Steve MacIntyre was hurt tonight (well, he hurt himself) and may be headed to IR along with four other guys. The Oilers played what observers described as a "poor" final pre-season game and will now ready themselves for the regular season debut this coming week.
The Oilers could recall Ryan Jones from Oklahoma City (I don’t think he’s cleared Edmonton airspace yet) and they could reach down and grab Tyler Pitlick. I’m not certain the club needs a nuclear deterrent like MacIntyre, and they can probably use a good skater for the forecheck and the penalty kill.
What they could really use is another forward who can help with puck possession. Craig MacTavish spoke about it during the spring, Dallas Eakins spoke about it when talking to the media about the kind of team he wanted to ice, and we know what a possession team might look like in an NHL game. It would look like the Red Wings.
ALL PUCK, ALL THE TIME
Possession players have the puck more than the other guy (and have a positive shot differential), can make and take a pass and if they do turn the puck over it’s often miles away from the home net and there is recovery time for linemates. Taylor Hall is a possession player, the high end youngsters coming up behind him are/will be too, and Ryan Smyth in his prime was a helluva possession player.
- Mike Babcock: “We really believe in toughness and we believe toughness is toughness on the puck. To me, you’ve got to have the puck. I like 12 forwards that can all skate and handle the puck, and I like six D who can all skate and handle the puck.”
If we take a look at the Edmonton Oilers roster that dressed tonight in Oklahoma City, are there any players we can apply Babcock’s words to and get a negative answer? I think there are, and that’s the trouble with dressing players for reasons other than winning the game on the scoresheet. When a team is out to announce their presence with authority, they’re no longer concentrating all of their energy on puck possession.
I understand the need to have a physical element, but that’s best served by having possession players who can also use their size/strength to win battles.
At some point this weekend, there will be an interesting name on the waiver wire or offered in trade. The Oilers are trying out two wingers with size who may be possession players (Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Hamilton) given the right situation. If they can add another, I believe they’ll have a better chance to win hockey games.
And so does Mike Babcock.