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On a positive note ...

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Old
08-27-2004, 11:48 AM
  #1
igor*
 
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On a positive note ...

Just to break some of my own gloom Some positive things about this team.

This Oiler team is a very good 5on5 club, with a terrible powerplay.

They got the bounces when they needed them down the stretch ... but they were a good outchancing team for a couple months before that. And showed steady improvement in special teams (esp PK) from the New Year onwards.

And they were stellar at outchancing before Reasoner went down (only a terrible stretch from Salo kept the GAA so high) ... and then Conklin's hot streak ended too.

As Smyth and Horcoff regained fitness ... and as Laraque showed interest in being a hockey player again ... steady improvement from the depths of early December.

When you look at rolling averages (to smooth out the flukey goals and goalposts etc) and outscoring (best indicator of how good you are over a stretch) ... the Oilers actually flatlined in PP productivity when Nedved got here ... and the 5on5 game dropped a shade [granted York was injured]. The thing that noticeably improved was the PK. And the thing that REALLY made the difference was that they got the breaks when they needed them down this stretch ... they weren't really THAT good. And weren't really any better, they just weren't. there were several games in that stretch where they didn't deserve a point ... but got one or two. And they'd had a stretch of the opposite earlier.

And the much maligned first line of Smyth-Horcoff-Pisani ... it might not have much curb appeal, but all they did was play the toughest minutes an outchance and outscore the bad guys. What's wrong with that?

If Reasoner had stayed healthy it would have made a world of difference to this team IMO. York's, Smyth's and Horcoff's injuries that they played through made it that much worse.

Bottom Line:

There isn't a helluva lot to worry about with this team at 5on5 ... outside of an injury to one or more centres. And some worry about the goaltending too, though I can't seem to get too concerned ... I like both goalies.

The biggest key to next season (whenever that is) is the powerplay.

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Old
08-27-2004, 01:17 PM
  #2
Mizral
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I agree with you on the power play igor, though for me it's the #2 concern on this club (I won't go into goaltending here).

This is perhaps the only big thing I could have seen Nedved improving, the power play. That wrist shot proved deadly late in the season for the Oilers (I recall he scored a beaut on the Canucks in the final game of the season for the Oil).

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Old
08-27-2004, 01:25 PM
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Thompson
I agree with you on the power play igor, though for me it's the #2 concern on this club (I won't go into goaltending here).

This is perhaps the only big thing I could have seen Nedved improving, the power play. That wrist shot proved deadly late in the season for the Oilers (I recall he scored a beaut on the Canucks in the final game of the season for the Oil).
You watched the last game? Make no wonder you think so poorly of the Oilers goaltending. Although you shouldnt bite the hand that fed you guys a Division Title.

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08-27-2004, 01:25 PM
  #4
oilswell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Some positive things about this team.
No takers on this thread? What a weird world. I thought HF looked to the bright side more often than not and here Oilfans.com seems to be a sunnier place to be on this day.

I'm having trouble thinking about next year specifically because the strategy of the Oilers has me baffled. The main question I've got right now is not the PP next year (it will suck), but the number of years until this team is at its peak. Clearly this question should be the primary question impacting decisions about trading/drafting.

I've forgotten: what's the rule of thumb for improvement for young players? x% a year until 25? For D they seem to peak about 26 and goalies peaking at 26-27?

I'm not sure about any of these but I tried to guess how many years each player has until peaking and how many serviceable years they'll have in an Oilers uniform until they're replaced by someone better or become too expensive even under the new CBA. I'm sure the numbers are crap but don't flame the post, just post something better in that case.

Making the necessary assumptions that some kids make it, and ordering by years left, the lineup appears like this starting Oct 2004:
LW C RW AGE AGE AGE Y_LEFT PEAK
================================================== ================
moreau reasoner laraque 29.0 27.6 27.8 2 2 2 0 0 0
smyth york dvorak 28.6 26.8 27.6 2 3 3 0 0 0
isbister horcoff pisani 27.4 26.1 25.8 0 3 4 0 0 0
rita stoll salmelainen 23.2 22.3 23.2 9 8 9 2 3 2
torres niinimaki hemsky 23.0 21.1 21.2 7 8 5 2 4 4
mikhnov schremp pouliot 22.1 18.7 19.4 7 8 9 3 7 6

ulanov cross 35.0 33.8 1 2 0 0 0
smith staios 30.9 31.2 2 2 0 0 0
brewer bergeron 25.5 24.0 3 3 1 1
lynch woywitka 21.5 21.1 8 9 5 5

conklin markkanen 28.6 29.4 3 3 0 0
dubnyk deslauriers 18.4 20.4 9 9 6 7
(Y_LEFT = years left as an Oiler and PEAK = # of years of improvement expected).

What can be gotten from this? Should they be looking at tomorrow, the far future, or perpetual stasis?

To me, at first glance it looks like the defense plannings are a minimum of 4 years away before peaking. The forwards look about the same. The goalies a little while longer. At a guess the plan might be for any currently 26 or older (about half the roster) to keep the Oilers in a playoff holding pattern until the next wave really arrives. There isn't a single forward that will be 24 years old next year. It clusters high and low.

I won't mention Nedved or Langkow at all, but I suppose it could be argued that a 3 year window for any "holding pattern" player might be feasible. Otherwise they should be targeting a NHL centre who is between 21 and maybe 23.5 years old. NOT a 1st line replacement so people WILL be angered if this should come to pass.

Thoughts?

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Old
08-27-2004, 02:32 PM
  #5
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Good stuff oilswell.

I think that shows the Oilers aren't that far away, and have a bunch of players just entering their prime, or at least with a lot of their prime years left.

If I was the owner I'd prefer that they didn't try and shoot the moon. I'd rather they stayed as a team that's good enough to make the playoffs ad infinitum, rather than mortgage any of the future for a short period of legitimate contention.

As a fan ... I want them to go for the 'now'. They need to get value for money from everyone over the next 3 or four years ... have to plan to keep York, Dvo and Smyth for that time period. And Smith and Staios too ... who are just entering their primes as defencemen now.

Loe has youth galore to trade, as well as Brewer (and his contract) ... that opens up a lot of room to add just one more forward, someone who can help at 5on5 AND play the point on the powerplay, or at least be a key PP guy. (unfortunately there are none available that are available or that the Oilers can afford ... at least that I can think of ... fingers crossed for a super-favourable CBA )

You can always add veteran D at a trade deadline if you're playoff bound with legitmate hopes.

Going by 10 game rolling averages ... the Oilers outscored the opposition at 5on5 for 69 of 73 windows. When you consider stretches of schedule toughness, injuries, hot and cold goalies, coincidence, etc ... that's bloody remarkable. They shouldn't sacrifice that 5on5 play for the sake of the PP IMO ... in fact they should try to improve it.

I really believe they are close (not to being OTT or DET) ... but close to being a legitmate contender, a +40 or +50 team with the type of guys that can win the physical games in the playoffs. A team that isn't totally reliant on a star player or two.

My money is on Lowe taking the "perpetual mediocre" route. That is the safe path. But I sure hope not.

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Old
08-27-2004, 02:50 PM
  #6
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As I mentioned in another thread I think they Oilers should probably target one of Florida's centres Weiss/Jokinen/Horton or another young player of similar ilk we can actually build around...

Sighs... as for the powerplay... I think we would have a much better power play if the coaching staff actually starting loading up the 1st PP unit with our most skilled players instead of rewarding our hardest workers (Horcoff, Moreau etc) for their great 5 on 5 play. But unfortunately it looks like MacT and the rest don't have a clue about what it takes for a good PP. I mean if you look at other teams you see EVERY team loading up their first Power play unit with their best players...
One example of this is Atlanta where Kovalchuk and Heatley ALWAYS play on seperate lines for 5 on 5 play but if Atlanta gets a powerplay you see both of them out their on the 1st unit...

I remember reading an article last year about the Oilers powerplay and how they wanted to have 2 units that would compete with each other to be the "1st PP unit" and they balanced out the skill players so they 2 decent PP units... but really this ISN'T the way to go to have a good PP... sighs... well at least I know we'll be good 5 on 5... maybe if another team takes a penalty we should just take a player off and play 4 on 4 :p

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Old
08-27-2004, 03:09 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjaSteve
...
I remember reading an article last year about the Oilers powerplay and how they wanted to have 2 units that would compete with each other to be the "1st PP unit" and they balanced out the skill players so they 2 decent PP units... but really this ISN'T the way to go to have a good PP... sighs...
I've got a hair-trigger reaction to PP rants. But since this is an optimism thread I won't prattle on here.

Have to reply though ... because I heard this same sentiment last year on the radio, around October, from Moores I think. Pretty much the same words as you have used too. Unreal, just "bang your head on the steering wheel" type stuff.

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