Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Avalanche of Not Suck

Get it, it's an Avalanche? Huh? Anyway, though I don't even have cable, much less PPV, the kind folks at U of A's RATT show every televised Oiler game, which means I dusted off the ol' monocle and headed down (or up, I guess) there to take in a moderately solid 5-2 win over the Avs.

I say moderately solid because, despite a really strong third period, that was a game we were probably pretty fortunate to win. I don't know that we were dominated in the first two periods per se, but the Avs sure were the better team on everything but the scoreboard through 40 minutes--the shots were 25 to 14, and I'd swear to God we didn't play more than ten minutes in the Avs end that weren't on the power play.

Man did we ever figure out how to take it to them in the third period, though. We were calm and confident the whole 20 minutes, got a few clutch goals when we needed them, and didn't panic and let them back into the game. Had we played like that the entire time, there would be nothing to do but sit back with a snifter of brandy and bask in the reflective glory of Ales Hemsky. Though I guess it is fairly nice to know that we can score when we're not controlling the game. In any case, some random thoughts to finish it up.

-Sweet potato pie does Hemsky look fabulous. To start with the boring bits, he's definitely turning into one of those talented two-way Europeans, like a Jere Lehtinen or Pavol Demitra: they know what they're doing in the offensive zone, and though they're not overtly physical, they can flat-out shut people down in their own end, too. Hemsky's not quite there yet, but he shows a level head, and rarely makes a bad decision in his own end anymore. On the more exciting side, Torres' goal was unbelievable (I'm sure you've all seen it on highlight reels by now), and Hemsky would have had another pretty assist if Shawn Horcoff would have followed Red Green's advice.

-Mike Morrison looked solid in net, though he might be stealing the "Juicy Rebound" crown from Markkanen sometime soon. Still, though, a couple big kick-outs (one of which resulted in the second goal) aside, he made all the stops he should have made, and at least a couple that probably should have got by him. He looked the way Ty Conklin was supposed to look at the beginning of the season, and based on last night's game, can probably be a solid 20-25-game back-up (maybe even a tandem starter, but let's not get hasty).

-I don't know why the power play works right now, but it works. Although, in the first period, it did also re
veal a very curious bit of Oilerdom that I've never managed to figure out: for the first half of our first power play, Krys Kolanos was playing right wing. Now, why we for some reason think a player so ridiculously untalented he got cut from Phoenix would be a good addition to our power play is beyond me; Principe and Karius muttered something about us needing a "right-hand shot," which seems like a fine idea in principle, but I assume we'd also need that right-hand shot to be able to, you know, use that shot to actually score. But this is just another in the long line of theoretically smart moves the Oilers make, until they realize that just because someone theoretically fits into our lineup, it doesn't mean they actually have any talent or skill (Josh Green, Brad Isbister, Adam Oates, Jiri Dopita...)

-Speaking of the announcing team, Principe and Karius rank as pretty much the worst duo in history. I mean, I thought I hated Millen, but at least he says something, however retarded. Principe commented on ticket packs more than any of the game, and they seemed to trade off the play-by-play based on whoever was talking last when play started. Surely Bob Stauffer is willing to go down on somebody to get the chance to call Oilers games, and I think a team of cross-eyed mimes could probably do a better job on colour commentary.

-Chris Pronger, in addition to helping my pool with his first goal, on the power play, which proved to be the game winner, is showing why he's one of the top defencemen in the league, and should probably be getting an "A" tossed his way in the near future. Peca, though overpaid if he's not scoring, can still shut down opposing forwards like no one's business: I don't think Joe Sakic touched the puck in our end more than five times all night.


Steve said...

1. Adam Oates wasn't untalented, he was just unbelievably old.

2. Krys Kolanos appears to be talented, too (more so than either Green or Isbister, certainly). That doesn't mean he belongs on the PP anymore than Jiri Dopita (who, come to think of it, was also obviously talented in his own totally ineffective kind of way), but I don't think he's actually untalented.

3. This was a remarkably pointless comment. My apologies.

James Mirtle said...

I wouldn't call Kolanos ridiculously untalented — that's a bit harsh for a 24 year old kid who lost quite a bit of his development to concussions. He was a first-round pick and, in fact, looked quite talented in his rookie season.

Phoenix was undergoing a massive roster overhaul, and he was only playing 10 minutes or less there on most nights anyway.

He only played eight minutes last night, but if someone in an offensive role goes down for the Oilers, I think Kolanos has the potential to step in.

Chris said...

Kolanos got picked up for a couple reasons. Firstly, Lowe and McTavish like to think of themselves as the Bob Villa tandum of the NHL and wander out and fix up "This old prospect", which occasionally works out for us and sometimes doesn't. I wish they as good as it as Jaques Lemaire but that's a tall order.

Kolanos was a first round draft pick who seemed to show alot of potential before going down to a concussion. Or at least that appears to be the line on him from just about every commentator. He may be able to bounce back from that and do some good things.

Kolanos is also a local boy, and the Oilers organization loves those. On top of that it cost 50,000 to pick him up which in NHL dollars is essentially a song and a bag of pucks.

In some respects I can understand why they want to play Kolanos on the power play - he's big and one of the worries that has been expressed all year about the power play has been our ability to control the puck along the boards.

Pleasure Motors said...

Okay, so, let's say Kolanos is talented (concussion or not, he still couldn't play more than half the games on Phoenix, a team of equal or lesser skill than the Oilers, and only had two goals in the time he did play, which puts him about equal with Jani Rita in my books, but whatever, let's call that a slow start), and does have the potential to be a power play guy: does it make sense to plunk him into a system that's been going fairly smoothly the last little while (Chicago excepted, of course) less than three days after having picked him up? Particulalry when your sole reasoning is apparently that you need a right-hand shot?

I don't know, I'd just be a little more conservative with the use of other teams' fourth-liners on our power play for the time being.

Julian said...

Re: Peca vs. Sakic.... I only really paid attention to the NHL shift charts for the first couple periods (when you can actually read them, before they cram it all into one page and make it way too small to follow), but it sure looked to me like it was Horcoff on the ice primarily against Sakic.

Of course, I didn't actually watch the game, so I could be way off...

Colby Cosh said...

It was a road game, so you're not always going to get the matchup you want, but from the shift chart it looks like MacT did a remarkable job of spotting Peca against Sakic at even-strength.

Chris said...

Well pleasure, I'd be inclined to agree that plunking in a brand new player into the power play may seem premature. On the other hand, its not like our power play is terribly original, intricate or complex. Its a pretty standard cylce. Pass the puck around look for the open shot aka Jarrett Stoll and fire it in hoping for a deflection.

Really, dropping Kolanos in on the wing essentially all the coaching he really needs is "Hey Krys see the puck on the boards there. Go get it boy, go get the puck. Good boy." Then you can pat him on the head and scritch his ears. I think even Craig Simpson the tactical genius that he is, can handle that one.

I don't think the problem is that Kolanos isn't talented enough to be on the Oilers roster, hell I don't even think that's Rita's problem either. When you see players like that who occasionally look good they simply need to somehow be coached to somehow produce consistently. Can MacTavish and co do that? That's debatable, but sometimes when you go dumpster diving you find a couple bucks in change. After all look what a second chance did for Daigle, he was god aweful in Ottawa but he's looking pretty good in Minnesota.