Thursday, April 20, 2006


Oilers Year End Evaluation

Wow. Spend 12 hours standing in line for playoff tickets and the inmates start running the asylum around here. Judging by my bulging inbox and by our stats, it appears that jhuck and madcrutch hit refresh approximately every 48 seconds yesterday --- and they found new content from each other 4 out of 7 times.

To change tack slightly, before the Oilers go out and whip the Wings, I thought I'd better do a wrap-up of the regular season.

[I'm really lazy, so this is just an total rip off update of my Oilers Midpoint Evaluation. Some players didn't even get an update because they were pretty much the same as they were back then.]

Hey hey hey. The Oiler have completed half their regular season and, going in to a new year, I thought it was time to post some sort of midpoint year-end evaluation type thing. I still don't give grades, and I still don't use fancy statistics. Sue me.

POWERPLAY/PENALTY KILL - Perhaps the biggest story of the year. Last season the Oilers were an abysmal 29th/17th in the league. This year At the midpoint they were 7th and 13th. The Oil's powerplay cooled off significantly in the second half, ending up 14th in the league; but the penalty kill just kept on trucking, finishing 8th, with a league leading 15 shorties.Maybe Craig Simpson is more than just a pretty coiffure. Of course, adding Stoll, Pronger, Bergeron, Spacek, and a new and improved Hemsky didn't hurt.

FACEOFFS - from 11th last year to first second (o.4% behind Nashville) this year. Is this important? I still dunno - it can't hurt.

5 ON 5 - An interesting regression. Last season they were 9th in the league with a 1.22 ratio.This year the Oilers areAt the midpoint they were exactly even in goals for/against 5 on 5 , and they got even worse from the midpoint on, ending up with a negative goal differential (0.899 ratio). The loss of 5 on 5 strength is almost certainly a result of some questionable horrific goaltending. Thank goodness the powerplay is working.

After taking talk-show abuse all preseason about how he could never be a #1 center, Horc has quietly put together a pretty nice terrific season. He still isn't a true #1 - whatever that is - but he has been pretty effective, if inconsistent. He blew away his former season best, and put up 22-51-73 in 79 games (i.e., 6 points more than Iggy).

- The Mad Mullet hasn't had to carry the load this for the first half of the year, which is good because I'm not entirely sure he is still capable of it. Has gone missing more than previous seasons. Having said that, he has still had a pretty nice first half and always seems to be around at nut cuttin' time. Is it possible to not love this guy?

Like many, I made the mistake of underestimating Smytty. He really turned it on down the stretch and ended up with a tidy 36-30-66 in 75 games (i.e., 1 goal more than Jarmoe). That's his second best offensive year. Significantly, he is better than a point a game vs Detroit this year.

ALES HEMSKY - Learn how to fake this signature, folks, because the sky is well and truly the limit. 11 goals, 27 assists at the midpoint and 19-58-77 on the season. He is starting to shoot, can pass like crazy, and finally provides the Oilers with someone who can work the powerplay halfboards without messing his minipad under pressure. He is tougher than people give him credit for too. Another guy with a career high in points (and with 10 more points than Iggy).

JARRETT Stoll - Remeber when Stevie Y used to have a pretty boy face? Seen him lately? I predict a similar result for Check out Stoll's mug now. The breakout player of the year. 14 goals, 26 assists at the midpoint and 22-46-68 in 82 games (i.e., 1 point more than Jarmoe). Early on he was consistent as anyone on the team, but went missing a bit down the stretch. He still has a rocket of a shot. Along with Hemsky and Pronger, Stoll has been largely responsible for the somewhat improved powerplay - especially when they put him back on the point. Yet another guy who blew away his career high in points. He hasn't been able to get open for the one-timer from the top of the circle on the powerplay (aka: the Anson Carter Special), but has still managed to put the biscuit in the net at a decent clip (Hey Pepper, is that you?)

Seryozhenka has been a nice addition for the Oil -- especially when Mac-T doesn't put him on the fourth line with Laraque and Harvey. He has made the powerplay better, gives the Oilers a player who can create on his own, and the kid has wheels. Just shy of a point per game in Edmonton.

- Torres is still as streaky as hell Stoll is consistent. When he is playing well he is tough to miss. Like Pronger, he has been pretty good at picking his spots for the physical play, but is not nearly as effective when he isn't hitting. Still Mrs. Sac's favourite player, despite his Houdini Act. Wow, the Oilers actually did have a forward who didn't outscore Jarmoe. 27-14-41 in 82 games.

Radek Dvorak - Injuries have slowed him down, but this facial expression really still says it all. Somewhat confused, still sorta happy. This is a guy that I so want to do better. He has all the skills, creates a tonne of quality chances, but just seems to be permanently snake-bitten. It is inexplicable.

No change in status here. I don't expect it will ever change. Sigh. Actually, it should be pointed out that D-vo is one of the Oil's best defensive forwards, and when he skates like a demon he causes more than his fair share of turnovers on the forecheck. I'm still going to predict big things from him in playoffs.

Mike Peca - The Oilers undisputed MVP. We should be paying him 8, nay 18, million dollars. Meh. He obviously wasn't the first line scoring centre the Brain Trust was hoping he could be, but I'm still extremely decently happy with his play. He is exactly the kind of guy that the Oilers needed to get them through tight games against elite players. Markus who? Jarmoe who? He is going to be a key in the Oilers first round playoff win. I have to say, however, that he seems to be kind of a wus. Blaming the St. Loo loss on the pregame ceremony which, apparently, ruined the team's "biorhythms"? Puh-leeze. He's gonzo at the end of the season, and I'm ok with that.

Fernando Pisani - 18-19-37 in 80 games. Unbelievable 5 on 5. Just an absolutely solid, consistent third line outscorer. This is one that the Brain Trust should get credit for - they recognized something that most others didn't. With Reasoner gone, Pisani is also filling the role of Mr. Everything and Instant-Chemistry. I love Fernie.

Ethan Moreau - Moreau is another guy like Dvorak who I keep thinking should be able to breakout. I don't really understand why he doesn't have more goals. By far the hardest working guy out there, has crazy wheels, never gets tired. Still doing pretty well with 8 goals 12 assists from the third line at the midpoint, and 11-16-27 on the year. The basketball injury killed a huge chunk of Moreau's season, but he looks to be rounding back into form. Fun stat is that Moreau has about a million shorties this year.

Le GG - I had such high hopes for Georges. The new rules should have made make him unstopable . . . well, if he hadn't taken over Marchant's hands. Over the last two weeks he has been pretty active and has been able to draw a lot of penalties. I'm not entirely sure that his salary is worth it, though. I wouldn't be suprised to see him packaged outta town. It would be a shame because he is a sentimental favourite in town. At least he has a degree to fall back on . . . As usual, LeGG turned it on down the stretch and was playing some decent hockey. Inexplicably, Mac-T pulled him from the line-up at just this point. I'm so confused by Georges.

Todd Harvey - A funny guy. I love it when he scores goals. Other than that, he has been continues to be pretty average. But he and his molester mustache continue to make me laugh.

Chris Pronger and his orbs of power- way better than I thought. He is just so solid in the defensive end it is ridiculous. He is also so calm with the puck that we finally have someone to give the wingers time to get up ice for some nice long breakouts. Equally impressive has been his transition from mean, cross-checking SOB to well-positioned, little-penalized, gentleman. I personally think he might have gone a tad too far in that direction, but I'm sure he'll be back for playoffs. Soaks up a tonne of minutes and, as Cosh once noted, shortens every penalty kill to one-minute. The Oil's real MVP. Detroit fans seem to think he is going to pull a Jekyll and Hyde in playoffs and spend most of it in the penalty box. I doubt it.

Bergeron - a nice sophmore mid-season. I didn't like his pairing with Pronger at the beginning because he was a bit too deferential, but they seem to be playing prety well together now. Added bonus is that he is actually hitting the net with his canon this year - well, mostly. He scrambles a lot, but that makes him fun to watch. Bergy has a rough second half. The last few games of the season he seemed to get it together again, but for a stretch there he was terrible. Sophmore slump or something.

Jason Smith - I dunno. Okay. Nothing spectacularly good or bad. Now that he can't pull off the facewash in front of the net he isn't as effective. However, he still seems to be able to pull of a physical game without too many penalties

Steve Staois - I dunno. Somewhere between Smith and Cross - probably closer to Smith. Joins Harvey on the All Molester Mustache Team.

Igor Ulanov - Get your memorabilia now, because he is one contract deadline away from retirement. I love him, just love him. I think he is one of the funniest guys on the team. But he needs to join the other retired Oilers behind bench. Still soaks up a fair number of minutes - although I'm always on pins and needles when he is the one looking to clear the puck from the d-zone. Igor has been out of the lineup for much of the second half. I'm not sure whether he will get back in for playoffs or not. I kinda hope he does.

ŠPAČEK - K-Lowe's greatest accomplishment this year. Spacek has been huge for the Oil. He has a cannon of a shot, is a perfect partner for Pronger, is calm with the puck. Just an all around great d-man. And we gave up Tony Salmelainen for him, who I'm pretty sure will never play in the league. A steal.

DWAYNE ROLOSON - After a bit of a rough start, Rollie seems to have found a groove. Whether that groove is deep enough to steal a few games in playoffs remains to be seen. I'm still happy with the deal.

JUSSI MARKKANAN - I think Jussi is a very solid backup or partner goalie. I really thought he could be more, but I'm not sure he can play any more than 55 games a year. Still, not as horrible as some would make it out. Pretty much irrelevant now.

TY CONKLIN- I may have jumped the gun based on last night's performance. I admit it, I have blinkers. I really want him to do well, but I really don't think he is very good. I hope he proves me wrong. Pretty much irrelevant now.


DICK TARNSTROM - Perhaps K-Lowe's weakest acquisition. Tricky Dick has been inconsistent at best. He has certainly not delivered the powerplay quarterback skill-set that he was touted to possess. He'll be gone next year.

JEAN-FRANCOIS JACQUES -- has been in 7 games and didn't play horribly.

MATT GREENE - Has been decent.

BRAD WINCHESTER - A big kid, nice wheels, decent hands. Overall he has done a nice job.

REM MURRAY -- Rem the Gem is back in Oilers' silks. He actually started off not too badly, but then the wheels seem to fall of the bus a little bit. I wouldn't be suprised to see him in some playoff games given Mac-T's bias towards vets. He was also the Oil's nomination for the Masterton, and would be a terrific choice.

DANNY SYVRET - played very well while he was up. This kid is going to be good.

DAN SMITH - I don't really remember. Sorry.

ROD PHILLIPS - God knows I love Rod, but the year off really hurt him. Constantly behind the play and searching for names. Still, not many can call a fight like Rod, and not many home town announcers are as tough on the team as he is. Morely is as solid as he has ever been. Rod picked it up in the second half of the season, and he continues to set new benchmarks for how to rip a referee. Don't get him started on the subject of video goal reviews.


So did you get tickets, or what?

You bet. Auntie Sacamano and I are going to the game on Tuesday.

I imagine it's like seeing a Flames fan read out loud.

..Or an Oilers goalie trying to stop the puck.

An upskirt of Pronger is just what I needed with my morning coffee. Thanks.

A tour de force of an update. It's actually silly how many posts you guys do in a day.

Also Mudcrutch: big ANTM fan here, too. There's no shame.

>I'm also utterly baffled that these people are in any way able to function in the real world without someone killing them.

I always just picture some producer off camera with a clipboard and a headset saying things like "Act like a five-year old!" or "Pretend you have brain damage!"

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