Friday, October 21, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 6: You Tossers

One pupil is bigger than the other to fit all of the Evil.
There was a moment I'm sure, a perfect moment, where something like two-hundred and fourty-three thousand people simultaneously proffered utterances that would make your respective nanas, nonas, and grandmas blush. I imagine if you combined that specific moment of Oilers nation output into a single sound, it would sound something like a Humpback whale-call being crossed with an Andrew Dice Clay comedy routine. Personally, I went with a British colloquialism, tosser - which in slang means to flog the flagon, grip the gipper, wank the walleye - and I uttered it with a heavy snarl of disdain, disappointment, and dourness. After leading me on this adventure into left-wing-lock land, I expected at least 2 shiny shekels for my engaged viewing.

Of course, such is the life of a sports fan: all of our joy revolves around, on a game to game basis, the most random, chaotic things that we have absolutely no control over. For instance, the smallest rut in the ice deflecting the back pass to Heater with 3 seconds to go would have invariably led to a lot less burnt offerings for swear jars across Alberta. 98% less remotes would be thrown, 39% less sorrows to be drowned (women have to count for something -- I kid, I kid ;), and I wouldn't have to introduce my small but fervent fan-base to mildly inappropriate British slang. And more importantly, a universal Oiler villain wouldn't have his second goal of his already-looking-to-be-sub-par season.

I mean, the Oilers can play defence folks. In a classic case of 'no one is really a fucking expert', the Oilers are one of the most prolific defensive teams in the league, and one of the most iron-deficient offences as well. You look at our D-core, and our goaltending tandem of Khabiboozin' & the Ginger Giant, and you probably see the glitz and glamour of a restaurant attached to a Walmart. Sure, it gets food (pucks) into your stomach (out of the net -- OK so the analogy isn't great, but I'm rolling with it), but it's not like you are going to tell your friends it's the best restaurant in town. In other words, it still might not be good. Six games simply isn't enough time to evaluate much of anything.

So we've established that the current version of the Oilers can prevent goals. What they are struggling mightily at, however, is rewarding their fans for year after year of complete and utter ineptitude and gross abuse of our audio-visual faculties. I can't be the only one who can't help but wonder where the fucking dynamic part of 'young Oilers team' is coming from except lip service from jackwagon Sportsnet announcers (1/10 the prescience of the worst TSN guys). They are about as dynamic right now as a bread and mayonnaise sandwich. And I have no idea how dynamic that is, but I'm rolling with the bad analogies now.

To be fair, the Oilers had plenty of moments to go cash-money on this shitty Minnesota Wild team, a team that will be lucky to make the playoffs this year in my biased, non-expert opinion. Eberle, Lander, and Belanger all had incredible chances to score, and on a night when the Minnesota Wild have Clayton Stoner on the ice for their desperate push to equalize on a 6v5, 2 goals will certainly do it. Last season, Theo Peckham scored 0.16 goals per 60 minutes of ice. Stoner was 0.15. I love his defensive game, but the kid has 15 goals in SIX seasons of pro hockey. Yes, that's 354 games worth. 1 goal every 24 games. It would be like the Oilers putting Andy Sutton on the ice to get a last second goal.

And that is it really. The Oilers are doing all of the right things except extending their timid little fins above the choppy water.

My forward evaluations will specifically cover offensive failings, and then I shall conclude with gusto and perhaps gazpacho (that's right, making even less sense now).

Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson - He gets the full name treatment from me like a scolding mother. I am now completely and entirely aware of Pajaarvi's shortcomings at this point of the season, so gather round and drink in my knowledge. Watch his play, you will notice he virtually never uses the center of the ice. *But Uncle Johnny, He's a Winger!* you exclaim, to which I reply, the scoring horseshoe (the place where statistically most of the goals are scored) lies in the center section of the ice. I watched Kessel's pass to Lupul (god I hate both of those guys, but check Lupul's goal), and Kessel used his blazing speed to force defenders off the line, and then when the space opened up in the slot, he moved to the scoring horseshoe, and quickly delivered a slick pass to Joffrey "Anson Carter" Lupul.

Here I'll make him a checklist:

  1. Attack zone with speed
  2. Cut to scoring horseshoe
  3. Pass or shoot
Taylor Hall - Hallsie is a like a wind-up toy. Once he gets wound up, aside from sticking something pointy in his gears, he's going to keep on moving and entertaining. I actually don't think there is anything wrong with the way he's playing right now aside from maybe just not shooting enough. His shooting percentage is at about half of last years number (5.9% - way below where you'd expect it for an elite forward), so I envision a dramatic course correction at some point here.

Jordan Eberle - Had tons of chances, and in fact has had tons of chances this year. For him to still be sporting a goose-egg in the goal column is something of a mystery to me. He shot the puck at about the same percentage as Hall last year, which about the same number of shots per game. There is no way Eberle can keep this up, especially with the chances he's getting. He does need to shoot more. It seems like Eberle is cutting too fine a figure when it comes to playmaking, and he needs to pop off his rifle shot a bit more. He's got a deceptive release and plenty of velocity, so I have no idea why he just doesn't fire the puck more. In fact he should be focused on being nice and greedy until it starts going in the back of the net.

Linus Omark - Renney has said it, and I will say it: Omark needs to use his teammates more. I get pegleg of the pants when he bulldogs the puck for-seemingly-ever and then zips an oracular pass to back door Jimmy Peejarvs, but he's killing himself in most plays simply by not cycling effectively. I mean, look at the Sedins. Here are guys with virtually identical skill sets and stature who are probably passing at thrice the rate of our Overtornea Assasin. Pass the puck more, midget!

Nikolai Khabibulin - Well, the tying goal was pretty brutal. I guess that gives him a mixed result, and I'm not in 100% agreement about the first star selection because of that. How many goalies in the league would have stopped that Heater flopper? I'd wager 90%. So, OK, I'm being a bit hard on the guy, but comon, we should have had two, and that is being scored from almost the goal line. I've said it on echo to start the season: if our offence is drier than camel cooch, we simply can't have our goalies making mistakes. Nik made one. We lost the game.

Tom Gilbert - This guy is playing the best hockey of his career. He played almost 25 minutes. His check was Heater, but that's a bang bang play and your goalie just has to stop that. He simply isn't making a lot of mistakes right now, and our top-5 (in goals against per game) defence has largely been anchored by Tommy "Not-So-Twinkle-Toes" Gilbert. To think he was had for a broken down Tommy Salo too. What a brutal trade that was for the Avs.

Ryan Whitney - Still a but sluggish out there. He's never been a roadrunner, but right now his mo-jo is a bit no-show. His smoothness and slickness is not obviously apparent (insert phallic joke here), and we've haven't yet seen a 5-star Ryan Whitney pass. Second game after a long layoff, so hopefully it will come. I guess the real question is, how long do we sit here waiting for Whitney to rip open the oildrop and expose a stylized S underneath? 5 games? A dozen?

Cam Barker - Was not a gangbang in his own end, and I have to give him at least a little credit. Even though he sports the dull eyes of a listless zombie, and hasn't shown much offensive presence at all, he's still at least moving the puck out of the backend and not looking like total ass shavings. I'm just not sold on his passion. I don't even know if he would stand up for a teammate who got rocked under his nose. There are still a lot of questions needing answers, and a longer streak of consistent play before I will bequeath my royal seal.


Shit happens. *shrug*


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