Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oilers Rookies vs Golden Bears

I got to see my first game of hockey in a couple months. It was glorious to finally watch a game again but I did miss the shootout that they've had during intermissions in previous years. The Lerg, Chornet and Eberle line were the best all night. They were a threat and I really only got excited when they were on the ice. Here is my summary:

Lerg - Stauffer gave him the #1 star deservedly so. Him and Eberle had good chemistry.

Eberle - Found ways to get open in the slot several times. Unlucky not to score let alone get a couple. He played wing but often drifted out of position to centre. Appears to think the game very well and will IMO be an NHL player sooner than later.

Chornet - I liked his game but maybe it was because he was playing on the dominant line. He could pass with his linemates and the play didnt die on him often.

Hunt - Wore #74 and reminded me a ton of Fleury. Beaked at everyone on the Bears and hit everyone. Loved watching his passion.

Maslonka - Scored with a bomb of a shot. Made a couple bonehead pinches that caused 2 on 1s.

Chorney - He was solid defensively and didnt do much offensively outside the breakaway. Didnt really look like an offensive defensemen, perhaps more of the Grebeshkov mold.

Plant - He has size and uses it fairly effectively in the corners. Other than that, wasnt really flashy but I dont know if he ever will be. I wasnt disappointed or excited about his game.

Wild - I liked him on the PP. Often took wrist shots that

Chwedoruk - Another smallish guy with great passion. I remember him getting high sticked then backchecking and diving at a guy to make a play then finishing his shift working his balls off in the D zone.

Pauvovich - Perhaps one of the guys I was most pleasantly surprised with.

Pisano - Couple punishing hits.

Omarra - the guy cant pass. He was definately minus on the night plus he took a hooking penalty. When he kept the game simple and hit he was ok but he has a lot of improvement to make.

Pitton/Perugini - both did well making some great saves. Oilers got outshot but had better goaltenders.

PS The pics are from my iPhone which apparantly cant take pictures.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gilbert vs Ballard

I found the announcement of Keith Ballard's new contract to be quite interesting yesterday because it was very similar to Tom Gilberts new contract. Gilbert got 24/6 and Ballard got 25.2/6. Both contracts are 6 years with Ballard getting slightly more money. Ballard and Gilbert are different players but whats interesting is that back in 2003-2004, the Oilers had a choice of Gilbert or Ballard for Tommy Salo. The Oilers wanted a puck mover and chose Gilbert over Ballard (see Mathesons take on the decision).

It wasnt until recently that the decision to take Gilbert over Ballard look like a good move. In the new NHL the value of puck movers increased significantly and while Ballard may still be a better player, Gilbert is making a very good case for himself. One thing about the stats is they dont tell who will be a better player they really can only tell you who has been a better player thus far. I decided to take a look at the numbers. Breakdown can be found here and I have a summary below (blogger sucks for charts, its soon time for wp or drupal).

Some interesting notes:

1) Gilbert actually did better on the PK that Ballard. Surprising but the Oilers did have a better PK so that helps Gilbert's numbers a bit.
2) Ballard had a better PP +/- ON/60 but had under a minute TOI/60. He hardly played on the PP and I dont think he'd maintain those numbers.
3) Ballard played with better players against tougher competition but was an outscorer. This number here is the big difference between the two. Ballard played against top competition and came out ahead.
4) Not shown in the graphs but Gilbert played about a minute more per game. Gilberts TOI near the end of the season was quite high.

I'm a Gilbert fan. Given his massive improvements in his game, the type of game that allows for improvement with experience (thinking mans game) and how the Oilers brass raves about Gilberts work ethic, I think the Gilbert will improve enough to make the call look like the right one. As of now, Ballard is the better player IMO. The Oilers really need a shutdown D and the debate is close. So Oilers fans, who would you take now? Ballard or Gilbert? Either one for Salo is robbery.