Stortini's Big Night, Pouliot Out, and Other Quick Hits

Jonathan Willis
October 13 2009 01:55PM

Zack Stortini had a great night, showcasing the kind of speed and puck-handling not seen from a fighter since Georges Laraque left town (video g/t to Martin Patriquin, whose article is worth reading).  That's just one of a few items making news today.

Ever since training camp, when the Oilers started with approximately 342 forwards, there has been some concern about how to fit everybody in.  Now, guys like Steve MacIntyre and Robert Nilsson, who might have been sent to the minors have some room to breath, as the Oilers have announced (g/t Derek Zona) that Pouliot will undergo surgery and be out of the lineup for eight to ten weeks.  Zona guesses that Pouliot's time in Edmonton is done; I personally think that will depend on how guys like Gilbert Brule play in his absence.

Aside from that, there were three blog posts I wanted to point out to the denizens of the Nation if they'd been missed:

1. The Scoring Chances for Last Night.  Dennis has been posting scoring chance tallies over at mc79hockey.com.  It's good information, and it's interesting for me to see who is in the black, who was in the red, and how the game balanced out.

2.  Comparing the 08-09 and 09-10 Starts.  This item was pointed to in the comment section of the last post, and is well worth reading; I for one was very surprised by how similar the starts this season and last season were.  Hopefully the Oilers can fix some of their underlying problems before the bounces start going the other way.

3. The Long and Winding Road.  Jeff Deslauriers' fantastic play last night sparked this gem from Lowetide, and the elaboration in the comments is worth reading too.  I'm not sure that I believe Deslauriers can consistently keep up thses sort of performances; last year he was either brilliant or abysmal and he needs to keep the pendulum pushed to one end of the scale.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 I'm a Scientist!
October 13 2009, 02:01PM
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Hmm, my goat is out? And my star is on pace for over 30 goals? Looks like we are winning the cup!!! BOOK IT!

*skips around looking for a unicorn to ride*

la la la...

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#2 Harlie
October 13 2009, 02:05PM
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whats with those gay assed shin socks that Laraque is wearing?

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#3 I'm a Scientist!
October 13 2009, 02:16PM
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@Harlie

Laraque was in the clip? I didn't notice...

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#4 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 13 2009, 02:16PM
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Not sure Pouilot should be written off so soon. The guy has had some issues this year and judging by past experiences maybe he deserves one last shot to prove himself.

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#5 OilerPride
October 13 2009, 02:18PM
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"Hopefully the Oilers can fix some of their underlying problems before the bounces start going the other way."

You have admit the negative bounces against the Oilers have exceeded the positive ones especially at key times in the game.

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#6 Harlie
October 13 2009, 02:19PM
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@I'm a Scientist!

already at the sink before BG's big debut in the vid? You're the man now, dawg!

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#8 I'm a Scientist!
October 13 2009, 02:51PM
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*blushes*

Awww shoot...did you see that? Damn, I thought i was alone...

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#9 The Towel Boy
October 13 2009, 03:19PM
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What have my eyes seen in that video!?!

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#10 Harlie
October 13 2009, 03:23PM
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@The Towel Boy

a lot of hot broads and some big geeky Frenchman.

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#11 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
October 13 2009, 03:24PM
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There is only one word to describe that video... MANTASTIC!!!!

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#12 Jason Gregor
October 13 2009, 03:46PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Not sure Pouilot should be written off so soon. The guy has had some issues this year and judging by past experiences maybe he deserves one last shot to prove himself.

He should be gone. He hasn't done anything the past few years, excluding a four game stretch. He isn't physical, doesn't score, and really has shown no ability to grab a spot when it was presented to him.

I've also been told by a few people that his hockey sense isn't at the level it should be at. No coach can instill that into a player at this level.

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#13 Citizen Alpha
October 13 2009, 03:54PM
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Citizens,

I made some change to comments for spam prevention. If you notice anything strange, please let us (i.e. bingofuel) know.

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#16 Librarian Mike
October 13 2009, 04:00PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I wonder if Pouliot is going to join Schremp on the plank to Long Island. Then again, do the Leafs have anyone we can use? If I were GM I wouldn't be able to resist the urge to screw Burke after 2.5 years of hearing what a genius he is.

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#17 Andrew W
October 13 2009, 04:08PM
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I've been trying to think of an upside comparable for Pouliot for a couple of seasons now, and a possible player came to mind this spring when Quinn came on board: Alyn McCauley. At this point, this is a highly optimistic comparison, but Pouliot has a similar history and reputation in the NHL as McCauley did with the Leafs before Quinn arrived, and the coach was able to do wonders turning him around from an offensive obsessed centre to a very useful defensive forward. McCauley eventually had a Selke nomination (in 03/04 playing for the Sharks).

In my opinion, it would be a shame to lose Pouliot without seeing if he's able to improve under the new coaches, although JW makes a valid point that this has a lot to do with the number of roster spots available when he comes back and the play of Brule. On the plus side, he should be able to do a conditioning stint with the Falcons after recovering from the surgery, if I understand the waiver rules properly. It's tough to imagine that there would be many teams interested in claiming him off the wire anyway.

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#18 I'm a Scientist!
October 13 2009, 04:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

This just in: Laraque apologizes for the ad posted above.

I figured that was coming.

He appologized? Why? This is the first thing to wash the ESPN photo from my brain! He should be saying 'You're welcome'. I just couldn't stop thinking about Big Sexy's helmet. siiigh...

*watches the Laraque vid again to cleanse his mind once more*

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#20 Eric Johnson
October 13 2009, 05:37PM
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I don't understand the mentality of give Pouliot "one last chance". Out of all of the fringe players we have, he's had the most opportunity to do something with his ice time in the bigs.

His game in Jr. and the AHL is a top 6 player, and even with Quinn's balanced attack approach to his lines, who do you take out to insert a "one last chance"? This is the regular season wiith points on the line. And would you keep him over a guy like Pisani, who while he doesn't show up on the score sheet can at least be counted on to kill penalties and make the safe play?

Unfortunately for him (or fortunately depending on how you see it) I think he gets his next real chance from another NHL team, but considering the salary cap and barring injuries on other teams, who would take him?

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#21 Dennis
October 13 2009, 06:01PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

He should be gone. He hasn't done anything the past few years, excluding a four game stretch. He isn't physical, doesn't score, and really has shown no ability to grab a spot when it was presented to him.

I've also been told by a few people that his hockey sense isn't at the level it should be at. No coach can instill that into a player at this level.

Seriously, Gregor?

To say that 78 hasn't done anything excluding a four game stretch is basically admitting that you either have an irrational hatred for the guy or you just don't bother to watch the games.

I know the latter isn't true so the former must be.

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#22 IvyEyezPK
October 13 2009, 06:16PM
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"I personally think that will depend on how guys like Gilbert Brule play in his absence"

You're still not convinced Brule is here for the longhaul? You have to be naive to figure MAP has any chance of bumping Brule out of the line-up.

As Gregor eluded to, to a certain extent, MAP doesn't bring the same to the table as Brule.

Reading stats, and not actually watching them play in the AHL can only do so much for an argument.

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#23 Halfwise
October 13 2009, 08:35PM
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Reminds me of this Schick commercial for women's razors inviting them to "Mow the Lawn"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvFSgXpyhoM

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#24 rindog
October 13 2009, 09:32PM
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Dennis wrote:

Seriously, Gregor?

To say that 78 hasn't done anything excluding a four game stretch is basically admitting that you either have an irrational hatred for the guy or you just don't bother to watch the games.

I know the latter isn't true so the former must be.

Why don't you enlighten Gregor (and the rest of us) as to what Pouliot HAS done?

Gregor listed off a few things that Pouliot doesn't do...if you are going to lend an opinion, why not give us some examples to support?

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#27 Jason Gregor
October 14 2009, 01:09AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Jacques and Stone bring an element that every team needs, and Pouliot doesn't have. Jacques is finally healthy after two and a half years of a serious back injury and he looks much more effective.

I'm always thought the pts/60 min stat was bogus. Just my opinion. Depending on a players conditioning playing two or three minutes less a game can be beneficial.

You say Pouliot is good at many things, what are they exactly? I don't see it. He doesn't hit, score, bring energy, hasn't been a top penalty killer.

You say he is a proven NHLer? REally he has played more than 46 games in a season once since being drafted. He hasn't shown an ability to stick. That means he is a journeyman NHLer, not a proven one.

Gagner and Cogliano are younger and smaller, but their skill set is dramatically more noticeable.

Pouliot has 14 career goals in 139 games. Cogliano had 18 as a rookie. Comparing them makes no sense, and just backs up my point why your PTS/60 stat is full of holes.

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#28 IvyEyezPK
October 14 2009, 01:18AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Believe me, I am not basing my argument over 5 games. If you've ever watched Brule in junior, you don't need his 5 NHL games to realize the guy can be key-part to the team. Not only this season, but for years to come. His job right now is to be a gritty, hard-working skater, that can win draws. So far, he has done that.

Maybe -that's a big maybe- Pisani never plays in Oilers silks again, is there room for MAP on the RW? Who knows. I just believe Brule won't be pushed for him.

As for Brule last season: there are so many factors as to why he didn't make the team. And in my opinion, none of that had to do with a lack of talent.

That's just my 2 cents.

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#29 IvyEyezPK
October 14 2009, 01:20AM
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@Jason Gregor

"You say Pouliot is good at many things, what are they exactly? I don't see it. He doesn't hit, score, bring energy, hasn't been a top penalty killer."

x2

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#30 Jason Gregor
October 14 2009, 01:24AM
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@Dennis

Yes, I'm serious. Although, my bad, it was a ten game stretch, where he scored five goals. Which means he has scored nine in the other 129 games he played. Safe players who don't score, hit, bring energy do nothing to help the team win. And that is what Pouliot is at the NHL level.

Jonathon,

You say Brule couldn't beat out Pouliot or Reddox for a job last year, then you are the one who is naive in thinking how good Pouliot is.

Brule needed another year of seasoning, and it has paid off for him. And Pouliot and Reddox weren't regulars in the lineup, and the organization wasn't worried about stunting their growth by sitting out games, whereas they wanted Brule playing every game.

Brule brings way more to the table than Pouliot. It isn't close. Brule doesn't have to score to be effective. He hits, creates chances by hitting and gets under the oppositions skin. Something every good team needs.

Basing your defense solely on stats doesn't make sense. Just watch a game and tell me that Pouliot comes close to making the same impact as Gagner or Cogliano?

If you honestly believe that he does, fine. But then admit that you either are a huge fan of his, or just like to defend him.

Because based on your pts/60 stat then Fernando Pisani and Zack Stortini are better than Cogliano and Gagner, and I doubt you will try and argue that.

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#31 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 14 2009, 08:34AM
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Gregor

What I did like from Pouilot was he never hurt us when he was on the ice. I see him as a cheaper version of Pisani. I know most don't put alot of stock into +/- but Pouilot is minus one in his time in Edmonton. Not bad considering how bad some of those teams have been.

The other thing I thought Pouilot brought was faceoff ability. Sure he doesn't have above 50% overall numbers, but he has had plenty of games where he was north of 50% something this team doesn't have much of.

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#32 Dennis
October 14 2009, 09:12AM
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Why just 10 games, though? Are you just picking out games where he has points;)?

78 played well as a PKer in the Titanic season of '07, he did a fine job upon his recall at the end of '08 and last year he proved to be a cost-effective top niner.

Is he a scoring machine who's gonna cover his '03 draft bet? Well, that's not likely gonna be the case.

But is he a guy who's only been useful for 10 games?

No, and only someone who's biased would say that.

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#33 Jason Gregor
October 14 2009, 11:15AM
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@Dennis

Not biased. I just don't think he has more value than Brule. If people say he is a cheaper version of Pisani, there is some merit to that, except Pisani's biggest strength is his hockey sense. And the biggest criticism I hear from the Oilers organization is that Pouliot doesn't think the game very well.

Has he made much impact in the other games? He was an okay PKer, but never considered a top-end guy.

He is serviceable forward at best, but still not proven in the parts of the four seasons he has been here.

A role player needs a role. I don't think Pouliot does any role GREAT, thus it makes him replaceable.

It isn't a bias, because I get along fine with Pouliot when I have to deal with him, but I don't see him helping the Oilers become better.

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#34 Dennis
October 14 2009, 01:27PM
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Is it possible that you and RB are talking to different people within the org? Quinn starts this off by saying that the people in the org had 78 listed as a roster player so that's a plus in his corner. RB says that he hasn't heard anything to that point where this injury would finish him as an Oiler; we can take that as a plus because it means they like him enough to stick with him.

But you say you talk to people within the org and they say he doesn't think the game very well. So, it seems like the people or guy you talk to doesn't really have any juice when it comes to determining what 78's future role is with the Oilers.

In regards to him not being able to fill a role, let's take the PK as an example. he did a nice job there in '07 but never was in the plans in '08. So, why was that? Perhaps it's that macT never did take a shine to him and I think that's a good bet because it's always seemed to me that Lowe's been the guy who's been on his side. So, maybe under Quinn we would've seen 78 get another shot as a PKEr and, voila, we could see him doing what he did in '07.

As an example to look at how players fortunes can change once a new skipper's brought to port, look at what could be the beginning-of-the-end for Ethan Moreau.

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#35 rindog
October 14 2009, 01:55PM
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Dennis wrote:

Is it possible that you and RB are talking to different people within the org? Quinn starts this off by saying that the people in the org had 78 listed as a roster player so that's a plus in his corner. RB says that he hasn't heard anything to that point where this injury would finish him as an Oiler; we can take that as a plus because it means they like him enough to stick with him.

But you say you talk to people within the org and they say he doesn't think the game very well. So, it seems like the people or guy you talk to doesn't really have any juice when it comes to determining what 78's future role is with the Oilers.

In regards to him not being able to fill a role, let's take the PK as an example. he did a nice job there in '07 but never was in the plans in '08. So, why was that? Perhaps it's that macT never did take a shine to him and I think that's a good bet because it's always seemed to me that Lowe's been the guy who's been on his side. So, maybe under Quinn we would've seen 78 get another shot as a PKEr and, voila, we could see him doing what he did in '07.

As an example to look at how players fortunes can change once a new skipper's brought to port, look at what could be the beginning-of-the-end for Ethan Moreau.

So you're saying he deserves a spot because he might be an effective penalty killer?

He has had 141 NHL games to prove that he "brings" something to the organization. I dare say that we wouldn't notice a difference whether 78 is in the line-up or not?

To me, that is not the definition of a player that deserves an NHL roster spot.

We traded a "proven" NHL player in Raffe Torres to acquire Gilbert Brule. It would be absurd for an organization to hand a spot to guy like Pouliot in place of a more effective players such as Brule.

Brule > Pouliot (in every aspect) NO QUESTION!!

Plain and simple there is NO spot for Pouliot on this roster!!

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#36 Dennis
October 14 2009, 05:15PM
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No, I wasn't saying he should have a spot because he might be an effective PKer; I'm saying that he might be a really good PKer if that was in MacT's plans and also that he's done more than play well in 10 games, which was Gregor's point.

Anyway, Brule's just as unproven as 78 so let's see what happens.

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#37 rindog
October 14 2009, 05:46PM
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Dennis wrote:

No, I wasn't saying he should have a spot because he might be an effective PKer; I'm saying that he might be a really good PKer if that was in MacT's plans and also that he's done more than play well in 10 games, which was Gregor's point.

Anyway, Brule's just as unproven as 78 so let's see what happens.

Except that Brule brings other things to the roster that Pouliot doesn't/cant...

And I am still not sure what Pouliot has shown you (or others) to say that he has played well for more than 10 games?

He is the definition of a "tweener".

I have rarely seen him go out and make a difference on any given shift?

The role in which Pouliot has played thus far (in the NHL) could be filled by 5-7 guys on any AHL roster.

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#38 Dennis
October 14 2009, 07:20PM
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I just realized one thing 67 will bring that 78 won't: the uncanny ability to turn over the puck just outside his own blueline!

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#39 rindog
October 15 2009, 08:54AM
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@Dennis

I am not going to say that Brule doesn't make mistakes with the puck...

But, atleast he has the puck at times (in order to make these mistakes).

My point is...Pouliot rarely even touches the puck, let alone tries to actually make a play with it.

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#40 Dennis
October 15 2009, 09:56AM
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I wasn't really serious about the whole turning-over-the-puck thing, of course most forwards are gonna do this, but I just wanted to point out how silly it was to pick out arbitrary game numbers or situations in order to try and prove a point.

Me and Gregor have been going back-and-forth on Pouliot for awhile, honestly. he actually favours Rick Rypien over him and I love trotting that out:)

And the thing with Gregor - and I understand that anyone in the business must possess a healthy ego in order to keep believing in themselves - is he never admits he's case.

Case in point: the whole scnario with Rick Olyczk and the salary cap:)

And I like pointing that out as precedent:)

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#41 Dennis
October 15 2009, 09:58AM
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I meant to say he never admits he's wrong:)

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#42 Jason Gregor
October 17 2009, 08:05PM
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@Dennis

Dennis how I am wrong on Pouliot? He has done sheet to prove your point. You say he MIGHT become a player. He isn't.

As for Rypien he is more effective than Pouliot as a 4th liner, which was the arguement.

Rypien BRINGS something. He is the toughest middleweight in the league, no question.

Rypien makes more of an impact than Pouliot.

You still think Pouliot is better, which shows maybe you don't know as much as you think you do.

You put Pouliot on your 4th line, and I'll take Rypien on mine any day. And I guarantee you every GM in the league will take Rypien on their 4th line over Pouliot. It would seem you are the one who can't admit that when you are wrong.

I did say I the info I was given regarding waivers was wrong. You can't move on from it. I guess you are perfect in your mind.

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