Ales Hemsky: Ten Game Segments

Jonathan Willis
May 14 2009 04:04PM

hemsky1

Every so often I’ll go to the Oilers’ official site and break down a player’s season into ten-game segments (what can I say, I have an exciting life). Generally, there’s a lot of variation from segment to segment – something which makes me skeptical about judging a player’s playoff performance, since even the best players will have lousy ten-game segments.

In any case, I found something interesting when I broke down Ales Hemsky’s season into ten-game chunks (because he played 72 games, the last chunk is 12 games long). Here are the numbers, but rather than arrange them chronologically, I’ve arranged them based on his shooting rates (average shots per game during each span):

  • Nov. 26 – Dec. 17: 10GP – 5G- 5A – 10PTS, +3, 37 shots (3.7 shots/gm)
  • Nov. 2 – Nov. 20: 10GP – 5G – 8A – 13PTS, +3, 29 shots (2.9 shots/gm)
  • Dec. 19 – Feb. 3: 10GP – 6G – 6A – 12PTS, +3, 29 shots (2.9 shots/gm)
  • Feb. 5 – Feb. 24: 10GP – 3G – 8A – 11PTS, -3, 25 shots (2.5 shots/gm)
  • Oct. 12 – Nov. 1: 10GP – 0G – 8A – 8PTS, -4, 23 shots (2.3 shots/gm)
  • Mar. 20 – Apr. 1: 12GP – 2G – 8A – 10PTS, EV, 26 shots (2.2 shots/gm)
  • Feb. 26 – Mar. 19: 10GP – 2G – 3A – 5PTS, -1, 16 shots (1.6 shots/gm)

Hemsky varies between 1.6 and 3.7 shots per game during this span, averaging 2.57 shots/game on the season. Let’s add the totals up for segments where Hemsky shot more frequently than average, and segments where he shot less frequently:

  • More than 2.57 shots/gm: 30GP – 16G – 19A – 35PTS, +9
  • Less than 2.57 shots/gm: 42GP – 7G – 27A – 34PTS, -8

That’s a rather significant difference; certainly this season Hemsky enjoyed success when he shot more. I wondered though whether the shooting was strictly a function of time in each zone – I saw two real possibilities to explain the phenomenon:

1) Ales Hemsky takes more shots when he’s spending more time in the offensive zone; therefore, the increased shot count coincides with periods of success because he’s spending more time at the right end of the rink

Or

2) Ales Hemsky is a better offensive player when he records more shots; the time in the offensive zone will have some correlation to Hemsky’s shot count but won’t explain it entirely.

The best measurement of time in the offensive zone that we have right now is Vic Ferrari’s Corsi program. So I ran those ten game segments at his site for comparison’s sake:

  • Nov. 26 – Dec. 17: 3.7 shots per game, +5.3 Corsi per game
  • Nov. 2 – Nov. 20: 2.9 shots per game, +0.2 Corsi per game
  • Dec. 19 – Feb. 3: 2.9 shots per game, +0.8 Corsi per game
  • Feb. 5 – Feb. 24: 2.5 shots per game, -0.3 Corsi per game
  • Oct. 12 – Nov. 1: 2.3 shots per game, +1.7 Corsi per game
  • Mar. 20 – Apr. 1: 2.2 shots per game, +0.5 Corsi per game
  • Feb. 26 – Mar. 19: 1.6 shots per game, -2.0 Corsi per game

At this point, we can see that there’s some overlap; the highest and lowest Corsi events correspond with the highest and lowest shot rates. However, there isn’t a ton of overlap, and it’s probably fair to say that for Ales Hemsky, taking more shots is an indication that he’s at the top of his game.

This bodes well for the future; Hemsky’s shot rates have been on an upward slope since the lockout, and this year marked a personal high in shots taken.

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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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#1 Ogden Brother
May 14 2009, 04:17PM
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This could be the year he passes Getzlaf/Vinny on the NHL elite list ;)

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#2 West Coast Oil
May 14 2009, 04:19PM
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You have to wonder if taking shots on net is something that can be taught or if it is similar to going to the tough parts of the ice. If Hemsky should be shooting more then perhaps we should get him a set up man and make him take the shot. Would this bring more success?

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#3 Archaeologuy
May 14 2009, 04:26PM
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West Coast Oil wrote:

If Hemsky should be shooting more then perhaps we should get him a set up man and make him take the shot.

This here [] is "the box", This is you ;) , This is you outside of the box [] ;)

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#4 Librarian Mike
May 14 2009, 04:32PM
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Well, it's no secret that this team needs to be active this summer in making adjustments. Let's hope that means having some complimentary players who can keep up with Hemsky.

I wonder if the coaching change will have an effect on his game, as MacT is the only one he's ever known as a pro. Part of me kind of hopes the new coach just says to him "forget about playing defence, just go out there and score", just to see what happens.

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#5 David Staples
May 14 2009, 04:38PM
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He got worse as the season went along . . .

I'd say Ales is a better player when he's not completely worn out towards the end of every shift because of lingering effects from a concussion.

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#6 Rick
May 14 2009, 04:42PM
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As the season was winding down I was wondering if the stats would match the "saw him good" when it came to what Hemsky was doing. It would appear so.

What I was wondering is how the Oilers PP did in respect to those same 10 game segments.

It was something aweful down the stretch and from the seats I had it looked to largely stem from how Hemsky was quaterbacking it. Uncreative, static and it looked like he never ever shot the puck which I would think is critical if for nothing else to inject some unpredictability into the set up.

I haven't dug too deeply into the stats that are available but do they break down shots to EV, PP, SH? If so I would be curious to see how his shooting rate on the PP affects the PP % for the team.

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#7 Jack Bauer
May 14 2009, 06:31PM
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@ David Staples:

So you think his concussion had a lot to do with his piss poor performance down the stretch even though his best hockey was played when he came back?

Im not disagreeing with you 100% but I think it was more a lack of motivation, not playing for the coach, and acting like a princess that did it.

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#8 Dan
May 14 2009, 07:11PM
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David Staples wrote:

He got worse as the season went along . . . I’d say Ales is a better player when he’s not completely worn out towards the end of every shift because of lingering effects from a concussion.

His point production was on the same wavelength as Horcoff's energy. Towards the end of the year they both started to wane. Someone really needed to clue MacT in that Horcoff and Hemsky are not siamese twins.

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#9 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
May 14 2009, 10:15PM
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I've gone to one Oiler game in my life, and that was the 10-2 loss to Buffalo (great choice, I know, I know), and some idiot behind yelled "SHOOT!! SHOOT!! SHOOT THE DAMN THING ALREADY!!!" Everytime Mr. Hemsky touched the puck. I think he doesn't shoot just to spite the rich badwords that can afford to get drunk at an Oilers game.

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#10 topshelf
May 14 2009, 10:33PM
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@ HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla: I'm sure that's exactly what he's thinking.

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#11 Archaeologuy
May 14 2009, 11:54PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

So you think his concussion had a lot to do with his piss poor performance down the stretch even though his best hockey was played when he came back?

9 points in his last 10. He ~really~ let the team down in that last stretch.

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#12 David S
May 15 2009, 12:17AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

He ~really~ let the team down in that last stretch.

Mar. 20 – Apr. 1: 12GP – 2G – 8A – 10PTS

2 goals in 12 games - the most important stretch of the year. I wouldn't go so far as to say he let the team down, but he sure didn't deliver like he said he wanted to. That's a pretty crappy time for your best guy to be anything less than at his best.

I would however agree with David Staples here. Both Hemsky and Horcoff were driven into the ground, although it's not like there was any other choice.

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#13 BigE57
May 15 2009, 12:51AM
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Sure there was a choice..... last year when the injuries were rampant they had to rely on the kids and guys like Gagner and Cogliano stepped up playing basically first line minutes. Gagner was hot down the stretch and granted he may be too young to be able to carry a team but why not give him a shot? What have you got to lose, your job?

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#14 Hemmertime
May 15 2009, 08:48AM
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Looking at this, there is only 2 10 game segments where he didnt put up at least a PPG, and one of them was 8 in 10. He is a consistent performer, and I find it strange alot of Oil fans would consider him trade bait, compare this to Dustin Brown's totals. 0 pts in last 12 games would be enough comparison for me. For shame Jim Matheson, for shame.

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#15 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 08:58AM
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@ David S: I'll be sure to let Wayne Gretzky know that his assists no longer count as offensive production.

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#16 topshelf
May 15 2009, 09:55AM
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@ Archaeologuy: Can you also let Thornton and Malkin know too?

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#17 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 09:55AM
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@ topshelf: I'm sending text messages now

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#18 Chris
May 15 2009, 10:34AM
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I like Hemmer too... But he is the ONLY Oiler who has the talent to score more than thirty goals; so shoot already! This team needs a GOAL SCORER: and Hemsky is capable... so that should be the emphasis. Heading into the allstar break Hemsky looked like he was finally emerging because he was thinking about nothing but net; and THAT is what the Oilers need from him. I hope the new coach makes it clear that this is the expectation... If Hemsky is going to be "The Man" another twenty goal season is not enough.

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#19 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 10:39AM
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Chris wrote:

If Hemsky is going to be “The Man” another twenty goal season is not enough.

Yeah! If he wants to be "The Man" on this team he better lead the team in every offensive category and get close to a point per game!

*checks the stats again*

Oh yeah, he already did. Never mind. Maybe what the team needs is other players like him.

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#20 topshelf
May 15 2009, 10:52AM
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@ Chris: I disagree with you. Hemsky isn't a 30 goal guy in my mind. He may come close, but to me he is more of a 20-25 goal guy and with some capable players around him I could easily see him getting around 65 assists. The problem is that with his current linemates he isn't getting the assists that he would if he had a true "one shot scorer" playing alongside him. Just think back to all the times this year you thought "jesus Horcoff, you need to bury that". Hemsky is a playmaker not a sniper, so they NEED to get someone to finish.

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#21 Chris
May 15 2009, 10:58AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

I'm trying to make a point about players stepping up to their role. When big Georges was sent packing a few years back, it fell on Stortini to be the heavy weight... He wasn't ready, but Storts did the best he could. When it became obvious that a true heavy-weight was needed, management brought in Big Mac. Similarly, when Smyth left town and took his thirty to thirty- goals a year with him; I'm sure it was thought that Hemsky could/should step up and be the new goal scorer... (like I said... He has the tools to do so...) But Hemsky hasn't "stepped up"... With Hemsky unable/unwilling to take the next step towards Superstardom, management has taken runs at Jager, and Hossa to try and find that elusive thirty goal guy. It could well play out that Hemsky is eventually moved for a guy who can light the lamp at a more prolific rate; and I think we both agree that that would be a shame.

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#22 Chris
May 15 2009, 11:00AM
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@ topshelf:

I'm guessing Oilers management thought he could be a thirty goal guy... or moving Smyth was EXTRA stupid.

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#23 Ogden Brother
May 15 2009, 11:08AM
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Chris wrote:

@ topshelf: I’m guessing Oilers management thought he could be a thirty goal guy… or moving Smyth was EXTRA stupid.

I'm guessing it's because they thought they could replace him on the FA market. Hopefully that lesson has been learned.

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#24 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:11AM
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Not every point producer is a natural goal scorer. Why can't people see this?

Chris wrote:

@ topshelf: I’m guessing Oilers management thought he could be a thirty goal guy… or moving Smyth was EXTRA stupid.

~We all know how brilliant Oilers management is~

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#25 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 11:13AM
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@ Chris: I dont think the role he wanted was to be the 40 goal scorer. He wanted to be the offensive leader of the team. He accomplished that goal. The other day in ON we discussed Getzlaf and his elite status. He has never scored more than 25 goals. That's only 2 more than Hemsky this season and he played more games than Hemmer. Smyth left and the Oil need another goal scorer for sure, but that isnt up to Hemsky to take over. Hemsky took over Smyth's role as offensive leader, not goal scorer.

What else can Hemsky do? He put up a career high in shots and goals AND was 13 points ahead of the next forward, who incidentaly played 8 more games than Hemsky. At some point he still needs other people who can actually put the puck in the net.

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#26 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:16AM
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@ Archaeologuy: Exactly. It's ludacris to think that by trading Hemsky for a 40 goal man that this team will be in better shape than they are today. You can't win by having your offense revolve entirely around one player, which was the case for the most part this season. Other players need to step up and contribute.

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#27 Chris
May 15 2009, 11:18AM
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topshelf wrote:

Hemsky is a playmaker not a sniper, so they NEED to get someone to finish.

I agree that Hemsky prefers to make the pretty pass... But the team needs him to score. Hemsky has the wheels and a great shot, he just needs to shift his mindset. Coaches/Managers demand this kind of thing from players all the time; most NHL grinders were goal scores in JR who evolved/adapted thier game to better contribute to the success of both thier club and thier own career. Elite players are often able or expected to make the necessary adjustments to lead thier team to victory.

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#28 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:23AM
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@ Chris: You're asking him to change the way he views the game of hockey. The very way that got him to the NHL, onto the Oilers top line and to be their top scorer. Now, it isn't good enough? He has evolved and adapted his game but what more does HE have to do as an individual?

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#29 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 11:27AM
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Chris wrote:

Elite players are often able or expected to make the necessary adjustments to lead thier team to victory.

So Hemsky is expected to alter his entire skill set in order to become ONLY a goal scorer. And this is reasonable how? The guy has been adding more shots into his game every year on his road to becoming the most consistent point producer on the team. But he isnt adapting to the needs of the team? I think you've already made up your mind on the guy and are making it impossible to ever change it.

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#30 Chris
May 15 2009, 11:28AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I dont think the role he wanted was to be the 40 goal scorer.

Why not? Everone likes to score goals. Look, I'm not privy to the private conversations Hemsky has had with Lowe/Tambellini. I'm not sure if he failed to meet, or if in fact Hemsky exceeded thier expectations... What I do know is that Hemsky makes goal scoring look easy when he is on his game... Kinda like Penner made destroying Landon Wilson look easy...

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#31 Chris
May 15 2009, 11:30AM
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@ topshelf: @ Archaeologuy:

I think I'm a bigger Hemsky fan than both of you... I see in him a potential for an even higher level game.

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#32 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:32AM
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Chris wrote:

Kinda like Penner made destroying Landon Wilson look easy…

Does that mean Penner should be a fighter now? I know it's a stretch but that is the very same argument as the one you are making here.

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#33 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 11:42AM
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@ Chris: I agree he can score more, i dont think 30 goals is out of the realm of possibilities. Goal scoring still isnt his first instinct. It isnt for every player. Like i said, Getzlaf has never scored more than 25. Joe Thornton regularly scores less than 30 goals a season.

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#34 Chris
May 15 2009, 11:44AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

So Hemsky is expected to alter his entire skill set in order to become ONLY a goal scorer.

I didn't say that. Don't be obtuse. Assuming Hemsky wants to lead the Oilers into the playoffs, he needs to think net. He has shown us all that he can score; so sustain that mindset. Pro's adjust thier game to suit the style/shortcommings of their linmates all the time; maybe it's easier to button hook inside the line and lob the puck towards Horcoff and make the broken play HIS fault... or maybe it's time Hemsky plays up to the true height of own potential: challenging the D and forcing the goalie to make a stop. I don't make excuses for Penner playing soft when he has the tools to dominate the boards, nor will I be satisfied with Hemsky showing true offensive intensity once every three or four games.

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#35 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 11:46AM
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Chris wrote:

I think I’m a bigger Hemsky fan than both of you… I see in him a potential for an even higher level game.

i see a higher level for him to reach also, but i still dont think he will be able to surpass a point per game with dead weight anchors like Horcoff playing with him.

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#36 Archaeologuy
May 15 2009, 11:52AM
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Chris wrote:

Assuming Hemsky wants to lead the Oilers into the playoffs, he needs to think net.

And so if Kovalchuk wants to lead the Thrasher to the playoffs he needs to think net EVEN MORE, because his team cant. It's Kovalchuk's fault that the Thrashers dont make the playoffs every year. At what point do you place the blame on the OTHER players who werent pulling their weight all year?

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#37 Chris
May 15 2009, 11:53AM
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topshelf wrote:

Does that mean Penner should be a fighter now? I know it’s a stretch but that is the very same argument as the one you are making here.

Yes! That is exactly the argument I'm making. Championship teams are composed of players who do whatever is in thier power to help the team win... even if it means re-inventing yourself a little to best contribute. Penner doesn't need to be an enforcer, but it would be nice if he acted like a true power forward. Similarly, it would be nice if Hemsky assumed that role as the Oilers clear-cut goal scorer... If mamangement can find a trigger man for Hemsky...GREAT! If not, what's the point in having a set up man with no-one to set up?

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#38 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:55AM
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Chris wrote:

He has shown us all that he can score; so sustain that mindset

His mindset never changed to a shoot first mentality and it never will. You are nieve to think that it ever will.

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#39 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:56AM
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Chris wrote:

Penner doesn’t need to be an enforcer

~But he does because it looks easy when he fights~

That was your argument.

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#40 topshelf
May 15 2009, 11:58AM
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Chris wrote:

Similarly, it would be nice if Hemsky assumed that role as the Oilers clear-cut goal scorer…

That isn't the type of player he is. You can't make someone into something they are not. Ask MacT, he knows all about it.

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#41 David S
May 15 2009, 12:00PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I’ll be sure to let Wayne Gretzky know that his assists no longer count as offensive production.

You'd have a stronger point if Hemsky was putting in 50 or so a year.

Hey look. All I know is that these playoffs are really showing what true star status is all about. I'm sorry, but Hemsky is not in this league yet. He's good, I'll give you that. But he's not nearly as good as it seems we've made him out to be. Another case of fans vastly overrating their players? Maybe. It also might be that his supporting cast is pretty weak, which is another thing that's pretty obvious watching the playoffs. Crosby, Ovechkin and Staal have guys to work with. Hemsky? Not so much.

Still, this team just isn't that good. In a perfect world, we need another Hemsky AND a Crosby or a Hossa.

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#42 Chris
May 15 2009, 12:13PM
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topshelf wrote:

~But he does because it looks easy when he fights~ That was your argument.

Don't be petty... I clarified my statement. It's clear the argument I was making is that Oilers need Penner to be more physical. He has the tools but lacks the mindset... and therfore draws some criticism.

Similarly, the Oilers could have used more than 23 goals out of a guy as talented as Hemsky. Sure, if Horcoff was converting Hemsky passes, left and right, and the team was hunting the division title, no shift of focus required...Hemsky would be free to fall into his comfort zone as a "playmaker" sans crticism.

Fact is, the Oilers were small so Penner should have stepped up physically. The Oilers couldn't score, so Hemsky should have shifted his mindset to a more shoot first mentality. The coaches have been asking him to do this for years... Penner may never reach his full potential as a true first line power forward. Hemsky may well never reach his full potential either. It's too bad.

Hemsky put up good numbers, but he could have done more.

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#43 Death Metal Nightmare
May 15 2009, 12:16PM
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in the 77 point year he had less shots than the past two. so how about this AXIOM - "with better players around him, Hemsky plays better." could it be so obvious? id rather see him play with crap asses until his sweet contract runs out just to see how much Statistical Balls this kid has so we can whine later. getting a good core is secondary in this town.

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#44 topshelf
May 15 2009, 12:17PM
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Chris wrote:

so Hemsky should have shifted his mindset to a more shoot first mentality.

I think he has done that. You don't?

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#45 Chris
May 15 2009, 12:31PM
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topshelf wrote:

That isn’t the type of player he is. You can’t make someone into something they are not.

You can't force a player to achieve outside his skillset...But is it unreasonable to ask a player to consistantly deliver what he can? Penner is 6'4". He CAN hit. He chooses not too. If Penner refuses to be coached, or lacks the internal drive to achieve his best; then send him packing.

Hemsky CAN use his speed to force the D back, then pull up sharp and use the bewildered defender as a screen... we've all see him do it... So do it more often. IMO Hemsky has a better or at least comparable shot to Camalleri; who scored nearly forty goals. If Hemskey is too stubborn, or eqotistical to follow even the most basic coaching instuction like shoot more; than maybe it's time to move him. I want only selfless committed players in Oiler silks. Why accept less? If the Oilers do aquire a shooter for Hemsky, I want to know that Hemsky would be willing to switch things up and shoot more in the event said player gets injured. It's called doing what it takes to win.

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#46 topshelf
May 15 2009, 12:45PM
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@ Chris: As far as Penner is concerned you might as well save your breath because I am 100% in agreement with you.

We are going to have to agree to disagree on the Hemsky matter because we are just spinning our wheels on this subject. I think Hemsky needs someone to score along side him, you think he needs to score more.

Chris wrote:

It’s called doing what it takes to win.

I think he does do that but it becomes too much though when the entire bench looks to one player to single handedly win a game for the team.

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#47 David S
May 15 2009, 01:08PM
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topshelf wrote:

I think he does do that but it becomes too much though when the entire bench looks to one player to single handedly win a game for the team.

Isn't this exactly what he wanted?

BTW - you're both right. Hemsky needs better linemates to score more himself.

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#48 Chris
May 15 2009, 01:11PM
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Chris wrote:

If the Oilers do aquire a shooter for Hemsky, I want to know that Hemsky would be willing to switch things up and shoot more in the event said player gets injured. It’s called doing what it takes to win.

Should read: If the Oiulers do aquire a shooter to PLAY WITH Hemsky.

topshelf wrote:

We are going to have to agree to disagree on the Hemsky matter because we are just spinning our wheels on this subject

We both agree that Hemsky is a natural playmaker and would benifit by playing with a finisher. I'm just saying that when management failed to deliver that player, Hemsky should have done more to shift his focus in the offensive zone... I'd bet we'd all be pleasantly surprised at what he could achieve with a shoot first mindset.

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#49 Oilersordeath
May 15 2009, 01:17PM
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To bad he disapeared down the stretch when the team needed him the most. The biggest thing with Hemmer is he needs to get STRONGER! He's gets muscled of the puck way to easily. Don't you guys agree?

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#50 topshelf
May 15 2009, 01:22PM
Trash it!
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Cheers
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David S wrote:

Isn’t this exactly what he wanted?

To an extent. There is a difference between wanting to be the guy and everyone else waiting for you to win the game for them.

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