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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Oilers losing ways and inept coaching are leading me to drink.

I cringe every time the Oilers play Carolina Hurricanes.  I don't know much about systems or style of play except to say the hockey isn't pleasing to watch when Hurricanes are in town.  End to end rushes rarely happen, pretty hockey becomes a distant memory and games are painful to watch.  Generally speaking Oilers aren't always the best at winning ugly, gritty, you know it is going to hurt hockey.  Tonight was no different. 

5 observations In Oilers too little too late 5-3 loss to Hurricanes.

1.  Bad pinch leads to goal.  Too many men penalty.  Undisciplined play by Maroon leads to penalty.  Bottom line team not ready to play.  That is on McLellan.  Coach needs to do more to get his team ready to play.  Much easier to get a new coach than make a trade of consequence in a salary cap world.  

2.  Why Brossoit starting when Oilers season depends on Talbot finding his game?  You have lost 3 in row and instead of giving your starting goalie who was awesome last year the opportunity to find his game you play the backup.  If I am Talbot I am pissed and want to the net.  Playing bad, getting yanked is keeping me up at night.  I need to the net to get the stink of losing and sucking out of my head.  What the Oilers were missing tonight was the big save as exemplified by the 4th and 5th Carolina goals when team was making a comeback.  Grant Fuhr makes those saves.  Talbot makes those saves last year.  Brossoit barely an NHL goalie does not make those saves.  

3.  If the Oilers insist on having defensive dman on the second unit power play why not have Nurse instead of Russell.  We all know what Russell is as a defenseman.  He isn't going to suddenly develop offensive flair this late in his career whereas Nurse is relatively unknown as an offensive talent.  Neither has a shot but Nurse still has time to develop one.  With Sekara and Benning out give Nurse a chance to see if he can develop a little.  

4.  Maroon should be barred from shaving until he gets into a fight.  I just do not like his game.  He got played on the first penalty.  I remember having the same thing happen to me when I played college ball.  Some yahoo gave me a shot, ref missed so I returned favor and ref called foul of me.  Last year he was fighting anyone he could.  In your face, gritty hockey.  Setting tone with soft hands and raging fists.  This year he is an invisible man.  No power forward should ever be clean shaven.  

5.  I like simplifying Ryan Strome's game.  Let him focus on a few small things, go to the net, tip a puck like he did and bam you have a goal.   Same with Lucic, hit, work hard and shoot the puck. So important for secondary scoring to take pressure off Oilers top line.  

I am depressed.  Drank half a bottle of my bosses whisky that he left in my vehicle.  Cheer me up, what positives did you observe in this game?

Stay Cool,

Master Iceman

Saturday, October 14, 2017

This is torture, Oilers get embarrassed by Senators

Nothing cleans the ears of an athlete out like losing.  A good playoff performance, Vegas odds makers saying Stanley Cup favorites and a good old fashion ass stomping of the hated Calgary Flames on opening night made the Oilers as deaf as an iceman working next to ice makers in the middle of the busy season.  When I say deaf I mean to what the coach is preaching.  Hard work, making the right plays, paying the price needed to win.  Losing to Canucks and Jets, back to back, better than Chinese candles to clearing up all that positive press clippings buzz getting in the way of what McLellan, the Oilers coach must of been preaching about how hard winning is... in theory that is... 

5 Observations in Oilers loss to the Ottawa Senators 

1.  Maroon Mr Invisible,  needs to get into a fight since he isn't scoring.  Like I always say, when notating else is working reach out and punch someone.  At least if he fights he can do something with the hands that seem to have lost the magic they had the year before.  I love Big Rig but whatever scoring touch he had last year is gone.  It is time for him to get off McDavid's line and have to earn his way back on it.  

2.  Do the Oilers have any shooters?  None of the defense have a shot that keeps goalies up at night which is a problem considering opposing teams just collapse down to handle the cycle down low.  The Oilers d could take a 100 shots and not score once.  None of the forwards or centers minus Draisailt who was out against the Senators have a shot of note.  They get the puck, gather for a wrist shot giving the goalie time to adjust and get ready.  Oilers have lots of greater passers but no shooters.  

3.  Talbot is not making the big save.  If opposing teams get a good look on Talbot they score.  He isn't in the zone, looks depressed in the net.  Someone needs to get him a shrink or a detective to find his confidence.  It has gone missing.

4.  I bet Darnell Nurse can bench press a lot.  He seems to bench press opposing players into the boards with reckless abandon.  If only he had a shot.  His offensive skillset is brutal.  Just brutal. 

5.  Yamamoto looks like an NHL player.  The passivity I saw in the first two games has disappeared where it looks like he is just learning to play hockey.  It don't matter if it is in the WHL or NHL, the game is still the same.  Get your nose dirty, go hard to the net and don't be afraid to fail.  I'd like to see him find some open spots in the slot to get a good shot.  Still think he would do with another year in Junior but there is a player there.  

Pretty depressing game for an Oilers addict like myself.  What did you see?  Wife said watching the game was torture. I had to turn it off at 6-0.  Wife begged me to stop watching it.  

Master Iceman

Monday, October 9, 2017

Oilers play cute and lose to Winnipeg Jets.

Khaira is one of my favorite players when he doesn't don the cloak of invisibility.  He is the type of player that needs to reach out and hit or punch someone regularly.  In Vancouver you could of put him on a milk carton as he was missing in action which is why against a big bruising team like Winnipeg he is not playing.  Here is hoping Khaira learns to bring the ice soon!

5 observations in Edmonton Oilers 5-2 loss to Winnipeg Jets

1.  Cute hockey scores goals but does not win hockey games.  Sure McDavid swooping in like a bird of prey on Josh Morrissey, taking the puck and feeding Draisailt for the GOAL looks great but for every cute play that worked the last two games, there was a half dozen that didn't work.  Finally Mcllelan broke up 97 and 29 ending cute hockey.  It was too late for this game but it sure woke the team up to the style of hockey needed to win in this league.  Hard skating, hit, go to the net hockey.  First time Draisailt looked awake.  Pay the man a fortune, it is about time Mcllelan gave him his own line.  Maybe next time Draisailt will get some better players on his wing.

2.  Yamamoto actually made an appearance.  In the first half of the game he was competing for the invisible man award but as soon as I wrote him off he got a shot, threw a hit and actually asserted himself into the game.  Sure Yam wasn't great, didn't score a goal and took a penalty at the end but there was promise, a hint of something more.

3.  Am I wrong about Darnell Nurse and his offensive upside??? That pass he made to RNH, leading him perfectly on a breakaway for a goal was a thing of beauty.  Defensively Nurse's foot speed, ability to stop, start and change directions is AWESOME.  Nobody is beating that man on a change of direction.  On offense Nurse still lacks a shot that would scare a WHL goal let alone an NHL one.  Most times he seems uncertain with what to do with the puck but then he makes a pass to RNH leaving me wonder.  How about you?

4.  Lucic isn't scoring goals.  Isn't even a threat to score based on where he gets the puck, but the man is a bowling ball with anyone in his way a bulling pin.  You could teach a Newtonian physics class on watching that man.  Lucic gets the bringing the ice award in this game because anyone he pummeled is going to need ice, lots of it.  If you need ice in Edmonton, Alberta, think Columbia Ice.

5.  Tipping pucks is a lost art in the NHL.  Nobody is getting very good shots these days, at least on the Oilers with many coming from the blue line.  What is needed is someone with good hands who can tip pucks and get the dirty Ryan Smyth type player goals.  I haven't seen Thomas Vanek play much except for the nice tip of the puck he made last game against Oilers but that is exactly what is need.  Oilers just don't have anyone with a rifle of a shot to score from afar so the only option is a change of direction or rebound garbage goals.  The type of goals Maroon was scoring last year.  Maroon against Winnipeg gets the invisible player of the game award.

How about you?  What did you observe watching Oilers get their butts handed to them by the Jets?  Leave a comment here or on twitter.  @ernieiceman

Until next time, STAY COOL!

Master Iceman

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Oilers bully local bar owner and then get bullied by the Vancouver Canucks

Must be Karma.  Sick your lawyers on a local bar owner who wants to promote Oilers and still serve craft beer from local Alberta breweries, you get your ass handed to you by the so called worst team in the NHL if preseason prognosticators are too be believed  Click here to read story.

5 Observations: Oilers at Canucks Canucks win 3-2

1.  Even though Matt Benning was a pylon on the first Bo Horvat goal he had learned his lesson by the 3rd period when Horvat tried to go around Benning again only to be pushed behind the net.  For a small dman Benning can't let up for even a second.  The first goal of the game should never of happened had Benning been on his toes and been more physical with Horvat.  Saving grace in sports is learning from your mistakes and the young dman did just that.

2.  Just as Anaheim Ducks slowed down McDavid by being physical, taking away time and space so did the Vancouver Canucks.  It might of been McDavid's worst game as an Oiler as he never seemed to be able to get the puck moving with speed.  The end to end rushes that made all the highlights in game one against the Flames never materialized against the well coached Canucks.  Instead 97 was hit, bumped, smothered and harassed all night by a Canucks team that forgot McJesus was the chosen one.  It was extremely impressive and disappointing as  McDavid had no answer.  There was one play on the powerplay where his only option was to dump the puck deep and instead he tried to pass the puck through two Vancouver defenders across the blue line leading to a break away.  McDavid needed to be mentalily stronger, often displaying some of the frustration Crosby use to show when other teams would get physical with him.  Too often this game McDavid would get into tit for tat moments with that no name, never heart of before Vancouver player who made 97 a generational talent look quite ordinary.

3.  Todd McLellan is the reason the Oilers lost this game.  His insistence of playing Draisaitl and McDavid together makes the team easy to play against.  All you need to do is create one line capable of skating with 97 and 29 who have a physical flavor to their game and like magic you can greatly hinder the top scoring tandem in the NHL from scoring.  Vancouver did a tremendous job but McLellan made it easy by not splitting up the 97 and 29 up.  It makes me wonder if McLellan is trading short term reward for long term success.

4.  RNH still has trouble getting into good scoring areas.  His release is slow but I really liked his tenacity against the Canucks.  RNH, Lucic and Kassian was a handful for the Canucks and often the ice was tilted in the right direction according to the eye test last night.  I really liked Kassian on that line.  His speed and bumper car mentality means ice for opposing dmen which you know as an iceman I love.  Bring the ice baby should be Kassian's motto.  The downside to splitting up the 97, 29 line would be losing the chemistry RNH, Lucic and Kassian has.

5.  Oiler defense should get numerous opportunities to fire bombs from their perches on the blue line. Teams are compressing down to take away anything in front of the net to deal with Oilers dominate forward pairings.  This is leaving the defense at the top with open shots if they take them.  The rub is those same forwards need to become more proficient at tipping those shots from the point.  McDavid said he wanted to score goals in different ways and this is one way that can happen.  Pass to the point, low shot, tip of the stick into the top corners or through the goalies legs as the goalie opens up to stop the original shot.

What things did you see or observe in the game?

Stay Cool,

Master Iceman

Thursday, October 5, 2017

How many goals does bad ice cost McDavid?

I have said all there is to say about bagged ice.  If you need ice in Edmonton, Alberta then call 780-960-7161.  Ernie will be happy to take your order and I will deliver it.  I have decided to use this pseudo company blog to write about something much more interesting, people on ice as in the Edmonton Oilers.  Every game I am going to share 5 observations and hopefully you can share a few of your own or tell me how out to lunch I am.

Calgary at Edmonton October 4th 3-0 win for Edmonton

1.  How many goals does bad ice cost Connor McDavid?  Rogers Place is not known for having good ice.  On the first partial break away it looked like McDavid was trying to get the puck over the Calgary goal stopper but the puck didn't pop off his stick.  After scoring the second of his 3 goals McDavid had another break away where he looked to want to pull the puck from the left to right only to lose the puck.  I don't know if the ice factored into McDavid not being able to raise the puck over the pad of the flames goalie or do a left to right pull around but the puck bounces and rolls enough on the ice at Rogers to make me wonder.  For a guy with his speed and puck handling skills having good ice is a must.  Bad ice limits what McDavid can do.  The question I have and I hope the ice makers at Rogers have is how many goals does bad ice cost the Oilers?  When you have the skill the Oilers do good ice is a must.

2.  Yamamoto is ready for the WHL not the NHL.  I will give the kid props for being smart on the ice but he can't seem to be able to hold onto the puck long enough to do anything other than touch passes. Yam needs more experience to be able to use his agility to give him the time and space to be able to hold off bigger players long enough to do something meaningful with the puck.

3.  ...and I thought Eberle would get the Oilers a top pairing dman.  Strome is a big, slow forward who can play center with good hands, not much physicality.  A soft Maroon who can play center.  If Strome is the best Ebs could get then I can understand why Larsson cost Oilers Hall.

4.  Darnell Nurse is just a bigger version of Chris Russell.  Nurse does not have the natural offensive instincts or nasty to be a top pairing dman.  Nurse like Russell can skate well but like Russell isn't always so sure what to do with the puck when Nurse has it on his stick.  Russell pound for pound is a better hitter.  Nurse might be bigger and stronger but he doesn't know how to deliver those body crunching open ice hits.  His money skill is good position and foot speed.

5.  Night and day the level of organization on the ice between this year's Oilers and the last 10 years.  It was like watching a well coached team play the Oilers in the past except this time the well coached team was the Oilers.  There wasn't any offense to be had by Calgary.  Oilers weren't out of position, chasing pucks, leaving people open in good scoring positions.

Good start to the season.. what did you see?

Master Iceman