Sunday, September 30

The lesser known sequel to Doctor Who?


Captain Who?
In addition to the question of which of the 30 players in this dressing room are actually going to be on the team, one other burning question remains as the regular season starts and it isn't "Will Mathieu Roy ever walk again?" Rather, Who is going to take over for Jason "Once more up the boards, dear friends" Smith as the Oilers captain. There have been rumors of rotating C's, of a solid C but rotating A's, and a strong possibility of just giving everyone HJ's. Let's have a look at the merits and... demerits(?) of each potential successor to that hallowed throne. Well, as hallowed as a throne can be after the handoff from MacT to Kelly "Sloth from Goonies" Buchberger....
1. Ethan Moreau - "Chopper" is the current leading contender. The fact that half the team followed him to his brother's training facilities for the entire summer certainly indicates that he is a) extremely fit and b) already a leader of sorts. Take a look at how many teeth he's missing and you'll realize he's either willing to lay it out for the team or just really bad at avoiding solid objects travelling mouthward. Also, a number of Oilers players have indicated that the loss of Monsieur Moreau was a much bigger blow to the team than most figured. According to Dwayne Roloson (that's the first player name I've used without a nickname in there, pats on the back), he's the heart and soul of the team. In fact, our #1 netminder has publicly backed him for the C, which puts the coaching staff in a bit of a tough spot since Roli's old enough to be their father. The main downfall of Moreau's bid? There are a few, first, he isn't making the money that some of the other candidates are and as I've said before, in this league money is talking more and more. Second, he seems to be suffering from that Samuel L Jackson disease in Unbreakable. I'd add here that he doesn't seem to be much of a "personality" guy but to be honest I don't know that for sure and also, Gator was about as interesting as the LA v Anaheim season opener in London.
Shawn Horcoff - This little fella is getting paid the big bucks, has earned tons of respect from MacT for earning a 1st line center spot through sheer hard work alone (it certainly wasn't talent) and for developing the way MacT likes, through the ole defensive forward route. He had a bad season last year but who didn't? He's a vocal guy and is good with the media. He seems like someone who has a lot of internal struggles as a player which I think is as a result of his throwing away his initial playing style, becoming a strong defensive player, and then being asked to be a first line points contributer. Basically he's schizo. The knocks against him as I see it? First, he looks like Tweeg from Teddy Ruxpin. Second, he's a really inconsistent player, which makes it much tougher to set a consistent lead. At least Jason Smith was a steady bad 90% of the time. Thirdsies, the team may look at him as MacT's boy a little bit.
Jarret Stoll - He's young and skilled to the max. Don't let the fact that he's not so great in NHL 08 fool ya, he was the Oilers best all around player last year prior to being go-tarded in his brains. He's the prototype of the new look Oiler, remember before when "Speed Kills" was the team motto? Yeah, well look where we got with Marchant and Chimera as the poster boys. With Stoll you get a young, solid two way forward who can actually put the puck in the net and who thinks the game perfectly. MacT is always on his players about thinking the game, and it seems to have gotten through to young Stolly. The knocks against him? His age is the number one reason he won't be picked. I like him for getting an A, because it shows the young players what they can earn if they work hard enough, but he's not getting a C over Horc or Moreau or other Oiler lifers. Not yet anywho. Also, he looks sorta like a vampire.
Ales Hemsky - Oh c'mon. I think people who say he should get the C to spur him into a leadership type role are the same people who have a baby to save a marriage. And nine times out of ten THAT idea is just about having unprotected sex before you break up. So basically, go ahead, give him the C if you want to have unprotected sex with Hemmer so bad. Wait. I think I've lost the thread here. The point being, he's not a leader, we all know he's not a leader. Don't weigh him down with a letter, it'll just hinder his passing. People have to realize that "Leader" and "Points Leader" are NOT the same thing. Though they can be. If you're Mark Messier.
Finally, Steve Staios - A fine candidate I suppose. He certainly gives it his all, he even has flashes of offensive prowess. Remember those two goals he scored that one time? Okay, me neither, but his stats say he's done it, so there's that. Again, not a personality guy with the media, but MacT is enough personality in interviews for everyone. He's been around a long time, and was even a Captain already in Atlanta. Admittedly, he was a captain who has been picked off waivers, unprotected in an expansion draft, and then either left unsigned by the team he was captaining or felt that his leadership had done enough in Atlanta, abandoning his teammates for more money. I don't feel Staios is a representative of the current Oilers. He's a solid defenceman who makes a little too much dough in my estimation, but he's not the face of the Oil.
Oh, and I almost forgot, Ryan Smyth - A darkhorse candidate considering he's no longer with the team, he still qualifies as the team captain leftover from last year.
So that's it I think, cast your ballots via the comments section below. Personally, I'd like to add Roli to the mix just because he's had more conversations with the refs than their wives have and because he's always on the ice, so what an advantage! To me, I go Moreau for Captain, with Stoll and Horc getting the A's, though I'm pretty sure Staios will get Stoll's. Boo.
Wash

Rypien Hit

Thanks again to 'sexy randal' for the video. I'll tell you why I disagree with your comments in the prior thread.

First, it was a charging penalty. That was the call on the ice. It would have been a charging penalty regardless of whether Roy was injured. The idiot was skating a hundred miles an hour from his own blueline.

Second, every NHL player knows that when there is a 50-50 play and a guy has his back to you, you can't put him through the boards. But since Rypien isn't an NHL player he doesn't actually know this...my bad. Even Rypien himself (and the announcers on the video) said he should have pulled up. Was Roy his own worst enemy on the play? Yeah. But is it his fault? No.

Once again it comes down to respect. There's a difference between making a solid hit to separate a guy from the puck - which is the purpose of checking, lest we forget - and trying to murder someone. These are hits to hurt, and invariably it's always perpetrated by some young 'energy' guy, who has been in the league for 8 seconds and doesn't understand the respect factor.

I'm curious to know what other people think.

Saturday, September 29

Oil 4, Vancouver 5 - Are you kidding me?


"My name is Rick Rypien, and I'm a douchebag."


Either Rick Rypien has been living in a cave (he does make the league minimum), or Colin Campbell didn't quite send the message he thought he did. Once again another fringe player (see 'bad') sends someone off on a stretcher. This time it was Oiler defenceman Mathieu Roy. I haven't seen the hit yet, and by all accounts it wasn't as bad as Downie's, but from what Tencer, Morley and Rod said, Rypien skated from his own blueline and buried Roy in a vulnerable position in the Oiler zone. As Tencer said, there was "just as much stupidity," in this hit. Rypien received a 5-minute major. I'm sure he'll have plenty of time to contemplate his NHL suspension while he's riding a bus in AHL.

Herein lies the problem with incidents like these. Are the Flyers ever going to call up Steve Downie knowing he can't play? When the Canucks need an injury call-up, why would Rypien get the call when he's carrying a suspension? In addition to suspensions, the NHL needs to hit these guys where it matters - in their wallets. Fine these morons wherever they play. Ridiculous - as if I needed another reason to hate the Canucks.

Alain Vigneault said it shouldn't have been a penalty. Okay fuckface, remember those words when someone puts one of your little Swedish girls head-first through the advertising. Even Rypien admitted it was a penalty. Shut your mouth and pray your goalie doesn't tear his groin, because your team is shit. Oh...is this thing on? Alright, anyway...

Is this what the pre-season is going to become? Are coaches going to be scared to play their established players for fear of some two-bit clown taking their head off?

From a hockey perspective, suddenly having 9 NHL defencemen on the roster isn't quite the burden it was 24 hours ago. Roy has had a history of concussions, and is certainly touch-and-go to start the season. MacT said he'll probably go on IR, meaning the other 8 guys will probably stick.

Other thoughts:

- Gagner and Cogliano were both very good again tonight, and I'm sure the focus now switches to trying to get Gagner signed before opening night.

- Oilers sent Jeff Deslauriers (G) down tonight, with other cuts coming later in the week. No comment on Anson Carter, which means MacT hasn't had time to tell him to pack his shit.

Downie Gets 20. Bettman: "We Can Do That?!"

POS Steve Downie is drinking his career through a straw tonight, after the league- and by that I mean Colin Campbell- handed him what is effectively a ticket to the fourth line of the Philadelphia Phantoms by way of a 20 game suspension. The only way this could be any better for civilization is if the suspension was for 1000 games, and that it had to be carried out on Mimas, one of the moons of Saturn.

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Reaction was mixed around the league tonight, ranging from "Hooray!!" to "Phew!!". Campbell, desperately trying to prove that the only thing he's done in life is play hockey, said, "Downie crossed the line, and he crossed the line in a whole-heartedly way." thereby hitting the English language as bad as Downie's hit on McAmmond. Even Flyers GM Paul Holmgren knew the term of the suspension was warranted when he said, "We respect his (Campbell's) position and his judgement in this case." and, "We will live with it." Say, Stevie boy, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement from your boss, is it?

That's all fine and good when the guilty player is a fourth line rookie/nobody like Steve Downie. But what about when if the player is a superstar, someone the league doesn't want to get rid of, like Chris "Where the Elbow Meets the Skull" Pronger? Will the league be as hard handed in meting out it's punishment then? Let's see...looking into the future...yeah...yeah, it's coming clearer... No. The answer is no. The league is trying to send a message to undeserving, expendable players, and they just hope that guys like Pronger hold off as long as they can before they decapitate a guy, forcing the league to make, OH GOD! A decision!

To get a little extra perspective on this, please send the kids from the room and cast your eyes on this horror show from 6 months ago:

Suspension for that, 3 motherfucking games. Cam Janssen, a guy whose career NHL stats are these:

DEVILS 95 / 1 / 0 / 1 / -5 / 205

I was going to put in a longer version of the hit from the Devils game coverage featuring the usually excellent Doc Emerick and the clearly retarded Chico Resch, but it was getting me too pissed off. Resch is such a typical broadcast homer, and in the clip he tries to say that the reason Kaberle is leaving the ice ON A STRETCHER is because after the hit, his head hit the boards. That's like saying that the reason the person died in the car crash is because they went through the windshield, not because they were hit head on by the drunk driver.

So the wait is on before the next Blow to the Head/Game Brawl/Howls of Outrage/Colin Campbell Press Conference. Let's remember all that's been said in the past few days, and see how it compares then. In other words, see you next week!

SEXY STRETCHER UPDATE:

I had to wait one day. See above.

Thursday, September 27

I don't know, where do YOU want to eat?


Tough choices or indecision?


Do you think that when the Oiler coaches go out to lunch they let MacT choose the restaurant? For fucks sake, man. There's one pre-season game left and today they trimmed the roster down to 31 players! Make a decision already! Charlie Huddy is hungry and he needs to know whether it's gonna be poutine (Mathieu Roy) or double cheeseburgers (Tom Gilbert). Does Billy Moores get an ice cream sundae (Sam Gagner) or stale cookies (Anson Carter)? And why the hell are we still talking about going to Sizzler (Tyler Spurgeon)?

Granted, we knew the log-jam on the blueline would be difficult to sort, and the decisions regarding Gagner and Cogliano are tough because they have a direct effect on Carter and Pouliot. But the delay makes me think that Lowe is working the phones a bit. Also, the fact that Jacques hasn't been sent out makes you wonder if he's played his way back ahead of Stortini. I don't have an explanation for Tyler Spurgeon. Maybe Cal Nichols wants him to be his personal cabana boy.

Stay tuned.

Moose's Season Preview coming this weekend!

MacT refuses cuts, goes into season with 98 players...

Woohoo! The Oilers are the greatest team in the preseason (of the teams I follow)! Alright, I understand its just the preseason and if ever there was a city that gets their hopes up in some sort of masochistic ritual year after year its Edmonton. However, this squad has dressed more youth game to game, and played against some teams with more veterans, and still come out on top 5 of 6 times. Also, it really does seem to me that they have been a fair representation of the Oilers I imagined I'd be seeing this year. Which is to say, a lot of youth, not enough defensive play, a heavy leaning on the goalies. What I didn't anticipate was that they would find any success with that particular equation. And here I am getting ahead of myself again. See!? Its a disease! Do they have AA for Oiler fans? "Hello, my name is Washingtron, and I believe that Andrew Cogliano could score 50 goals this year based on his preseason performance."
The "Great" 1st Line Center Debate:
Apparently there's been a bit of fuss about Shawn Horcoff's not playing at center on the first line once this season starts. MacT indicated yesterday that it had been blown out of proportion a little bit, but did say that it was "unfortunate (Horcoff) is in a position to defend his position". Admittedly MacT uses the word "unfortunate" more than "the", and "the" is the most commonly used word in English! I know! I looked it up on Wikipedia! I'm doing my research people! Back to the matter at hand, Horc at 1st line center. There are a few things to look at on this issue:
1. He's going to start the season at first line center no matter what. The fact that he has 5 points in 3 preseason games aside, he makes the most money of all the centers and it does seem in today's NHL that your salary dictates your playing time more often than not. Which is why Scott Gomez is going to play 36 hours a game.
2. Its too bad he will be starting at center, because more than anything Hemsky needs a trigger man there. That's one of the leading reasons he is not getting a lot more points a season. He's a setup man, he will never be a shooter as Moose said many posts ago, so put a center on that line that can put the puck in the net! "Oh, but Penner'll be on that line!" Well phooey! He's on the entire other side of the ice! That's not an easy set-up to make. If you need a scoring center, who do you put there instead?
3. Jarret Stoll? I voted on 630Ched.com in the big "1st line center poll", sorry Schremp, it doesn't seem like you won this one. Horcoff is by far the leader here, and Stoll, my vote, only had 16%! Less than Cogliano! I get that people are gun shy about his mushy brains, but the guy can put the puck in the net every once in a while. Generally from the point, but still, we need someone who can get some wood on Hemsky's passes (other than Moose, who just got wood at my having mentioned Hemsky's name). At this stage, in all honesty, Cogs qualifies in this role, but he can't do it and we all know that. I think Stoll is the closest thing. He was the best player on the team last year before he went all wonky. Isn't that who you want at the top?


Timbits!
It's time! Grab a double double and enjoy a dip in my...
Schremp says buh-bye and the evolution of a nickname
You knew it was coming, it did. If I'm Schremp I'm only surprised that Tim "Zesty Nacho" Sestito outlived me at the big club. I'm going to attempt a new, extremely convoluted nickname for Robbie here. I feel particularly qualified as I've had great success with nicknames in the past. Some of my greatest hits. Scott Ferguson = "Turd" Ferguson. Ryan Smyth = "Rhino", I even wrote that one into the Journal but it didn't take, I was sick of "Smitty" being allowed on a team with more than one Smith. Steve Staios = "The Goat". Dominic Pittis = "Baby Fishmouth". That's the best one. Even if only for the fact that I felt it necessary at one point in my life to give Dominic Pittis a nickname.
So its time for Schremp. Follow along here...
Robbie Schremp = Robbie Shrimp
Robbie Shrimp = Shrimp Boat Captain
Shrimp Boat Captain = Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump = Bubba
So! I'm calling Robbie Schremp "Bubba" from here on in when I play him in NHL 08.
That's all for today,
Love,
Washingtron

Wednesday, September 26

Leading With Your Head

For those of you not lucky enough to know me, I'm a half glass half-full kind of guy. I try and take a thoughtful look at things and situations before I make up my mind. I try to think with my head first, and with my heart second. Now, having said all that, goddamn it we got fucking smoked at home 7-2 by Buffalo!
Our average team height is good enough to start for Serbia at the Olympics, and all 5' nothing Derek Roy did was score 6 points on the night. Now, of course it's only pre-season, and a lot of guys need something real to play for in order to get it up. Not to mention guys are sore and still getting into game shape, or the kids in the game and may be squeezing the stick too tight, trying to impress. Ultimately none of Roy's six points really matter at all. It just bugs me because now the choked screams of the negativo's who scavenge the enormous Leaf Nation tableau will needlessly be all the louder.

I listen to it and read it every day. The people who write nothing but the bad because when you're lazy, and you have to write something, going negative is always the easy decision.
For example, (and I see this one A LOT) columnists who portray how dire the Leafs non post-season-making woes by yelping, "The Leafs haven't made the playoffs in THREE seasons!!" Uh, hey fuckmouth, there was no season, three seasons ago. NO ONE made the playoffs three seasons ago. It's only been two since the Leafs last made it in...by 2, and 1 point(s) respectively. Oh, is that the sky falling? No, it's just your credibility. And by the way, you're sitting on your balls.

In other news, I'm proud of how the Leafs have responded to the POS Steve Downie hit on Dean McAmmond. There seems to be some real indignation about this one. Jason Blake went so far as to say that Downie should be kicked out of the league. Downie said the usual about he's got to do what he's got to do to get himself noticed and play a role on the team. If that's the case, then what kind of fucking organization do they have down there? There's no one else who can take a fourth line spot for the Flyers? No one else who can get noticed by, oh I don't know, playing hockey with any appreciable level of skill? See Moose's post a few doors down. He nailed it. The bizarre blame the victim thinking behind the whole "he didn't have his head up" shit. Or the, "he was admiring his pass" thing. Well how about the little ditty that says you can admire the pass because after you've made it, you're not supposed to be hit in the first place. See Kaberle vs. that creep Cam Janssen.

There are a lot of people yelling about this one. Maybe this is the final straw...or part of the final straw...or some kind of straw that will finally get Gary Bettman to stop jerking off to pictures of larger nets or franchises in Oklahoma, and start taking a real and meaningful stand on these kinds of hits made by these kinds of players.

Blueprints


Oil 2, Calgary 1


The Oilers improved to 5-1 on the pre-season, and tonights' win is sure to provide the blueprint for how the team will win games this year. A Sheldon Souray PP bomb, a goal from a rookie and great goaltending. Throw in a little Ales Hemsky and there you have it. It's only the pre-season so it's not worth getting excited about, but it's certainly better than going back to the room trying to figure out why you're getting beat every night. With the way things ended last year, any confidence this team can acquire going into the season is a plus.

Unless MacT is completely full of crap, there's just no way he can keep Cogliano off this team. He got the opening goal tonight (4th of the pre-season) and has more than earned his spot.

More tomorrow after the cuts. Should be a very interesting day.

Cuts / Cowtown Preview


Oil send out nine...


- Robbie Schremp was sent down today (among 8 others), and as mentioned in previous posts, it's probably the right move. He's played well in the last two pre-season games, but the off-season surgery has probably hampered him a bit. The best thing for him is to go down and see if he can tear up the AHL. Attitude is everything with this guy, and if he goes down and works hard, he'll play in the NHL (even if it's not in Edmonton). He'll most likely play on the top line in Springfield and get every opportunity to make it back.

- The other cuts were all the expected ones: Syvret, Young and Bisaillon on defence, and five other forwards including: Bodie, Johansson, O'Marra, Reddox and Trukhno.

- Fredrik Johansson was scheduled to play tonight but was a late scratch. Sam Gagner will take his spot.

- Some of the cuts coming tomorrow will be guys who are playing tonight (Simon, Almtorp, Sestito) and the two young goalies, Dubnyk and Deslauriers. I expect Spurgeon and Jacques to be among the next cuts as well. With back-to-back games, MacT wanted enough bodies around to keep the team fresh.

- It's looking like there is a real possibility that both Gagner and Cogliano will make the team, at least to start the year. Any decision on Carter hinges on signing Gagner. Barring a trade they only have room to sign one guy. The same might go for Pouliot; if Gagner sticks Pouliot could be moved. He's a natural center (where the Oilers are flush) and hasn't adjusted to the wing as well as some of the other young players.

- Calgary will be dressing close to a full lineup tonight.

- Oilers will be dressing what looks to be their top 6 defencemen and likely pairings to start the season: Pitkanen-Staios, Souray-Greene, Grebeshkov-Tarnstrom.

Douche Du Jour


Gutless...



It's a bird, it's a plane...no wait it's another "tough" guy flying through the air because he never learned how to throw a check. I hate to pump anything to do with Eklund and his joke of a site, but Daniel Tolensky's column today has it exactly right. In order for the NHL to do something about head shots and cheap hits it's going to take Sydney Crosby getting it from some 4th liner hopped-up on Sudafed, trying to make a name for himself.

This BS "code" in the NHL about "keeping your head up" or "don't admire your pass". That's the kinda thing fans say to act like they know what the game is about. If you believe that shit, you've probably never played organized hockey. I didn't realize having your head down for a brief second was an invitation to a life of eating out of a tube. What about respecting your fellow players?

That being said, I'm sure Don Cherry will clear Steve Downie of any wrong doing in the all important court of public opinion, "He's a good, tough Canadian boy!" Right?

Raffi Torres now has a better acting resume than me...

It's official. Raffi Torres has surpassed my few credits as a famous actor and is now a much bigger deal thanks to his appearance on The Daily Show. I hear I'm up against him for the new Coen Brothers movie. Great.

In other Edmontonews, a new phrase than no one else is allowed to use, the training camp roster is being carved down to five lines today (supposably [again, only I get to use that one]) and I'm hoping and praying they send down the following bubble player, or buble-er (greener, you can have that one, you need it more than me):


Marc-playerformerlyknownasAntoine-Pouliot - Just cuz he's been
around for almost five years now, doesn't mean he just gets to be on
the team. Despite last year's trade deadline, the Oilers are well known for being a loyalty first club. This is how we've got the entire '91-'92 Oilers roster in charge of hockey operations, or why Shawn Horcoff and Fernando "2.5 mill should cover my free hospital bills" Pisani wound up disproving the hindsight is 20/20 adage, or how Jason Smith stayed captain despite being rated 97 in EAsports NHL's 03-07 in the "Throwing the Puck up the Boards for a Giveaway" stat and a full 99 in the "Second penalty to put us two men down" stat. For the first time in about a bajillion years, we've actually got young guys genuinely vying for spots! Like earning them! Not being the best of the worst and earning the coveted spot up in the press box with Rod and Morley, but actually playing well and contributing to the team! So why on earth is he still even being considered? What's he contributed? How many times have you heard his name in the games you've listened to or watched? And he only lost his middle name so it would be easier for play-by-play guys to say! What a waste! I'd much rather take a flyer on Schremp who is at least putting in solid efforts, than a guy who was solidish but not enough to help a drowning team last year despite logging approximately forty five minutes a game due to injuries.



Timbits - a new segment I'm starting which really is just a few odds and ends I'm not not lazy enough to write into actual entries.

----------------

I'm sure Anson Carter looked at coming to the Oilers training camp sans contract as a career ender, I bet he never guessed how right he was going to be! Well, okay, its just a concussion, which is amazing considering the shock absorber dreads he still insists on wearing under that helmet, but man, he's gonna get cut before Tim Sestito, or Zesty Dorito as I intend to call him every time he's important in the upcoming season, which is to say, hopefully never.




The Edmonton Journal reported that the Oilers-Coyotes game last night had almost a thousand people in it, and not just because MacT has refused to cut anyone from training camp. Wow. A thousand people in an arena that seats almost 18,000. Greener's gotta check my math here, but that's like only 50% capacity! If I'm not mistaken, and I don't mean this as a joke, The Joey Moss cup final was better attended than the entirety of the Coyotes preseason games. And likely their entire season. Admittedly, Jobing.com Arena doesn't exactly sound like an electrifying place to go, but its a hell of a lot better than Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center. How do you buy tickets to a sports event in Nashville? You are just admitting that you yourself are a Gaylord who needs entertainment! Oy!

One last quick timbit (yes!), people who are reading this, write a comment! If only to prove to Greener that my mom and me really are the only ones regularly looking at HSHS. Note to Greener, you clicking on our site fifty times a day does not count as "unique hits".

Alright, I'm gonna go do an audition for the latest Oliver Stone movie, luckily Jim Dowd has agreed to be my scene partner...

Raffi Torres on The Daily Show

Per my comments at the end of last nights' post, here's the segment with Raffi. I dare you, Viacom (thanks to 'sexy randal' for the link).

Tuesday, September 25

Hmmm...


Phoenix Post-Game: Oil 2, Coyotes 1 (SO)


* Gilbert scored to tie it in the third; Stoll and Reasoner scored in the shootout (Schremp missed!). Garon had another solid game, including two saves in the shootout.

* I think all the assumptions about Marc Pouliot being a consistent NHL forward have to be thrown out the window. He took a couple soft penalties tonight and got little else accomplished. In the past he's come to camp out of shape and had slow starts, resulting in trips to the AHL. Maybe ending the season with the big club - a team decimated by injuries - made him complacent. Whatever the reason, he's hanging by a thread at this point, and maybe the only thing that saves him is if the Oilers decide Sam Gagner's development would be aided by another year in junior. Wouldn't be surprised if he was packaged with a defenceman in a deal before the season starts.

* Gagner was a little quiet tonight, but so were a lot of guys.

* Tom Gilbert is an NHL defencemen.

* Schremp had another nice game, making a nice pass to set-up Gilbert's goal and got some first unit PP time with Trukhno and Nilsson. I talked before about MacT possibly wanting a "show me" game from Robbie tonight, and I think he got it. Whether it's enough at this point, who knows? He's making it interesting though.

* Tomorrow night in Edmonton, Cogliano will get his audition on the #1 line with Hemsky and Penner. Another good performance would probably see him stick.

* My girlfriend just called, giddy with excitement, telling me that her favorite Oiler heart-throb (Raffi Torres) is on The Daily Show. Er, what? Bizarre, I'm going to watch.

Thoughts on the cutdowns and Calgary game tomorrow.

D-Day In The Desert


Phoenix Pre-Game: Cuts Coming


Quick notes before tonight's game:

*After assigning Adam Huxley and T.J. Kemp to Springfield yesterday, the Oil will get down to 15 forwards and 9 defencemen following tonight's game. Last cuts likely to come following tomorrow's game with Calgary. MacT would like to throw out something close to his opening night roster against Vancouver on Saturday.

* Several guys in the lineup tonight are likely getting their last look before they head to Springfield. On the blueline, Syvret, Young and Bisaillon are sure to be sent to Springfield. Bryan Young looks like he will have a career in the NHL as a stay-at-home #5 or #6 guy. He's sound and plays simple. Syvret is probably a career AHL guy or injury call-up, while Bisaillon has drawn comparisons in style and stature to Marc-Andre Bergeron. Not sure if he should be insulted by that or not. Those three cuts would get them down to 9, and then the real decision making begins. Send a deserving Gilbert down until a deal can be made? Can you risk losing Roy on waivers if you send him down? If a deal is made, who goes?

* Just thinking out loud here, but maybe Tampa Bay could be a potential trading partner. They're looking for defencemen (cheap ones at that) especially now with Boyle's injury. Can only guess as to who the Oilers would want back. If they're looking for offence, perhaps a guy like Vinny Prospal ($1.9 million) in the last year of his contract would be a fit.

* Up front there's a little more work to do. Reddox, Bodie, Trukhno, and O'Marra draw in tonight and are likely on their way out as well. Toss in Almtorp, Johansson, Spurgeon, Sestito and Simon, and that still only gets you to 18 forwards. Assuming that Poulito and Nilsson are safe, that means cutting three of the following: Brodziak, Carter, Cogliano, Gagner, Jacques, Schremp and Stortini. Carter, Jacques and Schremp is my guess...

* ...that being said, tonight might be an important night for Gagner. He won't be playing with Hemsky and Penner (Sanderson & Pouliot tonight) and it's important for him to show he can produce with other guys. Ales Hemsky could make Greener look like Jean Beliveau.

* Schremp is playing on the 4th line tonight (again) with Bodie and Reddox. Tough to say what it means, but Cogliano played there against Calgary and scored two goals. Schremp's skating probably prohibits him from playing with the fleet/skilled guys like Nilsson and Hemsky, so he's likely to be a 4th liner/PP specialist if he sticks with the Oil. It's either a "show me" move by MacT or an indicator that he's about to get sent down.

* Hope Steve Stamkos likes it 95 degrees in December. Have you seen Phoenix's roster? Who is going to be worse than them this year? Cue 8-2 Coyotes win tonight...

Post-game thoughts a little later.

LESS FUNNY THAN A KICK IN THE NUT SACK


NORTE: Dispatch, this desk. Today I am flying my flag at half mast bitches. Not for Kyle Wellwood and his balsa wood groin region. Not for the old Norris Division. Not even for my burgeoning realization that my NHL dreams may seriously be coming to an end. Today, I dip my paint brushes in a mix of turpentine and tears for the passing of Ken Danby.

Yet further proof that canoeing in Algonquin Park leads to death. Canada’s foremost realist painter: the aforementioned Ken Danby, has passed away at the age of 67. Who, you may ask, is Ken Danby? Besides being a national icon, he is also the man who painted the iconic AT THE CREASE (see above). RIP sir….you will be missed by painters/goalies all over the world.

Saturday, September 22

I Hate Kyle Wellwood's Groin

Not even one fucking game into the 2007/08 season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are already losing man-games to injury. Not content with the 06/07 league leading stat of 335 man-games lost, the assholes that run the universe have decided that Kyle Wellwood's groin should be so sore that he'd have surgery on it on Saturday in Philadelphia, which he did.

Here is a pictureThis is an artists interpretation of Kyle Wellwood's groin. Please notice the shittyness. The inflamed, red part on the left is the part which will keep Jason Blake from scoring 43 goals this season. On the up-side, Kyle clearly has a nice set of child-bearing hips there, so the birthing process won't be that difficult for him.

The arrow coming from the muscle labeled as the "Adductor Magnus" will heretofore be known as the "Simon Gamache" because that is who is going to benefit the most from that red, aching bastard. Gamache has impressed everyone in camp and pre-season, and the only thing standing in his way was the contract status of Leafs regulars, but this has changed. The door opens for a bunch of guys now with our #'s 2 and 3 centers out for a while. In fact, that's how we came to have Wellwood as a Leaf regular in the first place. Two seasons ago he was sent down in camp only to be brought right back up when, in game 1 of the season, Mats had his eye gouged out in the city where Leafs go to get their eyes gouged out.

Alex Steen could move up to the 2 spot now, as could Chad Kilger, who seems to keep getting better with the more responsibility the Leafs give him. Steen looks bigger and stronger to me, and I hear that Matty Stajan has gotten bigger as well. I've thought for a while now that Steen was going to have a breakout year, and this just may start the whole thing rolling.

So in the next few days we should hear the real prognosis for Wellwood. Once again, we are left to juggle our line-up for the worst reasons. But, you've got to stay positive, and, as the Chinese say, Crisis = Opportunity. Wait, or is that Alcoholics Anonymous? I don't know, I always get those two mixed up. Whatever, no matter how you shake it up, it remains true. So, you hear that Kilger, Steen, Gamache, Devereaux, Pohl, Tlusty, Norte, Wash, Moose, Me?

Oil 5, Calgary 4 (OT); Cogliano shines again

Andrew Cogliano jumped to the head of the queue of Oiler rookies with another strong performance in Calgary, including the the game-winner in overtime. As it stands right now, his speed is too big of a weapon to ignore and he's also sound defensively. Over to you Sam Gagner.

Calgary fell to 0-4 in the pre-season, and this after being bag skated by Mike Keenan earlier this week. It's pre-season! Have fun with that Cowtown.

Additional thoughts:

- Calgary dressed their top five D-men (only Warrener missing) and Kiprusoff went the whole way, so it was a good test for a young Oiler group tonight.

- A little cause for concern as Ethan Moreau left the game with an ankle bruise. No x-rays taken yet, but MacT said they don't think it's broken. Hopefully it's not too serious. The Oilers can't afford to be without 'Chopper' for any extended period of time.

- Schremp played his best game of the pre-season and got increased ice-time with the Moreau injury. He still has a couple games left to make an impression, and he hasn't yet played with really skilled linemates. With the possibility of the team carrying eight defencemen to start the year, he really needs to step-up in these last few games.

- Robert Nilsson and Kyle Brodziak solidified their spots, earning more praise from MacT. The roster seems to be quickly sorting itself out.

- At age 18, Gagner would need to really 'wow' KL & MacT to justify burning a year of free agency. Had some of the other young guys not made an impact I could see it, but that's clearly not the case thus far.

- There's gonna have to be a trade on the back-end, Gilbert (who deserves to be on the team) is the only guy they can send down, and Mathieu Roy probably won't clear waivers. Who's going? Well let's start with who's not going: Souray, Pitkanen, Tarnstrom, Staios. That leaves Smid, Greene, Grebeshkov, Gilbert and Roy. It all depends on how big a deal Lowe wants to make, as some of those names would fetch a higher return. The landscape of any deal certainly changes if one of the young forwards can come in and provide offence. If they need to bring in an established scoring forward, Smid, Greene and Gilbert are the guys most teams would be interested in.

Oil in Phoenix on Tuesday with next cuts coming Wednesday, according to MacT.

Leafs also won tonight; interested to get Greener or Norte's thoughts on the impact of the Wellwood news. Wait it's bad news, so it'll probably get lost in the same black hole that ate Mark Bell.

Wednesday, September 19

People of Winnipeg: Made Happy

Today a guy I work with SHOCKED me by telling me he loves hockey. I live in Los Angeles, and, here's a 60 Minutes Exclusive, that doesn't happen very often. Toronto came up and he asked me if I was a Leafs fan, and as I began to show him the things I had on me embossed, emblazed, and em-bettered by the Leafs logo, he whipped out his phone to show me the Sharks' shark on the screen saver. Well quel surprise.

Trying to connect with other hockey fans L.A. is like fishing off the end of a pier; you know there are things out there, but you have to get the clumps of seaweed (Dodgers fans), and old rubber boots (Lakers fans), before you catch something. And even then, you might get a used diaper (Moose).

He started talking about the Sharks and he was using the word "us" a lot, which I liked. It shows a lot about your level fandom when you take it that personally; I just know where you're coming from when you say that. It's also especially poignant if your team hasn't just come off an orgy of bandwagon jumping success. You just have to earn your "us" I guess.

I asked him about Vesa Toskala, and he said he likes him a lot. He told me that of the two Sharks goalies, he wished they'd kept him and traded Nabokov. He said Nabokov always freaked him out because he was always wandering around, and would go super cold after super hot. He said that Toskala would play great for us and that we'd like him, so you know, there's that.

We won in Winnipeg tonight, 3-2. I'm really happy for Alex Steen, who was born and raised in Winnipeg as his father played there for 14 years and was the Captain of the Jets. Credit to Paul Maurice to sit him in Edmonton and play him tonight. Steen scored on the power play, and it must have just felt amazing. My Dad was visiting me a few weeks ago, and I scored in a game he was at, where I was instantly reduced to pre-pubescent levels of "hey Dad, watch me!" excitement. It was so awesome, when we got home I got out my bike and made him watch me do pop-o-wheelies.

"Wanna go, pretty boy?"


Oilers counting on young blood to make an impact.


With the loss of Fernando Pisani, the Oilers have all of eight proven NHL forwards on their roster. Ouch. If you count Patrick Thoresen (68 games) and Marc Pouliot (54 games), that makes ten, although Pouliot's inconsistency means his spot is hardly etched in stone.

So, there's four spots open in the forward ranks, although with nine NHL-calibre defencemen on the books, Kevin Lowe has mentioned the possibility of carrying eight D-men (at least until a trade is made, one presumes). The Oilers need a couple of young players to make an impact in a big way and thus far, quite a few kids have made impressive showings in the pre-season. Let's sort through the sixteen young players still left in camp:

The Next Cut:

Most likely headed to Springfield in the next round of cuts are Adam Huxley, Tim Sestito, Liam Reddox, Fredrik Johansson, Tyler Spurgeon and Troy Bodie. None are ready for the NHL, nor are they considered high-end prospects, although Bodie and Spurgeon both drew some complimentary words from MacT last year after successful seasons split between the ECHL and AHL. Both have improved their games at the pro level. Sestito was a fan favorite in Stockton (ECHL) last year, and got into the first pre-season game against Florida and scored a goal. That probably earned him another look, possibly tomorrow night in Vancouver.

On The Cusp:

Jonas Almtorp -
The Swede made a good impression at last years' camp before returning home. He's signed this year and will play in North America. By all accounts he's well coached and good on the defensive side of the puck. He's probably a longshot to make the Oilers based on the need for offense, but he's a guy who probably doesn't need too much seasoning and could be an effective call-up, playing 4th line minutes.

J.F. Jacques - The big guy needs to make something happen in a hurry. Despite being close to a point-per-game player in the AHL, he spent 44 games with the Oil last year without a single point (isn't that Anson Carter's job?). That wouldn't be cause for so much concern if he had put his 6'4"/220 to good use, but he was rarely physical, fought sparingly and just looked timid. With the addition of Penner, a healthy Moreau, and the emergence of Zack Stortini, you can't justify keeping him on the roster because of his size alone. It's a critical year for him. At age 22, he's reaching the outer limits of his development curve and needs to start producing or re-invent himself as banger/energy guy. My guess is he starts in Springfield to get some confidence.

Slava Trukhno - The 4th round pick in 2005 has made a nice showing thus far in camp and pre-season. Has size and skill and can make plays, as evidenced by his goal and assist performance against the Leafs last night. Probably needs a year in the AHL after three seasons in the 'Q', where he increased his point production each year. Not out out of the question that he gets a look later in the year.

Ryan O'Marra - A little quiet thus far, but coming off an injury plagued season during which he played just 46 games, he probably needs some AHL time to round back into form. Has a good all around game and WILL play in the NHL, it's just a matter of when. A natural Center but he's been given a chance to fill the RW hole. Will most likely play in Vancouver tomorrow. I like this guy a lot. Hopefully he can do a little more of this:





Subtraction By Addition:

Realistically, the four open spots come down to six guys, with a couple of specific jobs that need to be filled (two RW spots and an energy/enforcer) and specific guys already pencilled in to fill them.

Zack Stortini - MacT likes the kid, and you can't blame him. He comes to do his job, and it's a difficult one. While he's not a true heavyweight, he's game, sticks up for his teammates, and showed a lot of moxy in playing the disturber role last year. It's hard knowing when to push the envelope, when to fight, and when not too. Guys who can do that job without hurting their team are valuable. Three open jobs.

Robert Nilsson: A spot on 2nd line, to the right of Stoll and Torres, is screaming for a skilled playmaker and it's Nilsson's spot to lose. He did nothing to hurt his chances last night, impressing MacT, who called him "dangerous all night". He can definitely help the PP, but his consistency and ability to be strong on the puck will determine if he can stick for 82 games. He's a key player for the Oilers this year. Two open jobs.

Kyle Brodziak: Pisani's unfortunate illness opened the door for another kid, and Brodziak gladly came in. In fact he tried to slam it shut and deadbolt it behind him with what MacT referred to as a near "perfect" game against Florida on Monday. It's hard not to root for guys like this. A 7th round pick (214 overall), he's improved every year, became a go-to guy at the AHL level, and seems determined not to go back. In the past the only thing holding him back from full-time NHL employment was his skating, but he's improved his quickness and that seems to have made the difference. At this point, he and Nilsson would have to stink the joint out not to make the team. It should also be noted that when you're faced with icing a team full of youth, an extra couple years in the AHL can only help ease the growing pains. They both have that and it shows. One open job.

Last Man Standing:

The final spot will most likely come down to three guys: Rob Schremp, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner.

Schremp: He and Gagner have similar skill sets, which tells you there probably isn't room for both just yet. While Gagner is a little better skater, Schremp has the benefit of a year of pro hockey. Coming off the knee injury, he had an abbreviated off-season training program and that put him at a disadvantage, especially in comparison to Gagner who came to camp on the heels of his MVP performance at the Canada-Russia 'Super Series'. He needs to make an impact in the next couple pre-season games. If he made the team, he would likely see time on the 4th line and PP, and of course become our resident shoot-out specialist.

But can he do this?



Cogliano: Made himself a factor in the win against Toronto by using his incredible speed. Set up the winning goal by driving wide and going to the net as he did several times during the game. What made it more impressive was his confidence in taking it to the net on good NHL defencemen like Colaiacovo, Kaberle and McCabe. Although the jury is still out on his ability to finish, his speed brings a different dimension than the other two guys, and to the team in general. He's responsible defensively and that doesn't hurt either. An attractive option.

Gagner: The next few games will determine whether the Oilers sign him and give him the nine game look (at minimum) at the beginning of the year, or send him back to tear up the OHL. He has a great head and outlook on the game, and has done nothing wrong since putting on the Oil drop at the draft. The question will come down to where he will develop best. He can't go to the AHL, so it's the NHL or back to London. It will be interesting to see him play more as pre-season rolls on and teams begin to dress more veterans.

Verdict: My gut says Cogliano and Schremp go to Springfield and Gagner gets the nine game look to start the season. I don't think he sticks though. I think Cogliano comes up, with Schremp waiting in the wings for an injury or one of the other youngsters to slump (which will happen).

I could have actually finished this 4 hours ago, but I became to engrossed in clips of Rob Lowe's naked ass. A CLASSIC film.


Uh, what's with the gay fencing?

Tuesday, September 18

3-2!


Hey Greener and Norte!

I don't know if you heard, but the Oilers appear to have beaten the Leafs 3-2. In OT. After killing off a penalty. So... anyway that's pretty cool though, right?

Wash and Moose
PS: "Pogge" Reddick seemed to play okay, so keep your chins up.

Laraque nonplussed by Penner...

Made up rumors from the Oilers camp (e4) are saying that Georges Laraque has issued an old timey fisticuffs challenge to new Oiler gajillionaire Dustin Penner. Apparently Laraque has taken offense to Penner's choice of number. Penner settled on Laraque's #27 because the number has some emotional relevance. First, he now sits in the 27th tax bracket, a brand new bracket for Canadian tax systems. Also, it is the likely number of points that he will score this year. Finally, 27 is the number of games he hopes to miss from a mid season concussion. "My fingers are crossed and my head is down," chuckled Penner ominously. Laraque expressed his wish to, quote, "Put up (his) dukes", at a Press Conference shortly after the Pittsburgh Penguins match against the Montreal Canadians in which he broke a young gentleman on the opposing team's orbital bone with his massive iron fist. He concluded the press conference tearfully, stating "How are the Oilers going to retire my jersey now?" The proposed dust-up is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 25 this year, with the undercard match of Boyd Deveraux vs. a real life kangaroo. In skates.

Rumble!





If you believe The Hockey News' pre-season predictions for Toronto and Edmonton, tonight may be the high-point of their seasons. Unfortunately, we here at HS,HS peaked about two weeks ago, so here's your shoddy preview...

Oilers:

After the usual series of monotonous intra-squad scrimmages, the Oilers got their first look at NHL opposition last night, defeating the Florida Panthers 5-4. Tonight has the feel of another scrimmage as Salmalainen, Kilger and Devereaux return to town, along with Assistant Coach Bryan Muir...wait, defenceman Bryan Muir? Really, Leafs fans?

Much of the intrigue for Oiler fans this pre-season surrounds the young forwards battling for two or three open spots. Sam Gagner, Rob Schremp, and Kyle Brodziak got a look last night (Brodziak all but made the team with his performance), so tonight the spotlight will focus on Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson. 'Cogs' will center a line with Geoff Sanderson and Marc Pouliot, while Nilsson will skate with Stoll and Torres on what could very well be the Oilers' 2nd line to start the season. The Toronto scouting staff will also get a chance to see Anson Carter...he'll look great in a Leafs uniform.

Leafs fans can also look forward to Adam Huxley trying to fight their whole bench, before catching a plane to Stockton (ECHL).

Mathieu Garon will make his debut in net, with Devan Dubnyk getting some action in the last half of the game.

Leafs:

I love it when coaches make guarantees. It's such a pointless display. I know it outwardly displays confidence in your team, but it kinda smells of mediocrity. You're either good enough (and you know it) or you're not. If your team needs that kind of fire lit under its ass, the only thing you can guarantee is that you'll be getting fired when you don't make the playoffs. Besides, in a city like Toronto, isn't that the MINIMUM expectation to start EVERY season? We're not in Hartford anymore, Paul.

The Leafs are in a different position from a lot of NHL teams (especially the Oilers) in that their lineup is pretty much set, save for the stirring battle for the 7th D-man spot, and a couple spots available as the 13th and 14th forwards. Fans will surely have an eye on first round pick Jiri Tlusty, while the Toronto media has been creaming over Simon Gamache, calling him "intriguing," "pleasantly surprising," and a "wild card". I like to call him "a failure at the NHL level everywhere he's been."

Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala are probably the new faces that Leafs fans most want to see (neither will play tonight), but for me it's 'Scott Clemmensen', because I don't think 'Scott Clemmensen' exists. I think 'Scott Clemmensen' is a complete fabrication, invented by Lou Lamoriello in an attempt to circumvent the salary cap. Has anyone ever seen 'Scott Clemmensen' in the last 10 years? You know that final game of the season you so badly needed the Devils to win last year? That was their Director of Communications, Pete Albietz (right) in goal.

So imagine my complete shock when I learned this morning that Justin Pogge will play the entire game in goal tonight. 'Scott Clemmensen'...good one, Lou. Good one.

Prediction :

Leafs: 4 (Wellwood 2, Tucker, Kilger)
Oilers: 3 (Stoll, Torres, Sanderson)

Sunday, September 16

SUPER TACKS ARE BETTER THAN THUMB TACKS

Oh, Dear...

Anson Carter Invited To Camp; Oilers Acquire Sedin Twins.


Okay, so only the really depressing half of that headline is true. Yes, the dreaded one has returned - and that's not a reference to his hair. Carter joins the Oilers camp today, and is on the roster for Team Blue in the Joey Moss Cup this afternoon (I'd rather sign Joey Moss). This is all quite a shock to me given that I played against him in our beer league this past Thursday night, and he didn't say anything to me about it. On the bright side, the guy must be in tremendous shape. I know Greener can vouch for his off-season training regimen as he sees him hanging out at the El Segundo skate shop every week. Seriously.

Now the level-headed side of me looks at this and says:

1) It's only a tryout contract.

2) He plays RW (a position of need).

3) He's a shooter. Could he be a guy to play with Hemsky?

4) He can't check his hat. There was a reason MacT and Lowe sent him packing the first time.

5) With a lack of established NHL forwards on the roster, he's a good insurance policy if one of the kids isn't ready.

6) The Oilers have 49 guys under contract (the NHL limit is 50). If they sign Carter, it means Sam Gagner is going back to London...or...someone is getting dealt, which was likely anyway given that we have 9 NHL-ready defencemen.

7) I don't think this reduces the chances of Schremp, Brodziak, O'Marra or Cogliano making the team. Not at all. MacT has gone to great lengths to stress that jobs are available based on guys' ability to produce, not their reputations or seniority.

8) He's wasn't good enough for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Oh, dear...

Saturday, September 15

Driving The Bus

The Edmonton Oilers need a lot of things to go right this season in order to make the playoffs. You never feel good about the prospects for the season when you find your analysis of the team contains a lot of sentances starting with "If..."

Other than goaltending and a PP that looks very dangerous on paper, the Oilers have a lot "If" situations. Most specifically, scoring goals, contributions from rookies, and a revamped blueline. But there are a few guys in particular who hold the key to the success or lack thereof in 2007-08:

1) Jarret Stoll

The season basically started to tank last year when he got hurt. He was playing the best hockey of his career, and was dominating games every night. Everyone wants to see him take a hit to test the head, and I'm sure he wants to get it out of the way as well. If he comes through the first month unscathed, expect Lowe to lock him up to a 5 or 6 year deal fairly quickly.

2) Ales Hemsky

He's not going to shoot...just get over it. While the guy is a joy to watch, the production has to start catching up to the oohs and aahs. The Oil still don't have a natural finisher to compliment him, so he will be counted on to make chicken salad out of Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff...until Derek Boogard decapitates him in Game #4.

3) Robert Nilsson

Yeah, I said it, Ro-bear Neal-son. The hole on right wing was pretty big before Pisani went down, but you could drive a truck full of Greener's noses through it now. Nilsson has been pencilled in on the 2nd line and it's his job to lose. We know he has tons of skill, (possibly 2nd only to Hemsky) and he's put up big numbers at the AHL level, but he's yet to stick at the NHL level. Some have argued that getting out of Long Island - where I think Wade Dubielewicz has just been named Director of Scouting - will be the cure. If that's true, a productive campaign from 'Mini-Magic' will go a long way towards solving some of the Oil's scoring woes.

4) Joni Pitkanen

Seems an obvious enough choice, but the Oilers now have a glutton of puck moving defenceman (geez, did you ever think you'd hear that) and Pitkanen might be counted on in an even more important role - the shutdown guy. Aside from good puck movers, last years' defence also lacked a pairing to play against the opposition's top line. It's not going to be Souray, Tarnstrom, Grebeshkov or Gilbert. Smid and Greene are not there yet, which has all signs pointing to Pitkanen and Staios. Although he's only in his 3rd year, Pitkanen has the size, skating and all-around game to be that guy. But will he?

5) Raffi Torres

I listened to an interview with Raffi last night in which he talked about his off-season dedication to training. Just as important were his comments about his non-dedication in the past and growing up. He's got a girlfriend that lives with him now and says he didn't drink all summer. Hopefully 'drink' was a broad term that also covered all the other substances he's been, ahem, rumored to enjoy. As frustrating as he is to watch sometimes, I understand why it's so hard to trade or give up on him. He's a destroyer, and he can score. When he's involved physically he can change a game, even a series as he showed in the playoffs. I don't think Raffi is an 'if' this year. He'll score 25-30.

Next up: The Rookies

Just Ducky

At the start of each season we invariably have to hear about the Stanley Cup hangover. A theory invented by lazy journalists (fucking Howard Berger) that's supposed to explain why the teams that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the year before have a tough time recapturing that form. Well, having lived through 'the season after,' I can assure you it has nothing to do with motivation, or "thinking it will be easy" or even the lame "now teams are gunning for us" excuse. It has to do with injury and fatigue.

The Oilers and Hurricanes played until the middle of June in '06. They played three weeks to two months longer than 28 other teams, in some of the most physical, punishing games of their lives. During the '07 season, many of the Oilers and Hurricanes spoke about the fact that injuries sustained in the playoffs were carried into last season because their bodies never had time to heal.

Which leads me to the Selanne/Niedermayer situation. Will they or won't they? Living in Los Angeles, I've grown tired of the local sports pages talking about this quasi-soap opera, which is greatly detracting from coverage of O.J's home-grown Vegas sting operation. Genius.

As a fan of a team playing in the Western Conference, I hope these guys hang it up. But my gut tells me they'll both be back by mid-season. They're bruised, beat-up and just want a break. I think that was the plan since the day they won the Cup. Would they have signed Schneider to a big contract before knowing if these guys were gonna retire? They knew they would have cap trouble. Plus, when you have the resumes that those two have you get to do shit like this. Think big, cuddly Burkie Bear would have held a roster spot open if Joe DiPenta came knocking on his door? Hell no...he would have traded him to Edmonton for Ales Hemsky and two #1 picks.

Director of Handjobs?


Oilers camp is open! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! This is my final day visiting family in Canada (a true Eklund opener if I've ever seen one) and as such my final chance to open up those hallowed pages of the Edmonton Journal and get some good, down home reporting. Couple interesting notes, followed by a rebuttal to Greener's clever repartee. I guess I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Push that Volvo Greener! I'm not doin it right, huh?

Soooo, first of all, it seems that about half the returning Oilers took part in off season "Team" training. This is a new phenomenon (doo-dooooo-do-do-do) where, rather than each player following their own offseason training schedule, about 15 of the Oil did the same prep. Chad Moreau, brother to gummy Oiler Ethan Moreau (voted most handsome guy at some bar one time), is a professional trainer who mixes hard off ice training with some hockey specific stuff. Apparently he even had them doing Ultimate Fighting training. I'm happy that the guys are doing this sort of team building exercise re: kicking the snot out of each other. What is exciting about this though, is that they have already gone through a battle together, before the team has played one game, and that Ethan is traditionally one of the most fit guys on the team due to his brothers regime, so if 15 of the Oil are in that kind of shape, third period wobblies may be a thing of the past. One final note here, apparently mohawked ne'er-do-well (Award to me for being the first to use that in a post) Raffi Torres just came out and admitted he's always been bad for the off season training and that this is the first year he actually got in shape away from the regular season. Phew!


Also, early rumors have it that Schremp is showing signs of making an impact at camp. Is it possible? Have the dreadfully thin on the front end Oilers finally decided to give a chance to one of their most gifted and offensively talented prospects? Has MacT waived his iron clad "Only Defensive Forwards" clause? No wait. Oh! They're bringing up Detlef Schrempf, Semi-All-Star retired Seattle Supersonic, ahead of Robbie. I love this team.



And yes. Tis true. I, Washingtron, have just been appointed Director of Handjobs for EASports. Thank you Greener for this slightly embarassing revelation. Obviously its a great career move for me, and I hope to appoint you my Under Secretary of Heavy Pettery. I know you're qualified after reading YOUR completely unbiased post on the new Leafs jerseys. Yup. You know what down the middle fence riding journalistic integrity is all about! And now that you've dissed my opinions on EA's latest opus, I'm sorry to say you're no longer invited to play NHL 08 at my house. You know how you're always wanting to come over to play video games? I guess you don't like them very much after all. Besides, I only have two controllers and Moose has constant dibs on the other one.

See ya at the airport!
Washingtron

Friday, September 14

New Leafs Uniforms: Perfection Not Messed With

The Leafs unveiled their new uniforms on Wednesday, and one of the smartest things the hard workers at RBK ever did was not do too much to the Leafs sweater. There was a report on CBC a few weeks ago showing a mock up, and I knew it wasn't the real thing, it was just too designed. While I would have liked to have a little more white striping (not piping) in the arms and at the bottom, I'm very happy. Thank Christ RBK wasn't allowed to get creative...no wait...Thank Christ the executives at MLSE weren't allowed to get creative and put their stamp on the greatest sweater in sports. I can just hear Larry Tenenbaum now, "...I know the Leaf has to stay, but, can we get some skates on it?! Yeah, I'm rich! That's what I want, I want the Leaf on skates!" I promise you that some version of what I just wrote was said this summer. Pro-mise.

OK, so I guess Leafs TV is the best thing in existence. It's so good, I'm surprised that Japanese teenagers aren't gathering in squares in Tokyo dressed as Jody Vance.

Also: It's nice to see that - I thought he was your friend- Washingtron has finally gotten a job; that of director of internet hand jobs for EA Sports. Nice, balanced report from Wash there, who clearly examined all sides of the issue before HJ'ing EA within an inch of it's life.

The only upside to this corporate crapitude is that at least EA Sports doesn't sponsor our site, unlike Hockeybuzz.com who have the embarrassing gall to give a full length, glowing review of NHL '08 right beside a Flash banner ad for the game. Nice. Remember everyone: every click to that site gives Eklund more power. Do you really want to bring a kid into a world like that?

UNBELIEVABLE UPDATE:

There is now a second breathless review of NHL '08 on Hockeybuzz.com. This one scrawled written by Eklund himself! They are fucking shameless!

Thursday, September 13

NHL 08 is ooot!

Hey gang (and Greener),

Well, that special time of year for all hockey fans under the age of 40 has finally come. The latest iteration of NHL hockey for whatever video game system you happen to get your groove on with. Poor little EA NHL '0? has long suffered from being a crappy, unfocused, arcade like game, while 2K Sports' have traditionally been much closer to sim hockey without any of the bells and whistles like presentation etc. I had been a 2K convert despite having played the old NHL Hockey on my friend Nicolas Bass' Sega Genesis (which led me to pretend to mow my parents lawn enough to buy myself one) for some time. I always wanted the sim experience, not the race up the middle one timer auto-goal experience that EA offered. Last year I switched back because the revolutionary Total Control right thumbstick controls your stick system was the greatest thing in history. EA's NHL 07 was amazing for that feature and that feature alone. Sadly, it still lacked in many other areas, like the franchise mode, or the fact that your team was made up primarily of retards and mongrels who didn't know anything about the game of hockey. Probably how Moose and Greener feel when playing with me in real life.

I'm here to tell you though that EA has it right this year. They added a new skating system. No Turbos (like last year) to hold down the entire game. But also no skating at full speed no matter what direction you press on your thumbstick. Now its entirely touch sensitive, push the stick a little, you push off and glide, roll the thumbstick right and downwards and you do a lovely cross over turn maintaining your speed. You can actually wrong foot defencemen by catching them leaning one way or another. The pace and the weight of the game all feel so real, finally, its the game I always dreamed of but never existed.

Now I haven't had much time at all with the game as I'm still on my gajillion year sojourn from those sunny shores of Greener's back yard, but I'm told that the AI is adaptive. Score the same way a couple times, move the same places on the ice, make the same passes, and the computer will adjust.

And the passing! No longer can you just hit the pass button three times in rapid succession to get the puck out. If you are skating away from the player you want to pass to, well, its gonna be a weak back handed pass. You have to have your stick and player in the appropriate positions to get that puck to its target. The puck isn't just going to slide through a defenders skates either, they always seem to be in position and they're gonna get that puck if its near em. And they've added the saucer pass! You wanna chuck the puck into some open ice through a couple players, give 'er!

The dynasty mode is not changed really, other than the addition of all AHL teams, so if you have you send a player to the minors they actually go to your farm team. Oh, and they fixed that minor bug where year to year your players wouldn't improve. Yeah. That sort of got in the way.

The last cool little detail is the create-a-play mode. You can create and store up to 70 different plays, and the coolest part is that you don't call the play, your players, when in the correct areas, will just automatically start them. Write in a 2-on-1 play where you cross after the blueline and swing back up the boards while your teammate heads to the slot and next time you are on a 2 on 1 and start that move, your teammate will know where to go.

All in all, whoa. From the second I started playing it felt like a brand new game of hockey. I haven't played 2K8 yet, I understand they've ripped off EA with the "ProStick", but that the game doesn't implement it as well. 2K's franchise mode seems far superior, but its the feel of the gameplay I'm excited about, and the flow and pace of the game.

I'd like to take this opportunity to challenge Greener to an NHL 08-a-thon. Much trash talking and confidence has come from both of us, and perhaps our friendship will hang in the balance, but its time. The game has finally caught up with our imaginations. Oh, and some day I'll post about the not particularly healthy method that Greener has of playing an entire 10 year dynasty as his hated Ottawa Senators in order to run their franchise into the ground. Can you believe that? Admittedly, in the interest of wanting a true sim experience I've played that way with the Oilers, but that's just reality. But greener! He'll play 10 years, trade away all his best players, and lose on purpose! I can picture him in a dark apartment, shades drawn, empty coke cans strewn about, and Greeners face, awash in the blue glow of the TV, cackling wildly. It keeps me up at night...

Wash!