Wild at Oilers: Post Game Review

Jonathan Willis
March 01 2009 03:00PM

cogsforjon

I visited my folks last night and watched the game with the old man; enjoyed it too, which is unusual for a game involving Minnesota. In any case, I wasn’t especially pleased by the performance, although two points is always good to see.

Ethan Moreau’s Injury

Very few people have been as harshly critical of the captain as me, but what an awful break. Moreau’s a gamer; always has been, for that matter, and seeing him being helped off the ice was an instant sign that Antii Miettinen’s stick had hit more than the bone right above the eye. Craig MacTavish confirmed that suspicion after the game:

”The stick looks like it gashed the socket and the doctors say it raked across the eyeball. It looks pretty serious.”

Hopefully the injury isn’t as serious as it sounds.

The Tough Minutes

One of my minor obsessions are line matchups; last night Jacques Lemaire’s top line was Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Here were Craig MacTavish’s top-two lines and defence pairings for use against Koivu & Co., along with their total ice-time against the trio:

Reddox: 7.3 min Horcoff: 7.1 min Hemsky: 5.7 min Brodziak: 4.5 min Pisani: 4.5 min Moreau: 4.3 min

Grebeshkov: 8.1 min Gilbert: 7.7 min Staios: 7.1 min Souray: 7.0 min

Brodziak shows up ahead of Cogliano because MacTavish seemingly doesn’t trust Cogliano to take faceoffs in his own zone, and sneaks Kyle Brodziak in instead, as well as occasionally sending Brodziak and Horcoff out together for defensive zone draws.

As a side point, it’s always a bit of a minor irritation to me to see Pouliot – Gagner – Cole listed as the second line in a game like tonight; as a general rule, the checking line sees more ice-time than that trio, since MacTavish likes to give easier matchups to his second scoring line, and he evidently feels confident sending out his checking line against any opposition. Usually it’s close in terms of total minutes, and obviously it depends on game situation, but as a general rule the checking line gets more minutes than the soft-scoring line – and that’s not just a MacTavish thing, it’s prevalent around the league.

An Undeserved Win

Excepting Dwayne Roloson, who was phenomenal and richly deserved the first star last night, the Oilers did not deserve a win in last night’s game. You may recall the disgust of Rob Tychkowski after the Columbus game; one of the things that he (correctly) pointed out was the Oilers being outshot 17-5 in the second period. Last night, they were outshot 18-3 in the third and 45-30 overall. For the final frame, they barely ventured outside of their own zone with the puck.

The first line in particular were lucky (although Liam Reddox had a surprisingly strong game), scoring two goals despite being outshot and out-chanced all evening long. The worst chance against (IMO) came when Shawn Horcoff picked the pocket of a Minnesota player but then lost the puck, leaving it wide open near the faceoff circle. Horcoff actually had the worst Corsi number of any player on the team last night (-9) which looked very much deserved to me.

Of course, they did pick up a bit after Dustin Penner was replaced by Liam Reddox; Penner earned any of the anger that was misdirected at him after the Columbus game tonight, with the Oilers getting outshot 7:1 with him on the ice. In my opinion, MacTavish’s decision to demote him to the 4th line was correct in this instance.

Outside of those players, Ladislav Smid had a surprisingly good game by all measures, while Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov were outshot (15:6 and 15:5, respectively) and outchanced (7:12 for both). Moreau, Pisani and Cogliano were also having good games, something made more surprising by the high level of their opponents (Cogliano excepted).

In any case, had the Oilers emerged from last night’s tilt with less than two points, they undoubtedly would have taken harsh (and deserved) criticism, but despite sloppy play in the third and two power-play goals against, they got away with two points. They needed it; as of this morning, there are four teams currently outside of the playoffs within three points of the Oilers. This race is going to go down to the wire.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#1 ultimateoiler
March 01 2009, 03:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I believe you are totally correct in stating that the Oilers were not deserving of the win. What concerns me is that this team seems to be lacking in confidence. They are very lucky Rollie is playing at the top of his game most nights. He seem to have a lot rebound control issues last night or at least he seemed to be bobble the puck a lot. The Oilers have to find a better game or they will not win a lot more down the stretch. Minny looked more snake bitten than anything last night.As for Dustin demotion I agree it was well-deserved last night and no he wasn't the worst the game before against the Blue Jackets.

Avatar
#2 Mr P
March 01 2009, 03:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hey JW did the did FSJ Flyers play SR Rangers last night?

Avatar
#3 Ryan Murray
March 01 2009, 03:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Here is my big problem with last night. Mac T decides to demote Penner, then puts a fourth line player on in his place. I'm ok with benching or demoting someone if you feel they deserve it, but I completely disagree with moving a player from the fourth line to take his place. Reddox has little to no offensive talent and does nothing to warrant first line ice time, much like Laraque a few years ago. Yes he does work hard but he does not have the talent to play with Horcoff and Hemsky(who has the ability to make mediocre players look better), and his presence on that line makes them much easier to play against. So if you want to fill Penners spot it should be done with talented offensive players who have something to gain from added ice time, and could possibly add something to the line. He could have cycled players through the line such as Gagne, Cogliano, Cole(I know he is a right winger). But Nilsson would have been perfect, a skilled left winger who could use a little confidence booster, oh wait he was in the press box. I just don't understand the logic here, if anyone does please feel free to explain it to me.

Avatar
#4 David S
March 01 2009, 03:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Ryan - The problem with watching the game on TV is that they focus on the action and you miss the greater context of what's actually going on in many instances. I was there.

For example, people are wondering why Gagner got "benched" the last 10 minutes of the game. He wasn't. He got hurt and came off the ice doubled over. Also, Cole didn't take much of a pre-game skate. He went right to the bench after the team came on. My guess is he's not 100% either.

I noticed that the Cole-Gagner line had a boatload of chances. Sam could have had a couple himself with a bit of puck-luck. He busts his tail and never gives up. Pretty sweet for a 19 year old. No wonder MacT is sticking with him. The Stortini line was pretty good too. Looks like we're witnessing the emergence of a bonafide player in Zach. Coglaino was doing some of his magic, spinning and breaking checks, moving things forward.

So what do you do if you're MacT? Penner is (was) obviously sucking, so you sub him out with the player that lets you keep the other effective lines intact - thus Reddox. Horcoff and Hemsky work as a tandem right now, the third guy is almost a toss-up in lieu of a true linemate because Penner is so inconsistent - it's one of the positions we really need help with.

Avatar
#5 Ryan
March 01 2009, 04:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ David S: What i'm talking about is double shifting more talented players, give them the extra ice. Not breaking up lines

Avatar
#6 David S
March 01 2009, 04:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Ryan wrote:

What i’m talking about is double shifting more talented players, give them the extra ice. Not breaking up lines

It's not as easy as that with established lines. Double-shifting an integral part of another line immediately limits your line combos. If say, Cogs is put up with Hemscoff, obviously he can't run with his normal line immediately afterwards. The guys are really beat after their shifts most times. Thus Cogs would become a liability and nullify a normally effective line.

Avatar
#7 airbag
March 01 2009, 04:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

how can you knock the talent level of Reddox after he set up two goals last night. I like Penner, but if he isnt going that night he is just a waste of space. I can see Reddox becoming a good 3rd liner.

Avatar
#8 Sing A Song For SingSing
March 01 2009, 04:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ David S:

Very nicely written, and well put David S.

Avatar
#9 Deans
March 01 2009, 04:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Other than the eight minutes of choas in the 3rd, I thought this game was a bit of a snoozefest. To be fair, I was watching the Marquez/Diaz fight on HBO for a good portion of the game. Now that was entertaining! Not a single clinch in the whole fight.

One of the Oilers who I like was Reddox. He brought so much energy to the game. He also is developing the ability to get the puck deep and forecheck. This gives Hemsky and Horcoff time to set up and create offense. When Penner is off his game, he is dead weight. In theory I would agree w/ Ryan about not putting a 4th liner in a first line posistion, however, in practice, Reddox is effective as a pinch hitter on the 1st line.

Avatar
#10 David S
March 01 2009, 05:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

airbag wrote:

how can you knock the talent level of Reddox after he set up two goals last night. I like Penner, but if he isnt going that night he is just a waste of space. I can see Reddox becoming a good 3rd liner.

Agreed. I know alot of people are whining about this team, and maybe they have a point sometimes. But there's alot of great stories happening just below the surface that bode well for our future. Problem is, patience is wearing thin in Oilerville.

Avatar
#11 Zamboni Driver
March 01 2009, 05:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

David S wrote:

airbag wrote: But there’s alot of great stories happening just below the surface that bode well for our future. Problem is, patience is wearing thin in Oilerville.

Sorry but a good news story that involves "Reddox isn't awful." doesn't exactly fill one with excitement.

Avatar
#12 Sing A Song For SingSing
March 01 2009, 06:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Deans wrote:

I was watching the Marquez/Diaz fight on HBO for a good portion of the game. Now that was entertaining! Not a single clinch in the whole fight.

Fight of the Year candidate.

I watched the re-run on HBO this afternoon.

Wow. Now THAT was a fight. Marquez is such a savvy vet in the ring, and is an absolute warrior. Got worked in the first 4-5 rounds then picked his spots and broke the Baby Bull down.. I thoroughly enjoyed that fight.

Pacquaio's my #1 P4P but I'd like to see a Marquez/Pacquaio trilogy get completed, I still think Pacman has something to prove against him. They mentioned on HBO that most hardcore boxing critics and ethusiasts believe Marquez won at least 1 of the 2 fights, if not both.

But yeah, that was a crazy entertainging lightweight bout last night. I don't understand why people hate on Boxing, I prefer it over MMA personally and there are tons of great fighters in almost all the weight classes right now.

Avatar
#13 David S
March 01 2009, 06:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Zamboni Driver wrote:

Sorry but a good news story that involves “Reddox isn’t awful.” doesn’t exactly fill one with excitement.

Yeah. Sorry.

MacT sucks. Lowe's an idiot. Katz is a ghost. Horcoff is a third-liner at best. Gagner is a bust. And uhhh...right - Fire MacT.

Am I following the sheep enough now?

This place is turning into another HF forum. I'm surprised a discussion on who's the hottest Jonas Brother hasn't broken out by now.

Avatar
#14 Jonathan Willis
March 01 2009, 08:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Mr P wrote:

Hey JW did the did FSJ Flyers play SR Rangers last night?

I don't know - I'm afraid I haven't been paying near as much attnetion to their playoff run as I normally do.

Avatar
#15 Dennis
March 01 2009, 08:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

David S: is it a sin of omission that you didn't include 78 when praising the 89-26 "line."?

78 had three chances in the first period and then hustled to collect the puck before setting up 89 in the third period. So, you aren't telling the whole truth when you only credit two people from that line.

Avatar
#16 David S
March 01 2009, 10:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Dennis wrote:

David S: is it a sin of omission that you didn’t include 78 when praising the 89-26 “line.”? 78 had three chances in the first period and then hustled to collect the puck before setting up 89 in the third period. So, you aren’t telling the whole truth when you only credit two people from that line.

Dennis - You're probably right. It's just that as a fan, my heart is with Cole and Gagner. Remember, I'm just a guy, not David Staples. But to your point, I thought the whole line did really well. More than once they received an ovation as they left the ice after a shift. Haven't heard that for a while at Rexall. That and the "Roli-Roli-Roli" chant. Di you guys hear that on TV?

Avatar
#17 Deans
March 01 2009, 11:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Sing A Song For SingSing: Such a great fight. The look on Diaz's face after he got cut told the whole story. He was hurt, nervous and gassed. I would love to see Marquez vs Mayweather. I'm starting to love the sweet science again but you couldnt pay me to watch any heavyweight fight.

Avatar
#18 yo
March 01 2009, 11:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Ryan Murray wrote:

Here is my big problem with last night. Mac T decides to demote Penner, then puts a fourth line player on in his place. I’m ok with benching or demoting someone if you feel they deserve it, but I completely disagree with moving a player from the fourth line to take his place.

Ryan - we have seen this for 8 yrs. By having such high praise for grinder/tweeners MacT is trying to show the world that they can play the first line. He was that kind of player. No one ever bought a ticket to watch MacT play hockey. He seems to delight in humiliating offencive talent and never speaks a word of criticism of players who he identifies with. Name one time when MacT personally embarassed Reasoner (aka Sakic) or Moreau or any of the many faceless gnomes in the Oilers line-up during his tenure.

Reddox is MacT's new idol!!!!!

Avatar
#19 David S
March 01 2009, 11:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

^ *facepalm*

Avatar
#20 Rice
March 02 2009, 11:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

yo wrote:

Ryan Murray wrote: Here is my big problem with last night. Mac T decides to demote Penner, then puts a fourth line player on in his place. I’m ok with benching or demoting someone if you feel they deserve it, but I completely disagree with moving a player from the fourth line to take his place. Ryan - we have seen this for 8 yrs. By having such high praise for grinder/tweeners MacT is trying to show the world that they can play the first line. He was that kind of player. No one ever bought a ticket to watch MacT play hockey. He seems to delight in humiliating offencive talent and never speaks a word of criticism of players who he identifies with. Name one time when MacT personally embarassed Reasoner (aka Sakic) or Moreau or any of the many faceless gnomes in the Oilers line-up during his tenure. Reddox is MacT’s new idol!!!!!

I agree completely. this is a good time to start really developing the talent of Cogliano Gagner and Nilson. In about two years gagner will replace Horcoff as the first line center with Hemsky. I realize that two years from now is not now, but this team has potential to finally have some high level players. My point being Patience people, patience.

Fine tune and refine the team this year but keep raising the bar. If they squeak into the playoffs that only furthers the development of the young talent that is here. even if they don't make it out of the first round.

Comments are closed for this article.