GDB 68: It's simple – chemistry's either there, or not

Jason Gregor
March 14 2009 03:25PM

pennistry

Do you remember your English 10 teacher? Mine was Mrs. Stroud and I couldn’t stand her obvious bias. The first essay I wrote I got 69%, and every one after that was within three percent + or -. I had 85% in grade nine English, and I got 84% in English 20, so I couldn’t understand how I became such a bad writer over that one summer. Of course my other grades weren’t stellar, but that’s not my point.

My buddy always got 80+ on his essays so late in the semester, to prove my point, we wrote our own essays and switched the names. I still got 71 and he got an 84. When I told the principal what we did, and how Madame Stroud was clearly biased, he wanted proof. Well, since in my time we didn’t have a home computer, I wrote on paper and then typed it at school. I always threw my paper away like it was some big accomplishment having it typed. Needless to say nothing happened, and Stroud hated me even more after that.

My point is, as humans we are all biased, but teachers (My mom is one, and she just got her doctorate so don’t take offence, teachers) and coaches have to try to hide and ignore those biases. Craig MacTavish has to find a way to put his frustration and bias towards Dustin Penner aside, for the sake of his team (and possibly MacT’s job).

Ales Kotalik is not working on the first line, and there isn’t time to find out if the chemistry will develop.

“I think you can see chemistry in one game, and it’s there or it isn’t,” said Thrashers head coach John Anderson.

Anderson is in his rookie season in the NHL, but he won four championships in the AHL so he knows how to determine chemistry and a winning formula.

This is not the time to send messages or get the point across to players. The Oilers are in a dogfight for the playoffs and they have only won three of their past 11 games. A few more losses and they will be in chase mode once again.

Ice your best line-up, your best possible combinations and go from there.

Put Penner back with Hemsky and Horcoff. Move Kotalik back to his natural right wing along side Gagner and Nilsson. Leave O’Sullivan with Cogliano and Pisani because they have chemistry and then you have Moreau, Brodziak and Stortini as your energy line and potential shut-down line.

If Penner has one of his “going-through-the-motions” games, sit him and promote O’Sullivan there and Moreau up to the third line. There are lots of options within the game to get guys going. Make it a healthy and competitive atmosphere. Play whichever line is going, and if it is a different top nine forwards every night that play in the final ten minutes, so be it.

Sure, Penner can be frustrating, but he has also shown in the past that after a benching he can go on a productive ten game stretch, and right now you need him to be productive. Like it or not, he is your best option on the first line. You said it yourself earlier this year, so go with you gut.

Kotalik wasn’t lighting it up before he came here, so help him out and put him back on his right wing, and more importantly play him on the left point on your first PP unit. Your PP has stunk for the past month. You are 6 for 51 in your past 13 games, so it clearly isn’t working.

You are six points back of Columbus all of a sudden for 6th spot, and that is the spot all Albertans want. Fans don’t want 7th or 8th, they NEED 6th place.

Our economy is in a bit of a dip, it’s not warm enough for girls to wear summer dresses yet, they’re trying to take fighting out of hockey, and the Oilers have the most clothed ice girls in the league. Give the fans something to cheer about, check your pride and ice your best possible lineup.

LOYALTY IS TAUGHT

While many of us have bemoaned that there is too much loyalty within the Oiler organization, yesterday’s actions by the former GODFATHER of Oilerville showed where Lowe and company learned it.

Glen Sather, who orchestrated and conducted the glory days of the Oilers, stood up for his buddy Peter Pocklington and forked out a cool million for Puck’s bail. That is loyalty.

Whether you like Pocklington or not, Sather’s gesture re-affirms the depth of the Boys On The Bus loyalty. A true friend is one who stands beside you in a time of need, and Pocklington definitely needs one, and has a pal in Sather.

I understand where Lowe and MacTavish got their loyalty from, so if anything MacTavish owes it to Lowe to play Penner and try to save face for his GM.

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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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#151 Rogue
March 15 2009, 12:09PM
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@ oilersordeath:

Love that line....The score should have been 4-1 Oil after 1st period.....But as usual, they piss it away. This team is almost done as far as making the playoffs.2 weeks ago they had 2 or 3 games in hand on the other contenders and now that is all gone. Just like me for this year. See u all next year.

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#152 Clifford J. Boostrom
March 15 2009, 12:14PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

@ Clifford J. Boostrom: I’d be willing to bet MacT finds another job as a head coach before we find a coach we are happy with.

If we can find a coach who the players respect and are going to have FUN with then we will win. Sourays comments where he stands behind Penner proves the coach has lost the team and it's no fun to be an Oiler.

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#153 Rick
March 15 2009, 12:24PM
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Clifford J. Boostrom wrote:

If we can find a coach who the players respect and are going to have FUN with then we will win. Sourays comments where he stands behind Penner proves the coach has lost the team and it’s no fun to be an Oiler.

I call BS. Souray is just doing what a leader is supposed to do and that is publically try to take the heat off his teammate.

If Souray is truly content with Penner's inconsistant play then what does that say about Souray?

In respect to MacT, particularily regarding to last nights lack of heart beat by the team, anyone else find it interesting that the players outright said they need to find the urgency, that they needed to up the intensity and they talked specifically about it between the first and second periods but simply didn't find it?

Point alot of this stuff goes beyond the coach and falls on the players because the message is both clear and understood but just not executed from their behalf.

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#154 RossCreek
March 15 2009, 12:25PM
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Flyers may move LW Simon Gagne this summer (I highly doubt anyone will take C Daniel Briere off their hands). Perhaps he could be the 1st line LW the Oil are looking for.

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#155 Clifford J. Boostrom
March 15 2009, 12:38PM
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SO which veteran player said "we need a change" was it Souray? Penner? Cole? or Staios?

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#156 Jonathan Willis
March 15 2009, 12:40PM
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RossCreek wrote:

Flyers may move LW Simon Gagne this summer (I highly doubt anyone will take C Daniel Briere off their hands). Perhaps he could be the 1st line LW the Oil are looking for.

I'd love to see Gagne as an Oiler. I'd seriously consider moving a piece of the core to pick him up.

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#157 Jonathan Willis
March 15 2009, 12:41PM
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@ Clifford J. Boostrom:

I don't think we ever found out, but my money's on David Staples' guess - Erik Cole. To paraphrase Staples - "Journalism 101: look at who else is quoted in the article".

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#158 Clifford J. Boostrom
March 15 2009, 12:50PM
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Has anybody asked Cole about MacT since he was traded? his "guess" on whats wrong with the Oil?

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#159 RossCreek
March 15 2009, 01:03PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RossCreek wrote: Flyers may move LW Simon Gagne this summer (I highly doubt anyone will take C Daniel Briere off their hands). Perhaps he could be the 1st line LW the Oil are looking for. I’d love to see Gagne as an Oiler. I’d seriously consider moving a piece of the core to pick him up.

Whom? Put a package together - lets see.

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#160 Jonathan Willis
March 15 2009, 01:25PM
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@ RossCreek:

I'd be happy to move Grebeshkov (who I like), Nilsson and a 1st for Gagne. Flavour with prospects/picks as required.

Alternately, I'd be willing to consider Smid/Gilbert as the centrepiece of the package, though Gilbert probably makes too much money for Philadelphia's blood.

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#161 RossCreek
March 15 2009, 01:43PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ RossCreek: I’d be happy to move Grebeshkov (who I like), Nilsson and a 1st for Gagne. Flavour with prospects/picks as required. Alternately, I’d be willing to consider Smid/Gilbert as the centrepiece of the package, though Gilbert probably makes too much money for Philadelphia’s blood.

I'd venture to guess the Flyers would have NO interest in Nilsson (who does?). Gilbert/Grebeshkov/Smid would likely be of interest as would Gilbert Brule. What about Chopper?

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#162 Ogden Brother
March 15 2009, 02:07PM
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Rick wrote:

Clifford J. Boostrom wrote: If we can find a coach who the players respect and are going to have FUN with then we will win. Sourays comments where he stands behind Penner proves the coach has lost the team and it’s no fun to be an Oiler. I call BS. Souray is just doing what a leader is supposed to do and that is publically try to take the heat off his teammate. If Souray is truly content with Penner’s inconsistant play then what does that say about Souray? In respect to MacT, particularily regarding to last nights lack of heart beat by the team, anyone else find it interesting that the players outright said they need to find the urgency, that they needed to up the intensity and they talked specifically about it between the first and second periods but simply didn’t find it? Point alot of this stuff goes beyond the coach and falls on the players because the message is both clear and understood but just not executed from their behalf.

Bingo

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#163 Dennis
March 15 2009, 02:45PM
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Rick: No, I can see that dislike because I disliked Smid for the same reason; he wasn't Pronger. Now, I had my suspicions that Lupul was just a soft min guy who'd never be real worth real money and I stick by those to this day. he's about to make 4 mill for the Flyers in 2010 and that's gonna be a killer.

As for 78, I feel obligated to talk about or defend him because he makes so little and doesn't play a big role, yet, yet I see him taking a lot of hear; I also see him excluded from lineups that include people who are lesser.

But I do get the idea that you can't get over the fact all those other players were taken after him.

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#164 Rick
March 15 2009, 03:51PM
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@ Dennis: I dunno Dennis, I think you may have me confused with someone else because I couldn't care less where he was taken.

I have certain pre-conceived notions of how a line up should look and roles the different lines provide, of that I readily admit...right or wrong.

My problem with Pouliot, and by no means is he the only culprit, is that I see a guy that is content to play the game to a stalemate. This team has too many of those guys and most of them still offer more than he does imo.

This team needs guys that will play to win, not play to a draw. All of the stats that support Pouliot seem to show a guy that can get by, that's not good enough. I would ratehr go down in flames that go down with the notion that they were ohhh so close to shifting the luck.

Now in fairness, I also saw Pisani in that light early on and have now converted somewhat so I may be a convert one day on Pouliot but for this edition of the Oilers I am not evaluating Pouliot on the what can be, I am simply seeing a guy that isn't doing enough.

And I will leave it on this note, unless I am mistaken you subscribe to the theory that in order for a team to be successful you need some of your lesser contracts to outperform. Pouliot, based on age and time in the system should be exactly that guy...he hasn't.

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#165 BarryS
March 15 2009, 05:52PM
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Given at least half this team are less than 3 year big league pro's, I can't fathom why everybody expects consistency from them? The difference last night was Colorado is filled with veterans and are experienced enough not to get discouraged when things are going bad and then when the break came they new to take it. As a friend pointed out, our newbies are up front and theirs are on defense, which means their defense is worse than ours and our offense is worse than theirs. It also shows why 44 has more points than their whole defense.

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#166 Jonathan Willis
March 15 2009, 08:30PM
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RossCreek wrote:

I’d venture to guess the Flyers would have NO interest in Nilsson (who does?). Gilbert/Grebeshkov/Smid would likely be of interest as would Gilbert Brule. What about Chopper?

If the Flyers were willing, I'd move Brule, Moreau and Smid for Gagne tomorrow. As for Gilbert/Grebshkov (especially Gilbert) I'm not sure how much it would take to sweeten the pot - I know Gagne's a good player, but I'm just not that familiar with him off the top of my head.

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#167 AlBundy
March 15 2009, 08:40PM
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Mr. Boostrom, I agree with you but I think you may need to add Klowe must go also. As for the vet who called out MacT, lets see who is not playing well, Sourey has done nothing since the All Star game, Hemsky has disappeared, Horcoff- same poor performance all year, Chopper- this could be as he wants a crash and bang team.

MacT has lost the room as why else would the players not play at a time like this.

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#168 Jonathan Willis
March 15 2009, 09:29PM
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AlBundy wrote:

MacT has lost the room as why else would the players not play at a time like this.

No - MacT has just lost the special-teams guys. Because at even strength the Oilers have dominated, scoring 27 goals and allowing just 19 in their last ten games.

Wait - are the special teams guys the same guys as the even-strength guys? Crap. I suppoise it's possible that the special teams are a mess but otherwise the team is humming along just fine - no, that's crazy talk. Way too simple.

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#169 Ogden Brother
March 15 2009, 10:25PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

AlBundy wrote: MacT has lost the room as why else would the players not play at a time like this. No - MacT has just lost the special-teams guys. Because at even strength the Oilers have dominated, scoring 27 goals and allowing just 19 in their last ten games. Wait - are the special teams guys the same guys as the even-strength guys? Crap. I suppoise it’s possible that the special teams are a mess but otherwise the team is humming along just fine - no, that’s crazy talk. Way too simple.

But it's much more dramatic to beat the internal issues drum

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