GDB 69: Copper & Blue face the Blues on this Day of Green

Jason Gregor
March 17 2009 03:11PM

While many of you are already at Ceili’s, O’Brynes or some other Irish pub pounding meal-in-a-glass Guinness and celebrating like you actually have some Irish blood in you, the Oilers are looking to avoid a 4th straight overtime loss. And if you’re an historian or a believer in fate, destiny or voodoo it doesn’t look good for the Edmonton Oilers tonight. Saint Patrick, prior to the 20th century was always depicted in blue rather than green, so with the Blues in town tonight they could have some historic luck on their side.

However, the Oilers have the best Irish name in the league -- Patty O’Sullivan -- so that might even things out. Much to my chagrin, O’Sullivan didn’t dye his hair green for the morning skate, and wasn’t planning on doing it tonight. Talk about missing out on a great PR opportunity.

Regardless, O’Sullivan is hoping to have the Luck of the Irish on his side when he lines up beside Horcoff and Hemsky tonight.

**While Liam is an Irish name, Reddox is in fact Scottish, so no extra luck from him.
19 – 10 – 83 12 – 89 – 21 85 – 13 – 34 18 – 51 – 27

That’s how the Oilers will lineup tonight as they look to derail the surging Blues. The Blues are 10-5 in their last 15, and like the Oilers, are riding one goalie. Chris Mason will start his 21st straight game tonight, while the Colossal Fossil starts his 25th consecutive game.

The other change will see Ladislav Smid draw back in. Smid has had neck spasms since taking a hit to his neck and back of the head from Colby Armstrong. The spasms were causing headaches, but after some acupuncture and massage he’s good to go tonight.

The Oilers special teams have been anything but that this season, while the Blues excel at both. The Blues are 8th on the PP at 21%, while their PK is 11th at 82.5%. The Blues have scored the 5th most PP goals in the league, 62, compared to the Oilers 49.

The Blues’ offensive players are great on the PP, but horrendous five-on-five. Brad Boyes (-18), Keith Tkachuk (-14) and Andy McDonald (-10) are clearly weak at EV, so if MacTavish is smart, he plays Horcoff’s line against them as often as possible.

The Oilers will switch their PP tonight with Gagner working with Hemsky, Penner, Souray and Grebeshkov on the first unit and Horcoff, Nilsson, O’Sullivan, Gilbert and Kotalik on the 2nd unit.

PP has to produce

The first unit will stick with the unsuccessful and now very predictable look of Penner in front of the net, Hemsky on the left side boards and Gagner in the corner, while leaving the slot completely vacant.

Yesterday, I asked Horcoff why the Oilers don’t employ someone in the slot.

“We’re just doing what we are told to do really. That’s up to Mac. He likes to draw the plays up and he makes the decisions on what our set up is going to be. We go out there and try to execute to the best of our abilities, but if that (slot) is where the open ice is then it’s up to the guys on the ice to make the necessary adjustments and find the holes.”

Interesting that the 2nd PP unit was practicing a set up that would see Horcoff slide into the slot to get the shot away. Why did it take this long? The PP has been predictable all season, and only now they start to look at another set up to give the opposition another look. You won’t see this on the first unit, but expect it on the second Another option you might see tonight will be Kotalik, Hemsky and Penner up front. Kotalik will line up on the left wing with Hemsky down low and Penner in front.

“We have to be like Detroit. They have the most skill in the league, yet they shoot a lot. We need to shoot more,” said Nilsson.

The Oilers refusal to shoot is their biggest detriment, especially on the PP.

Creating lots with little

I’ve been stating for a long time the value of role players. Some are energy guys, others penalty killers, or shot blockers but the common denominator is that they find a way to be effective in limited minutes.

It’s hard to play seven to nine minutes a game and get noticed, or make an impact in the game, but Zack Stortini has mastered it. Stortini averages 7:20 a game and he has made his presence felt in most of them with either a fight, hit or the odd point.

Marc Pouliot played just over seven minutes in Saturday’s loss and many were surprised how little he accomplished. It’s hard to get in the flow of the game when you only get four or five shifts a period, and it is especially hard for a non-physical player.

I don’t blame Pouliot because he has never had to play that role. It’s hard to get used to. It’s difficult to stay mentally and physically involved when you don’t play. That’s why most effective 4th liners have to have a physical edge to their game, or be a penalty killer to keep them involved in the game.

Pouliot won’t be that guy here, and I don’t understand why the coaches ask him to be that guy. Pouliot has eight goals this season and his ice time in those games follows: 15:05, 10:49, 18:13, 12:10, 13:47, 13:28, 9:59 and 6:34.

Pouliot can contribute a bit when he gets minutes, but he is not a guy that will give you much in a limited role.

Like most players he needs more minutes to produce, even Stortini has shown more ability with more minutes. His five goals came in games where he played 8:07, 9:25, 11:00, 11:05 and 6:24. In fact, in the only six games that he has played more than ten minutes he has four points. He has shown the ability to score with limited minutes, and most importantly to make his presence felt.

Stortini adds a dimension that the Oilers drastically need: energy, emotion and the ability to get the crowd in the game. The Oilers have the fewest home wins of any team in the West division, and too often Rexall Place has lacked an atmosphere this season. Stortini has become a fan favourite similar to what Georges Laraque used to be.

Laraque could just go in on the forecheck and the building would get excited for a potential hit. While it has taken some time, the fans have started to sense the same in Stortini. The Huggy Bear catcalls have been replaced with appreciation, and that’s why it is perplexing that he finds himself in the pressbox for the third straight home game.

Most of Stortini’s contributions will never show up on the score sheet and he probably won’t ever become more than a 4th liner, but right now the Oilers need his energy, consistency and ability to spark the crowd while annoying the opposition. Why the coaching staff can’t see this is another case of mismanagement.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Chris
March 17 2009, 05:07PM
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The fact that it took MacT 6 games to try O'Sullivan on the first line is proof enough to me that the man is an idiot. Go ahead... MacBlend the lines...but Please, for the love of God,...DO IT IN A WAY THAT MAKES SENSE!

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#52 Harlie Chuddy
March 17 2009, 05:20PM
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deepoil wrote:

Harlie Chuddy wrote: that video is fricken hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now all we need is Buzz Killington Watt to get the video pulled. don’t you mean colonel klink (watt)

well played.

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#53 Jason Gregor
March 17 2009, 05:42PM
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Dennis wrote:

Thanks, Gregor. Whereas I never watch a game, the way I heard stuff on the radio was the the Oilers were just constantly feeding Stortini in the slot whilst on the PP.

That explains a lot. It would explain why you need to make a point that is irrelevant to the comments. Why you brought up a Pouliot goal in the slot had nothing to do with the PP.

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#54 Smokin' Ray
March 17 2009, 05:54PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Smokin’ Ray - NNC wrote: GAME DAY!!! What does NNC mean? I leave for 4 days and come back clueless.

Need New Captain

So far it's a one man wagon. But whatever. I like being alone. *runs away crying*

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#55 Smokin' Ray - NNC
March 17 2009, 05:55PM
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I actualy started it a while back. Then the whole eye injury thing made me hide it for a while. (bad taste) But the wheels are greased and I'm ready to roll.

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#56 Brain Hall
March 17 2009, 06:32PM
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just remember folks, there's no better dealll than a crosssstown dealll. ah ah ah ahhh.

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#57 Dennis
March 17 2009, 07:36PM
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That goal was actually FROM NILSSON which I guess you didn't notice even though you were at the game!

I brought it up to highlight a goal that was scored from the slot and was helped along by a guy no longer in the order.

The extra snark was just a way to deal with the snarky.

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#58 Harlie Chuddy
March 17 2009, 07:50PM
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watching Brodeur set the record tonight and then start cutting the entire net off was a thing of beauty.

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#59 David S
March 17 2009, 08:05PM
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Oh Gene. *facepalm*

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#60 jeanshorts
March 17 2009, 08:06PM
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Hey ghuys, whatsamatter wif da Oilers henyway? Wah is dey...wha da hell er yew lookin at? Take dat Flames jersey off NOW! NOW DAD!

*smashes through a table at Hudsons*

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#61 Hoodlum
March 17 2009, 08:07PM
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OH NO, Gene and I are wearing the same thing. That's embarassing

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#62 Harlie Chuddy
March 17 2009, 08:11PM
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30 seconds in and we get in their zone for a faceoff and our 4th fricken line goes on. At least they drew a penalty. But still.

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#63 Alan
March 17 2009, 08:24PM
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Why do you guys not trust Gregor? That is the third time this year that someone has said the journal or tsn or sportsnet has different lines yet each time Gregor was right. Those are all rightsholders yet Gregor has it right. Maybe you should start taking what he says as fact. Props to you Gregor.

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#64 David S
March 17 2009, 08:31PM
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Shelllllyyyyyy!!!!!!!

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#65 Alan
March 17 2009, 08:44PM
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Atta boy moreau. Can't let a wimp like woywitka cheap shot hemmer!.

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#66 David S
March 17 2009, 08:48PM
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Pretty decent first period. Looks like our PP floodgates have been opened. Heh heh.

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#67 David S
March 17 2009, 08:55PM
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Alan wrote:

Atta boy moreau. Can’t let a wimp like woywitka cheap shot hemmer!.

Looked like Woywitka didn't want to hit Ethan at all. I guess it'd be a crappy thing to be known as the guy that ended Ethan Moreau's career.

Because, well, he's so dam good.

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#68 Travis Dakin
March 17 2009, 08:59PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Hey ghuys, whatsamatter wif da Oilers henyway? Wah is dey…wha da hell er yew lookin at? Take dat Flames jersey off NOW! NOW DAD! *smashes through a table at Hudsons*

You are a GOD among men.

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#69 David S
March 17 2009, 09:05PM
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PK.

Here we go.

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#70 David S
March 17 2009, 09:07PM
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Weak coverage by Staios. Aughhhh!

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#71 Travis Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:07PM
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David S wrote:

PK. Here we go.

Wait let me gue.... nevermind.

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#72 David S
March 17 2009, 09:10PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Wait let me gue…. nevermind.

Well played Mr. Dakin.

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#73 Travis Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:16PM
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Thanks for shedding light on the fact that O'Sullivan was retarded as a kid Gene.

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#74 Travis Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:18PM
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Anybody else notice Hemsky, Horcoff and Penner all in front of the net on that PP? can you say progress?

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#75 Archaeologuy
March 17 2009, 09:21PM
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I'm still laughing at the linesman's dead family from a couple games ago

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#76 Archaeologuy
March 17 2009, 09:26PM
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Horcoff is such a clown in the offensive zone

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#77 David S
March 17 2009, 09:27PM
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Jeebus!@$%@TUY%$^%*&*&*&!!!!!!!!!

Whiffcoff has missed two beauties tonight.

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#78 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:29PM
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Huddy doing a great job coaching tonight. look how well he is rotating the D. right on dude @ Travis Dakin:

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#79 David S
March 17 2009, 09:30PM
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Hemsky is going to let the air out of Whiffcoff's tires after this game.

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#80 Archaeologuy
March 17 2009, 09:32PM
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David S wrote:

Hemsky is going to let the air out of Whiffcoff’s tires after this game.

I'm sure Horc would just mistake it for playful flirting like in that Cialis commercial

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#81 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:33PM
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Jason, you said on your radio show today that MacT can not play the two players new to the team on trade deadling on the 3rd or 4th lines because that would not look good. That begs the question as to do you think MacT's hands are being tied by Steve and Kevin as it is them that brought most of this team together? Maybe it is Steve and Kevin that tells MacT who sits and who plays? I wonder?

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#82 Travis Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:33PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I’m still laughing at the linesman’s dead family from a couple games ago

What was that all about? I missed it and I hate being out of the joke.

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#83 Archaeologuy
March 17 2009, 09:36PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: I’m still laughing at the linesman’s dead family from a couple games ago What was that all about? I missed it and I hate being out of the joke.

a couple games ago a linesman screamed NOOOOOO! really loudly while calling off an offside and the joke was that it sounded like he just walked into his house to find his family brutally murdered. I think several of us were in morbid moods, I couldnt stop laughing.

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#84 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:37PM
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When you coming back to Rochester @ Amber McCormick:

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#85 David S
March 17 2009, 09:38PM
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Jeezuz Hemsky is getting stripped alot.

I miss the old days. You know, when Hemsky scored.

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#86 The Don
March 17 2009, 09:38PM
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Kotalik looks like big Dave Brown

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#87 FirstTime LongTime
March 17 2009, 09:38PM
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Ahhh....intermission. Time to switch back to the soft porn that is Dancing With The Stars.

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#88 David S
March 17 2009, 09:40PM
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letterman wrote:

When you coming back to Rochester @ Amber McCormick:

Because you're into sushi, cuddling, puppies and "keeping it real"?

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#89 Travis Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:40PM
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@ Archaeologuy: I heard that! hahaha I didn't put that together when you guys were talking about it. Solid gold.

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#90 The Don
March 17 2009, 09:42PM
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@ letterman: Looks like a shaesh to me.....lahim

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#91 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:45PM
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Can we all agree if the Leafs and Senators end up with more points than the Oilers at the end of the season something real has to happen in Edmonton?> I know you laugh but look at the standings, both teams are not that far behind and the Leafs and Senators are hot and Oilers are not.

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#92 Cory Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:46PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

This was the exact quote on the joke... care of jeanshorts I do believe.. I didn't catch the name when i copied it:

I like when the puck stays onside, and the linesmen yells NOOOOOOOO as if he just found his entire family dead in the middle of his living room.

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#93 Archaeologuy
March 17 2009, 09:48PM
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This just in from the Sportsnet intermission report: after the game we will know who wins....

other tidbits of knowledge from the sportsnet crew:at the end of your life you will die and tomorrow the sun will come up

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#94 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:50PM
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yup, he looking good tonight. Steve made a great deal here. I'm sure glad he is on our side and not Vancouver anymore and he is related to Horcshit.@ The Don:

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#95 Cory Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:50PM
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@ Archaeologuy: I'd like to think that as one enters the gates of heaven he's met not by St. Peter, but by an interview with the one and only Gene Principe. And if you can actually answer his questions with a straight face, you are welcomed with open arms. But should you laugh, or take a swing at gene, it's straight to the basement with you. That's what I hope happens when i die.

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#96 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:51PM
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yup, he is looking good tonight. steve made a great deal here. I'm sure glad he is on our side and not Vancouver @ The Don:

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#97 Archaeologuy
March 17 2009, 09:54PM
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@ Cory Dakin:

I am so going to hell. How can anyone take that guy seriously?

I can only imagine the awe and wonder of realizing that there really is a heaven only to have your buzz killed by Gene Principe making terrible puns about the pearly gates or the light at the end of the tunnel.

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#98 letterman
March 17 2009, 09:55PM
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I was thinking, maybe Oilers should switch benches and take over the visitor bench. Might give them Jim Rome carma

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#99 Cory Dakin
March 17 2009, 09:56PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

That could only be topped by finding out that hell is a never ending interview with him.....

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#100 O'Pooie O' Czar
March 17 2009, 09:59PM
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@ Cory Dakin:

You have just doomed every one of us to hell. And surely postponed a few suicides...

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