It’s Coming From Quinn, But…


A lot of the things being said around training camp the last few weeks could easily have come from former coach Craig MacTavish. Let’s look at what Quinn has stressed in his press conferences over that time span.

On playing defence…

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“From Day 1, I said to them, ‘You ensure against defeat first, and that is by playing good defence.’ You cannot win a Stanley Cup without attack, but we have to make sure we’re defending properly first and then we’ll attack. We have some attack weapons, but we don’t want to get into a game where we’re giving up more chances to the opposition.”

“Some of the guys who think they’re offensive players are a little frustrated because they don’t think they’re getting their offence.”

“It’s hard to carry a guy who plays a one-way game in the NHL.”

“I don’t want three risky guys that do play run-and-gun and don’t always care what’s going the other way. They care about it, but not enough to be in the right spots.”

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“We’ve got great skill, but we don’t know how to win. They don’t know how to play yet.”

“I don’t see a lot of checkers here. I don’t see a lot of shutdown centres.”

On young players…

“18-year olds often don’t know squat except about themselves and the puck and trying to do lots on their own. If they’re open and they have good brains, then they start to learn how to use their skills better in a team environment.”

“But, interestingly enough, two years ago we all remember the kids being real good, but there were 19 overtime games where this team picked up a point. And 15 of those were shootouts. That might have disguised how good they played a little bit. What they need to do is get back to the basics of the game and continue to grow and be more responsible on the defensive side of the game.”

On jam, crust and other bread-based grit metaphors…

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“We’re going to have some bigger guys, or some crustier guys.”

“We still don’t win those loose pucks.”

On blending the lines…

“One thing it looks like we might have is some flexibility on who plays with who at any given moment.”

None of this is to say that Quinn isn’t implementing a new (and different) system, or that he’s approaching the players differently, or even that it wasn’t to the Oilers’ advantage to fire MacTavish.

No, the point is the same point that I made back in April:

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The point though, isn’t that defense is what wins; it’s that defense is what virtually every NHL coach preaches. And the simple fact of the matter is that when Craig MacTavish eventually leaves (be it this year or further down the line) his successor isn’t likely to turn back to the days of Glen Sather (and Gretzky, and Messier, and Kurri, and Coffey…). Instead, his successor is likely to say the same things that MacTavish does. He won’t be a clone, but one thing is all but certain: he’ll still emphasize that at the end of the day it’s all about what a player creates versus what he gives up.

Fans expecting that Quinn will run three offensive lines, turn back the clock, and win games 7-6 just haven’t been paying attention.

Fernando Pisani’s Injury Woes

From Robin Brownlee’s article yesterday:

[T]here is a concern Pisani’s bad back could keep him out long term. He had an MRI Monday and the team’s medical staff is awaiting results. If Pisani has structural damage, like a herniated disk, he could be on the shelf awhile.

This latest news is just the most recent example of the injury bug that has afflicted Pisani over the last three seasons, during which time he has:

  • broken his left ankle (42 games missed)
  • suffered a back injury (2 games missed)
  • fought through ulcerative colitis (26 games missed)
  • and experienced a concussion (5 games missed)

It’s been suggested on this site (and elsewhere) that a guy like Liam Reddox or Ryan Stone could easily step into Pisani’s roster spot. That’s nonsense, of course. For those of you who don’t buy Gabe Desjardin’s Quality of Competition measure, here are the ten forwards that Pisani played the most against last season:

  1. Jarome Iginla
  2. Ryan Getzlaf
  3. Milan Hejduk
  4. Daymond Langkow
  5. Todd Bertuzzi
  6. Ryan Smyth
  7. Corey Perry
  8. Mike Cammalleri
  9. Tyler Arnason
  10. Paul Stastny

Liam Reddox and Ryan Stone are both fringe NHL’ers; they simply won’t perform well against those sorts of players. Unfortunately, neither will Pisani unless he’s healthy (as he showed last season) and aside from Ales Hemsky the Oilers don’t have a lot of guys on the right side who can handle those minutes.

This latest injury is seriously bad news for the team, and it isn’t going to be solved with some random fourth-liner, however much Oilers fans might wish it would be.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Yes, it does. Size and strength matter a lot in puck battles.

    Jonathan, I would have thought Dustin Penner circa 08-09 would have made you think twice about that.

    Tenacity and overall attitude can make up for 20-30 extra pounds. Witness the Detroit Red Wings.

  • Hippy

    @ David S:

    Penner circa 07-08 might have; I'm one who thought he was underrated in 08-09.

    I completely agree that size isn't essential. But if you had two identical players with the exception that one is 5'9" and the other 6'3", I guarantee that in the vast majority of cases the 6'3" player would have the better career.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ GSC:
    St. Louis and Brule are both listed at 180lbs. And I wasn’t claiming anything about which was stronger, just offering an observation from one sequence of one game.
    Are you seriously arguing that Brodziak’s size is a non-factor in puck battles though? That’s crazy talk.

    Brodziak's lack of utilization of his size is a definite factor in puck battles. That's what I've been arguing all along.