Monday, October 13, 2008

1 and 0 but causes for concern

Finally a real NHL game last night! I was at the game and the Oilers somehow pulled it off - winning the game despite being outplayed. Here are some of my observations:

Penner - I was only able to watch a couple of preseason games but Penner was playing in both. In both of those games as well as tonight he looked faster. In my season predictions post (that is still on my desktop so now lacks credibility) I made this prediction for Penner - "This is Penner's year. I've seen this guy play a couple times in preseason and he looked good. Scores 35 goals and 20 assists in his coming out year." Penner was likely the best Oilers player.

Kid Line - Didn't do much but got a lot of respect due to their counter attack. I am concerned about their lack of size as a line and the number of turnovers they gave up. Away from Rexall it will be interesting to see if this line stays together. Surprising that they got 8 of the Oilers shots. They dont seem to take too many low percentage shots.

Cole - Looked lost out there. I've read that he commented that he is learning a new system and that playing in Carolina was much more north/south. I've seen several players fail playing with Hemsky (Torres, Lupul to name a few). He isn't easy to play with and I the sooner they put Penner with 10-83 and put Cole with 34 and someone else better. Although the 18-34-27 line did generate the offense so that won't happen for a while.

Horcoff - Played well but got dominated on the FO. Was he getting the "easy minutes on the dot" before?

Hemsky - Lost. He is a slow starter every year and didn't look good last night.

Souray - From what I saw, he was our best defender.

Lubo - High risk but didn't scare me as much as he scared others.

Grebs/Gilbert - Started off horribly but I thought had a good 3rd period. Grebs in particular looked like the early last season Grebeshkov but came on in the 3rd. Hopefully that trend continues.

Strudwick - I liked him a lot. He and Souray were both physical and effective. With my lack of confidence in Staios/Smid and my comfort level with Staios/Strudwick, that to me says the gap between Smid and Strudwick is actually pretty high. I'm still a believer in Smid but winning hockey games is #1 and I don't see Smid getting many minutes barring injuries.

Garon - played well but a little bit lucky perhaps. Colorado hit several posts.

It's early and it's a win so I wont be overly critical but the shot clock was a concern. Moreau said in a post-game interview that "you don't win games on the shot clock" and that's true. I think the Oilers will be over 500 getting out-shot most games (because they can't win a draw). The kid line looked too creative. With the success of the Penner line, I wonder how long before we see
Nilsson is one of the few Oilers who can skate and pass with Hemsky. The Euro brand of hockey is different from the North American game and Hemsky thinks a Euro game. His chemistry with Sykora is the best example I can think of. Is it worth a shot? Plus the kid line could also use some KISS influence Cole would bring. First game is a win so that's good. But there is work to do.