Oilers vs. Wild Postgame: Moreau, Penner Lead The Way

Edmonton Oilers: 4

Minnesota Wild: 1

What a great game to watch. Seriously, writing the three stars I could submit half a dozen or more names that played well; a far cry from other nights where it’s a real struggle to find three players. The goaltending was solid, the team played well, and even some of the customary whipping boys – Patrick O’Sullivan, Taylor Chorney and especially captain Ethan Moreau – had solid nights.

 

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

 

1. Ethan Moreau. It’s been a tough season for the Oilers’ captain, but he was at his best tonight, charging the net hard and showing off his skating ability and willingness to shoot the puck. He had what was probably his best game of the season (though he had a couple of good ones around the trade deadline) and came oh-so-close to recording a hattrick. He finished the night with seven shots.

2. Dustin Penner. Penner also managed two goals, setting a new career high with 31 on the season and continuing to cement his place as the best player on this year’s team. By eye, his skating has fallen off since the beginning of the year but he’s a smart player with a good shot and he somehow just keeps scoring after a bit of a drought.

3. Ryan Potulny. The TSN commentators kept pointing to Potulny’s stretch as a healthy scratch as the reason for tonight’s turnaround, and perhaps it was. After going minus-6 over his last two games, Potulny recorded two assists tonight and finished plus-1. He meshed well with Penner and played a key role in his goals.

 

Reading Between The Lines

 

Steve Tambellini did his best not to give anything away during his interview (one of the things I do like about him is how he plays his cards closer to the chest than previous managers) but the way he phrased things and reacted made it seem pretty clear that the Oilers weren’t going to do something crazy with the top pick (should they get it) and would pick one of Hall or Seguin. I’d bet Hall is the player selected if the Oilers retain the top pick.

But if Steve Tambellini didn’t want to speculate, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie were under no such constraints. Dreger made two points, both of which gel nicely with common sense: first, that Tambellini is “highly unlikely” to deal Hemsky, and second that Jordan Eberle will be an Oiler next season. For his part, Bob McKenzie suggested that it was “50/50” that Magnus Paajarvi would stay in Sweden for next season.

 

Hail The Whipping Boys!

 

We mentioned Moreau’s efforts above, but there was one more point I thought was worth making: watching Moreau interact with his teammates tonight, it was easy to get the sense that he’s well-liked in the dressing room. Now, it’s always dicey to make psychological assessments of people you don’t know from watching them play a game for an hour, but Horcoff’s obvious desire to get Moreau a hat-trick, and the response of young players (particularly Chorney and Dubnyk) to Moreau was an interesting thing to observe.

Speaking of Chorney, has he had as good a game in the NHL as the one he had tonight? The stats sheet reads one assist and plus-2, but there’s much more to it than that. In my game notes I can see a half-dozen times I marked Chorney as making an exceptional play: some of them offensive to be sure, but also some great reads in the defensive zone like when he easily handled Guillaume Latendresse midway through the second. I’m sceptical about how high his potential lies long-term, but for tonight at least he was excellent.

Shawn Horcoff had a nice night as Moreau’s setup man and looked a lot more like the player from season’s past than he has for much of this year.

Finally, Patrick O’Sullivan may have been snake-bit but he could easily have finished with two goals on the night too: on two different occasions he fought through multiple opponents to get a chance, most notably when he hit the post after taking the puck through Brent Burns and Martin Havlat along the boards and then dancing past John Scott in the slot. He also formed an effective penalty-killing duo with Marc Pouliot.

 

Quick Hits

 

How good would Greg Zanon have looked on the Oilers’ blue-line this season? Playing through a hairline fracture, I was reminded of Steve Staios of old watching Zanon complete his shift after blocking a shot that obviously stung.

Speaking of shot-blocking, Zack Stortini showed pretty much everything anyone needs to know about how he plays the game tonight when he was hurt blocking a shot and then desperately tried to get in front of a second shot a few seconds later. I’ve grown to like Stortini more and more as a player this season.

I don’t see any point to having a tough guy square off against Derek Boogaard; he’s best dealt with by having guys skate around him and the Oilers did that well tonight. Andrew Cogliano chipped the puck past him and skated away, and as Boogaard put his head down to putt-putt up the ice he looked totally outclassed. It was hardly a unique situation; later in the first he took a run at Strudwick but took so long getting there that 43 had already passed off the puck and skated out of harm’s way by the time he arrived. Later on in the game, he put his team off-side because he couldn’t skate fast enough to clear the offensive zone. He’s big enough to beat up just about everyone, but when he gets played as a hockey player the deficiencies in his game become readily apparent.

John Scott is the other iffy hockey-playing behemoth in the Minnesota line-up, and he laid a licking on Dean Arsene after Arsene’s clean hit on James Sheppard. For his trouble he took 17 minutes in penalties, a prime example of a case where the instigator rule is useful. I’d love to see it used more often to dissuade fights after clean hits.

After a lousy start to his career, Devan Dubnyk has looked a lot like a guy who could challenge for the backup job in camp next year, and he was solid tonight, making 25 saves on 26 shots. I still think it’s a long-shot that he gets picked up on waivers if the Oilers send him down next year, but he can improve his chances with a strong finish.

I always love watching Andrew Brunette play: he’s got some rough spots but he’s a fine hockey player. He’s also proof positive that sometimes NHL teams underrate their own prospects: Brunette had five outstanding seasons in the minors, performed well in NHL cameos, but never got a chance in the big league until expansion came. He’s now on the right side of 650 points and just a little shy of 1000 games played.

    • MrCondor

      40 with Hemsky in the line up doesn't seem unrealistic does it.

      Horcoff, Pisani, and Moreau have been having some good shifts together. I guess receiving contracts way over their performance levels has been a bonding experience.

    • Reggie

      Have to agree with you there Jake. Another amazing stat is the fact Penner is +7 on this hockey team that has a goal differential of -67. His 31 goals represents 15.27% of their output for the year.

  • I only caught the 3rd but that seemed like a booooooring hockey game. The TSN crew sure seemed bitter about having to call the game. "pre-season game" indeed. It was a stark contrast to the BOS-WAS game that was on before I switched over to the Trailer Park Boys movie.

    • Subtract all our shootout wins this season because the 93-94 team never had those opportunities, all our shootout wins would have been ties back then. Pro-rated wins only amount to 18.

      This is the worst Oiler team ever.

      • The silver lining to being the worst Oiler team ever is that we'll have our first opportunity to draft a franchise type player (hopefully) with the number one or two pick. Given this squad this is a good thing.

      • Bucknuck

        Boy, you sure know how to shoot down any aspirations of playing for something don't you? Just crush me a little harder… squeeze the device a little harder. make it hurt a little more.

        Ya big meanie.

      • DoubleJ

        How many injury days were lost in 93-94? I think this team isn't the worst. But who care they're both really bad. Hemsky, Souray and Khabby play 50 games each we have a way different record. IMO.

        • Yeah but Hemsky, Souray, and Bulin WERE injured. The Oilers this season were worse. I dont doubt that at all. Even in 93-94 the Oilers werent the worst team in the League, this year they are. That alone cements it for me.

      • Agreed . The time after they let Smyth go ranks close as well . However , due to injuries ( similiar scenario to this year ), many youngsters started to emerge and prospects for the next season looked promising until they gutted some players that had off seasons that were still young and basically developing . The likes of Stoll , Torres , Pitkanen , Greene , etc.. Since that gutting we have steadily gone down to the stage we are at today . We'll see how the gutting goes this time, but i have the feeling it won't as optimistic as the one after Smyth was let go .

  • Penner would have had 40 easily with Hemsky healthy this season. As KLowe said at the time, the Penner deal would pay off by the end and if he keeps improving over the next couple of seasons it will be a bargain. How many other defensively sound, big scoring wingers are there in the NHL?

    What continues to perplex me about the Oilers management is that there are still rumors that Tambi is willing to ship him out. Granted, some of them are just fluff and wishful thinking on the part of other teams' fans/media, but there are enough floating around that there has to be some truth behind it. I guess if he has quietly asked to be traded then Tambi has to look at it, but if not then why would he even entertain offers on such a size challenged team?

  • funny stats: Penner got more first assists from Brule (4) then Hemsky (3) during the 22 games Hemmer did play this season…

    Also Penner provided same number of first assists to both Brule and Hemsky (2)

    In the 22 game span Penner got first assists from 8 players on the team.

    My point is: Penner is the best player we have right now (including the injured ones).

    It will be very interesting to see how the Camp looks like next season: Hemsky will get A LOT of competition.

    If Brule can match his production (with Penner) would be interesting to watch what Eberle, Hall, Svensson or Omark can do…

    I agree: great game last night.

    • Bucknuck

      Penner is not a better player than Hemsky. Penner is a great player and brings a physical presence as well as a good shot, but Hemsky is a better producer and more exciting to watch play.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        my vote still goes to Penner, a more complete player than Hemsky.

        and with the new kids coming Hemsky will finally shine on his spot: 2nd line RW…

        I only hope he doesn't get in trouble with Pat Quinn who does not have a sweet spot for 'just skill'.

        I honestly believe Hemsky market value is at its highest right now (when he's perceived as best player on this struggling team) so trading him for high draft pick makes sense (contrary to Dreger's take)

        • Who on the Oilers is going to supplant Hemsky on the RW? The guy is a 1st liner on at least 20 clubs, all of the kids coming in either play LW or C, so who again is going to be ready to knock off a point per game Right Winger?

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Your level bias is alarming.

          2nd line RW? The guy is a top 10 arguably top 6-7 RW in the league.

          Penner has had one better then average year and he's all of a sudden better then Hemsky?

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            i'd openly admit to my bias.

            it stems from the constant 8-10 placing of Hemsky's Oilers in the past few seasons…

            i'd say Penner won the 1st line RW position this year.

            do you see Quinn demoting this guy to 4th line like McT did?

            It's gonna be an interesting start of the season next year, that's for sure. Some competition will do Hemmer good. 😉

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Once again, the Oilers were 8-10. Vclav/St. Louis/Richards and Now Stamkos's TB has consistantly been at the bottom of the league. He is part of a team, he isn't the team.

            I see Quinn playing them opposite each other on line 1….you know like they have been the majority of the time they've been healthy the last three years.

          • I'm not saying he's the poison fruit.

            I'm just saying with Penner showing the numbers he's showing on the worst Oilers team ever, and so many talented kids joining, there are other things we can be excited about on this team.

            So far Hemsky showed he reached his potential. We know what he is and what his limitations are.

            Oh, Lofty, I am absolutely certain you were talking about Hemsky being the turnover machine, right?

          • He probably has reached his potential, although there is room to grow for him too. It took the Sedins a long time to get where they are and people didnt think they could reach the 100 point plateau. I'm not suggesting Hemsky will reach that plateau, but even if Hemsky never gets better there isnt another RW on the club that's moving him to the 2nd line. Yet.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            good point, well taken.

            ~ as long as he's not our #1 guy next year ~
            (I hate to pin my hope on him again, and again…maybe the team will emerge…)

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I get the feeling you put too much emphasis on blaming/crediting one player.

            TB has arguably 3 superstar forwards and their still crap. It's about building a team of good players that fill different roles, Hemsky could be a great piece of a well built TEAM, it isn't about "pinning your hopes" to one guy.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            So far Hemsky showed he reached his potential. We know what he is and what his limitations are.

            statistically, offensive players tend to reach their peak between 26-28.

            and who the **** is "we"? are you part of oilers management? you at the rink daily? pro scout? what backround do you have to be able to judge what a pro hockey players limitations are? especially one that still, statistically, hasnt reached his peak?

      • THEBIGD

        🙂 and we are not alone.

        someone even suggested that RB believes Hemsky won't be around for long.

        well, rebuilding it is, for sure, 'cause the way I see it Hemsky is part of the veteran core that needs changing, and I don't mean just shipping Staios to the south.

        let's not forget: the team sucked this year more so because of lack of leadership then because of injuries.

        I hope Tambo does this summer what he wasn't able to do last summer: clean up the (toxic) locker.

        • THEBIGD

          Disagree with your analysis to a fair degree . Oilers never filled glaring weaknesses that needed filling from the previous year. It soon caught up with them after a not to bad start to season . From there it dominoed into our worse season . No tools for Oilers to excel with was our major problem all year , the rest was predicable symtamatic results and not the major cause . Management has to take accoutability/responsible for helping make the locker room toxic, as much if not moreso than anybody !

  • Bucknuck

    Hemsky still has room to excel if we had the players to compliment that skill level . Take for example (and this is a possibilty for next season ) – Jagr , Hemsky and Penner . Penner remember ,just basically emerged this season to be the player they expected .That combo i mentioned is not a bad elder NHL caliber line to build our youngsters around .

  • Looking for a reason why Penner should/could be traded right now?

    Well, here's maybe the most important one: There's no friggin' way he re-signs in Edmonton in two years.

    The minute – hell, the second – his contract his up, he's outta there. I'd have to believe he's had it up to here with playing in a fishbowl with a big contract.

    Yes, I know. He still has two years left on his contract after this one. Normally, you'd wait until he was entering his final year before making trade considerations.

    But right now, he's a 30-goal scorer with a not-too-onerous contract. His trade value might not be worth more than it is right now.

    Of course, the same scenario could apply with Hemsky, too. He will likely bolt when his contract is up.

    But, right now, I'd argue that Penner's worth more in a trade than Ales Hemsky. Penner's healthy; Hemsky, not so much …

    I realize someone's got to do the scoring during the rebuild, but if we all agree that Penner's gonzo 2012, why not package him for another building block?

    • With this being the prevailing attitude all the time….that guys are always going to bolt when they become UFA's…

      How the hell will this team ever be able to compete if they were to do what you want even before their players reach UFA status….and that is trade them. How do you know there's no friggin way Penner won't resign? At some point don't we need to extend some of our best players if we want to become a higher end team? Shouldn't we try? There are lots of players that play in a fishbowl and resign.

      If the Oilers always were to trade their 27 yr old pending free agents they will NEVER become a winning team….what do you suggest they trade Penner and Hemsky for?

      Let me guess, draft picks or prospects. Does this same attitude never end here? So when the guys we get for Penner and Hemsky approach 28 yrs of age and UFA status..you'll be here calling for them to trade those players too while they are at their highest value….and for what? Let me guess…oh yeah, draft picks and/or prospects….

      and the beat goes on…it's groundhog day

    • Ducey

      Yes, the Flames make decisions based only on their adverse impact on the Oilers.

      I am not sure that Iggy is worth the 2nd overall pick anyway. He isn't carrying the mail right now and in three years Hall or Seguin will likely be creating more offence for less $.

    • Kane had 145 in his only season in the OHL. 62 Goals. Gagner had 118 points.

      But on the other hand, Stamkos had 105 points and Tavares only had 104. It looks like the low 100s are pretty normal for the high draft picks.

      EDIT: Maybe you were thinking of Crosby, who had 168 points

        • Yeah, I was just looking over the stats of guys who went in the top 5 over the last decade and there are guys that stand out like Kane and Crosby, but for the most part both Seguin and Hall have outscored guys like Spezza, Nash, Stamkos, Tavares, Staal, and others. It looks pretty good for both of them if those numbers mean anything at all.

          EDIT: And of course I looked up Hemsky, who put up 100 points during his draft year in the Q. Atta boy Hemsky.

  • OilFan

    That would be a cunning act of skullduggery – probably beyond GM Sutter's abilities.

    Truth be told, I'm not sure if Iggy's worth the first overall pick, but package him with another body or two and that could make things interesting.

    I highly doubt it would happen, though. I'm pretty sure the Bruins remember how the Flames ended up with Iginla in the first place – by Dallas trading away their future for their present.

  • MrCondor

    Not that I disagree, but why is everyone convinced that Hemsky and Penner are gone once their contracts are up? It appears we are on the fast track to being a competitive team again.

    • Bucknuck

      I'm not convinced. We can suck next year, but if the subsequent year good things are happening and the team appears to be taking that next step then I don't know why a player wouldn't resign here.

    • Not sure about Penner, but RB seems to think that Hemsky wont be back. That's the source of the gone after contract talk.

      Personally, I'd like to think that IF Tambellini can turn the boat around next season* then Hemsky will see this as a club on the rise and stay longer.

      *Miracles, I'm banking on miracles

        • Yeah, that was from some guy that said he knew his girlfriend. So this is at least 3rd hand info, if we are to believe the guy who claims to know Hemsky's girlfriend.

          I'm not exactly sold on the pie in the sky dream that professional hockey players tell their "Girlfriends" the truth all the time anyway.

          EDIT:*Imagines conversations with PuckBunny girlfriend*

          "Of course, where do you think I should sign when I hit Free Agency"

          "I've always wanted to live in New York or L.A."

          "Oh…Uh…You think I'm taki…Yeah we could live in L.A. together, sure…sure"

          "Really!?! I cant wait to tell all my friends I'm moving to L.A. in two years!!!!!"

          "Yeah…two…years…together…sure"

  • Bucknuck

    I wonder if Tampa bay might be easing off the gas pedal a little with toronto only two points behind them now. I'm sure they wouldn't be upset getting another top pick this year and the leafs certainly aren't going to ease up because Boston gets their pick anyway. I also wonder of a trade for a
    top pick could happen with them. Hemsky wouldn't look bad playing with Stamkos. Ovbviously this is purely thought of by me and carries no weight.

    • Jamie B.

      Stamkos would be nice no doubt . I forsee both Penner and Hemsky being untouchable for next two seasons as a transitional base to develop our teams youth around . We need to keep competent elder base around while youngsters develop . That means keeping Moreau and Horcoff as well despite off seasons . Defensively Whitney and Gilbert look to be part of that base as well . Would not surprise me to see Oilers spring for Alzner to develop with Plante , before his value goes skyward . Despite Jagr's age his contribution as a transitional base could be huge . Jagr would also like to bring with him another player off his Olympic team that might prove inexpensive and worthy if he is a good judge of talent – sorry i don't recall the players name . We may end up with very little of our diminutive base . Maybe only Gagner will be kept , as he shows the best promise . Waiting for Cogs , Eberle,and Brule might be a couple of years yet and they may lose out to Magnus , Hall or Sequin in that time .

    • THEBIGD

      Please people trust me the best thing the Oilers can do is trade Hemsky.I been saying this for 2 years now and how he is still a Oiler is beyond me. As a star or even a Superstar he is not.Please look what he has done both for the team and the City of Edmonton? Which is nothing.He sneaks out after the game to avoid the media as well he is the first person off the ice in practice.Yes he can skate and do all the fancy moves,but 9 times out of 10 he loosed the puck or gives it away to the other team, only to watch them come down and score against us. I am so ill from hearing people calling him our franchise player.He is not even close to that type of player.And as of today we don't have a franchise player and I hope one of the new kids will work out.As we need all the help we can get.On a good note I am shocked but very happy to see what Dustin Penner has done this season.If he works out and takes care of his body in the off season maybe be our next Captain.As just maybe he can feed on what he has done this season.That would be great for our very young Oiler team.Time will tell?

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I can kind of see how people could come to the above conclusion last year, but after this past year? Have you not seen what happend to our offense??

        Your argument is roughly equivalant to writing a paragraph about how the earth really is flat.

        Wake up.

        • Bucknuck

          I agree with you. If anything, this year has shown exactly how important Hemsky is to this team. With him in the lineup the Oilers have a chance at a playoff spot. Without him they are a last place team.

          That doesn't mean he is untouchable, but it does mean he is a difference maker for your club and is certainly not expendable.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Ya, of course he's not untouchable. A last place team (or really almost any team for that matter) should always be open to moves for basically any player.

            It's statements like:

            "Please look what he has done both for the team and the City of Edmonton? Which is nothing"

            That are completly baffling.

          • Ender

            I don't think anybody can deny that Hemsky helps this team and any team, in the proper role.
            The question is: can he play the role that is assigned to him, or he needs free reign.

            Because I don't see Quinn being the coach to do that.

            As far as the season goes, I would consider the inability to new defensive system culprit number one for such a performance. I'm very far from a hockey expert, but looking at the big teams defense is key for winning games (as well as helping offense).

            The reality is defensive abilities in forwards takes quite some time to develop (see Gags, Cogs, Hemsky, Penner) and if you pair that with the lack of trust between the forward and defensive core, you get a pretty tense locker…

            RW seems to help the defensive issue, young goalies getting more confidence as well, but if the next season rolls around and you still have vets that don't buy into the system, it's gonna be another long year in Oil Country.

            I think hockey is moving towards Total Hockey, where every player becomes an interchangeable part of a mechanism…IMO.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Of course our defense sucks, it has for years. The diffence is that our offense "sucked" as well this year when it was middle of the pack the last three years. Which area do you think Hemsky affects the most?

            It isn't one or the other that matters (offense vs defense) It's goal differential. It should be beyond clear that Hemsky is VERY important to the GF for this team.

            Sure trade him, but their better be another offensive catalyst coming back either from that deal or another.

  • Jamie B.

    I've been to Pardubice, Hemsky's got nothing to complain about.

    Except for the fact that he plays for a god-awful team. If he wants to move on because of that, sure.

  • Dan the Man

    this oilers fan is thrilled that the evil team to the south missed the playoffs and does not even have a first or second rounder this year.

    For some reason I thought the Flames traded their first rounder in 2011 as well. Is that correct? can anyone confirm?

  • The team finished last because key veterans (Hemsky, Souray, Habby, Comrie) were sick or injured for the majority of the season and others (Horcoff) were playing through injuries.

    I think the reason Penner did so well at the beginning of the season is because of Hemsky. I know they weren't on the same line but Hemsky plays against the other teams top D pairing so that guys like Penner don't have to.

    People rave about Penner being young and is having his break-out season. To put it in perspective, Hemsky is a year younger than Penner. Hmmmmm…..

  • WANYE AND BINGO

    I think the news about our Calgary bretheren calls for a little TROLOLOLO? N'est pas?

    *smiles at the tought of the big cheque he will be receiving from the Flames for his deposit on playoff tickets

  • Ender

    To trade Hemsky is not unthinkable. To not get fair value, though, is a crime against humanity (in Edmonton at least) and I don't think it's possible to get that. I'm guessing that Hemsky is worth more to the Oilers than he is to most other GM's. While he could certainly be moved, there is little point in moving him at a net loss to the team. If rival GM's see a net-loss trade to the Oilers as an even-steven trade in their eyes, there's not much point in dwelling on what he might fetch. Would it be worth it to trade him for a top-3 pick? That's debateable and depends on who you ask, but it would never happen so why waste time pondering? In terms of ability, upside, and contract size, Hemsky is a bargain by any standard; to trade for another player straight up, you are unlikely to get the same bang for your buck coming the other way.

    I'm not so much scared that the Oilers are going to keep Hemsky and see him not produce as I am scared that they'll trade him away for the 20th pick and a 3rd-pairing D-man, neither of whom will ever impact the team the way Hemsky did.