Friday, November 28, 2008

Vote of Confidence or Not?

After another dismal showing by the Oilers against the LA Kings which was their 5 loss in 6 games, it appears the wagons are circling for the Silver Fox or are they?

Yesterday, Spector reported that

"A high ranking source within the organization said Thursday that the Oilers will make a trade to try to shake up their lineup before firing their head coach..."

A veteran Oilers player, who requested anonymity added: "Maybe a trade, then the coach. After this long, a change might be good."

So if you believe this, a trade is coming in hopes of shaking up the team. If that doesn't work, the coach is out. There has been talk about who this unnamed player is. I have no idea but I like the idea that someone is finally speaking out. The media has been very easy with MacT this year. I haven't heard anyone call him out for some of his weird moves and why I think he should be canned and soon (Pisani to center, Cole to the wrong wing, Garon sitting, Smid as a forward, bringing up non-offensive players from the AHL, etc). It's nice to see something happening.

Although, MacT did get a vote of confidence today from Tambellini. He has confidence the team will turn it around. Although I did think it wasn't a ringing endorsement of MacT but he did put it out there he has confidence in the team. My favorite part was that the team practiced really hard leading up to their disastrous loss to the LA Kings. I like hearing how our team only plays hard when it doesn't count. Great stuff!!

Anyways, a trade is up first (if you believe the source). Who goes? Who do they get? Hell, who can they get at this point?

I think Roloson is the tradebait or he should be. Maybe Garon will get back in net (check this other story out about one of the reasons he could be sitting....damn interesting if they are indeed not letting him use his goalie coach from last year when he played awesome)!!!

Oilers are in St. Louis tomorrow at noon then Dallas on Sunday. Yes, another back-to-back game on the road. Will the team wake from their coma in time??

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A desperate move?

Guess who will be playing on the wing tonight against Detroit? Ladislav Smid. Yes he is a defenseman. Yes this is weird. Yes this might be desperation. MacT mentioned this a few days ago that Smid might be a good option up front since he was a big body. Yes, that might be true but putting in someone who isn't a forward against the best team in the league is very dangerous. This can't be a good idea.

In any case, he'll be playing with Pouliot and Brodziak while Stortini and Boulerice get some time in the pressbox while MacT keeps the other three lines in tact from the surprisingly easy win against Columbus 7-2.

I'm not sure what to expect, this team is all over the place. Their powerplay was killer against Columbus, due to better puck movement. As in my previous blog, I mentioned that passing the puck quickly will give Souray a better chance to get his shot away instead of standing stationary. It worked.

I think this game will be closer than the previous game versus Detroit with a chance to win for the Oilers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are the credits rolling yet?

I think this photo says it all. Is he responding to the game last night or questions about his future in Edmonton?

Another disaster loss for the Oilers last night where Conklin earns a shutout. One word: embarrassing. Where was this prowess when we needed it Conks?? And Pisani is out 6-8 weeks with a broken ankle. That sums up their play last night: broken! They had their chances (again) but couldn't convert. How often do you get a 2-1 on the powerkill and not hit the net? All the time if you are the Oilers. If you're the Oilers, you get another 2-1 seconds later and get off a weak shot. Roli played well, made 37 saves but needs some help. I'm thinking we should let him carry the puck and see how he does on the powerplay.

Souray played his worst game last night. He took a dumb penalty when already down a man and just can't adapt on the powerplay. When you are stationary, the shot from the point is easy to block (as we saw last night) and you end up losing control of the puck. When they moved the puck from point to point, with crisp passes, the shot from the point gets through and a decent chance is had.

So are the wagons circling? Is the writing on the all? Are the final credits rolling? I don't think MacT's days are numbered today, but if this continues for another week, it can't be far off. You don't want to wait too long. They're still within striking distance. I think he is an intelligent coach and he has done some nice things for the Oilers. Until this year, the team was usually solid defensively and had a killer powerkill. He developed the fringe players into solid NHL'ers.

But if you look at his record closely, it really isn't outstanding after 7 years in Edmonton. 4 years the team missed the playoffs, they lost in the first round twice and of course the 2006 year run to the finals. That run to the finals saved his job and gave him some breathing room for the past two seasons. It can't all be placed on his head: injuries and holes in the team are part of the problem for the past two years. However, the team is healthy this year and the cast of characters is excellent and probably one of the better Oilers teams since the early 1990s (or has the potential to be).

While people might whine about the job Lowe has done in the past two years (I don't agree with that assessment completely but that's another post), Lowe stepped up to the plate this summer, hit a grand slam and gave his coach the best team he's ever had. It's now up to the coach to put the pieces together and quit trying to put a square peg in a round hole (Penner is not a third line defensive player, Moreau is not a powerplay option nor a first liner, Gagner should be put back to the wing and reunited with his kid line, and no more PK, fix the three-headed goalie monster and give Garon a start).

The Oilers are in Columbus (another back-to-back game, thanks NHL scheduling) and we'll see what the team and coach is made of tonight. Is anyone hopeful?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Losers since 1967!

Yeah you are. Losers. All day and everyday!

Okay, the game last night was a big bag of suck. And that is putting it mildly. The Oilers had a great first period, but coupled with shit refereeing and just plain bad play, they got their asses kicked in the remaining two periods.

I missed most of October's games while I was in Germany but since I've been back, I have not been impressed with this Oilers' team at all. This team has so many issues and I'm not sure if they can fix it all this season. So instead of fighting for the division and conference lead, this team at the moment will resort to tradition and fighting for the 8th playoff spot.

Okay, what are the good parts of this team? One word: Hemsky. He has been unbelievable during the past couple weeks and in every game, he has been dangerous. Sure he'll give up a bit defensively but that's nothing compared to the good he does when he is on the ice. And people, that goal was not completely his fault last night. Sure he turned over the puck at the blueline, leading to a 2-1 and a goal. But he was out-manned 2-1 on the boards, and where was the other defenseman and how about the goalie? He sure wasn't great or even good last night.

Another good on this team is Souray. All this talk about his defensive failings might have been blown out of proportion because all I see is a very solid defenseman. I really like his game. He's been so calm when under pressure.

As for the rest of the defense, it is a mixed bag. Smid was having a nice stretch when concussion-city hit. That's too bad since he had turned a corner. Gilbert is playing okay, but definitely not as well as last year. Is this contract stress?? I'm not sure what to say about Visnovsky. His stats look okay but something is missing in his game and I'm not sure what it is (check out shooting percentages....interesting to see why some of our players do not have many points and are struggling, they aren't converting: Gilbert, Gagner and Pouliot are good examples). Staios has not been bad but Strudwick is a weird case. He is almost holding his own considering he skates like I did when I was five. It is ugly folks. He can barely skate backwards.

The bad on this team is too numerous to list so let's pick out the most obvious:

-Horcoff: he's been invisible. He is dead weight at this point. Even his normally trusty defensive game has disappeared. He was dead when playing with Hemsky and is dead without him. I'm sure he'll turn it around but we're a fifth of the way through the season so he'd better pick it up soon.

-Pisani and Penner: Pisani is having problems defensively as well. Penner is not clicking with Cogliano. Cogs has speed and skill, and just does not fit with Penner. I won't get into this right now, but maybe this is coaching?? But with Penner, he does not skate. He's two steps away from the puck, but he won't skate to it. He tries to reach it with his stick instead of taking that step. Is it conditioning?

-Goalies: Way too many clunkers. Sure, they could use some defensive help but one of them needs to step up and take the starting position. JDD had a couple good games followed by the clunker last night. I think Garon starts on Saturday, or he should. He hasn't played since Nov 6th so it's time to get him back in there.

-Cole: I don't like this guy at all. I'm not sure why everyone was getting off on him when he was acquired. This might be another situation where he doesn't fit in with anyone (hello Penner).

Anyways, how much does coaching play into this? I think a lot. First up: line combinations. I missed the first month of the season so I'm going by the last two and a half weeks but damn, I've never seen the blender used so much. Hemsky has found his grove while everyone else is struggling. No combination seems to be getting much traction. Another problem is weird coaching decisions: Moreau on the powerplay (with 3 mins left in the game), reluctance to adapt and try new things, too much blender.....the list goes on.

How about the disastrous power kill? It's running at 74% and is 28th in the league (the top 10 teams are over 83%). The Leaves went 3 for 3 last night. Yet MacT stays with the same line combinations for the PK (and the PP but more about that later). They're getting killed out there. The forwards are weak on the boards and lose every battle. The d-men are the same. Souray seems to be the best option. He does seem to battle better than the rest. And Staios, how about changing things up and stop ringing it around the boards? Is it working for you yet? No no no!

Oh the powerplay is not the problem it was last year but 18% is not great considering the top teams are over 25%. Last night was the perfect example as to why the PP sucks. They run the same play night-in and night-out. Souray is on the first unit, and they pass it until they get it to him. He shoots, and is either blocked or misses the net. It's not working people and the opposition knows what you're doing. Last night, they had Souray on the second unit once and the first unit got some nice chances. But guess what? Souray got back on the first unit on the very next PP. Mix it up MacT. Give the puck to Hemsky and let him go with it until he scores. Seriously, he is your only option at this point.

I haven't said anything about Gagner but he did score his first goal last night. Easy one, but maybe this opens the flood gates? I still think the Kid Line should be put back together. Cogs needs better linemates and so does Nilsson. These two kids are getting screwed.

Colorado is up tomorrow night. Reddox has been recalled. Does he play? What about Boulerice? He probably takes Stortini's place (who is lost without Glencross. Any spark he had last year is gone. You're down 5-2 with 6 minutes to go last night, and when you hit the ice, you don't hit anyone? Dude, juice up if you need to but damn, hit someone).

I think the Oilers rebound tomorrow night. They couldn't play any worse, right? And something needs to happen to this team. Maybe the road woes are the problem? Having 12 of your first 15 games on the road is tough and we should cut them some slack. They are in 8th spot, and only 2 points behind the division lead and 5 teams. But this team could end up in serious problems if they can't get it together, especially the PK.