GDB 38.0: A RED WING OR A RED OX?

You thought the ratings for last night’s WJC semi-final with Canada and the USA was big, wait until the we see the numbers for the return of the RED OX tonight for the Oilers. When Liam Reddox was sent to OKC in favour of Ryan Jones, many questioned the decision. 

As the Oilers PK sunk lower than the Miami Dolphins home record, fans were pleading for the return of Edmonton’s favourite Ginger, so I can only imagine that when #85 steps onto the ice tonight the little Ox will receive a hearty applause.

I understand why many cheer for Reddox. He is undersized, isn’t blessed with the a lot of natural skill, works his ass off every shift, fearlessly blocks shots and he’s a ginger. The good news for Reddox is that he doesn’t have to be the saviour for the PK. The Oilers are a respectable 86% on the PK in their last 13 games, so Reddox won’t be asked to block every shot by himself.

But the Oilers will need to be on their toes because the Red Wings possess the 2nd best road PP in the league at a stellar 24.2%.

Tom Renney must have the same faith in Reddox, because he and Linus Omark didn’t arrive in Edmonton in time for the morning skate today, but as long as their flight arrives at noon, they will both slot into the lineup.

Paajarvi/Gagner/Hemsky
Hall/Cogliano/Penner
Omark/Brule/Jones
Jacques/Fraser/Reddox

***You might see Omark and Reddox play with Brule and keep Jones/Fraser/Jacques line together.***

Peckham/Gilbert
Smid/Foster
Petry/Vandermeer

Khabibulin

I’m still struggling to understand what Renney sees in Jacques to keep playing him ahead of Zack Stortini. I’ve asked Renney and outside of saying Stortini’s skating isn’t great and is a tough scratch, Renney hasn’t given much insight into what he doesn’t like about his game right now.

Note 1: I wish Reddox would have been at my house this morning, when I had to change my tire at eight in the morning. I bet he wouldn’t even of had to use a jack…

DAVID V. GOLIATH

Tonight’s tilt v. the Red Wings is a classis David versus Goliath. The Oilers are without Ryan Whitney, Jordan Eberle and Shawn Horcoff. The Wings aren’t a 100% healthy either with Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary and Patrick Eaves out, while Brad Stuart is a game time decision. Despite the injuries on both sides, the Wings are still heavy favourites.

Let’s look at the stats:

                   DET              EDM
Wins          24                   12
Losses     10                   18
PTS           53                    31
G/G           3.41                2.54
GA/G         2.80                3.24
PP%         23 (5th)          15 (26th)
PK%         81.4 (17th)    73.3 (30th)
SOG/G     33.3 (2nd)      25.8 (29th)
SA/G         29.5 (12th)     33.8 (26th)
FO%         52.2 (5th)       45 (29th)

Combine those stats with a Wings’ modest two-game losing streak and you know Mike Babcock will have his Wings flying tonight.

OZZIE TO THE HALL?

Chris Osgood became only the 10th goalie to win 400 career games last month, and there has been lots of debate whether he should go into the Hall when his career is over.  He has played the fewest games of any of the guys in the top ten at 742. Only Martin Brodeur has a better winning %, and only Brodeur and Jacques Plante have a better GAA, than Osgood’s 2.49.

He also 74 playoff wins and three Stanley Cups, two of which he was the starter. His numbers are definitely hall of fame worthy, but I wonder if the the fact he played mostly for the Wings will hurt him. Osgood did win 84 games for the Islanders and Blues over three seasons. 400 wins and two Cups as a starter should get the Alberta-born goalie in the Hall.

What do you think? 

NEW YEAR, SAME CRYSTAL BALL

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite Jimmy Howard’s recent struggles, he still leads the league in wins but he won’t get the start tonight. The Wings will go with the 400 win man.  He will get 401 tonight and the Wings will win 5-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With Nick Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and the other good Swedes on the Wings in the house, Omark and Paajarvi will play inspired hockey. Paajarvi will pot a pair playing with Hemsky and Gagner and afterwards he will talk about how cool it was to score with Lidstrom on the ice.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Lebron James stupidly referred to his team as the Heatles, because of their ability to sell out road games, and after the Wings victory and another sell out at Rexall, Lidstrom is asked who he would compare the Wings to.

"I’ve won three more championships than Lebron, none of my teammates have shagged my mom and Todd Bertuzzi would kick Chris Bosh’s ass. Lebron is a poser and nothing more, don’t try to find a comparison between the Heat and the Wings, because there ain’t one boyeeee."

Immediately after these comments ESPN is running them at the top of the next hour, and suddenly Americans are interested in hockey, because unless you are in Miami you hate the Heat and Lebron.

Note 2: I know Lidstrom would never say this, but it would be FREAKIN awesome if he did.

  • Crackenbury

    Why are Edmonton fans so obsessed with bottom end players. Reddox is back! Wow, what an improvement. I have no doubt the fans will cheer him to no end. JFJ or Stortini? Who cares. It makes almost no difference.

    How about the need for another legitimate defenceman? Are the Oilers just going to wait and hope somebody rises to the occasion. I’m not nearly as optimistic about this team as some others are. Without a significant upgrade in size and skill down the middle this team will never be any good. I sometimes think the Oilers play games with the 3rd and 4th line players just to keep the focus off the real issues this team has.

    • DK0

      One of the real issues this team has is that it can scrape together 2 legitimate NHL lines on any given night (when healthy) but there is a significant drop off in it’s bottom 6.

      The Oilers could probably be a playoff team with a top 6 of Hemsky, Gagner, Penner, Horcoff, Eberle, Hall providing it had quality in it’s bottom 6 (think back to the forward group on the 2006 playoff team… that sort of depth).

      • Crackenbury

        I disagree with that being a contending top 6. Individually any of them can probably fit in on a top six role on most teams, but taken together they are lacking size and power. Hall is going to develop into a true top 6 forward that any team could make room for. Eberle is great, but he needs some size and strength down the middle to complement his game.

        • Cervantes

          What are size and power?

          The Top 6 I mentioned aren’t any smaller than those of Detroit, Colorado, St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago or Nashville… all of whom are either in the playoffs or fighting for a playoff position.

          The problem with the Oilers has been they routinely have 2 lines every game that are drastically over matched. They’ve had to rotate guys through on various lines.

          When a quality player has to move to a different line to help out, his old line suffers while the new one improves. When he moves back the line he was just on suffers and it’s been an on going theme all year with this club.

    • Dude. There won’t be any moves made this year to actually improve the team until *coincidentally* we have a solid grip on that top 5 pick.

      Its called tanking “rebuilding”. Might as well get used to it. Oiler life becomes much more enjoyable when you make your peace with that fact.

      • Petr's Jofa

        Solid grip on top a top 5 pick? I’m thinking that with the lack of trades despite where this team sits in the standings and the injury situation, the management of this team is holding out for a bottom 2 finish and a guaranteed top 3 pick.

        • Yeah. You’re probably right. I didn’t want to be too obvious, but this is where they seem to be headed. The whole thing makes me sick. Tanking for a couple of years seems to be the easy way out and a major insult to the players. But it is what it is.

          • John Chambers

            Ricky, seriously? Let’s re-cap the history of the Edmonton Oilers from the beginning of the 1992-93 season:

            Zero 40 goal scorers.

            One 100-point season.

            Zero Calders, Harts, Vezinas, Norris’es, or Art Ross Trophies.

            Two opening-round playoff series victories, and one two-month orgasm of an unlikely playoff run the the SCF.

            Zero seasons where more than one Oiler was selected to the All-Star Team.

            Our best player in that time was either Doug Weight, Curtis Joseph, or Ryan Smyth, none of whom will go to the Hall of Fame or have their jersey retired.

            I think it’s fair that we all buy into the re-build because it’s the safest way out of what has been a prolonged ugly state of affairs.

      • Crackenbury

        I understand the Oilers strategy. It’s surprising how long they have been able to get the fans on board with what they’re doing. ELPH sounds good in theory, unless you’ve been the one shuffling out $7000 a year for a season tickets.

        • I think fans will give the team this year, and they greased those skids during the summer with season ticket holder focus groups. The entire plan seems to hinge on what Tambellini does this summer, at which time we’ll know if he’s a genius or an idiot.

          But I have no doubt Katz rubber stamped this whole “ELPH” thing as part of some master plan. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one who thought it up. I can’t see an ex-great athlete like Lowe willingly losing for 2 consecutive years, but maybe that’s what Katz figured had to be done.

          • Hemmercules

            I don’t think it rides on this summer so much as 2012 and 2013. I would be shocked if Tambelini did a ton of team changing moves this summer, all has has on his plate for this summer is to sign, let go or re sign some bottom 6 guys and a couple dmen. I see next season much like this one, a bunch of rookies and a few new faces with a losing record. The 2012 trade deadline and the following summer will be majorly significant for this team in my opinion. It would be really nice to pick up a centerman and a dman this summer though but the price will be high as usual.

          • Crackenbury

            Your right, pro athletes never plan to lose. However,if we come out of this year with another lottery pick, another year of losing will have been worth it.

            I still don’t see where where this team gets much better next year without addressing size down the middle. Problem is, every other team wants and needs the same thing. We may be waiting several more years for our center prospects to mature. If Tambellini somehow manages to sign or trade for a player like Brad Richards in the next year, this teams success will happen much quicker.

          • Horcsky

            Don’t get me wrong, Brad Richards can play, and I like him a lot; however, Richards is about the same size a Cogliano, is age 30, and is more of a playmaking centre than a scorer. For me, he’s not a fit here, considering the other forwards already on the team, and his age of course.

          • Crackenbury

            Brad Richards was probably not the best example to use for size, but he is listed 2″ taller than Cogliano and 10 lbs heavier. He is also a proven top line center on 2 teams. At 31 years old this upcoming May I’d take him.

            Edit: The fact that Richards is an upgrade in size to most of our centers tells you just how small we are.

          • Let's Rebuild

            Didn’t you guys read Spector’s article forecasting the New Year. Richards is going to the Rangers, so that is as good as done.

            I too am growing tired of the chatter about the oilers not having size up front. I did a quick look at the players in the top forwards for points right now to see if size is a determining factor for success. (I also added position and I used TSN.ca stats)

            Crosby – 5-11 200 lbs – C
            Stamkos – 6-1 196 lbs – C
            St. Louis – 5-9 177 lbs – R
            Sedin H – 6-2 188 lbs – C
            Sedin D – 6-1 187 lbs – L
            Richards – 6-0 196 lbs – C
            Perry – 6-3 206 lbs – R
            Zetterberg – 5-11 195 lbs – L
            Eriksson – 6-1 189 lbs – R
            Kopitar – 6-3 222 lbs – C
            Ovechkin – 6-2 223 lbs – L
            Sharp – 6-1 199 lbs – C
            Duchene – 5-11 200 lbs – C
            Datsyuk – 5-11 194 lbs – C
            Staal – 6-4 205 lbs – C
            Getzlaf – 6-4 220 lbs – C
            Richards – 5-11 195 lbs – C
            Heatley – 6-4 220 lbs – R
            Backstrom – 6-1 210 lbs – C
            Stastney – 6-0 205 lbs – C

            From the 20 forwards on the list only Perry, Kopitar, Staal, Getzlaf, and Heatley would be considered a “big forwards” (over 6-3), 5 out of 20 or 25 %. Interesting to note the Median height is 6-1
            Here are the offensive Oiler’s forwards this year:

            Penner – 6-4 245 lbs – L
            Gagner – 5-11 191 lbs – C
            Eberle – 5-10 174 lbs – R
            Hall – 6-1 185 lbs – L
            Hemsky – 6-0 192 lbs – R
            Horcoff – 6-1 208 lbs – C
            Paajarvi – 6-2 201 lbs – L
            Jones – 6-1 202 lbs – L
            Cogliano – 5-10 184 lbs – C
            Brule – 5-10 180 lbs – R

            The Oilers only have Penner, so 10 %. Essentially they only need 1 more “Big forward” to be comparable to the top 20 offensive players in the league. Median height is 6-05.

            Conclusion, if we add one more forward with size and remove either Cogliano or Brule, size will no longer be an issue and thus we will only win. I believe the dead horse has been sufficiently beaten

          • Interesting point. However, these top 20 scorers don’t play in a vacuum. What is the average height of the offensive forwards on the top 20 scorer’s TEAMs? Maybe they score because of the big guys they play with on their line. I don’t believe this, but it could be true.

  • Dan the Man

    What I don’t get is that if Renney doesn’t think Stortini skates well enough to have a regular spot then how in name of 8 pound 6 ounce, new born baby jesus does Strudwick ever get in the line up?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Strudwick aka Studwick, has quickly become one of the premier shut down d’man in the western conference eh. He’s an equal opportunist, he’ll shut you down no matter what your surname is. He must be leading the defense in +/- over the last 6 weeks on the Oilers i’m sure.

      Who wouldn’t put Jacques in ahead of Stortini and MacIntyre. If there’s anything else i can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      • DK0

        What? there is so many half finished thoughts in there I’m confused… Is this supposed to be surrounded in ~’s?

        “Who would put Jacques in ahead of Stortini and MacIntyre.” is that a statement or a question?

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Appologies DKO, somewhere in this world it is after 5 pm. Maybe i should’ve taken that speed typing class afterall, not that it would help….after 5.

  • Dan the Man

    I was OK with JFJ’s role last year, he hit everything that moved and on a very non-phyiscal team I can see the value in that.

    This year…..he ummm…is big and skates…and is big….

  • smiliegirl15

    Quinn may have put JFJ in the first line at the beginning of last season but how long did that last?

    @Doug Sorensen

    He can lay someone out but skated away when asked to drop the gloves the other night, yeah he’s a great team player.

  • Ender

    I’m actually glad Renney has JFJ in ahead of Stortini tonight. No one is naive enough to think it will be the difference between winning and losing, and JFJ will make Reddox look much better by comparison. Now if only the fourth line can score some points tonight, it might help some trade chances and turn into a late Christmas for the Oilers yet.

  • Sorensenator

    Funny how Pat Quinn felt JF. Jacques was first line material at the start of last year. Agreed he is not a first line player by any stretch of the imagination, however I think he is a better hockey player then Storts.

    – Injuries in the case of JF. Jacques can put a major damper on confidence and overall feel for the game.

    Remember Jarret Stoll’s concussion and Shawn Horcoff’s season ending injury? Once Jarret Stoll made his way back into the lineup, he seemed lost to find his game; unable to put up points he managed to do in previous years, ultimately leading to a trade to LA. In the case of Shawn Horcoff, he was terrible last year. He played uninspired hockey, and was under constant scrutiny because of his inflated contract.

    Sure, JF. Jacques is not as adept as Horcoff and Stoll, but if he can play consistently game after game, he might evolve into the hard hitting two-way forward we originally sought.

    Have you ever seen Stortini hit someone and actually hurt them? I swear Brule can hit harder then he can. Stortini also throws muffins for punches; I’ve never seen him win a convincing fight. Soft.

  • Petr's Jofa

    @ubermiguel

    Joseph couldn’t win in detroit because he didn’t get any support. He played very well the only year he was the wing’s playoff goalie. Unfortunatly the Wings scored a total of 6 goals (1,2,1,2)in the 4 games series against the Ducks.

  • Petr's Jofa

    I can’t come up for a great reason based on numbers not to put Ozzy in the Hall, but I just don’t think he belongs. Are there kids outside of Detroit with Ozzy posters on their bedrooms walls?

    15 years, only 3 allstar selections, and his only ‘major’ award is the Jenning Trohpy (X2). No Olympics, no Canada Cups… I see him as a good goalie on a great team and I just don’t think that is what the Hall of Fame is about.

    It sad that my most memorable Chirs Osgood highlight is when he got beat up by Patrick Roy.

  • ubermiguel

    Osgood needs to be in the HHOF. To paraphrase him, all he does is win. And it wasn’t just the team in front of him. Joseph couldn’t win with the Detroit.

    • VMR

      There are better goalies not in the Hall than Osgood. Tom Barasso and Mike Vernon would have to be in before he gets a chance, Curtis Joseph as well in my book but that’s not necessarily a given.

      Osgood was a product of playing behind Nik Lidstrom and yeah maybe Joseph wasnt able to win with Detroit but an old worn out Hasek was. Osgood was also a big part of the reason Detroit didnt win in several seasons like 2006.

      • positivebrontefan

        Why Cujo over Osgood? He didn’t win anything!
        Save% is basicaly the same,and no cups.
        GAA was worse.

        Why Barasso over Osgood?
        GAA average was way worse.

        Why Vernon over Osgood?
        GAA worse as well.

        What makes a good goalie?

        I’ve always thought that Osgood got the bums rush out in Detroit. Worked hard never complained and at the end of the day won three cups with them.

        I say he is worthy.

        Just my opinion though, not saying anyone elses is wrong.

  • Maybe JFJ is being showcased?

    Nah. Even I can’t believe that one. The less you feature that guy, the more likely you’ll find somebody stupid enough to trade for him. As it is right now, his ineptitude is on display for the world to see.

    • They’d be better off showcasing him by sitting him in the press box. Given the players that have passed through waivers unclaimed this year I have a hard time believing anyone outside of the Islanders would take a run at him. He kind of really sucks.

  • Dan the Man

    Ozzy to the hall sounds good to me…statistically it should be a no-brainer.

    Wow, JFJ again…painful…khabby again…painful (yeah yeah yeah nine game rotation blah blah).

    Go liam prove your worth!

  • Dyckster

    Strudwick out Jimmy V. back in. With all due respect to Struds, that’s definately a step up in the D dept. Plus I think Petry is going to have a break-out game. When I say break-out I’m thinking plus 1 with an assist and a solid body check or two. Lets call it a Petry hat trick.

    GOIL!

  • The continued devotion to JF Jacques makes little sense. Just one of the reasons the bottom 6 has been horrible this year. Gregor, is this a situation where management dictates a decision? Tambo was pretty heavy with his praise of Jacques at his post-season presser.