CHEERING FOR A NEW TEAM

During the 2010 World Cup Larissa Riquelme became famous for cheering for Paraguay, or more accurately for how she looked while cheering for Paraguay. I know I’ll never look as good as she does while cheering for a team, but I’ve found a new team to cheer for and I can’t wait to cheer and jeer them on. (More on that later).

Before we discuss what jersey I will buy and what colour I’ll paint my face, let’s look at last night’s Oiler victory.

When you score four goals in the first 12 minutes, the rest of the game is anticlimactic. The Oilers had a great start, capitalized on a rusty Roberto Luongo and did a solid job of not allowing the Canucks back in the game.

However, it is imperative to note that they beat a Canucks team with only eight NHL regulars. It was good that the Oilers displayed more tenacity, energy and assertiveness in their game, but I expected them to beat that version of the Canucks.

I don’t put too much stock into the early preseason games, because they usually show who can’t play, more than who can. The final few games, usually the last three, are a better indication of how players look. Remember when Rob Schremp would put up points early in the preseason, but then produced nothing in the final few games. Playing against last night’s Canucks was much easier than it will be playing against them in October.

QUICK THOUGHTS…

  • Darnell Nurse is going to be a solid NHLer, and he looked very good last night, but we need to temper expectations. There is no reason the Oilers should have him in the NHL this year, none. They aren’t a Cup contender, but they hope to be in a few years so send Nurse back to junior and let him keep developing.
     
  • Watching Nurse illustrates how far guys like David Musil, Martin Gernat, Brandon Davidson, Taylor Fedun and Martin Marincin need to grow to get in the mix on the blueline. I think Marincin is progressing nicely, he had a solid game last night, but he just doesn’t possess the ability of Nurse. If Marincin keeps improving, Klefbom gets comfortable and Nurse continues to mature the Oilers blueline should be pretty solid in a few years.
     
  • The Oilers got some "puck luck" last night. Eberle missed his wrap around attempt, but it ricocheted off Luongo across the line. Luongo whiffed on Perron’s goal, and Marincin had a seeing eye shot from the point. When you work hard you get breaks, and the Oilers outworked the Canucks in the first period.
     
  • The best goal was Joensuu’s. Hunt made a great pass to Arcobello, who was stopped on the one-timer, but then he made a nice play to follow the puck in the corner and feed Joensuu, who snapped it home. Joensuu has looked good in two of his three games, but he looked great vs. weak Calgary and Vancouver teams, and not as good against a predominately NHL Jets’ lineup. The next few games will give us a better indication of how impactful he can be when he faces regular NHL players, but he’s shown well thus far.
     
  • Brad Hunt won’t make the team, but he’s exceptional with the puck. He will help OKC, and his play making and puck moving abilities should help develop the young OKC forwards.
     
  • Hall and Eberle were very good. I still prefer Hall on the wing, and feel he’ll play there when Nugent-Hopkins returns, but he’s been solid defensively. It is more difficult to play defence as a centre, and learning more D-zone responsibilities can only make him a better defensive winger.
     
  • Dubnyk wasn’t tested very much, but he did have a great two-save sequence in the second period. He was strong on his angles, and he seems to have adjusted to the smaller pads. He said he’ll have to make small adjustment to cover up his five-hole, but I didn’t notice any big holes when he went down in the butterfly or in tight when the Canucks crashed the net.
     
  • I’ve already noticed many suggesting the Oilers don’t need Ben Eager or Mike Brown, and the team would be better off to have skill guys on their fourth line. I disagree. You need some guys who can lean on the opposition, as long as they can skate. Fighting is a bonus, but the Oilers don’t need a guy who can only fight. Eakins had this to say yesterday about Eager, and the need for physical play from his team.

    I like his speed. I like how fast he can explode through the middle of the ice and get in on the forecheck. We need a level of heaviness and toughness here. Toughness doesn’t mean fighting, it means we need guys to be able to get in and bang the other team’s defencemen and bang their top players, and have a real physical aspect to our game. He’s someone that can bring that, so he’s definitely going to have a chance here.

    There is no secret he is in a group of five forwards where there is a real competition for a couple of spots. I know he’s up for the challenge. I know in the past he’s come in a bit heavier, sometimes those guys want to carry some extra weight because they have to tangle with extra opponents, which is odd to me.

    When it comes to fighting and how big guys are, I always put it this way when a guy tells me, ‘I need that extra 10 pounds to scrap,’ I reply, ‘if the toughest guy in the league is 245 pounds, do you fear him any less if he is 235; he’s still the same toughness.’ I like that Ben is at a good weight that he can carry, and you can really see it on the ice because he is moving really well.

  • None of Acton, Lander or Arcobello have stood out for me, so the 4th line centre spot is wide open. They are all very different players, but Acton and Lander better suited to play a 4th line role than Arcobello, but one of them needs to show that in the next four games.  

CHEERING FOR THE DANCING QUEENS (KING??)

 

Outstanding photoshop by Dylan.

I’ve never watched Battle of the Blades for more than a few minutes, but this season I’ll be glued to the show because my good buddy Jason Strudwick will be competing. Struds has been practicing for the past few weeks and he is jacked to show the country his moves. Olympic medalist David Pelletier gave him some lessons a few weeks ago and when I ran into Pelletier last week at a charity event he told me Struds was pretty good. "He was better than I expected," smiled Pelletier.

I have no doubt Struds will work his ass off in practice. He played 674 games in the NHL due to his work ethic, not his natural skill, and I know he’s working hard to try and win. He is taking this competition very seriously, and his charity of choice is the Inner City Children’s Program. 

I look forward to cheering, and jeering, him every Sunday night. The best part of him being on BOTB is that they won’t let him wear any sweaters. Struds has the worst collection of sweaters I’ve ever seen, and he loves them. Pelletier told me Struds showed up in a sweater for their first practice. Classic.

He’ll switch is sweaters for sequins.

I figure skated until I was 12 years old,so I have a great respect for the sport. It is much harder than it looks, and I know from experience it is very difficult to feel confident in some of the outfits they put you in. This outfit was the beginning of the end for my figure skating career.

I managed to look unreal in that outfit, and crushed the performance, despite the fact that every girl in the routine was essentially wearing the same thing. A year later, I bowed out of figure skating, unaware that skating into your late teens was an open doorway to the ladies…sigh.

Struds, I highly recommend wearing something similar. You’ll be able to express your sensitive side.

Mr. Strudwick isn’t the only former Oiler on the show. Mike Krushelnyski, Anson Carter and Scott Thornton are in, as well as Grant Marshall, Brian Savage, Vladamir Malakhov and Mathieu Dandenault.

Savage will likely look great in the October episodes, but he’ll fade after that.

Struds, I wish you the best of luck. I know you have the personality to do well and aren’t lacking in self-confidence, and I’m sure everyone in Oilersnation will be cheering you on. Now, don’t screw up.

The first episode is this Sunday night at 8 p.m. on CBC. GO TEAM STRUDWICK!!!

You can watch his introduction video here….

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • oilerjed

    Sure the Nucks were missing some, but we didnt have Yak or Nuge
    so gimme a break, who else was out for the Oil ?

    Give them credit – The Boys played well…Ace road game.

  • oilerjed

    I was surprised to hear Eakins saying good things about Eager, I only noticed one shift in the first then seemed like a non factor for the rest. Nurse looked good on quite few shifts but couldnt help but notice how he was always getting boxed out in front of the net. He didnt seem to concerned with moving anybody out of the crease. Lots of promise though. Whne are the next round of cuts? Looking forward to seeing our top lines play a game together.
    Lighting up the nucks is always good regardless of the lineup they dress. Go Oil!

  • bazmagoo

    Love the Nuge signing! Didn’t see the game last night but happy to hear Nurse didn’t look out of place. I completely agree with Lowetide’s prediction for the opening night roster.

    Goal (2): Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera

    Defense (8): Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Anton Belov, Denis Grebeshkov, Phil Larsen

    Center (4): Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Boyd Gordon, Will Acton

    Left Wing (4): David Perron, Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Hamilton

    Right Wing (5): Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Jones, Mike Brown

    Only question mark in my mind is the 4th line center spot, think that’s still up for grabs.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Yeah, It’s a ton of dough, but I’m smiling.

    …and if the cap rises as it is predicted to, and these kids end up in the upper echelon of the league, 6m will be a pretty good number in 4 or 5 years.

    If, for the majority of the next 6-8 years, each of them progresses as expected and establishes himself to be at the same level as the Getzlaf, Perry, Parise, Nash, Gaborik, Vanek, etc… then their $6mil contracts will be below market value.

    That’s IF each one of them becomes the player that we all hope for.

    This would be a move that “opens the team up to a modicum of risk”.

    • bazmagoo

      “This would be a move that opens the team up to a modicum of risk.”

      Definitely a fair amount of risk involved with putting your faith in fairly unproven NHL talent, but Nuge is a #1 overall pick with a great attitude and a sublime game. His style of game is so similar to Pavel Datsyuk, and if he can become 90% of the player that Pavel is we’ll be laughing. Still needs to put on some bulk, but I see Nuge settling in at around 180 – 185 lbs until his metabolism changes in his mid to late 20’s.

      So happy to have Nuge, Eberle, and Hall all signed long term!

  • Sean17

    Was at the game last night, and there was a stretch late in the second where the Canucks had been pressing for a while and starting to exert their size and take control – Acton, Brown and Eager had a very good shift where they used their size, banged hard and got the puck deep in the ‘Nucks zone and kept it there for a while. Eakins had them quickly back out to finish the period.

    It was a very good example of how size/speed on your 4th line fore check can get the play going the other direction and take away some momentum from the other team. Not an insignificant impact that will never see the scoresheet. I’m not sure these 3 are the answer, but I don’t see Omark-Lander-XXXX having the same impact. And it’s been FOREVER since we had a 4th line that could do that.

  • Sean17

    “Brad Hunt won’t make the team, but he’s exceptional with the puck. He will help OKC, and his play making and puck moving abilities should help develop the young OKC forwards.”
    Hunt did look really good. Very poised (or stupid) with the puck dangling a bit as last man back.

  • MattyFranchise

    I will agree with the figure skating comment. When I was younger I was in figure skating as well as power skating. These days the rest of my hockey game is garbage but I can still skate pretty well.

    Power skating shows you what skating is capable of and figure skating gives you a finesse to make that happen.