Monday, December 31, 2007

LiveBlogging: Oil @ Jackets.

With Matt out of town with the family, I'll be watching this one on sopcast. You can download the player here and find out what games are showing here. Tonights game is on channel 36000.

First period.

- I didn't expect to see Roli in net, you'd think MacT would have gone with Garon after the 5 goal Wild game.

- Pies is in the game despite the injured foot, that's good to see.

- Souray leads a rush and puts a weak shot on net. Honestly, I wish the guy would just stick to his strengths and avoid his weaknesses (carrying the puck up ice).

- Columbus announcers talking about how Hejda is logging a lot of minutes and leading the team in plus/minus. I'm lookin' at you Kevin Lowe.

- Penner gains position on Foote on a dump in but nobody comes in support. I'm not convinced Gagner is a great fit for this line, he's probably the weakest player on the team on the boards.

- 1-0 Jackets. A fairly innocent looking rush leads to a rebound goal. Can't really put that play on anyone, although the offensive cycle ended with Gagner being in poor position to receive a Penner pass.

- Judging by the early results, I'd say our chances to win this game are extremely poor. We have not managed to generate any offense (rush or cycle) and Columbus has looked dangerous on the rush.

- I'm really puzzled by the Roli start, I don't think the team feels as comfortable with him back there as they do with Garon. It's not that Roli is playing particularly poorly, rather, I think it's more that Garon has stolen some games, and the team knows they need their goalie to be exceptional to win games.

- Westcott takes a poor holding penalty on Nilsson, Hitch won't be happy.

- Souray sucks when he gets pressured on the PP. He needs time and space to either make a pass or take a shot. I think the guy at the opposing point really has to be comfortable handling the puck. Maybe Toronto would be willing to give up Kaberle for 'five assets'. I mean if five assets can get you Pronger why not Kaberle?

- Nash and Zherdev hem our top line in it's own zone for an excess of two minutes. It's not pretty.

- Souray takes a couple bombs at ES. The only problem was Leclaire saw them both and made what looked like two fairly easy saves.

- 18-28-46 is a very weird line. Still, they just put together the best offensive cycle I've seen so far in this game.


After we had watched Smid's game a few times last year, I remember a conversation between Matt and I about his upside. We didn't think he had the offense to be a guy like Kaberle, and agreed that Ohlund represented a fairly solid high point. I mentioned this comparison a month or so ago on HF, and some guy shot me down saying that Smid doesn't have the same physical edge. I beg to differ, the only positive thing I can see out of the young kids game this year is that he's playing a lot more physical. He just gave Rick Nash a couple shots to the back of the head during a puck battle behind the net. I think a lot of people forget that he's still just a 21 year old kid. I can remember that at 21 my body was still growing in terms of strength. Smid possesses a big frame and there is no reason he can't play with and Ohlund-like edge. I'm really interested to see how he plays with Gilbert. It seems to me that every guy that has played with 77 (Pitkanen, Tarnstrom, Grebeshkov) played their best hockey while paired with him. Perhaps I'm giving Gilbert too much credit, but I've certainly seen a pattern.

Second period.

- Grebeshkov with a stupid giveaway that leads to a Jackets rush and a Pisani penalty. He does at least one momentously stupid thing a game. I think the BoA glossary needs a new term.

- Columbus powerplay looks really good. Roloson bails out his team with a great save on a Chimera one-timer.

- 46 and 28 with another great cycle down low. I don't understand why ANYONE rags on 28's game. He always brings the effort and energy that you need out of your cheap 4th liners. Also, he's surprisingly strong on the cycle and brings a bit of offense.

- 1-1. Chopper bounces on a rebound in the slot. Great job by Staios to keep the puck in and by Souray to recognize that it was time to put the weak wrister on net.

- Chimera takes a hooking penalty on big Penner. Oilers powerplay.

- Columbus kills the first 40 seconds with up ice pressure. Souray with a bomb and Penner takes the puck to the front of the net.

- 2-1 Jackets. SHG. A harmless rush up ice turns into Souray committing at his own blue line leading to a Nilsson vs Nash mismatch on a rebound down low. Nilsson drops to block the shot and Nash goes top corner. Certainly a more experienced forward would have been all over Nash but Robert's effort was still there. He hustled back into the play and took away the bottom of the net with his attempted block.

2-2. Leclaire is handcuffed by a weak Staios shot. Merry Christmas Stevie.

- Jackets with some sustained pressure. Oilers get bailed out by a Delay of game call. Oilers PP.

- I think MacT has decided to leave Souray out for nearly the whole powerplay. I support his decision, it certainly isn't going to make the powerplay any worse.

- Horc gets stripped by Nash leading to a golden chance at the conclusion of the period. We really can't have our veterans making these kinds of mistakes.


A better period for the Oil. Some early pressure leads to some chances and a powerplay. Unfortunately, we gave up a shorthanded goal on one of those powerplays. Jackets recover and carry the last 8 minutes of the period. We need to come out fast and strong in the third. A regulation loss here would be heartbreaking.

Third period.

- Nash gets his stick up high on Horcoff. Oilers pick up a short 5-3. Hopefully we can see Souray at his best on this PP.

- I can NEVER understand why a team would dump and chase on a 5-3. The Oilers get lucky and manage to retrieve the puck.

- Stoll takes a slapshot that gets blocked and cleared down the ice. Bye bye 5 on 3.

- That was a pathetic powerplay.

- Columbus with more sustained offensive zone pressure. Horcoff with a RIDICULOUS give away to Nash in the high slot. Smid bails him out with a diving play to knock the puck away. Columbus broadcasters talking up Smid's performance.

- Gagner takes a lazy penalty and Columbus goes to the PP with a lot of momentum. We dodged some bullets in the first kill let's see if we can do it again.

- Columbus gets some sick pressure late in the powerplay. Lucky for us they couldn't seem to hit the net.

- Tarnstrom looks lazy out there. I wonder if it's a conditioning thing from sitting out, or if he's just not motivated to actually try out there. Perhaps both?

- I loved that down low angle of Stortini fighting off the Jackets defenseman on the cycle. You can pinpoint the exact moment the play broke down: right when he decided to chip it over to Gagner.

- Souray looking pilon-esque as he gets beat for a Jackets SC.

- Gilbert shows a lot of poise carrying the puck out of his zone. Matt and I were just talking on the phone and we discussed Gilbert's ability to take pressure off of his partner. I think his ability to win one on one battles and safely carry the puck out of dangerous areas really takes the panic out of his defensive game. There is a certain calm when he is on the ice

- Great cycle game by 18-13-34. Unfortunately, the momentum ends with Chopper taking a stupid penalty.

- Good start to the PK, Columbus gets setup with a 1:20 left. We manage to keep it to the outside and clear the zone. Columbus gets possession in the O-zone with 30 seconds left.

- 3-2 Jackets. Another Rolibound leads to an easy Nash goal. The real shame was that our PK looked far more effective than on the previous two kills. Just goes to show sometimes you do things right and your goaltender lets you down.

4-2 Jackets. Nash pots one into the empty net from just over the blue line. Nothing like a game versus the Oilers to cure a goal scoring slump.

- Some excitement in the last minute of the game, capped by what must be Souray's 10th missed shot of the game. The puck went all the way around the boards and out of the zone. I know he has a big shot, but it's painfully obvious that he needs time and space to make anything happen offensively. It's no surprise that he brings very little in terms of ES scoring, so why have the guy out there 6-5? Seems to me that most goals scored in 6-5 situations are bang bang plays down low. With 11 guys in the offensive zone, there really isn't much space to get stuff through.


Smid had a pretty good game. Just under 20 minutes, most of it as ES, even on the game. I didn't see any real holes in his game and he made a couple solid plays. In the last 7 games, the Oilers have been utterly terrible in the third period. I'm not sure anything can be done to help this problem, it looks to me like it's a product of too many kids and not enough vets. It's painfully obvious that we can't have guys like Hemsky and Pitkanen out and still expect to compete.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Stoll, Nilsson, Schremp, and Smid for Brad Richards.

Sanderson to PHX for a 4th.

Roli to PIT for a 2nd.

Sign Gilbert for 15.5 over 5.

Sign Pitkanen for 22.5 over 5.

Pray the salary cap goes up.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Postgame: Oilers @ Blues.

Just a couple notes from tonights game:

- I couldn't believe how white my knuckles were after that two minute 5-3. Great job by Horc to knock down those two passes and get the puck out of the zone. Garon also came up with a couple big saves.

- Robert Nilsson continues to produce offense without hurting the team defensively. This kid really deserves some credit at some point. That pass to Fernie on the game tying goal was a beauty, he patiently out waited Walker to free up the lane.

- I really think Souray is the kind of guy that needs his coach to put him in a position to succeed. I think MacT needs to keep him off the ice at EV and run him dry on the PP and PK. Further, I don't think Souray should ever lead a breakout on the powerplay with Pitkanen on the ice, it just doesn't make sense.

- Pisani is playing great. I remember a specific play in the second where Nilsson skated into heavy traffic at the St Louis blue line. He got stuck and looked like he was going to turn it over, but at the last second he frantically threw it in Fernando's direction, who promptly got it in deep then went off for a line change. Certainly reminiscent of Smid and Staios' dynamic. I don't think it's any coincidence that Gagner and Nilsson have picked up their game since Fernando's return.

- Garon had a solid outing. The first goal was stoppable, but the other 3 were 5 star chances. His success in the shootout is actually starting to look repeatable; could it be that his unorthodox style is more effective in the shootout? All I know is that I feel pretty confident when we end up in a shootout. When the score was 4-3 for the Blues the cameraman on the St. Louis feed cut to some cute kid holding up a "It's my Birthday" sign. I joked to Matt that the kid was going to receive a shootout loss for a present. I'm glad I was right.

- Smid and Staios both had ugly games, but at least in the case of the former, we can expect some improvement over time. Unfortunately for Staios, he is unlikely to get any better. Steve made two egregious mistakes on the Weight tip-in goal. First he rung the puck around the boards late in a shift when he had time for a controlled breakout. Then, he left Weight uncovered and unchecked for the tip in.

- We have a legit top line that other coaches are going to have to respect. Penner managed to carry the momentum he gained while playing with Horc and Nilsson into his second stint on the PHH line. Further, Horcoff is excelling in a offensively focused role at ES, while still coming up big on the PK.

- Grebeshkov is great as long as you limit his ice time. He does create some offense and as long as you aren't asking him to check Iginla, seems to be able to hold his own in the D-zone.

- Pitkanen with another solid effort. Matt and I are both ecstatic with his ability to jump into plays on a consistent basis, yet still get back into the play when the puck heads back the other way.

- Tommy Gun had a bit of an off night, by my memory he made one rather big mistake that led to a giveaway and a SC early in the second. However, he still made a great play offensively where he stepped through three blues defenders and out waited another to setup Gagner on a beauty chance. It's too bad that a trailer had just got to Gagner to break up the play, it looked like we were going to get a solid SC out of Tom's efforts.

- Stoll and Torres continue to do very little. I missed the Dallas game, but if this was the kind of effort they put up, then those two still have a long way to go.

Friday, December 07, 2007

LiveBlogging: Blues @ Oilers.

- Missed the first 5 minutes of the game, Matt told me we were playing well.

- Great looking first powerplay, it's too bad Penner didn't read off of Hemsky taking it to the front of the net just as the man advantage expired, that could have been a pretty goal.

- Johnson had Garon beat, but put if off the side of the net. That would have been a real momentum killer.

- Horc hits the post with a great looking release. He has been great this season.

- 2-1 turns into a 1-1 down low for Thor. Cogliano makes an ugly pass and Thor doesn't much on the shot.

- 1-0 Blues - This game is looking High even so far. Stepniak makes a nice play as Rourke finds himself in no man's land. Boyes then cleans up the garbage.

- Hemmer and Penner on a 2-1. If Hemmer makes the pass, I think Penner puts it in, Matt agrees. Hemmer's second drawn penalty so far, he's having a solid game.

- Grebs and Smid out to start the PP on the point. Matt thinks it's a shorty waiting to happen. Next thing you know Johnson and McClement create a quality SC. Matt thinks that was a penalty on Pitkanen, he's happy we are still on the PP.

- Great chance and Gagner breaks his stick. Hopefully we'll start to capitalize on some of these opportunities. It's looking like another "blues backup" kind of game (fuck you Sanford).

- Nice little play by Cogliano to get Brodziak a nice chance

- 1-1 Beauty play by Hemmer. Gets in there to get the faceoff win, draws in basically the whole Blues team and dishes to Horc, who takes a great shot for the gaol. Kinger think Horcoff's shot has drastically improved since last year.

- I love watching Pitkanen play. Pinches down low to support the puck with such confidence, and he's got the skating ability to get back when things go wrong.

First Intermission 1-1
-Good period. I think the team deserves better than a tie game, and the St. Louis broadcast team agrees with me.

On Stoll and Torres, here is Kinger and my chat log from earlier today
Kinger: weird eh
Matt: Crazy.
Kinger: did you hear about that yelling match
Kinger: from last game
Matt: I heard. Not sure what happened there. There's so much hearsay in the whole thing. But this benching leads one to believe the hearsay may have some merit.
Kinger: yea i agree
Kinger: the fact that they both ate it
Kinger: leads me to believe in the stortini rumour a bit
Kinger: seems to make sense
Matt: Yeah.
Kinger: i can see raffi calling him out too
Kinger: and stoll backing him up
Matt: The timing is about right too. Because before Pies came back, who would they expect to have on their wing?
Kinger: the whole public side of it from MacT is a deflection
Kinger: i think
Kinger: about struggling or whatever
Matt: But with him back, they got pissed off when they still had Stortini
Matt: Yeah
Kinger: there must be a catalyst
Matt: I tend to agree,.
Kinger: i gotta say if it's true
Kinger: good move
Kinger: stortini has played with more balls than both those guys
Kinger: combined
Kinger: it's ridiculous for them to be calling anyone out
Matt: Agreed. You can't have guys questioning the coaching and blaming their teammates like that.
Matt: I don't care if they were playing well or not you can't have that.
Kinger: it's one thing for hemmer to say that stoll and torres needs to be better
Kinger: publicly
Kinger: or horc calling them out
Kinger: it's another thing to have the guys that you are counting on playing shitty and calling others out
Kinger: i mean don't get me wrong
Kinger: it's bad either way
Kinger: but it's especially bad if this is the case
Matt: I suppose. But I would be pretty choked at Horc if he was yelling at MacT on the bench about his anchor LW du jour.
Matt: Yeah, agreed.

Second Period

-WTF just happened? Garon gets dragged to the corner and manages to take a holding the stick penalty!

-Grabbing the stick is alright, but you gotta let go before you end up in the corner.

- Staios, great play on the PK. Good play by Marty to get it out on the next sequence

- Rourke makes a bad decision and decides to skate right in front of his net with McClement right on him. We normally like Rourke's brand of simple hockey, but he just doesn't have the foot speed to lose McClement on that play.

- Nice play by Smid coming out of his own end. He's had a strong game tonight.

- Another penalty drawn by a good shift by Hemsky and Horcoff. Brewer for holding. You could see it coming.

- Great play by the kids on the second unit. Kinger is furious McKee on the Blues didn't take a cross checking penalty for drilling Nilsson after he he took the shot on his chance in front. On the replay it looked absolutely vicious.

- Nice little bit on the Blues broadcast about Weight and Brewer signing autographs for 3rd graders in Edmonton.

- Kinger tells me Penner was awful against Pittsburgh, but we both agree he's looked pretty good tonight. If that pick can get out of the top 10, I'll be perfectly okay with that signing.

- Goalpost for Tkachuk on a wacky play.

- Oilers are getting killed on the draws tonight. The centers are getting waived out a lot as well.

- Couple ugly bounces here leading to sustained Blues pressure. Garon gloves it through a screen and gets a draw. Tkachuk vs. Gagner down low is a bad match.

- Blues powerplay looks pretty good. I don't like Pitkanen on the PK, I'd rather have him fresh for EV and the PP. When Souray returns, i'd like to see Staios - Smid and Gilbert - Souray as the top four on the PK.

Second intermission

Followed up a good first with a shaky second. Our PK looked pretty ugly.

Third Period

- "Pisani stole it", music to Oiler fan ears. His hard play on the board leads to a Oiler powerplay. Thank Doug, we know where your heart is.

- Intentional offside, that's a rare one. Matt is not convinced that Penner knew it was offside.

- Fans boo a terrible PP. A good choice.

- Looks like a pretty chincy call on Gilbert. 2-1 Blues just after the start of the powerplay. Our PK has looked pretty bad so far, it was liable to hurt us eventually.

- 3-1. Dougie gets lucky as the puck goes off Gilbert's pad and through Garon's legs.

- 3-2. Nilsson with his patented one timer goal. Great pass by Gagner to see the seam.

- Doug Weight almost quiets the crowd. Nice save by Garon.

- Pies on the top lines, let's see how this works out.

- 4-2 Blues. Kariya makes Penner pay for a mistake at the blue line.

- Matt thinks if we score 4-4 then on the PP we can win this. Lol.

- 4-3
. Marty puts in a nice pass from Horc. We're still in this.