GDB 32.0: SINGING THE BLUES

The frustration is mounting in Oilersnation. The Oilers have won 8 of their past 26 games and once again they find themselves closer to the basement than a spot in the playoffs.

For the first 40 minutes last night the Oilers didn’t play with the smarts, energy or passion you’d expect for a team fighting to stay in the playoffs. They were good in the 3rd period, but this team isn’t good enough to play one solid period and win. 

The bigger question is what is ailing the Oilers?

The harsh reality is there is no quick fix for the Oilers. One or two moves won’t suddenly make this team a contender. They need to upgrade their blueline, they need to mix in some size in their top-nine and they need to find more players who will go to the net regularly. They could improve their 4th line, but that isn’t the main concern.

Do the Oilers have the right mix of players to win moving forward? It seems everyone wants to ship out veterans or fringe players, and I see why, but when you get rid of them do you believe the core group has the right combination of skill sets to win?

Some will say it is too early to tell. I’d agree it is too early to know how productive the young kids will be in the future, but is it too early to tell what style of game they’ll play?

Can they alter their games to the point they go to the net regularly, or become better puck retrievers, or win more one-on-one battles?

I think the Oilers have a lot of good young players, but I’m not sure that collectively they possess the right mixture of skills to win regularly in the NHL. I assume they will put in the necessary work during the off-seasons to get stronger and quicker and improve any deficiencies in their game, but will that be enough?

I just don’t see how the Oilers can develop all their young, skilled forwards at the same time and expect to win. Can six skilled forwards between the ages of 19-23 , none of whom are over 200 pounds or possess a consistent physical element in their game, simultaneously develop the skills, work ethic and gamesmanship that lead to winning ?

I’m not sure anyone knows for sure, but when I look at the history of the game, it seems very unlikely that could happen.

Tonight is another good test to see how the Oilers match up vs. a veteran team filled with numerous strong, heavy players. On Saturday, David Backes, Patrick Bergland and Chris Stewart were too big and strong for the Oilers. Tonight we’ll see if they can alter their game and force the Blues to match their speed. The Oilers can’t match the size and strength of the Blues, so they’ll need to try and quicken the pace. If that doesn’t happen, this could be another agonizing evening for the Oilers and their fans.

LINE UP

Eric Belanger aggravated his groin injury after only eight shifts, and he’s headed back to the IR, however the Oilers will make the mistake of moving Ryan Smyth back to centre. He’s more effective as a winger, there is no point moving him to centre. They should have called up Chris Vande Velde or Anton Lander.

Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins played pretty well last night. Taylor Hall continues to be their most dangerous forward and while the 4/93/14 trio was great together in the 3rd period they ultimately didn’t produce anything. I’d keep the triple-H line together, play Eberle with RNH and slide Gagner back with Yakupov and Paajarvi.

I think Theo Peckham has gotten the message. He screwed up in December and January, by not staying in game shape, and he admits as much, but he played decent the games he dressed and after last night’s struggles for the 3rd pair I’d dress Peckham tonight. However, it looks like Whitney will draw in for Fistric.

The Oilers aren’t mathematically out of the playoff race, but their chances of making it are extremely low. It is inevitable they will move Whitney, so they will showcase him for the next four games, unless he gets moved earlier.

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Jones/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Paajarvi/Gagner/Yakupov
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Whitney/Potter

Khabibulin

QUICK HITS

  • I watched the replay numerous times and I still don’t understand what Fistric was doing on the Mueller goal. I also am perplexed as to why Potter elected to go that far to his left. Fistric’s lapse in judgement was the worst, but Potter’s wasn’t good either. Maybe lack of communication from rarely playing together was a factor, but it is hard to excuse that type of play.
     
  • Bad timing for Belanger to get injured. If he isn’t healthy by next week, it is unlikely they can move him. A source told me they would have certainly moved him, but if his groin doesnt’ heal then a deal is unlikely.
     
  • Alex Semin gets $35 million over five years. Did Jim Rutherford honestly believe someone would have paid him that on the open market?
     
  • Currently there are only two potential free agent D-men younger than Ladislav Smid, and one of them is Mark Fistric. Here is the complete list of the potential free agent D-men. If the Oilers don’t re-sign him do any of these names excite you as possible replacements for him? I don’t see many, if any, who play the same role as Smid and would be an upgrade moving forward. It would be foolish to not re-sign Smid.

 

  Team  Age  Cap Hit 
Aucoin, Adrian  CLB  39 $2,250,000
Gonchar, Sergei OTT  38 $5,500,000
Hamrlik, Roman  NYR  38 $3,500,000
Sutton, Andy EDM  38 $1,750,000
Visnovsky, Lubomir  NYI  36 $5,600,000
Zidlicky, Marek NJD  36 $4,000,000
Poti, Tom  WAS  36 $2,875,000
Streit, Mark NYI  35 $4,100,000
Lydman, Toni ANA  35 $3,000,000
Corvo, Joe CAR  35 $2,000,000
Wade Redden STL  35 $1,000,000
Scuderi, Rob  LAK  34 $3,400,000
Ference, Andrew  BOS  34 $2,250,000
Rozsival, Michal CHI  34 $2,000,000
Hannan, Scott  NAS  34 $1,000,000
Murray, Douglas  PIT  33 $2,500,000
Hainsey, Ron WIN  32 $4,500,000
Regehr, Robyn  BUF  32 $4,020,000
Leopold, Jordan  BUF  32 $3,000,000
Walker, Matt PHI  32 $1,700,000
Bergeron, Marc-Andre  TBL  32 $1,000,000
Alberts, Andrew  VAN  31 $1,225,000
Whitney, Ryan  EDM  30 $4,000,000
White, Ian  DET  28 $2,875,000
Babchuk, Anton  CGY  28 $2,500,000
Pardy, Adam  BUF  28 $2,000,000
O’Byrne, Ryan COL  28 $1,800,000
Lundin, Mike  OTT  28 $1,150,000
Smid, Ladislav EDM  27 $2,250,000
Clitsome, Grant WIN  27 $1,250,000
Fistric, Mark EDM  26 $1,475,000
  •  I’m curious which teams Doug Maclean thinks would offer up a 2nd rounder for Nikolai Khabibulin? Do you see a fit for him?
     
  • Would you re-sign Khabibulin to a one-year deal at $1.2 million to be the back up next year? His injury history is the major concern, and I wonder if the Oilers would want a veteran or a younger, unproven goalie to push Dubnyk.

TONIGHT….

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Blues are healthy and they are too big, strong and experienced for the Oilers. The Oilers lose 3-1.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Chris Stewart, Alex Steen and David Backes have their way with the Oilers all night. The Oilers aren’t big enough, strong enough or skilled enough to handle them.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Some of the most dedicated and diehard Oiler fans will walk away from the TV tonight. Guys like Racki, Humantorch, Vetinari, Geoilersgist, Newj, Bucknuck, Crusty Grit, Archaeologuy, Ducey, Smokey, A-Mc, Phixieus666 and many more Nation loyalists will switch the channel. They’ll end up in the fetal position questioning their sanity and wondering why they are more loyal to the Oilers than they were to any of the first few girlfriends.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Alsker

    This is like being tied to a post, blindfolded, and waiting for the executioners bullet. Blues score early on the pp, shortly thereafter, and as the noose tightens, we all fold into the fetal position and wait for the final coup de grace

  • outdoorzguy

    This is the greatest team ever assembled on ice. Ever!! The Oiler brain trust should be proud to see all of their hard work paying off tonight.
    But wait, we know what happens in third periods. But still, congratulations to Oiler management on finally turning things around.

  • outdoorzguy

    I had the chance to listen to some of the game on the radio tonight, something that doesn’t happen that often. It will be the last time I listen on the radio. I couldn’t believe what an apologist for this poor excuse of a hockey team that Stauffer has become. I’d rather listen to Brian Hall.At least he has an excuse…he’s old.

  • outdoorzguy

    No sweat Petry but for christsakes next time make the juice worth the squeeze and hit the man with more than your purse that snowflake reaction was NOT woth the penalty, by all means defend the team but dam well do it if you are going there man. And Ralph you need to be saying this right now to the entire bench.

    we need to get the pedal back down ASAP and not let them claw back.

  • Bucknuck

    I want someone to get an instigator penalty by pulling the refs jersey over his head and feeding him punches until the linesmen pull him off. The officiating has been a JOKE this game.

    • Alsker

      If that would only be an instigator than any player in white should do it, didnt someone get 40 games for delibertly tripping the ref on a face-off(Lysiak??)

  • 2004Z06

    Yes Bucknuck perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. I include Katz in management. Do you think if the bottom line on the balance sheet was significantly and negatively impacted as a result of the fans protesting Katz choice of President and GM, that one or both of their jobs might be affected? Hence, the change that most fans have been screaming for.

  • vetinari

    Khabibulin earned first star tonight… still think that he is inconsistent from game to game and the defence allows waaaay too many shots on net, but they should enjoy the win…

  • The Soup Fascist

    While the Oilers were badly outplayed I was happy to see they did not back down against a bigger tougher team. Would like to see someone crack Backes, who was a hero going after Eberle, though. Apparently he could not get at RNH who probably runs a buck fifty five after being sick last week. Poser.

    Definitely need functional toughness on this team.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Great game from Habby! Everyone had more jump tonight right from the start. Made Blues pay for their mistakes. Sh!t even Principe was somewhat tolerable

  • vetinari

    Nice to see the boys back together. Damn! Good fun.

    Kha-bi-bu-lin! Rock star, mang. Good game.

    Best character win this year, imo. I love to see a few scrums in a game. Gettin’ dirty! Gotta keep that intensity going forward.

    Out shot and were, noticeably, the smaller team, but they showed some good compete.

    This sh*t ain’t over yet.

  • oilerjed

    I’m glad we won but about half through the second I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I realized how bad our top 6 would get killed in the playoffs! Seriously it would be a safety concern that the PA would have to look into.
    Great game for khabbi!

  • justDOit

    I wonder if the Oilers coaching staff are preparing the same way for the Bluejackts as they did for the Predators?

    Do we have a suitable plan?Are our tactics dynamiclly strategised to allow us to be the aggressiors and not passengers on the night?

    How are the coaches viewing our position, is this a hang on by the fingernails situation that we need to be conservative about, are we just lucky to be alive and do we just try to keep things tight and defensive? Did gret defense put us where we are? No to all of the above.

    Or

    Did we earn every bit of opportunity we have this morning through hard work and sacrifice?Did we put in the proper preparation and apply the proper principals to progress beyond postulation to form a progress perspective> Do we “deserve” to still have life right now playoff-wise? Yes to all of the above statements.

    We will need to wait till the 1st period of the Bluejackets game to see exctly how prepared we are. I personally have already strategised the path our system needs to take against the Bluejackets and now we will see if ralph understands his system enough to make the proper adustments that will llow us to dominate the Blueackets n the scoreboard.

    The only difference between last nights game and the loss we suffered before it is that last night we shut down their systems ability to catalyse offense , we created seperation between their set play defensive zone exits and their n-zone and o-zone random romps, we established and maintained superior body positioning on the ice and it payed off. We shut down their offense and then counter attacked their reaction to our pressure, the coaches were 1 step ahead at all the right times. Now we need to replicate the strategising that allowed us to do this with the Bluejackets system template on the table being quartered nd drawn.

    What we are learning is that we dont need system perfection to win games , we need system consistancy, and then we need to counter attack the opponents reactions to that consistant pressure whatever it might be, we are now dynamiclly managing the exchanges better. This is great but now we need to see if this new perspective is tangible and homwgrown or if it was simply scalped form an outside source, have Oilers actually changed from within or is this just another copy-cat scenario?

    I guess the Bluejackets will show us which scenario is accurate, either we do to them what we did to the Blues, or we fold like a wet tent for lack of Intuative Dynamic Input on every level and the Bluejackets send us reeling back into reality.

    I think some of the right things are being done but the real catalyst of those changes is not being embraced and supported. I dont think Ralph and his crew just “finally got it right” after they spent so much time pissing the entire season away consistantly not being prepared enough and I dont think the Players “finally showed up” either, thats BS they have been busting their balls all year long.

    The Oilers fanbase needs to be ultra-cautious with this managment team as they are very very thin in terms of organisational integrity, they will supress and cover-up any and everything they can, it is endemic here in Edmonton. They do this so no one can be held accountable for any single action on any level to any definable degree, its called cowardice and fear of critique.

    Seperate the players, coaches and managment and remember that all levels answer to the one above them when you are seeking answers to your questions. its fine to see us win and to see Ralph making the right types of post game comments now, he has matured and so has the team, the Oilchange warm fuzzies are starting to go away, maybe they should pull the entire show , after I watched it I was so disgruntled that it took a week to settle down, you dont want to show a bluecollar city the insides of those locker rooms and the posh lifstyles these guys have, not in Edmonton, ha ha ha, maybe Vancouver or Calgary,ha ha but not here.

    As of this morning the State of Affairs as I see them are that we are one win better off than we were yesterday morning, we have no ANSWERS as to how we found the win, we have no clear or even cloudy explanations from the team what they have changed to find sucess, no more explanation than we have seen all year long. All we know is a few games ago we were smashed and last night we did the smashing, but so what? We dont have a clue if this was energy from the reunited kid line or if this was desperation or fluke or what. I can see the exact adjustments Ralph made but the team leaves the fans sitting in the dark, its not for tactical reasons because what he does is obvious and right in front of everyone. Ralph needs to show the fans that WE manifested that win useing our system and organisational skillsets, and take credit, so when we lose he can accept blame on behalf of the SYSTEM and those same organisational skillsets, we seem to be being pulled kicking and screaming out of the Deakness into the light of day here and now, its about time, and with any luck at all it will be in time to make this season a sucess. Lets not forget that we need an accurate and clear and concise historical template of this evolution SO WE DONT FALL BACK INTO THE BLACK HOLE WE NOW KNOW IS RIGHT BEHIND US . We are finally learning to put the bulk of the tangible real pressure WHERE IT BELONGS on the SYSTEM we use and how we use it , and not on each other in a self-destrucive manner. This is a massive step in our evolution as a team.

    Maybe if our gutless managment team would tell the truth consistantly, we would break this curse we have brought upon ourselves, its looking like a Broadway level epic curse to me.

    We dont have a personality or roots, we are bland and Vanilla, we dont have a rallying point. If an Oiler from 20 years ago walked into our room invisible you would find him in 30 seconds by looking for the tear drop trail leading to the poor mans heart.

    We have wayyy to many Marty-pants “hockey-wise” men in our kitchen. And the more “hockey-wise” the men the less integrity they will be willing to represent. Tell the truth and stand behind it, if you fall fall with your eyes facing up because you hit a wall and fell back not with your eyes facing down because someone pushed you from behind or because you tripped over yourself.

    We have enough fresh blood in the Lockerroom now to make the evolution back into a winning culture, we just need to become more honest and accountable managers of their cumulative potential, we dont need to be sneaky or overly-tactical and excusatory anymore those tactics disappeared as a need when we re-tooled the roster, there is no need to make up for a lack of talent and skillsets on our roster with less than 100% integrity driven focus, we are good enough to stand up like men and define our own futures, we can take the BadMedicine now and we are strong enough that it helps us instead of hindering us.

    At the post gamer Ralph should have said that the Oilers made some tactical system adjustments to our defensive approach that prevented their o-zone system execution via a standup defensive focus and a comittment to immediate puck pressure. That this allowed us to stifle the oppositions offenseive catalysation effectively for 60mins, that these adjustments are a normal part of our presentation and that we were fortunate that the opposition wasnt able to recover and counter us. Ralph should be telling the truth because we all see it on the ice, there is really nothing to hide or keep secret, there are no trade secrets in NHL hockey. So why be transparent why not simply stand behind what your represent.

    Clear the air and let the team have a chance to become integrity driven and develop faith and loyalty in the system and organisation first before we expect them to committ to each other in battle on the ice. If you truly want to motivate men for the right integrity driven reasons you do it by being forthcoming and presenting them with opportunitys to earn their sucess the right way and opportunitys to accept and handle the real pressure that comes with that responsibility head on on their own terms.

    So once again, are we preparing for the Bluejackets right now? Are we useing the exact same resources that allowed us to correct our execution last game? Are we trying to develop cerebral “muscle memory” or are we flying by the seats of our pants every night?

    We will see Thursday when we are put to the test,wont we, I will be tuning in on the GDB for the 2nd an 3rd periods unless we fall behind by 2 goals then i cant help myself my loyalty kicks in.

    I have already worked up the perfect tactical presentation of our system as Ralph wants to use it for the Bluejackets, and I want to see what Ralph does in the 1st period on his own, lets see if he can hit it dead on again like he did last game, he actually shut me down on my second post last game because he made the correct adjustments immediatly in the 1st period and then countered aggressively with excellent pre-planning dynamiclly, it was a job very well done from the bench crews perspective.

    Just between you me and the fencepost, there are only on average two or three major adjustments a coach gets the chance to make in a 60 min game, so the margin for error is nearly non-existant. Its all about positive, productive and predictive preparation.

    Lets see what you have got Ralph , its game on now pal, I am locked and loaded for the Bluejackets, I hope you are as well.

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        No problems, tell him to buy a Pay as you go phone with his Oilers credit card and post his number here for me to get back to him on. Twenty bucks of minutes ought to do it because Ralph already has the blueprint,knowledge,database,and experience in his cerebral toolbox, 100% of it.

        MMmm, maybe a few hours in a Tims with his laptop and some specific gametapes. Thats about all it would take.