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Smyth getting off easy!

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11-03-2003, 07:41 AM
  #1
thome_26
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Smyth getting off easy!

I'm suprised how little flak Ryan Smyth is taking. He's played pretty poorly for the last five games now. He has two assists and is an astounding -8. That isn't acceptable from our big money guy. He needs to atleast be dependable defensively if he isn't producing offensively. People have been saying - oh he's playing good- but I don't agree. The numbers say that he hasn't, and I think that his play has been more like a 22 year old then a 27 year old. He needs to be consistent and be on the right side of the +/-

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11-03-2003, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by thome_26
I'm suprised how little flak Ryan Smyth is taking. He's played pretty poorly for the last five games now. He has two assists and is an astounding -8. That isn't acceptable from our big money guy. He needs to atleast be dependable defensively if he isn't producing offensively. People have been saying - oh he's playing good- but I don't agree. The numbers say that he hasn't, and I think that his play has been more like a 22 year old then a 27 year old. He needs to be consistent and be on the right side of the +/-
Ryan Smyth is playing out of position. His skills are getting position in front of the net, scoring junk goals and controlling the puck along the boards.
As long as he continues to play centre he will have problems. IMO he needs to play on a line with a first line centre, something the Oilers not only don't have but appear to have no intention of getting.

 
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11-03-2003, 07:50 AM
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He is also trying to learn the most responsible (aside from goaltending), position in hockey.

If he ends up catching on, and figuring it out, the Oilers have solved a couple of problems (big (well bigger), and skilled centre)... and most Oiler fans are giving him some leeway based on that.

Now, Smyth is a smart guy, and has been getting better, and I think a little bit more pressure will be put on him later on in the season, as he continues to play there.

That being said, if this was Comrie, there would be an all out pooh storm ragging him out right now, so you may have a bit of a point.

edit:
sorry about the previous wording.

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11-03-2003, 08:02 AM
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next time your at work.... go do your managers job or if your a manager, go do your workers job.... now there is a bit of a difference here, but the general idea is the same..... it would take a while to get the hang of it

i personally dont think smyth will be half the player he can be while playing centre..... edmonton simply needs a 1st line centerman, but i dont see that happening in the comrie trade, so i think we might be screwed

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11-03-2003, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thome_26
I'm suprised how little flak Ryan Smyth is taking... He needs to be consistent and be on the right side of the +/-
Agreed, I've not been a fan of Ryan's move to center, even given the perceived less wear & tear benefit. But as a team leader, even if he is on the ice pressing offensively when the Oilers are losing, and, therefore, more susceptible to being scored on, Smytty must be a team leader. Ryan needs to become more responsible at center.

Centers have more responsibility defensively, a point I made a long time ago about the Smytty experiment at center. IMHO, Smyth is best left to be more dangerous of LW. Make Isbister into a centerman, he's good in the faceoff circle anyway. Izzy, head-to-toe with Mats - I'd like to see how that might turn out. Hemsky handles the puck on that line for the most part.

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11-03-2003, 08:10 AM
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Smyth is the least of our worries and does not need "flak" directed his way at this point. No need to start creating new controversies where they don't exist, and ragging on a guy who bleeds Oiler copper and blue. If Smyth's points are down for a few games, I'm fine to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his track record, as I'm sure its not a lack of effort. If you are looking at numbers alone, you'd probably criticize Dvorak as well, but you'd be missing the point.

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11-03-2003, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thome_26
I'm suprised how little flak Ryan Smyth is taking.
Surprising me too.

Opinion time.

Smyth has repeatedly shown that he can carry a 1st line from the LW. Our 1st line centre need not be so spectacular, only relatively complementary. Smyth and Hemsky would nicely bookend almost any center that can near 50% in faceoffs, pass OK, and have a defensive conscience.

I would say Stoll should come in. Chimera should lose his LW spot to Smyth.

Smyth York Hemsky
Isbister Horcoff Dvorak
Moreau Reasoner Pisani
Torres Stoll Laraque

To me, that seems much more sensible. The 1st line is MUCH closer to a bona fide 1st line than any line with Smyth at centre. They and RPM could/should play 36-38 ES minutes per night, with the other two lines getting 6-8 ES minutes. Isbister and Dvorak could make up time on the 2nd unit PP and Horcoff pulls his time on the PK. Right now, York looks to be as good a centre as Smyth. If you don't want to break up the York-Dvorak duo, put out Smyth York Dvorak. Dvorak has been our best forward for a couple games in a row anyway, and Hemsky might find more open space on the 2nd and concentrate on his game.

Yeah, I mean we can complain till we're blue in the face about not having a bona fide #1 centre (we do so even with Comrie in the lineup), but even if the complaint is valid there's no excuse for not maximizing the abilities of your lineup.

The Smyth-at-centre experiment has run 10 games now. Its now officially a failure.

Maybe he's not that bad there and is slowly getting better, but the benefit of a bona fide 1st line LW far outweighs the benefits of getting a decent 2nd line centre with size (which Smyth doesn't use when he's a centre: he can barely throw a check). If Chimera and Isbister were really doing well maybe that equation is balanced, but right now its serverely lopsided towards Smyth being LW.

Maybe when Stoll comes back from tonsilitis, gastroenteritis, IBS, or whetever the heck he has (is it me or has his illness been reported differently each time I hear it? I'm beginning to think its gonorrhea or something similarly embarrassing).

EDIT: serves me right for interrupting my posting for ablutions: OYler succinctly beat me to this observation.

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11-03-2003, 08:33 AM
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There is no way you break up York and Dvo...

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11-03-2003, 10:24 AM
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im in complete agreement that a 2nd or even 3rd line centerman on our 1st line is better for the line as a whole, since smyth can be VERY good on LW and hemsky is what he is on RW..... throw reasoner with smyth and hemsky and i think that the line is better off for it..... this also solves the problem of (other than smyth) we dont have a legit 1st line LW (isbister should be on the 2nd line LW).....

this makes the ast two lines:
smyth-reasoner-hemsky
isbister/torres-york-dvorak

i just cant see how macT thinks the smyth experiment is going to work out in the long run... basically your taking one of our only "star players" and making him ineffective.... to me this just screams stupidity

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11-03-2003, 11:39 AM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thome_26
I'm suprised how little flak Ryan Smyth is taking. He's played pretty poorly for the last five games now. He has two assists and is an astounding -8. That isn't acceptable from our big money guy. He needs to atleast be dependable defensively if he isn't producing offensively. People have been saying - oh he's playing good- but I don't agree. The numbers say that he hasn't, and I think that his play has been more like a 22 year old then a 27 year old. He needs to be consistent and be on the right side of the +/-
This is exactly what I was saying before the season started. Anyone who remembers my posts on Smyth will know where I have been coming from. This guy never catches flack. He is looked upon as this great player that could never do wrong. He is playing aweful!! Worst forward on the ice most shifts in recent games. Don't tell me it is the new position, Staios moved up to forward last year and played well in one game. Smyth is invisible on the PP and horendous in his defensive zone. He finds a way to avoid and public criticism and it is annoying. He isn't playing well. The other night versus Detroit was a microcosm of his play of late. No offesnive poruction (other than a garbage assist) and incredibly liable in his own zone. No effort, no determination, no speed, nothing. The only game he showed any of that was against Clagary last saturday and he still managed to accomplish little (other than stealing an open net goal from Horcoff). But good ole Smytty could never do wrong!

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11-03-2003, 06:44 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walsher
Don't tell me it is the new position, Staios moved up to forward last year and played well in one game.
Without addressing the rest of your post, I believe Staios played most of two seasons as a winger, so it's not like it was new to him. Smyth's played LW since before junior, no?

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11-03-2003, 06:50 PM
  #12
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I think you guys are taking a much more pessimistic stance then what MY point was. I think that with time Smytty will get comfertable roll - and he'll be JUST as effective as he has been in the past - just that the learning might take another 5-10 games. I'm sorry, but the lineup Just flat out doesn't change for now unless Stoll gets healthy. Maybe then Chimera comes out as he's pretty much played himself out of the lineup.

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11-03-2003, 07:02 PM
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Well, first of all Smyth's never really been Bob Gainey, so his plus minus taking a dive isn't exactly unprecedented.

Also, his adjustment to center is probably a season long thing, not just a few games. It's a really hard position, a thinking man's position, and Smyth is all reaction and reflex.

Frankly, I think it's reasonable to expect he'll finish somewhere in the -10 range for the season, based on his powerplay time and the kid on the wing.

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11-03-2003, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thome_26
I'm suprised how little flak Ryan Smyth is taking. He's played pretty poorly for the last five games now. He has two assists and is an astounding -8. That isn't acceptable from our big money guy. He needs to atleast be dependable defensively if he isn't producing offensively. People have been saying - oh he's playing good- but I don't agree. The numbers say that he hasn't, and I think that his play has been more like a 22 year old then a 27 year old. He needs to be consistent and be on the right side of the +/-
He had a rough October last year as well ... I'd bet that he'll be the oilers best player by Christmas, probably sooner.

BTW: I may be the only one, but I really like the Smyth at centre idea. I think he has a lot of the right qualities to be effective there. A really tough position to learn with the Oilers system though, it will probably take a bit longer.

BTW #2: Although its a bit early to be looking at numbers ... Smyth isn't quite -8. He's been on the ice for 8 goals against during even-strength play, and only 4 goals-for during even-strength play. The second number is the concern I think ... but he (and Hemsky) will come around I'm sure.

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11-03-2003, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Well, first of all Smyth's never really been Bob Gainey, so his plus minus taking a dive isn't exactly unprecedented.

Also, his adjustment to center is probably a season long thing, not just a few games. It's a really hard position, a thinking man's position, and Smyth is all reaction and reflex.

Frankly, I think it's reasonable to expect he'll finish somewhere in the -10 range for the season, based on his powerplay time and the kid on the wing.
Well plus/minus isn't necessarily a measure of good defensive play or good offensive play. It is simply a measure of how much your team outscores (or gets outscored by) the other team when you are on the ice. Traditionally you expect the best offensive players, especially those that backcheck, to have the best EV+/-.

As you say Smyth's PP time, and the fact he is on the ice when the Oilers pull their goalie ... this will adversely affect his +/- in the newspaper. But at even-strength play the Oilers should expect Smyth to lead the team in this stat, or close to it ... he usually does. Last season smyth's EV+/- was +11 ( +51 , -40 ), a smidge better than Marchant and second only to Reasoner (inexplicably) at EV+/- +16 ( +33 , -17 ).

If the Oilers expect to make the playoffs (and they should) they they should expect Smyth to be a very solid + player at 5 on 5 hockey ... and I'd wager that he will be by season's end.

Then again, I'm a bit of an optimist.

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11-03-2003, 07:58 PM
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I'm also in the "pro" Smyth-at-center camp...I think he's getting more comfortable at the position every game, and in some ways is probably happy to be challenged like this where he has to kinda break out of his comfort zone and think a little more.

I don't see a top-line center to be joining the squad anytime soon, so I'm more than willing to give Smyth a longer look at center to see what comes of it...

Bart

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11-03-2003, 10:21 PM
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Good discussion. I guess I should clarify that my post wasn't anti-Smyth. It was completely pro-Smyth, but based on what I think he can do as a LW. Also, I agree that the Smyth-at-centre experiment was a great idea once I warmed up to it. It was worth trying. But I think the data coming in from the experment is showing that perhaps the expreiment should not go on much longer.

I'll select igor's to respond to because the numbers (thanks!) he brings can be talked around more concretely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Last season smyth's EV+/- was +11 ......If the Oilers expect to make the playoffs (and they should) they they should expect Smyth to be a very solid + player at 5 on 5 hockey ... and I'd wager that he will be by season's end.
Maybe he'll be close by season's end, but to put my argument a little too bluntly: that's already losing +11 right off the bat. This could quite easily be the difference in 5 games. The difference between playoffs or not.

And did Smyth play more frequently against top opposition last year? I wouldn't doubt it. I also wouldn't doubt that he's been shielded a bit by MacT. Already I recall seeing MacT put the Horcoff 4th line and Dvorak 2nd line against the good players when they've been playing well. If this were true, you might expect to see scoring at home but dimished scoring on the road. Without looking, I'd say this is the case. +0 ES against the top lines at LW is better for the team than +0 ES against inferior competition. (I wonder igor: what percentage of Smyth's ES + events occurred against the likes of SJS or Buffalo?).

This is the first part of my argument: that the team is better off utilizing Smyth at LW because his contribution is that much more significant there, or will be for the better part of the season.

The second part of my argument is closely related: the only bona fide 1st line the Oilers appear to be able to ice has Smyth on LW. I am a firm believer that the Oilers will seriously struggle without a good 1st line that they can put together (and very good checking line). I like the idea of spreading out the talent ONLY if you have enough eggs to put in the 1st line basket. Two 2nd lines won't do. Isbister looked good in the preseason which was one of the reasons to consider keeping Smyth at centre. Torres came out flying when Isbister stepped down. Now its just a rotating void on LW.

If Isbister could have made the 1st line a really truly good 1st line, I would not be continuing on in this conversation. But the truth is that he hasn't. Meanwhile York is starting to do OK at centre, and with Smyth/Hemsky or Smyth/Dvorak as ends to the line York would likely do. Time to adjust. With Chimera playing poorly and Isbister not looking like a 1st line LW, its a pretty good time to look to move Smyth back to where he plays so well.

If the lines fizzle then Smyth can always be moved back to centre.

Or switched up. Smyth has been double-shifted/rotated the last few games. When the Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky trio was on the ice, was Smyth the LW or Horcoff (I can't remember)?

To my eyes Smyth at centre is sorely lacking in many dimensions (it pains me to see this). I'd welcome any data you can provide that can either back up or refute my informal evaluation.

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11-04-2003, 02:15 AM
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilswell
Good discussion. I guess I should clarify that my post wasn't anti-Smyth. It was completely pro-Smyth, but based on what I think he can do as a LW. Also, I agree that the Smyth-at-centre experiment was a great idea once I warmed up to it. It was worth trying. But I think the data coming in from the experment is showing that perhaps the expreiment should not go on much longer.

...

To my eyes Smyth at centre is sorely lacking in many dimensions (it pains me to see this). I'd welcome any data you can provide that can either back up or refute my informal evaluation.
I just like the look of Smyth at centre, and he'll have ups and downs no doubt ... but my feeling is that, in the long run, he will be a better centre than a winger. He has more opportunity to get involved in the play as a centre with the Oilers ... and the guy has an uncanny knack for being where the puck is going next.

As far as showing it with numbers ... I just think it is too early to try and do that. Even if a guy was crazy enough to be counting scoring chances for and against ... its too early in the experiment to be making conclusions.

But since I like numbers how about these:
At this point last year, after 10 games as a LWer, Ryan Smyth's even-strength results were EV+/- -6 ( EV+ 3 , EV- 9 ). My point ---> it's too early to worry.

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11-04-2003, 06:25 AM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
I just like the look of Smyth at centre, and he'll have ups and downs no doubt ... but my feeling is that, in the long run, he will be a better centre than a winger. ... As far as showing it with numbers ... I just think it is too early
I don't get that feeling, but you're right about not having very meaningful numbers, so we can't do much else but disagree since we face data too meagre to realign either's intuition.

Quote:
He has more opportunity to get involved in the play as a centre with the Oilers ... and the guy has an uncanny knack for being where the puck is going next.
I guess we're stuck treading in the morass of philosophy. I have no trouble with Smyth as a winger. The skillset match is excellent. Quite a number of players (Naslund, Alfredsson, Hull) use their puck sense or get involved from the wing. And centre doesn't offer Smyth the same opportunity to work the boards, which is a real strength in his game.

I will say it will be slightly amusing if York and Smyth end up being the 1-2 centres at the end of the year. For this reason alone I'd like to see it happen The Oilers seemed crowded on the wings and weak at centre and both Niinimaa and Carter brought in wings and no centres. Fans could only say "WTF"?

Are there any enforcers that play centre?

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11-04-2003, 06:54 AM
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Is there some unwritten rule that when a player plays poorly we are obligated to criticize him into oblivion? I'm not saying we should never say anything bad about anyone, but give Smyth a break, he's a great guy, he's been a great player, and he's only played a few bad games. There seems to be this negative culture surrounding the edmonton oilers in that criticizim is the norm, and praise is reserved for only the most rare occaisons.

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11-04-2003, 07:03 AM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguy3650
Is there some unwritten rule that when a player plays poorly we are obligated to criticize him into oblivion? I'm not saying we should never say anything bad about anyone, but give Smyth a break, he's a great guy, he's been a great player, and he's only played a few bad games. There seems to be this negative culture surrounding the edmonton oilers in that criticizim is the norm, and praise is reserved for only the most rare occaisons.
What bad games(specifically) seems more a product of young wingers and unfamiliarity with the center positions defensive responsibilities. I can't think of one game this year where at the end I just said wow Ryan Smyth sure played like crap. I know your defending him but I really did not see him play poorly.

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