A WEEKEND TO FORGET

After a weekend of sharing the same bed with Wanye in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, I have a lot of catching up to do. Please forgive me for being a couple days behind, I’m still haunted by the awkward leg touches as I’m sure many of you are haunted from the Oilers weekend.  I figure I’ll weigh in with my two cents even if I’m behind.

BROKEN RECORD

Not much on the ice has changed in "Oilerland" I see, just more of the same inconsistencies, and no results. I’m not going to dive back into each game and dissect them because it’s the same things that are costing them. To many turnovers, poor defensive zone play, and a lack of any physical element to their game. It’s tough to win in this league with those deficiencies.

TRADE

I struggled a bit with seeing Ladi Smid moved. In past years I’ve never gotten to watch many Oiler games but I remember playing Smid and he was always a nuisance if you were in and around the Oiler net. He was annoying during and after the play.

Nothing was different this year from that standpoint.  I saw him as the only guy that made it tough to be in front of the net or got in someone’s face when a teammate needed. He wasn’t the toughest or scariest guy in the world but he was the only guy that I saw that was willing to do it every night on this blue line.  A willingness to compete and be uncomfortable for your teammates is a great thing in any dressing room.

This team needs a shakeup no doubt and I know with the Bryzgalov addition something had to give but when the main concern people have with this team is the makeup and the Oilers having too much soft small skill, why ship out the only guy on the back end that didn’t play a soft game?

WHY NOT

I have seen some who are concerned with the Ilya Byzgalov addition to this locker room and I can understand the concern. I just don’t see at this point how can it get any worse?

The team is a mile below .500 and whatever is happening in that dressing room at the moment would appear to be rock bottom.  It’s not all Dubnyk’s fault, he’s played great at times and struggled during other stretches but if there is a cheap opportunity out there to potentially get better, I think at this point you take it.

UPSIDE

The hope is this guy has learned from his antics in Philly and can provide some depth at the position and maybe the Oil get a bargain moving forward. Thinking somehow this guy is going to come in and hurt a locker room that was 4-11-2 and has since chalked up 2 more losses, I don’t quite understand.

Many goalies are a little different to begin with, if he’s a problem in the room or hurting the focus of young players on the importance of winning then it’s a one year deal and you move on. He can still be sent to the minors or sent home if things get stupid this year as well.

They aren’t winning as is, so I don’t mind the gamble at all. I just wish they didn’t move Smid to do it.

GAGNER

He’s slowly starting to catch some heat here for the start to the season he’s had. Coming off his injury, it obviously hasn’t been the start to his already shortened season that he envisioned but what did you really expect? Struds did a piece on him at the start of the year and how behind the eight ball he would be coming back from this injury and the awful timing of it to boot.

TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY

This is such a tough decision for players. The majority of athletes will do whatever it takes to be with their team even if they are not 100% healthy. This leaves players very vulnerable to scrutiny if they are not performing. Lost in it all is the fact he’s hungry to play and willing to sacrifice his body for his teammates.

The players know what he is enduring and I’m sure they love him for it. I’ve played with several guys that had to be 100% healthy for 2 weeks before suiting up. This didn’t always sit well inside the walls of a dressing room because rarely is anyone that healthy during the season.

It’s easy to pile on guys right now when things are going bad and things haven’t been good for Ganger so far, but let’s give the guy some credit.  How easy would it have been for him to sit back and say “boy things are going rough around here, I’m just going to let the boys handle this rough patch and I’ll sit up here in this cozy press box for a couple more weeks, till things settle down.” Some guys would do that.

This is a guy that’s still clearly hurting, you can see it on the bench when he takes any kind of hit and instead of taking the easy route he chose to dive head first into this fire with his teammates.

He’s another small skilled guy and who knows what the future may hold for him and others on this squad the way things are going but I applaud him for his gutsiness even if things haven’t started that great. I wouldn’t have expected much else from a guy with a shattered jaw, injuries take time.

BATTLE OF THE BLADES

If you missed it, please don’t forget to vote for our friend Struds who was in the final last night on CBC. If he wins, a nice chunk of change will be donated to a local charity here in Edmonton, The Inner City Children’s Program.

With as much losing that is going on around here, let’s all step up to get a big win for Struds and a great local charity.  It’s not too late, please vote here.

  • Brian Sutherby

    I want to make it clear re: Gagner–I’m not a hater. However he can’t hold a candle to Arcobello as a centerman. Arcs is better in the dot and with and without the puck all day long. I think the reason Eakins is using Gagner, (unsuccessfully), at critical times instead of MA, is his way of showing MacT that Gagner should be traded before his No Trade takes affect. Archobello has proven his case. After 7 seasons of watching Gagner, I believe he is giving his best effort, but he is being outshined by others with less experience.

  • vetinari

    I have a feeling that any trades in the near future will either have to be an overpay on our end (like the Smid trade) or will be for reclamation projects from someone else’s “used” bin.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Why wouldn’t Eakins put Gagner on the wing. MAcrobello was doing great at Centre. Much better than Gagner by eye and stats. I know it’s a small sample size. But Gagner is looking like he needs a stint in OKC.

    • Stack Pad Save

      Why is right. You would think that Eakins watched oilers games before taking the job or is actually watching from the bench. Either way it seams obvious to move Gagner to the wings and put arcobello at centre….why isn’t it happening?

  • Jay Gray

    My hope is that Bryz plays lights out, good enough to move him out at the deadline for a 1st (best case scenario). Let Dubnyk walk at the end of the season and make it priority #1 to obtain a premier goaltender in the offseason whether it be by trade or free agent signing.

  • Stack Pad Save

    The problem is that fans were promised bold moves. All the fans knew what bold was, moving out a soft Gagner and some prospects for a legit 2c. Also moving out one of the 4 top wingers for a legit top 2 d man …. The fans know bold and we see more of the same old same old crap. Move out a legit guy like Smid for useless parts when we need less parts and more core guys who can get the job done at the nhl level.

  • Brian Sutherby

    He should be on the wing. Maybe with Boyd and Joensuu.

    something like:
    RNH-Hall-Ebs
    Arco-Hemsky-Yak
    Boyd-Gags-Joensuu
    . . . I guess that leaves Acton-Smyth-Jones

    Hemsky & Yak together kind of scares me but I’ve been quite impressed with Arco’s work. Yak is going to get better.

    • Brian Sutherby

      I don’t really have one. I’m confused by the message. Perhaps there is something behind the scenes that I’m unaware of. He wasn’t flashy, he wasn’t perfect but I feel like they just traded away something they already lacked(grit). I hope there is a replacement coming sooner than later. They just got even easier to play against.

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        So does it lead you to believe that MacT is incompetent, or do you think it’s more likely that he did the deal for reasons that are not yet obvious?

        Oops, sorry ….I was posting this just as you were posting your answer. Please disregard this one. Thanks

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        Brian, I posted this earlier …..what do you think?

        I think it’s five things

        1) They felt they needed to do something quickly to right the ship and they had limited options

        That combined with

        2) They needed short term cap relief to bring in Bryz….

        3) They need mid term cap relief to make significant change(s) at the trade deadline

        4) Smid was not part of the long term plans and they actually like Horak and Brossoit ( they believe it adds organizational depth even if they are perceived as losing the trade)

        5) MacT felt he needed to back up his rhetoric about being impatient and not accepting a culture of loosing

        * I’m not saying that any of the 5 things couldn’t have been dealt with differently….just offering up what I think was the explanation

        I guess what I’m asking is, do you think it was something tactical like is listed above, or is it more likely something else that is more political, like things said or taking place in the dressing room?

        • Brian Sutherby

          I hope it was only 3 you listed. I’m sure many played a part actually but I hope it wasn’t 1,2, 4 or 5 because I wouldn’t have chosen that player for rash moves.

          Eakins wasn’t playing him as much as Smid had in the past. Perhaps there was something there Eakins didn’t like? I don’t understand that either however.

          I don’t believe from the things I’ve heard or seen about Smid it had anything to do with his character in the dressing room. Quite the opposite actually. He appeared to be a great teammate and dressing room guy.

          • DSF

            I think that the trading of Smid was a useless and classless act by the MacT. This guy was character through and through, A guy like Ference can’t match up to Smid and don’t say Ference won the cup because on that Boston team I could win a cup. Brutal treatment of a guy who gave up free agency to stay with the Oilers. They just lost one of the few guys in that dressing room with Heart and desire. Too many passengers on the Oiler train and Smid was one of the few workers.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            If we follow your logic…and I tend to agree with you…..then the one thing that we can perhaps conclude is that there was no interest by any team in the league for any Oiler player/contracts that were less value than Smid. Therefore it had to be him by default……..no one wanted Hemsky or Jones or Nick Schultz, or Joensuu, or Ryan Smyth etc

        • Stack Pad Save

          If you are right than what does it say about a manager willing to lose a trade. What does that say the organization thinks. If…..If you are correct that means the rebuild is still going on for many more years……I so hope you are wrong.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            Just to be clear, I didn’t say they were willing to loose a trade, I think they were willing to be perceived as losing the trade. That is, that they knew fans and others taking it at face value, would consider it a loss….but that they themselves, we’re working from a rational, perhaps including the five things listed above, that made the deal acceptable/palatable for them given their circumstances, and what they felt they knew about the quality/ value of the players involved.

            Really I’m just trying to make sense of it…..to conjecture what they might have been thinking.

          • Stack Pad Save

            That is the problem. Why would you ever want to make that trade? It was a loss, they did not need cap cap space, they had enough room for Bryz. The whole problem with that trade is actually What you said and I agrees with your points. But if that is what Oilers management were thinking it makes them incompetent.

  • ubermiguel

    I’ve been watching Gagner for 5 years. Way too often I’ve seen him just watching the puck in the defensive zone and losing his man. It might be more obvious after his injury and with a new system, but it’s been an issue for years.

    • Dockstaff

      I was literally writing the same thing in Lowetide’s posting.

      Twice against Chicago he stood between the slot and the dot, no where near a Blackhawk jersey. One one the pass came from the boards to the slot and in the net. Yes the Dman was no where to be seen, but that is the job of the centre, to support your D and take their position when they are out.

      Gagner just doesn’t get this! Move to the wing.

    • Brian Sutherby

      And that very well may be the case. I haven’t been able to watch him before, but it’s obvious he’s hurting. The type of injury is awful and the timing of it was terrible.

      • You are so smart. Predicting the broken jaw, and bad start. How did you know!?!?! MacT should hire you.

        FYI – his NTC is only next year (1/3 of the contract). He can be traded this year. And until July 1. Then again the 3rd year. If he plays less sh1tty there is no contactual reason why he wouldn’t be attractive. Manageable contract for a 50-60pt guy. On the right team (who doesn’t have ALL small skill) he would be a nice fit.

        I thought from day 1 MacTs play was to trade him this year or pre July 1. MacT just forgot to hire you to fortune tell the broken jaw thing.

        • DSF

          1) MacT gave him a verbal promise that he would not trade him before his NTC kicks in.

          2) Gagner is NOT a “50-60 point guy”. He had never broken 50 points in his 7 seasons and he’s sure not going to do it this season.

          3) The Oilers leading scorer at the moment is Jordan Eberle who is only on pace for 64 points despite playing 1st line minutes and 1st unit PP.
          Gagner gets the 5th most minutes at evens and is 9th in PPTOI/G.

          Not a chance he would score 50+ even if he had been healthy from the start of the season.

          • Spydyr

            I know you love to twist facts, only focus on the 1 out 10 stats that support your arguments and then duck and hide like a schoolgirl when your predictions are all wrong. (Dale Tallon for GM of the decade anyone)

            Gagner has been 0.6 ppg, 0.6 ppg, 0.8 ppg

            Injuries aside. Extrapolated over the year thats 50pts, 50pts, 65pts

            I rest my case.

            Or as I said in my original post are you a fortune teller predicting injuries? Durability, injury prone, yadda yadda. He played 100% of the games last year.

            Now go back in you cave and hide. Nobody around here wants to hear your BS right now.

          • DSF

            I don’t blame Gagner for sucking right now. He should of sat 4-5 more games, but the team needed a boost. We are seeing what a player who comes off a such an injury that effects your eating and conditioning looks like. He looks worse this year then at any point I can remember. They have force fed him minutes and he has struggled. The penalty shot showed that he’s not feeling it.

            But I do blame Eakins for his usage. Arco should never been moved outta the 2C position. Arco struggled, Gagner was not ready to find his grove, and force feeding minutes to Sam has compounded the Oilers trouble. Why the heck did play so much against Stamkos or was allowed to take so many draws in Philly?

            Frankly the argument Sam has never had a 50 point season is to me like saying Taylor Hall’s not a top 15 player and point producer cause last season was short. Sam produced well last year, except the final 10 games when Yak was the only player going.

          • DSF

            1) I agree it’s a tough situation for Gagner and he should likely still be in the press box.

            2) Agree completely.

            3) A shortened season can cause all sorts of distortions. It’s worth noting that Gagner has only 2 points (both second assists) in the final 10 games last season. Given that he is known to go through very long non-productive stretches in his career, it’s just as likely his production would have stagnated for a much longer period of time.

          • Spydyr

            He scored 0.8ppg in the lockout. 100% of the games played. Thats works out to 65pts. Or does Chicago only get 60% of the Stanley Cup for last year?

            Nice try. You are funny, I do admit that.

            We get it. Oilers suck. You hate them. You like to rub it in. You have no life and spend your days on an Oilers fan site to bash them. (seriously who does that?? – I couldn’t imagine spending even 1 minute on another teams blog.. sad really). You hate Lowe and everything about the Oilers organization. We hate you. I rest my case.

          • Serious Gord

            So has he ever scored fifty in one season?

            Extrapolation is for the birds in this regard: injuries are often a symptom of how a player plays the game or how injury prone he is.

            By your metric Bobby Orr would be the record holder for most assists over a career.

          • Spydyr

            “Not a chance he would score 50+ even if he had been healthy from the start of the season.”

            I bet you he is on for more then 50 against though.It seems he is on for at least two against a game.Him being on for goals against and Dubnyk letting in at least one weak goal a game are two constants this year.

            Looked it up he has played 6 games and been on for 10 goals against.Ouch.he is a career -57.Funny thing is most people who like Gagner like Dubnyk also.Personally both can go.Three seasons ago.