Sunday, October 02, 2005


Oilers Preseason Review

A while back, I noted that during preaseason I'd be looking for:
I'll be honest. I was hoping for more.


Most accounts have the powerplay is somewhat improved, although it is clearly still not anything fearsome. Popular opinion has the lack of a sniper as our biggest problem on the PP. I've never been sold on this. In my opinion, the biggest problem last season was the fact that we didn't have one single person who could hold on to the puck at either the half-boards or the blueline and not cough it up under the teensiest bit of pressure. It was utterly pathetic to watch last season. You could almost feel the fear of the players with the puck and the penalty killers just jumped all over them. This year Pronger, Stoll, and Bergeron seem to be able to work the blue line, and Hemsky and Peca seems to have the half-boards covered. I hope.

Penalty Kill

Based on last night's game in Vancouver, the penalty kill is still terrible. I really don't get this. It wasn't that long ago that the Oilers had a great penalty kill. Then they traded Grier, Marchant left, and the whole thing seems to have fallen apart. On paper Pronger and Peca should help here, but it hasn't translated onto the ice - at least not yet. I'm actually not that worried about this. I think it will come around.

New Rules

The Oilers' Defense was the third most peanlized in the league. Cory Cross, in particular, seems to be a victim of the new rules. He was a decent 4th line d-man when size and cross-checking were virtues; but, his lack of mobility has clearly been killing him. Chris is ready to cut him loose right now, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Oil bought him out and he retired on Monday. On the other hand, I also wouldn't be surprised if Mac-T gives him a bit more rope to see if he can adjust (hey, it worked with Salo right - sigh).

It is actually a shame, because I like Cross. He is a genuinely nice guy, with a lots of local roots and a good story. Grew up in Lloyd, played Jr. B with the Edmonton Royals, won three CanWest championships and a national title with the Golden Bears in 1992, and never really thought he would ever make the NHL. Then Florida picks him in the supplemental draft and he finds himself a professional hockey player. When you see him interviewed, it is almost as if he still doesn't entirely believe it, which is why if the Oilers buy him out he will retire on the spot. His family is still in Lloyd, and I bet he finds himself a nice teaching job and has a great rec room with all kinds of photos of him on the ice with superstars. In 20 years his kids' friends are going to say, "Your Dad played in the NHL, no way."


K-Lowe mentions Horcoff in almost every interview and talks about his new confidence, better skating, etc. Eyewitness accounts also seem to have Horc playing like a new man. I'm actually very confident in Horcoff, Peca, Reasoner, and Stoll. I like them all.


I don't think it has been announced yet, but I think it is pretty clear based on his 5:04 of icetime over 6 shifts that Schremp is going back to London. Rita and Winchester simply got the job done - and good for them. I really hope that this is the year that Rita can actually make an impact. The potential has always been there.

The bigger story here is the play of Hemsky, who has been terrific in every preseason game. I think he is going to be a huge story this year for the Oilers.


Is it too late to get Salo out of retirement. I know it was preseason, and Conklin didn't ever have a solid D in front of him, but he has been bad. I didn't see any of the games, so I can't say for sure how many of the goals were his fault; but when you give up the number that he has it can't all be the players in front of him. I feel ill just thinking about it - minus Salo's numbers from the beginning of last season and the Oil are in the playoffs. We just can't afford another slow start in net. I sure hope Jussi comes back soon. I'm way more comfortable with him than Conklin.

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