GDB 36.0: A KING SIZED CHALLENGE

Jason Gregor
December 17 2013 01:00PM

 

Name  Height  Weight    Name  Height  Weight 
Jeff Carter    6' 4"  212   Jesse Joensuu    6' 4"  210
Dwight King    6' 4"  230   Luke Gazdic    6' 3"  240
Anze Kopitar  6' 3"  224   Ryan Smyth    6' 2"  191
Jordan Nolan    6' 3"  221   Taylor Hall    6' 1"  201
Kyle Clifford    6' 2"  211   Ryan Jones    6' 1"  208
Trevor Lewis    6' 1"  198   Ryan Nugent-Hopkins    6' 1"  180
Jarret Stoll    6' 1"  213   Boyd Gordon    6' 0"  202
Tyler Toffoli    6' 1"  196   Ales Hemsky    6' 0"  185
Justin Williams    6' 1"  189   David Perron    6' 0"  198
Dustin Brown   6' 0"  207   Mark Arcobello    5' 8"  166
Daniel Carcillo    6' 0"  200   Jordan Eberle    5' 11"  180
Matt Frattin    6' 0"  205   Sam Gagner    5' 11"  202
Mike Richards   5' 11"  196   Nail Yakupov    5' 11"  186
             
Name  Height  Weight    Name  Height  Weight 
Matt Greene  6' 3"  234   Anton Belov    6' 4"  218
Willie Mitchell    6' 3"  210   Jeff Petry    6' 3"  195
Jake Muzzin    6' 3"  214   Corey Potter 6' 3" 203
Robyn Regehr    6' 3"  222   Justin Schultz    6' 2"  188
Drew Doughty    6' 1"  213   Nick Schultz    6' 1"  203
Alec Martinez    6' 1"  209   Philip Larsen 6' 0"  182
Slava Voynov    6' 0"  194   Andrew Ference 5' 11" 187

When you compare the two rosters it is easy to see where the Oilers fall short. They aren't as experienced as the Kings, and they severely lack the size and overall heaviness of the Kings. Dustin Brown is one of the smaller Kings forwards in stature, but he plays big, and he's one of the best hitters in the game. Same as Mike Richards.

The Kings have a lot of size, but even their "smaller" players play a physical style. The Oilers can't match the Kings' size or abrasiveness, so they need to play a fast-paced, up tempo style to try and defeat the Kings.

**Also for those who keep suggesting the Oilers are an average team in size because one article listed them at an average of 203 pounds. Don't believe everything you read. Add up the numbers above. The Oilers average weight is 196.2 pounds, while the Kings are 209.9. That is an average difference of almost 15 pounds a player. Stop suggesting the Oilers aren't small. They are, and not only are they small, very few of them play big. That isn't a knock, that is just who they are and management will need to adjust the roster accordingly moving forward. The Oilers blueline isn't heavy enough and collectively they lack the aggression needed to shut down a good team.***

It is unfair to compare the Oilers to a team that won the Cup18 months ago, but you can see how to properly construct a Cup contender, when you look at the make up of the Kings and see so many different style of players. The Kings win because they have many skilled players, but also because they have diversity throughout their lineup.

The major difference is the size and strength of the Kings blueline compared to the Oilers. How can the Oilers expect their D-men to break up a cycle when they are so slight. You can have one or two smaller D-men, but you can't have five of them and expect to compete and against heavy teams. The Oilers D-men will need to use significantly more energy just to try and compete with the larger Kings, especially when they are battling for position in front of the net and in the corner.

It is unrealistic for the Oilers management and coaches to expect their team to defeat the Kings. They Oilers worked hard against the Bruins and Ducks, but ultimately they couldn't wear them down. That theme is likely to repeat itself tonight.

BUILDING AN IDENTITY...

Yesterday, I wrote that the Oilers need to find an identity, preferably one that will lead to more victories, and that Craig MacTavish has his work cut out trying to forge said identity.

I asked TSN analyst Ray Ferraro his thoughts on the Oilers identity. 

Their identity is they want to play with the puck, and they will degenerate into one-on-one play if you shut them down. If you ask anyone around the league they will say they are highly skilled up front, not so much on the backend and their goaltending is iffy. 

They have too many of the same players. That is their identity and it isn’t a winning one.  The problem is, even if they play really well a lot of their guys are all doing the same thing. They have a lot of dancers and not many singers. You can’t ask the players to change that; it is up to management.

You can’t ask Gagner to rattle someone’s cage and run people over on the forecheck. Sam is what Sam is. Yakupov is what he is. Nugent-Hopkins is what Nugent-Hopkins is. You can’t ask them to be different. You can ask them to try and do a few more things to round out their game, but they can’t be what they’re not. You can’t ask Boyd Gordon to anchor the powerplay, but you can ask him to win faceoffs and be physical.

If you put enough of those pieces together and they aren’t the same pieces, then you can build your identity.  

I've said essentially the same thing for the past few seasons. I understand it isn't as easy as saying, "we need to get this type of player," and then magically acquiring him. MacTavish did acquire three players this past summer who add a different dimension to the Oilers in Perron, Gordon and Ference, but MacTavish will need to add at least another five or six before the make over is complete.

 The other glaring weakness is the blueline. Ferraro said this about their D corps. 

You would like to have a couple big physical guys, because there are not enough guys who make you stay in the battle. They don’t separate opposing players from the puck. There are too many second plays that hang around on the forecheck. 

You have to define what you are. They have a bunch of tweeners on the blueline. You can have one or two of them, but you can’t have five of them. Without question that is their biggest area of concern moving forward, and the way they are going to have to correct that is to make a pecking order amongst the forwards.

They have to figure out which ones stay and which ones are lower down, and if they are lower down that doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t want them, and wouldn’t drool over them, because they probably have a part you want. But you have to step off the curb and say, “I’m going to move one of these highly skilled forwards.

And if the highly skilled forward scores 35 goals somewhere else, but I get a solid stay-at-home D-man who scores 15 points, and that is what we need, then I don’t care that the other guy gets 35, because I just put a piece in the puzzle that makes us a better team.

Again, I completely agree with Ferraro. I've written many articles stating that eventually MacTavish will need to make a tough decision and move a few of his skilled forwards. Not because they aren't good, but because he has too many of the same style of forwards.

 When you watch tonight's game, watch closely at how much harder the Oilers forwards need to work to sustain a cycle. They have to pay a price to keep in the Kings zone. Then compare that to how easy it is for the Kings to maintain possession in the Oilers zone.

The Oilers do make some bad decisions with the puck in their own zone, but often they are working extremely hard, but the reality is that often they are physically overmatched by opposing forwards.

LINEUP...

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Jones-Arcobello-Gazdic

Ference-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Larsen

Bryzgalov

Hemsky returns to the lineup after Eakins decided Hemsky needed a game off to rest his sore ribs. Hemsky and Regehr will likely renew their rivalry. Hemsky never shied away during their battles when Regehr was in Calgary, and I doubt he will tonight.

The more I watch Arcobello the more I like every aspect of his game. He sees the ice very well, makes smart decisions with the puck, is solid defensively, he is always in the battle and he plays physical.

Edmonton is 6-3-2- in their last 11 visits to LA...

WHAT WILL WE SEE...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers play a competitive game but lose 3-2 in OT.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jarret Stoll scores for the Kings. Former Oilers always find ways to light the lamp against the Blue and Orange.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After getting hit hard five or six times by Ben Lovejoy in Anaheim, Taylor Hall decides to initiate contact rather than recieve it, and he delivers are levels Martinez early in the first period. This sets the tone for a surprisingly physical game. When Hall returns to the bench, the camera show Arcobello congratulating him on a big hit, and Hall says to Arcobello, "You can't be the only forward who hits; we need to help you out."

DAY 13...MONTH OF GIVING...

Thank you to Kyle, Sammy's Restaurant and Victor for bidding on our packages yesterday, and to Etelligent Solutions and Crystal Glass for donating them.

Today's package includes:

A CHEF's dinner courtesy of Von's Steakhouse and Oyster Bar. It will include all your beverages as well.

You and three friends will dine with Eskimos GM Ed Hervey, quarterback Mike Reilly  and Eskimos Wall of Honour inductee, current head coach of the U of A Golden Bears and outstanding story teller Chris Morris. I'll also be there, but mainly to fill up your wine glasses.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go to the Christmas Bureau.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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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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