Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sportsnet is reporting Smytty is signed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More as it develops, the online feed is a bit shakey, and it is Sportsnet. I think they were saying it would be announced before the game tonight. Fingers crossed again. (12:12pm)



Fuck everybody.

Fuck Sportsnet for getting my hopes up. Fuck Eklund for being the fucking joke he is, reporting trades 5-10 minutes after TSN reported them. Fuck him for claiming that Smyth was signed and it would be announced ‘within the hour.’

Fuck Kevin Lowe. Fuck you for not resigning for trading Pronger instead of making him sit. Fuck you for signing the whole fucking core but not your best player. Fuck you for not trading Lupul. Fuck you for not resigning Ryan Smyth earlier. Fuck you for trading RYAN THE FUCKING FRANCHISE SMYTH. I hope you get booed out of the fucking building tonight Lowe, as soon as you’re announced I hope you hear such a chorus of boos that it deafens you. I hope you get fired by the end of next season.
Fuck the New York Islanders, Rangers, Blues and Philadelphia for being Lowe’s only willing trading partners.

Fuck Ryan Smyth. Fuck you man. Fuck you. Fuck you by forcing Lowe to trade you. You couldn’t take a little less to stay with the team you cheered for your whole fucking life? That you fucking bled for? That you were 2 goals away from the Stanley Cup with? Now you get to play for Garth Snow for 2 months and then what? I know you’re not coming back because you think Lowe fucked you over. I can’t even believe the relationship between you and the stupid fucking Oilers franchise got so bad that you couldn’t come to a deal.

Fuck Don Meehan who loves to force GMs to trade the faces of the Franchise away from the teams they’ve spent their career with. This is number two Meehan, Fleury was number 1, and I’m not going to forget either. Business is business but I’d just as much spit in your face as shake your hand if I ever met you.

Fuck the Oiler organization. Fuck the fact that you’re not willing to put a little coin on the table to sign the man everyone loves. I hope you sell under 10,000 season tickets next year and the fans throw it in your fucking face that you’re all fucking retards. Stop looking for a new fucking building, I hope you can’t fill the current one.

Fuck Robbie Fatass Shremp. If the stupid organization thinks he will fill in for Ryan's missing shoes in any way they are sorely mistaken.

Fuck O'Marra, fuck Nilsson.

Fuck the soft 2007 draft.

Condolences accepted via email or comments.
Mckenzie said the two sides were only $200,000-$300,000 apart at the end. I'm gonna be sick.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Easy come...

Watching the Coyotes flounder brought back some bad memories. Anyone remember 7 years of futility? Well, it came flooding back with a couple of plays:

1. Late 1st period, Flames are up 1-0 on a PP marker, but the Coyotes are still in the game. At times they had actually carried the play, gotten some chances. Oleg Saprykin decides to get into it with Dion Phanuef at the offensive faceoff circle. A little scrum insues, but nothing becomes of it, and Saprykin continues to line up against Dion. As the puck drops, Oleg tries to stick DD, but instead takes a shoulder to the head. The puck rims around the Flames defensive zone where Hamrlik picks it up - as Saprykin jumps at him, fists first. As he innefectually bounced off of Hamrlik, the ref's hand went up. Saprykin was sent to the box for charging, and the Huselius scored a goal that effectively put the Coyotes out of the game.

2. Late 2nd period. Derek Morris takes a hooking penalty in the offensive zone. Then he takes an unsportsmanlike penalty, (I assume for whining to the refs, a very Derek Morris like action). Flames get a 4 minute power play, and although they don't score, it kills off 4 minutes of time the Coyotes needed to get back into the game.

Nice goal by Reinprecht at the end though.

I'm sure Wayne is thinking that with friends like these, who needs enemies?

The Clock is ticking

The Edmonton Oilers are expected to resume negotiations Monday with Ryan Smyth's agent Don Meehan on a new contract.

Smyth, 31, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and there is pressure on both sides to try and get a deal done before the Tuesday's trade deadline.

Reports have suggested that the Oilers could trade their 'heart and soul' player if a deal can't be reached, rather than lose him for nothing if he signs with another team in the summer.

Smyth, a cornerstone for the Oilers since he was drafted in 1994, leads the team in scoring this season with 31 goals and 53 points in 53 games.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Hope springs eternal and then explodes in your face

Well, the Oilers beat the Wings tonight despite playing a night earlier and teetering on the edge (of the playoffs and mentally I would think). Overall a pretty impressive effort by the Oil in a game where they looked out of it by about the 10 minute mark of the first period. This is the third time the Oilers took it to OT on this road trip and the first they managed to end it in their favour. It makes you wonder what the standings would look like now had the Oilers managed to squeeze an extra point out of the Sens and Sabres.

But that's the thing about the Oilers isn't it folks? About this time of year (every year) they look like they're completely out of the picture, and then they slowly crawl and spit and fight their way back into the picture, and then usually, abruptly drop out again.

So what should Oilfans expect this year in terms of the end result? I still see misfortune this year. Despite the Flames absolute best effort to ensure the Oilers make the playoffs, the Oilers are still 5 points back of the 8th spot, and the Flames have a game in hand. And also, its hard to imagine the Flames playing much worse than they are right now.

But, as I mentioned earlier, the Oilers still have 5 games against Minny, 2 against the Flames and there are still 21 games left so nothing is out of the question.

For now though, Pouliot and Thoresen, the replacement centres for Moreau and Stoll, have been performing admirably. Thoresen set up 2 in the win tonight, while Pouliot had a nifty move around Hasek to set up the tying goal. Pouliot especially is being rewarded by MacTavish in terms of icetime, playing 18:35 tonight, about a shift longer than Hemsky.

Another promising sign for the Oilers was the return of Fernando Pisani and Daniel Tjarnqvist. I forgot how much I missed Tjarnqvist back there-on this defensive group he is a true stabilizing force. Both guys played limited ice time but ended the game a +1, and undoubtably were a key component to the win tonight. Gene Principe interviewed Ethan Moreau during an intermission, and Moreau said he would be back 'next month.' I hope this is implying he will be back sometime next week, in March, rather than he will be back in about 30 days. Given that Moreau accompanied the team on the roadtrip, I am assuming he means the former.

As for Smytty news- there is no news. Is that good news?

Thank God!

For a couple minutes there I though Anson Carter would spend the whole season with one team! (Source)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ghosts of Season's Past and Present

You know, I've watched Oleg Saprykin try that god damned behind the goal line shot about 1000x, but this may be only the first time it succeeded. Of course, its not that I actually regret getting rid of Oleg "great in practice" Saprykin, but I'm sure it's really fitting that he manages to pull off the stupidest play in the world against us.

It was also really 'pleasant' to see Reinprecht score an important one against us. I'll never quite understand why we gave him up, especially for nothing, although I suppose the general point is that his offensive skill wasn't quite high enough for a 1-2 line position, and his defensive skill wasn't high enough for a 3-4 line position, but either way, I would rather him over Leclerc (or a bag of pucks).

Fitting too that he beat out Langkow for a loose puck in OT which lead to the winner. Overall I would say it wasn't the best OT period for us, but then, once 60 minutes are over this team tends to pack it in. Hell, after 50 or so minutes we tend to pack it in, or at least, we only play for about 50 minutes.

So anyway, we play one of the few teams we've actually beaten on the road, go up by a goal late in the game and still manage to blow it. Perhaps beating them earlier in the year decreased our statistical odds of beating them again (8 road wins and 2 against the same team? Blasphemy), perhaps the Coyotes have turned into a good team, perhaps the hotel beds the players sleep on are so nice they stay asleep the whole game, or perhaps we are so afraid to win on the road we intentionally lose. Either way, there is no doubt road games are haunting us, and will probably continue to haunt us for the remainder of this season (and then this season will haunt us! YAY!)

Much like today we were haunted by the ghosts of season's past.

Anyway, can anyone find and then hit the panic button?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My head is going to explode

10 R AMONTE, TONY +1 13:31

Look, I know Tony got a goal last night, but I have the feeling he would have gotten the same ice time regardless. Ritchie is a superior hockey player. Distribute ice time appropriately...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Random Thoughts


  • In the third period of the final of the 3 straight games against the Avalanche and the Flames are down a goal. How do you spell mediocre? F-L-A-M-E-S. Colorado is currently a bubble team and we can barely handle them. Sure, we're 1-1 in this 'series' but why have the Flames gone from being a team that can't score goals to a team that needs to score many goals?

    Call me cynical, but I'm still not sold on Stuart. His +/- hasn't worsened since he got here, but, tonight for instance, he's been on the ice for 3 of Colorado's 4 goals. Actually, maybe thats just a sign he shouldn't be on the PK.

    That brings me to the coaching this team has received. The on-ice talent needed to succeed is there, but the coaching staff seems unable to steer it in any useful direction. A team with this much talent should win consistently and meaningfully, however, the last two-three weeks have been anything but. Blowing leads late, early and midgame, blowing multiple goal leads, having terrible in zone coverage, these are characteristics that are extremely contrary to championship teams. The players need to be accountable, but so does the captain of the ship.

    There are rumours Martin Gelinas will return to the team (from HF, so take it for what its worth). While no one would be happier about Gelinas' return than myself, I wonder what role he could play on our team. Amonte has become the Flames post '04 run Gelinas replacement, and although he's much crappier, they play almost identical roles. This gives us one redundant player, which is a waste. We would have to somehow get rid of Amonte, which I assume is impossible, or we would have done it already. I expect this rumour will never materialize, but I thought the same about Conroy, so I'm probably not the best judge.

    I feel like we're about as far away from the Cup as we've ever been. Seriously. The way we're playing now, it'll be 4 or 5 and out.

    I'm really looking forward to playing a team that isn't named 'Avalanche.'

    We've now officially lost 2/3 in a series we should have been able to win 3/3.


  • Between Senators practice and Oilers practice, former teammates get caught up: Danny Heatley, Steve Staios (teammates in Atlanta) along with Ethan Moreau and Mike Comrie.

  • Ok, lets put this season to bed. It's over. There's only one last order of business, and I've harped on it for quite some time. Kevin Lowe, if you're reading this, you know what to do.

    Despite losing tonight, and in Buffalo last week, the Oilers have been playing some entertaining hockey. For those that actually ordered the PPV tonight, you got your money's worth. Sure, the Oil couldn't seem to hit the broad side of a barn door in that shootout, and Hemsky probably made you dizzy from circling the opposition net so much, but coming back from a two goal deficet with under 5 minutes is classic Oilers hockey.

    Tom Gilbert and Mathieu Roy looked pretty good playing with eachother tonight actually. As far as I can tell, it was Gilbert's emergence as a decent AHL defenceman which allowed (forced?)the Oilers to trade Bergeron.

    For that matter, Jacques and Winchester made nice bookends. I cringed when Morley Scott (or was it Rob Brown) mentioned JFJ was coming up with a lot of confidence thanks to his inspired play in the AHL of late (including a 4 goal game). That may well be, but you have to believe all JFJ can think about is 20GP, 0 goals.

    MA Pouliot, what can you say? He looks like he's turning into a bonefide NHLer. He's been distributing the puck, mucking it up around the net, killing penalties (smartly I might add), and he's even put the puck in the net.

    Nice to see Jussi get the start. If LT gets his way this could be one of Juice's last games with the franchise. He played about as well as you could hope, except for arguably the first goal. If not for Markkenan it could have been a lot uglier score tonight though.

    On That's Hockey today Darren Dreger seemed to believe Lowe would not be trading Ryan Smyth and that he would be resigned in the off-season. I really hope thats true, as this team gives us flashes of what it could be.

    Sounds like Brewer will re-sign in St. Louis, or at least, St. Louis is intent on re-signing him.
  • Friday, February 16, 2007

    Live by the Smytty, Die by the Smytty

    Ryan Smyth practices with his Team Canada teammates at FDB before the 2005 World Championships

    Ryan Smyth is the Edmonton Oilers. His presence on the team since rookie season has been exemplified by grit, determination, tips, heart and mullets (sorry, Moulets). I remember in his first playoff series versus Dallas, Doug Weight was taking a lot of heat because he couldn't put the puck in the net. 'Forget about Weight,' I said, 'this Smyth guy is going to be the leader of the Oilers.' He was the Oilers' best player in that series, and there has been very few times since then that he wasn't the Oilers' best player.

    The Oilers as an organization have never been timid about trading anybody. Once Gretz was traded way back in '88 there has been a trend to get rid of top guys, oftentimes at or near the peak of their playing ability. Moose to the Rangers, Kevin Lowe to the Rangers, Weight to the Blues...so I do not for one second believe Lowe will hesistate on pulling the trigger on Smyth simply because of his name.

    I feel though that the ramifications could be different this time around. There is something about Smyth (that I think maybe even Messier and Gretzky didn't have), that allows him to connect intimately with the City of Champions and arguably the whole of Alberta. Maybe its the fact that he's often been the one continuous bright spot on a lot of mediocre Edmonton teams over the past decade or so, or maybe it's the fact he's such an unassuming home town hero, or maybe it's because he's one of the first of the first generation of kids growing up cheering on the magnificent Oiler teams of the 80s to actually make the team. How many kids can say Glenn Anderson ran them over and it was one of the best days of their childhood life?

    Kevin Lowe's success with the Oilers as management has often come on the coattails of Ryan Smyth. Kevin Lowe's success internationally has often come on the coattails of Ryan Smyth. In essence, Kevin Lowe, and the Oilers, live by Ryan Smyth.

    During last season's playoff run, I believe it was the day after Smyth scored his famous toothless winner, Kevin Lowe admitted something to the effect that he understood Smyth's value to the team and the community, and that if he traded Smyth, he would become the least popular man in Edmonton. And how.

    Here's what I expect will happen:

    a) If Kevin Lowe signs Smyth, no one will blame him if the team fails. People are too emotionally connected to Smytty to have the hindsight to say 'we should have traded Ryan.' I think there are people in the city who would rather lose with Smyth than win without him.

    b) If Kevin Lowe trades Smyth AND fails to resign him in the offseason, he will either; resign (Oilers GMs have a habit of fading away rather than burning out) or be fired if the Oilers fail to make the playoffs in the following season. At best Lowe will probably receive a 1st round pick (probably a late 1st round) and maybe a half decent prospect that will not be ready for the NHL by next season's start. Even if its a generally good deal several years down the road (think Fleury being traded for Robyn Regehr) it will be too late for Lowe. The revolt will have long happened and the patrons of Oil Country will have vanquished theirGM.

    Such that Lowe has staked so much of the Oilers and his success on Ryan Smyth, his future now resides with Ryan Smyth. Lowe and Meehan (Smytty's agent) are meeting on Saturday, and I for one am not even moderately confident a deal will get down. But I at least hope Lowe understand the ramifications of failure.
    Going on a quick vacation this weekend so I won't have another post up until Monday at the earliest. Hopefully Ryan is a confirmed Edmonton Oiler for life by then.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Forsberg -> Nashville

    Philly gets:
    Scotty Upshall
    Ryan Parent
    1st Rounder
    3rd Rounder

    The team I think is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup just got a little bit more favorited,(Source) while the road to the promised land just got tougher for Calgary.

    We need a miracle from Ken Lowe

    A long time ago, I wrote about the loss of Ethan Moreau and the effect it could have on this team. At the beginning of the season, or near beginning, the Oilers were adrift in the seas of 'quality forwards' they aquired over the years. The lineup looked something like this:


    Now, if you looked at that lineup today, it would not have the same sort of status as when the season started. Lupul never turned into the feared sniper we thought (hoped?) he would, Sykora's play wass about as mediocre as it ever was, Winchester never took that extra step etc etc etc. Bear in mind, the lines also looked a lot different, but given the way the season has gone I doubt there would be many that would argue the top two lines listed are pretty solid, the third is adrift no matter what, and the 4th would have been at least interesting. So as long as we're dreaming we might as well dream of optimum combinations.

    Granted, this forward lineup never became as feared or as punishing as it 'should have,' but in my opinion, looking at this lineup today, it's still a very solid group from top to bottom. Hemsky and Smyth playing together are about as effective as any twosome, Pisani, Stoll and Torres provide a nice mix of smarts, toughness and scoring touch, Moreau compliments Lupul and Sykora's skill with some toughness and defensive responsibility, and the third line has a lot of smarts and also some toughness. And in fact, the Oil were doing pretty well with this lineup (if I could figure out how to look up their record at the time I would, but I recall some degree of success).

    However, the loss of Moreau, in my opinion, was the beginning of the end of the Oiler's season. My earlier post referred to the loss of leadership and consistency Moreau brings every night to this franchise. I predicted Smith, Staios, Smyth, Horcoff and Stoll (I didn't mention Pisani but in my opinion he fits in that group) would pick up the slack, and I think for a time they did.

    Then Smytty got hurt. Arguably the nose dive started around the time they lost to Anaheim at home in a game they should have won, but when Smytty went down about the only positive to emerge was Jarret Stoll's consistent play.

    Smytty comes back, and Staois goes down.

    Staois comes back, Stoll goes down.

    Stoll does not come back, Pisani goes down.

    So now the Oilers are out on full forward line consisting of some of their most consistent and effective players, down 3 key leadership guys, down a depth defenseman (my first mention of the mysterious Tjarnqvist injury) and they're expected to go on a 7 game road trip and save the season.

    Excuse my pessimism, but good luck guys.

    Obviously, our lack of defence has hurt. Losing Pronger, Spacek, Samsanov and Peca has hurt. But I believe this team had the personel required to squeek into the playoffs (at least) at the beginning of the season. The core of this team, of which painstaking care was taken to keep intact, has been rattled with injuries, and to expect success while missing several key guys over prolonged periods is unrealistic.

    So unless Ken Lowe can work miracles with Stoll and Pisani, this team isn't heading anywhere besides the golf course.

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Atlanta/Calgary Pre-Game...LINKS!

    So basically pre-game analysis is not my thing, not that I'm not mentally able to do it (although some would question that) but usually I'm too busy and the post only lasts for about 6 hours before it becomes completely irrelevant. So anyway, I'm just going to link to some people who have done today's pre-games and have actually done a good job.

    Why does it sound cooler to say "ATL?" - Double D(ion)

    pre-game: thrashers v. flames - hit the post

    Atlanta Pre-game - Open Ice Hits

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    5/5 = Playoffs

    While the odds of the Edmonton Oilers actually making the playoffs is dwindling faster than Sean Avery's chances of winning the Lady Byng, the faithful still believe there is a Lloyd Christmas dating Mary Swanson chance of making it. And while Scarlett at Only Oil has come up with a number I agree with, I would like clarify it even further.

    The Oilers play the currently in 8th place, the Minnesota Wild, a total of FIVE times over the last 30 odd games of the season. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that if the Oilers can take all 5 games in regulation, they will squeak into the playoffs for a second straight year.

    In fact, taken another way, the future of this year's Edmonton Oiler team is more in their hands than perhaps any other season before. Of the final 27 games of the season, including tonight's against the Thrashers, the Oilers play, 10 of them are against Northwest opponents, 13 against Western Conference teams currently ahead of them in the standings.

    Of course, actually winning those games will depend on a couple key factors:

    1. Will Jarret Stoll return from his headache break? Oil fans are holding their breath waiting for this mid season Oiler MVP to get back into the lineup after taking a stick to the helmet. If you're thinking about Tim Connolly it may be a bit premature, but not out of the question.

    2. Will Smytty sign and carry this team into the playoffs? He's done about everything humanly possible to keep this team in the black and the Oilers have no hope without him.

    3. Will the Oilers make a trade for a depth defenceman, or will Tjarnqvist return? The Oilers cannot afford any more callups on defence. They're shaky enough as it is with their current lineup.

    4. Can Sean Horcoff continue his recent strong play? Since being reunited with Smyth and Hemsky the never say die centre has been able to return to doing the simple things right. His defensive zone coverage has totally turned around and he's been buzzing around the opposition net a lot more.

    5. Lupul-Pouliot-Sykora - Will these three step up, or step out?

    6. Buyers or sellers? I'm not of the opinion the Oilers are either. I think they have a good group in general and keeping the core together for next year is of the utmost importance. Its not worth it for them to give up a solid player like Raffi Torres for a rental guy that most likely won't be able to impact this team enough to create any short term success. On the other hand, I don't think its necessary to unload guys like Jason Smith for prospects as I believe he still fits in with the gameplan for next season.

    7. The defence is still undermanned. That's not a question.

    I think in general, these are the questions Oilers fans will see answered over the course of the next two-three weeks, and the answers will determine whether or not the Oilers can put together enough solid games to beat the teams they need to in order to reach the playoffs. That was a very convoluted sentence, but you get the idea.

    At its very core, this season will come down to simple math: 5/5 = playoffs.

    Hired and Fired

    While watching the Buf/Cal game last night, one thought kept popping intrusively into my mind: David Moss is playing far too well to send him back to the minors if/when Chuck Kobasew is able to return. Chuck Kobasew has officially lost his job.

    Clearly Darryl Sutter's thoughts had mirrored mine, but he was ahead of me by several steps, as apparently, the trade that sent Kobasew (and disappointingly Andrew Ference) to the Bruins has been in the works for several weeks. To me, Andrew Ference provided the steady depth defenceman that made the deal possible from the Bruins perspective, but David Moss stepping in and providing consistent 2nd line grit and touch made Chuck Kobasew a very overrated, expensive and redundant piece of the puzzle.

    In return Calgary gets two players that Darryl Sutter is very familiar with: Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau, both of whom he coached in San Jose. I like that Sutter is familiar with both players and clearly Sutter feels he knows what type of play he can expect from his most recent acquisitions. They took him to the Western Conference finals in 2004, and although Stuart has never turned into the franchise defenceman everyone expected, Darryl obvious believes he can play a complimentary role in Calgary. Wayne Primeau is a depth forward who brings a physical edge, something the Flames do lack a bit. While guys like Ritchie, Yelle, Lombardi/Conroy, and Nilson are all smart hockey players, its extremely rare you see a big time hit from them. I think the precedent was set last year when Sutter traded Reinprecht for Leclerc for his physical presence late in the season.

    Regular readers will know that I have absolutely no sadness to see Chuck Kobasew off this team. He represented the last of the dissapointing 90s draft lot that saw the Flames go with underperformers like Daniel Tkachuk, Rico Fata, Oleg Saprykin and finally, Chuck Kobasew. Andew Ference however, is a different story.

    I have a very high regard for Andrew Ference, and if you consider it a one for one deal (Kobasew->Primeau, Ference->Stuart), I don't think we got value in return. Although I hate Michael Farber, I agree with his assesment today: I would not trade Andew Ference for Brad Stuart straight up, especially considering Ference is underpaid and Stuart isn't even signed. Its disappointing to lose a guy who I considered to be a leader of the team, and who seemed to be a true stand up guy on and off the ice. Emotionally, HG sums it up here and here. Really difficult to hear how Ference was pulled off the bus.

    I'm a bit confused as to where Stuart fits in on our depth chart. Hamrlik and Phaneuf will be staying together, so will Warrener and Regehr be broken up, or will Stuart be slotted in with Giordano for the 3rd pairing? To me, Stuart is probably a top 4 guy, but I'm not sure he's strong enough defensively to make a good shutdown defensive pairing with Regehr. So either he's not going to be getting enough ice time but will be paired with someone who fits his style, or he's paired with someone who is stylistically different but will be getting appropriate ice time.

    Of course there now even more of a crush of centres on this team (Langkow, Conroy, Lombardi, Yelle, (Nilson), and Primeau so its possible that this deal could lead to another couple of minor deals.

    You have to give credit to Sutter though, he obviously recognizes this is one of two years we have to go for the Cup. He's identified areas where the team needs improvement, and has acted on it. His timing is right for the push, the only question now is; will it be enough?

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Ferraro on M.A. Bergeron

    Maybe he's not ready to assume all the responsibility that the Oilers want when they lost Pronger, and they lost Spacek, they're asking an inexperienced Marc Andre Bergeron to run the power play, to help anchor a young defensive pair, maybe its a little much right now for Bergeron...

    Um...you think?

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Words are very/unnecessary/they can only do harm

    Players wear Mike Vernon's name and number during warmup

    The man of the hour steps up to the podium

    A touching moment as Vernon recalls the help of his late mother in his career

    #30's banner rises behind him and his family

    Mike Vernon waves goodbye to the fans. Thanks for the memories Verny.

    My only complaint about the whole night (besides the performance put on by both teams), is that the banner is in the team's current colours and design rather than the team Vernon actually played on. Its tacky and weird.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    For those interested in training for hockey:

    Very cool Oilers PPV feature on training. As you can see its mostl explosive power training (generating power in a short amount of time) along with mobility work and in my opinion, not very much 'core' exercises that are the latest fad. And, just in case you were living under a rock, you'll now know that Ethan Moreau's brother, Chad Moreau, is the Oiler's 'strength and conditioning coach.'

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    Re-united and it feels so good! (Part II)

    Ironically, I actually couldn't find a picture of the three of them together, but we can pretend that's Horcoff in the background

    Although I wrote my last piece on the re-uniting of Iginla and Conroy in Calgary, another distinctive group on the other side of the province was re-united last Saturday and has had considerable success. Horcoff has had an up and down year (mostly down) and Smyth has had a personal up year (even if team success has eluded this Oiler group), but together they simply haven't been able to click they way they did in all last year (regular season and playoffs). Their missing piece, Ales Hemsky, had been relegated to playing with Petr 'One Timer' Sykora, thanks to some early season chemistry between the two. However, the production between Hemsky and Sykora had dwindled down to almost nothing since Hemsky got hurt late in the '06 calendar year, and this team was running out of options.

    The trio was briefly re-united in the New Year's eve game against Calgary, but MacT re-shuffled the deck soon after and Hemsky was sadled with not just one under performing Czech, but two, as Hemsky, Nedved and Sykora joined together as the laughably ineffective 'Czech line' or more aptly, the 'No Check' line.

    Last Saturday though, in a game vs. the L.A. Kings, Hemsky, Horcoff and Smyth were re-united for an entire game, and boy, did they make a case to stay together. Scoring all 4 goals (Smyth 2, Hemsky 1, Horcoff 1) and accounting for 11 of 12 points in the game, the line dominated the whole game, and was the undeniable difference between winning and losing.

    Hemsky found Smyth again on Wednesday's game vs. Columbus, and Hemsky and Smyth came together to find Sykora for the winner.

    Against Columbus, the line shot blanks. But if MacT had any doubts about keeping them together for the rest of the season, tonight's Avalanche game should have erased them. Read the scoresheet.
    G1. Hemsky (+2 1a)
    G2. Smyth (+1, 1a)
    G3. Horcoff (+1, 1a, 1GWG)

    The trio was on for every goal for, except for the first goal in which Horcoff was off. Undeniably, the group was responsible for the 2pts in the win column.

    Now if Stoll can shake off the cobwebs the Oilers have a chance at two consistently effective lines, (and for a further stretch, Lupul looks like someone lit a fire under his ass, its possible he, Sykora and Nedved can turn into hockey players...and if not, at least their suck won't rub off on anyone else).

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    Re-united and it feels so good!

    Despite early predictions Conroy would play a 3rd line support role in Calgary, it appears his performance last game will vault him back into the coveted Iginla centreman role. TSN's Ice Chips and the Calgary Herald have reported the first lines in practice was:

    Amonte - Lombardi - Nilson
    Friesen - Yelle - Ritchie

    As most coaches like to pair offensive players, Iginla/Conroy and Huselius/Langkow are not huge suprises, but I would say the inclusion of Moss is interesting if not totally suprising. Through various posts on here and through my comments on various other Flames blogs I have made my feelings about Moss be known - that is, he's shown to be a very impressive fill in for Chuck Kobasew. In fact, I would say he's been more effective than Kobasew, as he is finding ways to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis. Moss isn't a fancy player, but he's always willing to throw the puck on net, and he himself isn't at all afraid to plant himself in front and cause havoc.

    This could be looked at as a positive or a negative for Matthew Lombardi. As has been noted by MG, Lombardi has simply not been as consistent lately. This third line 'demotion' though, is both a symptom of Lombardi's play, and also of Conroy's 'resurgence.' Having his ice time reduced is going to be disappointing for the young centre, however I think this is a good opportunity for Lombardi to simplify his game and get back to doing the simple things right, and at the top of that list: distributing the puck. In my opinion Lombardi has been relying TOO heavily on his speed and puck carrying ability, and he's had his head down when it should be up. It will be interesting to see if Lombardi's PK time increases (with his reduced even strength time) and Conroy's PK time decreases (with increased even strength time).

    For other Flames news:
    MG - talks about the growth of the Flames blogosphere and his usual awesome pre-game
    HG - talks about her betrayal of Double Dion with Slick Rick and the Flames Sideburn Contest

    Welcome to a couple new blogs (as mentioned by MG), Sean at Sea of Red - Flames/Columbus pre gameSteal Thunder at Completely Hammered - Flames/Columbus pre game

    Time to update the sidewall I guess...