MONDAY MAILBAG – March 23rd

Mailbag

If you ask me, Mondays roll around far too often for my liking. Luckily the Mailbag offers you 3000 words of company time killer and for that we can all be grateful. As always, the mailbag depends on your questions and if you have one to ask you an email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. So go on, grab some coffee, put your feet up and learn something until your boss catches you – it’s mailbag time.

Cheating

1) Vetinari asks – Not unexpectedly, the Oilers won’t be in the playoffs (again) this year.  Which playoff bound team will you be following and why?

Lowetide:

Boston Bruins (my original favourite team) and the Winnipeg Jets. I saw a few games in that old barn in Winnipeg and their fans are similar to Oilers fans: Long suffering and in need of a long and fun playoff run. 

Jason Gregor:

The Blues. I picked them to win at the start of the season, and I like their team. Goaltending is a bit of a question mark, but with their great team defence I don’t think their goalie needs to win them games, he just needs to be consistent.

Jeanshorts:

I honestly wouldn’t mind watching Montreal go on a deep run. As much as their fans are by and large incredibly annoying you can’t really deny that the Bell Centre gets ROCKING when the Habs are rolling. And I’ve got the world’s biggest man-crush on PK Subban, so I’d like to see him win it all. Plus imagine how angry some Oiler fans would be at the sight of Tom Gilbert hoisting the Stanley Cup? Oh man it would be great!

Matt Henderson:

Minnesota is a team I can get behind even though I had absolutely counted Dubnyk out of any kind of success like this after last season. I’m not going to cheer because of him, but the Wild are a good team who needed a goalie and found one. They remind me a lot of a certain Oiler team in 06 who found the missing piece and started to make a push. I would be absolutely afraid to play them in the first round.

Robin Brownlee:

The Canadian teams, for the first round at least. Especially interested in underdogs like Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg if they get in. 

Jonathan Willis:

All of them, but I have to admit that there are teams I look forward to watching more than others. The Islanders and Lightning out East are going to be very interesting to watch – both are young, exciting teams – and Minnesota looks like a club that could surprise out West. I’m also curious to see how Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Petry stand up to their first NHL playoff action.

Jason Strudwick:

NY Rangers. I really enjoyed being a part of that organization. I hope they run the table in the East to get back to the Cup final.

Baggedmilk:

I’m probably going to say Montreal based mostly on hope that they can improve the 5th round pick we got for Petry into a 3rd. I’ll also watch the Jets if they get in because I imagine the MTS Centre will go insane.

ExLover

2) Sheldon Schultz asks – Which former Oiler that is still currently playing in the NHL would be the most valuable to this team right now?

Lowetide:

Man, there’s a ton. Lordy. Devan Dubnyk, but you could make a bloody team. Hon. mention to Andrew Cogliano, Jarret Stoll, Jeff Petry and many more. 

Jason Gregor:

Dubnyk. You need goaltending to have a chance. No former Oilers are top-pairing D-men or #2 centres, so for me it is Dubnyk.

Jeanshorts:

At this moment is there really any other choice but Dubnyk? He’s single handedly dragged the Wild into a playoff spot, and his GAA and SV% are second only to Carey “Just Give Him The Hart Now” Price! Now, Scrivens has been playing better over the last stretch than he has basically all year, but goaltending is still a huge question mark going into next season and there’s no way MacT doesn’t want a mulligan on throwing shade at Dubnyk and subsequently giving up on him after one atrocious season.

Matt Henderson:

Well I guess the answer to that would have to be Dubnyk. The Oilers aren’t getting any stops and Dubnyk is making all of them. Edmonton’s Achilles Heel all year has been the goaltending so it stands to reason that adding a guy with .928 save percentage would make them significantly more competitive.

Robin Brownlee:

Jeff Petry.

Jonathan Willis:

Devan Dubnyk. There are a lot of ex-Oilers out there who would help, notably on centre and defence, but competent goaltending would have done a lot for this team this year.

Jason Strudwick:

Stoll. A veteran center would have been huge this season.

Baggedmilk:

How much time do we have? Stoll would have been the veteran centre the Oilers so badly need. Dubnyk would have been the starter we need. Petry was our best defenceman until he got traded for magic beans. The list goes on and on… 

Ramsay

3) He shoots he scars asks – What do you feel Craig Ramsay has brought to the Oilers this year? Is the defence really any better than last year?

Lowetide:

I’d give him credit for helping the power play — they were unlucky early but good things are happening now. It’s difficult to get too upset about his handling of the blue, you can’t make chicken salad out of that other thing. 

Jason Gregor:

A coach can’t magically make players better than what they are. I think he has helped Klefbom a lot. Klefbom raves about him, and often when I don’t even ask him about Ramsay, he just brings up his name. Ramsay can’t make 2nd or 3rd pairing D-men into 1st pairing players. Klefbom has the potential to be one, and Ramsay has given him good tips and hints on what to do. Klefbom is capable of doing them, so that helps him grow.

Jeanshorts:

I honestly can’t tell you. The team defence is still by far one of the biggest weak spots, despite the Oilers being freed from under the iron grip of Dallas Eakins and his swarm. A lot of smart hockey minds have praised Ramsay for his defensive prowess and yet seemingly nothing has changed since his sarcophagus was rolled into Edmonton.

Matt Henderson:

I have very little insight on what Ramsay has added or not added, but yes the defense is better than last year. Last year had Grebeshkov and Philip Larsen on D. They leaked way more shots and chances against. It’s not a good defense, but it’s better than the 2013-2014 Oilers. I’m actually tired of people blaming the goaltending problems on the bad defense, actually. It doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny. 

Robin Brownlee:

Ramsay brings patience and the ability to teach, which is valuable to younger players. The defence will get better when he personnel gets better. Ramsay, by the way, has input on the power play.

Jonathan Willis:

I think it’s incredibly difficult for anyone on the outside to evaluate the work of the assistant coaches; it’s not as simple as saying ‘X runs the defence, therefore the performance of the defence dictates whether or not he’s good at his job.’ There’s very little doubt that Ramsay knows coaching based on his history; I don’t think the Oilers defensive problems are coaching problems. 

Jason Strudwick:

Do you blame the carpenter or his tools? Very hard for us on the outside to critic the assistant coach especially when there was a coaching change. 

Baggedmilk:

I assume that no one knows what Ramsay does because like any bird of prey he doesn’t stay grounded long enough to be interviewed, or have his methods questioned. 

Zoolander

4) TheBirdOfAnger asks – Why is it that The Oilers can play like absolute trash on some (okay most) nights, but have flashes of incredible displays of talent here and there? What do they lack? Confidence? Experience?

Lowetide:

Experience. They’re young (Schultz, Marincin, Klefbom) or old (Ference) or hurt (Nikitin) or a Stone Alone (Fayne). It’s been a tough year. 

Jason Gregor:

Experience in knowing how to play hard/consistent every game. It is the most difficult thing to learn for NHL players. 

Jeanshorts:

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. It’s impossible to play completely terrible every night (though do the Oilers ever try!) and even though the team is generally horrible the roster is still made up of the best hockey players in the world, guys that have excelled at every level, so even the worst of the worst teams are gonna squeeze out a win every now and then. As for what they lack? A little bit of everything. I don’t think you can pin it on one specific thing.

Matt Henderson:

I think that comes down to experience. The only player among the Oilers young stars to have hit the 300 game mark is Jordan Eberle. This group knows nothing except losing and their impression of NHL goaltending is that it’s actually worse than they remembered from juniour. If the Oilers want to keep adding 18 year olds onto the team the up and down performances will continue. Eventually the top six will find their sea legs and become more even.

Robin Brownlee:

Consistency comes with experience, knowing what it takes to win and repeating it. Far too few players on the roster have that combination of experience and success.

Jonathan Willis:

Matt Fenwick (yes, the guy that Fenwick is named after) wrote a great piece on consistency a few years back. The whole thing is worth reading, but I’ll quote a line:

“[T]here are at least a thousand golfers in North America who can hit it as far as Tiger, and make 25-foot putts on occasion. There are also duffers who have played with him in a pro-am and beaten him on a particular hole… if I play a round of golf with Tiger Woods, I might tie him on the first hole, but when he beats me by 12 or 15 on the round, it won’t be because I lacked consistency.” 

The point here is obviously that a lot of times we’ll use the word consistency as shorthand for talent. Bad teams can look good, good teams can look bad, and the truth of their talent is only told out over a long time. The Oilers look good sometimes because that’s the nature of the beast, but water always finds its level and in Edmonton’s case it’s a ways south of NHL average. 

Jason Strudwick:

Depth. Without depth it is difficult to sustain long periods of solid play. 

Baggedmilk:

Personally, I think the team isn’t good enough to compete with regularity. If the Nuges, Eberles, Yaks, and Halls can carry the team offensively they do okay, but if those guys aren’t getting points the secondary scoring isn’t there to pick up the slack. Also, most of the core of this roster is under the age of 25 so experience is obviously lacking.

5) Lance P. asks – Who or what inspired you to get to where you are today? Did you have a mentor? 

Lowetide:

Hmmm. Great question. I don’t have a mentor per se but always wanted to be a writer and was encouraged by my Mom. I chose to become a radio announcer but blogging gave me a chance to write and generous people have read and said nice things since I began Lowetide and write here at Oilers Nation. So, my answer is my Mom. Miss you, Mom.

Jason Gregor:

I learned work ethic from my parents actions. They never gave me any big speech, but I just learned it by watching how they worked. John Short gave me an opportunity and some great advice early in my career, but most importantly he gave me a chance and said be yourself.

Jeanshorts:

I’ve been obsessed with movies my whole life, and the very first time I ever picked up a camera making my own has basically been all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve also been into writing from a very young age. My dad brought a work laptop home when I was seven or eight and rather than playing games I went straight to the word processor to write a story. That and the fact that I’ve never wanted to work a “real” job has basically been my biggest motivation. As for a mentor it would probably just be an amalgamation of teachers/peers over the years. I can’t really think of one specific person that stands out.

Matt Henderson:

I don’t know if I had a mentor but there are plenty of bloggers whose work I often admired and who lent a helping hand along the way. The Oilers blogging community is very inclusive and interactive just so long as you aren’t a complete idiot. When nobody was reading my own small blog Lowetide invited me to be on his radio show and I very much believe that helped me land bigger opportunities. And you can’t help but be in 

awe of how much quality work Jonathan Willis creates.

As for non-blogging mentors/inspirations I had some incredible professors at the U of A who challenged the way I view the world and how I developed my arguments. If you ever have a chance to take classes from Steven Hijmans about Art or Religion in the Ancient World then do it.  And I can’t leave out my favourite High School English teacher Mrs Richardson. All of these people helped shape the way I think about the world so I guess they were as close to mentors as I ended up getting.

Robin Brownlee:

Growing up in Vancouver, I loved the no-BS approach of an old broadcaster named Jack Webster and I read Jim Taylor of The Province every day. Beyond that, a teacher I had named K.C. Sartini in Grade nine at Shawnigan Lake School. He convinced me I had a knack for putting words together and that was what sparked my interest in writing.

Jonathan Willis:

Many, many people inspired me to rise to the lofty heights of blogger, including some of the people at this site. But I’m not here if I hadn’t come across Lowetide’s blog way back when and marveled at the things I read there that I couldn’t find in Edmonton’s papers. I’m also not here if my wife hadn’t encouraged me to take a chance and leave my oilfield job.

Jason Strudwick:

Jason Gregor. I just hope my hair lasts longer

Baggedmilk:

I’m going to start with my jackass friends that told me and Jeanshorts countless times that we were wasting our time with our blog. Now they’ve got real jobs, and I get to show up to work in sweatpants or without pants at all. Oh, and my parents. They’re cool too.

  • paul wodehouse

    …in the years I’ve been on this planet I never thought I’d say that watching Carey Price lead the Habs would be this exciting to witness…even if they won the Cup I’d be very cool with that outcome …other than the Hawks beating L.A. in a Conference Final…THAT would be sweet revenge from last year…

  • paul wodehouse

    …Dubnyk Dubnyk Dubnyk…what is up with all this praise heaped on him ? He now plays behind a Dman corps that so far outweighs, skills and plays the game so much better than the oil Dmen have ever played while he was there…including an 11 million dollar per year future Hall of Famer first pairing Ryan Suter…I’m so over Dubnyk, he’d be just as bad if he came back to the oil given the sorry state on the blueline.

    …Dmen maketh goalies period…Jeff Petry is my only worry for Carey Price.

    • paul wodehouse

      How do you explain Dubnyk stopping, what, like 5 extra pucks per 100 shots than Mr. Olympian Mike Smith during his first stretch in Arizona. Ya, Arizona has OEL, but I think this season they’ve proven that they are a bad overall team.

      Dubnyk killed it this year on a bad AZ squad, so how do you explain that?

    • LordVallko

      I couldn’t agree more, he is the same clumsy oaf we couldn’t trade away. Left wing lock and shots from the outside are what is happening to this oversized slow, bad with the puck bag of pillows. DO NOT TRADE FOR THIS MISTAKE.

      • paul wodehouse

        @LordValiko

        …be careful Mike Krushelnyski’ll get his knuckles off the ground and bring out his big articulate guns and call you a baby and stupid too!

  • smiliegirl15

    Does anybody else go out and then out of the corner of your eye you see the oilers jersey and cringe, thinking oh great, what did they do now. Trade away Hall, lose 10 to zip, fire the coach, talk about bold moves, let Nikitin play defense. What I am getting at is whenever I see the blue and orange now I think of losers and mismanagement. Can we change the jerseys to something similar to the copper with the dark blue, circa Dougie Weight and the 06 run. I know half of you are screaming at the screen but think about it. Is the jersey not associated with loss now? Glory days are over. There will be a new rink, new GM (probably), new coach(probably), new star center (god willing) and maybe even a defensmen of some stature or ability and all within in the next couple years. So lets have a new jersey. A nice dark, mean color with a new design. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for the young guys, so they feel like these are their jerseys, not the old guys ones. I mean they still would wear them for 3rd jerseys , they are still things of beauty. Give these kids their own jersey, its not like a new one can make anything worse. I’m just tired of cringing every time I see blue and orange.

    PS I know the old ones were also jerseys worn during dark times but I liked those pretty colors. Darker, meaner looking.

    PPS Don’t include Mcfarlane in the redesign please and thank you.

  • vetinari

    My playoff teams this year will likely be Chicago (my “B” for about 7-8 years now– formerly horribly run and then cleaned themselves up and play an exciting brand of hockey) and Winnipeg (I live in Saskatchewan and know how hard they worked to get the Jets back– I just can’t hate them) in the West and likely Montreal (now there’s an ownership/GM/coach model to envy) and the Islanders (back from the depths of hockey hell, too) in the East.

  • vetinari

    If Boston misses the playoffs,there will be management and coaching changes for sure. That mixed with the fact that Chara is near the end of the line,and they’re a team that’s close to the cap,could they be staring down the barrel of a rebuild in the very near future? If so,Craig MacTavish needs to call about Tukka Rask asap. This would clear a ton of money for the Bruins,and give the Oilers a chance on a nightly basis. Let’s not forget the Bruins have a stud in Hamilton,and he and Subban could grow into a Price and Subban kind of duo. Would you trade The 3-5 pick for Tukka Rask?

  • That JSBM blog was the greatest thing to hit the internetz since porn. If just one thing* went just slightly different it could have been bigger than Oilers Nation. *Remembers jeanshortsandbaggedmilk.com*

    *Website traffic

  • paul wodehouse

    …Ca$h

    I commented on Dubnyk as a member of the Wild…he along with the AZ team sucked and that’s why he ended up with the Wild…I’m not concerned about Dubnyk as a coyote, explain why you are…he never got a stiff at being named a Vezina Trophy finalist until he went ‘lights out’ behind the Wild defence…

  • Ironically the Oilers sent out another season seat holder survey this weekend.

    When they query “why are you unlikely to renew or unsure about the decision”. They offer up a bunch of available answers.

    Top of the list… and this is in house generated stuff btw. By the Oilers.

    The organization is not committed to winning.

    I expected the ones about parking and concessions but that one caught my eye.

  • “I’m actually tired of people blaming the goaltending problems on the poor defence, actually. It doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny.”

    With Pronger, the Oil were Finalists. Without Pronger, they were a lottery team.

    Without a Suter on the blueline, Dubnyk was a back-up goalie. With Suter, he is now mentioned as a Vezina finalist. So if MacT were to trade for a Seabrook or Keith for players, prospects and picks, we would not see better goaltending stats?

    • With PK Subban, Carey Price was a .905 goalie.
      With PK Subban, Carey Price was a .938 goalie.

      Oh wait.

      Let me try again.

      With Dan Hamhuis, Roberto Luongo was a .928 goalie.
      With Dan Hamhuis, Roberto Luongo was a .907 goalie.

      Hmm, this isn’t working.

      With Dion Phaneuf, James Reimer was a .924 goalie.
      With Dion Phaneuf, James Reimer was a .902 goalie.

      Yeah this doesn’t seem to be working. It’s almost like goalies are unpredictable.

      Good defencemen reduce shots against. That can boost a goalie’s GAA and wins, but those are team stats more than individual stats. Goalies control their save percentage, and there’s no evidence that a goalie’s even strength save percentage is influenced in any significant way by having a star defender in front of him.

        • You quoted me saying “Good defencemen reduce shots against. That can boost a goalie’s GAA and wins, but those are team stats more than individual stats.” so I don’t understand how you can think I was saying defence doesn’t matter.

          Good defencemen can make a huge difference, just not in the way you were suggesting.

  • LordVallko

    Fascinating that people here are so accustomed to crapping on Dubnyk and giving him no credit what-so-ever that they can sit here and honestly say, with a straight face, that Suter and the rest of the defense corps in Minnesota is actually what’s stopping the pucks and not Dubnyk.

    So tell me then gentlemen who fit in that category: what about the three or four other goaltenders Minnesota tried before acquiring Dubnyk out of desperation? I suppose this stunning line-up of defensemen just didn’t feel like playing or something.

    Do you guys even try to think this stuff through first or…?

  • smiliegirl15

    Do you think Dubnyk would be the player he is now if he’d stayed in Edmonton or did he need to go to Nashville, Montreal and Arizona first? Did he need to hear the goalie coach in Nashville say publicly he had some bad habits? Did he need to be a real nobody in Montreal and then work with Shawn Burke in Arizona to become Devan Dubnyk today?