October 15 2009 11:22AM
UPDATE: Don't expect Sheldon Souray to return anytime soon. Pat Quinn was not very confident that Souray would be back soon. Souray met with the training staff, and according to Quinn, he didn't look good and is still a ways away from returning.
Steve Staios won't dress tomorrow either. He is closer than Staios, but after speaking with Quinn it sounds like he won't play tomorrow, and will be re-evaluated over the weekend.
No changes on the blueline, but Quinn might make a switch up front.
I asked him if he was considering switching the lines to start the game, similar to the ones we saw at the end of last night's game.
He hinted that maybe Robert Nilsson gets a look, or even Steve MacIntyre. If one of them comes in the question is who comes out? It won't be Stortini or Moreau, so would he take out a Comrie, Gagner, Stone or Jacques? Doubtful.
Many of the Nation have been wondering why Cogliano is stuck on the 4th line. Quinn pointed out that Gagner got off to a good start playing with Moreau and Stortini, and now Cogliano gets put with them and suddenly he has two goals.
Quinn went on to explain that Moreau and Stortini force their linemates to go into the tough areas, and because Gagner and Cogliano have skill, they finish when they are in those tough areas.
While Stortini and Moreau aren't blessed with natural skill like Comrie, Gagner, Cogliano, O'Sulllivan or Hemsky they go to the tough areas more often and when teamed up with some skilled guys they get results. Don't expect Quinn to split that trio up right away.
I wouldn't be surprised to see him move offensive guys in between them, with the hope that will force them to go into the tougher areas more often.
Before yesterday’s tilt Tom Renney stated, “It will be a good test to see where we are, or how far we have to go”.
Well, after last night it’s obvious they have a ways to go before they can compete with upper-echelon teams in the west. The Hawks are an elite team, and they dominated the Oilers without Marian Hossa last night.
Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios will close the gap a bit. But either the Oilers were a bit sluggish last night, or the Hawks are just a step faster.
The Hawks won the races to loose pucks, they made better passes, and they pressured the Oilers all over the ice. If Nikolai Khabibulin doesn’t stand on his head, this would have been a blow out.
The good news for the Oilers was at least they continued to hit. JF Jacques, Ryan Stone and a few others were still physical. Jacques did chase Dustin Byfuglien around the ice a shift after he hit Ales Hemsky, but in a case like that, he’d be better served getting a clean lick on Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp or Jonathon Toews, and then Byfuglien would have to respond.
Pierre McGuire was ripping the Oilers defensive zone coverage last night, but if he had watched previous games, it's clear that the coaching staff wants them to funnel down closer to the net. Yes, they got to low at times, but they don’t want to give up the high slot. They will play the percentages that it is harder to score farther away.
No one should be surprised the Hawks were the better team, because right now they ARE the better team, and they’ve been playing their system for a full season, and they are damn good at it.
The Oilers will need to improve their passing.
It wasn’t just last night, but in many games this year, they’ve missed the simple six to eight foot passes, and those types of turnovers killed them last night. How many times were the Oilers rushing out of their zone and missed a head-man, or cross-ice pass that went to the Hawks D-man? It was too many.
Good passing starts in practice, and I’ll be curious to watch the next few practices to see how the coaches react to bad passes. Last year Nick Lidstrom explained why the Wings were so good at passing, “As players we don’t accept bad passes in practice. We demand it from each other, and you see the results in games. At this level, bad passes are unacceptable.”
Not everything falls on the coaches; sometimes the players need to police themselves. Errant passes are one of the biggest momentum killers in the game, and the Oilers need to stop giving the puck away through missed passes.
The Andrew Cogliano, Zack Stortini and Ethan Moreau line was the most effective all night. For those who think Moreau can’t skate, wake up. Skating is not an issue with the captain; never has been.
I said it last year, and I’ll continue to say it, Cogliano has better finish than he’s given credit for. I think it is only a matter of time before he forces the coach’s hand to give him top-six minutes. His speed allows him to create chances, and at some point I’d like to see him on the PP.
Pat Quinn switched the lines trying to find a spark, and it almost worked. I’m still stunned at how this team can score one goal, and then all of a sudden they have confidence. Ales Hemsky had a glorious chance ten seconds after the Dustin Penner goal, and the Oilers were much better in the final eight minutes of the game, but they still deserved to lose.
Speaking of Penner, the big man is showing no signs of slowing down. He is consistently using his size advantage to fend off defenders, and it might be time to put him with Shawn Horcoff and Hemsky.
I like Jacques’ game to this point, but it is clear Penner will create more offence, and so far Hemsky and Horcoff haven’t done much.
The Oilers have an optional practice at noon today, so we won’t see any lines at practice today, but I’ll update you on the status of Staios and Souray later.