Monday, August 27, 2007

Hockey morsels in August

Canada 4
Russia 2

You know the old Russian saying: whenever a national Junior team loses, the headless torso of a Russian oligarch turns up in the Moskva River. Actually wait, that's not a Russian saying at all.

But at the very least, the hometown crowd had to be disappointed with Team Russia's performance in Game 1 of the Super Series, played in Ufa, a small industrial city in the Western Urals that in typical Russian fashion seems to be most famous for horrific disasters more than anything.

Nice win by the National Team, but this was also more of a chance for me to get a first good look at Sam Gagner, the Oilers sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft (what can I say, scouting London Knights broadcasts is out of this blogger's purview, although considering the state of the Oil last season, it may have been a better idea).

Big game for the kid, with a goal and an assist
. In addition to a knack for finding open space, Gagner displayed superior in tight puck-handling, scoring on a nifty move that made defender Kiril Tulupov look like a dink. He also seemed to cover lots of the rink, skating back to take a good penalty on a partial Russian breakaway after Canada's defenders made a horrible giveaway in the neutral zone.

At 5'10, you'd expect Gagner to look small on the ice (he'd be the shortest Oiler if he made the team), but at 191 lbs, he isn't exactly scrawny either, which is why it's surprising to seem him get thrown down on the ice so frequently. Facing competition that's twenty pounds heavier and anywhere between 5 inches to a foot taller than him, Gagner won't be an NHLer until he picks up some of that Raffi Torres lower body strength and balance on his legs. But hey, you can't argue with a goal and an assist. The guy looks like a pretty decent prospect.

Meanwhile, the real stars of the game were the Russian lady cheerleaders, who apparently weren't allowed breaks ever.

24 comments:

Pleasure Motors said...

Suggestion for a nickname for Sam Gagner: Samwise. Because, you know, Sam Gagner and Sam Gamgee sound sort of similar.

It's been a slow hockey time for me.

abman said...

I couldn't agree more about Gagner, I thought he did well but was a little light on his feet, and I was laughing every time I saw the cheerleaders, every now and again they would look a little tired and hardly be moving but they had to keep it up.

uni said...

PM...your geekdom is showing again. It's a strange strange world where the same person can talk about sports and LOTR at the same time.

Moreau17 said...

So I watched this game, and UGH, Gagner was a huge disappointment. He's as one-dimensional and as Schremp, but even weaker physically. Zero grit and clearly not a MacT-type.

There's no way this guy ever makes the NHL for more than a dozen games in the next three or four years, if at all.

Pleasure Motors said...

Come now: Return of the King made almost $400 million at the box office; it's hardly an obscure reference.

Besides, geekdom is really just different sides of the same pathetic coin. And I like to think part of the appeal of the Oilogosphere is the wide berth of our references.

louise said...

Good evening, all.

TSN's Ryan Rishaug(sp?) was on Total Sports (team1260) this afternoon. He was amazed by Gagner's play, because he has a "significant groin injury". Apparently, he could barely walk yesterday.

Considering this; the fact that he just turned 18; and that he had only limited 4th line play at the World Juniors less than 8 months ago... I am impressed.

I don't know what you were watching, moreau17. He was the first guy back on a two on none and showed some really smart reads once he got warmed up. So many penalties messed up getting into any rhythm, but he adapted. Good stuff in my books.

Anonymous said...

"significant groin injury". -- did that involve those Russian cheerleaders?
:-)

mike w said...

So I watched this game, and UGH, Gagner was a huge disappointment.

He's 18, dude. Hemsky would have been traded for Steve Poapst back in '03 with your patience.

Santa Merda said...

Apparently (and I say apparently because I don't really follow the OHL) Gagner played very well in the last few games of the playoffs, and that was with a reasonably serious injury (shoulder or ankle/foot, I forget which). I'd say that takes some serious grit.

Anonymous said...

I was impressed with Gagne, especially given the limited EV time he got with all the PKing. And the groin injury.
I love this kid.

Andy Grabia said...

It's a strange strange world where the same person can talk about sports and LOTR at the same time.

Hey, I can wax poetic about the West Coast offence and Lúthien Tinúviel til the Balrogs come home. Would you like me to translate that into Noldorin Quenya?

Good call on Master Samwise, PM.

Chris! said...

NERDS

jon said...

Hockey! Hockey! Hockey!

Gagner looked good though, but judging from those Nike Summer shift commercials he needs to put on some weight. He's supposed to be 5'11" now but doesn't look to be anywhere near 190.

Hopefully they pair him up with childhood friend Tavares at some point in the tourney, that'd be something else.

grease trap said...

Samwise? Who is he going to look at all adoringly on the Oilers line up?

Andy Grabia said...

Who is he going to look at all adoringly on the Oilers line up?

Master Torres! Master Torres! Wait up for me, Master Torres!!!

Steve said...

PM: I thought of exactly the same Onion article as soon as I read uni's comment.

Pleasure Motors said...

I think it's one of my favourites.

If anyone is looking for a non-hockey related Onion laugh, by the way, I might recommend this particular video: Live From Congress.

uni said...

Hey, I can wax poetic about the West Coast offence and Lúthien Tinúviel til the Balrogs come home.

There has to be a small subset of people who've read the Silmarilion and have a hockey blog =).

And I was amused enough wading through all of the Star Wars references a while back; now if you guys start talking about initiative rolls and +6 Ogre daggers...

Baroque said...

...now if you guys start talking about initiative rolls and +6 Ogre daggers...

Or attacking a gazebo. :)

AGHH! I'M HAVING FLASHBACKS!

Moreau17 said...

Sigh...

All I say was dinkery. Style over substance. There's NO WAY Gagner can get away with cutting the huge corners he did at the NHL level, especially on a weak puck-retaining team like the post-Pronger Oilers.

I don't see an easy path to the NHL for a kid of his pedigree. We should deal him for a rental at the trade deadline.

mike w said...

All junior players have holes in their game, unless they're Sidney Crosby.

Gagner's biggest holes, skating and muscle, are things that can be improved.

You're also assuming we'll be buyers at next year's trade deadline. I wish I shared your optimism.

theoilersarefudgepackers said...

Hey I'm not an oiler fan, but the little francophone stood out for me.
Noticed, him, Turris and Sutter. How could you not notice Sutter with so many Canadian penalties for lookin so good. Alas the joy of Euro reffing.

Kirsten said...

I'm excited about Ganger and I expect good possibly great things out of him. Not just yet, but it's good to know that there is a bright future to look forward to.

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