Monday, September 22, 2008

Preseason: Canucks @ Oil.

A few comments on this evenings game:


- Don Taylor is a poor play by play announcer.

- The Oilers carried the play but the Canucks got a couple garbage goals. The fact that the shots were even at the end of the contest had a lot to do with the five minute penalty kill and the Oil taking their collective feet off the gas.

- The Powerplay was pretty poor. I don't think Cole is the right fit for that unit. By my eye the play seemed to die with him and he wasn't getting in front of the goalie on a consistent basis. I'm interested in seeing Gagner or Penner out there in the LW spot. I think those two big shots could make use of a big guy in front of the net (27) or a better puck distributor (89).

The Players:

Sheldon Souray:
Had by my eye his best game in Oilers silks. He was all kinds of physical and wasn't afraid to put the puck on the net. An excellent game by any measure. A part of me hopes that last years Souray was 'playing hurt' Souray. I was very impressed with his performance in both ends of the ice.

Steve Staios:
A pretty mediocre performance. Made a couple decent forays into the offensive zone but also coughed up a few pucks in his own end. We will need him to be better if we hope to make the playoffs.

Lubomir Visnovsky:
Put together a solid performance on both ends of the ice. Schneider robbed him with the glove on perhaps his best save of the game. Positioned himself well and defended the rush with both his stick and body. My one complaint is that he missed the net a number of times on the PP.

Ladislav Smid:
The dog is off the leash. This guy looks a lot bigger and stronger than the previous two seasons. I remember tjree distinct moments when he asserted himself physically. First he put Cowan into the post to negate a scoring chance. Second, shortly after Kesler tried to jam it in late in the third he gave Daniel Sedin a nice shot to the melon in the scrum. Third, Ladi ended up on top of Raymond after he turtled vs Benson.

Theo Peckham: Shaky start, strong finish. Pecks looked real out of place in the first period. However, he really got it together in the second. He made a few nice passes out of his zone and played the body well. If it was just nerves at first (I think it was) Peckham seems like a real player. He's a year away from the big show, but from the looks of it he will make it.

Taylor Chorney: I was surprised by his passing ability, it was on par with his excellent skating. Right now he's too small to win battles in the corners, but that should work itself out over time.

Ales Hemsky: Had a pretty bad game. He seemed disinterested and particularly careless with the puck.

Shawn Horcoff: You can tell he needs to get his timing back. Scorecoff was not in the lineup this evening. He seemed reluctant to shoot and when he did it was pretty poor.

Erik Cole: An excellent player. I'm not sure if he's the right fit for the first unit PP, but his skills at evens speak for themselves. A north south power forward if I have ever seen one.

Fernando Pisani: He really looks 100% out there. To me the real difference is that he has his strength back, and can overpower players offensively and defensively.

Ethan Moreau: Captain Crunch (or Captain Hook) had a solid game. One particular play stood out to me when Moreau laid out Simek near the Canucks bench.

Dustin Penner: He was surprisingly effective on the PK. I also thought that he was a good fit on a checking line with 34 and 18.

Sam Gagner: That shootout move was absolutely sick. The guy has an incredible set of hands. It looked to me like he had very little chemistry with 78 and 88. Every time they gained the zone it looked like a game of hot potato as they made frantic passes to each other and created little in the way of scoring chances.

Marc Pouliot: Had a solid game. He made very few mistakes and was pretty good on the boards.

Rob Schremp: He just seemed out of place out there. His lines play died with him the vast majority of time. I really hope for Rob's sake that it was nerves, because if it wasn't I don't see a regular NHL job in his future.

Liam Reddox: Has decent wheels and plays with some grit. Should get his chance with the big club in the next couple seasons.

Ryan O'Marra: He barely played.

Hans Benson: Knew his role out there. He didn't try to do anything fancy and was quick to jump Raymond after his hit on Gagner.

Mathieu Garon: Had a shaky start but settled down later. He seems to be shaking off the rust.


Vic Ferrari said...

Good to see you back posting, kinger.

Some mixed reviews around the blogs this morning. Though the concensus seems to be that the Oilers dominated the first two periods and were badly outplayed in the third period. My guess is that they were playing to avoid injury in the final frame.

I just caught bits and pieces from the web feed; about 5 minutes of the second, less of the third, and the shootout.

Gagner looked really good on the PK in the second, anticipates well and he's quick. Still, someone should have a word with him, if they haven't already. There is no need to be charging out to the point and standing dead centre in the shooting lane. The VAN defender (Baumgartner maybe?) decided to be kind and snapped it around the boards. Plenty of other guys in this league would have drilled it right into him. And a regular with a broken foot or ankle is the last thing that this team needs.

Looking at the Oilers schedule, the first stretch is a bear, they need to come flying out of the gate to have a realistic chance of having their heads above water by American Thanksgiving. So I'm glad to see MacTavish working with his set lines and D pairings right from the get-go.

And unless one finds the chase for the 12th and 13th forward roster spots interesting, then the most important thing about preseason is that the skaters avoid injury as they get reacquainted with the pace of NHL hockey.

No Oilers were hurt last night, so I'm counting it as a victory.

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