Sunday, November 18, 2007

Underperforming - Steve Staios

The Edmonton Oilers went into the season on a hope and a prayer and 20 odd games in the results have not been suprising. The horrid end to last season is slowly but surely creeping into this season and the Oilers are looking more and more like a lottery team every week. Despite the bright play of several youngsters (Cogliano, Gagne, Gilbert, Brodziak) some veterans (Horcoff, Hemsky...check out LT's post for more on EVP/60 numbers, Horcoff's blow me away), the Oilers are still bottom of the NW conference and are probably soon going to be bottom of the league.

The problem (besides lack of depth and top end talent) is that some of the veteran players the Oilers count on the most are having very sub par seasons. The tri fecta of suck (I'll continue with this in the coming week) begins with my man Steve Staios.

Now in my estimation Staios has historically been one of the Oilers most steady defenceman. He's never been capable of top line minutes but he's been that guy that you can count to make the smart play, handle his own defensively, and once in a while come up with a big offensive play, whether it be a nice pass or very rarely, a big goal. Either way, he could be counted on.

Last night's game versus the Flames included a classic example of what's going wrong with Steve Staios this year. He makes an awesome play to get a low hard shot on Miikka Kipprusoff, as a result of the scramble and rebound Kyle Brodziak gets a spectacular chance to score, however, Kipper gets the paddle out and makes an equally spectacular save. The puck comes out to Staios' point.

Here Staios has a decision to make; he can either accept the fact the offensive chance is over, back off and cover the advancing Flames player, or he can try pinch the puck and keep the play alive. Staios chooses the latter and loses the puck battle. He puts a hard check on the Flames player, but it's pointless - Matthew Lombardi and Owen Nolan are on a 2-1 against Smid and they put it away. That's a TSN turning point if I've ever seen one.

Now in Staios' defence, I think he looked over to the opposite side and saw Owen Nolan streaking, but also saw Kyle Brodziak streaking behind him. That's a speed race Brodziak wins 9/10 times, at least I bet that's what Staios was thinking.

There was an article in the Herald today by Jean Lefebvre about Steve Staios where Staios discussed his mentoring role with Ladislav Smid, but he mentioned how he struggled with balancing his leadership role, helping his young cohorts prep for their games while still preparing himself.

Now, I don't think the problem is that Staios is playing too tough a minutes. According to he's mid pack in the Oilers defensive depth chart in terms of minute toughness. (from toughest to softest - Grebeshkov (who is actually getting statistically eaten alive), Gilbert, Smid, Rourke, Tarnstrom/Staios, Greene, Souray and Pitkanen). Maybe it's the fact MacTavish has showed such little confidence in a guy that has been so good for the Oilers for so long that has Staios' confidence a little thin, maybe he's trying to do too much.

I don't know specifically what the problem is, I just know he can and needs to be better if the Oilers are to have any success. QOC numbers/rankings in bold on the below table.

DENISGREBESHKOVDEDM371514.0630.64-1.32 0.11
TOMGILBERTDEDM772016.4628.69 1.07 0.07
LADISLAVSMIDDEDM51115.8528.48 1.04 0.02
ALLANROURKEDEDM524 9.6933.72-1.10 0.01
DICKTARNSTROMDEDM231715.5729.62 0.96-0.05
STEVESTAIOSDEDM242017.2327.93 0.27-0.05

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