Monday, April 12, 2010
Well to say that the Oilers went out with a whimper would be the understatement of the year. My God what a travesty. ADD is brutal brutal brutal and the club gets absolutely whipped with Chorney picking up a minus three, for starters, so basically there's two things that tell a good part of this season's story.
Although if you want to talk absolutely bizarre O'Sullivan ended up a plus two on the night to finish a solid minus 35 on the season. Read somewhere today that Jeff Schultz, I believe, was a plus fifty. So SCHULTZ!!!!! was on the ice for fifty goals more than POS. And to think I wrote about Billy Conn when the Oilers picked up O'Sullivan. Sigh. How sad is that.
And just plain weird - Stortini finishes at plus three for the season, Penner at plus six. The only other Oilers in the black were injured (Hemsky, Smid, Stone), newcomers (Whitney) or had cups of coffee (Plante and McDonald). Somehow these two played the entire season with the club and managed to finish for the good. Impressive no matter how you cut it.
So the disaster ends in disaster and its likely we have seen the last of plenty of these guys in Oiler uniforms - Pisani, Nilsson and O'Sullivan will likely all be gone, Moreau too if they can find anyone to take him. Personally I hope that Strudwick and ADD are goners as well although I have my doubts. And Chorney needs more seasoning. I might suggest Capsule. We could always use a Dman.
And then there's one other guy who won't be back. He has ensured that he will be traded by throwing management under the bus.
Problem with Souray getting moved is the same as the problem with Moreau, O'Sullivan and Nilsson. He isn't going anywhere without the Oilers taking an equivalent salary/problem back. So look around the league and find someone who is getting around eleven million dollars over the next two years and make a note. He's coming our way. And he's probably going to be either injury prone or crap or both.
So there you go.
I don't read as much into the whole Souray thing as many do. Souray wants out and he's probably frustrated at the fact that he's been on a brutal team for three years running now. Tough to take. He's bending the facts a little bit, after all he's the guy who said the Oiler offer came out of the blue three summers ago. It was almost a month after Canada Day that he got signed. Teams weren't knocking down the doors to get him under contract, no matter what he says. He was given a ton of money to come to Edmonton and for the most part he was disappointing, mostly because he was hurt, which anyone could see coming. His first season he got hurt early on and missed most of the season. Last year I must admit he had an excellent year and really earned his money but this year he got hurt early and often and really he never recovered from that concussion.
I hated the Souray signing because that was Ryan Smyth's money. Smyth was a better player than Souray, he was more consistent than Souray and he was more durable than Souray and while he has been hurt a couple of times since that summer Smyth has played almost sixty more games than Souray. Plus he was Ryan Smyth. Superstar, no. Really good player who should have gone wire to wire as an Oiler, yes. He's still quality and he's Ryan Smyth and a LW depth chart with him and Penner would be a nice start.
What made me crazy was that all of the reasons the org. sold the Smyth trade on, age, durability, player quality, were turned on their ear when they signed Souray.
So I was sour from the beginning on the big defenceman. Another year or two like last would have changed my mind but hey, the guy is injury prone, what can be done.
You can call Souray selfish, as some are, or question his motives, but the one thing that he points out, the thing that I have been saying all along, is that its management. Its not the city or the fans, its the fact that this club is terrible and has been for four years now and it falls on management's shoulders. Tampa misses the playoffs for the third straight year and everyone gets canned. The same is going to happen in Calgary by the sounds of it, after one year out. One year!
In Edmonton its business as usual.
A hilarious story from Damien Cox (I know, I know) today about how earlier in the season a number of Leafs planned on chartering a helicopter to take them into Manhattan to party the night before a game against the Devils before Ron Wilson caught wind of it and put the kibosh on it. All of those in question were moved along by the deadline apparently.
And now to playoff predictions. Generally I do pretty well at these as long as I don't go off the board and try and prove how smart I am. I think I did so in 2007 and my picks went right off the rails. Other than that I usually come in with around eleven or so correct picks so I do alright, certainly far better than my regular season picks.
There really is a separation between contenders and pretenders this year imo. Of course injuries can always throw a wrench in things but I think this year things are going to go according to Hoyle in both conferences.
Out east the difference is really pronounced as far as I am concerned. Montreal, Philadelphia and Boston all struggled just to get into the playoffs and all three clubs are pretty flawed. As for Ottawa, the fifth seed, they actually have allowed more goals than they have scored. Not a recipe for success.
Washington really looks head and shoulders above everyone else at this point and on top of everything they get a decent draw in the first round. They'll get challenged down the road but I think they have to be the heavy favourite coming out of the east. They have goaltending questions but their goal differential is outstanding and they win without Ovechkin in the lineup so its not like they are a one man team. Any team can beat any team but the only one with a chance against the Caps I think are Les Sabres and that is solely on Ryan Miller. of course they do have to play the games. So out east:
Caps v. Habs - The big question for the Caps is goaltending but Theodore's save % is better than Fleury's, as an example, and no team has the offence that Washington has. Seven players with over twenty goals, including Semin's forty and Ovechkin's fifty. Backstrom, like Ovechkin, over one hundred points. Five more players in double digits in goals as well. They are big and they are young and they have all kinds of depth up front, guys who can score, guys who can check, guys who can hit. Halak may steal one but I'm not even sure if he can do that. The Habs are smalltime compared to these guys. Caps in five.
Devils v. Flyers - remember what I said about outsmarting myself? Well I'm tempted to pick the Flyers and really there's no good reason other than they are supposed to be better than they finished. That's all. They have a lot of famous players but the truth is that while the Devils' mystique faded a long time ago they have had a solid season from beginning to end. Brodeur is fading but he'll outtend Boucher, the Devils' top end talent up front is better than the Flyers' top end guys and I never bet against Wild on Jack Lemaire, even if he no longer is Wild on Jack Lemaire. Devils in six.
Sabres v. Bruins - the Bruins can defend but they can't score and they are facing the league's best goalie. I like the Sabres to get to the conference final and while they don't make it easy on themselves usually they have a raft of solid quality players and they will get it done in six.
Pens v. Sens - the Penguins are not the club that won the Cup last season, at least not yet, but I think they have plenty to take out the Sens. Cherry trumpeted Crosby v. Spezza on Saturday night but seriously? Crosby has just finished a brilliant year and his biggest problem is surpassing what he has just accomplished. I think that the Pens aren't going back to the Finals a third consecutive time but they have more than enough to knock off the Sens in six.
Boring, huh? All favourites. But I do think there's a gap there.
Tomorrow or Wednesday we'll look at the Campbells plus the lottery.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:45 PM