Who do you love?

Jason Strudwick
July 26 2012 09:59AM

All coaches have players on their team who they trust above others. Part of that trust comes from the coaches pouring over stats. Which center wins the highest percentage of draws? Which defencemen has the least number of turnovers a game? Which forward hits the net with a shot most often?

The Little Things

Those are all some of the stats that can be tracked, recorded and reviewed. However a coach's trust is earned in many more ways then from just a stat sheet he can review while riding on the team plane to the next city. It is the little plays made during the game that are not tracked by stats that really influence a coach's trust or lack thereof in a player.

Can a winger get the puck out on the wall in his own zone when it is rimmed to him? This is a huge play that directly impacts a game. The ability to perform this task properly, as in getting it out, immediately takes the pressure off in the defensive zone. How many times do we see a winger fail to get it out because of the pressure applied by a pinching defenceman and it result in a goal?

Can a defenceman retrieve a puck in his own zone and under pressure make a quick breakout pass? So important! This is one of the most difficult plays in hockey to do but when done properly it literally stalls the offensive teams forecheck. With the all out jail break forecheck many teams use now, with a sharply passed puck, an odd man rush going the other way is possible.

How likely is a player to make the correct decision with the puck? There are times in the game when there isn't a great play to be made. A one on three rush though the neutral zone is one of those times. Will the player try to beat all three while his team mates change and possibly turn it over which will result in a mess? Or will he dump it in the short side corner which will allow his line mates to change?

Krueger's List

The new coach of the Oilers, Ralph Krueger knows the players on his team. He has been with them for a while so I would expect he knows who he has trust in and who he does. Of course his opinion can change with a players improved attention to detail.

He is fortunate to have many offensive weapons in his top six forwards. I think scoring goals and a high power play efficiency won't be an issue for the Oilers. My concern is who will protect the leads?

It is game eighty two. The Oilers need two points in this game to make the playoffs. The Minnesota Wild are in town, it is the third period, one minute to go and the Oilers are winning by one. The face off is in the Oilers defensive zone. The Wild throw Koivu, Parise, Heatley, Suter and Spurgeon on the ice.

Ralph Krueger will put together a group of five players he has trust in to protect that lead and to do the little plays I outlined above with a minute to go. My question to the Oilersnation is...Who do you love? Who do you trust to be out there and protect that lead? Tell me your five players that you think will get the job done. Don't just tell me your favorite players, put yourself in Ralphs shoes.

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Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#51 Dman09
July 26 2012, 01:45PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

I love the enthusiasm of the guys looking to score in this situation. With 1 minute left and a 1 goal lead the most important things are wining the draw and getting the puck out. Obviously if you are able to get and maintain control of the puck even better. If you are looking to score in this situation you are far more likely to get scored on then if you are trying to keep it simple and get it the hell out of your end.

This is Horc's specialty. Anyone who doesn't have him on the ice doesn't appreciate what he brings to the table or understand line matching, shutting down the other team's top players, or the overall defensive side of the game.

This is a purely defensive moment and this is where I agree with Kreuger's philosophy of sticks on the boards. In your own end it is much easier to have a right handed guy on the right wing and a left handed guy on the left wing.

Horc good if he wins the draw but after his hockey sense isn't as good as others. Only time will truely tell what happens.

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#52 book¡e
July 26 2012, 01:45PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

In the scenario Jason Strudwick just outlined, the Oilers are ahead by one, not down by one.

I meant to say that - my failure to do so kind of took the punch out of my comment - I am going back into hiding now (after editing my earlier comment).

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#53 Old Retired Guy
July 26 2012, 02:40PM
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Answer #2

Shane Doan, Ryan Johansen, Bobby Ryan, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Streit

Summers not over yet boys!

Lets GO Tambo!

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#54 Cody anderson
July 26 2012, 02:46PM
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@Dman 09

I hate, hate, hate Horcoff's contract, but if used in the right scenarios he is a valuable part of this team.

He is a good faceoff guy and I would say our best defensive forward at this time.

We desperately need Nuge and Gagner to continue to get stronger and better in the dot. There is no way Horcoff should be one the PP. One other option is to have Hall taking reps in the dot at practice. I don't like him moving to center at this point but I would be fine with him helping off in the faceoff dot if he is better then Nuge and Gagner.

Defending a lead with a minute to go Horcoff is my fist pick of all of our forwards to put on the ice.

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#55 Old Retired Guy
July 26 2012, 02:54PM
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Back on Topic

@Dman 09 wrote "I hate, hate, hate Horcoff's contract, but if used in the right scenarios he is a valuable part of this team.

He is a good faceoff guy and I would say our best defensive forward at this time."

Any chance Horc would pay us back for ripping us off all of those years by signing for something like 1.5 million/per season for 2 or 3 years thereby evening out the money and giving us a really good 3rd line checking center for our cups runs?

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#56 2004Z06
July 26 2012, 02:56PM
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Cannot wait for the Belanger haters to choke on it next year when he bounces back! One bad year over his entire career folks....Law of averages says he will bounce back.

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#57 OIL4LIFE
July 26 2012, 03:02PM
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Edit | Reply #17 Quicksilver ballet-heavily medicated, for your safety.

Your comments are less than helpful.

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#58 OIL4LIFE
July 26 2012, 03:09PM
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Hall, Horcoff , Eberle Nick schultz , Ryan Whitney.

Skill, heart, and Drive, seasoned with experiance. You can't beat that.

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#59 Rama Lama
July 26 2012, 03:17PM
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I would put the following players out there to defend a lead:

Forwards.

Hall RNH. Eberle

Defenseman

Petry Schultz

The reasoning is simple.......too often coaches in the past have put their defensive specialist out there and guess what? They play defense and the puck ends up in our zone very quickly.......and we all know what happens after this.

In the glorious past Slats would put Gretzky, Kurri, and Tikanen out there in the last minute of play........he knew these players would not play a lead like conventional players and would be trying to score a goal!

We do not have the players to play a strong defensive game in my estimation except maybe Horcoff, and Smyth .........we played these players way too much trying to defend one goal games and look what happened, they were gassed after the 40 game mark of the season.

Let's hope Ralph thinks outside of the box !

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#60 Quicksilver ballet
July 26 2012, 03:35PM
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Rama Lama for coach!

Those are the guys we'll see out there within two yrs anyways. Why set yourself up for disappointment with the other usual suspects.

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#61 book¡e
July 26 2012, 03:46PM
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@Rama Lama

Please see comment #35

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#62 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
July 26 2012, 04:55PM
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Forwards:

Smyth - Horcoff - Belanger

Defense:

Smid - N. Schultz

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#63 Marcel
July 26 2012, 04:56PM
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I think I'd go with:

Horcoff, Eberle, Petrell, Nick Schultz, Ladi Smid. But I get what you're saying, the defensively aware forwards are a much rarer breed on this Oilers team.

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#64 PutzStew
July 26 2012, 05:24PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

None of the above.

3 first overall draft selections in a row pretty much reveals there's nobody in your lineup capable of participating in such fantasies.

Maybe we could revisit this in 2 or 3 yrs when our Oilers are no longer the laughing stock of the league.

3 yrs down the road maybe the fab 5 have you up two goals and it's not as much of an issue.

This is the most Honest and truthful thing I have ever read on a hockey blog.

We are not worthy....

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#65 Oiler Al
July 26 2012, 06:45PM
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Late note on the topic.... lets not foreget that the net is likely empty at the other end... If you win the draw and get puck possession, you might have the opportunity to send Hall down the ice to clinch the game. Thats always easier than playing defense in your own end for 60 minutes. We know how those can end up.

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#66 Dog Train
July 26 2012, 08:14PM
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The Oilers aren't exactly loaded with defensive shutdown options so it's not a clear cut decision. Smid and Petry would be my go to pairing. Smid is built for protecting leads and Petry has good chemistry with him.

As for forwards, Horcoff would probably need to be out there for the faceoff. I would also likely have Ryan Smyth and either Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall. Eberle is a smart player and he is mature enough to handle the situation. Hall is not your typical shutdown player and his defensive game does need some improvement but his tenacity on the puck and his speed makes him a hard player to play against. Belanger is another guy who might earn the right because of his faceoff ability but he needs to up the intensity level 100% if he expects to draw an assignment like that.

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#67 Rama Lama
July 26 2012, 10:54PM
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You my friend are a genius! Honestly I had not read your post, but definitely like the way you think!

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#68 Oilcruzer
July 26 2012, 11:05PM
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Horcoff Hall Eberle Whitney Smid, honorable mention Smyth, but by game 82 and at the end of this close, important game, he probably has more will than legs.

Time to turn the page. This is how you mature. It's year three for your cornerstones.

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#69 Buke
July 27 2012, 09:02AM
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Belanger and Horcoff due to their ability to win the draw; with Hall because we all know he will take one in the kisser for the team to win.

Back End has to be smid and N Schultz.

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