GDB 79.0: GOING OUT IN STYLE

After going 26 games without a goal, Linus Omark has scored in two straight games and in a 4-1 victory over the first place Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, Omark was at his electrifying best. When he is on his game the fourth round pick in 2007 is highly creative, tenacious and dogged on the puck, surprisingly hard to knock off his skates and a risk taker. If Omark plays tonight like he did on Saturday, win or lose, Oiler fans will leave Rexall Place entertained.

"I’m not sure you win without that element of risk in your game, quite honestly," said Tom Renney. "But you have to make sure you attack as five people and don’t leave it up to one guy, but more importantly you have to be sound defensively, and as long as Linus continues to pay attention to that, and recognize the value of five in the picture and being very much a part of the primary checker when it is there for him or picking up the right people away from that, then I have no problem with
it (creatitivity).

"The bottom line is, he is going to have figure out soon rather than later that he has that skill and that invites some heavy checking, and that can be an advantage too, if he moves the puck the right way."

Yesterday Renney compared Omark to Pavel Bure in terms of excitiment and creativity. Omark doesn’t skate like the Russian Rocket, but as long as he keeps his feet moving he is dangerous. Omark is incredibly confident with the puck, and he isn’t afraid to try things or make the tough play. Even his teammates recognize there is some risk in his game.

"He is that type of player, he wants to try stuff. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but when he does it it is fantastic. He just has to choose his moments a bit better, but I think he has done that pretty well this year. I love it when someone tries to do something extraordinary, and especially when he succeeds. I think it is great for the game and when he tries stuff he gets all of us excited," said Magnus Paajarvi.

Not only does Omark excite his teammates, his creatitivity gets fans and the media talking. I found it interesting that no one from CBC was ripping Omark after his first star performance against Vancouver, yet a few weeks earlier Glenn Healy and Kelly Hrudey both ripped him for his lack of respect and being a "hot-dog". I guess as long as the cocky moves pay off then CBC won’t critique his moves.

Devan Dubnyk will try and sweep this mini two-game series v. the Canucks, but the rest of the lineup is up in the air. Gilbert Brule and Colin Fraser won’t dress. Taylor Chorney has been skating for a few weeks and says he is ready to play, but he’ll be a game time decision.

The Oilers didn’t run any lines in practice today, and so the best guess is based on yesterday’s combos.

Hartikainen/Vande Velde/Eberle
Paajarvi/O’Marra/Jones
Reddox/Cogliano/Omark
MacIntyre/Jacques/Strudwick

Ladislav Smid skated again and says he feels fine and wants to play. If he does, then the D pairings will be the same as Saturday. There is a chance you will see Reddox and Hartikainen switch spots, and I’m sure Renney will have the blender out at times, because I can’t see him throwing that fourth line over the boards very often.

FOUR THOUGHTS

 

  1.  It is interesting how we view players differently. Over the weekend Jarome Iginla notched his 1,000 career point in his 1103rd game,and many said he should be a guaranteed HOFamer. Iginla has had five 80+ points seasons and won three playoffs series; all of them during the Flames Cup run in 2004. Joe Thornton, meanwhile, has 999 points and will most likely reach 1,000 points in his 993rd game tomorrow night. Thornton has had six 80+ points seasons, including three of 100 or more. He has won seven playoff series, but has only made it to the 3rd round once. Thornton has yet to be a dominant playoff performer, and I wonder if the Flames wouldn’t have made their great run in 2004 if people would say the same about Iginla? Do you think playoff success should mean that much when comparing HOFamers?
     
  2. Speaking of the San Jose Sharks, I hate to admit it, but a small part of me is wondering if this is the year they finally get out of the Western conference. The Sharks have swam under the radar all season, and with the Canucks and Red Wings getting most of the attention, I wonder if having no expectations will help the Sharks? I vowed last year that I would never pick them to win the Cup again, and I won’t, but I’ve found myself fighting the urge to believe in them again.
     
  3. The PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) met earlier this week and discussed whether or not they would boycott voting for the NHL players awards, in response to the childish and immature reaction of Garth Snow and the Islanders. Snow banned writer/blogger Chris Botta back in November because he felt Botta was being too critical and was trying to make the "story about him and not the team." The PHWA decided that it was too close to the voting to boycott them, however, the chapters of the NYR, NYI, NJ and CBJ have said they won’t vote. If the PHWA wanted to make a statement they should have elected not to vote. Having four of 30 chapters walk away doesn’t do anything. The NHL needs to realize they can’t ban a reporter just because an overzealous oversensitive GM can’t handle a little criticism. The PHWA’s decision seems eerily similar to when the NHL hands out a suspension; meaningless.
     
  4. If the Oklahoma City Barons can win two of three this weekend they should make the playoffs, and if they do, Omark, Jeff Petry, Ryan O’Marra, Teemu Hartikainen and Chris Vande Velde could help them go a long way in the playoffs. OKC plays in San Antonio on Friday, then in Texas on Saturday and in Houston on Sunday. The Oilers are praying they can win at least two and get to the postseason. All five of the eligible Oilers admit they’ve been watching the standings and are all hoping they will get a shot at the Calder Cup once they are done in Edmonton. I’m curious to see how much playing time Martin Marincin will get this weekend, considering OKC has six decent AHL D-man right now. If they play him one of Richard Petiot, Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, Bryan Helmer, Jake Taylor or Kevin Montgomery will take a seat.

SWEEPING SEASON

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I’m sure it is rare that the 30th and 1st place teams play back-to-back, and I can’t imagine the 30th place team ever sweeping a two-game series. The Oilers deserved their 4-1 victory on Saturday, but the Canucks were a bit snarly this morning after their coach stopped practice yesterday due to a lack of focus and work ethic. The Oilers are fired up for tonight’s game, but so are the Canucks so I’ll go with the President Trophy winners to win 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After holding the Sedin’s to only one point (Henrik) on Saturday, the Oilers will be over-powered by the Swedes tonight. The Sedins will combine for four points and Daniel will surpass 100 points, but won’t match Henrik’s 112 point season from last year.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: While many have forgotten about Alex Burrows’ comment earlier this year about how he doesn’t like Ladislav Smid and was happy when Sean Avery one-punched him in New York, Smid hasn’t. Early in the 2nd period, Smid will go into the corner with Burrows. They will collide along the boards, and Smid won’t ask for an invitation like he did with Avery, but instead he will drop the gloves, grab Burrows and start chucking. Referees Mike Leggo and Kyle Rehman will recall Burrow’s accusation of Mr. Auger last year and give both players fighting majors despite Burrows only throwing one punch, with his gloves on. After the game Smid mentions how he learned from his mistake v. Avery, and knew that Burrows would never fight unless he was forced to. Burrows will credit the refs for making the right call, with the hope he’ll get a call go his way during the playoffs. 

  • I never really got the whole respecting other NHLers by not playing to the best of your abilities stuff. I mean, I understand not doing stuff like showboating after a fight, or insulting someone, and such.

    But it bothers me when I hear media or players crying about a player being overly creative. It reminds me of when Jeremy Roenick went on that tirade about Gauthier hitting him hard in a pre-season. Guys are competing for jobs and doing what they have to in order to win. If you are upset when someone shows you up in a game, play harder, don’t play, or just shut up, IMHO (barring certain stuff that doesn’t belong, like showboating after a fight).

    The players tend to forget who pays their bills… and we don’t want to see boring, respectful hockey all the time 😉

  • Following up on Zarf’s post, I think the thing that bugs me the most about the anti-Omarkists is that Martin St. Louis does virtually the same thing (in terms of supposed “hot-dogging”), and everyone scrambles to sing his praises, because he’s a little guy with heart, or some such garbage. What a joke.

    • Jason Gregor

      I think you guys are all missing the fact that St. Louis didn’t do it in his first year. Marty is regarded as one of the hardest working players in the entire league.Old school guys will always think a guy needs to “earn” his stripes.

      No one should compare St. Louis to Omark at this point. No offence, but Omark is not even close to St.Louis in any facet. Now if you want to say you’d like to see Omark evolve into him, then I would agree with that.

      • Hemmertime

        With great respect, Jason, it really isn’t unfair to compare Omark with St.Louis at this stage of their careers.Remember, St.Louis played at the University of Vermont until he was 21 or 22, then kicked around the IHL and AHL with the Cleveland Lumberjacks and Saint John Flames until he was 24. He played 56 games with Calgary that year, getting 3 goals and 15 assists,compared to Omarks 24 points in 47 games.Will he evolve into St. Louis? In my dreams, of course, but right now all we Oiler fans have are dreams.
        A theory I have about Omarks bad press from Old School types harkens back to Jim Bouton of Ball Four fame.(for those of you too young to remember, it was a bestselling inside look at major leagur baseball back in 1970)Bouton said hitters didn’t mind being struck out by a 100 mph fastball but they hated pitchers who out thought them by throwing dinky offspeed stuff.Omarks curl and flip on his shootout move, and other such stuff, amount to the same thing.

      • Agreed – the two aren’t close in terms of track record, and it is a safe bet that nearly anyone would take a St. Louis on their team before Omark.
        However, regardless of St. Louis’ tenure in the league, why is St.Louis allowed to be “disgusted” by Omark’s move, and other players called it “disprespectful” (with more colourful langauge) – this via Spector’s article? Does this imply then that if you earn your stripes in the league you’re THEN allowed to pull these “yougblood” and “@#$@ joke” moves?

        It is what it is, but I’m happy to call it as it is: a pathetic double-standard.

        Kid’s got balls – he admitted himself he looks like a fool if he fouls up the play, but he went for it.

  • Yeah, it’s more than a little creepy. It’s weird.

    It’s like Hrudey and Healy think they know something about Omark that we don’t … which is laughable because they can’t know much more than we do because we’re sitting in Alberta and they’re sitting in a studio in Toronto that they don’t ever leave.

    The only other player that I can remember getting this unpleasant treatment at this early time in his career was Petr Klima … and his off-ice issues were well-documented early on in his career.

    Omark’s a guy who started the season in the AHL and has worked his way to a roster by playing a style of game that no one ever would have thought he would have played – the cycling grinder.

    But, because Healy and Hrudey haven’t seen him play more than, say, 3 times this season, their assumption is that he’s the one-trick hotdog that he was billed as last summer and not the curious combination of skilled grinder (a poor man’s Sedin) that he really is.

    I’m not saying that Omark is going to be a star and I think the Bure comparisons probably need to be toned down. But I do think Omark deserves more respect than he’s getting from folks on HNIC who normally have no problem fawning over just about anyone else.

  • stevezie

    Ticking off Kelly Hrudey and Glenn Healy by doing flash and dash moves on the ice is like the sun rising in the East, or Chuck Norris being awesome. It’s a sure thing.

    If you want a goaltender to be upset, do something that shows you don’t care how he feels and that you want to embarrass him. He doesn’t even have to be playing to get upset. It’s even better if you showboat it.

    GO OMARK!

      • Horcsky

        What the heck is Oodle Noodle? I discovered this great add-on for Firefox that blocks all those annoying ads (except the Pint, which must be part of the Nation’s page artwork or something).

        It’s called adblock plus, it can be downloaded from the Firefox add-ons screen, and I highly recommend it. Keeps those nasty River Cree and Oodle Noodle ads from cluttering up my screen.

  • Lyxdeslic

    – Flipping the puck over the top of the net. (I don’t know if they’ve cited this one as proof-positive that he’s cocky, but I’m willing to bet it is).

    Flipping the puck over the net. Wasn’t it Datsyuk last year who did that during a game and was praised by everyone around the league for his creativity?

  • stevezie

    What is it with Kelly Hrudey’s visceral dislike of Linus? I don’t get it. It’s like being upset with Steve Nash because he does unexpected things with the basketball. Linus is the most creative thinker I’ve seen in ages, certainly the most creative Oiler since Gretzky.

  • OilFan

    I said it before on here but it bears repeating: For Hrudey and Healy to claim Omark is cocky, they need a helluva lot more than:

    – Doing a spin-o-rama and fake-slapshot shootout move.

    – Tapping the sides of the net from behind the net to divert the goalie’s attention.

    – Failing to hold up at the offensive blueline on a completely routine offside.

    – Flipping the puck over the top of the net. (I don’t know if they’ve cited this one as proof-positive that he’s cocky, but I’m willing to bet it is).

    Anyway, the character-judgement-from-two-zones-away that Hrudey and Healy have brought down on Omark is one of the strangest things I’ve seen on HNIC of late. It always leaves me with a weird vibe – like they’ve got a problem with him being a small, skilled player from Sweden or something. If it was Don Cherry saying that, we’d be calling him a xenophobe or racist.

    The funny thing is, when Ron MacLean asked Don Cherry about Omark’s famous shootout move against Tampa last December, Grapes didn’t really make any anti-Euro/Swede comments like he would have 20 years ago. But apparently, Hrudey and Healy have opted to pick up his torch in a more subtle, measured but more vile way.

    In other words, Hrudey and Healy are higher on the xenophobe-o-meter than Grapes is.

    And that’s simply amazing. And really, really odd. I can’t believe Ron MacLean just sits there and lets them get away with it … for two weekends in a row.

  • Lyxdeslic

    I think the Nucks are going to come out absolutely flying tonight, but regardless, my finger are crossed that the rookies Hartikainen, Eberle, Paajarvi and Omark can dominate the scoreboard. Any predictions that Eberle gets a season ending injury after his 42 point tonight?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    15-3 Oilers. Darryl Sittlers 10 pt record falls this evening, Jordan Eberle dominates the Canucks in a stunning 12 pt performance. 8 goals and 4 assists. My buddy Jason Strudwick chips in with a Gordie Howe hat trick.

  • mick swagger

    Nah, Hrudey still hates Omark, success or no success. He made a snide remark after McLean mentioned that Spezza tried the “Omark” in a game (fake slapshot thing). He also looked like he was about to say something after the game but got cut off.

  • I pray to god Omark tries that flip-over-the-net thing again and PRV is there to finish instead of Cogs.

    Also, tonight should be a blood bath. The Canucks will be looking to ramp up for the playoffs and our squad will be just the team to get that train moving out of the station. My guess is Luongo starts. 7-3 Vancouver.

  • mick swagger

    Jason i ran into Kevin lowe and Steve tambo at a coffee shop yesterday and had a 15 min conversation with them about my trip to Thailand but when i told them i followed the oilers the whole time through oilers nation they kinda looked at me funny do you think they ever read ON?

  • I didn’t think the oil would finish DFL at the start of the season but if one had known that the line-up would look like that this late in the year anything but last place would be surprising.

    The rookies have done well all things considered but that is a last place lineup.

  • Let's Rebuild

    My favorite moment of the last game was when Omark and Kesler were battling in the Canucks zone. After Omark came back and stripped Kelser of the puck in the neutral zone, and sent Hartikainen in all alone. He missed on the penalty shot but still, it was fantastic.

    Just like the season opener got me through some tough times this season, that game will hold me until October.