Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Stamkos with three assists yesterday and Doughty with an elite play in the third today, a spin away from his man at the redline, carrying the puck into the Slovak zone and then the saucer to Turris for the insurance goal.
Penner has looked quite good lately but things had better look up in the second half. Read the comment thread here - note what Gare Joyce says about Stamkos. And while many commenters have said that the Oilers are loaded with young D so who cares about those next picks after #1, I. for one, prefer not to wonder what might have been if the Oilers had Scott Niedermeyer for the next ten years.
Lowetide has ten questions about what is next for the Oilers. With good health and some breaks this team could edge into the top twenty but if Hemsky and Torres are out for any length of time we could be seeing Burke pick a franchise a player in June. Since June 19th of 2006 the franchise has been a bit of a mess and nothing that I can see convinces me that we're going to have much to cheer for in the next eighteen months or so.
Lowe has many problems, mostly of his own making. Too few veterans and too many kids. The good thing is that it appears that many of the kids will be frontline players but that day is still a ways away. He has a pile of money tied up in Souray who is not a frontliune player, despite the musings of Jim Matheson and Sun Media. They still have a whack of cash tied up in Roli, whose contract for next year makes him pretty hard to move. The guys who might have trade value are guys that they need - either kids for the future or the few veterans that they can rely on now. Here's a start for Lowe:
1/ Sign Pitkanen and Gilbert now. They are playing tough minutes and doing well with it. He cannot let two top four defencemen slip through his fingers, especially two guys who are just kids really. Sign them and you're getting to being set on the blueline for the long run.
2/ Come July get Horcoff signed longterm. They can't allow him to walk the following summer. For once lets see a quality guy (one of the top centres in the league imo) start and finish his career as an Oiler.
3/ Unless he's looking at a quantity for quality that brings in an Ovechkin, Bouwmeester or Hossa (signed longterm btw) don't move any of these kids - Gagner, Cogliano, Chorney, Nash, Petry, Plante, Peckham, Trukhno. Crazy long list? Yes. Herein are guys who have too much potential to give away for a stopgap veteran (the guys in college, junior, Trukhno and Peckham) and the highend guys already in the NHL (Gagner/Cogliano).
4/ Don't move Greene, Brodziak, Thoresen, Smid or either of the goalies unless you're bringing in an NHL player. The first four can all play some role in the NHL now and in an organization short on guys who can do even that, moving them does not make a lot of sense. As for the goalies, with Roli done by the end of next season at the latest Lowe had better have some insurance (no matter how iffy) in the wings.
5/Wait on Stoll. He's having an awful year but a concussion is a terrible thing to recover from. Being off of the PP is going to bring his numbers down anyways but on a team short of NHLers dumping him for a bag of pucks now makes no sense.
6/ Start moving on upgrading your bottom six somehow. Sanderson is done and it may be time for Marty to go too. Moving kids like Jacques or Pouliot, who look to be no longer part of the future, for solid NHLers who can play that bottom six role would help.
7/ Free up cap room for next year if possible in order to add a Dman to play in the top four or someone who can play in the top six forwards, a Huselius type (if not necessarily him), who can play with Gagner. Here the options are limited unless they can move Roli (unlikely), Souray (ideally but won't happen) or one of the vets (only if they can be replaced with an upgrade).
Its a mess. If the lottery were not in play then they could just let things fall as they may but with Stamkos hanging over Lowe's head I think he's a buyer this winter, which means things might get worse.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Best not to think about this past week when it comes to the Oilers. Best not to think about Ales Hemsky's knee and Brian Burke getting a lottery pick out of OUR mess.
Instead, here's to good food and drink shared with family and friends and health and happiness in 2008.
Merry Christmas to all of you and yours!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Yep, when I google images of Shawn Horcoff I get, (besides a big boner), a picture of the big fella.
In Gary Bettman's NHL a team can be nine, I think its nine, games under .500 and still be in the mix, five points out of the division lead, right in the playoff race. The shootout (if you are good at it) and parity are good for business. Usually for the also rans hope springs eternal in September and then dies by Halloween. For the Oilers, written off for dead by many (including me) months ago, they have six weeks to hang in there - if they are in the mix come February 1 then Lowe is a buyer.
He's likely a buyer anyways. We all know that Lowe has to avoid the lottery and that this team looks like it may have enough to get out of the bottom ten in any case. Add in the fact that they have a plethora of prospects, many who have been passed by (Pouliot, Jacques, Roy), to deal and its likely we will see Lowe picking up a player or two to put them over the top.
The top being out of the top ten picks, in this case.
Having said that and recognizing how success in the shootout has put this team where it is (as an aside its part of the game now, the points count - ask the Leafs what a poor shootout record has meant to them the past two seasons) there are a number of positives to come out of these thirty two games:
- the fact that this team has overcome a pretty serious run of injuries to hang in there
- in the same vein they have had sub par performances from some key guys - Stoll, Torres, Roloson - on a team that has few veterans and they have still survived
- Mathieu Garon's emergence as a guy who at the very least can share the load
- Joni Pitkanen and Tom Gilbert's emergence as a legitimate top four pair who can play tough minutes and thrive - in the last two games the Oilers are plus 6/minus 7 at even strength. Pitkanen is a plus 4, Gilbert a plus 3. Neither has been on for a goal against at ES.
- Penner's arrival. He's still a work in progress and he may be getting a lot of help playing with Horcoff and Hemsky but the past seven games have seen the kid become a force.
- Hemsky is quietly getting there, nearing a PPG pace
- there is nothing quiet about Shawn Horcoff's arrival; other then their roles on the PP how about Brad Richards as a comp? Top twenty in scoring on top of everything else he does. There are few better allround players in the game right now.
- Pisani's return coinciding with a seven game (!) point scoring streak by Nilsson and the return of Sam Gagner to being a bit more of a positive factor
- the play of Brodziak and Cogliano, despite the latter's fade as of late
-decent play by Grebeshkov and Rourke on the third pair
Looking at this team, positives and negatives, a few things are apparent.
Smid or Rourke are going out when Tarnstrom comes back. In my opinion Tarnstrom should join Staios in the second pair with Souray playing on the third along with Grebeshkov or Rourke. Smid back to the minors. Souray may get the call with Staios and Tarnstrom may still get moved but to me that's a reasonable sextet. I like Tarnstrom though.
Tons of holes up front. There is Horcoff's line and Pisani and the kids can handle the soft stuff but then it gets iffy. Moreau's return will help and maybe he joins Reasoner and Brodziak. Maybe Pisani gets moved to play with Stoll and Torres.
Its amazing that they are hanging in there with this lineup up front. Either Stoll and Torres have to wake up or Lowe makes a move or two and brings in help, with Stoll or Torres getting lesser roles or moved themselves.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
And things will never ever be the same again.
I suspect that this may be too much fun for me to bear.
Worse case we will spend tomorrow afternoon in embarrassed silence, realizing that sometimes these internet blind dates aren't all that they are cracked up to be. We will attend the game Saturday night and then part ways gladly, slinking out into the night much as someone who wakes up the next morning with the result of far too many drinks the night previous laying beside them will recoil in horror and then try to tiptoe out the door. If caught, we might mumble a false phone number and then dash into the street. However, seeing as I have met Chris!, mike w., sacamano and mudcrutch and they are all terrific fellows whose company I enjoy very much, I suspect that this weekend will hold more of the same.
Here we go but first an old joke, nothing to do with this weekend but if I do get stabbed on Whyte Avenue let it be my requieum :
Buddy moves into the country into an old farmhouse. He enjoys the privacy and the peace and quiet. His nearest neighbour is a couple of miles up the road. After a few weeks however he begins to wish for a little human contact. He's sitting out on the porch when a pickup rolls up - its his neighbour, a fellow about his age. After introducing himself and some small talk about the weather and the barley, his neighbour says: "Well now, why don't you come up to my place Saturday night. Fellow gets a little lonely out here. I'm having a party and it should be terrific - lots of drinking and fighting and fucking."
Well, buddy is a little lonely indeed and he thinks this sounds great. He agrees and waves to his neighbour as he heads up the road.
On Saturday night he showers up and puts on his best blue jeans, combs his hair and puts on a little bit of his eau de cologne. Thinking of healthy ruddy faced farmgirls, he heads up the road to his neighbour's place. He knocks on the door and his neighbour lets him in.
Taking off his coat, he says "So, when does everyone else get here?" for nobody else has arrived as of yet.
Buddy looks at him, a little surprised. "Ain't nobody else coming. Here, have a beer."
Yuk yuk yuk.
EDIT - Andy has our itinerary ready.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Stately, plump Andy Grabia came from the stairhead, bearing a pint for each of us. Oh, I should say so. Black Dog at the Black Dog? Confusion. Purple Onion. Donairs? Talk about your mystery meat. Wife loves them though. Of course she's out of her head. Look who she married.
Must remember, I'm from Sudbury. Not Toronto. Sudbury. Born and bred. Must count for something. Toronto sucks us dry as well. From Sudbury. Just like American backpackers with their Canadian flag patches until they say something stupid and give it all away. Then the European beauties laugh at them. Better yet they get pounded by some yobs whose grampies slaughtered the Jerries. Tough pricks, the Brits.
I'm from Sudbury.
Don't say anything stupid. Likely to get dropped off at the edge of town. Let the Eastern bastard freeze. Indeed. Must be nice to Grabia. In the news and all. Bow and scrape if I must.
Is it true if your dog runs away you can watch him do so for three days? Hmm. Should test it out. Or is that Saskatchewan? If the Riders win will I see Regina in flames from 30000 feet on Sunday night? What if they lose?
I love Gilbert Gilbert. Wonder if I can get his autograph Saturday night? Maybe I'll sneak into the dressing room. Nobody will notice. Hide behind the moustache.
Poor Paddy Dignam. Poor Oilers. Three-three now. Another long night. Grabia likely in a rage now.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Seriously, Tyler just posted about teams denying all statstical probabilities. Few teams did so like those '86 Habs. They got every single break going.
So Kurvers got his ring and then he began to bounce around. He could put up points but he didn't know how to play defence. So he went to les Sabres and then to the Devils, who were just slowly beginning to emerge from the mire. In 89-90 Kurvers scored 66 points in 74 games for NJ. He was no slouch. A game into the next season the Maple Leafs traded their first round pick for 91-92 to the Devils for the guy they felt they needed to QB their PP.
The Leafs had been mired in mediocrity along with the rest of the Norris through the 80s. Back in those days four of the five teams in the division made the playoffs and one was guaranteed to be cannon fodder for the Oilers or Flames in the conference final. With Ballard and Wirtz and weak ownership in St. Louis plus the Wings dragging themselves out of a disastrous run in the 70s there was no real reason to improve. I was a Hawks' fan in those days and had just started school in Toronto and believe me, it was almost as if there was a gentleman's agreement amongst those teams. 80 points was good enough to win the division a couple of years but who needed to improve as long as they were guaranteed playoff money? Its not like they would beat the Oilers anyways.
And then Mike Ilitch and Mike Keenan happened. Driven to win, Ilitch bought the Wings and changed the culture. In Chicago Keenan supplanted Pulford temporarily (Rocky Wirtz's first two acts as owner after his father's death were to televise home games and move Pulford out of hockey operations - smart guy) - in his brief stay the Hawks became a hard driving team that won the President's Trophy on year and went to the Cup finals the next. Couple these two squads with an improving team in Minnesota and the Leafs and Kurvers ran into a perfect storm of circumstance that would make Kurvers infamous.
Kurvers scored 52 points in 70 games in 89-90 and the Leafs made the playoffs. The following year disaster struck. At the end of the season the Leafs were in second last and Kurvers was gone - after 19 games he had been shipped to the Canucks.
So the Leafs ended up with the third pick overall as the Nordiques selected first overall and the San Jose Sharks were given the second pick as an expansion team. Of course the only problem was the Leafs didn't have that pick. The Devils did. They picked some guy named Scott Niedermeyer.
Niedermeyer is going to be in the Hall of Fame. He won three Cups with the Devils as they were one of the dominant franchises in the league for a decade. When he moved to the Ducks he won another Cup there last year, captaining them through a dominant playoff run. He is one of the premier defenceman of his time. It can be argued pretty easily that without him the Devils would have no Cups. After he left and Scott Stevens retired the Devils began to sink into mediocrity.
As for the Leafs its been forty years and counting since they won the Stanley Cup and one would think its a good bet that having Scott Niedermeyer in their lineup for over a decade would have ended that drought.
Now there is no guarantee in the draft - the top six in that draft were Eric Lindros, Pat Falloon, Niedermeyer, Scott Lachance, Aaron Ward and Peter Forsberg. Probably three of those guys end up in the Hall of Fame. Ward has had a long career as a solid Dman and has won three Stanley Cups. LaChance was a disappointment, comsidering he went fourth overall. Falloon was a disaster.
With the Oilers having three regulation wins in their first twenty games, they are looking like a lottery team, especially considering the improvement of perennial doormats Columbus and Chicago. Actually they are looking quite a bit like a good bet to get that last spot overall. Now I can get behind a rebuild, even when its completely self inflicted, which this one is, but if Brian Burke gets up to that podium with a pick in the top five next June, Kevin Lowe had better hope that he picks Pat Falloon rather then Scott Niedermeyer.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Datsyuk, Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour. Only Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov, as NHL centres, had more.