Gregor's third quarter report card

Jason Gregor
March 02 2009 02:40PM

gregort3

Here's the third quarter report card for the Oilers. This is a quarterly report and not a midway ranking, and you can see their respective grade from the first and second quarters in here and here. Also read below for an update on Ethan Moreau's condition.

A+ Dwayne Roloson. The Colossal Fossil has been the Oilers most consistent player this segment. He was the either the first (4) or second (4) star eight times this stretch. His save % is now .917, he is 14th in wins and only four goalies with more wins have a better save %, Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller, Niklas Backstrom and Steve Mason. He has started 18 in a row and with no back-to-back games in their next eight games I don’t see him sitting anytime soon. (B first 20, A- 2nd)

A Ales Hemsky. Hemsky scored ten goals in the 18 games that he played. He was super-star dominant in the early part of this quarter, but only had two goals and two points in the last six games. He had 17 points in the 18 games, but he leaves you wanting more. On a team starving for offence he is clearly their best player, and he has become so exciting that if he doesn’t dominate a game we are disappointed. He has raised the bar, and with 10 goals in 18 games and linemates that are struggling he is deserving of this grade. (A+ first 20, A second quarter)

A- Sheldon Souray. Souray continues to be consistent physically and emotionally. His points were down a bit, 11, in this quarter compared to his 14.5 average in the first two. He played over 28 minutes in five of the games, and with the style he plays that gets taxing. The return of Grebeshkov should ease his minutes and allow him to be more effective. His point totals and +/- was down a bit this quarter, so he dipped slightly. (A in first two segments)

A- Zack Stortini. Career segment for Stortini, who didn’t forget his job even though he snipped four goals in the 14 games he played. He also had five tilts, and Stortini’s confidence is evident in every area of his game. He is throwing more punches and scoring more goals. Strange stat, he didn’t miss the net once this segment. All nine shots of his hit the net and four went in. He has a 27.8 shooting% now. You can’t expect much more from Stortini. If his more talented teammates would work half as hard as he does the Oilers would be in a much better position in the standings. (C first 20, B- 2nd)

A- Tom Gilbert. After no goals in the second quarter Gilbert was a beast offensively this quarter. He had 18 points, the most of any Oiler this segment. He only had two goals, but 16 assists for a D-man is very good. The problem was he had 21 giveaways as well. Of course not all of them resulted in goals, but his turnovers did result directly in six goals for the opposition. I would still like him to use his size a bit more, especially in one-on-one battles down low, but his offensive production was incredible. He played lots of minutes this quarter, so you would expect a bit of an increase in his turnovers. The fact is he produced offensively, and on this team offence means more. Plain and simple. (B- first 20, C- 2nd)

B Denis Grebeshkov. Nine points in the 14 games he played, a +4 and the giveaways continue to shrink. His value is even more important on a team with so many forwards who struggle to score. His return has a double positive, in that he brings more offence but also he can take some minutes away from Souray and Gilbert. He still needs to shoot more though, 38 shots is unacceptable. (C+ first 20, B- 2nd)

B Kyle Brodziak. Ten points in this stretch, (5th most on the team) and he had 19 hits this segment compared to 22 in the first two combined, which shows he is trying to be more physical. He is still above 50% in the draw, but if he could become 52-53% that would help. He was consistent this quarter and if he and his wingers continue to produce it could go a long way to the Oilers making the playoffs. It is sad when your 4th line scores almost as often as your 2nd line over 20 games. (C first 20, B- 2nd)

B Lubomir Visnovsky. He had six points in the six games he played before tearing his labrum. He has been very consistent this season, and before the injury you sensed his game was getting even better. His absence has been very noticeable, especially on the PP. He gets a grade because of how big his injury has been. (B- first 20, B 2nd)

B- Jason Strudwick. His minutes grew with the injuries to 71 and 37, and when paired with Peckham he was a good mentor for the rookie. He continues to fair well in most of his fights, and is one of the few signings that has worked out for Kevin Lowe. He isn’t flashy, but his noticeable enthusiasm for the game is refreshing. (A- first 20, B- 2nd)

B- Ladislav Smid. Another guy who stepped up due to injuries on the backend and he played solid. Five assists, with three of them coming as he led the rush show he is trying to add more offence to his game. But he has to work on his shot, which could be the worst point shot in the league. He hasn’t scored a goal since March of 2007. He doesn’t take many penalties for a guy who plays physical, and the best part about his game is that you are seeing improvement as the season progresses. (C first 20, B- 2nd)

B- Erik Cole. He has been the most talked about Oiler of late, but for trade speculation rather than production. He is a tough guy to evaluate. He went nine games without a point in this stretch, but he finished with seven goals. He had 58 hits this quarter, and just when you think he is going to be a dominant force most nights he seems to disappear offensively. Brownlee and I have disagreed on whether he will be here come Wednesday at 1 p.m., but with Moreau’s injury I’m more certain than ever he will be here. They need at least one forward to play physical. (F first 20, B+ 2nd)

C+ Steve Staios. After a horrendous second quarter, Staios rebounded and played much better this segment. I still think Staios plays best between 18-21 minutes, and I give him credit for play upwards of 26 and 27 during some games, but if they ask him to keep playing that much it will affect his game. He shows courage by blocking lots of shots, he stepped and in the game v. Minn after Buffalo demolished them, he crushed Veilleux with a hit, and has a spirited tilt with Clutterbuck. He leads by being competitive every game. We know he doesn’t have the most ability, but he shows up and that is more than most of his teammates can say.(B- first 20)

C+ Liam Reddox. The little Red-Ox is consistent every game. He battles hard, skates hard and has fit in nicely on the 4th line. He brings energy every game, and lately has started to make good decisions with the puck. You wonder if guys like Nilsson, Gagner, Cogliano and Pouliot played with the same determination how good they would be. Many ripped Reddox because the coach put him in a bad spot for 5 games, on the first line, but it is hard to criticize what he brings to the ice now. I believe that Reddox’s play might make Pisani expandable in the future. He is much cheaper, skates as well and is even grittier.

C Andrew Cogliano. He had a tough stretch with only two goals. You would like to see some improvement in his faceoffs, but there hasn’t been any. He is still a woeful 38%. You would like to see him improve to at least a 45% guy the next segment. It is an element of his game he needs to work more on, because he hasn’t shown any signs of improvement all year. Like many other forwards he needs to engage more, and with his speed you would like to see him draw more penalties. (B- first 20, A- 2nd)

C Steve Macintyre. He played seven games and wasn’t a defensive liability, but outside of his two fights he didn’t do much. Of course it is hard to make an impression in three minutes. With the games becoming even more important, I doubt you will see lots of MacIntyre down the stretch. (B- first 20, N/A 2nd)

C Theo Peckham. He played eight games, and was a +1 in these eight games. He was physical, and most importantly he played a simple game. He wasn’t a major factor in games, but he never hurt himself either. He showed he can add some toughness on the backend for next year, or possibly this year if there is another injury.

C- Ethan Moreau. Moreau is an emotional player, but his emotions got the best of him too often during this stretch. Too many penalties hurt him, and he needs to be more controlled. While the penalties piss you off, at least he has produced something, scoring five goals. Only Cole and Hemsky scored more goals this quarter, so you would give Moreau an A for offence and and F for discipline. (A first 20, C 2nd).

****Update on Moreau’s eye. He has a scratched cornea and there is blood behind the eye. The good news is that he is staring to see shadows, so the outlook looks good. His return date is up in the air right now, but most importantly it sounds like he should escape serious injury.

C- Shawn Horcoff. A strange quarter for Horcoff. At times it looked like he was incapable of finishing a one-timer, yet the small parts of his game improved. He was 58% in the dot during this stretch, and was +9. Hemsky was +3 and Penner +2 so it’s a rare stat where he isn’t being carried by Hemsky. 13 points just doesn’t cut, and at the end of the day doing the small things aren’t enough for your 1st line center. Horcoff better get used to hearing criticism, because when his new contract kicks in next year the expectations will be even greater. I really think MacTavish should lessen his PK minutes. I know he is in great shape, but why not use Cogliano a bit more? I know that Cogliano can only come off the bench on the fly, because he can’t win a draw to save his life, but I think it might benefit both players. (D in first 20, C 2nd)

C- Sam Gagner. Two goals and four points from your 2nd line centre is horrendous. While Gagner competes hard, he is clearly struggling to play like he did last year. His ankle is still bothering him a bit, but his over handling of the puck is what has plagued him the most. Regardless of the ankle, he needs to improve his foot speed this summer. While he claims he hasn’t lost any, you wonder if his confidence is where it needs to be. If the Oilers plan to finish 5th or 6th he has to start contributing. (D+ first 20, B- 2nd)

C- Marc Pouliot. Not much different from Pouliot. Rarely did you notice him in the 16 games he played. He doesn’t score enough to be a top six, he doesn’t play physical to be an energy guy, and rarely do you feel confident he will win the one-on-one battle for a puck. He seems to have lost the confidence of his coach, and you wonder if he will be here come Wednesday. He is the poster boy for soft, safe and unwilling to compete forward that the Oilers have an abundance of. (D- first 20, C+ 2nd)

C- Dustin Penner. More of the same from Penner. Sure he had 10 points, but do you remember a game where he took control of even a shift? It gets old to ask why he doesn’t look interested, but it is getting harder watching him float through most games. I don’t expect him to be as dogged as Stortini or Moreau, but being the softest guy on the ice when you are 240 pounds is embarrassing. If he gave even a decent effort I think he would score 25-28 goals easily, but he seems incapable so far of finding a consistent effort. (D first 20, C-)

D Robert Nilsson. One goal during this stretch from your supposed 2nd line LW is not good enough. The most damning stat for Nilsson is that not once in the 51 games he’s played has he been named a star. Not freakin once. Not once has he been one of the best three players on the ice. With the amount of natural ability he has you would think that in one game he would be a factor. I don’t expect him to be a physical presence, so all he can bring is offence, and he hasn’t been bringing it. The frustrating part about Nilsson’s game is that there is no middle ground. At least when Cole isn’t scoring he draws penalties or hits, what does Nilsson do when he score? If you know let me know. (C first 20, D 2nd)

N/A Fernando Pisani. Only played two games, so no grade.

N/A Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. Outside of two relief appearances his biggest contribution has been in practice. Maybe he has to let the forwards score more in practice to get some confidence. You wonder if he gets another conditioning stint, and they call up Dubynk and let him play in the one or two games that Roloson doesn’t start down the stretch. If JDD does play, it will be more his mental game that he showcases. (B first 20, C 2nd)

C is for COACHING. MacTavish was much calmer this segment. He didn’t call out anyone this stretch. I’d like to see him make better adjustments during the game. While it is human nature to have favourites, I wonder why Horcoff has to play as much as he does. He still can’t get over mistakes players make, but I give him credit for rewarding players who give a solid effort. They actually had their best stretch this quarter going 11-8-2, but this team still can’t seem to play consistent enough. At some point he needs to find a way to reach the underachievers. Saying he can’t isn’t an option.

Grade as a team: C+. They went 11-8-2 during this quarter, with eleven home games and ten road games. They still lack an identity at home, and that has to fall on the shoulders of the players. This team is where they are due to Roloson, their defence and Hemsky. It is not coincidence that almost all of the C grades and below are forwards. Currently the only playoff teams with fewer goals are Columbus and the Rangers. The fourth line has been overachieving, Hemksy is dominant, Moreau and Cogliano have produced okay, but the other six forwards are underperforming. Horcoff, Penner, Cole, Gagner and Nilsson have to improve, and if even three of them do the Oilers should squeak into the playoffs.

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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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#1 Jay
March 01 2009, 08:47PM
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Solid post. It seems that one could draw the conclusion from this article is that most of the underachieving players could improve about a full letter grade simply by working harder. As for Smid needing to improve his shot, I would say yes to that, but i would also include Gagner in that category. They both have soft shots, and they are both hesistant to shoot, even from the high slot area, which i think is a result of their lack of confidence in their shooting

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#2 B-rad
March 01 2009, 09:06PM
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if you were to guess....do you think Ethan will be back this season?

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#3 Racki
March 01 2009, 09:24PM
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Good scores, although I wonder why your grade was so low for Staios after the rave review you gave him.

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#4 ultimateoiler
March 01 2009, 09:36PM
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Gregor, you are right on target. This team is just average as usually and that in itself is it's biggest problem.

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#5 Dennis
March 01 2009, 09:47PM
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10 is well in the black and he plays power vs power so I have no idea how this guy doesn't finish at B+ at the very worst.

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#6 W.T.
March 01 2009, 09:51PM
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W.T. safe in Texas tonight. Had a Longhorn already and was entertained by the links today.

Report card is solid, but J.G. forgot to provide a grade to Management. W.T. regrets if he missed this grade. J.G. maybe you could post this grade for us.

W.T. is glad to hear that Ethan is seeing shadows. That is a good sign.

W.T. is wondering that shots on goals are going to catch up to Oilers. Roli has been first star for several games now. Not sure how well Oilers are really playing.

Trade deadline coming fast, W.T. suspects Oilers won't do much now as with this report card, which team would want any player rated lower than a B. W.T. suggets that sums it up for tonight.

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#7 Tod
March 01 2009, 10:37PM
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I didn't read your first two, but wow, Visnovsky gets B's across the board when Souray gets As? And yeah, the Horcoff rating is out of whack.

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#8 Oilerfan in KW
March 01 2009, 10:41PM
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Gregor,

Great post. I recalled Brownlee a few weeks ago saying that there are some teams that would be interested in picking up Penner. I think it's time to move Dustin if there's any chance, even just to clear up some cap room. I think it's time to admit it hasn't worked out and it's time to move on. I was even one of those who thought the the Penner signing was a good one that had lots of potential but as we can see, Penner isn't and will not be a good fit in this market. I'm would be even happy content with getting picks in return just to get rid of that contract. Perhaps, Penner's good old buddy, Ryan Getzlaf, can influence the Ducks to trade for his old linemate. Any other rumblings that you've heard surrounding potential deals with the Oilers?

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#9 Deans
March 01 2009, 11:08PM
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The prognosis on a scratched cornea is difficult to predict. Hopefully his vision comes back close to 100%.

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#10 Sing A Song For SingSing
March 01 2009, 11:32PM
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@ Dennis:

In regards to your beloved #1 C... what is with you stats junkies? Do you watch the games? Better yet, do you ever even go to games and watch them play in person? You're putting too much merit into all this power vs. power nonsense.

Clearly, he is much better suited in a role as a #2 or, ideally as a #3 center. This is not a slag on Horcoff, he is a very good player. On a good team however, he shouldn't be a #1 C. Without an adequate LW on that top line, they'll never be championship calibre, cuz Horcoff just doesn't have the chops offensively to handle a role on the top line. Why? Because he has virtually no finish to his game and rarely creates anything. You can't have just 1 offensive player on a 1st line and expect it to be fully functional. In hockey, the point of the game is to score goals too, you know.

Overall however, I give Horcoff - or "10", as all you geeks tend to call the players strictly by number now - a free pass because of the boatload of minutes he's given and the effort he puts in. But let's be honest, he's been overworked, and in the long run it can only be a detriment to the team's chances. That falls coaching.

Anyways, there's my rant. And oh ya, good write-up JG, I'm on the same page as you are with this sh*t. Agree with every player grade except for Gilbert's and Horcoff's.

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#11 Travis Dakin
March 01 2009, 11:52PM
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Sing A Song For SingSing wrote:

Clearly, he is much better suited in a role as a #2 or, ideally as a #3 center. This is not a slag on Horcoff, he is a very good player. On a good team however, he shouldn’t be a #1 C. Without an adequate LW on that top line, they’ll never be championship calibre, cuz Horcoff just doesn’t have the chops offensively to handle a role on the top line. Why? Because he has virtually no finish to his game and rarely creates anything. You can’t have just 1 offensive player on a 1st line and expect it to be fully functional. In hockey, the point of the game is to score goals too, you know.

Holy sweet friggin crap! Horcoff was the number one center of this team when it went to games 7 of the stanley cup final! He was a point a game player last year before he went down. He is being over used this year because he is THE ONLY PLAYER on this team that can do EVERYTHING! Horcoff is the least of the problems on this team. If he didn't have to lug around that extra 240lbs of Penner on his back then he'd be flying. He is a legitimate #1 Center. If you don't believe that then you don't know sh*t about hockey. Is he the best? No, but he is top 15 in centers of the league for sure when it comes to overall game. Don't give me that crap about just points. He does everything night in night out and if every player on this team was like him, they would win the cup. Yes I agree that he deserves a higher grade. If MacTavish didn't have to over work the sh*t out of him at every turn, he would be able to focus more on the offensive sides.

People, The problems on this team are simple... Penner, Nilsson, Pouliot. If those guys tried harder it would be different. Cole doesn't do anyting for me. Gagner is only 19, give him another year or two. The only problems with Staios and Moreau are that they make too much money (and Moreau takes a lot of penalties) but this team needs their heart, and Pisani is their best defensive forward behind Horcoff. Plese remain focused on the real issues and lay off the Horcoff bashing.

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#12 yo
March 01 2009, 11:53PM
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Man I wish I could flip a switch and be all positive and see the Oil through rose-soloured glasses. We are in 7th in the West at the moment but man is this team soft. I have a hard time seeing this race in the West as awe-inspiring. Not only are the Oil inconsistent but so are most of the bottom feeders that are right around them.

They can't execute plays for shit. When do they make three successive passes with out screwing it up? Not to mention a total lack of intensity with a couple of obvious exceptions.

I'm personnally having a hard time buying into this team. It isn't true parity, it's true mediocrity. I think there is a big difference.

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#13 Fiveandagame
March 02 2009, 12:42AM
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"but he shows up and that is more than most of his teammates can say."

Cory from Life goes on showed up every episode too, did make him a great actor.

Staios is AHL. If the guy played with his whole heart every game, you couldn't knock him. BUT he doesn',t so his limited size ability and talent are exposed every other night.

C for coaching? Is that based on the team record?

Let me ask you this. What Craig MacTavish coached team hasn't struggled to score goals? The only way we made game 7 was playing the trap and frustrating better teams.

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#14 Fiveandagame
March 02 2009, 12:45AM
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Oh BTW thank you for posting your thoughts on the Oiler team. It is soooooo easy to tear a guy down who does things like grade a team based on their observations. My cajones can't hand;le that type of absolution.

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#15 Kai
March 02 2009, 02:17AM
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Um...so 11 players performing at C level and 11 players playing at B or A levels and we get a team score of C+. I dunno, that seems like bad algebra to me. If over half the team is playing at a C+ rate or better...shouldnt the team rate be higher?

Of course I completely agree with a C+ score for this quarter given that an 11-8-2 record is a 1.142 pt/game clip that extrapolated to an 82 game season is just barely shy of the magic 94pt number to squeek into the playoffs.

I just think that perhaps your individual scores are a little high given your opinon of the overall team score. I would suggest downgrading almost everybody a full grade.

P.S. yes, i know im criticizing a very arbitrary ranking system. the nit in me couldnt let it go.

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#16 THEBIGD
March 02 2009, 02:43AM
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Right on Jason but I know people will laugh at me for what I am going to say,but I don't care it's the truth. I am sorry the Oilers need to trade Ales Hemsky while we can get someone for him.As I am sick and tired of everyone saying they need to find the right players to play with him.Could the problem be him and not the other players? As after being here this long I believe you will agree with what I am saying. We can really get a few good players for him if we trade him today.I am dead serious he shows up every once in awhile,he is soft on the puck and you can take the puck off his stick like you can a kid with a piece of candy as the saying goes. I hope and pray they see this as there are some players in Ottawa and around the NHL who would give up a lot to get Ales.And if we can trade him Penner,Shremp and Fernando Pisani. for some size grit players that can play here now a goalie.We should have one hell of a hockey team come next season.And with MacTavish gone a coach I can see this team going somewhere in the next 2 years.As we have to get everything I listed above for this to work.And if we can get some of the players listed here would really help this team out come next season a Mike Fisher,Jason Spezza or even Dany Heatley Chris Neil and one player we could really use from Ottawa is Jarkko Ruutu.As we need someone like that.I just made a list of Ottawa players because there are so many good players that are worth trading for.If you all here can add more players to my list I believe we can turn this team around in a very short time.And if needed Kevin Lowe may have to go too.So laugh or make fun of me but if you see what the Oilers need I will get the last laugh.As if it stays the same we are in a lot of trouble for seasons to come.I like Ales but he is not as good as the media and people keep saying he is our best player.He is not and if he goes some where else and does better there good for him as he is not doing anything for us here in Oiler Country.This team and coaching staff needs a complete work over.As McTavish wants his players to all play like he did.And it is hurting who I believe is one of the best Oilers givin the chance to play more by using his speed is Andrew Cogliano.This kid should can be good enough to be a first or second line center .But the coach has to let the young kids play the way they should and stop worrying about getting caught up ice from time to time.As in the past we had speed and size and we need that again or I am sorry to say we will be no better then 8th place every year or lower. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this post.I did not make this up over night I see it coming along time ago and my view has not changed all year. To bad the people in charge can't see what I see and I have many friends who also feel the same way as I do. Have A Good Day THEBIGD

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#17 humantorch
March 02 2009, 03:05AM
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GIANT WALL OF TEXT CRITS THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE FOR 700 POINTS OF DAMAGE.

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#18 Librarian Mike
March 02 2009, 05:46AM
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@ THEBIGD:

Hemsky for one of Ottawa's coach killers? Seriously?

(facepalm)

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#19 Jeremy
March 02 2009, 06:24AM
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I'm sorry dude, but with Hemmer's contract at such good value we would be retarded to trade him now.

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#20 Mike
March 02 2009, 07:55AM
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Sing A Song For SingSing wrote:

In hockey, the point of the game is to score goals too, you know.

In hockey the point is to score more goals than the other team. I swear, some people would be happier losing 8-6 than winning 3-2.

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#21 Zamboni Driver
March 02 2009, 08:05AM
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Seriously people need to stop referencing the past.

Certainly the NEARLY TWENTY FRICKIN' YEARS since the last Cup (Attention Jake Daniels and other 80's mullet-wearing losers), and even the 'amazing run'.

Once again....if I drive 17 balls in a row off the tee into the woods or the drink, then on 18 I knock it straight down the middle 275 which was the accident?!

Oilers had the best player in the world at the time. A goalie playing out of his head, and an INCREDIBLY storybook parting of the waves of decent playoff teams.

Live in the now - for what that's worth.

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#22 David S
March 02 2009, 08:13AM
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THEBIGD wrote:

...To bad the people in charge can’t see what I see and I have many friends who also feel the same way as I do. Have A Good Day THEBIGD

Jeebuz! Not even a space between the sentences. You may have had a point in there somewhere D, but I don't think anybody could read it.

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#23 Sean
March 02 2009, 08:15AM
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If Sam Gagner was scoring, Horcoff gets a B. Because none of the forwards are scoring and Horcoff is the #1C he has to share part of the burden for the lack of scoring up front. PVP or not the Oilers forwards havent scored enough this year so the C is fair - maybe a C+. Travis Moen can prevent goals, Horcoff sees himself as a PPG player and he hasn't been close. Our defense and goaltending is good enough to win the div. Horcoff is part of the problem.

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#24 Rick
March 02 2009, 08:41AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Holy sweet friggin crap! Horcoff was the number one center of this team when it went to games 7 of the stanley cup final!

Why is this piece of history enough to give Horcoff a free pass and not a guy like, oh say, MacT?

It's a what have you done for me lately business and until Horcoff adds consistent production to his resume it doesn't matter what little things he excells at.

If you're playing on the first line, it demands that you put up the points accordingly.

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#25 Cam
March 02 2009, 08:53AM
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@ THEBIGD: Hemsky makes the players around him look good. He gets a point a game with second line linemates, and this is with the defense keying on him more than the other two. The reason they speak about finding someone to play with him isn't because he is a problem... he produces no matter what. It is because he could really do some magic with another first line player, and this year Horcoff and Penner aren't quite there (although I need to say that Horcoff played like a first liner last year).

Good write up Jason. I agree with everything, which is kind of weird.

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#26 yo
March 02 2009, 08:57AM
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Another black eye for the vaunted Oil machine. Check out the Journal article on Disappointed fans from Cold Lake. Who knows why these folks were snubbed but it sure doesn't look too flattering for the team.

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#27 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 09:06AM
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RE: Horcoff

I think the reason people reference the Cup run when talking about Horcoff is because of one statement:

"You can't win the Stanley Cup with Shawn Horcoff as your number one centre."

That statement is wrong - and people reference the Cup run to prove it.

Normally I'm the first guy to defend Horcoff, for all of the reasons Dennis stated - he does an incredible job adding all the little things, and is really a hell of a player.

This season, though, Shawn Horcoff has not been a number one centre. His PTS/60 is only 1.39 - and that kind of even-strength offensive production is not good enough. He's done absolutely everything right except score, and unless he can get his scoring back up to the level it was at last season, where he led the team in scoring relative to ice-time (2.59 PTS/60, nearly double his number this season, on pace for 33 goals before injury, just a hair below a PPG) he deserves criticism. It's been going on long enough that it can't be written off as just a slump.

Unfortunately, few of his critics site this kind of proof and say things like "Horcoff is a third-liner" or similar nonsense.

I do wonder how much of Horcoff's struggles have been because of the rather bizarre load he's been carrying (MacTavish has been leaning on him to an incredible degree since game 1, because he's the only veteran centre on the team), but that doesn't give him a free pass.

It's also worth noting that both Lowe/Tambellini (for failing to provide any veteran depth up the middle) and MacTavish (for being unwilling to try his young guys) deserve some blame in this instance, but Horcoff does too.

And this is coming from an unabashed fan of his game.

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#28 Rick
March 02 2009, 09:19AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I do wonder how much of Horcoff’s struggles have been because of the rather bizarre load he’s been carrying (MacTavish has been leaning on him to an incredible degree since game 1, because he’s the only veteran centre on the team), but that doesn’t give him a free pass.

I wonder the same thing. The guy has done damn near everything for the Oilers this year and surely some of that is affecting his production.

However, going back even beyond this year, enough of a pattern has emerged to indicate that although he is capable of putting up points, it takes everything he has to do so.

In essence you're gambling that things will all break in the right direction for him to live up to the role. That's huge gamble when you consider the importance of the position.

That does not make for the type of first line center you need if you're trying to assemble a perennially contending team.

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#29 Quain
March 02 2009, 09:31AM
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Cogliano rates higher than Horcoff because he... I don't even know. I guess he's really fast and totally won the fatest skater contest at the All-Star Game!

If only Horcoff does the big things like Cogliano does, like... get scored on a lot. But instead he's out there doing the little things, like taking face-offs for Cogliano, oh, and SCORING MORE THAN THE OTHER TEAM.

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#30 Jason Gregor
March 02 2009, 09:34AM
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Kai wrote:

Um…so 11 players performing at C level and 11 players playing at B or A levels and we get a team score of C+. I dunno, that seems like bad algebra to me. If over half the team is playing at a C+ rate or better…shouldnt the team rate be higher?

Do you see how most of the guys with C or below play way more minutes than the entire 4th line guys, or 3rd pairing D-men. Most of the first and second line forwards got C or below, hence a team wark of C+. I didn't think it was that hard to figure out since I explained it in the paragraph. But to clarify that is why, and if you look at 11 wins and out of 21 games, that is just above .500. To me a C is .500 and thus C+.

Fiveandagame wrote:

Staios is AHL. If the guy played with his whole heart every game, you couldn’t knock him. BUT he doesn’,t so his limited size ability and talent are exposed every other night.

Staios is not an AHLer. YOu might hate him, that's fine, same as Wanye hates the GOAT, but Staios is solid. My point was he gives you a solid, although unspectacular effort most nights. Considering how bad he was in the second quarter I liked how he played better with more minutes than he should be playing.

Dennis,

Horcoff's job is too produce. Yeah he plays a lot, but he gets ample time to produce. With all of the chances he gets, four goals in 21 games is not enough. Stortini had as many goals in this quarter, and while that is great for Zack, he shouldn't have as many goals as your first line centre. No chance.

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#31 Jason Gregor
March 02 2009, 09:41AM
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B-rad wrote:

if you were to guess….do you think Ethan will be back this season?

I am going to practice right now, but I doubt they will have an update. I did talk to team optometrist and he said a scratched cornea can heal in 24 hours, if it is just an abrasion. It is the blood behind the eye that is the issue. Only a guess, but it sounds like it shouldn't be season ending.

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#32 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 09:46AM
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Quain wrote:

Cogliano rates higher than Horcoff because he… I don’t even know. I guess he’s really fast and totally won the fatest skater contest at the All-Star Game! If only Horcoff does the big things like Cogliano does, like… get scored on a lot. But instead he’s out there doing the little things, like taking face-offs for Cogliano, oh, and SCORING MORE THAN THE OTHER TEAM.

The notion that at this moment in time Andrew Cogliano, in his entirety, is a better hockey player than Shawn Horcoff, in his entirety, is ludicrous.

He's a second year player with nice wheels and offense, but he still has some flaws that need correcting. I'm sure he'll get there, but he isn't there yet.

On the other hand, I'm quite certain that Gregor is grading them vs. their individual expectations; in other words, he doesn't actually believe Zack Stortini is the second-best forward on the team, just that he's played above expectations.

Personally, I think he's got Horcoff rated a little bit low, but that's quibbling.

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#33 Fiveandagame
March 02 2009, 10:15AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Staios is not an AHLer. You might hate him, that’s fine, same as Wanye hates the GOAT, but Staios is solid. My point was he gives you a solid, although unspectacular effort most nights. Considering how bad he was in the second quarter I liked how he played better with more minutes than he should be playing.

You're right, he's not an AHL'er BUT how much playing time does this guy get based on loyalty. And is just being unspectacularly consistent enough to warrant his position/minutes on this team?

I do agree with you though that he has played much better the last 20 or so games. His play early in the year had me wondering if he had an injury he was hiding or personal issues effecting his game. When he plays with heart and fire he valuable for any team. When he just shows up he doesn't have the other assets in his game to make up for it.

As the games get more intense down the stretch I hope the fired up win at all costs Staios shows up.

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#34 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 10:24AM
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Incidentally, it's nice to see the plaudits coming Roli's way the last little while. He's been great this season.

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#35 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 10:29AM
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If anybody's interested, David Staples also has his grades up for the third quarter.

It's a different system (based more strictly on performance rather than performance vs. expectations), and an interesting read.

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#36 Chris
March 02 2009, 10:49AM
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When I complain about what a player brings to the rink vs the cap hit; I'm placing 99% of the blame on management. Horcoff is not at a stage in his career where you will see improvement in his game. What you see is what you get: an incredibly solid, hard-working, two-way centerman with a big contract. If you were Horcoff would you turn down millions to avoid criticism on a blog-roll? Fact is, Horcoff is one of the Oilers most important roster players. Every single team in the league would want him... but maybe not the contract.

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#37 Fiveandagame
March 02 2009, 11:28AM
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Horcoff is great. He's just been handling the puck like it's a live weasel this year.

You can't knock how hard the guy works.

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#38 Sean
March 02 2009, 01:55PM
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JW exactly what I said you just say it better...

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#39 Jason Gregor
March 02 2009, 02:28PM
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Chris wrote:

When I complain about what a player brings to the rink vs the cap hit; I’m placing 99% of the blame on management. Horcoff is not at a stage in his career where you will see improvement in his game. What you see is what you get: an incredibly solid, hard-working, two-way centerman with a big contract. If you were Horcoff would you turn down millions to avoid criticism on a blog-roll? Fact is, Horcoff is one of the Oilers most important roster players. Every single team in the league would want him… but maybe not the contract.

His value is very important, but his production is no where near what is what two of the last three years, and in this segment he only had four goals, which puts him on pace for 16 in the season. Not good enough. I don't mind Horcoff as a player, but due to his minutes and the situations he is put in, he underproduced again this segment.

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#40 Dennis
March 02 2009, 02:39PM
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Gregor: I guess I just have a problem with this rating format in the first place.

Everything should be judged on what a guy's making relative to the budget or cap.

89's only 19 years old but I'd give him the boots for not doing more with the soft min that's being afforded him.

Sing: I don't have the time to really get into it but match-ups matter.

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#41 tencer's brain cell
March 02 2009, 03:08PM
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You're grading Strudwick and Staios way too high for this and previous quarters. They're both D or F, even if you just expect them to be solid defensive players.

Both play weak opposition and get killed. Our eyes show us this -they're both slow, behind the play, and rarely physical enough- and the numbers , e.g. Corsi, GFAON, qual comp., etc., all agree that these guys suck.

The only thing they have going for them is MacT's approval, which I would think is part of the reason the coaching gets a C- a failure to single out poor play.

(I haven't even brought up that they're supposed to be leaders on a team that too often seems lazy and leaderless.)

Thus, I give your grades a C+.

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#42 APE - FMNF
March 02 2009, 03:20PM
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@ Dennis: There is no such thing as soft minutes in the NHL.

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#43 Deep Oil
March 02 2009, 03:52PM
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yo wrote:

Another black eye for the vaunted Oil machine. Check out the Journal article on Disappointed fans from Cold Lake. Who knows why these folks were snubbed but it sure doesn’t look too flattering for the team.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Oilers+disappointing+Cold+Lake+family/1343853/story.html

Article is flawed by lazy journalism, no comment from the mall or the oil - this is a smeer on the team in a no win situation - in business sometimes it's great to fire the customer and lower your risk.

Katz is paid by the mall to practise and have the autograph session. The mall charges the stores by the player for 90 minutes of service (corp prostitute) to smile and interact with the common fan. Overall, more people attend the mall and shop creating a buzz for the retailers for a slow weekend in retail....

A time cutoff is needed otherwise the players with their pen stained suits would be there for 9 hours and you would have the same complaint..... 90 minutes no guarantee's - move on.

Note to the Cold Lake family for next year - get there earlier and avoid this story.

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#44 Deep Oil
March 02 2009, 03:56PM
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yo wrote:

Another black eye for the vaunted Oil machine. Check out the Journal article on Disappointed fans from Cold Lake. Who knows why these folks were snubbed but it sure doesn’t look too flattering for the team.

Why don't we pool our Edmonton Oiler credit card points to have Charlie Huddy and Kelly Buchberger to visit this family in Cold Lake and play some shinny.... then these kids will not go to the dark side and end up on flamesnation.ca

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#45 the Menace
March 02 2009, 04:21PM
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Fiveandagame wrote:

“but he shows up and that is more than most of his teammates can say.” Cory from Life goes on showed up every episode too, did make him a great actor. blockquote> You need to update your pop culture references - that show's been off the air for over 15 years. At the very least, I think the guy's name was Corky. We could try to move things ahead a few years and say, "Erkle showed up every week on Family Matters, but that didn't make him a great actor".
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#46 Fiveandagame
March 02 2009, 04:36PM
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the Menace wrote:

Fiveandagame wrote: “but he shows up and that is more than most of his teammates can say.” Cory from Life goes on showed up every episode too, did make him a great actor. blockquote> You need to update your pop culture references - that show’s been off the air for over 15 years. At the very least, I think the guy’s name was Corky. We could try to move things ahead a few years and say, “Erkle showed up every week on Family Matters, but that didn’t make him a great actor”.

You're right, it is a little dated isn't it? How about?

Charlie Sheen has shown up on every episode of Two and a Half Men, but doesn't make him funny.

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#47 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 04:41PM
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APE - FMNF wrote:

@ Dennis: There is no such thing as soft minutes in the NHL.

There's a hell of a lot of difference between lining up against Alexander Ovechkin and lining up against Donald Brashear.

That should be readily apparent to anyone.

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#48 michael
March 02 2009, 04:45PM
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Team and or individual ratings don't count for squat. Its all about the wins and losses and charity points. And the grade on that is a D. D for for do not think for a minute that faliure is an option!!!!!11

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#49 the Menace
March 02 2009, 04:52PM
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Fiveandagame wrote:

the Menace wrote: Fiveandagame wrote: “but he shows up and that is more than most of his teammates can say.” Cory from Life goes on showed up every episode too, did make him a great actor. blockquote> You need to update your pop culture references - that show’s been off the air for over 15 years. At the very least, I think the guy’s name was Corky. We could try to move things ahead a few years and say, “Erkle showed up every week on Family Matters, but that didn’t make him a great actor”. You’re right, it is a little dated isn’t it? How about? Charlie Sheen has shown up on every episode of Two and a Half Men, but doesn’t make him funny.

That's fantastic. very hip and current. and very true.

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#50 APE - FMNF
March 02 2009, 04:55PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

APE - FMNF wrote: @ Dennis: There is no such thing as soft minutes in the NHL. There’s a hell of a lot of difference between lining up against Alexander Ovechkin and lining up against Donald Brashear. That should be readily apparent to anyone.

So who are these "soft minutes" against when we refer to Sam? It's not like he's on the 4th line and plays against plugs. Just because he isn't putting up numbers doesn't mean he isn't on the board in the away dressing room before games as a player to watch.

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