WEEKEND WRAP

The second Jarret Stoll’s snapshot whistled over Cory Schneider’s shoulder ending the Canucks season, many Oiler fans were instantly tweeting, faceboooking and blogging how great it felt to see the Canucks out. Vancouver is a main rival, and arguably the most hated one, but Oiler fans should also realize that even when this never-ending rebuild of the Oilers is complete, there is no guarantee they will have playoff success.

The Canucks are a very good team. They’ve had 100+ points in seven of the last nine seasons. They won the President’s trophy in 2011 and then lost in game seven of the Cup final. They won the President’s trophy again this year, but limped out of the playoffs in five games.

What happened?

Losing Daniel Sedin to a cheap elbow from Duncan Keith hurt their offence. They did win eight of nine regular season games without him, but against the stingy LA Kings and Jonathon Quick they really missed his offensive instincts in the first three games.

Their best players weren’t their best players. Last year Ryan Kesler was their best player enroute to the Cup final, but this year he wasn’t as dominant. He was tied for 2nd in points, three, but he didn’t score a goal, and he never dominated a game.

He isn’t the first go-to-guy to disappoint in the playoffs and he won’t be the last. There is no guarantee when the Oilers finally make the post-season that Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will all have great playoffs, in fact the odds are they won’t. And when those guys don’t put up points, if the Oilers don’t have any depth guys who can score, they likely will suffer the same disappointment as the Canucks.

The good news is that in many cases is the star players do produce, and when they do they are capable of winning a series. Claude Giroux did that for the Flyers. He tallied 14 points in six games, as the Flyers "upset" the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins.

For those who feel they can calculate a blueprint for the Oilers’ future success, keep in mind that every year we see some great teams knocked out in the first round.

I know Oiler fans would much rather deal with the disappointment of losing in the playoffs, rather than being out of them by January, but the Canucks are a reminder that even when things go right for 26 weeks, if you hit a bad streak for the wrong ten days, your season can end quickly.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

On Friday afternoon Taylor Hall spent an hour and 45 minutes on my show discussing a variety of topics. We chatted mostly about hockey, but I also learned he doesn’t know how to two-step, but he really wants to learn before next year.

I really enjoy interviewing people. I pride myself on making them feel comfortable enough that we can talk like it is just us, despite the fact that there are thousands listening. Hall wanted to come on the show, which was great to hear and a bit flattering, so he was relaxed from the start, and I learned a lot about him that I didn’t know.

He’s very poised and calm under pressure. His roommate, Jordan Eberle, sent me a text during the show saying he wanted to call in as a caller and ask Hall some questions. When we went to "Jim in St. Albert" I knew it was Eberle, but Hall thought it was a regular caller. What I didn’t expect, was to hear Eberle throwing bombs in the first 15 seconds.

I was impressed how calm Hall was during the barrage. After a few questions I could tell he knew the caller was an imposter, but he didn’t know if it was Sam Gagner or Eberle. Hall answered every question, until he figured out is was Eberle and they had a good laugh.

Hall was very forthcoming about his aspirations for the team moving forward, how badly he wants to win and it became clear that his internal drive is the biggest factor of his success. He told Jason Strudwick and I how he developed such a great shot. He didn’t have some secret formula, but rather simple hard work. Since the age of 13 he’d go to a neighbourhood rink and shoot pucks; during the summer. Last year he loaded up a net in his truck and drove to a rink and set up pucks.  "I shoot about 200 a day," he said. If you want to be great you always have to keep working hard.

He wouldn’t have a problem playing centre next year, but if the coaches want to try him there he’d like a long look. He felt he’d have the most success if he was told at the start of training camp that he’d be in the middle so he could have a full month to learn the position before the regular season started. He admitted he’d need to work on his faceoffs, but said that as of Friday he expected to be playing wing next year.

If you want to listen to the entire interview, here it is in three parts.

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Thanks again to Hall for coming by and sharing his thoughts with Oiler fans.

QUICK HITS

  • I hope the Flyers and Pens meet in the playoffs next year. That was a great series, and it was clear in the coaches post-game press conferences that they don’t like each other. Dan Bylsma said he respects them but, "I can’t wish them good luck in the next series," while Peter Laviolette got in one final jab at the Pens and Crosby, "When the best player in the world comes to you and says, ‘I don’t know who you are planning on starting, but I want that first shift,’ that says a lot about Claude Giroux." Gotta love it.
     
  • It seems many fans and media in Vancouver, along with the Canucks, feel it is a guarantee that Cory Schneider will be better than Luongo. He might be, but keep in mind in four playoff starts he has one win. Luongo is an easy target to criticize, but I haven’t seen enough from Schneider that guarantees he can start 55 regular season games and go the distance in the playoffs. By starting Schneider in the final three games v. the Kings, it seems clear they’ve made up their mind. I’m very curious to see if they made the right decision.
     
  • The Oil Kings are damn good. They’ve won 21consecutive games. They are 10-0 in the playoffs and they’ve outscored the opposition 45-14. In their final 11 regular season games they outclassed their opponents 47-22. They have incredible depth, some elite top-end talent in Micheal St. Croix,Curtis Lazar, Griffin Reinhart and goaltender Laurent Brossoit. The scary part is the Oil Kings will likely only lose four players next year. Mark Pysyk will turn pro while Tyler Maxwell (first line C), Rhett Rachinki (4th line) and Jordan Peddle (4th line) will be too old. They will be a force for the next few years. Brossoit, St. Croix and Reinhart could all be playing at the WJC next year.
     
  • I hope I’m wrong, but the Kings/Blues series could set a record for fewest goals in a series. They both play solid D, but I’m hoping that due to the size of both teams it turns into a physical affair.
     
  • Chris Neil’s hit was a hockey play. If Boyle wasn’t 6’7" it might have been considered a head shot, because most players skate with hunched over with their head slightly in front of their body. I really hope that hard hits aren’t taken out of the game.
     
  • In Vancouver’s last ten playoff games they’ve gone 2-8 and been outscored 29-12. Ouch.
     
  • Since the NHL went to a 1 v. 8 format we’ve never seen both #8 seeds win in the same year. Ottawa and the Kings could set a new standard for upsets.
     
  • The Capitals are 2-7 all-time in game sevens, while the Bruins are 12-10. This will be the Bruins 5th game seven in their last six series. They went 3-0 last year with wins over Montreal, Tampa and Vancouver. Unfortunately we have to wait until Wednesday to find out who wins.
     
  • The Eskimos just wrapped up a mini-camp, and I was surprised how many times I heard that Kerry Joseph has a legit chance to win the starting QB job. I’m not sure if that is just lip service to keep Steven Jyles on his toes, but if the game plan was to trade Ricky Ray and have 38-year-old Kerry Joseph replace him then Esks fans have legitimate reasons to be concerned. I’d take Jyles over Joseph, but neither comes close to Ray.
     
  • Jordan Eberle will be in tough against Brian Campbell to win the Lady Byng. Campbell played the most minutes of any player in the league, 2,205:31, was tied for 2nd in pts by D-men with 53 and he only took three minor penalties. He averaged one penalty for every 735 minutes played. Red Kelly was the last D-man to win the award in 1954. Kelly won it three times in four years, and the only other blueliner to win it was Bill Quackenbush in 1949. Eberle is very deserving, but so is Campbell.
  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Holy Gregor way to rain on the Canucks elimination parade. The Canucks choked so don’t be too happy we might choke took someday. You’re forgetting this is the Canucks and they have been and always will be a playoff choke team… And thank God for that. P.S. i live in Vancouver so you can forgive my exuberance.

  • Without a doubt the Oilers will have a setback or two in an early playoff exit while the team is still young. But one player alone has shown that this team is by FAR better off and has more heart than the current version of the Canucks do.

    when the games get tough and goals are scarce – the entire Vancouver Canucks roster folds, they got nothing, no creativity, no knack for getting an ugly one just to get one ..nada zilch.

    I’d like to see the stat of Jordan Eberle Game Tying goals and Winners in the final 5 minutes of play. I’m sure he is already at a half dozen easily.

    The kid has the gonads, he showed it in the World Juniors, we’ve seen it in the regular season. I am growing accustomed to him delivering the goal exactly when we need it. He will be a playoff performer.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Thought the Sedins made some progress, they both seemed to have a higher battle level compared to last season. After 22 and 33, the rest of the lineup seemed to be pacing themselves for this marathon called the Stanley Cup playoffs. After a sour ending to their last two seasons the Nucks could be due next year.

  • Rama Lama

    Gregor,

    I was not able to listen to the interview yet…..but just how did you get Hall to come on to your show?

    It seems to me that the young guys are interested in what people are saying about them.

    How about RNH next?

  • Rama Lama

    When you say you dont want hard hits taken out of the game do you mean that attempts to injure should stay.

    At one time a hit was delivered to separate puck carrier from the puck.attempt to injure was considered to deseve a match penalty.To my eye most of the head shots fall into the match penalty area.

  • The Hall segment on Friday’s show was highly entertaining. Thanks!

    I would imagine that if the losing ways continue in Edmonton, Taylor Hall will either demand Tambo’s resignation or request a trade. I hope it is the former.

  • The Soup Fascist

    What kind of hockey fan takes pleasure in another teams failure? Who would blow out someone else’s candle to make theirs glow brighter?

    Oilers Nation readers, that’s who! Thanks for not burning down your town Canuck Fans! As usual, the only “Stanleys” in your town are 11 drycleaners, 6 accountants and a Park.

    Forty two years of futility, underachievement and failure. Hmmmm ….. Kinda sounds like my brother-in-law, Merv. The Vancouver Mervs. Has a nice ring to it.

  • JMC88

    I agree that the Kings were the better team in the series and deserved to win. But, what seems to be forgotten somewhat is that the Kings were under-achievers all season and should have finished higher than 8th and probably should have won their division. So, I’m not totally surprised that they beat the Canucks as the Kings weren’t really an 8th seed.

    Would the Canucks had better success against the Sharks or the Coyotes had they faced them instead? Probably.

  • Dan the Man

    I guess that fact that Hall and Eberle seemed to step it up in big games in junior isn’t a guarantee that they will do it at an NHL level but it’s definitely a good sign.

    • Jason Gregor

      Kesler was great last year, and in a short series this year, not so much. It is hard to be a productive player every year. It does bode well that Hall and Eberle have done it before, and when Oilers make playoffs those two will play vital roles if they have success I’d assume.

      • bazmagoo

        I think the thing I most like hearing when Hall and Eberle talk is how competitive they are. Adding another competitive guy like Yakupov will only add to a good locker room environment.

        When a player has checked out and stops trying it’s toxic for any team, and I can only imagine the impact in the NHL. Hopefully the Oilers can avoid having players like this in the dressing room for years to come.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Schneider might not be better than Lou, but what do you do? Lou is making 5+mil for the next decade and he’s shown that he can’t get it done. Maybe you roll the dice and deal Schenider for some help on the back end that helps Lou out, but if that doesn’t work you are in big trouble.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I think RNH certainly falls into that category as well, although maybe a bit more understated. Probably tough not to get to that level without a healthy level of compete, but I was surprised to hear Hall say Eberle was more competitive than him.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Hey Schneider,

    The funny thing is that up until draft day people will actually care about Edmonton again. As for Vancouver… not a damn sole will care about what you do.

    Weird hey?

  • The Worrier

    I really enjoy interviewing people. I pride myself on making them feel comfortable enough that we can talk like it is just us, despite the fact that there are thousands listening.

    Great interview Jason. You say you in enjoy interviewing people, I am curious whatelse have you interviewed other than people?

    Speaking of interviews I am more than a little disappointed that Rex Hoggard stood you up on your show during Masters week. He may have a cool name, but it wasn’t cool to leave the listeners hanging like that.

    Looking forward to more of your great interviews be it with people or animals.

    Respect.

  • The Worrier

    I’d have no problem teaching Taylor for free or give him directions to some awesome teacher on how to two-step (as long as he wants to learn how to actually two-step and not that bar abomination that people call a two-step) I think he’d have fun with another dance called west coast swing as well. Always enjoy reading blogs Jason, well written as always.