October 30 2008 12:11AM
With the Oilers having a harder time scoring than Wanye’s sister at Buddy's, it is time to wonder if an SOS from Springfield is necessary.
Only the Tampa Bay Lightning is averaging fewer goals per game. The Oilers don’t have a scorer in the top 120 right now. Their leading scorer, Ales Hemsky, has the fewest points of any team leader in the NHL. Carolina ’s leading scorers, Rod Brind’amour and Eric Staal have six points, but they each have four goals, so based on the Wayne Gretzky losing to Marcel Dionne scoring race, the Oilers are last.
If you need a positive about the Oilers offence to avoid an early season depression; they aren’t last in shots on goal per game. They are 25th, averaging 26.6/game. I know that isn’t a lot to rave about, but that’s the Oilers’ offence. Oh wait, they are 11th on the powerplay. At least they are in the top half of the league in one offensive category.
If Steve Tambellini decided to make a call to Springfield , it sounds like the obvious name would be Rob Schremp. The only problem with that is that Schremp doesn’t have a goal in the AHL do far. He has five assists in five games, but according to his head coach Jeff Truitt, Schremp has been their best player by far.
“He has been unbelievable since coming here from Edmonton . His skating hasn’t slowed down, which sometimes we see after coming down from the NHL. He is working extremely hard in practice, and most nights he has been the pacemaker and our best forward."
“I think more his mental outlook has improved. He knows he is close to the NHL. We had a meeting when he came back and he told me he would be one our best players, not some nights, but every night, and he has held his end of the bargain so far.”
It sounds like Schremp has finally got it. He needs to work on every element of his game, especially his skating and moving his feet constantly, if he wants to play in the NHL. No one questions his playmaking and offensive instincts, but many have questioned his work ethic and heart. According to Truitt he has seen a change.
“When he is getting to that offensive blueline one move is fine, but when you get into two or three you can put guys offside. We’re asking him to do cross-corner dumps, and he is doing them, which is hard to take for puck handler sometimes.”
If you want to hear the entire interview with Truitt regarding Schremp go to www.justagame.ca It is labeled; Truitt on Schremp.
Truitt’s last comment about knowing when to dump the puck and not be too fancy describes the Oilers’ woes perfectly. Currently the top-two lines are trying to be too pretty, and rarely is it working.
If the Oilers continue to struggle offensively, and Schremp continues to improve his game, we might finally see him get a chance to show is skills with the Oilers. Up until this year, I don’t think he was ready to play in the NHL. He wasn’t focused enough, wasn’t quick enough and he wasn’t dedicated enough. But after speaking with him in training camp, and watching his play in the preseason, he looks like he is on the brink of at least getting a shot.
But not in a 4th line role, Schremp will only contribute playing with offensive players. We have seen how putting guys on their wrong wing doesn’t work. Putting Schremp with crashers and bangers won’t work either.
Trotz will go power with power
When the Oilers skate into Nashville on Thursday expect Hemsky’s line to see a lot of JP Dumont and Jason Arnott. Barry Trotz told me yesterday that he knows the Oilers top lines play a high-risk offensive style, and it might be better for him to go power on power, rather than the usual checking line v. first line.
Dumont has 12 points in nine games so far, while Arnott has five goals and nine points in the six games he has played. Both are big, strong players with good offensive skill. The Hemsky line can’t afford more neutral zone turnovers or MacTavish will be forced to find a way to get Pisani’s line out against Dumont and company.
The Oilers pop gun offence couldn’t have asked for a better opponent than the Preds. Nashville has the second worst GAA at 3.78, while scoring the 4th most GPG at 3.44. Maybe the Oilers run-and-gun style might finally work against the Preds, who according to Trotz, “can’t check their own coat right now.”
Gnats R' Us
It will be interesting to see how the Oilers react to an in-your-face team that can score. The Preds have no shortage of guys who will try to run the Oilers’ show: Jordin Tootoo, Jerred Smithson and Scott Nichol will be taking runs at the Oilers all night. Somehow Tootoo has two goals this season, because most games he is more preoccupied with putting guys through the boards rather than pucks in the net.
Watch Nashville tomorrow and you will wish the Oilers had a guy like Tootoo or Nichol. Both are pests who agitate the hell out of you. They are more annoying than the lame asses at pensblog, whose best joke is a Mr. Clean reference. Seriously, calling a bald guy with earrings, Mr. Clean; How freaking original.
Many of you wonder why Schremp hasn’t got the call up, yet I wonder how the Oilers don’t have anyone in the system who is a true agitator? Ethan Moreau would be the closest, but even he isn’t in the category of the good agitators. Stortini is not an agitator. He doesn’t skate well enough to knock guys around and piss them off. If the Oilers can’t win playing pretty, they might want to look at trading for a third or fourth line guy who just crashes, bangs and mouths off. At the very least, he might get his teammates in the game.
Beckinsdale the best
On a completely different note, after watching Underworld as I wrote, I’ve decided I don’t know of a hotter actress than Kate Beckinsdale. She is dynamite in this movie. Her black leather outfit is incredible. Gents, and ladies for that matter, I urge you to rent this movie. Oiler fans if your team loses again and you need a boost, watch Underworld. If Selene’s outfit doesn’t increase your heart rate I question you manhood.
I can’t think of any character that could be hotter. She is smoking, wears a great outfit, runs sexy, never dies, isn’t a whiner and kicks ASS. I might have to get a poster of this movie. I’ve always thought it was lame to have one of those around your house, but Selene has changed my mind. My quest for the next month will be to track one down.
- Listen to Gregor weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. on the TEAM 1260 or online at www.justagame.ca