Thursday, August 17, 2006


I'll Take What's Behind Door #2, Monty

(click images to enlarge)

So here's your choice: the Oilers 2005/2006 opening game roster (on the left), or the Oilers likely 2006/2007 opening game roster (on the right). Take a look at it, and then decide: which roster would you rather be starting this season with? Count me in on the side of the 2006 roster, even without He Who Must Be Blamed. I had actually blacked out of my mind the fact that Cory Cross even played with us, and had to look up our sixth starting defenceman.

The first line is the same, but we all know now that Horcoff and Hemsky can ball. The second line is deeper, and thankfully sans Peca. Pisani and Sykora can score, as well as handle themselves defensively. The third line has two young kids who can score 25 goals, and if Torres plays like he did in the playoffs, will be a force to reckon with. And one of the most underappreciated players in the NHL is on the Oilers fourth line, and will be able to help a couple of rookies break into the show.

On defence, we are obviously missing HWMBB. That is minutes and stability you won't ever be able to replace. But Tjarnqvist and Hejda can't be any worse than Ulanov and Cross, can they? And Greene is going to be an excellent defender. And our goaltending is about a thousand times better, as long as Roloson stays healthy. Yup, I'll take the 2006 roster, thank you very much. It may not be the greatest lineup of all time, but it certainly is an improvement. Anyone?


With a healthy training camp for Door #1's goalies, I still take the first team. Oilers goaltending didn't work out last season, I understand. However, SOME of that very likely had to do with inactivity during the lockout (Conklin) and injuries during camp (both Conklin and Markkanen). Until my dying day I'll believe the Oilers would have had NHL average goaltending with those two had they stayed healthy.

When that 05-06 squad left the station they had some nice balance. O sure there were areas that needed to be looked at but let's face it this was a good team had the G been healthy.

This fall looks to be more self-inflicted. One or two of Hejda, Smid or Greene is going to do some heavy lifting this winter. I like all of them, but can't for the life of me understand it when names like Phaneuf and Meszaros are mentioned as possible Smid comps.

No way. Phaneuf is a different animal altogether and played a different set of minutes than Smid will play. And I haven't look at how tough the minutes Meszaros played but a glance at that Ottawa blueline tells me they had some choice options before going to the kid.

The Edmonton Oilers are going with a platoon of Mike Fitzgerald and Jeff Reed after trading Gary Carter. Fine.

Just don't ask me to like it.

Other than HWMBB, the depth is spread out better this season. A good balance throughout.

The Oilers will have a better regular season this year for sure. As for how far they will go in the spring, luck and referees will have as much say as talent and effort.

You can pencil in Smid in the top six. He's no Phaneuf. Who is? He will be better than Meszaros, though. I was never all that sold on him. His +/- had everything to do with who he played with last year.

As a Flames fan, I have to say that I am happier with door number 2 also. I respect the improved depth on offense, but that was never really a problem for this team.

The defence is much worse without Pronger and yes, even Peca. The goaltending has improved a notch, but Rolli is going to be facing more and tougher shots than he had to last spring.

I saw on Mirtle's site that the Hockey News is picking the Oil to finish 12th in the Conference. Even with Door Number 2 I can't get my hopes that high.

I'm kind of used to the idea now, that no matter who we throw on the ice, we spend the final week of the season fighting for 8th.

I'd like to think that changes, but I'm a little doubtful.

I think our forwards will be good, our defense will be bad, and our goaltending will be average.

I think the weakness on defense will lead to an inability to win games, despite the improved goaltending. Also remember, this is a goaltender who has never started more than 50 games in a season. There is no way to know if he can handle the load for an entire year. Given the high number and quality of shots that he is likely to be facing, I expect he will wear down quite a bit as the season goes on.

I'm sure the Oilers will be an entertaining team to watch this year, but I see a lot of 6-4 losses in their future.

I'm not convinced that there is that much of an improvement between the pipes either. Sure Roli had a good finish to the season and played above himself in the playoffs, but the guy is in his early 30s and is just now getting the chance to be the undisputed starting goalie for a team. He hasn't played more than 50 games a season since ... ever...

He had an excellent season just before the lockout when he was platooning with Fernandez, but I'm not sure if he'll be able to stand up to the drag that is a 60+ game season...

Unless you expect Markannen to play 25+ games again this season...

- Randy

I'm kind of used to the idea now, that no matter who we throw on the ice, we spend the final week of the season fighting for 8th.

And this is by no fault of the mgmt staff. Frankly, the Pacific will be a little tighter this year and if Chicago and St Loo don't simply roll over every time Detroit and Nashville come to town we should see an even bigger tighter group coming down the stretch with 20 games to go. I'm guessing 10-11 teams within sight of 7 spots.

Outsiders observing the Oiler's personnel changes will undoutedbly grade us way down the pack, but the pre-trade group limped around and the post-trade group didn't exactly click until the playoffs.

I take the 06-07 group because:
- a fourth line that will be able to play some useful minutes
- the personnel to run a 4F-1D power play
- a pair of goalies who most should have shaken off any rust and overcome the "new equipment" adjustment

The weird thing is, even though Peca was a waste of money during the regular season, he was money for you in the playoffs. I realize you have to get to the playoffs, but have you have lost a couple of your playoff superstars.
Have you swapped playoff success for regular season success?

It may not be the greatest lineup of all time, but it certainly is an improvement. Anyone?

Oh, sure, it's an improvement. This time around they'll edge out the awful Canucks for 7th spot instead of 8th. Whoopie.

< /sarcasm>

I'd say we're better up front and in net, that we have gotten younger, which is good (I think) and that weirdly our depth on D is better, meaning our third pair is better then last year's and will contribute more minutes.

Dearly departed Mr. Peca as well as Spacek will be missed, especially come playoff time but Peca did next to nothing in the regular season.

Big piece of the puzzle missing - that guy to play 20 plus paired with Smith.

Without him this team is probably in a fight to make the playoffs again but most of the nonplayoff teams from last season have done little to improve themselves and I can see Colorado sliding out of the picture completely as well. For that matter while I like Luongo I think the Canucks may not be much this season either - their lack of depth is startling up front and on the blueline.

I think the Oilers get in and probably with an extra week or so to spare this year. I'm not too worried. If this D can't get it done and that may be the case Lowe has plenty of chips to go out and add a piece or two if need be.

Man you peeps are full of doubt. I bet all these anonymous people are Matt signing in as different names because he's scared of the talent the Oilers picked up.

I pick them to win the NW Division and go on to win the cup.

You may call me a dreamer but I call ye of little faith.

I know this Flames fan is terrified of the talent you've picked up. Why, you've locked up Tjarnqvist and you've got ... um ... oh yes, Sykora, who was something around the turn of the century and um ... Lupul ... once you sign him.

Yup, might as well call the flag makers, the NW banner is as good as sewn up now.

Good lineup... I hate the Oil, but they will be exciting to watch. I agree with your previous posts on the comparisons to Carolina and Buffalo. If Roloson can play average this year, then a 5th place finish in the conference is not out of the question.

Sidenote: on behalf of all thirty-somethings, I'd like to thank Randy for redefining "early 30s" to apply to "someone who turns 37 in less than two months".

Also, in 95/96, Roloson appeared in 67 regular season games for the Saint John Flames, with 16 playoff games tacked on to boot. He's a machine!

I can't believe anyone in their right mind would take the O5/06 starting roster. As for The Hockey News, they predicted that Phoenix would come in ahead of Edmonton, Vancouver, and Colorado. So I think we can all agree to totally discount anything they say.

If the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup with this group of defensemen past game 30 then I think we can agree that Kevin Lowe is a genius.

There cannot be another conclusion. Sam Pollock would be hard pressed to enter a season with this many question marks and he had a HHOF every couple of years coming out of that Habs system.

My bad, for some reason I thought Roli was only 34... I have no idea where I got that impression from... I'll be in my 30's in less than two days...

And I don't consider a full season in the minors 10 years ago to be enough to say that he could possibly last a whole season...

As strong as the rest of the Northwest has become (which was scary in the first place... and I'm excluding Colorado in this...), I'm not sure I'd have too much faith in the random group of second tier stars the Oil has thrown together...

- Randy

The defense is a bit dicy? So what the Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabers have already proved that an entirely one dimensional team can be sucessful as long as the goaltending is solid.

I don't see our defense as being any worse than Buffalo's last year. Sure, its not a strong point like it was with Spaceck and Pronger during the middle of last season. On the other hand Roloson is huge upgrade over Conkanen. Until he pulls a Domick Haseck I'm confident that we have a solid and better than league average starter in net.

Furthermore, I think there has been far too much wringing of hands about the defense. Tarnquist will be a capable top four guy, he's not going to blow anyone away with his talent but he'll be solid. Hedja should also be pretty solid for us, if he's playing Olympic hockey for a country where the rest of the team is in the NHL chances are he should be there too.

What the Hockey News and the Flamers have missed out on is that Edmonton now has the deepest and most potent offense in the NHL. Three lines with a solid scoring punch, and a fourth line that should be able to rack up some points as well. So what if our defense sucks (presuming it does, I'm not entirely sold on that) we'll beat you 5-3.

I like the 06-07 group. Looks like Oiler hockey - damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

LT - I think the problems in goal last year are not explained away by injuries. The Oil drilled shot blocking and altered their play to significantly reduce the shots allowed. To use some other bloggers' word, the goaltenders had to be sheltered. If you look at the playoff games in front of Markkanen, they went back to this style of play. I think that Conklin may get another full season in the NHL as a backup, but will not make it through a second season.

I think that the D shows holes on the PK at least until Xmas. Who is in the second pair with Staois? Hejda, Smid, Greene, Bergeron, Gilbert, Roy, Syvret, Young, Tarnstrom, Huddy, Lowe? Difficult to hide this. Teams may draw up a special PP formation to attack this weakness.

Teams may draw up a special PP formation to attack this weakness.

You know we're talking about the NHL here, right? I think you are giving coaches in this league far too much credit.

Randy - as someone nearing 40 myself - two things - you are definitely nearing 30 when your brain starts crashing like that.

And buddy.

It gets worse.

You guys. BABIES! Wait until you go all the way upstairs for something and when you get there forget. THEN go back downstairs and don't remember until you sit down where you were.


I have no faith in Greene whatsoever. Sitting Tarnstrom and Ulanov in favour of a rookie who really only looked good when playing with Pronger (see: Bergeron, Spacek, Smith). When Tarnstrom replaced Greene and served time on the PP, things calmed down and we began to produce.

And as much as I would like to blame Bergeron for the one defenseman who screwed us over during the playoffs, Greene really didn't do anything beneficial, except moisten the bench with his tears.

Finally, he's hideous. His bio on the Oilers main page can back me up.

This group is better than the 2005-2006 opening lineup. Bear in mind, though, that the 2005-2006 opening lineup wasn't good enough to make the playoffs - it took the acquisitions of Spacek, Roloson, and Samsonov to do that (I'm not counting Tarnstrom, because he wasn't really an improvement over Crossanov during the regular season).

So, yeah. This team's better than the September 2005 team, but nowhere near as good as the one that came within one game of winning the Stanley Cup.

Why is everyone on about Spacek leaving? Am I the only one that remembers him being fucking useless for the most part through the playoffs? Am I the only one that remembers just how many times he blasted it ten or fifteen feet wide? There's a reason why Huddy stopped pairing him with Pronger: he was dragging things down.

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