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.

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