The D-man situation

After their biggest home win of the season, the Oilers’ players will enjoy a day of golfing with Daryl Katz and some of his friends in Palm Springs, but I’m guessing for Craig MacTavish and Steve Tambellini they will be sweating more from the Denis Grebeshkov injury than the desert heat.

Grebeshkov is out a minimum of two weeks with a high ankle sprain, and probably longer. Talk about baaaaaaaad timing for #37 and the Oilers. Two weeks ago the depth of the blueline was the best asset Tambellini had if he was seriously considering acquiring a scoring forward, but now it looks like a weakness, especially offensively.

Now the Oilers will have to go get another D-man. Smid can move into the top-four and play with Gilbert, or maybe they re-unite Staios/Smid and Gilbert/Souray, but either way the Oilers second-line PP unit won’t have a threat from the blueline.

Staios, Smid, Jason Strudwick and Theo Peckham — who MacTavish said was the obvious call up — are not going to quarterback the second unit. They might play Souray and Gilbert close to the entire two minutes, but that could be costly if they get lots of PP time.

The other option is having Sam Gagner play the point again, with Cogliano, Nilsson and Cole up front on a second unit, but even then you’d still have to use one of the defensive defenceman. Taylor Chorney is not ready to play, so does Tambellin look to acquire a puck mover who could also play on the PP?

The list is pretty short. I wrote last week about who might be available at the deadline, and the list of puck-moving D-men wasn’t very long. It might not be their first choice, but Mathieu Schneider looks awfully tempting now.

Who else? Filip Kuba? Jordan Leopold? The list isn’t very long. I even searched the AHL for someone of interest, but I don’t think Danny Syvret is the answer. I doubt the Sabres would want to move young Marc-Andre Gragnani from their Portland affiliate.

You wonder if the Bruins would be interested in parting with Edmonton native Johnny Boychuk out of Providence. Boychuk has 41 points in 50 games in the AHL this year. He was a former second rounder of the Flames in 2002, and has played four NHL games with Colorado and one with the Bruins this season.

Clearly these aren’t great options, and might not be better than what the Oilers have, but it doesn’t look like there is a long list of D-men who could fill the gap left by Grebeshkov and Visnovsky.

Gilbert will have to play 27-28 minutes a night now, and Souray might be close to 30 if the Oilers are going to stay competitive. Smid’s play has steadily improved all season, but he will need to be even better now. Staios plays best between 17-20 minutes a night — anymore and he struggles. He can play a few games in the 22-24 range, but if they ask him to play that for the next three weeks he will inevitably struggle.

Cole banged up

Ales Hemsky opened the door for his teammates in the third period, while Shawn Horcoff was rested to avoid re-aggravating his charley horse, and Erik Cole sat on the bench for the first eleven minutes of the third before leaving early.

I asked MacTavish why Cole was rested, considering he has been in a slump — pointless in seven games now — and he said that he is banged up. Of course he wouldn’t elaborate on what the bumps and bruises are, but it’s fair to say he is less than 90 per cent healthy. This might explain why in the past three weeks he has gone back to looking like the Cole of the first twenty games this season. Cole said the rest should do him good the next few days, and feels it is nothing more than the usual wear and tear. But, rarely do guys sit out in “point night” games if they are just a bit banged up.

DAUM NOT A MIRACLE WORKER… YET

Rob Daum didn’t have much time to go over a game plan last night when he stepped behind the bench in Manchester, but he might have given a good opening speech because the Falcons scored :34 seconds into the first and led 2-0 at the 8:34 mark. Unfortunately for Daum and his team, they weren’t able to maintain their strong start and lost 5-2 to Manchester.

Daum’s job becomes even harder with Peckham coming back to Edmonton, and unless Tambellini makes a move before Sunday, he will lose another D-man when the Oilers go to Phoenix.

With the Oilers playing back-to-back in Phoenix and San Jose on the 16th and 17th, they will want an extra D-man there just in case someone gets hurt against the Coyotes. The plan was to bring in Peckham, but now he is coming early, and might be joined by Mathieu Roy or even Sebastion Bisaillon. Either way Daum will be hard pressed to turnaround a Falcons’ team that just doesn’t have that much skill.

Numbers games

With Fernando Pisani set to return, the Oilers will have to make some decisions. When they activate Pisani that gives them 14 forwards, six D-men (with Peckham, Grebeskhov will go on IR), two goalies and JF Jacques on conditioning stint.

If they bring in another D-man via trade or call one up, someone has to be sent down. Liam Reddox doesn’t have to clear waivers and would seem the likely choice. They could try to sneak MacIntyre through waivers, but that would be risky. So expect Reddox to be sent down if they bring in another D-man.

  • Manny

    First time contributor long time reader…haha

    Love this site and the interaction and pictures.

    Today though RINDOG you have inspired me to post. I suggest you do some work today, because your posts are long rambles.

    I can't believe Gregor hasn't ripped you yet, because your arguments about the PP today are ridiculous. Have you ever coached any level of hockey? Honestly have you? Because if you have, I'd love to coach against you.

    I have coached for 12 years, and many of your suggestions are so fly-by-night I'd love to coach against you. And I'm talking AAA hockey not atom or younger where FUN is the most important factor.

    I don't think you understand many concepts of the game as much as you think you do. Nor do I, but I have taken many coaching certificates and attended many seminars on coaching and many of your suggestions are the exact opposite of what great hockey minds like Hitchcock, Babcock and others have taught at these seminars.

    I appreciate your passion, but your disdain for the coach is blocking your vision, or you just don't understand the game as indepthly as you suggest.

    Sorry for the rant fellow Nation readers…

    I am Manny and I have a problem…I'm addicted to the Nation..I hit refresh at least 20 times a day. Keep it up.

  • SquidRx

    Deep Oil wrote:

    I am challenging any wire service or beat writer to get a photo with Darryl Katz not BARRY and a player from the oil in Palm Springs……. this owner has not been visible or heard from since August…. strong ownership maybe – but yet to be determined as Acting Owner

    Did Darryl Katz kick your dog when you were little? Golly gee whillikers you've got a man-hate on for him.

  • raged

    Filthy Habs, that looked like a slewfoot on grebs.
    IMO we dont need to trade for a offensive dman, we still have two pretty good ones in Gilbert and Souray, we just have to survive until Grebs is back. I agree with you Jason regarding Smid`s readiness to step into the top 4, hes our third best dman right now.

    Anyone think those losers in Ottawa would trade Spezza straight up for Lubo? I would if I were in Ottawa, considering what they have and what they dont.doesnt matter that hes out for the season, their season is done anyways.

  • rindog

    @ Jason Gregor:

    Horcoff is only one of 6 forwards that are on the PP.

    Hemsky wasn't playing becasue of MacT (which is fine). It still doesn't mean that he can't go out and run the PP. Or maybe the 2nd unit gets some experience with Gagner on the point, etc? We just lost another Dman and were going to have to come up with some answers. Of course you can wait until next practice to think about it – that's fine. If it's me – I am thinking I have a great opportunity to see what options I might have.

    Like maybe trying Hemsky with Gagner and Rather than waste a game (in which the outcome is not already known) we could have tried some things out – risk free??

    They practice agaisnt their own team (and lots of the times the PK they practice agaisnt has their stick held upside down).

    I have no idea if the offensive plays my basketball team practice are going to work until I try them against an actual opposition (same theory applies).

    I just don't see why it is such a big deal to want them to maximize their game minutes? Especially after the recent efforts against agaisnt Buffalo, Nashville and Detroit?

    I wasn't expecting you to get so philosophical on me. I brought up the idea of predicting the next outcome because if anyone that follows the team is happy with where we are at – then they have some issues. I wanted to emphasize that just becasue we won 7-2 does not mean we should plan the parade route.

    We should be continually trying to get our game to a level where OUR odds become better….

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    My point about MacTavish was, complaining that they didn’t PRACTICE the PP late in a blow out game is reaching for anything to blame on the coach.

    In my opinion, it's not reaching – it's collecting information about a guy.

  • freeze

    That play on Grebs was total horsesh*t!!

    Will that get reviewed by the league? It was a slewfoot if I've ever seen one. Intent to injure should get a couple games at least.

  • Dropping Deuces

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    This team is inconsistent, like 20 of the other teams in the league, and if I knew what to expect the next game I’d be buying a sports select ticket before every game and be retired in a year

    You're job is what I would consider retirement. Talking oilers most of the day, going to Oiler games and hanging out at local establishments talking oilers. Sounds like what I do on my days off!

  • rindog

    @ Manny:

    Nice post, did you add any thing for debate?

    I appreciate your coaching resume – but I am not sure how it applies to me.

    I have some ideas and want to debate them. It doesn't make me right or wrong.

    It's a hockey forum, meant for debate.

    Please point out anywhere that I am being desrespectful or persoanlly attacking anyone?

    I have known Gregor since he peed his pants playing street hockey (okay, maybe that was me).

    Gregor rips me all the time. I don't take it personally.

    If you would care to jump in and debate with us – I would love it. Maybe you can add something that might help me see where MacT is coming from?

  • Homie

    rindog wrote:

    Like maybe trying Hemsky with Gagner and Rather than waste a game (in which the outcome is not already known) we could have tried some things out – risk free??

    Letting your 4th liners get some PP time and a few points as a reward is hardly a waste. Any team loves to watch their fouth line guys score. Look at Gregor's point about Hemsky smiling and laughing with the guys. It was a great move by MacT that will do way more for the team than "practising" the PP during the game.

  • rindog

    @ Homie:

    Oh no!!!!

    Not you???

    I would have expected nothing less…

    Again, I never said that having the 4th line on the PP was a waste in a blowout game!!!!

    I said we "wasted" an opportunity to try something with actual oppostion defenders rather than our own penalty killers in practice?

    You of all people should know what happens when PREPARATION meets OPPORTUNITY…….

  • OvenChicken8

    @ Dropping Deuces:
    And we pay to do those things. But unlike us those local celebs get ripped on daily and have to put up with guys like us who are usually in foul moods after a disappointing Eskies/Rush/Oilers game… So as much as we think it is a win win for them, if you don't have the patience that job would bring a whole new world of stress.

    – clearly shown by Gregs lack of hair… jk jk.

  • Wanye Gretz

    @ Manny:

    Welcome aboard Manny. Thanks for posting! It wasn't so hard now was it?

    rindog wrote:

    You of all people should know what happens when PREPARATION meets OPPORTUNITY…….

    What? The Oil kick the crap out of the Habs 7-2? Listen dude it's a gigantic win in a season with few bright spots. Let's turn the switch from "pick apart everything" (of which I am a big fan) and set it to "irrational joy" for the time being.

    After the next loss we can go tit for tat on 4th line ice time. For today

    We dance!

    FMNF

  • Smokey

    Hemsky took a good bump in the second clearing the zone, He sorta skated off the ice slowly like he was trying to show everything is ok. I thought to myself something is not totally right with him. Hopefully his ice time in the third was limited strickly to the fact it was a blowout.

  • rindog

    @ Wanye Gretz:

    Hey I have been very, very nice when it comes to criticizing the coaching staff on this site.

    I simply made a couple of observations at the game last night and wanted to share.

    I am just as happy as you to look at the positives.

    Example:

    With his new found scoring prowess, Stortini might have opened up enough eyes to get a look on the top line. It's too bad he doesn't play the left side – it would be a perfect fit….

    ***NOTE – I wonder if Stortini is regretting resigning for 3 years in the off season. At the rate he is going he might have been able to get a deal worth $2 million/per???

  • Dennis

    Gregor: I know you know this;) but the vast majority of the game is still being played at EV so I'd be more worried about how we replace 37's EV min rather than how sickening it will be to see 24 drawing any PP time; because, make no bones about it, it's hard to stomach anytime 24's in the O zone.

    I know a lot of folks here don't cotton to the stats revolution but at the end of this post I'll hammer down a link where you can take a look at how valuable guys like 37 and 71 are when it comes to outchancing the opposition at EV.

    Anyway, to get back on-point, and as Gregor said, awhile ago it looked like Lowe would be looking to move some of our puck-movers for a forward and now the opposite appears to the case in light of the happenings with both 37 and 71 being out and 34 coming back to prop up our forward depth.

    We were gambling against the odds that 24 could jump up and handle top four min and now we're looking for Both 5 and 24 to move into the top for all the while trying to hid a third pairing of 43 and Young Peckham

    Did you just throw up as well?

    OK, maybe it's not that bad but you know we're in trouble.

    Basically, I don't think there's a deal to be made to haul us into the playoffs given the duration of time we'll miss both games.

    The only hope is if a couple of forwards totally catch on fire.

    http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=3044#comments

  • Colin

    I would have rested the guy that just came back from a concussion too, especailly considering he's my best player. Not that I like MacT, but I can agree with that.

  • Colin

    Dennis wrote:

    Basically, I don’t think there’s a deal to be made to haul us into the playoffs given the duration of time we’ll miss both games.

    Good.

    The best thing for this team would to be to fall out of contention now and be sellers and try to pick up some parts/picks while their parts fetch an inflated price(due to the lack of sellers).

  • Oilfan4life

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    rindog wrote:
    I am also not a huge fan of playing our 4th on the PP (even though we were way ahead) when we NEED the practice. Especially when another one of our PP defensemen just went down with an injury. To me, that is the perfect time to try some different things out (in real game situations).
    Wow, you will pick at anything. It is called rewarding players, and everyone knows it. You’d think that since you were a 4th liner at best when you played you’d understand this.
    We know you don’t like MacTavish and you want him fired, but you really weaken your point with asinine comments like “why is our 4th line playing on the PP in a blow out.”
    Not sure if you noticed but Hemsky was talking on the bench with them before they went out, and when they came back to the bench he was grinning and joking with Reddox. A coach rewards his pluggers with some bonus PP time and they will play harder for him later. It’s been used by many coaches over the years.
    Like I said earlier, it must be tough for you to be an Oiler fan, because even after their biggest win of the year you aren’t happy. I suggest taking down the MacT poster you have at work and stop throwing darts at it for one day Rindog. Trust me you will have lots of losses to critique before the year is over.

    Jason is there any response that you make where you dont go after people personally? Why do you act like such a piece of crap towards people?

  • Oilfan4life

    SquidRx wrote:

    Deep Oil wrote:
    I am challenging any wire service or beat writer to get a photo with Darryl Katz not BARRY and a player from the oil in Palm Springs……. this owner has not been visible or heard from since August…. strong ownership maybe – but yet to be determined as Acting Owner

    Did Darryl Katz kick your dog when you were little? Golly gee whillikers you’ve got a man-hate on for him.

    Katz has been in his press box for 5 of the games ive been to this year.

  • Dropping Deuces wrote:

    You’re job is what I would consider retirement. Talking oilers most of the day, going to Oiler games and hanging out at local establishments talking oilers. Sounds like what I do on my days off!

    I wasn't complaining about my job at all, I love my gig….But if I won the lottery I would still do my radio show, but I would have girls fanning me while on air, have someone type my articles here on the NATION, hire a chef to cook and build a bar where I could party into the wee hours every day…Now that would be retirement…

  • Word

    Just 'cause no one else is backing up ringdog, this needs to be said:

    MacT can give powerplay time to pluggers like Powder and the caveman when we're up 7-2, but he better not turnaround and mediasnap on "slumping" players like Dustbin in the next little while without having given them the same opportunity.

    From a coaching perspective, rewarding the faithful pluggers is a great move… but it comes with the caveat that the coach can't turn around and beak after the next loss about the sub-par point performance of a guy who actually needed to shake a monkey or two his back but didn't get buttery third period minutes.

    It's not right to reward mediocrity simply because it's inexpensive. Whether or not a guy is earning his salary is the GM's job – the only numbers the coach should worry about are ones on the stat sheet.

    MacT sometimes acts like he's bargain shopping for discount hookers when it comes to dishing out icetime. He needs to start acting like its his 18th birthday party at a rub-and-tug; let Lowe worry about how much it costs while you just worry about getting the best happy ending.

  • Oilfan4life wrote:

    Jason is there any response that you make where you dont go after people personally? Why do you act like such a piece of crap towards people?

    Hey sensitive sally zip it. I know Rindog and since you know nothing of what we talk why don't you just stop whining. Rindog can stand up for himself. And to answer your question, Yes there are lots. Thanks for asking.

    Oilfan4life wrote:

    Katz has been in his press box for 5 of the games ive been to this year.

    Oh, you have been in the pressbox have you? We are there every game and I've seen him up there once, otherwise he sits in a suite, and he doesn't come to many games according to the Oiler people. He is a very private person and doesn't want to be a public figure. Nothing wrong with that in my mind. Now he will have to make appearances now and then, because he owns the most popular business in town, but I don't expect him to be making comments on a weekly or monthly basis.

    Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

    How come that picture of Greb has him wearing
    #26?

    Good question. Turns out he wore that number in preseason last year for a game. I don't recall that, but Steve at the Oilers informed me. Steve knows all Oiler data. Maybe Wanye should frame it, it might be worth something if he becomes a Hall of Famer…Hey Wanye??? How would you like that!!!

  • Bruno

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Oilfan4life wrote:
    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Oilfan4life wrote:
    Jason is there any response that you make where you dont go after people personally? Why do you act like such a piece of crap towards people?
    Sensitive Sally? lol pretty delicate dont ya think?? But funny…..I think..Grow some dingle berries Oilfan4life.. Its all good.

  • Mbam99

    Deep Oil wrote:

    Jonathan Willis wrote:
    Mike Krushelnyski wrote:
    @ Deep Oil:
    Your posts are so much more entertaining now that I imagine they are being shouted at me by a wild-eyed homeless man.

    That’s the trick! Thank you for helping me realize the top entertainment value of Deep Oil’s posts.

    Anybody hopping on a private jet to LAX for Staples and then to PHX for Scottsdale golf, Barcelona’s and a hockey game at Glendale ???

    Heck ya I am! Flying from Phoenix to LA to watch the Oil game on Saturday, back to Phoenix for the Flamer-Coyote game, then hang around (read GOLF here) until watching Oil play on Monday.

  • Bob Cob

    I was just reading in the Edmonton Sun this morning that because of the injuries the Oilers played a more "blue collar game" with "simple plays" and they "were just shooting the pucks on net" and they state that "sometimes its ugly but effective".
    They played this way now because of injuries and they pounded montreal 7-2, it shouldn't take injuries for them to realize they dont need to make the fancy all world plays to win, just play hard nosed simple hockey, get the puck out of your own end, go hit some one and get shots on net. They are not Detroit in terms of skill so stop trying to play like that, be what you are a blue collar hard working hockey team with some skill and grit.