GDB XIX: Where the Sabres roam

The Oilers fresh off their most complete road game of the season, even though they lost, head in to Buffalo tonight with a new goalie and a chance that they might get one of their stars back.

Ales Hemsky is a game-time decision, and if he is ready to go it would seem obvious that Ryan O’Marra would take a seat. In his six minutes last night I thought O’Marra was okay. He had two hits, won his only faceoff, but he was -1. His foot speed still needs to improve for him to get a long look, but he looks like a much better player than the previous few years.

The Oilers are 2-0-1 in their last three visits to Buffalo. They lost in OT in 2007, and won 4-0 and 3-0 in 2001 and 2002. Their overall record is 13-10-7-1 in Buffalo, and you would think they might have a bit of revenge on their mind after the Sabres destroyed them 10 to 2 at Rexall Place on January 27th.

It’s too bad the Sabres still don’t play in the Auditorium. That small rink was great. I loved the pitch yellow creases, the smaller surface and the horn they played after goals was awesome.

But the best part about the old rink was Rick Jeanneret, their play-by-play guy. Jeanneret is one of the more entertaining PBP guys in the league. He is revered by Sabres fans, and with calls like this you can understand why. The MAY DAY, MAY DAY clip is one of my all-time favourites.

TSN did a top ten Jeanneret calls, and while the film work is grainy, these calls are great.

I’ve had Jeanneret on my show a couple of times and he is a character. He brings energy, creativity and excitement to the game. One of my other favourites is Mike Lange.

Some of his calls don’t make much sense, but they crack me up. “He doesn’t know whether to cry or wind his watch,” WTF? Or: "Get that dog off my lawn mower," … “Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll.”

Absolute beauties.

The Sabres are 9-4-1, but have they’ve lost two straight, and haven’t played since Saturday so they should be hungry. The Oilers will have to come out with lots of energy or hope Khabibulin holds down the fort in the opening ten minutes.

The Sabres lead the league in shots on goal, 34.9 per game, so it is doubtful the Oilers will out shoot their opponents for a second straight game. The Oilers have been getting better and getting shots through, Penner goal last night was a good example, and the Sabres are middle of the pack allowing 30.1 shots per game.

Right now only Atlanta, Anaheim and Florida are giving up more shots than the Oilers’ 33.9, so you’d expect the Khabibulin to be busy again tonight.

The Oilers have played two pretty solid road games so far on this trip, and if they get Hemsky back tonight, that should only help their cause.

Like Brownlee pointed out yesterday, I don’t understand what Gilbert Brule needs to do to get more icetime, but Quinn needs to use him more. Let’s hope that late goal yesterday will get Brule more minutes.

  • Nothing says "I'm screwing up my biological clock" more than starting the pregame party at 4 PM in anticipation of a 5 PM game. These EST games are lame.

    Signed,
    Asleep underneath the table by 930PM

  • @ The Menace

    Agreed. Smid and Penner have two of the biggest positives this year. Cogliano has looked uninspired. He needs to play with a chip of his shoulder like the forementioned has this year, or Brule.

  • @Racki

    I suspect that it's his numbers this year so far, and not his involvement in the Heatley non-trade, that has Cogs on people's expendable lists.

    No one is still talking about getting rid of Smid or Penner right now.

  • @ Racki

    I would like to see him on the wing too, as I mentioned. But it appears that is not in the cards other then a couple games on the once-great-now-disasterous-kid-line. The make-up of this team is not right and some small "skill" guys need to be moved. I would keep Gagner over Cogliano and if both are going to continue to play center (Gagner for sure), one needs to be moved. Cogs is not a long-term 4th liner and, as you mentioned, has a decent skill set so he's most likely a 2nd liner in the future. Too small of a 1, 2 punch. (Plus there's Horcoff, he's not going anywhere-$$$)

    I've always liked Cogs and wanted him on the team but this year because of his play and increasingly obvious need to change the make-up of this team I've come around on this. He's going to be a good player, but the overall team needs to be looked at.

  • Don't agree with you guys on Cogliano (about him not being here long term). He somehow became expendable to a lot of people when his name was mentioned in the Heatley trade. Before that, he was on almost everyone's untouchable list.

    He should be moved to wing. Again, it's embarrassing seeing the Oil waste his talents with whatever random plugs Quinn (or MacT in the past) stick him with because of our lack of depth at center. It's almost like they're trying to hinder his career just long enough for after his next contract signing (to sign him for cheaper). Ok, that's a little extreme, and I'm not a conspiracy theorist, so I don't actually believe that is what they're doing… but that might be the end result (which I suppose isn't so bad).

    But really, Cogliano is a good player if utilized right. The key though is that Quinn has to stick to his original game plan from the beginning of the season (and be able to, for that matter). Yes, we have a few too many "smurfs", but when put with the right linemates they can all work here. It's not out of the question to think that some of the lines can have a couple of small players on it. Would I prefer a bigger guy? Yes, for sure, if the right offer came around. However, as it stands, I think Cogliano is an underrated player, mostly by the coaching staff.

    • I agree. Cogliano has way more upside than Brule. Brule will be Edmonton's Bourque. He's crash and bang – but his style will have him play only 55-60G with the rest of time on the DL.

      Cogliano's speed and if got a quick release shot would be leathal. I would like if he could see more time on PK especially teams that put a fwd on the back-end. I like him more so than Penner on the PK.

    • Jason Gregor

      I've always said I like him and his speed, and he does need more offensive minutes(PP) to get more points. I was speaking in terms of how I think they see him right now. I do think he needs to be more competitive consistently. He doesn't have the fire of Gagner, but he needs to be more involved in my opinion.

      The do agree that the Oilers can succeed with all of them, if Cogliano evolves. And the Oilers could benefit that Cogliano and Gagner won't put up big enough numbers to warrant a big ticket this summer. IF they can sign them to a three year deal, they might be a bargain in the final two years of their deals, which is something the Oilers haven't had outside of Hemsky.

  • Librarian Mike

    Quinn said that Brule wasn't back to his pre-flu self, so maybe now he rounding back into shape and he'll get more time. Getting to play with Penner isn't a bad deal either.

  • @ Jason Gregor

    Thanks. Yeah, until this year I thought Cogs had the ability to be a 30 goal scorer. May still happen, who knows, but now I agree that moving him is probably the best option. Too many smurfs (especially at center) and he would have some cache out on the market. Gagner seems to have seperated himself between the two, mostly IMO, by adding a nice layer of crust. And as you mentioned they have Brule too. Would have liked to see Cogs at wing a little more though.

  • With Brule I watched the highlights and I noticed that he didn't pick up Folino on the second goal, maybe Quinn wants him to be a better two way player. You can see Folino cut into the middle and Brule sort of costs backwards away from the play until he sees Folino and by then it's to late to pick him up.

  • @ Jason Gregor

    So what's the deal with Cogliano? Does he need to play his way off the 4th line like Gagner? Is he just not one of Quinn's guys, each coach seems to have these. Does Quinn see him as a shutdown guy and is trying to get him to learn that role?

    What are your thoughts?

    (Feel free to add your 2 cents too, Brownlee.)

    Thanks

    • Jason Gregor

      I don't think they look at Cogliano as a shut down guy. I don't ever see him morphing into that type of player. Quinn wants him to compete harder for the puck and also they want him to make better decisions in the defensive zone. He is a work in progress, but I also don't think that he will be here longterm. Gagner is the guy they like, and Brule is grittier. No one has told me so, but it is how I see things playing out.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      I think I lost about half of my hair after Cogliano's huge breakaway last night. He really needs to work on his shot, though. He'd be an absolute terror when he gets his feet moving if he could pull off a quick wrister like O'Sullivan.

      3-2 Oil in regulation. Oilers stars to Brule, Hemsky (God I hope), and Penner.

      On a positive note, though, he made a really great checking play to recover the puck behind the net. Reddox made the same play in the game against Colorado.