Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Who are we, anyway? (Goalies, minor leaguers and conclusions)

Alright, so, this probably would have been better if I had managed to get them all in in one game, but hey, some of us have lives, you know. Lives with things to do in them.

Anyway, before two games pass and this shit's not done, the rest of the team.

Goalies

Ty Conklin
1-1-0, 4.4oGAA, .836SV%
Minor stats: 1-2-0,
3.17GAA, .907SV%

Oh, Terrible Ty. With the better-than-adequate play of Morrison, and Jussi clearly sliding into the number one slot, plus pretty unimpressive minor league numbers, we might have seen the last of Conklin. I doubt too many Oiler fans will shed any tears over that. After his performance, it's honestly kind of surprising we thought he could be an everyday starter in this league. I honestly doubt we'll even keep him around as a back-up. I don't even know that it's entirely deserved, I just don't think anyone has any confidence in him at all right now, and this is a team that plays pathetically when they don't have confidence in their goaltending. Only time will tell, I guess, but my money is on the man from Klondike Days not playing another game for us unless somebody goes down.

Jussi Markkanen
9-9-1, 3.00GAA, .895SV%

Well, Juicy has gone and done pretty much exactly what I thought he'd do: taken over as the obvious number one. I really don't think Jussi can be an elite starter in this league, but he can certainly be a solid one. His GAA and save percentage are both in the bottom third of the league, a fact that can't be ignored, but still, he gets the job done for the Oil. I don't think he can steal games, but if we play solid, he's not going to lose us any, either. Basically, I think he's the type of goalie whose stats are pretty much going to reflect the team's overall performance, and it's safe to say that our performance has been spotty at times this year. I have absolutely no qualms about riding Jussi for 50-60 games, and I think he'll only benefit from more nights off if Morrison keeps playing the way he has. Look for his numbers to rise to about middle-of-the-pack levels come January.

Mike Morrison
2-0-0, 1.14GAA, .952SV%

I assume he won't be able to keep these kind of numbers up, but what a pleasant surprise Mike Morrison has been. When the second half of your supposed goalie tandem proves to be as useful at stopping pucks as a laboured simile, you'd tend to panic, but Morrison has looked solid through all four games he's appeared in, and seems more than capable to grab a start every three or four games. He's also got an absolutely ridiculous accent, which I recommend you all check out. Like, seriously, there's Boston, and then there's Baww-sten.

Minor Leaguers

Danny Syvret
9GP 0G 0A 0Pts -1
Notable Stat: 1 Hit

This isn't alphabetical, nor is Syvret a minor-leaguer, but I forgot him on the defenceman round-up, so he goes here. Syvvie has done a bang-up job when he's been called on. For a guy who was passed over in the draft as many times as he was, he looks just fine up here. I mean, I don't think some more time in the AHL would harm his development, but if we have some room, he might as well play here as a six/seven guy, because he's capable. He's seen some PP time, which might be a bit optimistic, but he looks like he's coming along. One hit in nine games is kind of a surprising stat for a defenceman, though.

Kyle Brodziak
NHL Stats: 7GP 0G 0A 0Pts -2
Minor League Stats: 8GP 1G 1A 2Pts (no +/- available)

Brodziak played fairly well in his time up here, if somewhat unremarkably. I don't think he's ready for day-to-day NHL stuff, but he can probably fill in if there are some injuries. He better pray that there are some injuries if he wants to play in the NHL again this season, because with the pick-up of yet another fourth-liner in Kolanos, he probably won't be back any other way.

Brad Winchester
NHL Stats: 7GP 0G 0A 0Pts -2
Minor League Stats: 10GP 4G 1A 5Pts (no +/-, 26 PIM)

Winchester wasn't spectacular in his time up here, but he certainly was better than certain other players that remain in the NHL today. I'd like to see him around again, and I think that, if we were to say, trade Big Georges, Winchester would probably perform admirably in a sort of lower-line tough guy/power forward role. I hope to see him again, if only because I don't think he's got a full shot yet.

Conclusions

Well, it's safe to say that I don't agree with Cosh's dire predictions, but I'm not buying a car to take place in the parade, either. This is a team that didn't really deserve a seven-game losing streak, but doesn't entirely deserve a seven-game winning one, either.

I actually like our forwards quite a bit; they are not, certainly, an elite group, but they are an effective group, and I think it's safe to say any one of them would be filling a similar role on any other team in the league. As it turns out, we've got one of the top lines in hockey, and I'd say that some combination of Torres, Stoll, Dvorak, Reasoner and Peca is more than capable of putting together a fine second line between them. Our checking line has always been a strength, and continues to be so, and I actually think our fourth line could be better than it has in the past, but it would seem in the new special teams-happy NHL, they're not going to need to be anything more than warm bodies and occasional injury fill-ins.

Speaking of special teams, we certainly seem to have the personnel capable for at least average quality (whether we have the system, of course, is another matter entirely). We've got at least two solid PP quarterbacks in Pronger and Bergeron, three go-to goal guys (Torres, Stoll and Smyth) and a couple of people who can work the half-boards to success (Hemsky and Horcoff). Reasoner seems to find a way to do things in there, too. Our PK, I think, is really a system change away from being in the top-third of the league. All of our defenceman, with the possible exception of Bergeron and Ulanov (though he'll probably shape up), have proven to be above-average in their own end, and we have at least four pairs of forwards ready and able to throw themselves in front of slap shots. If we get more agressive, I don't see a lot of PP goals against.

The weak part is probably the goaltending. I don't think it's bad, but Morrison certainly remains a question mark, and I don't have as much confidence in Jussi without a solid back-up behind him. If they play like they can, and have in spurts, though, it's good enough to get us into the playoffs. They're not going to steal any, but they're not going to lose any, either, and that's an improvement over the last two seasons.

These guys aren't world-beaters. A playoff spot is certainly within their reach, but much past the first round would be cake at this point. We have a lot of pieces in place--we could, I think, use a few upgrades, but we certainly have the necessary components at the moment to be a fine team. Our young players have settled, our few stars are playing as such, and our role players know their role and perform it admirably. I'm optimistic for the rest of the year, and barring a major injury or another streak, I think we'll probably see them in the postseason. Weeeeeeee.


1 comments:

mudcrutch79 said...

Jussi's save percentage is right around league average at the moment. I'm not sure how you go from that to bottom third of the league. He's around the middle of the league in GAA as well. I'm not going to complain about that for 800K per. Shame we're pissing away all that money on Peca but Jussi's excellent value for the dollar.