GDB 52: Moving in Different Directions

Jonathan Willis
February 07 2009 10:44AM

NHL/

With Lubomir Visnovsky already injured, and Tom Gilbert likely out after getting hurt against St. Louis, the Oilers have recalled their best AHL prospect, defenseman Theo Peckham. Peckham has two NHL games to his credit, one against Columbus at the tail end of last season, and one against Pittsburgh earlier this year.

J-F Jacques is once again ready to play, so he takes up a roster spot while on his two-week conditioning stint with Springfield. His activation and the recall of Peckham necessitated sending down Ryan Potulny.

Also injured for the game against Detroit this afternoon is Shawn Horcoff, the only centre on the team with more than two seasons of NHL experience. With him out, the top line spot between Penner and Hemsky needed filling, something Kyle Brodziak did for the end of the St. Louis game. Craig MacTavish’s comments before the game indicated that he was likely to leave Brodziak in that spot, at least to begin with.

It’s an opportunity for Brodziak (the first words out of Brodziak’s mouth when asked were “It’s a big opportunity for me”). I’ve commented before on how he’s been used this season, but it’s worth repeating. For the vast majority of the year, he’s been saddled with inferior linemates (MacIntyre, Stortini, etc.) but that’s only part of the problem. Brodziak’s been starting in the defensive zone more than any other player on the team. Of his 314 non-neutral zone draws, 219 of them have been in the defensive end. That means that he’s had 124 more defensive zone draws than offensive zone draws; the next nearest Oiler is Shawn Horcoff with 86. No other player on the team has more than 40.

It’s a measure of the trust that MacTavish has in those two players that they are his go-to guys for defensive zone faceoffs.

Checking in on the other end of the blender, Marc Pouliot will centre Steve MacIntyre (asked about MacIntyre playing against Detroit, MacTavish said “we don’t have anyone else”) and Zach Stortini on the fourth line tonight, and MacTavish hinted that he didn’t trust them to play much at all against Detroit, saying that they’d likely sub in on other lines. After saying that he didn’t like Pouliot at centre, MacTavish expanded that he felt Pouliot, for all his improvements ‘needed something he can provide every night, whether it be a better defensive game, a more physical game, or more consistent offensive contribution’. He summed up by saying that while Pouliot was improving, but that his game on a whole was “vanilla”.

The bottom line though is that this Edmonton Oilers team isn’t at nearly the same level of the Red Wings when healthy, and they aren’t close to that tonight.

On the Red Wings front, significant players in Tomas Holmstron (groin) and Brad Stuart (ribs) won’t be playing this afternoon. Marian Hossa, who turned down a massive contract from the Oilers this off-season, is leading the Red Wings in goals (28) and comes to town amid rumours that he and fellow pending unrestricted free agent Johan Franzen are negotiating extensions with the Wings. The real news is that the Red Wings are hoping to sign the two “for a package price of around US$10-million per season.” The other thing worth noting is that Albertan Chris Osgood, suffering through a poor season, is not expected to start tonight, making room for ex-Oiler Ty Conklin, who has been very good over the past two seasons.

Because I’m incapable of predicting an Oilers loss, I’m going to call it a 3-2 win with Kyle Brodziak leading the way offensively and Dwayne Roloson making 436 saves (give or take 5). Chime in with your predictions below.

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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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#301 R-DAWG
February 07 2009, 04:15PM
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ryanbatty wrote:

Based on the 3rd MacT will probably have Stortini on the top line tomorrow. I’m so excited I won’t even be able to sleep tonight.

Take it to the bank!!

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#302 Dennis
February 07 2009, 04:16PM
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Are the Oilers still giving the Molson Cup to Tommy Salo every month?

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#303 rindog
February 07 2009, 04:26PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Jonathan Willis wrote:

Columbus atrociously mismanaged Brule

as opposed to the way we have been handling him???

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#304 volfman
February 07 2009, 04:43PM
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Let's fire mac-t, fire. Let's fire mac-t, fire. I don't know how it could be more obvious that this isn't and will not play for him. EVER!

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#305 APE
February 07 2009, 04:57PM
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What did Mac idiot say after the game?

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#306 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
February 07 2009, 04:58PM
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TSN and Sportsnet is reporting that both Reddex and Pouliot where seen leaving the Detroit dressing room after the first. They went over and gave Babcock H_AD just like they do to Mac T so that this game was not a total laugher.Great job Mac T ,K lowe, Katz and all you propaganda pushing Oiler boosters.I have seen enough, I am going out and buying a Flames jersey so that i can wear it in two weeks.I thought I never would do that, but this organization is becoming a total joke!!!!!

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#307 APE
February 07 2009, 05:01PM
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I just listened. Battled hard my ass. I hope we lose 25-1 tomorrow.

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#308 B-Rad
February 07 2009, 06:42PM
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When zach is one of your best players....it's time to take a look in the mirror and see what needs to be done as an organization. I'm really sick of the bullett dodging afterwards. Mac T and even Ethan Moreau, like, what the hell, they never sounded a tad bit upset about the loss. Just another day at the office for them. When Ethan said, " ya I think we can carry some good things over in tomorrow", you know your in trouble. You thought players were battling hard? THATS YOUR JOB A-HOLE, what do you want? a hug? Show some emotion. Show us you care.

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#309 Fiveandagame
February 07 2009, 08:11PM
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Fortboy wrote:

Bob knows who butters his loaf of toast every morning.

Ummm thats butter his Oreos....

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#310 Donna
February 07 2009, 08:33PM
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Now what? Is this management going to wait until the trade deadline? This season is lost? Are we going to rebuild again since there is rumours about Cole? Isn't he the best player now on the team or the most consistent? lots of questions but no answers. We have been lied to by this new regime, at least the EIG was more consistent with fans in the ownership group trying to better the team, were not they against extensions to Lowe and Mactavish? We have been lied to, "a competitive team where free agents will want to come to" Oilers are losing fans, I am one who is ready to give up my season tickets, i'm sure there are others.

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#311 APE
February 07 2009, 09:02PM
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Donna wrote:

Now what? Is this management going to wait until the trade deadline? This season is lost? Are we going to rebuild again since there is rumours about Cole?

Who knows.. Yes. Yes. Hopefully.

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#312 David S
February 07 2009, 09:49PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I’d have bought it if they’d started Deslauriers to begin with.

Jonathan, I've been thinking about this all day. That's what we would have done. But we're not NHL coaches. If you put JDD against a team like Detroit, you're obviously throwing the game. I mean, you'd be expected to go with everything you had - if you were playing to win against Detroit.

But what if you're not? What if you tell the guys that you're going to save the bullets for Minny. You tell them to play at 90% but tomorrow you'll expect everything they've got. Why? Because 4 points outta 6 is a successful road trip. And THAT would be good asset management.

In the post game scrum we're surprised that MacT isn't spitting nails. In fact, he's strangely OK with how the game turned out. Almost like things went as he "wrote them up". Meanwhile we're all WTF and Fire MacT.

It appears to me that fans follow the season game-by-game. In an 82 game season, team strategy has to account for flow of the season as much as each individual game. And that means a close eye on resource management. My bet is that the Minny game tomorrow will be a fun one to watch. And the odds are we'll win it too.

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#313 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 09:41AM
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rindog wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Jonathan Willis wrote: Columbus atrociously mismanaged Brule as opposed to the way we have been handling him???

I have a lot of complaints about the Oilers this season, but using Gilbert Brule in an offensive role in the minors and trying not to hand him an NHL job until he can handle it is not one of them.

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