Runaway Train

Lowetide
October 23 2011 09:35AM

I'm worried about you, I'm worried about me

The curves around midnight aren't easy to see

To try and get off now is about as insane

As those who wave lanterns at runaway trains

-Rodney Crowell

I wonder if these kids who go high in the draft have any idea about the kind of impact they have on their bosses. Should RNH and Taylor Hall become impact players and bring glory to the Oilers, GM Steve Tambellini and coach Tom Renney (plus others) will see their stock rise in the NHL men's club and possibly have a long run of success in Edmonton.

I think this week got away from Tom Renney a little, and I'm not at all certain it was his fault. Although we speculate on what he meant, let's review his words.

  • Renney: “It’s important to know that we’re coaching to win, too. As much as those three kids with Ryan can help generate offence, it’s also a case of what you take, but what you leave."
  • Renney: “We have to work that angle, as well, and make sure that he continues to make a solid contribution to our team, so at the end of the day when you look at his situation specifically, we look at the body of work here and determine whether he’s going to stay here or we have to send him back. I want to make sure that we’re able to go after our games as well at that same time not having given the kid the short-end of the stick in terms of his evaluation to be here.”

Source is here. All of these Renney quotes are reflected in Robin Brownlee's recent item here at ON--the head coach is asking them to do their homework, eat their veggies, do the due diligence.

I think Renney's tactics were also a little about getting the kids to re-focus in the offensive end. There was a "too cute" look to their performances lately, trying to make a quick move in tight to get a better chance. The problem is that NHL defensemen will shut that down tighter than a drum in a heartbeat, so boring things like getting it deep or shooting it instead of stickhandling are the better percentage play.

Last night's RNH goal is an example of what the kid can do--it was a quick release made at a point in the sortie when a pass was still an option and the play was still developing--and probably brought a smile from the coach.

I talked to Jason Gregor on Nation Radio yesterday and he had a great explanation for all the fuss surrounding coach Renney's words about RNH. Gregor was at the media scrum (it was about 5 reporters) and explained it this way:

  • Gregor: "He (Renney) was throwing out a few ideas and I think a few guys jumped the gun on it. He said it was an option (HS) he might look at, but you're not going to sit down a guy who has 40% of your goals."
  • Gregor: "He told all three kids that 'you guys are in great position with the puck, you have to shoot the puck.'"

I think Jason nailed it. This isn't much ado about nothing, but it's also not the story it turned into after the fact. Tom Renney's job is to win hockey games and not screw up RNH's development. If the kid isn't performing at a level that suggests he can contribute this season they should send him away. And the decision about whether or not to send him back is close, so it is understandable that the coach is considering options like a healthy scratch.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

We've talked at length about the value of elevating kids during their entry level contract. Some feel RNH should go back to junior no matter what, others feel he needs to prove that he can contribute at least offensively.

Here's a bulletin: this kid can do things in all three zones. He is a brilliant turnover machine, going stealth at times or simply picking a pocket at other times. He's made more Doug Weight saucer brilliant passes in 7 games than I've seen since the actual Doug Weight, and last night he murdered New York City with a splendid release that Joe Sakic would have been proud to own.

Tom Renney, being of sound mind, will keep Nugent-Hopkins this season and play the living daylights out of him. However, he should also have the freedom to HS RNH or any player if he feels that's an option that will help his player and team win hockey games.

Should the Oilers send RNH back to junior, then I believe we can openly question their stated mission: that winning is what this season is all about and all things will be about winning hockey games (over development). NOTHING Tom Renney has said this fall suggests that is a possibility. Look, the kid has not only passed he's getting straight A's. What can we complain about? A few faceoffs? An unusual haircut? An overbite? 

Really, I've got nothing. He's already doing things some of the older kids haven't figured out and he's doing them in defensive and offensive zones. He can't fight and he can't play goal. After that, we're just going to have to watch him.

In Edmonton.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#101 Crackenbury
October 24 2011, 04:25PM
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I'm a numbers guy by trade, but not when it comes to sports. Knowing how a stat can be found to support pretty much either side of an argument I prefer to let my eyes be the judge and my eyes tell me Omark "Sucks the Hind Banana". He is totally redundant on this team and serves no purpose. Get what you can for him and move on.

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#102 Archaeologuy
October 24 2011, 04:28PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

He's on the 3rd line and has a specific role. If he cant do it then he's replaceable.

Smyth has a greater role beyond the PP. Omark does not have one beyond the PP.

I can, and will, do this all day if you want.

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#103 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 04:29PM
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It's pretty hard to argue with analysis like that.

Edit: Meant in response to Crackenberry

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#104 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 04:37PM
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@Archaeologuy

What is Paajarvi's role? They are on the same line, and play on the same PP unit and play similar minutes. By your definition of his role MPS should go too.

You leaping all over the place. I love discussing this, but I'm not interesting in debating a moving target.

Here is a recap of the last few of posts:

Me: They are not using him in an appropriate role

you: yes they are because of X

ME: X doesn't make sense because of Y

you: well he needs to play the role he's given

Why so circular? Let me repeat the basic question - why do you expect offense from him when NOBODY else playing in the same role is producing offense either?

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#105 SweetJibs
October 24 2011, 04:42PM
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If Omark isn't producing offense, what does he bring to this team?

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#106 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 04:45PM
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On another note, has anyone else seen this? Awesome. I'm probably just late noticing and everyone else already knows about it, but I like it so I'm sharing.

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/10/news-from-the-future-tesla-coils-at-sporting-events.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+makezineonline+%28MAKE%29

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#107 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 04:46PM
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SweetJibs wrote:

If Omark isn't producing offense, what does he bring to this team?

Don't be lazy.

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#108 Crackenbury
October 24 2011, 04:55PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

It's pretty hard to argue with analysis like that.

Edit: Meant in response to Crackenberry

It's not an analysis, it's an opinion based on visual observation.

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#109 Eddie Shore
October 24 2011, 05:14PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

He needs to produce in order to be in the lineup IMO. He is too one-dimensional. If he isn't producing Renney has better options to use.

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#110 Archaeologuy
October 24 2011, 05:16PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

Paajarvi hasn't been effective either, I could see him sitting in the PB too.

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#111 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 05:24PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

He needs to produce in order to be in the lineup IMO. He is too one-dimensional. If he isn't producing Renney has better options to use.

See #106.

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#112 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 05:25PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Paajarvi hasn't been effective either, I could see him sitting in the PB too.

But notice the lack of talk that he will be out of the league soon.

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#113 Crackenbury
October 24 2011, 05:37PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

Paajarvi brings size, skill, pk and pp potential. He's multi-dimensional and has lots of upside. Omark is a one-trick pony whose only trick isnt working right now.

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#114 Eddie Shore
October 24 2011, 05:46PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

Paajarvi brings size, skill, pk and pp potential. He's multi-dimensional and has lots of upside. Omark is a one-trick pony whose only trick isnt working right now.

Apparently you need to see #106 as well.

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#115 Eddie Shore
October 24 2011, 05:47PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

See #106.

Hypocrisy at it's finest.

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#116 Crackenbury
October 24 2011, 05:50PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Apparently you need to see #106 as well.

I'm enrolling in Advanced Statistics as I write this. You'll all be in trouble once I can support these stupid thoughts in my head.

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#117 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 05:55PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

Paajarvi brings size, skill, pk and pp potential. He's multi-dimensional and has lots of upside. Omark is a one-trick pony whose only trick isnt working right now.

Yet where are the results? Paajarvi scored at a slower pace than Omark last year, and he hasn't done anything yet this year.

Lets look at what you say he brings:

Size - he is bigger yet Omark plays a more aggressive physical game.

Skill - not as much as Omark

PK potential - granted

PP potential - again not as much as Omark

Omark wins more puck battles than MPS and he disrupts the defense more than MPS - at this point in time the ONLY things MPS has over Omark is size and speed. Everyone wants to credit him with defensive play and point out Omark's -16 while ignoring the fact that MPS was -13. Gagner was -17.

My point here isn't that MPS isn't worth keeping, it's to point out that while everyone is crapping all over Omark he is far from alone.

He has played 5 games this season. It gets even more frustrating when people who usually unceasingly advocate patience suddenly have none because something about Omark happens to rub them the wrong way.

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#118 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 05:59PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Hypocrisy at it's finest.

If you are going to write a comment to me repeating a sentiment, practically work for word, expressed at least 1000 times in the past few months without even adding your own two cents you aren't getting a real response from me.

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#119 michael
October 24 2011, 06:00PM
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Omark has talent. Alot of undervalue him. Me too at times. I get frustrated with the lack of push back from him in game situations. He has to give me less of the slick youtube guy and more of the hard on the puck guy we have seen from him. Right now numbers don't favor him to be in the lineup. But things change as we saw last year. Dosen't hurt to have Omark in the pressbox for a few games. Neither will hurt MP or any other Oiler including RNH.

Part of my concern as always is player burnout during the long NHL season. Keeping a guy like Omark hungry for the time being serves the greater purpose of winning games. Be assured though Omark is a vital and important asset to the Edmonton Oilers organization.

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#120 Crackenbury
October 24 2011, 06:07PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

You're obviously a fairly bright guy. Your argument supporting Omark is well thought out and probably valid considering its only been 5 games. It doesn't change my opinion that Omark doesn't serve much of a purpose on this team. There are too many skilled players ahead of him in the lineup that bring more to the table.

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#121 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 06:34PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

You're obviously a fairly bright guy. Your argument supporting Omark is well thought out and probably valid considering its only been 5 games. It doesn't change my opinion that Omark doesn't serve much of a purpose on this team. There are too many skilled players ahead of him in the lineup that bring more to the table.

Who specifically?

On the right you have Hemsky and Eberle. Jones is not more skilled and I will never agree that brings more to the table except that he happens to be taller.

Where will Hemsky be next year? Do you think he will be back? I hops so, but it's far from certain. Who is our 2RW then?

On the left you have Hall and Smyth. MPS is placed ahead of him on most people's lists, but he hasn't done any more than Omark has yet.

How long will Smyth be around? Even on the left side the argument could be made for Omark as the second liner long term, and if you want to put MPS ahead of him they are still both second liners depending on the status of Hemsky and Smyth.

For that matter, the Horcoff/Smyth line has been wading in the muck to the point that I would now consider them a classic 3rd line checking group, making the Omark/Paajarvi line already the second line.

Anyways, I don't see how you can be so certain that we have a bunch of guys ahead of him for years to come. We don't.

One other thing I don't get about Renney - Omark has had his best results overseas playing LW and Paajarvi apparently had his best results playing RW. Why don't they try switching them for a few games?

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#122 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 07:02PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

But notice the lack of talk that he will be out of the league soon.

If it was up to me, PRV would be getting close to seeing some time in the AHL.

I think Omark is a candidate to be out of the league soon because he is 24, PRV is 20. If in 3-4 years Paajarvi is still a 30-40 point player, he better have established himself as a defensive stalwart... or I'll be talking about how he is also closing in on a one way ticket back to Europe.

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#123 Crackenbury
October 24 2011, 07:08PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

Or bring up Hartikainen, switch Paarjarvi to RW and move Omark to a team that can use him as a top 6 forward. He'll never play top 6 on this team and his lack of size makes him ineffective as a 3rd or 4th liner.

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#124 melancholyculkin
October 24 2011, 07:12PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ok. So his performance in the NHL cant be judged unless it's judged favourably? Is that what I'm getting from you? Data is inconclusive unless it suggests he's middle of the pack?

Sample size is too small unless it tells us Omark is just fine? Shooting percentage, goals, plus/minus, or the coach's decisions have 0 weight on the analysis of Linus Q. Omark? Good luck with that evaluation carrying any weight. It's a nice excercise though, evaluating a player's effectiveness without ever using his performance on the ice as a determining factor in your judgement.

Do you want to know why Eager and Jones are playing and Omark isnt? They are successful in the roles the coaching staff have given them and Omark is not. That is it. Pretty simple.

Your assertions are that Omark cannot score, not just that he hasn't scored, but that he is incapable of scoring.

You are basing this, as far as I can tell, on the 5 games that Omark has played this year.

I am looking at Omark's history of professional hockey and seeing that he has a history of scoring, and that he has scored in the NHL. These are facts. They are not based an anything other than what Omark has done on the ice.

I'm not making this stuff about shooting percentage being prone to randomness and normalizing over time up. It has been investigated numerous times:

http://vhockey.blogspot.com/search?q=shooting+percentage

The data isn't inconclusive, it supports the conclusion that Omark can contribute offensively and is at least a break even player defensively.

"evaluating a player's effectiveness without ever using his performance on the ice"

Do you have any idea what things the data I'm using measures? It measures Omark's performance on the ice. If he couldn't score then he wouldn't have a history of scoring. If he was such a liability defensively then he would be giving up shots and scoring chances at a rate worse than average. He isn't. The data that measures his performance on the ice all say that your assertions are wrong.

Again, you are providing no evidence to the contrary other than your own biased observations and some circular logic about Tom Renney being right because Tom Renney is right.

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#125 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 07:18PM
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melancholyculkin wrote:

Your assertions are that Omark cannot score, not just that he hasn't scored, but that he is incapable of scoring.

You are basing this, as far as I can tell, on the 5 games that Omark has played this year.

I am looking at Omark's history of professional hockey and seeing that he has a history of scoring, and that he has scored in the NHL. These are facts. They are not based an anything other than what Omark has done on the ice.

I'm not making this stuff about shooting percentage being prone to randomness and normalizing over time up. It has been investigated numerous times:

http://vhockey.blogspot.com/search?q=shooting+percentage

The data isn't inconclusive, it supports the conclusion that Omark can contribute offensively and is at least a break even player defensively.

"evaluating a player's effectiveness without ever using his performance on the ice"

Do you have any idea what things the data I'm using measures? It measures Omark's performance on the ice. If he couldn't score then he wouldn't have a history of scoring. If he was such a liability defensively then he would be giving up shots and scoring chances at a rate worse than average. He isn't. The data that measures his performance on the ice all say that your assertions are wrong.

Again, you are providing no evidence to the contrary other than your own biased observations and some circular logic about Tom Renney being right because Tom Renney is right.

I don't think anyone thinks he CANT score... ie he's incapable of scoring... we think he's incapable of scoring at a rate needed to justify his ice time.

And no that isn't based off 0 goals in 5 games, it's based off 5 goals in 56 games.

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#126 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 09:00PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

Or bring up Hartikainen, switch Paarjarvi to RW and move Omark to a team that can use him as a top 6 forward. He'll never play top 6 on this team and his lack of size makes him ineffective as a 3rd or 4th liner.

I just gave an explanation of how he could easily be top six on this team by next year.

I haven't the slightest idea in the world how anyone thinks Harski is a better top six prospect than Omark.

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#127 melancholyculkin
October 24 2011, 09:11PM
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"the Omark"

I really hope that name sticks.

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#128 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 09:19PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

I don't think anyone thinks he CANT score... ie he's incapable of scoring... we think he's incapable of scoring at a rate needed to justify his ice time.

And no that isn't based off 0 goals in 5 games, it's based off 5 goals in 56 games.

You're going back to that well?

How about the fact that he put up points at the same rate as Hall last year?

It took Gagner 58 games, getting a lot more playing time than Omark gets, to score his 5th goal, and that was during his best offensive season. Run him out of town too.

When did it become ok to cherry pick 1 stat so narrowly? This conversation felt like decent discussion until I read this comment.

Now it all makes sense. All NHLers should be judged entirely by their first 50 games in the league. If they are snake bit or used incorrectly by their coach, too bad. Screw them, they can go play in Russia, because they will never adjust to the league and become effective players. Especially if after 5 games into their next season they don't have any points yet. All good players put up a minimum of 2 points in every 5 game segment of their career.

This will probably be my last response ever to the "5 goals last year" argument because I consider it beyond idiotic.

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#129 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 09:40PM
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melancholyculkin wrote:

Which is where sh% comes in. Again the argument is circular. Omark's shooting percentage is low because he can't score, and he can't score because his shooting percentage is low. Do you see the fallacy?

Omark has a history of high shooting percentages. We know that randomness and luck have a huge influence on shooting percentage. Last season Omark had an onsh% of 6.85. We know that onsh% regresses strongly towards 8.5%. So with time, the Omark should stop getting killed by the percentages and the puck will go in more often for him.

His underlying numbers were strong last year, so the only problem was his low sh%. There are two explanations for this. Omark has "no finish" and his success in Europe and the AHL is all a mirage, or he was unlucky. The former is possible, but seeing how he has a history of high sh% and we know that shooting percentage is highly influenced by luck and randomness and evens out over time, I'll go with where the data is leading me and bet on the latter.

Fun fact: Omark scored 1.78 P/60 at 5v5 last season. A rate identical to Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

You keep telling me he has a history of high shooting % ... yet I've never seen you site a source showing this high shooting %.

I've also never seen anything that shows that shooting % translates from Europe to the NHL.

Go ahead and keep giving him credit for something he's never done before... I'll wait for him to actually do it.

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#130 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 09:41PM
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TUG

"This will probably be my last response ever to the "5 goals last year" "

Oh darn.

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#131 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 09:44PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

You're going back to that well?

How about the fact that he put up points at the same rate as Hall last year?

It took Gagner 58 games, getting a lot more playing time than Omark gets, to score his 5th goal, and that was during his best offensive season. Run him out of town too.

When did it become ok to cherry pick 1 stat so narrowly? This conversation felt like decent discussion until I read this comment.

Now it all makes sense. All NHLers should be judged entirely by their first 50 games in the league. If they are snake bit or used incorrectly by their coach, too bad. Screw them, they can go play in Russia, because they will never adjust to the league and become effective players. Especially if after 5 games into their next season they don't have any points yet. All good players put up a minimum of 2 points in every 5 game segment of their career.

This will probably be my last response ever to the "5 goals last year" argument because I consider it beyond idiotic.

Like I said to the other fellow, you go ahead and give him credit for something he hasn't accomplished yet. I'll wait until his shooting % sky rockets before I give him credit for it.

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#132 Archaeologuy
October 24 2011, 10:06PM
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@melancholyculkin

Yeah, why would I question the validity of the stats you use and how you interpret them when you say things like Linus Omark has scored in the NHL before?

You're right, he has scored in the NHL before. 5 times. That's 1 whole goal more than Smid in his career. Quite the scoring machine.

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#133 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 10:17PM
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@ Arch do you remember who else had a low shooting percentage but was supposed to revert back to the mean? (and actually had a proven, higher NHL shooting percentage... Rather then the make believe higher shooting percentage that we. Keep getting fed to us). POS

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#134 melancholyculkin
October 24 2011, 10:25PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

You keep telling me he has a history of high shooting % ... yet I've never seen you site a source showing this high shooting %.

I've also never seen anything that shows that shooting % translates from Europe to the NHL.

Go ahead and keep giving him credit for something he's never done before... I'll wait for him to actually do it.

He shot 8.99% in the Swedish Elite league in 2006-07, 18.70% in 2008-09, 19.05% in the KHL in 2009-10 and 19.44% in the AHL through 28 games last year.

So there's that.

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#135 melancholyculkin
October 24 2011, 10:37PM
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@Archaeologuy

1.78 P/60 at 5v5 last year. The same as Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

0.53 PPG. Tied for 153 in the league for all forwards who played at least 40 games. The same scoring rate as Brad Marchand and James Van Riemsdyk, and in the same neighbourhood as Travis Zajac, Blake Wheeler and Derek Stepan.

All this while getting killed by the percentages with a 957 PDO.

What else do you need before you admit that Omark has produced offense in the NHL?

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#136 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 24 2011, 10:41PM
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melancholyculkin

See, that wasn't much harder then just talking about how high it was. Now, if he can just get anywhere close to that in NHL we'll be onto something... Ill believe it when I see it though.

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#137 Archaeologuy
October 24 2011, 10:42PM
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@melancholyculkin

And yet Omark sits. Again.

What do you need to see from him to prove he isn't good enough to crack the lineup on a regular basis?

I've seen Omark play on the Oilers before. He was named Robert Nilsson at the time.

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#138 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 10:57PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Like I said to the other fellow, you go ahead and give him credit for something he hasn't accomplished yet. I'll wait until his shooting % sky rockets before I give him credit for it.

At what point in the comment you quoted when writing this did I give him credit for anything he hasn't accomplished yet?

This response doesn't even make any sense.

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#139 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 10:59PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

melancholyculkin

See, that wasn't much harder then just talking about how high it was. Now, if he can just get anywhere close to that in NHL we'll be onto something... Ill believe it when I see it though.

You mean except for the part where he already did produce offense last season?

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#140 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 11:07PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ Arch do you remember who else had a low shooting percentage but was supposed to revert back to the mean? (and actually had a proven, higher NHL shooting percentage... Rather then the make believe higher shooting percentage that we. Keep getting fed to us). POS

This isn't even accurate. You're just making things up now? POS had no track record of a higher shooting percentage, he had one season of %10.0.

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#141 TigerUnderGlass
October 24 2011, 11:09PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And yet Omark sits. Again.

What do you need to see from him to prove he isn't good enough to crack the lineup on a regular basis?

I've seen Omark play on the Oilers before. He was named Robert Nilsson at the time.

And yet you again claim the fact of Renney's decision as evidence it was a good decision.

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#142 Archaeologuy
October 25 2011, 06:33AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

I've already argued for his ineffectiveness offensively and defensively. His inability to grasp the defensive system. His lack of success in the roles he was given. And a myriad of other points. That you choose to ignore them us not my problem.

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#143 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 25 2011, 08:21AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

This isn't even accurate. You're just making things up now? POS had no track record of a higher shooting percentage, he had one season of %10.0.

http://oilersnation.com/2009/4/21/patrick-oe28099sullivan-better-than-you-think-he-is

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