Friday, November 25, 2005


Five plus

I loved that overtime. They drop the puck with about 3 minutes left, and Millions tells us it's Peca, Dvorak, Staios & Ulanov against Iginla, Reinprecht, Phaneuf & Hamrik. I'm thinking, "Woo-hoo!" Then, the Oilers keep the Flames stuck in their own end for about 25 seconds or so; quite a while, but not long enough that anyone went to the bench when the play went the other direction.

Then the Flames had the puck in Edmonton's end for, what, a minute and a half? Millions was yapping about how long Iginla had been out there, even though he didn't look that tired, while Peca and Ulanov were still out there too, and bloody well did. The whole shift went from something like 3:00 left to 1:00 left. And when there was a whistle with 40 seconds left, guess who was back out there? Look at that shift chart.

Pisani made a nice move for the shootout goal. When Phaneuf got announced as the third shooter, I was concerned.

Rare Sutter criticism alert: I think we're all clear 20-ish games into the season that shooting is preferable to deking in the shootout (ice conditions, etc.). We also understand that putting your best guy 3rd doesn't make sense, because he might not even get a chance.

But putting Phaneuf in the top 3, or most especially 3rd, just tells Mike Morrison that you plan on beating him by shooting. It could have worked out, I guess; it didn't.

Going forward, the key to winning shootouts will be forcing the opposing goalie to play it honestly. Yeah, Iginla shoots on most if not all breakaways, but if the goalie comes out too far, Jarome will turn his ass upside down. As fast as the "bad ice, gotta shoot" wisdom has appeared, it will disappear, because NHL goalies simply are too good when they know what's coming.

Maybe more tomorrow; I guess there was 60 minutes of regulation that I haven't mentioned. As always, check Covered In Oil for funny and fair recaps.


Just to tie this thread to the previous one, here's Matt's last statement from it:

"What can I tell you Tyler; although the Flames lost tonight, they're a better team that they were 17 games ago when they last faced the Oilers."

This is clearly so. But it's equally true that the Oilers are also improved, that the Oilers were the distinctly better team in at least one of the two losses, that they looked better last night despite missing their best player, and that all three games so far have been played in the smegmatous confines of Penisgrowth Plaza.

And it's now absolutely settled, I think, that our goaltending has been upgraded considerably. Matt says he's not scared, and I'm on record as being envious of his calm. But if you can watch the goalie who's been stealing intramural games for you matched and beaten by a new, wildly successful unknown at the other end of the ice--well, there's courage and then there's stupidity, no?

(Incidentally, I totally understand Sutter's choice in the SO--he's obviously been studying game tapes. Morrison has shown he's not going to implode spontaneously on generic breakaway dekes. Step two of testing any new NHL goalie is looking for weaknesses on clean shots; Morrison is there now, and the thing to do is to put him through artillery exercises. Step three is accepting the guy's existence and hoping you can find specific in-close moves he's semi-vulnerable to.)

Man, I had a sweet Bible quote all ready - something about extinguishing the flames of evil.

Alas, a shootout win isn't quite the required beating.

But, we'll take it.

The win seems to have switched off the board-clogging Auto-Pecalyzer. Good enough for me.

"a new, wildly unsuccesssful unknown at the other end .."

The words once used to describe the emergence of Patrick Lalime. We'll see how your new stud goalie is doing in January. I expect the Lalime parallel wild hold.

I also think that by January the Flames and the Oilers are going to emerge as the top two teams in the North West Division. Vancouver and Colorado had nice starts, but have been coming to Earth lately and neither team has goaltending of even Lalime-ish quality.

And it's now absolutely settled, I think, that our goaltending has been upgraded considerably.

Whoa...Mike Morrison wins 4 games in a row and our goatending has been ugpraded considerably? That's a bit much.

I can understand this comment if it's in the sense of "The Oilers now have three goalies who are better than Tommy Salo". No argument there. That Mike Morrison is better than Jussi and Conklin though, which you seem to be implying...I'll reserve judgment. Personally, I'd like to get Jussi back in there.

But, look, Morrison only has to replace Conko the Clown to represent an upgrade--we still have the Juice either way. I don't know that Morrison is fated to be the number one, but he was the star in camp, he looks terrific, and at this point Warren Skorodenski's sister would be a clear upgrade on Conklin anyway.

If Morrison turns out as good as Lalime was in his prime, I'll be frigging ecstatic. I never understood how Lalime became the poster boy for feces--how many guys have 102 wins in a three-season stretch, or four shutouts in one playoff year? Anyway, no one's been counting on Morrison as the future of the Oilers: anything he delivers is a bonus to the franchise.

And, hey, don't you know "Mike" is just the King's English for "Miikka"?

I never understood how Lalime became the poster boy for feces--how many guys have 102 wins in a three-season stretch, or four shutouts in one playoff year?

I'll admit to being a save percentage junkie-Lalime was never much in terms of save percentage relative to the league. He was generally below league average, IIRC. To answer your question with another question, how many guys get the 2001-2004 Ottawa Senators in front of them for three years? Not many.

But, look, Morrison only has to replace Conko the Clown to represent an upgrade--we still have the Juice either way.

Fair enough. I'm pretty convinced that there was something wrong with Conklin though to start the season-guys don't just fall off the map like that. Either that or the changing game didn't lend itself to his style, which seems to lead to him being in poor position to deal with rebounds.

The real problem as I see it though is that the Oilers apparently have no strategy or plan for dealing with their goalies. The fact that MM has played 3 games in a row, or whatever it is, is tantamount to a statement from MacT saying "Fuck it. I have no idea who's good and who isn't so I'll let the guy from the ECHL play."

I dunno what else he's supposed to do--flush another two seasons down the toilet while he's waiting for his designated starter to get his confidence back? Not to be overly rude, but hell, maybe we gave up on Salo too soon. What's he doing, herb gardening in Vyborg or something?

MacT looked around and recognized reality: there is no clear #1 on this team, and no one really has any career-based claim to the spot. ("Grant Fuhr... is not walking through that door...") Maybe he even recognized that he genuinely can't tell a washed-up sack of compost from a guy in a mere slump (the evidence, after all, is that he can't). The overwhelmingly reasonable response seems to be "Fuck it--let the ECHL guy play himself out of a job, or play himself into one." And honestly I doubt it's bad for Markkanen. If he didn't have an incentive to stay mentally and physically ready before, he's got one now.

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