of next season at the latest Lowe had better have some insurance (no matter how iffy) in the wings.
5/Wait on Stoll. He's having an awful year but a concussion is a terrible thing to recover from. Being off of the PP is going to bring his numbers down anyways but on a team short of NHLers dumping him for a bag of pucks now makes no sense.
6/ Start moving on upgrading your bottom six somehow. Sanderson is done and it may be time for Marty to go too. Moving kids like Jacques or Pouliot, who look to be no longer part of the future, for solid NHLers who can play that bottom six role would help.
7/ Free up cap room for next year if possible in order to add a Dman to play in the top four or someone who can play in the top six forwards, a Huselius type (if not necessarily him), who can play with Gagner. Here the options are limited unless they can move Roli (unlikely), Souray (ideally but won't happen) or one of the vets (only if they can be replaced with an upgrade).
Its a mess. If the lottery were not in play then they could just let things fall as they may but with Stamkos hanging over Lowe's head I think he's a buyer this winter, which means things might get worse.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Best not to think about this past week when it comes to the Oilers. Best not to think about Ales Hemsky's knee and Brian Burke getting a lottery pick out of OUR mess.
Instead, here's to good food and drink shared with family and friends and health and happiness in 2008.
Merry Christmas to all of you and yours!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Yep, when I google images of Shawn Horcoff I get, (besides a big boner), a picture of the big fella.
In Gary Bettman's NHL a team can be nine, I think its nine, games under .500 and still be in the mix, five points out of the division lead, right in the playoff race. The shootout (if you are good at it) and parity are good for business. Usually for the also rans hope springs eternal in September and then dies by Halloween. For the Oilers, written off for dead by many (including me) months ago, they have six weeks to hang in there - if they are in the mix come February 1 then Lowe is a buyer.
He's likely a buyer anyways. We all know that Lowe has to avoid the lottery and that this team looks like it may have enough to get out of the bottom ten in any case. Add in the fact that they have a plethora of prospects, many who have been passed by (Pouliot, Jacques, Roy), to deal and its likely we will see Lowe picking up a player or two to put them over the top.
The top being out of the top ten picks, in this case.
Having said that and recognizing how success in the shootout has put this team where it is (as an aside its part of the game now, the points count - ask the Leafs what a poor shootout record has meant to them the past two seasons) there are a number of positives to come out of these thirty two games:
- the fact that this team has overcome a pretty serious run of injuries to hang in there
- in the same vein they have had sub par performances from some key guys - Stoll, Torres, Roloson - on a team that has few veterans and they have still survived
- Mathieu Garon's emergence as a guy who at the very least can share the load
- Joni Pitkanen and Tom Gilbert's emergence as a legitimate top four pair who can play tough minutes and thrive - in the last two games the Oilers are plus 6/minus 7 at even strength. Pitkanen is a plus 4, Gilbert a plus 3. Neither has been on for a goal against at ES.
- Penner's arrival. He's still a work in progress and he may be getting a lot of help playing with Horcoff and Hemsky but the past seven games have seen the kid become a force.
- Hemsky is quietly getting there, nearing a PPG pace
- there is nothing quiet about Shawn Horcoff's arrival; other then their roles on the PP how about Brad Richards as a comp? Top twenty in scoring on top of everything else he does. There are few better allround players in the game right now.
- Pisani's return coinciding with a seven game (!) point scoring streak by Nilsson and the return of Sam Gagner to being a bit more of a positive factor
- the play of Brodziak and Cogliano, despite the latter's fade as of late
-decent play by Grebeshkov and Rourke on the third pair
Looking at this team, positives and negatives, a few things are apparent.
Smid or Rourke are going out when Tarnstrom comes back. In my opinion Tarnstrom should join Staios in the second pair with Souray playing on the third along with Grebeshkov or Rourke. Smid back to the minors. Souray may get the call with Staios and Tarnstrom may still get moved but to me that's a reasonable sextet. I like Tarnstrom though.
Tons of holes up front. There is Horcoff's line and Pisani and the kids can handle the soft stuff but then it gets iffy. Moreau's return will help and maybe he joins Reasoner and Brodziak. Maybe Pisani gets moved to play with Stoll and Torres.
Its amazing that they are hanging in there with this lineup up front. Either Stoll and Torres have to wake up or Lowe makes a move or two and brings in help, with Stoll or Torres getting lesser roles or moved themselves.