The absolute highlight of the weekend for Oilers fans had to be watching the rookies last night. All the stars were out on a clear night for the future. Hall, Eberle and Magnus Pääjärvi showed tremendous skill and the ability to be in the right place at the right time (I call it Steve Shutt syndrome) and dominated the ice. There are going to be growing pains for this team, but the future looks bright and there will be plenty to cheer about in 2010-11.
Terry Jones slid an article into the slipstream Saturday that had some interesting items. The article is here. The Renney quote about "1-3-5" is another positive indicator about management’s approach (no quick fixes!) and he also said this:
“Before they disbanded the national team with Hockey Canada, I worked in something of a hockey laboratory. You’d train for two weeks and then go out on the roads for two weeks. There was a lot of technical and tactical."
I believe that is the kind of approach required with this team. The kind of approach that Roger Neilson took when coaching the Peterborough Petes, who did some amazing things with that OHL team (Craig Ramsay arrived in the NHL as a quality 2-way player. He has stated many times that Imlach’s Sabres had to overcome the NHL coaching, and Ramsay had a wealth of knowledge that had been driven into his brain from Neilson, That Petes team was legendary–one time Neilson had defenseman Ron Stackhouse defend a penalty shot instead of the goalie, and another time when his team was up by a goal late Neilson sent out three extra players with a few seconds left. If he got a penalty, so what?) including training a generation of quality NHL players. The basics. If Renney can build on what they’ve already learned, this team will maximize on the available talent.
Last night’s game was splendid in so many ways. After making sure the gifted kids are healthy and have ten fingers and toes, it was heartening to see Tyler Pitlick play at such a high level. Quoting Jason Gregor:
- PITLICK: Isn’t afraid to hit. Had a big hit behind the net that led to a good scoring chance early. He uses his size wisely, especially when shielding the puck. He has very good offensive instincts, and he and Paajarvi played found some chemistry early. Looking forward to watching him at Rexall this year; when the Tigers play the Oil Kings.
That item comes from the article below, and contains a very nice rundown of the entire game (and a few other interesting items). The other thing I noticed last night was the size on defense. There were tall trees every shift, and I checked after the game to make sure my eyes saw it right. Here are the stats on last night’s blue:
- Alex Plante 6.04, 225
- Johan Motin 6.01, 202
- Jeremie Blain 6.02, 190
- Brandon Davidson 6.01, 190
- Martin Marincin 6.04, 187
- Nolan Toigo 6.01, 187
Tall trees. Marincin has an enormous wingspan and Plante is healthy and looked solid (almost got beaten wide early but closed the gap very well and then played a steady game) and Brandon Davidson also showed some calm feet. The Oilers badly need to have at least a couple of these young men develop into NHL players, and last nights debut for this six gave some hope (even if it is a rookie game).
I think that is the theme for the season: baby steps.