Last week, young Oilers defender Martin Marincin was a surprise addition to Slovakia’s hockey team going to Sochi for the Olympics. What a great feeling that must have been for him! The soon to be Olympian will turn twenty-two during the Olympics. The Olympics are huge for Europeans. After playing in three different European countries I can tell you people love to talk about past athletes that have represented their countries proudly. He and his family must be very excited.
Marincin has been a nice surprise for me on the back end. When you look at him on paper it is impossible not to like his height. Watching him in practice he is a nice skater, is comfortable with the puck and has a shot. But the games are where it counts.
Playing on a weak team is difficult for all the individual players. It is especially hard on the defenceman and goalies. This group finds themselves facing odd man rushes against and spending lots of time in their own end. The defence corps is always under pressure. I am not saying the D for the Oilers is not responsible for some of the issues but not having a more consistent defensive minded group of forwards makes it rough.
This makes it hard for a young d man to feel his way into the NHL.. On a stronger NHL team there are games where you find yourself standing on the offensive blue line for a whole shift as your forwards light up a weaker team in their own end. A young defenceman can get used to the speed and flow of the NHL game at a more reasonable rate. Not so on a weaker team. Most nights it can feel like you are under siege. There are times when you want to yell out "Broken Arrow" as you are being overrun!
Marincin has looked calm to me. I don’t see him panic with the puck. (I thought Hunt was very nervous and jittery with the puck for the three games he was in the lineup). He seems to find the play to make quickly. With the pressure d-men get in the game today knowing what to do with the puck before you actually have it is a must. He has shown me poise, a nice asset for a young player.
The first job of defencemen is to stop the other team from scoring. In his first nine games I can only think of one time where he was really out of position that led to a goal. That is impressive. He needs to keep that up and slowly work in some of the offence we know he has.
The one area I would like to see him improve is his weight and strength. He is listed at 6’4, 188 lbs. Not enough muscle on that body. Much like our friend Wanye he needs to lock himself in a gym this summer that has a buffet included! I would expect him to play at close to 210 lbs or more three years from now. He needs to match the strength of the big bodies of NHL forwards.
I saw a play against the Penguins that really showed me this need. He did a nice job on a James Neal rush to keep him to the outside and force him behind the net. As Marincin engaged him physically Neal pushed him off with his superior strength. Nothing came of the play but a big guy like Marty needs to have the ability to respond with the same amount of strength.
Moving forward after the ten games he has played I see really no reason to change the way the Oilers are handling him. His ice time has been roughly fifteen minutes a night, a very manageable amount. He is not over-stressed or drowning so his confidence if anything is improving.
Marincin will get a great opportunity to soak up knowledge from a player who is most likely his idol and is the captain of the Slovakian Olympic team, Zdeno Chara. What a chance to learn for Marty! Chara is everything you want in a role model for a young defenceman. He is in incredible shape, he plays hard every night, he’s extremely competitive. He’s a leader who doesn’t wilt under pressure and a very good defender. The list goes on and on. Marincin needs to have his eyes glued to Chara both on and off the ice during the whole tourney.
Organizations dream of the opportunities like this for their young players. For Marincin he needs to take advantage of everything he will learn from Chara, the Olympic experience and this stretch of NHL games to keep his development moving forward.
Set Your Alarms Boys
8 am practice?
Are you serious?
These words would have been uttered after Oilers players were informed of their coach’s decision to practice twice last week very early.
I have never heard of any coach setting a practice time on a non-travel day at 8 am in my life! There were many reasons mentioned by Eakins as to why he made that choice. I didn’t agree or buy any. This is the truth. It is a reverse curfew. It is that simple. The moment I read the tweets I knew that.
Sleep is vital for an NHL player. For many sleeping after a game does not come easy. When I played some nights I wouldn’t fall asleep till three or four in the morning because I was still fired up. Maybe I would watch the game again or watch a couple of movies to settle down. It was frustrating to not to be able to sleep sooner and the lack of sleep would wear me down.
Eakins admitted earlier this season that he was surprised how difficult the travel was out here. The flights are all three hours or more after Calgary and Vancouver. It is long and late nights coming home from everywhere. Most guys can’t sleep on the plane. Some come home to families that they want to spend time with so that means no naps.
At every turn sleep is slipping away. I know that when you are not rested and tired injuries are more likely to happen. It is a fact.
So with all of this knowledge is there any other reason than the one I stated above to think that at 8 am practice has benefits? No. There isn’t.
I don’t know if there is an issue with the night life of players on this team. My days of shooters, doing the worm and late nights are mostly behind me now. I do know that when I was a young player I enjoyed myself when the opportunity presented itself. I was smart and made sure late nights didn’t hurt my games or practices. Older players showed me the way and kept me accountable.
I played with some guys who were animals and went out all the time. They showed up at practice and games and played their hearts out. It didn’t affect their performance. They had long careers. I played with other guys who were puddles the couple of days after a big night out. They couldn’t produce and they were out of the league quickly.
If Eakins feels some guys are not living up to his standards after a late night out I have no problem with that. As a professional hockey player that is part of the deal. If you dance to the music you need to pay the piper. Eakins and the veterans need to sit the players down and outline clearly how it needs to work.
BUT… having early practices to send or reinforce that message is not the way to do it. Eakins is actually shooting himself and his team in the foot. He is unnecessarily tiring out his team.
LET THE BOYS SLEEP!!!!