The response from my article last week, ‘Who do you love?‘ was impressive. You readers gave a lot of good and interesting feedback and opinions. There were both safe and surprising choices for who you all thought should be on the ice to protect a one goal lead.
Before I reveal who would be my choices, I want to discuss some of your feedback.
In the scenario I set up last week, it was obvious that winning the face off was crucial. To be ready for a situation like that a team must be prepared for it. That is why each defensive zone face off is important. To me it makes no difference if it is game one, forty or eighty, each one goal game should be treated like it is life or death. Getting your ‘last minute’ personnel out there in that situation often is the only way for them to be ready and able to perform as a group when it is needed the most.
The feedback certainly showed me there is an understanding that Shawn Horcoff is a valuable player to this Oiler team. His name was included in nearly every group of five. For a guy who takes a lot of heat for parts of his game I wasn’t sure if it would carry over to this.
Horcoff is the type of player that will become more important to this team as the team improves. He will do the subtle plays that will go unnoticed on the stat sheet. Solid penalty kill minutes, hard minutes against top lines and gritty face off wins are just a few examples of what his type of player provides to winning teams.
Looking back at a few Stanley Cup winners, names like Kris Draper, Sammy Paulsson, Travis Moen and Rod Brind’amour give good examples of what I think he provides. None of these guys filled up the net with goals but they sure prevented them from going into their own nets. If the Oilers can start moving into a playoff position I believe Horcoff will be applauded for his efforts rather than being a lightning rod for the frustrations of some fans and media. You can write that down!
Kyle Brodziak, Resolute/Wikimedia Commons
I do have some concern that the team does not have a right-handed centerman. I guess it is a luxury for many teams but it would be nice to find a way to get one on the squad. For me, Kyle Brodziak was that player and he has developed into a very solid part of Wild. The Oilers might like to have him back.
My last minute five some has four players many of you picked and a bit of a surprise. The defenceman were easy. Smid and Petry. They work well together and I would rather not break up the pair. Nick Schultz is next in line.
Up front, I roll out two centers. Horcoff and Belanger are my choices for now. Right now I don’t think Nuge or Gagner are up to the task. The last forward spot is harder but I am going with Petrell. He has a bigger body and is willing to do whatever is necessary.
The Oilers top six is stacked with the ability to produce points. They will need help to protect leads. I hope the rest of the forwards step up big time and provide this support.
I can’t stop watching the Olympics! As I write this I am watching women’s weightlifting. Are these woman ever strong! Wow.