Hemsky’s lungs and PK problems

The cavalry isn’t coming and neither is Ales Hemsky. Hemsky spoke to the media today and he is still not feeling well enough to practice, so look for him to miss at least the next two games, and realistically the Vancouver game as well.

It doesn’t sound like a call up will happen, so the Oilers will go with the same lineup tomorrow, and the same lines. I asked MacTavish, now that Hemsky is out for the next few games, if he would put someone else on Horcoff’s right wing.

“Like whom?” he replied.

I suggested possibly Cole or Brule.

“Cole would be the guy, but they (Nilsson and Gagner) are playing well together. Brule. Is he ready for that? We will start him in a lesser role and see where he goes from there. If looks like he is having a dynamic game offensively then it will be an easy switch.

“So far Liam (Reddox) has done a decent job. He scored a goal the first game, and was instrumental in the goal that was disallowed, so it that would be a couple points in two games so that’s pretty good production. It’s something I’ll entertain but not at this moment.”

I haven’t been one to jump all over MacTavish, but this decision puzzles me. How will you know if Brule is ready unless you give him a shot? What do you have to lose? Or what about calling up Ryan Potulny, since he leads the Sprinfield Falcons in goals? I agree that the Gagner line is playing well, so there is no point moving Cole, but Reddox is not the answer. Brule might not be either, but I’d like to see that first before I make that conclusion. Give him a shot. But Reddox isn’t the biggest problem for the Oilers right now.

Their PK is atrocious. It has been all season, and it isn’t showing signs of improving. Of course, the face-offs are a major issue, but they are only part of the problem. Consistently the PK is giving up the seam pass, and with mostly veterans on the PK that is inexcusable.

“It’s been the main contributor for the last couple of loses. We need to have more of a presence in the dangerous areas where we are giving up those really good looks. We are hesitant on the PK and that is never good. We just have to focus more on individual assignments,” said MacTavish.

I asked him what he has to do different as a coach. Will he change the system or the personnel?

“I’ve seen teams that are chasing a strategy that works, and they never get there. Penalty killing is a very coachable area, and as a coach you should be able to identify the personnel you have and find a system that best suites their strengths. We (coaches) have to focus in on it more and try to improve it.”

What about the face-offs?

“You can’t do much there as a coach. You can work on it in practice, but ultimately that comes down to guys winning the draws. We might give Tyler Spurgeon a look to see if he can helps us, but ultimately guys have to improve.”

What about bringing in a specialist like Perrault?

“I’m always a skeptic. You wonder why a guy is not playing when he has those numbers in the dot. I don’t know him very well or his game very well — the scouts would know better — but the question is what you give up minus what you create. You bring a guy in like that who is out of a job for a pretty good reason and he has played on a lot of teams, and why is he playing on a bunch of teams? Probably because there are a bunch of weaknesses in his game that are hidden in those face-off numbers. Unlikely that we will do that (bring him in) but we do have to improve, so we will need to do something.”

Perrault would help them in the face-off circle, but not on the PK, which is the place they need the most help.

Then why haven’t they called up Spurgeon? They can’t keep waiting for these guys to win draws, because clearly it isn’t happening.

Other tidbits

Marc Pouliot is feeling better and will practice tomorrow, and he might return on Monday. Pouliot looked much better than Hemsky, so expect to see 78 before 83.

Steve MacIntyre will have his face examined on Jan 6, and if everything looks good he expects to take his visor of on the 15th and be ready for action. He says his orbital bone feels fine, but joked that he only thought it was a black eye to begin with so he’ll wait for the results before he gets too excited.

Many, including myself, have wondered how long Denis Grebeshkov wants to play in the NHL, or if he will go back to Russia and play in the KHL. While Wanye was cheering loudly as Grebeshkov recorded his first four-point night against the Flames, I wondered how long he would be in the Show.

“I want to play in the NHL as long as possible, because it is way more fun to play here than back home,” said Grebeshkov.

When the mic was off we spoke at length about playing back home, and I left with a sense he truly likes it here, but if he gets double the money back home he probably would go. He said he is looking at signing an extension in the NHL first. Either way, I don’t see him staying with the Oilers very long. He is a player that teams would have interest in, and unless Tom Gilbert gets moved, I suspect Grebeshkov will be the odd man out. The Oilers need some more size on their backend, and Grebeshkov has a good salary and he can move the puck. Which are two qualities that make him attractive to other teams.

  • rindog

    CHECK THIS OUT:

    Some guy posted this:

    Dustin Schatz wrote48 minutes ago
    This is what im hearing…

    Horc, Roli, Lubo, Staios FOR Horton, Vokun, Bouwmeester

    Gilbert, Nilsson, Garon, 2nd rounder FOR Phillips, Vermette, 1st rounder

    He said he got the info from Paul Kaus (supposed NHL agent).

    Just thought everyone would like a good laugh….

  • Chris

    Thanks to the cap: it is difficult to grab prospects who can contribute during a rebuild; every team needs those guys. Thanks to the cap: it is difficult to trade roster players. Ironically, thanks to the cap: hockey was both saved and destroyed in Edmonton. We all like to think Katz loves the Oil more than his money… but as a business man I'm sure he appreciates the cost certainty the current collective bargaining aggreement provides, hence his willingness to purchase the club. But here is the rub; UFA's will play in Detroit or out east for a fraction of the salary required to lure them to Edmonton… and UFA's are getting younger every year. Couple that with stale coaching, mediocre drafting, terrible management, and demanding/ irritable fans like myself; you have a franchise in decline. Steady decline. My uneducated, unsolicited advice to Katz would be to blow up the management structure, hire the best people money can buy, get big and mean on the ice, rebuild with real talent through the draft. Five years of losing games and winning fights might be what it takes to save Oiler hockey and Katz can relaunch an actually competative team into RX2. It would be nice to actually HAVE a five year plan instead of a President/GM who lies about having a five year plan.

  • R-DAWG

    Chris wrote:

    Five years of losing games and winning fights might be what it takes to save Oiler hockey and Katz can relaunch an actually competative team into RX2. It would be nice to actually HAVE a five year plan instead of a President/GM who lies about having a five year plan.

    While I don't agree to the 5 years of losing…(isn't that technically what is going on now), I strongly agree that this whole management team needs to be kicked out(aside from Tambellini), and get this rolling in the right direction. I don't think Katz has the hockey smarts yet but he better learn it soon. I posted before but does anybody think Katz should go down to the rink and kick a few garbage cans???!!

  • Jason Gregor

    CurtisS wrote:

    @ Gregor
    I have one question for you since you watch alot of practices.
    Whos in charge of the PK?? I have a sneaky suspicion that Bucky took over the PK this season……Please tell me its not true. Or at least say whos in charge
    Mact
    Bucky
    Moores
    Huddy

    It is a combination of Huddy and Bucky, but MacTavish, like last year still makes final decisions. He oversees every aspect of the team. What is funny is that their system was a passive one last year, and now they are still passive and it isn't working. They have to make some adjustments. I'd suggest being more aggressive on the PK to start.

  • R-DAWG

    Unfortunatley boys and girls this up and down roller coaster won't stop anytime soon… I didn't want to agree with RobinB a few weeks ago but he hit the nail on the head…we are too high when they win and too low when they lose. I guess that is just a by product of winning 5 cups…we are still(after 19 years) accustomed to winning and that is all we want to see. We went dark for a year so that Edmonton could afford to pay for top players. Who do we have that is an elite player other than Hemsky??? When Hemsky's contract is up does anybody believe he will sign again…sadly NO! I can't believe that nobody wants to play here!!

  • The Warrior

    MacCrap has to go, he says PK is coachable? well he isn't doing his job. Its a sad state when TW can't enjoy oilers hockey with a cap team. We all got excited when changes happened in the off season from players to Management. Now how about the coach before TW thinks it's too late.

  • R-DAWG

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Totally agree. There is something to be said about staying in the lanes and sticking with your assignments, but I think the best power plays out there are the agressive ones…make the other teams panic with the puck a bit instead of us looking like we can only skate in a 8 foot box!!

  • Jason Gregor

    Dennis wrote:

    The bottom line is we’re just hanging on by our fingernails at EV until 83 gets back and we can go back to using that unit in a power-vs-power role and thus let 89-26 take on the softies.

    Very true.

    The PK is a whole different ball of wax. We can’t win faceoffs and it doesn’t appear there are improvements in-house; but the other thing is the club no longer pressure down-ice – they are quite content to let the other team set up – and they also no longer block shots. I’m not sure why those Oiler staples have been dropped by Gregor and Brownlee could certainly ask.

    This is where I will disagree a bit. Last season the PK was very passive in their own zone. I just four Oiler games from last year over the holidays. (I know, lame, but I wanted a comparison) and the opposition spent lots of time in the offensive zone but never scored. I thihnk they got a bit fortunate with their results, and now they are using the same passive PK and are getting killed. As for blocking shots, Reasoner and Stoll to a lesser extent were good at it. It is a skill set, but also a mindset. The PK is nothing more than positioning and hard work within the frame work of the style of play you instile. I think that the system is flawed, but they also haven't replaced Reasoner and Stoll's shot blocking skill and willingness.

    You are correct that in the last half of the season the Oilers pressured down ice much more, especially in stationary situations. If the opposing team swung with speed out of their zone, the Oilers swung with them and forced them to make a drop pass. That is where they got lots of turnovers. They were more aggressive in the neutral zone too, and now they are not. I have no idea why. I only get one of two questions a day in a scrum, so it might take a few days to get all the answers to the woes that are the Oil.

  • KayleW

    I don't understand all the calls to trade Moreau! He might not be having his best year but we are seriously lacking in grit and I don't think trading him helps us at all. We have some softish puck moving d-men and plenty of small forwards to use as trade bait. I don't think getting rid of heart and character is the right approach.
    I think our PK problems come down to coaching and grit (or lack thereof). Management needs to find a coach who can teach these guys how to PK, the players have to find the grit and determination to execute it!
    Sounds really simple I know!

  • Jason Gregor

    rindog wrote:

    @ Cam:
    I realize that Gregor doesn’t want Reddox there either.
    The thing is – many people questioned Reddox going in there in the first place (Ottawa game). Gregor and others defended the move on air and on here.

    I defended his one game…I said he played well and since he scored it was hard to defend his spot there. I also said it SHOULD have been a one game thing. I never said I wanted or expected him to stay there. Brule is the ONLY and best option right now. Brule is better than Brodziak because he is more skilled, and better than Cogliano because of the position. As for Cogliano's numbers in three games with Moreau, that is too short of an argument. He is a ten goal guy, one goal every three games, and that is what he has done so his production is just fine. I don't expect him to be more than a 25 goal guy just yet.

  • Jason Gregor

    THIS is what I wrote from last post…somehow I screwed it up and didn't separate the quote I was referencing.

    I said he played well and since he scored it was hard to defend his spot there. I also said it SHOULD have been a one game thing. I never said I wanted or expected him to stay there. Brule is the ONLY and best option right now. Brule is better than Brodziak because he is more skilled, and better than Cogliano because of the position. As for Cogliano’s numbers in three games with Moreau, that is too short of an argument. He is a ten goal guy, one goal every three games, and that is what he has done so his production is just fine. I don’t expect him to be more than a 25 goal guy just yet.

  • R-DAWG

    If Mactavish has all these options with available call ups and we know him to be a constant line changer, why is it so difficult to get each guy up here for a 5 game stint. If things ain't workin now how much worse can it get. Plus you know your options for later in case of injuries.

  • Jason Gregor

    R-DAWG wrote:

    Is the reason Reddox is still up here because they had to sign him to the league minimum and they want to get their moneys worth??

    HE is on a two-way deal so it wouldn't matter, he makes just under 50,000 in minors….

  • R-DAWG

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Thanks, I was just wondering because if was making lots it may be harder to send him down…so having said that why don't hey give someone else the same chance?? Until Pisani gets back, which I think will be a while, we have a few guys that could be given a shot?? It sounds easier than it is I know but why can' they just bring guys up and down and try them out??

  • rindog

    @ Jason Gregor:

    I'm sorry if it came across that I though you wanted Reddox there.

    My intention was point out that there was no need to support the decision (even for ONE game) even if he got results.

    I could care less if Reddox banged in two goals against Ottawa (which he should have). He still shouldn't have been there. Don't you remember what Lumley said on your show regarding playing with better players???

    It was just as bad of decision for ONE game as it is for two, three, etc…..

    I think that is one of the biggest problems with MacT as a coach. He is far too reactionary or results oriented (which I realize you have to be somewhat). The thing for me is that he sees something happen once and he thinks he just made a remarkable discovery. For example, while watching the last game against Calgary. Nilsson scored on the PP (on a broken play that really had nothing to do with a PP) and I told my buddies that that line would start the next PP for sure.

    Did you happen to see who went out for the next PP? He had all day to figure out what his #1 unit would be and the first sign of something he abondoned ship. It's not a huge thing – but I have noticed it alot (and won't bore you with more examples here).

    MacT (and others) saw that Reddox scored a goal and they figured it was a good move.

    It all goes back to a simple theory:

    ACES IN THEIR PLACES!!!!

    A coach or a boss has to figure what role/position suits his employees/players and do everything he can to facilate their development in that role….

  • oilersseasonticketholdersince99

    Does anything Mac t do with lines and this team suprise anybody still? I am past questioning him as far as I am concerned he should be gone along with the rest of the coaching staff and a few players. But lets wait till we are completly out of the play off race and then we can put the blame on. the way things are going Klowe and Tambo are still of the opinion everthing is great in oiler land.

  • Jay

    @ Gregor

    “So far Liam (Reddox) has done a decent job. He scored a goal the first game, and was instrumental in the goal that was disallowed, so it that would be a couple points in two games so that’s pretty good production. It’s something I’ll entertain but not at this moment.”

    I loved this quote Gregor… MacT is now counting disallowed goals as points?

    Also, not sure if it was ever brought up but Reddox and his PK ability were used exactly 0 seconds in Calgary. His entire situation here smells like you know what.

  • DaveR

    I just listened to Shawna Horcoff he had more excuses than Mac(shiT), Moreuon was a close second (sounded like Tencer and Stauffer defending mact's coaching) boy this team is a loser, cheer for the flames, at least they know how to run a team.

  • Milli

    I'd like to add up what MacT and Klo add, minus what they take away and see if mayb e, just friggin maybe we should be looking for a few replacements. Hemmer's out so we replace him with Reddox??? Too much Turkey Mac… Don't we have a guy we called up, he added some hemskesque offense? I think his name is Jebus, don't we have another guy, who, correct me if I'm wrong, we traded an nhl player to get…..Mact has lost it, he makes no sense, I don't care if they win 10 in a row, new coach please….hell, I almost ready to sacrifice this season if it gauranteed a new coach. But then again, if we could kill a penalty, we wouldn't be talking about any of this, and who exactly, is responsible for our sudden inability to kill???

  • Mike

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Last season the PK was very passive in their own zone. I just four Oiler games from last year over the holidays. (I know, lame, but I wanted a comparison) and the opposition spent lots of time in the offensive zone but never scored. I thihnk they got a bit fortunate with their results, and now they are using the same passive PK and are getting killed.

    There was a fantastic blog post just before the season started looking at Garon's numbers on the PK last year. The conclusion was either Garon was far and away the greatest shorthanded goalie in the NHL, or he got lucky last year and the numbers were going to come crashing down to earth this fall.

    I think we've established which of those is the case.

  • Jay

    Mike wrote:

    Jason Gregor wrote:
    Last season the PK was very passive in their own zone. I just four Oiler games from last year over the holidays. (I know, lame, but I wanted a comparison) and the opposition spent lots of time in the offensive zone but never scored. I thihnk they got a bit fortunate with their results, and now they are using the same passive PK and are getting killed.
    There was a fantastic blog post just before the season started looking at Garon’s numbers on the PK last year. The conclusion was either Garon was far and away the greatest shorthanded goalie in the NHL, or he got lucky last year and the numbers were going to come crashing down to earth this fall.
    I think we’ve established which of those is the case.

    The Oilers do not use statistcial anaylsis. It's counter productive to keeping everyone's friends employed over imporving the hockey club.

  • rindog

    I have a question regarding Hemsky and the organization???

    If Hemsky himself admitted that he couldn't sleep and had headaches the next day (after the Tootoo hit). Why did we wait to call someone up until after Pouilot got hurt??

    Alot of people defended the Reddox move becasue it was an emergency and then he played ad ecent game against Ottawa.

    Why were we so slow in recognizing that Hemmer might be out longer than a game or two? Isn't there always a possibility that a guy who suffers any kind of head injury could be out longer?

    Who is responsible for making that call in this situation? Doctors, GM, President, Coach???