Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is it October yet?

I've got to admit, as tepid and uncaptivating as the pre-season may be, it's comforting to once again be able to look up the score to an Oilers game on Yahoo sports while at work — even if it means absolutely nothing. I'd probably be more into these exhibition games if I was able to listen to them live on the radio, but the computers at my job are too old to even run the Javascript the launches 630 CHED's media player, so yeah. Based on what I've seen in the box scores tonight, I have reached the following conclusions.

Good: Joffrey Lupul scored against Vancouver on Edmonton's first shot of the their 5-4 win tonight, which I hope is something Lupul will eventually make his "thing." Dude is the only useful Oiler player in my hockey pool, and while I'm sure Reasoner and Tjarnqvist will be very helpful in real life, dammit, I need FANTASY PRODUCTION.

Fairly good: Calgary lost 6-3 to San Jose, and Kiprusoff was on the ice for all but the empty-netter. A nice bonus.

Less good:
San Jose seems to be as scary as everyone is saying they are.

Bad: Mikhnov continues to be invisible on the scoresheet, despite getting 15 minutes of ice, five of which were on the PP. That's two pre-season games, zero points. Though MacT's having barely played the guy so far in September could mean any number of things, I think it's safe to say Traktor's going to get a ticket to the AHL. I read a story in the Citizen recently where Bryan Murray was talking about the Senators' Russian prospect Alexei Kaigorodov, and how the kid was totally caught off guard by the level of organization and the tempo of the practices in the NHL compared to those back home. I wonder if Mikhnov is going through the same adjustment right now. Not a terrible thing, I guess, but I know we all expected a little more from him, even though an AHL stint was logically in the cards all along. Ah, well.


Steve said...

1. Should we be alarmed that Roloson let in four goals on nineteen shots tonight? You, not having seen the game, obviously can't answer the question. But man, throw some less-than-rock-solid goaltending into the Oilers' mix this year, and I see reason to panic.

2. Wasn't the Russian Super League supposed to be a tougher league to play in than the AHL? If so, why was an AHL stint fro Mikhnov in the cards all along?

Chris! said...

1. Yeah, I saw that, too, but I told myself this was probably more the result of a team that was up 5-2 totally slacking off than anything Roli did. Because he's infallible, you see. So let's just blame it all on Smid or something.

2. I'm sure the competition in the RSL is as good if not better than the AHL, but my point in bringing up Murray's assessment of Kaigorodov is that it's likely that Mikhnov similarly has much to learn about what is expected from a professional hockey player in the North American system. It takes a truly elite Russian prospect to make a seamless transition to the NHL, and despite our horniness for Traktor Boy before his arrival, I don't think anyone was going around comparing him to an Ovechkin or Malkin.

Disclosure: while typing that last sentence, I found myself thinking, "well, which Eastern European players would I consider Mikhnov comparable to?" The names and that popped into my head right off the bat? Nikita Alexeev, Nik Antropov, Stanislav Chistov. Thank god I'm probably way off, and possibly only thinking of them because, like Mikhnov's, all their names end with V.

Doogie said...

Oddly enough, Gator was -2. Weird.

Also, for streaming the radio, forget their site. Just use the direct feed

Open it in WMP, and you're good to go. I have equalizer settings if you'd like, too.

Doomsday Device said...

chris! you forgot Oleg Kvasha.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

The Flames' Russian is going through almost the exact same thing - BOA has the scoop on that.

Exact same - the tempo, the organization etc etc.

And Mikhnov actually had an injured finger, I believe, which is why he hasn't played much.

Chris! said...

BDHS: right, I forgot about the finger.

As per my previous comment, I did some minor poking around to see how off my gut comparables to Mikhnov were last night, and yeah, looks like I was just choosing last names with V in them.

• At 5'9", Chistov could only ever be called a power forward by people whose brows slope at more than a 10-degree angle, so let's just throw that away. Tenuous connection to Mikhnov: he's from Russia, and he was drafted in first round (No.5, 2001).

• Tampa Bay's Alexeev lines up a little better in terms of size (6'5", 225-ish), though unlike Mikhnov, his footspeed is considered one of his greatest assets. When he was drafted in 2001, his scouting report read: "big and fast with decent hands and the sense to know where to be. Alexeev is still not a physical power forward; speed is still the cornerstone of his game."

By contrast, Mikhnov has been most criticized for his acceleration. As well, Alexeev came over to join the OHL's Erie Otters at 16, giving him three years of English training and adjustment to the N.A. game that Mikhnov never had.

• Last night, I threw out Antropov's name as a negative, but after looking over his stats, I have to wonder why that was. After putting up five goals and 14 points in 30 games with Dynamo Moscow, Antropov was drafted by the Leafs 10th overall by the Leafs in 1998 (for the record, we drafted Michael Henrich at 13th). After a two-game stint in the AHL in 1999, Antropov posted 12 goals and 30 points in 66 games with the big club — a formidable debut by all accounts, and one that I would be thrilled to se Mikhnov repeat. Whereas Mikhnov gets the most scout props for his stick-handling and wrist shot, reports at the time said the similarly-sized Antropov (6'6", 230) was a far more responsible, heads-up player who made up for his natural goal-scoring talent with strong positioning.

Despite my initial assessment having apparently been coloured by years of hollerings from the Leafs faithful calling for his head, Antropov has put together a fairly solid (if not injury-laden) NHL career thus far, potting around 12-15 goals and 35-ish points a season. While I would love to see Mikhnov racking up 30 goals and 80 points a year, in the back of my mind there's a little voice telling me that an arc similar to Antropov's is probably more realistic.

At the other end of the spectrum, I think we can all agree Alexeev's career path would be the worst-case scenario for Mikhnov. After getting drafted 8th in 2000, Alexeev went on to put up a mere eight goals and 14 points in 81 NHL games from 2001 to 2003, before getting busted down to the A for good, and eventually returning to Russia last season.

And of course, I should point out that I'm just going off words on a computer screen, here; I have yet to see Mikhnov actually play.

MetroGnome said...

Keep in mind, 3 of the Sharks 5 goals last night were highly suspect. And 1 was an empty-netter. So they're not as scary as the score would you lead you to believe. That Marleau is a hell of a player though.

Anonymous said...

chris - according to McKeen's, Mikhnov played with Antropov during the lockout in Mikhnov's first season in Yaroslavl. I am underwhelmed by Mikhnov's camp, but in spite of my high expectations, any thing that he does is positive as he was mostly written-off as a prospect. Lets hope that he can contibute in the NHL unlike Alexeev.

Anonymous said...

Mikhnov played pretty well against the Moosenuckles.

He worked both ends of the ice.
He created some opportunities.

He has trouble with the small ice still.

He wants to make these big wide turns all teh time.

Anonymous said...

Antropov is ok. I like the guy, he seems to take a lot of stick penalties, a lot of high sticking and whatnot, but I guess at 6'6" that happens or maybe it's just my imagination. He skates wierd, we all know that. He's had lots of injuries. He scores goals that I don't know how he scores, seriously, he's taken shots that I assume he has no chance in hell of scoring on broken plays and it goes in. He's not horrible defensively. Played pretty damn well on nights with Poni and Allison.

All said, I think the guy is worse case scenario a solid 3rd line player, best case in the next season or two he becomes an above average 3rd liner to a decent 2nd liner...though he's been a project for a long time now.

Garnet said...

In regards to the headline of this entry, I caught a few minutes of TSN's hockey-draft special tonight. Five pundits making picks and bad jokes, and three guys offering ANALYSIS of their picks. When I hit mute I could actually faintly hear the nation moaning for the season to start already.

Vic Ferrari said...

I'd be pretty happy if Mikhnov turned out to be as good as Antropov, but healthier. Apparently he has a different game though, more nifty and less reliable by the sounds of it.

And, going off topic: Looks like this Thoresen kid got in a fight with Mike Comrie in the exhibition game in PHX tonight. I've yet to see him play, but I hope he has a long career in copper and blue and retires an an Oiler!

the Prez said...

October brings Ulanov's 37th birthday. Also: donate to CJSR's FunDrive. The phones are quiet and I'm so fucking bored.

case said...

you're bored. i'm in fort nelson on a friday night writing reports about rocks. plus, they like the canucks here.