April 20 2009 12:18PM
While the Oiler faithful waits patiently to see who will be their next head coach, the question that should be asked is how much will it matter?
Since Craig MacTavish was relieved of his duties/fired/resigned/time for a change, there is a sense that a new head coach will be the spark this organization needs to get back on track.
Will he be the savior?
He will make a difference, but unless he's a miracle worker most of the changes will come from the players themselves.
The new boss won’t make Cogliano better in the faceoff dot, nor will he get Penner in better shape. That commitment and dedication will come from the players. The coach might communicate and interact with them better, which might help with their confidence, but the inner drive to succeed and improve will manifest from the players.
Case in point: Todd McLellan.
All season long he has been heralded as a great coach. He was the new voice that would finally make the Sharks live up to their potential. Yet, once again it is Groundhog Day in San Jose.
The Sharks are halfway to another big-time gag job. Have they suddenly tuned out Mclellan? Did he get stupid in the last week?
Of course not, but unless he can transplant some desire and will into Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau the Sharks aren’t going anywhere. Cheechoo, who struggled all year, has been their most effective player. He has battled hard v. the Human Rake all series, and yesterday scored a beautiful goal. He is in the game, going to the tough areas and has shown the competitive level that is necessary to thrive in the playoffs.
To date Thornton has not, but if you're McLellan your only choice is too keep going with Thornton and hope that if he gets a bounce that will spark his game.
McLellan and his staff will be watching tape to figure out what has gone wrong on special teams. The Sharks were top five on PP and PK in the regular season, but they have been brutal in both against the Ducks.
The Sharks are 0-12 on the PP, while the Ducks are two for six. The Sharks' lack of success on the PP has killed them so far. We’ll see if McLellan can come up with a few wrinkles that can get the Sharks back in the series, but if he doesn’t then once again the Sharks will remain regular season stalwarts and post-season weaklings.
Will a new coach help the Oilers?
Yes, but he won’t be a miracle worker. I think the new coach comes in at the right time. Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert will be better just because of age and strength. And he will have a new message, system and personality that will automatically make all the players be more attentive.
But like McLellan is learning, if your best players get outplayed by the other team’s best players your chances of winning in the playoffs are minimal.
Other playoff tidbits
What a great game three in Philadelphia yesterday. That series has been the most entertaining by far. Hits, fights, goals and a true hatred amongst the teams. And how sweet is Scott Hartnell’s/Side Show Bob hair right now. That's the best salad in the league hands down.
I just can’t get into the Canes/Devils series. I tried watching game three yesterday, and that series does nothing for me. Although watching Bill Cowher get that excited to wind up the horn was comedy. I thought he was going to start spitting he was so fired up. You gotta think he will be back coaching in the NFL very soon. I don’t like to rip on broadcasters, but listening to Mark Lee is painful.
The atmosphere at the United Center is great, but it still doesn’t come close to Chicago Stadium. I remember when the Oilers and Hawks used to battle it out in the late '80s and early '90s, and the noise before the game even started made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The acoustics in that building were the best ever.
It sure sucks not having playoffs in Edmonton again. The city just isn’t the same.
Things that make you go 'hmmmmm'
Will Darryl Sutter get the axe if the Flamers go out in five? Or does he tie the can to Mike Keenan to save his own behind?
Is Malkin better than Crosby? He definitely is a better goal scorer.
Will there be a better hit during the playoffs than the one Chris Kunitz had on Kimmo Timonen? Kunitz has been a great addition for the Pens since coming over from Anaheim.
I said it at the deadline and I’ll say it again. The worst trade hands down was Daniel Carcillo for Scottie Upshall and a 2nd rounder. What was Paul Holmgren thinking?
And will any coach use this as a motivational tool to show his players anything is possible? I rarely check out YouTube, but I will admit this one was pretty got my attention. I always wanted to be a rockstar more than an athlete. I doubt she will live the rockstar life, but being able to sing like that might be better than sports.
I’m just saying.
This one kinda chokes a guy up... weird.