GDB LIV: What a difference a goalie makes!

Jason Gregor
February 01 2010 01:41PM

Eight days ago tonight’s game looked like an epic battle for 30th place, but after four straight wins the Hurricanes are seven points ahead of the Oilers. Have the Canes being playing great hockey all of a sudden? Not really, but their goalie, Sherwood Park native Cam Ward sure is.

Ward has allowed five goals in the four game winning streak. The Canes have been out shot every game, but Ward has a ridiculous .962 SV% in those games. Meanwhile as a team, the Canes have a shooting percentage of 20 with 18 goals on only 91 shots. They won’t keep winning games if these numbers stay the same. Teams can have short stretches where everything they shoot goes in, or their goalie stops most shots, but eventually those bounces will cease.

I wrote on Friday that cheering for a win v. Calgary made sense because of pride, and of course we all saw that there didn’t seem to be much pride on the ice. So tonight, you watch the game knowing that a loss will tie the franchise record for the longest winless streak at 14 games.

Do you cheer for a record or as fans do you need to see your team win one game just to remind you how that feels?

Tough call!

With Sheldon Souray out until after the trade deadline, and possibly the rest of the season (would there be an reason to come back on March 15th) the Oilers attack becomes less potent by the day.

Alex Plante, 15th pick in 2007, will make his NHL debut tonight. Plante has been okay in Springfield according to the scouts and coaching staff. He’ll wear #48 tonight and be paired with Taylor Chorney.

They didn’t do any line rushes this morning, but at yesterday’s skate Marc Pouliot and J.F Jacques looked to be the extras. The top three lines were the same, while Mike Comrie and Zack Stortini skated with Andrew Cogliano. Jacques was invisible in Calgary and Pouliot hasn’t done much since returning from the injured list.

Sheldon Souray’s injury will force Tom Renney to make some changes on the backend. Visnovsky, Gilbert and Plante will play the right side while Strudwick, Chorney and Grebeshkov will play the left side. Strudwick will play with Alex Plante while Renney will put Chorney with Visnvosky and Gilbert back with Grebeshkov. This blueline corps definitely lacks a physical presence and we could see a few fire drills in their own zone tonight.

Jeff Deslauriers gets the start and is looking for his first win since December 30th.

CONSPIRACY THEORY?

I’m not a huge believer in conspiracy theories, although Mel Gibson was great as Jerry Fletcher in the 1997 flick especially when he bit part of Dr. Jonas’ nose off.

But many Oiler fans are concerned that the Count, aka Gary Bettman, will rig the lottery to ensure that the Hurricanes win it. Their basis to this theory is that fans in Edmonton and Boston don’t need the first overall pick to appease their fans, while Carolina needs help.

That's not necessarily the case. Some wondered why the Canes drew a measly 6,896 fans with Chicago in town on Friday. The Hawks are one of the most exciting teams in the league, yet the Canes had their lowest crowd of the season. Prior to Friday’s game their lowest crowd was just over 12,000. It doesn’t make sense that with the Hawks in town and the Canes on a three-game winning streak that only 6,896 people show up.

It's because they had six inches of snow. They actually sold 17,000 tickets and were expecting a sell out, but the weather forced many people to stay home. Even though they had 17,000 sold seats they announced the number of fans in the building. You wonder if down the stretch that will happen in Edmonton. Anyone who has been at Rexall Place knows the seats haven't been full, and you wonder if all of those are paid seats that didn't show up. I'd guess probably not.

I’d bet Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini will have a valid argument that they need the first overall pick more than Carolina does. Oiler fans have had four seasons without the playoffs, and the masses are pissed.

Also...

Interesting to note that Eric Staal spent lots of time at the end of practice working on his shot and joking around with his teammates. Great players put in the extra work and while some of you don't think it is necessary for Ales Hemsky to be any better, I'd argue he does. I see too many of the elite players in the league staying late after practice or at morning skates, and that extra work definitely doesn't hurt their game.

And it seems that TSN. ca jumped the gun on the Rangers/Flames trade. I remember back in the summer when Bob McKenzie and others on TSN were ripping the Edmonton media for jumping the gun on the Heatley story. I noticed he didn't use the same choice of words when talking about how this deal is now on hold. We all make mistakes, and I laugh when those who have ripped on someone about a mistake or jumping the gun have the exact thing happen to them. The deal might still go through, but if it doesn't I doubt they will be ripping their own site.

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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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#51 Digger
February 01 2010, 04:20PM
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Bar Qu wrote:

Repeat after me.

Hemsky is not the problem with this team.

When his work ethic becomes even remotely something to be concerned about, then we should discuss it.

I really don't get the digs at Hemsky, other than there is really nothing useful to discuss on this team. But some shots at the shoddy coaching decisions might make more sense (how many times have we seen Strudwick on the ice at the end of close games this year?).

Did anybody say he was the problem in this thread? No.

This double standard I see from time to time is rather amusing...when people ask why certain fans are so hung up on this team not picking up a Blair Betts or Manny Malhotra like it would've made a difference between the Oilers making the playoffs or languishing in the NHL basement, the statistically inclined essentially say 'every little bit helps, what could it have hurt?'...fair enough, there's logic behind that.

But damn if there isn't hell to pay if anybody has the temerity to even suggest that certain sacred cows (Horcoff, Hemsky to name two of the more prominent ones) maybe aren't being all they can be...then it's all "He's not the problem! He's not the problem!"

To which I reply, 'every little bit helps...'

And as far as I'm concerned, on a 30th ****ing place team there are NO sacred cows, NO single player that should be above reproach. ESPECIALLY among the veterans who didn't do a whole lot to keep this team from going 0 for damn January.

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#52 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 01 2010, 04:22PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

1 player cant win a Cup alone. He makes every team mate he's ever had better. He almost single handedly ran our PP for 3 years and has constantly made his C look better than he really is (Note Horc on the 3rd line without Hemsky).

What people should wonder is why hasnt it rubbed off on his team mates the fact that he has consistently taken a bruising by going to battle for the puck against much larger opponents.

Why arent we asking the guys "Hey, Hemsky just got his face smashed into the boards by Player X again but still managed to fight for the puck in the corners and win, why cant you losers do that?"

Why are people so concerned with his practice habits when clearly the player in question battles harder and produces better than everyone on the team when it matters the most?

"He makes every team mate he's ever had better"

I always love this, who has he made better? Sykora scored roughly the same everywhere else. Smyth scored roughly the same without him. Penner scored roughly the same without him. Cole didn't work with him. Lupul didn't work with him.

Now, does he make the TEAMS offense better? Absolutly, all you need to do is look where they were before he went out (roughly mid way in the GF in the conference) to where they are now.... last.

How many more goals would they have scored if they kept their relative ranking? Call it 15, or roughly .5 GPG. 40 points over a year (average 1 assist/goal) means 40 more points for his team-mates... spread over 20 guys.

I'd say his regular linemates get 4/5 extra points/year and guys he plays with sporadically get 1-3.

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#53 SirFozz
February 01 2010, 04:23PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Ovechkin would be slacking at a 40-goal pace, but would still be the best player on the team. Do you give him a pass because he's naturally talented, or tell him he's slacking and needs to improve?

Agreed. Hemsky is obviously not close to the Oilers main problem but to be satisfied with 70 point output makes no sense. The best players in every sport are almost always the hardest workers as well. Look how much Crosby practices, or Tiger (used too). They are not satisfied with being good, they want to be great, they want to win.

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#54 Lofty
February 01 2010, 04:24PM
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Crash wrote:

I think a strong case could be made that Hemsky does indeed make the players around him better...even moreso than people realize.

Just look at this year and it should tell you that.

By no means do I think that Hemsky is problem #1 but if he's one of the untouchables then it should be because you can grow a team around him... I personaly dont think he is a guy you build around.

Yeah the team blows this year but how many times have the Oil made the playoffs with him playing a significant role?

Does he make players around him better? He may put a few points up and has talent but he doesnt lead and he doesnt make the team better like a Mike Richards, Smyth or Staal.

I make the same arguemnt regarding my local team in Ilya Kovalchuk. Hell of a talent that puts up points but has never done anything to better the team as a whole. People can argue he plays with an inferior line-up but is he out there helping guys out work on things, practicing one-timers, tip-ins or finding open ice? Not really, he puts up points so he can sign a better contract and play 82 games.

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#55 BUCK75
February 01 2010, 04:25PM
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I think with the moves by the leafs & Ward being back in the Canes line-up we will still be in last place. A win tonight would not hurt my feelings, as long as they don't go on a 4 game win streak after the win tonight.

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#56 Jeremy
February 01 2010, 04:25PM
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SirFozz wrote:

The "why" was a sarcastic remark on why anyone would waste their time/ money searching the net for games/ paying for ppv on this team. I will try to remember to add tildes for the sake of clarity in the future.

I am in the same boat as HeavyD. I am a fan of the team, and that doesn't end just because of an ugly slide. Those that stop being fans are on something called a "bandwagon".

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#57 BUCK75
February 01 2010, 04:26PM
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SirFozz wrote:

Agreed. Hemsky is obviously not close to the Oilers main problem but to be satisfied with 70 point output makes no sense. The best players in every sport are almost always the hardest workers as well. Look how much Crosby practices, or Tiger (used too). They are not satisfied with being good, they want to be great, they want to win.

Tiger just TOLD the wife he was practicing all the time...

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#58 Eddie Shore
February 01 2010, 04:28PM
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Lofty wrote:

By no means do I think that Hemsky is problem #1 but if he's one of the untouchables then it should be because you can grow a team around him... I personaly dont think he is a guy you build around.

Yeah the team blows this year but how many times have the Oil made the playoffs with him playing a significant role?

Does he make players around him better? He may put a few points up and has talent but he doesnt lead and he doesnt make the team better like a Mike Richards, Smyth or Staal.

I make the same arguemnt regarding my local team in Ilya Kovalchuk. Hell of a talent that puts up points but has never done anything to better the team as a whole. People can argue he plays with an inferior line-up but is he out there helping guys out work on things, practicing one-timers, tip-ins or finding open ice? Not really, he puts up points so he can sign a better contract and play 82 games.

Is it his job to put up points or teach players how to play? This team has far too many problems to be worrying about crap like this right now.

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#59 Milli
February 01 2010, 04:29PM
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Gregor, Can you please do me a favour? Can you ask Tambo if he realizes that those aren't seasons tickets and the cheques he is collecting aren't a pension, that he is actually the GM of the edmonton oilers ice hockey team?

Thanks,.

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#60 HottScarrison
February 01 2010, 04:30PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

Tiger just TOLD the wife he was practicing all the time...

That was classic. LOL'd all the way home. Thank you sir for cheering me up even just a lil bit

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#61 Milli
February 01 2010, 04:30PM
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Also, not being in Etown, just how bad is the mood in the town? I can imagine that it must be just about to boil over after satutrday night and then sunday....I know how I feel, and man, I sure hope this is the bottom, but I'm not even sure anymore....My luck, the flames will now go on a 12 games winning streak!!!

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#62 Lofty
February 01 2010, 04:31PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

1 player cant win a Cup alone. He makes every team mate he's ever had better. He almost single handedly ran our PP for 3 years and has constantly made his C look better than he really is (Note Horc on the 3rd line without Hemsky).

What people should wonder is why hasnt it rubbed off on his team mates the fact that he has consistently taken a bruising by going to battle for the puck against much larger opponents.

Why arent we asking the guys "Hey, Hemsky just got his face smashed into the boards by Player X again but still managed to fight for the puck in the corners and win, why cant you losers do that?"

Why are people so concerned with his practice habits when clearly the player in question battles harder and produces better than everyone on the team when it matters the most?

It hasnt rubbed off on other team mates because he is not out making them better. He plays hard gets his points and others get points as a result of that.

Does he help others get better on an individual basis? I'm not sold that he does. We have all played with players like this in minor hockey and the minors. They are a great talent that puts points on the board and are also the first person to check the game sheet after the game to see how many points they got in a 6-4 loss.

Again... I dont think he is problem #1-#10 but I dont know if he is the guy I would build a team around when people are listing the untouchables.

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#63 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
February 01 2010, 04:33PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Pretty sure nobody said he was "slacking". He may be able to put a little more effort in but lets not get carried away.

The issue I'm getting at is one I'm very familiar with, actually.

I did really well in grade school, middle school, and high school. I didn't try much at all, and still came out with great marks. Being in the top few percentile of each class, my teachers would say "He's very intelligent, but he needs to work harder". My parents, at first, thought this was ridiculous. Why work at full-capacity for A+s when you can get As at half-capacity?

The problem is that you don't develop good studying skills that lay the groundwork for situations in which you might not already be proficient.

My gut reaction for things that are unfamiliar and challenging is to write them off, not to hunker down until I've mastered them.

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#64 Lofty
February 01 2010, 04:34PM
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@ Gunner

Agree 100% but Staal brings intangibles that need to be respected when taking a team from last to first.

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#65 Stall35
February 01 2010, 04:35PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

1 player cant win a Cup alone. He makes every team mate he's ever had better. He almost single handedly ran our PP for 3 years and has constantly made his C look better than he really is (Note Horc on the 3rd line without Hemsky).

What people should wonder is why hasnt it rubbed off on his team mates the fact that he has consistently taken a bruising by going to battle for the puck against much larger opponents.

Why arent we asking the guys "Hey, Hemsky just got his face smashed into the boards by Player X again but still managed to fight for the puck in the corners and win, why cant you losers do that?"

Why are people so concerned with his practice habits when clearly the player in question battles harder and produces better than everyone on the team when it matters the most?

I had to!!....lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGDBR2L5kzI

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#66 SirFozz
February 01 2010, 04:35PM
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@Jeremy

I don't think I've ever been confused as a bandwagon fan. No one here on ON commenting away should be confused with that. At the same time, I won't be shelling out $15 or watching the game on my monitor. Your choice of course. I think I can find something else to do.

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#67 BUCK75
February 01 2010, 04:37PM
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@Matt Henderson

I would say that he is untouchable, but it doesn't mean that our GM shouldn't listen to an offer for him, so long as wasn't for 4 upcoming free agents.

You know what they say in the hockey world, If Dion Phaneuf can be traded I guess anyone can...

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#68 Lofty
February 01 2010, 04:39PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

I would say that he is untouchable, but it doesn't mean that our GM shouldn't listen to an offer for him, so long as wasn't for 4 upcoming free agents.

You know what they say in the hockey world, If Dion Phaneuf can be traded I guess anyone can...

Again,

Agree 100%

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#70 tlbest99
February 01 2010, 04:43PM
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going to watch the flames game tonight, cheer for the new flamers.......uuuggg somebody please kill me.....man we have fallen a long ways. Oil country is the laugh n stock of the league, even the Toronto media is talking about how bad the Oilers are.......

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#71 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
February 01 2010, 04:44PM
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tlbest99 wrote:

going to watch the flames game tonight, cheer for the new flamers.......uuuggg somebody please kill me.....man we have fallen a long ways. Oil country is the laugh n stock of the league, even the Toronto media is talking about how bad the Oilers are.......

Go cheer for the Flames, then. I'm thinking I'm actually going to buy this game tonight. I think there's a little bit of overlap with the new episode of House, but I'll be cheering for the Oil nonetheless.

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#72 swany
February 01 2010, 04:48PM
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Oil win Oil win oh that was last year

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#73 Eddie Shore
February 01 2010, 04:49PM
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Lofty wrote:

@ Gunner

Agree 100% but Staal brings intangibles that need to be respected when taking a team from last to first.

And Hemsky isn't Staal so why do we think he has to be?

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#74 Lofty
February 01 2010, 04:58PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

And Hemsky isn't Staal so why do we think he has to be?

Dont think he has to be but the topic of the conversation was players that make the team better and who to build around.

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#76 Harlie
February 01 2010, 05:12PM
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I find it hilarious that the last few weeks Stauffer has been saying that the one of the main reasons we haven't seen any movement on the Oilers front and in the NHL in general was due to the Cap and Contracts etc. He even went so far as to poo poo many callers ideas for trade ideas cuz he said it would never happen "especially in today's Cap world".

And now Burke and Sutter dispel the myth of the Cap world and boom Stauffer is saying he'd buy out O'Sullivan and Nilsson, bring in Biron and a second line and 3rd liner based on the cash back from Nilsson and O'Sullivan. Basically after this weekend anything goes again, eh?

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#78 BUCK75
February 01 2010, 05:24PM
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@Harlie

I think the moral is you don't get anything of real value. Unless the Flames resign Stajan & White they traded Phaneuf & their highest Dman prospect (Aulie according to hockeys future) for Hagman.

Leafs took back a bad contract when they traded Blake. If we could find someone to trade a bad contract to we would probably be brining one back.

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#79 Matt Henderson
February 01 2010, 05:26PM
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@Jason Gregor

So far from what I see at this stage he is the Oilers best skater by far and his effort in game is pretty hard to challenge. I cant say that spending an extra 20 minutes shooting at the AHL goaltenders on the club will transform him into a great player.

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#80 Racki
February 01 2010, 05:34PM
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I'll be the crazy to say it... the Oilers are in serious dire straits defensively. They currently only have Strudwick to provide any physicality from the backend, and I'm not even sure how well he does that.

Sooooo, I dare ask about the guy waived today. Yes, I know generally a player isn't waived unless they're pretty horrible. But we're a 30th place team desperate for help there, and he's UFA next year anyways if it doesn't work out.

So that all said... thoughts on the Oilers picking up Boynton (which I doubt they will)?

On the other hand, I'm full on wanting this team to continue the DFF, so any help they get would not be good. But really this is a guy who I could see here next year if the trial period worked out.

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#81 Jmask5
February 01 2010, 05:40PM
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I don't understand how anyone can rip on Hemsky. He's a playmaker first and a goal scorer second. When he has players that can bury his passes he's going to get points. I mean anyone who can make Horcoff a PPG player must be doing something right. Also unlike many superstars these days he actually does well in the playoffs. Mind you it was only once but If I remember correctly he scored some huge goals during the 2006 run including the beauty that turned out to be the series winner against Detroit.

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#82 Arby
February 01 2010, 05:45PM
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Is Plante shrinking? Wasn't he 6'5" at the combine? (or did i read that in the LaForge Manefesto)

Every PPV that I swear I'm not going to buy they call someone up that I have to watch.

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#83 Aleslav Smidsky
February 01 2010, 05:45PM
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@ Gregor

If Hemsky needs to stay a little longer after practice. How long should Horcoffs practices be?

Hemsky is a great player, due to his lack of skilled linemates and weak powerplay his numbers dont show so.

Staal and Crosby are both captains of their teams, they need to lead by example. How many practices did Ethan choose to miss out on this season?

The captain of the Oilers doesnt lead by example during the games. So why the pressure on Hemsky to stay a little longer?

What exactly should Hemsky be working on more?

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#84 Skidplate
February 01 2010, 05:48PM
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Racki wrote:

I'll be the crazy to say it... the Oilers are in serious dire straits defensively. They currently only have Strudwick to provide any physicality from the backend, and I'm not even sure how well he does that.

Sooooo, I dare ask about the guy waived today. Yes, I know generally a player isn't waived unless they're pretty horrible. But we're a 30th place team desperate for help there, and he's UFA next year anyways if it doesn't work out.

So that all said... thoughts on the Oilers picking up Boynton (which I doubt they will)?

On the other hand, I'm full on wanting this team to continue the DFF, so any help they get would not be good. But really this is a guy who I could see here next year if the trial period worked out.

I say we grab him. He is due about $530K for the remaining 29 games. He adds some size and toughness.

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#85 CurtisS
February 01 2010, 05:51PM
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Souray will be back in 6 weeks accourding to Dreger?

Thats better news than the year and surgery I read here.

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#86 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
February 01 2010, 05:55PM
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Aleslav Smidsky wrote:

@ Gregor

If Hemsky needs to stay a little longer after practice. How long should Horcoffs practices be?

Hemsky is a great player, due to his lack of skilled linemates and weak powerplay his numbers dont show so.

Staal and Crosby are both captains of their teams, they need to lead by example. How many practices did Ethan choose to miss out on this season?

The captain of the Oilers doesnt lead by example during the games. So why the pressure on Hemsky to stay a little longer?

What exactly should Hemsky be working on more?

Let's stop making comparisons altogether. Ovechkin & Crosby's success in practice has nothing to do with Hemsky's, just like Moreau's doesn't.

Let's focus on Hemsky.

Is Hemsky a great player? Absolutely he is.

Is he an elite player? No. He is not.

Does Hemsky have the potential to be an elite player? Absolutely he does.

How can Hemsky make the jump from being a great player to being an elite player? Well, he should work on the things that are holding him back.

How can he work on the things that are holding him back? Well, for starters he could practice more often.

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#87 SirFozz
February 01 2010, 05:59PM
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CurtisS wrote:

Souray will be back in 6 weeks accourding to Dreger?

Thats better news than the year and surgery I read here.

Dregor said Souray expects to be back within six weeks.

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#88 Aleslav Smidsky
February 01 2010, 06:00PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

His linemates and the weak powerplay is why he cant take that next step to elite status. I dont believe its anything on him.

Horcoff's lack of skill will be fixed if Hemsky pracitices more?

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#89 Aleslav Smidsky
February 01 2010, 06:00PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

His linemates and the weak powerplay is why he cant take that next step to elite status. I dont believe its anything on him.

Horcoff's lack of skill will be fixed if Hemsky pracitices more?

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#91 CurtisS
February 01 2010, 06:03PM
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SirFozz wrote:

Dregor said Souray expects to be back within six weeks.

??????

Like I said better news than surgery and being out for the year.

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#93 Aleslav Smidsky
February 01 2010, 06:05PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

And Pisani scored 14 goals that playoffs? And mentioning that other great players work a bit extra after practice compared to Hemsky, really isn't ripping him.

Really. Then what is it?

What message is sent when the captain and the veteran core are the worst players on the team?

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#95 bleedoil11
February 01 2010, 06:09PM
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I just have some speculative questions but i have been scouring the internet for oilers trade rumours and one sticks out that could be okay what do you all think. I read on a rangers website that they are interested in souray? how bout dubinsky as part of a potential return i read the article and was intrigued this would only be possible the writer suggests if they land jokinen which im sure they will

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#96 Racki
February 01 2010, 06:09PM
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@Jason Gregor

Hey Jason did you have any thoughts on Nick Boynton? I don't expect him to come in here and save the team or anything (afterall he WAS waived). However with our blue line currently in shambles and especially lacking in guys that can play in the defensive zone and play phsyically, would it make sense for the Oilers to nab him?

He's only $1.5M, pro-rated over the limited time he'd be here. Plus he's a UFA at the end of the year. It would also give a good "try-out" to see what he's capable of, and maybe he could come back in place of Strudwick/Staios if it works out.

Just my 2 cents.



Sorry for asking this twice, just wasn't sure if my post earlier would have caught your attention amidst the direct talk about Hemmer.

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#97 Aleslav Smidsky
February 01 2010, 06:10PM
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@Jason Gregor

Lets look back to the last few seasons. How many sweet passed one-timers did Horcoff whiff on? I will say about 10-20 a season if not more. That there is 10-20 points for Hemsky, putting him in the over PPG and into 90+ plus a season. Would he be elite then?

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#98 bleedoil11
February 01 2010, 06:10PM
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how bout a staal and a dubinsky for a souray and a cogliano

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#99 SirFozz
February 01 2010, 06:13PM
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CurtisS wrote:

??????

Like I said better news than surgery and being out for the year.

Just pointing out that the news came from a hopefull Souray.

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#100 Mr Debakey
February 01 2010, 06:13PM
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Is Hemsky a great player? Is he an elite player?

Hemsky has gotten better every year. Right now there are 16 guys over the Pt/Gm plateau As was Hemsky when he got hurt. He had been playing hurt, and his Center was playing hurt and his LW was JF Jacques. Now thats hurtin'

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