Sunday, November 25

Moose Droppings

Sunday Musings From Oil Country

Oil 3, Hawks 2 (SO)

I once heard MacT say, "Never critique a win." He said it partially in jest, because some wins need critiquing. The Oilers were probably a bit fortunate to win another game in which they turned the puck over too much (including another one for the highlight reel from Grebeshkov), and generally lacked emotion and intensity. But, for the 6th time this year they came through in the shootout. Thoughts:

- Their lack of physical play boarders on embarrassing. Ethan Moreau and Sheldon Souray, if they ever come back, are not enough to offset the rest of this teams' unwillingness to get on the body. Just another item on the 'to-do' list for Kevin Lowe - get a banger. Other teams know the Oilers are soft and run around all night hitting our skill players, knowing there is nobody to respond on the other side. I'm not talking about an enforcer, I'm talking about guys who HIT. Zack Stortini, the limited player that he is, should be hitting the opposing teams' star player every night. What else does he bring to the table?

- Add Nikolai Khabibulin to the list of Stanley Cup winning goaltenders that Sam Gagner has murdered with that penalty shot move. It's filthy. Apparently Patrick Kane, Gagner's old London teammate, even TOLD Khabibulin exactly what he was going to do! To which MacT had a great reply:

"I would love to hear that explanation. Come in, slow down, go left, go right, go left, two head fakes, go back to the right, go left, then backhand, forehand. How do you describe that?"

It may sound impressive that the Oilers are 6-1 in shootouts this season, but it's actually a bit frightening. That's a pretty fine line between being 9-13-1 and 3-13-7. Yikes. I know they all count, but that's not the sign of a good hockey team. Plus, Chicago and Vancouver, the Oilers last two victims, were also decimated by injuries to key players.

- The injury bug just keeps biting the Oil. Dick Tarnstrom is now out for at least a week with a concussion, after being knocked silly in the 2nd period. But I liked the way the boys responded by...oh, wait. Allan Rourke, your chariot awaits.

- Roloson was back to his old self, at least for one night, and made several big stops late in the third and in overtime. It's important that he gets into a bit of groove over the next few weeks, as the Oilers play a lot of games between now and January 1st.

- I guess I have to give some credit where none is really due, but whatever. Dennis Grebeshkov did make a nice play to set up Hemmer's goal. Then he almost pissed the game away with that turnover in the third.

- Speaking of Hemsky, he had 7 more shots on goal last night, giving him 64 for the season. His shot (and goal) totals in his first 4 seasons were: 50 (9) - 87 (12) -178 (19) -122 (13). This year he's on a pace for 227 shots and 24 goals. He'll always be a playmaker first, but I think he finally senses that he needs to score more goals for this team to be successful.

Because Nobody Else Will

I've got to say a few words about the Leafs, because I find the them interesting, in a rubber-necking kind of way..

The 'Leafs Nation' must be plotting the final stages of the Coup d'etat after last night's ass-raping in Phoenix. Hell, if Norte was ready to cut off the little toe following the loss in Dallas, then the garden pruners should have been put to good use after the first 5 minutes last night.

The Leafs are a flawed team. Unfortunately, for JFJ and Paul Maurice, I don't think it's something that can be fixed from within. If you want to fire JFJ for constructing a flawed team, that's one thing. But there's not much he can do right now it terms of changing the mix. It's too early in the season for teams to take on salary, and he has a bunch of overpriced players that he's trying to move.

Everyone knows what the problems are. The goalies are terribly inconsistent (or just terrible), and the defense has very little poise, moxie, and leadership. You just can't spin the fact that Brian McCabe is being paid $5 million to shoot one-timers on the PP. Hell, the Oilers are doing the same thing with Souray, but at least he's injured! In theory, spending lots of money on your blueline is a good idea, it's just been spent on the wrong guys.

Should they fire JFJ? Probably. Should they fire Maurice? Probably not. I think he has the right temperament to coach in Toronto. He's a bit fiery, and you need that. But he was stupid to guarantee a playoff spot, and who knows, that may end up costing him his job. To that end, I found it pretty fucking offensive when Don Cherry went on HNIC last night and defended Paul Maurice from the big, bad media monster. Oh, what meanies! They were asking Maurice about what happened after the team got an ass kicking by the Phoenix Coyotes. They were asking "stupid questions," he said. Oh, dear. Paul Maurice, ladies and gentlemen, the first coach in sports history to be faced with "dumb questions" from reporters. If a reporter asks an intelligent question, he's ridiculed as a know-it-all. But they're 'stupid' when they say "Hey Paul, what happened out there?" or "Hey Paul, talk about why you pulled Raycroft?". Fuck off, Don.

I hear an awful lot of proud Leafs fans talking about how the Leafs are the 'flagship' franchise of the NHL. The biggest and baddest on the block. Yet, when they receive the kind of media attention which is directly proportional to the size of the fanbase and lionized importance of the franchise, they complain. Greener himself has written many a protective post on here about the negative press from the Toronto media. It's part and parcel; take the good with the bad. If Brian McCabe puts the puck in his own net, it's gonna be on the front page. As it should be. In an environment like that, the victories feel that much better, and the losses hurt that much more. That's what makes hockey in Canada so great.


Loser Domi said...

RE: the Leafs

The more cynical part of me wants to say, "Well, that basement ain't gonna clean itself out."

The less cynical part of me is busy crying right now: (

Moose said...

Unfortunately, I don't think MLSE knows who is going to clean it out either? If they fire JFJ, who do they hire? I'm afraid trusting those clowns with that decision is just as scary a proposition as leaving JFJ in charge.

Greener said...

The thing is, he has to come in a superstar. They've already tried to groom one to the job. That's JFJ. Who's out there like that? Out there and available. Colin Campbell?

Moose said...

Two words......Pierre Maguire.

No seriously, it doesn't HAVE to be, that's just what your media and fans want (expect?). That's a foolish way to do business.

In my opinion, the smartest thing you could do would be to hire Dave Taylor. He did an exceptional job with the Kings. Can't believe he got fired. Greats drafts (Kopitar, Brown, Camalleri, etc.) and made some very shrewd deals and FA signings. He has a good eye.

I have no clue if he's interested, but I think he's an Ontario guy by birth, so...he would be my #1 choice.