Oilers at Wild
6 pm Mountain
630 CHED, TSN
There are probably two big stories going into Minnesota tonight, the first being that Andrew Cogliano has earned hisself a place on the second line, replacing Jarret Stoll as the center between Raffi Torres and Robert Nilsson. Not entirely surprising that MacT would shuffle that line, which has been held to only one point (an assist by Nilsson) in three games, despite some pretty scintillating play—particularly by Nilsson, who seems to be developing a couple trademarks, including the Sergei Samsonov drop pass in the slot and the seeing-eye cross-icer to Torres. Still, one goal in three games is a fairly legitimate expectation of our ostensible second line, so no surprise; the question here will probably be how long Cogs stays on the line before the Blender gets working.
If I may, though, I'd like to look at a bigger question: how long does Raffi have before he has to start producing? (I know they technically moved Stoll down, but I seriously doubt a penalty-killing, face off-winning, second-unit-powerplay cannon has a whole lot to worry about, even with less offence.) Torres' season last year was overshadowed by the hulking, Godzilla-esque monster that was Joffrey Lupul fanning and checking his reflection in the defensive zone glass, but 15 goals from a second-liner with some PP time is still pretty atrocious. He's streaky and its early, but if Gagner looks like he's going to stay, the Oil have a lot of NHL-ready players who bring a lot more to the table than Raffi if he's not going to score. Moreau has to come back some time, and with the way Sanderson has been playing, it's not much of a stretch to say that Raffi has been the worst LW in the top four so far. (Let's also not forget Jacques and Pouliot, who theoretically could catch on, as well as Thoresen or Stortini down on the farm.)
I don't think it's any secret that I don't have a whole lot of love for Chin Strip, mostly because I find him to be a player like Lupul, except with more questionable hits. I know he's capable of playing tougher minutes, but he's still not anyone who you'd consider a regular penalty killer or above-average defensive player, nor has he ever looked like a player capable of creating offence—he can finish a play (which is useful if he's actually doing it), but there's not a whole lot that starts with him.
Anyway, perhaps this is premature, but with the kids playing like they have, it's only a matter of time before we start asking our second-line LW to score, right?
Oh, and the other big story: this guy, of course.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Oilers at Wild
Posted by DMFB at 2:26 PM