To be continued?

A few discussion points on tonight's Wild soiree:

Can't help but wonder if Derek Boogaard might have Sheldon Souray in his sights. Last time out Sheldon decked Craig Weller with a very solid left -- too solid, according to some who noticed Souray was wearing a hard plastic wrist guard. He wears it legitimately to protect his bionic wrist, but it should be off limits as a weapon. Watched the incident a few times and never did draw a conclusion whether it was used as such. Weller is still out with concussion. Look at the shocked expressions of the Oilers on the bench surveying the aftermath of that beatdown.

Haven't heard of any stupid Bertuzzi-like comments emanating from the Wild, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the Boogey Man came calling. I don't doubt Souray might answer Boogaard's call, and he might have as good a chance against the monster as anybody; he's as tough a player as has worn Oiler silks in quite some time. I don't like the potential trade-off, or consequences, but there are times when the tough ones need to account for themselves, or be taken into account. I attended and remember well the "Bryan Marchment Game" where the former Oilers' hardrock defenceman, now a Shark, accepted the challenge of "Big Zhawrzh" Laraque after he took out Doug Weight's knee in a previous game. Marchment lost the fight (a little too quickly, I thought), but he gained the respect of the Oilers and even of this observer for answering the bell. Didn't hurt his teammates morale any, either. Cheap shot artist he was, but Matt Cooke he wasn't.

In a not-unrelated development, it sounds like Steve MacIntyre is in tonight, and Zack Stortini out. Neither has dropped the gloves since their return from injury, which is somewhat significant in that both injuries came during fights. Tough break for Zorg who was one of approximately 20 Oilers who struggled against Buffalo. In his first game back from a leg injury, he didn't exactly have the wheels going and showed a little rust by making a couple of rare bad decisions. And like the team as a whole, every mistake wound up in the net.

Craig MacTavish's proposed experiment with Tom Gilbert up front on the PP is a little different. It's not often one sees three full-fledged defencemen on the PP; I know Jacques Martin used to fool around with Zdeno Chara in the low slot from time to time, but I believe Alfie played the point so they were just kind of switching positions. Other teams have tried a similar tactic but not for long. Last team I remember who used three D on a regular basis, and about the only one who used the swing man in a skill role was the Winnipeg Jets in the early 90s. They had traded Dale Hawerchuk for Phil Housley, and with a surfeit of offensive blueliners (Fredrik Olausson, Teppo Numminen, Randy Carlyle, Moe Mantha) to man the points, Housley was regularly deployed up front, where he scored 12 and 11 ppg his first two seasons. A precocious offensive talent, Housley had played some centre early in his career in Buffalo (which also shows up in his powerplay goals) before maturing into a full-time blueliner. But for the Jets he went up front on the PP.

It worked in that the Jets had an above-average powerplay those two seasons, but it didn't in that their back-heavy talent distribution resulted in an unbalanced team with a losing record.

Peculiar comments from MacT in today's Edmonton Journal about Marc Pouliot:

"I don't like Pouliot at centre. Faceoffs are an issue, the added positional responsibility can be an issue. (Potulny) is an average skater, but he's got good hands and a real head for the game, from what I've seen."

It's hard not to read part of that as a thinly-veiled criticism of Pouliot's head for the game. But in response to the specific criticism, I would point out that Pouliot's faceoff percentage of 47.6 is less than great, it's fully 10 percentage points better than that of Andrew Cogliano (37.5). So Cogs must have a big edge in "positional responsibility". I do know Pouliot has a pretty good record as a low event player regardless of whether he's playing centre or wing, currently ranking fourth among Oiler forwards at 2.30 GA ON/60, while Cogliano is well down the charts at 2.73. As for Potulny, I guess we'll find out.

Two things I'm pretty sure about are that Coach MacTavish has a v-e-r-y good understanding of what a 3C's positional responsibility is; and that he's pretty ticked to not have a veteran to deploy in that important role.

Big game tonight against a divisional rival that is exactly tied in the standings. GOILERS!


B.C.B. said...

I think Zorg was in the BP because the opposition was Minny and the Boogyman. Against most other teams, that don't need the nuclear deterent, I think you would see Zorg in the line up.
I can't understand SMac's continuous deployment: he doesn't really hit, because he can't skate, and never plays more then 4 minutes a night (hence screwing up poor Brodziak's chemistry on the fourth line). And yesterday his fight was boring: I have been waiting for this match since Sept.
But I do cheer for SMac; when he blocks a shot, dives to chip the puck past the blue line and when he scores.
If Zorg further improves on his skating (increasing his excellent ability to hit) he will not longer be PB material. Go Zorg go!

Doogie2K said...

Since there still seems to be something iffy with the RSS since the last site update (are you using the site RSS or the sports RSS?), I had something up a couple of days ago about the NHL ruling Souray's wrist brace legal, after the Wild complained.

Bruce said...

Thanks for that Doogie, good report. It didn't appear on the tiny screen with the tinny sound that Minny was targeting Souray. More like they all decided to leave him the f*** alone after seeing what he did to Weller. If you think the Oilers looked shocked in that picture up top, how do you suppose the Wild bench reacted?

Of course SMac may have got to Boogaard first. The game certainly had some intensity early, whether from the Buffalo beatdown or lingering from the first Edmonton-Minny affair, or more likely, both. Oilers had to be pissed off no matter who they were playing, and when it's an "Oh yeah, these guys" kind of game, well...

SMac v. Boogaard was a waste of time, but Staios v. Clutterbuck was the type of "hockey fight" I don't mind at all. Staios clocked Veilleux with a wicked open ice hit, Clutterbuck stepped in for his fallen teammate, and Staios went "Oh yeah, this guy". Clutterbuck looks to be a real solid player, but he ran his mouth about Oilers competitiveness after that last game, which I'm sure a guy like Staios in particular did not appreciate. At all. Credit Clutterbuck with an official Rookie Mistake.

And credit Steve Staios, voodoo doll of the Oilogosphere, with showing some guts and leadership, at a time the team really needed it. That sequence set the tone for a real solid team effort.

Doogie2K said...

Oh, I forgot to post the first time:

I know Jacques Martin used to fool around with Zdeno Chara in the low slot from time to time, but I believe Alfie played the point so they were just kind of switching positions.

I remember from watching some '70s Habs games on the NHL Network over the summer that Scotty Bowman used to do this with Larry Robinson sometime. Makes sense; take the biggest guy on the team (and maybe the NHL -- how big was Big Bird compared to his peers?) and stick him in the goalie's face and fire away.

SMac v. Boogaard was a waste of time, but Staios v. Clutterbuck was the type of "hockey fight" I don't mind at all.

I didn't see the early part of the game, but in general, I would agree with that sentiment. I have no time for the heirarchical goon battling when there's no real grudges attached, but all kinds of time for spontaneous responses.

Kev said...

Guess I see the Boogeyman-MacTruck encounter differently. After Souray's stunning KO, you'd think the Wild were still wanting to send a message back. Sounds like Booger was trying to engage Souray a few times (and damn, I love Souray's 'don't *uck with me' look; if I was on the receiving end I'd probably shrink into a raisin). I was kinda hoping for a fantastic bout between the ogre and MacIntyre, but I'm also kinda glad Mac now has a first taste of what Booger can bring. He neutralized him and that's a big OK in my books. While seeing how Souray defends the Oiler crest is truly awesome to behold (like his bomb), he's too valuable to do it all the time.

Generally I don't like having goons for just gooning entertainment, but last summer it felt like many our divisional rivals were all trying to arm themselves. Just my impression, so I'm glad when Mac was brought on, who brings all he's got in his few minutes, who engages at the right times. As for Brodziak, I've got a feeling 3C will eventually be his, that Pouliot is being prepped for trade.

And Stevie, way to start the bounce back game. Though I'm having some trouble with some the fights after good clean hits, these are the kind of fights that defintely belong in hockey. If only we could transfer some of that moxie to Penner, damn, he'd be truly formidable. Penner needs to be more physical to wake up his testosterone levels.

Coach pb9617 said...

Oilers Jambalaya is busy these days.

Bruce said...

Coach: yeah I know (sigh). I've been trying to remove them (one at a time, about 30 seconds a throw) from my posts, but am growing very tired of it. I have just left a note on OJ's own site asking him to fix it. Probably a bad setting somewhere, but it's a major pain in the butt, and more than just for me.

For now I will leave the 14 and counting links so that Smokin' Ray can see what I'm talking about if/when he comes over here to check. If that doesn't work, I'll have to remove him from my blogroll and see if that solves it. Otherwise, suggestions welcome from the tech-savvy out there.

Smokin' Ray said...

Hello, Geez sorry about this. I see what you are talking about. I thought it was just my computer when I seen it before. Any idea's on how to fix this? By no means was I wanting to do that. A lot of that stuff is old. I'll check in my settings but if you have any ideas let me know.

Smokin' Ray said...

Yeah.. I'm not sure what happened here. And I'm not sure what to do. I can't figure it out. Sorry for being a PITA.

Bruce said...

Thanks Smokin' Ray, I kinda figured it was a settings issue or something. Sorry I have no clue for a fix, I'm no computer whiz. I do know a similar problem was showing up on Lowetide's site the other day, not sure if it's persisting.

Bruce said...

Scotty Bowman used to do this with Larry Robinson sometime.

Right you are Doogie, I should have remembered that. It was an occasional tactic designed to give the PP unit a different look, esp. if Plan A wasn't working. That way Bowman could get all of his Big Three on the ice together, cuz Savard and Lapointe would certainly have manned the points with Robinson up front.

Makes sense; take the biggest guy on the team (and maybe the NHL -- how big was Big Bird compared to his peers?) and stick him in the goalie's face and fire away.

Robinson was certainly one of the biggest players in the game (although at 6'4 he wasn't the tallest guy on his own team for some of his career, that would have been 6'6 Gilles Lupien). He was big, strong, and had very nice hands so could do some real damage from the low slot. I have to think that guys like him and Chara who have so much experience in crease battles from the defensive side of the puck may have a bit of an advantage in that specific aspect.

Don't see the same compelling reason to move Tom Gilbert up front; indeed, in the dying seconds against Nashville Gilbert, playing forward, was the guy who couldn't do anything with the rebound of Souray's bomb from the point and wound up bobbling the puck and taking it behind the net as those seconds died. Whereas a true forward like Dustin Penner, who has a little experience depositing rebounds, was nailed to the bench. Of course that's just one tiny micro-example, but the fact remains that the experiment occurred with a game hanging in the balance, and did not work out in our favour.

Smokin' Ray said...

Hey Bruce,

I think I have it solved. Sorry again for the hassles.

Smokin' Ray

Bruce said...

Ray: Lowetide and I thank you. :) This proves once again what my mom taught me that rather than assume the worst about people, it's better just to talk to them, politely. Chances are it's just a misunderstanding. (I have a history of misunderstanding things myself, especially when technology is involved!)