Sunday, January 13, 2008

One Year Ago - The Battle of Alberta

Almost a year ago to the day I wrote a preview on the battle of Alberta focusing on the strange intertwining careers of Jarret Stoll and Matthew Lombardi. At the time I noted Jarret Stoll was playing an excellent all around game while Matthew Lombardi had provided the Flames with a legitimate 2nd line center option.

Oh time, you are a cruel mistress.

Jarret Stoll has become a fourth line grinder, whether due to post injury blue or some other cause. His play doesn't seem to have gotten worse, but he's levelled off at a purely checking role which really hurts. His shooting percentage has dropped to an ungodly 6% which partly accounts for his low scoring totals, although whether he's shooting worse or has just become unlucky is yet to be determined. Amazingly, he's actually 4th in Oiler point scoring totals, which I think probably says all you need to know about the team.

Matthew Lombardi was running along nicely until Craig Conroy inecsplicably stole his spot. He didn't really have a great ending to his season but excelled on a line with Rick Nash at the World Championship proving that when he's put with good players and given ample playing time he can excel. Apparently Mike Keenan however was not convinced and once again put Lombardi behind Craig Conroy. He's been playing on the 'Kid Line' a lot recently with Boyd and Nystrom and hasn't really looked that good, at least in the defensive zone.

This has been about an up and down season as I can remember for both the Oilers and the Flames. The Flames had a terrible stretch in November then an unbelievable stretch in December and now they've fallen back to earth, losing to Phoenix and the Islanders in consecutive contests. They imploded in the 2nd against Phoenix and fell asleep a few times against the Islanders and that was all it took.

The Oilers have looked bad, worse, great, bad and then pretty good again. Injuries have almost certainly played a role in the Oilers losing record, but the real problem is a lack of qualified NHLers. I mean, this is a team that for a while was actually relying on Geoff Sanderson. Despite this the Oilers are having a pretty good homestand and are a win away from evening their win-loss record which is pretty near all you can expect from them.

For tonight's game strap in and hold on. This rollercoaster is only half over.


riderpitts said...

i'd swap lombardi for stoll anyday. cant believe conroy is seeing more ice than him - kinda distressing actually.

Black Dog said...

With Stoll its definitely a case of coming back from the concussion I think. He has picked it up lately. 5 points in his last six games. A fixture on the PP again, which has scored in six straight games. 12 and 1 in the dot yesterday.

And while playing with Reasoner and Gagner - not exactly super linemates (at this time).

Looks like he has turned the corner anyhow.

I don't know anything about Lombardi.