Right On Time

Young defensemen are such a pain in the ass until the light goes on. It’s true. Turning the wrong way, falling down, forgetting the backdoor play, I’ve watched decades of young defensemen and with few exceptions it’s an absolute nightmare. They screw up two-on-ones, block out the goalie, take penalties at the worst time for no good reason and turn the coaching staff grey. However. When they turn the corner, when the lightbulb over their head goes on, when they manage oppositions sorties with authority–well, that’s a damn good day.

Ladislav Smid has developed by sundial. I mean no disrespect, it’s a tough position and playing well involves quick reads, quick reaction, good health, a good partner, luck, timing, the planets aligning, shot blocking, pain, endurance, long suffering, locusts, amputation, faith, anger, gumption, balls, overcoming fear, people booing you, high sticks, cross checks, angry coaches, mean opponents, Sean Avery and in some cases food allergies.

Ladislav Smid arrived in the NHL too soon–rushed to show the payoff for Chris Pronger–and took years to remember the back door play. He ran into glass for no apparent reason, fists on purpose and for a time seemed to respond to a whistle ending play by facewashing everything in sight.

As he approaches the 350 game mark in the NHL, Ladislav Smid is emerging as a quality option when the Oilers are playing defense. A few photos from Gabe Desjardins behind the net.

ZONE START

This shows Laddy as being one of the defenders coach Renney relies on for defensive zone starts. Smid’s offensive percentage is 3rd toughest among regulars so far this season, as he and Tommy Gilbert take on the toughest options.

QUAL COMP

Smid and Gilbert once again rank near the top of the chart, along with Jeff Petry who has played fewer games. These two charts indicate just how much confidence the coaching staff is showing in Smid/Gilbert.

CORSI REL

Smid’sCorsiRel trails Gilbert–who is having an enormous season so far–but for all the heavy lifting being done by that pairing Smid’s -7.2 should be considered a very good total. Last season, Smid faced the 4th toughest opposition and had the third best Corsi Rel, so this should be considered a big step up in competition.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

By eye and by math Ladislav Smid is playing the best hockey of his career.

  • Tom Renney: “This is the best he’s played. He can still make a play and deliver the puck to the net, but at the end of the day, if he’s a plus player and a real solid shutdown defenceman, mission accomplished for Ladi and for us."

Ladislav Smid has arrived, right on time.

    • justDOit

      Ha! My youngest is at a sleepover (best night of the year for it!), and my oldest needs that extra hour just to be on time.

      And I get an extra hour of coffee and browsing the interwebs. What a sweet morning.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    No one gets teeth, everyone must speak in a Russian accent from now on… it is the year of the Smid!

    He’s been amazing this year. CBC did a nice breakdown of a run of good plays of his in the first period last night. Brimming with pride. Pronger who?

    oh and… honey… you’re almost there, but it’s a little higher, keep reaching and I’m sure you’ll get there…

  • RPG

    Except he gets beat to the outside by fossil like Langkow last night… mind you he didn’t get any help when Dubie fell asleep hugging the goalline and post!! I thought he might be the odd man out when all the D is healthy but Peckham has saved him from that by a longshot.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      What do you mean beat? He did what he was supposed to do. He angled him to the outside, taking away both a high percentage shot in the slot, or a deek in tight and took away the pass opportunity. All Langkow had was a weak backhand from a sharp angle. Dubs was out of position. That goal is totally on him. There was no screen. He just wasn’t square.

      • justDOit

        Props to that. Also, we have to remember that this is the new NHL – no more hooking/holding/impeding progress. I don’t care who the defender is, they will get beaten on occasion and made a fool of, it’s just the way it is.

        It sure looks like Doobie could use some more time between the pipes.

      • justDOit

        Go back and watch the goal again. When the play develops at the blue line Lady is on the wrong side of the ice and can’t get back in time so there is NO shot. But, as I said, agreed that the goal is on Dub.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      No need for anyone to watch the play “develop” again.

      If every offensive chance the Oilers give up ends with a player taking a backhand from a weak angle you can start planning the parade route now.

      When you make a point of saying that Smid got beat wide by a fossil…you’re wrong; period!

      BE BETTER!

    • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

      Ubber Fail! Negative infinity props.

      Some people should just watch the games and enjoy it instead of trying to over analize everything while pretending or dreaming of being a hockey expert. Try being a fan first instead of grasping at straws.

  • ButtermilkBiscuitsAKAoilers2k10

    Yeah Dubnyk was a little rusty, but it was his first start in a week..if he plays again next game I’m sure that he would be alot sharper..

    I’ve always liked Smid..he’s a guy who wants to play on this team..i can see him being a quality top four-five defensemen for this team for a long time..glad the oilers have been patient with him it’s paying off now..

      • justDOit

        The Eberle pick was part of the Pronger trade? So could this actually be a props to Lowe?

        Realistically, I don’t know how the team could have managed to keep Lupul this long, given his injuries and lackluster play throughout. Good on him, though, for working hard and getting back to SIUTBOYC!

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ justdoit. Ya, Lupuls off to a great start and he’s a solid complementary scorer, but theirs a reason he’s been traded 4 times in the 5 or 6 years that he’s been in the league.

    • justDOit

      Yes, his legacy of injuries – mostly back problems. I don’t see how anyone could wish that the Oilers had held on to him this long, it’s just not practical.

    • Jerk Store

      I think I heard somewhere they both played in Medicine Hat …. And the team was owned by a tree planter and a lawyer. Oops maybe I am getting my facts wrong. Better call Stu the Magnificent Bastard and clear things up.

  • Jerk Store

    LT, I’ve never understood why you use the phrase “develop by sundial” when you talk about defensemen. I realize you are saying they take a long time to develop but the metaphor doesn’t make any sense. A sundial measures time during the day by the angle of the sun. It is no different than a watch, the metaphor would more accurately imply they develop quickly, say within a day.

    • Lowetide

      Matt: It’s an old timey phrase from my childhood. Damned if I know where any of this comes from. The other day I’m in a meeting and say “if that’s true, there’ll be more hell than a little bit” and everyone stares blankly at me. 🙂

      As I get older, I’ll be like that episode of Star Trek where there is a planet of people who talk only in established phrases.

  • Hemmertime

    That Anne Hathaway photo creeps me out every time. Do you see it? Look again…

    They photoshopped her fking armpit out in every shot of that series. Like only freaks would have one. Admittedly it took awhile for me, and very close scanning, and hard to turn away from that cleavage

    • Lowetide

      yeah, I’d say the Oilers have a solid pairing in Smid-Gilbert. If they can keep Whitney healthy and find him a partner (Petry?) the blue is going to be much better moving forward.