Wednesday, January 3, 2018

McDavid, Draisailt are a big reason behind historicially bad Oilers penalty kill

Nobody should mistake Draisailt or McDavid as hard nose, in your face hockey players.  Skilled players in general are not wired that way and there is nothing wrong with that.  97 and 29 are on the Oilers to score goals or set up other people to score goals.  Nobody is paying the money those two players get to dive in front of pucks, and get in opposing team's faces.  The thing about penalty kill is you need those players who live and breath defense.  They don't care about the glory of scoring goals or making a pretty pass.  Players who succeed on the penalty kill live and die for the applause from the fans after two minutes of killing themselves to stop the other team's power play from scoring.  It is the appreciation of the guy in the penalty box after a successful kill that means everything.  The goalie who pats them on the back or the coach that says heck of a job after taking a slapshot to the gut that matters to the penalty killers.

I know we all saw Gretzky and Messier on the PK back in the 80's and part of us thinks why not McDavid or Draisailt.  The thing is with guys who breath offense there mind is always on scoring.  It isn't on getting in front of shots.  It isn't on keeping the box, instead it is the dreams of intercepting a pass, a bobbling puck getting past the dmen on the point leading to one of those beautiful short handed, McDavid drops the puck to Draisailt for a goal.  The problem is when you have players whose minds wander to offensive glory they end up stretching the 4 man box out leading to those wonderful passing lanes for the opposing teams to make cross ice passes.  Cross ice passes lead to goalies having to move horizontally in the crease opening up all sorts of good lanes to beat the goalie.  A good defensive player, that makes his living preventing goals understands to prevent most high percentage scoring chances for the opposing team on the PK you have to collapse just as hard as you expand your box to take away the point shot.  When the puck is passed from one defense to the other it is bust your ass back to position and not let that pass through the box happen.  Nothing against McDavid or Draisailt but those two players are not wired to play that way.  They want to attack not defend. 

You might point out that none of the other players the Oilers put out on PK are any better.  Therein lies the problem.  Neither McDavid or Draisailt are the types of players you want on a good PK.  I believe half the reason they are out there so often is a lack of reliable talent behind them.  Coach has no choice in putting them out there because Letestu and Kassian are not doing any better.  You can only play the cards you have in sports and if you don't have the traditional, hardnose dive in front of pucks, bust your ass to get back in position penalty killers, then you play the best of a bad hand.  Directly 29 and 97 are not doing well on PK.  Coaching staff looks like they are out to lunch... but in reality indirectly it is the GM who bought out a useful penalty killer in Benoit Pouliot, and didn't replace heart and guts Matt Hendricks.  The idea that those who play on the 4th line don't matter is an illusion in hockey.  They matter because they do the things nobody else on the team is willing to do.   The bottom half of the line is there to be the grit, the grunts, the we will hurt so the stars can focus on scoring goals more then preventing them.  Good teams have players that are willing to sacrifice there bodies, for the greater good of the team.  I just don't see those players on the Oilers.

one more point... Just from a pure energy standpoint... there is nothing harder than stopping and starting on the PK.  That two minutes would equate to 30-60 second bag skates.   That energy for McDavid or Draisailt is not being used scoring goals, it is used preventing goals.  In every team sport the best offensive talent are rarely defensive stoppers.  It isn't because they can't play defense.  It is playing defense the way it needs to be played often takes away all your energy, leaving little for offense.  That is why when making up a team there is often a line that coaches use against the other teams best players, and on the PK.  They kill themselves so 29 and 97 can make fans scream in joy after another goal or 20. 

My two cents.. why do you think the Oilers PK is struggling?

They call me the iceman and if you need ice in Edmonton, AB I am your man.

Master Iceman

Saturday, October 21, 2017

11:00 AM start time to Oilers, Flyers game, what was the NHL thinking.

Games that start in the AM are all mental as athlete's bodies are creatures of habits.  Playing at 1:00 am eastern time is likely around the time guys are use to relaxing, not firing on all cylinders.  When do you eat your pregame meal.  I have always felt older teams with more experience do better at the early games just because age teaches players how to mentally will themselves to compete when the body wants to sleep.

5 observations in Oilers 2-1 loss to the Flyers.

1.  I bet the analytics of giving up the first goal and winning are not very good.  The Oilers have to do a better job at start of the game.  They cannot continue to give up the first goal and hope to have success.  Based on the fact they suck at the PK that means not taking penalties.  

2.  By not developing a shot McDavid is like a pass first point guard in the NBA.  You just play off the guy, keep him in front of you, take away passing lanes and dare him to shoot.   McDavid is no different.  His wrist shot is so slow.  He puts his weight on stick, twists body, goalie has a smoke and then he shoots. No slap or snap shot to speak of.  Any competent NHL goalie if he sees McDavid shoot is going to stop his shot.  For all of McDavid's greatness you just have to stop the breakaways and clog up passing lanes to really limit his ability.  I say limit because you can't stop great players, you can just limit them.  What also limits McDavid is he loses so many of his faceoffs.  

3.  Lucic, an older player was a force in this game.  Strong game on the puck.  Make that man an ice man because when you hit him it is like running into a wall of ice.  I love watching Flyers bounce off him.  So strong on the boards.  Didn't show up on score sheet but nobody on his line did.  Strome was missing in action and RNH played way too much on the outside.  Never was able to get the puck into good scoring areas.  

4.  Some like to point out how Oilers keep winning shot metrics which I believe is a fancy way of saying Oilers out shoot the opposing team.  This may be the case but it sure doesn't seem like there are a lot of hard saves being made by the opposing goalies.  What Oiler has a good shot?  Other than injured Draisaitl I can't think of one Oiler with a shot that keeps goalies awake at night.  I also don't see enough passes leading to shots when opposing goalie is moving and not set.  It seem like the team is doing the whole Jordan Eberle, dust the puck off and shoot the puck giving goalies chance to get square to the shooter.  With the size of goalies these days I just don't see how you are going to score unless the goalie is moving, not set.  

5.  Adam Larsson brought the ice tonight.  He seems to have found his game.  You can see him getting in better position, making some real solid hits.  I think at the start of the season he had to adjust to the new ways they were calling the rules but now has seemed to settle in back the really strong physical player we have come to love in Edmonton.  

Disappointing loss.  Team definitely has to figure itself out without Draisailt in lineup.  Looks very slow on ice.  Thoughts?  Leave a comment.

Master Iceman

Friday, October 20, 2017

McDavid is not Gretzky and that is perfectly OK.

I don't even remember Gretzky all that well anymore.  You'd think I would watch youtube videos or the bio videos of 99 I bought but it hurts too much to watch knowing I will never see Gretzky play hockey like he did through the eyes of a child when I say him last play.  What is the same is wanting more than anything to be able to turn on the TV and being able to watch both play.   The McDavid spin doopsey doodle to Maroon a fire hydrant on skates, smart enough to put his stick on the ice and score, is why McDavid is must see, don't call for ice or you will be blackballed for not watching Oilers hockey, TV!

5 observations in Oilers 2-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

1.  Maroon scores so as I like to say to summer student workers you are not completely useless and if you want to get paid be the fire hydrant.  Being strong on your stick, in the right places is all you need to really do with McDavid.  Get out of his way, when he doesn't have the puck, get him the puck and make yourself open in a good scoring spot ready to receive the puck.  It is as easy and hard as that.  I still won't like Maroon's game until he reaches out and punches someone. 

2.  Oilers were a 100 point and then some team last year because of Talbot just as much as McDavid. Talbot has to be better than the other goalie for the Oilers to win.  A good goalie will steal wins when the rest of the team is out of sync.  If Talbot isn't playing well you can't sit him at the start of the year.  You ride him until he works his way out of the flaws in his game because if Talbot isn't one of the top goalies in the league the Oilers are not winning any cups. 

3.  I didn't mind when Kassian hit the Chicago player from behind.  It isn't my favorite type of hit but for Kassian he has to toe the line between being a bring the ice type player and a dirty one.  Intimidation is one of the most underrated skill sets in sports as it can't really be quantified with analytics.  In my experience fear of an opposing player changes how you play the game.  Kassian is one of those guys with crazy eyes who you just don't know if he will lose his mind on the ice.  There is value to that type of player.  The rub is upon occasion Kassian pulls a Kassian and plants an opposing player face first into boards.  It is the type of hit you don't want to see, but you live with as in the larger picture it puts fear into the opposing team. 

4.  I really liked the fourth line of Pakarinen, Malone and Kassian.  I felt like they brought a level of grit that teams are going to have trouble handling.  Malone is good in front of the net, Pakarinen has speed to burn and Kassian is well Kassian, a beast with a mean streak bringing the ice to most games.  They are the type of line that will hurt to play against.  Perfect for a fourth line needed to  change the energy of a game with a big hit or a strong cycle game in the opposing zone. 

5.  Ryan Strome is a really solid player 5 feat from the net.  He doesn't skate real well.  Isn't going to out physical anyone but has really nice hands close to the net.  When you combine him with Lucic and RNH there is something there.  I hope McLellan gives them a few games to continue to gel.

What did you see? Don't be shy.  Leave a comment. Will Yamamoto last more than 9 games?   

Until tomorrow... Stay COOL :)

Master Iceman