Friday, December 26, 2008
For a couple weeks now, I've been wanting to make a positive post about the Oilers but have been stymied by numerous bad games - most notably the 9-2 loss to Chicago. As the numbers suggest the Oilers are actually a much better team than in the previous 2 years and to my eye have improved since the beginning of this season. The Oilers should be a playoff team. They are getting solid goaltending and have 3 quality players to lean on Ales Hemsky, Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky. At the level these 3 players are at right now the Oilers field a lineup that can compete. Unfortunately thus far they have been plagued by inconsistency and a horrible penalty kill. A contender they are not but this team is an OK team and with a couple steps in the right direction should see the post season. Here's my 2008 Oilers wish list:
1) The real Eric Cole - We haven't seen this guy play well enough this year but the Eric Cole that played against the Ducks last week was a beauty. At this level he is a difference maker and would give the Oilers some secondary scoring that they desperately lack. Being a contract year, we actually might see it.
2) The real Sam Gagner - It wasn't that long ago comparing Sam Gagner to Patrick Kane was reasonable. After a very strong second half of last year he has tailed off this year. His game is improving but it isn't showing up on the stats sheet (yet). If he could somehow finish the year like he did last year this would be another big benefit to the Oilers chances of making the show.
3) A veteran centre who wins faceoffs and can kill penalties - This player would come at the expense of 78, 12 or 51. The return of Pisani and some improved execution on the PK would yield better results. But Fernando is a couple weeks away. I'm not positive that one player is going to make a difference on the PK otherwise this would be #1 on the wish list.
4) An injury to Ethan Moreau - I think after 2 years, his game has declined significantly and he is taking way too many DUMB penalties for a team that is bottom 3 in the league on the PK. He still plays the pre-lockout game and hasn't adjusted properly. He is also leading as a grind it out type player while the Oilers are better suited playing a Chicago type game. An injury is the only way I see a changing of the leadership and its a dickhead way to say I'd like to see a new leader.
5) A veteran with size - This team is still too soft and going forward I believe the Oilers are going to need to deal at least one of 89, 13, 12 and 88. I'm impartial to who we deal because the return should reflect the value of the player leaving. Although I wouldn't be trading 89 unless the return was incredible.
Merry Christmas Everyone!