GDB 19: A ship on fire

Wanye
November 18 2008 08:17AM

While most of his teammates failed to break a sweat, Saint Fernando di Pisani found a way to break his ankle against Detroit last night en route to a 4–0 loss.

This injury may be replicated in the other bones of other Oilers by a hilariously irate Coach MacTavish—who is throwing out sound bites though his very career depends on it.

My, these are heady times to be a fan of the Mighty Oil, aren't they? The much-heralded New Era has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start wouldn't you say?

Nothing that a match against the Squadron from Columbus can't fix, is it? For you see the... Uh...

Crap.

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#51 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 02:20PM
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Baggedmilk: That's a much better question.

I think there are a bunch of factors, some of which are MacTavish's fault, others of which aren't.

1) Luck/earliness. I know people don't like the randomness factor, but it is there. Cole has a 7.7% SH% to date, far below the numbers his last three seasons (10.2%, 17.5%, 18.3%). I generally attribute shooting percentage numbers outside of a player's career norm to eiither injury or luck, and in this case, I think it's the latter, as we know of no injury.

2) Position. Cole as a LW makes a ton of sense on this club, given that they already have a #1 offensive (Hemsky) and #1 defensive (Pisani) RW on the team. MacTavish ran him with the top guns early at LW, and he didn't look comfortable there to me, and many others.

3) Situation. After being put in an uncomfortable LW position by MacT (a useful experiment that ended at about the right time, IMO), Cole was put on the Moreau-Pisani-Cole checking line. That isn't an offensive line to begin with, and with Pisani centring it, it was decidedly ineffective. Why MacTavish stuck with it for so long is a little past me - he really should have tried Pouliot/Brodziak in there, but I can understand that he didn't have a centre he trusted for the role.

Conclusion: I think Cole will come out of it. The shooting percentages will turn around, and with Pisani out he'll be playing in tough situations, but likely with a natural centre. He won't post great numbers because of the role, but he'll be a much more effective hockey player.

At least, for my money.

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#52 Chris.
November 18 2008, 02:35PM
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Hey Towel Boy,

Every year we are supposed to be patient. Every year we fall behind in the standings waiting for new faces to adjust, injuries to heal, and holes in the lineup to be addressed. I've been waiting 16 years for a contender. Will I grow old like a Leaf's fan still waiting?

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#53 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 02:35PM
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JW, Do you honestly like having Cole on the checking line? This guy was brought in to score goals. Why not stick him with the kid line, which offers him a play maker as well as Cogliano's ice-lightning. Having him on anything less than the second line is an irresponsible use of this asset.

Just because MacTavish prays the kid line comes into form doesn't mean it will. He's having a really hard time putting the horse before the cart, and recognizing that a player outside of the role he was meant for is not going to work. Such as Pisani at center for far too long. It's the same with having Cole on the checking line.

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#54 Chaz
November 18 2008, 02:38PM
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I agree Towel Boy. Even though I've been known to question Mac T's ability as a coach in the past, I think it's unfair for everyone to gang up on him now after this bad stretch of games. It's not like he's changed his methods in the last two weeks, other than benching Penner, which was long overdue. I have a million suggestions of what he could or should do, but in reality all this team needs is a great game by one of the goalies to steal a game and get some confidence back in this team.

That being said, I think Garon deserves the start tonight. Then again I don't see these guys practice, so what do I, or any of us, really know other than the team needs to be better? Hang on there Oil Nation. It HAS to get better.

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#55 Chris.
November 18 2008, 02:39PM
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P.S.

The 2006 run was magic. The Team did not consistantly perform during the regular season. Every year there are 10 or 12 teams that do. The Oilers have not been one of them in a very very long time.

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#56 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 02:39PM
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Do you honestly like having Cole on the checking line? This guy was brought in to score goals.

With Pisani out, is there another option? Hemsky, and presumably the kids can generate offense, but when Zetterberg or Nash come out on the ice, who lines up against them? At RW, with Pisani out, I think the only answer is Cole.

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#57 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 02:41PM
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The 2006 run was magic. The Team did not consistantly perform during the regular season.

I remember both the run and the season well. After the rollercoaster in the first 15 or so games, the team was consistently good, but the goaltending was just as consistently bad. Once it was fixes, the team, a better team than its record, played to potential.

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#58 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 02:43PM
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JW, The answer is simple, you're right. Too bad it's on the first line right now. Moreau is quite possibly one of the best checkers we have but again he is not playing in the role that best suits him. Yeah he's a left wing, but he's not a first line left wing.

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#59 The Towel Boy
November 18 2008, 02:44PM
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Chris...I totally understand your frustration but my thoughts are that until the team roster is fairly solidified from season to season and a good core can develop together, learn together and get good together; I don't think it's unreasonable, in this case, to have a wait and see attitude. The coach can't create team chemistry. I wouldn't say the Oil are lacking preparedness or ability (something a Coach is responsible for), but they obviously are not playing as a team. Team play falls on the shoulders of the guys on the ice moreso than the coach...at least that's my thought.

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#60 Chris.
November 18 2008, 02:45PM
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Wllis, come on. That team limped into the playoffs. Roli was rusty, we dropped critical must win games to teams like the Blue's down the stretch, and only made it because Vancouver choked worse.

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#61 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 02:46PM
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TB, Are you nuts, man? You don't think the team has lacked preparation? How can you explain the slow starts and inability to play 60 minutes of competitive hockey. You are right, that's the coaches job and he's not doing it.

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#62 The Towel Boy
November 18 2008, 02:50PM
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BM. I don't think they've lacked preperation...I don't think they've been playing as a team.

MacT can skate their bags off, run drills, throw people under the bus and make them all watch videos 26.4 hours a day...but in the end it doesn't mean jack if they don't play like a team.

I mean, we've got guys trying to skate thru 3 defensemen to gain the zone...that's simple boneheaded play as a result of trying to do too much on your own and not utilizing your teammates to get it done. Just one example.

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#63 The Towel Boy
November 18 2008, 02:51PM
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...and by defensemen, I meant "defending players from the team that is opposing the Oilers"....ahem.

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#64 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 02:51PM
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That team limped into the playoffs. Roli was rusty, we dropped critical must win games to teams like the Blue’s down the stretch, and only made it because Vancouver choked worse.

Isn't that what I said? The goaltenders was miserable despite good play in front of them, and Roli came around just in time for the playoffs.

Any blame, at all, for the 2005-06 mess lies with Kevin Lowe's refusal to fix the goaltending before the trade deadline. And I'll give Lowe a pass there because of brilliant deals for Spacek and Samsonov during the season.

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#65 Chris.
November 18 2008, 02:52PM
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More than half the teams make the playoff cut. It's not like winning a pennant. Playoffs..great! We never seem to talk about home ice. I'm getting sick of working myself up every offseason to be disappointed again and again. A few wins in a row will not help anything if these guys can't learn to pull themselves out of losing streaks when they occur.

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#66 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 02:53PM
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TB, Would you not attribute that to poor system play? Also a coaches responsibility.

They are not playing as a team, I will agree with that, but it is hard to gel as a team or a line when you have no idea who will line up next to you from game to game.

As much as I hate it, why are the Sedins so good together? They've played on the same line every game of their lives probably. They know where each other are going to be before they even go there. You can't do that with someone when you've played with them once or twice, and not again for another few weeks.

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#67 Chris.
November 18 2008, 02:58PM
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It's funny how the Oilers value continuity in coaching/management but the coaches/management don't value continuity in the lineup.

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#68 The Towel Boy
November 18 2008, 03:01PM
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BM: Yeah, I'll agree that the MacBlender (tm), while seemingly ineffective to date, is simply a product of a coach looking for a spark...some chemistry...some team play. I would be worried if he was changing lines even after they show some good results. But he's shown that if a line is playing good, they stick together. Some lines he gave a pretty long leash with too (the kid line at the beginning on the year).

It doesn't take long to develop chemistry...you know it when you see it. But really, all it takes is one guy not pulling his weight and the whole line looks like ass. Which sorta detracts from your overall system execution as well.

I guess what I'm saying is that a few guys playing like ass are making MacT look like a bonehead...which I don't think he is. So he jumbles the lines to put the guys that are showing some spark together and hopefully gets the guys that are asleep at the wheel to wake the eff up.

It comes across as grasping at straws...but I don't think that's the case.

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#69 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 03:05PM
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It's funny, you know, but MacTavish can't win.

When he doesn't shuffle Cole - Horcoff - Hemsky, or Moreau - Pisani - Penner:

"Why does he keep trying what doesn't work??? AAARRRGHHH!"

And when he does shuffle them:

"I'm so sick of MacT's blender - how are players ever supposed to develop chemistry??? AAARRRGHHH!"

I'm always amazed how problems with players are the coach's fault; these players aren't children (despite the occasional suggestion to the contrary).

Now, MacT may be on his way out - and if, at the midway point this team isn't competitive it will probably be deserved. But looking at the big picture (their record under trying circumstances, not "they've never consistently dominated anyone") the team is performing up to expectations. I think they're greasing the rails for MacT if it continues, but it seems likely to turn around, and then we can revisit this whole issue when the team hits a slump next year.

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#70 The Towel Boy
November 18 2008, 03:12PM
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JW: Agreed. The coach is the ultimate fall guy. It's sometimes unfortunate, but it's just the nature of the beast. I don't think any other coach currently available out there is more qualified than the SilverFox...but...it is what it is.

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#71 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 03:13PM
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Recent poll at HFBoards: Are the players overrated, or is the coaching just awful?

Overwhelming answer: Both!

The Oilers have played 13 of 18 on the road and are four points out of the division lead. If I can only believe one thing about the Oilers at this juncture, it's this: now is not the time to panic. Now is the time for patience.

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#72 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 03:15PM
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TB: I tend to agree, although there are some decent ones (Nolan and Burns would top my personal list), and if Dave Tippett gets fired, he'd be on there too.

The time will come when MacTavish should go. It may come in the next 20 games as a matter of fact, but I don't think what we've seen so far warrants dismissal.

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#73 BUCK75
November 18 2008, 03:24PM
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I like Tippet too, assuming Dallas & Edmonton feel that they need a new coach.

Like I said last night, Nolan would come in here to kick ass - then we are looking for a new coach next year. That's his track record.

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#74 Bruthah
November 18 2008, 04:23PM
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73 comments and the game hasn't even started yet....... Seems like the Legion needs a time-out.

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#75 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 04:33PM
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5 o'clock start is crap. I won't get to see Gene's wonderful insight to start off the game.

That in itself puts a hole in my bag.

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#76 BUCK75
November 18 2008, 04:40PM
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Gonna need a new thread started - I am getting a repetitive stress injury on my mouse hand...

I cannot understand how "eastern" time zone teams are in the western division.

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#77 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 04:46PM
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73 comments and the game hasn’t even started yet……. Seems like the Legion needs a time-out.

No, the Legion needs to pick up the pace to catch Lowetide ;)

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#78 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 04:48PM
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Incidentally, here's a link for tonight's game, if anyone's interested:

http://atdhe.net/live-tv-185.html

If previous experience is anything to go by, it will be a very good quality stream, but with the CBJ broadcast crew.

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#79 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:21PM
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^^My link says: http://atdhe.net/live-tv-616.html

too bad this isn't the feed where they don't mute the commentator mics on breaks. that was hilarious!

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#80 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:25PM
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the lack of puck support and support for the teammates really bugs me. so often someone wins a puck battle and there is no one there to pick up the puck.

also, not hitting the freakin' net!

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#81 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 05:29PM
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Do you think since the ol' Oilers management is under so much scrutiny that their old buddy Scott Howsen would pass along Nash for Staios + a 3rd rounder?

No? Hmmm

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#82 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 05:30PM
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Oh I forgot...

baggedmilk is in the building...

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#83 Rammer
November 18 2008, 05:31PM
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That was pretty.

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#84 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:31PM
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nice jam so far tonight!

good work Cogs!!

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#85 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 05:32PM
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Do people still hate Souray or is that bandwagon empty? I can't keep up

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#86 Travis Dakin
November 18 2008, 05:33PM
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I'm the head of his fan club. That big mean sexy bastard!

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#87 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:37PM
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that is the kind of shift that is killing us this year.

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#88 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 05:38PM
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A couple of items:

-Penner on the PP, goal. Big surprise. -Since MacTavish is to blame for epic failures like Jason Chimera, why doesn't he get any credit for getting Souray to play the best hockey of his career?

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#89 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 05:40PM
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And, finally, Pouliot on the penalty kill. When he gets his game grade of "4" over at Cult of Hockey, I'll have to mention that goal he single-handedly stopped.

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#90 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 05:41PM
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JW, I was a huge fan of the Souray signing and since I still don't like MacTavish I'm going to give Huddy all the credit.

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#91 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:43PM
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good period. hopefully they keep the hunger.

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#92 Joey Moss
November 18 2008, 05:49PM
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if the oilers keep this up, mactavish will never get fired. all i ask for his consistency! be consistent enough to make the playoffs above 8th place or be consistent enough to get a high draft pick and fire a lame-duck coach!

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#93 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 05:53PM
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NHL.com has the shots at 15-4. For Columbus. Despite that, a pretty even frame with some close calls against the Oilers, and everything going in for them.

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#94 mab47
November 18 2008, 05:54PM
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souray=monster

if this was a tsn telecast and pierre mcguire was there, he would agree

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#95 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 05:55PM
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I love Evanka Osmak. I would do unforgivable things to make her mine.

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#96 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:56PM
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^^yeah, she looks quite fetching tonight.

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#97 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:57PM
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so, when Sundin met with Anaheim a few weeks ago, do you think they were discussing details of Toronto? b/c I doubt they were talking Ducks.

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#98 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 05:59PM
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I definitely wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers

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#99 freeze
November 18 2008, 05:59PM
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It's pretty cool that we scored EV.

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#100 Rammer
November 18 2008, 06:05PM
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It's pretty cool that we scored.

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