Thursday, February 15, 2007

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.


walkinvisible said...

quit your whining and just get samsonov back...

[just kidding. that wasn't nice.]

Kyle said...

We don't want him back anyway! Damn Russian Bear!

Scarlett said...

Samsanov, glad he didn't sign with us! That's one ray of sunshine with our team, no Sammy.

Kyle said...

Samsanov, glad he didn't sign with us! That's one ray of sunshine with our team, no Sammy.
Samsanov was great getting the Oilers into the playoffs, but he wasn't effective once in the playoffs. He served his purpose but there was no real reason to try resign him.

leanne said...

Ken? Isn't it Kevin?

Kyle said...

Ken is Kevin's brother and he's the head medical trainer.