Hemsky's lungs and PK problems

Jason Gregor
January 02 2009 03:19PM

The cavalry isn’t coming and neither is Ales Hemsky. Hemsky spoke to the media today and he is still not feeling well enough to practice, so look for him to miss at least the next two games, and realistically the Vancouver game as well.

It doesn’t sound like a call up will happen, so the Oilers will go with the same lineup tomorrow, and the same lines. I asked MacTavish, now that Hemsky is out for the next few games, if he would put someone else on Horcoff’s right wing.

“Like whom?” he replied.

I suggested possibly Cole or Brule.

“Cole would be the guy, but they (Nilsson and Gagner) are playing well together. Brule. Is he ready for that? We will start him in a lesser role and see where he goes from there. If looks like he is having a dynamic game offensively then it will be an easy switch.

“So far Liam (Reddox) has done a decent job. He scored a goal the first game, and was instrumental in the goal that was disallowed, so it that would be a couple points in two games so that’s pretty good production. It’s something I’ll entertain but not at this moment.”

I haven’t been one to jump all over MacTavish, but this decision puzzles me. How will you know if Brule is ready unless you give him a shot? What do you have to lose? Or what about calling up Ryan Potulny, since he leads the Sprinfield Falcons in goals? I agree that the Gagner line is playing well, so there is no point moving Cole, but Reddox is not the answer. Brule might not be either, but I’d like to see that first before I make that conclusion. Give him a shot. But Reddox isn’t the biggest problem for the Oilers right now.

Their PK is atrocious. It has been all season, and it isn’t showing signs of improving. Of course, the face-offs are a major issue, but they are only part of the problem. Consistently the PK is giving up the seam pass, and with mostly veterans on the PK that is inexcusable.

“It’s been the main contributor for the last couple of loses. We need to have more of a presence in the dangerous areas where we are giving up those really good looks. We are hesitant on the PK and that is never good. We just have to focus more on individual assignments,” said MacTavish.

I asked him what he has to do different as a coach. Will he change the system or the personnel?

“I’ve seen teams that are chasing a strategy that works, and they never get there. Penalty killing is a very coachable area, and as a coach you should be able to identify the personnel you have and find a system that best suites their strengths. We (coaches) have to focus in on it more and try to improve it.”

What about the face-offs?

“You can’t do much there as a coach. You can work on it in practice, but ultimately that comes down to guys winning the draws. We might give Tyler Spurgeon a look to see if he can helps us, but ultimately guys have to improve.”

What about bringing in a specialist like Perrault?

“I’m always a skeptic. You wonder why a guy is not playing when he has those numbers in the dot. I don’t know him very well or his game very well -- the scouts would know better -- but the question is what you give up minus what you create. You bring a guy in like that who is out of a job for a pretty good reason and he has played on a lot of teams, and why is he playing on a bunch of teams? Probably because there are a bunch of weaknesses in his game that are hidden in those face-off numbers. Unlikely that we will do that (bring him in) but we do have to improve, so we will need to do something.”

Perrault would help them in the face-off circle, but not on the PK, which is the place they need the most help.

Then why haven’t they called up Spurgeon? They can’t keep waiting for these guys to win draws, because clearly it isn’t happening.

Other tidbits

Marc Pouliot is feeling better and will practice tomorrow, and he might return on Monday. Pouliot looked much better than Hemsky, so expect to see 78 before 83.

Steve MacIntyre will have his face examined on Jan 6, and if everything looks good he expects to take his visor of on the 15th and be ready for action. He says his orbital bone feels fine, but joked that he only thought it was a black eye to begin with so he’ll wait for the results before he gets too excited.

Many, including myself, have wondered how long Denis Grebeshkov wants to play in the NHL, or if he will go back to Russia and play in the KHL. While Wanye was cheering loudly as Grebeshkov recorded his first four-point night against the Flames, I wondered how long he would be in the Show.

“I want to play in the NHL as long as possible, because it is way more fun to play here than back home,” said Grebeshkov.

When the mic was off we spoke at length about playing back home, and I left with a sense he truly likes it here, but if he gets double the money back home he probably would go. He said he is looking at signing an extension in the NHL first. Either way, I don’t see him staying with the Oilers very long. He is a player that teams would have interest in, and unless Tom Gilbert gets moved, I suspect Grebeshkov will be the odd man out. The Oilers need some more size on their backend, and Grebeshkov has a good salary and he can move the puck. Which are two qualities that make him attractive to other teams.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 rindog
January 02 2009, 10:06PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

I'm sorry if it came across that I though you wanted Reddox there.

My intention was point out that there was no need to support the decision (even for ONE game) even if he got results.

I could care less if Reddox banged in two goals against Ottawa (which he should have). He still shouldn't have been there. Don't you remember what Lumley said on your show regarding playing with better players???

It was just as bad of decision for ONE game as it is for two, three, etc.....

I think that is one of the biggest problems with MacT as a coach. He is far too reactionary or results oriented (which I realize you have to be somewhat). The thing for me is that he sees something happen once and he thinks he just made a remarkable discovery. For example, while watching the last game against Calgary. Nilsson scored on the PP (on a broken play that really had nothing to do with a PP) and I told my buddies that that line would start the next PP for sure.

Did you happen to see who went out for the next PP? He had all day to figure out what his #1 unit would be and the first sign of something he abondoned ship. It's not a huge thing - but I have noticed it alot (and won't bore you with more examples here).

MacT (and others) saw that Reddox scored a goal and they figured it was a good move.

It all goes back to a simple theory:

ACES IN THEIR PLACES!!!!

A coach or a boss has to figure what role/position suits his employees/players and do everything he can to facilate their development in that role....

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#52 The Warrior
January 02 2009, 10:34PM
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TW appreciates the Wisdom of MrGregor

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#53 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
January 02 2009, 11:27PM
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Does anything Mac t do with lines and this team suprise anybody still? I am past questioning him as far as I am concerned he should be gone along with the rest of the coaching staff and a few players. But lets wait till we are completly out of the play off race and then we can put the blame on. the way things are going Klowe and Tambo are still of the opinion everthing is great in oiler land.

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#54 Jay
January 02 2009, 11:30PM
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@ Gregor

“So far Liam (Reddox) has done a decent job. He scored a goal the first game, and was instrumental in the goal that was disallowed, so it that would be a couple points in two games so that’s pretty good production. It’s something I’ll entertain but not at this moment.”

I loved this quote Gregor... MacT is now counting disallowed goals as points?

Also, not sure if it was ever brought up but Reddox and his PK ability were used exactly 0 seconds in Calgary. His entire situation here smells like you know what.

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#55 DaveR
January 02 2009, 11:52PM
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I just listened to Shawna Horcoff he had more excuses than Mac(shiT), Moreuon was a close second (sounded like Tencer and Stauffer defending mact's coaching) boy this team is a loser, cheer for the flames, at least they know how to run a team.

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#56 CurtisS
January 03 2009, 01:42AM
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@ Gregor

Thanks for the reponse. Answers alot of questions other than the one you asked.

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#57 Milli
January 03 2009, 09:13AM
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I'd like to add up what MacT and Klo add, minus what they take away and see if mayb e, just friggin maybe we should be looking for a few replacements. Hemmer's out so we replace him with Reddox??? Too much Turkey Mac... Don't we have a guy we called up, he added some hemskesque offense? I think his name is Jebus, don't we have another guy, who, correct me if I'm wrong, we traded an nhl player to get.....Mact has lost it, he makes no sense, I don't care if they win 10 in a row, new coach please....hell, I almost ready to sacrifice this season if it gauranteed a new coach. But then again, if we could kill a penalty, we wouldn't be talking about any of this, and who exactly, is responsible for our sudden inability to kill???

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#58 Mike
January 03 2009, 10:02AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Last season the PK was very passive in their own zone. I just four Oiler games from last year over the holidays. (I know, lame, but I wanted a comparison) and the opposition spent lots of time in the offensive zone but never scored. I thihnk they got a bit fortunate with their results, and now they are using the same passive PK and are getting killed.

There was a fantastic blog post just before the season started looking at Garon's numbers on the PK last year. The conclusion was either Garon was far and away the greatest shorthanded goalie in the NHL, or he got lucky last year and the numbers were going to come crashing down to earth this fall.

I think we've established which of those is the case.

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#59 Jay
January 03 2009, 10:36AM
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Mike wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: Last season the PK was very passive in their own zone. I just four Oiler games from last year over the holidays. (I know, lame, but I wanted a comparison) and the opposition spent lots of time in the offensive zone but never scored. I thihnk they got a bit fortunate with their results, and now they are using the same passive PK and are getting killed. There was a fantastic blog post just before the season started looking at Garon’s numbers on the PK last year. The conclusion was either Garon was far and away the greatest shorthanded goalie in the NHL, or he got lucky last year and the numbers were going to come crashing down to earth this fall. I think we’ve established which of those is the case.

The Oilers do not use statistcial anaylsis. It's counter productive to keeping everyone's friends employed over imporving the hockey club.

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#60 rindog
January 03 2009, 03:06PM
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I have a question regarding Hemsky and the organization???

If Hemsky himself admitted that he couldn't sleep and had headaches the next day (after the Tootoo hit). Why did we wait to call someone up until after Pouilot got hurt??

Alot of people defended the Reddox move becasue it was an emergency and then he played ad ecent game against Ottawa.

Why were we so slow in recognizing that Hemmer might be out longer than a game or two? Isn't there always a possibility that a guy who suffers any kind of head injury could be out longer?

Who is responsible for making that call in this situation? Doctors, GM, President, Coach???

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