IS HELP COMING?

Fresh off a four game losing streak where they allowed 25 goals, the Oilers might get be putting out an SOS to Oklahoma City and recalling a defenceman. Ladislav Smid didn’t skate today, and Tom Renney couldn’t shed any light on Smid’s status, because he hasn’t spoken to him yet, but he hinted that the Oilers might be adding a D-man before Wednesday’s game v. Chicago.


The Oilers backend isn’t even treading water right now, they are in full fledged bail out mode. It is Christmas time in the defensive zone right now, with the entire team giftwrapping chance after chance to the opposition. Tom Gilbert was -11 on the road trip. You can’t sugarcoat it, he needs to be better.

Kurtis Foster is not physical, it isn’t in his DNA, but he needs to have better positioning and win more battles. Jason Strudwick and Jim Vandermeer’s foot speed has been exposed, and I’m not sure that at this stage of their careers it can get any better. Ladislav Smid is trying to do too much. He needs to simplify his game, and let the puck do the work. Theo Peckham is making mistakes, but he is a rookie, and is the only one who plays physical. The coaching staff can handle his mistakes, because his effort and battle level has been exceptional. Ryan Whitney is their best D-man, and has been fairly solid, but even he could make better decisions in his own zone.

Recalling Shawn Belle or Richard Petiot won’t solve all their problems, in fact I’m not sure it will make that big of a difference, because they are only one player and not God, but at this point it needs to happen. 

PK CHANGES

Tom Renney continues to tweak his PK, but it isn’t the system that isn’t working, it’s the personnel. The Oilers don’t have a lot of NHL penalty killers on this roster. For those who don’t know, the system they use is pretty much the same one they are using in Oklahoma. The Barons are having great success, while the Oilers are 29th. 

While Tom Renney won’t say it publicly, he’d love to have a Liam Reddox or Ryan O’Marra up here. Those two are solid penalty killers. Keep in mind though, that while they are great AHL penalty killers, they wouldn’t automatically be great in the NHL, but they have a better mindset to kill penalties than what Renney has to work with right now. The other big difference between the Barons and the Oilers, is the Barons goaltenders are near the top of the AHL talent pool, while Khabibulin hasn’t played like an upper echelon goalie thus far. You can have a great system, solid personnel, but if your goalie isn’t solid on the PK you won’t have success.

AVERY SITUATION

I’m a bit surprised by the Avery scenario in OilersNation. I understand it was frustrating to watch, but let’s look at the way it played out.

It started with a clean hit on Colin Fraser. No offence to Fraser, but Avery rubbed out Fraser, not Taylor Hall. It was a clean hit. Guys don’t need to fight just because they land a solid, clean check.

Smid comes over, and I give him credit for wanting to stand up for a teammate especially when it was 5-2, and challenges Avery. Avery originally declined the fight, and the Oilers and Renney confirmed he said, "We’ll do it next shift."

At that point, Smid could have just skated away. He stayed there and was facing Avery, when basically Avery beat Smid to the punch. It wasn’t a sucker punch. Sure, you can argue it was cheap, but Smid was facing him and Avery clearly got the jump on him.

Avery has been in a idiot in the past, but he has never been suspened for his on-ice antics. He is a mouthpiece, and far from a stand up guy, but he didn’t sucker punch Smid. Smid knew who he was dealing with, and should have been prepared for anything. Smid will be back, and I’m sure the next time he won’t ask twice when he encounters Avery. 

The Oilers are still more of a reactionary team than one that initiates things. I’m not just talking fighting, I’m talking their overall game. In the few games where the Oilers push the pace and play with some semblance of a physical presence they have dominated. The problem is they don’t seem to know how to play that way every game. 

That is just another thing that TEACHER Tom needs to instill in their game. The process is a long way from being completed, and the journey won’t be pretty some nights. 

I think fans and the organization will accept Exciting Last Place Hockey, but neither side should be satisfied with Uninspired Last Place Hockey. 

  • GSC

    In any event, this team will continue to get pushed around until they adopt an instigator’s mentality. Not instigating fights, but instigating physical play and forcing the issue on their opponents.

    Look at the way they played against Calgary on opening night, they were the hunters. They skated hard, won the puck battles, threw their bodies around, and made the Flames uncomfortable from the get-go.

    That’s the mentality that you need coming into every game, otherwise you become the hunted.

  • Jason Gregor

    Uninspiring indeed. I wonder if every team’s fans feel as frustrated as I regularly do.

    Don’t mean this as a rhetorical or sarcastic question, but what is the rebuild plan exactly? A rather obvious guess is:

    – Wait for some of the farm boys to develop to NHL level and then add them to the mix
    – Give the rookies (and near rookies) some time get up to speed
    – Trade for or sign current players to fill in the gaps

    Does that about cover it?

    How long should we reasonably expect this to take, especially 1 and 2? And how much of the winning formula is likely to come from 1 versus 3, given our prospects? Is there any plans for 3 anytime soon, cause it doesn’t seem like Tambi is in a rush (ie when do you decide there is a gap, cause we look like swiss cheese right now)? And why do I always write such long posts?

  • GSC

    It was a complete cheap shot even if it wasn’t a “sucker punch”. The disgusting part was Avery lying on top of Smid punching him after he nearly ko’d him. IMO, that should have been a gross misconduct.

  • Horcsky

    Sucker punch? Yes.

    Gregor, I might be wrong here, but I thought Lowetide wrote an article that had a line in it saying something about the Barons using a tight box PK that is very different than the Oilers system, and much more effective. If so, just wondering what the real scoop is on the Barons’ PK compared the Oiler PK. If not, carry on.

    If you’re out there LT, maybe you could chime in also?

    • Jason Gregor

      The Oilers might have been running the same system, just not actually performing it. You can design a system, but if the players don’t or can’t handle it…your SOL.

      The part of the rebuild is to find out what you don’t have, and I think it is becoming clear that right now they don’t have quality penalty killers. Guys who will block shots on purpose, and are good enough defensively.

      The Oilers aren’t great defensively five-on-five, so we shouldn’t be surprised they are worse when down a man.

      • Horcsky

        Thanks for the speedy reply. It was more worrisome to think that the new coach had a poor PK system than not having players that can play it. That being said, how hard can it be for some of these guys to stay in position and not just randomly chase the puck/man madly?

      • Eddie Shore

        But why won’t Renney switch it up? It is painfully obvious the group of players he has at his disposal cannot perform this PK system. He can’t snap his fingers and get new players for the PK, so logically you would think he would try a different system.. no?

        • Jason Gregor

          They have switched it up recently. But you won’t see success right away. It isn’t as easy as saying, “Here is the new system, make it work.”

          Players have to understand it, and then execute it. The problem is that with any new system, once the game is on, some players will resort back to old habits. If they do everything right for 1:50 of the PP, but have one breakdown at the end it can result in a goal.

          The challenge for Renney will be to see which guys aren’t breaking down, and use them more.

          In order to see results we will have to look at the next five games and evaluate them, because the season PK% will take a long time to get back to respectability.

  • Smid was just about to skate off and didn’t have his body positioned right to fight Avery. In reality, Avery waited for the right opportunity to jump Smid, which is pretty typical for this snake. It wasn’t what I would consider an honerable / fair fight, but I don’t expect any less from Avery. I guess we can blame Smid for letting his guard down. Theo Peckham said that Avery said “No, next shift”. I presume he got that from Smid. So right there should tell you that they aren’t fighting.. so in a way I can understand why Smid dropped his guard.

    It’ll be a miracle if Avery ever mans up and fights someone fairly. I actually wish it was him that Kane one punched, rather than Cooke. Chances are Avery will never get his because he’ll just keep running away from the fair fights and striking when people refs or players aren’t looking/ready.

  • Jason Gregor

    WOW I hate Burrows even more than I already did, and when I say I hate him I mean I HATE HIM.

    I hope Peckham takes his anger for Avery out on Burrows when they play next. Or even better Smid crushes him.

    What a complete joke Burrows is for saying that.

  • Jason Gregor

    There is no such thing as “Exciting Last Place” Hockey.

    Last place teams are last place because they are completely useless at every aspect of the game and get curb stomped by every half decent team in the league.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Just getting in, and have a question to throw out since im not reading it anywhere else. Did Peckham come off the bench to grab Avery and get the 10 games or is all cool?

  • Eddie Shore

    I think you guys are giving Gregor a bit of a hard time because while I think it was a bad move on Avery’s part I don’t think it was a total suckerpunch either.

    But the fact Avery laughed his way off the ice means he got and might get what he deserves when they play again.

    As for Burrows, he’s a total bag of d!cks so most things he could say wouldn’t be a surprise to me.

    Now, as for other things:

    – I’ve watched and counted the chances for every game but one of this season and Gregor’s wrong when he says the Oilers have dominated “games” unless he’s saying they played well in maybe four to six games. They are constantly outchanced so there hasn’t been shagall domination included;)

    – everyone know the guys weren’t on the roster to PK so that fault goes to lowe or tambellini or whomever’s really in charge.

    • Jason Gregor

      Dominated was probably a stretch on my part. But if you look at the season opener against the Flames, where they came out physical. The game in Minny, even though they lost, they played physical.

      They’ve scored first six out of 16 games. The San Jose game they did, but the other 58 minutes they were horrible. This team doesn’t have the focus or intensity at the start of the game that is necessary to compete. That is a major factor, along with not having enough talent.

  • Dan the Man

    I think everyone agrees that Avery’s punch was cheap and we are basically disagreeing on the definition of “sucker punch”.

    Websters defines it this way: to punch (a person) suddenly without warning and often without apparent provocation.

    Oxford defines it this way:hit (someone) with an unexpected punch or blow…

    I think those more or less fit Avery’s actions but I like Urban Dictionary’s definition #3 best…
    What a pu$$y does when he knows hes going to lose and thinks he can get an advantage.

    Sounds like Avery to me.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    It was the definition of a sucker punch, Gregor. (No one said he hit him from behind when he wasn’t looking.)

    A hit from behind when he isn’t looking is an example of a sucker punch, true…but that doesn’t mean that all other punches that are not blind-side attacks are not sucker punches.

    Example:

    A woman is a person.

    A man is not a woman.

    A man would not be a person using your reasoning as he is not a woman, and therefore cannot be a person.

    Sorry Gregor, but your definition of a ‘sucker-punch’ really pisses me off, because what Avery did was not just ‘classless’ as you say but dangerous and vicious. It defines what a sucker-punch truly is. He lied about the fact he wasn’t going to fight and then punched him WITHOUT GIVING HIM the had a chance to defend himself.

    You are right about Avery’s reputation and Smid’s need to be careful around him. That doesn’t make it alright for Avery to do that, though, like it’s some minor violation of the code, because he has a reputation. It’s dangerous for anyone to line up against him, with honor, because as in Smid’s case when they do, they might end up getting hurt – without having had the opportunity to defend himself BEFORE Avery attacks him first.

    Let’s just hope and pray Smid is alright.

    • Jason Gregor

      Who said anything about hitting from behind. Smid asked him to fight. For that he should have been prepared for anything.

      Avery didn’t just walk up and punch him without being provocation.

      You have your opinion, and I’ll have mine. You don’t have to like mine, but no one will convince me that Smid was completely innocent. When you ask someone to fight, you need to be prepared that he might hit you.

  • Jason Gregor

    It matters not what the accepted definition of sucker punch is. What Avery did is, was and always should be considered conduct unbecoming of a NHL player (or any player in any game). Here’s what we know:

    Avery made a clean hit against another physical player.

    Smid challenged Avery to fight (regardless of whether or not the fight was warranted, Smid challenged without jumping Avery).

    Avery, according to Renney et al, stated to Smid, “wait” or “next shift.”

    Avery then “jumped” or “one-punched” Smid regardless of whether or not Smid turned or did not turn his back.

    Anyone who’s watched Smid enough knows that Smid will often remove his helmet before a fight and square up. He didn’t appear to do this in this instance which lends to the belief that he was in the process of turning to skate away when Avery went after him.

    It was hardly a clean fight. Do citizens of the OilersNation have a right to be pissed off? Most definitely. Is it overdone? Without doubt, we just got blown out in 3 of the last 5 games.

  • Gretzkin

    It was a good clean hit by Avery on Fraser, but when I saw it on the tube I thought it looked like a tackle of sorts, or dirty. Though Fraser doesn’t need to be stood up for (not that he’s fared well on his own 1 on 1 this year), it was a good time in the game to be standing up for a teammate and trying to instil some sort of positive enforcement by Smid (or anyone).
    Was it a sucker punch? Yes. If Avery said, “next shift” or whatever and backed down by looking at the play and then attacked Smid, it’s certainly a sucker punch, whether or not Laddy was facing him or not. Although, if you’ve made the decision to engage a guy for what could have looked like a dirty hit from a dirty player (read: I saw a questionable hit at first glance, clean in the replays, on ice players coulda seen the same), you shouldn’t give Avery (in this case) an option for discussion. Force the issue. Smid learned a valuable lesson that he wont make again. Avery is dung, but Smid played right into his hands, and I don’t think that’ll happen again. Dirty dirty. I was impressed with Whitney’s reaction and even more by Peckham (wish he’s have gotten a hold of him).

    As for a a D callup, I’d nominate Belle at this juncture. I went to one Barons game this year and Belle was responsible and by far the best D on the ice. Plante was a monster in size, but only that. That’s only one game of “seen him good”, but I think Belle had the best head for the position and could bring a positive to the Oil.
    Man… our D is terrible.
    Gilbert is still my goat for the year and doing a good job of cementing that. He’s just terrible. Handsome, in a rock and roll kinda way, but absolutely terrible at hockey sports.

  • Gretzkin

    @Gregor

    You are entitled to your opinion but you are COMPLETELY wrong on your Smid/Avery analysis. That was a sucker punch. What led up to the sucker punch should not come into play. Whether or not Smid was justified in challenging Avery to a fight after a clean hit has nothing to do with it. I am shocked that you are so out to lunch on this. Watch the video…once a guy says ‘I’ll fight next shift’, that is the end of it. Smid looked up ice and Avery jumped him. If that is not a SUCKER punch, you tell me what is…

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Even before Smid got hurt or Peckham it was clear that this team needs another true 2nd pairing d-man. Going into these games and dressing guys that are all playing over their head just isn’t working.