Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sidney "Crosby" Crosby has left the building. Crosby.

Last night was actually a pretty good game. It's a shame that TSN ruined it with dumb storyline that revolved around a tenuous Sidney Crosby connection to the Oilers Gretzky heyday (how much longer can we milk the strained, leathery teat of the 1980s?), and then followed it up with an absolute fixation and veneration over his every move and every shift, where run-of-the-mill passes in the eyes Pierre McGuire became "the mark of a superstar!"

It was annoying then, that Crosby's eventual late game heroics had a double-whammy effect: a) the Oilers lose a game they could of won, and b) it vindicated the near-total fixation on Crosby, which allowed the post-game panel to say his name an extra 57 times.

Intrigue in the locker room!

Sometimes when I run out of Lysol to huff, I'll listen to HockeyCentral at Noon, which is usually Nick Kypreos, Bill Berg, Darren Millard and other dudes (but never enough Ray Ferraro) going on about the Leafs, lame beer jokes and how they wished they were getting free tickets to sporting events.

Briefly today however my ears perked up as Darren Millard, reporting from the Saddledome about last night's Oilers game had this to say:

Why is Zack Stortini still on the ice matched up against Sidney Crosby's line? That's a coaching miscalculation. And some of the Oilers players aren't happy about it.

Bill Berg: Oh wow.

Doug Farraway: Okay, we have to ask this question: are you in an arena or is someone cleaning up the bar you're in? (laughs)

Nice follow up there, guys. Anyway, apparently Team 1260 had a report to the same effect, although it singled out Raffi Torres as a player unhappy with sharing the ice with Stortini. Story goes that after the Letang goal, Torres snapped about having Stortini on his line when Coach MacTavish criticized his defensive zone coverage.

If you look at the goal (seen here, at the 3 minute mark), it starts off with Stoll dumping the puck deep, and you can see Stortini trying to make a hit to keep the puck in, getting caught behind the play, and then slowly gliding back into the frame as the goal is scored. Both Torres and Stortini seem to be playing each other's wing position, which probably lead to the confusion of having the entire right side of the rink uncovered for Letang. I'm not sure who's fault it was, as it could just as easily be Stoll getting caught so deep. But the interesting contrast is between Torres' aggressive pursuit and the late arrival of Stortini after the goal was scored, just in time for Torres to notice and look skyward in frustration.

So yeah. The whole line looked ragged on the play, but this wouldn't be a blog if a player wasn't singled out: Stortini is not a premier checking winger and the Torres-Stoll-Stortini line shouldn't be on the ice against top lines. It's all there in the shift charts, too: MacT put this now-dysfunctional line out against Crosby's line on purpose late in the game and the Oilers lost because of it. It sucks and I don't get it... was Pisani tired or something?


Anonymous said...

Torres is a dink and I dont know how you Oiler fans put up his idiotic choices. He is marginally talented, but with his complete lack of hockey sense is more of a liability than an asset. I've watched over the last few years and Torres has singlehandedly cost the Oil many chances at a win. Some day you Oiler fans have to wake up and see a piece of crap for what it is, you are always lookin and hopin for some magical silver lining in pretty much every player. And that my friends is why your team is consistently sucky to everyone but you fans... think about it and you will see. I think the 80's oil have ruined you in the end...

mike w said...

Words of doom from Anonymous, folks.

Andy Grabia said...

Great post, Mike. Here's the shift chart and the head-to-head 5v5 times from last night's game, for any who are interested.

nameht said...

seems like the whole stortini thing is false

courtesy of fuhr over at hf boards

A caller called in and said he sat behind the bench last night and after the second Pitt goal, while Torres was coming to the bench he, heard him get into it with MacT. He said Torres started the exchange but MacT finished it by yelling and kicking a watter bottle.

As for the Stortini part of it, it was this guy just making stuff up. He said, he couldn't hear what the exchange was about but he was "assuming" it was about Stortini being on the line.........What the hell is that? Some of you guys are getting all over Raffi for something that didn't even happen. This guy called in and tried to start s**t about Raffi because he as a fan has a problem with Stortini being on the ice when Crosby was.

David S said...

You guys may not like this, but I think the Oilers lost because they were simply playing a much better team. Saying that Stortini, or the T-S-S line was the game breaker assumes that the teams match up pretty evenly otherwise. They quite obviously don't.

The fun of watching the Oilers is that half the games they win, they shouldn't by rights. If they win, its because of stellar one-off efforts, guys playing over their heads and more than a bit of luck. But if they do all that and have just the smallest lapse, they're gonna lose more often than not. Because we still don't have a...Crosby. Or quite frankly the will to win that a guy that Crosby seemingly has.

Still, the amount of fawning over a single player was frickin' ridiculous. Those TSN guys must have gone through alot of tissues under the desk last night.


Pleasure Motors said...

I'm going to start by admitting that a Torres v Stortini deathmatch is one where I'd hope they both lose.

With that out of the way, regardless of whether or not the inter-squad fighting is actually true, and regardless of whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins are a better team than the Edmonton Oilers, Zach Stortini should not be playing against Sidney Crosby, unless you have literally used up every other option, including both Craig MacTavish dressing himself and dressing the winner of last night's 50-50.

Looking at that shift chart is just confusing. Was MacTavish just getting lucky before, or what? I thought he could coach. Zach Storini played more of his minutes against Sidney Crosby than any other Penguin.


nathan said...

An English look at hockey:

nathan said...

woops here it is:

Black Dog said...

Unless Pisani cannot physically do it (possible plus Crosby seemed to be getting doubleshifted in the third) then he has to be out against Crosby. Failing that it has to be Horcoff/Hemsky/Torres or Brodziak in Stortini's place.

As for Raffi - yeah he's frustrating as hell but the guy can take care of his own end. He did a decent job in '06, remember, and he's far better now then he was then.

mike from ottawa said...

Why is Torres fighting a caveman in that picture?

mike from ottawa said...

Er, I mean... why is Stortini fighting a caveman?

wildchild said...

A caveman? I thought that was Meat Loaf. *shrug*

David S said...

"Zach Stortini should not be playing against Sidney Crosby"

That's hard to argue against. I guess the thing is, if there is truly a "rebuild" mentality going on with this team, then this strategy sorta makes sense because winning isn't the top priority. You see what players are made of by throwing them in the deep end and looking at how they perform. People learn by getting in over their heads and it seems that MacT sees a place for Zach in the long haul (he is only 22 after all).

Or maybe you send Zach out there intentionally to piss the other guys enough to up their game. Focussed motivation has been a problem for these young guys.

Problem is, as much as we have the license to hypothesize, only MacT really knows the plan (and I use that word loosely). From the looks of it, Crosby was logging shitloads of time in the third, presumably to
weaken whatever Oilers were charged with keeping him in check. Pisani was probably exhausted (he's only been back three games), so the options were limited at best. said...

Word is you guys have a few sitting out tonight's game.

WHy they haven't sat Torres earlier this season I don't know.

Simon said...

yeah, Torres is a health scratch. Does anyone remember when that happened less? Maybe we have frigging dressing room controversy now. Great.

Justin said...

Be glad you don't have to watch games on Vs., which is pimping Crosby desperately, even in non-Pens games. This is reminiscent of what the league did with Kariya a decade ago, desperately trying to make him a marquee star (at least in the US). Crosby may actually live up to it, but alas, his team's not that good.

"the Oilers lose a game they could of won"

Could have. Could HAVE.

Sorry to be a pedant, but you guys are better than that.