Monday, September 24, 2007


Scouting Report

It was an enjoyable in-person look at the pre-season BoA on Saturday night. I promised some impressions, so here we go. I've avoided looking at the gamesheet or most other accounts of the action to "keep it real".

1. Iginla-Tanguay-Langkow shifts were a time to get the head out of the popcorn and pay attention. They were dominant at times -- hemming the Oil in for entire shifts (noticed them v. Stoll-Raffi-Nilsson most often) -- and porous at others, the Stoll goal and the Cogliano winner being two of them.

2. If Souray and Greene are actually paired together in October, that's going to be... an adventure. Greene is still not very good (Lowetide's comments here, among others, are spot-on: the OT penalty was a stupid, and pointless, elbow to the head).

3. As described (predicted? feared?) in my preview of the defense, Adrian Aucoin simply does not look like a good powerplay defenseman. I sincerely doubt he's next to Phaneuf on the #1 unit by October 15th.

4. Calling him outstanding would be a bit of a stretch, but Cogliano was very good -- very very good for a 20-year-old -- and looks every bit the NHL player.

5. Adam Pardy, #8 on the Flames defensive depth chart, was an absolute revelation. He was extremely composed; he moved into open ice when he didn't have the puck; he hit; he could play. He was absolutely the best surprise of the night, never mind the goal and assist. Definitely looked like a better hockey player than I've ever seen David Hale.

6. Robert Nilsson also looked like an NHL player. The giveaway by Eriksson to him on Horcoff's shortie was a bad one, but Nilsson made a smart, talented, heads-up play to take advantage. (Overall, especially considering Hemsky and Penner weren't dressed, it looked to me like the defensemen will be a bigger question mark going into the season than the forwards. Also, the Oiler PP without those 2 gentlemen was almost uniformly atrocious. If Souray was set up for a PP shot so much as once, I missed it.)

7. Anders Eriksson looked really solid except for the one horrendous giveaway that led directly to a goal. Where would this assessment rank on a scale of 1 to 10? You decide!

8. Boyd and Moss had some excellent shifts, I thought. Both those guys should make the team: Brett Sutter showed some good things (though took 2 needless penalties), as did Warren Peters, but they're just not as good. Godard hasn't improved, I expect him to fill the same role as last year with about the same # of GP.

9. Marcus Nilson scored a goal, but... he barely belongs around any more (the goal was a fluke deflection). He can't create anything. I was hoping he was run down in the 2nd half last year; looks more likely now that he's just slow and weak. (And signed through next season!) I don't see what he's going to contribute; hope he proves me wrong.

10. #88, Robert X. Schremp, Esq.:

Apart from the couple of shifts he had at the end of last season, I've never seen Schremp play, and I have to say, it was nothing like I expected. I was labouring under the conventional wisdom that his offensive skills were there, but that he needed to work on his speed, his 2-way play, and his attitude (committment, effort, whatever you want to call it).

If this was accurate, the prognosis would be better than it is. 2-way play can be learned, effort can be exerted, and -- as Brett Hull and hundreds of other NHLers have demonstrated -- you can compensate for sub-par speed, by using your instincts and experience to move into open spots before the other guy.

I don't believe he's bored or petulant; he couldn't have made it even this far in camp if that was the case. Here's the triple-threat of liabilities as I saw them:
It's been pretty thoroughly reported that Schremp has been passed on the Oiler depth chart by just about everyone, so this isn't a nyah-nyah to Oil fans, just some observations. It's been the line for 2 years: Schremp's offensive abilities aren't yet enough to overcome his other shortcomings. What I didn't realize before Saturday is that statement says as much or more about his offensive abilities as it does his other shortcomings. And apparently that was his best game. Wow.

INSTANT UPDATE: MetroGnome and Kyle were also at the game, and offer their thoughts. As well, I've finally added TheRealDeal Hockey to the sidebar -- long overdue. He always has lots of good stuff on the Flames and Oilers, as well as Team Canada. Check it out.


Nilson actually looked better to me than he did last year...although that's setting the bar pretty low I understand.

Have to disagree... It wasn't just the giveaway...Eriksson looked really awkward on the puck (maybe more so at the beginning of the game). Aucoin looked like the more solid addition to the D of the two of 'em, for what it's worth, sigh.

I should clarify: except for the PP, I liked Aucoin, thought he seemed very sound. MG - sounds like that's about the only thing we disagreed on.

Some of us have missed the biggest Oilers news of the day: that Matt Greene has officially cemented his spot on the roster as 2007-08's official scapegoat for every miniscule thing that goes wrong with the Oilers.

Although I am currently sitting in a lousy hostel room in Victoria, I could swear that I heard some fan yell "DAMN YOU, GREENE!" when news came out about Moreau's broken ankle, for instance (another fan shouted at Bergeron, but I think he was more casual).

Good stuff Matt. I had some pints with your man sacamamo btw on Friday. We both agree that the Flames are totally going to suck. :)

All kidding aside, thanks for the firsthand account and for some Oil info as well as the (yawn) Flames recap.

Nice post, Matt.

"If Souray and Greene are actually paired together in October, that's going to be... an adventure."

Freakin Dan Barnes says in today's Urinal that Greene-Souray will be the Oiler's #1 pairing.

The guy is a fuckin loon.

Hey thanks for the add (and compliments!).

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