Friday, March 19, 2010
Heading to Ireland for a wedding in just under two weeks. Life has been busy plus I'm a pretty mellow guy so I haven't really been thinking about it but I'm starting to get excited a little. This will be my third trip to Ireland and this will give me an opportunity to explore Dublin a little bit more. As I have written about before travelling to the same place is something I enjoy, you get to know where you are going and as a result you can go a little more native, as it were. Most of the time I will be celebrating my man in Dublin's wedding with his friends and family and when I do get out it will be partially familiar haunts and partially north of the Liffey, which I have seen little of. Other than Montreal and the Island I've no real places that I can claim even partially as my own (outside of my hometown and my home now) other than Dublin. I am looking forward to returning once again.
St. Patrick's Day just past and expectations amongst many was that I'd be out drinking but I'm not a big March 17th guy. I'll have a pint of Guinness at home and once in a while I'll make a wicked Irish stew but I've only ever been out once on St. Patrick's Day. Its a little funny because most of my favourite pubs here are Irish ones but on the 17th they're just mental. I was once at McVeighs on the 16th having a pint and the place was manic as they prepared. A patron asked the bartender what the next day would be like and he replied that they'd be lined up at ten outside, for a noon opening, and that the bar would be full of poured pints before they opened. They'd be hard pressed to keep up.
Not my scene.
The best line I ever heard was a time we were at the Communist Bar on the 18th of March and we were talking to the dear sweet bartender and asked her how it was the night before and she grimaced and said that it was the worst day of the year for her.
Amateur night. Place is packed as hell and not a single one of them can hold their alcohol. Its a disaster.
Amateur night is a perfect description of what we witnessed last weekend at the ACC. I wanted to revisit that experience because in my original post I spent most of my time ranting and raving and so I just wanted to give a few more impressions.
Bruce always gives terrific recaps and I need to echo something that he says quite often, that I am always amazed at the size, speed and skill of these guys, its just incredible and I am always astounded. Anyhow, some more thoughts.
As I said before the Oilers are small. The difference between them and the Leafs was pronounced. Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, Comrie, Potulny, Nilsson plus Chorney on the back end. All of them small. And of course O'Sullivan was not out there either. And on top of it for the most part they were not strong on the puck, either unwilling or unable to win puck battles. Brule is nice and aggressive and was not afraid of anybody. Cogliano also quite aggressive, probably buoyed by playing in front of family and also by having Penner on his flank. He was less effective than Brule physically though. He was willing but not really any more than a nuisance when it came to that part of the game.
Gagner shows well but he was between Minard and Pouliot. Pouliot was aggressive but the wing is not his thing and Minard was absolutely invisible. Gagner was wasted there but the options are limited of course.
Horcoff was in the same situation. Comrie played little because of the penalties but when he did he did not do much. Crazy soft hands though. Unbelievable. Memorable moment from him was cutting across the Leafs' blue in the second waving his stick like a madman for the pass from the Oilers' blue. I'm talking waving it like a guy trying to get rescued from a desert island. Totally over the top and a little odd.
Moreau didn't do a damn thing. Weird little vignette early in the game during a TV timeout. He cruised over and talked Whitney's ear off. He then went over to Gilbert and began talking to him. Gilbert half listened for a second and then skated away while Ethan kept yapping. Funny stuff.
Horcoff looked more like his old puck hawking self but he wasn't the player I saw three years ago here - that game he and his linemates owned everyone the Leafs threw at them. Of course his linemates that night were Smyth and Hemsky. He's a favourite of mine though and he had a decent game, making some nice plays on the defensive side of the puck.
Brule's goal was terrific. A heavy shot, extraordinary release and this in traffic. I can see why the Oilers like him. The breakaway flub was unreal though. Not as unreal as the three on oh for the Leafs though. Looked like beer league all the way to Stallberg going in alone. Of course he probably didn't even know he had company. How often do you get a three on none anyhow?
Very little to say about the fourth line. They did little. Ended up getting minused by the Leafs twice although neither was really their fault except for Potulny losing the draw on the Kulemin goal. Quinn had them out after a couple of TV timeouts though and Wilson immediately responded with what little quality he had, the end result was a lot of trouble for the Oilers. Poor bench management by Quinn.
On the blue well I mentioned before that Gilbert was great and he really was. He's a smart smart player. The Leafs are shitty but they are big and they are fast and Gilbert played keepaway most of the night with them with deft passes and quick little reverses against the flow of play. Just wonderful intelligent hockey, all quick stick, fine positioning and excellent decisions. Whitney was fine too and a couple of big guys like this might do alright for the Oilers going forward. They're not bangers but they're mobile and they can move the puck.
Chorney and Strudwick were awful. Strudwick got beaten outside by EVERYBODY. Terrible.
Johnson was solid. He's aggressive, certainly not afraid of anyone and I'm hopeful they sign him as a bottom pairing guy.
Peckham was ... interesting. I was really watching him and he had an strange strange game. Before the Bozak goal he looked just fine. He's a big big kid and he's rugged. He makes guys pay the price. I like Peckham. His comments show that he knows what he has to do - play a simple aggressive game and use his size and that's what he does. He skates well and he moves the puck smartly. His positioning and angling on the cycle is pretty good. His reads are where he's struggling. The Bozak goal was a killer, came out of nowhere, just boom he was behind him and after that he got a little tentative and he struggled. Of course he certainly kept the Leafs honest with his reactions to Phaneuf. Maybe a little over the top but he's trying to earn his spot.
He looked better than he showed early this year and the potential is there. He showed better than either Greene or Smid did early on and he's a better defenceman than Chorney. Interesting to see where he ends up. He strikes me as a guy who will improve with experience and lets hope so.
The goaltending? Well, JDD was brutal. Just brutal. Scrambly and too deep in his net and got beaten high twice. Dubnyk was better but the Kessel goal should have never happened.
A word or two about the opposition. The Leafs I think are in tough down the road, I don't think they have the prospects coming up that the Oilers do. Having said that they have a ton of speed and size up front and on the back end. Hard to say if Bozak, Kulemin, Hanson and Stallberg will amount to much but they are big and they are fast and worst case I think the Leafs might have some solid bottom sixers. Kessel looked good. Fast and a terrific set of hands. Amazing release.
The Leafs aren't much but boy the Oilers barely pressured them. Second to the puck all night and lost all of the puck battles. No surprise though. Their two best centres were saddled with awful wingers. Gagner or Horcoff and Penner might have done a little more but there's so little there its hard to make anything out of that roster.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:40 PM